Tag Archives: Myself

What’s In My Hospital Bag for Baby #3

It’s nice to have some extra clothes and home comforts in the hospital with you when it’s time to deliver your baby. And of course there are the things you need, which is actually a lot less than you might think (especially for a baby born during warm weather).

I’m speaking from the vantage point of delivering a baby in a hospital as opposed to anywhere else because a hospital is where I birthed my previous two babies and plan to birth my third. I really have no idea what other situations might be like or the accessories they might entail. Judging from experience, I like how easy my hospital makes it for me.

First, a list of what is in my bag.

The Essentials

  • A postpartum outfit. For me, this summer, this means maternity waisted (as in not full-panel elastics) shorts and maternity waisted jeans (I highly doubt I’ll wear the jeans, but who knows, maybe there will be a cool night); a loose v-neck t-shirt; and one nursing bra. I will have the shoes I wear to the hospital – either sandals or flip-flops. A nice summer dress would also do nicely, but I’m wearing them constantly pre-delivery and I don’t want to take even one out of rotation to make sure it’s clean and packed and ready to go.
  • 2 outfits for the baby. Outfit 1: A Newborn Size short-sleeve onesie; tiny shorts; a thin cotton hat; and Outfit 2: a Size 0-3 Months short-sleeve shorts romper; with previously mentioned thin cotton hat.
  • Baby mittens. So the silly baby doesn’t scratch himself up with his newly exposed fingernails.
  • 2 thin baby blankets. Many people take the blanket from the hospital, but they really don’t want you to. I use hospital blankets whenever possible, however, so if they get messy they will be laundered right away. I wrap my newborn in one blanket for a while and then send it home with visiting family so they can introduce the scent of the new family member to our cats. The other thin baby blanket should be more than enough to keep the baby warm if his outfits aren’t enough.
  • Extra contact case and solution. I am in the habit of removing and cleaning my contacts every night and I suspect my eyes would hate it if I kept them in for 2-3 days straight in the hospital. I just don’t like sleeping with contacts in either. I want to be able to put them back in during the day, though, because my glasses aren’t comfortable enough to wear all day.
  • Eyeglasses and case. Okay, these aren’t technically in my bag yet because I still wear them every night. But I have a Post-it Note next to my bag reminding me to grab them out of my nightstand before leaving for the hospital. As it gets closer to my due date, I will just store them in my hospital bag, taking them out for whenever I need to use them at night.
  • My purse. This includes my wallet with all necessary ID, insurance cards, and money, and my cell phone.

The Comforts

  • Nursing pads. At home I use washable organic cotton nursing pads. A cousin had given me a box of disposable ones that I kept forgetting to use at home when Pigpen was nursing. I’m packing them mostly so they’ll get used, and somewhat because I think they might be convenient to have.
  • Cell phone charger.
  • Camera and charger.

Now a list of things I am not bringing.

  • Diapers/feminine pads/disposable underwear. The hospital provides all we need and more to take home with us.
  • Toiletries. The hospital provides it all. And I’ve actually never showered in the 2 days spent at the hospital after giving birth. I’m too busy sleeping, nursing, interacting with doctors and nurses, and generally recovering. I’ve already established that I don’t need to shower very often to feel good. You may want to shower, but the hospital should provide all you need to do so.
  • Slippers or socks. My hospital provides comfy, fuzzy, grip-y socks with my gown as soon as I get a room.
  • Baby socks. Summer here is quite warm and, again, the baby blanket can pick up any slack.
  • Book or magazine and journal. I’ve brought these before and never used them. During the day, I’m busy. At night, I try to sleep. For entertainment, I talk with my husband or we watch the luxury of cable tv, which we don’t have at home.
  • Snacks. The hospital provides me with all the food I need. Andrew isn’t included in the meal plan, but that’s up to him. I’ve got enough to worry about. If I get hungry, I send Andrew out to bring me extra food.
  • iPod.

All that I am bringing fits in a medium-sized backpack with room to spare. I am a minimalist so I am not bringing much. But I will definitely have everything I need. I’ve learned I don’t need other “comforting” items, because as long as my husband is there and my baby is healthy, I’m good.

