Saturday, December 30, 2006

progress is progress...

even if it's invisible.

I just spent 2o minutes in the basement, cleaning and reorganizing and you can't tell. I brought up two boxes to be recycled. I also consolidated two boxes into one. I threw away misc. kids' stuff.

I am trying really hard not to get frustrated about my lack of progress in this project. I know this is an ongoing process, not one that will be done tomorrow.

I do like walking into L's room. That is visible progress. And it was free. Which is even better.

I can't buy my way to a new house and way of life. I have to build it. Brick by brick, nail by nail, it will get done.

2007 goals

1. treadmill--2.21 miles in 35 min
2. swimming with T
3. cooked dinner
4. read for 2 hours this morning

Friday, December 29, 2006

It's fun to play at the YMCA

2007 Goal--5k in 40 minutes, run/walk Crim 10mile
Today I walked on the treadmill for 35min. Distance: 1.75 miles
Goal Part A: 2.25 miles in 35 minutes.
How to meet goal: Use childcare at Y, walk during bball/gymnastics, wake up early
How to keep track of progress: Use notebook to record time and mileage.
I also swam with Taurus. It was fun watching her put her face under many, many times. The boys were upstairs playing bball. I got to exercise first while T was with L and NBA, then she and I went swimming. NBA was supposed to get time to work out, but L did not feel like swimming.
I am so glad we decided to join. It is truly something we can do as a family. It is also something I can do on my own when NBA is traveling. This year I have no excuse for not exercising. I have child care!!

7 things

What a great day for decluttering! The clothes I posted on Freecycle were picked up. I delivered a filing cabinet to the reuse center. I packed another bag of clothes that will be picked up tomorrow.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

2007 Goals

1. State Goal
How will it be accomplished?
Why is it important?
How will I measure my success?
SMART Goal Setting

I encourage you to pick up a pen and a piece of paper and jot down the goals you want to reach. Look at each goal and evaluate it. Make any changes necessary to ensure it meets the criteria for a SMART goals:
S = SpecificM = MeasurableA = AttainableR = RealisticT = Timely
Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do.
Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.
WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc.
WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
HOW are you going to do it? (By...)
Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 2cm off your waistline or to walk 5 miles at an aerobically challenging pace.
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, the is a success. However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal.
Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you see when you reach your goal? Be specific! "I want to read 3 chapter books of 100 pages on my own before my birthday" shows the specific target to be measure. "I want to be a good reader" is not as measurable.
Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.
When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop that attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. Your begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.
Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably won't commit to doing. Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it's too much for you means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even giving it your best.
A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 20lbs in one week, we all know that isn't achievable. But setting a goal to loose 1lb and when you've achieved that, aiming to lose a further 1lb, will keep it achievable for you.
The feeling of success which this brings helps you to remain motivated.
This is not a synonym for "easy." Realistic, in this case, means "do-able." It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn't break them.
Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.
For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of one sweet item. You can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products gradually as and when this feels realistic for you.
Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren't very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!
Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by fifth grade. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.
If you don't set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there's no urgency to start taking action now.
Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.
Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART. SMART, is the instrument to apply in setting your goals and objectives.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

new habit taking shape

Wow! This focus and timeliness stuff is pretty cool. I have had a really good day today, doing things I have been putting off and getting other ideas thought/planned out.

I realize that part of the reason I procrastinate around the house is that everything feels insurmountable. When I look at all the laundry that needs to be done, all the linens that need changing, the clothes that need to be mended/thrown away/donated, the dishes that need to be washed and put away, I get frustrated and don't do anything. Well beginning today, my new motto is: something is better than nothing. It doesn't matter if I only do one load of laundry, I still did something. It doesn't matter if I don't read all the articles tonight, as long as I read some everyday, I will be ok. I can't let myself get frustrated that after a long day of work, I am still not done with the two main projects I worked on. The projects may not be complete, but they are much closer to completion than they were this morning. That, my friends, is progress.

Successfully changing my behaviors and learning new habits to replace my old friend procrastination is going to be a long, but exciting road. I was so happy today putting away laundry in Leo's room because he and I spent 15 minutes reorganizing and making things more functional. We moved out the impractical piece of furniture and repurposed old storage bins for his uniforms and sports equipment. This was an especially big achievement because I did it without spending money. My excuse had always been that I would buy hooks when we got some extra money. Well, not only are we trying not to spend money, but hooks are not the only acceptable form of storage for his room.

Something else I learned today is that, at least in the beginning, my new lifestyle is going to be less time-efficient than I would like. I need to get things done as I am able/willing, which means that bundling errands and activities is going to have to wait. Maybe that will be 2008's goal. ;)
From :

Due to the holidays, I thought you deserve a few days to just relax.
This will be a shortened tips issue.
1. Give away one thing for each present you received.
I did this. In fact, the ratio was probably 2:1.
2. Pass along a book you have enjoyed recently, to a friend.
3. Work on catching up with emails and projects so you can start the new year with a clear slate.
Made small progress on this. Will continue to work throughout the week. Especially since my intensive class starts Jan. 3 and I will be doing nothing else.
4. Spend 10 minutes outside today.
5. Celebrate a new year!


