Monday, January 31, 2022

My Year of Less (weeks 3 & 4)

Life has been incredibly hectic the past two weeks, as I pack and begin moving for the 3rd time in three years. Unfortunately, I was so busy last Monday that I didn’t have time to write and publish a Year of Less post; fortunately, last week and this week are very similar, so . . . 


Week 3 & 4 Recap:

Spending: 

I purchased only gas and food — necessities, of course.


No purchases from big box stores:

Zero shopping — not even on amazon! 


My new landlord contacted me last week to let me know that a 2-bedroom apartment had become available, so I will now have a spare bedroom in which to store all the stuff I was going to have to store in my daughter’s basement. 


However, another issue was raised as a result. Long story short, because the original (1-bedroom) apartment didn’t have a dining area, I got rid of my dining room table & chairs — just before I found out about the 2-bedroom apartment! I plan to do what I was going to do originally — use my lift-top coffee table as my dining table, but I’m already weighing whether a dining room table & chairs are a want or a need. 


Using items from my stashes:

I didn’t knit a single stitch over the past 14 days, so my yarn stash has not grown any smaller. 


Getting rid of stuff:

As I’ve been sorting and packing for the upcoming move, I have . . . 

sold 3 smallish pieces of furniture and a dining room table and 6 chairs

donated 1 large trash bag of clothes

thrown away 2 large trash bags of items


All in all, 2 successful weeks!




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:

Spending 

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?


Spending: 

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.