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.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Decluttering is about more than Stuff

Today was spent texturing the walls in the bathroom. Again. Thankfully that part of the task is done. Now all we have to do is paint, panel the remaining wall, put up shelves, and clean up after ourselves. There's a reason we've put this off for so long.

While I was working, my husband took out daughter to camp, and I was alone. I listened to a few Ted Talks while I was working, and they kept playing a new talks after each talk finished, so I didn't have to push any buttons with my grimy hands. It was interesting, seeing where the internet took me on its own, but there were a couple talks that have kept me thinking all day.

Sarah Knight spoke about "The Magic of Not Giving a F***." It sounds really fabulous -- instead of decluttering every thing that doesn't benefit you, you give up activities and obligations that are not beneficial. Give up baby showers and going-away parties for people you don't like. But the more I thought about it, the more difficult it is for my to identify the things that aren't important to me.

I hate showers (bridal or baby. I like the water kind.). I really hate showers. I was glad on one occasion to spend the day with my sister, in the hospital, because it got me out of a shower. But I love my family, and if I have a niece who is being honored with a shower I'm not going to just decline to go because I hate showers. (I hated all of my showers. If I went through that time of life again I would refuse to have them.) But I love my nieces, and my family, enough that I am not going to make this about me. I will go to the shower, and I will play inane games, and I will be happy that my family is celebrating their lives. So how do I identify what activities are not in the "budget" for my time, money and effort?

I'm not certain. I will be writing out a list of all my obligations, and the obligations that my family members oblige me to commit to. Driving underage people to classes is on that list. But I will be trying to cut back on the commitments I have made so I can better use the time, money and effort I have.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today's declutter was short because I spent much of the day plastering the bathroom. However, we did manage to declutter a bowl in the kitchen, by smashing it to pieces. It was a favorite, but these things will happen. I can look for another perfect blue salad bowl in my journeys.

I bought a new toaster at Target because the old one stopped making heat. I left Target without anything else, and now I can make toast again.

We did manage to have a little fun, after the work in the bathroom. We spent a little time at the zoo after we picked my daughter up from dance. Walking around in the not-too-hot, looking at birds and the bear trying to escape, was a great stress relief from the cleaning-patching-painting routine.

Tomorrow looks to be much the same, but I'm hoping I'll be able to shower in my own bathroom starting this Satuday.

Daily Declutter

I am decluttering because I have clutter. Lots of clutter. I keep finding clutter during everyday activities, and I would like to have the things I own be useful or meaningful. I'd like to make better use of the storage space I have, or get rid of the storage space. I'm willing to get rid of shelves, although my family is shocked when I say things like that.

Today I found two large, plastic, deteriorating buckets full of rocks out in the garage. I had those tiny gravel rocks from the bottom of fish tanks and a half bucket of round, decorative rocks. So now the rocks are "landscape rocks." I threw them out in the yard. If I need the round rocks they will still be there (we've used a few over the years); we started a new fish tank this year and didn't use the stored rock, so they are now part of our gravel path. I couldn't think of another way to dispose of them usefully.

My husband got rid of some electrical connectors. He told me to write that. :)

I found a home for the felted sweaters I previously realized I would not be using. The woman who took them was excited because she wanted to make stuffed animals but didn't want to make the felt. Hooray! I also sold a hand-crank ice cream churn on ebay. I'm really excited about that one because it is large and didn't fit on the shelf, so it has been sitting on the floor being in the way. Now it can go somewhere else and be loved (especially for its beautiful color!).

Menu planning has not been terribly successful this week, but we do have food in the house. We've been much more out-and-about than usual, and meals have been a little more haphazard. For example, we went up to visit my parents this weekend. The meal planned for that day is still sitting in the fridge, waiting. I'm not complaining, because this week has been fabulous with activities, but I need to plan more flexibility into next weeks plan so fresh food doesn't linger into the following week.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Daily Declutter

Or, maybe not so much "declutter" as "de-uglify." Sure, it's a word.

