I’m packing [day 339]

No, I don’t have a gun.  I mean packing for a short trip.  One full day to be exact.  Why do I always feel like I need so much stuff?  A while back, I always had the philosophy that if I forget something, I’ll just buy it.  Rarely did I ever have to take myself up on that.  Now I can’t buy anything if I forget it, so I’m packing a little bit more.  Is this a downside to the ‘no retail shopping’ challenge?  I’m not flying, so no extra bag charges.  It takes a little more time to pack, but that’s okay.

Mental gymnastics.

I need to get packed, there’s no way I’m ever going to be ready in time.  Why did I get rid of the boys suitcases?  Oh yeah, they were too small.  Too small?  Really?  What do they need?  Now they’re going to have to share a bag.  How am I going to keep their stuff separated?  That’s going to be a fight.  Passports!  (run upstairs)  Why do I save all this stuff in my fireproof box?  What if I die and someone has to clean out all my stuff?  (run back downstairs)  Clothing.  Check.  Pajamas.  Check.  Towel, washcloth and shower shoes.  Check.  Camera.  Check.  Wait.  Should I bring both of my cameras?  My lenses?  My tripod?  The kids love to do light painting, but do the batteries work in any of the 30 flashlights?  How did I get 30 flashlights?!  Should I downsize those?  Did I charge the 15 million candlepower cyclops?  Will the kids in Mexico really miss the light painting?  Why do I need all these electronics?  Should I bring the book I want to finish?  Where’s the charger for my camera?  Crap, I’ll need my shutter release cable too.  Zuri, get out of the suitcase.  Wait, we have a cat now.  (phone call)  Will all of this fit in the car?  Should I have gotten an oil change?  Did I pack enough clothes?  What am I forgetting?…  Continue reading

clothing pile #1 [minimalist challenge item #72]

[item] Various clothing items

[purchase info] Purchased mostly from thrift stores, some purchased new

[time in my possession] Varies

[last used] Ranging from a couple of months ago to many years

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Thrift store

[info] I’m still in the process of downsizing my wardrobe and this is pile #1 of 3 in the 100 piece purge.  Items include swimsuits, socks, undies (not to the thrift store), shorts, shirts, pants, skirts, jeans, pajamas, sweaters and more.

a picture is worth 1000 things [day 338]

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words.  I’ve never actually tried to type that up to check it, but it seems accurate.  What if we take that one step further… a picture is worth 1,000 things?

So what do I mean by this?  If you own a camera, you can snap a memory of anything you see.  With digital photography, there’s no extra cost for taking a lot of photos like in the film days.  Isn’t life all about people and relationships?  Our society says it’s more about materialism.  Wouldn’t it be better to have a photo of your child at Disney World versus having those ridiculous mouse ears laying around?  Has anyone actually ever worn those after the plane ride home?  Instead of buying souvenirs or mementos, snap a photo if you need something to remind you of that moment in time.

Mouse ears… $19.00

Other souvenirs… $136.00

Cleaning person to pick up all the junk you’ve accumulated… $175 a month

Memories with your loved ones?  Priceless.

dressy necklace and earrings [minimalist challenge item #71]

[item] Christian Dior necklace and earrings

[purchase info] Purchased new for a formal event

[time in my possession] Approximately 9 years

[last used] 9 years ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] eBay

[info] I wore this once.  Paid full price at a department store.  Bad purchase.  Why do I still have this?  Better yet, why did I ever buy it?  Perplexed…

do you share your household budget info with your kids? [day 337]

Tonight, we’re discussing some household budget items… electric, groceries, dining, movie rentals, cable tv and more.  When I say ‘we’, I mean me and my kids.  No, I’m not excluding my spouse, I don’t have one.  I know my kids are young, but they need to understand the value of a dollar.  I want them to grow up knowing how to manage money well.

