Friday, 29 January 2016

The date with my nephew

As a Christmas gift, I gave my niece and nephew each a gift card with a promise that I'd take them out on a date. That's lunch and shopping to spend the amount on the gift card. This is my idea of compromise for gift giving. The most important part of the gift is the time we spend together, which they seem to really appreciate.

On Saturday afternoon, January 9, 2016, I took my nephew out for the shopping date. I had given him a gift card for a book store because he loves reading and that's a love I want to encourage. This book store also sells games and toys, kitchen accessories, notebooks, pens and pencils, musical instruments and many other pretty things.

As we were walking around the store while he was choosing his purchases, I realized these kinds of stores still tempt me tremendously! I really LOVE pens and notebooks and musical instruments and books! So much so that I know I have to stay away from these stores unless I have a specific reason to go in. If I just wander around to have a look-see, I risk coming out of there with bags full of goodies.

For the most part, I don't feel that kind of attraction to stuff in other stores except maybe in furniture and decor stores. Creating a beautiful living environment where I can read, play instruments and write in beautiful notebooks with beautiful pens...

See! That's the temptation speaking right there!

Chances are I'll never get over my love of these things. However, I do know that I don't want to clutter my environment with all of it. I'd rather have a clean and organized home where I have room to live than be surrounded by more pretty things than I can use. Therefore, by not going into these stores to begin with unless I REALLY want to buy something only they sell, I reduce my exposure to temptation.

I'm happy to report that I resisted the temptation. We walked out of there with only my nephew's purchases and 30 cents left over from his gift card.

Friday, 22 January 2016

The mysterious writer – part deux

I've mentioned in my 2015 review that I've started work on my first novel. I've been inspired to start writing fiction. Moi! I remember dreaming about this as a teen, but was never able to do it until now.

I re-watched a TED talk the other night looking for inspiration for a challenge of some sort to do next. The speaker talked about doing something new for 30 days. If there's something you've always wanted to do, just try it out for 30 days. In his talk, he mentioned one of his challenges was to write a novel in 30 days (50,000 words). He would make sure to write 1667 words a day. He admitted the quality of his writing wasn't that great, but he was proud for having done it anyway. It seemed like an amusing challenge. So I started (before I decided not to take on new challenges).

I lasted for about 4 days. And what I wrote would never come close to pass for a novel. However, as I was writing whatever popped into my head, I stumbled upon an idea. The next day, I came back with more thoughts on how the story should go. And the day after that. And now it's pretty much always on my mind. The first night I officially started writing my novel, I wrote more than my required 1667 words.

What have I been writing about? Well, I figured since I tend to overthink and some of these thoughts turn into fantasies and these fantasies are already bouncing around in my head, I might as well put them to good use as inspiration for my novel. If some aspect of my life hasn't turned out as I've dreamt, I can write it right.

Does this mean I'm not happy? Not at all! I would say I'm generally happy with my life. That doesn't stop me from fantasizing about how things could've been.

Right is how things actually are, I'm sure. I do believe that I'm living the life I was meant to live. Even though not everything has been exactly how I wanted it to be, I'm where I'm supposed to be surrounded by the people I'm supposed to be surrounded by. However, it occurred to me that I could write out the scenarios I've thought of. Embellish interactions. Omit some. Get the "happy ending" I wanted. If it wasn't happening in real life, I'd make it happen in fiction. That's totally within my control! I can even make my character's life even more dramatic than mine.

I'm glad that the novel writing block is out of the way. I'd say that writing whatever came to mind without censoring or editing was the best way to get started (also to keep going... so far). If all goes according to plan, you might get to read it by the end of the year.

Friday, 15 January 2016

You can't take it with you

The other day, I was reading a post on Miss Minimalist’s website about a woman who had to go through a deceased friend’s home. He had no family to take on the task. Her description of the state of his home made him seem like a pack-rat (not to use the term hoarder). She said that it took her and her friends two years to get through everything. It was difficult and frustrating for her. It took her a while to get over the resentment she felt towards him for having to go through everything he held on to.

That got me thinking of a question on a dating site I was on that asked something to the effect of “If you were to die today, would your loved ones be surprised by what they’d find in your home?”

