Friday, 30 October 2015

Thirty-one things - Results

I did it. I got rid of my 31 items for the month of October, and another 9 items because I added face cloths, a cordless phone, a couch, a dining room table, four dining room chairs, and an area rug to the condo.

I definitely want to keep going with the purging. Like pretty much anyone living the minimalism lifestyle will tell you, you really never stop purging. Things have a way of sneaking into your life/environment. It's always good to go through everything regularly to reassess their usefulness to you. I'm not necessarily going to reassess everything daily, but anytime I come across something I forgot I had I'll definitely immediately reconsider keeping it.

Here are photos of the items I got rid of during the month. Each photo counts as one thing even though in some of them, there are multiple items (like the 4 measuring cups I counted as 1 item). Some of these items look a little weird. So for you curious folk, here is a list of the items in order of appearance.
  1. mug
  2. trash can
  3. plastic pitcher 
  4. towels
  5. Santa figurine (approximately 2-feet tall)
  6. assorted coloured pens
  7. measuring cups
  8. the trash bin part of a paper shredder I used to have
  9. sheets for a single sized mattress
  10. single sized inflatable mattress
  11. wall decoration (approximately 3-feet x 3-feet)
  12. hairdryer diffuser
  13. shower curtain
  14. face cloths
  15. green ukulele
  16. "skulls" ukulele
  17. orange sheer curtains
  18. blanket
  19. tongs
  20. desk organizer (I brought that to work though, but it's out of my home)
  21. sewing kit
  22. folding brush
  23. shoes
  24. orphaned socks
  25. key chain
  26. wooden earrings I've never worn
  27. more earrings I've never worn
  28. purse
  29. keyboard 
  30. over the door hooks
  31. blouse 
  32. cutting board
  33. body lotion (I had to put it into this glass container because the original bottle was broken. Now it's discoloured and gross.)
  34. knife block
  35. necklace
  36. binder rings
  37. purse
  38. jeans
  39. plastic bins
  40. scarves
  41. belt
  42. jacket (My daughter wanted to keep the "skulls" ukulele, so this is the bonus item she's getting rid of to justify keeping the "skulls" ukulele)
So it was more difficult this time around. It was somewhat a quest to find the items to give away. It was easy until the ukuleles. From then on, I really had to work at it. I suppose that's a good thing. It means I have way less items that I don't really value.

Getting rid of the ukuleles was difficult for me. However, I never play those. I have 4 others that I'm keeping (3 better ones and my first ever). They're all beautiful to me in their own way, even the ones I'm letting go of. But realistically, I'll never play those. I suppose I could use them as decorations... But no, I've given them away.
I know the month isn't over yet. Tomorrow's the last day. But today is posting day. So I'm sharing my results now and added the required item for tomorrow.

I highly recommend going through this exercise.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Questioning the reality of the world with which I'm presented

My daughter was watching The Truman Show on Saturday morning. As I was waiting to meet up with a friend for lunch, I watched a bit of the movie with her. For those of you unfamiliar with the film, it chronicles the life of a man (Truman) who is initially unaware that he is living in a constructed reality television show, broadcast around the clock to billions of people around the globe. He becomes suspicious of his perceived reality and embarks on a quest to discover the truth about his life.

At one point in the movie when things aren't going as smoothly because Truman is trying to discover the truth, the creator of the show, Cristof, is asked in an interview: "Why do you think Truman has never come close to discovering the true nature of his world, until now?" Cristof replies "We accept the reality of the world with which we're presented. It's as simple as that."

Huh!... That's it! That's why I've always been somewhat reluctant to make changes in my life until very recently. Wanting a different lifestyle than the one I was raised in was practically unthinkable. Even if it didn't feel like it suited me. I just figured it's how things were supposed to be and something was wrong with me for feeling uneasy, restless, unsatisfied and frustrated with the status quo. So I kept trying to change myself.

I'm always trying to figure things out. Figure out life and how to live the best one I can. So it's no surprise that as time went on, I could no longer accept the reality of the world with which I was presented. I couldn't ignore the nagging feeling that this wasn't the way things were supposed to be for me. I was and am supposed to live my life differently than the way I had been living it.

I still have a long way to go before I get to where I want to be. I'm not even quite sure where that is... But I suppose that's the point. Paul would make fun of me for writing this but... it's about the journey, not the destination. I still struggle with things and fall back into old habits and patterns. It's hard to undo 41 years of a certain way of life. Then I get that same old feeling of dissatisfaction. I'm still not exactly sure how I want to live my life. But that's kind of the interesting part. I get to define it. I get to try out many different new things and see what feels right and what will stick.

