Your satisfaction with life is only as large as the goals you put in front of yourself. It’s okay to be a bit crazy. Push yourself. Dare to do the things that scare you, because every insane step makes the next one look easier. You have the capacity to do more than work and die.
Be the person everyone is talking about. Be the person that you’re jealous of today.
I like to throw things away when I’m stressed. Okay, maybe not actually throw things away – but I’m the person that comes home from dropping off a few bags at Goodwill and promptly starts another donation bag. It’s a fact of life I’ve long ago accepted, in part because my dad has a similar setup, and that my husband has learned to live with. But what happens when it’s a stressful month and I’ve already been through the house three times to get my cleaning/organizing/purging fix?
If you’re anything like me, you may be aware of the enticing articles on Pinterest: 100 Things to Throw Out Today! 89 Things to Remove From Your Home and Your Life! How I Got Rid of 91% of Our Stuff! 50 Things You Can Toss Right Now! (The fact that I didn’t have to look up these titles should concern me. It doesn’t. And no, I didn’t make up the numbers.)
The problem is, most of these lists are made up of obvious, miniscule items. They’re full of old receipts, holey socks, and wrapping paper scraps. Do I really need a list to tell me to toss things that are, by definition, trash?
It took about three months of annoyance with these articles that I realized that throwing things out wasn’t the key. It was just part of the process. What I really wanted was a list of things I could live without, things that could be gotten rid of so I had to spend less time looking for what I actually like and use. I want less things so I have to spend less time cleaning, or can pack up in short notice and GO SOMEWHERE without digging through all the crap to find the right gear. I was looking for a list that said “Get Rid of These Things and Then You Will Be Free.” Free to do what didn’t really matter – I just don’t want to feel like my things are holding me back. (If you ever find that article, let me know.)
Like most things, once I’d identified the actual crux of the issue, it became considerably easier to solve. It also became easier to ignore the voice whispering just throw it all out. No, I don’t need to get rid of my ski jacket just because I have a different winter coat. I use both of those. One of them lets me go outside when it’s -10 and windy. I use the other one every winter on the ski slopes. Isn’t that a kind of freedom right there?
On the flip side, I absolutely do not need to keep that shoulder bag. I bought it when I was feeling insecure and I’m only keeping it because I paid too much money for it, and maybe someday I will be the kind of woman who takes a pretty shoulder bag to work. Except there is no way it could replace my beloved North Face office-in-a-bag backpack that has kept up with me on multiple jobsites in three different states and will continue to do so for years. At this point, keeping the shoulder bag is the opposite of freedom. It makes me feel guilty and conflicted and just generally less every time I see it. And to go back to the wisdom of all those articles I read – if I ever do become someone who works in the office full-time and needs a pretty bag, won’t I want to buy one then?
With that in mind, I decided to come up with my own list of X Things to Get Rid of Today!
The notepad, pen, and keyboard stickers you were given for serving on a panel that you will never use because you have too many notepads and pens and never use keyboard stickers.
The bowl you got as a wedding present that you LOVE but will never use because it’s “too pretty” for mundane items and the lid doesn’t seal at all. Find someone who will actually USE it.
The kitchen whisk that made you feel like a grown up but has never been used because you grew up whisking things with forks and will always, always, always reach for a fork first.
The horseback riding boots you used in high school that you were planning to replace years ago but haven’t because you never actually got that horse and quite honestly have no desire to get a horse anymore because bicycles don’t eat or poop and can be put in the closet and ignored all winter without animal welfare groups breaking down the door.
The book that is signed by the author but you’ve never finished because while the premise is great you absolutely disagree with the main points the author makes.
So there it is, my list of things to clean out this weekend. Have you found a secret to letting go of things guilt-free? Are you holding on to anything for reasons that are irrational to anyone but you? I’d love to hear about them!
Show of hands, who has locked themselves in the bathroom to have a minute where no one can see your face?
I know I certainly do it. It’s a chance to let out some tension, take a deep breath, reset yourself, and flip your hair back into something fabulous (or whatever is passing for fabulous on the given day).
Usually, I do this on purpose. Today, however, I was more than a little bemused when I caught myself whispering “it’s okay, you got this,” on what I’d thought was a cut-and-dry bathroom break.
Really, J? You need to do this today? Are youjust so conditioned to stress that this is Pavlovian now? Are you going to be telling the bathroom walls you’re okay for the rest of your life?
Well… Yes, probably. About halfway through berating myself, I realized I had been stressed, even if I hadn’t noticed it. And as for a Pavlovian response – telling myself it would be okay had worked. I’d acknowledged the scary task bothering me (hello, leading a training for an out-of-state office) and was ready to move on to actually tackling the task at hand. How cool is that?
I apologized to my subconscious. After all, it’s nice to know she’s got my back even when I don’t know I need it.
I hope you had a lovely 14th of February, however you spent it and whomever you were with.
The hubby and I ended up celebrating last night, which isn’t something we always do. But some other plans got canceled and we’ve been meaning to go on a date for a while, so we took advantage of the open evening and decided to check out Dumpling Darling, a new restaurant not far from us.
Patience is a virtue I only sometimes possess, so I loved that we weren’t fighting the Valentine’s crowds. We got a dumpling flight, which let us sample all their steamed dumplings. To my surprise, my favorite was the kimchi dumpling, although all of them were delicious. We debated trying the dessert dumplings, but in the end decided in favor of Molly’s Cupcakes, which is right across the street. The hubby got a German chocolate cupcake; I had a peach cobbler one. Since the dumplings were not particularly filling, it was the perfect end to the meal.
All other things aside, I’m in love with those cupcakes. Heavenly.
It we’d stopped here, it might have gone down as our most traditional Valentine’s Day in years. We’d gone to dinner early, though, and had time to kill. Our post-cupcake destination is a place we love dearly, but very few people would consider romantic: REI. We left with a similarly-beloved-but-not-romantic present for me: my own Wahoo Kickr Snap bike trainer.
Of course, you could argue that the second Kickr Snap is an instrument for marital felicity. No more do the hubby and I have to argue over who gets the trainer first; like toddlers, it seems that we only want to use it when the other one is already planning on doing so, and we have literally raced each other to get our leg over the bike on occasion. How many people can say they were gifted the end to a recurring argument for Valentine’s Day?
We rearranged the living room last night to accommodate both trainers, where they have displaced our couch and will stay until we move in a couple weeks – I can’t wait to have space for both trainers AND the couch! And so, Valentine’s Day evening found us both pedaling away, headphones in and not particularly pleased with each other. (I didn’t have the trainer set up to my satisfaction and was not impressed with the subsequent workout. In turn, the hubby was unimpressed with me. I’m going to be magnanimous and say we both had a point.)
It’s an evening that would have horrified several of my girlfriends, and I can only hope they spent their Valentine’s Day in a way that brought them joy. That said, it’s no less fair to put down my unconventional enjoyment than it would be to demean a day filled with flowers and chocolates and wine.
True love is about being yourself, about understanding each other, and about finding ways to make each other happy. Tonight, our love was an hour sweating four feet apart from each other and an order to stop complaining. And honestly, I might appreciate that even more than cupcakes.
The days when I feel like I absolutely can’t do anything right, or I’ve gotten nothing done, are still days that would have broken me three years ago. Simply by getting through the day, I have outdone my past self. And some days that will have to be enough.