Monday, 28 September 2015

Short and sweet

This is going to be a very short post. The past week has been so busy with my move and my mom's move. I'm too tired to write an adequate post, but I didn't want to break my promise. I promised to post every Monday and Friday and I want to stick to that commitment. However, being so preoccupied with moving has left me a little uninspired.

A few highlights and thoughts from the past weekend.
  • I have way more things than I thought I did, even though I got rid of so much!
  • My mom has so much more stuff than me. I wonder if living with me while I was starting off on my minimalist journey will have an impact on her and she'll get rid of some of her excess?
  • The moving company I hired was so much better than the one my mom hired. She said she'll go with the one I chose the next time she moves. The quality of the service was very different.
  • I'm not very good at moving. I think I'm more ready than I actually am. It's like I don't see it. I really hope I can get a handle on this for my next move.
  • I know some really good people that are ready and willing to help at a moment's notice. I hope they know and feel like I'm just as there for them.
  • How will I go about continuing the decluttering? Will I just get rid of the things I believe are unneeded, or will I plan another controlled decluttering?
  • I'm looking forward to having everything in its place.
  • I'm looking forward to coming up with a routine.
  • I'm looking forward to getting my new couch. I read of a minimalist who decided that she could live without a couch and actually wanted to, but having lived without one for over a week I realize that I like having a couch and I miss having one.
  • I wish I was ok with living with less than 100 items total (random number that comes up often around minimalism world). It would surely make moving so much easier and quicker.
Maybe in the future I'll expand on some of these. But for now, I'll just settle for sharing with you these random thoughts that have been occupying my mind.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Mini freakout

So this past weekend I freaked out a little. All of the little "issues" that one would only notice after moving into a new place were getting to me. I was tired. I was stressed. I was emotional. I was anxious.

Saturday night I had a serious moment of panic when I thought that maybe I had made a mistake with my decision to move into this condo. Not about moving downtown. I'm still quite excited and happy about that decision. But about moving into this particular unit.

I didn't really want to bring my anxiety to the attention of my mother and daughter. I felt like I had to hide it so as not to cause them anxiety. But I still had to talk to someone about it. Luckily, I had friends to discuss my concerns with. They were patient with me. They listened to (or read) what I had to say (or text), and were able to reassure me and calm me down. I'm very grateful to know such nice people! They're there to listen and lend a helping hand. I wasn't expecting such support. But I guess that's what people do when they care about you. They show up, even when you don't really know how to ask for it.

By the time I woke up Sunday morning, the anxiety storm had mostly passed. Although not completely myself yet, I felt much calmer about it all. Sure the issues are still there. It's not my place to fix them. But I think I'll be able to live with things the way they are. After my lease is up in a year, I'll just move if I find that I can't adapt and live with it. And hopefully during this coming year, I'll be able to further reduce the amount of stuff I own to make my next move that much easier.

Speaking of the move, it's almost over. We still have my mom's stuff to move out and I still have a few things left in the house (mostly donations). But by the middle of next week, the moving part will be over. Then comes the figuring out where everything will go in the condo part. I'm not too worried about that. I can take my time and see how we're using the space. And I know for a fact that there are some items that I still want to get rid of. I'm waiting for my mom to be in her own place so I don't have to deal with the "You're really getting rid of that? But it's still good!" comments.

I must say that the commute to work is pretty awesome! It's contributing to me being happy with my decision to move. I went from a 30 to 60 minute drive and 5-minute walk commute to just a 5-minute walk. And coming back home for lunch is also quite lovely. I feel such peace being home in the middle of the day.

So like with every major change, there's a period of adaptation. I didn't expect it would affect me as much. I'm sure I'll be fine. And like I said, if I'm not, I'll just move again in a year.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Teaching simple to Cat

I never really taught my daughter, Cat, how to clean and organize. For some strange reason that I haven't figured out yet, I much prefer cleaning when I'm at home alone. So it's not like she's seen me in action all that much. And when it came to her room, at a young age she decided that she didn't want me in there helping her out. So all I could really do was tell her "go clean your room" without much more direction than that.

Cat has her challenges when it comes to staying organized, which I think have something to do with her ADHD. And let's not forget that she's a teenager. AND, like I said, I've never really taught her how.