2-3 days is not a long time and there is actually a lot to do. Mind you, I believe that rest is a very important thing to do in the hospital. (Especially before we bring our tiny new infant home to two toddlers.) I don’t need my hospital room to emulate a luxurious hotel room or spa experience to accomplish the simple act of resting. We are there to get our baby safely from my belly into the world and to ensure he’s healthy enough to go home. Then we get comfortable, in our family home, together.

How to Write

I have often wondered how to write. Ever since I was a little girl, ever since I knew how to read and could consume stories, I wanted to be a writer, an author. But how to do that? There were no instruction manuals, were there? No steps to follow like how to become a vet or an accountant or a gym teacher. Or was there? Authors knew how to write. Why not ask them? They’ve written books about how to write! So I’ve been reading them ever since.

I actually probably haven’t read that many, compared to some aspiring authors. Mostly, I read stories. I couldn’t stay away from stories. Adventuresome stories, funny stories, educational stories. I wanted to be taken to worlds away. I wanted to go there myself. I wanted to bring others with me.

Right now I’m reading Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury because it has found its way into my life from several different angles lately. I was so excited to be inspired by this thin little volume, for it to give me what I needed to be the writer I wanted to be.

So far, I’m disappointed. I haven’t finished it yet, but it is, so far, not what I expected. It seems to be more memoir than writing manual. But! Alas! Maybe that’s what writing IS! It isn’t a skill to be learned through the study of a manual, but a lifestyle to be discovered through living! Zen in the Art of Writing can be a bit repetitive, as it is a collection of essays from over decades, but something that Bradbury mentioned again and again is how he wrote 1,000 words every day.

Monday, he wrote. Tuesday, he wrote. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, he wrote. He mailed off his stories every Saturday to be published in magazines. Sunday he let all of the ideas bubble up and excite him before the next week of writing.

And look at me. Here I am, sitting at my computer (using a typewriter app because no distractions), writing. This is what I need to do. My stories will never be like his. My process won’t be the same as his, either. But the pure passion he writes with… That is inspiring. It doesn’t really matter what he’s saying, I guess, but just the fact that he is saying it with gusto.

My whole life I have wondered how to be a writer, but I’ve done it. I’ve been writing my whole life. Not perfectly consistently, not exactly what I wish I had been writing, but I’ve written. I have this hang-up that to be considered a writer, I have to publish something. Like, professionally, officially publish something. I’ve tried to convince myself that no, that is authorship, not being a writer, but really my head refuses to separate the two.

I am a writer because I write. Have I not “published” things on my own website? Have I not won prizes and recognition with my poetry and short stories? Have I not kept a diary or journal for over 18 years of my life? Have I not entertained and enthralled my mother, husband, and children with my stories? I write so I am a writer.

So, how to write, then? It is akin to asking one how to live. No one answer is the correct answer for everyone. Contrarily, no two answers will probably ever be the same for any two people. We must live each day to live our lives, even if we’re not sure what we are doing as we do it. The same with writing. Write every day. Share it if we want. (Do we find it beneficial to share our lives with friends and family, for example?) As we write, as we live, we discover, we experience, and we figure out how. A new adventure, every day.

Edited later to add:

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all.” – Ray Bradbury, 1965

Making Every Day a Good Day with My 5 “Daily Do’s”

I first heard of a strategy like this used by someone who deals with anxiety as part of their daily self-care routine. I don’t struggle with anxiety in any clinical sense, but I do sometimes struggle with the demands of my everyday life, causing the care of myself to get pushed aside.

I spend a lot of time taking care of other people. I love those people very much, but I also love myself, and it can put me in a very bad mood when I’m unable to take care of myself. Furthermore, when I am unable to give myself the proper self-care I need, I am less able to take good care of the ones I love and am responsible for by providing for them all they need. Self-care is not selfish because making it a priority makes me better able to serve those around me. And I’m just more pleasant to be around.

