Week 26: Consigning

FeaturedWeek 26: Consigning

I don’t know if it’s worth it. Getting stuff ready to consign is labor intensive. There’s the selecting of clothes: is it in good condition? Are there stains? There’s the prepping of clothes: washing, ironing. There’s the hanging of the clothes and tagging. Then there will be the drop off. All told, I don’t know how many hours will have gone into it. And then, will they sell? Did I price it well enough? Are the items desirable enough?

But, I must say that it feels good. In a way it is a great way to move stuff along but at a pace where you get to say your goodbyes and prepare for separation. There are a lot of memories attached to some items of clothing. And truth be told, I can’t bear to part with some of it. For the most part, though, I am letting things go. Having kids necessitates that. I am always letting go. I have to let go of trying to hold onto the baby version of my toddler…and now my quickly growing baby too. I have to let go of wanting to feel needed when my big girl walks away without looking back. Clothes, to be honest, are the least of my worries!

And what helps fuel the letting go is the need to make room for the next influx. Change happens so quickly around here. It’s exciting, it’s stressful, it keeps me on my toes.

I am also preparing to make some purchases for my girl. She is hovering on the brink of growing out of all of her shoes. This means I need to assess what is necessary for her in terms of footwear. I think running shoes are the bees knees. My kid thinks patent Mary Janes are the bomb. I think rain boots would be appropriate considering the rainy season is approaching. My kid thinks “what’s ‘appropriate’ got to do with anything?” So, not only do I need to assess whether something is necessary, I have to very much take into account whether or not it will be worn. Pretty much anything not pink or purple is suspect in my kiddos eyes right now. It makes me want to weep.

So, after having reported last week that I was not talking about shopping much, I found myself doing exactly that ( what I like to call “shop talk”). I’ve been eyeing other kids’ shoes and asking their mom’s about them. All for a purpose, of course, but I am afraid I will fuel my shopping monster. I hover on the brink.

I can hold out a little longer. The need is immanent but not immediate. For the moment, I will focus on the letting go. Wish me good consigning mojo!

20161008_140648.jpg

 

Advertisements

Week 21: The Cure

Week 21: The Cure

What is the ultimate cure for spending? Ummm…cleaning. More specifically, de-cluttering. This long weekend we had, as usual, made no plans in advance. This left us wide open to come up with some great spur of the moment activities. Being that we have had a rough week, the two of us, short on sleep and high on stress, we couldn’t think of much. Sometimes what is needed is simply time at home.

Unfortunately, time at home means looking at things more closely, aka: the mess. So, it launched us into de-clutter mode. I have been saying for months that the next de-cluttering frontier is the garage. Oh, the garage. The bane of my hubby’s existence. When I moved to California, permanently, from Ontario Canada, I brought a lot of stuff with me. Stuff that I could not get rid of, you know, the paraphernalia of personal history. Memories, in other words. I look at those unopened boxes gathering dust and I wonder why I couldn’t face de-cluttering all of those years ago when I had a chance; when each box and the amount it contained equaled a really sizable chunk of money, all sent through the mail. The cost of memories. I had a literal cost for being unable to let go.

I’ve always been a collector, but these days I am starting to change my perspective on things. I imagine us getting old, passing away and leaving this burden of earthly possessions to the kids. Who needs that? I know for a fact that I cannot bring anything physical with me when I die. What is this need to posses? What will happen to me if I don’t have all this stuff? And most importantly, if I do get rid of something meaningful, and I do, in the future have a pang of regret…what does that do to me? Really. And what will I gain in terms of mental emotional/clarity when I don’t have all of this stuff lingering around, cluttering my life?

Ultimately, that pang of regret is a transient feeling. It will not affect who I am nor the life I am living, nor the memories I carry with me. The pangs we have for physical things, the nostalgia, it’s just that: nostalgic feelings that can be felt, observed and let go of. 

