Wednesday, December 21, 2016

That Spooky Feeling

I'm not an overly superstitious person by nature but I don't tempt fate. So no walking under ladders for me, tossing spilled salt is an easy precaution, and being extra careful on days when a black cat crosses my path is no biggie. I don't really believe that something bad will happen if I step outside on Friday the 13th but I wouldn't go rock climbing or extreme sailing on that day, just in case.

But when it comes to discarding possessions that were given to me, or that belong to someone that has passed, or that belong to my guy or my cat, I suddenly become all sorts of anxious that doing so will somehow cause something bad to happen to gift giver or the owner of the discarded item or me.

Which makes it very difficult to get rid of these things that don't add value to my life or serve any real purpose whatsoever.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I know that my fear is completely illogical. I know that throwing out a possession isn't going to be bring down the wrath of the universe or mean that I wish the sender or owner ill will. But, like with some of my superstitions, I'm not sure I want to tempt fate.

I have no idea where this insane notion came from. I'm guessing it probably comes from a place of guilt. What kind of person am I if I toss a gift that was given to me? What kind of monster am I if I discard something from or belong to a loved one that has passed?

Even if I were to keep every single item given to me, or that is in my possession that belongs to or belonged to a loved one, I would never be able to stop something bad from befalling them. Keeping their things would not prevent their end. And when they are gone, I don't think they'd much care if I kept their stuff or stuff they gave me. Because it's just stuff. It's not them.

Still. Whenever I pick up that unneeded item I want to get rid of, I get the heebie-jeebies. I start to panic. I feel like I'm doing something wrong, wrong, wrong. And so I delay my decision for another day, just in case.

It's hard enough getting rid of stuff I've held on to for so long. It's harder still trying to get rid of stuff that has sentimental value. But thinking about getting rid of stuff that could potentially cause bad things to happen? Impossible.

Which is why I have to figure out a way to ignore that spooky feeling and just get rid of it all once and for all.

Off to do some research on how best to accomplish this.

To be continued...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Empty Spaces

I am not striving for the kind of minimal that will allow me to live in a very small space. I like having a king-size bed. I like having my own desk to work on, a kitchen table to eat at, a sofa to lie down on, a comfy chair to sit in.

I have no intention of living so minimally that I don't feel comfortable in my living space. But...

In recently having downsized from a 1200 square foot apartment to an 800 square foot apartment, I have come to realize that living small with less is still living small.

I miss having space between the various rooms in my home. I miss having a separate office for myself and my guy to do our work. I miss being able to easily maneuver around the things in my home without bumping into them.

No matter how many things I get rid of, my current home will never have enough empty space to allow me to feel comfortable.

I thought about hiring a space planner to see if they could help. But when you can walk from one side of your living space to the other in less than a handful of steps there's really not much that they can do.

And so I keep trying to find that next thing to purge that will free up some empty space.

But the harsh reality is, that unless I become one of those minimalists who dispose of all creature comforts or radically alter the layout of my current space, I will never find enough empty space in my 800 square foot home to truly enjoy my minimalism.

As I'm not looking to move just yet, a solution has not yet presented itself.

To be continued...

Binges and Purges - December 20, 2016

It's been a fairly slow week both for binges and for purges, which somewhat surprises me. I wanted to binge on some sailing gear and sailing books after the really stressful week I'd had. But I refrained.

And I wanted to spend time evaluating my things to see what else could be disposed of. But things were just too hectic to do so.

But I did order one unnecessary item and did get rid of four. And hopefully I'll be able to get back into the swing of things this holiday weekend as more stuff gets loaded into my small space.

The Binges

I've become just a little bit obsessed with this online pottery shop on Etsy. And when I saw this mug I just had to have it. While it isn't 100% needed, I know my guy will use it as it holds way more coffee than our standard-sized white mugs. And as he only had one oversize mug and I had two, I thought having this fourth mug would balance things out.

Of course I have to ship out the three really lovely mugs I bought for gifts and not end up adding them to my cupboard.

The Purges

Last summer I'd purchased a new set of flatware as my old set was losing its plating. But because the new set was only a set of six versus a set of 12 I was afraid of tossing all the old teaspoons as those have always been the most in demand. But our set of six has been more than adequate and I have not had any need of this "just in case" stash of four. And so I've finally taken them out of the bin and am purging them.

