Tag Archives: Fears

The Fear of Downsizing… My Computer

What if it’s not enough? What if I can’t do what I need to do? What if I can’t do what I want to do? Is it even worth the investment? Should I wait for something bigger or better to present itself? What if it’s not what I expect? What if it’s not enough?

I am in need of a new computer and I have made the choice to downsize. And I’m a little scared.

I have owned 2 personal computers in my life. My first experience with a computer was a Gateway desktop, with dial-up internet. Man, I loved playing in that cow-colored box. Next, when I was in high school, my parents bought me my own black Dell desktop that I kept in my room. We got better internet in that era and it was awesome. And finally in January 2006, after a semester of excellent attendance and grades in college, my parents bought me a sleek white MacBook.

I love this MacBook. It has served me very well in the past 11 years and 5 months. And it’s still going! I debate getting rid of it at all, but, truth be told, it’s just getting too outdated. Can I use it for what I need to do? Yes, most of the time.

Here’s the deal.

  • I don’t have much storage space. I store all of my music on an external hard drive because there is no room on my actual computer. Same for photos. So then I just started storing all documents on the external hard drive, too. All of the storage space on this computer is basically used in a way so the computer itself will function — it’s not storing any of my personal files anymore.
  • The battery is pretty much dead. I need to keep this computer plugged in all the time when I am using it. It will stay on for a few minutes between outlets if I need to move it, but that’s it. This has essentially made my laptop into a desktop for the last 5 years. I just never got around to replacing the battery and now it seems too late.
  • I always need to keep this laptop open. I mean, physically keep the screen up. There is some sort of loose wire in the hinge and whenever I close the laptop, it is very, very, difficult to open it again and still see the screen. I can see an extremely faint outline of items on the screen, but it is essentially black. It can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to finagle the screen back up with a back-lit picture showing. So I just leave it open all the time to avoid that hassle. But that creates other hassles, like dust collecting in the keyboard and cats stepping on it and opening unexpected windows and menus.
  • It just can’t handle another update. I needed to update my operating system about 2 years ago to be able to connect to our wireless printer. This took up even more storage space and was not compatible with a lot of my software, such as Microsoft Office. I’ve been able to get along just fine without the software, thanks to things like Google Docs and online photo editors. But even though I just updated the operating system, this system is not supported for many other updates, including, most importantly for me, Google Chrome. Sadly, the hardware of this system just can’t support another operating system update and it doesn’t seem worth the money to essentially rebuild it with components that will.

I would love to replace this MacBook with the current equivalent, but now that the money is coming out of my pocket, I think, that starting at around $1,200, it’s too expensive. We have student loan debt and a mortgage and home repair debt. We could take some of our income and put it towards a new MacBook, but it just doesn’t make sense to me if it’s going to slow down our debt repayments. Even if we had no debt… well, maybe I would buy a MacBook then… but really I would want to do even more home improvements — like finish our attic and basement to better utilize the space we already have.

So I decided not to buy another MacBook. Thus began my quest to find a suitable replacement. One that didn’t run Windows (I really dislike the Windows operating system). Eventually, for $214, I decided on getting a Chromebook… And that’s where the major downsizing came in.

I am losing some functionality, but I think I can make it work. (I hope it works!) It satisfies 3 out of the 4 problems listed above with my current MacBook — it’ll have a new battery with a long life, it will be mobile, and it will technologically up-to-date. The thing is, it still doesn’t have much storage space.

Chromebooks are designed to have most, if not all, digital matter stored in the Cloud. I’m a little weary of storing everything on the internet, but I do still have my external hard drive to store back-ups and super personal files. My husband has a Toshiba laptop running Windows to which I will transfer my iTunes account, since one cannot run iTunes on an Chromebook at all. I fear that not having my very own iTunes will be the thing I miss the most — after all, I’ve already been dealing with no storage space and loss of software for a few years now — but it will definitely be manageable.

There’s probably a lot more that even my current obsolete MacBook can do that a Chromebook cannot, but when I really thought about it, I decided I didn’t really need it. I asked myself “What do I use my computer for on a day-today basis?” and “What do I want to use it for in the future?”

Right now, I basically use my computer for the internet — things like online banking, email, domestic shopping, connecting to the library, searching for information, reading blogs, etc. — and a Chromebook should be ace at allowing me to do all that.

