Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Goal Check-up

I’m 2 weeks into this simpler/more frugal/less cluttered/ultimately happier life undertaking, so I thought it would be good to do a little check-up on how I'm doing.

1) No dining out=COMPLETED!
This goal is a complete success! Not a SINGLE item purchased “out” (though admittedly we toed the line one night when we picked up sushi & won tons at Costco, but it was still cheaper than eating out). We’re now extending this to one month, though D has put the disclaimer that we should be able to order out if we’re at someone's house for the night; however one night at our best friends' house, when we would normally have ordered out, we did Boboli Pizzas and that was actually really fun & everyone got what they wanted, so I don’t see why we can’t continue to do that!

2) Kitchen clear out/clean-up (combined mini-goals of a cabinet a day) = COMPLETED
My kitchen is super clean & organized and there is actually EXTRA room in my cupboards & on my shelves, something that has not existed since we moved in. My yard sale boxes overfloweth!

3) Reduce eDrain = IN PROCESS
I have actually been doing really well with this at home—even on weekends! We have been a little more lax the last few days (like this morning when the TV was on to quell the tantrums of a toddler who woke up too early), but all in all it is MUCH less than before. Work is another situation, and I’m going to be trying to address that.

4) Create a grateful list = COMPLETED
I need to work on looking at this list daily & giving thanks for everything on it.

5) Take the extra time to do things right the first time = IN PROCESS
By far, this has made the BIGGEST impact. My kitchen & office have stayed nice and sparkly clean as a result. Whenever I do something half-way, before I can even leave the room or go to the next task, I find myself going back to it and saying “Do it right and right now. Who are you expecting to do it later?”

(Sidebar: I seriously feel the need to call up my mother and apologize to her for all the times I rolled my eyes and said "NO!" all smart-assy to her when she asked if I left a mess behind because I expected her to clean up after me. Apparently I must have, because I'm now 30-something and still doing it—and then being mad that the mess didn't magically clean itself up. So for the record Mom, I'm sorry!).

6) CD conversion to mp3s = IN PROCESS
Going well, but still plugging away at the two zillion CDs we own. Upside is I’m “rediscovering” music that I haven’t listened to in a while.

7) Unsubscribing from retailers’ e-mails = IN PROCESS
As I’m receiving them, I’m getting rid of them. The three retailer e-mails most likely to incite “wantitis” are Children’s Place, Old Navy & SEI. Mostly because kids clothes are super cute and SEI has awesome sales on their scrapbook supplies; however Little Man’s dresser and my scrapbooking cabinet are filled to the gills, so we don’t actually NEED these things.

8) Clean & organize work office (& keep it that way) = COMPLETED (& IN PROCESS)
My office feels FANTASTIC. Just clean and refreshing! It makes me happy to walk into it, rather than overwhelmed. I’m on day 3 of sparkly clean office and THAT is new! Part of what is helping is following through on #5.

I’m feeling pretty good about this so far. On top of the extension of not dining out, I think we’re going to try either a 30-day “WANT” list (#12) or a 14 day simple living “boot camp.” I'm going to continue with mini-goals & clearing out various "zones" of my house on the day-to-day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happiness Project

I have just finished reading the first chapter of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and I have come to the conclusion that a happiness project is what I'm actually embarking on. Mine isn't quite as well mapped- out as Rubin's and is certainly in its embryonic stage, but I think that is what I'm trying to accomplish with all of this uncluttering, simplifying, minimizing and frugalizing (new word, by me) of my life.  There were several passages that "spoke" to me, but the following was especially poignant and seems to capture where I am in this moment in my life:
I saw that the years were slipping by. 'What do I want from life, anway?' I asked myself. 'Well... I want to be happy.' But I had never thought about what made me happy or how I might be happier.
I had much to be happy about. [...] But too often I sniped at my husband or the cable guy. I felt dejected after even a minor professional setback. I drifted out of touch with old friends, I lost my temper easiy, I suffered bouts of melancholy, insecurity, listessness, and free-floating guilt. [...]
I wasn't depressed and I wasn't having a midlife crisis, but I was suffering from midlife malaise-- a recurrent sense of discontent and almost a feeling of disbelief. 'Can this be me?' I'd wonder as I picked up the morning newspapers or sat down to read e-mail. [...] 'Is this really it?' I found myself wondering, and answering, 'Yep, this is it.'
But though at times I felt dissatisfied, that something was missing, I also never forgot how fortunate I was. When I woke up in the middle of the night, as I often did, I'd walk from one room to another to gaze at my sleeping husband [...] and my [son] surrounded by [his] stuffed animals, all safe. I had everything I could possibly want-- yet I was failing to appreciate it. (emphasis mine)
Hence, I am embarking on an attempt to better appreciate my life and my family and to live in such a way that brings me happiness and contentment. As Rubin says "I wasn't as happy as I could be, and my life wasnt going to change unless I made it change." So I am going to make that change and move towards a happier life!!!

Thus begins my happiness project.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


As I began researching a more simplified lifestyle and minimalism and uncluttering, I came across a term that perfectly fits what I'm trying to do-- "Downshifting." Everything clicked and VOILA I had a term for what I'm trying to do.

What is downshifting? Much to my own chagrin, I find that Wikipedia actually has the best definition. Basically, it is an attempt to break free from the work-spend cycle and life a more fulfilling life with more time for what I truly love.

This blog will be where I track my progress as I, and my family, begin pursuing this path. I have already started a Frugality Experiment and some Mini-Goals . And have tackled more projects, but I want to separate my "Mom" Blog from my Downshifting.

So this is my start!