10.26.2010

Early Morning Thought

I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve our quality of life.  It's easy to just get stuck and continue to do things just because you've always done them.  But by going through this whole minimalize process I'm really learning about the things that improve my life and my happiness, and the things that stand in the way of it.  It's amazing how much better i feel when i learn to let go.  

10.25.2010

Embracing my Inner Minimalist

I have been a purger for as long as I can remember, at least in my adult life. I'm not really sure what started it, maybe moving so often growing up, but I have realized that I prefer having less things around me. When I live in clutter, I almost feel claustrophobic. I've been pretty good about getting rid of things over the yar, especially clothes (since I use the seasonal closet method). In all honesty though, I've always held back a little because I felt this unexplained obligation to have certain things. But this year for whatever reason (I have my theories), I've started taking things to a whole new level... and I'm loving it. Once I started purging this spring, I just couldn't stop. And now that I'm in Fall Cleaning mode I find myself wanting to get rid of even more... a lot more. So much so, that I've decided to finally embrace my minimalist nature. I was a little hesitant at first, but I've found all these encouraging blogs and websites of people discussing their journey into simplifying, decluttering, turning minimalist. And these aren't crazy people living on the fringe of society... they're "normal" people with marriages, children (one guy has 6 kids!!), people with lifestyles I can relate to. It's just helped me think, if they can do it, so can I, after all, I'm already a minimalist at heart.

And so the process begins. And it is a process. I went through my closet, Dylan's room, and the kitchen last week. We got rid of a lot of stuff (including my Kitchen Aid stand mixer... there's something i never thought I'd part with... but thanks to a hand mixer I have, I rarely ever use it), but I can still think of more things I can part with. Not to mention that I still want to go through every other part of the house... rooms, closets, drawers, forgotten hiding places. I don't expect to be done this week, or even in the next year... but I just plan to keep working on it. And I'm sure I'll be posting about it from time to time.

I dont have the before pictures for comparison, but here are some of the "after" pictures... I really hope things stay this way for a while :)





The kitchen. I finally managed to clear everything off the top of the cabinets (not pictured). The rose on the ledge is from Matt and Dylan, they brought me flowers for all the cleaning I did :)



Proof of how much was cleared out of the kitchen this year. This under-sink cabinet used to be crammed full of stuff, now it's nearly empty. I have no idea what used to be there, I dont miss it at all, but it's nice being able to easily find the dishwasher soap now.


The smaller pantry. I moved a lot of stuff to this cabinet so that the larger pantry would be more functional.


Tupperware and mixing bowls. I think this will change soon because I'm planning on replacing the tupperware bowl sets with a set of stainless steel bowls. I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to open this cabinet up and not have to take out 40 things to find the one dish I need to put leftovers in. I cleaned this out in April and it's stayed this way ever since. :)


Likewise, my pots and pans. Part of my motivation for the kitchen purge was that I wanted to be able to fit my new Le Crueset pans into a cabinet without stacking them (since they are insanely heavy). Now they all have their own spot.... I'm just trying to figure out a way to make room for a 6 qt dutch oven someday. That make take a while though.


The closet. It's really hard to get a picture of it because while it's a walk in, it's super narrow. So this is the best I could do. Shortly after Dylan was born we had California Closet redo our master closet... mostly to make use of the storage we could have with 14 foot ceilings in the closet. One of the best things we've ever done (house-wise). In the over 2 years we've had the new closet it has NEVER once gotten messy. Everything has a place and it is easy to put it there. I LOVE it :)

10.14.2010

Why I feel old

My 10 year high school reunion was this past weekend. I didn't go, but just knowing it happened makes me realize how long age high school was.

I wont have any more birthdays in my 20s

I remember my parents when they were this age, which makes me realize that i am as old as they were, and everyone thinks their parents are old (even though mine are quite young). It's a perception thing.

I don't listen to the radio anymore for several reasons: i can't keep up with all the new music, i think all the bands sounds alike, and i think they're all crap nowadays. What happened to good music?

One of my aunts told me (when i was in high school) that when you get older you start listing to country music or more mellow music. And while i definitely have started listening to music with some "alt country" influences (Wilco, Avett Brothers, Monsters of Folk) i still dislike country music... And i still listen to some of my old punk rock music. Am I trying to resist getting older? No, i don't think so. But it does make me happy to know that the country music thing probably wont come true for me... Because i really don't like it at all.

I can't keep up with the new technology crazes... I think I've sent a grand total of 10 texts in my life, and I hated every single one.

On the plus side i had someone tell me the other day that i look about 23, so that made me happy.