Christmas this year was both wonderful and frustrating.

Let's start with the good:
  • brunch at our house with part of our family
  • long visit with said family
  • the kids were excited about the three presents they recieved from Santa (yes, only three, which was actually one too many)
  • my mom kept her promise to scale down
  • the gifts they got were meaningful and appropriate
  • great visit with other part of our family
  • cards from many people
  • acknowledging and truly accepting that my kids do not need/want toys. they want experiences and time to be with us and each other. I know it sounds cliche, but it's true.

Now the bad:

  • too much stuff
  • people who don't take my wishes seriously because they are so caught up in making themselves happy. Somehow, my beliefs mean nothing because they are not the same as theirs. People who acknowledge that they are acting against my wishes, and expect me to not be upset or frustrated.
  • too many conversations about stuff

Actually, I was able to make lemonade out of this whole thing. I went through the kids' closets and cleared out most of their current wardrobe to make room for the new stuff that they did not need. But, I am freecycling/giving all the duplicates away, so someone will benefit.

7 things

I haven't forgotten about my 7 things goal; it's just been on the back burner with school, the holidays, and our wonderful trip to St. Thomas.

Today I did something about that, however. I freecycled a huge bag of Taurus's clothes. I took a bag to the SA, where I waited in a long line. I also recycled a bunch of clothes. I sent an email to a friend about Leo's clothes. If she doesn't want them, they will be freecycled.

Included in the SA bag were Christmas decorations I didn't use this year.

One of my new 7 things goals is to freecycle more than donate to SA. It will take more work on my part, but it will bring me closer in line with my goals of getting items to people who can use them, without making them spend money!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

2007 personal goal

I have been thinking a lot about goals for next year. As a couple/family, NBA and I have already decided that debt reduction is our goal. [see previous posts] Although this will encompass all aspects of our lives and require much from me as an individual, I still need to set a personal goal.

I have been looking at my life recently and beginning to articulate the areas bugging me and in need of improvement. Here are the main ones: the stress I feel, the state of my house, the pressure of school, my lack of involvement in Leo’s school, disorganized state of preschool materials, my inability to break free from fast food, my lack of progress in Pilates. There is one common thread linking them together and preventing me from making progress in any of them. It is procrastination. I have written briefly about my struggles before, but I really only scratched the surface. This is a MAJOR problem in my life, and one that will take a long time to overcome.

Procrastination has been with me for as long as I can remember. It is my M.O. Until recently, I have always thought of it as a part of who I am, not as I habit I have that can be unlearned. Well, beginning today and continuing throughout 2007, I will be unlearning my procrastination habits and learning healthier, more productive ways of living.

My purpose in doing this is to “make new habits that bring me closer to the life I want to live.” I want to be able to enjoy watching my kids play and ride bikes in the park without worrying that I won’t have time to study for my exam, even though I had 15 hours at work to do it throughout the week. I want to be able to sleep normally. I want to have time to enjoy learning new crafts. I really want to make curtains for my house.

One of my biggest challenges is going to be taking back power from deadlines and giving it to myself. I mean, making my self-imposed deadlines as powerful, important, and non-negotiable as those created by others. I am great with making outlines and plans for projects and ignoring them because they are not imposed from without.

This plan ties into my ultimate goal of living more simply in ways that I will discuss in a future post.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


My name is Miss Muffet and I am a procrastinator.

There, I said it. Is that the first step?

Seriously, though, procrastination is becoming more and more of a problem for me, my friends, and family. I feel like I am letting people down because I push everything to the 11th hour, and then am unable to help people out. It's not like I don't have the time. The problem is, I think, I have too much time.

In fact, I am procrastinating right now, even though I only have until 10:30 to get a significant chunk of work done without having to stay up all night when the kids are asleep.

The problem with my procrastinatory style is that it has residual effects that grow and grow. For example, I stayed up late working on my report for Tuesday's class and was so burnt out, that I was unable to work on Wednesday. Now it is Thursday, my new project is due in 23 hours, my full day of childcare fell through, and I have to assist at Taurus' school.

I have no one to blame but myself.

This is my primary personal goal for 2007: getting this bad habit under control. It will allow me to do all the other things I want to do next year--crafting, cooking, exercising, organizing, decluttering.

Monday, December 04, 2006

holiday decorating

Today, because I have a huge school project due tomorrow, I spent all morning putting up holiday decorations. We still don't have a tree, but everything else is in place. The decorations look very cute, if I do say so myself!

I had to buy new lights because I broke our old ones. I did not buy LEDs because 1) I did not like the store's selection and 2) I returned an item for $10 and didn't want to spend more than that on lights.

