Minimalism Maintenance

A few years ago I got this crazy frustration with the STUFF in our house and went on a massive purging project that lasted most of the year. That involved going through everything, purging what I could, and boxing up what I couldn’t purge so there was more space.

For example, I had a substantial book collection. This is not a joke, the previous purge when I moved out of my house and into the divorce involved giving away enough books to fill the entire back of a friend’s suburban. And there were still literally hundreds of books here. I purged a few more of those, but most of the books I was willing to part with had already been purged at that point. So instead we put the books in file boxes and used a software program to index and sort them, so I can put my hand on any book in less than 5 minutes, but the boxes are in the storage shed now.

However, it’s been a few years and the hidden story of minimalism in your home is that basically it’s a diet for your living space. You have to maintain ruthless vigilance.

We have not been sufficiently vigilant.

Result: I can’t deal with the random crap around the house. I’m boxing up knickknacks this week, and going through boxes of random stuff that has been accumulated in the last couple of years.

Really, we need to clean out the shelves in the closet, where we had placed boxes of stuff we weren’t ready to purge during the last purge. We should also make another run at the storage shed, which requires regular purging to keep it from getting stuffed full.

I really believe that the less stuff in your space the calmer you are. Clutter begets clutter. A cluttered mind and spirit leads to clutter in your home, and clutter in your home makes you feel blocked and generally stuck.

I did a massive brain dump yesterday because I was feeling frazzled and scattered mentally. I think that helped a lot, because it is the same for mental clutter and the ability to be functional. I had too many open loops in my head, and I couldn’t focus on anything for any length of time. This, too, is the goal of meditation, to help keep your head clear and allow you to focus more easily.

My therapist wants me to be meditating far more than I am. I’m working on trying to get a single meditation session in every single day. My therapist thinks the only way to really get a handle on the ongoing anxiety issues is to do 5-10 minutes of meditation 3-5 times a day, at a minimum.

The issue with that, of course, is that I have a baby I’m caring for, and you can’t really meditate with a baby. Therefore I have to wait until he’s asleep, and that means that during his brief nap periods, I have to add meditation to the list of everything else that I’m doing. Anything that isn’t directly focused on him, or that I can’t do easily with him in the room, I have to do during his naps. What that means is that although some chores (dishes, laundry) can be done with him awake, most of them can’t be done unless he’s asleep. Neither can I get any writing work done while he’s awake, of course.

The restriction on my free time is why I have started to pare down on my daily list of things to do. My habitica dailies got up to about 35 tasks per day, and I’ve eliminated a bunch of them. I’m down to about 20 tasks per day but even that is difficult and I might have to purge even more.

Minimalism is, at heart, simplicity. The less stuff you have, the simpler your house, the simpler your life. Minimalism means a less mental clutter, more mindfulness, more being present in the moment. But it’s not a destination. You can’t purge all your stuff and be finished with the work of minimalism. Minimalism is an ongoing way of living, a deliberate turning towards less, a refusal of complications in your life.

You can’t avoid life complications altogether, of course. But by deliberate avoiding it as much as possible, you keep that emotional and mental bandwidth available for when it hits you unexpectedly.




Stomach Flu or the Carb Revenge?

Despite my vow last week not to go off the wagon because it made me feel gross, I went DRAMATICALLY off my plan this past weekend.

In my defense, I was home alone all week with the baby because the husband was out of town for work and he was having some sleep issues, so I was TIRED, and then on top of that, I had a lot of stress from the kid’s schools and their schedules and everything was crazy. On Thursday, when I had the older kids, the baby’s sleep schedule was completely off, but I still had to go to the school early because there was a book fair situation in play and then I had two hours to kill before I could get the other child because she has a club meeting on Thursdays and so I took that time to go to the grocery store, and then I picked up a pizza for the kids to eat and I had some too.

And that, tragically, opened the floodgates.

Friday was a half day and I had to do a conference with the teacher I hate and then get the other one and then we had to stop at the Walmart to get shoes because they both have outgrown their dress shoes and they both have events coming up that will require dress shoes. And while I was there I lost my mind and got yet more pizza (frozen this time) and cookies, and wine.

And then on Saturday was the big science fair, and the little one had qualified, so that was our entire day. Plus, there’s a long standing tradition in this house that if you qualify for the big science fair you get to go out to lunch between judging and awards, and so she picked her lunch place: a pizza buffet.

I tried to get myself together, but then the in-laws came by on Sunday and we went out to lunch with them….at a breakfast place.

All of which is to say, when I woke up on Monday feeling awful, I figured it was the carb disaster. But it got worse. I was up all night Monday night with nausea and diarrhea. Yesterday wasn’t much better. I’m trying to eat some food, but legal stuff–fruit, nuts, whatever–and it’s hard.

But then this morning the husband woke up with my same symptoms. This suggests that it isn’t the carbs after all, but rather an actual stomach flu.

I haven’t weighed myself since Thursday morning because I’ve been afraid of the carb related weight gain, but on Thursday I hit the pre-surgical binge eating weight, which is a huge victory. 12 pounds in 6 weeks, that’s worth celebrating.

I hope I feel better soon, because this is really unpleasant all around.

Why You Should Never Cheat on Your Diet

I’ve been doing the Sugar Busters diet for nearly two months now, and I’ve had a lot of success. I’m losing weight easily and rapidly without pain or suffering, my mood is more stable, and I feel better overall.

