Thursday, 30 April 2015

April challenge final update

This last part of the 30-day minimalism challenge was a bit more difficult. I kind of panicked at first. I didn't think that I could get through it. But I did!

Day 16 - 2 small shelving units, a plastic basket, 3 wire shelves, a metal rack, a chair, a plastic shelving unit, a lampshade, an under bed storage container, a desk, a long decorative shelf, a vacuum, a buffet stand, an ottoman

Day 17 - 6 shelves, a sheet of tiles, a set of Christmas lights, a mat, 7 magazines, a magazine holder

Day 18 - a magazine holder, 3 tops, 14 movies

Day 19 - 19 movies

Day 20 - 20 movies

Day 21 - 21 movies

Day 22 - 22 movies

Day 23 - This day was make-up day. Remember when I said I'd take everything out of my vanity and only put back what I was using and get rid of the rest? Well, I did it.

Day 24 - 24 more items from my vanity

Day 25 - 25 more items from my vanity

Day 26 - 26 (and a few) more items from my vanity

Day 27 - 27 movies (yes, I really got rid of 123 movies, and I still have some left...)

Day 28 - another vacuum, 26 items of clothing

Day 29 - 29 wooden hangers

Day 30 - 3 more wooden hangers, mattress, box spring, 28 books

There you have it! I ended up getting rid of more than 465 things. BUT, some of those things have yet to leave my house. Some because I haven't brought to the Salvation Army yet. Some because the people I gave the items to didn't come to pick them up (like the mattress and box spring). I'm not worried though. I know those things won't make their way back into the regular household items.

Last night, a friend came over to pick up a few items I was getting rid of. He filled up his car. Funny enough, he had actually helped me move some of that stuff from my old house to the one I'm living in now. I remarked on that fact as he was loading up his car. If only I knew then that I would be getting rid of all that stuff, I wouldn't have worked so hard to move to this house in the first place! PURGE!!

So now what? I haven't really gone through my basement yet. My mom's stuff is pretty much all over the place. I'll keep purging until I'm satisfied, or until I can bring it down a manageable level where I could get rid of 1 thing a day or so. I think that the more I do without, the more I won't feel the need to keep what I have kept. Once I feel secure in my new lifestyle, it should get a little easier. I assume...

As for my two friends who were doing it with me. One said she couldn't get through it. The other said she couldn't keep up with the days, but she will keep up with the things, and then she'll move to a 1 item a day purge. But we all were able to get rid of stuff. So I figure that we're all winners!

Tomorrow is May 1st. Will it be day 1 of YOUR 30-day minimalism game? ;)

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


I don’t usually give myself enough credit. I compare myself to others and think that they appear to have it way more together than me. Their lives seem more interesting than mine. I mean, look at all of what they’re doing! Then I start feeling guilty and down on myself and think “Why can’t I be like that? Why can’t I live life and take on new things?” 

I’ve mentioned this to my awesome friend Christy. She looked at me like I was crazy. Then she started listing all of the things I’ve been doing recently, which made me think of other things I’ve done.

Here’s what I’ve been up to… 

In August 2009 (I decided to start here), at the age of 35 with a 10-year old daughter, I bought a new house on my own.

I think it was in 2011, I started playing the ukulele. I still play and I try to attend monthly BUG jams. (BUG = Bytown Ukulele Group) At these BUG jams, I've lead the group in song in front at the mike (90 or so people at any given time). I've done a few solo performances at these jams too. I’ve even attended various BUG events where we’ve played a few times at the Ottawa Folk Festival, the Ottawa Grassroots Festival, and at a retirement home. I’ve also taken part in a few ukulele performances at work. One in front of the whole Branch! (I'm sure there were more than 200 people there...)
We found out in May 2013 that my daughter had been struggling in school because she has ADHD and dyscalculia. So I put up my house for sale in June 2013. I sold the house in July, and moved to a different city in August so that she could have better support in school. (She’s been thriving by the way!)
In 2013, I had attempted to do a different activity every month with my daughter. It was successful for the most part. As part of these monthly activities, I went to an Animee convention. What a strange experience! 
And throughout all of those years, I met and dated a few different men. Albeit not for very long.
At the end of last year, I had my mom move in with my daughter and I after my father passed away on October 11, 2014 (the day after his 64th birthday)
Still grieving for my father, and to help me get over a little heartbreak (short term relationship), I did a Whole30 in January 2015 which I blogged about (so I guess I became a blogger too). I met a great guy at the end of January. I got into minimalism at the end of February (which I’m still blogging about - and you’re reading it! :)). I did a no-buy month for March. I did the 30-day minimalism game in April. I started Lindy Hop swing dance classes at the end of April which will continue on through May. I broke up with the great guy at the end of April (long story which I won’t get into here). I’ve started the process to get my first ever passport. I’ve also started the process of getting a freelance French translation business going. And this is only a third of the way through the year!
So you know what, I guess things are fairly interesting in my life. If you’re anything like me and you start getting down on yourself for not “doing more”, do what I just did. Write down all that you’ve been doing. You can even start as far back as you can remember. Maybe you’ll find that your life is not as boring as you think it is!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Tiny habits

