Thursday, January 21, 2010


Maggie's post about her plane ride was interesting. And scary. And enlightening. From now on I will have a scarf with me on a plane. And when I have kids, a Sharpie. For this:

"On a side note, when we were kids, my father would travel with a Sharpie so he could write on us if something ever happened. Like being separated, he would write our names on our left palms before we got on a plane."

(From one of the comments on that post).

The List

I made a list of fun stuff/projects I want to do now that I'm out of school. Some of them will have to wait a while due to lack of space, funds, or time...but some of them I'm doing now:

-cook (I'm thinking of trying one new recipe every...however often. Maybe once a month?)
-learn to paint artistically, or at least attempt it
-crochet a sweater that I love
-learn to sew
-learn to quilt
-learn to knit
-practice drawing
-drive (when I was younger every now and then I'd just DRIVE for a couple hours. It helped my mental state, and I think it still would).
-decorate my house little by little
-begin yoga again
-learn calligraphy
-make a dog bed
-begin meal planning weekly
-learn to felt wool
-get massages twice a year
-take some cooking classes (we start these tonight! yay!)
-puppy classes (we start these tonight! yay!)
-belly dancing classes (I start these on Feb 1st).
-read "The Lovely Bones"
-learn more car stuff
install new (only a little louder) exhaust
-begin to meditate
-get more adrenaline
skydive again
hang glide
zip lines
-be an SCCA member this year
-go to at least 4 autocrosses
-get rid of any underwear I'd be embarrassed to be wearing in the hospital (ALMOST got this done)
-take a month long road trip or two (east coast or west coast or both)
-see all of Frank Lloyd Wright's homes/structures
-Robie House
-Unity Temple
-His house in Oak Park

-Florence, AL
-Taliesin II
-Falling Water
-California ones
-buy a Beamie and restore it (1987 325 stick shift with manual crank sunroof and straight-six engine)
-grow a garden (we should be doing this this year, at least a "square-foot" garden).
-see the redwoods
-and badwater
-waterski (slalom or not), maybe learn how to barefoot like my granddad
-visit every state
-visit Germany, Italy, Istanbul, Japan (Tokyo), South America, Wales, Spain, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Bora Bora, Transylvania, Romania
-become capable of ironing a shirt in less than 10 minutes (right now it takes me like 20--and that is SAD).

I plan to keep adding to this list over time, and crossing things off it too. Hopefully. :)

Musings on Clutter

A friend of mine just made her children get rid of all but a few dresses, a couple nightgowns, some books, and ONE stuffed animal. Just a few years ago, I probably would have thought, wow, how cruel. But the last year and a half or so I've been attempting to get more simplicity in our house and in my life, and now that I'm not in school anymore it has become something of a priority. I find the more I get rid of, the less it weighs on my mind, AND, as a bonus, I'm only left with the stuff I LOVE. (Which makes me want to take care of it, which means I am neater).

As a child, I too had WAY TOO MANY toys/stuffed animals/etc. I inherited all of my sister's toys and such since she was 5 years older, plus had my own given to me. There were probably 50 barbies, 100 stuffed animals, every character in Maple Town, etc. And I remember playing with a lot of it, true--BUT. I also remember feeling extremely depressed and overwhelmed anytime it was time to clean up. Nothing ever fit anywhere because there was always too much of it. My clothes drawers and closet were ALWAYS overflowing; underneath my bed was always full, my stuffed animal area overflowed onto the floor or was a GIANT pyramid...and I carried it through into adulthood. In college I had too many clothes to fit into a large walk-in closet, plus clothes in drawers and under my bed in storage boxes. I think this translated into a lifelong habit of clutter everywhere--mail on counters, books in the living room floor, clothes all over my bedroom floor, shoes everywhere in the house. Plus I was (am?) a health and beauty product junkie--4 kinds of shampoo, 3 kinds of gel, 10 lotions, etc. I finally decided I don't NEED that much stuff, especially since I only USE 2 shampoos, one conditioner, 1 gel, and 1 lotion. Duh. I cannot believe it took me 26 years to realize this. I still have to go through all the bathroom stuff, which I will do as we put the bathroom back together from Honey Darlin' building the recessed shelves in there.

