Monday, January 17, 2022

My Year of Less (week 2)

Two small but interesting situations arose last week that raised questions about my goals to purchase only necessities and gifts and to not shop at any big box stores.

First, I remembered that I still had Christmas money — a gift from a relative — that I had not yet spent. When I originally included “gifts” in my allowed purchasing, I was thinking only of gifts I would buy for other people; I hadn't given a single thought to buying gifts for myself, from someone else, because it only happens once a year. 

I ultimately decided it's okay to purchase non-necessities as a gift for myself with money gifted me by someone else.  The funny thing is, I can’t think of a single thing to buy; as a result, the money will remain in my checking account until I happen upon something that will be a real treat and bring me pleasure.

Last week, I also signed a 12-month lease on a small apartment in my hometown; my daughter has accepted a job there, so all of us — daughter, son-in-law, two granddaughters (who I babysit), and I — are moving back home.

The apartment I’ll be living in has a nice balcony with plenty of room for a small table, my ultra-comfortable reclining lawn chair, and a few planters.  It also is separated only by a railing from the next-door-neighbor’s balcony. 

I'd love to have planters with a few vegetable plants and flowers, as well as a trellis of some sort along the side that abuts the neighbor. The problem is that I don’t own a trellis and I sold my planters before moving two years ago. Of course, neither a trellis nor planters (or plants) are a necessity. I shared on fb that if anyone has any planters or a trellis that they either were planning to throw away or that they’d lend me, I’d truly appreciate it. A long-time friend offered me two beautiful planters she no longer wants or needs, so that’s a start.

And trust me, it didn’t escape me that I may just have found something on which to spend my Christmas money come Spring!

Week 2 Recap:


I purchased only gas and food — necessities — and wasn’t even tempted to purchase anything else. 

No purchases from big box stores:

Zero shopping — not even on amazon!

Using items from my stashes

I completed 6 rows on a (knitted) scarf I'm working on. I’m no longer on track to finish it by the end of January — preparing for the move has taken precedence — and I’m okay with that. 

Getting rid of stuff

As I’ve been boxing up things, I’ve thrown away one large garbage bag full of papers & other stuff and sold 1 book (through the reading challenge I host on fb).

All in all, a successful week!

Monday, January 10, 2022

My Year of Less (week 1)

1 week down, 51 to go.

Shopping— in the traditional sense of driving to stores, going in, and purchasing something — is not something I typically enjoy, so as I contemplated this challenge in late 2021 I didn’t think refraining from that type of spending would be a major problem. And in week 1, that proved to be the case. 

What is going to be a challenge is not purchasing non-necessities online. Amazon makes it so easy! A facebook friend raves about something they recently purchased, and it’s something I am not familiar with. Of course, I’m intrigued, so I google the item to check it out. The article I find has a link to amazon, so without thinking, I click on it. And there the item is, in all its glory, with hundreds or even thousands of 4- and 5-star reviews. I read a few, just to see what all the hype is about. And right there is that oh-so-tempting “buy now” icon. 

It happened twice last week, but I stood firm. I read the item descriptions and even a few of the reviews. And then {hooray, celebrate}, I closed that window and ate a mini candy bar. Or two.

So how did week 1 go?


I purchased gas and food — necessities. 

I also purchased 2 items that are needed to make a gift for my granddaughter. The finished item — on etsy — cost anywhere from $53 to $70. I purchased the 2 items needed for $25.00 total.

Not shopping at big box stores:

I purchased both items through amazon, which is not considered (I checked) a big box store.

Using items from my stashes:

I completed 14 rows on a (knitted) scarf I began back in October. I’m on track to finish by the end of January.

Getting rid of stuff:
I filled a medium-sized garbage bag with odds and ends that I thought I might use or need “someday” — several used-but-decent gift boxes, catalogues, cheap/free ink pens, etc.

I’m looking forward to the coming week; as we prepare to move (again), I’m going through things (again), pulling out items I don’t want or use. I can’t wait to see how many things I can get rid of!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

When a Friend or Loved One is Hurting

In the last 18 months, several friends and family members have faced very difficult life circumstances, from devastating health diagnoses to the death of a child, grandchild, or spouse. 

