Justifications Concerning Money

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My lovely friend Tanya is celebrating a birthday this week and had a post about reflections on life and what she has learned now that she is a year older. One of the reflections she noted, I absolutely loved and want to talk about in more detail.

This is what she said:

“I like shoes. I like purses. I like clothes. I like spas. This does not make me a bad person or a frivolous spender. It means I know where I like to spend my discretionary money, which does not need your approval”.

Boom.

This particular reflection of Tanya’s really stood out to me because I feel as women, we constantly feel the need to justify our lives and what we do with them. We are constantly having to defend our decisions and why we made them.

For example, decisions that always need explanations even though they are nobody’s business:

  • Having children. “Why don’t you have kids? Don’t you want them?”
  • Marriage. “Why aren’t you married? Don’t you want to settle down with someone?”
  • Childrearing: “If I were you, I would stay home with my children. I wouldn’t be working”.
  • Money: “Why do you spend your money on things like that?”

Women get asked these questions and so much more and we end up on the defensive, trying to articulate why we made our particular decision.

The money angle though, is what I want to focus on because I feel like in the blogosphere, this is a hot topic.

Personal finance blogs talk constantly about saving your money, being frugal, and don’t frivolously spend. “Stay home and cook dinner! Don’t eat out…ever!” “Don’t turn on the heater in the winter! Wear four sweaters at a time and cuddle under a blanket! If your fingers go numb, just sit on them! They’ll warm up in a minute!”

I jest, but you get the picture. Finances are important. Paying down debt is important. Having a savings account is important.

But so is having a life.

We are actually meant to live our lives and not sacrifice small moments of happiness in the name of frugality. I don’t mean go and spend all the money, but if fresh flowers on your kitchen table make you happy, that is OKAY. You don’t need to justify that $3.99 bouquet of flowers you picked up at Trader Joe’s.

When it comes to the topic of Minimalism, people operate under the assumption that stark white walls are the way to go. No couch, just a cushion to sit on. No art on the walls. No pets, because that is not very minimalist of you!

That is all nonsense.

You can call yourself a minimalist and still enjoy paintings by local artists on your walls. It is okay that you own a pet and gasp! they require dishes and food and other accoutrements. It is okay if you like colors and your wardrobe isn’t all monochrome.

My point is, we are wired as human beings to enjoy life and you don’t have to justify how you spend your money. You like shoes, fine. You like taking a ballroom dance class twice a week, fine. You like channeling your inner Julia Child and like to bake up tasty treats on the weekend, fine.

It is all okay.

Don’t let anyone ever make you feel guilty for the choices you make in life. No more justifying.

No more defending.

Currently: The “I’m Back” Edition

Hey everyone! Long time, no talk to  🙂

I hadn’t planned this several week absence from the blog, but with moving and end of the school year stuff for my daughter, time just got away from me. You know how it is…

But I am back!

So yes, I have moved. And I love my new apartment! The bigger bathroom has been a lifesaver. Lol, it’s the little things. And I still have 4 boxes that have yet to be unpacked. And that is important because in my last post, I mentioned that I was having my own version of The Minimalists packing party, where you pack up everything you own, and only unpack what you need. You can read about that here.

I gave myself 21 days and lo and behold, we still have 4 boxes that are sitting here. So the next thing to do, is to open those bad boys up, see what is inside them, and then decide what to do with the items, whether to donate or sell them. Another project, but one I am looking forward to  🙂

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Last week, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary! 9 years and counting   He brought home these beautiful red roses for me! They are actually a very dark, dark red, but no matter how I took the picture, they came out lighter, lol. But I love them!  🙂

I am glad school is out and I we don’t have to get up so early in the mornings for awhile. Mama need a break  😉 So far we have been swimming at the pool, going to the library, eating ice cream, and watching old episodes of Bewitched. I forgot how much I liked that show!

Saw this outside of a furniture shop:

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How is Summer going so far for you guys?  🙂

 

Find The Words To Help You Find Your Way

As most of you know, I am a huge bookworm. I am also a fan of quotes and the accompanying verbiage that motivates. Let’s face it: life is hard. We are all swimming in the same ocean trying to avoid the eventual tidal wave that comes our way and knocks us off our feet for awhile. Once that proverbial tidal wave recedes, we remember that we can swim, and we paddle out into the ocean once again.