And now, I have much less than I did then--and like it so much better. Too many choices tend to make me miserable. I'd still say that I have too much clothing, but at least it all fits in the closet/drawers now and everything has a place. And if I don't get healthier like I intend to within the next few months, I will get rid of the clothing that I kept that is currently too small. (It's conveniently separated from the rest of my clothing). And I WILL NOT feel guilty about getting rid of it--in this year-long purge, I've realized that for some reason, I feel guilty for not liking/wanting/wearing the stuff that I want to get rid of, which makes it even harder to get rid of it. How insane is that? Most of it got a lot of use and is still good stuff, it's just not ME anymore. I'm not sure if the guilt is money related (I spent money on that and don't even want it anymore) or what. Thoughts?

My friend, after doing the purge with her children, said that each child individually came up to her and said they liked it BETTER with so much less. If that's not confirmation I don't know what is. I applaud my friend for teaching her children something that it took me 26 years to teach myself. I am happier being less materialistic, having less STUFF, because that's not what really matters. Plus it's easier to keep clean. And a small wardrobe requires FAR less expenditure to keep up than a humongous one.

(I don't blame my mom for this...she isn't materialistic and doesn't have a lot of STUFF. However, my dad is a packrat and would keep everything if allowed. I think this is because HIS parents are materialistic and lived through the depression and so keep EVERYTHING. But my dad isn't materialistic, he just can't get rid of anything. I wish he read stuff like this. It would help him let STUFF go and keep my mom more sane, since she has to live with all his accumulated STUFF). However. I do think that one or both of my parents could have explained that stuff causes anxiety and guilt (for not taking care of it, having too much, not being able to clean it up because there's no more room for anything) and forced me to get rid of more as a kid...but my mom is sentimental, and that probably made her unable to force us to get rid of stuff if she loved it too (even if the love was in the past).

Thursday, January 14, 2010


"And I realized why old people talk to checkout girls for so long. It's because they haven't spoken to anyone else all day."

(from Boo)

And it makes me sad for my grandmother, Mimi. She was widowed in her thirties with four young children, and she never remarried. I think she would have, once, but one of her daughters made a snide comment (and this was LONG after her husband had died) about how they didn't think she should remarry--so she DIDN'T. However grumpy she sometimes was, however much she really didn't like kids in her old age, I can't help but wish I'd been more thoughtful. We used to make fun of the fact that she talked. Incessantly. To anyone and everyone who would listen. She always told cashiers that my mom was valedictorian back in 1970 (and later when my cousin and I were too she'd add that in), she always talked about how "you're looking at three generations!" when she, my mom, and I would go places together--and we (me, my sister, and our cousin) always used to roll our eyes and get embarrassed that she was with us. She'd tell anyone that she raised four kids alone and they turned out fine...but she never talked about the emotional toll that had to have taken on her.

Now, though, I can see why she'd be that way...she'd been widowed for 40 years and lived alone. Mimi had no one to talk to, even if she did stuff with us once or twice a week--can you imagine only talking one day a week? Life had to have meant more to her than us--hence three generations was something to be grateful for, since she never got to live out her golden years with the love of her life. And no wonder it sometimes seemed that she was boastful of raising four kids alone--she was forced to do exactly that during a time when most women didn't even work, much less worry about being a single mom and putting food on the table. (I hope, but don't know, that my granddad had life insurance. She did get military benefits though, thank heavens).

My granddad was a nose gunner at 19 years old in WWII, and because of that his heart was enlarged and he began to have heart problems shortly after coming back. He lived a while in a state of bad health, and died when my mom was just 15. (Mom was only the second of four, too). Mimi never talked about resenting the military for the long years of his bad health and drinking because of being depressed about his health, but I have to think that in that situation I'd have blamed them endlessly AND been a lot more bitter about it than she.

The older I get, the more respect I have for this side of my grandmother that I never knew. I wish I had stopped long enough to consider it while she was living; I think she would have talked to me about it if I'd asked. Too often, we assume people don't want to talk about things that might be painful...but I think she would have been pleased that I wanted to know.

