Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 11 - Greeting Cards

In theory, greeting cards seem to be pretty fantastic. In reality, they are rather a nightmare. Here is my thought process on dealing with mail:

1. Pick out greeting card, sign it and seal it up in envelope.

2. Wonder what the heck postage costs these days? Has it increased since the last time I mailed something?

3. Make a special trip to the post office.

4. Stand in line for 10-15 minutes.

5. Ask to buy a stamp. Postal employee tries to upsell me into express mail and buying a book of stamps. "No thanks, by the time I use them, the rate will have increased again and it is hard to keep up with", I say. The postal worker then makes some snarky remark, like "shame on me".

6. I leave, very angry, and vow to file a complaint.

I wish I was joking about the employees at my local post office being verbally abusive, but I am not. I find that a phone call, email and social networking mean just as much to my friends and family than sweating the small stuff like sending a dead tree with glitter in the mail! Most people share the same sentiment these days with the ever increasing cost of postage. I will still have a few to keep on hand, but I am much more realistic about how few cards I really use.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 10 - High School Class Photo

About a month and a half ago, I moved... to a different room across the house! You must understand how much I hate moving, even if it is only that far! I am always purging things, but it prompted me to push further because I don't want to move as much stuff the next time it happens. One of the largest and heaviest boxes I struggled with was a catch all box for old school work, cards, mementos and souvenirs. I had school work from the 2nd grade on up to college level work. I had the notes I passed around in middle school from dear old friends.

Within the past year or so, I have become very adept at scanning and organizing files securely on my computer. The logical next step for me was to scan what I wanted to save and then toss. Some people would say that school work from their childhood isn't worth saving, but I think of it as a chronicle of my life that I want to have. I don't need the physicalness of the paper though. There is still a bit of a stack left that I try to work a few minutes every other day. Sadly, there aren't any pictures of that project, although they might be pretty boring!

The item for today is a set of high school class photos from my senior year. I definitely didn't want the big panoramic one, as it takes up way too much room. I contemplated the small one for a VERY short time, but I don't have really fond memories associated with the picture. I changed schools going into my senior year (no pity here, it was my choice) and so I didn't make strong connections with anyone at that school. That means that it wasn't even worth trying to figure out how to scan! My belief of purging stuff that brought back negative memories has been in place for some time. Now I am slowing going towards purging things that I feel ambivalent about and this was a good start.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 9 - Robes

I had perfectly organized my robes in clear vinyl bags... my winter robe, my summer robe... WAIT!!! Why do I have a robe for every season?!? In my mind, I could hear Greg Behrendt's stand-up comedy routine about not knowing when to wear his robe. Definitely watch the clip for a good laugh, but I will warn you that he does use some expletives (so don't watch if you are easily offended). Robe Skit

I decided to hang on to one robe since I live with other people. It is a nice organic cotton one that I got for free at a spa. Goodbye winter and summer robes, I don't know why I needed you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 8 - Fossil Collection

A few weeks ago, there was a blog entry about collections over on Miss Minimalist's blog. I responded that I only had one collection, but then I was hit with a hard reality check when I started going through a box that was in my closet. I had completely forgot about the box of rocks, box of shells and box of fossils!

I think it is worth noting that the word "collection" can mean two different things. There is the definition of the word being a grouping of items and then the definition of an action or process of collecting. Those are very distinct differences. I have a basket of socks, but by no means am I in active pursuit of getting more. Semantics can be tough.

With much thought, I will now give a more accurate account of my collections:

1. Crowns - I have a small wall case (maybe 13" x 13") that has various rings & pins that are crown shaped. My name actually means "crowned" and so it is unique to me. My one caveat is that my collection stays within the space confines of the wall case, that way it will never be more than I can manage.

2. Vintage Cookbooks - This one started with a home economics from the 60's that I purchased at a library sale when I was a teenager. I was fascinated at how few items people lived with and the detailed instructions on how to take care of what you did own in order to make it last. It is inspiring to read these historical texts and gives me lots to think about in where we are now as a society. I have 5 of these books.

3. Box of Rocks & Box of Seashells - Oddly enough, rocks are something that bring me great memories of growing up. My sister & I are both into it and my mother used to be as well. On one of my trips back home, my sister and I actually bought a bag of dirt that had tourmaline in it but we had to wash it all ourselves to find it! That was hours of fun! I also grew up by the beach and so the shells are a reminder of the beautiful ocean that I am deeply connected to.

4. Stamps - This was a collection started by my grandparents for me. I am going to do a future post about this so I don't want to give too many teasers here!

5. Coins - I have a small box of currency from world travels and that people have given me from their world travels. Once again, future post soon!

