August 2011 Minimalist Lifestyle Update
The Thinking Spot
All my writing seems to have been very specifically-oriented of late, so it is a good moment to sit in a soft spot to think, to go over the past few months, and have a lovely cuppa tea. My son put me on to Tazo Wild Sweet Orange herb tea, and I am hooked. I drink that to keep myself from going goofy with too much coffee or black tea (I really dislike green tea). Pull up a chair and pour something for yourself, as this is a chatty post.
This week marks nearly 22 months without shopping of any kind other than for necessities and replacements. With so little working its way into the house, much less is working its way out in the form of trash and recycling. To be honest, the cat generates more trash than we do (I swear that damned cat does it just to annoy, because she is perfectly healthy).
Some simplifying things have worked great, and others not so great. The whole no-poo thing has been abandoned because my hair was falling out more with the baking soda method. Dr. Bronner’s made my eyes sting too much, plus its smell reminded me too much of grade school soap pumps. For now, I’ve gone back to using an inexpensive shampoo, with the intention of upgrading to a healthier version when I can afford the $10 ones. Yeah, right.
Three seasons of Project 333 were so illuminating, that I went ahead and did a whole wardrobe revision. Before I started this wise and wonderful project, I had two closets, essentially: In Season and Out of Season. The fall and winter seasons were pretty easy to do, but the spring one was fraught with problems, because the weather was so cold and nasty. I needed turtlenecks instead of linen shirts–in May. So I made an Executive Decision (for I am the boss of my own life, right?) and have created an entire year-round wardrobe of less than 100 items.
My personal under-100-item wardrobe consists of about 50 street clothing items, from jeans to little black dress, with tops and sweaters in between. In addition, there are 6 scarves/shawls, 9 pairs total of shoes, sandals, and boots (includes 1 seldom worn pair of dress shoes and 1 seldom worn pair of hiking boots, but when I need those, I really need those), 3 belts, 1 winter beret and 2 summer hats, 1 pair of gloves, 1 wool ruana and 3 coats, and 3 purses (but I’ve only used the one bag now for the past nine months). That makes about 79 items, and the rest is made up of favorite bits of jewelry. I don’t count things like sunglasses, which to me are health-related more than fashion-related. The total number is well under 100, and it all fits in my half of a standard size bedroom closet and two drawers!
The point of minimalism is not less stuff, but more flexibility and options, so for me getting below a certain number of things, while possible, is not optimal. Optimal is the desired end, and combining my seasonal wardrobes into one small but mighty one was the optimal way for me to go. Makes it easier to dress when the weather is 90 degrees one day and 40 the next.
I am eating more raw veggies and fruit, and did lose five pounds. We caved in to temptation one Friday night and ordered pizza with everything, and yes, it was delicious, the first we’d had in well over a year, and yes, we regretted it afterwards. Ugh. I can’t believe there was a time we could wolf down an extra large pizza between the two of us and still feel great the next day. Not any more. One of the biggest changes we’ve made is a more ad hoc approach to meals. I used to be a supper on the table at six sharp gal, but now we just pick a little about three nights per week, have normal meals the other four, and graze now and again through the day.
Exercising is still a joke. I signed up to do Tai Chi this winter and got snowed in for four out of the six sessions. I do stretches here at home, and am able to walk a lot more than I used to, but it doesn’t happen often enough. I’m feeling better this summer than last, and have done more gardening, which makes me happy. And at least I’ve got my caloric intake under control.
The best part of all this minimalism is the stepping up of my writing life, both creatively and for income. Thanks to tons of technical fortitude from my beloved hubbins, I’ve got three books on the market, and am about to start on another. Last week, I participated in an A-List Blogger Club Boot Camp Masterclass, and got a helpful blog critique from Leo Babauta, along with some valuable input from the other participants and in particular Courtney Carver of Be More With Less. So I am now working on a separate author’s website/blog and will link it here when it is presentable. It couldn’t have happened without the simplified lifestyle, no way and no how.
Sandra Pawula at Always Well Within posed a One Powerful Word challenge back in January, and asked us how we were all doing with it the other day in Your 2011 Word: Dead or Alive? My word was “Money,” because I wanted to neutralize my deep-seated negative attitudes connected with it and have more of it flowing into my life. I was able to report that the word itself adjusted in meaning from “what will bring me more money?” to “what is in my best interests?” and in general what will help me and mine thrive. It led to making some big decisions, making big changes in focus and attitude, and consequently freed up my writing capacity.
While I haven’t reached my goals, I feel like I’m on the right path, and that, as we all know, is often more important than the goal itself.
Fun has to enter into life, or things can get grim, hmm? I somehow found a blog called Coach Creative Space, masterminded by Dan Goodwin, and signed on to participate in The Artist’s Seasons project. I missed painting and more creative pursuits, and having this fun little project for 8 weeks brings balance to my thinking life.
Another fun thing has been watching the development of the new park a couple of blocks from our house. In a former career, I used to design city parks. A lot of them. So seeing the creation of this nice big park just down the street has been a real kick, because I can appreciate what goes into it and can enjoy not having any of the responsibility this time. We walk there most evenings to see what they’ve gotten done that day. The grand opening is this weekend. There’s a stage, and so there will be music every Sunday afternoon, and they’re bringing in the Farmer’s Market and various events.
My daughter-in-law and son gifted me with some summer weight yarn for my birthday; now I am in the midst of learning how to knit from a raglan sweater “recipe,” and of course doing what I usually do, which is breaking all the rules and coming up with my own variations as I go along. I’m trying to make it a true Minimalist Cardigan. It’s cotton and linen blend yarn, and it’s beige. Plain. Will go with everything. Of course. But the main thing is that it is fun to do, and it isn’t on the computer!
Those are my summertime highlights. Now–tell me yours!