This is all a difficult balancing act though. I'm a mother. I have a responsibility to my darling girl. So until she's a self-sufficient adult, I must take her into account in whatever life decision I make. And this is why I want to be an example to her and show her that she can also choose the way she leads her life.

So question the reality of the world with which you've been presented. Perhaps it's exactly how things are supposed to be for you. Perhaps it isn't. Don't you owe it to yourself to figure that out?

Friday, 23 October 2015

Do I really need to pay for that?

We live in a time where it seems we have so many things available for us to spend our money on. Things for the home. Things for our mind. Things for our physical wellbeing. Things to please others. Gadgets and trinkets and doodads you had no idea you "needed" until you saw it in the store or online for the first time. However, I think that in many cases, there's no "need" to spend money. 

I was contemplating this the other day when I got to the end of an e-book sample I downloaded to my e-reader. I had to decide if I wanted to buy the book to keep reading it. 

Things for the home
We all know that we live in a society of over consumption. At least that's true for us in North America. If your home isn't (or wasn't) filled to the brim with stuff, I'm sure you know many people that have overflowing homes. It's easy to get into the trap of buying another piece of furniture, especially if you feel you're running out of storage for all of your stuff. I know I'm guilty of having bought so many bookcases and storage units over the years that I could probably have opened my own furniture store. But nothing ever seemed to really work out quite right. Until I started pursuing a minimalist lifestyle. But this post isn't really about that.

When you feel like you could use more or different furniture, you could go out and buy a new piece. The store owners would love that! Instead, I propose that maybe you could ask to borrow it (or buy it) from someone who has an overflowing home and you know they haven't used that item in a while. They might be happy to have it go to a good home. And if you have something you don't need and you know of someone who could use it, do yourself a favour and pass it on.

Things for the mind
I like music, books, movies, live entertainment and other artwork. I sometimes pay for all of these things, but I don't have to. I can listen to practically anything for free online. Same goes for many books, and I can also get them from the library. There are free shows and productions here and there around town if you're willing to do your research. And in my area, museums have free admission on Thursday nights for the regular exhibits.

When I do choose to pay for something like music, books, movies, live entertainment or other artwork, it's usually because it has moved me and I want to encourage the artist in his or her artistic pursuit. I want the art to continue, so I pay.

Another thing I like doing for my mind is talking with people. Sharing ideas. Making each other laugh. Listening to each other's stories. Trying to figure out life. We could do that over an expensive delicious meal at a restaurant, or we could do it for free walking around the city, or sitting in a park, or sitting on the couch.

Things for our physical wellbeing
I don't really like working out. Not yet anyway. It doesn't come easy for me. But I really do enjoy the effects of working out. I feel stronger. I sleep better. My mind is clearer. My self-esteem is better because I'm taking better care of myself. I could join a gym. I enjoyed my time at the gym. But I can also workout on my own. For example, I can take long walks. I can dance in my living room to music streaming online for free. The internet is also filled with workout videos.

Things to please others
I like making other people happy. I like finding the perfect gift that lights up someone's face. However, that gift doesn't have to be something material. See any of the paragraphs above - I could do many of those things with or for someone.

Obviously, there are some things that you probably will need to spend money on. Food. Clothing. Shelter. But then again, you might be able to find some or all of those things for free, or almost, if push came to shove.

What I'm trying to say is that you may not have to spend any money to get what you really want or need. Sometimes spending money will actually get in the way of what you're really looking for. So before I spend I ask myself, do I really need to pay for that?

In the case of the book I was reading, the answer was yes. I wanted to support the author because she's writing about something that moves me. I thought that her book would serve me in my journey to simplicity. So I payed for that.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Outside Sunday

Early Sunday morning October 18th, Dr. T and I went out hiking King Mountain Trail in Gatineau Park. It was a beautiful and fairly cold morning. Fall is my favourite season, so I wanted to make sure I got out there to really appreciate the spectacular natural show.

The trail starts out with a somewhat steep ascent. At least, it was steep for me. I was very quickly out of breath. During that first climb, I was in a panic thinking "what did I get myself into?!" But, being a little proud, there was no way I was going to back out, even though the thought did cross my mind.

