The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Visualizing the Ideal Lifestyle

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So a friend posted a link to a New York Times article on Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.  Several years ago I read a decluttering book based on Feng Shui (hate away, it was great) and it changed my relationship with much of my “stuff”.  Not all of my stuff, but a great deal of it.  As such, I was drawn to this one, hit the Kindle buy nearly immediately and started to read.  Normally I would plow through the “how to declutter” book, pick a few neat ideas I’d not read before (which are getting fewer and fewer) and move on.

Not with this book.  It’s a little odd, slightly eccentric, has a distinct cultural cant to it and is positively engaging, indeed downright charming.  Reviews tell me that there will be parts that don’t translate to the American lifestyle, but I rather expected that – I also don’t feel a need to race to “the good stuff”.  It tells me that it will take 6 months to tidy my space and effect a permanent change, I’m giving it all of 2015 since my space includes three people, three dogs, a cranky cat and attics full of things from not only my previous marriage, but previous owners.  I also firmly believe in recycling, donating and selling rather than just discarding where possible, so that will likely extend things.

The first action reads more like the start of a philosophical journey than a cleaning marathon, but I expected that as well.  The idea is to create a joyful space in which to live rather than a spot to store accumulated stuff.  So the beginning is to visualize my ideal lifestyle and, out of that will come the desire and motivation to create an environment that supports it.  Gosh, what a concept. 😉

I work at home, so I figured outlining a perfect day would kind of cover it – one workday, one weekend day.  I also decided that I needed to include things that I don’t do now, but would dearly like to be able to do.  This is supported by the client story used as an example in the book.  A perfect workday would start by waking up from a good night’s sleep, eating a good breakfast, exercising, taking a shower and getting dressed, making the bed and managing the critters before going to my home office.

I would then spend the first work hour getting my day in order (I do this already and it rocks), clearing email, prioritizing and planning while sipping morning coffee.  After three productive hours of work, downstairs for a good lunch and a little reading.  Three more productive hours and then an hour of taking a course or reading something work related to end the day.

The evening would be filled with a delicious dinner, a walk with the dogs (or downtown) followed by relaxing with da fambly, catching up with friends online and so on before grabbing a good book and a hot cup of tea and going to bed.  Weekends would be similar but part of the day would be spent on the yard or house with the other part dedicated to something out and about – a class, errands, events, writing and so on.

I can tell you that right now, while this is a glimmer on the horizon after several years of focused decluttering, life is more a chaotic march forward to stay ahead culminating in a collapse after staring at a to-do list than a joyous adventure.  So there you have it, Marie – let’s see what we can do about it. 🙂

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2015 Already? But I Barely Got Started!

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Well, not really true – 2014 was jam packed full of activities and blogging just wasn’t one of the ones that made it to the top.  Will 2015?  Who knows but let’s try.  I’m saving the what happened last year post for later this week; this one is just about getting back on the bicycle and moving forward.  I’ve dumped resolutions entirely this year in favor of developing the habit of doing a few simple things every day and seeing where it leads.  So every day I will be doing:

  • Do something that improves myself or my surroundings
  • Try, do or learn something new – be it a new food, a new book or a new adventure.
  • Do something that declutters myself (physically, mentally or physically) or my surroundings.

Now, a gal still needs a few goals to go along with those to motivate – as always I’ll be doing the Goodreads challenge for reading.  I also want to focus on only those things in life that bring a sense of joy and hopefully remember to share those as I discover them.  Building good habits is high on my list with healthy eating and increasing my activity being the key focus.

To close this first post of the new year, I’d like to add a link that struck me as particularly useful and included some things I would like to banish from my life (which is one of the things it suggests, ironically):

From Thoughtcatalog, 10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

Enjoy – and welcome to a fresh new year. 🙂

Vaping: Starting the Journey (Cig-a-likes)

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So after years of smoking “analogs” (regular cigarettes), we decided to get on the vaping (PV – personal vaporizers) bandwagon after several folks we know were successful in quitting cigarettes using them.  Per my usual, I started analyzing and researching.  We started where most folks do with “cig-a-likes” – basically a battery and a cartridge filled with flavored liquid that looks and feels like a heavy cigarette.  They were cheap and let us try the whole e-cig thing out to see if we were going to like it at all.  We did.  Pretty darned quickly.  We’ve already moved past cig-a-likes, but the purpose of the blog articles is to walk through the progression so…

We ordered two different “starter kits”.  A starter cig-a-like kit generally includes everything you need to start vaping – batteries that look like cigarettes and cartridges that look like filters plus battery chargers.  You just charge the batteries, screw the cartomizer (the cartridge that contains and heats the liquid) on and you are off.  No muss, no fuss, very easy.  Downsides are battery life, cartridge life and flavor, though you can refill your cartomizer with yblack-starterkitour own choice of e-liquid or buy blank cartomizers to fill yourself.  Gotta admit that I found refilling them to be a bit of a pain and carrying multiple batteries around kind of sucked.  That said, we did this for about a week and at the end we felt that we were comfortable upgrading.

The starter kit we liked the most was the Halo G6 Starter Kit which comes with your choice of 2 batteries – either manual (you press a button while inhaling) or automatic.  You can choose one of each if you want to try both and Halo makes the batteries in a variety of colors.  Truthfully, while automatic is more “cigarette like”, manual is going to make your battery last longer and is the way higher end PVs work, so get at least one.  You also get a USB charger and a wall charger and a 5 pack of cartomizers (blank or filled with one of the Halo flavors) all in a case (too large to carry around, but fine for tossing in the car).

One of the nicest things about this kit is that, when you decide you want to try a “tank” to hold your liquid, Halo has “mini-tanks” that fit the G6 batteries as a second step that doesn’t add weight or change the way you smoke as dramatically as a more advanced type of unit.  It was an excellent first step and cost less than a carton of cigarettes here in the South (which is way less than the cost to the north).  As I said, we moved on to mini-tanks with the G6 and then to eGo style PVs pretty quickly, but we were completely satisfied with this as an entry point to e-cigarettes.

If you are thinking about trying vaping, consider joining the E-Cigarette Forum but be prepared to be overwhelmed with information – in a lot of ways it is a vaping hobbyist forum as much as anything.  Still, it’s an excellent resource – especially if you look for links to recommended vendors, articles and YouTube videos.  I’d also recommend you start thinking about what your goal is – do you want to quit smoking entirely (switching to PVs, lowering the nicotine and stopping) or are you embarking on a new hobby or something in the middle.  Right now we are focused on dropping analogs (which we did in less than 3 days) and not spending more than 25% of what we used to spend on them.  Which, given the cost of cigarettes, is actually pretty easy.  I set up a spreadsheet and, while there is an upfront investment, the cost can be pretty low.  You will break even and start saving money pretty quickly depending on how much you smoke now and how fast (or if) you jump into the vaping deep end.  Keep in mind that the initial goal is to replace all the different stuff in analogs (tar and additives) with only nicotine in measurable amounts.  Start simple, move slowly.

We are currently vaping on mini-tanks to try out new liquid flavors, ordering sample liquids to see what we like and dislike and using eGo batteries and tanks.  The cig-a-likes are in the “smoking bucket” on the front porch with all the lighters and ashtrays for any friends who want to try them out.  We hit our first goal (switching) almost immediately.  Pretty impressive, actually.  The next article will be on nicotine levels and sort of a starter guide to liquids.

March Start – Meh.

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Well, things haven’t gone as smoothly as hoped, but they rarely do and some key things got done along the way.  Guess we’ll push through to the end of March and move some first quarter goals into the second quarter.  Rats.

So, let’s take a look at January:

  • Fitness – Hit my Fitbit goals for the month (yep, Christmas present)
  • Professional – Complete the ITIL 2011 Intermediate SOA qualification
  • Habit – Fitness and Food Journaling
  • Home – Guest bedroom
  • Financial – 401K and retirement accounts
  • Decluttering – File for 2013 taxes, set up 2014 files
  • Cost cutting – Insurance review

And February:

  • Fitness – Sign up for the NC Half Marathon Twilight 5K in March
  • Professional – Complete the ITIL 2011 MALC (Expert) qualification
  • Habit – Take or draw a picture every day
  • Home – [month off to catch up if needed]
  • Financial – 2013 Taxes completed and filed
  • Decluttering – Scan/Shred old records
  • Cost cutting/saving – Cut dining out to one dinner and one lunch per week

Finally, March:

  • Fitness – Complete the NC Half Marathon Twilight 5K
  • Professional – [month off to catch up if needed]
  • Habit – [decluttering habit, see below]
  • Home – Front porch and walks (getting ready for spring!)
  • Financial – update wills
  • Decluttering – Declutter one thing per day (sell, trade, donate, recycle, repair)
  • Cost cutting/saving – Utilities review (gas, power, phone, internet, cellular, TV, etc.)

February Update: Week One

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Dangit – a short month.  And I’m sucking at everything other than the fitness goals so far.  But, those are really the most important.  Doing great with the Fitbit targets and things are looking great for the 5K in March.  Almost done with the modules and exercises for the ITIL SOA certification, so with luck that will be done in the next two weeks and I’ll be on to the MALC.  All but one of my tax documents have arrived, so crossing fingers to be able to finish taxes next weekend.  We’ve also not eaten out much at all lately, so that’s having a huge positive impact on the finances. 🙂

So, let’s take a look at January:

  • Fitness – Hit my Fitbit goals for the month (yep, Christmas present)
  • Professional – Complete the ITIL 2011 Intermediate SOA qualification
  • Habit – Fitness and Food Journaling
  • Home – Guest bedroom
  • Financial – 401K and retirement accounts
  • Decluttering – File for 2013 taxes, set up 2014 files
  • Cost cutting – Insurance review

And February:

  • Fitness – Sign up for the NC Half Marathon Twilight 5K in March
  • Professional – Complete the ITIL 2011 MALC (Expert) qualification
  • Habit – Take or draw a picture every day
  • Home – [month off to catch up if needed]
  • Financial – 2013 Taxes completed and filed
  • Decluttering – Scan/Shred old records
  • Cost cutting/saving – Cut dining out to one dinner and one lunch per week