I've been into watching TED talks lately. There are so many interesting subjects and interesting speakers. I usually gravitate towards the minimalism and self-improvement type talks. Recently, I've watched one on tiny habits by BJ Fogg, PhD. Basically what he says is don't focus on big change, focus on tiny habits.

I'm giving it a shot! I've made some improvements in my life. But there is always room for improvement (actually, much room).

So how does it work? Well, I'm paraphrasing here, but what I got from the talk is that you have to think of a goal, break it down into super simple easy steps that take almost no effort to achieve, and pair it up with a habit you already have (and of course don't want to change) which helps trigger the new habit. For instance, if your goal is to keep a tidier household, start with something simple. You could write it up like this: "after I get out of bed, I make my bed". This is actually my first one. It's really a no-brainer. But I haven't been consistent. Now I will be. He also says to "celebrate" after doing the new habit. It's kind of cute and geeky how he suggests to celebrate. With a little "I'm awesome!" statement while shaking your fists in the air in victory. Or a little victory dance or something. :)

So here are two goals of mine:
  1. I want to be healthier. (In the past I would have written lose weight, but weight loss, I've learned through my Whole30 experience, is a side affect of being healthy. So I'm not going to worry about it. I'll just focus on the health. You don't lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight!)
  2. I want a tidier home.
Here are my first tiny habits to help me achieve those goals:

I want to be healthier. I will eat more vegetables and fruit. My goal is to get up to 9 cups a day (3 cups of leafy greens, 3 of sulfur rich vegetables, 3 of colourful vegetables and fruits). Getting to those 9 cups seems a little intimidating. Therefore, for a week, after I pack my lunch, I will prepare a smoothie with 1 cup of leafy greens, 1 cup of frozen berries, water, and a banana for sweetness, and I will add 1 cup of sulfur rich vegetables to eat on the side. This will be part of my breakfast. The smoothies I've made for myself before, and I quite enjoy them. It's an easy achievable habit, especially because it's pleasant! Once I feel I've mastered that habit, I will add more. Now this doesn't mean that I won't have other vegetables or fruit during my day, but this will be a must no matter what.

I want a tidier home. So, after I get out of bed, I make my bed. Once I feel I've mastered that habit (consistently), I will add another one relevant to keeping a tidier home. And of course, this does not mean that I won't be doing other home tidying chores, but this will be a must no matter what.

These things are things I already do sometimes, but not consistently. I want them to become habits because I believe my life will be improved.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

30 day experiment

On the night of March 24th, I packed up all of the things in and on my vanity. Make-up, perfumes, jewellery box, mirror, hair accessories, everything! I put them away in a bag that I kept on the floor beside my dresser. I took out of the bag only what I used. At the end of the month, I got rid of almost all of what was left in the bag. I felt like I needed to go through everything before letting it go. There were a few things that I didn't get rid of that I hadn't used in a month, like a couple of nail polishes. But they were still good, and I do plan on using them in the near future now that I'm regularly going out dancing. :)

This is what my vanity looked like before.

This is what it looks like at the end of the month.

This is what I got rid of.

It may not seem like much, but there are more than 60 items in that pile of stuff. I'm satisfied with this purge. I might end up purging more, but I think that I'll be getting good use out of what is left.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Lindy hop swing dancing!

So swing dancing doesn't have much to do with minimalism, but it is part of experiencing life, which is one of my goals going through this whole minimalism thing.

A few weeks ago, I went swing dancing for the first time in my life. It's a recurring event that happens every Saturday nights. They have two types of swing dancing - West Coast swing (WCS) and Lindy Hop swing (LHS). On April 4th, I tried the WCS. It was fun and I was quite happy to be encouraged out of my comfort zone. I was in a slightly bad mood that night, but dancing cheered my right up. By the end of the night I was grinning from ear to ear! Now, in my opinion, for the WCS to look nice, the woman dancer has to move in way that I consider to be sexy. I feel too awkward yet to move that way. At least in public. But I'm open to trying it again and hope that eventually I'll either learn how to sexy dance, or learn to not care if I don't. :)

On April 18th, I tried LHS. I said if I enjoyed it, I would sign up for classes. Well, I really liked it! It's such a fun dance! And I feel more at ease dancing it, even though I have much to learn still. So, tonight I signed up for classes. :)  Six weekly classes starting on Tuesday. It is so unlike me to do this. But I'm very excited about it. And nervous. But I'm doing it! Aaaand, they have weekly assisted practise classes that I can attend for free as long as I'm signed up for regular classes. And of course the Saturday night dances. PLUS, there's another place where they have weekly Friday LHS nights. Therefore, if I wanted to, I could dance four times a week.

