Week 25: In Which a Mess Gets Messier before the Clean gets…Clean(i)er.

Week 25: In Which a Mess Gets Messier before the Clean gets…Clean(i)er.

Let’s start with the highs, shall we?

I realize that my language around shopping has decreased significantly. I do allow myself to talk with others about retail related things, but it definitely doesn’t dominate. I don’t go out of my way, anymore, to ask where someone got something or comment on how cute an outfit is. It’s not that I don’t think it, but I choose not to make that a feature. I realize that my kid is listening, ALL THE TIME. I don’t want her to fall into that trap. Right now she is having so much fun experimenting with her own style, layering in whatever which way takes her fancy. It’s more about the independence of choice and the ability to dress herself that is the draw ( not how “cute” she looks) and I want to keep it that way for as long as possible. So, that is an added motivation, besides trying to un brainwash my spendy self, to not talk about buying things or focus on material things.

Okay, another high is that I felt no urges to shop this week. I got only the basics. Even went into the lions den, Costco, with a friend, and though we admitted that it was a house of temptation, neither of us left with anything frivolous. ( Side note, if you are a Costco fan please check out my Aunts blog: My Costco Odyssey. She has just set out on an adventure to visit at least one Costco per State, documenting their individual peculiarities and qualities.)

Heck, even had a date night with the hubs and we both agreed that while our previous date night had been a hoot, we couldn’t go around throwing down a hundred per date night…so we went super cheapo, brought a thermos of hot water with us, biked to the local Safeway for some cup ramiens and Ghirardelli chocolates and then spent hours biking around our neighborhood and surrounding area. We ended up at our local State Park where there was a nice picnic table repleat with view of trees and setting sun, where we chatted and noshed on spicey ramien. Then, we went to our local Tap Room to use a generous gift certificate my hubs got a while back from his sister and bro-in-law, and had a nice saunter home,  in the dark, eating Takis and cheesy Ruffles chips from bags tucked in our pockets while we pushed our bikes homeward (no biking tipsy in the dark!).

There actually isn’t truly a low to report, just that in my continuing effort to purge and sort (a looooong, drawn out process) I finally launched into Mission : Sort the Kids’ Clothes. Now, it’s all fine and dandy that I Kon Mari-ed my own wardrobe many months back and have all the clothes I possess visible to me in my closet. But, the kids clothes are a whole different story. It’s messy. When my oldest grows too big for her clothes, I put it away in storage until they fit my little one. Now, the sheer quantity of clothing my first born received from ages 0-24 months is staggering, though not at all news to any mom I’ve met…and I totally get it…dressing a baby is so FUN ( and I am truly grateful to family for providing so much for us). But there is definitely an element of stress in there for me, trying to keep all of those items in rotation, making sure they are all used and enjoyed. Do you KNOW how many items of baby clothes are in one full load of wash? A LOT. On a good day I don’t enjoy folding or putting away my own clothes; now take that amount and quadruple it at least…now add a rambunctious toddler and a baby alternately clinging and crying while holding my leg and/or unfolding what I’ve just folded and sorted and you can start to see what I’m dealing with. I have been known to leave a load of laundry, washed and dried in the dryer for upwards of five days…because I have no baskets…because they are full of another load of dirty clothes and/or I have folded and sorted clothes waiting to be put into their correct drawers. God help me.

Soooo. I really wanted to finally go through all the clothes my girls possess, assess and de-stress (TM) (just kidding) by eliminating. Okay…so turns out I am not as good at eliminating items when it comes to my kids clothes. For one, they are cute. For another, they contain memories. And for another, I know where each and every one came from…mostly loving aunts and grandmas.  AAAANNND, let’s not forget that these girls require multiple changes a day. So…all this ads up to me not being able to get rid of anything that currently fits either of them. Even the stained stuff….because they are just going to keep dirtying it.

What I could do was remove the items they no longer fit. This actually required a huge switcheroo. The giant dresser that my eldest used to house the massive amounts of clothes up to size 24 months now  started to feel empty as she handed down her clothes to my little one…and vice versa, my little one now has too much clothes to fit in her small dresser. A switch was needed. That’s what I did. I spent a good chunk of Saturday making the switch. Not a small feat.

