I keep a suitcase in the basement that I fill with clothes that are headed to resale. With as much closet purging and as little clothes buying as I’ve done in the past year, I have been consistently convinced that each trip to resale will be my last for at least the next 6 months, if not a year. Because if I’m adding very few new clothes, and each time I’ve purged my closet I’ve gotten it down to just my favorites, how is it possible I could still have more stuff to get rid of so quickly? Well, apparently, it is possible, because look:
I sold back clothing about two months ago, so this new pile-up was a surprise. The suitcase was so full of clothes that I felt compelled to take a look at what I was getting rid of and why, since obviously a mere two months ago I loved these very items too much to part with them. Here’s is a brief sampling of some things that went from my love it list to my loathe it list in just a few weeks.
Three pairs of jeans. I wear jeans most days of the week, so I’ve always kept a lot of them in my closet – like up to 12 pairs at times. But I’ve been steadily decreasing that number, because I’ve noticed that while yes, I always want to wear jeans, I also always want to wear the SAME jeans over and over again. So why should I keep so many? These three did not make the cut.
Two summer dresses. The striped on on the left is very cute and I did wear it a lot, but I got it at Target so it wasn’t the most well-made garment I’ve ever bought, and after being repeatedly laundered it’s starting to look a little shabby and slightly shrunken. I definitely got my use out of it though, so I feel good about letting it go. The pink dress is an inexpensive one I bought at Gap, and I wore it a few times, but it fell victim to the “one in one out” rule (I talk about letting it go in more detail over on the Tiny Homes site). I was very tempted to say screw the one in/one out rule and keep both dresses, but I’m very happy with my new dress, and in just a month I have already worn the new one more than this old one, which has been hanging in my closet for nearly three years.
These shorts make me feel fat. Therefore, I feel irritable every time I put them on and end up taking them right back off. I have another pair of green shorts that don’t make me feel fat, but I kept these because….yeah, I don’t know.
This shirt, cardigan, and blazer are all from Anthropologie. I kid you not when I say that close to 70% of my wardrobe used to be comprised of items from Anthropologie. I haven’t been able to afford to shop there in the past year, and cutting my Anthro habit made a big impact in stemming the flow of clothes into my wardrobe, since I rarely walked out of that store without buying something. I currently have about 10 items from Anthropologie left in my possession, which for me is a little weird. I think I hung onto to these three more out of nostalgia for my favorite store than any real desire to wear them. But a whole spring/summer went by without me wearing the shirt or cardigan, and while I still like the blazer well enough, I’ve slowly gotten rid of most of the other items that I used to wear it with, so now it feels like odd man out. It was time for all of them to go.
I actually wore this halter top from the Banana Republic outlet store a lot, and I remember buying it on a whim and it being on such a great sale I thought “If I wear this five times I’ll get my money’s worth out of it.” I definitely got my money’s worth, but the last couple times I tried it on I felt like it looked too boxy and ended up changing into something else, so I feel like my infatuation has ended. But no guilt on this purchase at all!
I do, however, have guilt over this black Diane Von Furstenburg dress which I held on to for YEARS, because it was very expensive, and well, because it was DVF. But I rarely wore it. I’ve never been a big fan of shirt dresses, but I’ve tried valiantly over the years to try to like them by purchasing various incarnations of the style. I saw a picture of myself wearing this dress shortly after I’d worn it to our Godson’s christening, and I looked like a total frump. After that, I never really wanted to wear it again. My Godson is now seven years old. Time to let it go.
I have a LOT of guilt for getting rid of these boots. Not because I like them, but because a) I spent waaaay too much money on them, and b) I purchased them while on vacation in Vienna, and made poor Ron go into store after store one day for HOURS while I searched for the perfect black boot (important side note: I already had three pairs of black boots at home, and was wearing a fourth pair that I really liked while I was on this stupid quest). I wore them only a handful of times, because holyhelllookattheheelsonthosethings – I’m lucky I didn’t fall down and break/sprain something/everything. Every time I wore them I was worried I would catch that open heel on something and trip, so needless to say, I was not the epitome of graceful when I wore them. And therefore, I never wanted to wear them. And every time I looked at them in the closet, I was reminded of my bad judgement. It will be nice to be free from their mockery.
