Time: A Non Renewable Resource

My home looks amazing. There was a reporter here last week and she kept saying how clean it looked. I’m not a fan of housework so this was a huge compliment. It does look amazing. I love it.

My home, all 1100 square feet of it, feels huge. It feels peaceful. It’s easy to keep tidy even with three adults living in it and a 13 month old that can now get just about anywhere with his hand on a wall and some side stepping. I feel relaxed and rested here. And that’s coming from a woman who hasn’t had a full night of sleep in over a year.

I spent an afternoon reading and relaxing and just enjoying the space last week. My to do list was quite short, nothing urgent and Henry was sleeping. Pretty sure my blood pressure was a few points lower than normal.

Now what? Now I reap the rewards of living with less stuff. So does my son. So does my husband. Less time distracted by clutter piles and more time at the park. Less time organizing stuff and more time reading. More time focused on ourselves and each other and family.

If you had an extra two hours in your day what would you do with it? If you decided to move to a smaller home within walking distance to work you could get rid of that second car and your two hour commute. There’s ten hours each week for you to do whatever you like with. Without the payments + gas + repairs for the second car you could cut down to four days a week at work. With your saved commute time you now have 18 hours to enjoy. To do whatever you like with. To do all those things, the getting in shape, the eating better, the staying in touch with friends or picking up a hobby, all those things you say you would do if you just had more time.

Time is a premium. As I am now a lot more considerate with how I spend my money I am just as considerate about how I spend my time. How are you spending your time?

Looking for a how to guide? I love this post Prioritize, Don’t Organize by Faith at Minimalist Moms. If you’re feeling overwhelmed give it a read. Looking for inspiration? Check out The Story of the Mexican Fisherman at Be More with Less.

Buy Nothing Day

Today is Buy Nothing Day in North America. Here’s the Wickipedia entry on it if you are not familiar:

Buy Nothing Day (BND) is an international day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. Typically celebrated the Friday after American Thanksgiving in North America and the following day internationally, in 2010 the dates are November 26 and 27 respectively.[1] It was founded by Vancouver artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by Adbusters magazine, based in Canada.

The first Buy Nothing Day was organized in Vancouver in September 1992 “as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.”[2] In 1997, it was moved to the Friday after American Thanksgiving, also called “Black Friday”, which is one of the 10 busiest shopping days in the United States. Outside North America and Israel, Buy Nothing Day is the following Saturday. Adbusters was denied advertising time by almost all major television networks except for CNN, which was the only one to air their ads.[3] Soon, campaigns started appearing in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, France, and Norway. Participation now includes more than 65 nations.[2]

In the past, I always heard that line about how we vote with our wallets and let the phrase pass out of my mind. Mostly I was too concerned with the work of thinking about a purchase interfering with my purchases. Why would I do that? I enjoyed new stuff and the idea of new stuff. Thinking about the working conditions in the factory my mediocre in quality Banana Republic wool coat was produced in was a total downer. So I would shove that thought right out of my head and continue scouring the sale rack.

Today is a day to vote with your wallet. Don’t open it. Brew yourself a coffee at home and skip that $5 latte on your way to work. If you are celebrating American Thankgsiving, spend the day with your loved ones and not at the stores.

It’s just one day of the year. Do it for whatever reason inspires you: to practice restraint or delayed gratification, so rare in our credit available world, or to take a small step in your personal journey towards a simpler life, or to demonstrate that you are not a sheep and that you will spend your hard earned dollars with purpose.

Happy US Thanksgiving to all my friends across the border and have a great weekend everyone.

Minimalism For The Masses: Small Change

A few weeks ago I met up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. As we hugged and greeted and caught up the subject of this little blog came up. A friend asked for more information and another friend replied,  ‘she’s getting rid of everything she owns’. I laughed it off.

We’re taking our last load of items for donation today. Last load for a while anyways. When I look around I like what I see and what I see is not a bare home. Lots of DVDs on the shelf still after selling about a third of our collection. A small book collection, mostly Chris’s. Framed wedding photos, a few of me in my athlete days, a couple of us traveling in France and Italy. Two, instead of four, wine crates with about 20 bottles of B.C. wine. A china cabinet, couch, love seat, ottoman, side table. A few lamps. We’re still sitting at a table for dinner. I haven’t gone so far as to say all meals will be eaten on the floor.

For the hardcore I’m not minimalist, I’ve just cleaned house. I’m fine with that. The living with 100 things movement is interesting, shocking and news worthy. The deciding to live a life with a lot less stuff isn’t nearly as sexy or easy to define. But I would argue my version of minimalism, minimalism for the masses, is much more accessible, attainable and has the possibility of changing a lot more of lives.

We’re not all going to sell our possessions and live in South America out of a backpack while earning a small income from e-book sales. That is a great dream but the reality is that most First Worlders won’t do that. They don’t want to.

