Monday, January 26, 2015

I'm getting rid of all my stuff.

A follow-up to my most popular post ever: The Great Purge.

A year and a half ago, I had a sudden shift in habits and mentality about our consumer lifestyle. I realize now that when I impulsively moved to NY, I was running away from my unhappiness and toward what I hoped would be my happily ever after. Our apartment in L.A. wasn't super small (two bedrooms and two full baths) but I blamed its modest size for some of my internal strife after giving birth to Edward (because babies need, you know, so much stuff). I wanted the American dream, a full-blown house with a big backyard and a room for each one of us and all of our future children. When I found my house in NY, this was IT. We moved thinking it would solve all our problems for sure but after my first night in my house, I realized I was no happier in our larger space. I still felt insanely lost and unfulfilled. "I think we made a huge mistake," I told Steve. "We should have gone bigger, like 5,000 sf."

To make things feel better, I went on a major shopping spree. I bought curtains, rugs, pillows, vases, fake flowers, chairs...you name it. I wanted it all. I wanted to be happy so I bought a bunch of things that I thought I needed to be happy. Yes, our house is big (over 3,000 sf) but it filled up quickly. Soon enough, we had all of the rooms filled even if it was filled with just cardboard boxes and remnants of old projects. My philosophy back then when decorating was more is more. We inherited a huge basket collection from Steve's grandmother. I took all the lamp bases from her house. I just wanted it all and I wanted to display it all. Because more is more, right?

Well, let me tell you something to save you from all the clutter and wasted cash from the last few years: You really don't need that much stuff to live a really good life. Stuff does not and will not EVER equal happiness. It is just a temporary fix, an addiction, that puts a bandaid on deeper issues. So I went through a Great Purge a year and a half ago and while the results were good, it did not last. Americans collect so much stuff just randomly (like favors from birthday parties and holiday gifts) that just to maintain some sort of equilibrium in your stuff is an ongoing process. What was also ongoing was editing my stuff to a bare minimum and figuring out what I truly needed to live a good life vs. what is just stuff I am holding onto with expectations of one day needing it. Last year when I was purging, there were still many things I couldn't part with (certain dish towels, shoes, dishes...just lots of random things). I did a big purge a week ago and guess what? All the things I thought I couldn't live without were still hiding in storage, untouched. I am all for having stuff to improve your quality of life. But what we actually use on a day-to-day basis is remarkably limited. Everything else is just CLUTTER.

I had a hard time letting go of things because my stuff carries a lot of expectations with it. I held onto scrapbook making kits, cute tea sets, and clay pots because I KNOW I am crafty and I KNOW I could one day host a tea party and I THINK I like to garden. But guess what? The reality is I don't actually do those things (or not nearly enough to keep all the correlating stuff around) and my attachment to these things is just my failure to recognize what I actually do with my time. Just because I have a scrapbook making kit does not make me a scrapbooker. That fantasy just has to go out the door.

I am not a minimalist because I do like stuff. I do like having really high quality things. But I only want things that I use and I just don't use that much. So in the next few months, I am going to pare down my things to my bare minimum: My camera gear, computer and hard drive, a small book collection, a very edited closet, a box of important docs, toiletries, very small kitchen, a TV, my iPhone, and communal family stuff like a bed, dining table, and sofa. Because there are other people in my household, I can't live as edited as I would like but I definitely played a role in our consumer problem and I am finally finding my equilibrium with the stuff epidemic that many people suffer with. It is pure freedom, I tell you. It makes me love my house so much more when everything in it supports my lifestyle, not take away from it.

