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!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 29 - Concert T-shirt

I did actually go to this concert and even got a t-shirt. I must be very picky about my t-shirts though since this one feels bulky and a little snug in the neckline. Living in a hot and humid climate makes it hard to want to wear it! Fortunately I have some great digital memories from the concert to hold on to.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sometimes you just get what you need...

I really do believe the world works in mysterious ways. I took a big bag of stuff to a charity the other day, but I didn't feel good about it like I normally do. The more I thought about it, the more it came to me why that was the case. You see, my process is like an onion or a series of concentric circles.
Getting past the first layers were easy, in fact, I do them everyday with junk mail. The next couple layers were increasingly more difficult. "I have the space to keep lots of items and it even looks aesthetically appealing." That is the old me. To dig deeper is so hard because I am shedding the mid layer of non-essentials, but these are items that weren't cheap! My inner cheapskate was now in a struggle with my inner minimalist (for lack of a better word). It was a bloody mental battle!!! I then realized that my bedroom is the staging area for the accumulation and processing of this stuff I had been sitting on the fence about. I missed my clear physical space and I missed my clear mental space. So I bagged up 99% of this "potentially valuable" stuff and donated it. I felt sick to my stomach.
In a wonderful stroke of serendipity though, Zen Habits had just the blog entry I was needing to read today. I feel better about the big purge already. What's funny is that I would give the same advice to someone else, anytime and anywhere! Sometimes we just need to hear it from someone different than ourselves when it is our own onion we are peeling.

Day 28 - Spiral Candles

These were purchased from a candle chain that was going out of business. I know I have come a long way over the years because I used to buy things just because they were cheap and cool looking, not because I had an actual need. Hanging out at the mall is no longer fun for me. The act of going to the mall makes me more anxious than anything these days. It reminds me of the deeply unfulfilled life that I once had. Shopping was the only bandage that seemed effective at the time. Things are different now and I am immensely grateful for that!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 27 - Postage Stamp Pins

I think I might have already mentioned that a stamp collection was started for me when I was a child. Well it didn't include only actual stamps! I had puzzles, necklaces, books and these stamp pins to go along with my stamps. I never wore these and would never in the future (maybe because of my hatred of the USPS). So bon voyage stamp pins, I hope someone loves you out there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 26 - Over-The-Door Hooks

These were totally a "just in case" item. I prefer not to have anything hanging on the backs of my doors, although I do from time to time. By not having these, hopefully it won't bring anymore encouragement! I believe this was a principle I read about in Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston which is a really good book for those of you who haven't read it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 25 - Photography Supplies

Ever take a class that changes your life? Photography was life changing for me! This wasn't the easy kind where one would snap a digital picture and Photoshop it to perfection! This class was very difficult because there was so much attention to detail (that is even one of my strengths). I learned how to cut and roll my own film in bulk. I painstakingly had to load it on to a spool to put in the developing canister and then go through the entire chemical process of developing it. After that comes using an enlarger to print your pictures... by hand! It is extremely tedious and time consuming, but perhaps something you can only truly appreciate if you have done it all the hard way. I feel incredibly grateful when I see photographic work now that is done in the traditional process because that person put in so much hard work in creating it.

With that said, I was very fortunate to attend a school that had a well stocked photography department. To recreate even a small lab would be quite an investment. I purchased the materials in the picture for class and this was some of what was leftover. I decided to donate it to the school that I went to. Hopefully these tools can help change someone else's life too.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 24 - Craft Supplies

My rollaway craft cabinet has seen quite a bit of decluttering lately! This collection included acrylic pants, blank cards, ribbon, foam stamps, lots of scrapbook paper and other odds & ends. I know an art teacher and so I gave these supplies to him so that the kids in his class could make good use out of it. It was great timing too since the school year is about to begin again. I held on to the two actual scrapbooks that are pictured since they wouldn't need them for art class. They are going to either be given away or sold. It was one heavy box by the time it was full! That is at least 20lbs. of stuff that is gone!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A New Habit

I wasn't forced to do much as a child. It was a mostly carefree existence when it came to chores. That was probably due to the fact that I liked to clean and organize stuff! One thing that seemed rather pointless to me was making my bed though. I even had a daybed which makes the process so much easier! It seemed like a waste of my time to fix something that I was going to turn around and unfix in a matter of hours! I recently changed that though. It could be that because I don't have a regular job and spend a lot more time at home that it started to bother me. One day I got tired of looking at the mess of pillows and sheets and decided to make it. Whenever I walked into the room, I noticed that I perceived it differently. Then I did it again the next day and so on for about three weeks now. If I haven't accomplished anything in a day, at least my bed looks good. Over time, I think it has actually made me more productive. A mess of a bed has an inviting appearance. It begs to be laid it for a quick break which can turn into a longer nap period. I also spray some lavender scent in between the sheet so that when I turn them down for the night there is an instant relaxation boost.

Who knew that making my bed could actually be GOOD for me!

Day 23 - Even MORE Books!

