Hello, veg* my old friend*

Technically veg*ism (vegetarian/vegan diets) are not “old friends”. There were a couple weeks last year where I ate a mostly plant-based diet. I took a break from it to accommodate a major work event and never got back on the wagon.

But I did really enjoy it. And then this weekend I watched both The True Cost and Food, Inc. (Okay, I fell asleep during the last 1/3 of The True Cost – I was really tired. I’ll rewatch it.)

I am upset at the cruel and “disposable” treatment of the animals in the films. I am upset at the corporations that seem to only be interested in more money. I am disgusted by the lack of control we have to ensure the food we receive is safe. Not just healthy – safe. Safe to eat, safe for the environment – is it too much to ask to have food that we can be sure won’t kill us (allergies aside)? And I’m upset that so much clothing is being produced and then thrown away – especially items that have been donated.

What? I’ve been contributing to that!

So right now, I’m on a mission to be more mindful of what my family acquires in terms of food, clothing, and “stuff”. I will gradually be eating a more plant-based diet (but the odds of my family willingly coming along on that journey is very small). I can be mindful of how I wear my clothing, when and where I discard it, and how I keep it in good repair – the same for my kid’s stuff.

Both documentaries just fell in line with where my head is right now: I need less. I need less stuff so keeping my home clean is easier and so there’s not chaos everywhere I look. I need less negativity, whether it’s in the form of animal cruelty when my food was made or the negativity I feel when I look around my living room and see an inch of dust on the high shelves. I need less people trying to sell me on their newest “can’t live without it” ebook or program or Kickstarter.

And I need more love, more peace, more gratitude.

Veg*ism, I’m ready for you. I’ll even dust off the blender.

 

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Charm-ing

Bad puns abound but I added a piece of a much-loved necklace as a charm on my #bujo and wanted to share.

Changing

I have found lots of great, small creators online over the past year or two that seem to be slowly turning into businesses only concerned with generating more revenue. I’m disappointed when my favorite bullet journaler or vegan lifestyle coach turns from videos on their interests to email campaigns with clickbaity titles and “deals” on their wares that are ultimately only designed to bring the author more money instead of bringing value to their audiences. It may have been designed to be helpful in the beginning, but by the time they’ve been through the marketing classes taught by someone else in the online sphere, it’s not helping anyone.

Maybe I’m bitter because after re-cleaning my shelves today, I found a lot of things from various sources that at one point seemed like things I couldn’t live without. A coloring book by a blogger, stickers and bookmarks from a charity competition, and books recommended by a class that I enjoyed, but won’t be choosing to read ever again.

I think maybe I’m angry at myself most of all for thoughtlessly giving away my money. I’m disappointed that I haven’t, until my 40th year, challenged the way I was raised by media to do what my friends do and buy what my friends buy because of the insinuation that there can be nothing worse than not having the newest toy that they have and being left behind with lesser goods.

So maybe it’s not the content creator’s fault for wanting more money and trying to get it. Heck, I want more. I want an income derived from my writing that will support my family and my retirement when that rolls around.

But I desperately hope I am never going to be a pushy newsletter kind of person. I don’t want to sell, I want to converse. I want to share and connect, not hook new clients around the neck with a long wooden crook.

I have good examples that I can follow and learn from. And I’ll tune out the pushy sales and pick up other channels and feeds that may be smaller and less pushy.

I’m done being sold to.

What I got rid of today (books)

I packed up about 2/3 of my remaining books. They filled five small boxes, and I have them out in my car so I can take them to 2nd & Charles to see if they’ll buy them from me. I figure about half of them will get picked up, and the other half I’ll need to put in their outdoor bins (or perhaps take to Goodwill, because I think all of the books have value).

I put one book completely out of commission because I couldn’t in good conscience rehome it or ask someone else to sell it. I feel good about that decision, and am grateful to have it off my shelves, and not on anyone else’s.

I kept books I want to read (fiction and nonfiction), books I love (same categories), books I’m keeping for a while because I think I should (and I’ll work on getting permission to get rid of a few of those, because I tend to keep things out of guilt), resource books that I don’t reference often but feel strongly about keeping, all my filled bullet journals and the gratitude/affirmation logs I kept before those, four card games, some stationery, and a full half-shelf of blank notebooks.

