Feb/March Progress

In which I do a quick run-through of the last two months’ progress (#4, #7, #11, #17, #19, #21, #39, #44, #49, #51, #52, #53, #54, #58, #59, #64, #66, #73, #75, #76, #77, #79, #82, #84, #85, #87, #95, #100). Yowza!

First off, my on-going streaks or lack thereof: I meditated every day (#19) with no make-ups, bringing my streak to 128/365 days with 1/5 makeups. I’ve done over 50 total singles sessions in Headspace (#21) and I tried a few new ones in March. I have been working on my morning and evening routines (#54), but I have no streak going. I read five more young adult books before bed each month (#59), bringing my total to 15. We visited and Skyped with both sets of grandparents both months (#77), making a streak of three months. In February, I read two non-fiction parenting books (#85), bringing my total non-fiction to four. In March, I listened to one audiobook (#84), my first completed in this 1001.

I purchased new navy linen pants for spring and summer and recycled a pair of jeans (#4). I started a wardrobe challenge online (#7), but it didn’t quite fit the bill as setting a challenge for myself.

In February, I purchased a new fern to live in our bathroom and am trying to keep it alive for at least six months (#17). (Things are not looking promising.) My biggest purchase was three types of loose tea (#79), with which I’ve been making special treat lattes on the weekends. I already had the tea strainer, but I got two canisters to keep the bulk of the tea fresh. I’m hoping that the increased ritual of making a loose tea latte will be a good self-care exercise.

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My most exciting purchases was the first books in a year’s series of monthly photo books (#39). I was disappointed that I couldn’t use the app I was originally excited about, but it is only available on iPhone. Due to a combination of space issues, we couldn’t make it work on the hubs’ phone. So we are using Chatbooks through my phone instead. I like them fine, and the price point is the same. I’m making it more complicated than it needs to be by including lots of non-phone photos and doing basic editing on all the photos included. While that makes it a little harder to put together for the monthly book, I should be able to compile a better-quality book at the end of the year pretty easily. I am not saving the monthly books as keepsakes, so we are going to look at them and let the toddler look at them on his own. And for that, the square Chatbook is the perfect size. I think it will be fun to have the collection of them grow each month from now on. Plus, if I can keep up with them, I’ll be able to easily post a lot more photos each month to my family blog (#75).

I also hung the photos I printed last month (#44). I replaced one sunrise print downstairs with a better picture I took a year later. (I’d like to claim that it was the year’s worth of practice that made it a more interesting image, but really it was just better cloud coverage.) Upstairs I hung two photos I’m really proud of over my desk. I used reusable magnetic hangers so that I can easily switch images out as I print new ones.

I started working up to doing yoga with Theo (#49). I’ve read a textbook about yoga therapy for special needs kiddos and developed a plan because introducing new activities into our routine is not simple. We started working on belly breathing using plastic ocean animals (we were waves, obviously, and it was adorable). I have a few children’s books with some good sequences and we’ve been doing a few poses at a time. It will be a while before we’re ready to run through a full sequence of poses together, but this is a good foundation.

2017-03-24 10.26.59I asked my sister to support a feel-good indulgence (#53) by buying me large glitter nail polishes for my birthday. I am trying to live it up with playful nails. I started experimenting with my at-home (#51) and my low-cost away-from-home  (#52) breaks. I took a solo museum trip (#82) for my birthday, which was a lovely long away-from-home break.

I think a key to the at-home breaks will be to get the whole house squared away–clean, reduced, and decluttered–so that I can effectively use my time for myself. I’ve been attempting to focus on one area of the house (#11), but it hasn’t been going too well. But I think still I’m in a better place now: all the areas in my house except for the master bedroom are ready for cleaning/improvement/guests. We’ve gotten one load out to the thrift store, and lots of other piles are back in my bedroom. That room is atrocious now, but I’m making peace with it. This way, I can work on small, steady progress uninterrupted by how I’m using the rest of the house.

