Minimalism.Life

After 3+ years of writing on my tierneycreates blog, I thought it would be fun to reach out to other online publications. A new online publication, Minimalism.life invited me to write a short essay summarizing my minimalism journey in 250 – 300 words.

My article, “Living as a demi-minimalist”, was published in their newsletter today (Letter No. 8). Below is the link:

Living as a demi-minimalist

This new online journal, Minimalism.life, was developed in partnership with The Minimalists who I have followed via their blog for several years, listened to their weekly podcasts, read their books and saw their movie (now on Netflix) – Minimalism: A documentary about the important things.

So I am honored to share a little of my journey in this publication!

The Napkin Story

In my previous post Farm Girl Vintage, Part III I mentioned my past challenges with nearly OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) level of desire for order and neatness in my life.

When we lived in Seattle, WA I used to entertain, a lot. Game nights, holiday get-togethers at my house, random dinner parties, birthday party hosting, baby shower hosting, work parties, etc., etc. I was very social – and if I was not throwing party, I was attending a party or going to some event. Notice, I mentioned that “I” was very social, as I learned years later, Terry the Quilting Husband was only playing along, he would have preferred more quiet time at home with me and the dogs. (There is the Thanksgiving he always teases me about – when we out of obligation, courtesy and my desire, attended 3 – 4 Thanksgiving celebrations at various friends’ homes all in one day!)

I enjoyed the gatherings, but when I hosted it was secretly very stressful as I always wanted to have everything  absolutely perfect for my guests. I would spend hours before hosting a party making sure everything was perfect. I would read magazine articles about tips for being the perfect host (Martha Stewart in her heyday would have been proud…or perhaps have some concerns about my sanity).

One of the “perfect host” tips was to have a perfectly set table. I always kept a perfectly set dining room table, even when no one was coming over to dine. All the plates, flatware, and cloth napkins perfectly arranged (at least I refrained from keeping glassware set out to gather dust…) in anticipation for the next get together.

The cloth napkins, oh the cloth napkins. They were always freshly pressed, perfectly arranged in their napkin rings and never to be used. Yes, you read correctly, never to be used.

When people came over for dinner, I would pull out disposable napkins and place them next to the cloth napkins. I did not realize how much weirdness this was, but my friends quietly accepted my weirdness and would use the paper napkins while the cloth napkins remained untouched.

Then my sister visited…

My younger sister Rianna is awesome and has helped me evolve to a more “chilled-out” person. I had a dinner party in her honor when she visited with some of my closest Seattle friends.

Rianna did not know of my “napkin weirdness” and sat down at the dining table to eat and proceeded to remove the cloth napkin from its napkin ring and place it on her lap.

A hush fell over the dining room table…

My sister tells the story much better than I but it was like she had climbed on top of the table and started dancing through our plates of food – it was that shocking to me and my other guests (who unfortunately I had obviously trained to accept my weirdness). I am sure I behaved very tensely for a moment but I had no choice but to see the silliness of the situation – being upset that someone was actually using a cloth napkin I had set out on the table.

My sister was patient and understanding (though she thought it was hysterical once she realized what happened). When she returned home from her visit she sent me a HUGE collection of cloth napkins and kindly suggested I actually USE them.

Fast forward many years. Now having embraced minimalism, living with less, and a desire to be thoughtful to the environment, I have completely given up paper napkins and only use cloth napkins!

As you can see from the photo below, they are very well used. We even use napkins several times before throwing them into the washing machine (unless we have a really messy meal).

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We do not entertain like we used to and we are very happy with that (notice I said “we” – Terry the Quilting Husband is over the moon that he gets to mainly spend time hanging out with just me and the dogs).

I still keep my house fairly neat and I like things in order. If you read my series of posts on My Minimalism Journey you will see that I have much less things (so they are even easier to keep in order – ha!). I accept that order makes me happy but I try not to be obsessed about it and continually try to let go of perfection (I no longer iron my cloth napkins and I donated all my napkin rings to a local charity thrift shop!)


Postscript

Paper Towels

As I was thinking about writing this post, one of my blogging buddies who writes an awesome blog about living thrifty, @Devise.Create.Connect, posted this about paper towels: THINGS I DON’T BUY ANYMORE TO SAVE MONEY: PAPER TOWELS.

I realized that in addition to using cloth napkins, we also switched to using old tea towels and old wash cloths to clean the house; and crocheted washcloths for dishes. We keep a supply of paper towels for anything super messy and for draining fat/oil when cooking (i.e. for bacon).

We used to go through a lot of paper towels and now a roll of paper towels seems to last us forever.

Signs of Spring

It feels like it has been an endless Winter, but yesterday in my neighbor’s garden, I witnessed signs of Spring! The crocus are popping up:

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The Easter Schnauzer Bunny?

This probably belongs on Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s blog, Schnauzer Snips, but Terry and I were at the grocery store on Friday and came across this in the Easter display:

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Yes, nestled among the stuffed animal rabbits, chickens (or is that a duck?) and sheep, was an “Easter Schnaubunny”. No we did not buy it, as tempting as it was!

Quilt Studio Archaeology and Purge, Part III

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s post: Quilt Studio Archeology and Purging, Part II.

How well do we know each other? Are we at the point that I can bare my soul and share with you my deepest secrets? Can we talk about “Fat Quarter Pathology” (and can you try not to judge…okay you can judge a little..I deserve it…)

But before I bare my fat quarter hoarding soul here’s a couple definitions so we are all on the same page:

Fat Quarter – a quarter yard of fabric cut into a rectangle that measures 18″ x 21″, commonly packaged with other fat quarters into a themed fat quarter pack.

Pathology – any deviation from a healthy, normal, or efficient condition (Dictionary.com)

Are you ready? Alright here is my darkest fabric hoarding secret…

Fat Quarter Pathology

When I started quilting around 1999/2000 and discovered the magic of fabric shopping, I also discovered my love of little “fabric samples”. I was not into collecting scraps yet (or making many scraps as I only had a quilt or two under my belt). I was intimidated to buy a bunch of yardage when I saw a fabric collection I liked, but I did like buying a fat quarter bundle of the fabric collection that gave me a sample of many of the different fabrics in a collection.

This attraction to fat quarter bundles (usually or 6 – 8 fabrics) morphed into an attraction of fat quarters in general, including individually fat quarters. Quilt shops would display baskets of individual fat quarters and sell them in “baker’s dozens” so if you bought 12 you got 1 free.

Perhaps I only need a couple fat quarters (or likely none) but how could I turn down getting ONE free. So I would buy 12 to get the 13th free (makes sense, huh?)

Fat quarter bundles for a future project, individual fat quarters, fat quarters given to me as gifts, fat quarters won at Quilter’s Bingo, fat quarter found at thrift shops, and more, and more and more fat quarters…

I kept them organized, I kept them…IN THE CLOSET:

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I knew as part of the Quilt Studio “Archaeological Dig” I needed to go beyond just looking through them in their containers, I needed to go through them, find the treasures I wanted to keep and let go of what I would never use. I always try to keep lessons from Marie Kondo’s book – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in mind.

Marie Kondo says you have to actually look at and hold every single item you own in your hands and decide if it is brings you joy. Every single item.

I knew I needed to go through every fat quarter. Then I needed to create a better system to store them which encouraged me to use them, not just try to create the world’s first Fat Quarter Museum.

The big step first – go through every fat quarter – here is my secret revealed – it was all laid out in the huge pile on my floor:

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I am a fat quarter hoarder!