I am very frustrated with the local teacher's store. I bought $115 worth of art supplies for the kids' Christmas gifts. However, with our new financial situation I decided to return them and use that money to pay for excursions on our trip. Apparently, this store does not keep extra money in the register because they were not able to give me my refund. I have to call each day to find out if they have enough. HOW FRUSTRATING!!! If I am returning Christmas gifts, I obviously need the money; I shouldn't have to wait 3 days to get it! I purchased these items 2 weeks ago, so the check has already cleared. That's not the issue. Arggh! I am so not shopping there anymore.

7 things

5 of today's 7 things were toys that my kids never played with. A b-day gift and 2 stuffed animal/book sets. The other two were stacks of holiday gift bags I've been keeping for years. I had a box full of bags and boxes taking up space in my basement. What a waste! I know some people are able to hold on to items for reusing, but I am just not one of them. Maybe once I get my organizational issues under control I will be able to work towards that, but not now.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

7 things

toys, toys, toys...

I am not one of those parents whose kids couldn't live without toys. For better or worse, my kids would rather have me or their dad, or in Leo's case his imaginary 'brothers', to play with. We still have unopened presents from Leo's August birthday.

I am still unable to rid my house of them. Mostly I keep them around so that when the kids have friends over there are things to do.

However, today I was able to clear out some toys. A noisy Dora toy, some trucks we don't use, and parts for toys we no longer have.

7 things

toys, toys, toys...
I am not one of those parents whose kids couldn't live without toys. For better or worse, my kids would rather have me or their dad, or in Leo's case his imaginary 'brothers', to play with. We still have unopened presents from Leo's August birthday.

I am still unable to rid my house of them. Mostly I keep them around so that when the kids have friends over there are things to do.

However, today I was able to clear out some toys.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

7 things

Tonight's 7 things are brought to you by the letter J. JUNK, my friends, junk.
There were actually more than 7 things, but the number doesn't count, just the concept.
I got rid of a bunch of McD's toys, some cookie cutters, and one noisy Dora toy.
I also recycled some art projects and sorted the remaining cookie cutters by theme.

Not to sound too discouraging, but I am not seeing a difference yet. I know it hasn't been that long, and I haven't really done much big stuff, but still. I would have liked to see a more noticeable change.

I think the real difference will be seen when I move on to the organizing. I could be doing them simultaneously, but I want to focus on one goal at a time.

Anyway, every little bit helps...

Friday, December 01, 2006

keeping focus

Well, I did it. It is Dec. 1, and I am officially done with Christmas shopping for the kids. I stuck to my plan and got them 1 joint gift from Santa and 3 individual gifts--one from Santa and two from us. There will be no avalanche of gifts under the tree, but that's ok because they have grandparents, and that's what they provide.

We need to finish up the napkins for the g-parents, and I need to type up the menu/invitation for the Christmas Brunch and get a *$ card for g-father, then I am DONE!!

Now I can focus on shopping for the brunch and soup exchange.

Go me!

ps. All this advance preparation means that my school projects are languishing until the last minute. C'est la vie!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Identification is the first step...

I have not been focused on my 7 things goal for the last three days.
Instead, we have been working on our financial future and making plans to meet our goals. We identified our major flaw when it comes to money management and goal setting. We realized that we are impulsive when making purchasing decisions, overriding our prior goals and plans when something better comes along. Ex. 1: the couch. Originally we were going to buy a new couch with our tax return in the Spring. We would have the money, we wouldn't have to impact our monthly budget at all. Well, I found the perfect couch at the perfect price and we bought it. I shouldn't have even been looking at couches until it was time to buy because I know myself well enough to know that once i start looking, I am going to want to purchase something soon. Ex. 2: our st. thomas vacation. We were not going on a trip this year because we wanted to put the money towards either the house or our debt. Then we get a great deal, which is still way more than nothing, and go ahead and do it.

Let me be clear, I don't regret either of these purchases. What I regret is that I was unable to stick to my goals. I regret not being able to look at the larger picture. Part of my issue is that this seems to be a symbol of ungratefulness, always wanting more, as if what I have isn't good enough. I will continue to think this through and work out how I can change my thought patterns.

book club reflections

Some thoughts I want to flesh out into posts...

  • why it would be easier to be conservative, fundamentalist, traditionalist
  • why i am strangely unaffected by world politics/issues
  • what i can do/what i want to do
  • why i support ability grouping
  • getting people involved in local politics--being a model and source of information
  • materialism, consumerism--how it is related to privilege, or is it?
  • racial identity

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I am writing this post from my lovely new-to-us couch. It is beautiful--the perfect color, right length, and best of all, it fit within our budget and values.

We bought the Workbench couch off Craigslist, from a home with no kids or pets.

I am also proud because we negotiated for the price. Something we don't do ever. Yeah Us!!

We are going to take our old sofa bed couch to the recycle center and let them decide if it can be sold, or if it should be dumped.

I didn't do my seven things today. Unless, the huge pile of paper I recycled counts. Which, now that I think about it, it does.

Ok, now I am off to work on Winter Holiday cards.

