My Minimalism Journey

Minimalism a word I never thought I’d use to describe myself. When I heard the word “minimalism” in the past I’d really judge the people who called themselves that.  It wasn’t until I had a revelation that I redefine that word for myself and embraced a new chapter in my life.  No I don’t have stark white walls and I don’t have only a few items.  I am working on making my life more calm, drama free, intentional, less wasteful, and filling my time with things that I want to do rather than things that I “should” or “have to”. On top of all of that I want to have a good relationship with money and feel free from financial burden.

It all started one night in September of 2016. A fire alarm went off at my apartment building, thankfully no one was hurt, but in those moments of panic I really learned a lot about myself .
Hypothetically people would always ask “what would you take in a fire if your place was burning down?”  I always thought that I would grab my possessions, my photos, my trinkets, the things that people bought for me so (so I can remember them) and any valuable things that cost a lot of money.
 On that night when I heard the alarm and smelled the some smoke I grabbed my dog and my purse.
After the fire marshals  allowed us to go back home, I walked in my apartment still shaken. A feeling of  guilt came over me. I had to look at all my stuff and say “I’m sorry I didn’t take you with me, you weren’t important enough.”
 I couldn’t shake this feeling of heaviness, I’d been feeling out of it for a while, but I blamed life in general for my bad mood. The next couple of days I just looked at my things differently. I had too much stuff, and that was a problem. I have worked really hard to obtain all my items over my life time, but now these were things that emotionally wore me down. My place was always a mess and I felt out of control.
 One by one I removed items I didn’t love and put them into a box next to the door “just in case” I change my mind. Strangely enough this feeling of freedom came over me  every time I removed something out of my sight. A sense of control and calm followed.
Each day I walked into my home, I looked around, and I picked out something that I didn’t care about and I put into the box. To my surprise one box turned into four, then bags where piling up. Old clothes I really didn’t like, old textbooks I was keeping to “look smart” went into the box. A weight was being lifted one item at a time.
 During this time I also came across a YouTuber named Sarah Nourse. She and her husband are travelers. In order to live the life they wanted they saved two thousand dollars a month before they pay their bills in order to live the life that they wanted to live.
 When I first came across her YouTube channel I was furious at her! I was like “heck no how do you do that? That’s impossible!” I then realized I was just jealous of her because I was struggling to stay afloat and also save for my future. I don’t care too much for traveling, but the fact that stuck with me is she had freedom from her day and financial freedom with no debt and she could just be and do what she wanted.
 The key to her success was a simple, challenge yourself to pay yourself first then hustle in order to pay your bills. She also recommended selling a lot of your stuff in order to make that all happened. Sacrificing for a short persiod of time for a future gain. This was something that I had to see if I could do.
Energenticly, I did set off to try to see if I could make $1,000 in one month.  What I did was I made a budget with all of my fixed expenses such as; rent, car payment, phone, etc. then I went though my spending report from the previous months to see how much I was spending on my non-fixed items such as; food, gas, and entertainment. I also have used the apps Mint and Penny to track these expenses. I decided on a realistic non-fixed budget for those items too and took out that money in cash. Then I looked at the number that was left over  and I subtracted my bills from my income. In the beginning I saw that I had about $500 left over. I had NO IDEA I had that much! Where was all the extra money going?
 I called my credit union (which I have been a part of since I was a kid) and I got the information I needed to use that account. I wrote myself a check in the amount of $500. I chose to also not have online access to this account so I’m forced to go into the branch if I want to take the money out (My Mom’s brilliant idea!). Then and there I mailed it. I have to add that, writing your future self a check is a very empowering experience.