There it is, now you know. Watch for my story on a future episode of the American TV show Hoarders (there was a UK version of this show but I forgot the name of it). I will be the one sleeping in a mattress in the corner surrounded by piles and piles of fat quarters. The Health Department will send a public health worker for an intervention…

But seriously, I was shocked at the sheer volume of the amount of fat quarters I had in my collection. I just kept accumulating them. I had purged a little in the past but obviously not enough to make a dent.

The Intervention

Similar to what you might see on a reality show about hoarding, I had to get honest with myself, deal with this pile and then find a meaningful way to organize what I kept.

Previously I organized my scraps by color (see post When all else fails, reorganize your fabric scraps) and I tend to think in colors rather than in fabric lines or fabric collections when I am working on a textile project, so I decided to organize the fat quarters I was keeping into the following groups:

  • Black, white, black & white patterns, and gray
  • Creams and fabrics where cream to light beige is the predominant color
  • Browns
  • Yellows
  • Oranges
  • Reds
  • Purples
  • Greens
  • Blues
  • Teals & Turquoises (I struggle with sorting these into blues or greens so I decided to just let them be their own group)

Interesting, the colors I had the most of in fat quarters, also reflected the colors I had the most of in my fabric yardage:

  1. Green
  2. Blue
  3. Red & Orange (tied)

I cleared out another standing storage drawer set and arranged the fat quarters in drawer set so I could easily access them. I also had to use the bottom drawer of another drawer set for the Blues.

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When I dumped out the fat quarters from their previous containers, I pre-sorted them by color into piles on the floor (see photo above). When I put them away by color, I looked at EACH fat quarter and made a decision whether to keep or donate.

Here was my criteria:

  1. Do I love this fabric and do I find it visually pleasing?
  2. Is it high quality quilting cotton (when I first started quilting, I would only buy inexpensive fabric at chain craft stores)?
  3. Would I use it in a future project and is it still my style (our tastes change over the years)?

Using this criteria I was able to pull out many fat quarters for donation:

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At one point I likely loved all the fat quarters shown in the donation pile above but not any longer – there is no joy for me in that pile!

Epilogue

Now that this project is over, I know I do not need to add any more fat quarters to my life (as I appear to have enough for several lifetimes!)

If you have followed my blog for a while you likely know a little about my minimalism journey and my quest to curate my life with only those items that bring me joy. I have removed and donated so much from my life such as household items, trinkets and kitsch and clothing (I probably own only 25% of the clothes I used to own).

The challenge with my craft supplies is that they BRING ME JOY and I think this is why I have saved this deeper dive into my crafting related supplies for last.

Another bit of Marie Kondo always in the back of my mind:

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

So fat quarters I no longer love – be gone! I am not going to worry about the money lost for bringing you into my life. I hope via my local thrift shop you will find your way into some other crafter’s life who will appreciate you (or perhaps hoard you in their collection, oh no….).

Thanks for letting me share with you my true confessions and my ongoing journey to curate my life to only the things that are useful and bring me joy.

Quilt Studio Archeology and Purging, Part II

I consider myself an organized person. I try to keep everything nicely organized in my crafting area.

However it is just organized clutter.

In two recent posts Quilting Studio Archaeology and Quilt Studio Closet Purge I discuss going through the stuff in my sewing area with a critical eye and beginning to purge. Perhaps “quilting studio archaeology” is not the most appropriate term as over the past couple of days I have been engaged in Crafting Archeology.

You see, I am not just a quilter. I am also:

  • A paper crafter (card making)
  • A beader/jewelry crafting
  • A knitter
  • A crocheter
  • A small fabric craft maker (bags, potholders, pillows, etc.)
  • A various miscellaneous crafter (like my foray into felting…)

Each craft involves related paraphernalia and supplies. I had all of them organized in the closet in my studio, along with sewing fabric:

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Above the closet doors is this a painted sign a friend gave me as a gift – Simplify. I kept this is mind as I go through everything left in the closet and make some honest decisions. I had already purged my unloved knitting, crocheting, and beading supplies. I have avoided until now my card making supplies, random crafting supplies and my fabric fat quarter storage.

Papercrafting Supplies

Between making cards and scrapbooking I have acquired quite a bit a paper and paper crafting supplies.

Over the past couple of years, on my journey towards embracing the minimalism movement and only have in my life that which brings me joy, I have donated a large amount of paper crafting supplies. I completed a huge project in 2015 – all my loose photos  were either put into a scrapbook or discarded. I have no more loose photographs.

When I completed this massive scrapbooking project, I decided to give up paper scrapbooking. If I craved another scrapbook in the future, I would have a digital scrapbook professional created.

However I had not decided what to do with my card making paper and supplies. I did sell a set of handmade cards on Etsy a couple years ago and I still like making handmade cards.

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Initially my plan was to just box up all my card making and remaining scrapbooking supplies and donate them all. However the I am continually inspired by the beautiful paper crafts I see on blogs I follow such as PaperPuff (paperpuff.wordpress.com) and I want to continue to make cards.

So here was the compromise…

What I kept:

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What I let go:

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Next post, I will continue sharing my archeological dig and purge; and talk about my “Fat Quarter Pathology” and the big decisions made around my obscene collection of pre-cut fabric/fat quarters.


Postscript

I am waiting until I have a couple more blocks done to provide an update on my Farm Girl Vintage blocks (see posts Farm Girl Vintage, Part I and Farm Girl Vintage, Part II and Recent Audiobook Delights). I just finished on called “Chicken Feet”.

One of my blogging buddies is also working on Farm Girl Vintage – check out peggycooperquilts.com for her blocks (she has made much further progress!)

Monday 3/6/17 is my last week of my 28 day Fast Metabolism Diet (FMD) that I shared in previous posts. I do not like scales but I feel like I have lost at least 5 – 1o pounds. When I have my annual wellness exam with my MD in April I will find out the official number.

My clothes are definitely looser and I feel great. I am looking forward to having a little dairy when the 28 day program ends!


Check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s posts on her Schnauzer Snips blog – schnauzersnips.wordpress.com/blog/

Feature photo credit: Russell Hugo, free images.com

Quilt Studio Closet Purge

Continuing the momentum from my Quilting Studio Archaeology, each evening last week I have continued to evaluate what I have in my quilting studio/sew room.

I decided to take an honest and objective look at all the crafting paraphrenelia and projects in queue that have gathered over the years in my quilting studio closet. As a result I was able to unload and remove two tall rolling organizing/storage drawer sets. I donated them to our local Humane Society Thrift Shop along with some of their contents from my purging.

Here they are in my backseat awaiting their next adventure (I hope they go to a good home). They served me well for at least 15 years:

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In one of the drawers I kept my large collection of art brush markers, gel pens and Sharpies. Most of these markers and pens came from a coworker in the early 2000s. She loved cool pens and markers at her local speciality stationary store and would impulsively buy pens. In the early 2000s I was into card making and she decided to purge her huge pen collection and give most of it to me for card making.

I moved all these pens with me from Seattle to Central Oregon in 2005 and most of them have just sat in a drawer since 2005, unused.

On a mission not to keep stuff that is not functional/does not work and that I do not love, I checked every single pen/art marker on Thursday evening (I know you are very envious that we have such wild evenings as “pen checking” in Central Oregon). I was able to toss 30 pens that had dried up.