In the future, I want to do more writing. It certainly does not take a powerful computer to do word processing, so a Chromebook should manage fine. I will have to give up Scrivener, but as much as I like Scrivener, I am looking forward to the simplicity of writing without all the bells and whistles. Like, a typewriter has been seeming very appealing to me lately — no distractions. A Chromebook will be full of internet distractions, but I can also just physically disconnect from that for a while.

There are lots of other things that I’ve used a computer for in the past, like editing videos and photos, but I’ve grown away from them and have no desire to go back to it. I have a family now and want to spend more time with them and less time in front of a screen. And since I’ll be sharing iTunes with my husband, maybe that’ll bring us closer, too, ha. I’m diving in — the Chromebook should arrive in the mail sometime next week — and I’ll just see how it goes.

Hopefully it’s enough.

Some Thoughts on Minimal Privilege

About a year ago, I wrote about increasing satisfaction through deprivation. I tried my best to turn a difficult situation into something from which to learn and grow. I wanted to feel good about a state of lack and so I decided to be appreciative.

Last night, the blower on our furnace broke down. We had no heat, save for a small space heater we borrowed to keep the children’s bedroom warm (Andrew and I piled on blankets to stay warm while we slept), while a snow storm blew outside.
During the day, with the snow falling harder, the space heater actually did a pretty good job of keeping the house warm while we waited for an available HVAC technician to come take a look at our furnace. The temperature in the house never even dipped below 60°F.
As we endured this slight inconvenience, I kept thinking about what I wrote about in my Increasing Satisfaction Through Deprivation post and I didn’t feel as comfortable with it. I mean, I think it still has its merits, but since I read a guest post on Becoming Minimalist about Minimal Privilege, I just haven’t been able to think about it in the same way.
All of us are permitted to have our own feelings and experiences. My experiences are not less valid because someone else experiences something harder. But being aware of what others may be going through is a powerful concept. I feel less flippant about using deprivation as a tool — using my privilege to choose how and when to deprive myself — when it is a real life struggle for some people.
I sometimes feel bogged down by our debt, but I don’t really have to worry about having enough food for my family or having the electric cut off or being able to keep the family warm enough. We are quite fortunate and it will serve me well to remember that.
It’s also good for me to remember that others may not be as fortunate as myself so I can do what I can to help, whether that be by donating to charities, helping a friend, or by being more mindful during conversations.

The Importance of Rest

I’m not an expert on anything. But I do know that when it comes to myself (I guess I am kind of an expert on myself), rest is key.

For me, the daily rest I need is at least 7 hours, preferably 8 hours, or sleep per night. But when I’m feeling exhausted, I need to take a break — even if it’s just sitting on the couch for 5 minutes. Rest is the only thing that can properly recharge me.

Now that I’m pregnant with my third child (surprise!), rest is even more important. Hurray naps! And we all need to remember to pay attention to any special situations that may require more rest for our bodies.

For example, when we’re sick, especially with something as seemingly harmless as a cold, we sometimes kind of just power through it. We acknowledge we’re sick, feel miserable, maybe take some drugs, and then slog through so our daily lives aren’t interrupted. We may want to just magically feel better, but we need to take care of ourselves.

I think this may be because we’re afraid of seeming weak, or asking for help, or just dealing with an inconvenience in our lives. But the truth is, sometimes we just need rest. Science has come a long way, but there is still no substitute for some good, solid, rest.

And, man, do we need it sometimes. Let’s give it to ourselves! Just like our bodies need food, water, and activity, they need rest. Let’s not forget this important part of our lively balance. Sometimes, I even schedule it right into my day.

Remember, balance is poise — a graceful and elegant bearing in a person.

Over 45 Baby Things We Didn’t Need

Expecting a baby can be scary because you may not have any idea or frame of reference for what to expect. I know I didn’t. So when Andrew and I were expecting our first baby, we did a Baby Registry. (I also hadn’t heard of minimalism yet.)

We were the first of our friends and semi-extended family to get pregnant so we couldn’t expect a lot of hand-me-downs. Without knowing what having a baby would be like, we followed the big box store’s Baby Registry Buying Guide to make sure we had everything we could possibly need to care for our hypothetical baby. Two actual babies later, I’ve been able to see that we didn’t need a lot of what the store said we would.