I was really happy when she finally let me help her to prepare for the move. I thought this would be a good time to teach her everything I've learned on minimalism over the past months. I knew I had to stay calm no matter what I'd find in her room, otherwise she'd get upset and I'd be kicked out.

I went in and sat on her bed. Cat stood in the middle of her room. We looked at each other, looked around the room, then looked at each other again. Where do we begin?! I took a deep breath and just started with the top left corner of her room and we went through the first bookcase as if we were reading a book. One shelf at a time. One item at a time. Left to right. Deciding what to do with every single item right away and doing it - trash, donate, pack.

I was pleasantly surprised that no matter what I saw in her room, it didn't really bother me that much. In the past, I would have totally lectured her on the state of her room. But this time around, it was all about getting it done. I'm also surprised at how efficient we were. I think that one of the best ways to realize how much you know is when you teach someone else. It actually felt easier to purge her items than it was to purge mine. I suppose it makes sense - her things are her things. They don't bring up as many emotions for me (except maybe a little frustration for the wasted money and damaged items that were barely ever used).

Hopefully, this lesson will stick with her. I would love to spare her from having to go through what I went through. So much wasted money, time, and energy on a lot of stuff.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The first night in the condo

Well, we've spent our first night in the condo. The last days before the move were busy. I was exhausted, which is kind of a good thing since I fell asleep pretty much as soon as my head hit the pillow. I didn't have my usual first night in a new place anxieties. Well, I did feel them, but for about 2 minutes and then I was sleeping. 

Friday - 6 days before the move
I had taken the afternoon off to go work at the condo, instead I ended up taking my daughter, Cat, to the emergency clinic in the afternoon. She sprained her ankle at school.

Saturday - 5 days before the move
I tried painting the ceilings at the condo. Unfortunately it didn't work out. The popcorn ceilings were flaking off as I was painting. So I decided to leave them as is (I only did the ceiling in Cat's bedroom closet). I saw the potential mess as too much for me to deal with right now. Instead I shifted my focus to installing the curtain rods. That didn't go as planned either. I was getting frustrated! So I went to the simple act of lining the shelves in the kitchen cupboards. That went well enough, which is good because I needed a win...

Sunday - 4 days before the move
Dr. T to the rescue! He took me to the store so that I could go buy my bed frame and then we brought it over to the condo. When we got there, he installed the curtain rods and did most of the work to set up my new bed frame. I'm so very happy that he was there to lend a helping hand! He's good people that Dr. T!

Monday - 3 days before the move
I decided to take the day off of work. I drove Cat to school because of her sprained ankle and then came back home to relax a little. I then went over to the condo for a couple of hours to finish lining the kitchen cupboard shelves and unpacked the kitchenware from the bins I had brought over. I also hung curtains in the living room.

Tuesday - 2 days before the move
We had a showing at the townhouse so we needed to be out of the house during the evening (I hate this part). Cat had an event to go to - it worked out for her. I took my mom to run some errands. Lots of errands. Then we went back to the condo for a little while before going to pick up Cat. (The event she went to was closer to the condo than to the house.) It gave me a chance to hang the clothes I brought over and bring back the empty bins to fill them back up at the townhouse.

Wednesday - 1 day before the move
I brought over all of the remaining clothes that were hung in our closets and some of my daughter's boxes.

Thursday - Moving day!
The move went really well. The movers arrived 10 minutes before they were scheduled. They were fast, friendly, and professional.

In the evening, the internet was installed. We went back to the house to pick up a few things (like curtains for my bedroom).

Today - The day after the move
What's planned for today? I have to go back to the townhouse for the inspection by the property manager. Ugh! Then a friend is supposed to pick up some of the furniture that I'm giving away. I have more stuff to bring over to the condo, and I have to clean the house. Not sure I'll be able to get all of that done today, but I'll sure try!

Inconvenience of decluttering
I experienced a little inconvenience from my decluttering. To paint the ceilings, I needed a roller, an extension for the roller and a paint tray. I used to have all of that. But I got rid of them just a few weeks ago. So I had to borrow. I also needed screws and anchors for the curtain rod brackets. I used to have those too and got rid of them. Luckily, at the condo someone left a bag of random hardware which had what I needed.

