Sunday, July 3, 2011

Still On the Wagon!

Updating my blog seems to be few and far between these days! Well I am still around, maybe just not feeling as inspired about blogging as I have been in the past. It doesn't feel like that much has changed, but here are some status updates:

I got rid of a LOT of stuff during 2010. The process has slowed because I have packed up most of my belongings so they can sit in storage at the moment. My living situation is still in limbo as it relates to my recent graduation and finding a DAMN job! Everything that was packed away was carefully sorted and culled through.

This year I decided I was going to get a handle on my medical records and put my already scanned info into Google Health. Well, I got some new prescriptions a few weeks ago that I was going to log in to my Google Health account. When I logged in, I found out they are shutting down the service at the end of this year! Doh! If you know of any personal medical records services, please leave a comment.

In May I went on vacation and well, my good eating went straight out the door. I gained 10 lbs. and got rid of 5 lbs. pretty easily once back. The last 5 lbs. has been a lot harder. Throw in having a stomach virus to the mix which totally created havoc. Turns out that sick tummies don't really like hardcore protein, which is my staple when getting my weight back where it needs to be. So I stuck with noodles and broth. You better believe that I didn't feel like swinging a kettle bell or anything else that was fitness related! This morning I noticed that I am (barely) back to my pre-vacation weight and ready to work on this fat that was there prior to the trip! Yay!

Job Seeking
This area, by far, has been sucking the life out of me! I'm fortunate that I have a roof over my head and I can pay my bills (well, save for those student loans that got deferred for the time being). So many people are in the same boat as me and so it is really hard! I am working with at least 5 different staffing agencies and signed up with too many job websites to count! It has been a much slower process than I anticipated and working with recruiters is absolutely painful because, well, the field is rife with idiots. What used to be an industry of relationship building has now turned into an impersonal, high-volume and computer based mess. I know that spending a HUGE amount of time to create a flawless resume where all the formatting is lost once it is submitted into a giant database is futile. Making usernames and passwords for every site I apply at is time wasting. Slowly, but surely, I am starting to understand "the game" and how to get around it.

I am still living simply and fugally. Not having a steady income can sure get you there, but it feels like having more time and not being constantly rushed is what got me mostly on track. I don't feel like I am as quick to react when it comes to buying stuff. There is also more time to make better food choices when I am not sitting at a desk, slammed with work and so brain dead that a Coke or M&M's seems like a quick fix. There are always positives and negatives no matter what your situation is!

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Little Update

Wow. It has been over three weeks since I last wrote on my blog! I would love to tell you all that I have brainstorming some wonderful ideas, but that just isn't the case. I have been busy helping other people. A friend of mine that I have known since middle school is going through some really tough health problems. In fact, her first trip to the hospital was right after my last post and she recently had another stay last week. They think she has multiple sclerosis or neuromyelitis optica. This last flare up she had has left her unable to walk without assistance or see clearly. It also permanently damaged her optical nerve, thus taking away some of her eyesight.

I always try to extract as many life lessons as I can out of everything. Being there for my friend has humbled me in so many ways. She is so mentally strong & positive (at least outwardly). We crack jokes about her potentially going blind and her beating me with her cane when I help too much. We make the best of it and I have not witnessed one ounce of bitterness from her. She has no family in this state and she will more than likely end up moving to be closer to her family so that they can take care of her for the long haul.

This whole experience has made me more grateful. I am not grateful for the things that you might be thinking of, like that I have my health. What I am grateful for is that I could be there for her throughout this part of her life, when she needed someone the most. Most 29 year olds don't have to tackle something this big and serious, but so far, we have made a great team!

*By the way, thanks for all the new comments from readers! I appreciated all of them.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lessons From An Estate Sale

As many of you already know, I have been assisting some family members in a series of estate sales that consisted of stuff owned by my great uncle and his sister. This last weekend was estate sale number 3. It moved a lot of stuff, but not as much as we hoped. There is now as much stuff after the third sale than most people start out with in their first estate sale! Yes, it was stressful. Yes, it was a LOT of hard work. There is some wisdom that was gained though and now I am passing it along to you!

1. More than likely, your stuff isn't worth as much as you think.
Did any of catch that episode of Hoarders recently with Sir Patrick who collected art, antiques and dolls? He thought he would net at least $50k at an auction of his stuff. Turns out he received about $7k instead. I think there is a tendency to overvalue our possessions. It definitely stings when we know how much hard earned money we fork over for stuff and yet it is often worthless or close to worthless in a short amount of time.
If you are holding on to many possessions in hopes of them being valuable one day, is the cost of storing them in-line with the potential profit? For example, say you are holding on to a box of magazines and the only place you have to store them is in a garage. Variables such as weather and insects will probably destroy any potential profit over the years.
The remedy: Ask yourself with purchasing something if you are okay with the value rapidly declining. Only buy things when you can live with that outcome.