 Now I know that doesn’t equal $1,000. So how was I going to come up with the rest of the money ?
 I looked around at the box of donations that I had made and I started selling some stuff online. I have an Amazon seller account and I also have a friendly community on Facebook where we sell and trade items. At that same time committed to a part-time job as a substitute preschool teacher a couple of hours here and there. Lastly, I said yes to any child or pet sitting that was asked of me.
 Before you know it the money was adding up. Every time I received money I would immediately put it away into that account that I could not touch. Intentionally I was making more money while only was spending my budgeted amount.
I put together an envelope system with the cash I took out for my allowed non-fixed expenses.  I put that amount of money in each category so when I went to go buy groceries I only had $50 a week. This really made me be intentional about what I was spending. I never went to the store without coupons and I really reminded myself that each time I did not spend extra money I was helping out my future self .
Any money left over at the end of the month was added to my savings.
The last step was to call each company I was sending money to on a monthly basis. I really had to decide if I really needed that service. I started with cutting my cable off and only keeping Internet (which included Hulu). I also cut the internet speed to the smallest package. When I called my internet provider they were able to tell my how much I was really using on a monthly basis. This was a similar case with my phone service. I cut that down to the smallest I could. The only down fall to that was me having to be on my phone less! That downfall turned quickly into a benefit.
Fortunately, during this time I came across The Minimalists .Their message was live more by consuming less. Intentionally create more and better relationships, time, freedom, and money and less worry about making money to buy things you don’t want to impress people you don’t like.
 I binge listened to their podcast every day on my way to work. Every day I learned something new and every day I was more convinced that what I was feeling and what I was doing wasn’t crazy. I  knew that I could be happier and free by only keeping the items in my home that I absolutely loved. On a deeper level only keeping the people in my life that absolutely added value.
 I started this journey in September, so I was lucky enough to have a couple of  months before Christmas to talk to my family and friends about my new lifestyle choice and how Christmas was going to look a little different this year.
 I talked to everyone and let them know that I really appreciated everything that I have in my life and since I’m trying to consume less I don’t want any tangible presents that don’t add any value to my life. That I would they be OK with not exchanging presents, but instead getting together for a meal or go to a paint class or a concert , do something to create a memory together. Everyone was so supportive and I have to say that Christmas that year was probably the best that we’ve had in a long time. My parents are very supportive and they asked specifically what are some things I needed. I gave them a list of things that I really wanted that would be useful to me that might be boring to them. They happily wrapped (even used recycled newspaper so they didn’t buy and consume extra Christmas paper!) that water purifier, those reusable bags that I really wanted, and that cruelty free foundation from the company that was out of my budget range .
This journey definitely started because I reevaluated the things that were next to me, and I’m always going to be on a journey. I’m happy to report that I can now look at each item separately and ask myself if it really is needed. If it brings me joy, or is useful I gladly keep it. Everything else now has a good home.
My next step on the path to my personal growth story is that I’m having a hard time with all the plastic consumption that I partake in and I’ve really started to take a good long look at my behavior and ask myself how can I do more with less plastic waste.
Till next time…

