Sunday, May 8, 2016

Minimizing...

My minimalist course hasn't started yet, but I already have some ideas and have been trying some stuff. The book came out last week (The More of Less) and I finished it this morning. I went through a few things in the house and started getting rid of a few more things. I am way behind on getting rid of 2,016 things this year, so I'm interested to see if this 12 week course gets me back on track again. If it doesn't, I'm not too concerned. The whole point is not to be tied to a certain number of things, but rather to decide which things in my life are helping me, and which are holding me back.

With that in mind, I've been thinking about some digital minimization. Like this blog for instance. I love what this blog has done for me through the years and the ways that I have gotten to meet so many people through it. However, I'm not sure that it continues to be a good fit. I don't want to miss the connections that I've made with people through here, and yet, I find myself with less and less to say as my life gradually moves on. Nothing drastic has changed, but somewhere along the line, this blog seems to be less of a good space for me. Some of it is because attempting to remain anonymous (whether that's really very successful or not) is holding me back. On the other hand, if I'm not at all anonymous, I feel like I can't share as much, especially about spiritual thoughts and deeper feelings. I'm not sure if I'm okay with that, either.

I've been feeling this way for a while now, but could never decide between how freeing it sounded to leave this blog for some reasons, and how bad it sounded to leave for some other reasons. Then as I was reading the book, there was one chapter that brought up an idea that I haven't played with much: experimenting. I don't have to make the decision right this minute about what is the best fit for me. I can try it out and see what I think. And so I have decided that that's what I want to do for the length of the 12 week course. I am not going to sign into this account, and I will see how it goes.

I will still be blogging, but it will be more about things like hiking (more photos!) and movement and simplifying, and it won't be anonymous at all. (That sounds both scary and great, all at the same time.) I will still get emails and comments from here, so feel free to communicate with me that way, I always love to hear from you! I will be paring down and simplifying my reading list, but I'll still be following blogs; don't be surprised if you get some comments from someone "new". It's just me, different account. In 12 weeks, I will make my decision. Either I will keep this blog and delete this post, or this blog will be done. We shall see. If you want to know where I will be blogging for the next 12 weeks, feel free to email me at catholicmutt@gmail.com, and I will be happy to tell you, but I don't feel comfortable linking it here.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend and that you have a fantastic and blessed summer!

Friday, April 22, 2016

7 Quick Takes

1) It's been a LONG time since I've done one of these, but I've tried writing several posts in the last few weeks and then I get into too many tangents. Therefore it seemed like a post that is basically tangents was the perfect format for today! I don't have a lot of time at this moment, but hopefully will have a chance to come back and link up properly later.

2) There are things about adulting that I am not a fan of, but today I decided to have seasoned sweet potato waffle fries for breakfast because I wanted to and I found a kombucha that tastes like Dr. Pe.pper. Adulting has its moments!

3) I am getting really excited for this minimalist course that I'm taking. De-cluttering, simplifying, whatever you want to say. This interview (with the person that has designed the course) has a quote that sums it up perfectly:  I want people to know that they were designed to accomplish more significant things than filling a big house with a lot of stuff.

I have to admit that there are times that I have felt like a bit of a failure because how is it that I've been in the "real world" so long and am still so far from some of the trappings that we seem to see as necessary. I know it's ridiculous, but I feel that way sometimes. This whole idea is just freedom not to worry about any of that and define my life by what fits for me.

4) In other news, here's how simplifying worked out for me yesterday. I had a plumber coming over to the house in the morning. First, I did some reading. One book sucked me in, so I read more than I intended to. Then I made myself a nice breakfast, while leisurely watching a show. Then I finally got around to cleaning the house. It took about 40 minutes, including doing my dishes and putting away my laundry (which I use as a way of increasing the amount of movement in my life, so it took me a while as I put things away one at a time and included ducking under a barrier- yes, I'm a huge nerd.) Then my house was cleaner than it used to be after an hour and a half of cleaning, and I made lunch and then went for a walk. I was going to go for an hour, but it was a beautiful day and I couldn't make the argument that my other things on the to do list where THAT important, so I went for 3 instead.