Dr. T is used to this kind of stuff because he actually has to do it sometimes for work. AND he has to carry heavy equipment while doing so. I kind of felt bad for him that he had to slow his pace so that I could keep up. Of course, Dr. T, being the gentleman he is, didn't once let on that it bothered him at all. He was encouraging and patient. When the descent was steep, he'd help me out. When I needed to catch my breath, he waited patiently and talked to me about the forest we were in. When I needed to blow my nose, he found nice big leaves for me to use. (I made him look away while I used them though...)

We stopped a few times along the way to take in the view. It was absolutely beautiful! I was filled with awe. We're definitely lucky to live in this part of the world! At some point along the way, flurries gently fell which added to the beauty of the scenery.

A few things did bother me during the hike though. Like my lung capacity. I was often out of breath while climbing. That felt a little embarrassing to me. It was also frustrating because if it wasn't for that, I'm sure I would've been better able to keep up. And that thought lead me to think of my dad and how much he must've suffered near the end of his life never being able to catch his breath. My dad wasn't one to complain, but he would mention to me once in a while when it got too much for him to bear that he felt embarrassed and angry that he wasn't able to do what used to be so easy for him. He was definitely with me on the hike.

Another thing that bothered me was that my glasses kept fogging up. It made hiking and stopping to check out the views a little unpleasant. My flexibility also needs work. I want moving my limbs to be easier so that I can reach and get to where I want to go.

So my solution to these problems? I will work on anaerobic exercises so that I'm not so out of breath. When I go for my walks, I'll try to choose routes where I know I'll have hills to climb. I will look into laser eye surgery so that I don't have to wear glasses anymore. (The eye surgery is not just for hiking. I've thought about it over the years, but I just never had the guts or the money to go through with it.) As for the flexibility, well, I need to add stretching exercises. Maybe I'll try yoga. I've never done it before and it seems to be very popular. There might be something to that.

After the hike, we went canoeing on the Rideau River above Black's Rapids. That was also beautiful! We saw a little group of black ducks. Some of the sights I saw really made me want to start drawing and painting again. So inspiring! Unfortunately, Dr. T's seat broke not long after we had gone out, so the trip was cut a little short.

I'm happy that my body carried my through these activities, especially the hike. I'm happy I found out what I need to work on for next year's hiking trip in the Adirondacks. I'm happy that I was right about Dr. T being a good hiking partner. I'm happy I got to see such beautiful sights. At some points during our activities I was filled with such gratitude to be able to experience all of this. I just wished I was able to save more of it to memory. The time seemed to go by so fast!

This is a photo I took from one of the view points on the trail. It really doesn't do it justice. It's such beautiful breathtaking landscape! It felt like my eyes weren't big enough to take it all in. My iPhone camera certainly couldn't capture it well enough either. So although there were more beautiful scenery, I didn't even bother trying to photograph it. There's really nothing like experiencing the real thing.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Health challenge update - One

I've been sticking to my routine of walking on average 3 km almost every day. And on some days, Dr. T invited me for a walk and we more than made up for any days I missed. We've usually ended up walking 6.5 to 7.5 km an outing. Time flies and great distances can be covered when you're in good company!

As for the food, it took me a while to get a handle on it. I wasn't exactly compliant at the beginning. But for the past week, the old Whole 30 habits kicked in and, although I wasn't taking on a Whole 30 challenge, my meals have been mostly compliant.

On Tuesday night, when I was feeling a little lost, I re-read My first Whole 30 blog posts. It was good to be reminded of the struggles and accomplishments I had during that challenge. I was also reminded of how tasty many of my meals were.

Now I'm at a point when I need to add strength training. I haven't quite figured out what to do yet. It will be body-weight exercises for sure, but I don't know what and how many repetitions and sets. There are many resources online. I'll figure it out soon.

No! That's not good enough! It's too vague! I will have my routine figured out by Monday. My body-weight workout days will start this coming Monday and will be every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Of course I'll continue walking pretty much every day. I'll keep my regular walks (not accompanied by Dr. T) to about 3 to 3.5 km for now and will aim for 4 km starting November 1st.

For some strange reason, it's like my mind won't let me believe than anything I do will change my current physical condition. I know that's not true because I've done it in the past. I lost weight during the Whole 30 challenge. How can the results be much different if I eat pretty much the same way as I did?

Also, the month when I was going to the gym for general conditioning workouts, I truly felt a difference in my body. I had gone to the nature museum with my nephew and we took the stairs instead of the elevators to visit all 4 floors. And it wasn't much of a struggle to do so. So because I'm working out, that will also make a difference.