There are a few things that I do everyday or not, depending on the day and what I actually need. For example, I am not the type of person who needs to shower everyday. I can be perfectly happy showering every 2 or 3 days. Another example is that I like to read, but don’t need to do it everyday to feel properly relaxed or that I’ve had my sufficient “me” time.

There are also other things that I’ve already ingrained so deep into my daily routine that it’s not an issue. These things are non-negotiable now, and my family knows it, so it’s easy for me to do. Some examples of this are my 11 o’clock bedtime (unless there is a special reason for which I choose to stay up) and eating 3 meals (and possibly 1 snack) per day at consistent times.

But there were other things that I wanted to do that I either wasn’t doing or wasn’t doing consistently, even though I really thought that fitting them into my day would… maybe not make me happier, per say, but would lift my mood up no matter what else was happening in my life. Like, if I could do those things, I could consider it a good, productive day even if everything else went to shit.

I put a lot of thought into what I wanted my “Daily Do’s” (i.e. things to be done daily) to be. I didn’t want them to be too difficult, too time-consuming, or to have too many. I wanted to make it easy for myself to have a good day. I wanted to make it enjoyable, not a chore. I wanted to set myself up for success. So I came up with this list of just 5 Daily Do’s:

  1. outside
  2. move
  3. write
  4. gratitude
  5. zen

Go outside. This is pretty self-explanatory. I want to go outside and get fresh air every day. Even if it’s raining. Even if it’s really hot. Even if it’s really cold. Even if I have tons of stuff to get done inside. There is no time requirement, but I don’t really count walking from the house to the car, from the car to another building. Ideally, I like to include my children in this time outside as well.

Move my body. Exercise, but not so formal. Just get up and move. Do something. Standing still and washing the dishes doesn’t count, but something like vacuuming the house would. Do some yoga, walk around the block. Just make sure I’m not sedentary all day, even if I’m exhausted or my pregnancy is making me all stiff and uncomfortable.

Write. I don’t want to be an “aspiring” writer. I want to be a writer. And to do that, I need to write. Every. Day. It can be part of a novel, a short story, a blog post, a letter, or some journaling. A grocery list or an overly simple diary entry don’t count. Ideally, I want it to be creative writing to exercise my imagination, but anything to keep the words flowing and my voice fresh will do.

Be grateful. I’ve been pretty good at doing this consistently for about a year again now, but I want to make sure I do it every day. I make a simple list at the end of the day of whatever I was grateful for that day. I need at least one, but I usually end up with no less than 3. Repeats are totally acceptable. No long explanations needed. Writing them down just makes me conscious of them — thinking about them, noting them — and recognizing that gratitude makes me appreciate my life a lot more than if I only let what went wrong buzz around my head.

Practice some zen spiritualism. I am not a religious person, but I have found that I need to tend to some of my spirituality to feel like I am an important part of this world and universe. It’s a big place and it can be easy for me to feel small and insignificant. I’ve done some soul-searching, as it were, in the past, but lately I’ve felt I’ve wanted some guidance without strict rules or obligations. A stroke of serendipity brought me to the book The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim, a Zen Buddhist monk. It’s generally about how to stay calm in a busy world. I’ve already read it through once and am now continuing with it by re-reading 2-3 pages per night as a part of my Daily Do’s.

I’ve also created an easy way to track that I am keeping up with my Do’s on the Daily. I intentionally designed my simple list with one-word descriptions, each with unique first letters, to be easy to remember. (I didn’t make an acronym because I didn’t feel like being corny or trying too hard.) So every day, as I do these things, I write the corresponding letter along the bottom of the day’s block in my Bullet Journal calendar. Quick, simple, effective.

It doesn’t take up too much time or space to track, and if I see that I’m missing something near the end of the day, my requirements are so undemanding it’s still pretty easy for me to accomplish all five.

O M W G Z — that means a good day for me.

Changing the Way I Track My Spending

I first started really keeping track of my daily spending in December 2015. Since then, I’ve tried a few different ways to track, and honestly I’m still not sure if I found the way that’s right for me. But I am learning all along the way, so that’s something. And I’ve decided to share some of my experiences here so maybe you can avoid some of the things that didn’t work for me.

