To-do Lists and Chicken Soup

Lists help me stay sane. I haven’t always been this way – in fact, I remember my friend Amber tell me she liked to write down lists that sticking in my head in college. It’s therapeutic to me now it’s the little bit of hand writing I get in this digital world and I’m able to transfer any anxiety of any task to the paper once it’s on there. It helps me be more thorough and make the most of my time.

One of the beautiful things I am seeing is that menial tasks are showing up less as I minimize more. Things that required daily attention only need weekly attention now, in some cases. This is a result of less stuff to clean/put away and working on methods to get things done more efficiently but also choosing not to create new projects I cannot devote time to (the last one being the hardest for this scatterbrained multitasker.)

I would love to get to a point of optimizing my life where I could be a good and hospitable person and not worry about my room and surroundings being a train wreck. I recognize this is both a physical stuff thing and an attitude change. I want to be able to embrace rather than fight the hotel my home can be sometimes and focus on the people not the stuff around that makes it uncomfortable to have them there. As much as I kick and scream at the relatives and friends and just how much traffic we get at the house, there is a sweetness to knowing our home is well loved and people feel at home here.

One of the sweetest examples of hospitality I’ve seen lately is through a lady in our non profit planning group. She primarily helps with silent auction items. Since we live pretty close to each other and she isn’t always able to make the Saturday morning meetings, I’ve been offering to pick up/drop off items and take them to the meet. We live about 20-25 minutes away from the meeting spot, and she has school aged kids in sports and other activities on the weekend. I let her know it would never be a problem for me to drop by because it’s a lot easier for me to hop in my car than wrangle some kids with different schedules and homework and she laughed. 😉 We don’t speak much outside of drop off/pick up. I text her that I’m there and she always comes out and spends a few minutes talking to me. Not about the event, but actually about my day and whatnot. And she always asks me if I’ve had dinner yet and lets me know she made plenty. And if I say no (I always say no) she always asks me if I’m sure.

She hardly knows me, only needs to know my name and number, and yet she goes out of her way to make sure I’m not hungry, because there’s chicken soup inside her home. Her home, where her kids and life is. Where she got a 5 minute warning that I was on my way and probably didn’t spend that 5 minutes scrambling to clear the place just in case I said yes. What a heart check for me.

People over things. Never the other way around.

Starting Off on the Right Foot

I feel like I have a firm grasp on this fresh year. It’s only in the recent year or two that I’ve been extra mindful and I can see areas of improvement from it.

I feel like a lot of the burden that’s lifted has to do with -stuff-. I’m still not at my aha! point but I’m getting there. In each category I’ve noted basic observations AND given myself a room to spend. This will help me narrow my wants and save up for specific items instead of impulse purchases and hoarding because of deals and clearance.

General Bedroom:

– It is most important in this current living situation for belongings to be functional.
– It is better to be functional/multipurpose than aesthetically pleasing or stylish.
– Well constructed but replaceable/donate-able furniture won’t tie me down.
– Furniture that folds up/breaks down to move is ideal when thinking longer term
– My room is a private place. It needs to only visually please me. This includes tidiness.
– Continually remind myself this isn’t a permanent living situation; stay minimal.
– Surround myself in things that bring me joy.

Room to spend: New window privacy clings/window treatment, secondary comforter that is thin enough to go in my washing machine and doesn’t require a trip to the laundromat

Books and Wardrobe:

– Mark a day each month to review and donate excess or reorganize
– Take advantage of Amazon Prime Book rentals/free items
– Get back to the library and checking out books
– Don’t buy hard copies unless they are keepers
– Work in magazines for self care wind downs and discard/donate ASAP
– Pare down to only black socks (because I’m too lazy to bleach white socks)
– Reduce spending on accessories/pare down cheapie accessories
– Actually wear the jewelry/accessories I love and treat them with care

Room to spend: Sterling silver jewelry at discount, affordable digital books, new clothes ONLY IF I lose enough weight or need to replace staple (like jeans)

Bathroom:

– No more value sized bottles that bore me before they’re used up
– Replace empties as needed. Don’t stock extras/multipacks if possible.
– Use up beauty products I have. Avoid beauty aisles in stores.
– Figure out holy grails and don’t stray
– I don’t enjoy makeup/styling. So stop spending/exploring like I do.

