Simplicity and Senior Reflections

So, confession time.

As anyone who has lived with me for any length of time can attest, I…well…um…

I’m really messy.

I’ve gotten better about keeping some of our common areas clean, but my room has always been a sticking point.

Frankly, I’ve just always had too much stuff, much more than I need. But instead of dealing with that, I’ve tried to deal with the symptoms; clutter, messiness, and lots and lots of guilt.

With all of this in mind, I tweaked an idea I found recently. The main idea was to take a picture of everything you own, in order to evaluate what is really necessary and as an aid to de-cluttering.

I’m far too lazy for that, so instead I only took pictures of a few things.

I took pictures of all my various nice smelling girly things (perfume and lotion mainly) because those tend to be very tempting for me to pick up without thinking. My yarn stash got a picture as well because when I have to walk through the yarn section of the craft store all those warm, soft, bright yarns sing a siren song.

Finally, I snapped photos of my wardrobe. I’m finally pretty close to my goal weight and have given away a huge chunk of my clothes, meaning now I have to actually go out and replenish it. I’m not planning on getting much more, but, for instance, just today and yesterday I finally found two decent coats, a must-have for the winter coming up.

The clothing pictures were more practical for me, since having a visual reminder of what I already own when I go looking for new pieces makes it easier to make sure everything can mix and match, so that I can continue to have only the amount of clothing I really need.

But all that wasn’t really that big of a deal. The best part was that I finally went through my room and pared down my belongings by a lot. My room is cleaner than I think it has ever been, with lots and lots of open, clear space. The whole atmosphere is lighter and more open now.

And it’s even better because this will last a lot longer; it wasn’t just hiding all of my stuff away until I need to use it, I actually have much less random stuff that I don’t use.

Ahhh it’s wonderful.