I could go on with more pictures and stories, but it’d be more of the same, and this post would take an hour to read. In addition to the items I’ve specifically shown here, I also sold a bunch of t-shirts, sweaters, work out clothes, and a few more pairs of shoes – and walked out of resale with $204. If I had any nostalgia about letting these items go when I went in, I can assure you I didn’t have any left when they handed me the money.
And here is the pile of stuff that didn’t sell that I will be taking to Goodwill:
I guess the lesson I learned from this little exercise, and will probably still be learning for a while to come, is that I still have a lot more than I actually need, and much of what I am still clinging to is for reasons other than “I love it”. I’m still finding my lagom.
I’m very excited to feature my friend Lindsay Terrell as a guest blogger this week! When Lindsay responded to one of my posts with her own story about online shopping, I immediately asked her if she’d be willing to share it here. I will fully admit that while I spend much less time shopping in actual stores these days, I still do more than my fair share of online window shopping, that every now and then devolves into purchasing. And unlike shopping where you have to walk into a store, face another human being, pull money or credit cards out of your wallet, and then take the bag home and either hide it or admit to your partner that yes, you bought more stuff, online shopping can be done much more stealthily and feel much less real. Until, of course, you get your credit card bill. Read on to hear about Lindsay’s online shopping adventures…
Finding Lagom resonates soundly with me. It is a relief to know that someone else is ardently wrestling with the same demons as me, even while yearning to lead a simpler and more meaningful life. Unfortunately, this isn’t a story about a mostly sane woman who lost it for a few weeks. This is a cautionary tale about how I already have too much stuff, and how I managed to add to it with what I like to call “eBay Roulette”.
It actually began innocently enough. Since 2011, I have moved across the country twice, and that type of moving can really make a person pare down. I also became pregnant and gave birth. When I was pregnant and my body was getting bigger, shopping wasn’t any fun. And while I lost weight swiftly as my daughter grew, I knew many of my clothes would never fit again. I gave away scads of clothing over those two years and promised myself I would stop shopping in stores that produced clothes which lasted for two whole washes (like Forever 21). My pile of giveaways was about 3’ tall and was comprised of clothes that no longer fit, cast offs from my sister, and clothes I had found at Goodwill, “Naked Ladies” Parties and in Free boxes (each of which could spark their own blog post).
But I recently decided to leave my job and was feeling low. My favorite mom blog was encouraging me to treat myself to a new pair of boots. I thought back to the last time I had bought myself a pair of high-quality, long-lasting, fashionable boots that I knew I would love. It had been over five years! But the boots I really wanted cost nearly $300 new, which I knew I couldn’t justify if I wasn’t going to have a steady income in the near future.
I checked on Craigslist – none in my size. Then I ventured onto eBay for the first time in a long time. I was rewarded with pages and pages of beautifully crafted genuine leather boots in various shades and price levels. I set my sights on my favorite pair and typed in my maximum bid: $200. And then, heart rushing, I hit “Confirm Bid.”
I was suddenly filled with adrenaline and panic. I would be quitting my job in a matter of weeks, with no prospects in sight, and my husband was in between gigs as well. We were supposed to be budgeting, being tight and smart with money, and I had just blown between $150-200 on boots. I was too embarrassed to share my concern with my husband, but I was on pins and needles. Moments later I had texted my confession to my sister, my mom, and my college roommate.
My sister texted back that she had recently committed a shopping binge herself, my mom offered to buy me the same boots in black, and my girlfriend squeeeed and asked for a picture of the boots. Clearly I would not find penance or solace in my choices from these sources. Fortunately, two hours later, I received an email letting me off the hook: I had been outbid. I vowed not to go after them again.
But soon enough I was wallowing in the same self-pity that I had been feeling before the boots bid began. I opened eBay in my browser again just to surf–I call it “faux shopping”. This method has soothed my gimmies before–it’s like window-shopping, but since it’s online and you have to pay for shipping, it’s typically enough of a deterrent for me. But today, I really needed to know that something would be arriving in my mailbox soon to cheer me up. I needed something to look forward to.
So I started to make up rules. I wouldn’t buy any crap. It had to be something high-quality, well-made, long-lasting, and genuinely beautiful. And I wasn’t allowed to bid more than $10. I’d bid $10 and leave it alone, leaving the decision of whether or not I’d be awarded the beautiful thing to fate.
