donating, hygiene

A Change

It might be something of a superficial change, but it feels great!

I chopped off all my hair the other day.

It wasn’t a huge deal because I’ve done it twice before. The first time I went from waist-length hair to an inverted bob that barely grazed my shoulders. I was hooked, so I kept getting it cut shorter and shorter over the next few months until I had a pixie. A few years later, I let the pixie grow out because my son was a newborn and I had no time or desire to get my hair cut. By the time it was back to my shoulders, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I went back to the pixie.

I remember talking with a friend who had also recently gone from having long hair her whole life to a pixie. We agreed that we both felt more like ourselves now, and couldn’t imagine having long hair again.

But I would see gorgeous long hair and miss mine. I let my pixie grow out again. I wanted to be able to put my hair in buns and ponytails. But why grow hair long just to pull it back? I hated how long my hair took to dry, and how quickly it would look greasy, even if it felt fine. I had a schedule of when to wash my hair, and therefore when to do sweaty chores like yard work. Rain on a day I was supposed to mow the lawn would anger me because it threw off my hair-washing schedule.

Yeah, I know it was ridiculous. And pointless. So I gave it up.

43fea664-0421-43fa-9a90-bb097ee49469.jpeg

My hair is super thick so it looks like a lot, but apparently it was still long enough to donate!

Now I can take a quick shower in the mornings and wash my hair and have it dry before I get to work. I can do yard work whenever it’s nice out and not fret about how much time and effort I wasted washing my hair. Hopefully this will also help conserve water, but I haven’t really been keeping track of that yet.

Regardless, I am excited to feel like myself again – cute, low maintenance pixie cut, lighter head, and all!

donating, shopping

Regifting

I was first introduced to the concept of “regifting” on an episode of Seinfeld, probably when I was in middle school. It was presented as a majorly negative concept:

Elaine:  I think this is the same one I gave him. He recycled this gift. He’s a regifter!

Even though it was mentioned that maybe the same gift was purchased because it was so good, it was set in my mind that regifting wasn’t the thing to do. And in that instance, the recipient wasn’t thrilled with the gift when he got it, so it was more of an impolite thing overall than just regifting the gift.

But as I changed my lifestyle and mindset, I started to think… regifting isn’t so bad, is it? If you get a gift you don’t like, why not pass it along? Be polite about it, though, because after all, it’s the thought that counts! But there is a compulsion to keep the gift, especially if it’s something to hang up or display, so the person who gave it to you can see it when they come over.

This concept comes up in a Gilmore Girls episode where Emily is trying to find all the gifts her mother-in-law gave her, so she can display them as if she loves having them in her home. Most of them are in the basement, and a hat rack was given regifted to Lorelai.

gilmoregirls

I have never gone to a friend’s house expecting to see my gifts prominently displayed. That being said, it does make me feel warm and fuzzy when I see my gifts or cards around. But that’s a bonus feeling.

If I get a gift I can’t use or don’t want, I will graciously accept it. But I don’t see anything wrong with passing that gift on to someone it is better suited for. What’s the difference between regifting and donating? Not much, except donations are more broad, and you don’t know who will get the item. It’s a fine way to get rid of things, but if you know a friend who would love a copy of the book you already own, why not pass it on?

I have similar feelings about “new” gifts – I love getting a cool purse from a thrift store, or used books or 45s from a library book sale. It means a friend was shopping and saw something that they thought I’d like, so they got it for me. It doesn’t have to be brand new and expensive with the tags still on.

How do you feel about regifting – both doing it and getting “regifts”?

donating, home life, reading

Little by Little

I wish I had a before picture to show you, or a factual number, or anything. And I do have before pictures I’ll have to find, hidden on my external hard drive from years ago. Pictures of the backpack I lived out of for six months, pictures of my 450 sq ft apartment, pictures of the vast emptiness of my two bedroom house when I first moved in. Pictures of all the clutter when my husband moved his storage shed from Oklahoma into our back room (even though I would hate to see those – talk about anxiety!). Pictures of moving in another kid and struggling to keep the house clean while hating my day job.

I am working on the house little by little, but I get on these kicks. I can donate half of my wardrobe in twenty minutes on a good day. Doesn’t fit? Gone. Hate that color now? Gone. Doesn’t feel comfy? Gone. Thankfully, my clothes are mostly from thrift stores anyway (don’t buy new!) so it’s never a huge loss, trying to argue that I spent so much on it, I at least have to keep it and try to wear it again.

Truthfully, I can sever ties to my belongings in a snap. I’m honestly not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s there. And when I get in the mood, I want to get rid of everything.

I have been re-reading some of the books on my shelves lately. There are some hardcore favorites I want to keep copies of. But some I remember fondly but hazily, and those are the ones I’m re-reading. Do I really want to keep them? So far, we’re 3 for 3 – donations are winning! They were nice to re-read and I will still remember them fondly, but they don’t pack a punch or blow me away. They’re just… nice, so I don’t feel the need to keep them.

This is a pretty big shift in how I used to think about books. I wanted to own all the books. I would buy dozens at used book sales and keep them, whether I had read them or not! I figured I’d get to them someday. Now I just use my Goodreads “Want To Read” list and keep my shelves a little more sparse.

It helps me to think of that sometimes – how my attitude in owning books has changed. Because I’ve never been stylish or into clothes, so getting rid of those is no problem. But books are special to me, and if I can be strict with what I keep in that aspect, I know the rest of my house and life will come together, too. Little by little.

donating, money

Selling Your Stuff

I used to sell a lot online; this was when I was an undergrad and needed all the pennies I could collect. I would sell old textbooks on half.com (RIP – that was the BEST site to sell on), and I sold a few things on eBay that took off in the last few minutes of the auction, much to my broke-student relief!