When we bought the house 18 years ago, the color scheme was ugly. It had a shade of teal that did not appeal, and a shag carpet that was shocking in as much as it was from a prior decade. We hated the colors but loved the location and floor plan, so we bought the house. Over the years we've removed the valances, carpet, and teal. All that was left was the ugly master bathroom, and we have finally stripped it.

In the process we're getting rid of a few things. We're removing the too-small medicine cabinet, and instead we will each have a small box on the counter for our personal items, like moisturizer or electric razor. The medicine cabinet is a terrible place to keep medicine anyway, because the bathroom is so moist, so we will be doing away with it entirely. The collection of random nail polish and essential oils will either need new homes or they will need to be discarded entirely.

Ugly shelves will be recycled. The ugly towel racks will be painted.

Unfortunately, the ugly cabinet will not be able to be replaced. The plumbing in out bathroom is really weird, so we will not be able to put in the pedestal sink I was hoping for. Instead, the sink will be placed on Craigslist, and we will get the space back in the garage regardless.

I didn't get much done outside the bathroom, but we did get a lot done in the bathroom, and at Home Depot. I am hoping to get the sink photographed and posted tomorrow; that will make a difference. We will also be using up some cedar planks we've been storing for this project, freeing up even more space.

We will be up some scrap lumber as well to make a shelf over the sink. Again, I didn't get much done, but now we have a plan and we are moving forward. The bathroom is pretty unusable tonight, but hopefully tomorrow I will be able to report strides toward using is again. I might even be able to report positive decluttering changes.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Daily Declutter: Beach Trip Edition

We went to the beach today, and our beach trip is something else that needs to be minimalist-ed (sure, that's a word. All four of us were heavy-laden as we walked from the car to the beach: two umbrellas, a blanket, dufflebag full of towels, extra swimsuits (!), two chairs, two inflatable hammock-things, boogieboards, a basket full of lunch, water, iced tea (in thermoses), a watermelon, sandcastle building equipment. Wow! We, and our car, were struggling, to get everything where we needed to go. Surely we don't need so much!

I've already trimmed down the extra swimsuits. It is over 100 and humid outside, so my family is hiding in the house right now, but my kids will be weeding out the beach toys as soon as the weather cools off a little tonight.

While we were at the beach I couldn't find my book, because it was hidden somewhere in the dufflebag, under towels and snorkel gear. I had to pull almost everything out to find what I was looking for and I hate that feeling. I just want the outing to be easy. I want to grab a couple things, hit the beach, and relax. So we're going to need to carve away the things that get in the way.

Which naturally makes me think of minimalism in general ('cause I have a blog about it, and it's what I do). I need to carve away the extraneous things from life to limit the frustration. I want to get down to essentials so I won't need to rummage past so much debris to find what is important.

I think it's getting better. I think life is moving more smoothly, but we're on summer vacation so I can't tell for sure. Hopefully, as I care away the excess this summer I will create a home that will work as smoothly when school starts up again.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Daily Declutter

I have removed nothing new today, but I do have a confession on that score. A lot of the things that I have removed from my possession have not actually left the house before now. I had a large stack of silver waiting for sale on ebay, and a couple other items I was hoping to sell on Craigslist. However, the clutter of these items was making the shed difficult to use. As of today I dropped all the remaining silver and two Craigslist items at a community rummage sale, and I have the floor and shelves cleared up.

We finished my daughter's room as well. Everything that's not in her room (or in storage in the attic) will be dropped at the donation station. I need to stop by Costco before I can drop things off because we have more donations than we have boxes for delivering donations, but I'm happy with that. I'd much rather need to go get more boxes than try to shove more stuff into the house.

As part of the renovation in my daughter's room we've decided to create a shared bookcase for both kids in the hallway. My daughter started clearing out the case they will share. We will use some (newly available) storage space in the shed and my bedroom for displaying some of the things in the hall. I know, it sounds confusing, but the essence is: by getting rid of things in a variety of locations we can have more of our desirable collectibles where we will better be able to appreciate them. In the long run I am hoping to reduce the number of collectibles, but if we don't at least we will be making better choices about what we display, and we will be looking at things we most admire.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Daily Declutter, Family Style

My daughter's room is just about finished. I think everything has been moved in that will be moved in. All that's left is a trip to the donation station and we will get our garage back (an living room, and hallway).

