I’m saying no.

A few weeks ago I was in Banana Republic purchasing a shirt. I’m on my third rotation of using Project 333 and, I will admit, this time around it hasn’t been very fun. After the first two rotations I was feeling great. I loved my wardrobe and was really getting comfortable with using less clothing on a regular basis. My outfits ranged from basic to fun and colorful. This time around there are gaps and they have been challenging. Too many mixes of colors and not enough warm clothing that go together. Hence, I went shopping and found a long sleeve navy shirt that was perfect. I was at the counter ready to purchase my one item and the friendly salesman said, “Would you like to save $10 today? You just have to give us some information. Takes less than 5 minutes.” When I looked at him with pause in my eyes he added, “It’s not a credit card!”

I kindly said, “No thank you,” and he looked at me like I had just turned down free money. Wait. I had just turned down free money. They were going to give me $10 for signing up for a program which then, in turn, would send me all the latest promotions and deals and give me a discount every time I shopped. This in turn would fill up my inbox, my text messages, and my valuable time with enticements of all the latest fashions I’m missing out on. As a result, I will feel inadequate and thus, come crawling back for more clothing and in the end spend more money. Sound dramatic? Yes, it is but it happens. It happens all the time. And I am no exception.

At first glance, $10 is very appealing. Yes, I would like $10. But at what cost? I’ve spent a lot of time trying to clear my life of extraneous details that bog me down. One of the biggest areas I’ve found that has lead to more free time is clicking the unsubscribe button. Did you know it has a snowball effect? Once you start doing it not only do you receive less adds and coupons (that, by the way, I spent more time thinking about using than actually using) but your information doesn’t get sold off as frequently and uninvited guests tend to stay at bay. I estimate that I used to delete about 20 coupons and adds from my inbox in a day. Now it’s about 3 a day. Then add on the fact that if I don’t constantly see what I’m missing out on I feel more satisfied with my wardrobe.

This year I’m saying no to every promotion that requires me to sign on a line or give away my information. If I happen to hit a store that is having a great sale then I’ll call myself lucky. But no longer will I spend my time following sales, coupons, and promotions.

Instead, you can find me here or reading on my couch.

New Year’s Resolution

At a past book club meeting I was conversing with my fellow girlfriends about this-and-that and at one point someone said, “I don’t get why people take notes in their books. What are they writing? I never write in my books.” To which I replied, “I do.” All conversation ceased and eyes loomed over me. Less than gracefully I mumbled out something that was supposed to sound like this: “I like to keep track of characters or make a comment about my thoughts.” Apparently, I was the only one. The moment passed and we moved on to another topic; however,  I will admit, I walked away from that conversation feeling like a square peg.

I tend not to follow the trend, whether I like it or not. My recent books have included E. D. Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy, Punished By Rewards by Alfie Kohn, and The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Sometimes I think I can pull it off and talk about the most recent episode of Mad Men or who won what at the Academy Awards but it is quickly revealed that I didn’t see the show and then I become a silent head nodder, never a duller moment.

But here’s the rub: all these things are what make me who I am. My problem is I have trouble owning my opinions. Mainstream or not, trending or not, hipster or not; I have difficulty claiming my opinions with confidence. There’s an unfounded and overriding fear within me that if I say my non-mainstream point-of-view out loud the person won’t like me. In truth, the majority of the time I’m pretty sure most people could care less about what I think, and even if they did, it’s still my opinion and I still need to claim it.

To ring in the New Year, I’m throwing caution to the wind, going out on a limb, taking the bull by the horns, and saying my opinions out loud. And there will be no fine print. No flimsy explanation for why I have this or that opinion. Just me, revealed.

2015 New Year’s Resolution

1. Being confident in my opinions and decisions. *no fine print

I love reading about history.

I strive to live a minimalist lifestyle. 

I want to be a writer.

I love being a stay-at-home mom. 

I’m considering becoming Montessori certified. 

I’m considering homeschooling my kids for a few years using a Classical Education model. 

Yes, I am aware of a few conflicting ideas in there. Did I say they would all make sense? Nope, but that’s me.

The Carrot

From time to time, when I am grocery shopping I will drop my kids off at the PlayLand housed within the store. I used to be skeptical of these rooms but once I was familiar with the childcare providers I realized they genuinely care for children and are very careful about safety. I drop my 4-year-old and 2-year-old off and have one full hour of sanity during which I grocery shop in peace. It’s the small things sometimes.