2. If you own a lot of things or are disorganized, it will inevitably cause stress for someone when you die.
The death of a loved one is hard! Factor in legal issues like guardianship, wills and probate, it quickly becomes overload! Some people take the easy way and just let their loved ones deal with the entire burden AFTER their death. I personally believe that is a cop out. What better of a gesture to your survivors than to have an organized plan of action? I happen to think that my great uncle would have done things differently if he would have known that we were STILL working on his estate close to two years after the fact.
The remedy: Don't put off envisioning your legacy. None of us know when we will die. We are in control of how we live though. Have the hard conversations even if they are uncomfortable. Make an action plan and start moving on it.

3. Don't let possessions tear up your family.
For so many people, the passing of a loved one can cause huge family rifts. Relatives can become preoccupied with their need of physical items in order to hold on to memories associated with them. It can be a part of the grieving process, yet there is damage caused to relationships with the living. Is being "in the right" worth it?
The remedy: I think those of us that take up a life of simplicity have quite an advantage in this area over others. Leading a life that doesn't revolve around the attachment of possessions is quite liberating. There have been times when I caught myself miffed about how another relative laid claim to a table or something similar without asking anyone else. I reminded myself that my relationship with the deceased took precedence over anything else. When you rise above, the rest doesn't really matter.

I hope you are inspired to take some action by envisioning your legacy. It is definitely on my project list now. I will blog about the steps I take to make the lives of the people I love a little easier should anything ever happen to me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Time For Something New

I spent the past 31 days documenting the possessions that I was parting with. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes too, like finishing school and helping other people declutter their spaces. I can honestly say that a lot more than 31 things have left, but more importantly, I took the next step with this blog. Renouncement had been in and out of dormancy and had practically no readers (save for the one character who called me a "b00b" regarding my posting on the state of the economy... yeah, deleted). Now I have a handful of regulars and I am really grateful for that.

My true passion is for writing longer and better articles. In order to do that, my personal Thing a Day Challenge is officially over. Several great pieces are on the way, so stay tuned!

Here is list of the rest of the things I parted with:
-4 purses
-3 scarves
-2 belts
-3 tank tops
-box of party invitations
-3 very small stuffed animals
-dream catcher
-pair of gym shorts
-Halloween wig
-several keychains
-two small jewelry boxes, one jewelry pouch
-various types of jewelry
-several binders
-old eyeliner pencils
-candle plate
-pair of cropped pants
-2 old craft projects
-framed art piece
-leather business case
-many pounds of paper after digitizing more of my personal documents

Not too shabby, eh?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 31 - Cord Organizers

These didn't exactly live up to my expectations for cord management. They were an inexpensive find at Ikea, but I didn't like how there was no way of stopping the cords from unraveling from it. A twistie tie would have actually worked better. Live and learn!

Making Connections

There is no lack of inspiration these days for striving to live a more minimal and simplistic existence. The internet has lots of websites, blogs and articles devoted to such topics. There are talk shows with dedicated topics on the issue as well as television shows dedicated to scare people straight from the tendency to hoard clutter! Occasionally though, inspiration can be found in seemingly strange places. One such place for me was reading a book entitled Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardine's Guide to Lightweight Hiking.

This book dives deep into the subject of going to what some would call "extreme measures" to lighten up your pack weight when going backpacking. When Jardine first started writing about this subject, he was considered crazy! The tradition among backpackers was to carry huge packs that could easily weigh 60 pounds, not including food or water. "Sturdy" (think heavy) boots were touted as a necessity in the backpacking world. Outdoor equipment marketers mostly sold their wares by instilling fear that mother nature would rip you to shreds unless you bought their products. Ray Jardine made waves and enemies by renouncing traditional methods and ideas. Jardine and his wife got their base pack weight under 10 pounds each and then wrote about the methods in his books. This marked the beginning of a more widespread awareness and adoption of what is now known as "ultralight backpacking".

Obvious parallels between ultralight backpacking and what could be considered ultralight lifestyles (voluntary simplicity & minimalism) can be found with a bit of effort. To paraphrase Ray's philosophy, if I need it and I don't have it, I don't need it. I am guessing that many of you reading this are not backpackers, but most of us can resonate with that philosophy in some way within everyday life. I am not suggesting that everyone should run right out to get their hands on a copy of this book, but what I am suggesting is that we all keep an open mind. Having an open mind allows us to find interconnectedness among seemingly non-connected areas in life.

(The pic is one I took on a backpacking trip to the Guadalupe Mountains.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 30 - Jewelry Crafts

I have invested so much money over the years in acquiring craft supplies! Jewelry making has been something I have been interested since I was a kid. I thought at one time that I would make a living out of it, but it is too hard to compete out there in the market. There is plenty of competition from others trying to do the same, as well as the super cheap mass produced stuff coming out of China. I have had this box for years of stuff that I had made, yet I had no clue where to sell it or how to set pricing for it. I let my cousin pick out what she wanted and then donated the rest. While I did enjoy making jewelry, I haven't picked up any of my tools in sometime to create more. The supplies may be next!