We didn't make a clean break with everything. She has one box of toys that she admitted she hasn't missed, but she knows she'll recognize them if she opens the box and she would feel too sentimental to donate them right now. We left them in the (shoe) box, in her closet, and in six months or so we will revisit the box. Anything that is too special to discard will be kept, but in the meantime her room is that much tidier. She also dedicated a shelf to display items, but she chose a small shelf, and some of the display items will be stored and display will be rotated, like at a museum. That way she can keep a tidy room and also keep the things she most values.

I am happy to report that my daughter did thin the collections she kept. Only her favorite doll clothes will be kept, and only her favorite display items. About half the items in each collection were purged, and I am confident the remaining items will be of greater value to my daughter in the future. I did not push her to get rid of any item, even if I did not see the value of the things she decided to keep. I would rather she have a second purge later on than resent the decluttering process, and me, because I pushed her to get rid of something she valued.

On another front, my husband also felt the decluttering bug today. He cleared up the desk area, and moved a lot of sentimental items out of our living space. When our dog died several years ago the vet gave us the ashes, a paw print in clay, a personalized wooden box (for the ashes) and a velvet bag (to protect the box), We have scattered the ashes, but we still had the box with the dog's name, sitting empty on a shelf. This is not the best way to remember our dog -- we're actually more likely to remember him at the beach, or when we see a dog the same breed -- and we will not feel a loss for disposing of the box. My husband also got rid of a couple crafts the kids made when they were very young, and instead uncovered a photo of him and the kids together. I prefer the photo to the crafts made in preschool, and if that's the way we both feel we should not hang on to the crafts just to prove we were present during our children's childhoods.

I'm really excited about all the sentimental items we're decluttering. I don't feel I can declutter these things alone, but I am happy to remove the items that "should" hold sentiment in favor of activities that are important and items that actually do hold memories.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July!

I won't be decluttering today, but I will be focusing on the things that give me joy. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. If you don't happen to be reading this in the US, I hope you still have a day focused on the things that are most important to you.

So where ever you are, enjoy a day of love and family at the beach, or a parade, or a hike, or a picnic, or fireworks. Enjoy ice cream and pie and coleslaw and whatever your family likes to throw on the grill.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Daily Declutter

I am working on decluttering in order to focus on the most important things in my life, both material and intangible. I would like my home and my life to be simple, without clutter interfering with what I want to do. And I do this because I continue to find clutter sitting around, looking at me, whenever I am working on something around the house!

I spent a good amount of time in the garage today as my daughter painted the interior parts of her closet. We're almost finished painting her room, so I looked through the paint we have sitting on the shelf. At least two pints of paint were 20 years old -- even if they aren't dry then I'm sure they won't be used. They went to sit with a few other containers that need to be taken to the HazMat disposal site. Since I am no longer planning to work on "projects" I do not need to keep materials around "just in case," and 20 year old paint is definitely a "just in case" item.

 I also found shelf brackets I had forgotten were there. We'd like to add an additional display shelf for my daughter's room, but I found two sets of brackets and a complete shelf kit -- in addition to the shelf I did know I had. We'll choose her favorite, and the rest will be donated. In fact, they're sitting next to the donate pile to prevent re-absorption by the garage-at-large.

On the potting bench I noticed a couple flower pots that I do not like. I do not care for the colors, and I will not be planting anything in them. Why do they take up space that could be used for potting? I have no idea. They're also gone.

In the attic, I saw a couple of pool noodles sitting unloved and unused. Since we can't use them at the community pool, and because we don't have our own pool, they have no business keeping those toys. However, when I suggested taking them to my parent's pool my daughter responded gleefully. Playing with toys is much better than storing them in the attic until all the kids grow out of them.

And so it goes!  As I go through each area of the house I find things that I don't need, won't use and won't miss. I do notice more space, especially in storage areas, and I'm really happy when I have a productive day, with lots of clutter moving out. I feel like I'm making a difference!