No, my life is not nearly this relaxed all the time, but I'm noticing a few more hours and days where I feel able to make some of those decisions. I know it looks differently when you have a family and especially with kids, but I think extra time for playing with kids instead of dealing with the accumulation of stuff is even more of a benefit.

5) Okay, I really have to hurry now. In case I haven't said it enough on here, BAREFOOT IS AWESOME!! I'm working on doing that more and more outside and I LOVE it. I stick to trails, though. Dirt, mud, rocks are pretty nice. Asphalt is much less exciting.

6) Joining in the Mary, Undoer of Knots novena (starts today if you're interested). I am praying about work and living situations for myself, as well as continued learning to surrender it all and trust in God (need to do a post about everything I've been learning there!), but also for all those feeling alone and not part of a family. Pope Francis had an awesome tweet about that:

To form a family is to be a part of God’s dream, to join him in building a world where no one will feel alone.

I feel like that includes both the most obvious way, but also to form family in community as well. No one, single, divorced, widowed, infertile, and all the other things that can tear down the dreams of the "normal" family is excluded. And even when you do have the stereotypical "ideal" family, we are not immune to loneliness when we don't have that family in community as well.

7) Gotta run! Pretty flowers for your weekend! Have a great one!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Gift of the Moment

I've been a little frustrated with myself and some of my past choices. Why didn't I do better? Why do I keep making mistakes? And what do I do about some current problems? It seems so overwhelming at times.

And yet.


I love sentiments like these.  Cliché as they may be, I can get pulled in every time. Whatever mistakes I've made in the past, they are past. Whatever things I've repeatedly made mistakes doing, they don't define me. I do not need to be concerned that I am not yet where I should be. Of course I'm not, it is not the nature of living on this earth to have it all in order and all figured out. It is a journey that starts here and now. Moving forward from here.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Taking It Too Far...

I realized today that maybe I'm taking minimalism a little too far.


Okay, I didn't really try to minimize the stuff in my fridge, this just happens to me on a semi regular basis (as those of you on FB already know). Being single, and with food issues, I have to try to plan my meals so that I can use everything up within a few days. I have to try to stick with meats and fruits and vegetables, and if I get too much in advance, I throw a LOT out. I can't afford that. Plus, I eat a lot. Food in my house doesn't stick around long, so I make frequent trips to the grocery store. It's always a good opportunity to take two minutes and clean the refrigerator!

Now, just because people get a little worried when I show them what happens sometimes, here it is after my trip to the store:


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

That Day Wherein I Reflect

Admittedly, that title is a little off, because I'm an introvert and reflect on a lot of different days. However, April 5th has become a special wake up call to me to look at where I am and where I am going. (Just like New Year's. And my birthday. Etc.) Most of you have heard it all before, so you can skip if you like.

April 5th six years ago was the day that my life took a sudden and dramatic turn. I woke up with plans to see a friend and hang out. I did not have any notion that I would make significant changes in my life's direction. The plans fell through, and I had a ridiculous reaction to that, which made me consider why. The "why" was that everything in my life that seemed to be working was no longer working.  My job, my friends, my church were all changing with seasons in life, and those were the things that were holding me where I was. There was a sudden dawning that this may be it... This may be the time to consider moving to Colorado.

Looking back, it doesn't sound that dramatic, but in that moment, it felt a little like the world was shifting on its axis. I figured that I would stay where I was, and in my current job indefinitely. That idea occurred to me and I did a quick job search where I found my new job within about 5 minutes (though of course I didn't know that it was my new job at the time). Five minutes that started me in a whole different and unconsidered direction. Five minutes where I turned from the path that seemed straight for the foreseeable future onto a whole new path and I had no idea where it would lead. I seriously didn't. The things that I have experienced, the personal and professional growth in the last 6 years are something that I never could have conceived of in that 5 minutes.

It hasn't been easy. There are certainly drawbacks to living so far from my family. I miss my friends from back there. Things are not perfect out here. I have no regrets, however, to grabbing hold of the crazy train and jumping on board. I didn't know that day where I would end up. I figured I would pursue the idea until it actually happened, or until it became clear that there was a red light. After greens all the way, here I am. I didn't know that there was an adventurer, a climber, a cyclist, a competitor, an outdoor enthusiast, and a photographer wannabe in me, but it turns out that they are essential to who I am. I'm glad I got a chance to discover that! I didn't know that there was such a drive in me to push beyond the constraints of the boxes imposed by insurance and short-thinking healthcare options. I love how I've developed professionally, and I hope that I can still continue to grow in ways that lead to better movement and real healthcare in my little area of the world and beyond.

