Saturday, August 27, 2011


Over the last year or so, I've been trying to reduce the amount of "stuff" I own. It's really incredible how much I've gotten rid of by donating, freecycling, selling, or trashing so far.

When I moved to California, I came with two suitcases and a guitar. That was in 2002. I expanded into a very large 2 bedroom apartment with my husband, and have since downsized into a 400 square foot 1 bedroom.

I think the problem is, I like stuff. I especially like the type of stuff that is classified as "Gear." For a year I worked at a sporting goods store and learned to rock climb, which requires stuff, and found out about other bicycling stuff that was either better than my current stuff or that I needed in addition to the other stuff I already had. I have a bicycle for when I'm puttering around town in a skirt. I have a bicycle for loaded touring. I have a bicycle for racing. I have all manner of locks and lights for these bikes, all of which come with their own accessories. Then...there's the camping stuff.

I don't think all stuff is bad by any stretch. I think if the stuff you have serves a specific function and brings happiness, then that stuff is valuable. The problem I have is with the other stuff. The stuff that weighs me down. This sort of stuff doesn't have a specific purpose, or it has a purpose that can be served with something else I own. The stuff I'm talking about is "extra stuff." Like a dress that I wear sometimes but doesn't make me feel super good in it.

Some people, like my mom, would say I'm already pretty minimalist in the amount of stuff I keep around. Two people living in a 400 square foot apartment is extreme minimalism to a lot of Americans. But I see people with blogs about minimalism posting about owning fewer than 100 things, or bloggers like Rowdy Kittens' home tour with barely any stuff, and I am so so jealous!

I want to have a house that is clean, not because I spend time cleaning it, but because there's just not enough stuff to get dirty. I want to own only what is necessary for my health and happiness.

In an effort to get closer to that goal, I'm working on an inventory of everything I own. Since I'm still working on it, I'm not sure what all the rules are. I'm grouping things like 1 pair of socks instead of counting each sock, but I am not grouping "socks." So far I have a ton of stuff. I hope the exercise will help me to really have to touch everything I own and write it down so I can see at a glance the bulk of it, instead of having it hidden away in drawers. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Simple Pleasures

I've found that I have a tendency to compartmentalize my life. Vacation and Relaxation have needed to be planned for their own time, be it a weekend or an out of town trip. Adventure falls into the same category. Rarely do Relaxation and Adventure occur within my daily routine. A pair of cycle-touring bloggers has inspired me to change that.

In a CBC radio interview, The Traveling Two describe staying with a family while touring the middle east who decided to take them on a picnic...for the middle of winter. The couple describe being surprised, then delighted by the concept. I decided to do something similar.

Last night I packed up the dinner I made for my husband and myself and suggested we walk down to the beach to eat. The dinner wasn't anything special. We ate what we normally would, we just changed up the location. The 28 block walk to the beach and back gave us a chance to wind down for the evening and actually chat with each other, rather than retreating to our separate computers until sleep-time. Sitting on the beach at sunset watching the tourists take pictures of each other made us appreciate our town, which we often take for granted. The whole thing was relaxing, spontaneous, adventurous even!

It really showed me how easy it is to get stuck in a routine and how easy it is to take each other and our surroundings for granted. The whole thing cost nothing and really made the evening special. I hope to do it again soon.