Simplify. Seems simple. It isn’t really…

What’s the big deal about simplifying your life and home?  Why is there an increasing interest in this?  Why is it so doggone hard?  Well, it’s not thaaaat bad.  Unless you live with other folks that aren’t on the same page as you, the same thought process, the same goals.

I’m at that stage in life where I want to start downsizing.  Have you seen all the shows and articles and web sites related to tiny housing?  When my hubby and I (we just had our 16th anniversary, by the way–woohoo!!!) first got married, I moved into his 680 square foot house.  Tiny.  We were there before tiny was cool!  I wasn’t sure how to combine our two households effectively and beautifully, but persevered.  By the time we hit our first anniversary, I loved our little house.  It was cozy. It was complete.  It was welcoming.  It was adorable.  But then we found out a wee one was on his way!  No place to put a crib, another dresser/changing table, toys, etc.  So we thought.  We moved into a house nearly twice the size–1200 square feet.  Whew.  Room to breathe.  We were no longer always together no matter what room we were in, including when one was in the bathroom.  (We had plenty of conversations through the door.)  But I found that it wasn’t as convenient when I had a question or needed something.  And there was always something that needed cleaning.  And we bought a lot more stuff, which required maintenance.  Or additional stuff.  But then we wanted to move to a better school district.

Next house–1,964 square feet, plus footage that’s not included.  We’re always hollering from one end of the house to the other, for stoopid things, like where is…, do you want…, when is…, are you ready?  Bothers me.  I don’t like that we yell, but what’s worse is not understanding what the other person said.  Then you have to get clarification, either by moving to where they are, or yelling, “WHAT DID YOU SAY?”  “I DIDN’T HEAR YOU–WHAT??”  “SAY AGAIN??”  We usually don’t hang out in the same room either, which saddens me immensely.  This is something we’re working on as we slowly simplify and get back to what is important. We’ve got a finished basement, which isn’t part of that square footage because there isn’t an egress window (a window big enough to get out through if there’s an emergency.)  Enormous family room (which is hubby’s favorite room,) a guest bedroom, and a half bath with sink and toilet.  There are also two BIG spaces that are storage space.  You know what that means?  We’ve gotten more STUFF; it all needs weeding out.  Last week I went through a container looking for our wedding books and pictures.  Found a bunch of newspapers in there that had no purpose that I could see. Recycle!!  Felt so good!  Made me want to discard more.  But I didn’t as I had other things to clean, maintain, buy, plan for, plan around…

When I talk with hubby and son about moving, there’s always a disconnect.  They sure don’t want smaller.  But they don’t get frustrated when looking for something.  They just ask me.  I’ll find it if I don’t already know where the item is.  And they don’t clean, much.  Or do the little maintenance, much.  Staying home with my synthetic fragrance sensitivity, I have become the cleaning lady.  And fixer.  In fact, just this morning, my dearest hubby asked why the living room touch up paint was on the counter with spackle and a brush.  Well, hmmm.  There are touch-ups to do.  Ah.

Yes.  I want to down size.  I love cozy.  Hubby loves space.  Lots and lots of space.  My favorite room in the house is the smallest at 10′ by 10′.  He gets claustrophobic in there.  It’s wonderfully cozy with a comfy couch (guest bed,) open bookshelf, small desk, small printer cabinet, a skinny wire and basket chest, and a tiny wrought iron garden table by the couch to set your beverage on. Very cozy, but not crowded.

Here’s a funny–hubby wants a smaller yard, as he dislikes yard work.  And I want more garden space to grow our own food.  I’d love to have chickens and goats too.  (Not possible in our current neighborhood.  We can’t even put up a clothesline or basketball hoop!)  We’ve currently got two pear trees, two apple trees, and a concord grape arbor that the previous owners put in.  We’ve added two blueberry bushes and a good sized raised bed for vegetables.  All of this on 1/3 of an acre!  I see room for more raised beds, but my guys want to be able to throw the football or baseball around a few times a year. We have a HUGE park a few miles from here. Their very valid point is when the urge strikes, they don’t want to have to drive.  Ok.

My biggest challenge with simplification is the part about getting rid of the stuff.  It amazes me how things become valuable when I’m purging.  We’re gathering garage sale goodies together, and have a good amount.  But there could be more!!!  And the whole recycling thing is hard–do we REALLY need this?  Can’t I just take a picture?  Can’t we make a copy and put it in our cloud?  One friend tells me I should just do it.  But that’s a violation of their opinion, isn’t it?  Guilt prevails.  But so shall I.  I WILL prevail at simplifying our lives and home.  I do want to say that all three of us are getting better at making do with what we’ve got.  Reduce, reuse, recycle.   And upcycling by reusing something in a different way than what it was originally intended for.  Yep–getting there.  It certainly is a process, and we Know that happiness is the journey, not the destination.  So, as I go down memory lane with the items that have accumulated over the years, I send you

