Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Guilt

I just watched this fantastic little documentary called I'm Fine, Thanks. It's basically the story of a man who has it all according to our "keeping up with the Jones-es" mentality but still isn't happy. He has two young boys that he is raising to "follow their dreams" but realizes he's put his own on hold. So, he decides to set out to find others that have felt this way and either have changed it or want to change it. There's much discussion about what other people thought of their choices, or why their own thoughts kept them from doing these things for so long. And, not surprisingly one story about September 11th ends up being that one thing that really makes you think.

This movie came at a very interesting time. I am lucky in that I do not hate my job. I like it in fact. It suits me, so I don't wake up each day filled with dread about going to work. But there are other parts of my life that I don't like, and I've been doing them out of guilt. Currently, the biggest source of stress and guilt in my life is my college degree.

If you want to tell your kids how not to earn a degree, look no further than myself. I graduated high school in the summer of 1997 because I didn't want to be there anymore. So, when everyone in my class was starting their senior year, I was a freshman in college. First mistake. I wasn't ready. I'm not sure a graduating senior is ready...but I wasn't. I was lucky that my grandfather had saved some money for me to use for college and if I'd used it at a different school it probably would have paid for all four years. But I didn't. I went to the most expensive school around here and it only paid for two and a half years. Then when the money ran out I was newly married and decided to take a break. I had two kids during that break, and then eventually found myself divorced. Enter a mishmash of whatever community college courses I could take online to hopefully apply to my degree. Then another long break, and finally into an adult degree program where I currently find myself. I borrowed WAY too much money along the way, partly to just survive and now here I am.

I'm only a handfull of classes away from my English literature by the way, and my student loan debts are my only debts (aside from some small amounts I owe to individuals). But I hate it now. I hate every single bit of my classes even though they are in subjects I love. I want nothing to do with any of it and honestly at this point I don't care if I ever get the degree. And I no longer feel guilty about that. For the longest time I've been taking classes because I felt like I had to. I felt like I was letting my grandfather down, my mother who has always wanted to go back to school, everyone who has said "Well you don't want to spend all that money and have nothing to show for it", and for being so close and still not finished.

But I officially don't care anymore. Some day, I do want that piece of paper with my name on it. But, I've been at this off and on since 1997, I'm not sure another decade will hurt anything. They say that the value of a degree is going down. Well the current value of my almost degree isn't worth what I've put into it. I'm tired, I'm grouchy, I'm not doing well in the classes I am taking, and I have no time for my kids who will never be these ages again. I'm over feeling like I have to do this for anyone but myself when I'm ready to do it.

So, I quit.

I'm going to eek out the best grades I can manage this semester, and I'm not re-enrolling. I'm going to fill out the paperwork for income based repayment and work on getting the loans paid off. When that finally happens and I can perhaps pay for a course in cash, I will start again.

We only take this ride once and all of my classes have taught me things, things that no one can take away from me. Someday before I die I hope to graduate. But I'm not going to let it kill me now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

That Feeling Is Back

I wonder just how much stuff I will get rid of before I feel totally "decluttered". Even after two major purges of my house, I'm starting to feel like the stuff is closing in again. Three things are currently bothering me, my closet, our DVD's, and my books (sort of). I posted about the closet the other day when talking about Project 333. I hope to tackle that in the near future. It's been freaking me out just a little because despite the fact that I only wear a fraction of what I own, I still feel like I should have it all around. The one good thing is that the rules of the project do say that you can replace things if necessary. I'm attempting to lose weight and have a bunch of clothes in the size I was wearing, so hopefully I'll be able to swap them out. Our DVD's are really stuck in my head right now. We have a ton of them for the kids, and a fair number for me. I could easily get rid of mine, but I feel a little guilty getting rid of the boys. The last time we went through the house I asked them to sort through them, but they were only willing to part with two. Since the beginning of my first major purge we have watched only two of their DVD's so there is really no reason to keep them. I still can't make myself go through them though. Now for my books. I've pretty much refused to get rid of any of my books unless I have doubles from thrift store shopping. I like keeping books I have really enjoyed so I can loan them to people (and I do). But there really is no reason to hold on to the ones that I liked, but probably wouldn't end up loaning to anyone. So, there is no reason to keep them other than just because I love them. But they take up space and I know I'm not going to read them a second time, so I should part with them. So there it is. What I'll do about these things is yet to be determined, but I know they'll drive me crazy to the point of taking some action soon. I'll let you know.

eBook Sale

I just wanted to throw this out there for anyone who might be interested. Simplify the eBook by the author of the blog Becoming Minimalist is on sale for only $0.99 today on Amazon. It's a great little book!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


If you're on Facebook with any regularity then you are probably seeing a lot of people posting what they are thankful for each day. This is something that comes around during November as part of Thanksgiving and encourages us to find one thing every day that we are grateful for. I haven't participated in past years, but this year I decided that I would. We are only thirteen days into the month but I find that I have no trouble coming up with something every day and today I had so many things that I was thankful for that I didn't limit it to one post. I find that I'm also in a better mood as the days go on and that more things happen for me to be grateful for.

