As a general rule, I don't mend. I've just never been a mender. I prefer to donate and find something else that suits me. But here lately I've found myself contemplating doing a bit of mending. A bit of flannel on the worn spot on my favorite sweater. Some sashiki stitching on the the knee of my jeans, an elbow patch here or there. Somehow its more satisfying now to mend than discard. Is it my age? Or maybe I'm just being cheap and don't want to spend the money? Who knows? All I know is that there's a certain satisfaction to sitting in a chair, mending my favorite sweater with a faded flannel patch. And, even more satisfaction of sliding into it and a pair of comfortable jeans to spend the day doing something I enjoy.
Sewing has always been my go to stress reliever anyway. Mending is just another form of that. Mending lets me keep my old favorites, and still enjoy them even though they may be less than perfectly pristine, and yet still be that comfortable piece of clothing that I return to time after time.
So, I'm off to mend my favorite gray sweater, it's got a tiny hole that needs a swatch of flannel.
Moving a great distance is never easy. It's even worse when your moving yourself. The stress of packing, booking the truck, loading the truck, who's going to drive the truck? How are we going to get the second car there? Well, at least we solved that question, we simply sold it!
We rolled into our temporary home, 3 days after we left Florida, exhausted, angry, and definitely ready to be off the road. To make matters worse our temporary home was my Mother's basement, our bed, a fold out couch. Don't get me wrong, I'll be eternally grateful for the three week stay. It gave us time to find a house in a surprisingly tight rental market, time for me to get situated at work, and the poor dog some time to run. The cat on the other hand suffered more than most, and had no qualms about telling you about how much she hated being locked in a single room during the day, and a kennel at night.
But, REALLY- my Mom's basement! I was sure I'd outgrown that in my 20's-Guess Not.
We have since moved into a surprisingly large rental house, compared to Florida standards, and definitely cheaper. 1400 sqft. trumps 950 sqft any day in my book, the more space the better. The dog has a fenced yard, the cat has large sun drenched windows and the run of the entire house,(she's much happier), and we have a nice back porch. We have spent the last couple of weekends furniture shopping since we sold all of ours before the move. A few thrift stores, and a couple garage sales later, and I have more furniture than I've had in years.
It's October now, and cold at night with frost sprinkles on the windshields in the morning, a far cry from 90 degree Florida, but I don't mind. Our grandbaby is a 45 minute drive away, and we have visited a few times already. I've already bid for a better job, and it looks promising. It was worth the trip.
A new job waiting for me, a moving truck parked in the front yard, and away we go, hopefully out a day earlier than expected so I have one more day before I start a new job.
My spare room is filled with sterilites packed tightly full, and secured with zip ties. Each one containing things that I can't seem to live without. But this time, I chose to leave behind some things that I just really didn't need- baggage you could say. I gave up on the huge dining room table I'd had for 15 years. I sold it in my original auction, my best friend bought it and gave it back to me.
It had provided years of support for suppers, many nights of coffee and scrabble, and evenings of homework for my daughter and myself as I returned to college after 20 years of being out of school. It served as a sewing table, an art project table, a construction table, and a center cooking island for years after I rescued it from a trash pile on someone's porch. But, it was time for it to go, and it did, in my most recent moving sale to a lovely older lady who was fascinated with it- it went to a good home, I am sure.
Many other things went too, a scabbed together saddle rack my Dad had made 50 years ago, a bit wobbly but still useable, I'd been toting it around for years. This time it went( I kept the saddle he bought me though). Miscellaneous chairs, side tables, and a plethora of lamps. Hundreds of journals with maybe a page torn out, and various books. Potted plants were carted off in pickups, and some just tossed in the nearest trash pile. Somebody out there will discover a grove of pineapples one of these days in the back field. This evening, mashing all the left over trash into bags, and setting it out by the road for pickup, and, 10 more containers exiled to the spare room for loading.
I have tried unsuccessfully to feel bad about getting rid of everything, but I just can't. While I loved the things I'd carried for so many years, my life has changed, I have changed. I hang onto less, and more, depending on what it is. I cherish different things now, my family, my friends, laughter, happiness. And, I have resigned not to let anything into my home except things I dearly love. Yes, I am excited to be going back, I've seen the world or a lot of it, and as they say there's no place like home.