I’ve been wanting to set up my girls room for a while in a way that makes it her space and feels special. I abandoned the make-over aspect of it because of budget, so that will have to come later, but I did get my hubby to help think up a way to make it so that she can access her own clothes. He had seen this nifty life hack somewhere on Reddit or something, making our unused crib (both kids never slept in it) something of value, finally (and FYI, for all your worriers out there, it is screwed to the wall. I’m married to a cabinet maker, after all!). All you moms out there know what this means of course, that I will forever be picking up clothes as she moves from outfit to outfit throughout the day…but it’s a small price to pay.20161002_090156.jpg

Now, as to the clothes that I could move on out ( I possess a small collection of baby clothes and favored items that I am keeping for posterity) I am planning to consign them…or at least, the ones that are not destroyed by food stains and over use. This is my one way of hopefully recouping some additional value from all of this, an attempt at least, before it all makes its way to the goodwill. And it does feel good to have some cash in hand. I also have quite a few girl friends who are expecting, so, if they let me, I will hand over some of my most favorite items to them…but most likely they will already be drowning in their own avalanche of clothes…so not sure if my gift would be more of a stress than anything. Hard to say. We certainly do live in a world of excess when it comes to clothing, and the baby industry is a huge culprit. We might be able to resist buying clothes for ourselves, but when it comes to those gosh darn adorable baby/toddler outfits, it’s neigh on impossible to resist.

…though I must say it was not hard to resist today when I walked into JC Penny’s to see if they had ballet slippers ( my aunt wants to give a pair to my eldest who loves tutus and dancing) and possibly rain boots. I took a look at those price tags and almost had a heart attack. Forty five dollar tops and dresses! Even the sale stuff was still way too much. And at those prices, I’d rather be buying from someone local rather than from a big corporation making their stuff overseas. It was not hard to walk out of there at all! Okay, it was a little hard because my littles were enticed by all the colors and sights, so I had to lure them with the joy of taking the escalator…which was, it turns out, very exciting.

That’s all for now. Goodnight.

 

 

 

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?

 

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…

 

 

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:

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and ended up looking like this:

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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.

Days 93 &94

Days 93 &94

Lots of stuff going on in my brain.

As I try to resettle into life at home (being away for 5 weeks can really throw a girl off) I am trying to look with new eyes at all the stuff that I surround myself with. A lot of stuff is what I like, I’ve collected the “stuff” and it is what makes this plae homey. However, the rest is just extra.

So, because I did not do well in the ‘no spending’ arena during my vacation, I am renewing efforts to eliminate the excess in my life.

This weekend, I started. There is actually so much to tackle, that I almost got overwhelmed. I had to keep resetting my mind to just look at everything in small projects otherwise I would have wanted to quit right away. I decided that the kitchen would be a good place to start. Of course, where in the kitchen? The kitchen alone can be broken down into different areas. So, I just decided to tackle under the sink.

I realized immediately that I have been holding onto stuff compulsively, aka my collection of paper grocery bags. Could someone please tell me what I am going to do with all of these?20160710_093614.jpg

I decided to be brutal about getting rid of stuff that I even hesitate about when I ask “do I need this? Do I use this?” I got rid of two rubber sink basin liners that my mom had gotten for me in hopes of helping us not break so many dishes. Honestly, I could get behind their use, but my hubby hates them and quite frankly it’s not worth the struggle. I chose a happy marriage over arguing the merits of such a thing.

Once I removed the mountain of bags, I discovered an old mouse trap (ick!), and dirty water catching basin, an old ant trap and all manner of disgusting things. So I scrubbed it all up and turned it from this:20160710_093610.jpg

to this: 20160710_094704.jpg

in a relatively short period of time. Not bad for the satisfaction it brought me. Of course, once I was in the kitchen, things snowballed. I got up on a stool to see what I could get rid of in the cupboards above the fridge, then saw the grime build up and had to stop and scrub that…which let to scrubbing the top of the hood range…

I ended up changing the way I organize my herbs, spices, oils and vinegars. I’ve decided that I want my kitchen work space as clear as possibly for both the mental and spiritual contentment it will bring me. I will also then be able to clean all the surfaces more effectively which will bring me peace of mind. So I spent a good deal of time working on getting all my oils, salts etc off their permanent spots beside my stove and onto the shelves…which of course led to a lot of rearranging and purging.

I, of course, am not done. Even with my hubs running interference, I do have two little kiddos who demand attention. So, it’s a start but it is incomplete. I hope I can maintain this forward momentum.

 

Also, a confession. I found myself coveting a few items and daydreaming of purchasing them. First, a bag my Aunt Reggie has that is by Derek Alexander (sold at the Bay in Canada) and seemed the perfect small bag to use as a diaper bag while not actually being one. I will admit to looking on-line and trying to see if I can get it here in the US.