2017-03-10 08.34.00I am pleased to say that I asked for help in a significant way twice over the last months (#64). I asked a friend to interrupt her very busy life in the middle of a fast-turnaround house move to come and watch Theo for a morning so that the hubs and I could tour a preschool. It was hard to ask, knowing how much she had going on, even though I also knew she’d be willing. It allowed us to really focus on the school tour without worrying about wrangling him, or having it be his first experience of the school. (First experiences matter a ton when you have a crazy-good memory and obsessive tendencies coupled together like Theo does.) And I asked my in-laws to come for a few days and watch Theo when the hubs was at work so that I could go spend some time with my best friend and her new baby (#66).

I cooked a new recipe with my husband (#76), a whole chicken in his grandmother’s cast iron skillet.

In February, I made a big at-home date with special snacky foods, cocktails, a homemade dessert, and a documentary (#95). It was so much fun to eat in front of the movie and then discuss it over dessert. And in March, the hubs discovered Crash Courses on YouTube, which has been a great thing for us to do together while I work up to choosing my Great Courses (#58). We’ve been watching Astronomy and Mythology and dabbling in others. I love it!

In working my way up to fully abstain from Facebook (#73), I removed the app from my phone menu, and freed up a lot of time that I’d spent putzing there. Some of it I spent cleaning and straightening, but some of it I still wanted to use my phone and think about the world outside my messy, loud house. So I have followed several new blogs (#100), all focusing on things I’m interested in now. I have a few on minimalism, photography, and one new one on creating art with kids.

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Jan. Progress

In which I hit the ground running, making progress on 11 of my goals in the first month of my new list (#1, #6, #11, #18, #19, #44, #52, #59, #85, #87, and #99).

I’ve been very excited so far to be working on my new list. January was a particularly productive month for me, despite being sick for the majority of it. In addition to my 1001, I also completed most of Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. I’ve scheduled the few remaining items on the cure so that I’ll complete them over the next few months.

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But most of my energy went toward my goals here, particularly working on one area of the house. I chose to work on all of my closets for the first month. I went through each one cleaning, culling, and organizing. With help from the hubs, I upgraded one of our main closets with a workable closet system to hold our toy library and my crafting supplies. Now all the closets are ready for use, allowing me to tackle other areas in the house. I’ll be confident in what I decide to keep as I slowly find a place for everything.

I completed my new year’s change review, answering my own questions about last year in order to focus my plans for this one. I doubt I will use the same questions from year to year, but I plan to refer to my answers throughout the year to check in with myself.

I also started to collect my wardrobe maintenance kit, buying detergent to hand wash some of my sweaters and other supposedly dry-clean-only items. I requested and received a garment steamer for Christmas and I’m gathering up things that I already own to mend or replace buttons.

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I printed three of my non-family photos, but have not yet hung them. I’ve been working on developing one satisfying low-cost evening break away from home and tweaking a significantly new cocktail. We added two new framed prints that came from the hub’s Nonna’s collection. Because they weren’t displayed in her house, they don’t have particularly sentimental value. We chose them for the look of them and I added frames. I’m counting both prints as one joyful addition to our home.

I maintained my meditation streak, with one make-up on a day I was sick. I ended the month with a streak of 69 days. I read five middle-grade or young adult books before bed, and two nonfiction books. I also played four new games, thanks to a bountiful Christmas on the game front.

All in all, I’m thrilled with how much progress I made last month. This month seems to be settling into a much more reasonable pace, which is not a bad thing. I’m too thinly spread to keep up last month’s breakneck pace without quickly burning out.

Too Much Stuff, Too Little Time

In which I discuss my efforts to have less (#2, #11, #24, #33) and know exactly where to put it all (#42, #46).

Alas, I am not, nor have I ever been, a minimalist. I would really like to have the right things in the right amount and know exactly where everything should go. I have been working towards a reasonable, practical, and joyful level of stuff, but I find it slow and hard going. Add in the baby/toddler perfect storm of too many outgrown things and too little time and I found it hard to see the progress. I still have an unreasonable, impractical, and stressful amount of stuff.

But I am making progress. I found at least two things to donate or get rid of each day for a month. I did an initial clearing and organization of papers in my office. I donated to a men’s suit drive, a prom dress drive, and have pulled out my suits and professional dresses to donate in the next thrift store load. I’ve edited down our movie collection.