Thus, eBay roulette was born.
I began bidding on dozens of items. Drawing logic from my experience with the boots, I didn’t believe I would win many, if any, of the items, and the gambling was such a thrill. I come from a long line of people with very addictive personalities, but for the most part I’ve largely seemed to escape it. I’m the only one in my family who doesn’t smoke, and with the exception of a few wild nights in college, I don’t seem to be drawn in by booze. But I may have found my Achilles heel in gambling. I ended up “winning” dozens of times, and more than once I broke my $10 rule on items I really wanted.
This went on for weeks. At first I didn’t tell my husband. I was less concerned about the dollar amount I was spending than I was embarrassed about my behavior. I was still working – in fact I actually had to email the women who watched my daughter during the day to ask them to hide the packages, or I’d have them rerouted to my office. But my husband and I aren’t dishonest with each other, and I soon told him about my ridiculous behavior. He was entirely understanding and compassionate. Speaking with him about what I was doing and why I was doing it turned out to be the real salve to my pain, and I stopped bidding.
It was a relief to come down from this particular high. The bid, the win, the shipping notification, seeing the package arrive, opening it, and trying it on had all been a rush with several high points. But while I wish I could say that I fell in love with every piece, it’s so far from the truth.
At least half of what I’ve won in eBay Roulette I have been really disappointed with. The $10 rule seemed to release me, and I really didn’t pay much attention to the first rule – that I had to LOVE it. In fact, I even passed up one item I really did love, because it didn’t fit within the $10 price range.
My pile of giveaway items is now 4 – 4.5’ tall, about the height of my dresser. I know that I will get good resale value on many of the newer items that I won, but I still have to iron them, load ‘em into my car, schlep them around to resale, and wait for judgment. Are these treasures really worth that, or anything at all? I doubt it.
In an effort to both declutter and pay down our credit card, Ron and I have been on a roll of selling things lately. And I have to say, for the most part we’ve done surprisingly well with clothing resale, and even better with more valuable items like jewelry that we’ve sold on Ebay. It’s not a ton of extra money, but as much as small accumulated amounts of spending can add up to a big bill, small accumulated amounts of selling can also add up to a big payment.
But at this point in time, I think we may have sold just about everything we have to sell. I’m constantly on the lookout for things of value that we don’t love anymore, but since we’ve offloaded so much already, I’m finding less and less items that qualify. On the positive side, that means most of what we have is stuff we truly love and need (lagom!), and on the less positive side, it means no more sources of additional income as we work to get out of debt.
As the sale-worthy items have begun to dwindle, I’ve found myself doling them out month-to-month, instead of selling everything all at once. From a morale standpoint, this has worked well for me – it’s nice to have even a tiny bit of extra cash every month, instead of a lot one month and zero the next. It keeps me from getting too discouraged.
Along these lines, I’ve had some silver serving dishes and a couple of silver rings set aside for literally months now, waiting to be taken to a jeweler who buys gold and silver. Part of the reason they’ve been on hold is because the jeweler has two stores in town, and neither one is close to where I live, so going there is a time commitment. But this month, with nothing much else to sell, I decided it was time to venture out and see what I could get.
In the back of my mind, I know I’ve thought these pieces would bring in a nice little sum. Jewelers buy gold and silver by their purity and weight, and while I’ve sold some rings before for very little money, my friend Lori was telling me that she once brought in some silverware to sell and that it really added up. So having two heavy silver serving dishes made me feel hopeful and excited. I even polished them before taking them in so they were all shiny and pretty.
When I arrived at the jewelry store, a very nice lady came over to help me, and I plunked the bag down on the counter and waited expectantly to hear how much money I might be walking out with. She fitted a loupe to her eye and examined the first serving dish. “Well, this one’s not silver, so we can’t take this one,” she said nicely, handing it back to me.
I was stunned. The stupid thing tarnished like crazy, which is part of why I never used it and was getting rid of it, and it was also why I just assumed it was silver. Then the thought crept into the back of my mind that the polish I had been using was supposed to work on all kinds of metals, and so it should have occurred to me that it was possible that the dish was made out of something other than silver. I held my breath while she looked at the second dish.
She flipped it over, peered at the markings underneath, and gave me a pleasant smile. “This one isn’t silver either,” she proclaimed, handing it back.