First, I created a budget listing expenses by category. Then, throughout the month, I would list every purchase amount made and also color-code them by category. I would input those amounts into a formula to be balanced within the budget. It looked something like this:

Note: all amounts are made-up.

It was very colorful and the color-codes allowed me to see where my money went, but it was also very labor-intensive and didn’t really help me at all when I was at the check-out counter. I would spend first, think later. So it was a lot of work and didn’t help me stick to my budget. I needed to try something else.

Next, I tried to simplify things a bit. Instead of keeping a running list of every purchase I made, I just added the amount spent into the “spent” section of a slightly different budget set-up I created.

The design was a lot simpler and thus easier to use. I did need to make sure I was keeping track of purchases as they happened because they weren’t detailed in the spreadsheet so it was harder to figure out what amount corresponded to what purchase receipt. It helped a little bit more with deterring spending — I’m not sure why. Maybe because I had to keep track more often? Maybe because after a year I was just naturally being a bit more mindful? Still, keeping track of what purchase was affecting which category was hard to do at the check-out counter.

In the past few weeks, I’ve decided to try yet another strategy. This one incorporates the budget spreadsheet with the calendar in my bullet journal. I use yet another reincarnation of my budget to determine a weekly spending amount (ideally in cash), then write that amount on the Sunday block of a new week. Then, throughout the week, I subtract the dollar amount I spend each day, hopefully not straying past $0 by the end of the week. If I do stray past $0 during the week, I subtract that deficit from the next week on Sunday.

The new budget:

And the calendar… it’s quite messy, but it looks like this:

Maybe you can tell that I am already really far beyond this month. I did buy a new computer, though. My hope, however, is that I will be able to amass many more highlighter-green days, a.k.a. no-spend days, to make up the deficit by the end of the month. Seeing that negative number everyday is a motivator, but I’ve still yet to find out if it is motivating enough. The highlighter-green days are inspiring — they are my goal.

So if you are looking for ways to track your spending, maybe some of this will help. I’m sure there are tons of options to look at online. And don’t be afraid to play around with different strategies to find out what works best for you. And remember, what worked best for you last year, might not be the best anymore — don’t be afraid to change it up and keep it fresh. As long as you’re trying to keep track of spending (i.e. keeping what’s going out less than what’s coming in), I believe you are on the right path to some financial comfort.

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 Book Club Thoughts

I joined a book club about a year and a half ago and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I really enjoy the people and their company. It is mostly women, but men come irregularly, too. (About 6 women and 4 men total.) We usually meet at just the one couple’s house, although I did host it at my house one time. We usually have very little snacks, maybe some coffee, tea, or wine. And we talk about the book however we want — no discussion questions or set themes or anything. We just read, meet, chat. A lot of times, we get off on big tangents. We are supposed to meet monthly, but sometimes life gets in the way.

As you can tell, we are pretty flexible. Everyone suggests books titles that we write on slips of paper and pick at random out of a bowl. We all generally agree on the book or else we pick a new title. Lately, we’ve been pulling an optional book to read as well. We pick books a month ahead of time so we actually have 2 months to read any given title, even though we meet monthly. (Still averages out to reading one book per month, but if something is a heavier read, we have some time to get our minds around it.)

Again, I really enjoy the people and their company and hanging out and talking. I enjoy talking about books and I enjoy talking about the other life subjects we inevitably get to while discussing literature and stories and history and current events.

The thing is… I don’t think I actually like the books. I really liked very few. I could stand others, but didn’t enjoy them. One was very readable, and I’m glad it opened my eyes to that subject, but I can’t say it was enjoyable to experience — more shocking, really. And others I just couldn’t get through.

Maybe book clubs help some people to read, by setting a date and being accountable and following through, no matter what. But I have no problem with reading. Maybe some people like the varied genres and authors they are exposed to in such an open book club, but mostly I just like reading what I like reading. Maybe some people like the intellectual stimulation and discussion and debate, and I like that, too, but that’s not why I read — I just like to read for fun.

