Making time and nature a priority

My family and I have recently returned from a glorious 2-week camping vacation in Glacier National Park (http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm). If you have not visited, it is one to add to your bucket list.

I am desperately clinging to the feeling of hiking in the park, with no worries beyond what we had in our daypacks for lunch. But why do I need this feeling of space, of release, so badly in my daily life? How is it that I have allowed my life to become so cluttered up with activities and stress that I must constantly seek relief from it all?

Courtney Carver of Be More With Less has this to say on the subject: http://bemorewithless.com/7-ways-to-prevent-the-need-to-unwind/.

So I am asking myself: what can I let go of? How can I simplify my life further in order to allow for the spaciousness I am craving?

This will be a work in progress.

Digital clutter – when to let it go

no clutter

Late in December, I subscribed to an online yoga class service, for a reasonable monthly fee. I had used this service in the past and enjoyed a few of the classes immensely. Many of the classes were not to my liking; however, since I could pay for only the classes I liked, I thought it was a great deal. Then, the delivery format changed and my favorite classes were no longer available at the click of a button (nor available for download any longer). I thought I would give the new format a try and see if I could broaden my horizons a little bit at the same time, while I tried out new-to-me styles of yoga and streamed classes created by new teachers.

Alas, I did not like the new format. I could tell almost immediately that it was not going to be a good fit for me. Still, perhaps out of loyalty to the old format and teachers, I decided to continue using the service a while longer to see if I had been too quick to judge. For three months, I logged in to the service every couple of weeks to try another class. About two weeks ago, after suffering through another class that did not suit me, I had finally had enough. I cancelled my subscription.

I’m glad I gave the service a chance. While I could have cancelled my subscription earlier, I feel as if I thoroughly tested the format before I decided to hit that “unsubscribe” button. I’m not sure I would have unsubscribed from a free service, though, which leads me to wonder if I have any other digital clutter floating around in cyberspace. In fact, I am certain I have many accounts at a random assortment of sites and services. I am vowing to unsubscribe from them as I come across them – if they don’t have any value, it is time to let them go!

 

Leave a comment: Do you have any digital clutter? Does it bother you or concern you? How and when do you decide to let it go?

My purchases so far this year

Since I pledged not to buy anything new this year unless it was absolutely essential, I have been keeping track of all of the stuff that made the cut here: https://livetobe100.wordpress.com/2014-purchases/. On the one hand, I look at the list and feel very proud that I have severely limited the amount of “stuff” coming into my life this year. In particular, the things that I have purchased are either replacement items or they are quality items that have added value to my home and life. But on the other hand (yes, there is always that “other” hand!), I still think I could buy so much less.

Through living with less and only purchasing items that are truly necessary, I am learning to set high standards for the stuff I choose to own. I feel like I am getting to a place where I choose my stuff, rather than my stuff choosing me. For example, I have pared down most of the ill-fitting or ill-suited clothes that used to cram my closet. These days, no matter what I wear or how quickly I get dressed, I am happy with my appearance. Gone are the pants with the saggy fanny, the shirts that gap at the chest, and the skirts that bind!

I have also noticed that I am spending much less time shopping. Which is fantastic because, honestly, I hate shopping. I have always hated shopping, which I used to feel guilty about admitting. I mean, what American woman does not like to shop, after all? Well, THIS one! I am learning to identify “needs” from “wants.” Even I used to hear the siren song of the sale rack of cute dresses at the mall and the lure of the “25% off” online sale. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to walk into my favorite big-box store and purchase only the 2 items that were on my list – no more losing track of time wandering the aisles gazing at all of the stuff I just don’t need! Likewise with the time I spend online (how refreshing to not waste time browsing online retailers and instead work on high-priority tasks on my list).

One more bonus in my “win” column: I am throwing away or donating my unwanted stuff like crazy! For each new item I bring into my life, I am getting rid of 3-4 things on average. Plus, it is getting much, much easier to get rid of the old stuff. I can’t believe I have been filling my life with so much junk all of these years. I guess it’s never too late to learn how to embrace simplicity.

Minimalist wardrobe revisited

Aahhh, the beginning of April! Time for spring and time to refresh my closet with my April-June “capsule” wardrobe (go to http://theproject333.com/ for more information).

What I learned in my first round of The Project 333 is that I actually need two capsule wardrobes – one suitable for a professional office and one for home. My clothes for these two purposes are vastly different, and I’ve found there is no way to mash all of them into one 33-item list. For example, I have 2 ball caps which I wear all the time around home (why two? one is for yard work – blech – and the other one is for everything else), and there is no way these ball caps could be re-purposed for work. This is not to say that my clothes for home are sloppy or not presentable; on the contrary, most of them are perfectly fine for buzzing around town doing errands. Yet they are not appropriate for work, so there can be very little overlap between the two wardrobes.

boy in hat crop

Living with far fewer clothes has been a wonderful change in my life, helping me to simplify my daily routines and consistently wear clothes that are more flattering. But almost every day, I need to get dressed twice: once when I leave for work in the morning and again when I change my clothes after work. While I would dearly love to have the kind of job where I can wear jeans and a t-shirt every day, I can’t see that happening any time in the near future. For the time being, I am going to continue to allow myself to have two separate wardrobes.

On my journey to Live to Be 100, I’m going to be realistic about my life and as kind as possible to myself. What about you?

Part 2 of 2: Not buying anything in 2014

closet 1-11-14

Back in 2012, I also challenged myself not to buy any stuff. It worked out fairly well for a while, but I didn’t make it into a habit. I know this because by the end of the year (probably by September) I had completely forgotten about the challenge. My life had just become too stressful and hectic due to moving my family to live next door to my parents.

This time, I am going about the challenge in a whole new way. Not only am I not going to buy anything, but I am purging my life of the stuff that has no value to me. I am going to truly appreciate what I have, which will free up my time to really love the people in my life. I am starting this journey by following Project333, dramatically reducing the volume of clothes I wear in each season.

Over the past week, I have put away or given away perhaps 2/3 of my clothes. I haven’t made it down to just 33 pieces yet, which is the suggested number in Project333, and I might not get the number down quite that low. Regardless, I took the above picture of my closet this morning without staging it at all. Most of my clothes are in here now (I still have 2 drawers of clothes in a bureau, but they are nearly empty drawers). It is not perfect, as you can see, but I didn’t tidy anything up, either. For almost a week, my closet has looked something like this every time I open the door. I wish I had a “before” picture to share, but the only one I had actually was staged, so you can’t see the huge difference between a week ago and now.

The really great thing about this mindset is it has already begun to affect other areas of my stuff, as well. I am also purging my body care products, cosmetics, junk drawers, etc. I have even unsubscribed myself from probably dozens of email lists – there was a period of several hours yesterday when I did not receive any new emails, and it was wonderful! Simplifying is addicting!

Living to be 100 will be so much more fulfilling if I am carting around less stuff – all of the time and emotional baggage that goes with it.