Simple Wins

Unsurprisingly, trying to change your life is not as easy as flicking a switch – deciding to simplify is one thing – doing it is altogether another.

Last weekend, tropical storm Debby dumped rain on us incessantly which should have made it the perfect time to start decluttering and getting rid of all the unnecessary stuff just like I planned – but my best intentions hit a roadblock when I tried tackling my shoe collection…..

One of my objects of desire – Shoe Rehab time?

I love shoes! I have way too many of them – they fill most of an entire closet and yet I keep getting more. Different colors, different heights, Seattle shoes, Florida shoes, casual shoes, dressy shoes, serious shoes, fun shoes….. There always seems to be a reason to buy more – these ones are on sale… I am actually saving money… it would be silly not to get them… they go with the new purse or that one dress…I don’t have that color yet ….I do have that color, but not in a wedge….

*Sigh*

I am ruthless when it comes to purging and getting rid of stuff most of the time – I am a firm believer in the idea that if you haven’t looked at something or used it in a year – then you won’t miss it if you get rid of it!  But, I live in a family of pack rats (myself included) and we have accumulated a lot of stuff that I would prefer not to move to another house –  no more moving unopened boxes to take up space in another garage!

I had hoped to lead by example and pare down my obsessive shoe collection. Why then, garbage bag in hand, did I become completely paralyzed when faced with getting rid of shoes that I rarely, if ever wear?

Three or four times over the course of that rainy Saturday, I opened up the closet and stared at the shoes before wandering off to clean out a drawer or some pile of papers on my desk instead. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Strengthening my resolve, I pulled out a pair that I know I have not worn in over a year –  but I ended up trying them on instead of tossing them in the bag…. Hanging my head in shame, I put them back on the shelf, closed the door again and walked away.

My husband kept telling me I didn’t have to get rid of them – I should keep them or box them up in case I wanted to wear them later – but this was not going to help my effort to declutter. What about simplifying my life? Where was my willpower?

It took a couple days of berating myself before I managed to put it in proper perspective.

At the same time, I had been researching new cars  – gearing myself up for this major purchase.  I have driven my current car for 8 or more years and it was definitely time to get a new one. I planned to save the environment and buy a new Nissan Leaf – completely electric – no gas –  totally green. I researched the charging station locations and distances this snazzy new car could travel. Couldn’t wait to download the app for my iphone to monitor and control my new shiny toy – I absolutley deserved this and it was a such a smart decision, right?

Wrong! I took a moment to think about what this purchase would really mean. Did I need it or just want it? How many hours of my life would be spent working to pay for it? Would it increase my quality of life? Granted, my current car is 8 years old – but it has next to no miles on it because I have either worked from home or close to my place of work for many years on purpose.  And, I absolutely love my car – it is a VW Beetle convertible and it makes me happy to drive it – it is reliable and gets me where I need to go – it has a bud vase on the dash that makes me irrationally happy. There is a little silk flower topped pen in it that my son made me years ago that spins when the air is on. On top of that, the car has no giant monthly loan payment – What on earth was I thinking?

Simple pleasure of driving with the top down – Baby you can drive my car and baby I love you….

Yes, I have too many shoes – I really do enjoy my retail therapy – but being mindful of my goals to simplify my life, work less someday and buy a horse property in the near future –  I managed to talk myself out of that unnecessary  $35,000 of new car debt

GO ME!!!! Way to make smarter, more conscious decisions – time to celebrate the small victories and not beat myself up too much about the stumbles along the way.

Besides, I absolutley will tackle and master that shoe closet …. just not today 😉

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Time to Simplify…

Being a beach bum is the life for me….

I don’t know exactly what has led to my shifting ideas of happiness – is it because I am in my 40’s, is it a reaction to the technology soaked life I have led, is it the state of the economy or the environment? Maybe it is all of these things but, I have had a growing and persistent urge to change my life. I want to be more present in the everyday moments – step off the hamster wheel and go smell the roses – or in my case the orchids and gardenias 😉

It is not a new idea and I know I am not the only, or first, person to think it (there are a million books and blogs on the subject of voluntary simplicity) but this constant striving for the next thing – the better car or bigger house or shiny new gadget is getting old – all the people and things that clutter up my life and make it hard to breathe have got to go.

Its time to simplify…

Growing up back in Ireland in the 70’s – there were a couple shows I loved to watch. The Good Life was a sitcom about a suburban couple who decided they wanted to drop out of corporate life and live simply – the planted a garden and had pigs and chickens much to the bemused horror of their friends and neighbors who where very much still part of  the cocktail party culture  – it was a cute show with funny characters and the notion of doing things so differently resonated with me even then. I am no Felicity Kendall wanna be – I still want to shop for shoes –  but I really would like to have chickens in the yard so I can have fresh eggs and we have long planned on buying acreage so I can have my horse with us not boarded 30 minutes away.

The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin was another favorite – all about a man who can’t stand his corporate life and the rut he and his family have fallen into so fakes his own death and reinvents himself in a series of hysterical attempts to do something different and non conformist. If you like offbeat comedies with dark overtones – then you should do yourself a favor and rent it – dated but still funny.

Reinventing yourself and trying to find what truly makes you happy is an old idea – once we have enough to cover our basic needs, then humans start thinking about what fulfills them. Maslov’s hierarchy of needs is, of course, the standard here. But in our consumer driven culture we often confuse having more as being the goal – when really we need to understand the concept of enough. There comes a point of diminishing returns. Not having a thing might be a problem but having 10 of a thing likely doesn’t bring your more happiness than just having enough of a thing.

Don’t get me wrong I am not about to discard all my belongings and live in a cave on a mountain top, writing a manifesto or anything, but I have slowly come to the conclusion that   I need to turn the volume down on all the chatter so I can listen to what really makes me happy and focus in on that.