Let's take a look at some of the things from Trip 14 to the Goodwill:


Stuff
The boots on the left are so cute (and my sister has the same one in a different color) but the heels are very worn and the last time I wore it I slipped. The shoes to the right were cute when I was 21 one but let's face it, I can't quite pull off cheap shoes anymore (funny things happen when you start to age). So now I am down to one workout shoe, two heels, two boots, two flats, and a pair of sandals. That's it!
Stuff
After we made an offer on our house, I panic-bought this dining table runner from HomeGoods because I was sure this was my style and I would never find something like this again. Never once used it in three-plus years. Buh-bye!
Stuff
I got an adorable Anthropology apron for Xmas so this one became a duplicate. I initially wanted to keep it because I had fantasies of baking alongside my sister one day except who am I kidding? That probably will NEVER happen (we both don't like to bake).
Stuff
I bought this handmade scarf thingy from a family friend for a fundraiser. It's been sitting in my closet for two years and I've never found an opportunity to wear it. Don't think I ever will. Buh-bye!
Stuff
I developed a very strange lamp habit after I brought back ten-plus lamps from Steve's grandmother's house. I liked to put random lamps all over my house for "decorative reasons." They were never plugged in and they didn't have light bulbs in them. All they did was clutter up space and collect dust. This floor lamp was the last to go. I finally decided it made no difference in my quality of life and now that it's gone, I don't even remember what it was like to have it standing uselessly by our dining table. I mean, what was I thinking putting it there in the first place?!
Stuff 2
Which brings me to this: Cheap and random decorations from Walmart, nonetheless. Except it wasn't all that cheap (I probably paid thirty bucks for this). I don't even know what this is anymore. A floor vase? A table vase? It just had to go. Buh-bye!
Stuff 2
I tossed the branches that I used to keep in the vase as well.
Stuff 2
I got rid of lots of random things lurking in my kitchen cabinets. These are old kerosene lamp covers with no actual bases. I passed on these the first time I cleaned out my kitchen but this time around I just couldn't justify their keep to me anymore.
Stuff 3
I cannot tell you how disgusting our garage was before this purge. We had junk on top of junk on top of junk. Lots of warm and safe spaces for spiders to lay their eggs. And did they ever! This is the garage after I took a carload to Goodwill. Progress, but I'm coming back for more in the next few months. You can't see how much dust and insects and feces and hair was all over the ground. But trust me, it was there.
Stuff 3
After some reorganizing, a trip to Goodwill, and a thorough sweep, we actually have space to walk out of the car. Heaven!
Stuff 3
Nothing escaped my compulsion to purge. Including contents in my freezer. I baked a bunch of odds and ends for dinner so I could throw out their bags and be done with it.
Stuff 3
I salvage as much as I can but some things do just go into the trash. I threw out these tiles from my back splash project because I used up as much as I could (between my kitchen and bathroom) and these really are just mostly scraps.
Stuff 2
If an item has enough value in it, I sell it on Craigslist. While I loved my sisal rug, Steve didn't and the next place I live in will not be large enough for this (it is 9' by 12'). I got a lot of interest right away and two days later, I sold it for my asking price.
Stuff 3
Oh hi, Ben.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Long Island for a day + Why I could never throw a kid bday party

We were supposed to take a longer trip but life's sort of crazy right now (when isn't it?!) and the weather is all kinds of yuck so we went just where we HAD to go for a business trip.


Long Island
Picturesque streets of the northeast.
Long Island
The most stunning and bizarre pink light followed us at dusk.
Long Island
We were so so close to THE CITY but it wasn't meant to be this time around.
Long Island
Driving across the George Washington bridge.
Long Island 2
We took a detour into a neighborhood with GORGE holiday lights.
Long Island 2
My love enjoying breakfast with me the next morning.
Long Island 3
Our wintery view.
Long Island 3
After Steve got back from his meeting, we ate Vincent's Clam Bar before hitting the road straight home.
Long Island 3
Babes enjoying some hot bread.
Long Island 3
The restaurant is so Italian in the best way possible.
Long Island 3
We splurged on a calamari app.
Long Island 4
My steak wrap and Manhattan clam chowder. Then six hours back home!
Belle party
Okay, so here's why I could never throw a kid's bday party: Because all the other moms do such a good job and everything is so darn handmade and cute.
Belle party
Everything is Pinterest-worthy.
Belle party
Everything is cute.
Belle party
Too...much...cuteness...
Belle party 3
Oh...Hi there.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On the road again + AMAZING BEET SALAD

Going to take a quick east coast road trip for a couple of days. I'll leave you with a recipe for an amazing beet salad I sorta came up with. I actually got the inspiration from the beet salad from Granville and after my first bite, I proclaimed, "I gotta figure out how to make this!"