I sound so confident and zen, don’t I?  In actuality, this is the ultimate challenge for me. I managed to empty quite a few boxes and send some things off either to the dump or the thrift store, but there are boxes I have designated my “search my heart” boxes. I will have to tackle each and every item in them and really honestly answer the questions: do I need this? Will I use this? Is this necessary? And, most importantly, is this an item of joy or a burden? If it’s a burden, I need to let it go, no matter what it is, no matter how personally historical.

One of the hardest thing for me is photographs. What to do with this precious documentation. To destroy it seems to be sacrilege. Yet, of all the things I possess it seems to be the biggest burden. The burden of a reluctant archivist. I do not possess the interest, time, or ability to organize and store all of it properly, so it weighs on my mind. I have to ask the questions: For whom are these photos? Will these photos be viewed? Will they be of value to anyone other than myself? Do I simply need one photo or the negatives too? The negatives are the DNA of the photo, yet they are inherently set to decompose, break down which, if I’m honest, is a source of anxiety for me too (this is proof of my existence, when we are all dust, there will be no record). Until such time as they are no longer viable, what will I do with them, can I let them go?! Would the regret of letting them go eat me up inside?

When I was younger, I actually thought that perhaps, one day, I might really make something of myself. Enough so that someone might be interested in my personal history. My ego-self envisioned that all the stuff I’d collected was like my personal museum, my biography, some day, long from now, someone would find my stuff and think it was gold, would gleefully delve into it all and glean something of my personality and life, a museum could be set up dedicated to my creative life. I am laughing so hard. And I am also so sad. The death of dreaming and the onset of reality and the likelihood of a lovely yet unremarkable, decidedly non celebrity life. Don’t get me wrong:

I love my life. I am just, probably, not the stuff of legend.

So there will be soul searching and brutal honesty in my future…when I get a chance. With kids, those chances seem to be few and far between. Ultimately that might help me be more swiftly decisive and brutal.

I turn to you, my lovely community: how do you deal with your personal artifacts? What can you let go of? What do you find you must keep and why?

 

Week 20: In Which We Celebrate my baby turning 3 years old

Week 20: In Which We Celebrate my baby turning 3 years old

Okay, so I am a day late on this post. I almost completely forgot about it. Kind of blissful actually, to not feel the weight of any particular “have to” for a brief period of time (though usually it’s a “want to”). I’m sort of in a post birthday prep haze. Today, my kiddo’s actual birthday, we just chose to lie low and take the day nice and slow.

What to report/reflect on this week? I did spend. Mostly on party related things, but in that regard I think it was all rather conservative and very successful. I did have a moment (the Asian part of me) when I panicked that maybe I wasn’t preparing enough food, but it turned out to be ample and everyone left with full bellies. It felt like party food on a budget, but maybe it was just the nature of the cuisine? I chose to do “Mexican” not because I know much about the cuisine, but because in thinking about what small children might actually choose to eat alongside their parents (that wasn’t pizza), I thought “why, beans…and rice…tasty rice…and salty meat always seems to do the trick”. From that I figured on some quesadillas, some corn tortillas, home made salsa made by my mum-in-law, guacamole made by my Aunt Barb. I didn’t try to be a hero, I got the re fried beans from a can and focused instead on the meat. Without tasty meat, you’ve got nothin’. So, I let the hubs choose a large cut of meat from our deep freeze (from our locally sourced and butchered 1/8 of a cow) and I started the thaw and marinate part about 48 hours out. Then, I slow cooked that puppy for 11 hours timed to be ready just one hour before show time; enough time to be cool enough to be broken up into delicious taco ready strips. I also made horchatta from scratch. Super simple and extremely delicious. I will be revisiting that one for sure. All that said, it really didn’t cost all that much and it was a feast. * A huge thank you to my salsa, guac and bday cake contributors! Not sure what I would have done without you, Cathy, Barb and Rebekah.

