Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What is "Rich"

Due to a series of events, I was having a mental discussion with myself asking the question "Are you rich?" I had a series of different answers as I discussed this with myself (as I was pulling laundry off the line, so no one heard me, thankfully).

My initial reaction was "no." I wouldn't claim wealth. It seems like claiming beauty, or intelligence, or most adjectives that are considered positive. No, I am not someone to envy. I'm only ordinary.

But, I argued with myself, consider most of the world. I have clean water, affordable health care, plenty of food for my children to eat (in fact, I doubt they have ever gone to bed hungry). I enroll them in extra-curricular activities that appeal to them, and in fact I do not have a paying job so I can support my children and my family in growing together and supporting the activities that are of value to us. Is there greater wealth.

I doubt my brother-in-law would consider us wealthy. We skip many of the outward trappings of wealth -- cable TV, smart phones, many types of electronics, new clothes. I cannot think of the other outer aspects of wealth, New cars.

This lead me to consider the material wealth of our country. I am spending a lot of time and energy trying to limit the material goods I own. Material goods are so easy to acquire in the US -- even homeless people have carts of goods they carry. In other parts of the world, and in other times, poverty includes a lack of things in addition to a lack of food. People had one blanket, one set of clothes. In Southern California, where the weather is temperate, homeless people carry multiple blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping pads. They have camps where more goods are stored. We throw away so much that people who are living without are able to collect their own surplus out of our discards.

I do not mean that homeless people should do without a second blanket to provide comfort. I do think that some of my wealth can go to help people who need it in better ways than throwing away a blanket for them to use.

I am rich. I have enough, and more than enough. I do not want for anything, although I may want things. Truly, I can have anything I wish for, although I may not have everything I wish for. I limit myself from grabbing everything that I wish for so I do not get sick on the surplus, like a child at a birthday party.

As I comb through everything I have brought into my home over the years, it is beneficial for me to acknowledge that wealth is present without material goods, and my material wealth allows me to operate without a safety net of "things I might use someday." My true wealth is not something that can be seen, stolen, or destroyed. I hope you also are rich.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Daily Declutter

Moving forward again. Boning (for clothing/costume making) was donated to dance class; magazines were donated to the senior center. I spoke to a gentleman who wants my old scrapbook; he has several granddaughters, so I can pass it along to him with a clean conscience.

A lot of things have been coming into the house, and I have not been recording them faithfully. I tell myself that they will replace things I have or they will move to another home, but I can think of a lot of new towels that have come in (old towels will go to the Humane Society or another animal rescue group), hair dye (to pass along to a little girl I know), and copper cups (for making Moskow Mules; they were a birthday present) that have come into the house in the last week or two. Likewise, a toy moved from the barn back into the house (it is not for sale, but to be played with).

The kids and I looked through all the art projects we still had from preschool and art class. The kids kept as much art as would fit in a mailing tube, and the rest went to be recycled. It was nice looking back, identifying pieces they remember. Amazingly, there was no sense of loss when we threw out the still-life drawing my son made when he was seven; my daughter did not regret the loss of a picture of a cute kitten. And now their artwork can fit conveniently and tidily on a shelf, in a container, next to other mementos instead of taking up as much space as a couple large plastic totes.

I'm really, really pleased with the overall improvement in the amount of storage space freed up in the shed and barn, and the living space freed up in the house. I will be dropping one of my obligations (I have others I need to evaluate) and hopefully I will use the time my daughter is in dance class to shop for the resale shop I'm hoping to open with my mother and sister. If I hadn't spent so much time making space and getting rid of clutter I would not have room for storing out-of-season stock, and starting this endeavor would have been much more difficult. I like being well prepared, and having a lot of stock ready to go on the shelf at the beginning of a season makes my much more comfortable than trying to buy things as we go; for this, I need storage space. I am so glad my efforts to declutter will make this new undertaking much easier, even if my life won't be more "simple." However, I am hopeful that I will be able to use non-family time to shop for the store, and still leave family time largely intact.