Beet salad
The dressing is simple: Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, S&P, garlic powder, and mustard. Shown here is dijon but I also tried it with stone-ground mustard and in my opinion the stone-ground tastes much better.
Beet salad
The salad consists of: Mixed greens, cooked beets, cabbage, pine nuts, red onion, and dried cranberries.
Beet salad
I also added some cooked quinoa. Any kind will do.
Beet salad
Mix the salad all up with the dressing. So good and so good for you! The best part is this salad keeps in the fridge for one day so you can make a larger portion of this and enjoy for two straight days!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year!

Whoa, are we in our fourth day of the new year already? Well, the energy is shifting and I can already feel it! I am going to fearlessly take charge of my life this year and start making some really good decisions for myself. And I'd love to bring you along with me.

Here is a great article my sister recently found on some life truths I've been meditating on. Enjoy!


New year
We broke out a 14-year-old bottle of wine with a couple of good friends a few weeks ago. Good decision!
New year
Yummy salad obsession. The dressing is lemon juice, olive oil, S&P, a clove of garlic, and parm cheese. All I put in the salad are some mixed greens, red onion, and cherry tomatoes. Plus a lobster cake or two for good measure.
New year
My baby boy can finally play video games on his own. I guess he's not quite a baby anymore!
New year
I roasted five chestnuts the other day. Unfortunately I've had them for too long and they were all dried on the inside. I will definitely try to buy more because now I have a hankering for chestnuts!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Plan C

Three months ago, I put my foot down and decided I was going to spend Christmas with my family for the first time in four years. I booked flights for both me and Edward and we would have almost three beautiful weeks hanging out in NorCal at my parents' house. Then my arm "tumor" thingy got out of control and my surgeon said he would only operate on me if I promised not to fly for a few weeks after. So I snuck in a quick trip before my surgery and indefinitely postponed my next trip to Cali. But, I said to Steve, let's go visit your sister in Virgina for Christmas! The day we were supposed to drive the eight hours down to her house, Steve got hit by a stomach bug so we had to cancel that trip as well. I was a bit disappointed because I thought I was being so good this year by making plans for Christmas well in advance. I texted people in town on Christmas Eve (the day we realized we weren't driving to VA either) to see if anyone was free to spend the holiday with us. No one was. 

So we spent the holidays alone. Just the three of us. We went to Longhorn for an early dinner (since we had no food in the house because I thought we would be traveling). Then all three of us stayed in bed for the rest of the night watching movies on Netflix (The Nut Job, Breastmilk, and Wolf of Wall Street). And you know what? It was GREAT! For the first time all year, I felt relaxed, like I could finally sink into my bed without this nervous energy I've been carrying around with me. Isn't that what the holidays are about? Relaxation with your family? Making plans is great. But so is not making plans and just staying still for a while. I told Steve yesterday, "I don't want New Year's Eve plans. No calling people trying to find a party. My party is at home." Because I've spent three years trying to be anywhere else but here and I'm seeing some beauty in holing up and chilling at home. Maybe I'm turning a leaf and becoming Homebody Christine. Or maybe not.


Xmas
My rack at our Xmas Eve dinner.
Xmas
We took the party back home where Steve broke into some moonshine that he bought for himself.
Xmas
Some of my favorite gifts: kitchen stuff from Anthropology courtesy of Steve's mom. Swoon.
Xmas 4
Trying out my new towels in action.
Xmas 2
We dropped by Grandpa's house on Xmas day. They had new puppies.
Xmas 2
My boy is so sweet. He fulfills me.
Xmas 3
The long road home.
Xmas 4
Soft tacos with organic beef. Now we can really party!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2015 is for CONQUERING FEARS

After I finished my novel in late September, I've been lost as a puppy. You see, in order for me to write this book, I had to stick my head in the ground and remove all distractions. I wrote from a very dark place. I wrote because I was in pain and felt so stuck in life. I wrote because I didn't think I had any other options and that at 25, my life was already over.