Since then, I haven’t sold much online. I used to list a lot of books on PaperbackSwap, but that’s a fair trade, not selling. When it comes to getting rid of things, I would rather get rid of them immediately instead of have them lurking around a week in hopes they sell. I try to match my items with the best donation center, like taking books to the library and baby clothes to Catholic Charities, who gives them to families for free.

I had a few days with no projects on the task list, so I decided to take time to list a bunch of items I had around the house. I had planned on donating them, but I thought they might be worth something to someone. A Squirrel Girl figurine, for example – just donating that might be a waste because they might not know what it is. Why not list it for a couple of bucks?

I ended up listing 31 items over 2 days. It took about 15 minutes to list each item, from photographing it and measuring it, to writing about it. I tried to write funny, engaging descriptions because I’ve seen auctions go well because of the writing. I wasn’t trying to go viral – I just wanted someone to want one of my things and bid on it because they liked the overall tone and wanted to buy from me over someone else.

Three items sold from my first day of auctions. Three out of thirteen. Not great.

Three more sold the next day. Three out of eighteen. Even worse.

I thought it was better than nothing – I wasn’t working those days, so at least it was something. You could say that I made about $70 on those days, for about 10 hours of work (listing, packing, shipping).

Then… the post office. I don’t know if I got ripped off, or if ebay shipping estimates are just totally off, or what. But I spend almost $45 on shipping! This majorly cut into my profits. I still made about $30 on junk I was going to get rid of anyway, so I’m trying to see it as free money. But I put so much work into it… just not worth it.

For me, it’s just easier to donate what I don’t want anymore. I know I paid money for it, but I got my use out of the item and don’t need it anymore, so what little I actually lose on it is fine, because I get peace of mind. I know the item is not cluttering up my house anymore, and hopefully it goes to someone who wants it. I will probably list a few more specific things, like camera accessories, but otherwise I’ll just donate the bulk of my unwanted items.

Have you had good luck selling things online? Is it worth the time and effort you put in?

home life

Donating

Getting rid of clutter is great – your house looks clean, you realize it’s WAY bigger than it seemed with all that unnecessary junk, and you can appreciate what you have.

When I unpacked my storage shed after six months of traveling, I was astonished at how much stuff I had. I’d previously downsized, had garage sales, and given away stuff, but I still had so much. I was moving into a 2 bedroom duplex, but I still had too much stuff. Moving from that duplex into a studio apartment meant I had even more to give away.

I took so many clothes, trinkets, and household items to Goodwill. I support them because they give jobs to people with disabilities, and I’m passionate about that. There is some discrepancies with their salaries and mark ups, so I’m kind of torn on the whole issue.

I give books, music, and movies to the library. They have a used bookstore, and sometimes donated books even make it into the library’s collections. I don’t really know how much music and movies sell or circulate with everything available online, but I would rather give it to them since it’s something kind of specific. When I donate, I try to think about who needs the stuff and could use it best, and give them first dibs. If the library doesn’t want something, they can donate it elsewhere or recycle it.

I recently started giving pretty much everything to Catholic Charities – they give donations away for FREE to people who need it! That’s what I’m talking about. They prefer clothes and household items, so I donate our clothes, jewelry, bags, and kids’ toys. I recently got a new set of pots and pans so I gave them my old ones and they were thrilled! A family had asked about kitchen stuff the day before – I hope they came back and got it! The last time I donated, a family was there looking through things. They took a few of my son’s old toys and it made us so happy to see the kids smile.

I love taking my son with me when I donate so he sees what’s happening and what it means. He sees me taking bags and boxes to the car and asks “Are we donating?” He loves picking out toys he doesn’t play with anymore to donate. I hope that spirit stays with him as he gets older.

home life

It’s All an Experiment

This isn’t actually the beginning. This started years ago, when I lived alone in a cute duplex. I had just started a recycling program at my graphic design job – meaning I put out a box and asked coworkers to dump in their drafts, rejected designs, and old papers. I took this box home every week and loaded up my small personal recycling bin.

At the same time, I started washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar. I bought clothes from thrift stores. I was obsessed with zero waste blogs, and tried to have no more than one small bag of trash each week.

When my graphic design company closed, I decided to majorly downsize instead of start a big job hunt. I put my stuff in storage and traveled for six months. I carried one backpack and my camera bag. It was exhilarating to live such a simple life.

I had to come back to real life, of course. I moved into a 480 square foot apartment and got rid of most of my belongings, both out of necessity (such a small space!) and desire (going from one backpack to a whole “house” was a huge change!). A year later, I moved into a two bedroom house. I didn’t buy much more furniture, so it was still a very minimal space.

Then I met my husband, and he moved in, and we had custody of his son every other weekend, and during summers. Then we had our own son. Things accumulated. I try to purge every so often, donating my stuff and kids’ stuff to a local organization that freely gives things to families in need, but more stuff shows up somehow.

My husband is finally on board with minimizing our lives. It’s a long story, and his to tell; I hope he will – this blog is for the family! I will go into more details with my story as well. I just wanted to get started, or re-started, as the case may be. We are trying to cut down on belongings, trying to stop consuming so much, trying to be more conscious about how and why we spend. We are trying to rely more on ourselves and local artisans and businesses. We are trying to lessen our impact on the world. We are trying – it’s all an experiment.