Speaking of family time, my husband were able to get away for a few hours of hiking and bird watching. And talking, uninterrupted. Beautiful birds, including a Lazuli Bunting and a Green Heron. I'm not quite a bird watcher, but I did enjoy the quiet and the activity of the birds. Not as appreciated were the two snakes that were out; I am not a fan of snakes, although I do understand their purpose in nature. Still, I would appreciate them better if they served their purpose farther away from me!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Daily Declutter

Hooray! Moving stuff out today, making good use of space, making the house more useful. China finally moved out of the house so we can use that cabinet as a bookcase for the kids. They mostly share reading material at this point (Hello, Harry Potter) so sharing a bookcase makes sense for us. Thus, they will have more room in their bedrooms. But, the china had to move out before that happened, and now we can finally move forward.

While we were moving the china we evaluated what we really want to keep. My poor, beleagured husband wanted to keep the things we use every year (?!), so we only got rid of a couple serving pieces and all our china coffee cups. We don't drink coffee, serve coffee, own a coffee maker or coffee. So they cups will move off to another home where people drink coffee (and presumably break pieces of their china) and we will enjoy the space we have.

We also cleaned up the barn so we'd have room to store the china. We got rid of a couple games, a string of lights, a box of books, a scrapbook someone gave us conditionally ("until we find another little girl who will appreciate it." Really?), a suitcase, a suitcase stand, a bunch of trash, and a couple sheets we used to cover furniture we no longer store. Everything is on shelves (I keep giving this as a goal!), and things are even grouped together so I can find them easily. Ebay stuff is all together, out of season clothes and linens are together, LEGOs are together. My husband found a display board from a school project from years ago; I kept saving it "just in case" but he finally recognized it for what it was: clutter. I guess all lost of the clutter is together as well -- in the donate bin!

I feel so good about making so much space. The kids books will be better available, and their rooms clearer. I have two shelves of stuff I'm selling, and I've got most of it posted, either to Craigslist or ebay. I scrubbed the bathroom hard and dealt with a lot of the hard water stains in the shower.

And now it's time for dinner, and relaxing with the family!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Daily Declutter

We are virtually done with the bathroom...renovation. I hesitate to use that word, because it implies removing walls or structures, but it was certainly more than just buying new towels. Hopefully, after this, I can get back to decluttering the house and simplifying.

I did have an excellent opportunity to go through everything we had stored in the bathroom, and evaluate it for utility. I didn't find much that needed to move out, but everything looks much tidier than it did before.

I need to declutter the desk area. We were looking for a picture we purchased last summer, to use as decor in the bathroom. Neither of us could find it. We did find souvenirs from our 2011 summer vacation, in a shopping bag. Not a great way to display mementos, and not a great use of the space. And we never found the picture we were looking for. (I put the 2011 mementos in with the other container of 2011 mementos we found, and that will need to be cleaned out, possibly some of those things will go on display, but not today.)

It's good to know what I need to tackle next, but I won't be too aggressive with the desk clean-out. We need a few days of playing and going to the beach before I force my poor husband to begin cleaning something else.

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On an unrelated note, my mother, sister and I are considering beginning a resale shop together. Reflecting on some of the details necessary to begin the shop, like where to store merchandise out of season, I'm really glad I have cleared out so much space in the storage shed. It will make beginning this project much easier. I don't know what we would have done (rented storage space in a self-storage facility) if I hadn't been decluttering all this time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Daily Declutter

We helped my niece and nephew move into their first home today. They have some wonderful friends, and it was grand to see them setting up their new life together. They've done a wonderful job furnishing their home with contributions from family and gleanings from Craigslist. I'm so proud of them, and it makes me reminisce fondly of the apartment my husband and I first moved into many years ago. I'm grateful that they have a first floor apartment, however, as I remember not loving moving everything up all our steps.

A young couple moving into their first home need lots of incidentals that they did not think about. They could use a couple of lamps (the bedroom has none), ice trays for the freezer, and a trash can in the kitchen. Things that you don't necessarily think of until you go to get ice... and there is no ice there.

This is an excellent opportunity to get rid of things we don't necessarily need, and an opportunity to evaluate things I didn't really want to get rid of, but which I don't need. My niece could use an end table, and my husband and I offered her one that we had in storage. However, when I was getting the table ready to drop off, my husband mentioned that he meant to give them a different table. (Yes, we have two end tables in storage. That I had never thought about getting rid of. That's why I'm working on this.) One table (which I offered) came from my husband's side of the family; the table he offered came from my side of the family. (Do you see where this is going?)

