The Year of Living Minimally – Week Forty-five


Old habits die hard. But the only way to change an old habit is by practicing a new one.

Last weekend I went out with my sister. Neither of us is a shopper, but she needed to buy shoes for work and I tagged along.

Now, you may recall that I’ve pared down my shoe collection (black, brown, white, tan, sneakers – that’s basically it – winter boots don’t count in June). But I was drawn in – lots of sandals on sale. I was tempted. I paused, long enough to realize that I have what I need. And the floor of my closet looks good! Hey, buy ’em if you want ’em. This is my personal journey. I’ll survive without those adorable Calvin Klein slides, marked down 40%.

Then we hit the bookstore. Oh, man. Harder than passing up shoes is passing up books.

But I did. I’m behind my own self-imposed schedule for the new novel I’m writing, and I still have plenty of books to read. Besides, if I do buy a book, it’ll be from an independent bookstore.

We are barraged with ads every day. Buy now. On sale. Clearance. Last chance! It’s part of our culture. Changing the habit of consumerism can come slowly. But last weekend, as I returned home with only a bouquet of irises for the house, I felt triumphant.

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Forty-four


Why go minimal? It isn’t all about clearing out your junk, although it’s a great place to start. When I began this journey last year, I focused only on getting rid of clutter. But that’s only a small part of living minimally.

I realized I’d been living minimally for years – not interested in accumulating more than I needed, giving gifts that can be consumed or enjoyed (experiences rather than things), being mindful of what goes into the garbage. When I can change for the better, I’ve tried to do that, but I’ve failed, too. Hopefully I’ve learned through this missteps.

“I think throwing away your material possessions and throwing away your memories are two completely different actions,” says Fumio Sasaki. I agree. Things aren’t the symbols of our connections to each other. You can take a picture of it, if you need to, and still let it go serve a purpose somewhere else.

And you don’t have to fill all the space! Right now we have one full-size sofa, two accompanying chairs, and a recliner that we bought seven years ago, when back trouble kept me from sleeping in our bed. The only reason we’re keeping all these items is because our beautiful but old dog loves them all (yep, she sleeps wherever she wants). As long as we have her, we’re not going to disrupt the routine. That’s a decision we both agree on. The furniture is old and worn, but we don’t entertain in our home, so it doesn’t matter to us. And when she’s gone, we’ll grieve for her presence, but we won’t hold on to the old worn sofa. Or the scatter rugs that keep her from sliding across the floor.

I do look forward to lots of empty space in our living area.

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Forty-two


closet

The Becoming Minimalist blog has the same theme that I’d planned on this week, so I’ll share their post and then write about it. Joshua Becker’s title is ” 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day.” Now, you might be totally repulsed by that idea, but hold off on your judgment until you read the post (by clicking on the highlighted text at the beginning of this paragraph).

Uniforms are great! Whether you wear scrubs, or khakis and a polo shirt, or black pants and t-shirt, your agonizing over what to wear is non-existent. Becker says, “We have no idea how much of a burden our possessions have become until we begin to remove them.”

So what if you work in an office, as I did? I quit that job seven years ago, and I’m still donating bags of clothes and shoes. Now I go into an office one day a week, and I have no stress about what to wear. I saved a couple of pairs of slacks and three or four shirts, all appropriate for an office.

Have you heard about Project 333? The link will bring you to the website, but it’s the idea of wearing only 33 items over a 3-month time period (a season). All clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear, and shoes count toward your number. You don’t have to count wedding ring(s), underwear, sleepwear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing. Well, I’m in! And next week I’ll detail what I compiled for my 33 items.

What about you? Could you try Project 333?

#AtoZChallenge – Reflections


It was my sixth year participating, and I was very happy with my theme (1968). As in past years, I’ve tried to ensure I can cover the tougher letters (Q, X, Z) before I settle on my theme.

But 1968 wasn’t my first choice. I had a few other ideas, and maybe I’ll use them for future challenges. Or, I might choose 1969 as next year’s theme!

Typically, I start planning right after the holidays. I set up an Excel spreadsheet and fill in the blanks under each letter with as many ideas as I can come up with. This way, I try to have some variation each day. 1968 was dominated by troubling news, it seemed, so I decided to add a song at the end of the post, for balance. I used the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Singles and worked my way up to #1, making sure I had a decent video for each song.