This may be a morbid thought, but I considered that during my major de-cluttering. Actually, I thought of that a long time ago when I had my Will done. When I pass away, what impression will my daughter have of me based on the stuff I’ve left behind? Would it solidify the memory she has of the woman who raised her, or will she be disappointed or unpleasantly surprised by anything I’ve left behind?

So if you find you’re having a hard time letting go of some of your stuff, I suggest thinking about your loved ones. Will they appreciate having to go through what you’re leaving behind, or will it be a burden? Do you really want to leave it up to them to make the decision, or do you want to spare them the guilt of having to get rid of your stuff?

I’ve written about my personal experience with my dad’s passing. He didn’t own much stuff. There was nothing to fight over – nothing to feel guilty about letting go. There was the green cup and the orange brush. Small objects that don’t take up much space that my sister and I are able to keep and remember him fondly when we look upon them (not that we need these things at all to remember dad, he’s quite unforgettable).

Please do your loved ones a favour and start de-cluttering now.

Friday, 8 January 2016

2016 is the year I get things done!

Alright, so I got things done in 2015, but there were things I put off taking care of because they seemed like too much trouble (because, you know, getting rid of approximately 75% of my stuff and moving to the city from the suburbs is such a breeze!).

For instance, my sewing machine needs a tune up to function properly. I will get that done. Especially if I want to get back into sewing, it’ll be more pleasant to work with a properly functioning machine.

I have a couple pieces of vintage audio equipment that I don’t use and have no plans of using. They’re beautiful pieces and still work (though one needs a bit of a tune up), but they take up more room than I’m willing to allocate to them. So I will sell them off and I’ll use the money I get for them to buy a good quality Bluetooth speaker.

I have an antique sewing machine that my paternal grand-mother gave me before she passed away. She was proud that someone in the family had a knack for sewing like she did. The belt needs to be fixed. I’ll fix it. Other than that, it's in great condition and I could even use it (although I'll have to practice because I tend to lose the beat and then the machine starts sewing in reverse... it's quite funny... I'm such an inexperienced modern woman!).

I want to mount my dad’s orange brush in a shadow box frame to better honour it. I also want to do the same with a few of my daughter’s art pieces. I will get that done.

I want to switch insurance brokers because I don’t particularly like the service I get with the one I currently have. I’ll make the call.

I’ve been considering laser eye surgery because glasses are sometimes inconvenient and uncomfortable. I’ll book the consultation appointment.

I want to get a bus pass so I don’t always have to use my car for distances that are more than what I’d want to walk, but don’t necessarily want to use my car for. Driving and finding a parking spot can be more inconvenient sometimes than getting somewhere by bus. I will get that bus pass.

I have a box of random electronic stuff (like a keyboard and mouse from a desktop computer I used to own). I will take care of that and possibly (most likely) will get rid of all of it.

These are some of the things I can think of at the moment. They’re little things, but the procrastination has been weighing on my mind. It’ll be good to take care of them. Unclutter my "to do" list by just getting these little things done.

Friday, 1 January 2016

My year in review - 2015

Happy New Year!!
Well 2015 has been quite the year for me. Because it's always good to do an end of year review, I've decided to share mine with you.

Feeling distraught over losing my father on October 11, 2014, and a little unhappy over other things in my life that weren't as I'd hoped they would be, I decided to take on my first Whole 30. Through this process, I realized that I have a strong reaction to dairy and sugar. Dairy gives me muscular aches and makes me moody (feeling down). Sugar also makes me moody and makes my joints hurt. Grains don't seem to affect me as much. Also, I had no idea, but apparently I'm very much an emotional eater. It was good for me to focus on this challenge. It got me out of my funk.

At the end of the month, I met an interesting sweet man and we dated for about three months. The end of that relationship was a difficult heartbreak for me. But I got so much from it that I appreciate it despite the heartbreak. He was very much a "make it happen" kind of guy which inspired me to make it happen for myself. And so I did!