Sometimes a move, ends up being a return. Many of us think that retiring, and moving somewhere new is what your supposed to do, so we up and do it, usually somewhere warm. But, there are often things that pull us back.
I find myself in that situation right now.
We sacrificed everything we worked for, for many years, to travel when we retired. We sold out, tossed our ditty bag in the truck and took off, we wound our way through state after state, ended up in Arkansas, and most recently in Florida. We had been here about a year when my daughter and her husband showed up with some very important news. We were becoming, *GASP* Grandparents! Suddenly things took on a whole new light. No longer were we free and easy, now there was a "little one" involved.
As she was born, grew, and came to visit us, we began talking about going back. Returning to our home state. After all who was going to buy her, her first BB gun, or teach her to fish, or give her her first pony ride. By gosh, it was gonna be us!
The end result is me looking intently for a new position of employment in Missouri, and packing things up in anticipation of loading our worldly belongings into a moving truck, and making the 18 hour drive to Missouri. To be honest, its daunting, having to repack everything we moved down here with, and get rid of things we don't really want or need, all over again- you know, the stuff we accumulate while we "live".
This time is different, we don't have an enclosed trailer that I can park in the front yard, and take 6 weeks to pack everything I want to keep. That's long gone, sold right after we moved in. Instead, I have a truck, rented from a local rental place, a couple of days to pack it, and we are outta here. Everything has to fit, everything important has to go, all at one time- like I said, daunting.
There's my hope chest, that goes to my daughter, that should have stayed in Missouri to begin with. There's the saddle my Dad bought me years ago, and his wooden desk chair, that had belonged to his father, and his before that. There's no way I could leave it behind. At least one mattress has to go so we have something to sleep on, I'd much rather take both. There's photos, and albums, and books, the computer, the TV, and it goes on and on. How much "stuff" can you fit in a 16 foot truck? I'm not sure, and I'm certainly not sure I can fit all of our "stuff" in it. But, by gosh I'm going to make it work, because there's a little girl in Missouri who needs to learn how to fish.
Write yourself a note-leave it on a post it on your computer, make it the home screen on your phone, tack it in big letters on your fridge- any way you can think of to remind yourself to slow down, to say NO, I'm sorry I'm not available.
Learning how not to be available is the hardest part of the process, and it happens at the very beginning of learning how to live simpler.
We all want to be a part of a community, a part of a family, or tribe, or group, whatever you choose to call it. To have friends, and family, but many times those communities put undue pressure on us to be involved. Involved ALL the time. Of course we need to be involved with our family, that is a given, same as our spouse, or significant other. But outside of our little circle, how much are we willing to spend of ourselves ?
Personally, I'm very very selfish when it comes to spending my precious time on someone else. And, you should be too. We are not given infinite amounts of time on this earth, and it is up to us what we do with it. The biggest question you must ask your self is... Is this something that will help me live the way I want to live? Can I be happy doing this? Is it important to me?
If the event is a something that you may or may not enjoy-don't go, politely tell the person that you are not available.
You don't have to be mean, or burn any bridges but, you must be firm and ensure the person understands that you have other commitments that supersede their request. Politely turning down a request or an invitation is not wrong, or bad, it is you looking out for yourself, spending your limited time doing what you want with whom you want.
Attending social events that have little or no meaning to us personally eats up valuable resources, can stress us out, and isn't an essential part of our lives. In a nut shell, they can go and we wouldn't miss them. Don't make the mistake of saying "yes" just for the sake of saying yes. People will understand if you bow out gracefully and with tact, and let them know you already have plans. While it may not seem like the truth when you tell someone you already have plans- it is entirely the truth-you have plans for simplifying your life in a way that suits the way you live, makes you healthier, and more conscious of your time here on earth and how precious that time actually is.
Work, Career, Job, we all have to have one. Most of us aren't independently wealthy. Having an income means we can eat!
Searching for a new job whether your laid off or currently employed is a task unto itself, its stressful, challenging, and your never quite sure what your going to get when it all is said and done. But you can take steps to ensure you come out on the better end of the bargain.
1) Don't sell yourself short- you know what you can do, get it on paper, if you can't figure out how to do that, contact a resume writer for assistance. It may cost a bit, but it will be better for you in the long run to have a professional do your resume, and expound on your attributes in a way that makes employers stand in line to hire you.