My table is part of a bedroom set. We are using the bureau, and the end tables and bed are all in storage. But you can't get rid of part of a set and keep other parts, can you? That would be breaking up the set. Even if you never plan to use anything except the bureau, because the bed is only a double and too small and we don't have a guest room and even if we did I'd rather have a queen bed with sheets that fit on any bed in the house and would be more comfortable for any couples that stay over because we tried to sleep in the double bed when my grandmother owned it and it was too small (all read breathlessly, faster at the end, until you run out of breath.)

In the end, after thinking it over, I will be bringing the table by my nieces, so she can use it if she wants to. I'll offer the other one as well, and the mate to my grandmother's table. Because how many end tables do I really need? I'll also be dropping off a mirror, and the trash can we used for recycling cans.

In all, the day was well spent with family and friends, celebrating a new chapter in my niece's life. And I got rid of a couple of things into the bargain.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Oh, how I love Craigslist!

I spent much of today painting, running errands and driving through traffic, so I don't have much interesting to report. (This is an ongoing excuse, but I hope I am almost to the end!)

However, yesterday we got rid of a large piece of furniture that we eliminated from my daughter's room, and it makes me so happy! I am happy to have the furniture out of her room, I am happy to have the furniture out of my garage, and I am most happy to have given this large piece of furniture to a good home.

Several years ago my husband built a freestanding window seat for my daughter. She loves Romantic fiction, Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden and other things like that, and she had developed a desire for a window seat so she could sit in her room, reading her book and looking out at the garden while hidden from the world. However, she has outgrown the window seat, and it did not make the cut for her new bedroom decor.

A window seat would probably not find a home if donated to Goodwill. Instead, we advertised it on Craigslist, and now other little girls have a secret hideout/princess tower as part of their bedroom decor. I am so happy to be able to make other little girls happy, and I am happy that the effort my husband put into this structure is being kept out of the landfill.

That's the beauty of Craigslist. I can post something and leave it available until someone comes along who really needs what I have; I can keep checking Craigslist until I find what I'm looking for. I don't need to go to the store, and I certainly don't have to create pollution and a negative working environment in order to get what I want. I just have to wait for the community to come to my aid.

I love knowing that someone else, and actual person, is taking advantage in the changes in my life, and I can take advantage of the changes in someone else's. If my baby grows out of her clothes, someone else's babies are growing out of theirs and I can find the community that will allow everyone to shift their clothes down to the next size, and absorb someone else's growth spurt. If I buy a ceiling fan or bathroom sink that I didn't actually need, someone is happy to get them at bargain prices.

And I can take advantage of the same system in my turn. So I no longer need to keep something "just in case." I can let my bookcase or sink or extra tent go into the world, and I will get someone else's when the time comes. It's sharing and community, simplified.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Daily Delutter

Not much forward progress. I am working on listing my weekly/monthly activities, so I can identify activities I can cut. I haven't decided for sure on any cuts, but I do have a couple of ideas. I'd really like to simplify my activities because the whole family is impacted when I have things to do. If I have a meeting it moves dinner up or back, for example, limiting the rest of our activities for the night. Our evenings are disrupted enough as it is.

I didn't get rid of anything today. My husband did not manage to avoid the wine glass party favor from last night, so that came home with us. If mine follows me home (which it might) I will get rid of other glasses in favor of these. If mine does not follow me home I will be donating his. I visited three thrift shops today and I did not buy any impulse purchases. I did get a new shower curtain for my bathroom, to replace the grubby one I had. The new one is blue, to match the new towels. I also got a game I will give as a Christmas gift. I feel pretty good about both purchases, especially as I will not be making as many gifts this year (the "I don't enjoy projects" realization).

I found several new items of clothing for my daughter's back-to-school. This is necessary as she is still determined to continue growing out of her clothes. Middle-schoolers!

I took a "perfectly useful" empty bucket out to the recycling bin. It was empty of wall texturing compound, and I was tempted to keep it, but we have lots of buckets that sit on shelves, and we do not need to add to that number.

Today was grocery shopping day. I am mostly reusing the menu from last week since we ate in so rarely -- and we will be out for dinner a couple times this week. It made shopping a lot easier, but menu building is still much harder in the summer.

Nothing earth-shattering to share today, but I continue incremental progress. They say slow progress reduces backsliding later, in weight loss at least.