If you happen to be in the midst of a tidal wave and you are looking for some help, here are some books that I think are awesome and may help you get the earth back under your feet  🙂

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

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If your life is spinning out of control and you feel overwhelmed by the clutter in not just your life, but your mind, this book is for you. And don’t worry, it is not a book that tells you to get rid of everything you own and sleep on the floor! But it will help you sort out the values that you feel are important and make adjustments accordingly.

Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen

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If you are looking to get healthier, look no further than this book. For the record, I cannot do a handstand to save my life, nor does Rachel make you try to do one. This story gives voice to Rachel’s story about how yoga saved her from a life that was on a complete downward spiral. She shares simple yoga poses, meditation practices, and some super healthy recipes to get you going on your way!

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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This book. I loooooved this book! For a complete review of my love of this tome, and why I think EVERYONE needs to read it, click here.

10% Happier by Dan Harris

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Amazing book. If anxiety is getting the best of you and you’ve heard about meditation and aren’t sure what exactly it’s all about, check out Dan’s book. He is a broadcaster for ABC who had a panic attack on national television and this is his story about how meditation helped him.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

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This book, just wow. Lysa writes about how broken we can feel and get as women and how we can overcome that. Although Lysa does have bible verses sprinkled throughout, please don’t let it deter you if that’s not your thing. This book will break open your heart and put it right back together again. In a good way 🙂

Everything That Remains by The Minimalists

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I know I have two books listed here by The Minimalists but this one is my absolute favorite! It basically chronicles how Joshua hit rock bottom in his life (his mom died and his marriage ended in the same month), and with the help of the concept of minimalism, he shed which didn’t matter in his life and began to focus on his relationships and what was actually important. In turn, his best friend Ryan saw how changed Joshua’s life was and embraced lifestyle changes of his own. Want to know how The Minimalists became The Minimalists? Read this book. Some life-changing stuff here that you can totally apply to your own life.

Are there any books that you have read that you feel have helped you overcame obstacles in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

March in the Rearview

The month of March went by with a whoosh, right? Whew…  🙂

A quick look back:

What I enjoyed this month: Reading, obviously! But also trips to see my beloved ocean and coffee dates with friends  🙂

Huntington Beach is my favorite local beach and it makes me feel all the feelings when I am there!

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I read Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham which I looooved!! If you are a Gilmore Girls fan, than this book is for you! Lauren talks about her life and of course, behind the scenes stuff about the BEST SHOW EVER!!!

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I also drooled over read The Minimalist Baker’s cookbook Everyday Cooking. I want to eat everything in this book, especially her recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bread. Yup. You read that right  😉

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What I am absolutely over: Choices for White House appointments/jobs who have absolutely no qualifications for said job, but get said job anyway. I can’t even…

On the healthy living front: I did really well exercising this month until the last week of March. Ugh, so annoying. But the good thing is, is that I recognize that it has been a week since I worked up a sweat and I am getting back into my routine. Older = wiser, right?  😉

On the minimalism/decluttering front: If you remember, I mentioned that for the month of March I was going to declutter 3 separate areas of my home: the kitchen, electronic stuff (my computer), and the bathroom. Suffice to say, I accomplished my tasks! Guys, I actually have ONE EMPTY DRAWER in my kitchen!!!! *cue squealing* I love that one empty drawer. I refuse to let anything get in its recesses again!

I also unsubscribed from emails that I no longer want to receive, and blogs that I no longer want to read. Mission accomplished.

And as for the bathroom, icky nail polish, expired medication, and make-up that has probably seen better days, has all gone in the rubbish bin.

All in all, March was a very productive month and I am looking forward to getting some more things accomplished. I’ve got momentum, y’all!!!

By the way, all my pictures in this post are from my Instagram account. Come say hi!  🙂

How was the month of March for you? Did you get in any decluttering?

Minimizing in March

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Happy March friends! 🙂 Spring is on its way, can you feel it?

Although I am a person who is not a fan of clutter and excess stuff, sometimes life and its baggage creep into the living abode. Whether it is paperwork, a junk drawer that has long exceeded its usefulness, or countertops that are not being used ideally because there are ill-placed items on them, clutter has a way of making its presence known. Well I see you clutter and it is time for you to go!

I feel like March is the ideal month to do a bit of spring cleaning, don’t you? Want to join me in minimizing your living space these next few weeks? Okay! So here is what I am focusing on this month. It’ll be easy-peasy, lemon-squeazy!