The Count

Binge Count: 1
Purge Count: 4

Friday, December 16, 2016

Cluttered Countertops

No matter how little stuff I own or how much counter space I have, my countertops are always not just cluttered looking but actually cluttered.

I used to think it was because my space was too small or that I had too few surfaces to put things down on. But over the years I have come to realize that while those two statements may be true, they aren't the reason behind why my countertops have been and continue to be the repository or landing spot for all the random things that take up residence there.

In my first apartment, shared with my guy,  there was just one "bar" area. It held a Kool-Aid can we used to hold change, mail, laundry detergent, hats, keys, pens, papers, receipts, telephone, answering machine, junk. Of course, back in those days I had so little "stuff" that I wasn't thinking about paring down and wasn't too concerned about the mess.

In my next apartment, on temporary loan from my father, I managed to keep the countertops free of keys, papers, etc. In this particular apartment the kitchen was its very own room and I had an entry table and an office to hold all those items. But I managed to fill the counter space with retro-themed kitschy junk and they were just as crowded as my previous kitchen's counter.

My plus 400 square foot apartment I resided in with my guy had a bar top and counter that were just as cluttered, if not more so, than the one in our previously shared residence. We managed to add food storage jars, trays, microwave, fax machine, in and out box, vases, candle holders, some sort of carrier that held pens, pencils, paperclips, and on.

While there were many, many more cluttered countertops between then and now, the problem has not dissipated. We don't have much in the way of counter space in our current apartment but what little space we have is taken up by a printer, router, bread box, toaster, phone charging stations, dish drainer, paper towel holder, VHF radio + charger, postage scale, container for recyclables, change bowl. We barely have room to set down a bowl or plate when making food.

"They" say that every surface is just another place for clutter to amass. And "they" are right. Because in addition to all those things we need on the counters, somehow every piece of mail that needs to be dealt with "later" ends up there. Every receipt, wayward keys, wallets, wires, you name it, end up on the countertop.

We talked about buying a console table to keep near the entryway as it would seem a better solution for phones, keys, wallets, change, paper. But I've been reluctant as I just know it will turn into another place to heap "junk" rather than the alternate place to do so. And in a small space, clutter looks a million times worse than it does in a much larger space. So having two "junk" zones is less than appealing to me.

I've seen so many minimalist home pictures with those wide expanses of clean, empty counters and I am ever envious. Because I know that no matter what I do, no matter how minimal I go, I will never have the counters that exist in those images.

In my present reality, I don't have the option of storing things away, as much of what exists on my counters needs to be in quick and easy reach for myself and my guy. Unless I purchase additional furniture I can't relocate the electronics that need outlets to power themselves. Without installing additional shelving I can't free up surface space. And so I have to try and learn to live with the visual "mess."

No matter how much it pains me. Or how often I wish I didn't need to keep bread, or toast things, or print things, or dry things, or charge things.

I wish I knew the secret that everyone but me seems to know about how to keep a countertop free and clear of the necessities of life. It is a secret I've been actively looking for an answer to for years. Aside from the idea of a custom home with hidden spaces for all the things that are currently on display, I have not found an answer that dovetails with my reality.

I haven't given up quite yet... and so I'm off to do more research. But I am beginning to lose hope.

To be continued...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Hobbies

I have always been someone who likes having something else to do outside of work. I'm also someone who hasn't quite found a hobby that I excel at.

I tried my hand at scrapbooking but I never really had the patience, money, or skill to put into this particular hobby.

I tried painting - but that was also quite expensive and something I wasn't talented at - the image in my head never quite matched what my hand was doing.

I tried decorating - super expensive. Woodworking - super messy. Sewing - totally disastrous. Knitting - not ideal with a cat.

I tried out the guitar - short fingers, lack of cash for continued lessons and apartment living didn't make this hobby one that was sustainable.

I like reading - though it's not really a hobby. I have spent a ton of money on this non-hobby, however.

Blogging has been a fun hobby - though expensive and hugely time consuming when I was blogging like it was a second job.

And of course now I have sailing. But that's a once a week hobby and also pretty pricey.

