The Driving Spinning Wheel (Thing #110)

Several weeks ago I decided that enough was enough and I didn’t need my spinning wheel anymore.  (No, I’m not an Amish woman or a time traveler from 14th Century England – although the time travel thing sounds intriguing!)  It had sat in the corner of my living room for over 4 years and had been used approximately half a dozen times.  That’s not a good ratio of time:use.  Yes, it looked pretty sitting in the corner, it also worked as a conversation piece when guests came: “Do you actually know how to use that?”.  However, I don’t think those things overcame the fact that it was an extra thing in my house that I didn’t need, especially, when it could garner some decent cash on Craig’s List.  So, I snapped some pics and posted it online.  Two scam emails and one offer for an exchange of live sheep in lieu of cash later, a legitimate buyer came through and I now have an envelope of cash (not sheep!) ready to be deposited into the bank.

And now it’s time for me to reflect.  As I watched the wheel drive away (well, you know, the car drove away with the wheel inside it – damn grammar!), I was a little sad.  The few times I did use the wheel I enjoyed it immensely.  Spinning is a very “zen” activity.  Well, maybe a more correct word is “meditative.”  It’s very quite – there is no whir of a sewing machine or klick/klack of knitting needles.  Your foot goes up and down, up and down in an unbroken rhythm, and you must concentrate enough on the roving in your hands that there is little room for any other thoughts.  If your thoughts do wander, as they often do during meditation (unless of course you are not a beginner like me!), the roving slips, or bunches, or breaks.  There is nothing wrong with this, nothing is broken.  It just gives you an opportunity to reestablish yourself and start over again.

But, as much as I enjoyed my spinning, it didn’t do it nearly often enough to justify the wheel in the corner of my living room and the money not in the bank.  And there are cheaper ways to meditate.  Like, you know, sitting on the floor and simply meditating!  I told a friend that I would be sad to see my wheel go, but in a week I would forget that I had ever owned such a contraption and wouldn’t regret in the least that I had sold it.

Update: I think I was a little generous with the week thing – it’s been approximately 4 hours since my wheel left for its new home, and already I can barely remember what stood in the corner of my living room for 4 years.  How quickly I move on!

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More Thinking on a Wardrobe Challenge

I’ve thought a lot today about the wardrobe challenge, surfing a bunch of websites and reading blogs.  At first I considered doing a 6 Item Challenge, but no matter which way I arranged my tops and bottoms I didn’t think I could live with 6 items for 30 days.  I upped it to 10.  Here’s my preliminary list:

  1. Khakis
  2. Black jersey skirt
  3. Jeans
  4. White button down
  5. Colored button down (short sleeve)
  6. Yellow cardigan
  7. Neutral cardigan (not sure if it will be black or ivory)
  8. T-shirt
  9. Beaded tank top
  10. Jersey shirt (probably a teal blue, but maybe white)

General Rules:

  • 10 articles of clothing to be worn for 30 days: April 1 through April 30 (weekdays and weekends alike)
  • Not counted in 10 items: underwear, accessories, shoes, workout clothes, loungewear
  • Loungewear may not be worn in public – only the listed 10 items can be worn in public

That’s what I’m thinking.  I’m not sold on the white button down, as it could only really be worn to work.  Perhaps I’ll switch it out with a white v-neck 3 quarter length jersey shirt I have.

One thing I’m worried about is being warm enough.  I don’t know if I’ll be chilly in the office with a short sleeve shirt and a cardigan on.  It is April in Connecticut – we’re predicted to get 3 – 6 inches of snow tomorrow (no April fools joke here, I swear!).  We’ll see.  I’m not jumping into the project with two feet as I probably should.  I’m more dipping a couple of toes into it.  I’ll start tomorrow definitely, and give it some more mulling over the weekend.  But just to be safe I’ll stick to my list, just in case I decide to dive in headlong!

Thinking About a Wardrobe Challenge

In my readings one theme that keeps popping up is the “wardrobe challenge”.  The idea being you pare your wardrobe down to 6 or 33 or some small number of articles of clothing.  I’m thinking about taking this on.

See, this is how I work.  An idea comes into my head, usually from reading something online (I’m not smart enough or creative enough to think of this stuff on my own!).  I mull it over for a while, let it roll around in my brain, try it on for size, see how it feels for a day or two or seven.  Then, if it’s still there, I write it down.  Usually in the journal that sits by my bed.  That’s when it starts to become real.  (In its previous just-in-my-brain state, ideas aren’t real.  They can’t scare me or make me nervous because they are just in my brain and can’t hurt me.  It’s when they are put on paper that they start to take on shape and have consequences, good or bad.)  I mull it over for a while longer.  Then I might mention it to someone.  Usually someone who isn’t a close friend or family member (i.e. someone not in my inner circle, who has no reason to judge the idea, and by extension, me).  And then, when I’m comfortable with the idea, it comes out to my peeps.  The people whose judgement I value and approval I seek (I know – this is approval seeking is a problem.  I’m working on it).  Usually by this point I’ve sold myself on whatever idea I’m presenting (remember – I’ve been playing with this guy for what could be weeks by now!) and can pull off the grand unveiling without too much self doubt.

But anyway (what was I talking about?  How did I get on this tangent of the inner workings of my brain?  Scary!) – back to the wardrobe thing.  I was on Sara’s blog Life More Lived and she wrote pretty extensively about her experience with the 6 Item Challenge.  So, I’ve decided to think it over, to hold onto it for a while and see how it feels.  Try it on for size, pun intended.  You guys will be the first to know if I decide to move forward with it.  Thanks, Sara, for giving me something to think about!