Kitchen

Junk drawers are the worst, aren’t they? Ugh… A “catch-all” is one thing, but junk drawers have a way of spilling over to other drawers and pretty soon, you have several of them filled with sheer nonsense. So I am tackling these junk drawers along with my cooking utensil ones as well.

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Countertops are not for unopened mail with postmarks of over a week prior. It’s not for random pens and paper that somehow are not placed back where they should be. Keys have their place as do sunglasses. I am taking back my countertops!!!!!!

Electronic

Friends, how many emails do you get in your inbox a day? How many of them are for things you are no longer interested in? Yup, me too. Time to do a little unsubscribing. For example:

(*) Blogs you are no longer interested in. There are some mom blogs that I used to read back when my daughter was a toddler, you know around the 2 to 3 year age range. Well, these mom blogs no longer interest me and many of them are for families with several children whereas I only have one child, so they are just no longer applicable to my life.

(*) Advertising emails you inadvertently signed up for. I purchased a hat for my husband for Christmas which bears the logo of his favorite football team. Well since then, every day in my inbox are emails from this company letting me know all the glorious sales that they are constantly having. Um, no thanks…

Bathroom

I am going to do a thorough sorting of my medicine cabinet. Expired medicine has no business being there and make-up that is past its prime has got to go as well.

See how easy this is going to be? Three simple things to focus on that anybody can do and it doesn’t require giving up several weekends to do it  🙂

So let’s get started! Who’s with me?

Currently

So, the beginning of March is next week. Anybody else totally thrown by that statement??? I mean, 2017 is flying by. The good thing is that Spring starts next month, which is always a nice time of year.

In addition to trying my darndest to not be completely outraged every time I turn on the television, I stumbled across Tara Stiles and read up on her holistic life and yoga practices. I liked what I read and proceeded to check out ALL her books from the library. #sorrynotsorry She is awesome-sauce and if you are looking to incorporate some changes in your life, head to your local brick and mortar and check out her books!  🙂

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On the minimalism/decluttering front, I have rid myself of a pair of boots that I no longer wore and I have a ginormous bag of all of my family’s clothes that are ill-fitting and/or no longer worn, ready to be donated to Goodwill. I also have a very nice coat that I am giving to my husband to sell online, because it is heavy and itchy and because of those things, I no longer wear it. It is a gorgeous pea coat (my favorite coat style), and I wish I could wear it but I know it will go to someone who has cold weather much more than we do here in California and will get tremendous use out of it.

February has been a weird month in that we have had torrential downpours and storms here, and let me tell you, that is not normal. We get emergency broadcast interruptions on the television, we get flood alerts on our cell phones, we have meteorologists telling us to get off the freeways and stay away from hillsides where mud can come sliding down any minute. For those in other parts of the country and/or world, it probably seems silly and that we Californians are making a big to-do about nothing, but I assure you, it is not the case. When your state has been in a severe drought for many years and then all of a sudden since the beginning of the year, you get these crazy three-day storms happening every ten days or so, you start to wonder what the heck is going on. Literally, there are sink holes with cars in them, freeways completely flooded where it has to be shut down, and people’s homes sliding down hills. Oh, and dams overflowing.

Yes, Mother Nature. We got the memo. Lovely to see you too  🙂

Suffice to say, I enjoy taking morning nature walks and haven’t been able to take as many as I would like but that’s okay. It is supposed to rain again this weekend (surprise, surprise), but after that, I should be able to definitely get in some more next week!

How has February been for you guys so far?  🙂

January in the Rearview

Oh January… you have been a head-scratcher for sure. Let’s dive in, shall we?

What I enjoyed this month: Sherlock coming back on my television. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Because I have cut back on how much of the glowing screen I actually watch, it was a real treat to watch Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock on my screen  😉

What I am absolutely over: Any bloody news story having to do with the current person who is occupying the White House. I can’t. I seriously can’t. This blog is not a political blog by any stretch of the imagination and I am not about to start down that slippery slope. However, I am deeply disturbed by what is going on in our country and it breaks my heart. Whatever side of the aisle you are on, we are all human beings with a genuine interest in the lives of our countrymen and this divide…it’s more than I can take.

Apparently this sign I saw at a store, tells us what we should be doing:

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On the healthy living front: Mama has been exercising! And meditating! And drinking green juices! Okay, I’ll stop with exclamation points  🙂 But I truly am happy that January was good for me health-wise. I feel better and I have to say meditating has helped me TREMENDOUSLY. Seriously. I am now at the point where if it is the evening and I have not meditated yet that day, I get cranky. Ask my husband, he’ll tell you. Love you honey!