I’ve given significant thought to how I can best serve those family and friends. I’ve read books and articles on the subject and listened as friends share what was a blessing to them during a difficult time, and I’ve come up with a few ideas that I thought I’d share. Of course, you should only do what you feel is appropriate for *you* to do.

First, and most importantly, always remember that each person and each situation is, regardless how similar they may seem to another, quite different. As a result, what is appropriate in one situation or with one person may well not be appropriate in or with another. Keep that in mind as you continue reading.

1. If you are so inclined, pray. Pray fervently and frequently.

2. In the case of an illness, don’t forget the caregiver(s).

3. At a time when those involved are most approachable and emotions are not running high, ask what you may do for them. I prefer to ask this question in a text, email, or pm. That allows the other person time to give the question some thought. I also often offer some suggestions (run errands, babysit their children, start a meal chain, for example) with an “etc” at the end of the list.

4. Offer encouragement in the form of frequent/regular cards, texts, emails, etc. One friend told me that one thing she treasured when she was battling cancer was the daily funny cat-meme that a dog-loving friend sent every morning. Don't expect a response.

5. Assure the other person that any/everything they share and all circumstances you are aware of will remain confidential UNLESS they specifically ask you to share them with someone else. Then, of course, respect their privacy by not sharing anything with anyone.

6. Follow through on whatever you say you will do. If, for example, you tell someone you will pray for them, do so.

Here are some don’ts:

1. Don’t be offended or hurt if the other person doesn’t share or doesn’t “allow” you to do anything for them. Don’t take it personally. Remember, none of this is about you. 

2. It bears repeating. Do NOT share information, details, etc., with anyone without being asked to do so. If someone else — a friend, acquaintance, etc — begins sharing information, do not chime in. In fact, you might want to simply walk away. Make an excuse if you must, but don’t get involved in such a conversation.

3. Don’t say “I know what you’re going through”. In fact, ditch all the platitudes. A simple “I am so sorry” or “Please know I love you and am thinking of you” and a hug — or even just a hug — is far better. 

4. Don’t offer unsolicited advice.

5. Don’t bring up your own similar experience or that of anyone else *unless* you are asked about it.

6. Don’t judge. Don’t judge the other person’s feelings, decisions, actions, etc. Just don’t.

7. Don’t disappear.

8. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room. For example, after my father died, I hesitated to mention him around my mother. After my own husband died, I realized that as much as hearing his name hurt, it was far more hurtful to think that he was being forgotten, and I was grateful when people mentioned him.

I’m sure I’ve missed some key points, so I hope that you’ll join in the conversation by sharing your own suggestions and thoughts. 

Monday, January 3, 2022

My Year of Less (pre-week 1)

Inspired by (what else?) a couple of books I read in 2021, I’ve committed to a 2-part, 52 week challenge. In 2022, I will:

1. Purchase only necessities and gifts

2. Refrain from shopping in big-box stores

I’ll share an update every Monday, and I hope that you’ll join in the conversation by sharing your thoughts. 

It feels a little silly to share a post for just one day, but I wanted to start the year as I hope to continue (with a post every Monday), so here I am.

It dawned on me about mid morning on New Years’ Eve that my year of purchasing only necessities and gifts would kick off in just over 12 hours. At risk of sounding cliched, the whole concept suddenly became “real”. I didn’t panic or even begin to second-guess my commitment, but I did try to think of all the non-necessities I really, really wanted to purchase before the challenge began. 

I asked for suggestions on fb (and got zero) and googled and browsed pinterest , using phrases like “things every woman needs”. Only one thing actually piqued my interest, but not enough to make me hit the “buy” button on amazon.

January 1 brought absolutely zero interest in purchasing anything. I did, however, check into parking lot pick-up options for grocery stores near me. Since moving here last January, I’ve only grocery-shopped every other week or so, and (due to a life-long dislike of shopping in crowded stores or any kind) I’ve made a point of stopping at times I am pretty sure the store won’t be too busy. 

Even so, I’ve noticed that when I go into a grocery store as opposed to using parking-lot delivery, I purchase items I had no intention of buying and that I don’t need. I’ve decided, as a result, to return to grocery shopping online. At least for now. :)

That’s all for this very short pre-week — see you next Monday for a recap of week 1.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A Year of . . . ????

Last January I read The Year of Living Biblically, an interesting book by a man who decided to spend an entire year obeying all the commands in the Bible. When I shared with a friend that I’d enjoyed that book, she suggested I read Shonda Rhime’s Year of Yes, which I also liked.  