Anyway, I'm trying not to dwell on the lies my brain is telling me. I'll just eat well and workout anyway. I'll surely be better for it.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Urbanite chronicles - one

I've been living downtown for 25 days now. This is day number 26. Being in this condo has been taking some getting use to. I keep wavering between being happy with my choice, to regretting it. Maybe I was too hasty in my choice of location. But then being so close to work is pretty awesome! And being close to Chinatown is kind of nice. But I think there might be neighbourhoods we'd enjoy more. Like I've mentioned before, I just have to stay here for a year. After that, I'm free to move. And I just might...

The weekend of October 3rd and 4th was the first weekend in a long while where I didn't have anything planned. It felt a little odd. My daughter Cat and I went kitchen table shopping on Saturday. We walked along hipster-lined Wellington street in Hintonburg. One of the stores was filled with the kind of used furniture I absolutely love! But everything was very expensive. One of the kitchen tables I wanted was over $1300 and the chairs were $300 each. I really can't afford that at the moment. So instead, I settled for a much less expensive mass-produced table. Getting the table contributed to making the condo feel a little more like a home.

Sunday morning, Cat and I walked over to a local café for breakfast. It's a very cute place where I can imagine myself hanging out. However, the breakfasts we had were overpriced. Now we know. We then walked in Chinatown.

Adapting hasn't been as easy as I expected it to be, and the stress of it had me feeling pretty low until the beginning of last week. On Monday and Wednesday, I talked to a few coworkers who also live downtown. They all said it took them about a year to get used to being downtown and come up with their own routines. They gave me suggestions on where to go for groceries, restaurants and activities. It actually helped me feel better to hear about their experience.

This past weekend I was in much better spirits. I planned my meals for the first half of this week. Getting into a dietary routine helps me feel more grounded. The whole being in control of something thing. And of course, it will help with my fitness challenge.

I had my nephew over for his first sleepover at the condo on Friday night. Then Saturday I took him out for breakfast and to explore Bank street. I figured he'd really like going to the comic book store. We then spent a little time at the park. I went shopping with my mom for a few things for our places late afternoon/early evening. I bought dining room chairs that I'll get in a couple of weeks.

On Sunday I treated myself to a massage at a spa that's a 6-minute walk away from my place. It was so nice not to have to drive home after. I just moseyed on back home. Then it was a mani-pedi in the afternoon before going to a family supper.

I've found that opening up to people about the things I was going through really helped me to let go of my worries and stress. They offered up their own stories and made suggestions which made everything feel like less of an issue. Although it is taking more time than I expected to get used to the new place, I have a feeling I'll feel more at home here than I ever did anywhere else as an adult.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Thirty-one things

Remember how I said I wanted to get rid of more things? Well I'm gonna! I've decided to do a controlled decluttering during the month of October. I will get rid of one thing a day. At the end of the month, my condo will be 31 things lighter.

I've gotten rid of many, many, things over the past few months. So I think that it might be a little tougher for me to come up with 31 things. But I will!

However, I want to buy a few new (old) things for the condo. Like a dining room table (bought), dining room chairs, a coffee table, a used end table (maybe), a used cabinet for the dining room (maybe), a rug for the living room and one for the dining room (maybe), a comfortable chair for extra seating in the living room.

So to balance things out, I will get rid of something for everything I buy. Obviously, it most likely won't be equivalent. For instance, my new couch was just delivered on Saturday. I got rid of a plastic pitcher to compensate. It's obviously not of the same size. But it's still one for one.

The part that I find the most difficult to get under control is the little items that would probably end up in a junk drawer, if I had one. There are a few random items here and there that I haven't quite figured out what to do with. I suppose I should just put everything into a box and seal it, and if I don't open the box up within a few months to a year, then just throw out the box without opening it. If I don't remember I had it, I probably won't miss it. 

So why don't you join me? October's not over yet. Catch up! Let's all get rid of 31 things this October!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Embarking on a new health challenge

I felt that I did well with my first Whole 30. Unfortunately, I've gained the weight back (and a little more) and I've let go of many of the good habits I had developed. Stress definitely got to me. But before the year is over, I want to take back control. Now that I've moved, my stress level should go down a little. It's time to get back to taking better care of myself. So I want to take on a new fitness challenge.

I've always wanted to take a hike! I mean... go on a hike. :) I was discussing this with Dr. T. He was also looking for a new fitness challenge. So I asked him if he'd be willing to go on a hiking trip with me next year at the end of summer/beginning of fall. I think he'd be a good hiking partner. He seems outdoorsy, he's handy, he knows nature and stuff (since he's a professional fishies rescuer), and he's good company.

