Monday, October 8, 2012

Letting Go of Chaos

We’ve all been there…we go shopping and get home, only to find that the thing that was so perfect in the store isn’t right for us at all.

I’ve gone shopping with an idea of the type of bag I needed for work, travel, etc. and settled on something less than ideal or what I was looking for, only to find it basically useless and not solving the problem it was intended to solve, and not fulfilling any purpose - eventually tossed in a closet or in the basement storage.

I know some people would say “It’s just a bag – throw your stuff inside and get to the bus stop”. The problem here is more involved than it would seem. Because we walk or take the bus everywhere, I need a bag that is durable, but I also am not strong enough to carry around a ton of weight right now. In my mind is an image that I am literally carrying around the excess that I am working on simplifying.

With the choices I have made in the past, I have a stack of bags that are basically useless and don’t suit me at all.  I needed a new plan…I needed to simplify my morning and my day a great deal.  The solution? Let go and donate the pile of bags and buy something that actually works for this new, simpler approach.

To begin to simplify, for me, is to need to carry less. I leave in the morning like a pack mule headed for a long trip. I am going to be out of the house for awhile, but I can’t even carry what I think I need for the day.

I have one purse now that I actually use. It’s a cute little Vera Bradley bag that I have wanted forever, but couldn’t justify the price. I found it practically new at Good Will for $9.99. It fits everything I need if I am going out and is a reasonable weight for me to carry. I love the simplicity of some of the bags on What's in Your Bag? and this is all I need with me most of the time. 

iPod, wallet, glasses, flashlight, keys, bus pass/work id,
Nikon,  phone, etc.

I also found a leather satchel that is a perfect size. It was not inexpensive, but the price was reasonable with a lifetime guarantee of repair. It fits my iPad, journal, reading book, small pouch and on work days I have a set of small metal containers that fit nicely in it to carry food for work.

This brings me to the next simplification of my day….lunch. It sounds a little crazy to say - but the truth is that food should not be as complicated as it is. I have to eat, but I know I need to simplify food and the time spent on it in my day.

It is stressful to me to have to make, pack, remember to bring and carry food for the day.  The solution in the past was to just grab some chips at the vending machine or coffee & bagel at the corner shop and then lunch at a local sandwich shop. Too much money wasted and not healthy enough to feel satisfied and not sick from eating. While I was home for 7 weeks with my sprained ankle, I got out of that habit and saw how ridiculous the spending was and also how my body doesn’t gain any quality nutrition from that routine.  My mind also does not gain anything from the stress of cooking a lunch and bringing it with me every day and the chaotic morning that I usually have…so I needed a different idea. 

My solution is to get up a little earlier and eat a heartier, healthier, slower paced breakfast and just bring small snacks or sandwich for during the day. This eliminates the ice pack, lunch bag, and bigger insulated bag I was carrying it all in that always seemed to fill up with yet more stuff…

What I know from this process of simplicity and minimalism, is that this one thing – the bag I carry to work – is just a symptom of the habits and mindset that I am changing. Needing less, slowing down, participating in events – rather than just reacting to the world around me - all of this is leading to a simpler life with a lot less possessions, and I am left with quality, meaningful, useful things that serve a variety of purposes. In the bigger picture, I would say that my possessions in the house are a lot like the wrong sized bag - just because there is room, stuff accumulates and overwhelms. We already live in a small house, it's only 900 sq. ft. - so with each closet and drawer I tackle and clean out, the space is very noticeable. 

Ideally, this process of reducing debt, needing less, donating excess and really evaluating the quality of life each day...will one day lead to not needing to work at a conventional job. It is my dream to be able to spend the day working at home on writing, gardening, crafting and cooking and eliminate the chaotic schedule completely. But this is not realistic right now, so I want to use this schedule I have and learn how to be calm within it. This is the perfect situation to evaluate and change habits while amidst the chaos. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Warm Hearth in Winter

With the end of Summer we found ourselves ready to purchase two cords of wood for the Elmira Cooktop and there wasn't room in the driveway to have it delivered or stack it, so we worked for a couple of weekends - Rob cleared the larger logs and moved them down to where they would be split, and I worked on the pile of branches and leaves and prepared the kindling. We filled two Rubbermaid buckets with kindling to dry out, and have several more buckets worth of sticks stacked and waiting.

Piles of sticks/leaves and wood gathered during the past few months

When we were all finished with the work, there was much more room for the cords to be delivered. The buckets are filled with kindling and the rest of the wood is sorted by when it was gathered - the shed also has some wood that has been seasoning since last October's crazy storm.
sticks sorted and barrels of kindling ready / leaves in compost pile

miscellaneous piles of wood sorted

2 cords delivered and ready to be stacked

When I see this pile of wood, I find myself dreaming of sitting in the kitchen near the fire and baking for the holidays. I also feel safe and secure that we will have a warm place to be this Winter. I know that everyone does not have this security and I feel very grateful.

Grateful for our small home that is easy to heat, for the ability to purchase the wood we need, and grateful for the comfort of knowing that with a little work, we will be ready for whatever Winter has in store. I feel a little like the chipmunks and squirrels in our yard - busily gathering and preparing for the cold...

The heart of our home