Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dusk in the City

One night this week, I sat outside at dusk and observed the yard and the area around me. The fruit trees are growing. It is so cool how they send out a little green shoot that grows and grows and then adds leaves and then - seemingly the next day - the little shoot changes colors and hardens off into a branch. There is no fruit this year, but they are very happy and healthy trees and will fruit when they are ready.

While I was sitting there, I heard the Cardinals chirping away and although we rarely see the female, the male sits on the fence or on a wire near the yard every evening at dusk. I've learned his song and try to find him in the trees around us.

The sun is setting, so I can see the swarms of various bugs that start to circulate out of the grass and trees where they have been keeping cool during the hottest part of the day, and then the Dragonflies arrive to eat the bugs. I saw one land that had a light blue body...something I had never seen before.

High above, and sometimes closer than I would like, the bats fly at this time also. I can hear them calling and see them flying around the area until they land in the chimney a couple houses from ours. I am happy to have put a chimney cap on our house last year!

Having these weeks home and sitting still for this long has given me so much time to think about what matters most to me. It gives me a chance to truly rest and heal my foot, but I think my mind needed just as much of a rest.

There is so much nature around me in the city to enjoy when I slow down long enough to see it! =)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Version of a Simple Wardrobe...

EDIT: I have eliminated more from my wardrobe now and will continue to donate things I don't wear as time goes on.

I looked at my closet again and decided to finish this project!!

I took out more clothing that I no longer like, doesn’t fit, is just old and out of style – or is just too much for one person to possibly wear…but for the rest of it - I was struggling with a guideline that would be reasonable and suit me personally.

How much is enough?

Being home affords time to think and sort and resort until I found something that works!

I have read many different blogs and strategies about paring down to a manageable wardrobe, and how I am dealing with this – for me – is to take the clothing downstairs that is still in good condition, sort it by fabric type and color and call it my fabric pile. I have several projects that I would like to do with fabric, and I am keeping clothes that are in good enough shape to work on those projects, crafts, gifts, etc.   Some will be made into scrap for cleaning / gardening projects and some will be donated. The first round of sorting was primarily thrown away because it was not salvageable. 

I have a variety of activities that I need different types of clothing for.
The main categories:

1.         Daily clothing:  other than office attire – only in excellent condition
2.         Gardening and hiking:  durable clothes that can handle those activities
3.         Sales work: dress clothing and suits
4.         Special Occasions:  Dates, Weddings, Parties, etc.
5.         Sleep and exercise

With these categories in mind, I decided that a week of each type of clothing would be a good place to start for an absolute maximum wardrobe.

This wardrobe also is not separated by season – my plan is to keep all of my wardrobe together and use as much of it as possible year round. This will be easier to keep track of clothes, with no dragging clothes from storage each season, and returning them when the season ends. It also prevents the stashes of clothing for "another time".  I would estimate, at this point, that I am at about 1/3 of what I had when I started sorting.

I also don’t use a bureau. Everything that needs to be, is hung in the closet and the rest is folded and stored in a 9-cube storage.

Some guidelines I have set for myself:
1.    Anything taken out of my wardrobe cannot be brought back in.
2.    If there is something I do not wear by the end of the year – I will get rid of it.
3.    New clothing: I will not be browsing for anything new. 
4.    If I do legitimately need something, I will be buying local and organic. ( this is something that I am currently researching. )
5.    If I receive clothing as a gift - it will replace something in my wardrobe.

This is what I chose for my wardrobe and with the guidelines I set for myself, each piece of clothing was truly looked at for value and use.

7 Tank tops (layering in any season)
7 sleeveless tops
7 short sleeved casual shirts
7 Short sleeved dress shirts
7 long sleeved casual shirts
7 long sleeved dress shirts
7 Sweaters (5 pullover / 2 zippered)

2 Blue Jeans
1 Black jean
7 Summer Pants (4 shorts / 3 Capri)
7 Casual Pants  (2 sweat / 2 fleece / 3 exercise)
7 Dress Pants (all similar style – 7 different colors)
4 Dresses
3 Skirts

4 Blazers
2 Four-piece suits (shell/skirt/pant/jacket)

7 Seasonal jackets:
Rain suit
Wind breaker
Winter coat
Summer coat
2 Fleece
long black sweater

7 PJ’s (Summer: nightgowns / short sets)
7 PJ’s (Winter: 2 piece sets)
Bathing Suit & Cap
Winter Gloves & scarf

7 of each sock (nylon, dress, casual and sport/garden)
2 pairs of tights 
3 pairs of fleece slipper socks

Because I don’t want to be completely vulnerable or specific here, each of the types of undergarments (shaping, bras, underwear, and assorted lace and silk) were all represented and at 7 each.