Room to spend: Quality skincare and lotion (only to replace used product)

Kitchen:

– Keep it to basics; this is a shared area I am reprimanded for
– Reduce bulk buys and stocking up
– Work to eliminate my pantry
– Simplify meals to require less ingredients
– Treat myself to on-plan meals out, but allocate in budget
– Use more frozen produce to supplement space/reduce waste
– Get into a habit of washing things as I meal prep

Room to spend: Dining out (no more than 2x/week), Unique ingredients to cook with *that day*, On plan snacks (limit options)

———————————————–

Weight Loss Room to Saves (Rewards):

15 lbs – Beach or Hiking Day (~$15 for parking pass)
25 lbs – Foot Spa Massage (Basic Package) (~$25 + tip)
40 lbs – Facial  (~$50 + tip)
50 lbs – 2 New Outfits and Foot Spa Massage (Nicer Package) (~$150)
60 lbs – Nice Workout shoes (~$80)
70lbs – Fancy meal out (~$50)*
80 lbs – 2 New Outfits + 1 New Workout/Class (~$250)
90 lbs – Fancy meal out (~$50)*
100 – Disneyland or 3 Day Adventure (~$250-500)

* I know treating to food is usually a no-no but if I am past 50 lbs I’m pretty sure I have a better grasp on food and I don’t feel bad about rewarding with a special meal!

A Thank You

I don’t blog for the reach or to eventually earn some income with the traffic. I don’t even blog to keep people I know in real life in the loop (although some of my besties do read this, hello guys!) Is it weird that I kind of like a sense of anonymity?  My goal for blogging is to record what’s on my mind and heart and have a spot for reflection. I also hope to make a couple blog friends or people it can help along the way. I’ve noticed a couple of you regularly like something or comment when it is relatable/etc and that’s very encouraging to me. Thanks for following/frequenting/adding to my blog. I appreciate you! ❤

2016 was a heavy year, am I right? I feel like a majority of my posts were health/fitness related or heavy inner dialogue. Thanks for hanging in there through some pretentiousness and also some dark times. Thanks for encouraging me with your comments and posts on your own blog if we mutually follow each other.

I’ve had the privilege of drawing inspiration or expanding my thoughts on life through your blogs and sometimes I’ve just laughed at a fun memory or meme you’ve shared. Thank you for that.

Here’s to making some awesome blog entries in 2017. One that make us laugh together, cry together, reach out, and encourage us to grow.

More Minimizing Musings

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been inspired to research more about minimalism and capsule wardrobes. The ideals, while not right for me, are really helpful as I am still discovering what sparks joy in my life and how to look at my “stuff” with an honest and mindful eye.

I stumbled across a plus size capsule article that piqued my interest. Mostly because it offered so many valid points. Two stood out to me. First, as a fat gal, amen to the thighs eating pants! I know many minimalist blogs say invest in costly pieces that will last you but plus size gals know the difficulty that is rubbing the inner thigh portion of pants to a pilled or holey mess. The other point was most important. Minimalism as we see it today is a fad of living in excess and having a privileged life.

It’s easy for me to react to that and think I am not privileged, but I am. I like to think of it as being blessed and well cared for despite not making much, but it’s true. One of the reasons I’m in this pit is because I’ve allowed having a little more than enough become a consumerist issue. I’ve fallen prey to owning too much just because I can. How many hours have I wasted wandering aimlessly and getting joy from stuff I shouldn’t own? I should be considering this more carefully. It means I’ve been frivolous and have room to work on how I spend and save my money. It also means I need to be more mindful with what I keep and what I bring into my home.