Warm wishes on Your journey!
Nance

The Latest Moments as Time Flies By

Goodness, I’ve let the trials and tribulations of life get in my way.  It’s been ages since I’ve written about anything.  It’s cold, still some snow on the ground, we had carpeting issues in the house, and there are changes at my church that are weakening my connection and therefore the support I’ve relied upon while I go through my life change due to my severe sensitivity to synthetic fragrance chemicals.  Oh, and I tried going dairy free, and cut back on gluten as well, thinking it might help with my fragrance sensitivity, but this just made me feel deprived.   But hey–only two more weeks till spring! Even though this seems like it’s been a long winter, it also feels like “wow! it’s almost over already!!”  I recently read an explanation of why time flies by as you get older.  Wish I could give credit for this, but I read so many things (love that internet!) that I can’t remember what site I saw it on.  If you know, would you let me know?

The article, that I’m soooo ad libbing, talked about being a little kid, and how when you’re 5 or 10 years old, a month is a long time.  Remember how summer break seemed to last forever and you were actually glad to be going back to school because you were so bored?  If not, you had a lot of planned events in your life!  I didn’t.  My summers consisted of pretty much just gardening and housework, riding my bike and playing with the neighbor kids, running through the sprinklers and reading books.  Oh, and the 2 week vacation that I could hardly wait to get home from because we drove everywhere for a gazillion hours, and I couldn’t read or I’d get carsick.  No portable DVD players back then.  And very little TV time either, when we were home, because there wasn’t much to watch.  No world wide web either.  Ok,  I’m talking about back in the dark ages.

So here’s the thought process:  Around age 35, time starts getting away from you.  When you’re 55, that month zooms by quickly.  When you’re 75, I hear it zooms past seemingly in the blink of an eye.  Here’s the rationale–it’s all in regards to ratios.  When you’re 5, a month is 1/60 of your entire existence outside your mother’s womb.  When you’re 35, that month is 1/420 of your life, 55 = 1/660 of you being here, and so on.  As you get older, that month is just a drop in a really big measuring cup, if you’re lucky enough to live a long time.  We’re also busier living our lives, as we get older.  Have you noticed?  There are more and more things that you need to do, want to do, get asked to do, asked to participate in, expected to participate in…  When I read this article (source?????) it all seemed so logical.  Clarity hit.  And that helped me not stress as much about how time flies by.  Suddenly, that flitting time thing is just part of life, something to keep in mind and work around, but not worry about.  I’ve been semi-housebound for over a year, and was beating myself up about how I haven’t “accomplished” much of anything.  Other than reconnecting with my creative side as well as nature, making a stronger home base, finding out who my true friends are, discovering healthier alternatives in our synthetic (fake) world, working on getting healthier and fit, and getting caught up on my sleep.  Well, that’s a lot when you break it down!

I’ve officially begun disability retirement.  That’s what they call it when you can’t teach anymore due to health issue.  So odd, to have only taught for 10 years, but be retired.  For over a year, I was without my income in our two income household.  Thank goodness we had decent savings and retirement accounts to draw from.  It was scary for a while, watching new withdrawals occurring from those accounts for every day living.  We cut back where we were willing, always thinking this was going to miraculously improve and I could go back to work.  It really rearranged my thought process about what we really needed to buy.  I discovered how wasteful I/we had been living, even though I thought we were frugal.  I’m thinking maybe I was supposed to learn that lesson, that my comfort isn’t so dependent upon the newest, best, tastiest.  I’m discovering less costly ways to do stuff–mercy, we frittered away a lot over the years!!  And now that I’m “retired,” we can breathe a bit easier, be a bit less stressed about money, yet utilize the skills of living more simply.

My liaison at the school system retirement program said the supervisor didn’t hesitate signing my request, as I had many doctors confirming my status and my “story” was so sad.  Wow–my story is sad according to a supervisor with authority who’s seen it all.  This actually helped me a lot, because I recognized that the sadness of this saga wasn’t just in my head, like a pity party.  It’s for real.   You know, it’s still hard to wrap my head around the fact that the sophomore girls who intentionally sprayed my classroom to make me have a allergic reactions so they wouldn’t have to do homework (!) or take tests (!) or take finals (!) were never brought to the light, and will always know that they caused a life altering health issue in my life.  Do you think they’ll remember with the glee that I saw other students boast about “breaking” a teacher??  Bet they will.  Maybe not all of them, but most of them.  Here’s something–there’s another plan for me that I don’t know about yet.  Still opening up to find out what that is…

All those moments really do matter as they’re pieces of the whole.  And Happiness IS the Journey, not the Destination, after all.  (One of my mantras that I keep forgetting about, ironically!!  So my framed version is now sitting next to my desk, eye level.)  Remember this as you wonder where your time goes.  And remember to do the important stuff in life, not just the time wasters.

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With warm wishes on your journey,

Nance