Tag Archives: simplify

Staycation

12 Aug

I’m off work this week. I realized that I hadn’t taken a week off since last August. What????? How did that happen? So a week off it is!

And for the first time in 4 years, I’m also taking the same time off my part-time job too. So I have a whole week with no work of any sort! I’m so excited.

But I don’t want to be a sloth and just sit on the couch all day every day. So I’m going to be deliberate in what I do each day. I’m also trying to use it to break my TV habit.

I’ll report back at the end of the week. But so far, so good!

Perspective through rainbows

22 Jun

It’s been raining a lot here in Minnesota lately. In fact, there was a pretty bad flood in Duluth on Monday. (For those of you not from here, Duluth is about 3 hours north of the Twin Cities. So luckily no flood here.)

Tuesday night, as I was driving home, I was tired. And a bit cranky just from being tired. And still overwhelmed with all the crap to do this week. And there was road construction on the highway, so the last mile of my commute was stop-and-go – mostly stop. At that point, I just wanted to be home.

And I happened to look to my left. And saw this.

The picture doesn’t do it justice.

It was a stunning rainbow. You could see the whole arc over the horizon. Apparently it was a double rainbow too, although I didn’t see that.

And it made me stop (not literally, I was driving) and just observe nature for a second. How beautiful it can be. How peaceful. And how little my problems seem in comparison to the giant thing that is nature.

I felt better.

I don’t mean to belittle mine or anyone else’s problems. But just watching nature…you realize how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things in the universe. So I’ve tried to take that feeling with me the last few days. Trying to remember how I felt when I saw it.

And then last night, I danced. It’s the first time I’ve danced all week. And I tried to not think, not worry, not overanalyze. And I tried to let the joy in.

And it worked.

Weekly roundup

5 Mar

Last week, I…

*Went to the gym 3 times and did my strength training at home 3 times. Woo hoo! Here’s my reward for that:

*Had a dance coaching with the fabulous Daniel Heroux. We worked on the bolero open. Lots of great information and lots to work on.

*Asked my friend Sarah at Sarah On The Go to write a guest post on believing in yourself. I love what she wrote.

*Had a very interesting conversation with friend NM about communication in friendships.

*Sorted through more crap – this time winter hats, scarves, gloves, and mittens – got rid of about 2/3 of it.

*Had dinner with friend LS. We haven’t been able to get together in a while, so it was nice to catch up.

*Made a great chicken and herbs recipe and a fantastic cookie recipe. More on that later.

*Met friend/cousin AR for happy hour and caught up on her life. It’s nice to hang out with friends who are also relatives. You can really start to see what is nature and what is nurture.

*Wondered if my busy schedule is really worth it.

*Ate great food and laughed a lot with the fabulous KC. Love spending time with her. She’s good for my soul.

Is being busy worth it?

3 Mar

I’ve talked before about wanting a simple life. I’m still not sure how to achieve that. I’ve tried to weed out my clothes and books to declutter. And that’s my focus right now in terms of simplifying.

Mainly because I can’t figure out how to eliminate things out of my schedule and still do all I want to do! I work Monday through Friday 7:30 to 4 at my job. Then after work…
…On Mondays, I go to the gym and then to my part-time job, getting home around 8.
…On Tuesday and Wednesdays, I go to my part-time job until 8 and then go to the dance studio, getting home around 9.
…On Thursday, I go to the gym, I meet friends for dinner, then go to the dance studio, getting home around 10.
…On Fridays, I go to my part-time job, getting home around 8.
…On Saturdays, I go to the gym, then to my part-time job, then to the dance studio, leaving home around 10 and getting home around 6.
And none of that (other than dinner on Thursdays) includes socializing with anyone – or doing any hobbies. And on the weekends, I need to clean, do laundry, pay bills, go to the grocery store, get gas in my car, and make all the food for the following week.

Sometimes I feel really busy. Does having this schedule mean I can’t try to simplify my life? Am I crazy to try to do all this each week? Is it worth it?