Be a ruthless editor of what you bring into your home. Ask yourselves, “What does this object mean to me?” – Nate Berkus (interior designer)

Some of the things that inspire me from minimalism are:

1.  Seeking the best of the best in items.

For example, being purposeful and researching even little stuff like kitchen spoons to make sure you love using it and only need one or a few to do something well. It’s no longer about savings or quantity, the value is rather placed in form, function, and purpose. For a kitchen item, that purpose may be more utilitarian. For a necklace however, that might be form – the pendant goes with many styles, function – the chain doesn’t pull hair out and is easy to clasp, and purpose – makes me feel beautiful and put together. If I apply this what gives me joy (KonMari) it makes it easier to make decisions on what goes in my home and what I let go of.

2. Mindfully opening up your space and life.

The best minimalist blogs treat minimalism with a purpose. I found out that there are two types of minimalism. One is domestic, and that is have a system that works for an efficient home and life. The other is travel based, and that is where you see people limiting to the extreme in pursuit of fun experiences over items. I used to think minimalists were just fans of all things white and black and boring, but there is no hard rule unless you’re going for extreme. Walls don’t need to be blank, furniture doesn’t have to be modern, but everything is edited down to essentials and the idea is to only own what fits your purpose. Minimalists don’t think of themselves as limited but rather they are equipped with all that the need and don’t want to fuss with more because it’s not necessary or doesn’t fit their purpose. Less clothes means less laundry. Less furniture and nic nacs means easier and more efficient cleaning. Less buying means more financial freedom. All their minimalist choices serve a purpose.

3. Making the most of what you have.

Rather than thinking they are limited by their space or lack of extra things, they think of how to best work their space and make do with what they have. This is where I fall short the most. I am guilty of thinking “if only” quite a lot and wanting items I already have just because it’s a little nicer when what I have is fine. I need to tap into a spirit of contentedness and be grateful instead of wishful. Perhaps if I did better in the area of gratitude I’d  not be so tempted by retail therapy. When I was a kid, I didn’t have a lot of toys. I thrived on being resourceful and using some imagination to make what was around the house work. Later as a teen, I applied this concept to cooking with what ingredients were in the house and make fun meals that made me proud. Sure, it wasn’t Pinterest worthy, but it kept those items from spoiling and it was fun to experiment and not be restrained to a recipe. Making the most of what I had in those instances was really fulfilling. And it still is today.

Have you found your “a-ha” or “just right” point with belongings? If you have anything to add, please comment and let me know!

You’re already so loved.

Part of my goals for today is spread this beautiful message by Sarah Bessey.

Please do take a moment to read it. Please take a moment to process the words. Please take a moment to consider how loved you are no matter your circumstances.

Unsolicited Comments : Mark It as Spam

We’ve all gotten comments and opinions we never asked for or invited. Things like:

“Oh, you started working again? I guess your husband’s income isn’t cutting it.”

“Your body may not be ideal but at least you’ve got a beautiful face.”

“It must be exhausting having a downs child.”

“You’re so skinny. I wish I could eat anything and not gain weight.”

“I can’t believe you still use the microwave. It causes cancer.”

Think of these messages of ignorance and stupidity as flagged messages in your inbox and send them to the spam folder.

Do we open messages in our spam folder? No, because based on the subject line, we know the content may be harmful or that the message is meaningless to us.

In that same line of thinking, I’ve been relating it to the unsolicited comments I’ve received in real life. It sucks that sometimes these comments are said by people close to us, but the fact is their comment doesn’t do any good. Before letting a hurtful comment fester – giving time to internalize their words, and opening myself up to their message, I simply sort it to spam. The real life version of “unsubscribe” is to respectfully tell them that topic is off limits, what they said was rude, or brush it off by changing the subject.

Don’t open their loaded email. Don’t let their words ruin your day or get you down. Treat spam as spam: delete. Keep your inbox for what makes you feel good and builds you as a person. Don’t let messages that don’t fit that filter ruin the good stuff.

As a rule of thumb, I also sort gossip to junk mail. Bye bye, BS.