On other birthday stuff. Decorations…now that can get out of hand…if you go to a party supply store. I made that mistake with little M’s birth day last month. No, the place to go is the dollar store. They have an entire wall dedicated to plastic table cloths, utensils, napkins and plates, all in a spectrum of colours. My kid made the specific request to have “pink and purple…with a little bit of black” Hoh! Some sophistication added to the palette. Not bad for a 3 year old! I think I got all of the decor (balloons and streamers, table cloth, utensils etc.)  plus a few party gift bag toys ( a few items from Target’s dollar area) for under $30. So, not too shabby.

Also this week, I started to get a little bit excited about painting my girls’ bedroom. She is starting to transition into sleeping in there by herself at nap time. She still has daddy in there at night, but I foresee a change a comin’ and I am pretty excited about that. It will be nice to share the same bed with the hubs again. So… I sort of want to pretty up, and magical-up her room so that it becomes her little safe haven/wonderland. She, of course, requested pink (this is the baby I deliberately put in only gender neutral clothes for the first year of her life. Grrr.). I want to figure out a work around, a way to incorporate pink but also use some of my artistic skill….perhaps a bit of mural art. Her auntie got her one of those wall mounted lights from IKEA shaped like a flower, and those giant leaf canopies for over the bed. I can see a flower garden theme emerging. I also want a book nook. The hubs forbids me (being that he is a cabinet maker) from buying some cheap thrift store book shelf and spray painting it. I am loath to always give him the projects, but on this I think I can’t argue… plus it would be nice to have some shelving specifically designed for the space. So…I was sort of on the hunt for a cool area rug and some bedding for her twin sized day bed. I roped one of my gal pals into coming with me to a few thrift stores. Unfortunately, there were no gems. I did come away with one clothing item to help flesh out her dwindling wardrobe as she fully launches into her 3T size category. But that’s it. I didn’t needlessly spend on any nick knacks. I am proud of that.

I did not sell any other items on that facebook yard sale page this week. Though it feels great to get some stuff gone and a bit of cash in hand…it does take a lot of time in posting, follow up and coordinating pick up. I already feel like media takes up way too much of my attention at times. I really don’t want my kids growing up with images in their head of mommy staring at her phone like a zombie. So, because of that awareness, I just didn’t manage to find the time to post anything. I think what I will do is try to be smart about it, I will only post at peak times…aka Friday, Saturday, to try to move some stuff out while more people are looking and I also have the hubs to tag team; because it is still quite worthwhile and in line with my intent to rid our lives of unnecessary clutter. It’s always such a fine balance of priorities, isn’t it?

Alright, not sure that that is it, but it is going to have to be. Night. Until next week.

 

Week 17: A New Temptation

Week 17: A New Temptation

Man is it ever hard to do a post on Sunday night. Seriously, I just want to sleep.

So, I guess I should attempt to be succinct. Ha.

I found a new temptation. My aunt turned me on to facebook’s sellers sites that are specific to the region you live in. It took me a while to find these closed groups, but essential, once you request access, you’re in and you can start scrolling through endless posts of things for sale in your area.

I know, what am I doing dabbling with such things when I am trying to not spend? The answer is…I don’t know. I couldn’t resist. Like my husband and his Reddit, I could not look away. I felt pretty confident that it would simply be cheap thrills and that there would not be much to tempt me. Lots of listings are for knick knacks, children’s clothes etc.

I actually half signed on to these in order to use it to sell my own junk. I am planning on doing so once I get the hang of it…there is some short form language used on the sites that I am trying to figure out. You can also post “in search of”s (ISOs) which could come in handy as I am actually in search of a Strider bike for my toddler for her upcoming birthday.

All that to say, I thought I was somewhat impervious. But then, it took all of maybe 15 minutes for me to scroll to a post that I could not look away from. This one struck me to my core, because it was something I have coveted since I was in my early 20s working at a kitchen store where on display was a pine green, enamel and chrome, modern but old looking Wedgewood. It was ludicrous expensive and completely out of my range…in fact most people’s range as I never sold a single one.

