Thursday, 26 February 2015

Taking on three challenges in the third month

So as you know, I'm on a journey to simplicity. I've been working on decluttering my home. It's a slow process when you work at it only during weekends.

And you probably also know that I've succeeded in my first Whole30 at the beginning of the year. 

I've decided to take it up a notch in March 2015. I'll be taking on three life improvement challenges. 

1. I'm continuing the decluttering. Of course. No surprise there. I'm inspired to succeed at this new minimalist lifestyle. It's a struggle (mostly because it takes so much time to go through everything), but I will achieve it!

2. I'm doing a second Whole30. I've been off track in February. I miss how I was feeling during my first one. And eating simple ingredients, in my opinion, totally fits the minimalist lifestyle. I won't be encumbered by a whole bunch of prepackaged foods. Just meats, fish, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and good fats. Simple!

3. I'm making March 2015 a "no buy" month. Seems to make sense. I'm decluttering, it would be ridiculous to bring in more stuff. I'm still going to buy food and supplies to maintain the household (for example, bathroom tissue, laundry detergent (although, we might be good in that department)), and pay my bills. And my monthly BUG jam is a given (I normally spend around $30 on that night). Other than that, no book purchases, no clothes, no beauty accessories, no electronics...

So that's the plan, and it starts Sunday. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Random update

Smiley Sunday

Sunday morning (the morning after my first official decluttering day), when I left my room to go downstairs for my morning coffee, I was greeted by a lovely clear computer nook. "Oh yeah! I cleaned this out yesterday! *smile* " I thought to myself. What an awesome way to start the day!

The reading

The fourth book I've been reading is The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life - by Francine Jay (298 pages). I'm a little more than half way through and I'm a little disappointed. I feel (so far) that this is redundant information considering the other 3 books that I've read last week (one by the same author). I will finish it, in case there is another little lesson or at least more reinforcement to the concepts I already have on minimalism.

The next move

I've still been contemplating my next move. I've taken a few before photos of the various areas of my house because I've actually started moving stuff out of their old designated areas and into the hands of family and friends. I wanted people to get the real picture of the before and after, and how could I do that without taking a photo of the real before?

So the plan this weekend is to tidy up the garage so that I will have room to put the undesirables until they find a new home. And then I'll let family and friends rummage through these things and choose whatever they could use. Whatever is left over will go to charity.

That's it for now... Stay tuned for more on my journey to simplicity.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Wow you have a lot of stuff!

A lot of stuff!

"Wow you have a lot of stuff!" is what my landlord told me looking around the dinning room at my piles of boxes with a bewildered look in his eyes the day I moved into the townhouse I'm renting from him. I was insulted. "Yeah so? It's not that much. There are many other things I want and need! I've gotten rid of tons of things before moving. How dare you!" was my inner dialogue in response. Instead, I didn't say anything. I just looked around at the dinning room where SOME of my stuff was piled and then looked back at him.

Looking back on it now, he was absolutely right. It was none of his business, but he was right none the less. I have (will have had) a lot of stuff!


So I've read 3 books on minimalism in 5 days and I'm on book number 4. I'm excited. I'm scared. All week I've been looking forward to attacking the first area of my home: the home office area. But as I stood there looking at my stuff, I got nervous. "But this stuff is valuable" I thought. Oh really? When was the last time you used it? When was the last time it added value to your life? Can't remember, can you? THEN GET RID OF IT!! Fine!!

The work

I started working on my pile of office junk around 10 am on Saturday. I worked at it until about 2 pm with a few breaks here and there. Discouraged! Upset! Frustrated! I didn't think I had THAT much stuff. I mean, I knew I had a lot. But man oh man did I underestimate the task at hand! After those 4 hours, I had two big bags and a plastic "dresser" to donate, a full garbage bag of paper to recycle, and a heavy duty garbage bag filled about 3/4 of the way. And I still was not done!!

I had to leave my house at 2:30 pm to go pick up my mom. I brought the donations to the Salvation Army on the way. Then we had errands to run. So I continued in the evening. My goal was to get this part of the house done on Saturday. I was not going to stop until I accomplished that goal. I didn't want to lose the momentum I had built up during the week getting psyched to tackle this mess.

