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.

home life, natural living, school, working

Zero Waste

I mentioned the Zero Waste Home on my Inspiration link up, but only wrote a blip about the site. When I discovered it back in 2010, it really affected my thinking and my lifestyle. I was really into blogs back then, following friends and personal blogs and lifestyle blogs, and I even followed some fashion bloggers, believe it or not! These were more alternative bloggers who bought from thrift stores or had capsule wardrobes or did 30 day challenges… Attainable fashion, basically. Even those sold out, though some have come back pretty level-headed. But I digress.

The Zero Waste Home made me conscious of what I used and how I disposed of it. Since then, I have noticed how much trash I bring home from the grocery store in terms of packaging. And how much paper schools waste with busy work or “art” just to have something to show, to keep the kids busy, or to hit numbers and create “meaningful” data. It’s all pretty disgusting, but it’s hard to keep it away.

I wrote about Valentine’s cards and how I thought they were wasteful, but what can you do? Everything about consumerism and waste is so mainstream, so ingrained in everything, that it’s hard to break free. I sometimes still feel societal pressure about things as an adult, so I certainly don’t want my son to feel uncomfortable or mocked because his mom hates recycling the art papers that are sent home with him, or anything along those lines.

Going Zero Waste within the home is easy enough – we are keeping track of our trash vs our recycling and seeing how much we get rid of each week. We are trying to cut down on what we bring in in the first place. And I think it’s important to speak up and tell others we don’t want what they are offering us, like a free plastic toothbrush at the dentist when we buy our own compostable toothbrushes. But in a setting like school, or the workplace, things get a bit harder.

Do you have this problem with your workplace or at your kids’ school? How do you work around it? Are you vocal and just hope your kids go with it? Do you consider working at home and/or homeschooling your kids as an alternative?

Let’s get deep on the last letter of the alphabet, hm?

home life, natural living

Hanging Clothes

We installed a clothesline in the backyard the spring before my son was born. The one we chose is mounted on the shop wall at one end, where the clotheslines roll up for storage. When it’s time to hang clothes, I put the pole in the ground, pull out the lines, and latch them to the top of the pole. It was super simply to mount the clothesline on the building, and to dig a small hole for the concrete, and it had more than paid for itself within the summer.

My family had a clothesline when I was a kid, and I remember my mom hanging out clothes, and I remember helping her when I got older. It was always a chore. Even as an adult, hanging out clothes felt like a chore. It gets so hot here in the summer, and standing in the early morning sun but already sweating was not pleasant.

After living by myself for so long and having one small load of laundry a week, it was strange to be doing laundry for two, and then three, and sometimes four, since we had my stepson every summer. My son wore cloth diapers, so I was hanging out laundry a lot. We even had to get a new washing machine shortly after he was born to handle the loads of diapers without wasting a lot of water and energy. Our new machine is so efficient and cost-effective.

But as I said, the line paid for itself, and we have saved a lot of money by having a clothesline and using cloth diapers. It took me a summer, but I got used to the new rhythm of my laundry routine. We got the kids into the habit of wearing clothes twice unless they got super dirty, so there has been less laundry over the years. We still have the same dryer that was here when I moved in, and seemed ancient then. But it still works, knock on wood, probably because we give it a long break every summer.

Now I plan to do my laundry when my son is home. I start the washer while we have breakfast, then we all go outside to play while I hang clothes. Knowing my son is right there with me helps the laundry seem like less of a chore – we’re out there together, there’s nothing I need to rush in to finish, I can take my time and enjoy the beautiful weather.

home life, money, working, writing

Freelancing

Part of the reason I wanted to leave my “typical” job was because I wanted to spend time with my son. When he was born, I was getting my Masters, so I was lucky to stay home with him for 2 years. I would have loved to be a stay-at-home mom, but something in my makeup pushed me to work outside the home. I was healthy, smart, able, and had worked nonstop since I was 16; I felt there was no reason for me to not work. Which is kind of messed up because there was also no one pushing me to work. I had just always done it, so I felt like I always had to.

Of course, now I have to work to an extent. But I am trying to find exactly what I want instead of settling for jobs that sound good on paper. I am tired of picking a job because of the title, or because the salary sounds so good (though I will admit that is a HARD temptation to push past!). I know I want to work from home, and not just because I prefer being as hermit-like as possible. I like not having a commute. I like the flexibility. I like being there for my kid when he needs me, instead of not being able to leave the office for a reason.

I am lucky to have a background conducive to freelancing – I have a degree in graphic design; a degree in English; a lot of years of experience writing, blogging, and managing my time efficiently. I had a photography business for a few years, long ago, and am starting that back up again.

I am also lucky that doing one thing all the time bores me. I admire people who can find their calling and stick with it and be passionate about it, and I know so many people like that. But I have always found myself getting restless after doing anything for a period of time, ranging from 3 months to one year. So I like the idea of cobbling together a living of writing, photography, working on different projects, doing different things for different people. Who knows if it will be a long-term venture, but it’s important to me, and I tend to push really hard (past the 3 month-1 year expiration date!) for things that matter.