I can't guess (nor do I want to!) where life will lead from day to day. I do know that I want to take some time and more formally explore what I want from life. I saw an assignment to write a mission statement, and I will probably try to take that on. It's not something that helps you plan out the details in life, because that's impossible. However, having a clear idea of where you'd like to end up, broadly speaking, helps determine how you deal with the many various things that life brings your way.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

2,016 in 2016: March

I have a rough goal of getting rid of over 2,000 things in my house this year. At the end of last month, I was quite a bit ahead of the pace. This month, I'm behind. Not much purging has happened this month, obviously. I'm not too worried about it. I wanted to use this loose goal as a push to be a little more drastic in purging, but I'm not completely tied to it. I'm at a loss of where to go next with the getting rid of things, so I haven't been doing much right now. I am going to start a 12 week course for the price of a book (more here if you're interested).

Now, let's talk about the downsides of downsizing. I figure if I'm going to talk about how much I love it, I should also be honest about those times where it pinches a bit. So far it's been books and movies. I wasn't sure which book I was in the mood to read, and when I went to the shelves to decide, I was surprised at just how few books I had left. I felt like I should have a much greater choice. Same thing happened this week when I was home sick for a couple of days and wanted to watch movies. I still had plenty of choices, but I wanted more choices. This is the thing that everyone who is reluctant to get rid of stuff talks about. But what if I want that stuff someday?

Want to know what happened? I picked something from what I had. It was the go-to stuff that I usually gravitated towards anyway, even when I had more choices. (And my choices are still ~70 movies and TV shows, I haven't been exactly stringent in my cutbacks.) I have an e-reader, I could have gotten a library book if I needed something new to read. I didn't miss any specific things that I had gotten rid of. Overall, it was a momentary pang that was swiftly gone. Believe me, the freedom of less stuff is far more important to me than fewer choices. I like that it means I am getting better use out of what I have or else utilizing something like the library, rather than having large amounts of extra stuff.

I don't want to say that there is never any regret involved with cutting things out, but it has been so little compared to the satisfaction of having my house become easier and easier to clean, and the things in my house be things that I am actually using rather than things that are just in my way. So far, I still have no regrets, and the pain is so minimal it barely counts.

Now, I'm curious how many more things I will get rid of when the "Uncluttered" course starts. I think it starts in May. Anyone want to join me?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Joy

Okay, I can't find it, but I read this fantastic article about joy on Good Friday. In the last few months, at some of the more difficult moments of depression, some that I had talked to were trying to help me "choose happiness". I can no more choose happiness at that point than I can choose flying. Happiness is a feeling, and while depression may be magnifying things, at that moment, being alone and the emptiness in life that results from that were beyond where I could make any choice for happy feelings.

In my heart, I always make a distinction, that instead I choose joy. My problem was that I couldn't articulate the reason that I felt they were different. I've tried to explain it here before, but not sure that I've really gotten it. The dictionary basically defines "joy" as "happiness", so why would one be okay and the other not? I can only give you what is my own subjective take on it, and the article was what helped me to be able to give words to this thought.

To me, joy is an attitude. It is not denying the pain, or fear, or grief that is present in your life at that moment. Like Mary at the foot of the Cross, this is not okay and it is okay to mourn, to weep, to feel the pain that is inherent when something in your life is broken and objectively not the way that things should be. However, the author of the article pointed out that Mary did so with hope, knowing that this was not the end. That, to me, is joy. In the midst of brokenness, acknowledging that this moment has meaning and value. Of knowing that there is hope for a better tomorrow, in this world or the next. Of holding on to the knowledge that this, too, has an end, and that because of Christ there is new life waiting on the other side of whatever our suffering is. I would add, beyond choosing hope, it is also choosing gratitude. To be thankful, on some level, for what is good in the midst of suffering, though it does not make the pain go away.

And of course, when the new day dawns, and Christ is risen and our suffering is a memory, then we also embrace the happiness that comes along with that.