The hubs and I worked a lot in the garage, but were never able to organize it enough to fit both cars in. We have prioritized using that space for other projects, so I haven’t even been parking my one car inside, but I am all set to do that as the weather cools off. (No coats in the car seat will make for pretty miserable getting in and out of the car as it is!)

I did reorganize the cleaning supplies in my laundry room once I redid the cabinets in there, but I don’t think I’m really making the most of that storage yet.

And therein lies the real challenge that I think these goals highlighted but didn’t completely alleviate. By focusing on obtainable actions, I completed many of these items. But my life also changed a ton, my stuff changed more, and my motivation was … scattered. I wasn’t working systematically towards a clear, overarching goal. Those completions didn’t help me change my mindset or habits towards other categories of things or clutter-magnetic locations.

I’ve been reading a lot of books to help me figure out exactly what stuff triggers my stress, my husband’s stress, my son’s stress. To help me figure out what we actually crave from our spaces and our possessions, to recognize where we have different priorities, and to map out the feel I want the house to have. Some of the books were helpful, some weren’t great fits. None resonated enough that I feel like I have a clear action plan.

The clutter is mostly mine, which makes me feel frustrated and guilty, even as I can’t quite get rid of enough. The solutions will need to be mine, but with my family’s needs in mind. I am definitely more motivated than ever to get things down to a new reduced baseline. These reducing and organizing types of goals have been on each of my 101 lists, and I expect they will appear on my next list, too. But I know now to focus as much on the never-ending process of changing my habits as well as clearing out my backlog. I’m excited to see what I can come up with within my 101 format. And I’d be happy to hear any suggestions you guys have!

Clearing out my space

In which I touch on a few goals (#11, #24, #29, #42, #53) that are all linking to clearing physical items out of my space.

I feel like I’m genetically programmed to keep too much stuff.

(That way, I can shift the blame off of myself when I finally go through my desk drawers and find 30 floppy discs, Hollywood video AND Blockbuster membership cards, or pens that don’t write. Or when I go through my shelves and find books I have no intention of reading, free bookmarks I don’t use, or decorations that have no meaning to me. Or when I go through my drawers and find clothes that don’t fit my style, life, or body anymore.)

This year, I have been doing a major house-wide purge. Sometimes I feel like I’m starting to see results, but others it is so discouraging to continue to work and still feel like I can’t find what I need, I have nothing to wear, my things are still all over the place.

I’m slowly working though the ridiculous amount of paper that I have. Filing, shredding, but mostly recycling: old coupons that got swept up in a pile, or old grocery lists that was out away in a purse, or why did we think we needed to keep this? I think the amount of junk mail we pile up in a week is disgusting. And it is way too easy to let that pile up.

We’re cleaning out in the garage in order to get at least my car in, but it doesn’t look like we’ll get the second car inside until we build out a lot more storage. I’m trying to take the progress for what it is worth and not let perfection be the enemy of good.

I’ve also been doing a lot of hard work on my clothes. I’ve got a ton of clothes that just don’t fit any more — not me, not my life. I’ve already donated one big load of clothes and am working on at least two more. (We’re donating baby items to a different location than the rest in the hopes that they get a more direct route to folks who need them than a thrift store.) While I’ve reduced a lot, I feel like I’ll cut more out when I am not comparing to the items that were clearly not working. Just because this one is better than that doesn’t mean that this one is good. Right now I’m storing three separate wardrobes — one for life now, and two in case I decide to have another kid, and then decide to nurse another kid. I’ve decided that all my items need to fit in my closet and dresser — no seasonal items under the bed, no fancy items in the guest room.

I’ve been reading some non-fiction books to keep me motivated on clearing out the clutter and making the most of my house after I finally get it cleared out. I think I’ll revisit a few books that I read back in my first 101 while trying to develop my style, which I feel needs a practical update these days. I hope those might keep me motivated to make the hard choices on clothes.

I’m trying to get some real progress, which is a lot messier than rushing through and “organizing” things out of sight. It’s been good but overwhelming. I haven’t hit the balance between working enough to keep momentum and working so much that I completely burn out on it.