I have given much thought about each of these collections and found that some bring me joy, others I am rather indifferent about. There is no intent to start anymore collections or to not be extremely thoughtful about things that are added to the existing ones. I try not to say to others that I collect anything because then others often try to do my collecting for me and in great numbers! Although I am grateful for gifts from others, I like to be the one that personally picks what is meaningful enough to save.

As for the item that gets the boot today, it is a box (or collection if you will) of fossils that I personally found for a college geology class. These don't evoke a great memory for me, just that I tried my best to identify these things so I would get a good grade! My aunt, who is a science teacher, said that she would love to have them for her classroom. I feel grateful that my old class project can spark some young minds!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 7 - Set of Books

So the history of this item might be a bit embarrassing! I have a set of The Chronicles of Narnia that was purchased in elementary school, and I have never got around to reading them! Most people have a book collection, but how many of us actually cull those on a regular basis? I am usually pretty good about it although I kidded myself for YEARS that I was going to get around to reading these! It is one thing to look over at the bookcase and tell myself that there is a book that I need to read. It is quite another thing to look over and see 7 in a row!!! I like to think of it as giving permission to let go of physical and mental clutter. If and when I ever get the urge to read The Chronicles of Narnia, I am sure the library will have me covered.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 6 - Tshirt Transfers

I have SO many craft items... and really no time or interest to craft right now! If only good intentions took us places in life.

I can't quite remember the specific project that I bought these for, but it turns out that quality of these iron-ons are pretty horrible. The only shirt I can remember making was white with a black design. The edges that were supposed to be clear were actually grey. Often, I have been disappointed with the quality of something after I have purchased it. Most of the time I do get refunded, but it just goes to show at how deceptive advertising photos usually are in comparison to real life.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 5 - Cotton Swab Holder/Freebie

Sometimes it is the small things in life that teach us the big lessons! This little blue box was a promotional giveaway for a national brand that sells a LOT of cotton swabs! Wink, wink!

I did try to make the best use out of it, but noticed that my cotton swabs usually looked they had the cotton stretched from the tops when I would use one. It turns out that the design of this product was quite poor. The way the lid locked on created friction on the swabs, thus pulling the cotton apart. This company paid to put their logo on some cheap promotional product in order to entice people to buy it at a store, because who doesn't like a freebie! And how many of us fall for it? I know I am definitely guilty. Not shopping as much definitely helps combat this problem. Even when it comes to trade shows or health fairs though, I stopped picking up stuff. Sure it feels good at the time, loading up a bag of schwag that I didn't even have to pay for! Then I have advertisements for restaurants, insurance companies, design firms and so on all vying for my attention in my day to day life. Those are distractions! I choose my own high quality paper, pens and even cotton swab holders now! It may turn out that getting stuff without advertising on it will end up costing more than getting it without, which is sad, but my clarity is worth every cent.

Day 4 - Hair Stuff

Yet another entry that involved the Great Bathroom Purge!

When I set out all my hairbrushes & combs, I realized that I owned nearly close to 10! I can assure that I don't care that much about my hair! I also had quite a few headbands that I had acquired in a quest to find some that didn't give me headaches from wearing them. I wouldn't say I have given up, it just isn't a priority whatsoever for me anymore. If one were to look at the drawer I kept my hair items in, most people would think that it was neat and tidy, with nothing wrong. I think that is definitely something that we deceive ourselves in American society about. Most people are okay with oodles and oodles of stuff that they rarely or never use because it is organized in lovely plastic bins with labels. I have been at that point for years and I am just now taking that next step to move further towards the truth in the connection between myself and my possessions.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 3 - Nail Supplies

Today's post goes back to my great bathroom purge. I had a medium sized train case that was entirely dedicated to nail supplies. Tweezers, files, brushes, nail polish... all the things to do a mani and pedi! That would seem like I actually did my own nails, right? WRONG!

My work consists of hands on activity and I also do stuff like rock climbing in my free time. Trying to keep with fingernails is futile and so I have never done it. I do LOVE a good pedicure though! I have all the supplies to do them, but I realized something about myself. Not only do I not like to do it myself, I am terrible at it! A professional can make their paint job last about two weeks while mine lasts about two days! The funny thing is that we use the same products too. Most of the items in that picture were, once again, gifts. I know some of the ladies out there can relate when we are given huge sets of makeup or nail stuff as gifts. I kept some files, a pair of scissors, nippers and only a couple of polishes to either take with me to a nail salon or so I can practice my pathetic technique. There is no more dedicated box of nail supplies! These implements were happily donated to the thrift store.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 2 - Flat Iron

I received this flat iron as a gift although I really have no need for a professional version. My hair is quite flat and straight already! The only times I really used was when I went on vacation or at home for a rare touchup. I bought a tiny Conair model that also curls ends which really fits my needs better. The new one will pack smaller in my suitcase and take up less space in the drawer at home.