 

Obstacle Solving

Obstacle Solving – Like problem solving but tackling potential roadblocks.

Ready my arsenal.

    HDMI cable for the TV: No more dvd workout excuses. I’ll plug it into my laptop and play DVDs that way and as a plus stream youtube fitness routines I love. The DVD player  I had at my apartment doesn’t work here and plays black and white.

✓    New workout pants: The kind that don’t make me feel sloppy or make me wonder if my cottage cheese thighs are showing. Pairs that rise high and are opaque enough to give me confidence to bend over, dance, and jump without constantly worrying I’m gonna expose my belly or backside.

✓   Vitality Corner: A visual meditative center and reminder for me since that is the sense I am most honed into. It has motivational print outs that actually mean something to me and the green and blooming vitality of plants to tell me to keep striving for my best physical and mental health.

✓    Day Planner and Lists: I’m going to log daily weight, mood, and happy thoughts in there. I also need to be true to planning so I don’t put off things that will become workout or cooking excuses.

✓    MyFitnessPal: To log in food and exercise

✓    Time: I’m saying no to new responsibilities/studies/commitments until I’ve solidified my habits. One month until race day. One and a halfish months until Bible study is done. That frees my schedule even more until I feel set to take on new things if I want to.

✓    Music: Because music is good medicine.

✓    Friends: Because friends are also good medicine and my favorite sources of encouragement and wisdom

Tonight is a workout at the gym night. I have bible study until 9pm, so I’m hoping to do a late night gym routine. 9:15-10:15. That’s a long day for me. I was up at 6am. I won’t have time to “relax” until I’m back from the gym. But once I schedule my bible study work more faithfully, I will get a chance to relax for about an hour after work and then use that to empower a more efficient routine and attitude. Little by little, I’ll get this down.

Vitality Corner

I’ve done a few big projects to make my room a sanctuary and here’s a project I’d like to complete next: a vitality corner of encouraging quotes and pictures and many plants.

plant-leaves

I would call it a vitality shrine but some would take offense to that because of the religious connotations people assume with the word ‘shrine.’ It’s not religious in an idolatrous way, but it is reflective and meditative.

I want to use green plants as a reminder of all the things I want to be: 

– I want to bloom as I prepare myself emotionally, financially, and physically for mid-life. 

– I want to reach new heights.

– I want to seek the light even if I must bend and outstretch in one direction towards it. 

– I want to nourish my body with good healthy food and kindness so that my radiant outside reflects a well fed and cared inside. 

– I want to be growing in Christ. I feel tingling in my roots and hope to know and experience even more foundational truths about my God and our relationship. I need to be reminded that what I soak up in my roots helps me react to the world around me and feeds me substance.

– I want to prune and throw away the bad parts so that I can focus on what’s important and not feel inhibited. 

– I want to remember as I’m tending them that people who love me are tending me and to love them back fiercely with that devotion. 

– Like photosynthesis, I want to use good energy to fuel me and have that process produce beneficial things for my environment. 

– My assortment of plants may all look different and need different types of tending and soil environments for best performance, but they all work together to be beautiful although they are diverse. Similarly, I want to see my strengths and weaknesses more bigger picture and know that what I have works together to do even more good collectively.  I want to remember not to judge someone for not having similar outlooks, interests, faith, or personalities, but find ways to admire them and encourage our growth and relationships.

– Like potted plants, I want to accept help when I can’t get what I need from my limited resources. Plants need fertilizer, and I need other people’s wisdom, encouragement, and experiences to help feed me. I may need coaching, programs, and therapy to help me reach my potential at different times in my life and shouldn’t be afraid of needing these resources.

I think just a few years ago I would have thought this notion was silly, but perhaps that is a sign I’ve grown. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Creatures of the Night

Sky reflects the ebony
Of the asphalt under foot
Grab one cart and stroll
Through a grocery store
There’s no list
Just listlessness
As I’ve often brought before.

Creatures of the night
Weighing apples
Reading labels
Checking cartons full of eggs
Chucking in a loaf of bread
Hoarding sections to themselves
Walking in the dust
Of where others have tread.