A.C. Slater? No, silly! A Clean Slate!

In my various blog readings, I came across this passage written by The Suburban Minimalist:

Sometimes I think that all this de-cluttering is just an extension of my desire to always start over, leave the muddled past behind, and go forth into perfection.

I love it.  I love it because it is me.  Whenever I clean things out of my house, I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.  I feel free, less burdened, like I have wiped the proverbial slate clean.  I love starting over, starting fresh, starting anew.  Maybe this minimalist plunge is about the ultimate clean slate.  When my life is free of any and all clutter, I can then add back only what I want.

The Five Year Plan Revisited

I wanted to revisit yesterday’s post.  I think I may have missed Miss M’s point (this tends to happen to me a lot – please get used to it – I have!).  I think her and Mr. Babatua of zen habits have the same idea, but I understood it better when Mr. Babatua explained it here in his post entitled “The Best Goal is No Goal”:

What do you do, then? Lay around on the couch all day, sleeping and watching TV and eating Ho-Hos? No, you simply do. You find something you’re passionate about, and do it. Just because you don’t have goals doesn’t mean you do nothing — you can create, you can produce, you can follow your passion.

And in practice, this is a wonderful thing: you wake up and do what you’re passionate about.

Perhaps this is another way to look at it:  Have you ever heard the expression “Life is a journey, not a destination”?  Maybe what Miss M and Mr. Babatua are trying to say is that the goal is the destination, and thus not the point of it all.  And maybe the passion is the journey.  As long as you are passionate about what you do everyday, then where you end up isn’t important.  Who needs a five year plan when every day is filled with what you want to be doing right then?  You will have lived passionately.  And who could ask for more than that?  I think this quote sums it up well:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”     ~Howard Thurman

That’s my (non)goal: to do what makes me come alive.  And right now?  Today?  I think I did pretty well.

A Practical Question

Here I am starting with Miss Minimalist again!

In this post, Miss M put up a picture of a beautiful bedroom (source: Apartment Therapy):

I love it.  I can imagine waking up after a restful night’s sleep to the sea breezes coming in the open window (even though the apartment appears to be in a city – whatever).  But here’s my question.  Where does one put one’s alarm clock?

Seriously – that’s what I want to know!

I’ve since looked at many pictures of minimalist bedrooms, and love the look of a simple bed with no nightstands around it to clutter the room.  But really – where does one put an alarm clock?  It would look silly and a little “my first apartment” to put in on the floor.  Plus, I’m blind without my glasses and wouldn’t be able to read the thing!  So really, where does the alarm clock go?

5 Year Plan? I Want a 5 Year Plan!

In my various minimalist readings, I came across a post by Miss Minimalist about drifting like clouds and flowing like water.  And I think I might have to disagree with her on her theme for the post.  Here’s an excerpt:

I want to live my “real life” the same way. Sometimes I think there’s much too emphasis on setting goals and planning futures and reaching milestones. Why not simply enjoy life, instead of creating additional stress? I’m not against having aspirations; but to be honest, I don’t want to schedule my life on my iPod, download productivity apps, or attend virtual workshops on how to be successful at x, y, or z. And I certainly don’t want to create a five-year plan and mark my progress each step along the way.
Instead, I’d like to approach life the same way I approach travel—simply taking each day as it comes. I want to be surprised and delighted by what transpires, rather than ticking off a series of planned events. Mostly, however, I want the freedom to “wander” without the burden of possessions and responsibilities. That’s primarily my motivation for living a minimalist lifestyle; by keeping my “baggage” and “itinerary” as light as possible, I hope “to drift like clouds and flow like water” each day of my life.

Now, I may be barking up the wrong tree, but one of my goals for minimizing the clutter in both my home and my brain is to make way for the bigger goals and desires that aren’t currently being addressed in my life.  I once read an article* (sorry, can’t find the link now, I’ll look more for it tomorrow) about a woman who, as a junior in high school, visited an apartment in a Manhattan neighborhood and fell in love.  With a style of apartment.  Everything she did, from that moment on, was to get her closer to living at that address.  From the colleges she applied to, the friends she made, and the jobs she took after college, every decision she made was weighed with the exclusive scale of “will this get me closer to that apartment.”  (Whether basing your life around an apartment is a good plan is a different argument all together, as the author goes to to explore) And right now, the place where I’m currently at, the thing I’m looking for, is that drive.  That’s what all this is about:  giving myself the time and permission to peel back the layers to discover exactly what I want.  To figure out my purpose in life.  And create a plan to get there.  To devote myself entirely and selfishly (if necessary) to attain it.

Just one small thing: I don’t know how to do it.

But I’ll get there.  I’ll figure it out.  Maybe the two paths that I’m on aren’t even connected.  Maybe cleaning out my house is a method of procrastination on my part, and not a way of getting closer to my true self.  It probably is come to think of it.  But, it’s the path I’m on at the moment, and hey, my house is looking  a lot neater these days, so I’ll just keep on keeping on.

Oh, and Miss Minimalist, I’m very sorry the first time I mentioned your blog I was questioning your post.  I’m totally in love with your blog.  You are a talented writer.  I’m slowly working my way through your archives and particular like this post, as well as this one and this one.  And many more.

*I found the article.  It’s by Meghan Daum, is titled “My Misspent Youth”, and can be found here.

Update: Since posting this I have thought a lot about what Miss Minimalist said and have done additional reading on the topic.  If you’re interested in my evolving thoughts, please see this post.