If I had a copy of it, I'd leave off with my favorite picture of her--she's 14, and she and my granddad are on some kind of youth church trip, and they are gripping hands, two skinny kids in the snow, in their bathing suits, looking absolutely FREEZING, and grinning like idiots. I wonder if they were on the way to a hot tub? Whenever I get sad that she's gone, I picture that, and I know that if there is a God, if heaven exists, that's where she is right now. Fourteen, with Jimmy, in their swimsuits in the snow being idiotic teenagers, their life before them. No war, no health problems, just them, making up for the last fifty or so years.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Goals / January project

So, now that goals have been stated, my plan is to do a little blog each Monday to check in with myself.

For last week, Jan 4-10:
Overstuffed: Twice, Wednesday lunch (but I ate very little dinner to make up for it) and Saturday dinner for the work holiday party.

Spending: Was God-awful. I had a wake-up call in the form of an NSF fee and a trip to the bank this morning to deposit from savings.

Socially balanced? Decent...Mom and Daddy came up Wednesday for dinner, we went to a friend's house Friday night for dinner, Saturday was the holiday party for my work, and Sunday my mom, daddy, sister-in-law and my two nieces came over for lunch. It was maybe a little too busy, but it was extremely nice that people came to us, and it made it feel much less busy for that.

Self care? Could have been better--no exercise. However, I did take an extra long shower Saturday and used sugar scrub on elbows/knees/feet, shaved, and I painted my fingernails too, which hasn't happened in AGES. So, pretty much better than anytime in 2009. :)

Our monthly project is to get the house properly ventilated, and finish the unfinished projects that have been sitting there for three months (shelving in bath, office walls fixed). Caleb and a buddy of ours finished installing the attic ventilation fan today, so we are making progress!!

Next week: (which is really this week, now) I have a mini-project to weed out my closet.

Today is skirts.
Tuesday, pants.
Wednesday, dresses.
Thursday, suits and shoes.
Friday, shirts.

The following week (18-22) will be....DRAWERS.
Monday: top drawer/undies
Tuesday: middle drawer
Wednesday: bottom drawer
Thursday: socks, sweaters
Friday: bras, swimsuits, exercise clothes (these are in mini-drawers in my closet)


2009 wasn't AWFUL...but it wasn't amazing either. I continued to suck on the spending too much front, our house had wet walls and some mold.

I did, however, graduate with my master's, which STILL feels wonderful. Especially since one of my co-workers is starting school this week and I DON'T HAVE TO. :)

So, 2009. It was what it was, and I probably won't miss it that much. Here's to 2010, and a year of golden opportunities. I have a lot of hopes, let's not say resolutions...I always fail miserably at those.

I'd like to become more self-aware, and use this to begin taking better care of myself. To be able to tell someone "No" for a social engagement if Caleb and I are just done. To be able to make myself a priority instead of school and other people first. To attempt to begin liking my body and caring for it rather than beating myself up about not exercising. Quantifiable goals: "check in" with myself weekly and see how the week went from a self-care perspective. Feel overstuffed after eating no more than once a week.

I'd like to be more adult about my spending decisions. My inner child wants everything and wants it now--but that is leading to no net change in my amount of debt or savings. I'd like the debt to go down and the savings to go UP. Plus, it's NEVER worth the stress when I indulge my inner child. Quantifiable goal: pay off $1000 in debt this year ($83.33 per month)

I'd like to slow down. We were gone for more than half our weekends last year, and that really sapped both of us of energy and happiness. We do love our families, and love seeing them, but cannot (and will not, this year) allow family time to be the detriment of "us" or alone time. Quantifiable goal: Be at home at least 2.5 weekends per month.

I'd like to pare down. I have way too many clothes still, even though I have fewer than I did last year. I want to keep things I love and that flatter me, and decide whether to store "skinny" clothes for an eventual future, or freecycle everything. Quantifiable goal: Have drawers no more than 2/3 full after I am done, have at least 1 inch of room for each hanger that I keep. (This might be preposterous)...

I'd like to make more effort to make our house feel like OURS--without spending more than $30 per month (about the cost of a gallon of paint). Quantifiable goal: One minor home improvement/decorating project per month.

I think that is enough. Now, to figure out how to TRACK the goals, lest they become buried in my blogroll and I forget.

Here's to hope for 2010 to rock my face off.