Well, folks, a Wedgewood was up for grabs…from the 1950s, in apparent working order, white enamel…and from my quick research much more reliable than most modern stoves. The seller was asking $200.

So, the ultimate test, I asked my husband. I was prepared to drop it as soon as he laughed in my face. But he didn’t. He gave me his blessing.

Sooo…after a trip to a neighboring city to take a look at it, and after enlisting the men folk to go haul it after they got off work, here it is:

20160806_182532.jpg

She’s definitely in need of some TLC but the original owners kept her really clean. The chrome has some rust, but I like to call that a patina. This beauty can heat up to 600 F which bodes well for pizza making…as well as an ability to burn super low for simmering which is something my current propane stove sucks at. It’s got a griddle in the center…I mean, come on folks, this thing is amazing. On the inside of the oven door are cook times for various 1950s dishes. So cool. We may have to do some retrofitting, but the hubs seems certain he can figure it all out. I love that man.

It actually got me and the hubs all inspired to start planning the final remodel in our house, the kitchen.

So, it would be all well and good if it all just ended there. But no…this weekend alone I picked up a bamboo and chrome stool that raises and lowers, to replace my other stool that causes my back to ache when I’m painting in the art room. That was $20.

Then, of all things, someone posted a pick of about 17 pieces of miniature furniture, plus tiny pots and pans, books, lamps etc. for $30.

What in the heck, Sharolyn, you say. Why would you want that? I know, it seems nuts. But, here’s the deal: there’s this really amazing doll house that was built for my husband’s grandmother when she was a little girl. It’s been passed down, seen hard times. Recently the hubs scraped all the old wallpaper off and painted the thing white. The plan is to redecorate it for my girls. I have been enthused about it but found no time to actually do anything with it. And I KNOW that if one does not take action on such things, in a blink of an eye, 10 years has passed and it is no longer relevant. So I took this post as my push. So, now I am in possession of enough doll furniture to outfit the house.

After all that spending, I feel like I am a hopeless failure at this whole “no unnecessary spending” thing. But if I really look at it, the purchases were valid. I guess, when I started this whole challenge, I thought my spending would stop dead. Turns out spending still happens, but in a more thoughtful way. I truly do evaluate its use. I suppose, if the goal were to not spend at all, this blog would be titled “living on nothing” or something like that.

What I did do was bring several garbage bags full of stuff to the Goodwill. It felt good to send some stuff along. In and out, that is how it works. Hopefully more out than in.

The challenge now is that I am in search of a few things for our remodel, like a sink, pot rack, flooring etc. So, no doubt I will be perusing those group pages on facebook again. The trick will be to learn how to use it for good: sell off the things I no longer need, and only buy for our specific needs.

I think I can do it.

Day 99: Change the Language Change the Mindset?

Day 99: Change the  Language Change the Mindset?

I realize that though I am attempting to not spend money on things I don’t need, I have not changed how I speak about spending.

When I am chatting with family or friends, often the topic of items for purchase comes up, like ” I saw this great deal at..”, or “there’s a sale on…” or ” There’s this really cute…”. You get the idea. I happily launch into my old routine, talking about things as though I am going to be, or thinking about, buying them.

Is there anything wrong with that? I suppose not, so long as it remains firmly in fantasy land. But there are two concerns here: one, that in talking as though a purchase is a real consideration, I start to feel like it is and so it feeds my desire to purchase. And two, I continue to not inform my family and friends of my resolution by participating in those topics, thus I do not garner the kind of support I really need.

I also find myself hesitant to change my language because I don’t want to be a ‘Debbie Downer’. If I can’t join in on the talk about things we like, desire and want, do I have anything interesting to add to the conversation? Probably not. I would have to change the subject entirely. A hard one indeed, because I’m not trying to shame or curtail anyone’s spending but my own.