I was pretty bummed. Other than the two dishes, all I had in the bag were the two rings, which did turn out to be silver, but she estimated were only worth about a dollar combined. Ugh.
As disappointing as it was, it was another good reminder that what we THINK has so much value, often has very little. I know I hung on to those items for as long as I did because I assumed they were valuable. My mother had offered them to me when she was cleaning out her china cabinet, and I think she might have gotten one of them from her mother, so I immediately thought “heirloom” instead of remembering we are not a family who really HAS heirlooms. I don’t remember if I ever even used either item for entertaining, so their useful to storage-worthy ratio was very low.
The dishes are now headed for the Goodwill. I did go ahead and trade in the rings – when I went to the jeweler, I had also brought in a necklace that needed repair, because I had a 25% off jewelry repair coupon for that store. I had them put the $1 trade in for the rings towards the repair of the necklace, which for the record, is real silver.
Today marks a full year that I’ve been writing this blog. I can’t believe it. I’ve started and dropped so many blogs in the past, so I’m really proud that I’ve stuck with this one, and I’m grateful that it’s given me a place to reflect on this journey.
I have learned so much about myself in this process, and keeping a blog has made me accountable to my goals in ways I never thought it would. There were a lot of times when I was tempted to buy more stuff, or hang on to things, or go my usual lazy route and not bother to declutter something, but my desire to keep an accurate record of what I was doing, coupled with the thought of having to admit that behavior on my blog (even though I wasn’t always successful), did wonders to curb some bad habits.
And I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised by how completely nonjudgmental people’s responses have been. I know there are probably those who do judge me, but they have been nice enough to keep it to themselves. If anything, the feedback I’ve gotten has been wonderfully supportive and often filled with empathy and admissions of similar behavior, which has made me feel less alone.
So I guess the big question is, did I find lagom?
Nope, not yet.
But from what I have learned in a year of focusing on this goal, I think achieving a state of lagom in just 12 months is not really realistic, especially having spent most of my life functioning from a mindset of constant acquisition. I am so proud of what I have accomplished in this year, but as I was noting in a post earlier this week, what I thought was lagom only two months ago continues to change as I continue to change and see my stuff in a new way. Things I thought I loved and couldn’t part with only a month ago suddenly feel superfluous, and letting them go is no big deal. I am more acutely tuned in to what I value, what I actually use, and what I truly love than I have ever been in my life.
The fact I’m not “done” with this journey doesn’t bother me. I remember hearing Marianne Williamson say something once about how the distance between the person she currently was and the person she wanted to be felt less depressing when she considered the distance between the person she currently was and person she had once been. I may be far from my ideal, but compared to a year ago? I’ve come a long way.
So what have I learned? Here are the big things:
- I always believed having tons of options where my possessions were concerned would make me feel happier, fuller, and more secure. But it actually causes me a lot of stress and unhappiness. I feel like I SHOULD be using all my stuff, knowing how much money I spent on it, and not wanting to be wasteful, but it’s very clear that I have my favorite things, and that is what I always want to reach for. Having a smaller set of options, of only things I really love (or sometimes, even just one perfect thing I really love), has made me feel a lot less anxious. This has especially been true where my wardrobe was concerned, which was also the category where I did the most acquiring. I currently have a smaller wardrobe than I’ve had since maybe high school, and while there are some items I would like to replace, and one or two specific things I want to add, I am happier with what I own right now than I’ve ever been.
- Keeping things out of guilt (it was expensive, someone I like gave it to me, I pined for it but once I had it I didn’t love it as much as I felt I should) is stupid. Staring everyday at an item that has guilt attached to it only serves to KEEP YOU FEELING GUILTY. Do any of us need more reasons to feel like that? I don’t think so.
- What you’ve convinced yourself is valuable is in most cases worthless. I have felt foolish more than once this year for hanging on to things that I thought were worth something, only to take them to resale or list them on Ebay and have them go for pennies or be rejected completely. There are less than ten possessions in my life that I know have actual value, and I have insurance on all of them because it’s obvious they’re worth something. Everything else I own? Highly replaceable, with the exception of purely sentimental items.