So I guess I know how I feel about it. I like getting together to hang out with these people and I like talking about books, but I generally don’t like reading the books chosen for discussion. I want to stay in the group, but I’ve gotten less committed to reading the books if I’m not interested — and that makes me feel bad. I mean, no one has gotten in trouble for not reading a book, no one has gotten mad that they were one of the few people to have read a book, no one has seemed upset if everyone else vetoed a book title they wrote on a slip for the bowl. We are all understanding and forgiving and just want to get together and have a good time. We all still read, so we always have books to discuss. And, failing that, we talk about tv, ha.

I’ve been honest with myself about what I like to read, and I’ve been honest with the club about it, too. I always give the books a shot, so I have something to add to the conversation, even if it’s just why I didn’t like it or couldn’t finish it.

It’s a little stretch from my goals of reading slower — reading a little less and reading better for me. But I do think it’s worth it to open myself up to new stories and discussions, even for just a little while each month. I’m going to stick with the club. For now. We’ll see how crazy my life gets once there’s a third baby in the mix.

Buying vs. Borrowing Books

I love to read. I love books. And I love to read books. To me, those are all different statements. And the fact that they are all true for me create a bit of a paradox for my minimalist lifestyle.

I know minimalism is a completely individual experience — finding what sparks joy for me, figuring out what is essential for me to be both calm and productive, figuring out what I enjoy most — but sometimes that can be kind of a long and arduous process. I do still think it’s worth it. Even if I have to a lot of internal debate first.

A topic that has plagued me for years is whether I should buy or borrow books. Although, realistically, it’s pretty obvious to me now that it’s going to be some mix of the two. I just had to figure out how, exactly, to mix it up.

I love to read. I enjoy perusing magazines, learning from non-fiction text, and experiencing a really great story. It is my favorite hobby and form of entertainment. Now, if I only go by my love of reading, borrowing books makes perfect sense. I get all the knowledge and story without spending any money or accumulating any clutter. I absorb the information and then return the medium. But…

I love books. I think books are beautiful. I think they smell wonderful. I think they are lovely and I love having them around. I like to re-read books. I like that I form a type of relationship with the physical book as I form relationships with the characters. I like the memories that get soaked up in the pages as I read — like where I was, how I was feeling, what the weather was like, and how I changed. I also like to support authors for creating art that moves me. So it makes sense for me to buy books, too, because I appreciate more than just the stories — it’s the experience the book brings about as a whole as well as the world the author creates. But books can be expensive when you read a lot. And they can be big and heavy and take up lots of space. What about an eReader then? Well…

I love to read books. I have an eReader that I use occasionally and I do like it. It stores a lot of books, there are a wide range of books to download, it’s easy to use, and it’s very small and light. I can even borrow ebooks from my library. But it’s also missing that je ne sais quoi. It doesn’t provide a look, feel, and weight unique to each book. It may have a slight smell, but it’s electronic-y and not book-y. It just seems a bit… impersonal. It’s like having a very knowledgable robot that can tell me things all day long instead of me meeting actual people and learning about them from them. And as with all technology, it will become obsolete — the hardware will get old and the software won’t be supported anymore. Plus, I have to make sure the battery is charged. (I usually realize it needs charging when the screen blanks out in the middle of my reading.) So although an eReader seems like it would be the perfect minimal solution for an avid book reader, it’s just not for me.

My solution? Compromise. Maybe this is a no-brainer for some people, but I just wanted an easy go-to answer. Like, I only borrow books to save money (and space) or I only buy books to support authors and keep my reading slow or I love my eReader! It’s perfect for everything! but it’s more complicated than that. Although, when I stop really thinking about it, I know in my heart what to do in each situation. I would just over-think it and muss it all up. But if I go with my gut…

  • I know when I truly want to buy a book — to support the author, to have the beautiful artifact on my shelf, to be able to revisit the story whenever I want, to be able to share it with my friends and family.
  • I know when I’d be fine borrowing a book — if it’s an author or story I’m not sure of, whether I’m reading it just because of a book club or recommendation, if I only foresee myself reading it once, or if it’s not available as an ebook.
  • I know when to get it (borrow it) on my eReader — if it’s an author or story I’m not sure of, if the physical book is overly huge or hugely expensive, if it’s a recommendation, if I’ll only read it once, or if it’s only available as an ebook.