Here is what remained (still a lot but they all work and I like the colors):

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Terry the Quilting Husband and I are planning on doing some remodeling in our living room this Spring/Summer. We want to put in built-in bookcases/entertainment unit/fireplace along the largest wall of the living room.  I have spent (or wasted) a lot of time on Pinterest looking at “bookcase porn”.

The plan is to repurpose 1 – 2 of the existing free standing bookcases in the living room as studio closet storage. To make this work, I will need to have less stuff in my quilt studio closet and removing the two storage units gets me a lot closer to that goal.

POSTSCRIPT

Recently I am quite inspired by a newer blog I follow – DEVISE.CREATE.CONCOCT – Finding frugal ways to live more with less (devisecreateconcoct.com). This blogger’s tips on managing your spending on the necessities of life have inspired me to also take an honest and objective look on how we spend money each month, beginning with January 2017.

Today I created an expense tracking spreadsheet and recorded expenses for 2017 year to date. It was very enlightening – for example, I did not realize how much we are spending on groceries!

Now with my quilting studio closet purged (as much as I was willing to purge at this point); and our expenses all documented, I can perhaps return to working on Farm Girl Vintage blocks (see post Farm Girl Vintage, Part II and Recent Audiobook Delights)


Featured image credit: L. Emerson, freeimages.com

A “Humane” Way to Eliminate Fabric Scraps (re-post)

Every so often I like to re-post something from the tierneycreates archives. Here is a post from October 2015. As an update to this post – it appears the fabrics scraps I bagged up for donation sold immediately at the Humane Society thrift shop. It seems my part of the country is infested with fabric scrap obsessed crafters!


If you have followed my blog for awhile, then you know about my addiction to fabric scraps. This addiction seems to be incompatible with my desire to downsize and minimize my possessions.

The fabric scrap addiction began innocently enough – friends would give me their fabric scraps at quilting retreats. I would go for a “sew day” at a fellow quilter’s house and leave with some of her fabric scraps. As if that was not enough, I began to actually BUY scraps.

Yes, BUY FABRIC SCRAPS, you read correctly. There is a wonderful quilt shop in Central Oregon called The Stitchin’ Post and occasionally they would sell scraps bags of their beautiful high-end quilting fabrics.  I bought numerous bags from them.

Beautiful scraps or not, still I was buying fabric scraps.

In my post “Creative Inspiration: Organization???” I shared my new organization of my favorite fabric scraps by color. Although I had organized scraps by color I still had a GIANT box of remaining fabric scraps.

I knew I had to do something. I needed to let go of the fabric scraps I did not completely and absolutely love. However, I did not want to throw them away or try to convince another quilter to adopt them.

So I packaged them up into 30 bags and organized them into two baskets and DONATED them to our local Humane Society Thrift Store to sell! (How do I know that the Humane Society Thrift Store sells fabric scraps? Do you want to take a guess? Yes, because I have bought fabric scraps also from several thrift stores include the Humane Society Thrift Store in the past).

The Humane Society Thrift Store Volunteer accepting my donation seemed pleased that I had packaged them up for sale. I like to imagine if they sell each bag for a couple dollars or more each that could be over $90 – $150+ profit for a wonderful local animal shelter! Some of the bags are packaged by color and some are random – so many options for the Humane Society Thrift Shops’ customers!

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A “Humane” way to let go of excess fabric scraps!

When I buy fabric from quilt shops in the future, it will be actual whole fabric (fat quarters or yardage). I still have plenty of fabric scraps and my fabric scrap collection contains only scraps I truly love and plan to use…eventually.

POSTSCRIPT

I am still working through the lessons from the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo that I discussed in the post “The Space in Which We Live“. 

My Minimalism Journey: Part III

I am fortunate to have been nominated for two different blogging awards – recently the Black Cat Blue Sea Award by the blogger of  Of Tales & Dreams; and earlier this summer for a One Lovely Blog Award by the blogger of  Dewey Hop. I will share more about these awards in a future post. I am very honored and appreciative that my blog was recognized!


“Downsizing” vs. “Rightsizing”

You may be familiar with the euphemism “right-sizing” related to corporate lay-offs or the dreaded term – “downsizing”. As I continue on my discussion of my Minimalism Journey, I think of these two terms and I think what I have been working on over the past 15 years is not “downsizing” my life but “rightsizing” it.

So far in my posts on my Minimalism Journey (see posts My Minimalism Journey: Part I and My Minimalism Journey: Part II) I have shared how 9/11 shook me up and led me to desiring a change in my life, leading to our move to Central Oregon; and discovering I did not need all the “stuff” I had in my life.

Our move to Central Oregon also involved a decision to move from a 2800 square foot house to a 1340 square foot house. It is amazing how full we had our 2800 square foot house (including every closet stuffed). Now I live in a home where I know where everything is (believe me this is a big accomplishment to me) and when something new comes into the house, something old gets donated (and our closets and garage are actually relatively empty).

Speaking of closets – we went from a home of 6+ huge closets and an entire storage room, to a couple small closets including a small walk in closet that our clothes share with some storage. Below is a photo of our closet today.

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From a house full of closets and closets full of clothes, to sharing a closet for our small wardrobe of clothes (and it is not full)

It seems like this smaller house was the “rightsizing” we needed in our lives. I can clean it in a couple of hours (or if I put on really good and loud music I can have the whole house sparkling clean in 60 minutes!)

After moving to Central Oregon, becoming a full-time telecommuter (which impacted my clothing and travel expenses), and donating likely thousands of dollars of stuff to charity , it was time to move onto more than just “rightsizing” the space I lived in and the amount of stuff I had. It was time to begin truly improving the quality of my life.


Quality over Quantity

I noticed the less clutter I had in my life the more room I had to live and to think. I eventually realized some brutal truths that I was using the accumulation stuff to avoid dealing with the life issues I needed to deal with. Some of these issues were overeating, not taking care of my health, not having good boundaries in my friendships, and being too much a “people pleaser” (which also tied into my work-a-holic-ism).

So I began working on improving my overall health and quality of life through listening to self-help audiobooks and podcasts. I wonder if I hold some sort of world record for listening to the most self-help/self-improvement audiobooks. If you check out my post Life is Nonfiction Revisited you will see a listing of many of the books I listened to.

Everyone has a different learning style, for me listening to the experience and wisdom of others helps me learn and grow.

And what did I learn? I learned to meditate, to slow down and appreciate life, to believe in myself, that I am enough, that I am stronger than I can imagine, to be in the present moment, not to be afraid to take risks and chances, and what I think is most important – to live life filled with gratitude to all the wonders I experience daily in life.

Speaking of gratitude, there is a wonderful short animated video – Be Grateful for What You Have (by Igor Kalashnikov) – that I watched a couple months ago that really reinforced this to me.

It seemed the more I focused on appreciating and being present in each moment of my life, the less I desired to go buy stuff to make me happy. I also decided to just “be happy” and not look outside myself for happiness. Not all this happened overnight, it was a process but I feel it was part of my journey.


A Real Minimalist?

A couple of years ago learned about the Minimalism movement. My friend Torben introduced me the website of The Minimalists and I started reading books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.

I also for a while became obsessed with Tiny Houses; and for a while the idea of selling everything and traveling around the country in a RV or even a van. I still occasionally on the weekend watch “Living in a Van” videos on YouTube and daydream. It seems so freeing to live with just what you need, have little responsibilities and to feel free just to go on adventures and experience the simple uncomplicated life.

