I’ve been working on living a minimalist lifestyle. This not only involves a tight budget but also decluttering the possessions I already have. I was raised with the mantra: Save it, we might need it.
Note – I got over the “save it for good” training because I believe every day is good!
But the “I might need it” is a tough one. Nevertheless, I found a site* that offers a 365 day decluttering program. The idea is to declutter 15 minutes a day. Heck, even I, with my ADHD – Squirrel!!! brain, can do that. And I have to admit – I am loving it.
The kitchen drawers were easy. Especially the cooking utensil drawer – I mean, how many cork screws does one need? Okay – so I have reduced the number of cork screws…..but….I put some in my basement “to go bag” just in case “I might need them” someday. I’ll deal with this when the decluttering program works on basements. That will be a challenge. I have cobalt blue glasses down there to set a table for 10 with water, red wine, or white wine glasses. Just in case. But I digress.
Where I had to put my foot down was when we got to dishes. I purposely planned for each dish to be a different shape and color. I hate uniformity. (Well, but for the cobalt glasses in the basement, but that was another time, another place, another me.) When I open my cabinet to the cacophony of colors, it pleases my artistic eye. So this area is sufficiently done and I left it just as it is. So there.
A note on the refrigerator declutter: I must have been in a prior shopping, healthy eating frenzy – which expired in 2016. My fridge was the graveyard of bags and bags of bulgur, oats, and various other grains, all expiring in 2016. Once I tossed all of the offending and sundry bags of natural foods (I tossed them to the hens, by the way), my fridge is quite empty. Boy the light really shines in an empty refrigerator.
I’m eating the Pantry Polka/Refrigerator Roulette cuisine this week. I still have lots and lots of lentils and unexpired bulgur. What was with all the bulgur?!!! If I only know. And bags and bags of dried beans. Secretly I hope the dried beans have a shelf life – I’ve yet to check that.
Lastly – from a minimalist site, I read about the benefits (maybe feng shui) of clear kitchen counters. I thought I did great by eliminating everything from my counter except the two things I use every day: my blender and my toaster over. Good, right? But then, the author of this article wrote: For something you use every day, how long do you use it? He gave the example of a toaster. You use it about 15 minutes a day. Then it sits on the counter, waiting for you, for 23 hours and 45 minutes.
Well Dang! That made sense. No need for appliances, even my blender and toaster oven, to sit around all day – at least 23 hours – waiting for me. So I made spots for them in the cupboards below. So each time I need either, I bend down and fetch it and call that movement: EXERCISE.
The first time I came downstairs, into my kitchen with totally clear counters, I thought a) there was a robbery or b) I was moving. Then I relaxed and enjoyed the feng shui of my minimalist counters. And you know what? I like it. This IS pleasing to my eye.
So the month of January is all about the kitchen. Clean, decluttered, organized and beautiful….at least to my eyes. I’ll let you know when we get to the basement.
I just never know what memories will dance through my head. This morning, knowing it was a snow day (yay!), I reached in the clean laundry basket (don’t judge – I’ve been sick!) and pulled out a tee shirt and slipped it on. It felt all bunched up and there was something stuck to my head.
Looking in the mirror – I was sporting a pair of purple panties on my head. And wiggling around inside my shirt, I was able to extricate a few more pairs of underwear.
Static electricity field day!
Which…..reminded me of the first underwear story. Years and years ago, when I was a trial attorney, I was walking down the long hall toward the courtroom – it must have been a motion day because there were about a dozen attorneys all heading the same direction. I glanced down and saw a funny tangle in the young attorney’s pant leg in front of me. I couldn’t take my eyes off this snarl of fabric and soon, a tip of white peaked from the bottom of his trousers.
Just as we entered the courtroom, his pants birthed a pair of silky white undies as he was passing the bailiff. The bailiff – one of the kind ones (see the next story for the other type) bent, picked up the undies and handed them to the attorney. I loved the puzzled look on his innocent face. He couldn’t fathom why the bailiff was handing him a pair of women’s undies as he entered the courtroom. The bailiff then whispered in his ear; the attorney stuck the offending pair of undies in his pocket. And I imagine he and his wife had a little chat about laundry duties that night.