I have been diligently culling through my books as of lately. There were a couple that seemed pointless to have after I finished school and there were others that I found for free in an eBook format online. I sold at least 8 and one set at the used bookstore yesterday for $9. It doesn't seem like much but I really wasn't expecting that they would even be worth that much! I also lucked out and sold my last textbook online very quickly! I am now down to 75 books as keepers. Not bad at all!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In This Moment...

A few years ago, it was a really rough time for my family. We lost my mother, great uncle and great aunt (brother & sister). There was also a dearly beloved family pet that had to be put to sleep. While the deaths were all very sad, nothing compares to the ongoing stress of dealing with the possessions that are inevitably left behind. My sister is dealing with our mother's estate. The process is much more in-depth and emotional for her since she was there and completely involved at the time. I live in another state and I was involved with the great aunt & uncle. They were older and so sickness that is fatal isn't as shocking. They were raised during the Great Depression... I am sure I don't need to elaborate much more about their living styles after stating that.

I have volunteered to help the family clear out the estate. There have been TWO estate sales and we are planning more. There was a packed garage, two sheds in the back and oh yeah, ANOTHER HOUSE! I must say that this is completely overwhelming. I really only got fully invested in this project after the first estate sale happened and yet there was still so much leftover. There are piles of books, multiple sets of dishes, several VCRs and so much more! It is several lifetimes worth of stuff. Right now I am sitting in the dining room that has 3 tables in it covered in glassware and knick knacks.

Maybe this is part of the reason why I keep striving, no matter what, to make my life more simplified. I don't want to ever leave this kind of legacy for my loved ones. I would rather people focus on the good memories rather than the turmoil of dividing and disposing of possessions. Time to get back to work...

Day 22 - Bluetooth Headset

Laws are popping up everywhere for safe driving with a cell phone and rightly so. This was purchased for my last phone which was great because they used the same charger! Now I have an iPhone and it came with the corded handsfree earphones. I am satisfied with that option since the earphones/handsfree speaker are multi-tasking. I always carry a pair of earphones in my purse and don't have to worry about my handsfree device dying or the need to have an additional charger with me... very simple and easy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 21 - Wallet Sized Tip Chart

My high school business teacher gave everyone in the class one of these little cards. I think it was supposed to help us save face at business lunches or something so we wouldn't under tip. It bothers me more to think if I am paying for a meal that someone is watching me fill out that section of the receipt! I usually calculate tips in my head which doesn't seem very hard and I am extremely math averse! If I were still struggling, I would use the calculator on my cell phone.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 20 - Travel Spirograph

I had a Spirograph at my grandparents house that I used to spend hours and hours playing with. This definitely reminded me of those memories and I am sure that is what inspired me to buy a travel version. I haven't used it in years though. It seems like it would be a fun thing to keep in a desk drawer at an office, but I think I will just let this one go.

Day 19 - School Related Items

So maybe some of you are noticing how late my daily post is. I have a good excuse though, I swear! I was working frantically on my required research paper that was due. This research paper had an entire class devoted to its undertaking. It has been described as a mini-dissertation by some. All I know is that I am glad it is done and I hope to never have to write another one again! This was the last class that I needed to get my bachelors degree!!!

In honor of this fantastic milestone, I am THRILLED to be tossing the huge stack of research articles I printed into the recycle bin! Equally as thrilling is getting rid of the highlighters I was using to comb through each of the articles. It was very late in the game when I realized that Apple has fantastic annotation tools for PDFs, which means I could have gone totally paperless. That would have saved a lot of time and resources, but now I can use the tools for any future highlighting needs! I will reserve just one physical highlighter since I don't need the rainbow assortment any longer. Also getting the boot are all of my leftover test forms.

I have to admit that this particular purge feels so great. The biggest purge is actually in my mind since I am not obligated to worry and stress out about getting my schooling completed any longer. I am sure it will take some time to clear it out completely, as old habits can be tough to break. I look forward to this next chapter though.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 18 - Body Jewelry

I believe I was about 20 years old when I thought getting a belly button piercing would be cool. What was very UNCOOL was the fact that the piercer did it wrong (and I went to an extremely reputable place) and pierced a spot where it would rub against my pants when I sat, therefore it stayed chronically infected. Fun times, huh? Good riddance to these beasts of torture!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 17 - Christmas Themed Picture Frame

It is sad, but I believe there already Christmas advertising that was happening in a local mall somewhere last month! The television reporter asked how the girl felt about shopping for Christmas in July and the young twenty-something year old exclaimed how wonderful it was since "you can never get too early of a start on Christmas shopping"! I don't know why exactly, but I was rather shocked by her remarks. I am hoping she was paid for her enthusiasm because everyone that I know has downshifted when it comes to Christmas spending, which means less time in a mall. Maybe I am just projecting here though. In my efforts to strive for simplicity, I went through my box of Christmas decorations and got rid of any superfluous items. I have a small 4 ft. Christmas tree and a couple of stockings. I don't need items to decorate the entire house, nor do I decorate for any other holiday. Having pictures in holiday frames isn't necessary for me which is rather evident since this has never been used!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 16 - Travel Pillow

I love to travel, but most of the time I absolutely loath the process of traveling from point A to point B. Maybe it is because we are loaded into airplanes like cattle. There was once a time when flying was a big deal! Men & women would dress in their finest clothing, have matching luggage sets and being a stewardess was a coveted job! Sadly I wasn't born yet to experience that sort of luxury. Now I just schlep though the airport in jeans and pray I won't be seated next to a screaming baby or the chatty heavy smoker/coffee drinker who ran out of breath mints. I am a carry-on only kind of girl and have been that way for quite sometime. I went to Europe about 12 years ago and immersed myself in the carry-on gospel preached by Rick Steves. Fortunately I converted before they started charging for checking your baggage!