Special thanks to these amazing recourses!

Choosing to be Uncomfortable

No I don’t mean physically uncomfortable, I’m mainly referring to the discomfort you find yourself feeling when you are uncertain of a particular journey you are on.

I have been thinking about my choices lately, and I came to the startling conclusion that almost all of my career (including my education) goals and choices have been made from the place of fear.

When I chose to stay close to home after graduating High School I did so because I was fearful for my family and thinking I needed to be the one near by to save it from falling apart. During college and after I ALWAYS had a job, because I was fearful about not being “successful” enough and fearful about how I would look to others on my path. Working AND going to school was a valuable and bragable trait right? So as I went along I always found new jobs while I was currently working because I “HAD” to have a job, otherwise my family and friends would see my as a failure. Finally, after college I got that “adult” job that really made me look good and definitively looked good on a resume. Most importantly it made me gleam with pride that I had full time employment and a 401K.

Miserable and stuck, three years later I was laid off and free. What did I do with my freedom? Panicked. Fear once again had me applying to companies just like my last employer, because I knew that applying to a like minded company would be easier to land because I already had those skills. Thankfully, I didn’t get any jobs that my fear based self was looking for at that time.

Months later and desperate for money I randomly took a Nanny Job I was offered. With more uncomfortable feelings at first, I embraced my new life. I’m currently with that same great family, but the children are now at an age where my services are no longer needed and I feel the need to move on.

When I think about what I want my future to look like, the only thing that is clear is the city I want to live in and I want to be of service to people in my community. I want help people be the best versions of themselves, and be able to know I helped along the way. I have an urge that I cant explain logically to be in this new space and then to decide what happens next.

So why am I looking for receptionist and nanny jobs again? I don’t want to be either of these occupations again. I can do both jobs, but I really feel like I am destine for greater things. My gut pulls me one way and my logical mind takes me another.

I have come to the conclusion that by looking for comfortable jobs I am already making decisions for my future based on fear; Fear of financial security, looking “bad” or “lazy” to others, and fear of listening just to my gut and trusting it.

One day I was talking to a friend about this delima and how I make these decisions and how all I really want to do was to move and live in my new life and wait to see how I feel and THEN decide what I want to do.She graciously gave me the permission I needed from myself.

I’ve decided to leap without a net for the first time in my life. I choose to embrace the uncomfortable, and for me, trusting that discomfort will help me grow in a new direction.

Here it goes!

 

 

Cancer

Sarah rings my phone on Valentine’s Day 2014. “Can you talk?” She asks. “Sure let my find a quiet place”, I replied. I was treating my single self to lunch and a movie that afternoon.

“Lacey has breast cancer.”,Sarah added, “she will have to have a double masctomy.” I froze outside Panda Express. Thankfully, there was a place to sit down as I felt my whole body get heavy.
“Oh my God….they said that is was only a cyst and it was NOTHING, and they just wanted to biopsy it to make sure!”, I angrily stated.

“They found something and that’s all I know, she’s asking me to call her closest people until she is ready to talk. She is with my mom right now and I’m on my way to see her. I’ll text you if I hear anything, and we will all have to support each other. I am here for you.” She says this in strong sweet way like she had practiced it a few times.
We hung up the phone and nothing would be the same again. The first thing I did was phone our third best friend, Abby, and break the news to her. My eyes were red and running. I started to walk to my car and many people were staring as I passed. I figured they saw me as a lonely girl saddened on this stupid heart holiday.

Time stood still, and all of the sudden I was the only one there. I knew I was walking, but my mind was left on that bench. Abby wasn’t able to meet up that evening, because (like everyone else) she had Valentine’s Day plans with her boyfriend. I decided that sitting alone in my apartment the rest of the evening wasn’t going to be very helpful, so I kept my own plans and went to the movies.
Distraction, yes distraction is what I needed. Though the whole time I was checking my phone, and to this day I cant tell you the specific details of that movie. I did however find myself getting very upset over the fictional character’s bitching. “WELL AT LEAST YOU DONT HAVE CANCER!” I wanted to scream at the screen! Even though this news wasn’t my own, I took it on, and thought “WE” have cancer.
All That day, all  could think about was losing my best friend, how my life was now changed, and what to do in the meantime. I need to let her know I knew so I texted her, “I love you, and I’m here.” The hardest thing was waiting for a reply message. I kept second guessing myself “Was that a good message, should I have said something else?”
My most frustrating part was that she was was RIGHT DOWN THE STREET! How am I not allowed to see her? I see her everyday! After a few hours she was able to muster out a “XOXO” text back. This showed me how upset, tired, and surrounded by people she must have been. She has a big beautiful family and I’m glad there was so much support that day. I was jealous of their space, I wanted to see her!
She’s my friend!
I already miss her!
let me see her!
I’m so angry!