On the decluttering and minimalism front: I sorted out all of my books and went through them and asked myself honest questions about whether the book was actually important to me and would I really and truly read said book again.

Well here is the pile of books that I gave to my husband to sell on eBay:

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Can I just tell you something about this picture? I gave these books to my husband sometime in the first week of this month and I couldn’t tell you for the life of me, what the titles of these books are. Really. Now don’t get me wrong, I loooooove to read. Reading = breathing. #bookwormsunite But having books on my shelves that I know that I am not going to read doesn’t make much sense either. Now someone new will love and cherish these books and give them a proper home  🙂

How was your January? Are you keeping calm and eating cupcakes?  🙂

The Joy of Less: A Book Review

Less, less, less. 2017 is all about less. Less clutter, less nonsense, less of what no longer serves a purpose.

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay was a book that I was super excited to delve into because I had heard quite a bit about her in the minimalist circles and her book lived up to the hype!  🙂

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Can we just pause and give thanks for libraries? Because seriously, without them I would be lost! ♥

So back to the book… the author Francine Jay runs the popular website missminimalist.com and her book is chock full of awesome tidbits. I really love how she opens the book with the term “philosophy”. We have to change our mindset and change our relationship with stuff in order for this whole minimalism thing and life without excess to work. Our stuff exists to serve us, not the other way around.

“A container is most valuable when it is empty. We can’t enjoy fresh coffee when old grounds are in our cup and we can’t showcase our garden’s blooms when wilted flowers fill the vase. Similarly, when our homes -the containers of our daily lives- are overflowing with clutter, our souls take a backseat to our stuff”. – Francine Jay

Ms. Jay had an interesting passage in the book about “aspirational stuff”. Basically these are items that we bought to impress others or indulge in our “fantasy selves”. You know, the one who is 20 pounds thinner, the one who has fabulous cocktail parties, the one who, well…you get it. Human beings have a tendency to acquire many of their possessions in order to project a certain image. Clothes, cars, etc… Ready for some minimalistic truth?

Products will never make us into something we are not.

High-five, Ms. Jay. High-five.

Less stuff equals less stress and I completely agree. In the book, it is pointed out that:

  • We stress about not having stuff.
  • We stress about how to acquire the thing we want.
  • We buy the thing and now have to be responsible for it and take care of it.
  • Then the item inevitably breaks and now we are stressed about our broken item and now… THE WHOLE PROCESS STARTS ALL OVER AGAIN.

Ugh, what a cycle!

Less stuff equals more freedom. Things can be anchors and tie us down. They keep us from exploring new interests and developing new talents. They can drain our energy and sense of adventure.

“Too much clutter can weigh on our spirits. It is like all those items have their own gravitational field and are constantly pulling us down and holding us back. We can literally feel heavy and lethargic in a cluttered room, too tired and lazy to get up and accomplish anything”. – Francine Jay

We want to be able to actually enjoy and live our life, right? Living simply, buying only what we truly need, and learn the joy of having enough.

Other brilliant tidbits:

  • Life is the space between our things.
  • We need space for our ideas and thoughts- a cluttered room usually leads to a cluttered mind.
  • By creating space in our homes, we put the focus back where it should be: on what we do, rather than what we own.
  • When we clear our homes of all the excess stuff, we can devote our space, time, and energy to the people we love.

Friends, I really loved this book and I recommend it to anyone looking to start their minimalist/decluttering journey and I also recommend it to those of you already well on your way in your simplifying journey. My point is, this book is for EVERYONE!  🙂

“When we become minimalists, we strip away all the excess to uncover our true selves. We take the time to contemplate who we are, what we find important, and what truly makes us happy”. – Francine Jay

What truly makes us happy…that sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  🙂

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: A Book Review

You’re never stuck-unless you choose to be. – Crystal Paine

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If you have read any personal finance blogs in the past 7 years or so, you might have heard of Crystal Paine, a.k.a. The Money Saving Mom. When I was a new mommy and completely overwhelmed with feedings, diaper changes, and oh yeah, finding time to wash the dishes and do seven hundred loads of laundry, I stumbled across her blog and it saved me. Literally. Crystal’s blog helped me with time management, meal planning, and taking some time for me, and still giving my all to my precious newborn. Seriously, I am forever indebted to Crystal ♥

That being said, I couldn’t wait to crack open her book The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, when my library finally notified me that my requested reserve was in  🙂 Let’s dive in, shall we?