Intrigued by the idea of committing to a new behavior for 52 weeks, and after considerable thought, I’ve settled settled on two closely-related 52-week long commitments. 

First, I will buy only gifts and personal necessities in 2022. Second. I will not purchase any of them from a big box store. 

The first will probably pose the greater challenge. I have stashes of yarn and scrapbook materials, so I’ll be able to knit and scrapbook. But not buying any books for an entire year will be a huge challenge! Thank goodness for my local public library and hoopla and libby for free ebooks. 

I’m confident that not shopping at big box stores will be easier. I already do most of my shopping at local businesses, but giving up Michaels Arts & Crafts and Target might present a challenge. I’m looking forward to finding more mom and pop stores in the area and as I travel.

Why don’t you join me in a “year of . . . “ of your own?

You could refrain from doing something for 52 weeks. You might stop exceeding the speed limit or watching television. You could emulate the protagonist from Liar, Liar and refrain from telling a single lie — even of the little white variety — but for an entire year. 

It could be fun — even beneficial — to do something for an entire year instead. Read for at least 15 minutes every day or eat the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables for 365 days straight. Commit to some form of daily exercise, doing a random act of kindness, or complimenting your significant other every day. 

Whether or not you participate in a 52-week challenge in 2022, I hope you’ll join the discussion I’ll be having each Monday here and on social media.

Until next Monday . . . have a safe and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

NaNoWriMo 2021, Here I Come!

In six days, NaNoWriMo 2021 will kick off. 

For those who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, it is a yearly, November  challenge in which people around the globe attempt to write a 50,000-word-minimum rough draft of a novel. 

As the founder and current organizers of NaNoWriMo explain, the challenge's aim is to help a writer, or wanna-be writer, achieve their goals. 

I tried to “win” NaNoWriMo 4 or 5 times between 2009 and 2019. Life circumstances always intervened, and I never got more than 1/2-way to the 50,000-word mark.

As a result, I was elated last year to write 50,000+ words and to wear the “2020 NaNoWriMo Winner” t-shirt I bought as an incentive. 

I wasn’t planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Although I love the concept itself and the intense focus on writing it requires, I have two large projects I’m also more than ready to spend some time on.

But two weeks ago I was struck with a strong desire to accept the challenge again this year. I decided to step away from this blog and, for the most part, from social media for the entire month of November in order to free up the time and energy needed for writing, on average, 1667 words per day. 

With that decision, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I have a love-hate relationship with social media, and my hope is that this quasi-break will give me the opportunity to step back and consider how (or even if) I want to utilize it again when December 1 arrives.

I hope that if you don’t already, you’ll visit, “like”, and “follow” my Facebook author page (Patti Miinch), where I will be posting 5-6 days each week. I’ll be sharing information that will (hopefully) inspire, inform, and entertain you along with NaNoWriMo updates. 

If you think you have a novel inside of you, there’s still time to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2021. Find out more at  NaNoWriMo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

No Facebook or Instagram or WhatsApp -- Oh My!

Facebook was down for six hours last Monday and again for a couple of hours several days later. Unsurprisingly, reactions to the outages were mixed.

There were the inevitable conspiracy claims; more than a few skeptics claimed that the outages Monday were linked to a now-famous whistleblower’s impending Congressional testimony. The popular theory was that Facebook folks were spending those six hours frantically erasing all evidence. Of what, I’m not quite sure.

Responses from the more “mainstream” folks ranged from frantic “OMG i cant blieve fb was down it was horrible!” to “the outages were great — too bad they weren’t permanent”. 

My own ambivalence to the outages was just what what I needed to decide in favor of something I’d been casually considering for a few weeks: a partial social media hiatus.

Moving forward, I plan to post on my newsfeed sparingly at best -- for prayer requests or information for extended family or personal friends only as absolutely necessary. I’ll be using my professional/author page (PattiMiinch) for everything else.

So while, according to news sources, “millions” of people around the globe found the eight hours sans Facebook to be a horrible experience that significantly impacted their lives in a negative way, I consider it beneficial. 

What about you? Did the outage really affect you? Did it give you food for thought about your own relationship with and usage of social media? Share your thoughts via a comment.