Morning Ritual

Rituals are grounding.  They give us a space to pause and reflect; a place to put our happy and sad emotions and every one in between.  

I start my mornings with a very simple ritual:

Reading a chapter in whatever book I'm devouring while sipping 1 cup of coffee out of my favorite mug. 

That's it. Nothing crazy, no chants, nothing mystical, no big time commitment. Just a pause before the day begins to ground myself in something that brings me great pleasure.  Something I can hold onto all day. Even if everything else turns to hell, This. Was. Good.

Stacked day after day, that's a lot of good to hang on to. Because I think we often run right past the good.  Good doesn't always make you stop and say "thank you" like bad makes you stop and say "why me".

If you have a morning ritual, share a picture with me on Facebook or Instagram.  

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What I Learned from My Capsule Wardrobe

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Capsule Wardrobe.  

Project 333.  

A uniform.  

These were all buzzwords in 2016 and being as I suffer from a healthy dose of FOMO, I thought I would try one and see what all the fuss is about.  

The basic premise is that rather than buying the skinniest hangers possible so you can cram more clothes in your closet, you clear the damn thing out and only put back a few items.  It could be 33 items every 3 months in the case of Project 333, or just 5 shirts and 5 pants, all the same, for The Uniform.  The mellow choice was a generic Capsule Wardrobe in which you just choose a "limited" amount of clothing. 

After attempting Project 333, and landing closer to Project 666, I decided to just call my attempt by the generic name: Capsule Wardrobe. I pulled out all the clothes from my closet, put back the ones I loved and put the rest in two bins in the garage. 

Here's what I learned:

1.  Having 1 pair of pants a la The Minimalists would only work for me were I willing to do laundry every day.  I get dirty working in peoples homes and, do to health issues, need to wear a new pair almost every day so that I'm not marinating in allergens.  That would add up to a lot of washing and I just don't have the bandwidth right now for that. 

2. Ditto for shirts.  On top of the allergens, I'm just a rather sweaty, smelly person.  For the sake of those around me, I stick to a single use of a shirt, and even then, my hippy-dippy non-aluminum deodorant leaves a bit to be desired.  If a weekend with my horse is involved, that also necessitates a change of shirts (and pants).  I think he smells wonderful, but I get looks when I go to the store after visiting him. I could feasibly stick to just 2 or 3 shirts, but that too would lean towards a ridiculous amount of washing each week.  That leads us to the next point...  

About 25 shirts and 5 pairs of pants make up my fall/winter wardrobe. &nbsp;Half the shirts are for really cold days and half are for just slightly chilly days. &nbsp;

About 25 shirts and 5 pairs of pants make up my fall/winter wardrobe.  Half the shirts are for really cold days and half are for just slightly chilly days.  

 

3.  Although I default to wearing black tank tops while at home, I realized I actually enjoy having a bit of a choice in my work shirts.  This was a surprise as I really didn't think I cared that much, but some days I feel like a blue shirt, others a purple one.  The key was keeping the choice to a minimum.   

4.  Getting dressed is SO much easier with a smaller collection. I haven't had a single "OMG I have NOTHING to wear" day since the big clean out. 

5. Moving is easier.  If you have to move to a new home, only needing one little wardrobe box is a huge perk.  We found that out in November. 

My fall/winter shoes. &nbsp;The sandals and 2 pairs of high heels live on an upper shelf until summer.

My fall/winter shoes.  The sandals and 2 pairs of high heels live on an upper shelf until summer.

6. Co-habitating is easier.  If you move and wind up having to share a closet with your partner, you will have fewer fights if your clothing is staying firmly in your half of the closet.  At least, that's how it went down in our house. :)

7.  Sometimes the biggest act of self-love is letting go of too-small clothes or buying a size larger.  Not with the attitude that nothing can be done about your weight, but an attitude of compassion, i.e. "due to XY and Z, this is the weight I am right now".  I let go of some old pants, bought a couple pair of pants I could wear right now, and ironically lost a little weight.  There might be something to this self-love and acceptance.  Another bonus, in letting go of the too-small clothes, and a few that I just wasn't in love with, I was able to whittle down my 2 boxes of clothes in the garage to 1.  