In this minimalism journey I’m going on, there will be lots of stationery, notebooks, and office supplies that I keep because I will use them and I am determined to not acquire extra in the next five years. I have so much it’s silly, but to be honest, it’s a good thing, too. I have always loved notebooks and journals, and I have always loved writing by hand. I will use and enjoy these items, and I hope to value them in new ways while I limit myself from buying more.

Lots of other things will be easy to give away. I’m not a clothes horse, so that’s easy. I have two good coats that I wear, and the remainder don’t fit. I have worn the same pair of earrings for at least the last ten years, and I have two necklaces that I love. The rest of my jewelry seems to be from my childhood, and I’m no longer attached to most of it. I have one pair of work shoes, a pair of walking shoes, and the rest don’t fit (oops – a trend).

The issue will be with everyone else’s stuff. I really hope (although there’s no sign of it yet) that my kids will be excited about how easy it is to keep my areas clean, and how much nicer our room will look, that they will start to follow suit. We can pick three hours on a weekend day and just sort anything.

I’m oddly excited about that.

Updated to add: I was right. They took almost four boxes of the six I went in with. I left a few of the older books in the free bins outside, and the rest I’m taking to Goodwill. There are some good romance novels in there and a couple resources that I think will be helpful to someone.

Stories

I got a story idea on the way to work today, but I won’t be able to work on it until tomorrow, unfortunately.

In the meantime, I found this lovely article (which is not new) about using Thank You instead of I’m Sorry. Immediately I thought of several ways I can use this right now to completely change the tone of a necessary conversation. I have it bookmarked (and posted here to share with you) so I don’t forget it.

So back to my story. Since I have transcription work that currently requires I use one computer that is not travel-friendly, I will be able to write to my heart’s content while doing laundry tomorrow. That’s good since there are frequently a bazillion interruptions in laundry doing. I will be productive and maybe even productive enough to get something published quickly over the weekend. Wouldn’t that be something?

Hint: yes. Yes, it would.

Women, Strength, and Shame

My previous post was about the painting at the painting party, but let me share a bit about what else went on.

I sat with five women. We are all strong, smart, beautiful, powerful, talented, and have families. I am an introvert, and I know one or two of the other women are, too. Not super comfortable with crowds, but we can fake it well under the right circumstances.

So we’re painting, and everyone else is using templates to draw their fish, but I’m feeling goofy and comfortable with these people, so instead of using the template, I draw a simple “infinity” fish (where the tail is a triangle and the body is a teardrop).

The woman to my right says, “Look at Nicki, showing off.”

The painting continues and we’re all having fun. I’m able to help my neighbors a bit because I’ve done this before and know a couple of things. It’s fun, we’re laughing, I still have some beer in my coffee mug (because then I don’t pick the wrong plastic cup to drink from, of course).

A woman further to my right says, “Look at Nicki. You can tell she’s the artist. That’s amazing, I’ll never do that well.”

And I smile but don’t reply because I don’t like that kind of direct attention, and compliments are hard to accept.

Someone chirps up. “She’s not even denying it. She knows she’s good.”

Someone else says, “I know, she’s not even denying it. I’d be like, ‘No, it’s not.'”

And someone else replies, “I know, right?”

I’m so flabbergasted that any reserve I have blows right out the window and I say, “But that’s not how you’re supposed to accept a compliment! You’re supposed to smile and say, ‘Thank you.'”

And then I did, although I don’t think the woman who offered the compliment heard me or looked at me. I smiled and said, “Thank you.”

Women. Friends. Sisters. We are trying to raise strong young women who know their own worth. Please stop the self-depreciating comments. Please stop replying to compliments with words that insinuate that either you have no self-worth, or that the person offering the compliment is stupid. Accept it. Smile and say, “Thank you.” That’s all. You are talented, you are worthy, you are beautiful. Stop calling folks who want to recognize that liars.

Smile and say, “Thank you.”

And there’s another thing.

Don’t try to shame me for enjoying myself. Don’t shame me for goofing off, or relaxing, or trying to have fun with friends. Don’t try to put me in a box because I don’t want to use a template. I want to make it as beautiful or as dorky as I want to.

So what if I was showing off? So what if I walked around the entire room to share my joy? Did I tell you what you were doing was wrong? No. Because it wasn’t. And neither was my silly fish drawing that was only meant to bring me (and hopefully you) joy.

Don’t shame me.

Women, friends, sisters: don’t shame each other. We get enough of that from men who think we are less because we don’t have a penis. We get enough of that from ourselves after getting media messages daily, hourly, by the second that reinforce that many still view us as less.