I think it may be worth it. I’m working so much at my part-time job partially because the work is there (in terms of helping the owner) but also because I’m trying to save money for Dance-O-Rama. And dancing is so important to me and brings me joy and happiness. So yes, I’m super busy, judging by how little I’m actually home. And I do get super tired by Friday night. But I try to keep in mind that this is all bringing good to my life, it’s busyness for a reason, it’s better than going home at 4:30 and sitting my ass on the couch to watch TV all night, it won’t be forever, and it’s all working towards goals and a better life.

Right?

Weekly roundup

20 Feb emerson

In the last week, I…

*Made an awesome bourbon chocolate cake that was a bit bourbon-y, but that just made it better in my opinion.

*Learned all about the difference between bourbon and whiskey, thanks to the talkative liquor store guy.

*Had dinner with friend DF who I haven’t seen in a long time. It was fun to catch up – and I had a cocktail!

*Met some very fun ladies at a gathering to eat, drink, and knit/crochet. I’m looking forward to seeing them again!

*Watched the season finale of Downton Abbey. I’m sad that it’s over, can’t wait for season three, and am looking forward to what else will be Masterpiece this year.

*Started thinking about how you can believe in yourself when there is no empirical evidence and you just have to believe. (A very difficult thing for me.)

*Two dance lessons: one great one with lots of laughter and one in the thinky place. My poor teacher.

*Did a follow-up session for the Discovery Writing workshop I took last fall. It reinforced to me a few things that I’ve learned about myself – one of which is that writing is important to me.

*Beat myself up about not working out and eating poorly. It took me a while to stop doing that. Or at least stop doing that so much. (I still do it.) Today was a good day though – 30 minute walk at lunch, 40 minutes on the bike at the gym after work, and pretty good eating all day. Hopefully this will start to help me pull myself out of the thinky place where I’ve been for about two weeks.

*Had lunch with the owner of the place that I work part-time to start to figure out how else I can help her in her business with administrative assistant support. I’m excited about that because it’ll be extra money for me (Dance-O-Rama baby!) and I think I can really make a difference for her.

*Had the fabulous Sarah at Sarah on the Go let me repost her blog post on optimism and happiness. Read it. It was great and ties into me not beating myself up.

*Listed a bunch of clothes and necklaces on Ebay as a result to continuing to try to simplify my life and own less crap.

*Found this saying:

I think it might be my new favorite saying. I should have it tattooed on me. Right now, it’s taped to the wall so I see it every morning. When I move, I think I want to make a wall plaque of it. (Hope that’s OK, SR!)

Weekly roundup

30 Jan

In the last two weeks, I…

*Have not worked out due to stupid bronchitis.

*Have not eaten entirely according to my eating plan because the stupid bronchitis killed my energy and I didn’t feel like cooking.

*Missed a whole week at the dance studio because my stupid bronchitis was making me cough so much in the evenings, I sounded like Typhoid Mary.

*Have not baked, knitted or written much.

*Had a birthday party, four months after my actual birthday.

*Began to think about simplifying life and what that means.

*Had new people start to follow my blog.

*Got back into the swing of things this weekend by baking Nutella cookies (to die for, almost literally) and sorting all my yarn.

The good news is that Super Saturday is this Saturday, and I’ve been too consumed with my stupid bronchitis to really think about it much.

But I think I’m getting back to 100% now. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Is there such a thing as too much yarn?

29 Jan

Apparently so.

But it’s not really too much yarn. It’s just a big mess of unorganized yarn. That disturbs my sense of order and so in my quest to simplify life, I decided to organize it.

First of all, the big decision. Organize by color or by weight? I took a poll (meaning I posted the question as my Facebook status and read the 5 answers), and the majority was by weight. OK! I can do that. Except a lot of my yarn is missing its original label, so I don’t know the gauge. I know you can knit a sample swatch to test gauge, but what needles should you use if you don’t have the label? Hmm. The project was stalled.

Then I asked my friend over at All She Wants To Do Is whose latest obsession is knitting. She told me about a really cool and easy trick to measure weight by determining the wraps per inch. Sweet! Problem solved. So I went through all the unmarked yarns, determined the weights, and marked them all. Then, instead of have one big box like in the picture above, I sorted them into three smaller bins. I put all my knitting accessories (needles, patterns, books, etc) into another bin.

