A Painful Treasure

In my earlier post, I failed to mention what, exactly, set me onto a decluttering binge. I had already begun selling off textbooks that I knew I would not be using again, and listed another item for sale that I wanted out of my coat closet. However, I got sucked in because of a coffee mug.


It isn’t what you’re probably thinking, though. It wasn’t an item to be trashed. It was a painful treasure.

Last year, before my father went into the hospital, he broke his favorite mug, a weird blue and mauve Mickey Mouse thing that my mother and I brought back from Disney World for him 20 years earlier. After that long, there was little hope of finding a replacement. So, that’s exactly what I set my mind to do. After scouring Ebay, I managed to find multiple listings, and I snatched one up. He told my mom it was the best gift anyone had ever given him. I decided that I’d buy them the matching Minnie mug for Christmas, the original of which I had given to one of my favorite aunts when we bought the first set from Disney World.

Well, in December, my dad went into the hospital. His COPD was so bad that his lungs could not filter enough carbon dioxide out of his body when he exhaled. We buried him only a few days before Christmas, so none of us were in the gifting mood by that point. My aunt with the Minnie mug died a few months later. I completely forgot about the Minnie mug sitting in a gift bag in the back of my closet…until I found it by accident. At the time, I placed it next to the sink and walked away. I wasn’t ready to deal with that emotional time bomb just yet.

The following day, I decided I was ready. I was okay. I hand washed the mug and made a cup of coffee. I sat down next to my spouse on the sofa, and my eyes immediately started leaking. Before long, I was sobbing. Ross calmed me as best he could, but it just had to run its course. When I stopped crying, I called and told my mom about it, which had both of us crying. I told her it had been intended as a gift, but asked if it was okay if I kept it. She readily agreed, and offered my dad’s mug to me, as well. That is an item I am not ready to have in my cupboards at this point in time.

As much as it hurt to think about my dad and my aunt, I also treasure that mug. It holds deep meaning and symbolism for me. For whatever reason, that tripped a switch. For an entire weekend, instead of doing my work, I put YouTube minimalism videos on in the background and sorted/donated/sold/discarded until our cluttered living room looked clean again. I sorted out the kitchen junk drawer and the coat closet. I wanted to get rid of meaningless shit so that I could focus on the things, tangible and not-so-tangible, that we love and light a spark in us.

I think I can think Dad and Aunt Beebee for one last lesson from beyond the grave.

Don’t Break the Chain

The other night, while falling into a Lifehacker loop instead of sleeping, I ran across the idea of “Don’t Break the Chain” as a method of creating new habits. They suggested picking a few simple habits you want to develop, printing a simple monthly calendar for each, and crossing off each day that you perform the habit. It’s simple, but crossing off that habit each day can give a jolt of dopamine that can help you stick with it.

I think I’m going to give it a shot, so here are my habits:

  1. Cook at least one meal every day.
  2. Clean for 15+ minutes.
  3. Move my body for 15+ minutes (options: yoga, walk, bike, dance around my living room)
  4. Write 500 words per day.

That’s it. Short, simple, and moving one step at a time toward multiple goals.

Click here to see Lifehacker’s original article.

Embracing Minimalism?

I am a very cluttered person, and I always have been. I’m never going to have some beautiful black-and-white, modern-minimalist dream of a living space a la Rachel Aust. I’m also married to a collector, so there’s that. However, lately I have been feeling trapped by stuff. I want to be surrounded by the things we love, not by junk that we’re getting no use out of. This weekend I did something about it.

I didn’t so much decide to declutter my living room as notice it still looked like a bomb went off in it even after the clean laundry was removed. I started and just didn’t really stop for a couple of days. After selling back books, DVDs, and selling some clothing to a second hand clothing shop, I’ve made about 200 dollars in just a few days. Considering how little effort went into the actual selling of these items, that’s pretty amazing. I have also listed some household items on Craigslist, which I will probably move to Facebook once I reactivate my account.

However, this is not entirely a positive. This weekend, I was supposed to be finishing a final paper for a class. I found myself thoroughly unable to do it, so I rode my decluttering wave while it lasts. Fortunately, this professor accepts late work for a penalty, and I don’t even need to pass the paper to get a B for the class. I’m fine. I’m fiiiiiiine.