Which….reminded me of another underwear story – involving attorneys, courtrooms and bailiffs. When my law partner, Gloria, was a prosecutor, she was in the ladies room revving herself up for a jury trial. Most of us attorneys have to gear up – put on our macho – so we can strut our stuff in a self-confident, aim to win manner.
She leaves the ladies room and begins her walk down the long hall referenced above and parades past the testosterone pit (as the women attorneys referred to the area where the bailiffs stood guard on the comings and goings into the courtroom area). She then hears all of the bailiffs – about six of them, whispering, whistling, chuckling, and about three of them started following her down the hall sing-songing her name, “G-l-o-r-i-a.”
She feels smug – confident – thinks “I’m so fine, they want me.” And continues on into the packed courtroom.
Fortunately, the bailiff at the door was a woman who walked up close behind Gloria, stopped her and said, “Hun, your skirt is tucked in your pantyhose and your butt is showing.”
Lesson one – you should never get too full of yourself because you never know when your butt is showing.
Lesson two – boy oh boy, did she give the male bailiffs the what for that day and for years after. She is now a judge, so her robe would cover all wardrobe malfunctions, hopefully.
By this time, and it was still early in my day – I was cracking myself up! I love to remember funny slices of life. And I hadn’t even made it downstairs yet!
While still finding myself utterly humorous, I remembered my third underwear story.
I was flying first class in my favorite seat – first row, aisle, right side of the plane. Easy access to the toilet. A woman from behind me had just gone into the toilet, about the same time I was thinking of going. I noticed that the “occupied” light did not come on, so I was watching the door, waiting for her to go back to her seat.
Then I see the door to the flight deck open and out walks the pilot – a tall, gangly man, with large polished military type shoes. (Clue: this will be an important fact ). He has his head turned to chat with the flight attendant in the galley as he reaches for the toilet door, opens it and steps inside.
Realizing he stepped into an occupied bathroom, he promptly steps back out only to discover that his big clodhoppers were entangled in the woman’s dropped drawers and as he steps back, trying to extricate himself, he pulls her, bare butt and all, into the aisle. She falls into him and he promptly dances her right back, bare butt first, into the toilet. There is some tussle as he gets his shoe out of her drawers. He seems to apologize, closes the toilet door and goes promptly back into the flight deck – never to be seen again.
He sure had to hold it for a long time. And I bet she has a lifetime travel pass. Hahaha – when it was my turn, I locked the door.
And with spontaneous eruptions of laughs and chuckles, I began my day.
I just crack myself up!
Still sick, I eased into bed, finding my space amongst the seven snoozing pups. I elevated the back of my bed so I could sit up…and thereby breathe. As I settled in, I noticed a funny feeling on the surface of my chest. I slid my hand into my night shirt and yikes! I felt lots of little round bumps. My eyes sprung open as I jumped from the bed, “Oh No! It can’t be! MEASLES! What next?!”
Flinging on the bathroom light, as I lifted my shirt and peered in the mirror – “yep, it looks like measles!”
Did a Dr. Google search. Measles: Fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat...and a skin rash made up of large, flat blotches that often flow into one another.
Wow! Measles. Who would think I could come down with measles?
And then…..drum roll….my sane brain clicked in and I remembered that I had measles as a kid and that you could only get measles once. And then said sane brain further remembered that during my serious chest congestion, I not only lathered my chest with Vick’s Vapor Rub (like mom used to) but about ten different essential oils on various days.
My chest skin was probably just shouting, “Enough alright, already! Give us a break here.”
So the great spot dilemma solved, I crawled back into my bed, moving a warm pup here, another there, so I could stretch out my legs and drift into peaceful sleep.
Yes of course, there’s more.
The next day I was sitting upright (yay me!) at my desk working on my budget, using both red and green roller ball pens for impact. My nose started running and a sneeze was brewing so I grabbed my tissue and gave my nose a good honk. As I lowered my tissue, I saw that it was covered with blood – and my thumb was also smeared with what appeared to be blood.