- Letting go of stuff is synonymous with letting go of fear. Fear that the giver will be angry or hurt, fear you might need something just like it someday, fear that you will find out later it was of great value (see previous point). Trusting the future is scary, but not as scary as all the fear thoughts. I’ve given away a ton of stuff this year, and I don’t regret any of it. And as far as I know, no one has been upset with me for letting it go. In many cases they probably don’t even remember giving it to me.
- Forcing myself to use up large stashes of stuff I already own has made me VERY careful about what I buy now. If I don’t think I’m going to love it and want to use it to the last drop, I’m hesitant to buy it. This is a huge shift for someone who frequently bought stuff out of boredom or mild curiosity.
- I don’t need new things to feel better when I’m upset. Shopping used to be my favorite therapy. I still get a thrill on the occasions when I get to buy something new, but that’s partly because now I have researched and dreamed and thought about the purchase for so long beforehand, it feels really exciting and special. I have mentioned that 2013 was a really horrible year for me, and sometimes I wonder if it felt that way because it really WAS that bad, or because for the first time in my adult life I didn’t deal with my problems by shopping. But I made it out of 2013 all in one piece, and I didn’t rack up my credit card to cope. I’m proud of that.
- I love having some empty space in our house. There aren’t tons of empty spaces yet, but I’m really excited about the few we have. The fact that our guest room closet is now always guest ready is still a huge novelty for me – I sometimes like to just go in and gaze at it. Yes, I know, weird. But it’s true. And you have to celebrate victories like that.
- Selling your unwanted stuff is a pain in the ass. When I was on the fence about buying something in the past, I used to just think, “Oh, if I don’t end up liking it, maybe I can sell it.” And because we’ve needed the money, we haven’t been in a position to just give stuff away. But it is a serious drag to go through the process of standing in line at resale, or listing things on ebay. Now I will actually look at stuff I’m considering buying and think, “If you don’t end up liking it, you are going to have to try to sell it”, and that is often enough to make me reconsider.
- Nothing has been more exciting to me this year than watching our debt steadily go down. We are still not out of the woods, but we have made incredible progress. If we manage to stay on track with our payment plan, and nothing disastrous happens, we should be out of credit card debt by the middle of this year. It has been a really frustrating and often discouraging process, but we are committed to seeing it through. I no longer feel a horrible sick pit in my stomach like I might truly throw up when I see our credit card bill.
- I am lucky to have a partner like Ron who has embraced and in some ways surpassed me in this process – I am amazed at how unattached he can be to his things. If I were trying to do this with someone who was highly resistant and attached to things, I don’t know how much progress I would have made. But Ron has been wonderfully supportive and open to the changes I’ve been making, and as a team, I feel like we’re pretty kickass.
So what’s next? I initially thought I would just keep this blog for a year (if indeed, I even made it that far), but I’ve decided I’m going to keep on writing. I still have a lot I’m continuing to discover, and having done some of the hardest work this year (learning to control my shopaholic urges, getting serious about paying down debt), I’m excited to see what kind of changes I will make. I’m also curious to see if I will backslide when I am out of debt and have some disposable income again. When I started this blog, I said I could never see myself as a minimalist. And I still think that’s probably true, but I’ve also learned that minimalism has a much broader definition than I ever realized, and it doesn’t necessarily mean bare white walls and a single piece of furniture. In fact, I think “lagom” and minimalism are pretty close terms, they just look a little different from person to person. Who know where this path will lead me.
I’m also going to start posting guest blogs this year. People who read Finidng Lagom have contacted me with some great stories about their own struggles with stuff (some resolved, some still unresolved), about getting out of debt, about shopping addiction, and about experiments they’ve decided to try in their own lives based on stuff they’ve read here. I love hearing those stories, and think other readers will too – it’s inspiring to know that there are so many of us puzzling through this issue together.
If you’re a longtime reader, thanks for the support – especially those of you who commented, liked, shared posts, or talked to me about it in person. It’s nice to know you’re out there. I hope 2014 finds everyone happy, healthy, and lagom!
I spent so much of 2013 getting rid of things. Being OBSESSED with that process, really. I devoted so much time and energy to purging, sorting, and cleaning my space, it was like a part time (unpaid) job. Bags and bags of items were donated to the Goodwill. Suitcases full of clothing and shoes were dragged to resale. We sold several bigger-ticket items on ebay, and I gave still useful, high quality things to happy friends whenever possible. Borrowed items were returned to their rightful owners (who in most every case, seemed surprised to see the stuff and had not missed it). And I continue to be astonished at the amount of recycling and trash we haul out to the curb every week.