My kids both have an understanding of how money works.  They understood credit cards and interest charges at 5 years old.  I never thought this was anything out of the ordinary until my youngest started lecturing my sister for using a credit card at Target… when he was 7.  I thought maybe I should tone it down a bit, but I chose not to.  My boys are 10 and 11 now, and we talk about the family budget and expenses.  They know how much our house payment is, we talk about the utility bills and the grocery expenses.  We have a reward program of ice cream for low utility bills.

My kids don’t know my salary (Joe’s feminine side is not being able to keep a secret), nor do they know all of the details, but we do discuss the ‘controllables’.  I see a lot of value in them knowing our budget and knowing how well we’re maintaining it.  If I expect them to understand why they need to turn off the lights when they’re not in a room, I need to show them the consequences of leaving them on.

I let them help with decisions about how we use our money, everything from entertainment to groceries.  This works well, as it’s a rare occasion that they will ask me to buy them anything without a lot of thought going into it first.

Communicating money issues, budgets and household expenses to young kids may seem odd to some people, but how else will they learn?  I wish someone had taught me these things.  My kids will either be well adjusted and manage money well or they’ll need a lot of therapy from my lessons.  Oh, and if you talk to my kids, I’ll apologize in advance for any money lectures you may get from them.  😉

lupes [minimalist challenge item #70]

[item] 2 film / photography lupes

[purchase info] Purchased while in school for a photography class

[time in my possession] Approximately 6 years

[last used] 5 years ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[info] These have been sitting in my garage doing nothing.  Time to go.

the anatomy of a gift [day 336]

Let me start by asking a few of the big questions here.

Is re-gifting good or bad?

Is it okay to get rid of a gift?

Should you ever give a used gift?

I think people mostly view these as bad things, and although there’s no simple answer to these questions, there are some instances when they’re good.  Let’s first look at the anatomy of a gift.

Okay, so there’s no image that perfectly represents all gifts, as they’re as different as snowflakes.  “It’s the thought that counts…” is the first thing you hear about gifts.  If this is true, then is re-gifting or giving away a gift you received considered symbolic of the thought, the gift, both or neither?  I suppose it all depends on the gift itself, the person that gave it to you, the occasion and the thought behind it.  Again, there’s no easy answer.

I’m blogging on this topic, as it’s been on my mind a lot as I downsize.  I have gotten rid of things people have given me, and yes, even put them on my blog.  I won’t lie, it feels a little weird, but at least it’s honest.  I haven’t re-gifted anything, probably because I don’t really get many gifts.  Don’t get me wrong here, I actually like this gift status.  I’m not married, my kids are young and I don’t have any family close by to share holidays with.  Considering that I’m not a fan of holidays, this works fine in my life.  But when I do get a gift, it’s usually something meaningful.  Continue reading

candle holders [minimalist challenge item #69]

[item] Colorful glass candle holder set

[purchase info] Received as a gift

[time in my possession] Approximately 4 years

[last used] Never used them with candles, but have used them in decor for a long time until a few months ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Thrift store

[info] I received these as a gift from a wonderful person, which makes them somewhat difficult to part with.  My downsizing efforts are going well.  :)

the 100 thing challenge [day 335]

I met Dave Bruno several weeks ago at SXSW.  He’s the author of The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life and Regained My Soul.  The basis of the book is simplicity, minimalism and living with less stuff.  I finished reading his book several weeks ago, a great book with many good lessons in it.

Many of the lessons he learned through his downsizing process, I have also learned through my no retail shopping challenge.  My one big take-away from this book was in chapter 6, “Purging Things and Things Past,” where he got rid of his train set.  Dave had planned to build this model train set with his dad’s vision of it, which never came to fruition in his childhood.  The reason this stood out to me is his realization of the stress associated with ownership.  We place expectations on our stuff, creating a distention of our dreams, inclusive of our material possessions.  Once he got rid of the trains, the expectations he placed on himself to create something with them were gone, releasing him from the pressure having another thing to do.   Continue reading

glass vase [minimalist challenge item #68]

[item] White glass vase

[purchase info] Purchased at a thrift store

[time in my possession] Approximately 3 years

[last used] 6 months ago as decor

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Thrift store

[info] I have way too many vases and they’re just a lot more things to clean.