It came to my attention a few months ago that I had quite a few travel pillows for just myself! I had FIVE to be exact! I guess I have just hid them well in various places. I have already gotten rid of three. This one makes four, although I haven't decided if I like the one pictured (which is full of cushy micro beads) or a small traditional type of pillow. One of them is going though and I am leaning towards this one. I do have a dilemma because both of these are bigger than what I would want to take in my carry-on. These are more for car traveling. Ideally I would like a super packable travel pillow that will knock my socks off in both comfort and portability. Anyone know of one??? Please leave a comment if you do. In the meantime, I guess I should be brainstorming how to fit my chiropractor in my carry-on!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 15 - Necklace

In one of my previous posts, I had discussed the easiness of getting rid of things that had negative emotions attached to it. Fine jewelry is a bit tricky to deal with though! There is usually a small voice in the back of my head saying that it is REAL white gold and those are TRUE diamonds on it... it must be worth quite a bit! In reality, jewelry store markup is outrageous and yet I would guess that 99% of people that shop in those places are shopping on emotion, not the better judgement we use day to day for our other decisions.

At the time, this was a thoughtful gift from a relative, although I never wore it. I am not big on fine jewelry and to me there is something a bit stressful about wearing something pricey on my clumsy self! Earrings and rings seem to do alright, but not dangly things with lots of slack! More recently though, my relationship with that relative has turned quite ugly. It is saddening that this happens, but I value my sanity and happiness. I also know that this person uses guilt and gifts as a bargaining tool. I got tired of hearing how I was supposed to be doing work to help her out because she had bought me all these things (none of which I had asked for). Not having this negative reminder around will clear up some mental space for happier things. I hope this necklace brings someone else some joy and happiness though!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Simplicity in Promotion

Today I was a vendor at a health fair for a local company. I have manned many health fair tables on behalf of other companies, but this was my first time doing it for myself! Most vendors usually devote all their table surface area to brochures, other literature and giveaway items. My table setup was quite simple and yet I got complimented for that! Rather than set out a bunch of different kinds of paper, I had only one handout. The rest of the information I wanted to convey was displayed on a monitor that was showing a continual slideshow presentation. On the other side of the table was a small basket of business cards and a fake flower arrangement. People seemed to be more engaged with me rather than trying to talk and look at what to pick out on the table to stuff in their giveaway bags. Yay for simplicity!

(The picture isn't the best since it was taken with my phone's camera, but you get the point.)

Day 14 - Signed Book

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the art of SHAG. I love his art because of the bright colors and fun depictions. I set out buying stuff like a few of his books, stationary and t-shirts. What I really wanted was one of his works though! I figured out that owning these little things are not quite the same. I have kept one book which shows all of his work which is fun to look through, but the rest is gone. This was a book that had great little cocktail drinks and snack recipes which I copied to my recipe book. Someday I plan to own one of his pieces, until then I don't need to spend lots of money on the little stuff which isn't what I truly wanted!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 13 - Pants for Martial Arts

I have always been a creature of curiosity. Trying new things that are out of my immediate comfort zone is something I strive for. Sometimes these opportunities practically fall at my feet! One day I was searching through the phone book to find a place where I could take some Tae Kwon Do lessons. Price was a big concern at the time. I phoned one dojo and they told me to come in for the first few lessons to see if I liked it. Once the owner met me, he made a surprising offer: I could take my classes for free if I helped out with the little kids class! They also didn't require me to buy a full TKD gi, so I bought these pants that were made of heavy duck cloth for the classes.

Those classes happened years ago and I definitely have fun memories of that time in my life! I don't really have much desire to do martial arts again though. The bruises and swelling were cool badges at one time, now I would probably have people asking me if my boyfriend beats on me. I will always be able to say that I gave a lady a roundhouse kick to the head! (That should really be on more bucket lists!)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day 12 - Charms

Back in the mid-80's, my parents had some odd jobs at a large outdoor flea market. I remember them bringing home random things like a slide guitar, chess set and lots of cheap plastic stuff from China for me! I loved the bright belts, hair clips and page after page of stickers! The charms in the picture were one of the things they used to get for me. I think I might have brought these back after my last visit with my relatives in California. I still have childhood stuff that hasn't been completely dealt with out there and so I took a few things from their storage unit. I didn't have any real idea what I wanted with the charms, but I took what I could carry on the plane. I don't like the feeling of other people having to hold my stuff for me until I am situated to take it, but it is what it is right now. I noticed that these little charms are very popular on eBay right now and so I listed them for sale.