What did I get rid of? Junk I haven't touched in years! Seriously! I hadn't touched it in years before moving to this townhouse in August 2013. And after moving, besides taking them out of the packed boxes, I haven't touched any of it.

That computer desk is now empty save for a few hanging file folders that I am giving away with the desk.

That office chair and that computer desk have already found new owners. One of my friends is taking the office chair, and my mom said she wanted the computer desk. So the desk stays there until she moves to her own place. The chair should be gone by next week.

OK, so it doesn't look like I did that much in that corner, but you have no idea how much stuff I shredded and sent to recycling!

What am I left with? A box with files and a few office supplies for those rare times I need to mail something, and a box with paperwork and one of photos that I need to sort and possibly digitize. So as you can see, I still have work to do.

Surprise! Surprise!

What else happened this week?

Well, on Thursday, it felt like "Dominique love day"! Before 9:30 am, I had already received two "You rock!" emails from two different colleagues. They both actually used that exact phrase. :)
I received other compliments for my work. And some on my appearance. It was just a perfect "Dominique love day"! At home, my daughter and mother were both in fairly good moods.

On Friday: remember Mr. D from my Whole30 blog? The one I was having a hard time getting over at the beginning of the year? Well, he texted me to apologize for his behaviour. He said that I was a wonderful woman. That he was in a bad place right now and needed to be alone for a while to work things out. (I kind of figured that he didn't want to be with me... It had been at least a month since I had heard from him last.. I think it was back in December. But I can't confirm, I had already deleted all of those text messages.)

I had planned an answer similar to: "apologies are not texted, they are offered in person". I had planned this at the beginning of January when I still hoped he would return. We are now near the end of February. I have already changed so much since the beginning of the year! I've succeed at my first Whole30 which gave me the momentum I needed to keep going with my personal growth and transformation. People and things were put onto my path to inspire and encourage me to keep going. I feel the transformation happening. I know it sounds lame, but I really do feel it. I feel like I have a courage that I've never experienced before. Courage to finally get things done! Anyway, I digress.

So what was my reply to Mr. D? I thanked him for his apology. I told him that I was hurt at first because I thought that we were quite compatible. I told him, however, that I think he did me a favour. That I had realized that I had things to work on also (...but then again, who doesn't?) and that I've been doing so since he "disappeared" from my life. I wished him good luck and said that I sincerely hopped things would work out for him soon. And you know what? I meant all of it. After sending the text and re-reading it a few times, I deleted it. I've moved on. I didn't need to hold on to that conversation.

Moral of the story

Letting go is scary. But when you can, it feels calming. I still have to work at it. I find it very difficult to let go and accept that most things are out of my control. The only things I can control are my choices and my reactions. Right now, my choice is to let things go.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Dreams of simplicity

OK, I said I wasn't going to write every day, but I'm just so darn excited about this new "challenge" that I've given myself! :)

So I've read Miss Minimalism: Inspiration to Downsize, Declutter, and Simplify, by Francine Jay. It only took me two nights to get through it. Not a very impressive feat; it's only 133 pages.

Turns out that that "one item a day" idea I had, well she does that also. Cool! So I've decided to try to do that all while doing a more important decluttering.

What I got rid of so far:
  1. A bag of clothes donated to Value Village
  2. A book I gave to a friend
  3. A curling iron I never use anymore
  4. Candle holders that I gave to my mother
  5. A tablet that I gave to my mother
  6. An extra kettle
I have dreams of simplicity. Dreams of getting rid of enough stuff so that when my mom moves out into her own place (possibly this summer), my daughter and I can move to a smaller apartment instead of renting the townhouse we currently live in. It's too big, too expensive, and I don't want to shovel and mow the lawn anymore. I figure that I could probably easily save 200$ to 300$ in housing costs if I move into a smaller apartment. That is a potential savings of 3,600$ a year!!! And, if I move to where I'd like to, I'd probably start taking the bus to work. So more savings there. I might be able to save up to 500$ a month in housing and transportation expenses, for potential savings of 6,000$ a year!!!! Like come on!!! I HAVE to do it!!!

So the plan is to get through the clutter by this summer. I'M SO EXCITED!!!