Sleep/Bedroom Nursery

  • matching furniture – we were gifted a beautiful crib and glider that we use everyday. We got a secondhand changing table, bookshelf (for toys), side table (which we don’t really need, but is nice for holding a plant and a glass of water for me during nursing), and toddler bed. The closet attached to the room is more than ample for their clothes.
  • matching crib bedding – we used a breathable crib bumper (only from 0-9 mo.) and just 2 sheets per baby. We were gifted so many blankets we donated a bunch. We kept only a lightweight and heavyweight blanket each (we like homemade crocheted blankets from family the best).
  • waterproof mattress covers – most crib mattresses are waterproof anyway. Ours is. So we got rid of the covers and cut down on a lot of laundry.
  • sheet saver – again, just another piece of laundry to wash. And I worried about it as a suffocation hazard.
  • wearable blankets/sleep sacs/structured swaddlers – muslin blankets satisfied the purposes of all of those things. And don’t worry, with practice, you will get better at wrapping a swaddle.
  • table lamps – our ceiling fan/light is extremely useful and out of the way; a nightlight is nice for late-night feedings or diaper changes; but table lamps can be a space-eating hazard
  • any decor – babies don’t care. They want to see their parents’ faces, and that’s it… well except for some breasts or a bottle. We have decorated our boys’ rooms over the years with posters that have come with books or DVDs.
  • mobile/white noise machine – yes, the mobile is very cute, but we only used it a handful of times and didn’t really need it.

Diapering/Bathing

  • wipe warmer – superfluous
  • wipe dispenser – extra-superfluous. Wipes have their own dispensing mechanism built-in. I’ve never had wipes in the pack dry out on me and I’m not even careful.
  • changing pad cover – we used these because we had them, but the changing pad is waterproof so it is easily cleaned without the extra piece of laundry
  • changing pad saver – again, just more laundry
  • 6-8 baby bath towels – we have 4 (for 2 boys), but now I’m thinking we could have just used our regular bath towels.
  • 10-12 wash cloths – we have 6 and don’t need that many.
  • grooming kit – we only used the baby nail clippers
  • air purifier – I believe that babies should learn to breath the same air as everyone else; it builds strong lungs
  • baby bathrobe – cute on the hanger, but I don’t even know what it would’ve looked like on my babies… we never got it on them. Being wrapped up in a towel was always good enough. And just easier.
  • dental care – wait until your baby has teeth, then your dentist will give you what you need for free
  • tub faucet cover – I don’t understand why this would ever be needed. Because it’s cute? Look at your baby – I bet he or she is 1,000x cuter.

Travel

  • car seat saver – I’m not even entirely sure what this is exactly, but it sounds like more laundry
  • sun shade – We use a blanket with little babies and sunglasses for our toddler.
  • mirror – We registered and received one, but it did not work out very well. First, it was hard to find a good place for it in our car. Then, it didn’t stay in the correct position so it reflected things like feet or just seat. Finally, it kept falling down. Much more hassle than it’s worth.
  • bunting and foot muff – Infant carseats come with enough safety padding for infants. For warmth we just used blankets.
  • booster seat – we will probably need this, but we didn’t need it in our pre-baby preparation. We will buy it when our boys outgrow the carseats they already have.
  • car seat travel bag – Another thing to carry around more things? Definitely not essential.
  • any stroller accessories – We just used blankets for extra shade and brought a toy or two from the house when needed.
  • fancy expensive diaper bag – We’ve used backpacks, totes, and duffels we already had laying around the house. Keep your travel accessories simple and a simple bag will do. I like using my small canvas “gym” duffel the best.

Feeding

  • more than 6 bottles – that’s about 3 small bottles and 3 bigger bottles with 3 slow nipples and 3 fast nipples. I breastfed for the first 6 months with Wingnut and 10 months with Pigpen with some combination feeding before going solely formula (a little over 4 months with Mo and 2 months with Pigpen). Wash your bottles daily or twice daily — preferably without a dishwasher — and you’ll be fine.
  • infant positioner – We used our laps and arms for the infant stage and the high chair when the babies could sit up on their own.
  • 6-8 pacifiers – pacifying is a totally personal choice. We allowed it. We got buy with 2 to 4 pacifiers.
  • bottle warmer – Used a mug filled with warm water.
  • bottle sterilizer – A pot with boiling water.
  • special bottle drying rack – Our plain drain board in the sink worked fine.
  • dishes and bowls – we use our Corelle flatware for our children. Some times we let the baby eat off of his tray; we taught Wingnut to be careful and he has proven to be quite responsible with with porcelain and glass as early as being 1.5 years old.