The next evening Abby came over and we cried, discussed all the possible details and outcomes, our roles, and what we were going to do and say the 1st time we saw her. It’s funny how there aren’t too many resources for loved ones out there on how to deal in this space.
There was no sleep to be had that night and I was meeting my parents for lunch the next day. Since my emotional breakdowns can happen at any moment now, I decided to call my mom a head of time and fill her in on the news.
After another sob session and no contact with Lacey, I decided to further my distraction by finally working on a company idea that I had for a while now. A funny thing happened with this news. I felt a rush of nothingness come over me. The kind of nothing matters attitude that both stunts and propels us all at the same time. This idea that nothing matters made me questions everything’s validity and life it self’s purpose. We found out a few days later that they wanted to operate as soon as possible so her family and her decided it would be best for her to move closer to them.

“This Fucking Sucks! Ive had my best friend down the street for me for two years! What the hell am I suppose to do now?!?!”

After a few days of crying and family appearances Lacey was finally able to say the word “Cancer” without balling her eyes out and initial shock was wearing off and it was replaced with a fight and spirit.

After many more days and a fast move, Lacey was slowly getting aquatinted with her new place and I was learning how to go grocery shopping alone again.

She is the strongest person I know with the biggest fight in her, and today we can finally laugh and joke about what kind of new boobs she wants!

100 Words of Worry

Mind racing, always racing. What to do with life? What’s good enough? And why do I have so many ideas in many directions? I can’t blame it on my great childhood, since it was nothing but great. A strong and confident mind can be a curse, I can do anything I want, though I hide from all my potential success. Am I supposed to make my children’s life better than mine? That bar is too high, too much pressure. The one who’s responsible for this pressure is me. Even my iPhone is pressuring me. “Not enough storage” it keeps yelling at me. I’ve maxed out my capacity. Stop reminding me!

2013 In a Flash

Happy 2014, so I have to say that 2013 was pretty great to me. Though I had a view hiccups (Stupid Radio hosts and health insurance), but I’m happy to report it was one of my best years! We all know that I was laid off in 2012 (OLD NEWS) but the rebound nanny gig I got at the end of that year ended up being my salvation. I thought I would take this time to tell you about my year and new hopes for 2014.

Jan- Starting out in a new job can be rough for anyone, but try working for a job with no real job requirements. Of course I’ve worked with kids in the past, but being a stay-at-home mother figure was ALL new to me. Cooking, cleaning, and talking about video games all day wasn’t something I was prepared for, but I was GREAT at it. Apparently my ovaries liked the mom thing and I was beginning to enjoy washing tiny people’s clothing.

As the year went one I was trying to find my place in the family and thinking about how long I would be staying. Since I had always thought of the nanny life as something of tempera, I continued to look for work else where. Looking high and low I still wasn’t getting many interviews and I have to say that the few interviews I got, the money was really B A D….So as the weeks and months being a “Mom” went on, it was looking more and more like I was in this for the long run.

July- I was asked to watch the children when the parents went to a wedding, it was then disclosed to me that the wedding was indeed going to be taking place in Hawaii! Wow, working and taking a family vacation with someone else’s family..ok! sign me up!!!

After Hawaii, There wasn’t too much more that went on. The kids were out of school and my friends and I took a few trips around town pretending we were tourists.

I celebrated my 29th Birthday at Disneyland in October, and had a fun and relaxed Christmas and new year. I am happy to reposrt that new years 2013 was SO much better than 2012’s. I never thought that I could have such a nice work schedule and get paid so well for doing something that I am naturally good at.

I’m not sure where 2014 is going to take me, but I would like to let it know that I am READY for more great things to happen!

 

How I deactivated my Facebook and lost 16 pounds.