But I write this as I sit in a cozy chair in my living room with a quilt on my lap and Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer curled up at my feet (and a nice cup of tea); and I having stayed in a tiny house (when we stayed at the Tiny House Caravan Hotel in Portland once) I can confirm that it does not compare in coziness to my huge (comparatively) 1300 sq. ft. home!  (I refer to my house as “the mansion” after binge watching Tiny House and RV or Van Living videos).

Occasionally I have “incidents” (true confession time) – late night on Amazon.com purchases of MORE craft books (ok, they do bring me joy!) and impulse fabric purchases…and then more “stuff” sneaks into my life.

I watch videos of people living what I would consider true or even extreme Minimalism lifestyles. I am not truly a full textbook Minimalist. I am however, someone who has learned (through a many year journey and process) what is truly important in life and what makes me feel peace, happy, centered and joyful.

Now to  close this series of post with a disclaimer. I’ve shared the story of My Minimalism Journey. There is no judgement implied on anyone who is not on the same journey or who has with a lot of “stuff” in their lives (and no interest in living with less).

I wanted to share my journey and the path that worked for me. Everyone must find their own path to what brings them joy in life. For me, it it is living with less and appreciating each moment of life more.

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past. – Marie Kondo


POSTSCRIPT

Sharing my story makes me think of my favorite quote of all time. It is a quote I have written on the white board on the door to the garage so that I always see it when existing my house this way (to go on a bike ride or a drive):

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~Lao Tzu

I used to be hurry, hurry, hurry – got to get it all done. I realized many of the things I am trying to get done are either not that important or not as important as taking the time to take my dogs on walk.

Speaking of dog walking, writing about my transition from busy life in Seattle to quiet life in Central Oregon, reminds me of my transition from working in an office to becoming a telecommuter. While I was in an office, I was very focused but I had other people around who would like to talk and go to lunch, etc. and I wanted to be social so I played along.

When I first became a telecommuter I was in a more “production” type of job than I am now. Without the distractions of other people I had laser-focus on my work and doubled my production. The only problem was that I was sort of making my co-workers who were not telecommuters (and perhaps not as focused) look bad in their production numbers. My boss gently suggested that I might want to take it a little easier on my numbers/production.

The old Tierney would have ignored this and have kept cranking out the production. The new me asked myself: “what are you trying to prove?” I knew because of the way I work and think I could not just slow down so I came up with another solution: I continued to work at my normal pace BUT I took 2 – 2.5 hours in the middle of my workday, nearly each day, to take my dogs on very long walks around Central Oregon and explore my new beautiful surroundings. This was the beginning of my taste of a deeper happiness and new found sense of peace.

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The early days living in Central Oregon and taking my Miniature Schnauzers, Fritz & Snickers on long walks each day

Recently I told my current boss this story – of how 11 years ago when I first began telecommuting and in order not to be too much an overachiever I would take these long walks each day for hours with my dogs. She laughed and said: “Those days are certainly gone!” She is partially right – for the past 8 years my job has been too busy for 2 hour walks, however I still find time in my day to go on a dog walk or even occasionally a bike ride during the workday. 


Feature photo credit: Nevit Dilmen, free images.com

My Minimalism Journey: Part II

The Sudden Decision for a Life Change

So where did I leave off in my first post about my Minimalism Journey? Ah yes, we visited Central Oregon in October 2005 for the first time and a month later we had sold our house in Seattle, WA and had moved to temporary housing in Central Oregon.

It sounds like it all went very fast and smoothly. It did sort of, but then it was also a crazy whirlwind.

On the drive home back to Seattle, WA from visiting Central Oregon for the first time, it was amazing how we both had the same crazy thought: let’s just shake up our lives and do something different.

Perhaps it was the “Big Sky Country” we experienced when driving home through “Northern” Central Oregon. There is something magical about the high desert landscape: endless fields of dry grasses (sort of prairie-like) with the background of the Cascade Mountains and a huge, endless, cloudless blue sky.

It was as if those wide open spaces, mountains and sky were speaking to my soul, saying “Tierney, come be with us, come be here”. I just had to listen even if it meant adding a bit of complication to our lives.

Complications came in the way of Terry (the someday-to-be-quilting-husband) quitting his job (he worked as a Medical Technologist) and me convincing my employer to let me telecommute (telecommuting was very new in our organization, not widespread like it is now). We had to find Terry a new job in Central Oregon (luckily my employer said yes to telecommuting).

It also involved packing up and selling our house, saying goodbye to our friends and huge social network, and going to a place that we did not really know that much about.

I shared in My Minimalism Journey: Part I that our house sold in three (3) days. To clarify it did not sell in three days after returning to Seattle with our decision, but rather three days after putting on the market (it was a hot housing market in the Seattle area in 2005).

When we returned from our visit to Central Oregon, we started packing up our lives in preparation to put the house on the market.


The Packing, The Stuff, The Decisions (or lack of)

If I could go back in time, I would leave at least 50% of the stuff we packed up and brought with us from Seattle to Central Oregon. To our credit, we did do major packing up of our lives in a short period of time to keep the momentum going on our decision to change our life. We did not spend much time thinking about whether we needed all the stuff we packed.

We rented a medium size U-Haul truck and spent every weekend driving from Seattle to Central Oregon to drop off a load of our boxes up stuff into a storage unit we rented in Central Oregon. So many trips back and forth (6+ hours each way) just to haul our stuff its temporary location.

I cannot believe the stuff I packed. Even though I worked for an employer with a business casual dress code and I was becoming a telecommuter (so my business casual could become an old T-shirt and PJ bottoms if I wanted) I still packed up my huge collection of business suits/dresses (none of which I would ever wear again). Many of these suits were from the mid to late 1990s when I worked in an office in management, and some were outdated. A year or two later, while living in Central Oregon, I donated every single suit to a charity organization.

We packed up furniture that we would later give away. We packed up knick knacks, kitsch, and crap, etc. that we would never use after the move and later give away.

The funny thing is we could only fit so much furniture in the U-Haul during the final load after we sold the house. We ended up leaving behind some furniture that we should have kept (like a nice breakfast bar) because we did not have room for it because of all the “stuff” we had shoved into the truck that we thought we needed, and later gave away.

Of course as the saying goes “Hindsight is 20/20”.

Moving to Central Oregon was step one in our move towards a more Minimalistic lifestyle. Step two came a year or two later when we learned that we did not need 50% of the stuff in our lives. Over a 3 – 5 year process we purged our lives of the bulk of the stuff that did not bring us joy. Over the following 5 years we fine tuned what we want in our lives.

I will continue the story of our Minimalism Journey in a future post.


POSTSCRIPT

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I like to write reviews on Amazon.com (and now Goodreads.com) if I borrow a book from a library and enjoy it. It is my way to give a thank you to the author (since I did not purchase the book). As a result I have written a bit of reviews on Amazon.com; and over the past  year publishers and authors have contacted me and asked me if I would provide an honest review of their book in exchange for a complimentary copy of the book.

I say no to many of these offers because either I have no interest in the book or because of time (I have other books I am wanting to read/listen to). Recently however I have read several great books through this process – Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall by Aaron Safronoff; and most recently Bonds of Love & Blood by Marylee MacDonald.

You can read my review in Goodreads on Bonds of Love & Blood  – a collection of short stories focusing on poignant human experiences while traveling. I agreed to read and review this book because I have recently grown fond of reading short story collections/anthologies. Over the past year I read/listened on audiobook, two exceptional short story collections: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman and Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood. So I was open to trying another collection.