Since I was on a roll, I kept going. All my miscellaneous craft crap went into another bin. And then, I took all my beading supplies out of the giant tool box I originally had it in (why I chose that to begin with, I have no idea – certainly not because it was easy to carry around) and put all that into another bin.

All the bins stack so nicely next to my dresser.

Ahhhh, order. (That’s my gym bag on top of the stack. My sadly-unused-the-last-few-weeks-because-of-my-stupid-bronchitis gym bag.)

It felt so good to get that organized. And it should save me some money too, because I have a lot of worsted weight and fine weight yarn, so I shouldn’t need to buy any for a while. (Right? Well, unless I see a yarn I love. I mean, of course, I won’t buy any for a while.)

Next stop: going through my clothes and getting rid of what I don’t wear anymore. But that may have to wait a few weeks. Super Saturday is next weekend!

Beginning to simplify my life

16 Jan simplify-life

I was really confused on what simplifying life meant.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I asked my friend Brittany at the Gentle Home to write a guest post on it, because she’s been doing this for a long time. Her posts (she actually did two for me, part I and part II) really helped me define it, at least for my life.

To start, I need to focus on my space. Decluttering it. Going through stuff, especially clothes, and purging what I don’t use and don’t need. I started this today by sorting through all the clutter in my room, throwing some stuff and finding a place for the rest. Because most of my stuff is in storage, I don’t have a lot of stuff to go through. But the stuff that I do have here needs some attention. My books are in random piles in the basement. My craft stuff is in bags and different bins in the basement. Because I’ve lost some weight recently, I need to either alter some clothes or donate them.

I need to focus on me again in terms of my physical health. I need to get my cholesterol checked. (I’ve been meaning to do that since August.) I need to – SIGH – get my first mammogram now that I’ve turned 40. I need to work out. And I need to refocus on my eating again.

I mentioned before about my money struggles and how I want to learn to stay totally within budget every month. Doing that will also simplify my life.

I’d like to focus on my spiritual life too. While I haven’t found a church to join yet, I can still pray and read the Bible and try to connect with God that way.

I also realized that part of simplifying life should be really using every moment wisely. To that end, I need to not use the TV for background noise. I do it less than I used to – a lot less – but I would like to not use it unless I had something I really wanted to watch like “Masterpiece” or “The Big Bang Theory”. (Have you been watching “Downton Abbey”? You should. This season is another great one.)

I think I’m coming to the conclusion that a simple life for me means one free of clutter – physical, mental, financial, spiritual. So I will try to work towards that. Do you think I’m on the right track?

Weekly roundup

16 Jan

Last week…

*Started contemplating what simplifying life means and how to achieve it.

*Had two dance lessons: one that ended in the thinky place (sigh) and one that was great! Awkward moment in the rumba open fixed.

*Had the amazing Brittany from the Gentle Home do two great guest posts on simplifying life. (Check them out here and here.)

*Played board games and had a great evening with friend KC.

*Fought my cold all week. After friend JF (who’s a doctor) read that post and told me to go to the doctor, I did and was diagnosed with bronchitis.

*Watched “Psycho” with friends NA and SR. Love hanging out with them! And SR made great snickerdoodle cookies.

*Started antibiotics that are kicking bronchitis’ ass.

*Ran my first successful data report in my new job for an associate dean, and he was pleased with it. I think I’m slowly starting to get this job.

*Cleared all the clutter out of my room and found a home for all of it. (No, it’s not just shoved in a closet.)

*Read “The Help” and “The Virgin Queen”.

*Baked mocha crinkle cookies. And totally forgot to take pictures.

This week, with my cough slightly better, I’m hoping to have the energy and the lung capacity to go workout again.