“Oh no! What next! Don’t tell me I’m hemorrhaging out my nose!” So I dash to the downstairs bathroom and stare into the mirror. Wowza – my entire nose is bright red. How could that be? Upon closer inspection, my tissue was not filled with blood, but with red ink that bled from my roller ball pen when I neglected to replace the cap. From there, when I sneezed – my tissue transferred the red ink to my entire nose which was now a bright red ball not unlike Bozo’s schnozz. I was relieved that it was ink and not blood, but a bit chagrined that this ink was quite stubborn and was not easily removed.
So I showed up at work (I dropped in for a few trial hours to see if I could return to work for real) with a red stain on and under my nose. A beauty queen I ain’t.
And so goes my wild and boring life – if it’s not one thing, it’s another.
In sickness, which is better, married or single? I’ve been both sick and well. Married and single. In this system of things, I am best off single. I have learned that I am rather head strong, although I prefer the word “tenacious,” and some say I am eccentric, but I say perchance I’m just a misunderstood creative soul. And of course, there’s always the issue of those seven pesky pups and two diva hens who share the Enchanted Cottage with me.
But during these days of being extremely ill, I have had time to ponder the senseless idea of whether it’s better to be married or single when one is sick. Senseless, because if it is the former – all sick single people are not going to run out and find a marriage mate; nor if the latter, they will be too sick to head to divorce court. It is just the frivolous fancy of a delusional drug addled mind.
This morning when I awoke, on day eight of my illness odyssey, I stood in the loft looking down at seven precious pup faces who were looking up at me….waiting….waiting for the “what’s next?” – “where are we going?” – “when do we eat?” – “are we going outside?” And I just looked at them imploring me, their leader, and I thought, “I wish I had a partner to take them out right now. And feed them. And pick up after them. I’m just so very tired….” And then our day began.
Yet, there are times with this cold/flu/pneumonia stuff that I sound like I am hacking giant hairballs; and even when I am just trying to breathe, my lungs are as noisy as lumberjacks sawing redwoods in a mosquito infested echo chamber with helicopters buzzing overhead. When I attempt to recline, the pups are pouncing all over my discordant lungs trying to silence the cacophony. So at these thoroughly unromantic, probably nonhuman, and pretty darn disgusting and gross times, I am glad I live alone so I don’t have to worry about offending anyone else. Who knew the human body was capable of so many alien sounding noises?!
And then there are the occasions when I am walking through the house and I start the sputter-coughing-hacking cycle again, so much so that my southern parts seem to take on a life of their own and start with their toot and bugle symphony. I would hate to have witness to my clenched butt check, legs crossed, hoppity doodah dash to the toilet. Even the pups stare in awe – well, maybe fear and awe.
On the other hand, wouldn’t it be comforting to have some kind one bring me a hot cup of tea and honey? Or change the linens? Or massage my tired and tense shoulders? Or to call 911 when I died, before the dogs chowed down on my lifeless body?
Having a partner has soothing, tender and practical moments for sure. But since I have become rather feral in my dotage, and at times can summon Canada Geese with the mere honk of my snuffy nose, I think things are just as they should be.
I can honk and hack and toot and tinkle to my body’s need as I work my way back to health….alone in my cottage….snuggled by the pups….providing just another source of entertainment for them, and actually, for myself too, since when I am not gasping for breath, I find it rather humorous…the adventures of being human.
We all love new beginnings – I certainly do. I love a new course which I celebrate with a blank notebook and new spiffy pens. A new week – “I’ll start on Monday.” And yes, a new year. Yet, studies show that the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions fail by February! Hence, I am not a fan of such resolutions.
That being said, for the past months, I have been working on a decluttering/budgeting/living-minimally trifecta which I am enjoying. And with the advent of this blog, I will be sharing aspects of this effort.
Today I want to share my personal challenge of zero spending. I haven’t gone daft. I don’t mean tossing out my bank account, and foraging for nuts and berries, dumpster diving, eating bugs and the like – although I am not passing judgment on those activities either. What I mean by the term “zero spending” is actually the concept of zero of reduced discretionary spending.
