December 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I had the best of intentions of inching closer toward zen and clarity and all the good things that make me feel pure and uncluttered
. But nature abhors a vacuum, or at least it does in my universe. So as I removed belongings that tied me to a part of my life I was ready to let go of, I found myself acquiring things I didn’t anticipate wanting or needing. As the balance shifted and space emptied out, it quickly replenished itself. Okay, if I’m going to be honest- I did help.
I covet cute things and sparkly things and brand new tech things. And even as I sometimes indulge, I try to understand my ever evolving cravings. I’m a creature of my time and generation and as such find myself fascinated by new developments and product innovation. Professionally, I have to keep up with trends and styles and technology. And while I enjoy it, there are times that the trends treadmill feels faster than ever bordering on crushing.
So I’m not setting specific new goals for 2013, though I will make public my dedication to continuing on my road to More Clarity & Less Clutter. And some other things as well…
I finally rid myself of over a decade’s worth of work related notebooks, emails, scribblings and more. It was an incredible journey to leaf through some of my earlier typed and scribbled professional hopes and dreams and see the way some had gone beyond my wildest imaginings, while other withered on the vine. Among other things, I also found the now worthless shares to a company I’d co-founded during the heady web 1.0 days. An object lesson in not putting much faith in paper. It did remind me though, that I’ve built things from scratch in the past, and intend to again in the not too distant future.
I almost saved these notebooks and notes for another decade- just in case I write a business book. And then I realized- I already did. Amazing how unattainable goals once reached and passed become almost endearing, rather than thrilling.
I’d like to be thrilled professionally again. Though 2012 was a year of great new successes and accomplishments, the residual sagging economy and previous lingering life events left me without the full passion I once had. And I miss it. And I vow to fully reclaim it, without losing myself in the process. And I’m excited about what I have planned for 2013. And I can’t wait to tell you about it.
But before I can do that, I need to clear out some of my mental and emotional bandwidth along with some of this lingering clutter. I suspect that it’s more of a lifelong battle for me. To conquer things that crush me instead of sustaining me.
An informal poll of the New Year’s plans or traditions of friends provided me with inspiration. One friend mentioned working on a list of things she’d like to leave behind in the old year. And that come midnight on December 31st, she intends to burn that list.
I’m inspired to do the same and was going to include some of the things I want to leave behind, but don’t want to have them recorded in perpetuity to mock my intentions.
But I’m working on it. And I can’t wait to leave all of those things behind and make room for even better days ahead. And before you think me overly maudlin, Last year was filled with so many good and amazing moments. I want to make sure to make room for even more in the year to come.
My philosophy for the past few years was Better. I’ve amended it slightly. My motto for next year? Even Better.
April 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
If you only know me from this blog, chances are you know my more genteel self. The one who is generally careful with her language and rarely uses expletives.
Clearly we haven’t met in person.
One of my struggles over the years has been excising more colorful four letter words from my day to day dealings. As a proud sometimes caricature of a native Brooklynite, I was once quite comfortable with randomly dropping F bombs into daily conversation. It was both a badge of pride and neighborhoody cultural thing. Get me behind the wheel of a car and I’d be crafting unique curse-tacular combinations that would impress a truck driver and make a sailor blush.
In more recent years though, I’ve become more aware of the weakness of substituting a curse for a colorful descriptor. And I make every effort not to use an easy curse to express dismay, excitement or simply as a substitute for something better.
Lately though, I’ve noticed that when I’m feeling lazy or tired I go for the easy F instead of truly expressing what I’m feeling. While I cringe at the random and copiously dropped pop culture curse variants (I’m no fan of asshat, manufactured to appease network TV sponsors) I sometimes find them preferable to the coarse curses we’ve come to accept. It’s almost like performers are trying too hard to push the proverbial envelope slightly as evidenced in Cee Lo’s F*ck You (Forget You on the radio version) or the bleeped out F*ck in a recent promo spot for AMC’s The Pitch, meant to sell the passion of the advertising business and marketing process.
So, as I clear out useless clutter, I mean to also rid myself of the urge to curse. I won’t pretend to go cold turkey, but intend to find more creative ways to express joy, displeasure or amazement.
August 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I’ve spent a good portion of the last few weeks on Fake-Cation. I use my own variant, fake-cation, instead of more recently mainstream, accepted and twee staycation (or its dozens of spawns), because while I was mostly local, I ended up working and pitching, thereby making it more faux time off than fabulous escape. That burst of activity coupled with earthquakes and hurricanes and a rumored tornado (oh my) made my time off more eventful than restful.
And yet here I am refreshed and ready for big things this autumn. I should clarify, big good things this autumn. I could do without additional drama.
But on to the real thought of the day. Sometimes when you’re clearing things out you may discover a treasured object or something lost long ago. It doesn’t have to be buried treasure- sometimes a misplaced earring or bottle of shampoo makes you rethink your purchasing habits of the last few months. Instead of regret, per se, you might be filled with a memory of a purchasing things that worked for you instead of the ones most heavily advertised or highly priced. In these instances, it can encourage you to also start buying based not only on need or price- but based on quality, consistency and reliability.