Being a minimalist doesn’t mean needing to set up strict rules to govern ourselves and what we consume if that’s not what will actually work with our lives. The purpose of minimalism is to remind us to be mindful of how and why and what we consume. Life is diverse and imperfect and malleable, just like us. And I think that is beautiful and interesting, just like all of our stories.

Practicing minimalism does encourage me to step back and analyze myself when needed, but I appreciate how I can still be flexible enough to just go with my gut sometimes, too.

Check In – 2017 Reading Resolutions

In the beginning of this year, I laid out some Reading Resolutions for myself. After less than a month, it already impacted my reading experience. Now that we’re almost half-way through the year and I’ve hit an “end”, I have some more updates on the experiment.

Summary:

  • Books Bought – 3
  • Books Read – 22
  • Books Abandoned – 9
  • Books Listened To – 1
  • Books Borrowed – 7
  • Book Club Reads – 4
  • Books Owned Left Unread – 1

Books Bought. I have bought 3 books so far in 2017 and was generally happy with all of them. One I foresee myself re-reading over and over throughout my life. The other, my husband and a friend also read (3 reads for the price of 1!) and would like my sons to read it as they get older as well. The other was fun and interesting, but honestly I could’ve borrowed it from the library because I doubt I’ll ever read it again (although I do want to continue with the series).

Books Read. If you  care to see all the books I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my Goodreads. Some have been for pleasure, some for book clubs, some for research, and some out of curiosity. I’ve loved some, liked some, found some to be okay, and hated some. I don’t give books star ratings because I don’t think it is a complex enough review and doesn’t enhance my reading experience at all (I just don’t like doing it).

Book Abandoned. There were 9 books on my shelves at home (mostly “Andrew’s books”) that I attempted to read this year and gave up on. I abandoned each for different reasons, most of which can be summed up with “not my cup of tea”. That’s probably why I’ve never tried to read them before, but now I can say that I’ve given them a fair shot.

Books Listened To. I did listen to 1 audiobook version of a book I had not yet read on our shelf. I listened at work, but it was a quick book and not too intrusive. It was easy to listen to and I enjoyed it. I don’t think I would have kept with it if I had to put in the effort to read it myself, though. It may have been abridged, but oh well, I got the story.

Books Borrowed. These were books I still had out from last year, were for book clubs, or for my own personal research. Namely, the research was for potty training Wingnut and I’m so glad I borrowed that book. It was exactly what I needed, when I needed it.

Book Club Reads. I only enjoyed 1 out of 4 book I’ve read for clubs so far this year. There are 3 more books that are scheduled and in which I’m just not interested. I love books and discussing books, but I honestly don’t know if book clubs are for me. I may do another post entirely about this.

Books Owned Left Unread. I acquired this one this year as a free give-away (darn free stuff clutter). I haven’t read it yet and I’m not sure if I want to. I may keep it around, though, because it’s a classic. Maybe one day I’ll want to read it? (Doubtful, but defo possible.) Maybe my children will need to read it for school? (Our school district usually provides all books.) I don’t know. Maybe I should just get rid of it — like I never even free-stuff-clutter-collected it in the first place.

My Resolutions were originally designed to last the whole year, but I’ve read through all of my unread books much faster than I anticipated. (Granted, abandoning books is a very speedy way to get through them.) Therefore, I don’t think I will continue the resolution of not borrowing books for the rest of the year. I will continue to read my shelves — there are a few books I want to re-read before the new release in the series comes out — but I will allow myself to borrow books now, too.

I will only check-out ONE book from the library at a time, to continue with my slow, enjoyable pace. I will only read what I really want to read. And I will buy books if our budget allows it. I have deep inner contention between whether I should buy or borrow books — perhaps that can be another post in and of itself.