My sister, on the other hand, has hair that does get straightened on a regular basis and so I am sending it to her. She will get much better use out of it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 1 - Watch

I sold this watch on eBay and today it starts the journey to the post office! I like this watch and to some degree, it is hard to part with. It is so pretty! I find that I haven't worn a watch in years though. My cell phone is always in my pocket or purse and that is how I find out the time. When I first started analyzing all my watches, I had least six and sadly found that none of them had a battery that even worked! There is maintenance in owning the watches I have and it is not something I am willing to keep up. In my mind, that means they need a new home.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thing-A-Day Challenge

I have been inspired for quite sometime by bloggers out there on the interwebs. Some have decided to limit only their personal belongings to a limited number like 50 or 100. Others have decided to find one item every day to get rid of. I like that idea, but after a couple of big clean outs, I am not sure how many days I will last. I guess the challenge will be to see how many days it will last. Note: I already have an entire laundry basket full of stuff, so I have a bit of a head start!

I might even post some pictures of my space since I have read that people like that sort of thing (admit folks, we are all a little nosy about how other people live). Hopefully I will keep this project up although I am taking my final class this summer so I need to be most preoccupied with it.

If you are doing the same sort of challenge, post a link to your blog!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Great Bathroom Purge

A few months ago, I was in a clutter clear out mode and stumbled upon something quite scary. For the most part, I had two bathrooms FULL of stuff! Okay, so maybe it wasn't FULL quite like someone's bathroom from the television show Hoarders. It was enough for me to dive into a mental laboratory to dissect just how this happened and what the next step was.

1. Owning Up
I got every last bottle out so I could see just how much stuff I had accumulated. Next thing you know, I had a sea of bottles that took over the counter. I had lots of shampoos, several body sprays, face masks, sunscreens, hand creams, etc.

2. Vowed to Not Buy More
After taking this kind of inventory, I had a couple of choices. First, I could pick out exactly what I knew I would use and give the rest away (merely tossing stuff into the garbage is usually a last resort for me) . Sometimes I like the immediacy of a quick purge. In this case though, I would use most of these items over time if I didn't keep buying stuff in order to try something new or because it was on sale. I told myself that I would not buy more items until I completely run out! There were a few items that I decided MUST go! One bottle of lotion smelled really good in the store yet gave me headaches when I actually wore it. Then there was the bottle of conditioner that left my hair extremely dry. Luckily the local thrift store gladly accepts this kind of stuff.

3. Creating Even More Solutions
I also tried a different approach by buying reusable bottles and sprayers from The Container Store. This may seem counterintuitive, but hear me out. I had several full-size bottles that didn't have much product left in it. I am less likely to carry a big bottle of something in my purse, gym bag or suitcase. Putting the remaining product into a smaller bottle created more portability which is something I love! Other advantages are the bottles being leakproof and clear. Working with clear bottles is a great motivator all around. If you are trying to be conscious of using smaller amounts, you can see your progress. In my case, I was able to transfer stuff into smaller bottles, recycle the big ones and utilize what I already had in a more convenient way.

The technique worked well with all the perfumes and body sprays I had. I received many of them as gifts, which is nice, but more than I can use in a reasonable amount of time! I purchased some purse-sized spray bottles and filled them up. Now I don't worry about the heaviness or danger of carrying glass bottles with me. This also saves a LOT of money of purchasing "travel-size" products and then subsequently buying replacements when the small amount inside runs out! Plus, my selection would be very limited since only certain brands make portable sized products.

4. Future Plans
I don't want to have this many products again! To me, having all those different bottles of stuff is wasteful and makes life more complicated. I have researched and found that there are several things I could buy (when the time comes, of course) that are actually multi-taskers. For instance, why buy a separate lotion and sunscreen when I can buy a lotion with a decent SPF already in it? There are obviously times when a dedicated high SPF sunscreen is essential, but for most day to day outdoor activities, the body lotion would suffice. I have also found a couple of brands that sell a 3 in 1 combo product (shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath). This will significantly cut down on personal product clutter.

I have made quite a dent so far. I usually throw a couple of bottles in the recycle bin every week. The simplification has improved my life and the awareness of how much was hiding behind doors in the cabinet has made me take ownership of the impact of my consumption. It has also made me motivated to tackle other areas such as makeup, nail and hair stuff. Look for those topics in future posts!