So this is the beginning. I am going to declutter my life and home, I am going to unsubscribe from the spam, I am going to spring clean my friends list on Facebook, I am going to do more of what I love – sketch, ride my horse, travel with family, enjoy my friends, plant a garden, walk the dogs.

And I am going to pay more attention to the quote from a poet I had never heard of till I came across it many years ago.  I turned it into a piece of calligraphy and hung on my wall as words to live by –  many years ago when I was 19 years old. It has been on my wall, wherever I have been ever since, but sometimes we lose sight of important things even if  (or maybe because) we see them every day.

“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”
― Nikki Giovanni

Here’s to a new beginning….

St Pete’s and melting clocks

My men on the giant beach chairs

Been a little while since I posted – life has been a little busy lately –  but we did get to take a few days away for a quick family vacation last week.

St Pete’s Beach is just a couple hours away from us and there was a little retro beach resort I had wanted to try called Posctcard Inn. So I called them up and booked 4 days with them after discovering they were indeed dog friendly. We packed up two of our 4 critters – the well behaved ones (4 dogs in a hotel is just not doable not if you want to maintain your sanity)

 

On arrival I was delighted to find the hotel every bit as cute and quirky as I had hoped – the rooms and the styling of the whole place was causal, 60’s surfer chic –  I loved it!

However, I was much less delighted to discover that apparently the cast of Girls Gone WIld – Spring Break Madness spend their off time here…. I have never seen so many stripper heels with bikinis and tramp stamps alongside falling over drunken frat boys congregated in one place.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge – too scared to take pictures of the tramp stamps

We consoled ourselves with the notion that it was a sunny Sat on the beach – school was out and maybe the next day things would quiet down and sure enough after a noisy evening, the next morning was peaceful and quiet – of course the partiers were likely sleeping it off till noon.

We spent the morning on the beach – picked up a few nice shells – read my Kindle – got a little sun – had a couple beach cocktails – all seemed perfect…. till we headed back up to cool down and were greeted by a 50ft inflatable of Captain Morgan! *Facepalm*

Captain Morgan – Harbinger of doom

I knew we were doomed. They were in full party set up mode complete with DJ stage and pop up bars all over the place – we had to fight our way back to the room through the crowds. Sunday night was apparently Captain Morgan All You Can Drink Pool Party Night – who knew?  Well, all of the afore mentioned tramp stamps and frat boys did and they brought all their friends and distant acquaintances….

Don’t get me wrong – having a few cocktails at the beach bar on vacation is my idea of fun too – but I am (sadly) not 22 anymore and MTV Beach Party was never my style – even worse when you have your 15 year old with you. “Hey honey – this is what I don’t want you to do ever – or you are grounded till you are 30!” My God I sound like somebody’s aged mother LOL

Tired Grumpy Hotel Puppies

The party went on till 3am and amidst complaint calls to front desk I spent most of the evening hiding in our room searching for an alternate hotel. I was finally saved by a Hilton – not on the beach but inland close to the Dali museum that we were planning to visit anyway.

So next morning we packed up our tired crew and unloaded at the HIlton – not so stylish but mercifully quiet with a nice pool and we headed out to the Dali Museum.

 

 

I have been wanting to visit since I moved to Florida – they have the largest collection of his work outside of Spain and although I am not a huge fan of Surrealism, as a designer I always enjoy a good art museum.

Dali Museum

The Dali Museum did not disappoint – what a fantastic building in a great setting on the waterfront. Very modern, box like structure with natural stone accents and some organic glass billowing out.

 

 

 

Helix Staircase in Dali Museum

The interior is centered around a soaring helix staircase with great views and of course several galleries of Salvador Dali’s work.

View from staircase

We picked up some souvenirs in the obligatory gift shop and headed outside to the gardens which were really lovely – modern and almost zen like but with a little color and natural chaos thrown in.

Melting clock with mustache sculpture in background

No self respecting Dali museum could be without a melting clock – believe me it was hot enough to melt clocks – we were dying out there but wanted to be sure to see everything. I made everyone pose with the iconic Dali mustache sculpture and we walked though the “labyrinth” which was a little disappointing since it was really more like a spiral path – if you have no choices to make on which direction to take when walking through, then you can’t really consider it a labyrinth or maze IMHO

Adding to the collection

My favorite element of the garden was the wishing tree – you are supposed to tie your wishes to it and everyone seems to use their wristbands from the museum. I loved seeing all the fluttering colors moving in the breeze so we added ours.

Wishing Tree

There is something sweet and touching about adding to a living, growing collection of dreams and wishes – even if it is just proof of a shared experience.

The next day we drove to Busch Gardens to try their latest roller coaster Cheetah Hunt – it was a blast – really fast and fun. They actually have a lot of great rides and seeing the animals up close is fantastic. I particularly love the tiger enclosure.

Dear God somebody save me from this heat! said the Meerkat

It was ungodly hot  – 95 degrees and about 90% humidity so were were exhausted and sweaty in no time – not even the water rides could provide much releif and whatever effort I had made around hair and make up were quickly rendered futile

Clever Snow Tiger

Even the animals were conserving their energy – mostly lazing around in the shade or laying in the water like this smart snow tiger

Peacock Display

Eventually we had had enough of the heat, but since we had taken advantage of the Florida Resident Deal we can come back as often as we like till the end of the year for free (Seaworld too which is much closer to us and also a fun park)

Feeding the birds

Before we left we wandered through the aviary and got to feed the birds which put a smile on everyones face.

Happy Teen

Our vacation may have had a bumpy start but it all worked out in the end 🙂