Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Kick-In-The-Pants

One topic that has been on my mind a great deal the last few months is "minimalism."  No, I'm not referring to the decorating aesthetic of bare white walls and spartan furnishings.  I am talking about living with less Stuff, paring down your life to the essentials, owning (and doing) only those things that are useful and bring you joy.  This philosophy is not about organizing your clutter, but rather letting go of it!  How many plates does one family need?  Why are there boxes and boxes of STUFF stored in the attic untouched for months, even years?  Why do we keep closets full of clothes that we don't like and never wear? Why are we constantly running from one activity to another, never slowing down to just "be" and enjoy the moment?

All this Stuff & busyness weighs us down!

So, hubby and I determined to do something about it.  Enough is enough!

First, let me clarify:  we are not hoarders.  You would not have ever walked into our home and thought to yourself, "Wow, they have a problem.  It's time for an intervention."  It was usually reasonably tidy and comfortable. However, we had six 72-inch tall bookshelves packed with books, plus 3 more bookshelves full of my crafting supplies.  Our closets were all filled.  The attic was also full.  I had to store things on top of the refrigerator because my kitchen cabinets had no more room.  Not being able to find something we really wanted was a too common occurrence.  Getting the vacuum out of the coat closet was a pain due to the amount of Stuff stored all around it...

You get the picture?  Our Stuff was not serving us.  In fact, it was frequently impeding us from living joyfully and causing frustration.

So, the Great De-Stashing began.  We sorted and tossed and donated piles and piles of Stuff.  And then we did it some more.  Hundreds of books, bags of clothes, unused housewares, furniture we never liked, all removed from our home.  Each time we let go, the easier it became to let go of more.  The thrill of loading my car full and hauling it off was even more exciting than the thrill I used to get shopping for something new.  In fact, shopping and buying more Stuff is the LAST thing I want to do these days.  And you know what?  So far, I have not missed one single item I have let go of.  Literally thousands of pounds of Stuff has left our home, and still there is more to go!

And now, you may be asking yourself, "So what about that 'Kick-In-The-Pants' mentioned in the title of this post?"  Well, as I write this, my hubby is in the middle of a job interview...in another town.  If he lands this job, it would not only necessitate relocating, but it will surely require serious downsizing as the cost of housing in the new community is significantly higher than where we currently live.  In fact, the four of us could very likely go from living in a 2,000 + square foot, 5-bedroom house to a 2-bedroom apartment with less than half our current square footage!!!

How's that for a kick in the pants?

Stay tuned for more posts discussing minimalism, including some how-to's and recommended resources.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mindless Mindful Running

There are many people who run to clear their minds.  It can be a very zen-like experience.  I remember that  feeling well, getting in "the zone," mesmerized by the rhythm of your feet moving...but that was a long time ago for me when I was much younger. Starting over years and years later, running barefoot, trying to have correct form and avoid injury has made my runs anything but "mindless!"  Instead, I find my mind constantly engaged, focusing on the terrain and my body to make sure I don't hurt myself.  The entire time there is an internal conversation going something like this...

"Mind your posture.  No slumping.  Keep your core strong!"

"Careful with your stride...quicker and shorter."

"Drive your knees up a little more.  No shuffling!"

"Quiet, gentle contact with the ground.  No pounding!" 

"Don't push so hard.  This isn't a race."

"I know this feels good, but it's time to take a walk-break.  Remember, you are in this for the long haul and don't want injuries."

"Stop worrying about what those people must think of you and your bare feet."

"Make an adjustment on your foot strike, I can feel some friction.  No blisters allowed!"

"For goodness sake, smile!  This is supposed to be fun, not work!"

Now let me say, I'm not complaining.  I thoroughly enjoy my little runs.  I am trying to accept it for what it is at this moment.  Instead of bemoaning the fact that I can not skip out and run miles and miles effortlessly, I try to find joy in each step of my journey towards that goal. It is a great pleasure to get outside in nature, feel the various forms of ground (concrete, pavement, sand, mud, grass) under my feet, and work my muscles.  Right now, running for me is anything but tuning out.  It is much more a tuning IN.  No distractions like an ipod or monitoring device checking my heart rate and time.  No padded shoes to cushion and insulate my feet.  Just me listening to my body and trying to experience and enjoy the world around me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


The following is something I wrote on a barefoot running forum about my first barefoot run last week:

Let me explain something. I am NOT a runner. I used to run years and years ago. I loved to run. But running did not love me. Even in my teenage years, my track and cross-country career was riddled with shin splints and stress fractures. As an adult, every time I tried to pick running back up, the same old injuries would start to return. It was so frustrating. No shoe or insert seemed to help. I was beginning to believe that these flat feet just weren't made for running. So I walk...a lot! (And wish I were running.)

I've been reading about barefoot running. I've been walking barefoot as much as I possibly can around the house, yard, and during my frequent visits to the neighbor's house across the street. (Yeah, that may not sound impressive, but pavement gets pretty hot when the heat index is 112 degrees outside!) I've been searching and shopping for the "right" minimalist shoes so I could get started...but that idea seemed to be nixed by several of the more experienced barefoot runners I read. I still want some minimalist shoes...but I'll add those once I'm sure my form is good.

So today (July 3) was the day. I was ready to take the plunge. Once the afternoon sun had moved down a bit and it cooled to a nice, chilly 91 degrees or so I donned my flip flops, grabbed my neighbor's big dog, (bad guys don't bother ladies with big dogs as quickly as a lady alone,) and I headed for the paved greenway just a few blocks from my house. Once I was off the very bumpy, gravelly pavement that is in front of my house, I slipped off my flip flops and tentatively started to walk. It felt good! Then I broke into a run. It felt great! Even though the path was littered with debris (twigs, acorns, etc.) from the big storm a few days ago, my feet didn't hurt. Equally amazing to me was that I didn't feel as winded or wiped out as I have gotten lately when I've tried to add some running into my walk. It felt easy and natural. I did several intervals of running, forcing myself to stop and walk because I am determined to avoid injury!

I can not believe that I did nearly a full 2 miles walking and running barefoot! Needless to say I am quite thrilled and hope this is the beginning of a new journey for me and my feet!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


You know the old saying:  Keep It Simple Stupid.  Okay, maybe it's not the most polite way to make a point, but it does make a point!  Since I last blogged I have been reading a lot about the idea of simplicity and minimalism.  Am I planning on joining a Buddhist monastery and culling my possessions to only one robe and one bowl?  Goodness, no!  However, I can honestly say that THOUSANDS of pounds of STUFF has left our home and it feels so good!  I have been going through closets and drawers and the attic and letting go of all that STUFF that we don't use or love.  It is an ongoing process, but this is my goal.  Eventually I would like to say that every single thing I own is either useful and/or brings me joy.  If time permits, I will write more here about my journey.


Related Posts with Thumbnails