Clothing

  • baby shoes – annoying and useless. I like getting shoes when the baby (toddler) is standing and starting to walk around — the shoes are good for outside when they want to be a part of the action and explore on their own.

Playtime

  • door jumper – we were excited for this classic piece, but our babies are small so the sizing never worked out. They were either floating and sliding around the big bucket seat, or old enough to walk around and very unhappy about being trapped in a hanging seat.
  • play yard – We have a small house and let the babies explore most of it on their own.
  • play mat – Replace with a blanket and toys.
  • seat walker – Like the door jumper, it wasn’t a good size for our boys. They prefer(ed) the standing walkers. We were lucking to receive one that did not require batteries or have too many bells and whistles.
  • DVDs – We limited screen time until Wingnut was 2 years old. Even when Wingnut watches now (we use a streaming service), Pigpen isn’t interested. He’d rather play with toys or people.
  • a lot of toys – We keep the toys limited to 3 shelves on a bookcase in their room. We rotate the toys a few times a year to cooperate with the seasons and keep things interesting.

Wow. That was a lot of stuff. And I’m sure there’s even more stuff you don’t need out there that stores are trying to sell to you and your baby. Maybe I should have made a list of all the things I actually did need and find to be useful, ha.

But anyway, maybe some of my little stories and tidbits will help you decide you don’t need a few things you were considering after all. You’ll save yourself and/or your loved ones some money. And you’ll save the planet the cost of more consumerism and waste. It’s a win-win.

Cheers!

Failure – It’s a Thing

The Vlogbrothers (by the Brothers Green, Hank and John) have recently been talking about failure. I also think it’s a good thing to talk about. Everybody fails and experiences the negative emotions that come along with it. Of course, that doesn’t mean we need to be ashamed. Failure is a universal experience. It’s a thing that happens. So let’s talk about it.

Usually, when I write about failure, whether it be publicly or privately (in a diary or journal), I always follow it up with a “but…” But without that failure I never would have had this opportunity. I failed at that, but I learned this. But (ha) we ALWAYS learn from EVERYTHING. There will always be more opportunities, regardless of whether your past is littered with failures or successes.

So I’m going to list some of my failures, sans excuses. I’ll just list them as they are because they are just things.

  • publish a book
  • several attempts to quit sugar
  • first attempt at the written test for my motorcycle license
  • to finish several stories
  • Bullet Journaling
  • shopping ban
  • my attempts at vlogging
  • keeping several houseplants alive
  • many, many craft projects
  • learning the guitar
  • learning the piano
  • being perfect

Thus are just some of my recent failures. …so far. 😉

And I’m sure there are lots and lots that I missed.

Huh. I even failed at completing this list.

On Deciding to Become a Mother

I never wanted children. I am the youngest in my direct family, and I never took a particular interest in younger cousins or other people’s babies. I never felt the urge to nurture and it was never asked of me. Even after I became engaged to be married, I didn’t want children. My husband did. It was the topic of our first major fight.

As you may have noticed, I’ve since changed my mind. I have two children now and would like more — three or four or five. (Five total, not five more. That’s just crazy.) I cannot pinpoint one thing as the deciding factor for my change of heart.

Andrew, on the other hand, always wanted children. His mother saved an elementary school report in which he answered the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “a father.” I love my husband very much — how could I be the one to squash his childhood dream? I didn’t want to take that away from him. I didn’t feel in any way obligated, but I realized that I would be a mother for him, a mother to his father. He would make and raise wonderful children. (And I’ve since been proven correct.)

I was a bit afraid of pregnancy and what it would do to my body at first. But women’s bodies are made to bear children. And it wasn’t hard to find women who’ve had children and managed to maintain and take excellent care of their bodies. Sure, it’s changed my body a bit, but bodies change all the time anyway. And I actually quite like how pregnancy and breastfeeding has changed my body. (I had room for some more curves.)

I also wasn’t sure if I was going to make a good mother. Remember my lack of nurturing instincts? Well, they kicked in with the rest of the hormones I didn’t fully understand. It felt easy and right to just go with it. Naturally, I wanted my children to survive and thrive so I nurtured them. The most important parenting decision I made was to be calm and flexible.

Having children has been extremely difficult and absolutely wonderful. I did have one condition to becoming parents, though — that we would spend the first year of our marriage alone together before trying to conceive — and I am very happy with my choice.

My experience has basically brought my thinking around to this: I think in most cases it would be more likely to regret not having children, than to regret having them.

Cheers to family and primal instincts.