I'm sure there were a few more hobbies in the past few years, but I fear I've blocked them out.

So many hobbies, so much wasted time and money...

What I have learned about hobbies is that while they can be fun and serve a purpose, many of them are really just expensive distractions.

Instead of focusing on the things and beings that were important to me, or doing something meaningful with my time, I found myself absorbed with things that were random, unimportant, solo endeavors. Instead of thinking about what I wanted to pursue in life, I found myself shopping for distractions from thought.

The only hobbies that really meant/mean something to me are the guitar, reading and blogging, and sailing. I don't feel any of my time or money spent on these things was wasted.

I wish I'd realized that scrapbooking, painting, faux painting, furniture building, baking, crafting, sewing, knitting, photography, decorating weren't up my alley. They were passing fancies, whims, time wasters. I didn't particularly enjoy any of them, I have nothing to show for any of those hobbies as I'd purged every single thing I'd purchased or made.

It's taken me a long time to realize that hobbies aren't simply "fun" ways to spend your time. And I should have gotten a clue ages ago that they were actually quite costly.

Had I been as aware of all of this then, as I am now, I would have taken more care when choosing a hobby and asked myself some of those tough questions before going full throttle, like:
  • Why do you want to do this? Is it because you're bored or because you're actually interested in it?
  • Can you afford to sustain this hobby?
  • Is this hobby something you'd imagine yourself doing a year from now? Two years? Three years?
  • If you take up this hobby, will the things you need to purchase for it take up space you don't want taken up?
  • Does this hobby take up time you really can't afford or don't want to spend on it?
  • Will you have to hang on to the results of this hobby? And if so, do you want to have to keep these things?
  • Have you wanted to pursue this hobby for awhile or is this perhaps just a whim?
  • Is this hobby meaningful? Do you care if it's not?
  • Is there something else you'd rather do with your time? If yes, is it worth waiting to do that other thing?
  • Is there something else you'd rather spend your money on? If yes, is it worth waiting for the money to do that other thing?
So, before I buy that glue gun, that baking pan, that drum kit, I'm definitely going to think about the value of doing so, the impact it will have on my life, the things I'll have to sacrifice.

And I'm so thankful that my current hobby - sailing - is something that's very meaningful to me, it's worth the time and money, and it's worth the large amount of space the gear takes up in my home.

To be continued...

Monday, December 12, 2016

Binges and Purges - December 11, 2016

I was a bit ruthless with my purging on Sunday having decided I just needed to let some things go. Finally. Some were just odds and ends, but the remainder were things I'd spent money on that I thought I would use "someday" or things that had sentimental value or things that I "loved" but finally decided they needed a new home.

The Binges

None. I did not buy anything on Sunday, aside from some bubble wrap and a shipping box. I will be doing some shopping this week - but it will be for birthday and holiday gifts and much needed staples.

The Purges

I got rid of three hats used for sailing. Two were caps that I didn't use often as they got blown off my head every time I looked up at the windicator. The other I got for my guests to use in case they needed protection from the sun. But no one liked that floppy brimmed cap, so out it went.

I got rid of another worn T-shirt and a much loved super-soft Hoodie that had sentimental value. I tossed four pairs of socks that had seen better days and four other underthings that needed to go.

I tossed a pair of uncomfortable dress shoes and a pair of too-large Chuck Taylor's.

I gave away a set of four unused cable clips from bluelounge, a sterling silver choker I never wore, four signed books I'd read and loved, one unsigned book I'd had for a while, and three photography books I'd been keeping around for nearly a decade but rarely looked at anymore... as the latter are out of print I might miss those every so often.

I got rid of the unused but newly purchased puzzle game for my cat that she didn't enjoy at all, a spare cat bowl that she didn't use that Amazon mistakenly sent. I ditched various cosmetics (9 items) that weren't used or too old to be used, and two empty felt ring bags that hadn't held rings since the day those rings went on my finger.

I recycled one plastic shoe box that held various tools and furniture accessories that I'd moved to an air-tight container I'd emptied.

I gave away the six lovely bowls I'd received this past week (I'd ordered four but was sent six) as I didn't really need them and knew someone who would love a brand new set of stoneware bowls.