The lesson? You don't need to keep everything. If you don't have it, someone else might or you can go pick it up at the store. Sure, it's a little annoying that I didn't wait a few more days before getting rid of everything. But I managed. If I couldn't borrow the painting supplies, I saw that they weren't very expensive to replace when I went to buy the ceiling paint. Same goes for the screws and anchors.

Stress
Even though I got rid of so much stuff, the move still felt stressful to me. I'm not exactly sure why. I feel like I definitely haven't gotten rid of enough stuff. I can get rid of more, and I will very soon. I thought I had everything under control. I thought I was well prepared. Nope! I'm better than in previous moves, but I still haven't figured out how to move well. I'm annoyed at myself. Things are so chaotic. One of the best motivations to get rid of your stuff - moving!

It will officially be over on the 30th when I give back the keys to the townhouse. After that, it will just be Cat and I finally embarking on our new adventure as urbanites!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Alone with my thoughts

I've been spending lots of time alone at the condo, cleaning it, preparing it for us to move into. My mom thinks I should get my daughter to help. Even though it's tiring, it's sort of a treat to do it alone. I take my time, familiarizing myself with the new place. Its light. Its sounds. Its space.

This part of moving is my favourite. There are few items in the condo, namely some cleaning supplies, my toolbox, my record player and records, a couple of outdoor folding chairs, and my head full of thoughts. I've played a few records while cleaning, but for the most part I spend my time there working in the not so quiet of my thoughts. 
 
Once in awhile, my mind wanders to a little self-criticism. It's automatic for me. I'm harder on myself than I am on anyone else. When my thoughts turn to self-criticism, I've been stopping themI change the internal dialogue to one with a little more compassion. My journey hasn't been exactly easy. You might say the same about yours. Such is life. Mind you, my life hasn't been terrible. I consider myself quite lucky. But I definitely wouldn't be as mean to anyone else as I've been with myself. Instead I'd try to find words of encouragement and solutions to the things in that person's life that they struggle with.

But don't worry, for the most part, my thoughts have been superficial - ewww they call that clean, how will I arrange my stuff, have I really purged enough, well that's poor workmanshiphave I made the right decision, will we like living here, why can't I screw this screw into the wall... 
 
I haven't delved yet into thoughts about past, present and future relationships with people and myself. As I've mentioned before, I tend to think a lot. Sometimes I overthink. Analyzing everything. Evaluating if things are as they should be. What I should have done. How well I handled a situation. What can I do better next time... Yes, that comes with being an introvert. But at the moment, my thoughts remain mostly superficial, and that's great! I'm giving myself a break. And actually, on Saturday I was able to completely quiet my mind for a little while.

I imagine that all this time doing something as physical and simple as cleaning all alone with my thoughts must be similar to mediation (which I've been meaning to officially start doing). I find it peaceful, especially when I can quiet my thoughts or at least bring them to the more superficial type thoughts. But man am I looking forward to us being settled in and starting our new life as urbanites!

Friday, 11 September 2015

Preparing for the move - part 4

Monday - 17 days before the move 
I had plans to pack up some rarely used kitchen items. Instead, I had a really lovely long telephone conversation with an old high school friend I hadn't talked to since graduation 25 years ago! Catching up with him was well worth postponing the packing!

Tuesday - 16 days before the move 
I got the keys for the condo. I'm happy with my colour choices for the walls. :)

In the evening, I helped my daughter with her room. We're not done yet, but we did make a significant dent in the amount of items she had. I also did a little work in my room since there was supposed to be a showing at the townhouse the next day.

Wednesday - 15 days before the move
Before leaving for work, I packed up the car with a few things to donate.

During lunch time, my awesome friend Christy, Paul and his brother John came with me to check out the condo. They all approved of my new living space, and apparently we'll be having regular lunches at the condo once I'm settled in. The guys asked if I'll be serving them soups and mentioned that they also like stews. I may have to charge them... ;)

Thursday - 14 days before the move
I dropped off some of the winter gear and a couple of folding lawn chairs at the condo.

Friday - 13 days before the move
Before leaving for work, I packed up the car with cleaning gear. I cleaned the condo after work while I waited for my daughter to come meet me after school. It took me an hour to clean a quarter of the kitchen cupboards. It was grungier than I expected it to be.