We’ve significantly slowed the inflow of stuff into our house, so basic math would tell me that if there isn’t much new coming in, and what we have now is mostly stuff we love and need, there shouldn’t be much left to get rid of. And yet, every time I say that, we somehow manage to generate another giant discard pile.
How is this possible? I don’t know for sure. I think it’s partly due to the fact that on our first purge, we were still pretty attached to stuff, and were too conservative in what we were willing to release. But as time goes on and we start to notice that items we just couldn’t bear to part with are still hanging around unused, even when we have less to choose from, they start to fall out of favor. We’re also doing a better job of not feeling guilty about getting rid of things that were given to us, and not letting our relationships feel defined by the exchange of stuff.
I also think our continued discarding is a testament to the sheer volume of crap we started with. We just really had a ton of stuff in this house. I did a routine house cleaning yesterday, and I was struck by the realization that I was able to dust certain surfaces that I usually didn’t bother tackling, because they were finally clear of objects and piles of paper. Things that once didn’t have a home are now put away in closets and cupboards because there is actually room for them. Ron has done such impressive clutter clearing in our office space that I was able to sweep out the corner of the room near his desk that has been inaccessible for literally years.
I kind of wish I had kept a count of the number of items we purged in 2013. On days when I still feel overwhelmed by my stuff, I could look at the number and it would make me feel better.
On New Year’s Eve, I took a load of stuff to the Goodwill, because it was my last day to get tax credit for a donation in 2013. As I dropped it off, I thought “It will probably be a while before I need to do this again.”
Only one week later, our donation pile already looks like this:
A couple pairs of cheap shoes with no arch support that I rarely wear, a dog bed Stella no longer likes to sleep in (she still has three other ones in various rooms of the house), a stray Christmas ornament, an XM radio player for an XM radio unit we no longer own, an old CD carrying case, a couple old backpacks, a trash bag full of t-shirts Ron decided to get rid of, and an old-timey popcorn maker. This doesn’t count the suitcase that is completely full of clothes bound for resale later this month, or the video game systems we are about to list on Ebay.
2014 is off to a good start.
I think I’ve mentioned here before that I am a first class procrastinator. And I’ve never been sure why I do it, because it’s not like having pending things to do doesn’t affect me – it really does. I’m the type who hates to be late, who loses sleep over a looming deadline, and who can’t totally relax and enjoy myself until things are complete.
There are so many things I want to do right now, things I should do right now, things I NEED to do right now, and for some reason I find myself doing an excellent job of staring at my to do list and not doing any of them. I could even write a new blog post, for heaven’s sake, but because I haven’t really made any changes or progress in the last week, I haven’t been particularly inspired to do so. Why haven’t I made any changes? Because I’ve been PROCRASTINATING.
Here is just a short list of what I should have done today – a few of these things will get finished tonight because they have to get finished, but I can tell you right now most of it won’t:
- Run the dishwasher. Yes, you read that right. I don’t even have to wash dishes by hand – I have a dishwasher that does the work for me. I need to gather up the stray glasses of water scattered around the house, and the few dishes that are in the sink waiting to be loaded, and run it. But that would take efffffoorrrt.
- Take out the garbage, recycling, and compost. I actually probably will do this tonight, since tomorrow is garbage day. But I have literally been thinking all day that I need to do it, and haven’t done it yet. My excuse? It’s cold out. And garbage is stinky. I will be the jerk in the neighborhood who is dragging her loud garbage cans to the curb at midnight and disturbing your sleep. You’re welcome.
- Record two chapters of the audiobook I’m working on. I don’t know why it is, but every time I have an audiobook to do I get myself into a position where I am scraping it in against the last possible second of the deadline – where the slightest technical glitch or interruption to my recording schedule sends me into a white hot panic. The problem is I always end up making it, so I’ve yet to suffer a consequence. And like a lab rat, no consequence = no behavior change. I think I might get one chapter done tonight, but I had such good intentions of doing two today. I tried to get two done last night, but then Kramer Vs. Kramer was on cable and I got sucked in. I didn’t even end up eating dinner as a result. I can’t say it wasn’t totally worth it.
