What’s Under All of Our Stuff?

It’s been a year of do-ing. We sold our big house and did a major remodel on a house less than half its size. We sold, donated or discarded most of our stuff, except for the contents of one container of things that we weren’t sure we wanted or would fit in our small home once we placed the furniture that we were definitely keeping. That container was a source of comfort, at first, but quickly became a source of stress. Deep down I knew we’d have to get rid of most of its contents,  since these things wouldn’t fit in our new space. I scheduled a pick up date for the container so that we would have a deadline to have it emptied.  We pared down yet another bunch of stuff, kept only what we wanted and would fit in our tiny loft storage, and met our deadline.

We are continuously organizing what we decided to keep and have been working on creative storage solutions for our living space. This has actually been interesting and fun! It’s also been an exercise in patience. It takes time to fully understand and identify a need, since it’s based on our family’s habits over time. Once the need is determined, I try to figure out an attractive, useful, space-saving system that works. For example, instead of a bulky desk in the corner of our dining room to store some office supplies, we are going with open boxes made of left over reclaimed lumber that hang on the wall. The office supplies will be tucked into attractive baskets that slide into the boxes.

The do-ing has finally slowed down and I’ve had more time to just, “be.” Minimalism can expose emotions we didn’t know we had or new feelings can arise from living in a smaller space with less stuff.  

I couldn’t even identify or put into words what I was feeling at first, I just felt out of sorts and cranky. I finally realized that I needed some down time after work and quiet time, in general, to think and process what I was thinking and feeling. In our bigger home, time to myself was automatic, given the amount of space we had. Oftentimes, I would be in our bedroom reading and my husband would be two floors down watching television. Or one of us would be starting dinner while the other one would be sitting on the porch. We always looked forward to a family dinner together and spending the rest of the evening in the same space.

With less physical boundaries creating separate space for alone time, I’ve had to communicate my needs and have had to learn how to be alone while sharing the same space.  As I write this post, my daughter is watching football and my husband is lighting a fire after working outside for a few hours. We are all in the same space, doing our own thing. It works!

What’s under all of our stuff? I guess it depends on what we make of it. I decided to plant grass seed in the bare spot left from where the storage container sat in our front yard.
under all our stuff

Advertisements

Saving Things is a Such a Waste!

garage
As many of you know, I’ve been minimizing for several years and preparing to move into a much smaller home. As the move gets closer, I have been digging a little deeper into my stuff to decide what will make the cut.

I was putting off going through my attic, basement and garage because I knew it was in these dark places that I had my deepest memories, hopes and dreams tucked away.

As I sifted through the past 50 years of my life, I experienced a range of emotions, but it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.

What I found surprised me. There were things that I had forgotten about, were no longer my taste and were damaged because they were improperly stored. I felt sad that some of my things that had sentimental value didn’t get the care and attention they deserved, but I have to let these feelings go, learn from them and move on.

I’ve learned three things from this experience:

  1. If you don’t have an immediate use for something, don’t hold onto it.
  2. If you want to keep things that have sentimental value, by all means, do! Just be sure to store them properly to protect them and keep them clean and dry, or better yet, don’t store them at all. Keep them where you can see and touch them every day!
  3. Holding onto things can be a waste of time, money, space and energy.

Chances are good that your taste will change, your needs will change, or you will not even remember that you have saved these items, if and when a need arises. If you’re like me, when you need something you go shopping in a store or online, not in your basement, attic or garage!

As I was clearing out these spaces I noticed so many things that I no longer used and stored away, “just in case” or for future use. I spotted a light fixture that I had forgotten all about. By the time I rescued it from deep in my attic it was no longer usable and I had to discard it rather than donate it.

I found some old furniture in my garage that I have held onto for many years because it had sentimental value. I had hoped to use it some day when I had the space and the perfect place for it. Unfortunately, it had gotten water damaged and could no longer be used.

But I also found my wedding dress from 1984! It was perfectly stored in the box from the dry cleaner, with a little see through window. I’m not sure my daughter will be interested in using it in the future, and that’s fine (it IS from the 80’s), but at least she’ll have that option.