 

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PPS What I Learned from my Capsule Wardrobe and Simple Luxury

Debt & Decluttering

Oopsie...it's been a while!  I hope you are enjoying your summer!  We sure are.  However, we just finished up our taxes (we have to file an extension every year...long story) and as I was hunting down write offs, I began thinking about debt. 

While JT and I are finally debt-free (other than a mortgage on a rental house), I've managed to rack up credit card debt numerous times over the years. Retail therapy and all.  Turns out actual therapy is cheaper and more effective in the long run, but I digress. I LOVE shiny things.  Beautiful things.  Decorating and redecorating our home. But if I'm down, or anxious, I buy out of habit.  Suddenly I NEED to have something that quite frankly is nowhere near a need.  Or better yet, I "deserve" it, after my long, hard day in the trenches.  

I think a lot of us fall into this category.  I can't think of a single home I've worked in where not only were there beautiful things, there were far too many beautiful things. 

So how do we break this cycle?  How do we decide we're done with the excess purchases?  

I'm far from perfect, Amazon just said my 1 gallon jar for brewing kombucha was just delivered, but I've learned a few tricks over the years.  

Tracking: Using Mint to track our purchases using monthly budgets.  Rather than putting my head in the sand and ignoring the mounting credit card bills, I now look closely at my spending throughout the month.  June was a success, but we failed miserably in July after having a bit too much fun in San Diego and San Francisco.  Those restaurant bills sure do add up.  So do "have to have it" mindless purchases.  I used to spend a few hundred dollars a month on dumb crap.  I could never figure out why I was always broke, even though I hadn't gone out and bought a new Louis Vuitton purse.  In hindsight, it was because all the small stuff added up in a big way. 

Watching: I look through my belongings weekly - if I don't, they seem to multiply.  This doesn't mean you need to set aside a whole day to look at all of your stuff.  When I get dressed in the morning, I make a point to really look at the clothes in there.  2 years ago, I'd find something that didn't fit or that I didn't like on a weekly basis.  Now it's more like a monthly basis, and I have a greater appreciation for the few clothes I do have because they fit and I love them. Same with the kitchen, just start noticing your stuff when you cook. As you reach toward your utensil holder to grab a spatula, maybe you notice a wooden spoon that's all splintery that you can toss.  By really looking at your belongings, you'll both know what you have and appreciate what you have. No new stuff needed. 

Decluttering has had the added value costing us less in maintenance, storage and time spent.  Think 1 bin of extra sheets vs. an entire linen closet.  1 extra set of sheets to wash instead of a daunting pile that we didn't wash because "hey we have a clean set, let's just use those".  Also, not having to pay San Francisco prices for a place with a large linen closet has definitely helped our bottom line.  Where can decluttering help save you money?   

Avoiding: As we continue to pare down our belongings I find that avoiding stores helps to keep costs down.  Because, trust me, I can always find something pretty that I just "have to have".  Looking at you, yellow throw pillow that perfectly matches the color scheme of our canned ham trailer.  Recently though, I find myself getting more and more anxious when I go into stores. Like, almost on a cellular level my psyche is saying "Don't do it!".  This actually happened a few days ago. I was near Home Goods and it was like my car parked itself and I was suddenly browsing the aisles.  After 20 minutes of browsing, I could feel my chest tightening up and it was hard to catch my breath.  Stuff overload.  I had to flee the store.  

For this reason, I try to use Amazon Prime or Google Express to deliver the things I need to me.  Need, not want.  But I find that if I absolutely can't avoid going into a store, and while grabbing the necessities something cute and decorative winds up in my shopping cart, I use my Mom's trick and "own" it for a while as I go through the store, all while asking it "where will you go in my house?".  Usually the answer is nowhere, it's just going to be clutter, there isn't room for another tchotchke.  Back on the shelf it goes.

I'm not perfect, I love stuff, but I love my sanity more.  I love the deep breath walking into a clean, clear room feels like. Hopefully these tips will help you rein in the stuff and enjoy what you have more.  

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