I realize that a year is a long time in advance to make plans with someone. A lot can happen in a year. However, I figured that such a goal to work towards can only be a good thing for me, even if we don't end up going. So I'll take it seriously as though it's a sure thing. I can improve my health significantly in a year.

So we had until October 1st to come up with our fitness routines. We're not necessarily going to be doing the same thing, nor will we be working out together (although that may happen sometimes). However, we said that we'll hold each other accountable.

I've decided to do mostly bodyweight exercises and walks to get fit. Now that I'm living downtown, I have the city to explore. Interesting scenery. Plus if I really want to, all I need is within walking distance. Pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants (which I should keep away from most of the time), movie theaters, live entertainment. 

I also need to eat better. Now that it's just Cat and I, we've decided to eat a mostly paleo inspired diet. I suppose it could count as a minimalist diet. Simple ingredients - minimally processed foods. I'm very happy she's on board. But even if she wasn't, I'm the mommy. I buy the food. I decide what I bring into our home.

How did my October challenge start? It just so happens that I went for a 6 km walk with Dr. T on day 1. Since then, I went walking every day an average of 3 km. Cat and I struggled a little with the food, but it's been mostly good stuff. I've decided to wait a little for the bodyweight exercises. I'm beat! The past month was tiring. So I'm giving myself a bit of a breather before starting a more regimented workout routine. I figure the walking will be enough for now, especially since I plan on walking every day. And I'm still moving my body - I have a little more unpacking to do.

I have to admit that I've been struggling with my mood lately. I've been wavering from being happy with my living conditions, to regretting them. I also think that now that it's back to just Cat and I, my unfinished grieving will start up again. Everything that I held back while my mom was living with us to spare her is starting to resurface. So I'll definitely have to deal with those emotions. I found that when I was feeling similar to this at the beginning of the year, doing a Whole 30 challenge helped me. It was a simple thing to focus on that I could control. So I think that taking on this new health challenge will be as beneficial to me right now.

I also think that when I'm ready to incorporate the bodyweight exercises, I might have similar emotional experiences as I had when I was going to that gym. So that should help with my mood, too.

Life - gotta keep on keeping on!

Friday, 2 October 2015

How strange

How strange it is to have what I wanted. I've been living downtown now for two weeks. It's been just my daughter Cat and I since September 26th. As I write this, I'm sitting in the living room on a single-sized mattress that's functioning as our couch until our new couch gets delivered. The TV is off, and the only noise is the very loud heating and cooling unit.

My life before downtown
Suburban living. Having to drive everywhere to get anything or to get to anywhere. A lot of TV watching because it was pretty much always on. I had books to read. I had things to write. I had music to listen to. I had ukuleles to play. I had things to draw, paint, sew, knit or crochet. I hardly ever did any of those things. How could I? TV was on!

My life now
The TV is off most of the time. There's nothing that I'd really want to watch. Also, I don't have cable anymore. So unless it's online and accessible legally, I can't watch it. That's fine because there wasn't anything I'd watch regularly. It was just whatever Cat or my mom would want to watch. I knew, but I didn't realize how much space and time TV was occupying.

I have unpacking to do. I have books to read. I have things to write (other than this blog). I have music to listen to. I have ukuleles to play. I have a city to explore. I have things to draw, paint, sew, knit or crochet. But I don't really know what to focus on. It doesn't really matter whichever one I choose.

I guess I'm just trying to convey my current state of mind. I'm feeling a little lost. Not knowing what to do or when to do it. I went from a set routine to nothing, other than work for me and school for Cat. I can completely reinvent how I live my life, and that's a strange feeling. I know I know, we can always reinvent how we live our lives. It's just that now, for me, I kind of have to. I have nothing set yet. My old routines don't fit my current conditions.

How strange to be faced with such possibilities. It's not a bad feeling. It's just odd. And all year I've been writing about how I'm doing things I've never done before or getting back into stuff I used to like. Letting go of the not so useful to make room for the useful. It's a perfectly good place to be.

I have a feeling that this new beginning will be filled with many moments of just being. Sitting in a quiet room with no other distractions than my surroundings. Trying to figure out how I want to live my life and use my time. All this time that's been freed up now that I don't have to drive to and from work. That I don't have as many things to take care of. That I don't have a yard to maintain. That I have only Cat and myself to take care of. That I'm not watching so much TV. Oh how unnecessarily busy I was before. Busy with so many tasks and things that didn't add much value to my life.

So now what?