Where were you
When the warm light
Was on your shoulders
Basking in the
Golden glow
Or earning pennies
For your keep
Why walk these vacant aisles
When most others are asleep?

And I wander
Alongside them
Past the yogurts
Past granola
Scanning red tags and
Sales signs
Tallying what’s
In hand

If I gave away my secret
They would scurry
On their way
If I admitted
Too many people
Would be here
In the day

Too many to wonder
Who they are
To see them as
Individuals
When I’m
Dodging my cart out of the way

But at night
We all are people
And as I pass
I wish them well
Though they only do their shopping
And have nothing to tell

Does Anyone Have it All Together?

You’ve heard it before: “They seem to have it all together.”

That person looks like they are the model citizen – someone to aim to be like in most if not all ways. They’re rational, inspirational, well-rounded, innovative, and just seem to have everything going in their favor. From what we can see, through our rose colored glasses, their life is envious. We examine our own lives and beat ourselves over where we think we fall short in terms of personal or societal expectations.

Does anyone have it all together?

The high school sweethearts are finally married and have a love story that would compel Nicholas Sparks to turn it into a novel. They never expected their small combined income would cause them to move thousands of miles away from where they grew up and desperately miss all their family and friends. And still, they are scraping by.

The successful businessman is at every charity, well loved, and the social media pictures of his lavish vacations with his family cause much envy. Little do they know his 80+ hour work weeks leave him worn and give little time to make memories with loved ones. He treats them all to summer vacation splendors to reconnect and thank them for understanding. Sometimes he wishes he could trade the success for time, but knows he is able to provide a future and financial legacy if he just stays the course.

The budding millionaire has three innovative patents that have enabled her to “get rich quick”.  Growing up with little, her head is spinning when thinking about investments and managing her expanding wealth. Friends and relatives she never figured would leech are pressuring her for loans and pricey gifts and dinners. She is making waves and ready to date after spending years developing her products. But now, she isn’t sure if the suitors are wanting to get to know her or more about the patents or figures.

The county’s brightest student is off to an Ivy League – but his ultimate goal is to be a minister. His family and teachers desperately want to see those smarts equal a high profile job. He wants to do what is on his heart and is passionate about his dreams.

The grace and beauty of her small town is as lovely inside as she is outside. She has looks, smarts, and heart, and is complimented all the time on all three. Even though she is praised often, some jealous individuals try to make life difficult for her just because of her beauty. They are downright rude and constantly looking for flaws to make her seem less perfect. For all the good they have to say, they jab her with remarks about nearing the end of fertility, wasting her looks not thinking about making progeny, and scratching their heads about why with all that she has going for her she can’t “get a man.” They don’t understand the personal standards she has committed to and why she is cautious. She can’t tell them about all the times men have tried to pursue her only to be a notch in their belt or for less than savory intentions, about how she has to be extra careful because her beauty sometimes means unwanted predicaments. They would think she was full of herself to say such things.

No one has it all together. For all the steps we take forward, we encounter new obstacles. Our timelines are unique. There isn’t an ideal for everyone. Our milestones are ours to make, and were never meant to be compared. Just because someone’s struggles seem smaller doesn’t mean it doesn’t takes less out of them. When we pretend others have it all together, we only take the joy out of our lives by pining for something we only see through a lens.

I can choose to look around and feel like I’ve fallen short, or I can choose to look at my own path and see how far I’ve come.

My victories are no less victorious. My struggles are no less real. My journey is mine to take. I’m not going to assume that I, or others, will ever have it all together. Life is happy, sad, joyful, messy, hard, rewarding, sweet, and stressful. Life is not multiple choice, it’s essays. I was never meant to try to glance at others #2 graphite lead filled bubbles and try to copy. I was meant to write my heart out and try my personal best. Just like school days, you finish the last sentence and turn it and sigh deeply. It was hard, but you did what you could with what you knew and the resources you were given. And that’s the same for everyone.