When I first began taking my kids to the PlayLand they would leave with a sticker and coloring sheet in hand. A few months ago they started giving out a balloon to each kid as they left. When we got to the car-my groceries, two children, their stickers, coloring sheets, and helium balloons-I now had the pleasure of juggling not just the groceries and children into the car but also had to take care to make sure the balloons didn’t fly away. At one point I remember wrapping my son’s balloon around the head rest to get it to stay in place.

This is ridiculous, I thought. I’m not going to accept the balloons next time. But when it rolled around I felt guilty denying my kids the balloons. Every other kid was getting one and now they knew that this was part of the routine and I would have to deal with their disappointment in expecting this. Plus, in some sort of backwards upside down world it makes me appear ungrateful. You’re not going to let your kids take a balloon? 

This last time after I signed my kids out-stickers, coloring sheets, and balloons in hand- the attendant then handed me a coupon for a free movie rental. My initial thought was that’s nice and then I had an immediate sense of defensiveness. What do they think? They need to bribe me to get me to come back?

Ultimately, the meaning of our relationship is now undermined because it isn’t enough for me to just trust them. It isn’t enough for me to look her in the eyes and say thank you. It isn’t enough to pick up my kids and see that they were treated well. Now, it has become about a token, a reward, a carrot, rather than the graciousness of appreciation.

___________________________

There is a time to admire the grace and persuasive power of an influential idea, and there is time to fear its hold over us. The time to worry is when the idea is so widely shared that we no longer even notice it, when it is so deeply rooted that it feels to us like plain common sense. At the point when objections are no longer even raised, we are not in control: we do not have the idea; it has us.                                                                                                                -Alfie Kohn, Punished By Rewards

I’ve recently been paying more attention to the use of rewards in our society. This topic of using rewards is startlingly blatant and dangerously overused. My example above is about a situation in the community but I’m learning that token systems are a typical method implemented in our schools to ‘motivate’ kids to complete their work. I’m deeply disturbed by this as I believe it undermines the enjoyment of learning. I don’t have the answers to our education problems but I am at a loss as to how this is so pervasively acceptable.

This Business of Being Siblings

As I was walking out from a coffee shop with my brother, he commented on my children, He copies everything she is doing. A glance behind and I could see my daughter was twirling around, hiding behind a sign, and jumping through the bike racks. All with her younger brother right behind, a step-for-step shadow of each movement. My brother responded thoughtfully, It’s interesting to think, what would he be like without a big sister?

It is an interesting thought but the beauty of it is that there is no other way. He was a second born child and he will always have an older sibling to mimic, an older sibling to get mad at, an older sibling to be jealous of.

My brother, Peter, joined me at the Episcopal church I attend while he was visiting. He sat with us in the church and as we moved about heads turned and eyes discreetly yet noticeably followed him wherever he went. My brother is Catholic Dominican friar and dresses in white robes with a rosary dangling from his belt and a hood draped across his back. It is very medieval looking. He introduced himself to all who were bold enough to question his ensemble; those who were not will still remember him. He has this tendency. A tendency to be remembered. I have no doubt that people who never noticed me in church before will now remember who I am.

As a young child, many didn’t know it but my second name was “Pete’s sister.” When meeting my middle school history teacher, “You must be Peter’s sister,” she exclaimed, seeing our remarkable similarities within an instance. Meeting an upper-classman in high school, “You’re Pete’s sister, right?” Whether it was academic achievements, athletic accomplishments, or a visit to the headmaster, Peter somehow managed to burn an imprint of himself within others.

I am a second born child. My life knows nothing other than an older brother. Who would I be without him? Who knows. Who would my son be without his sister? Who knows. One thing I do know is that having a sibling makes jumping through bike racks more fun.

Family Vacation At The Lake

We went to Lake Cascade for the 4th of July. This four day trip felt like we truly were getting away. Just under a two hour drive north of Boise you encounter the small town of Cascade. Don’t blink on the drive through town, you may miss it. It’s population is around 1,000 with a large influx during the summer of vacationers. The 4th of July is its busiest time of year, I believe. We rented a small cabin, put on our bathing suits and basked in the sun. Or maybe the truth is that we chased our kids around all weekend. Overall, we had a great time getting out of town and enjoying mother nature for a few days.

Being that we were headed outdoors I didn’t think we would need much. I was right and in the end we didn’t even wear everything we brought. I think each of us had clothing we didn’t wear. Truly, when I’m at a lake all I really need is a bathing suit, pair of board shorts, and a sundress. The only toys I took for the kids were some floaties for in the water-which we didn’t end up using-and a bucket and shovel. I did bring us all some reading material. In addition, all of our meals was prepared at the cabin so groceries are in the car, as well.

Here is a picture tour.

IMG_0412

Clothing for all four of us. (Piles from left to right: husband, daughter, son, kids pajamas, me, swimsuits. Not pictured: Each kid took a pair of flip-flops and my husband and I each took a pair of running shoes and flip-flops; I also threw in a pair of running shorts and shirt.)

Our toiletries. The smaller bag is medication for kid emergencies. I've learned this is unwise to leave behind.

Our toiletries. The smaller bag is medication for kid emergencies. I’ve learned this is unwise to leave behind.

Our suitcase. All four in a carry on suitcase.

Our suitcase. All four of us in a carry on.

Kids books.

Kids books.

My reading material.

My book.

My favorite sundress. (If you're really observant you will notice my flip flops were not in my original Project 333 items. I traded my multi-colored ones for solid black.)

My favorite sundress. (If you’re really observant you will notice my flip-flops were not in my original Project 333 items. I traded my multi-colored ones for solid black.)

Our van packed and ready to go. Did I mention we took our dog?

Our van packed and ready to go. Did I mention we took our dog? And we ended up putting the kids bikes in, too. A good last minute decision.

View from the road south of the Lake Cascade. You can see the lake in the distance.

View looking north from the road on the south side of Lake Cascade. You can see the lake in the distance.

View looking south. (I didn't get any lake pictures because lake + kids + camera = DANGER.)

View looking south.

My only shot of the lake. (I didn't get many pictures because lake + kids + camera = DANGER.)

My only shot of the lake. (I didn’t get many pictures because lake + kids + camera = DANGER.)

The lake was beautiful and the trip memorable. My daughter and I even got to go boating on the lake. A kind offer from a friend who was vacationing there, too. One of things I find funny is that, with the exception of food, we could have taken a two week trip and required the same amount of items. At the rate I was reading I didn’t need another book…let me try that again…At the rate I was tending to my children, I didn’t need another book!

 

 

Project 333 at 33. My first attempt at a capsule wardrobe.

Welcome back to Going On Growing. It’s been a while.

I have been taking some time to focus on family but am coming back because I have a new project brewing and I wanted to share it with you. In honor of my 33rd birthday this month I’m giving myself the gift of Project 333. Project 333 comes from the blog Be More With Less, authored by minimalist Courtney Carver. I have followed her blog for quite some time now always eyeing Project 333 from afar but not being quite ready to take the challenge. The premise is that your closet consists of only 33 items that you wear on a regular basis. Every 3 months you rotate essential items in and out, such as a warm sweater in place of a summer tank. Rules can be found in the link provided above but main points to know are:

1. This is meant to include clothing you wear when you step out the door to go somewhere (work, friends for drinks, date nights, etc.).

2. Pajamas, lounge wear, workout clothing are not included.

3. Purse, sunglasses, jewelry, other accessories are included.

4. You don’t get rid of everything else you own. Maybe some of it, or a lot of it, but the rest goes in a box. If you get desperate, it’s there to comfort you and let you know everything will be okay.

I’ve been afraid to take the leap because it is so limiting but I know without a doubt that the clutter I’ve cleared out of my life previously has made way for greater things. I’m positive this project will do the same for me.

Here is my closet:

Capsule Wardrobe spring 2014_1

 

Capsule Wardrobe spring 2014)2

I have two challenges to work around. First, I love color. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a capsule wardrobe with so much color. When minimizing this was challenging because I really don’t have a base wardrobe to build upon. However, this is what I’ve been wearing so it must work! Second, shoes were surprisingly difficult to choose and I’m not sure I love what I ended up with. However, my goal was to not spend money to complete my wardrobe so here it is.

My exceptions:

1. I am not including accessories but will still limit them. Because I’m trying not to buy something and because of my color issues excluding these allowed me the flexibility I needed to make this transition. In time I hope to add these into my 33.

  • sunglasses
  • earrings
  • bracelet
  • necklace
  • purse

2. I work one Saturday a month at a hospital. I put on scrubs and my clunky Danskos for this and only this day every month. These are not included.

3. I will attend my brother’s ordination into the Catholic priesthood (equivalent to a wedding) next weekend and for this I’ll wear a fancy dress and shoes not included in here.

Lastly, and my favorite part is that this has helped me see gaps in my wardrobe. I would like to incorporate more skirts, scarves, and belts into future wardrobes. I lack completer items which tend to pull outfits together. For now, my current wardrobe will do.

I’m way more excited about this project than I thought I would be. Here goes nothin’ and thank you Courtney for inspiring me to make yet another change in my life for the better!