Monday, November 27, 2006

7 things and winter holidays

GONE!!! All of the seven things items are outta here.
I shouldn't think this way, I know, but it doesn't seem to have made one bit of difference so far. I know it's not really true, but that 's how I'm feeling.

OTOH, I thought of a cute, creative gift for our families that ties into my environmental consciousness. We are going to decorate, with sponges and handprints, a set of 4 cloth napkins for our families. I bought the sets of napkins new because it's getting down to the wire, and I also bought the paint and sponges, but that was not a huge expense. Leo is very excited about getting started! We will start tomorrow after school. Wish me luck!!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I spent a few hours at the mall last night. Ugh! I was not tempted to buy anything. I briefly picked up a pair of CK pants--a 'bargain' at $38.50. I had two initial thoughts: 1) I could by 7-10 pairs of pants at Salvation Army for that price. 2) They look just like another pair of pants I already have in my closet.

I did make one purchase, though. A small gift for Taurus. It is something she not only wants, but will use.

It felt good to spend time with my friend, and I didn't mind that she wanted to shop, but I had no interest whatsoever.

7 things

1. bookshelf from friends--we got it from them for the basement, but it stayed in our garage for 5 months. We finally moved it to the basement and put it in its final location.

2. roof of playhouse--we have had this for over a year. the playhouse itself was thrown away 9 months ago, but this never made it to the dump. It is now waiting in the van for me to take it to its final resting place.

3. electronic globe--a gift from 2 years ago, that was made for kids but not designed for kids.

4. a sand/water table--i stubbed my toe on this contraption more times than the kids played with it at our new house. It is ready to be loved by someone new.

5. faded/worn/ripped clothes--ready to be recycled.

6. monthly magazine from november--the month is over.

7. crocs--One of Leo's birthday presents that has been in the car since August. He can finally wear them, just in time for winter. ;) No, but really, he will be able to take them on our winter Caribbean vaction.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

7 things

The 7 things project is continuing. I have removed more clothes from my daughter's closet. 12 dresses is too many for one little girl. I also packed up 8 shirts and sweaters given to me by my mom that just don't fit right.

My current problem, one that I hope to solve next week, is actually getting the stuff OUT of the house. I have it bagged, boxed, and in the garage, but it will do me no good if I don't get it out soon.

I am sure this is a common problem, but I feel guilty giving away things people bought for my kids. Even though I have asked many, many times not to buy them more stuff. 3 of the items I donated of my daughter's still had tags on them. I know I just need to get over it, but I don't want them to think we are ungrateful. Actually, that's not it either. I don't want the stuff, and I wish they would listen to me, but at the same time I don't want to hurt their feelings. I wish there was a way for them to realize that they are wasting their money, but they just can't/won't.

Tonight I will be going into the basement to find my seven things. On the surface, it seems like it should be an easy task. But, I don't think it will be. Things are strewn about, and not well-organized, which makes it difficult to figure out what to discard.

I feel badly that I am not freecycling more things. I would like to give them away, but that takes more time and energy than I have right now. We can't do it all; we have to make choices, and this is my choice. I need to keep repeating that to myself.


My Thanksgiving was pretty close to perfect. It was just my mom, stepdad, husband, kids, and me. We had great, yummy food, lots of things for the kids to do, and full digital cable for me! We did not leave the house for 2 days. I read a book, watched an entire season of America's Next Top Model (my guilty pleasure), watched a bunch of music videos, and caught up on the Backyardigans with the kids.

I am so thankful for my family. As nutty as they make me, they love me and I them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

2007 Goal--amended again

Well, we've decided to tackle another bill first, and save the Honda for next year.

Something NBA and I talked about today was how we need to break the cycle of doing really well, then bingeing. I think it's because in the past we have always had to cut back and not spend because we literally didn't have any money, so we saw it as depriving ourselves of what we wanted. THEN, when we got money again, we went crazy, causing the problem to rear its ugly head again.

This time, for me at least, feels different. I am doing it because I want to live more in line with my values, I want to show my gratitude for all that I have been given.

I don't feel deprived; I feel empowered. I feel like I am taking charge of my life.

7 things--day 4

Today's offerings were a mix of trash and someone else's treasure. 2 books, a storage box, and two stacks of magazines/catalogs.

Monday, November 20, 2006

7 things--day 3

Husband's clothes. 5 to donate, 2 to recycle.

Realized that 90% of clothes in closet are mine. Uh oh!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

2007 related goal

It just dawned on me, as I surf the 'net for couches, entertainment centers, area rugs, and new shoes, that in order to pay down our debt, we need to not incur any further debt. This means no new debt of any kind--student loans, credit card, store card, nothing. If I don't get a scholarship to pay for some of my schooling next year, I may have to take a break. We can use our tax refund to pay for some of my tuition, but we also have other things we need to do. Like buy a couch, etc.