Casual /Functional Shoes:
Brown Summer Sandal
Black Sneakers
White Sneakers
Sloggers garden boots & shoes
Work boots (hiking)
Snow boots

Dress Shoes:
Mary Janes
Black heels
Silver Sandal
White Sandal
Black Sandal
Black dress boot
Brown dress boot

The emotional aspect of this paring down has been an interesting process for me. I found that I had feelings of attachment to certain things, a little guilt cropped up with the extent of wastefulness, a certain type of fear appears that there will not “be enough” if I let go of things, I saw the fruits of impulse shopping, found the hidden piles of clothing being held for a just in case situation (like fitting again). I was surprised that all of this emotion was attached to a few extra piles of clothes…

With the expense of clothing and fabric, etc., I really want to find a way to use what I have purchased and recycle it into something useful. So there is a changing in my mind of habit.  Instead of calling the clothes in storage part of my wardrobe, I am calling them fabric and keeping them separate. Instead of keeping things that don’t fit, I have purchased clothes that fit me now. As I continue to lose weight, I can replace them with new clothing that is in style and current.

I found what is enough for me. In reality – even with what "little" I have chosen, I would need many weeks to wear everything that I have in my closet. In this simplifying I am seeing how much we really have in our lives that is beautiful and useful. Pieces of clothing become special and have a purpose when they are looked at so specifically. I am so grateful to have had the resources to do what I want, but part of this process is seeing that this excess isn’t necessary and the stress for me in the upkeep, storage and disorganized state that it causes is not worth it. This doesn't even take into consideration the cost of energy wasted to produce and transport all of this.

This is what I wanted from this process – a change of mind – to change the way I think about things that have consumed so much time. Time is precious and should be spent in more valuable ways.

I want to continue paring down in the house and getting things in order and now I have a direction to go in…To live simply is the process of changing the entitlement – the having just for the sake of having – and becoming aware of how purchases and being a consumer are not separate and singular actions that happen in a void – but are instead part of the bigger picture of consumerism that I really do not want to participate in anymore.

When I was thinking of simplicity before – I hadn’t realized the stark, empty image it was creating in my mind. The reality is quite different. The empty space is beautiful and now I know that what I am searching for exists there…

All but a couple of things that are in the laundry.
I will be moving sweats to a cube so they are put away.

Folded clothing and sweaters in a bin on the side.
I will be adding 3 more cubes to keep all of the folded clothes in here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yard in Bloom

Amaranth and Cherry Tomatoes growing together in the same bed - support each other and look beautiful together!

Marigolds in the herb spiral

Vetch around the fruit trees

Pumpkins in the Sunflower / Corn bed!


Morning Glory

Morning Glory
Waiting for Sunchokes to bloom!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

An unexpected rest...

I went to the Podiatrist this week and until I see him again on August 10th, I can't go back to work. I'm in an air cast to immobilize my ankle - the injury was more serious than I realized and I recommend that if you are having any pain when you walk - please get it checked out rather than bearing with it like I did. I can handle or manage most things, but this had me in tears and I will do whatever I have to - to be able to have a regular day again without this cast.

So, this break has afforded me some time to think and remember some projects that I have been neglecting, and also to think past Summer to the coming Winter. We have put so much effort into building up and planting the garden that some time spent on the indoor projects is needed. I can't do a lot of moving around, but I can do research, sort through paperwork and do filing, and work on the story I have been writing.

Another question came to mind after reading one of my favorite blogs Choosing Voluntary Simplicity:  What is enough?  So I have been thinking that I love being in the garden because of the patterns, smells, small gatherings of plants and art, etc.  It has me thinking of what I would like the inside of the house to look like, and feel like - and I want it to be the same as the garden.  We have plenty of plants inside, so that is already part of the decorating. I would like to create a peaceful, relaxing, organized place to write and spend time with family and friends.

There are definitely things that need to be sold, or given away and much that needs to be organized. So during these weeks "off" I have a great opportunity to do a little each day to work toward this vision. I spent the past week filing, sorting through paperwork, setting up files and rediscovering poetry and stories and am inspired to continue on with writing. I am looking at each thing I come across for its value to me and if I cannot store it (holiday / seasonal ) and there is no place to display it - then it is time for it to be passed along to someone else. It is so surprising to me that even in our small home, so many little places exist that gather things that seem valuable at the time, but lay forgotten for so long. I have designated one table to be a gathering place for sentimental items from trips, small found objects and gifts.  This will be a better way to keep these special items in a place where I can enjoy them more often.

I am just beginning this process, but I have found that my "enough" would be a home that is simple, beautiful, energy efficient, sustainable, practical...where we use what we have, but have a place to store   a little extra if we need to weather some situation.

The personal process is one of stepping back from the cycle of consuming and seeing that I really have more than enough clothing, food, possessions, etc. I don't need more, and more than likely don't need all I have.

As in the article on Choosing Voluntary Simplicity  - I don't think the number of items really is the answer for me, but the quality of life is. I don't want to be consumed with the laundry, dishes, clutter, disorganized finding of things when needed...If I cannot handle the day to day of this - the only answer can be that it is too much.

I want my time to be spent on more meaningful things - like family and friends, writing, music, gardening, etc.  and as the process unfolds, and the clutter is dealt with - room for each of these things opens inside of the house, and inside of my mind...and an unexpected rest becomes an opportunity for so much more.

A beautiful yellow Nasturtium