Also, it is just habit to talk about deals. Spending has been a big part of my adult life, and desiring neat things and enjoying the hunt for a deal is very set in my psyche.

All those reasons (excuses) given, I think that I will try to change how I speak about shopping and consuming in general. Not only do I need to stop talking about deals as though I am going to take part in them, but I also need to respect what I do have and stop referring to things I actually do need to purchase as “too expensive” or a “rip off” because that too has been a part of my language and mind-set. Respect for what I do need and have; respect for the value of what I need and have.

That all said, I walked into a Ross today in search of socks with sticky dots on the bottom in anticipation of taking my first Dailey Method class.

There was an astonishing array of socks, in every sport name brand you can imagine. I had to ask, more than once, is there a big enough spending population to support such a multitude of socks? Where do un-purchased socks go? Is this crazy excessive or what?20160716_101027.jpg

In the end I walked out empty handed as there was not a single ‘sticky dot’ sock to be had. I wandered all the aisles of clothing, considered a few items to see what my desire level for them was. I was aware that I needed work-out leggings as well, but decided that if I were to get a pair I wouldn’t settle for just any, they would have to be something I really liked so as to ensure I get a lot of good use out of them.

I ended up purchasing some leggings online with a small twinge of guilt as I questioned the validity of my “need”. I even stopped mid purchase to go into my bedroom and comb through my pants shelf. I considered sticking with the few I already possess, but then thought about how ill-fitting they are, how one of them actually pulls my underwear down as I wear them, how I look at them and don’t want to wear them, how I haven’t worn them. Also, for the specific use I require them for, they not only have to stay on my body, but also wick sweat and lots of it. So, I went ahead and purchased two leggings from Costco online, and then purged 5 pairs of pants/leggings that have wallowed in my drawers for a while now “in case” I needed them.

Part of this purge and sort process is to keep getting rid of things that do not “spark joy” as the KonMari method suggests I do. I really like this assessment method. And as I clear, I may or may not replace items on an as-needed basis. I’m hoping I will err more on the side of not replacing as I discover that I truly don’t “need” much.

Actually, getting rid of those unused pants felt really good. I think I’m going to go do a little bit more of that right now…

 

 

Days 96, 97& 98: The Costco Conundrum

Days 96, 97& 98: The Costco Conundrum

Man, the big box stores sure have it dialed in.

You might go in there for necessities, but the temptations abound. Things you never thought you needed or desired are there in heaping piles yelling “deal, deal, deal!”

Moreover, they usually contain the allure of being also a name brand. What IS it about the name-brand that gets me so lathered up.I’m definitely a sheep when it comes to that. I have been so conditioned to value the brand name…even though I KNOW it is not necessarily synonymous with quality. That in fact, some of those name brands are FOR SURE using cheap production and slave labor to further their brand. And yet…

Here was my temptation:

20160712_124040.jpg

The material was incredibly soft and flowy. Perfect for a momma who just wants to pull on some pants and forget about them. The fact that they were name brand added a little bit of hope (on my part) that they would be a little stylish too.

In the next aisle was underwear. Who doesn’t need underwear?

I don’t. Especially not the ones with a man’s name written all the way around the band: Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein.

If a man’s name has to be written on my underwear, it better be my husband’s.

Yet, still, two days later, I keep thinking about just nipping back into Costco to pick those pair of pants up. Luckily, there is no such thing as “nipping in” when you’ve got two under three.

Did I tell you that I used a loaner ukulele while I was visiting family in Canada?

Well, I did, and it was far superior to the one I own. Superior by far. I will never be the same. To know what quality sound the ukulele, if made well, can emit has changed my view and enjoyment of the instrument irrevocably. I now covet that ukulele, which was hand-made by a luthier in Hawaii. Even took a picture of my beloved on the eve of our separation:

And I’ve found myself compulsively looking at ukes for sale on Craigslist and googling “how to make a ukulele” as I realize more and more how expensive a good one can be.