New Word

So earlier this night I was driving in the car by myself, which i thoroughly enjoy since i don't get to do very often anymore with Dylan usually in the back seat. But i was on my own, and i was driving the Jetta, which is even better because it has the iPod connector, which means that i was able to listen to whatever music I wanted, at whatever volume I felt necessary. It was great. I fully savor those moments when i get them. I don't know why it's so different than when I'm driving with Dylan because he thankfully hasn't started demanding kids music in the car yet... we conveniently don't own much kids music... I figure he can just learn to appreciate real music from the get go-I'm sure one day he'll pick up on kids music from someone else, but I'm In no hurry to get there any time soon if I don't have to. Besides, he likes plenty of the music we like. in fact there are a few songs he will even request, and as much as I love Wilco, after hearing Hummingbird seven times in a row, I'm about ready to scream. Imagine how i would feel if he were asking for Old MacDonald for an 8th time, i just might lose it. But even with being able to listen to pretty much whatever i want, its not quite the same when he's with me because I'm usually more focused on him than anything else (aside from the road of course), and i try to keep the volume at a decent level. Plus my car plays CDs only and i just couldn't be bothered to change them out that often, so I usually end up listening to the same 6 CDs for a good 6 months.

But when I'm by myself in Matt's car it's a different story. I can listen to any of the music on my iPod, at whatever volume i want, and i can sing along (badly) without someone from the backseat yelling "mommy, don't do that.". So tonight i was listening to the first Raconteurs album, which I haven't listened to in a while when the line: "are you part of this kakistocracy" came on And i decided that "kakistocracy" is probably one of the best words I've heard in a while. Of course it sounds very similar to one of my other favorite words of all time: cacophony. So that was my thought today while driving alone in the car. I just looked up the meaning of the word, because I wasn't even sure it was real, but apparently it has something to do with the worst kind of government. What a cool word.

10.01.2010

Thoughts on a finance article

http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/110876/why-the-rich-dont-feel-rich

I found this article very interesting for a few reasons. Not so much because they pick this guy apart for not recognizing how rich he is, but for some of the other points made.

1. The brouhaha is ripe with psychological lessons. First, Henderson is a classic example of the hedonic treadmill at work. First articulated by psychologists in the late 1960s, the hedonic treadmill speaks to the phenomenon of human adaptation. We buy something new, we're thrilled with it, then we get used to it, then we want something bigger and better and we're unhappy when we don't get it (or, in Henderson's case, we end up feeling "poor.")
I certainly see this with Dylan. It's the main reason I don't buy him a lot of toys. He's far more interests in the novelty than actually having more stuff. It just makes more sense to bring him to a friend's house and let him play with "new" toys there... And return the favor for other friends.
I also use this for myself quite a lot. It's easy for me to confuse the idea of "want" and "need.". A great example is my new iPad. I really didn't need it even though I really wanted one for the last year or so they've been out. I never would have bought it for myself, but was really happy that Matt was willing to spoil me a little on my birthday. He told me when he gave it to me "I knew you'd never buy it for yourself.". But usually I'll have this conversation with myself when considering a new purchase -do I really need it or do I have something else at home already that fulfills this same function. -is the money I'm going to spend on this worthwhile? -can I wait a little longer before making this purchase? By the time I think through all of that I usually decide I can skip it, at least for now. And then the next time I get the urge to buy it I repeat these questions... Which more often tan not results in another postponement. It's fairly effective.

2. He is time affluent. The minimal commute, the nanny and the lawn service all buy him more time to do what he wants outside the workplace. Numerous studies have shown people who are time affluent are happier than those who are materially affluent.
I am sure I wasn't the first one to say it, but I certainly have been saying for a long time "time is the new money.". I didn't realize until now that this only applies if you have enough disposable income to pay for things that you probably could do on your own.
For a few years we had a cleaning service. It was the greatest thing ever. It really was. I love having a clean house, but it is so hard to find the time to have a clean house all at once. I can have a clean kitchen, or a clean basement, but everything perfectly cleaned all in one day, its just not feasible for me, i'd have to clean from sun up to sun down. And then I'd be REALLY frustrated when the next day things would get messy again. However, now that I'm a stay at home mom I really had a hard time justifying the expense. I mean aren't my 2 priorities as a SAHM to teak care of Dylan and the house. Surely that must mean that I should be capable of staying on top of chores. But it's not easy. And I have to get used to the house only being clean in phases again. Plus I feel like all my cleaning time goes to the "basics" like vacuuming, dusting, laundry, bathrooms, that I never have ti e for the nitty gritty stuff like cleaning the baseboards, the inside of the oven, etc. I keep considering getting a new cleaning service, but then I go back to the questions posed above and decide that, no, I don't really NEED it, as much as I want it. Maybe when I go back to work that will change.

3. This is the 2nd article I've read in 2 days that refers to Cziskzentmilhalyi. I read a few of his books in college and found them really interesting, maybe one day I'll go back and reread them.

4. If anything, I appreciated Henderson's honesty. It inspired me to revisit my definition of "rich," and come away with a deeper appreciation for my family, friends, neighbors, good health and the wildly underappreciated wealth of living in a free nation.
I completely agree. It's so easy to constantly look up at what you don't have and feel like you are lacking. I'm really trying instead to look at what I do have and really how truly full my life is.