Less is More (often)

Having less stuff means more frequently having to do laundry and dishes, but it also means those chores take less time. It used to take me all weekend to get it laundry done and, honestly, sometimes weeks before everything got folded and put away. Dishes too, it was like "ugh, not I gotta spend all weekend cleaning my crap" but, with less stuff, laundry is quick, dishes are quick. 

I think part of my lack of skills at tidying have been that I have had too much stuff, so I used what I had (dishes, clothes) until there wasn't much left and I was forced to clean. I had more dishes than could fill the dishwasher so doing dishes took several hours to fill, empty, fill. Now, I try to empty the sink every evening. I placed a drying rack on one side of my sink to get more room in the counter but also there's less room for dishes to pile up.

When I was a kid I had the same tendency with my room: it was always a cluttered mess. Aided by the fact that I barely spent any time in it, preferring to spend my time working on craft projects in other areas of the house... Which works when the house you live in is large! My own little house could fit 3 times in the house I grew up in. I loved growing up in that house, I can not imagine living in a house that size now. I have struggled just to keep tinyass bedrooms in Brooklyn tidy! When it was time to clean my room when I was a kid, it would be a whole day or weekend affair. I would pull everything out, sort and then put things away. That's possible when the house is big enough that there's space (and if my brother complained about all the trash bags in front of his room, I don't remember that... not that I would lol) but in a small house, it's a game of musical chairs cleaning this way. I got the living room cleaned up, then pulled everything from the kitchen into the living room so I could get that cleaned. I moved all the stuff that needed to be sorted in to the bedroom to get the living room clear. I am very much on the path to getting everything sorted and cleared out but oh my god this is a huge project. How can 856 square feet (plus a 10x16 shed) hold so much stuff!? I can see the light at the end of this project but my biggest fear/concern is that it will all pile up again. This blog and the accountablity of it, along with google keep reminders on my phone are helping me keep it from getting too bad, there will be a tipping point where I will just BE a tidy, intentional creative and healthy person... this blog is documenting the mountain climb to that tipping point (and hopefully the plateau and tiny improvements after I reach the top!)

I have always had a project mindset. I will tackle a big project, focus on it for hours, weeks or months and finish. Because the goals, steps and deadlines are clear. A lot of cooking for me has been projects, "hm, can I make pocket bread from scratch?" The answer is "yes, once, in high school." I think this stems from having more of a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. I would like to be more growth focused, in the pocket bread example, the next step, (there would have been more steps than just making it once to begin with) would be "Can I make it tastier? Smaller? Bigger? Healthier? Different shapes? How long does it store? Does it freeze well?". I consider myself curious but after reading Angela Duckworth's book on grit (totally recommended btw) made me realize that I really haven't had a lot of grit in my life in the important-to-longevity areas, namely: being healthy and active. Architecture school was a breeze (*cough* it was really demanding but I 95% loved it *cough*)... but changing my diet and exercise habits? Much much harder. Much. Very. Many difficult. I've wanted to be skinny about as long as I wanted to be an architect... well I accomplished one of those and, when I look back at photos I *was* skinny, but I was not aware of it. I was too busy looking in the mirror, comparing myself to people other than my past self. 

I can't just focus really hard and lose 60# and then move on to the next project. This is not an item to cross off a list. It will be not only a lifestyle change, but a lifetime project, nay, habit. I eat every day, the habits and choices I make or follow everyday have compounded over the last 34.8 years of my life to give me the body I have now.... One that is ~40-60 pounds overweight, putting my BMI in the obese category. A body that struggles on walks that I used to do with barely noticeable effort. A body that can't climb 9 flights of stairs without trailing behind my step mom who is almost twice my age (and a firecracker). A body that remembers how to snowboard from that winter I focused on getting better at it, but can't physically do it anymore. All because, basically, I let myself go. In New York and when I first moved to Salem I had an active and healthy lifestyle, activity was built in, I enjoyed being healthy and eating fairly healthy. I've been overweight for a couple years now, it started with pants that suddenly didn't fit as well any more but I blamed the pants. I drove everywhere even though I picked my location based on proximity to work. I joined the gym but barely went. I signed up for 5k runs but didn't train. I was not in touch with myself to realize that my hair's had changed and I had become sedentary and my emotional eating had gotten out of hand. I was unhappy, but not aware of it or the affects on my body and mind. I've been full of excuses and blaming other people or circumstances or not having enough time, but I'm done with that. It's my own fault that I am not as fit as I used to be. It's my own fault that I haven't accomplished the goals I set for myself. I'm reminded of the saying "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is today." Well... the best time to develop healthy eating and exercise habits would have been 20 years ago, the second best time is now.

I'm going to visit NYC in about a month. When I first moved there, right after high school, I walked so, so much. I would get charlie horse pains in my legs in the evening. There was always a new place to explore, or even going to my favorite places required a lot of walking, and a lot of stairs. I grew up on the edge of the suburbs, we didn't have sidewalks on my street and I was really an inside kid. I'm an inside adult too but walking was a necessity in NYC. Now I live somewhere in between. I live close enough to work that I could easily walk or bike. In fact I love walking because I can listen to audiobooks (or read a physical book while walking). But I have a car... And it's made me lazy.

Last week I walked or biked to work everyday except Thursday when I had a few errands to run that required hauling my dog or a bag of art supplies. I feel so much better when I walk or bike. In NYC I always walked to the grocery store, but I have only walked to the store once here, last August when my friend KW was visiting me and suggested we walk to the grocery store that's only a mile away. Why the hell did I never think to do that?! I got myself a sweet electric assist bicycle with a basket, and set up my panniers on it but have yet to ride to the grocery store. Why haven't done it since? That was in fucking August of last year! It feels like it takes longer to bike but really biking to work is faster than driving some mornings because I can zip around traffic or cross when the traffic is clear. Walking definitely takes longer but if I keep waking up earlier it's a doable thing. Biking also makes it feasible to bike home at lunch whereas walking home at lunch leaves me with no time to actually eat so it doesn't work very well but if I go home at lunch it eases my mind to go to the gym right after work and not leave Howland alone too long. 

I have been becoming more aware of my habits and things that I do out of habit vs actual desire. I took Howland to the dog park this morning, my favorite thing to do first thing on the weekends. I am working hard to replace my morning latte habit with a morning smoothie. I could hear the habit brain telling me "swing by Dutch Bros! you have a whole stamp card and it won't even cost you anything!" but my new habit and goals (my Elephant if you will) was sitting on my other shoulder saying "you know that's just habit talking right? You have stuff for smoothies at home and they have been delicious! Plus Howland is thirsty, take him home instead of making him wait and be all excited at Dutch Bros. Also you have a project to finish up today. Just got home." And I did go home, the elephant on my shoulder was helping me ride the wave which is the only way to change a habit. Don't give into the temptation of the habit, and develop a replacement. Right now I'm drinking a delicious smoothie and wrapping up this blog post (which I started writing at the park!)

Bad Habit Snack and Goal Elephant chillin' on my shoulders

Bad Habit Snack and Goal Elephant chillin' on my shoulders

Thanks for following along on my blog. I really enjoy writing and I feel like blogs help keep me intentional and focused. Time to get back to finishing my backsplash so I can write that next decluttering update with photos! My update posts are mostly train of thought/ stream of conciousness, so welcome to my mind :) 

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