Spring 2015 Minimalist Lifestyle Update
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these updates.
Once upon a time there was a house here.
Recently, a new reader of this blog wanted to know how I went about decluttering, and how to find the relevant posts. This was partially solved by adding an Archives widget to the sidebar (at the bottom of the right-hand column). At a later date I might add a tag or theme cloud, but that will first require going through the many pages of posts from the past five years and make sure they have been tagged or categorized consistently. That’s a project I can do this coming fall.
Why this fall, and not sooner? By then, my third novel, An Undisclosed Vocation, will have been published and I can take a non-writing breather–things like improving blog navigation and cleaning out closets are less likely to completely sidetrack me from job #1.
The bit by bit decluttering method generally doesn’t work for me. I’m an all or nothing gal, very project-oriented; I’ll jump into rabbit-holes with great enthusiasm, whether it is remodeling the house or writing a novel. Age and experience have tempered that, somewhat–three or four different projects used to occur simultaneously when I was younger, but these days I tend to just do one at a time. That’s my variation on minimalism: one big job at a time.
It will be a big job, too, the fall cleanout. For instance, my office doesn’t look particularly cluttered, but I know that there’s a massive amount of paper connected to my first two novels and there is a growing pile for the third. Yes, I write on a computer and have the books stored digitally and published digitally, but since I do much of my own proofreading and editing, I also have printouts of the various stages and drafts and synopses. Maybe some day I’ll be able to dispense with it, but I still find it essential to curl up with a print copy like I would a copy of someone else’s book from the library, to see how it “reads.” It’s almost always a completely different experience than reading it on the computer or even on my Kindle, and I notice things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. But I don’t need to keep those drafts after publication.
Then there are the clothes closets. Since shortly after New Year’s Day, I’ve lost just over 20 pounds and Steve has lost 50. We managed this primarily by adjusting both the amount and kinds of calories we consumed. Steve added both aerobic and anaerobic exercise to get fit, and I added walking. Basically, we followed the old saying that weight loss is created in the kitchen, and health is created in the gym. There are now oodles of too-big things in our closets and drawers, along with a few just-right ones that have been acquired more recently. I’m fully aware that this is a nice problem to have.
My socks and shoes, however, are too numerous, the result of trying to find things that work with my specific leg and foot problems. I’ve got a combination of Raynaud’s Syndrome and arthritis, and the latter is what triggered my own need to lose some poundage, even though I wasn’t, strictly speaking, overweight. A podiatrist recommended a specific, expensive insole that ended up making my toes and legs go numb even more, no matter what shoes I wore. After staggering back yet again from trying to take a one-mile walk with them, I happened to slip on an old pair of Birkenstock-type sandals; the numbness went away almost immediately, and the toes that didn’t have any blood circulation started pinking up again within minutes instead of hours. This sent me to buying an actual pair of Birkenstocks (they have ones with softer insoles now, in case you haven’t worn any since the 1970s) and a new collection of cotton and wool-blend socks. I can walk and walk and walk in them with a minimum of circulation problems. Going to get a closed-clog version of them in a few weeks’ time, too. After that, I’ll know which of my other shoes are worth keeping and which I’m sure I need to let go.
Not only are my shoes real throwbacks to my youth, so are my contact lenses. I’d always worn hard or gas-permeable contacts from high school until about ten years ago, when a new eye doctor strongly recommended that I switch to soft lenses for my dry eyes. As someone who needs trifocal correction, this didn’t work out so well, either in terms of the quality of vision or the dryness. I also needed two different pairs of reading glasses, as only the distance vision was sufficiently corrected. Ugh. I went back to GP lenses earlier this year and it was like taking ten years off my age, the sharpness of vision was so much improved. There are now cleaning and moisturizing drops that can be used while the lens are still in the eyes, and are quite refreshing. I have, however, accumulated various eye-correction things that I no longer need.
Then I grew my hair out for several months, eventually wearing it in a chignon. It just made me look old and severe, and I quickly got tired of hairpins, clips, sprays, and the length of time it took to wash and dry longer hair. Snip, snip. Back to what my husband calls the “punk pixie” look. Much happier, but of course now I have a collection of hair trivia I no longer need.
See how it snowballs? I plan to blog about the fall cleanout, and maybe compare it to previous efforts. That will co-ordinate well with working on the blog navigation, as I’ll have to re-read some old posts.
Overall, we’re still pretty frugal and very much focused on our work, but it’s balanced by time with family and friends. We’ve also added one sit-down meal for just the two of us every weekend that we usually cook together. The table is set, candles lit, wine poured, and we have a great time all the way from appetizers through dessert. Steve is the one who initiated this and I love it even more than eating out. We also try to watch a couple of movies every weekend, too.
The lots to one side of our house have been sold to a developer who plans to break ground for townhouses some time this summer or fall, so it is unclear what will happen to the fence on our property line. The fence basically is the backdrop for the garden. I will miss the green space with the community garden planters, and hope that our future neighbor’s patio won’t be right on the other side of the fence from ours, but we’ll have to sort it out if and when it happens. During construction, however, we’ll likely spend more time on the front porch.
Yet the view from the front porch has changed, and is also likely to change even more. We live in an old neighborhood, one with big maples and other trees along the street. Evidently, when the new sidewalks on our block were done several years ago, the contractors didn’t allow for the tree roots, resulting in the loss of the curbside tree in front of the dentist’s place next door, and our own maple long-listed for removal, as well. It’s going to make that side of the house quite bleak and the quality of the light much harsher. This comes on the heels of the loss of the big Queen Anne house on the opposite corner, along with its trees. The house burned down and nobody wanted to take on the repairs, so the city bought it and turned it into a parking lot, which is as shown in the picture above. Environmentally, it’s getting a bit too minimalist around here!
There’s also decluttering going on at my son’s house, albeit in a more systematic fashion. His house is even smaller than ours, but his wee baby has grown into a toddler and their living room is essentially her playroom, necessitating putting some things into storage, and getting rid of what’s already in storage. We might be getting some of the overflow. As our basement is dry and spacious, that’s not a problem, but of course it does mean that those twenty years’ worth of boxes of papers that I still haven’t dealt with are now going to have to be dealt with this fall, along with some old art stuff from our previous careers.
To make it even more fun, my mother wants to go through all her cabinets and other storage areas and start getting rid of things she no longer needs herself, especially things she used to use for big holiday dinners. Her kitchen table is now Jigsaw Puzzle Central and she is quite happy to treat the family to a restaurant meal instead of bothering with the shopping and cooking anymore (I can’t blame her–I’ve minimized that side of things, myself).
Life evolves. Our needs change, and our stuff along with them.
What’s new in minimalist living with you?