I started living a minimalist lifestyle. It's been life changing! It has allowed me to free myself from my possessions "owning me". This freedom from clutter has given me room to think more clearly and finally really live my life. It's been a long process and it's ongoing, as it should be. Minimalism is a decision you make every day.

I took Lindy Hop swing dance classes. It's a very fun dance... when you have a good partner. Unfortunately, most of the men I danced with weren't very good dancers, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. But at least now I have the basic steps I need to dance it whenever the opportunity arises. And that's pretty cool!

I did the 30-day minimalism challenge. That was fun and it certainly helped me to get rid of my clutter. Over 400 items gone from my home in one month!

Mid-May to mid-June was the gym. It was great to know that I'm stronger and more capable physically than I thought. It was also interesting to realize that my body was holding on to emotions. I had no idea that that was possible. But why not, right? We can react quite physically to events in our lives. I guess we can become so good at holding back our reactions to our emotions that our bodies just end up holding on to them and lock them up in our muscles. Exercise helps release them.

It was decision time. I had to decide if I wanted to go through with moving.

I also finally bought my domain name to attach to this blog and decided to take my blogging seriously. It's when I decided to put more thought into my posts.

I met Dr. T. Another make-it-happen kinda guy, and fishies rescuer on top of that too! He helped make my summer more spontaneous.

My daughter and I wanted to explore our city as tourists might do. We did a Capital Cruises boat ride. Then I got the opportunity to rent the condo attached to the parking spot I was already renting. I went for it. So having to prepare for the move kind of slowed our city exploration endeavours. But that was fine because we knew that we'd be exploring it even more after we moved.

My daughter and I took our first international road trip. We had lunch in Ogdensburg, New York. It was a little anti-climactic, but still, we did it.

I turned 41.

We moved into our downtown apartment. I've never lived in an apartment building this size. Some would say that moving from a house to an apartment is a step back. But I really feel like it's a step forward.

My mother moved out on her own. I'm happy to say that our relationship is pretty much back to how it was before we lived together after my father died. I'm relieved. I was afraid that our struggles to adapt as roommates had damaged our relationship. Also, she loves her new apartment, which makes me very happy for her.

Adapting to the condo hasn't been as easy as I expected. But I'm finally starting to feel more at home. I'm happy to be living downtown. It suits me more than any other place I've lived before as an adult. (As a child, the neighbourhood I grew up in suited me well.)

I went hiking and canoeing with Dr. T. It was a cold day. Good weather for hiking because I got very hot during the hike. And it was fine for canoeing too, because Dr. T. knew enough to lead us to where we'd be shielded from the wind. However, a picnic in the park at -1 Celsius probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had.

I got rid of more stuff, and will continue to get rid of stuff.

In the last week of October, my friend Theo (friend since high school and an actor) asked if I could write a script for him. Although I'm hopeful that something decent will come out of that, I haven't been able to find the inspiration to write anything for it yet.

I lost touch with Dr. T, which means that I won't be going hiking with him in the Adirondacks next late summer/early fall. But I have a feeling that I've found a new willing adventure partner.

I started working on my first novel. "First" - implying that I will write more than one. :)

My daughter turned 16.

I decided to be still for a while - to let the dust settle in order to evaluate what's important to me.

I started dating Mr. Romantic. We started our own personal book club and started it off with A Christmas Carol and made a night of it on Christmas Eve.

What adventures and experiences await me? I'm hoping that I'll be spending more time living intentionally. I'd like to spend more time out in nature camping, canoeing, hiking, cottaging... I also want to finish writing the first draft of my novel. I might even try to push myself a little to get it published by the end of the year, while keeping balance with my being still of course...

I'm changing the frequency of my blogging. In the spirit of being still a bit more and to allocate more time to the novel and to life, I'll be posting only once a week on Fridays instead of twice a week as I have been. I'll see how it goes. Maybe I'll find that I have too much to write about to you guys and go back to twice a week. But I think this is right for me for now.

Thank you!
I want to thank you for following me in 2015 on my journey to simplicity. I sincerely like getting feedback from you and hope that you get some value from my writings. I enjoy sharing my experiences with you. I hope that I can continue to entertain you in the year to come.

Oh! And by the way, ... I still haven't bought soap! :)