I gained a few new followers through the challenge, and discovered a dozen or more blogs, which I added to my own follow list. While I was disappointed that more folks didn’t ‘like’ or leave a comment on my daily posts, that part was out of my control. I tried to keep my posts short (under 300 words), knowing that people wanted to visit multiple blogs during April.

I’ll be back next year, God willing.

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Forty-one


scrabble freedom

You have a very good salary, but your bank account is low and your debt is never-ending. You live a house that has more bedrooms than people to inhabit them. You have a mortgage and a car loan and credit card debt. Are you happy? Are you free?

I’m not judging. When I was in my twenties, I lived way beyond my means. I was stressed about credit card debt, and while I always made the minimal payments, I wasn’t getting myself out of debt, because every month I’d make more purchases, just to feel good. Ha! Joke was on me. I worked in a bank (yes, me) and I hated it. But when I had a chance, a good chance to switch to a job at a college, in a field far more suited to me, I couldn’t do it. Because it paid slightly less and I couldn’t afford a lower salary – because I had debt.

In my thirties, I got married. I didn’t bring a lot of money to the marriage, but by then, I’d worked my way out of debt and was living more carefully. We bought a house and furniture. We had a mortgage that at first was daunting. But we managed, even paid a little extra each month. And as my salary increased, I began saving aggressively, trying to make up for the previous ten years when I squandered money easily.

By the time I hit my forties, I was earning a good salary. More importantly, I was saving a lot. My 401k grew substantially, and whenever my pay went up, my contribution to it went up as well.

I quit that lucrative job in my fifties. It was making me sick, and I didn’t want to have a heart attack or a stroke. I started writing novels, and while I probably won’t ever get rich from writing, I’m doing something I love. We’ve never had credit card debt, and I’ve found that we need so much less than I used to think.

Joshua Fields Millburn, who is one half of The Minimalists (with Ryan Nicodemus) says this: “Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”

Look, my clutter isn’t your clutter. Each of us has to take stock of what we have, and what we can live without. But by clearing our the excess, the stuff that doesn’t bring you happiness, you will find space for the more important things.

 

#AtoZ 1968 – “Z” is for Zodiac killer


“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

Zodiac-killer

The ‘Zodiac Killer’ was a serial killer who operated in Northern California from at least the late 1960s to the early 1970s. The killer’s identity remains unknown.

The killer originated the name ‘Zodiac’ in a series of taunting letters sent to the local Bay Area press. The letters included cryptograms.

There have been suspects named by law enforcement, but there’s never been any conclusive evidence brought forth. The case remains open in San Francisco, as well as in the Vallejo, Napa County, and Solano County.  The California Department of Justice has maintained an open case file on the Zodiac murders since 1969. The first murders widely attributed to the Zodiac Killer were the shootings of high school students Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday on December 20, 1968, just inside the Benicia city limits. The couple were on their first date and planned to attend a Christmas concert at Hogan High School about three blocks from Jensen’s home. The couple instead visited a friend before stopping at a local restaurant and then driving out on Lake Herman Road. At about 10:15 p.m., David Faraday parked his mother’s car in a gravel turnout, which was a well-known lovers’ lane. Shortly after 11:00 p.m., their bodies were found by Stella Borges, who lived nearby.

While officially connected to five murders and two attempted murders, the Zodiac Killer hinted that he had killed at least 37 victims. After taunting the police and the public with nearly two dozen letters, he seemed to vanish in the late 1970s. But his twisted legacy endures, having inspired three real-life copycat killers and dozens of books, TV shows and movies—including, most famously, Clint Eastwood’s nemesis in the film “Dirty Harry.”

(Sources: Wikipedia and History)

A to Z badge 2
BONUS MUSIC!

The #1 song from Billboard’s Top 100 Singles of 1968 was “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. This video runs a little over 8 minutes, but I can’t close out my A to Z posts from 1968 without including it. Enjoy!

Sunday Music Bonus 1968


There’s no blog post today, but I’ll be back tomorrow to conclude this year’s A to Z Challenge with the letter “Z.”

But it’s the last Sunday in April, and I’m featuring Grammy Award winners on Sundays. The winner of Album of the Year went to Glen Campbell and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”

Here is Mr. Campbell performing the title song of the album: