Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

9781921372476I’m not entirely sure what made me decide to pick up this book last year. I like to write, but I don’t want to be an author. I guess I was just curious to read the book because I kept coming across references to it. It’s often noted as a book that’s very important for writers and very inspirational.

On one hand, I can see why people find it inspirational, but on the other hand, I feel like I learned more about the author than about being a writer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – I’ve been inspired and changed by many books that were, on the whole, just autobiographies and a scattering of tips and life lessons.

The one part of the book that made me sit up and pay attention was her discussion about how perfectionism is like a cramped muscle:

I think that something similar happens to our psychic muscles. They cramp around our wounds – the pain from our childhood, the losses and disappointments of adulthood, the humiliations suffered in both – to keep us from getting hurt in the same place again, to keep foreign substances out. So those wounds never have a chance to heal. Perfectionism is one way our muscles cramp. In some cases we don’t even know that the wounds and the cramping are there, but both limit us. They keep us moving and writing in tight, worried ways. They keep us standing back or backing away from life, keep us from experiencing life in a naked and immediate way.

I struggle with perfectionism. You’d never know it to see me or speak to me, but that’s because I tend to hide it well. I also default to “if it can’t be perfect, there’s no point in trying,” so people rarely see my perfectionism in practice. This “go big or go home” attitude is both ridiculous and immensely unfair to myself.

When I read this, I immediately recognized myself and many of my issues with moving forward with art. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I used to aspire to being an artist – studying art, doing art daily, etc. But, I let life get in the way and eventually found that my skills had diminished and I’d lost my path. Being a perfectionist, my reaction to this was to become despondent and to assume that there was no hope. So, I turned to other creative endeavours, especially hobbies that looked easy enough and still allowed some room for creativity. But, I was never satisfied and I could never stop thinking about how I had always wanted to be an artist.

While the book didn’t leave much of an impression on me, this paragraph did because it became the catalyst that started to move me forward. I started to sketch more (now daily, where possible), I started to look for and take art classes, I started to evaluate what I needed (and wasn’t getting) from the art classes I was taking, and I started to remember how great it was to make art. So, I guess the book had it’s intended effect on me. Sure, I’m not planning on quitting and heading to art school, nor am I interested in becoming a professional artist. But, I make art, I aspire to learn more, and I finally feel comfortable calling myself an artist again.

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Vacation photos

My vacations with my family are always pretty interesting. We don’t do anything touristy and tend to spend most of our time hanging out, reading (so many bedtime stories), and just being together. Highlights of my vacation include:

  • Being goofy with the kids
  • Joining my niece’s class for a field trip to the post office and then to a forested park (and, enjoying it, but also being really glad I don’t have kids)
  • Going to the library with my brother (I’m such a nerd)
  • Taking the kids (and my brother) for a nature walk to do a nature scavenger hunt
  • Helping the Easter bunny hide eggs and create a fun little scavenger hunt for the kids
  • Eating dinosaur shaped grilled cheese
  • Doing a puzzle with my brother
  • Having many long chats with my sister-in-law
  • Finding the first crocuses in their garden
  • Reading bedtime stories several nights
  • Playing indoor “hockey” with a large ball, a play golf club, and a play mop
  • Playing hide and seek or tag several times
  • Visiting some cute shops in a small town and buying a cool tin (which I now use for my markers)
  • Getting some great art books (and a screwdriver) from my dad
  • Eating way too much chocolate (serious! so much!)
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This weekend

It’s gross and snowy right now. But, Saturday was gloriously sunny and spring-like. Even better than that, I spent a bit chunk of the day with one of my all time favourite people (she’s so smart, interesting and lovely, and I’m lucky to have her as a friend).

We started the day at The Duchess, where I had a coconut, orange and coriander danish, which was so good! I didn’t take any pictures because I’m trying to be more present when I’m with friends, which  means leaving my phone in my pocket. But, she gave me a bunch of recommendations for TV shows and such that I should check out. She always has great documentary recommendations, so I’ll be checking these out a.s.a.p.

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I also acquired some homemade goodies she made: relish, strawberry marmalade, pear and rose white tea jelly, and hot chocolate mix. As an added bonus, she said she’d teach me to make preserves this year. My family made preserves when I was growing up and I used to help, but its been a couple decades and I feel intimidated by the idea of doing it on my own, so I’m pleased as punch that she said I could be her assistant.

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We then went for a wander in the neighbourhood, where I did a bit of shopping. Those Smarties are British Smarties, which are a million times more delicious than Canadian Smarties. And, yes, I do use natural deodorants (90% of the time, anyway). I’m still looking for the perfect one, but these two Routine samplers have been great so far.

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When I got home, I did boring chores, spent some time with some art books, and eventually settled in with The Fifth Element, which continues to be one of my favourite movies – the costumes are awesome, there’s lots of action, and the characters all amuse the heck out of me.

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It was a nice weekend and I’m looking forward to when the weather goes back to being spring-like.

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The unread shelf project: general update

IMG_20180410_172150.jpgI’ve decided to shift how I complete and account for my unread shelf project.

I skipped my March update partly because I was on vacation and partly because I didn’t finish a single book from my unread shelf. I was working on a couple and I weeded a couple, but I didn’t finish any. I don’t consider this a failure, just a slow reading month that wasn’t worth a blog post.

Before leaving for my vacation, I took a long hard look at my unread shelf and I realized that I was down to a fairly manageable number of unread books. I haven’t hit my target, nor am I at a point where I feel comfortable with removing my book buying ban. But, the number is low enough for me to feel less overwhelmed.

The other thing that I’ve noticed is that I’ve started to regret weeding some books. Up until now, I picked my least favourite books to remove each month and I didn’t mind donating them. But, I have a mild sense of regret attached to some of the books I donated in March. It’s a bit of a mix of “I want to read that book” and “I should read that book.” The latter is something I’m trying to get over. There are lots of books that I “should” read, especially books by and about minorities. The problem with “shoulds” is that I let them overwhelm me with guilt and I start to feel like a bad person. Yes, I absolutely should be reading more by and about minorities, but I can only read so many books in a month and books aren’t the only way to support groups and causes. I had intended to just read what I have this year and not worry about what I “should” read and I think that’s the best option for me right now. Once I have my unread shelf to a reasonable (for me) size, I can start looking at reading more books that will help me to be a better citizen and neighbour.

As for the rest of the books that I regret getting rid of: oh well, c’est la vie. I have a lot of other things on my plate right now and I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to reading them for a while, anyway. Plus, they’re mostly available at the library.

So, where am I now? My unread shelf is still bigger than I want it to be, my unread shelf is much smaller than I expected it to be by now (heck, it’s at about the number I expected to have at the end of the year), I still want to read everything I have left, I’m still bad about borrowing too many library books, and I might possibly have maybe sort of kind of bought a few books and magazines while on vacation. Also, for January and February, I only gave updates on my progress with the unread shelf project, but I miss talking about all the books I read or quit.

Going forward, I’m going to go back to talking about everything I’ve read or quit reading. I’ll include my unread shelf project progress, but I’ll also talk about library books I read.

I think this will work better for me because I enjoy reflecting on what I read in a month and I enjoy being able to promote good books without writing a separate review.

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Book review: The Strays by Emily Bitto

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“More than thirty years later, the scars still sleep on my wrists.”

I seem to really love fiction relating to art and artists and The Strays, by Emily Bitto, was no exception. I loved the story, I loved the language, and I loved the way art was part of the story.

Synopsis:

On her first day at a new school, Lily meets Eva, one of the daughters of the infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are attempting to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work with them at their family home. As Lily’s friendship with Eva grows, she becomes infatuated with this makeshift family and longs to truly be a part of it.

Looking back on those years later in life, Lily realises that this utopian circle involved the same themes as Evan Trentham’s art: Faustian bargains and terrible recompense; spectacular fortunes and falls from grace. Yet it was not Evan, nor the other artists he gathered around him, but his own daughters, who paid the debt that was owing.

The Strays is an engrossing story of ambition, sacrifice and compromised loyalties from an exciting new talent. [Source]

Lily, the first-person narrator, is the bored only child of ordinary parents. She’s drawn to Eva and Eva’s family from the start and seems to live very much in their shadow. She allows their lives to happen around her and to her, quietly observing and absorbing everything. But, as the family starts to fall apart, she becomes more entangled and, later in life, she is forced to bare the weight of her actions (or, inactions, as the case may be).

“ ‘An artist is someone who sees the structures of order and recognizes them as arbitrary.’ ”

It’s a fascinating story and it’s told beautifully. I loved reading about the art and about the artists’ perspective on art, the art community of the time, and the need or desire to expand beyond the more conservative art that was accepted and expected at the time.

The family dynamics were also interesting. It was clear, from the start, that the parents loved their children, but didn’t seem to know how to put aside their own lives and art for the sake of their children. This isn’t to say they were bad parents – they both clearly loved their children. But, each of the girls suffered from neglect in some regard or another.

“… and sometimes Eva and I sat up together and watched, quiet amongst the laughter of adults like stones in midstream.”

It was interesting to see it from Lily’s perspective because she’s a passive observer while the family builds up and eventually collapses. But, later in the book, she’s the center of the story. It ties in nicely with her own perspective of being an outsider wanting in and, eventually, finding more clarity through revisiting her own life and her own broken relationships.

“I will wake tomorrow, I thought, and this night will be inside me.”

This is one of favourite reads this year (possibly of all time) and I’m very tempted to buy a copy to keep.

 

 

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Rediscover yourself?

I’m (slowly) reading Michael Harris’ Solitude: A Singular Life in a Crowded World. It’s about the benefits of embracing solitude and how difficult that can be in Western society. It’s quite interesting and I’ve highlighted enough quotes and ideas to fill my blog for weeks, but, right now, I just want to focus on one:

I don’t want to run away from the world – I want to rediscover myself in it. 

I think that a lot of people (especially some of the more social people I know) assume that solitude and loneliness are the same thing. When I tell people that I like a bit (a lot) of solitude in my life, they immediately start worrying about me being lonely or telling me that I am lonely. But, solitude isn’t about being lonely and some people love having time to themselves, even if it’s just a few minutes. Solitude isn’t about not having friends or family, not feeling connected to your community, or not being able to spend time with people when you feel like being social. Solitude is about taking some time for yourself. It’s about ignoring your phone (calls, emails, text messages, social media, etc.) for a little  while. It’s about letting your mind be blank or letting it wander off into those dusty corners you rarely visit. It’s about letting the sound of the rain, wind, crickets, birds, river, orchestra, etc. be the only thing you focus on for a little while. It’s about taking time to reconnect with yourself.

I think that this line from the book resonated with me because I was (and still am) on that journey, but I haven’t yet found the path I need and I’m still worried that others will think that my willingness to disconnect, declutter, and simplify are an attempt to run away. All of the changes I’ve made in my life these past few years were just my attempts to find my path and get back to solid ground.

Taking time for myself – whether it was early morning walks, time to sketch, or my new digital free Sundays – is just a way for me to get to know me. And, instead of disconnecting me from my community, it’s actually been making me feel more inclined to participate with my community. Instead of feeling heavy with the stress of what I was trying to make my life into, I’m feeling relaxed with the not-normal-but-works-for-me life that I’m working towards.

I know that I sometimes make finding time for solitude sound grand and easy, but it’s not. Certainly, it’s easier for someone like me who likes to take time for myself and let my mind wander, but I’m sure this sounds like a nightmare for many of my extroverted friends. Nonetheless, I would encourage everyone to find a few minutes here or there to be alone with your thoughts. Maybe that’s just stopping for a few breaths in a park on your way to work, taking the dog for a walk without your phone, sitting quietly with a loved one for a cup of tea, or meditating. The key is to take some time without distractions – no phone, no radio, no TV, no chatter from your BFF who had the most ridiculously awesome gossip. Those things can come later.

Try it, and maybe you’ll rediscover something about yourself.

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Hope brings things

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I made this note months ago:

Re. minimalism:

  • Hope brings things
  • you hope you’ll use things, you hope you’ll have friends over for games nights, you hope you’ll sew the pattern, etc. 
  • But those hopes may not be who you really are (ex: I don’t tend to invite people over, but I do sew on occasion). 

I can’t remember exactly where I heard this, but I’m fairly sure that it was in one of The Minimalists* podcasts. This idea of hope bringing things caught my attention because it’s true and it’s something that has had a huge impact on my life:

  • I hoped to be perceived as a successful adult, which I am, so I don’t know why I felt the need to prove it with a bigger-than-I-like apartment and “nice” things
  • I hoped to be a great quilter or stitcher, when, in fact, I liked the crafts but wasn’t passionate about them
  • I hoped to be more interested in cooking, which is silly because I eat very well with my simply and rare cooking endeavors
  • I hoped …
  • I hoped …
  • I hoped …

Instead of using my time and energy to become those things (or, more importantly, to consider if I really wanted to become those things), I used my time and money to acquire things that those people might have. It’s as if I was looking for that magic pill or a bit of instant gratification: “I have a quilt pattern, now I’m a quilter – yay! I feel gratified!”

Quilting might be a bad example, as I’ve made a few quilts (and have one in the works as I draft this), but you get the idea. Hope, or the wish to be something, can lead us to buying things that we don’t need yet and may never need. It’s what entices us to buy the latest fashions, the better lawnmower, or the full set of gear that we think we need for a new hobby that we’ve only just began (or haven’t even tried yet).

I’ve had  many chances to revisit my past hopes over the past few years. Each time I got rid of something, I had to admit that it had just been a hope. In some cases I was sorry that the hope hadn’t turned into reality and sometimes I was ashamed about not turning that hope into reality. But, we can’t be everything and I needed to focus on my priorities and the hobbies that I loved best.

Going forward, I’m trying to be more careful of hope. When I find myself itching to buy things, one of the things that I consider is if I’m buying it because I know I need it or because I hope I’ll need/use it. I struggle with this when I’m considering art supplies. For example, I recently decided to buy a Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal, but I agonized over it for days – Do I really needed it? Am I just hoping to keep a bullet journal? Am I just hoping that this book with be better than the notebooks I already own? Why do I need it?

I did purchase it in the end because I’ve been keeping a bullet journal of sorts for a few weeks and had already tried it in several different notebooks or different sized papers. In this case, the Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal has all the things I need: a medium sized page with something to act as a guide for my layout (grid dots). For me, it was based on a preexisting reality, not on hope, so it made sens to buy the journal. And, yes, I do use it – not everyday, but certainly several times a week.

The next time you declutter or consider buying something, do a little thought experiment and consider if you’re buying something you need, or something you hope that you’ll need.

*If you’re interested in minimalism or simply need something inspirational to listen to while decluttering/simplifying, The Minimalist are a good resource. While they have embraced a fairly stereotypical minimalist lifestyle for themselves, they’re adamant that we all need to find what works best for us, whether that be owning only 50 items or keeping that random key chain collection that you love even though your partner thinks it’s silly. The podcasts do get a bit repetitive if you listen to too many in one day, but they still have useful content. 

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Book review: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

34467031Manhattan Beach is about Anna, a young woman who works in the Naval Shipyard factories and who is determined to become a diver, an idea that is laughable to the men in charge  (this is during the WWII era, when women worked only because so many men were at the front). But, it’s also about the mystery of her father’s disappearance and the influential gangster who might know what happened.

The story weaves between three perspectives: Ed’s (the father), Anna’s and Dexter’s (the gangster). Though, it starts as Ed’s story, Anna quickly becomes the primary focus. It moves back and forth through the three characters slowly (typically, a couple chapters at a time), giving the reader time to get to know each of them: their lives, their relationships, and their perspective on each other.

I really enjoyed the story and the writing, which was often beautifully evocative. I also enjoyed the interwoven perspectives and I appreciated the social commentary Egan seamlessly interjected. The social issues she touched on included turning to crime to support a family during the depression, having a physically and mentally disabled child in the 30’s onward, being a woman, being black, and being gay. In each case, she may have only added a few off-hand notes or comments, but it was enough to remind the reader of how many social barriers people faced and how easy it was to end up the topic of rumours and prejudice.

I admit that I forgot who a couple of the background characters were throughout the book, periodically having to remind myself (or Google) why a person was important to Ed as the story progress. But, that was likely because I was listening to the audiobook and not necessarily a fault in the story telling. Given that I listen during my commutes, it’s not unusual for me to be momentarily distracted on occasion. Also, I’m not a details person (give me a family tree and/or list of characters, and I will be thrilled).

The audiobook version that I listened to was beautifully performed by Norbert Leo Butz,
Heather Lind, and Vincent Piazza. Having the different voices helped to bring the characters to life and each seemed perfectly suited for their characters, while still doing a good job of portraying other characters.

Overall, I really loved this book. It was a great story and another example of how a historic novel can be a tool for social awareness and change.

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The process of decluttering

Oh, hey. I’m talking about simplifying or decluttering again. But, this time I’m not talking about decluttering that I’ve done, instead, I want to talk about the process.

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the different times I decluttered and thought “Aha, this is it – I’m finally finished!” Like a lot of things in life, we’re led to believe that this one magic things will change everything – this exercise routine will make us fit, this diet will make us thin, this decluttering book will fix our home, this minimalism book will make us minimalists, etc. But, it’s not true. Often, we need to try a couple times or even a couple options before we find something that works for us, that’s sustainable and that helps us see what and where the problem really was.

For me, my decluttering journey was a bit like the oft used image of peeling onion layers: The first couple of times I decluttered, I really only removed the surface junk and re-organized everything. Seeing that it hadn’t help in the long run, I decided to be more ruthless and (because I still thought I could solve problems with better storage) to buy “better” furniture options (shelves that I thought would be more useful, etc.). It wasn’t until a couple months after this that I started to think that the problem was deeper. Maybe I actually needed to do a proper purge and than simplify my life.

I started to think about moving to a smaller space, something that I had resisted for a long time because “real adults” don’t live in bachelor apartments! Wanting to move made me do a little experiment – I forced myself to live in my living room only. My bedroom became a sort of storage unit for all the things that didn’t fit in the livingroom. The experiment taught me two things: living in a smaller space is awesome (for me, anyway) and I didn’t actually want a lot of the stuff I had.

I think that it was at this point that I finally did my first real declutter. I tried to channel Marie Kondo, and I was pretty ruthless. But, even after several weekends, I still knew that more had to go – not because I had too much to fit in a space, but because I had too many “I dunnos” and “I’m not readys.” I worked on selling and donating what I had decided to get rid of and planned to revisit everything in a few months.

Then things got a bit derailed because my neighbour had bed bugs. I can tell you, you will be willing to throw away anything and everything to avoid or get rid of bed bugs. Also, living out of plastic bags and containers for several weeks makes you realize just how awful it can be to have a lot of stuff. It was nearly 2 months from the day I had to pack everything up to the day that I was finally able to put everything back on shelves and such without worrying about bed bugs. I’d gotten rid of a lot of things in those 2 months – mostly things that couldn’t be washed or dried in high heat and things that were ruined by being washed or dried in high heat.

Immediately after that, I was offered a bachelor unit that I loved. I was still tired and stressed from the bed bugs, but I really wanted to new space, so I found myself selling/donating furniture and things in a mad fury, trying to get down to a reasonable amount of stuff for the new apartment, which was half the size on my one bedroom (and, yes, I was bed bug free then, so I didn’t put other people at risk). It was exhausting and I knew that I would need to rethink pretty much everything I kept because my new space simply didn’t have enough room, despite getting rid of so much before I moved. It felt like I’d gone back to having that too full apartment I’d started with – there were piles of things that didn’t have a home, boxes with detailed inventories so I could find things, and all my closets were crammed full.

At the time, I decided to just leave things and allow myself to live in the space for a while. I wanted to get a feel for what I wanted the space to look like and for how I used the space. Also, I wanted a break from decluttering, selling, and donating.

I did do a couple purposeful reviews, but as pleased as I was with my work, weeks later I would realize that I’d only skimmed the surface. By then, I’d decluttered so often, I think I was starting to feel burnt out from the efforts. So, I put off any big work for several months. 

I don’t know what spurred it, but this past Christmas, I finally did a really big job that took several days. It was huge for me. It was when I finally realized that I had to do something about my unread book collection (175-ish at the time – way too many for a slow reader) and when I realized that I was going to have to go back to my craft and sewing supplies to be really ruthless when I had the energy. Even though I hadn’t tackled the craft supplies, things finally started to fall into place. Someone asked me if I was moving, and it occurred to me that for the first time since my mom died, the idea of moving didn’t terrify me: I could afford it and I didn’t have too much stuff.

That realization was so liberating. Suddenly, my space didn’t just look better and more organized, it actually felt better. I no longer felt shackled in place by my stuff. This gave me the energy to tackle those last few areas (my craft supplies) with renewed commitment to only keep what I would use and what I truly loved. I only kept about a quarter of everything, and I don’t regret a single decision. 

At long last, I think that I’ve finally hit that magic spot. After all these years of peeling back layers and layers, I finally feel like I’ve reached a point of equilibrium – I have what I need, I use what I have and nothing owns me. For the first time, I can list specific items that I still need to make a decision about (before, it was whole categories):

  • I have a duvet cover that I bought to use as a summer “blanket”. It was an impulse purchase, but I want to wait and see if I’ll use it this summer before making a decision about it.
  • I have a few items in a “maybe” box, but already know that I only want to keep 2 of  them (a couple books), so I’ll clear that out later today.
  • I’m still on the fence about my slow cooker. I used it weekly when I first bought it, but I prefer my stove top recipes.
  • I have a large Ikea tray that’s beautiful but fairly useless in my space. I used to use it when I was working on projects on my bed (as a flat surface to hold things), but I’m trying to avoid using my bed for anything but sleep, so the tray can go.
  • I have my unread shelf, but I’m working on that as part of a separate project.

