Thursday, April 26, 2018

025, 026: Books I'm Reading

The two books I'm in the middle of right now:

All That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Interesting to be so intimate with one person's journey through minimalism. There is a lot that resonates, and a lot to think about.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. I'm listening to this, actually. Jim Dale is absolutely a genius as a voice actor. I've been listening to the series for 8 or so months because it's really freaking long when in audio format, and I am so entertained by Dale's presentation. The stories are getting old and are all about the same, and Harry's whinging is almost unendurable, but I'm going to miss the Potter World that Rowling crafts and the people Dale brings to life in the books when I'm finally done.

And I've been doing some drawing in my sketchbook as I listen- because I finally have a some time to sit and do it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

022,023,024: Value

I just finished reading Minimalism: Live  Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus this morning before coming into the studio. It was a quick read, and while at first I was unimpressed, by the end of the book I realized I had gotten a lot to think about.

One of the ideas they come back to frequently is "How does this add value to my life?" Too often, we're all caught up with actions that we feel we should do, others expect us to do, or habits we've gotten into without thinking about, and we find ourselves filling time in ways that don't actually contribute value to our lives. We only have a limited time here and now, and spending time doing unfulfilling or useless things isn't worthwhile.

Documenting my little life experiments here doesn't add value to me. I have found that I feel better if I'm actually working toward change, rather than writing about it. I have tried blogging many times over the years, and it just never resonates with me. It's work, and it's work that I don't end up enjoying. I spend too much time thinking about the next blog post, and not enough time doing actual work that benefits me or my life.

As an extremely analytical person who likes to feel like I'm working toward a goal, I am going to try to spend one more week here sharing some of the thoughts I have and books I've read. But mostly, this is so I can feel like this was a 30-day project I completed. My Minimal Shopping Ban and my Mornings in My Studio projects are going to continue, but right now, writing about anything is taking time away from the more valuable things I want to be doing. This is actually a really good thing for me to finally acknowledge.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

021: I Made a Blanket

One of the points of cleaning out my studio is to actually complete projects that are important to me, instead of just storing partially done ones, or storing the materials for projects that I'll never get around to. As I cleaned out fabrics, I came across several yards of a fabric I bought years ago at a local quilting store that's no longer in business (I think I must have paid $75+ for it and it sat in a container until last summer when I finally used a little of it), and my Grandpa's wool. U.S. Navy blanket. I think I originally planned to use the quilting fabric to make a bedspread, and I never really had a use for the wool blanket, but it was in my fabric instead of in the linen closet, where it might have ended up being used as an actual blanket. I combined the two, and voila! I have a warm blanket that preserves some history on one side, and is not scratchy and very beautiful on the other side. 

(I didn't take a photo because of reasons I'll probably go into at some point, mostly having to do with asking myself what my purpose was in blogging in the first place. The amount of time it takes to photograph something decently and write a few sentences about it is rapidly becoming less and less interesting to me. I'd rather just make something and move on to making something else or spending my time in other, more valuable ways.)

019, 020: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I had some extra things to do this week (the last of one of them!) and was too busy to keep to a regular schedule. By not being in my studio in the morning, I didn't give a moment's thought to blogging.

My Minimal Shopping Ban details haven't changed or been amended in about a week and a half, so I think I'm ready to print them and make them official. It's been great to have a reason to turn down buying things. At work, someone brought in the amazing carry-all dohicky with extra expandable carry strap that she recommended we all get for ourselves, and I responded with a thank you, but no thanks: I'm doing a self-imposed shopping ban. No one batted an eye when I said that. And I don't have any need for an amazing carry all dohicky because I currently have a vast number of empty storage containers that are no longer "organizing" the stuff that used to be in them. Nor do I have all that stuff any more.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

0017, 0018: Work, Work, Work

Work, work, work. And be a parent, a wife, a volunteer, and a volunteer for another organization, and sleep, and eat, and take showers, and work, pet the cats, and grocery shop. And all the other myriad things that make up a normal day.

And repeat.

Monday, April 16, 2018

016: Diaries

I started listening to David Sedaris's newest book, Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, yesterday afternoon. I was a little bored by the mundane stuff he was writing about, and appreciating what he does as an author to create stories rather than just publish selections from his diaries. I was also musing on keeping journals, and then sharing them. I only keep diaries are when I'm trying to claw my way out of a funk or make a tough decision, times when I'm needing to store less in my head and more on the page just to have the relief of it not all swirling and circling and rearing up little nasty thoughts constantly. And here I am, working through my own stress with this blog.

We also had a little backyard fire in the fire pit yesterday afternoon. My husband and I agreed it was time to let go of some things that don't really need to be with us any more. He burned a thick envelope full of love letters from a previous girlfriend (the one he broke up with when he met me, in fact). I had a about half a dozen journals full of various angsty times in the last 20 years that I've been working through funks and stress, none of which I've even cracked open since I wrote in them. The wind picked up so I wasn't able to burn mine, but it brings up an interesting point about this angsty funk being recorded digitally. How am I going to burn it when I get through it?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

015: Decluttering Fatigue

Ugh. I hit a wall with this decluttering thing. Everything I've gotten rid of has been a celebration, mostly because everything so far has been the easy stuff. I have a couple of things that I tried to sell, but other people didn't value the stuff like I did, so I had to donate it in the end– an exercise that is valuable to go through. None of you value this stuff like I do? Maybe I'm over-valuing it. I've been working on getting rid of stuff for years, but recently picked it up again with the serious intention to do the hard stuff– the memorabilia, the things with sunk costs I haven't been able to quite move beyond, the projects I still think I want to finish. Every weekend for the last couple of months has been getting rid of stuff. I'm utterly overwhelmed with how much STUFF I have. Why, why, why? Whine, whine, whine. This overwhelm is why I'm getting rid of it. But wow, it's emotionally exhausting.

A couple of weeks ago I came across an article entitled something like, "Have we Reached Peak Declutter?" I didn't read the article at the time, and so I don't know what it was really about, but the title says a lot, and I've been thinking about it. When I first started getting rid of things in a serious way, all I could see were benefits. But I also know that this whole idea of minimalism is part of the come-and-go fads that overtake the media. Designers, professional organizers, home products, and the very "look" of recent publications have all been capitalizing on the conspicuous consumerism of what's billed as a decluttered look. As with all trends, the masses are apparently ready to move on.

Of course, there's also a lot of backlash against decluttering and minimalism. This is the top article when I googled "peak decluttering" and I can count myself and my family within that socioeconomic group who can afford to buy something again if we need to. I see the benefits of decluttering, but of course, I have the luxury of doing all this on the weekends because both my husband and I work weekday jobs that pay our bills, plus more. Minimalism is considered by many to be nothing more than another rich way to posture and purchase new, expensive, minimalist-styled housewares and furniture.

The thing is, in my mind, this getting rid of stuff is taking an honest look at what I've accumulated (because I have the money and luxury to accumulate), and live through the guilt and shame of all the conspicuous consumerism I've participated in over the years, and then not consume it all again. We're not looking to redecorate, put new fancy art on the walls, or even buy new dishes. We're keeping the cracked and chipped ones, just fewer of them. Rather than me storing broken things that I could fix and use again, I'm making the honest effort to not need that thing that is broken, and to not replace it.

If I were to die suddenly, my family would be forced to go through all my stuff. They would have no idea what was really, truly valuable to me, and what was ultimately just stuff. To any other person in the entire universe, my stuff is only just stuff. I'm keeping the important things. I'm just being clear on how to determine what is important, and only keeping the things that are valuable to me.