What impressed me about Bonds of Love & Blood was the author’s ability to immediately plop you into the story and get your engaged without having to develop the beginning or necessarily provide the ending to the story. I did not feel dissatisfied by not knowing the full ending of a story, I just appreciated being there in the moment, experiencing a travel experience from the perspective of the main character. Another thing that impressed me is that the author appears to be really into supporting Book Groups and provides book group questions at the end  of the book. She will also make herself available to join a book group discussion on her book (she has her contact info with the book group discussion questions).

I do not currently belong to a book group, but I think that would be very cool to have the author call into your book group! The author, a world traveler, also sent me an e-mail with the background on what inspired each story and a pdf of photos related to each story. Very cool!

Well I was going to chat about another book I have just started, but  I continue to try to keep my posts length reasonable, so more rambling next time!

My Minimalism Journey: Part I

“The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs.”

― Wally Lamb

On the eve of Sept 11th, I want to share my a little about my “Minimalism” journey as 9/11 was a major catalyst to the start of this journey.

If you have not heard of “Minimalism” you can google the term and find numerous websites discussing Minimalism. I discuss my minimalism journey in several older posts to include:

Shameless “Thrifting”

The Empty Drawer (re-post)

We are seeing each other again…

If it brings me joy, I will keep it in view

Craft Book Purge

A “Humane” Way to Eliminate Fabric Scraps

The Space in Which We Live

For me, embracing Minimalism is more than decluttering my life and living with less stuff. It is a deep set of personal values that I started to internalize post 9/11, I just did not have a name for it at the time.


The Start of the Journey

I grew up in New York State and NYC has a special place in my heart. I traveled there as a child, as a teenager and as an adult.

Some of my fond pre 9/11 NYC memories include:

  •  Going as a child going to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree and to see the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall.
  • A day trip in NYC via bus, sponsored by my nursing school in Upstate NY. The trip included  going to the Museum of Natural History (as an adult this time) and realizing just how incredible and magical a museum it is. I was dating Terry (future “Quilting Husband”) at the time and I have a humorous memory of him walking around the Museum of Modern Art (the MOMA) and sharing his head at what he thought was “terrible art” (he did not appreciate “modern” art).

When 9/11 happened, my husband and I lived in Seattle, Washington. We had moved in Seattle in 1997 and it was a welcome change from our crazy life in Houston, Texas. We were extreme workaholics in Houston as young professionals trying to get established in our careers. We knew it was time for a change when we forgot to go to a special rock concert that we had waited years for this particular band to tour and come to Houston (and we had purchased very expensive tickets for!). Work consumed our life and distracted us from enjoying life.

Seattle was a wonderful place when we moved there in 1997 and I met many wonderful friends and had an incredible social network. We used to have a lot of dinner parties/game nights and attend endless social events. My husband still teases me about the time, in order to keep everyone happy, we attended 3-4 (he swears it was 5) Thanksgiving dinners/events in one day. We were always very busy on holidays going from friend’s house to friend’s house to “make an appearance”.

Post 9/11 in addition to a terrible sadness and hurt for my beloved NYC (I have a friend in NYC who had a friend who called in sick on 9/11 and is alive because she happened to be ill that day), I felt this tremendous uneasiness and anxiety. There was not anything I could put my finger on but I knew that I felt unsettled in my life.

I had been a manager for many years and I realized I did not want to “manage” people any longer. I wanted to only be responsible for myself.

One of the great pleasures in my life was time spent walking my dogs, however the neighborhood we lived in was starting to decline and became less safe. Seattle as it grew and expanded became more expensive. The neighborhood we lived in was more still an affordable area but attracted less desirable and questionable characters (we suspected there was a “Meth lab” near our house).

We lived in a large house in Seattle (2800 square feet) and we had a lot of stuff. We had a mother-in-law style apartment in the daylight basement that we rented for awhile and when our tenants moved out we filled it with more stuff. I realize now that a lot of the stuff I bought (as a friend of mine pointed out – I was a “collector”) was related to seeking happiness, comfort, or a temporary purchase “high”.

Around 2001 we adopted our rescued miniature schnauzers Fritz and Snickers from a place I never heard of before – Central, Oregon. They were found as strays in a place called Maupin, Oregon and then were first rescued by a couple who lived in Sisters, Oregon but could not keep them. We adopted them through Miniature Schnauzer Rescue out of Portland, Oregon.

A year or so before I had started quilting, a friend took me to the annual Sew Expo in Pullayup, WA for the first time and I visited the booth of this magical quilt shop called the Stitchin’ Post which was from Sisters, Oregon.

In 2005 close friends of ours moved to Central, Oregon. We went to visit them a couple months after they moved…

This was it, this was the place. Central Oregon was where I needed to be to feel safe and peaceful again and to continue on a journey I did not even realize I had begun.

We returned from our first visit to Central Oregon in October 2005, put our Seattle house on the market. It sold in 3 days and by November 2005 (yes one month later) we were living in temporary housing in Central Oregon.

This is the place I can walk my dogs at 10 pm at night, alone, and feel safe. Speaking of dogs, my husband would joke when we first moved to town that: “we had to bring the schnauzers back to their native land”.

I will continue the story of this journey in a future post. For now let me leave you with a quote I came across that embraces the idea of the start of a journey (which can begin right outside your front door):

Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy.
There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it. 

― Charlotte Eriksson


Feature Photo credit: Mathew Herman, free images.com

Shameless “Thrifting”

Check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s page SchnauzerSnips for her latest musings. 


MY HISTORY WITH THRIFTING

I titled this post “Shameless ‘Thrifting'” as I used to be ashamed to go into thrift stores. I would avoid them at all costs and despite hearing stories from friends about the cool items they discovered for a very low cost at thrift shops.

My shame did not come from fear that people would think I was poor and needed to shop in a thrift shop, it came from once being quite poor and a thrift shop being the only option for clothes, household items, etc.

I put myself through pre-med and then nursing school (when I decided to become a nurse instead of a physician as I had originally planned) when I was in my late teens to my early 20s and I had no disposable income. At one point I was working 40 hours a week (at night as a Home Health Aide) and going to school full-time. It is a long story (related to why my family did not have resources to help me with school) but I obviously made it through (and met Terry, the future “Quilting Husband” while I was in nursing school).

Although we have likely donated thousands of dollars’ worth of no longer used items to charity thrift stores, I refused to shop at thrift stores. To me they represented the poverty I once experienced (and never wanted to experience again), so I stayed away from them. I was all about being able to buy the new things I wanted to buy, when I wanted to buy them (before embracing the Minimalism movement).

A couple of years ago, my a friend introduced me to the fun of discovering cool cheap high quality fabric and antique fabric finds at thrift shops! My sister, who has an excellent sense of style and is a wonderful dresser, also encouraged me to explore thrift shops (She has discovered many incredible inexpensive clothing finds, including “designer” brands).  Inspired by my friend and my sister, finally I realized that shopping at thrift stores not only makes good financial sense, but it is very “green”. Instead of items going into a landfill they can be reused by someone else (and the purchase benefits charity organizations – it is a “win-win”).

Concurrently with my sister’s and friend’s influence, over the years my consumerism fueled drive to purchase “new shiny things” has ended. I started to choose experiences over things and realizes new shiny things only bring temporary and fleeting joy. Real joy comes from say a quiet walk in nature or cup of tea with a friend. This is one of the reasons why we have donated likely 30 – 50% of our stuff now to charity organizations.


THRIFT STORE SATURDAY!

