Unsettled

Some media I’ve been consuming a lot of lately is rubbing me the wrong way. There’s something just a bit off about it, and I’m not entirely sure why.

No, I’m not talking about politics, promise.

It comes across in the podcasts and the videos and the essays, and perhaps it’s just a personality conflict. I hadn’t thought about that possibility before just now.

It’s how references to frivolity and excess are framed with female examples, but not male ones. It is a flat refusal to accept the truths of others. It is a haughty and know-it-all attitude that just seeps out of every word and situation and it’s so overwhelming…

Part of being mindful and minimal, from what I hear, is keeping in your life what brings you value. Well, I’m taking your advice, guys. No more.

Now…I need another podcast for my drives to work, please.

Advertisements

Above the TV

It’s been on my list for at least a week, and I finally got it done!

img_0850

Those shelves above the television have traditionally been quite, quite cluttered as they are easy places to just toss stuff we don’t need right now. Even the very top had no fewer than like six boxes that had nothing of value in them.

I cleaned them all off. I tossed quite a bit because quite a bit was trash. I found a memory box that has some things of value and some things that need new homes. I found an old game system (not the two in the picture) that has no value except to my older child who was tickled to be able to show off such antiquity to his friends. I finally let go of the empty boxes that previously held items that I use daily and it is certain I will not need to return to the store.

Now what I have is one shelf with overflow DVD’s I haven’t put away yet (but they’re dusted and neatly arranged which is enough) and a bunch of items where the value lays in the memories they hold, another shelf with the actual electronics the television requires to function for our family, the third shelf with a few things I haven’t decided whether to keep or not, and on top I have electronic boxes which will be useful when moving. (If we move at some point and still have those items.

The tidying and sorting took up a lot of my day, but I love looking at the extra space I have, and knowing that the shelves are clean (even on top). I love writing blog posts like this about what I’ve done, and being able to share my progress. I love having the clean spread like a virus in my house, especially when I can sit and look at it and appreciate how much better it looks and how much calmer I feel in the room.

Next stop? Who knows. I want to clean off my desk, there are craft items I could remove and rehome, that large utensil drawer in the kitchen is driving me absolutely crazy, so there are a lot of options.

Wish me luck!

Distracti-cat

We will occasionally get distracted by a cat in our house. It makes sense – there are four of them. And we will dub the cat that distracts us “Distracti-cat”.

That would have been a good name for my iPhone, but instead, I went with Captain Pinky Sparkles. (The phone case is tinged pink and has glitter embedded in the plastic, so this actually makes sense.)

But Distracti-cat, as I said, would have been appropriate. I am a person who loves to look at my phone. My husband will tease me for watching the TV while a YouTube video loads on my phone and I’m waiting for my computer to boot up. I am device-happy. There’s no doubt about it.

But earlier this year I gave up Facebook for 40 days, and then for good. And I am intent on moving my personal lifestyle (although perhaps not that of my husband and children – I’m hoping they pick it up on their own) to a more minimal, intentional one.

Today, on the heels of a friend’s decision to dial back on the Facebook scrolling, I took another step.

Here are the two screens on my phone:

I went looking for articles on minimal iPhones, and I ran across this one where the author had chosen three apps he uses intentionally when he isn’t responding to a notification, and put them on the bottom bar along with a folder of the other 130 apps, sorted alphabetically. The first page of that folder ended up with the most frequently used 9 apps, and then as notifications were determined to be unnecessary, they were eliminated.

So what I’ve done is, for now, dumped all my apps into one folder and left the phone app on the bar. I don’t know what three apps I use most intentionally, to be honest. There are quite a few I use frequently, like Audible, Podcasts, and Kindle, but I also use Chains, YouTube, Hangouts, Messenger, Camera, Chrome, and Clock a lot.

So I’m just going to hang out with this for now. I’ve got several widgets set up on the swipe left screen, too, for some things I use very frequently. We’ll see how this works out.

Quite honestly, I love it already and it’s only about a half hour old. The photo is one I took on Memorial day, with our cat Shybutts who had been hiding under the blanket, darted away when my husband walked by, and then darted right back under. He was looking right at me for the photo, so he has to know his hiding spot wasn’t the best. Still – adorbs.

Cooking (sort of) and Cleaning (sorting, really)

I made a dressing this morning that I had found online a year ago for a simple tahini dressing. The first time I tried it, I used hummus accidentally, but it was delicious. So I thought I would try it today actually with tahini.