I will not be getting it, as, of course, I DON’T NEED IT. I have more than enough bags here at home that have served me well. I must just deep breathe and let it go. I hate how those things can just hang out there in the corner of the mind. Why is the need to buy something so persistent?!?

The other thing I want to purchase is a pair of Ray Bans. I had a great pair a few years back, but I lost them. It was a tragedy indeed. It fell out of my baby bag while out on an excursion. Since then, I’ve been using some sad knock offs that are just not the same…and yet, they DO function. And truly, that is all I really need. So, I need to LET IT GO!

If I examine the urge to buy both of those items, it is pure vanity that is driving the desire. Somehow, on some level I think I will look better, or even feel better about myself if I poses those items. Of course, that is completely false and bunkum and I know it. So, I shall hold the items I do possess in my hands and thank them for their excellent and continuing service and move on!

So much more going on, but I end here because it is late. The kiddos did not go easily into tonight’s “goodnight” and so I find myself rather exhausted.

 

 

Days 72-92: Failure

Days 72-92: Failure

In the days following our medical emergency I had neither the urge nor the where-with-all to blog. We were still on vacation in Canada and that’s what it became for my blogging: a break from writing.

Now I am back and trying to figure out how to report on the 21 days I let slip by. I definitely failed in the “no unnecessary spending” arena. Maybe it was the relief from being out of hospital, or the sense that I was on vacation, but I did spend: on a few tourist T-shirts, on coffee and a few gifts from my sister and brother-in-law’s coffee shop. I also just came home and immediately spent money on two books that relate to different natural healing modalities that I am interested in investigating. Oh, and on some soil and some flowers and herbs to add to my garden ( I was inspired by my mom and sister’s gardens and my toddlers delight in them ).

So there you have it, my “confession” of sorts.

I’ve considered outright quitting this whole self-imposed challenge. I am the type of person whom, upon discovering she is not doing something well, just wants to call the whole thing off. But, when I started this, I knew that I would come up against challenges, and that I would have to work through them. So here I am trying to work through the fact that I have had wavering resolve with not spending.

I wrote in my list of rules that, were I to spend on something unnecessarily, I would need to either return that item or give away three items for every item I kept. Well, I can’t exactly say that all items were completely unnecessary ( I am still struggling with that definition and what that means for me), but I will do better than that stipulation. I’m planning a big house purge.

One of the benefits of being away from home for a big chunk of time is that, when you return, for a brief time, you have a new “stranger’s eye” view of your own home. I’ve tried to take advantage of that to help me see how I might improve things. The number one thing is that I need a whole lot less stuff. I knew this already, of course, but I have now a renewed sense of what is clutter and what is needed. I will have to resolve myself to being absolutely brutal and unwaffling in my approach. So, in the days to come I hope to be able to report about the stuff I’ve gotten rid of.

It’s good to be typing again. As I type, my hands ache, because no, I have not cured my eczema either. I’m working on it and will report on that later.

For now, it’s good to just be getting back on track.

Day 24: Suffering

Day 24: Suffering

So, I made a smoothie today…tentatively. I made sure to not mix too much, just a few low glycemic fruit (pear and apricot) and two greens ( celery and kale). It tasted good. I took it in slowly…and I felt good. My stomach still feels messed up from hurling yesterday so I didn’t eat much else until lunch time.

But it was a rough day, not only was I aggravated by itchiness on my hand and face (it’s spread there quite aggressively), my toddler has been coughing and cranky and she made going about our day rather challenging. When you are itching all over, it is hard to be patient. Luckily I also felt drained, so I couldn’t even summon the energy to be really mad…so it worked out. It looked like I was keeping my cool.

Also, when you are distracted by itchiness, cranky from  dealing with a challenging toddler and exhausted from junk food withdrawal, you don’t think much about shopping.

One thing I am proud of in regards to not needlessly shopping: Due to all of this eczema research I’ve been doing I’ve had renewed interest in fermentation. A friend of mine recently recommended the Art of Fermentation, a very interesting looking book. In the past I would have just jumped on Amazon and order the book, sight unseen. But no, instead I checked to see if the library had a copy, and sure enough they did. So I am now in posession of the book, faster than if I’d ordered it online, and now I have the motivation (three weeks) to read it right away and see if it’s for me or not.

Today I am feeling discouraged. But I know with this skin stuff it will probably have to get worse before it gets better. I just need to stay the course.

Thank you to everyone who has fired off messages of support, it means a lot. This detoxing on all fronts is quickly becoming a monumental challenge for me.