Also, we will probably not be able to take a big family vacation next year. The $2000 we would spend is half the money needed to pay off the Honda or 1 semester of tuition. Our future trips will be much more enjoyable if we are not worried about how much they are costing us, what else we could be doing with the money, or thinking about how we are going to pay for them.

I want to break the cycle of consumption and debt, even if that means making some difficult lifestyle choices temporarily.

I want to live completely cash-based next year. We can still use the credit card to get points, but it will be paid in full each month! I want to end the year with a significantly LOWER debt number than this year.

Spending extra money paying off the Honda does not equal using the credit card to fuel our consumption-based lifestyle.

not looking good

Ok, I just ran the numbers for 3 of our 7 debts (excluding our house), and we would need an extra $1800 per month to pay them off this year. That is just not possible. So, I guess we will need to rethink it and focus on just paying off one bill this year, which will be about $400 per month extra. Now that is doable. I am sure we spend about $250 per month on eating out alone. Add in 2-3 trips to Target and the Salvation Army, and we are just about there.

NEW Goal for 2007--PAY off Honda


Looking forward to 2007, I want to do only one thing: PAY DOWN (or ELIMINATE) our debt.
The great thing about this one goal is that it requires a bunch of other changes that I also want to incorporate into my life. However, seeing it in terms of dollars and cents, and watching the numbers go down on our debts, will help motivate me more than any other reason.

NBA and I both agree that he would be a wonderful stay-at-home parent. However, our current financial situation makes that an impossibility. Even if I were to get a job right now, we could not afford to live. That is absolutely disgusting. It makes me sick to think of how much we currently "need" to live. By paying off our debt, we would be gaining so much more freedom. Freedom to live in accordance with our values; freedom to spend time/money working for positive change in the world; freedom to be together.

Ok, so how do we even begin? Well, the first thing we need to do is know exactly how big of a hole we are in. We have done this many times, and hopefully this time it will stick.
Next, we need to know how much it would cost each month to reduce our debt by, let's say 25%.
Then, we need to pay that FIRST, and learn to live on what's left over.

The learning to live on what's left over is where my simplicity environmental, and community-building goals will come to play. We will be shopping less, eating out less, driving less, spending more time together, using the library more, hanging out with friends more, being more active, visiting more parks, having more picnics...Which will lead to weight loss, lower energy consumption, making connections, engaging in the world.

I am feeling very galvanized by all of these posts and thoughts recently.

7 things--day 2

This morning's 7 things were somewhat more difficult. I eventually found clothes that were too big, in need of mending, and not my style to move out, but it was a challenging process. I think the biggest hurdle is that I can't find anything in the closet or drawers. I need to spend time organizing them first, then emptying them out.

I also moved out some household items that were obstacles during my morning cleaning. The basket where we store dvds was too full to put the ones laying beside it in, so I got rid of two of them that the kids have not watched in 6 months. Voila! enough room. The cheap (in price and quality) lunch containers I bought and don't use because they leak and don't close, that I keep shoving back in the cabinet--GONE!

I know I am supposed to limit myself to 7 items daily, but I am operating with a sense of heightened awareness so I will also make changes during my daily routines.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

small steps

I took drinks and snacks when we went to the local production of "High School Musical."

I asked the person at the food counter to fill my water bottle instead of using a disposable cup.

I did not drive 20 miles out of my way to window shop.

Total money spent today:$38.00 ($18.00 dinner; $20.00 tickets)

I made tea at home, and drank it with a homemade chocolate muffin.

Completed my first 7 things day.

Reached out to a friend.

7 things--day 1

I will probably begin this project with my clothes because I am tired of waking up every morning with nothing to wear and a closet full of clothes. I can't find the new clothes I bought because I have so much other junk cluttering my closet. I have too small clothes, too big clothes, clothes that I don't like, and clothes I wear all the time. Why not just have the clothes I wear all the time in my closet?! I am sure I have lots to wear with only 25% of my closet. So, why not just keep the 25% and let someone else benefit from the remaining 75%. It will save me time--both getting dressed and doing laundry--and it will enable me to really focus on what I need to round out my wardrobe--dressy/business clothes.

Stay tuned for a list (and maybe pictures) of my first 7...

UPDATE: Well, day 1 is done. I recycled three items of clothing, and put 4 away to donate. It didn't even make a dent, but I only did 7. I am going to stick to this plan, and not get carried away.One recycled item only needed to be sewn, but I've been holding on to it for 3 months, and it was time for it to go. There were two items with tags still on, and I've had them for over a year. They went. One pair of jeans that no longer fit well, gone. I am looking forward to tomorrow. There were some other potential items, but they need to be tried on first, so I will do that in the morning.

I fear that I may spend one or two of my seven weeks with my clothes alone. I don't know why I fear it, but...there it is. I think because this house is so big and there is so much stuff that needs attention. STOP! Stop catastrophizing, and just keep working through it, one day at a time.
What I learned: I need to learn to sew.