And then, with my room cleaned and organized I trekked off to visit one of my sisters for most of the weekend. It’s nice to start feeling like my relationships with both my mom and several sisters are more like friendships and less like parent-child or older-younger sibling relationships.

~~~~~~~~~~~

As a small aside, while I’m admitting things anyway, can I tell you a secret? (well, I guess it won’t be a secret now)

I see the light at the end of my educational tunnel, but I have one nagging regret.

When I feel a little less practical and more optimistic, I really

really

wish I had gone to art school.

Not majoring in art at Chico State, but going to an actual, dedicated art school.

I don’t even know what I would’ve majored in (fashion design? illustration? photography? painting?) or what

I would do with that sort of degree, but the desire is definitely there.

Maybe it’s just a curiosity about whether I would’ve been able to do it, if I would be able to continue to stretch myself and keep up the creativity.

And don’t you dare suggest I go back to school for an art degree, I don’t even want to think about more school.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Some snapshots of this week:

I know not how to fix this. Maybe it's good I didn't try to get a degree in fashion design!

A couple of weeks ago I got to do a photoshoot for my sister and her significant other, and just delivered them last week. She wanted to be the first to see them, so now I can show a couple of my favorites:

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Where does all the time go?

That seems to be the question so often now. Where did the summer go? Where did my weekend go? Or even just where in the world my day went. Last week Joshua emailed me a study that showed that the average TV consumption in the U.S. is five hours a day.

Five. Hours. Even if not all in one sitting, wow! The fall shows are just starting up, so I don’t watch a whole lot of TV – and certainly not five hours a day – but I had a sinking suspicion that if I added up all of my time in front of a screen – my phone and laptop – it would probably come close.

This week, I decided to test that out. I didn’t just track tech time either, I had a couple different categories I tracked. A couple fun facts:

  • I spent 6 hours in class and 3 hours on mass transit (it would’ve been 8.5 and 4.25 respectively, but I played hooky on Friday)
  • I averaged about 2 hours of technology a day.
  • I spent just over two hours walking with a destination in mind (school, placement, work, bus stop, etc).
  • Both my school placement and creative time came out to approximately 5 hours.
  • And I slept an average of 7.5 hours a night.

That’s actually…not bad. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised, but most of that seems fairly normal and healthy. I should probably get some more exercise in there (note the lack of walking without a destination in mind), but other than that I feel pretty good about it all.

It’s also helped that I’ve started getting into a new sleep rhythm of going to bed early and getting up early. I’ve

realized that I don’t often get a whole lot done whenever I’m done with class and placement, and usually just come home and zone out.

When I do get stuff done, it’s usually in the morning when I’m bright eyed and ready and haven’t had the chance to have all the energy knocked out of me yet. So while I feel a little embarrassed for going to bed so early, overall I feel much, much better.

Besides, I knit. I really ought to be used to being called an old woman by now!

Other than that, everything is going about as well as to be expected in the middle of the semester.

I’d been getting all cocky, feeling confident and awesome for moving on so quickly after Alex and not being a big blubbering mess.

And then, this morning I logged on to Facebook to discover that my very recently ex-boyfriend is in a new relationship. And the Big Strong Rachel mask cracked to reveal a tiny, whimpering Rachel saying “What? WHAT? B-b-b-ut whaaat?”

So I was grumpy and moody all day, devouring comfort food and not playing nice with the other kids. But I’ll tell you what, there is something magical that happens at our Sunday meals. If I had just been alone all day I don’t think I would’ve snapped out of my funk, but there’s something about being with other people that I’m so close to, especially people at all different stages of life, that reminds me that this moment is just a dot on the timeline of my life.

Life goes on, it doesn’t freeze in this moment. And it’s okay to be hurt or angry or even self-doubting, but that shouldn’t consume every bit of me. And I’m reminded again how much I value this life.

And on that note, a few snapshots of this week in no particular order:

Fall's finally coming!

Quick little fun fact for you – did you know that leaves always have red in them? They have a lot of green in them so that they can absorb and use red wavelengths, and a little bit of red chlorophyll so that it can absorb and use green wavelengths. We start seeing red in leaves when the tree recognizes that they won’t be getting much sunlight anymore and the green chlorophyll dies away. Okay, sorry, nerd moment over.

D&D game night!

 

On left, pictures of dead fetuses. On right, "My body, my choice" sign. Nothing like running the pro-life/pro-choice shouting gauntlet to get to class...

Geek Gear

So, let me tell you what I had intended for this week.

A friend of mine asked me to make her and a friend some Hogwarts robes for their Halloween costume. I found a nice, easy pattern online and we set up the date for tomorrow, but her friend had to cancel at the last minute. I’d intended to also knit both of them Gryffindor scarves to go with their outfits, but I’ve only got one of them about 3/4 of the way done.

Tonight is D&D night (whoooo!) so I broke out the wizard hat project and tried to get it knitted up for our DM. It’s almost there, but it’s a little tricky to tell, and I won’t have time to felt it. Speaking of which, I threw his dice bag in the laundry to felt since I’d kinda sorta forgetten about it for awhile. It’s getting there, but verrrrrry slowly – and I am suddenly very glad I decided not to felt it by hand, yipes! Too bad about both of those, it seems like the best way to avoid death is to bribe the guy who controls the monsters 🙂

I’m zero for four this week. I’m not even going to try to stretch this into it somehow being my difficult thing for the week by having to learn to be patient/not do as well as I want/etc. I’ve decided to be happy with having very little homework this weekend and getting my part of our D&D dinner done with on time, and go enjoy my evening.

(Belated) Hunger Awareness Month

Awhile back, I heard about the San Francisco Food Bank’s Hunger Challenge. I was intrigued by the premise – for one week, trying to eat off the amount of money I would get from food stamps – but was irritated with some of the rules.

For instance, anyone on the challenge is not allowed to accept any free food. I understand the idea behind this, trying to make sure people don’t just mooch off others, but what about the free meals in my area? Those programs are available to everyone, not just something I get out of privilege. Also, the amount you have per month is divided up day by day, so that as a single person I would not be able to use more than $4 worth of food per day. This seemed a little misleading, since food is often cheaper in bulk so that the amount I might actually use in my meal could come under the $4 limit, but the overall cost would be over what someone on food stamps might have available (i.e. the price of meat per pound varies by how much is bought at one time).

A little later, I discovered that June is Hunger awareness month and a bunch of food bloggers had attempted to live off the amount they would have on food stamps for the month, but with guidelines much closer to what I think is reasonable. So, I decided to do that challenge, but a couple of months belated; for September, I set myself a budget of $100 for food, which is what California would give me for food stamps.

(As a small aside, I found out that the state will not give me food stamps because, as a full time student, there is a minimum requirement for how many hours I work every week. There are no such work requirements for part-time students.)

I have a night class once a week, so that became my weekly grocery trip. The first two weeks were the hardest; I realized that I had an innate urge to stockpile food, grabbing some because I thought I “might” use it and I had to really concentrate to buy only what I needed for that week.

Later on, I started using leftover canning jars to store my dry goods – not only does it look nicer than a bunch of plastic bags from the bulk section, but it gives me an automatic portion control (there’s no way a single person needs more than a quart of beans/rice/cornmeal etc in a week) to combat my pack rat urges.

After the adjustment period, I started looking much more at what was already in my freezer, fridge, garden and pantry to come up with what to eat, rather than going out and buying more. I’m a little embarrassed to say that’s a skill I didn’t possess before. It made my shopping much easier, just picking up things to add on rather than needing to buy all of the ingredients for many meals, and made for much less food waste. My last several weeks of shopping, I ended up with total bills of under $10 each, whooo!

It was hard to resist buying food at school on days when I hadn’t had time to make something from scratch to bring with me. But as I hit midterms at the end of this month and had plenty of leftover budgeted money, I was able to buy several lunches at school. And I did so without any guilt, because the money was already budgeted! Ahhhh. That is such relief.

I think I’ll probably stick to the $100/month food budget; if I’m ever going to save up for my student teaching year, I have to start somewhere! I may even lower it a bit more, but focus on getting more of my fruits and veggies – this has been a very starchy month. Though, to be fair, probably not more starchy than usual, I’m just paying more attention.

And not a single meal of box pasta in three weeks. Ha!