Guest post: Thoughts on Living Simply Part II

15 Jan

Guest post by Brittany from The Gentle Home (check out part one here):

I love simplifying. I love cleaning out closets and bedrooms and filling up my car with things to give away to the thrift store. I (and my home) feel lighter, freer and more energetic. Once you begin simplifying, I have a feeling you’ll love it too! Here are my thoughts on how to simplify the different areas of life:

Home
Clutter is anything that does not belong, serves no purpose and has no benefit. In our homes (apartment, dorm or whatever living space you are in) especially, it is easy to store up clutter. We all have those secret places we hide things we don’t want to think about, but it’s time to bring them out into the light! The light is where it is exposed for what it is, whether it benefits and builds us up, or whether it steals life and drains us of precious energy. A beautiful, simple home has everything it needs and is enjoyable to live in. In the Bible, God’s home is often described as His “resting place.” I love that. Our homes too should be places of rest.

To begin to simplify your home, go through an overflowing closet or bedroom. Start creating piles: TRASH, KEEP, GIVE AWAY, or FIX. If you come across something that you want to keep – you must find a place for it in your home! Ask yourself some questions:

Do I need it? Will I use it?

If I want it, where will I put it?

If I keep it, will I maintain it?

Can someone else use it more than me?

If you cannot find any good place where it can be enjoyed or used, there is a good chance it needs to go on to another family who can make use of it. I’ve kept so many things over the years, and finally realized I didn’t need them and didn’t even have a place where they could be enjoyed! It was a little difficult, but now I’m glad; I have much less clutter and another family has a chance to make them a part of their home.

No one has a perfect house all the time – especially me, but we try to make it easy to keep organized. We keep a trash can by the front door to easily sort through junk mail. We have a “to be filed” bin that holds papers we need to file but can’t or don’t want to go through at the time. Because closets tend to attract random “things,” I try to organize them regularly, and I almost always have a “give away” pile going in our house.

This is a process, and sometimes a long one! Don’t lose patience or get discouraged. Go through your house a couple of times a year, at least. Eventually clean out and organize every area of your home, throwing away trash, broken and expired items, shredding and recycling mail and papers, giving away clothes and household goods that you don’t use, cleaning or repairing items and organizing the things you use and love. Don’t forget to go through your cleaning supplies, pantry, bathroom cabinets, garage, clothes closets, coat closets, desks, nightstands, dresser drawers and refrigerator!

Food
Meals ought to be simple as well. This is very helpful on our budget, waistlines and peace of mind. My husband likes simple meals. Usually a protein with a side of vegetables and maybe some bread or potatoes. I have to admit, this used to bother me. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t want to try something new and exciting, but now I see what a wonderful blessing this is! In this country where food is everywhere in abundance and we can have anything our eyes desire, I think we have forgotten that food is for strengthening us in our work and for refreshing us at the end of a long day. It is does not need to be fancy or complicated to be satisfying.

Time
Our time can be spent simply as well. When we slow down we are rewarded with simple joys that many others overlook… Taking a walk or going to the park (even on your lunch break at work!) Noticing the change of the seasons, the birds, the trees, the clouds. Playing with your kids. Watching them learn and tinker with their toys. Catching that sweet smile or loving glance. Cooking a meal from scratch. Investing time to create something satisfying and life-giving. Turning off the TV, radio or phone. Letting your mind and body rest. Learning a new craft. Making something with love. Using your time with a conscious effort not to get lost in the busyness of life.

Budget
I have learned (the hard way!) to be purposeful about my spending. When I go to the store I ask myself “Do I really need this?” Most of the time, the answer is no. I also ask myself:

What can I use instead? Can I make it instead of buying it? Do I already have something like this at the house? Why do I want it? Clearing up the clutter from my spending habits has allowed my husband and I to pay off our debt, save more, and give more. We’ve learned that the true joys in life don’t come from anything we can buy.

These are just some of the more practical ways I’ve learned to simplify my home and life. I am always learning and always growing in this area, and will never really be “done.” Simplifying can be a small project or a big one, either way it restores rest and balance to these hectic lives we often lead, and is well worth the effort!

[Editor's note: Brittany is a blogger who likes to write about her days as a wife and new stay at home mom. She loves to share her faith, thoughts, crafts, recipes and photographs. The gentle home is all about slowing down, consuming less but having more, and finding purpose in even the smallest things in our day. She has amazing stories and ideas. Check out her blog at The Gentle Home. Thanks, Brittany, for guesting on my blog!]

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