2) Be choosy-chose the best fit for you. Sometimes the final decision doesn't come down to the highest salary, but instead the benefits, be they company provided, our benefits solely to your lifestyle. Maybe one employer provides a very high salary, but another pays lower but provides free on sight day care, so you can trot downstairs and see little Johnny on your breaks. What matters more to you, and how much money are you going to be putting out to pay for outside daycare? Sometimes, a benefit can have a huge monetary gain on the back end. Does the time off from a lower paying employer give you time to work those profitable craft shows, is that income comparable to the higher paying employer? Do the calculations. Do you have every weekend off to call your own? If so, is it worth it? You decide.
3) Environment- Check your employee reviews, does the company have a bad name, do they provide little support to their employees in the way of training, are they lax on their raise policies, Check the internet. Is the company open to new ideas, do the workers seem pleasant and happy(if you get a chance to take a tour) ask around, any insight is better than none.
4) You don't have to say yes right then and there-Any employer who requires you to accept an offer right then and there for ANY excuse, is a red flag so large it blocks out the sun. A reputable employer, with descent hiring practices expects you to think over their offer, at least overnight before accepting. So, politely ask to have a day to think it over, go home do your calculations, discuss it with your significant other, or whomever you choose, and then call the next morning, EARLY, and give your answer.
5) Two weeks notice-I have to be honest, I am not a big believer in the two weeks notice rule.
With one exception- if you want to keep your bridges intact, and not burn them. You may someday want to return to a previous employer, and if so, giving two weeks notice is a great idea.
But, as a general rule, I myself, don't give notice any more than two days. Why? Because many employers become hard to deal with if you do. They know you are leaving, it upsets them, they feel as if they have provided you with a position, and now your throwing it in their face and walking away. Tensions can get quite high. You are ready to move on and anticipating your new position with another company, and you may be leaving them at what they deem an inappropriate time. It can and often does get quite messy. A good employer will accept your resignation better if you explain that you are furthering your career, and moving on.
This also gives your current employer an opportunity to step up and offer you a better position, better pay, or other benefits in order to keep you, if they do not, you were better off going on to something better anyway.
On a side note: employers seldom give their employees the courtesy of two weeks notice when they lay them off, or terminate their position. So, as a rule that notice to them when I depart is something I don't spend a lot of time worrying about.
We all know there may come a time when we will accept any job offered to us, just to make bills. I've done it, you've done it, we all have. I have done everything from clean horse stalls to flip burgers to make ends meet. But, remember when you take that job cleaning offices overnights. This isn't the last job you'll ever have. Get that resume out there and find some real work that makes you happy and fulfilled, do not spend your work life being miserable, if the jobs not a good fit, move on as quickly as you can.
Making changes to your life isn't easy. That, is a hard cold fact. But doing so, can have a profound effect on your personality, your health, and your bank account.
And, who doesn't want that?
If you want that to happen, certain steps need to take place.
First and foremost, no you aren't going to be moving into a tiny house (well not unless you really want to). You want to be comfortable. So, lets remain where we are, and look at some things that we might do that don't require selling everything we have and moving-simple things first.
Time: our time is in demand, from our kids, our boss, our spouse, and a gazillion other entities. It could be all those boards you chair, or that church group, or the music with mommies child's group you attend twice a week, the gym, or your 5 art classes one for every night of the week. Take a big step back and list all of the things that demand your time. Start a notebook to work your way through this process, and keep it, your going to need it.
Most likely your going to find that Work makes the top of the list, then family, after family we tend to lump everything together, as groups, friends because lets face it, you have a lot of friends in that church group, and a lot of friends on the boards you chair, and many, many friends at the gym, and in your art classes. And soon it all becomes a jumbled mess.
To start lets remove one thing from the entities that require our time, we can't remove work because we need the money, and we really love the music with mommies class, and the church group, and we have a set tenure before we can resign as chair of that board, certainly not family, so how about one of the art classes? Let's lose one. Lets say your taking a ceramics class, you knew early on that it was okay, but not your favorite form of art. But, you'd paid for the class so you didn't want to lose money.
Thinking that you'd be losing money is no way to look at it, what you would be gaining is time, time that could be better spent doing something you enjoy. So, you give up the class, step away from attending every week, and you suddenly find that you have 4 to 5 free evenings a month. A common mistake we make is that when we find that we have free time, we tend to want to fill it with something. DON'T SCHEDULE ANYTHING IN IT'S PLACE-YET.