We aren’t. We must support each other, and we must support our children so our girls know that we don’t stand for that shit.

So the painting was a lot of fun, but the reminders in feminism were better.

 

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LOVE YOURSELF.

 

I painted a thing!

This was so much fun. I love painting parties, and I always leave feeling like I can do this kind of thing some weekend on my own. Of course, it never works out that way. I never buy the canvas or brushes or paint or find a painting to emulate. I’m glad they brought this to my office, and that I was able to participate. I took a couple photos along the way.

 

I was goofing off while everyone else was tracing stencils to get properly shaped fish. It’s hard to read, but it’s a fish with a halo that’s saying, “I’m a koi I swear!”
Blue! I tried to post-blend the blue and aqua but should remember to do it while wet.
The blending came out a bit better here, I’d say.

 

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My (nearly) completed painting complete with gold hearts just before I saw that someone else had added gold swirls to their painting.
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All done and ready for the wall! It might be a space koi at this point. It’s hard to tell.

Back to Meditation

Self-care.

I’ve not been making it a priority lately, and that’s a mistake. Yesterday I used Headspace (the app with the free intro but then too-high subscription price) to get back into it, using the free daily guided meditation, and then today I went back to Insight Timer (free, which is the right price for me). It was just 15 minutes today, and my head wasn’t very empty, but it felt great. I got all drowsy maybe, or perhaps that was just peace, but I liked it.

Then (of course) I went straight to bad drivers on YouTube. I meant to search for something inspirational but allowed myself to get sidetracked.

Yesterday in the way of self-care I minimized my purse. There are still things in it I don’t use often, but they are things that are good to have for emergencies, and so offer value. For example, I carry two flash drives. I don’t use them, but they’re kind of like when your mom tells you to always carry a $20 so you can get home if whatever. One never knows when they’ll need to make an emergency backup of something critical that just does not belong in the cloud.

Well, my day is about to start trying to do me in. Wish me luck!

More closet

Except for the dusting. I didn’t bring the footstool up and I’m (justly) afraid of critters. I will let DH handle that part.

The Closet

I have so many clothes. Or rather, I have so many clothes I don’t wear. I keep things for “just in case”, because what if, you know? I’m huge on what if.

And yet when those what if occasions rollaround, do you know what happens?

I end up buying new.

Pfff. So much for that.

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I went upstairs tonight, after probably two weeks, and pulled all of the hanging items

from my closet. It’s important to note that I did this once within the past two years, and I greatly reduced my collection that I moved in with. So the load that I removed were items I had recently determined were the things I wanted and needed.

And yet I still had a very large stack. I suppose it’s hard to tell from the photo, but it’s a stack of about eight inches.

So I went through the stack. It took about an hour of picking things up, looking at them, deciding what to do with them, or deciding that I wasn’t sure what to do with them.

Currently I’m wishing I took a before photo of my closet, but I didn’t. Next time, for certain.

At any rate, the big stack with the red shirt on top is everything that doesn’t fit, I don’t like, or I know I’ll never wear but that is in good enough shape for someone else. The stack of t-shirts with the white shirt on top are shirts that have sentimental value, but that I’m not entirely certain what to do with. There’s also a tiny stack in the back by the cat of three shirts, one of which my son might want and the other two which probably need to be tossed, or perhaps otherwise altered before they are donated.

I only threw out one shirt that was a promotional item. The front of it is starting to crack and peel, so I’m done and I don’t feel bad about trashing it.

So the big stack is easy, and it’ll go to Goodwill or get otherwise donated. The sentimental tees I’m not ready to trash or donate or give to friends. They are sentimental enough to look into getting a quilt made (but I’m not doing it myself). The black hangars I’m keeping, the white ones are getting donated with the shirts.

My closet is looking much nicer, but I’m actually not quite done. There is one pair of pants that need repair that I haven’t brought myself to do yet, and I might or might not repair them to keep wearing them a bit longer. There are two to three pairs of crops that I may wear this summer, provided a couple things fall into line. And finally, I kept a dress of my daughter’s that I need to confirm with her no longer fits before I can donate that.

Other than that, my closet contains more or less my essentials – tees I love, tees I wear and moderately enjoy, work clothing, and a couple long-sleeved tees that are toasty if not attractive. I’m excited to have it that way, but I’m also a little scared. I haven’t worn the things I’m ready to get rid of immediately at all in the past year, but what if?

I’m really great at what if.