 

From My Heart

butterfly

Sometimes I wish there was an emotional heart valve. One that I could control and let in only the good things. It doesn’t work that way. My heart is always open and so I feel everything. And when there are many emotionally charged things going on at once, it can feel overwhelming.

Vulnerability.

That’s what it is. I can weep at the drop of a hat lately. Selling my house, packing and moving into a smaller house in a new area, my work routine changing again soon and the anniversary of my dad’s passing.

I feel so exposed emotionally that sometimes I feel as if my heart is beating outside of my chest. It’s been three years since my dad died suddenly. Although he lived a full life for 88 years, his death was a big shock and the grief that followed was incapacitating.

Vulnerability.

My dad was one of ten children and a World War II Veteran. He was fearless, outspoken and even a little rough around the edges. He was able to impact more people in his life on a daily basis than anyone I know, always working for Veterans’ rights. He was “larger than life” and never took no for an answer.  He had a big heart and an even greater willingness to forgive. I always admired that about him.

Even though we butted heads at times because I challenged him often and wished he was a little more sensitive, I always knew that he loved me.

My dad was tough and strong and I think my soft and sensitive self made him a little uncomfortable. I don’t think I totally accepted who I was until I no longer judged myself through the lens of my father’s eyes.

I began to embrace who I was and the vulnerability that I was feeling and, rather than look away, I looked inward, perhaps for the first time. I began to dwell less on the past and worry less about the future. That’s where I’d been most comfortable and it was always a welcome distraction from what I was feeling in the present. I knew I had to open myself up and learn how to process what I was thinking and feeling in a healthy way, in a way that would make me stronger.

I asked for help when I needed it and began a journey of self discovery to find out what makes me feel happy, healthy and grounded.

Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness.  It requires strength and perseverance to be in that space.

Embracing vulnerability can be terrifying yet life-giving at the same time.

I’m grateful that I’ve had the courage to open myself up to change and the swirl of emotions that come with it.

Thanks dad!

Awareness and Action

awareness and action

I’ve written a lot about the importance of a solid self-care routine, but the truth is that sometimes it’s difficult to practice one on a consistent basis.

Sometimes we have to work a little harder to put ourselves first.

I’ve been really focused on doing what I can to help remodel our small home and was beginning to feel depleted (emotionally). Although I get satisfaction from working on the house, missing out on some of the things in my self-care routine was making me feel unbalanced.

Unfortunately, rather than slow things down that were within my control, I attempted to  “power through” these feelings.  After all, my husband was doing so much more than I was and he neeeever complains! I didn’t want to let him down.

And here’s where my old pattern of thinking meets my new pattern of thinking: More importantly, I soon realized that by not taking action to get a handle on how I was feeling, I was letting myself down.

I know that by taking some time for myself to do what I love, like meditation and hiking, I feel more grounded and more plugged into those around me at the same time.

I am a work in progress.

It takes a long time for new patterns of thinking to come naturally, which makes sense considering it took our old patterns of thinking decades to develop!

Growth is about awareness and action.

Awareness

that something isn’t working or that you aren’t feeling balanced.

Since old patterns are so routine, just being aware that you aren’t at your best is a big step in the right direction. It’s growth!

Action

to create movement to make changes.

Share your feelings with someone you trust or write them down (accountability can be super helpful). Do a self assessment to determine if your self-care routine needs tweaking. Do what you love and what brings you joy.

If you don’t know how to make the changes you want (or have made changes but seem stuck lately), then do some research. Be curious. There are many inspiring people doing great things, online and around us. Read what they’ve written, sign up for their blogs and talk to people in your life that might be able to offer insight into a desired path. If you’d rather talk to a professional, a life coach might be helpful.

I knew I wasn’t feeling my best and shared my feelings with my husband. Just explaining how I felt made me feel better and of course he was understanding and supportive. I’ve been taking time to do what makes me feel grounded and we even went on a great family hike!

Sometimes it seems as if all aspects of our lives line up and everything seems to be going smoothly. Other times,  our lives feel aimless and out of control (like a wagon that just lost a wheel).  It’s these times that we need to keep moving forward and work a little harder to get that wagon up and running again.

When we do, it will be better than ever!