We then went to get the bed frame I was checking out. I don't want my mattress set to be on the floor as it's been since my mom moved in with us back in November 2014. I'm not keeping the bed frame I let my mom use while she was living with us. She'll be using it in her guest room. Unfortunately the bed frame I wanted was out of stock. So now I have to figure something else out. I did get a few other items for the condo - curtain rods (because my old ones won't work in the new place), curtains, and a new bedspread for my daughter. We went back to the condo to drop it all off.

In the evening Dr. T fixed my daughter's bedroom door at the condo and then we went on a long walk and he showed me around my new neighbourhood. 

Saturday - 12 days before the move
I brought over my record player and records, and a few other boxes. When I got to the condo, I put on a record and got back to cleaning the kitchen cupboards. I love being alone in an almost empty living space. It feels exciting just thinking about the possibilities of how the space will be decorated and the moments we'll experience there... Plus the acoustics are awesome for singing! :)

I brought my laptop with me to start my inventory. I've decided to create a spreadsheet listing everything I own. Instead of just unpacking as needed, I've decided to list it all. Then I'll regularly highlight what I've used on the list. This way, I'll be able to see after a while if I have things I haven't used. Whatever I haven't used, and if I don't truly enjoy it, I'll get rid of. (You don't use a painting... you enjoy it) I haven't decided how long I'll wait before getting rid of whatever I didn't use. A month? 3 months? 6 months? A year? It might depend on the item. We shall see.

Sunday - 11 days before the move
I brought over more boxes and continued the cleaning. Then I drove my mom to a couple of stores where she bought a few items she wanted for her new place.

Monday - 10 days before the move
More cleaning and I was able to fix and clean the windows in my daughter's bedroom.

Tuesday - 9 days before the move
More cleaning.

Wednesday - 8 days before the move
I wasn't feeling well, so I rested. I slept a lot.

Thursday - 7 days before the move
We went curtain shopping. In the evening, a friend was supposed to pick up the furniture I'm getting rid of, but unfortunately he had to reschedule. I'm starting to get anxious about that. I don't want to wait until the last minute to get the items out.

Reflections
These past two weeks were busy. I expect that the next days before the move will be very busy also. Running errands. Cleaning. Packing. Unpacking. Planning. I was a little disappointed that things didn't really happen as planned. But then it doesn't really matter. I've pared down my possessions so much that I can afford to take my time bringing them over, even though delaying makes me a little nervous. And if I don't get around to bringing them over, the movers will be more than happy to do so. Life happens. I just have to roll with it. And that really is way easier when things in my life are simple (for the most part). But I suppose how simple they are is up to me and my attitude towards it all... I'm getting there...

Monday, 7 September 2015

I'm tired

I'm tired. The idea of moving downtown has been very exciting. But like with many changes, it's been work. Moving is generally a lot of work. Of course, the less one owns, the easier it is to coordinate everything. But it's still somewhat stressful.

For instance, the condo owner didn't get all of the work done before I got the keys. I find that a little upsetting. Especially since he was planning on renting out the unit for August 1st and I asked him to hold it until September 1st. So he had an extra month to get things done. And yet, here we are, a week after I got the keys and I was still running after him to get things finalized. They're not major issues mind you, but nevertheless, he didn't respect his part of the contract to have the work completed before I took possession of the rental unit.

The condo was built in the 80s. It's old. For the past decade, we've been living in new constructions. We haven't needed to compromise much on the condition of our homes. We must with the condo. So that will be an adjustment. My daughter hasn't been very happy with some of these conditions. Although I'm not exactly pleased with them either, I've been in older homes and similar conditions before. The adjustment for me won't be as difficult. I expect it will be good for her in the long run. But for now there's frustration, anxiety, and a lot of cleaning.

Then there's coordinating everything with my mom's move and my daughter's back to school. My mom doesn't drive. She's never had a license so she depends on me to help her run her errands. For the most part I don't mind helping her out, but sometimes it means that I have to rearrange my schedule. As for my daughter's back to school, I had to get her set up with school supplies.