7 things

For the next 7 weeks, I will donate/recycle/throw away/put to use 7 things each day. By the end of this project, I will have cleared my house of 343 objects and given them new life--either in my house or with someone else. I am including "put to use" as a category because we still have boxes of pictures, artwork, and furniture that are boxed away and not being used. They are meaningful and valuable, and honoring a simpler life means displaying treasured items.

Although I am decreasing my spending dramatically for the next 18 months, I will allow myself to purchase items related to this project. For example, the pictures that need to be framed so they can be displayed--I am allowed to buy frames. the kids' artwork that needs to be displayed more lovingly--i am allowed to purchase items to create an art gallery. Within reason, I am allowed to purchase replacement items for those things which are broken, unusable, unsafe. E.g., replacing tupperware with corningware.

This is a post describing the inspiration for my new plan. I have adapted it to fit my short attention span, and to helping with my secondary goal of decorating and making my house a home.

Each week for a year, I will get rid of seven things. Rather than throwing these things in the
garbage, I will give them away so that they can serve a useful purpose elsewhere. Perhaps a charity can sell the goods to raise funds for the organization's good work. Maybe a friend could use the items because she doesn't have them. Maybe a freecycler is in need of something that I have and no longer use.


I want to focus more wholly on needing, wanting, desiring and acquiring less. It seems to me that physical clutter mirrors mental clutter. I am so overwhelmed by the enormous number of things I've kept around only because I'm afraid to get rid of them, that I'm overwhelmed by these things not only on a physical level, but also on a spiritual level. It's too much.


I will also document this journey by taking photographs of the items and describing how long I've owned the item, why I haven't rid myself of them until now, and to whom I chose to give them. Perhaps this journey help me to become more conscious of the things in my life so that I no longer feel the need to accumulate new things.


12. music
13. my health
14. smiles on my kids' faces when their dad returns home
15. clementines
16. money to buy groceries
17. ability to separate my head from my spirit (some days that is the only thing keeping me alive)
18. martha and buice (gave me the gift of unconditional grandparent love)
19. laler, g-father, grammy, popi, grammy jo (giving my kids the gift of unconditional grandparent love)
20. exploration
21. patience
22. compassion
23. drive to succeed
24. coffee and tea

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Personal DNA

My Personal Dna Report

Not sure what I think of the results. Some of it is spot-on, but I'll need to ponder it a little more.

one thousand gifts

6. friends
7. my mom (even if she moves away)
8. waking up without an alarm clock
9. Bryant Elementary School
11. neighborhood Kroger

i found it!

My motivation, that is. Yesterday/last night/this morning, I put my nose to the grindstone and got my project done for Saturday. It felt so good to complete it before bed. I am a little tired this morning, but the high from having finished it is making me ok. Another benefit to focus, I got to exercise this morning for 40 minutes because I didn't have to use my child-free time to finish my project.

I am not resting on my laurels, however. I am soon going to start my other work that should be done by Saturday, and then begin work on a project for the 28th. Yeah, baby, that's 11 days away and I am already thinking about it!!!

The kids and I had a great evening. They played really well. I cooked dinner! We had a surprise movie night. Which was great for the whole 30 minutes they were interested in it. I shouldn't complain that my kids don't watch tv, but it is nice to have them quiet and in one place for a while.

I am feeling some peace and contentment right now. I don't know if it's because I've exercised 4 days in a row or what, but I'll take it. I will use this time quite productively to carry me through the valley which might follow.

My friendships are really growing and blossoming, and I am so thankful for that. There is one that I need to tend to, and I will, but for the most part they are great!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

another day

I passed my test! YEAH! That is a big load off my shoulders.
I also exercised for the second day in a row. Go me! I am still really weak, but I am adopting a day-by-day philosophy.
My body is still exhausted--I don't know why I can never have any energy. I am going to look into a SAD light and vitamins. When I get the energy.
Nothing else from me today. Not walking very lightly today, I'm afraid.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Well, yesterday's blahs seemed to have found a new home. I had a fairly good day. I finished up a project that is due tomorrow (That's pretty far in advance for me.), I helped my mom with a writing project she asked me to do three weeks ago, and I am beginning to work on another school project due on Friday.

I also spent time with the kids--Leo is changing so much it's amazing. He is such a thoughtful, kind kid who is wonderfully clueless in the ways of the world. He's got a great group of friends, he loves school and basketball, and still has a great imagination.

Taurus was sick for two days. She just wanted to lie down with her blankie, not sleeping, not watching tv, just lying down. This was her first sickness in a very long time, and I know now that the most important thing to do for her when she is sick is to clear my lap and let her snuggle. She enjoys the quiet stillness of just sitting together.
I exercised today, and it was a painful reminder of what has been missing in my life. Pilates has been great, but my cardio capacity has suffered greatly over these past 3 months of no regular exercise. I could only last for 30 minutes. Definitely an area to work on. Just addin' it to the list.