So this past Saturday I decided I wanted to go wander around our local thrift store and hunt for fun deals. I had a desire for “Retail Therapy” but in an inexpensive and “green” way. Here is what I found during my Saturday adventure visiting Goodwill, Humane Society Thrift Shop, and the Hospice Thrift Shop (benefiting Central Oregon Hospice).

Goodwill

I know there is some controversy about the Goodwill Industries organization but their mission seems on the surface to be pretty darn wonderful. I spent the first part of the my “Shameless Thrifting” Adventure, wandering around Goodwill.

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Shoes! I could not believe how many nice pairs of shoes were at Goodwill at very cheap prices. I am not that into fashion, being a telecommuter and outdoorsy kind of person (I prefer a comfortable outfit and pair of shoes) but if I were I would know where to get lovely designer shoes very cheaply!

After I was done entertaining myself with looking at shoes, I went to visit the fabric section (especially after the find from my last visit – see the post Mysterious Thrift Store Fabric Find).

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I did not find anything interesting in the linens and fabric section. However I did return again to the shoe section just browse it for fun; and to think about how much money women spend on new shoes that they only wear for a short period of time. I bet most of the shoes sitting on the shelves of the Women Shoe Section of Goodwill at one time gave some woman a fleeting sense of happiness and temporary “new purchase high”. And now they were sitting on the shelf for $6.99 a pair (note – this Goodwill store appeared to only sell used shoes which were in very good condition).

Humane Society Thrift Store

I left Goodwill empty handed and ventured onto the Humane Society Thrift Store where I entertained myself browsing their used vinyl record collection. While browsing, I stumbled upon this record which brought back some major memories from my childhood:

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Yes when I was a pre-teen I was a HUGE Barry Manilow fan. I cannot believe I am admitting this (and putting it in writing), but while some pre-teens were crazy for Michael Jackson or Donny Osmond, I was all about Barry Manilow! I remember the joy of getting a new Barry Manilow record as a kid. (Are you so shocked you have to unfollow my blog now?!?! Can I ever regain your respect?!?!)

A young couple who was browsing in the same section, looked at me with curiosity as I was photographing this record. I can only imagine what they were thinking, ha!

Now, I did not buy the Barry Manilow record. However I did leave the Humane Society Thrift Store with 3 used SAQA Journal Magazines (from 2011 and 2012 before I was a SAQA member) and 5 buttons (for future miniature kimonos). A purchase that totaled $1.

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Hospice Thrift Shop

I ended my thrifting adventure at the Hospice Thrift Shop. I did not purchase anything this thrift shop, but I was very entertained looking at their used craft supply section. My favorite item: not only did someone donate their yarn but they must have said “screw it, I am done with this knitting thing” and they donated the piece in progress still on the knitting needles!

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Summarizing My Saturday Shameless Thrifting Adventure:

  • Time spent browsing = 2.5 hours
  • Money spent = $1
  • Fun (the thrill of the hunt), giggles, and insight = priceless!

POSTSCRIPT

I do not regret the time in my life when I had little financial resources. It was during this time that I learned to cook as I could make my own food from scratch (much cheaper than purchasing pre-made food). For example, I learned to bake my own bread from discounted flour I bought at wholesale from a food coop I volunteered at (to get wholesale prices on food).

Also I learned at an early age how to budget and manage resources; and also how to stay away from the pitfalls of credit card debt.  My life could have been easier by taking out a large school loan but I worked my way through school instead (there was no partying or goofing off during my time in college) so I had a minimal student loan to pay when I graduated (yes and sigh, no wild college parties memories but that is okay).

But most important though, is I learned to appreciate everything I have, as everything I have was earned through my effort and hard work.

I do believe through struggle comes growth.

The Empty Drawer (re-post)

I am getting caught up from being out of town and I wanted to share a re-posting of one of my favorite tierneycreates blog posts – The Empty Drawer (09/30/15).  The sweet memory it evokes, makes it one of my favorite posts.

At some point I would like to update with you all where I am on my “minimalism” journey that I have discussed in many older posts including this post. 

For now, here is “re-run” (smile).


Sometimes love is shown in small sweet ways…

This post is an addendum to the post The Space in Which We Live in which I share how Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing inspired me to downsize my unused and unneeded clothes and get rid of our second dresser in the bedroom.

Since I got rid of the dresser I used, I needed somewhere to store my socks and undies. I convinced my husband to give me one drawer of his tightly packed dresser. He groaned a little at first but realized how much space it would free up in the bedroom to only have one dresser. So he reluctantly cleared out a bottom drawer in his dresser for me.

I jokingly said: “Might I have a top drawer?”  A day later I discovered my stuff had been moved to a top drawer, all neatly organized by my husband.

Surprisingly, it did not take me long to get used to living with one drawer.

Then the other day, I got quite a surprise: I was opening my top drawer quickly and not paying attention and accidentally opened the drawer below it.

AND IT WAS EMPTY!

My husband, without saying anything, had somehow cleared a second drawer for me, right below my newly beloved solitary top drawer. I now have TWO DRAWERS!

The Empty Drawer
The Empty Drawer

Recently I have been listening to a wonderful book on CD from the library called The Empowering Women Gift Collection (1997) which is a collection of lectures by the motivational and inspirational speakers Louise Hay, Christiane Northrup, Caroline Myss, and Susan Jeffers. Although this CD is from 1997 most of the inspirational information is still pertinent.

One of the speakers discusses in her lecture that men may show their love differently than women. Basically they might show their love by fixing the faucet for you rather than getting all sweet and mushy, etc.

I definitely consider this unexpected and “unrequested” second EMPTY DRAWER an act of love!

Dark Cabinet of Mystery (re-post)

I just reached 200 posts (the tierneycreates blog began in October 2013). I thought I would share one of my favorite posts – “Dark Cabinet of Mystery” (October 2015). I figure with 200 blog posts under my belt, I can now start occasionally sharing some “re-runs” – ha! 

(And as TV viewers might say: “oh no, it’s a re-run, when will the new season start?!?!”)


There is nothing on the Design Wall and the sewing machine is cold…

We all have those stretches on “non-creatvity” and I am hopefully on the tail end of one of those stretches right now. I have however continued with my side project of decluttering and scaling back my life as discussed in previous posts.  I decided to take on THE DARK CABINET OF MYSTERY

Don’t be afraid to peek in (and then reach inside)…

I know I am not alone – many people have those drawers or cabinets “of mystery” in which you never peek unless you really, really, really need to find something (and you strongly suspect, unfortunately, it is in THERE).

Most of the time you just throw something in there and quickly close the door without looking too hard to see what has gathered inside.

I have started working on what I call my Dark Cabinet of Mystery in the corner of my kitchen. It is an oddly shaped cabinet and has angle that reaches into…another dimension? A break in the “space-time continuum”? A wormhole?  I actually asked my husband to just reach into the cabinet and pull everything out.

(I figured if something grabbed him when he reached in, I could retrieve the dogs quickly and run out of the house)

Well everything got pulled out, and my husband survived emptying the cabinet. Below is what was inside and it is obvious that I kept thinking: “oh I need to save this glass jar”, “I probably really need to save this glass jar”, “not sure if I have enough glass jars”…

In addition to a large supply of empty glass jars I discovered I had a springform (aka cheesecake pan) which I have never used since buying it like 20 years ago; and I have an electric carving knife used once or twice in the 15+ years I have owned. I also have an entire extra set of flatware.