- Order new head shots. Why haven’t I done this? I should have done this months ago. (I hope my agent is not reading this.) I probably haven’t done it because I still have copies of my old one that I can use. And unless I’m reaching into the file fifteen minutes before I need to leave for an audition and discovering it’s empty and freaking out, I just don’t tend to feel motivated to do it.
- Go back through my closet and get rid of more clothes, since I really do have more than my closet can hold now that I’ve consolidated everything. UGH. I’m DREADING doing this. I know I need to do it, because lately I have been looking at my closet and thinking, “I don’t have anything to wear.” I have learned this year that if you are looking at your overstuffed closet and thinking that, you must not like a lot of your clothes and you should get rid them. But I still can’t afford to buy new stuff, so I find myself hanging on to things out of fear I’ll pare it down, get sick of that stuff, and then have no options. I know, first world problem. But it’s been bugging me for days and I need to deal with it.
- Take the clothes to resale, and take any money I get from that to the bank to put towards our credit card payment. I don’t think I have to explain to anyone why I am putting this particular trifecta of tasks off.
- Record a couple voiceover auditions. These I will do, because they’re due tomorrow. Deadlines. Thank god for them. But they only work for me if they’re real, and real shame would be involved in missing them. It’s not enough for me to set “fake” deadlines for myself, where I am the only person who would know and disapprove if something didn’t happen. I am not afraid of me.
- Do laundry. I won’t do this, even though the hamper is overflowing. My excuse? I need to record a bunch of stuff and since the laundry is in the basement w/my recording booth, I can’t do both at the same time. Recording will win tonight. Suck on that, laundry! Hahahhahahahaha! At least, that is what I will think until tomorrow when I need clean underwear.
- Read some plays. The play reading committees I’m on are starting up again. I’m excited, but now I’m also starting to feel the stress of how I’m going to keep up with my reading AND get the audio book done. Just typing that sentence made me feel stressed.
- Answer about 7 emails from friends who I really, really like, but I haven’t answered their emails because I’ve wanted to write a thoughtful response and not a quick reply. But now they probably think I’m a creep for taking so long to answer them, which tends to make me feel awkward and delay even longer. If you are a friend who has not heard back from me recently, this is probably why. Please forgive me.
- Clean the house. Ron is currently out of town, and we always try to make sure that when one of us is gone, the other person cleans up the house before they get home so they can come home to peace and comfort instead of chaos and germs. I’m not 100% sure it will happen this time around. Sorry honey. I’m a bad wife. Please don’t be mad when you come home to a pile of mail and paperwork on the kitchen table, every scarf and coat I own strewn across the furniture, and piles of my clothes all over the bedroom. And of course a dishwasher that still needs to be run and maybe some garbage and recycling I forgot to take out.
So you might be wondering, what I HAVE done today, or even this week for that matter, that has kept me from all this stuff? Since I clearly haven’t been cleaning, or working hard or anything else important. Well, I have managed to work out every day, and I did make it to a friend’s wedding reception, and I helped another friend put an audition on tape for a TV pilot he’s up for, and I did some dramaturg type work with a dance company for a new dance they’re creating, and I did complete a couple chapters of the audiobook. But that is not a lot to show for almost a full week of time. However, I have accomplished one thing this week that I am very proud of – I have totally healed Stella’s wounded foot. It has required making her wear the cone of shame, and even with that on, I have to constantly monitor her since she can still reach her toes if she stretches them out beyond the edge of it. I’ve also had to keep her on a schedule of antibiotics and soak her foot in Epsom salts for ten minutes twice a day. It’s to the point where she sees me get the bottle of medicine out of the fridge and runs and hides under the kitchen table. But after a week of diligence, the skin between her toes is healthy and wound-free. And it didn’t cost hundreds of dollars like we thought it would – only $45 for the vet visit and meds, about five bucks for a bag of Epsom salts, and a lot of my time and effort.
Oh, and I guess I DID just write a new blog post. Ha.
For this week, that will just have to be lagom.
Holy cow…I’m 9 months into this blog and I haven’t quit!
I’m happy to say that I am in a much better place than I was at the six month mark. June SUCKED – I tried to come up with a nicer adjective for it, but couldn’t. It just sucky-suck-sucked. But a lot has changed in three months, and I’m hoping the worst is behind me for this particular year.