I wrote because THIS WAS IT. This novel would be my breakout into the creative world, into a world where I would finally be taken seriously as an artist and creative contributor. And during this time of writing, I was at peace. I had no doubt in my head that there was nothing more important for me to do than to write this book. I lived off the grid, completely removed from social media and what was happening with my peers. It felt as if I had no other choice than to be isolated from the real world to reach this sacred state of literary nirvana where I could spin words out that actually mean something when strung together.

Then the book was done and BAM, what now? I haven't had agent interest yet so I figured I would spend the next few months finishing my baby story. But because my son is starting full-day school next year, I wanted to start looking for real work, like, you know, corporate office type stuff, because I will finally be relieved from the all-day burden of taking care of Edward. My time to go back to the daily grind is here at last.

So I did what I thought I would never need to do: I joined LinkedIn. I've since had a few interviews and many more job leads but so far, I am still unemployed in the sense that I don't provide a company a service that they give me a paycheck back for. What I wasn't prepared for most was how all my friends and the people I graduated with are MANAGERS or better now. When I left the corporate world, we were all low-level schleppers and I guess I've been "gone" for so long that I didn't realize we are in our late twenties and the people that have consistently followed a corporate path are diverging into a trajectory of corporate career greatness.

This got me thinking: What is it that I'm after in life and why am I running back to the corporate world now that my son is grown and my book is done? Why am I applying for the very job I was happy to leave when Edward was born? If money TRULY didn't matter, what would I choose to do with my time? How do I want to contribute to the world?

I've realized that I am running back into the arms of my ex-boyfriend (AKA the corporate world) because I feel safe there. It's all I've ever known. It's what I'm supposed to do. It's what we went to college for. I run because it is a set and sure path where I let others decide my career fate so I don't need to figure it out myself. I run because I still need others to validate me, believe in me, and rally around me to propel to me the greatness I think I can achieve. I run because I want permission from others to do what I truly want to do, because unless they say I can, I can't.

I run because I am afraid of being who I feel I am inside. Because I want others to understand me and love me and be my greatest advocate. I want to prove to everyone that I am corporate, that I can play the game, and I am worthy of being placed in a cubicle and given my own company-subsidized smart phone.

Or... I can see this time as an opportunity to go forth in a different direction. I can finally blaze my own path without the constraints of what I thought others wanted me to do. I can look for jobs that I thought weren't practical or jobs that I would only apply for in an alternate universe. Why can't that universe be here and now? 

2015 is the year for conquering fears. For living as if I am an avatar from a second-life sort of fantasy game. What would I do if I weren't held back by FEAR of who I should be in this lifetime? What if none of those things mattered and I can do what intrigues, inspires, and moves me?

My goals for 2015:
-Get a job (but one where I am excited in, where I can be a creative collaborator with a bunch of insanely talented people who terrify me)
-Move to LA (no more threatening. I need to be back home)
-Finish my baby story (and publish it!)
-Enter my last novel in a few literary contests (I want to move it forward and find a home for it)
-Create a blog platform (no more fear of self-promotion. I am my best and sometimes only advocate)
-Find out what value I can offer others
-Continue to get in the best shape of my life (because apparently my 10-yr high school reunion is next year and going to it would be another fear I am conquering)

Finally...
-Start shooting footage for a documentary (I will blog tons about this soon, I'm sure...GAAAHH!!!)


Hopefully by the end of next year, when people ask what I do, I can confidently answer with this (as told to me by my dear sissy): I am a creative producer. I travel the world and pursue my creative pursuits. My art is my contribution to society. I raise my son and he is my legacy.




2015
My body after almost two years of working out (mostly Pilates and now yoga).
Body
A similar shot from Feb 2013 pre-working out.
Gingerbread houses
Got some yummy pears in the mail from Steve's sister.
Gingerbread houses
Making icing for our annual gingerbread houses.
Gingerbread houses
I premade them this year so people can decorate without worrying about roof malfunctions from runny icing.
Gingerbread houses
A modest but fun gingerbread house-making station set up.
More dec
Babes showed off his creation.
More dec
My Xmas present. Let the shooting fun begin!