I am reading a new book, Nothing's too Small to Make a Difference. It is another step in getting my head and spirit aligned on my journey. The title alone is so powerful. Bringing my own grocery bags to the store yesterday made a difference. Choosing an online class so I don't have to drive 100 miles a week makes a difference.

I am off to continue taking the first step--setting the timer for 30 minutes and working. After that, I can keep going or move to something else without guilt.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

one thousand gifts--1

  1. school friends who motivate me
  2. a job i like that gives me ample study time (when i choose to use it)
  3. a husband who is 100% involved in our family
  4. safe, reliable transportation
  5. a computer at home

{Interesting note: most of these gifts allow me to procrastinate and not use my time wisely. I have unlimited computer access; I do not need to be done with a project before the library closes at 6. I have 2 cars at my disposal, so I do not need to be organized to leave in time to catch the bus or walk to work. My job does not forbid reading or studying while on duty. I am not on my feet all day. Looking at it through this lens, I realize that I take these gifts for granted, instead of treating them like the blessings they are. I will not make any huge pronouncements about how I am changing my patterns of behavior right here and now, but I will promise to think about it.}

One Thousand Gifts---initial thoughts

I saw this on a Christian Women's website and I thought, specific religious beliefs aside, what an appropriate concept for me at this particular time in my life. The seasons are changing, my mood is darkening, our finances continue to challenge us, and my life generally feels like a burden more than a gift. I hope that by working on this project over the next few weeks, I will be reminded of the blessings and gifts I already have, and maybe even learn new ways to use them.

John Milton wrote: "Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world." I am not in a place of big change in my life right now--no moves, babies, job changes, health concerns--so there is the tendency to overlook the everyday things that are also worthy of excitement, praise, and gratitude. I remember feeling slightly jealous when my friend moved away that she got to start down a new path. Intellectually, I know that I have the same opportunity every morning when I wake up, and at many times throughout the day. My spirit and heart, however, are not so convinced. Hopefully this process will help convince them to join my head in this important paradigm shift.

The Gift List is about gratitude... but it is more. It is about what defines me and my own personal identity. Maybe if I can get in touch with me again, I can regain my joie de vivre and truly begin moving forward on my journey. Actually, I am constantly moving forward, but I would like to move forward with a joyful, content spirit and heart that will sustain me during the turbulent times.


I haven't posted because I have been feeling too blah. Blah about life, work, school, family, house, friends, everything. I don't know why; things are going fairly well. I just can't seem to shake this feeling. I am unmotivated to work, even though I have TONS to do. And, if I were to do some of it now, it wouldn't pile up and drive me insane later. I just can't seem to do it.

I have some good posts in my head about spirituality and kids, our Christmas present solution, housekeeping, and my relationship with NBA, but they won't make their way to the screen. Maybe next week...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

day 6

I should really be talking about politics and Prop 2, but I just don’t have the energy. I am focusing my thoughts on planning how I am going to ACT now that this is my reality. What am I going to Do? How am I going to make a difference?

Well, starting study group/homework club is one positive step. By Thanksgiving I will have it organized and ready to start right after the holidays.

I also want to think about how my new profession can help. What can we do, as librarians, to ensure people have continued access to institutions and funds? Joining BCALA is a first step.

There has to be a fundamental change in how we see ourselves in relation to others.

More later…

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

day 5

I am at a loss for words today. I accomplished quite a bit--housework and school work, time with the kids--but I still feel out of sorts. I know part of it is due to lack of exercise and I am working on remedying that, but in the meantime I am struggling. I did not wake up this morning to work; I slept from 9:30-7:30 and still felt groggy. I have not operated at 100% at all today.

On a much happier note, today is NBA's birthday! I can't believe he is 34, and that I have known him since he was 18. I love him as much today as I ever did! He is so supportive of everything I do. He is such a great father, husband, son, son-in-law, co-worker, brother, friend, everything. I love him to pieces!!! As much as his work travel gets on my nerves, I love having him at home. Even when I am super mad at him, I still want to be with him. I just want to tell him all about himself. I am truly blessed with a great husband who works incredibly hard to support and nurture his entire family.

I am going to retire on that note of graditude.
Until tomorrow...

Monday, November 06, 2006

day 4

Today was a difficult day. I had trouble engaging with my world. The positive side of my withdrawal, if there can be one, was that I concentrated on one particular assignment for school. Of course, it was not one of the two assignments due first; it was the one with the optional deadline, natch.

I stopped putting other people's feelings before my own and my children's, and turned down a playdate so Leo could have time to himself and with his sister. It felt really good to stand up for him like that. I must do it more often!

Nothing I did today led me down a simpler path. I know I will have days like this, but I hope they are fewer and farther between.

Gift update: One of the g-parents came through!!! She took one of our suggestions for non-tangible gifts!!!! I am soo excited. Leo is going to go through the roof when he opens his gift. Taurus will be able to continue becoming a ballerina. I am so happy and thankful. I hope this can become a trend. Now, to work with the other people...