 

Parenting resources:

Back to Work After My Second Baby

I went back to work a few days ago after a four-and-a-half-month-long pregnancy/maternity leave.

I had mixed feelings about it at first for a few reasons. My boys need 24 hour care… but it doesn’t have to be solely my responsibility. Pigpen doesn’t like being bottle fed (even though it’s still my milk)… but he can learn. Our family doesn’t need any more money… but I enjoy the break in my day to do other work with other people.

I made my decision and I’m glad that I went back for even more reasons. We get free childcare from my mother-in-law for the four hours we need it during the week. I feel like I’m contributing more — to my family and my workplace. Pumping at work isn’t so bad. And Andrew gets some quality time with the boys.

I like being a mother (actually, I like it more than I thought I would), but that doesn’t mean that I should do everything for my children by myself. That’s not a good balance — for myself or for the well-being of my children.

That said, I had a weird experience right before I went back. I felt like I needed to be prepared. And to be prepared, I felt the urge to buy things. I needed a 2016 datebook. I had to replace my hole-y shoes (done). Did I have all of the workplace-appropriate clothing I would need? Did I have all of the office supplies I would need?

Of course I did. Besides a datebook for the new year, I had everything I needed. I’d done the job before!

But even though I’ve done the job before and I knew my supervisor would be understanding about me getting back into the swing of things slowly, I was nervous. I was nervous that I’d forgotten everything, that pumping would be a pain, that Pigpen would go so crazy about the bottle that he’d hurt himself somehow.

These were all somewhat silly things to be nervous about and, most importantly, I didn’t really have much control over them. I needed to jump in and trust and see how things went, and then, if they did go badly, fix it when I had more information. There was nothing I was going to prematurely “fix” or avoid by buying something.

It was eye-opening to realize that it was my fear of the unknown that led me to feel the urge to buy myself some protection, some pacification. Just knowing that, I felt better about letting the unknowns happen on their own and taking it from there. I could buy something when I really needed it, if I really needed it, to fix a problem. But, so far, there haven’t been any problems. So no need to buy anything.

My job even provided me with a new 2016 datebook for free.

All is well.

Cheers.

My Minimalism Fears

Minimalism can be scary. It’s a way of life that is not only very opposite to the modern world’s status quo, but also encourages you to dig deep into yourself — to discover who you truly are and, thus, what you truly value — and you can’t always be too sure what you’ll find there. Like maybe some things you don’t like about yourself.

But I truly believe that practicing a more minimalistic lifestyle has benefits that outweigh any of the frightening cons. Although, some are scarier than others.

Going against the grain. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel, you might say. I didn’t rebel for the sake of it. I just did things my way because that’s how I liked it. Stubborn, I guess you could call it. I didn’t so much believe that the way other people did things was the best way for me. For example, I’ve been described as “quirky“. So this one doesn’t bother me so much. But there is always that awkward moment when someone realizes you’re doing your own thing and it’s — gasp! — different from theirs. Which brings me to…

What other people will think of me. This is more personal than going against the grain, which can be hard because stores don’t stock the fair trade items produced in wind-powered factories I want or whatever. When it comes to explaining my minimalist way of life to other people, I just kind of… don’t. (Unless they ask, of course.) I’m afraid that they won’t be receptive to it and I will spend the whole time defending myself. I’m afraid that this will make me seem weirder than I already do and push me over some weird-limit that they have (people have those, right?) and then they can’t be friends with me anymore or something. And I’m afraid that they’ll think I don’t like them and what they do because I think another way is better for me. Which kind of goes along with…

Hurting other people’s feelings. I have a hard time with this. I can do me all day long until someone comes along with good intentions. Maybe it’s just that I don’t like confrontation. (There was one Christmas that contained an argument about Santa Claus that was particularly traumatizing.) I just don’t know how to say “no” to some things, especially unwanted gifts. It’s something I need to work on.

Finding out that my wants and habits don’t align with my core values. This isn’t scary because it’s something I can’t control; it’s scary because it’s completely within my control and totally my responsibility. If it so happens, it could take a lot of effort and time and deep self-reflection to correct. Don’t get me wrong, I do want my habits to support my values, but realizing I’ve been doing something all along that I myself don’t agree with just isn’t something I would relish.

Since minimalism is a relatively new thing for me, there are a lot of unknowns.

So, yeah, it can be scary. Is it worth it? I think so. I’ll find out more for sure as I go on.

Cheers.