Since I’ve been back I’ve been dreaming about just “stopping by” a music store to “try out” their ukes. Laughable thought with two kids in tow who are more likely to run about tearing instruments from displays than sitting quietly by my side, listening to me play excerpts from my favorite songs.

I must say, on the no spending front, I am feeling rather discouraged. I am having a really hard time not desiring things. Even as I look about my place in discontent, wanting to rid myself of excess, I still desire new things. Why? It seems so at odds with what I envision for my living space, my mental and spiritual space. So many times I catch myself thinking, ‘yeah, I can just buy that and not post about it. Who really cares if I break the rules. I’m being too strict.’

Who cares? I care. I care to know why I want to purchase things so compulsively. I want to know why I think some object will make my life better, make me more attractive, more together, more stylish, more interesting.

What is the hole I’m filling and why is that hole there?

So many questions. I guess that’s what all of this is for. So I keep on examining and blogging, as imperfect as this experiment is.

 

Day 95: Creating My Zen Garden

Day 95: Creating My Zen Garden

So, continuing on with my purge and sort approach to our house, I worked still more on the kitchen. The goal was to get the counter completely clear of any and all items. I want my kitchen to be my zen garden, a place of ease and simplicity. I have plenty of chaos in my life; and the kitchen is one of those places when in use, but to be able to start with a clean slate, everyday, would be heaven.

Surprisingly, there hasn’t been too much to actually get rid of, only small things here and there. Mostly it is a re imagining of the space and finding new homes for things to create a work-flow that actually works.

The counter started out looking like this:

20160710_090005.jpg

and ended up looking like this:

20160711_190725.jpg

 

So, the purging and sorting continues. More on that as it happens.

In regards to the eczema on my hands. It has not fully resolved, but it is at least, not extreme.While I traveled, especially in the hospital, it really flared. Then it calmed while I was at my mom and dad’s place for a few weeks and then flared again just before our trip back to Cali. So, it is at at least in part, triggered by stress. I also suspect that allergens in the air cause me to react a bit. As to whether diet has any effect, it is hard to really know. I had to toss aside my strict diet for the month I was away, and so I have not returned to it. The only foods I am avoiding are: pineapple, orange, lemon and mango as recommended by the Chinese doctor I saw while in Canada.

I also had another suggestion from a friend of a friend of my sister-in-law who suggested it might be a fungal or nano- bacterial infection. While this is worrying, I am also half hoping this is the case so that I don’t have to worry about dietary restrictions. As to how to treat something like that, I have no idea.

My own protocol that has been working to ease the itching and oozing is: as soon as itching occurs, I cover the affected area with green clay until the clay has dried. The longer the clay is on, the more of the oozing liquid it helps to absorb. Then I douse my hands with liquid nano-silver which is an antibacterial agent. Then I coat my hands in castor oil or coconut oil and put on cotton gloves for the night.

Now, sometimes, the mere act of trying to hydrate my hands causes more itching, so that piece is iffy. I did come across some eczema info that suggested that hydration is necessary, but should be with a water based cream. I may have to give that a go.

For now, the itching has been minimal enough that I can resist, for the most part, scratching which seems to be key in order to not open up wounds which take a long time to heal (but heal quite quickly using nano silver).

The other piece is that I am trying to have a micro meditation session every morning before I get out of bed into the chaos of my kid filled life. By micro, I mean micro, like maybe 5 minutes…maybe. But in that time I envision all my cells vibrating to the same frequency, out from my heart center. I try to feel deep gratitude for my life, acceptance of the moment and compassion for myself and everyone around me. To some of you this might sound a little too far out there. But I know myself to be not only a physical being but a being of energy and a product of my own mind. When I am stressed it affects my physiology, thus, if I can be at peace and calm, perhaps my eczema can react in kind.