I don't mean to complain. I just don't want anyone to think that pursuing a minimalist lifestyle, or any lifestyle for that matter, is all sunshine and lollipops. I'm pursuing minimalism for many reasons. I want a calmer, simpler, more meaningful life. It doesn't happen over night. At least, that's not been my experience. Sometimes I get moments of doubt and wonder if I've made the right decision (not about minimalism, but some of the decisions surrounding it). These moments don't last very long. I think that once the dust settles from this stressful point in the process, things will be closer to what I'm aiming for. But in the meantime, I'm tired.

*******
 
When I wrote the above part, it was late Friday afternoon and I had had a couple of minor disappointments concerning the condo. My awesome friend Christy unsuccessfully tried to cheer me up. She's right that the issues with the condo are somewhat minor and if I end up leading the lifestyle I've been talking about, we won't be spending that much time at home. However, I was too worried to really listen to reason.

In the evening, I met up with Dr. T at the condo to show him my new place. I told him about some of my frustrations. Well thankfully he was able to resolve one issue that my landlord and the building superintendent couldn't fix - my daughter's bedroom door. He didn't have all the exact right tools, but he made due with what he had in the toolbox he kept in his truck.

We then walked over to a local pub and I bought him a drink to thank him for saving the day. After that we went for a long walk exploring downtown. It just so happens that he used to live in the neighbourhood where I'm moving to. By the time the evening was over, I was back to feeling happy about moving downtown.

My daughter's thrilled to have a properly functioning bedroom door. Just that appeased her anxiety significantly, which in turn relieved some of my stress. Sure things won't be perfect, but most things aren't. Nevertheless, I think the experience of living downtown in this condo will be good for both of us. 

Friday, 4 September 2015

The guilt of ownership

I’ve been enjoying my journey to simplicity. It’s not always easy. Sometimes I struggle with letting go of some item (or expectation, or relationship, or whatever). But when I manage to let go, it feels great! I feel relieved. I’ve sometimes wondered why I didn’t let go before. What was holding me back?
 
I’ve also been enjoying writing about it all here, and talking about it with whoever will listen. It’s become a passion! If reading about my journey can inspire you and help you make whatever decision you’ve been having a difficult time making, then that’s a real bonus! But mostly, I’ve been doing it all to improve my quality of life – to help me on my journey.
 
I’ve notice recently that some of the people around me who’ve been following my journey and talk to me about it seem to feel guilty or apologize for “not being as much of a minimalist as me”. To these people (and whoever else might feel this way), I want to say that you shouldn’t apologize for not making the same life decisions as me. Your journey is your own.
 
If you’re happy with your situation, then there’s no need to make a change. Let go of the guilty feelings. I’ve been making these changes because I wasn’t happy. I felt overwhelmed, stressed, unhappy, unsatisfied, and even angry with my situation at times.
 
However, if you do feel guilty, maybe you should ask yourself why… Are you really so happy with your situation? Are your possessions or commitments becoming a problem? Are they getting in the way of your true happiness? Are you really living the life you truly want to live?
 
The way I justify to myself what I decide to hold on to is by asking these questions:  
  1. Can I afford it? (money or time wise)
  2. Do I have room for it? (in my physical space or in my life)
  3. Do I like (love) it? (looking at it, using it, or experiencing it makes me happy)
  4. Will it be useful to me or good for me? (good for me can just be about it making me happy)
If I can answer “yes” to all of these questions, then to me it’s justified. And in my opinion, these questions apply to items as well as pretty much everything in life (activities, expectations and relationships for example).
  
Of course this is all very egocentric. You could argue that I could (should) look outside myself a little more and maybe use available resources to give back to others. For example, let's say I own 3 pairs of pants already. All in good condition. I could donate the $60 I would have spent on a new pair of pants - even though I can afford these new pants, I have room for them, I love them, and they'll be useful. Of course I could! But right now, my focus is a little more egocentric. I'm focusing on getting my possessions and consumption under control so that maybe later on I can donate any extra resources (money or time) to a cause other than myself. Until then, I'm making decisions based on the above four questions. Once I feel I've conquered my "demons", or maybe sooner, I might add an extra question. Perhaps: can I put these available resources to better use?
 
So, dear friend, I won’t think less of you for owning more than 50 items of clothing. (That’s just a random number I came up with.) I won’t think less of you for living alone in a 10-bedroom home. I won’t think less of you for saying yes to every activity or party or event that comes up.
 
As long as you're not intentionally hurting others, live your life your way, my friend, and may you be happy!