 

 

 

 

 

Let it Go

I’ve been parting with a lot of stuff lately. We are downsizing, and so out of necessity and by choice, we have gotten rid of many physical things we no longer find useful. So far it’s been fairly easy to do and even quite liberating!

But I know I’m not ready to part with some things. And that’s OK.

As I was folding the laundry this morning I came across one of our towels. Instead of folding the thinning, blue- floral towel and putting it in the linen closet with the other towels like I’ve done many times before, this time was different. I held it close, folded it, draped it over a chair in my bedroom and smoothed it out.

Hair Towel.jpg

This was not just any towel, it was the “hair towel” that my mom used, the one that I used as a teenager, the one that I took into my adult life and the one that my daughter now uses all the time because, well, it’s the best “hair towel.”

It got its name from my mom because it’s thinner and smaller than other towels (the “body towels”), perfect for wrapping up wet hair on top of our heads after a shower. I never really gave it a second thought until now, but it has certainly earned some notoriety.

And so I think I’ll leave it smoothed out over my bedroom chair for a while so I can take a moment to focus on where that towel has been and decide whether I want to get it made into a pillow. 🙂

Deciding when, if and how to let go of physical things can be challenging, but letting go of old emotional patterns can be daunting. You know the ones, fear, self-doubt, grief, anxiety, sadness.

Most of the time I’m able to focus on gratitude and presence, but I do have moments, days, and even weeks of feeling less grounded than I’d like to be. Not really sure what precipitates these feelings but I’ve learned that trying to figure that out gives the negative emotions more room to set up camp and a tighter grip that keeps me from my self-care routine.

So I have to let them go.

I read a quote earlier today in Flow Magazine by German professor and author Wilhelm Schmid. He said,

“Telling yourself you have to be happy mainly results in being disappointed when you aren’t. A far better idea is to focus on what you are doing and experiencing, and to let go more.”

Reading this today really helped me since it made me realize that, rather than get pulled into a negative emotional whirlpool, sometimes it makes sense to just,

Let

It

 Go.

Less is More

cuckoo clock1

As you may or may not know (thinking you know by now), I’ve been leaning into minimalism for a few years.

Less stuff in my cabinets, less clutter on my shelves and counters, less clothes, less on my calendar, less in my diet and less living space as we downsize to a smaller home.

I have more space in my cabinets and closets, more calmness from clutter free surroundings, more time in my calendar to spend time doing meaningful things and when we move into our smaller home, I will have a home that is more suitable to our lifestyle.

I’ve noticed lately that my weekends actually seem like extended periods of time off. I have the time to do what I need to do AND want to do, like socialize and relax.

Weekends don’t seem to fly by like they used to.

This morning my husband and I carved out a few hours to visit my friend’s daughter’s bakery. We heard she had some vegan items on the menu and were pretty excited to check it out! As we were driving home from breakfast, we passed several neighborhood garage sales.  I realized that I had no interest whatsoever to stop and browse. Come to think of it, I rarely spend time shopping at all. I used to spend at least a few hours each weekend roaming the aisles of one store or another. Now, I only shop when I need something.

Less IS more!

 

Bag of Tricks

There’s almost nothing that a nap, yoga and a cup of herbal tea (and a farm full of animals) can’t cure.

 

catskill animal sanctuary

The Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, NY

 

I haven’t written in a while about feeling anxious or depressed, since I’ve been feeling pretty balanced. Although I’m curious about why I feel the way that I do, I try not to dwell too much on what I can’t control, and move on.

The truth is, I still have moments when I feel a little low and dwell a little longer than I’d like.

I’m so grateful that I have a menu of things to choose from to help me feel better and more balanced during these times. I think of these things, collectively, as my bag of tricks because they have proven, time and time again, to be helpful.

Some of the things in my bag of tricks are gardening, walking, hiking or just being outside, playing with Ellie, my daughter’s dog, meditation, healthy eating, writing and getting together with people I love. I choose what I need depending on how I feel, the weather and who or what is available.

I felt a little low recently and not very motivated at all. It was a cool, rainy day. I took a nap, did yoga and had a cup of one of my favorite herbal teas. I felt better!

Holding a chicken is pretty awesome too!

What’s in your bag of tricks?