This Saturday, I will devote 4 hours to decluttering. I must be ruthless! I want to start with my home office area. I've been wanting to tackle this for a while now. I don't think it will take me the full 4 hours to work through my things there, but then maybe it will if I go all in and actually scan any of the paperwork I want to keep to store it digitally instead of in file folders. If it doesn't take me the full 4 hours, next will be my linen closet. I've already gone through it once not too long ago. But I'm sure I could pare things down even more.

I think I may be more excited about this than I was with the Whole30! However, I am planning on doing another Whole30 very soon. It just makes sense for me to keep eating that way. Why? Well because I felt good on it! What better reason is there than that?

I am considering doing before and after photos of my decluttering. I am a little embarrassed to show anyone the before shots. But I figure if I post the after shots at the same time, we can all rejoice in my accomplishments, right? :)

My next blog post probably will be after my Saturday 4-hour decluttering session. YAY!!

Monday, 16 February 2015

And so it begins...

Yesterday, I added a post to my Whole30 blog about starting something new. Yesterday's plan was to get rid of one thing a day until the end of the year. And I actually did start yesterday like I said I would. I dropped off a bag of clothes that I was planning to donate at Value Village. So my day one was a success!

But you know what... I've been rethinking my plan. I don't want to get rid of one thing a day. I don't want to limit it to one thing a day. I know it would mean 318 things by the end of the year as of yesterday. But that doesn't seem like enough. And how do I figure out what counts in those 318 things? Would trash count? Purging paperwork? Getting rid of old receipts? Does it have to be things that can be used by others?

So instead, my plan is still to de-clutter, organise what I keep, and set up a system to keep things organized, simple, and try to live a minimalist type of lifestyle in as many aspects of life as I can.

Today, I bought a few e-books:
  • Miss Minimalist: Inspiration to Downsize, Declutter, and Simplify - by Francine Jay
  • The Minimalists: Essential Essays - by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Necodemus
  • Simplicity: Essays - by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Necodemus
I'm considering a few others. But for now, I'll concentrate on reading those and see where it takes me.

I've been considering this for a long time. I've fantasized about giving EVERYTHING away and starting fresh. But that wouldn't be the most convenient nor financially sound way of getting to where I want to be. Also, it probably wouldn't address the reasons why I got to this place to begin with. I want this to be a lasting change.

Why am I doing this?
  • Doing a Whole30 in January 2015 made me realize that I'm a stress eater. When I simplified my meals to what was acceptable on Whole30, I was happy. I felt empowered. I felt healthier. I had more energy and more self-confidence. It made me want to continue my self-improvement.
  • I've been fantasizing about an organized simple living environment for years! There is so much stress in day to day life that if I can at least get a handle on my home, it should minimize the stress.
  • I want to be a good example for my daughter so that she doesn't fall into the same consumerism traps as I did. If she can get a handle on this as a teenager, she'll more likely have an easier time of it as an adult. At least, I'd like to think so.
  • I don't want to run after money. I mean, I spend so much time running to and from work. It seems that I spend the majority of my awake time at work. And most of the money I make there goes to buy stuff. Stuff I have to clean. Stuff I have to organize. I believe that if I simplify my life, and spend less money on stuff, it should free up some of my time and money so that I can do other things. I'm hoping that I will be able to take advantage of the time off that I can book as a federal government employee. I'll be paid less, but if I need less money, that's fine with me!
  • I don't like cleaning. Really! I know, most people don't. But I find it ridiculous that we spend so much time cleaning and organizing the stuff that we have, instead of living the life that we have. I'd rather live.
  • And of course, all of this will be good for the planet, right? The less stuff I buy and own, the less space and negative environmental impact I'll have on the planet. And that seems like a no brainer to me.
Now don't get me wrong. Like I've mentioned before, I am no where close to being a hoarder. I've gotten rid of many many things in my life, and I'm totally fine with that. I just know I could be better, have less. We should keep improving, right? So this is what I choose to address now.

I'm not quite sure how often I'll write a blog post. I don't expect it to be a daily thing. That would just be too much and would contribute to clutter on the web. ;)
Perhaps weekly, or monthly. Or maybe when something somewhat significant happens. I'll figure it out.

So tonight, I will start by reading Miss Minimalist: Inspiration to Downsize, Declutter, and Simplify. I hope it will be inspirational and practical. I don't just want to be inspired, I want to learn how to live it!