I woke up this morning. It was harder than yesterday, but I did it. After completing one chapter, I did get back into bed, but by then the kids were snuggled with me, so it worked out nicely. I am going to work on another chapter for 40 minutes, and be in bed by 9:30. Tomorrow's early morning will be spent cleaning and working.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

creativity and simplicity

Simplicity leads to creativity. Such a simple statement, yet so important. Today I experienced this first hand. I needed to create a display for our donation to my daughter's preschool auction, and did not want to purchase anything to do so. Instead, I used the rest of a cardboard box we cut up for Halloween dragon wings, covered it with aluminum foil, and printed a certificate on my computer with regular paper. It looks great! and It cost nothing!

I woke up early this morning to work; it was hard getting up, but I am glad I did. I got some work accomplished, and was not fretting about it over breakfast with my family.

Today I had one of my more focused days at work. I pretty much worked the whole time--no procrastinating or mindless web surfing. For the past two days, I have really worked hard to use the time I am given wisely so that I don't lose out on time with my family. I like how I feel and what gets crossed off my list, so I hope this can become a pattern.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

day 3

Today I made a conscious choice to engage in community instead of consuming. After putting in my time working on school stuff, I decided to make an unannounced visit to a friend. This was the alternative to going shopping. I was just planning to look, but still, that would have made me sad/frustrated. So, I decided to connect with a friend I haven't seen in a while. It's the small things that count!!

This morning I learned that waking up early to get work done is a great way to feel productive and set a positive tone for my day. I need to plan my life so that I go to bed early, and wake up early to get at least one hour to myself for working. That alone is an additional 7 hours per week that does not take time away from my family.

Goal for the week: Wake up early to get work done!!
What this will accomplish: Additional study time without cost
How to get it done: Go to bed at a reasonable time

Friday, November 03, 2006

day 2

Today has been one of those days where I am so sure that I am following the right professional/ educational path. It has given me enough stamina and enthusiasm to get through the annoying parts of the journey. Well, almost. I feel very comfortable and excited about the path I am taking in the library science information field. I am designing my coursework around my ultimate goal--to work as an instructional librarian with a focus on information literacy and technology. I have a strong sense of purpose, and it appears to be field with lots of growth and development. I will have an opportunity to come in on the ground floor in some cases, and be heavily involved in the planning and implementation.

This is related to simplicity because I am focusing my energy on one thing--something I am passionate about and want to do.

Another part of simplicity that I need to work on embracing is letting go of guilt and frustration that I cannot do it all. Today I was fairly successful. I was not able to make my son's first basketball game because I needed to get one part of an assignment completed. I knew that his dad would be with him, and I had just spent special time with him the previous night, AND I explained to him what was happening. It felt good! I was focused on my work and I was able to find out about the game when I got home. Part of the reality of life is that I can't do everything, so I just need to choose wisely WHAT I do.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

day 1

Uncluttered simplicity

As the holidays approach and people begin asking for my children's Christmas lists, I become emboldened to remember my goal of decluttering our lives and home. I have suggested that grandparents pay for lessons/classes that my kids are interested in or send them tickets to sporting/music/ performance events that they would enjoy. I am somewhat saddened by the lack of response this has garnered. It makes sense on so many levels.

I am also challenging myself to remember quality over quantity. It is not important how many presents they have to open, but that the presents they do have will be played with and used!

This week I cancelled a meeting with a school group because it was feeling like an obligation, rather than a mutually beneficial event. I have also been spending less time mindlessly trolling the internet.

I need to commit to a system like FlyLady, but right now it seems like it would be cluttering my life more than helping. I will continue to read the materials and familiarize myself with the system, and decide later.

I also need to work on scheduling my time. I really do have enough hours in my day; I just have to use them efficiently!

Ok, I have enough food for thought and plans to get started on. See ya tomorrow!!

30 days of posting

Here goes...30 days of continuous posting, chronicling my journey of simplicity.
I am finding that this process really is 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Everytime I make some positive strides--cooking instead of eating out, taking the bus instead of driving, choosing activities that don't cost money--something causes me to lose my stride. I hope that documenting my steps will motivate me to keep going, even when the going gets tough.

I found a webpage that defines 10 kinds of simplicity.
  1. choiceful simplicity
  2. commercial simplicity
  3. compassionate simplicity
  4. ecological simplicity
  5. elegant simplicity
  6. frugal simplicity
  7. natural simplicity
  8. political simplicity
  9. soulful simplicity
  10. uncluttered simplicity

Each day I will focus my posts on one of these elements, reflecting on how I implemented in my daily life and concrete ways I will/can.

By the end of the month, I should have a working plan for my life--just in time for the new year!!!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

little things

Today at the grocery story I used all of my own bags. I also combined three errands even though schlepping the kids in and out of the car was a pain.

I just looked at my lists for the first time in 7 months, and I am surprised that I actually accomplished some of them. Imagine what I can do if I check on myself regularly.

I am going to post academic year goals because, as many bloggers have commented, September is the real new year for those of us in school or with kids in school.