imageFor Most people, FB is a means of communication and reaching out to loved ones near and far. Facebook for me was a means of judgment, jealousy, self entitlement, and self sabotage which would eventually aide in an overall life breakdown.  I’m not happy to admit that I was addicted to the drama that would updated itself every 5 mins.  With each new update had the capacity of making be feel better and above, or just down right worthless.  Now, as a strong woman I know that no one,  (or thing) has the option of making me feel a certain way, but try telling your brain that when you see all the weddings, babies, and trips pour all over your wall and in your face! Two months ago I was at another crossroads in my life and I was down and out, again. This last time I was feeling this way was last year when I lost my job. It’s funny how you can have so many “friends” online, but when you really need something and ask for help, those 5 friends (that are always there for you) show up. As my year went on, it became apparent that a lot of people from my old work place werent reaching out, and all the people I thought I had in my life were drifting away. So, I turned back to Facebook to update all the far weather friends about my life. I noticed that I was only putting positive things up, thus making my life seem so awesome. I know that many people do this, but it really isn’t helping anyone. In my loneliness I would stroll through and stalk everyone’s pages, no one was safe from my judgment and jealously. It became so bad that when I would put my phone down I would feel a sense of sickness come over me. It didn’t matter if I started my stalking in a good or bad mood; by the end I would feel lifeless and dirty. I let my mind be consumed with the negativity, harsh words and also joys of others. How could I really be friends with all of these people and not be honest about my struggles and more importantly I wasnt authentic with my joy for them either. Also how could I have all these friends and no one face to face in my life (minus my best 4 friends, and family). This look on me wasnt something I started to like about myself.

The straw broke one day when I got a private message from an old highschool friend who was a husband and a father. He hit on me out of nowhere, and I have never felt so degraded ever. Why was I letting this portal of negative people be open to me? They were able to find me and shake me like this? No, this had to end.

I decided then and there that it was time for Facebook and me to break up. As I went through the process of deactivating  it (which I have done many times over the years) I knew this was going to be for good.  All of my old excuses came rushing back to me right before I clicked the big button; How will people get a hold of me? I wont get invites to things? How will I see what everyone is doing? I choose to go with my gut and sever the relationship.

The weeks to come would be the hardest, I opened my mind up to talking to a therapist about everything in my life. I started going places without “checking in” and all my status updates went to my closest friends and family. It started out really strange, but after a while I actually received phone calls and text messages for get togethers and casual chitchat. Who knew that was still an option besides Facebook?! The real friends where shinning through and all the others fell by the waistside. The best part was now I had all this free time! I started slow and worked on my mind and positive self talk, I learned that the best road to be on is one that is full of drama free, energetic, positive people, and there is no room for judgment or hate. I bought a bike and started taking fitness classes that were fun. I used myfitnesspal and started watching my calories, and with the help of my best friends I am happy to say that I am down 16  pounds and I havent felt better! I have to say that is was nice going out and not telling Facebook where I had been. It was like I was a secret club and only the VIPs were welcomed! I have a way to go, but I’m very proud of all that I’ve accomplished thus far.

Don’t get me wrong I love me some social networking, but I’ve decided to turn my attention to more positive ones like Pinterest and Instagram. I find that these two sites encouraged helpful life ideas and uplifting photos. From time to time I still post about my days and journey, but this time its authentic and I am genuinely happy with what others post. I’ve set up an Instagram just for my journey where I hope to inspire others. I don’t have a weight loss goal I just want to continue to shed negativity and pounds.

If you would like to follow my fitness journey  My name is its_time_2_lose on Instagram.

Dear Future Self,            

Dear Future Self,
         

      Hey there, remember me? I’m the past you! How is our life going now? I have to admit that while nothing is majority wrong with the current times, I find myself at a crossroads of sorts…which of course you already know. Or maybe you have forgotten by now? Did you ever find that job/career and lit up your heart? Or did you sell out just to feel more like an adult? Did we ever give up the bad boys, and find a nice one? Bad boys are the only ones that seem to be around now-a-days. This truly must be my doing, because honestly I have no idea what I would do with a nice guy! Please tell me we got over that in the future! I also hope that we gave up on all those friends that were never there for us when we needed them the most, and only kept those few precious gems. 

      I hope that you still know how amazingly beautiful you are, and how far you have come. I know that in the past years life has thrown us down a few times, but remember how quickly you’ve gotten back up! I hope you are still as grateful for life and positive as we have always been. I cant wait to see what you have in store for me! 

– Confused Past Self