Crystal’s advice, although geared primarily towards families, can also be utilized for the single crowd. Being financially solvent applies to EVERYONE, amiright? And what she writes makes total sense and leaves you thinking, wow I can totally do this!

For example, she talks about the “$60 Principle”, which is in a nutshell, try to challenge yourself to save $60 a year. For some people, they might be like, whatever, I can totally do that, piece of cake. But for others who are barely scraping by, $60 is quite a bit of money. Crystal breaks down the challenge into easy steps and helps you see that it can be doable. She advocates to try and save $5 a month which breaks down to just $1.25 a week. Crystal states: “$60 isn’t going to make a significant dent in your debt payoff but the mentality behind saving the money will help you get there. Moving forward is better than standing still or moving backward”.

Because this book is all about saving money, she has many tips for doing just that:

  • Learn to meal plan
  • Use coupons when you can
  • Go plastic-free and try using just cash
  • Eat more meatless meals
  • Utilize your crock pot
  • Instead of going out to the movies, rent a movie from your library for free
  • Learn to batch-cook
  • Sell your junk

The parts of the book that I enjoyed and that appealed to my minimalist heart were the pages concerning organization, stream lining, and getting rid of clutter.

“If your life and home are not in order, you are just going to make things harder for yourself and likely end up frustrated and overwhelmed” – Crystal Paine

Can I get an amen?  🙂

Some tips, you can totally do today! Eliminate paper clutter. Unsubscribe from those catalogs, yo! Organize that pantry. What is actually in there? Know what ingredients you have on hand to start that meal planning, stat! Create a filing system for bills and receipts. If you are more of a digital person, scan those things and put ’em on your computer and get everything in order!

I think it is important that Crystal does emphasize practicing the art of contentment. If you are not happy with what you have, credit cards will be there to soothe you and skyrocket your debt at the same time. She advises for us to count our blessings and to focus on what we do have, not what we don’t.

“A cheerful attitude can go a long way in less than ideal situations; you can either complain about the thorns or you can savor the roses that bloom in their midst” – Crystal Paine

All in all, this is a great book for anyone needing to overhaul their financial picture but just don’t know how to get started. But make sure you go to the library and check it out because #frugal  🙂

2017: The Year of Wellness

Sometime in the last few years or so, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. I always ended up breaking them sometime around mid-February and then spent the next 10 months saying to myself, screw it, I already messed up so what’s the point of trying to continue in that direction. Then January rolls around again and the same story would play out.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Having a specific word however, to represent changes you want to make in your life seems easier and more attainable in the quest to be a better person. That single word or phrase can encompass so much and we can steer our lives in a positive direction that allows for mistakes along the way without feeling like failure will derail the whole thing.

My word for 2017 is Well.

Be well. Feel well. Live well.

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According to the dictionary, wellness is defined as the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. Can also be an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

Wellness. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

See the thing is, I feel like the past three years have been for me, a twisting and difficult journey, emotionally and physically. I have gone through some pretty rough times and I believe that there is finally a light at the end of this very long tunnel that I have been proverbially crawling through. That is amazing in and of itself.

Last year, I made significant changes to my health. I started exercising and eating better and I lost 30 pounds. Awesome, right? But then the seasons changed, Fall ushered her leaf-swirling head in, and I fell off the health train hard. And then old habits crept back in, and faster than you can say uh-oh, I was in over my head and beating myself up for derailing.

That has to stop.

When I say I want to be well, I mean in all aspects of my life. As mentioned above, I want to be well physically. That means getting back to eating properly and moving my body more. Exercise truly has so many great benefits and I want those endorphins back!  🙂

I want to be well emotionally. I want to start doing yoga and getting into meditation. I feel that this will help me get out of my own head sometimes and give me the calmness I need in my life. I also have been seriously looking at my home space and decluttering on an even grander scale than I had previously done, because too many things gives me anxiety. And although I live in a very small space, I am looking at my things differently and looking at them with fresh eyes and asking myself, “Do I value this? Is this something that I value? Am I really going to watch/read/ look at this thing again?” If the answer is no, than I get rid of it.

I want to be well financially. The things that I am getting rid of, my husband is selling online for me to bring in some extra-needed cash. Paying off some bills this year and getting a proper financial foothold will be of paramount importance.

2017 will be the year of well.

This is going to be a good year my friends. I can feel it  🙂