I know what tahini is, I’ve had a jar for about a year (oops), and still I had a completely different taste in mind when I opened the jar. It actually is much closer to peanut butter than hummus in its flavor, and I have since learned that I was expecting garlic, not nuts.

I’m not going to overthink that. Neither should you. On with the story!

So I made the dressing – it’s just tahini, water, salt, and garlic powder. Turns out I didn’t have garlic powder, but I did have minced garlic in a jar that was still good, so I put that in.

I kind of measured everything, but not really. Not really because I have a drawer for all my large utensils, and it’s a damn mess. It barely closes. Things start out at the front and make their way to the back. Some things are broken and don’t work well. Other things are just…I don’t know. Weird.

So the dressing came out a bit…strong. Strong would be the nicest word. At work I cut a lemon and added a bit of juice and that just made it Lemon Strong.

I’m blaming this on the drawer, and winding the post back around to cleaning. I wanted to clean off my desk this week, but I think instead I’m going to clean out the damn large utensil drawer. My cleaning and decluttering plan is completely all over the damn place, but that’s because I am, too. I don’t have time to dump everything in the center of a room and spent an entire weekend getting everything sorted and put away. I have an hour here, or three hours there. I can clean off an entire shelf, or maybe just a drawer, and clean that one thing.

It’s going to mean that I’ll have to go back and redo the drawer at some point. Possibly more than once. I’ll find more large utensils in other hidey places and put them in the drawer, find it’s stuffed again, and have to fix things again. That’s what’s going on with the shelves right now, actually. Sometime in the past year, I already cleaned those suckers off. But then this weekend, I did it again. And then I saw other areas with more books. I’m going to end up doing that a third time, too.

Oh, for a week where I could just concentrate on cleaning, so I could make a dressing that doesn’t feel like I’m trying to turn myself into a garlic-breathing dragon.

If you missed the link before, here’s the recipe I tried: 3-Ingredient Tahini Sauce

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.

 

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.

Quick Decisions

I didn’t see this coming, to be honest.

A couple of April’s ago, a visitor to my blog pointed out bullet journaling to me, and I fell in love. I started following a popular online personality who created a lot of great, original content in my new area of interest, and I’ve been a loyal follower since then.

And in the email I received today from that personality, I hit a switch.

I was targeted as only a dollar sign. My email seems like it’s nothing more than potential income to them. I found nothing of value anymore (and haven’t for some time) in that realm.

So I unsubscribed. I have a feeling I’ll be doing more of that. It just caught me off guard for a moment, and I thought I’d share.

And to be honest, I can now see a lot of digital clutter in my life exactly like that. I don’t need to be someone’s dollar sign, or just another opportunity to sell. It’s time to clean some of that shit up. I spent some time deleting a LOT of old emails lately, and I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of lists.

But there is more to be done, and I’m excited to get started.

Trello is better than Jello

Waaaay back when I first started using Trello (May 2012), they had a video with a tagline that Trello was better than *pause* Jello. I like it. I still use it.

I use Trello for my day job regularly. You could say religiously, although Trello is less a religion than an organizational, procedural powerhouse. I use it at work to keep track of projects, to keep coworkers appraised of my progress, and to delegate tasks that can be delegated.

But I’ve never been able to make it stick in my personal life. I give it a go now and again with boards for plotting stories, marking my life goals, and scheduling blog content. It works for a week if I’m lucky, but more often it’s just there, and I don’t use it.

I have the app on my phone, and I think this is where my biggest problem lies. I am logged into Trello on my phone to my work account (because I do like to keep these things separate), and one can’t log in to two accounts at once as Facebook sort of lets you.

I finally caved with my latest cleaning project. I really need to have that list digitally available on whatever device I have nearby, which means I need it on my phone, which means I needed to make a choice.

Either switch the logged in account or add my work account to the board.

I didn’t like this choice. There are reasons I don’t have my work things cross over to my personal things.

But it’s cleaning. It’s cleaning, and it needs to happen, and so I did it. I added my work self to my board, and now I have my cleaning list in Trello. I have lists and cards and checklists and labels to make my life easier.

And any time a job seems too big, I’ll add a checklist and break it down. I can convert any of my checklist items to cards if I need to. If it feels too overwhelming to take the entire closet at once, or all the clothes at once, or what have you.

I can do this. I need to do this. I want to do this.