I want to get good dance shoes to help me be more comfortable so that I can enjoy my experience even more. I had bought cheap shoes for these evenings and figured I'd buy better (more expensive shoes) later on if I enjoyed it and planned on making this a regular event. Now don't worry, I won't go crazy and buy a whole bunch of things with the excuse that it's for dancing. I'm getting shoes. And I might get a "dance outfit" that I'd wear every week.

So, that's it! I'm getting out of my comfort zone and doing something I quite enjoy.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

April challenge mid-point update

I've been doing it, the 30-day minimalism game! Here is what I've gotten rid of so far:

Day 1 - underwear with a hole in them
Day 2 - an eyeliner and lipstick
Day 3 - deodorant that I don't like and two used mascaras
Day 4 - 4 shirts I haven't worn in over a year
Day 5 - I wanted to do more than 5 items: 2 more shirts that I haven't worn in over a year, underwear with a hole in them (yes, another... I think I'm due for new underwear...), a sock with a hole, 15 or so magazines (I forgot to count them before I threw them out but it's a year's worth of two different magazines. They were a gift to my landlord when he bought the house I'm living in and he said I could keep them)
Day 6 - 6 magazines
Day 7 - 2 sweaters and 7 plastic bowls
Day 8 - a box of trash and a carpet that have been sitting in my basement for a while, a bathing suit, and 5 sweaters
Day 9 - broken sunglasses, a measuring cup with faded measurements, a broken tong, a usb key, 1 t-shirt, 4 camisoles
Day 10 - 10 books
Day 11 - 7 nail polishes, 3 lipstick, 1 hair removal lotion
Day 12 - 4 bracelets, 5 bra clips, 1 package of facial blotting paper, a set of insoles, lip balm
Day 13 - Christmas decorations
Day 14 - More Christmas decorations
Day 15 - 2 wicker baskets, a wall clock, a mat, a curtain rod, and more Christmas decorations

Now I think the second half of the 30-day minimalism game will be a little harder. I didn't have to work hard to gather all this stuff that I got rid of. They were all just right there, sitting around wasting space. Now that I have to get rid of more things per day, I think the hard work begins. I'll have to start opening boxes and going through them and moving furniture out of the house...

I know I'm making a difference in my environment, but it doesn't feel like it yet. Aside from little reminders here and there like my linen closet that isn't cluttered anymore and a few empty shelves in my kitchen cupboards, there is still too much stuff in my house. I guess that's a good thing because it will make it that much easier to get through the 30-day minimalism game...

I've also tried to digitize my photos. I had bought an all-in-one printer-scanner-copier. I scanned 77 photos before realizing that the resolution wasn't that great. I think a dedicated scanner will be better. So I returned the all-in-one and will look into buying just a scanner in the next few days.

Let the purging continue!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

What will you do with all that free time and money?

When I talk to people about my journey to simplicity, I get asked sometimes what I will do with my extra free time and money. I don't have an answer to that. At first, not having an answer stressed me out. What's wrong with me that I don't have a plan? What's the point of going through all of this if I can't figure out what comes next? I don't think that these people intentionally wanted to force me into figuring things out right away. I think that what I'm doing has people rethinking their own lives. And if they're anything like me, they like having examples. Not that anyone should and will do what I'm doing. Ever. But a little comparison can be helpful sometimes. I also think that for some of them, it's just genuine caring and interest in me.

Anyway, after stressing out about it, I've come to the conclusion that I don't need to know just yet. At the moment, I still have too much to get through before I can effectively contemplate what I will do with all that extra free time and money. And I expect that once I have all that extra free time and money, the next step will be a little more obvious. At least I hope so. I should be more open to welcoming the next step. One thing is certain, I want to continue to improve as a human being. I'm not quite sure what that means yet... But what I do know is that my life as it has been so far has had me feeling a little restless at times.

Quick update on the 30-day minimalism challenge: it's going well enough. It is getting tougher though. But I'm doing it. Stay tuned, on April 15th or 16th, I will give you a mid-challenge update with a list of all of the things I got rid of thus far. :)