I feel like this experiment has gone very well. I feel very free knowing I’ve experienced all the books on the shelves in my house. It opens a lot of possibilities for what to read next. …Almost too many possibilities. We’ll see how it plays out for the rest of the year.

For now, let’s try this:

  • Read only 1 book at a time.
  • If the budget allows, only buy a book when I am ready to read it.

I’ve always wanted to be at this point — where I have no TBR (to-be-read) at home so if I feel like going to the bookstore, I can buy a book and start reading it right away with no guilt! Amazing. I’m here! I’ve done it! After years and years and years. I’ve finally successfully minimized to-do clutter when it comes to books and it feels amazing. 🙂

 

Making Religious Holidays My Own

Over the holiday weekend, my family and I went camping. Being Easter, it was a holiday for only some. I grew up celebrating Easter. Andrew grew up celebrating Easter. But neither of us would call ourselves religious now and don’t believe in Jesus as the one and only messiah. So why continue to celebrate it? Partly because our families still do, but we’ve come to see it a little differently.

For Easter, Andrew and I have decided to celebrate the arrival of spring, specifically with the first camping trip of the year. We share meals and traditional foods (pufek [spelling??? which is a German bread], liverwurst, and strammer max for me) with family. We don’t dress up or go to church. We spend time together outside, enjoying the freshness of spring, and send the children out on a little egg hunt just because it’s a fun game to play outside. And of course we eat chocolate. Easter, for us, is not about Jesus, but about family and nature and getting out to enjoy the warmer weather.

It’s similar with Christmas. I don’t celebrate the coming of our lord and savior or whatever. But I do like a lot about the holiday, such as the sharing, coziness, warmth, and love. So when I celebrate Christmas, I celebrate the coming of cuddly winter with the closeness and coziness of my family and friends. Since it’s also so close to the end of the year, I reflect back on that year and celebrate it for what it was. Then I celebrate the coming of the New Year with new beginnings.

It didn’t take a lot to get here — just a little shift in thinking. It helps that Andrew and I are on the same page with these religious holidays, too. Celebrating in this way, I am able to comfortably share traditions with my family and friends without feeling like I’m sacrificing my own beliefs or pretending to follow others. I’ve come to enjoy these times again instead of constantly questioning the history and purpose, as I did a few years ago. I am now at a good place with them and feel content.

Perhaps a shift in thinking is all it would take for you to have a more enjoyable holiday?

The Outfit On Which I Consistently Get The Most Compliments

I’m mentioning this outfit because it is so simple. And simplicity is a pretty big theme on this blog, yeah?

For the outfit, the ratio of effort to compliments is crazy skewed. Like, minimal effort for maximum compliments. And I don’t know if someone else wearing this outfit will get as many compliments as I’ve been getting, but it’s so simple there’s no harm in trying, right? I mean, if you want an easy outfit and the confidence boost of acquaintances’ compliments?

Okay, okay, I’m going to shut up now. I think I’m hyping it up way too much already. Especially since it’s nothing new. (Just do an internet search for it — everyone’s wearing it already.)

It’s jeans and a white t-shirt.

My outfit:

  • jeans – right now I have 2 pairs of maternity jeans — both “jegging” skinny jeans, 1 black and 1 dark wash
  • t-shirt – also maternity right now. I prefer v-necks and usually don’t tuck it in.

Here’s how the outfit is specific to me:

And that’s it. Simple simple. Unoriginal, sure, but also so classic. Timeless. Comfortable and even chic.

Bruce Springsteen, with a red or blue bandana, famously wore this simple outfit. I also think it would work really well with a black t-shirt — and then there is less worry about stains! I think my husband looks so, so good in medium-wash jeans and a fitted black crew-neck t-shirt. I mean, of course all clothes looks best when they fit well.

I love this outfit. It is my current uniform. As the weather gets hotter, I will opt for some cuffed jean shorts. Maybe a floppy hat instead of the scarves.

I love the simplicity. I feel good. And I look good, too. A lovely trifecta. A fabulous new uniform for me!