Why even do this?
What I did was to set a baseline of relatively fixed, necessary expenditures such as:
Food is a necessity but has lots of room for zero spending fixes. No drive-thru purchases, no Starbucks, no ordering out for lunches; limit alcohol, restaurants, and delivery meals like PIZZA. Sad, I know. But each month I challenge myself to see how well I can eat on minimal expenditures.
Most of us can live with the clothes we already own. A fun challenge is to revamp one’s wardrobe and come up with new combinations, new ways to wear something, resulting in breathing new life into our formerly boring clothes selections.
I am amazed by how much of a habit mindless spending was for me. I once told a my business coach (when I co-owned the Creating Calm Broadcast Network) that I was going to kill some time by walking around Target to see if I needed anything. I was stunned by the truth of his reply: “Ann, if you needed something, you would know before you left the house.” Sadly, until that moment, I never thought about it that way, but this one sentence has changed my shopping M.O. drastically.
Confess – isn’t Target one of those stores where you go in for toilet paper and come out with your basket piled high with things you “needed” – even a complete bedroom makeover which you didn’t know you even wanted until you saw their display.
Some of my current practices for my goal of living minimally and spending mindfully:
Cut my own hair—I use a FlowBee – someday I may do a vlog post and show you how this works
Trim the dogs’ hair. Necessary spending: their toenails – we all freak out when I try this at home.
Bring my own food and beverages for the day
Eat food I already have in the pantry – a creative cookery challenge!
Revamp my existing wardrobe
Throughout the year, I will discuss this challenge of decluttering/budgeting/living-minimally. I’d love to hear your ideas of ways you may have succeeded in this area. Leave comments below.
This is not the story I wanted to share with you today. That one needs to be carefully crafted for more clarity. And in my current condition of sniveling, snotting, hacking, snorting and generally feeling poorly, I am not up to creating that blog post. In fact, I would love to be snuggled in bed right now. That being said, I have 7 bed mates. Five would love to be snuggling in bed with me. Ziggy and Finnegan, however, are randy boys who are still vying for who sleeps next to me -- even though I have two distinct sides. So while they are bantying around my office, I thought I would sit upright and share with you the time I was kicked out of Tiffany's....not once but twice.
I entered and started to search for the silver earrings. Soon my path was blocked by a behemoth security guard who sternly, but politely, informed me that in my focus to find the earrings, perhaps I overlooked the sign on the door that said no food or beverages in the store. (I guess he never heard of Breakfast at Tiffany's.) He offered to relieve me of my drink, but I declined saying I would finish it outside and return.
I took a stroll around the block. Sat in a small park and savored the air, the energy of the city, and my drink. Upon finishing, I walked back to Tiffany's, entered, and headed back to the point where my mission was initially interrupted. A few steps further, I spotted the earrings. While waiting for the sales person to finish with the customer before me, my phone began ringing. I am not one of those rude people who will take a call in public, so I grabbed my phone, turned and walked into a darkened cranny in the wall. No sooner had I stepped in, than I was grabbed from behind and abruptly moved out by none other than my pal, Mr. Behemoth Security Guard. He, with gentle, yet firm force, escorted me outside to discuss the situation. Once out he explained that I had walked into the vault....of all places. Who knew?
And recognizing me from my first trip that morning, I reckon he pegged me as a trouble maker. Undaunted, I showed him my solo earring and explained that all I wanted to do was buy its match. We reached a compromise: He would accompany back into the store and stay with me while I completed my transaction.
You will see that I now have a pair and a spare. I discovered that it was not much more to buy a pair than a spare, so I did. I also got very prompt service being escorted and monitored by the security guard. He walked me to the door after my purchase and suggested my shopping was done for the day. He had a cute grin which let me know if I DID want to return that day -- I could -- but only with his escort.
So this, my friends, is the tale of my two tosses from Tiffany's!
Ann is a modern day Erma Bombeck - enjoying the foibles of her own life and that of living with 7 dogs and 2 hens.