 

The reason I’m writing about this is because I want you to know that it you’re trying to declutter, simplify, or minimize – do it, but don’t expect miracles. Most people probably won’t have the long journey I had, but some will. Be patient, both with yourself and with the process. Keep working and have the courage to be ruthless. Find inspiration (books, videos, podcasts, friends and family, etc.). Finally, be aware that you may need to repeat the process a couple times – getting rid of some things may result in the realization that you don’t need other things.

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Things I got rid of recently

I’m starting to work on digging out my eco-friendly self. She’s been hidden under layers of guilt, stuff, and other things. But, I did a kitchen review last weekend and she came out to point to a few things I needed to get rid of in order to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

The kitchen review happened a bit unexpectedly. I got home from work after a long and stressful week/day, and just started. I hadn’t even unpacked my backpack, I just dumped out my junk box (a small box for random things that I keep in one of my kitchen drawers) and started to sort things. I knew of a couple things that I wanted to get rid of, but I ended up spending about 2 hours doing a fairly ruthless job in my tiny kitchen. I got rid of things I didn’t want, things that I’d been meaning to replace, food I didn’t like (to be donated, where possible), spices that were old, etc.

Of note, I got rid of the following:

  • Baggies: I’ve wanted to get out of the habit of using baggies for ages, but I keep finding an excuse to buy “just one more box.” I have more than enough containers (mostly glass, but a few old plastic ones, too), but I kept telling myself that baggies were so convenient. Worse, I’d tell myself that I’ll wash and re-use them even though I hate washing them and would rarely follow through. Like .. just … gahh! I can be so lazy sometimes. No more, my friends! They’re gone (left in the laundry room for someone else to use them – hopefully, they’ll re-use them).
  • Silicone spatulas: I’m mostly getting rid of these because they are old and falling apart. Silicone, while not as eco-friendly as natural products, isn’t as awful for the environment as plastic is: it’s non-toxic, it is more resistant to degradation in extreme conditions, and it has a longer lifespan. This post by EcoLunchbox is a good overview of how silicone is better than plastic. This doesn’t mean we should all run out and buy silicone items, but if you must have a rubber spatula, make sure it’s good quality silicone. Personally, I’m going to try living without a rubber spatula. Spoons, knives and such may not be quite as effective as a silicon spatula, but I’m willing to put in the effort needed to get as much out of the jar as I can. 
  • Large plates: I had 2 large plates and only used them once or twice a year (when I was desperate and had nothing else clean). Instead, I use my salad plates or bowls for every meal. It’s a little thing, but it felt liberating to finally admit that I had no reason to keep these space hoarders. And, I now have more room for my bowls and mugs, which I use daily.
  • A large water bottle: Most people I know keep tonnes of water bottles. I was one of those people. Before I moved to my smaller apartment, I had at least 6 in varying sizes and then another 4 or so travel mugs for hot beverages. Me! One person! It took me a long time to admit that I didn’t need them all. I use a large one at work daily, and I used a large one at home for reasons that I can’t quite figure out. I live in less than 350 square feet and my sink is easy to get to – I do not need a water bottle at home! Especially not a water bottle with a narrow mouth that made it hard to clean (rarely bothered, so it was always a little gross). Instead, I’m going to use my easier to wash mug that I love and, if I feel the need to be lazy, a pitcher of water. As for water bottles, I now have one large water bottle for work, one medium water bottle for travel/walks/etc (so I don’t have to remember to bring my work one to/from), one old insulated travel container that works like a charm even on long walks in Canadian winters, and one brand name travel mug that happens to be really pretty (admittedly, I don’t need this one, but it’s so pretty!). It’s still more than I need, but it’s manageable and I use them all.

Sometimes, it’s the little decisions that make a big difference. I’m really pleased with myself for letting go of these things.

All told, I got rid of a banker’s box full of stuff that I don’t use: mugs, a muffin pan, a few random utensils, etc. But, the best part was that I finally have room for all my kitchen stuff in my kitchen. Heck, I have some empty cupboard space and I can now keep like with like (for example, all of my containers are in the same cupboard – before, my extras were stored elsewhere).

It felt really good and it helped me to finally get around to reviewing the few other areas that I kept meaning to review (namely, my outdoor gear – I got rid of a lot of hats and scarves).

And, yes, I do still have my “junkbox”, but it now has a defined purpose (holder of tape, pens, etc.) and it’s no longer full of random things. 

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