So much more fun to have one that you love instead of eleven that fill you with post buyer’s remorse shame.
July 8, 2011 § 1 Comment
At a recent visit to the doctor I discovered that I had perfect blood pressure – fairly shocking after the year I’ve been through. A friend asked me to what I attribute this fact, since we’d both shared woes of the specter of a fine family tradition of high blood pressure. “Well”, I said proudly, “Do you remember a few years back when I stopped eating junk food? Since then, I eat healthily, avoid salt or cooking with salt, walk as much as I can…” and then I stopped. Because that wasn’t entirely true.
Though I avoid meat, cook without or avoid salt when I can, avoid food with preservatives when I can and really do try to walk everywhere, I’ve found that junk food has found a sneaky way of sneaking back into my life. I did a quick mental tally of the last few weeks – from the rushed sandwich while on the go, to upheaval that could only be solved with a lot of teeth grinding and Pringles, I’ve become increasingly reliant on food better classified as junk.
Well that’s gonna stop too.
As I clear out the clutter from my life, I’m once again going to become more mindful of the junk I randomly ingest. As I treat my living space better and empty out the things that are distracting or no longer welcome, I’ll apply the same principle to my ultimate living, breathing space and vow to treat it a lot better. To that end, I’m going to be even more vigilant about what I eat and how much of it.
Here are some guidelines that have worked for me in the past:
1. I will try to prepare or cook the majority of the food that I eat
2. I will try to eat fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables when possible
3. I will avoid overly processed, salted or mass market produced foods.
4. I will not add salt to food when cooking, and try to avoid adding salt when eating it
5. Junk food is not my friend. It probably isn’t yours either. So while fries are an infrequent treat, I’m going to try to avoid them and their kin altogether. Pringles- consider yourself warned.
6. Whole Foods prepared foods, etc. are better options, but not the best option.
(And I’m going to update The Conflicted Minimalist Manifesto right now!)
June 23, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s shiny. It’s new. It’s a blog about paring down my possessions and yet I have to fight the urge to populate it with too many posts discussing my too many things. So I shall resist.
The internet and blogosphere is overly crowded with too many incomplete thoughts, ideas and subcultures. While we all want to have our say, too many of us tend to express this in a disorganized if not completely chaotic or incoherent manner. For that reason, I’m going to try to post twice weekly only, or when I have a breakthrough or setback that’s interesting enough to warrant a post. Then again, I tend to get swamped with last minute projects, so you might find me disappearing for weeks or months at a time as well.
Which leads me to my next thought on a pared down life- balance. Neither too crowded in, nor too exposed, but a healthy mix of memories, inspiration and beauty.
Last night’s efforts included sifting through old paperwork. Tip for the day- if there is only a minimal amount of crucial information, consider blacking out the sensitive bits with a Sharpie before recycling. You’ll save time and energy on shredding.
June 22, 2011 § 2 Comments
My sister likes to use an old Yiddish saying that means something to the effect of- the first fight is the best fight. In other words, you show the other person what you’re made of- if it means that you don’t back down or are willing to compromise, it’s that first real fight that sets the stage for future discord. Only it’s a lot harder to fight your own nature or inclinations.
After a public announcement of the need to divest myself of all of the extras, I realize that it isn’t a one time clean up I’m after, but rather a chipping away of a lifetime’s worth of bad habits. Whether brought on by a love of beauty or the American shopping ideal, I’ve become slightly overwhelmed by the things that surround me on a daily basis. And now that I want to pare it all down, I have to decide where to begin. Is is the kitchen, the room I’ve affectionately nicknamed ‘the prize closet?’ or is it the half of my bedroom that doubles as a somewhat dusty gym (complete with a six foot tall Bowflex)? Do I rework my space to suit my aesthetic, or strip it all down and start from scratch? Your guess is as good as mine.
If I had my druthers, I’d magically migrate to a pristine Eichler house with enough space so that my thoughts don’t crowd in on me. Realistically though, until I’m ready to follow that dream, I need to tailor my living space as well as my head space.
So round one Rachel-0 Bad Habits-1
(and here’s what I dream about)
June 19, 2011 § Leave a Comment
If you know me, you know that Modernism and all that it represents is my ideal. Sleek wide open spaces with lots of room to breathe and not too many tchotchkes.
If you really know me, you’d know that I collect paintings, knickknacks and other charming collectables and ephemera from my work and travels. Also makeup. Also shoes. Also earrings. And the list goes on. I also live in New York, where space doesn’t mean much and location is everything. Only it’s getting harder for me to locate everything in all of the clutter. Okay, not really, but my Zen ideal has me feeling like I’m a hoarder lite.
So here’s the plan. I want to de-clutter both my space and my mind. I want to divest myself of at least 50% of my belongings and not regret any of it. I want not to worry about old bills, old love letters or old jackets that may or may not ever come back in style. I want to own things that I love and not feel like my belongings own me.
Or at least that’s the plan.