All the things discovered inside the cabinet of mystery

Now I have to decide what to keep and what to recycle (hint the numerous glass jars) or donate. I also need to decide the future of the Dark Cabinet of Mystery…

Maybe I should just have the Dark Cabinet of Mystery professionally sealed up…especially if creatures from other dimensions find a way to slip in through a portal likely in one of its dark corners…

We are seeing each other again…

This post is a follow up to my previous post Break Up Letter to My Warehouse Club, in which I shared that Costco (my local warehouse club) and I were taking some time off from our relationship.

Well I started seeing Costco again, but this time I have better boundaries in this relationship (ha!). I only bring cash (I stopped using the Costco American Express card) and my purchases are limited to my cash on hand. There is something magical about the pain of surrounding cash as opposed to using a credit card.

A credit card is like a mythical payment that you will have to deal with someday in the mythical future. Cash is like so real – the money is GONE from your wallet right there in the moment.

I have also incorporated lessons from studying minimalism concepts. I carefully evaluate any item I want to purchase from Costco for its value in my life. So the giant jar of 80 pickles will likely never come home with me (I am not sure if Costco actually carries a jar of 80 pickles but this example seems to represent the general scale of their bulk offerings!).

So far so good. It felt really good to make thoughtful (and not impulsive or spontaneous) purchasing decisions at Costco and to leave the warehouse club with only the items I truly need and will add value to my life. (Toilet paper for example, definitely adds value, ha!)

So Costco and I have rekindled our relationship. We are taking is slow, and seeing where it goes…

Postscript

I really enjoy posts with photos, so here is a random unrelated to this post, photo. It is from a recent trip to a sushi restaurant to meet a friend for lunch:

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If it brings me joy, I will keep it in view

This is an addendum to my 12/30/15 post Quilts for the Quilter (and Crafts for the Crafter), recently I came across a very special homemade gift…

As part of my ongoing journey towards living with less and keeping only those things that are useful and bring me joy, I am working on dealing with mementos and keepsakes. I had three boxes of keepsakes – old postcards, cards from old friends and co-workers, newspaper clippings, holiday photo cards, etc. I now have one small box. I have let go of that which does not bring me a deep sense of joy.

During the process of working through my keepsakes, I re-discovered a quilt that my staff had made me when I was a manager at a health plan in Seattle in the late 1990s to early 2000s. I do not remember if I was a quilter yet, so it likely was not a “Quilt for the Quilter” but it is something very special that was just sitting around in a box put away.

My friend Judy, who originally got me into quilting and was a member of my work team in the late 1990s, organized a team quilt project as a holiday gift for me. Each team member made a block and Judy assembled the blocks into a wallhanging quilt. I was deeply touched and surprised with the gift, which I believe was given to me around 1998 or 1999.

This wonderful gift is no longer tucked away, I have placed it on the wall to remind me that I was that loved (because QUILT ARE LOVE, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise!) so much as a leader that a team took the time to make me a quilt!

Below is a photo of the quilt.  The center of the quilt features a photo of the entire team, so I have taken a low resolution photo at a bad angle to respect the privacy of former team members who I have lost touch with and may not want their photo published on the web. (And you likely thought it was just another one of my bad photos!)

I have included a couple close ups of some of the blocks. The “Chocolate Chip Cookies” block, by one of my former team members, was made to honor the fact that I brought the team homemade chocolate chip cookies when I interviewed with them! After I was hired I continued to make the team homemade cookies.

It is wonderful to have such a  special memory visible to enjoy everyday, rather tucked away, only to look at every couple of years (or longer, when you remember it is there).

As far as the other keepsakes, as I mentioned earlier I took them down from 3 boxes to 1 small box. I love what Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2014), states in her wonderful book:

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

I realize many memories can be held inside my heart rather than my hand. I do not need to hold onto all those physical items to honor those memories (like all postcards I ever received – I have downsized them only a small stack of very special postcards).

And as far as the person I am becoming, I hope it is someone who is filled with gratitude for all the special moments in her life. This quilt reminds me to continue my feelings of gratitude each day.

 

Craft Book Purge

Yes I did it. I purged some of my HUGE craft book collection (see earlier post Craft Book Hoarder?!?!?).

Last April when I counted, I had around 370 craft books (on quilting, sewing, beading, knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, card making, etc.).

Last weekend, I was ready to again take on thinning out my craft book collection.

Over the past couple of years, I have been able to let go of a lot of “stuff” as I move towards a life focused on experiences, not “stuff”. I even let go of a large amount of fabric that I was keeping “just in case” (see earlier post The Fabric Purge!). My craft books, however, all seemed so precious, and it has been difficult to part with them.

Suddenly I was ready. Following the principle’s in Marie Kondo’s wonderful book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and pulled ALL my craft books out and went through them one by one. This took nearly 4-6 hours to complete.

My primary criteria was: “Will I truly ever make something in this book?”. Using this criteria I was able to lighten my load by over 50 craft books.

The photo below shows the growing stack for DONATION in my laundry room.

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The cool thing was even while I was re-shelving and organizing the books I had decided to keep, I was able to weed out even more that I realized I do not need.

Last Monday, with the help of Terry the Quilting Husband, I dropped off two huge bags of books to our local public library. They will either go into the library’s collection of craft books for circulation to library patrons; or they will go to the Friends of the Library which will sell the books to raise money for the library. One of the library staff gave me a huge “thank you” on donating the books – she was amazed how many of the books were brand new and in excellent condition.

I have no regret over the money I spent on these books I never used, because they are going to either circulate in my beloved public library or raise money to support library activities!

(Yes I still have a lot of books left and I love them all. Let’s see if next year I can do another craft book purge…)

 

Break Up Letter to My Warehouse Club

Looking at my credit card statement for the past 30 day period, I was appalled to see how many different charges there were to Costco, our local “Warehouse Club” store – 6 in a month’s time! (Depending on your location, you local warehouse club store might be Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club, or Sam’s Club).

Obviously I have a problem: How many times in one month do you need to stock up on a packages of items that would supply, say, a  small military base, when there are only two humans living in your house?

Dear Costco,

I hate to do this by letter but if I see you in person, I will not be able to be strong (I would grab a cheap frozen yogurt from your snack bar and start running through your aisles looking for all the things I do not need).

I have to take some time off in our relationship. I am not sure if I want to permanently break up or just have a “cooling off period”.

Things have gotten too intense in our relationship and I have been spending much way too time with you than is healthy (financially).

I will miss your 80+ jars of pickles (when I only wanted a couple pickles), and your triple super duper size packaging of items that would take me a lifetime to consume. Most of all I will miss your fantasy-electronics-section with its 60, 70, 80, 200 inch TVs with infinity edge 3D screens showing glimpses of what ultimate TV viewing could entail.

But I must be strong. I hope you can carry on and stay open without me.

Sincerely,

Tierney

 

The Empty Drawer

Sometimes love is shown in small sweet ways…

This post is an addendum to the post The Space in Which We Live in which I share how Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing inspired me to downsize my unused and unneeded clothes and get rid of our second dresser in the bedroom.

Since I got rid of the dresser I used, I needed somewhere to store my socks and undies. I convinced my husband to give me one drawer of his tightly packed dresser. He groaned a little at first but realized how much space it would free up in the bedroom to only have one dresser. So he reluctantly cleared out a bottom drawer in his dresser for me.

I jokingly said: “Might I have a top drawer?”  A day later I discovered my stuff had been moved to a top drawer, all neatly organized by my husband.

Surprisingly, it did not take me long to get used to living with one drawer. Then the other day, I got quite a surprise: I was opening my top drawer quickly and not paying attention and accidentally opened the drawer below it.

