What I can't let go of

I've been serious about this minimalism and decluttering adventure. I took it on primarily as an answer to compulsive shopping and poor housekeeping - these were both habits that I didn't want to carry into adulthood. But I've stuck with it because it gave me so much more - it taught me to challenge consumer culture, it taught me peace of mind, it taught me to value quality over price, it even introduced me to the ideas of environmentally conscious consumption.

I enjoy the new scraps of space that have cropped up as we remove furniture and boxes. It's like our living areas can breathe. I know almost every item we own, and I know where they live. I can tidy all four rooms in fifteen minutes, clean in thirty, and sanitize in an hour.

Similar to how eating better means you spend more time thinking about food, I spend more time thinking about my possessions - that comes from being mindful of your materialism. I'm conscious of the weight of every item I own - the mental weight of something being "yours" that you want to protect, the physical space that it takes up, the financial weight of originally acquiring it, the weight of the image it projects to the world.

The last two are the hardest to overcome.

Walking into our apartment, I don't think you would notice how much time and effort I have devoted to shedding possessions. To start, we own quite a few pets - and cages, tanks, toys, food. The pets, and their quality of life, is a compromise I will not make.

Secondly, well - we live here! This is where we eat, entertain, play games, do hobbies, and is where we spend most of our time. Those things make messes! And while it's very quick to clean up, something is always happening to make a new mess. Such is life!

The last part is the hardest, though - I still own things I no longer use, but cannot let go.
Scrapbooking supplies: If I keep them, I probably will use them - very truthfully. But I haven't touched scrapbooking in over a year, and seeing those supplies taking up so much room gives me lots of guilt. Most of my stash was given to me as gifts (this will become a running theme), and I don't want to downsize because of that.

Warhammer: it seemed like a fun hobby, and I believe it would be, but it's also a time consuming one. We got most of our gear as presents, so slap on another layer of guilt over not using them yet!

Nail polish: when I was in high school, my nails were my identity. I always had long, strong, natural nails and every week I painted them differently - nail art was my thing. I tried to keep up with it in university, but eventually I just stopped. Though I continued to receive really lovely nail polishes as gifts, I haven't painted my nails in almost a year. I want to use my polish, and I don't want to admit to myself or others that my nail art days are done... So, for now, it stays.

Slow cooker and bread machine: both large appliances, both gifts, both make promises of delicious, easy food - both sit unused, and yet survive every clutter purge.

Books: ah! The bane of the declutterer! Somehow books give most people such a hard time. Maybe it's because just a handful of books looks lonely, or because finding a particular book again may be impossible (true for textbooks), but I still balk at trimming down the book collection any further. All those books I have yet to read, all those textbooks from university. They aren't treasures, but somehow they always survive! They remind me of who I once was - a student always hungry for knowledge.

Year in Review

This time two years ago, I was getting though my final exams and about to graduate university with zero plans for the future. I spent nearly a year after graduation unemployed, fighting with some mental and physical health problems.

This time last year, I was just starting a course of moderate-dose anti-depressants and was about two months into my first real job.

This past year has probably been the best year of my life. My mental condition is stable for the first time I can recall. T is also doing better mentally, after starting treatment for ADD in addition to anxiety. I am deeply fullfilled and challenged at my job. All my friends who are in town live within a few blocks of our apartment. I've started playing video games again. I'm still decluttering and trying to take steps to be more environmentally conscious.

Our wedding is officialy on, slated for August 30th. I've decided to continue my tradition of sewing my own gowns for special events (though this time it's much easier because I finally have a dressmaker's mannequin!)

The zoo has been a little sad since the new year - Nobbers passed away due to kidney failure, and one of our mice recently passed from old age. However, three weeks ago we adopted a cat! A 5-year old tortishell named Jasmine - we call her Jazzy. Its not all sunshine and rainbows though, because she evidently has a condition where she still goes though heat even though she's been spayed. We're having our vet look into it, but in the meantime... no one got much sleep last week!

The weather this winter was insane - the ice storm, the sheer amounts of snow, the wildly fluctuating temperatures. The river that flows through our city is flooding, thought luckily we live far enough from it that we should be safe.

We went to montreal last fall for a wedding and for shopping at Ikea. I managed to replace nearly all our old Wal*Mart furniture with new Ikea furniture - trust me, it's a step up. We also visited the Biodome, which is breathtaking.

Mostly, I've just been taking things slow and adjusting to having a self-sufficient life with a normal brain-chemistry. It's one of those things that you don't appreciate until you've lived without it.

As for this blog, I don't know what will happen. I've been feeling the blogging itch rather a lot lately, so we'll see. No promises though, as we all know how this story usually ends!
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"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."