I'm not religious, but I've read a lot on the act of gratitude both in religious and non-religious materials and I'm a firm believer that when you think good things, more good things happen to you. I'm just not always so great at putting that into practice. But today was a fabulous day and I hope that with each day my reasons to be grateful increase.

On the subject, I read a book some time back called 365 Thank Yous which has now been republished as A Simple Act of Gratitude. The author begins at a place in his life where things have hit rock bottom. He decides to send a thank you letter to someone every day for one year. It's a true story and an incredible one. It's a very easy read and I'd recommend it if you have the time.

A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life

Monday, November 12, 2012

How Much Do You Wear?

I saw this picture the other day on Pinterest and it got me thinking about what I really "need" in a days time. I think all of us can look around our house and see things that we haven't touched in well over a year and probably wouldn't miss if it were to disappear. But what about in our closets? Now this probably speaks more to women than to men (though I know some men who are very into how they look) but I personally still have a closet that is busting at the seams even after all of my decluttering.

In the book I just finished reading the author talked about Project 333. The premise is you take 33 items that you can wear (with some things not included in this number, like underwear) and wear only those items for 3 months. When I first read about this I winced at the thought of the approximately 75 pairs of shoes I own. I also have a ton of clothes. I have my current size, and some smaller that I will get back into because I will not go up in sizes ever again. But the bar in my closet is littering bowing. So there's no way I could do this project....or could I? I just told someone this morning that I almost never wear any of my shoes anymore and I sort of feel guilty for still having them around. I also work in a very casual environment and pretty much live in jeans and t-shirts. So, 33 items not counting the exceptions list...I think I can probably easily do that.

So if I have the opportunity this weekend I think I'll do a little evaluating and see what I think about tackling this project. I'll let you know.

A Little About Black Friday

It's getting close to that time of year again. Thanksgiving. A day to be thankful for all that we have and hopefully a day to spend with those that you care about. With Thanksgiving we now have Black Friday, and that is creeping into Thanksgiving day with stores deciding to start their sales early. I've been a bargain shopper for a long time.

 I love a good deal and the little high I get from finding something I've been looking for at a great price. But I simply cannot stomach Black Friday, and I really hate that stores are moving into Thanksgiving. I'm not trying to run down my friends who choose to participate in the Black Friday madness, but after one attempt many years ago I knew that it was not for me. Last year I decided to only buy things that I felt those I was shopping for would really enjoy and appreciate. I made careful selections. This year, I plan to do that again. I also plan to do my best to buy as much as I can locally. We spend a lot of time talking about jobs in this country, well shopping locally creates jobs.
When you're considering your shopping plans this year, take a little time to think about where you shop and how you shop. If someone came to live with you that had never experienced Black Friday how would you explain it? What would the spectacle look like to them? Are the gifts you buy on that day things that your loved ones truly cherish? Where are your past Black Friday purchases now?

 Consider an alternative to Black Friday (though I don't advocate clogging up already crowded stores). If you still want to participate that's up to you. As for me, I'll be at home in bed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Back Again

It has been a while and here I am again. I had a lot I could have written but for some reason I just didn't. Laziness I'm sure. But here I am again.

A lot has gone on personally and in the country, but I'm not going to rehash, just going to post a bit about what's going on today. Lately I've been feeling a little down about how busy we always seem to be and how little time we seem to have for any sort of fun. I'm taking two classes for school right now and I'm pretty behind in one of them and feeling overwhelmed. We're also coming up on the holidays and there's shopping and spending there that I always dread along with a ridiculous scheduling nightmare to make sure that everyone gets to do their favorite holiday things with the kids.

Sounds like I'm whining and I guess I am. But I've been staring at a book that I was recently lucky enough to win an autographed copy of sitting on my desk and just wishing for the time to read it. It's called You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap) How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too. It's buy a woman named Tammy Strobel whom I've talked about here before. So yesterday I just decided, I'm going to read it, time be damned. I'm a little over halfway through it and I'd highly recommend it for anyone feeling like they need a change, but just aren't sure if they're brave enough. Reading it has reminded me why I'm starting to feel closed in again and what I need to do to change.

So my plan is to impose a digital detox on our house. I read a great article that I wish I could find now about getting kids off of their digital devices, and I know I have a very unhealthy obsession with Facebook. But I spend hours every day in front of a computer for work, and I need to stay off of it if I'm not working or talking to you all. So, I'm going to do my best. In trying I hope that I'll feel like the time I spend with those I love is better, and I hope that I'll find the time for the things I've been wishing I had the time to do.

I highly encourage you all to check out Tammy's book and her blog Rowdy Kittens. You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too