And I gave away that one piece of artwork I'd been wanting to part with for the past few weeks.

I believe there was more, but in my haste I forgot to take pictures of all my purges... though maybe this is for the best as these former possessions will never take up space in my mind again.

The Count

Binge Count: 0
Purge Count: 49

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Holidays (a.k.a. The Temptations)

I would love to be able to do what The Minimalists suggest and buy everyone experiences for the holidays. Unfortunately I don't have that kind of money at my disposal, though maybe I would have if I hadn't spent so much of my money buying stuff I no longer have.

So I've had to go online and look around and think about gift ideas for those in my life that anticipate gifts from me this time of year. And I'll have to step foot in stores (possibly) if I can't find what I need online.

I've also been tasked with thinking about things that I might want for the holidays. While I would love to receive "experiences" such as a gift card to my favorite sailing venue for a future sailboat charter, for many of those looking to buy me gifts I have to think much smaller.

All of which has proven to be quite difficult. Looking online for others and for myself has placed much temptation in front of me - proving that while I am striving for minimal there is still a part of me that wants to acquire more.

I like nice things. I like holiday decorations. I like receiving presents - well, the act of receiving them, not so much the presents themselves much of the time.

Furthermore, the holidays make me think of home and family, which makes me want to make my home more homey and makes me want to decorate - though I have absolutely no place to store holiday decorations for the remaining 11.5 months of the year and I have no desire to kill a tree for a couple weeks of joy.

To combat the pull of these temptations I've begun listening to more podcasts and reading more articles on minimalism. While I know some/much of what I've been hearing, it's important for me to hear it, to quiet the noise, to question why I "want" or "need" things I didn't want or need a week ago. It's also important to hear someone else's voice instead of the one inside of my head, to learn new questions to ask myself, to see things from a different perspective.

And it's been helping, somewhat. Though I still have dreams of having a lovely wreath, Christmas lights, and stockings for my non-existent mantle, I've stopped with the list-making for all these things and more that I don't need and will end up purging when the season is through.

And alhough I haven't quite stopped visiting the sites that hold the biggest temptations for me, I am visiting with the mindset that just because the things I see are beautiful, doesn't mean I have to possess them. I can simply appreciate their beauty and move on.

To be continued...


Binges and Purges - December 4, 2016

Over the past week I finally made some decisions. Not the hardest ones, but it's a start. While I was not able to act on all of those decisions yesterday - as there just wasn't time - I have been able to move on a few of them.

The Binges

None. I did not make any purchases that would count as binges. While I did buy holiday cards and some ribbon and boxes on Sunday it was absolutely necessary if I was to avoid any perceived slights from family (cards) and in order to mail out some of the purges (boxes).

The Purges

I received this bracelet as a gift some years back and I have never worn it. I kept it for sentimental reasons in a keepsake box but every time I see it I feel sad that it's not being worn and loved. So I'm giving it away to someone who might enjoy it.

I also received this pen as quite a few years ago and for the past seven year it's been wrapped up in a keepsake box. I am just not a fancy pen person - and don't have anywhere to use a pen that requires I buy refillable ink - so I'm giving it to someone who will use it and love it as it should be used.

I bought these vintage mercury glass ornaments nine years ago for a lovely little pink feather tree I used to own. I sold the tree six-and-a-half years ago but couldn't bear to part with these ornaments, which have been kept carefully in pink tissue in this lucite box. But as I haven't had a tree for all these years and don't plan on having one in the next few years, I wanted to give them to someone who does put out a tree and might love these ornaments.

I also gave away three books I'd been hanging on to - two that I read and enjoyed (one of which was a book I recently purchased) and one that wasn't to my taste - and am in the process of giving away a number of books I received for review (16). All the review books are packed up in boxes ready to go to their new homes, I just need to post and host all the giveaways so that I can send them along.


I'm in the middle of a linen thinning but haven't quite finished that yet, so I'm not counting anything purged for December 4th. And I have finally decided to just dump the digital graphics for most/all of my blogs as if they're not stored in the online version of the site or dropbox then I clearly haven't used them lately so I don't need them. But I ran out of time and energy so it will have to wait for a day later this week when I have a few hours to tackle the purging.

The Count

Binge Count: 0
Purge Count: 30