One thing that has been making a impact on my lagom mission lately was reading The Joy of Less by Francine Jay (which I got for free, thanks to leftover money on a gift card and the reselling of some books). Ms. Jay is a true minimalist – to see a picture of her “office”, click here. I feel pretty confident in saying I will never be that pared down. But she is also very clear in her book that minimalism looks different for everyone, and she comes across very nonjudgmental about the whole thing. I think I said early on in this blog that I felt I would never be a minimalist – that’s why I was so focused on finding my “lagom”, as opposed to my “inner minimalist”. But the more I read up on minimalism, the more I’m learning that lagom and minimalism are much closer than I realized, since being a minimalist is about only keeping what you use and love, which essentially translates to having “just enough”. For so long I pictured all minimalists as having nearly empty austere white rooms, but I’ve learned now that minimalism can be cozy and colorful and comfortable and have a decent amount of stuff, provided all of it is in service of your life.
Her advice on clearing out different spaces in your home is quite inspiring, and has been driving me to take on projects with new energy. A couple weeks ago Ron and I went through our entire pantry and several of the shelves in our kitchen and cleared out any food we weren’t eating and several kitchen items we weren’t using as well. We consolidated a bunch of like items together and reorganized our cupboards so the stuff we use the most is now easily accessible, and we even moved a few items that weren’t getting a lot of use but were things we wished we used more so they are now easier to access as well. If time passes and those things still go unused, we probably won’t keep them.
I’m still working on getting my wardrobe under control – as fall is now definitely upon us, I took all my summer clothes out of the closet and replaced it with my warmer clothes – or, more accurately, I tried to. I had more winter clothes packed away than I have available hangers and space in the closet, even with my summer things gone. I also took the dry cleaning in (which had been sitting in a bag in the basement for maybe six MONTHS), and when it came back, I realized I had no room for those items either. I am determined not to buy more hangers and cram stuff in to make it work – instead, I’m continuing to question everything I’ve kept, and if I try something on and reject it for something else, I seriously consider whether that item deserves to stay.
We are still out of debt on both our personal cards – well, kind of. Ron is still out of debt, mine went up a little. I had to buy new tires for my car and that was about $500 – ye-OUCH. I knew that expense was coming, and I will be able to pay it off in a couple months, but it does reduce the amount I can contribute to our joint credit card debt for the next couple months. The good news is I feel very in control of that amount, and I had planned for it – although the dealership did try a bit of a bait and switch on me, which resulted in me bursting into tears until a kinder, more experienced salesman interved to get the price back under control and calm me down.
It seems like at least one item leaves our space every day, and it’s not very often that new ones come in to fill the void, and if they do, it is a very carefully planned, discussed, and thought out purchase. In fact, yesterday I stopped by the bank on my way home to deposit a check, and noticed that my debit card was missing. I searched my purse, my car, and all over the house and couldn’t find it anywhere. I went online to see if maybe it had been stolen and to see if there were any weird charges, and saw that the last time I had used it was on Thursday when I had lunch with my friend Julie. I called the restaurant to see if they had it, but they didn’t, and then I remembered what I had worn that day and checked the pocket of my jacket and finally found it. I was relieved to have my card back, but seriously impressed that from Thursday to Monday, I had not spent any money, and hadn’t even noticed or felt deprived! This is huge growth for someone who in the past never went a day without bringing a shopping bag of some kind into the house.
There isn’t much else new to report – I have a lot of the same cravings for little luxuries, like manicure/pedicures, going out to eat whenever we feel like it, or being able to afford fancy versions of basic things, but other than that, I think we’ve finally settled in to this new way of looking at our stuff and our finances and we’re okay with it. Ron and I do spend a lot of time fantasizing about what we’ll do when we are out of debt and have disposable income again, but other than that, my want monster is sullen and quiet and resigned to not being fed several times a week. I do find that now when I think about buying something – especially from my typical category of clothing/shoes/jewelry, instead of just wanting it and imagining how much I’d love owning it, I am now thinking “where on earth will I PUT that?” since I know my closet is already too full. Or if it’s expensive, I wonder how much I’d actually use it, and if I didn’t use it, I think about what a pain it will be to list that item on Ebay or take it to resale. It’s keeping me in check.
And even I can admit that is a very good change.