AND IT WAS EMPTY!

My husband, without saying anything, had somehow cleared a second drawer for me, right below my newly beloved solitary top drawer. I now have TWO DRAWERS!

The Empty Drawer

The Empty Drawer

Recently I have been listening to a wonderful book on CD from the library called The Empowering Women Gift Collection (1997) which is a collection of lectures by the motivational and inspirational speakers Louise Hay, Christiane Northrup, Caroline Myss, and Susan Jeffers. Although this CD is from 1997 most of the inspirational information is still pertinent. One of the speakers discusses in her lecture that men may show their love differently than women. Basically they might show their love by fixing the faucet for you rather than getting all sweet and mushy, etc.

I definitely consider this unexpected and unrequested (second) EMPTY DRAWER an act of love!

The Space in Which We Live

Sometimes a statement really resonates with you…

I am currently listening to the audiobook of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Kondo, 2014).

The author, Marie Kondo makes a very powerful statement when she discusses letting go of mementos from our past:

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

This book is not your average “here is how you organize your stuff type of book”. It takes a very different and profound approach on dealing with clutter, permanently. Getting rid of physical clutter helps free your mental clutter. I have already experienced this through starting to work through this book.

Marie Kondo approaches dealing with “your stuff” in a very beautiful way. In a way that honors your stuff and the happiness or the function it may have brought you in the past.

Her process requires that you physically touch every single thing you own and decide honestly: “does this bring me joy?”

Her process also involves thanking those things that you give up for what role they played in your life and then letting them go. (This all may sound strange but it is not, it feels very right and very peaceful).

Completed “Phase One”

I have made it through the first phase – letting go of clothing I do not need (she has a specific method and order in which you deal with different categories of your stuff). Two big things happened yesterday: 1) I took a huge carload of clothing and other random stuff to the Humane Society Thrift Store; and 2) I got rid of MY DRESSER!

Our bedroom always felt kind of cluttered with two dressers (my dresser and my husband’s dresser). My 25 year-old dresser blocked part of the area I use to get out of bed. My husband was able to make space for my undies and socks in his dresser. Everything else (including old socks and undergarments not in the best condition) was either discarded, donated or folded/hung up in the closet.

I did touch each item, determine if it brought be joy, and thanked those that did not (bring me joy) for their service before discarding them. We placed my dresser outside on the curb and 5 minutes later it was gone (I believe the Universe gave it to the person who needed next)! Suddenly with the dresser gone, the bedroom appeared to have better flow and energy. I now have room next to the bed to put out my yoga mat in the morning!

Unbelievably freeing experience, so far

You must read or listen to this wonderful book for this all to make sense, and it will. I highly recommend this book and the “Eastern Philosophy” influenced perspective of letting go of the stuff that clutters our lives and our minds.

I continue to work on letting the space that I live be for the person I am becoming now, not for the person I was in the past.

Random pretty sunflower which you will have time to enjoy once you declutter your life ;-)

Random pretty sunflower which you will have time to enjoy once you declutter your life 😉

The Fabric Purge!

Before I talk about my FABRIC PURGE, I wanted to give a little follow up on my Addicted to Audiobooks post:

I had mentioned in the post that one of the disadvantages of free audiobooks from your local library is a short loan period (14 days for example). Recently I discovered that my library allows up to a 21 day audiobook loan period but you have to set up your account that way! I guess when I first set up my digital book account with my library originally I accidentally selected the 14 day hold as my default. I wish I knew this earlier as recently I was in the middle of enjoying Beyond Willpower by Alexander Loyd and my loan expired! The audiobook has other library patron holds on it so I have to wait patiently until my turn comes around again. Ultimately it is my fault for alternating between three audiobooks at once time – 21 day loans will make it even easier (maybe I can alternate between four or five audiobooks…just kidding!)

FABRIC PURGE!

Sometimes you have to let go of clutter to make space for your creativity. I had collected an unwieldy amount of fabric in my 15+ years of being a quilter. My fabric collection (aka “Stash”) includes purchased new fabric, purchased (from thrift shops and garage sales) used fabric, recycled fabrics (old jeans, manufacturing remnants), and fabric given to my by quilting friends.  When I say “fabric” I mean anything from a 1/4 yard to several yards of fabric, not scraps. We won’t talk about my scrap collection at this point…

I had organized all my quilting cotton, non flannel fabrics either by color, by type (Batiks) or by collection in an old IKEA bookcase cabinet. This cabinet was REALLY STUFFED. It was so stuffed that I could not find smaller pieces that have somehow “melted” into the larger pieces. It was time to reevaluate what I really loved and needed in my collection and to let go of that which I do not really love or really need. I had taken Monday and Tuesday off from work for a little “staycation” so I had no excuse not to begin the PURGE!

The purge was kind of painful and tedious. I do not want to discourage anyone from evaluating their clutter and purging, I just want to be honest. I removed all the fabric from the bookcase cabinet and it transformed into a scary mess on the floor. In the spirit of honesty and full disclosure – I did at one point sit on the floor crying and exclaim: “Why do I have this much fabric? I do not need all this!” I had to keep self-coaching to get through the project, reminding myself how wonderful it will be to quickly find the fabric I am looking for and to get rid of what I will never use.

It took two days of sorting through fabric and refolding fabric to complete the project (by the way, I did take many breaks of course and did other things on my “staycation”). I found on Pinterest this wonderful link to instructions on how to uniformly fold your fabric using a ruler so that your fabric will stack easily together: How to Tuesday: Ruler Folding  (from a lovely blog – Create Kids Couture). I organized most of the fabric by color (this time I integrated the Batiks) and some by special collection (one shelf). I purged a giant bag of fabric to give my local quilting friends (oh no I am just adding to their stash so they have to purge someday!)

The fabric purge was worth it, despite some brief emotional distress. I feel like I have made room for my creativity by eliminating clutter!

BEFORE THE PURGE

IMG_0324.2015-04-26_195115

AFTER THE PURGE

IMG_0328.2015-04-27_194415

Craft Book Hoarder?!?!?

Isn’t realization the first step to admitting you might have a problem?

Have you watched the TV show on A&E Network – Hoarders? Well I am not at that level (yet), but I do have some concerns over the size of my craft book collection.  I finally made myself count and I have 370 craft books.

IMG_0144I have crafts book on:

  • Quilting (of course)
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Beading
  • Pillow making
  • Bag/purse making
  • Potholder making
  • Scrapbooking
  • Organizing your craft space
  • Art inspiration
  • Beading
  • Metal clay
  • Felting
  • Etc.

In addition to craft books, I have quite the collection of crafting related magazines. I refuse to count them. I am still reeling from the shock that I have 370 (or more as I likely under counted) craft books.

So what am I going to do about it? I already gave away all the books I know I will never use to local charity thrift stores (some of the books I originally bought from a charity based thrift store, so I am completing the cycle).

What I would like to do (complete fantasy) is the make at least ONE ITEM from each book and then post it on my blog. That could be 350 new craft projects I would complete (at least 20 books are about organizing and inspiration not the actual making of a craft).

I am going to do it. Maybe. Watch in the future for an ongoing series of blog posts about actually making things from my craft books. Perhaps.  For now, I am seriously going to work on curbing my acquisition of craft books. Definitely.

This post serves as an addendum to the post Living with Less?!?!?! to further support why I would be challenged to scale back to 100 personal items, though I still daydream of living this minimal.