There is a tight knit group of minimalist bloggers out there living their dream of being office free and living with less stuff. Everett Bogue at Beyond the Stars, Tammy Strobel at Rowdy Kittens, Adam Baker at Man vs Debt, Leo Babauta at Zen Habits, Francine at Miss Minimalist and the list goes on. Good for them. Good for the tens of thousands of people that follow them hoping to break out of their day job and/or become location independent with a minimalist business. It’s inspiring.

But it’s not for the millions.

For the rest of us it needs to be more attainable, accessible and understandable. The leap of logic from two cars, a 2500 sq ft home and loads of stuff to leaving it all behind is a huge one. Too huge for most people.

If you want to change the world advocate for change that everyone can get behind.

Instead of encouraging 10,000 people to live with 95% less why not encourage 300 million people to live with 20% less. Don’t tell them to move to San Francisco and hit up the 4 o’clock yoga class while living on $1000 a month from their e-business. Show the masses that with more thought at the register, less shopping as a hobby, more time with family or working on passion projects, fewer rooms to clean and upkeep and collect clutter in a smaller home, they can all live a better life. A more engaged life. A life with less stress, debt, fast food and waste. A better life through small change.

Minimalist Christmas: Part 1

While getting rid of things I unearthed a pile of written and partially addressed thank you notes. They were neatly encased in the thank you card box just waiting to get the full address, a stamp and a drop off at the mailbox. They were a year and a half old.

Also unearthed: four packages of discounted Christmas Cards from Chapters bought two years ago. It seems I have great intentions with cards but poor execution.

This year will be different. No Christmas cards. No panicked gift giving and last minute shopping. I want to give gifts with intention not guilt. I want to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, not packed in with other stressed out strangers in a mall. No Christmas guilt.

This year will be about face time and family fun. Rides on the Stanley Park Christmas Train, baking with my mum and sisters, a trip to the local mountains for some sledding and watching Love Actually with a hot cup of espresso and Bailey’s.

Instead of cards I’ve devised a plan that’s more personal, more work but also more rewarding. My Christmas Call List. I’ve made a list of everyone that I would send a Christmas Card to. Those not in walking distance are on a call list. In the weeks leading up to Christmas I’m going to make a lot of phone calls. There will be some Skype involved as well.

For those within walking distance (or quick skytrain) I am going to visit. Yes, there will be a knock on your door or a buzz from your intercom. I’ll come bearing treats. I’ll check to see you’re home and not entertaining your nudist meet up before heading over. I won’t stay long but long enough to wish you the best of the season and joy in the new year. No Christmas Carols unless you’re singing.

I’ll have a few other posts up in the coming weeks about trying to get minimalist this Holiday season. Rest assured, I’m not getting a half Christmas tree as you see above.

Minimalism And Mementos

IDs from international rowing events and two enclosure tags from Royal Henley.

When I was still a competitive athlete I recall seeing two retired rowers using the rowing machine, called ergometres, and wondering why? You’ve spent years on that thing and now you have a choice on what you do to stay in shape. Why go back to the torture machine.

When asked why they still used the rowing machine the reply was: it’s still a great workout. They both ran but said the ergometre gave them the upper body workout they were missing. I swore when I retired I’d never get on that machine again.

I lied.

It is a great workout. Sure, my results are nothing close to me back in the day but it keeps my back in shape and my arms toned. I’ve included it in workouts here and there over the years and enjoyed it.

When I started Crossfit I was excited to see rowing machines stacked in the corner. Cool. Something I knew I would be decent at from the start. Everything else, pull-ups, chest to deck push ups and Sumo Deadlift High Pulls, has been a challenge to learn. Fun but still a challenge.

Every time we use the rowing machines in a workout I have some flashback to my rowing days, some particularly grueling workout, maybe the one where it snowed and my t-shirt froze in a wing that my arm kept hitting. Or I think about the best moments: rowing through the Americans right near the finish line of the 2003 Head of the Charles in Boston. The silence from the USA partisan crowds lining the river banks was deafening. The sheer joy coursing through the eight other women in the boat with me was palpable even if it was respectfully as silent as the crowd (polite Canadians to the bitter end).

A decade of rowing ribbons and medals. These ones didn't make the cut.

I kept just a shoe box of rowing mementos. My last Canada racing suit, most of my international medals, two NCAA champion watches, one NCAA champion stand up plaque thing and my medal and Steward’s enclosure pin from the 2003 Royal Henley.

The ones that stayed.

Should I need to take a trip down memory lane I am still unlikely to open the mementos box. I’ll call up one of the amazing women I trained and raced with and catch up and reminisce. Or I’ll go do a workout on the rowing machine.

Having trouble breaking up with your mementos? Faith Janes at Minimalist Moms talks about the sentimental sabotage of clutter and gives you steps to break up. Check out Simple. Organized. Life for another how to on minimalism and mementos. Read about The Single Supplements memento declutter with friends and her own stuff.

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