You have just gained 4 to 5 free nights a month, add that over a year, and that is over a month of time that you have now freed up in each year of your life. 30+ days of not having to be anywhere or do anything -if you don't want too. Spend that time wisely, sit on the back porch and drink a cup of coffee, grill out with the family, go out with your spouse, play with the kids, go for a walk. Anything but structured activities. WHY? because structured activities are one of the things that causes our stress level to go up, it costs us money that would be better left in our bank account, and takes our time away from the REAL things, doing something for our self, like family, close friends, and your significant other. In a crazy week, we will soon find that we look forward to that night off, no matter what we do.
Using this process you can free up a ton of time in your life without really realizing it. And, you have focused that time on something you actually REALLY enjoy. When you finish that next art class, don't sign up for another one yet. Let that evening be another that you added to your list of free time, time to do things that make you relax and de-stress. Time enough to join another class when you've cleared your calendar.
You have just begun the journey to TAKE BACK YOUR TIME.
If you remember seeing other blog post, that you now cannot find- this is why: This blog started out as a simple collection of thoughts, a creative outlet if you will, but it is slowly evolving into something much more important. As a result, things are changing a bit.
I come in contact with people all the time who are upset, grumpy, and often downright hostile. I know it is nothing that I have done, it is the current situation they have been forced to live in to accommodate a lifestyle of a particular type.
Yep, we know who WE are, and for a while, a long while actually, I lived that way. Stressed about everything, constantly working at a job I had no interest in, for a paycheck that was already spent. My down time was nill, a couple days or one at the end of the week and I was back at it again struggling to make ends meet.
It wasn't until I actually took a step back and started to analyze things that the constant search for more and more diminished.
Oh yes, we have all heard about the "tiny house movement, the declutter your life movement", but there is one take on the whole minimalism(and yes, that's what its all about) take, that has made a profound change in the way my household exists, and the way we, my husband and I live, and the amount of money we have. I cant say, we are there yet, but we are getting closer. Baby steps.
So, for the next year, these blog posts are going to be about precisely that, making changes in your life that will give you more time, energy, and more relaxation. We will be adding a product page, of great products that stand the tests of time, ideas for changing some of your day to day purchases for things that never wear out. How to minimize your cash layout without losing your normal day to day happiness.
How to destress, unwind, step away, and relax, and what that does to your life as a whole. Ways to take back your time will be our first post-read on
We all have things that make our morning great. For me, its coffee. It's not a specific coffee, it can be a cappuccino, or a latte from Starbucks. It can be instant out of a can, although I am particularly fond of Kona beans from Hawaii freshly ground, and perking away in the pot.
In reality, it's not really the coffee that makes the morning. It's the act of drinking coffee, and everything that surrounds it.
The thought of sitting down at the table, with a cup of coffee and my journal, and releasing all of those pent up frustrations, and worries out onto the paper. It's the smell of a fresh brew as it fills the house, mingling with morning air sifting in the open window. Combined, that creates the perfect ambience.
I grew up with coffee, not the parents drank coffee and rushed out the door to work type, but the type where people from the neighborhood wandered in and out of the house to sit and casually drink coffee and talk. My home was the coffee shop of our neighborhood.
In the cold winter, the scent of brewing coffee would wake us from beneath our warm blankets, and pull us toward the kitchen, and into the fresh new day.
But summer time coffee, it was the best.
I remember as a child I was about 8 or 9 maybe, and was allowed to partake of my Dad's special river camp coffee. It sat simmering in a great speckleware pot on the open fire of our campsite, bubbling merrily atop the huge iron grate where Mom was preparing breakfast of eggs and bacon in a massive skillet.
Holding the styrofoam cup in my little hands I blew the heat away dispersing the smell into the cool air of morning and the fog sifting off the river. When it was finally cool enough to taste, it burst like ambrosia in my mouth and opened a whole new world. As I sat watching the fog roll off the river, and the sun creep in through the trees, I imagined a life of drinking coffee from a speckleware pot while the morning sun rose over the river, and any worries I had drifted instantly away.
And now, that I'm grown, I pour my coffee in the morning, its inky blackness filling the cup, and I'm whisked away, back to that morning on the river. The peace, the sound of birds, the fresh air, the fog, and the sun sifting through the trees. That, is why I love coffee, it returns me to a place I loved, and a memory I will always cherish.