But last week, I got sick, really sick. I was running a high fever all day on Monday, a fever that was not contained by constant doses of dayquil. After that, the fever abated, but I was still sick. The congestion passed by Wednesday, and by Thursday morning I felt much better. But Thursday I was scheduled to run errands all day long, and I didn’t pack enough food and stopped and got some fried chicken on the way home.

I was up a pound after that.

It also set me back on the recovery, and by Thursday night I had a migraine and the bone deep exhaustion was back.

Friday I had to be out of the house all day although not running around, and it was really hard on both me and the baby. And then Saturday the baby had his first swim lesson (paid for by his great-grandmother) and then we had committed to helping our friends with some home improvement stuff in exchange for dinner, which turned out to be deep dish pizza, also known as the farthest thing from acceptable on the diet.

Yesterday I was, understandably, drained. The fever was back, the headache was back, the bone deep exhaustion was back, and I threw caution to the winds and ordered more pizza.

This, unsurprisingly, did not help.

What I’ve learned here is that not only does going off the diet result in an immediate change in the weight (I’m too afraid to weigh myself this morning) but also makes me feel terrible. I added nausea and bloating to the list of my symptoms as my punishment for the pizza. It was awful.

I’m back on the wagon today, and I have additional reasons to stay focused on the plan. I don’t want to feel that kind of nausea and bloat again if I can at all avoid it.

I need to find another way to handle the stress and sickness, because my life is getting harder instead of easier.

I’m pretty sure I’m developing “mommy’s thumb” which is an inflammation of the tendons that run from your thumb to your wrist. Both my thumbs hurt all the time, the left more than the right, and I know what I’m doing to cause it, one of my favorite things to do with the baby is to hold him over my head, and when I do that now, the pain is excruciating. My sister had this, and is going to send me the brace that you need to fix it, so I just need to hold on for a few more days. In the interim, I’m taping my thumbs with sports tape, which is slightly tricky. I’m getting pretty good at it by now, though.

Also, the husband is doing his first business trip in years, part of a new aspect of his job that is likely to result in a substantial raise in the near future. I’m going to be alone with the baby for the first time for this week, and that includes the dreaded mid-week day with the older children, which requires me to drive half an hour, pick up one, wait two hours, pick up the other, achieve and produce food and complete homework, get the little one changed and ready and go to gymnastics class.

Added level of difficulty: I’ve been puppy sitting for my friend on a regular basis and it’s becoming very intrusive. I like her a lot, and I like the puppy, but there’s no question that it’s getting troublesome. Initially the reason for the puppy sitting was because she had a standing therapy appointment and a tutoring job, neither of which the dog was allowed to participate in, and he had just started potty training and crate training and wasn’t ready to be left for more than an hour.

However, it has now been two months. The dog is now receiving private in home training classes every week, is going outside to go to the bathroom with minimal accidents, and is now closing in on four months old. When *our* dog was four months old, we started crating her because she was destroying the house when we left, but we did crate her. It would have been insanity for me to try to get someone to come sit with her every time I needed to go to the store or something.

And yet, I’m still on the hook for sitting with the dog because he cries when she crates him and she can’t handle it. Note that *I* crate him for several minutes at a time when I’m dog-sitting and he does not cry, but she’s sure that he’s just completely mentally destroyed by the crate and isn’t ready.

Which is why, even though I was running a fever, I went to her house on Monday, only to find that her tutoring session had been canceled and she forgot to tell me. And I’ll be there again today. And I was there for 10 hours on Friday because she had a babysitting job. And I’ll be there tomorrow evening because she again has a babysitting job. And Wednesday morning for her therapy session. I AM SPENDING SO MUCH TIME THERE. Which wouldn’t be a problem, if it wasn’t for the fact that the dog licks the baby’s face and steals his pacifier and toys, and the baby pulls the dog’s fur. The dog is getting big enough to get onto the bed without help, and once he does I’ll have to start bringing the playpen and setting that up in addition to bottles and diapers and every other thing. It puts the baby off his schedule, it hampers our ability to do floor time and tummy time, which he DESPERATELY needs because he’s still behind on his milestones, and it makes staying on the diet even trickier because I have to pack everything I need.


This is why I don’t have more friends. It always ends up being so annoying.



Sugar Free is the BEST Thing

I am now on (I believe) week 4 of not having sugar or refined carbs. I’ve been largely compliant with it, with only a few exceptions for travel and other issues.

I’m down another 2 pounds since this time last week, which means that I’ve lost now just about 9 pounds in 4 weeks. And I am NOT hungry. I’m eating all the time. I still have my sweet tooth but it’s definitely decreasing all the time. I can have splenda and splenda-sweetened things so I’ve been having sugar free pudding for desserts. The Atkin’s branded desserts are also legal for me, but those suckers are expensive so I’m trying to avoid them.

Today, I broke and got a dollar burger and a value fry from a drive-through place and I didn’t even like them. I’ve lost my taste for them. So…yeah. That’s a thing. I would vastly have preferred to have something less greasy and gross in my mouth. I have to say, not wanting fast food would make this entire process easier and help offset the cost issues involved in buy real food ¬†and meat, which we’ve been largely avoiding lately.

That’s about it. Everyone should be doing this. This is awesome. I eat oatmeal with splenda and berries and a splash of milk for breakfast, or a protein shake, I have a baked sweet potato for lunch, I have a burrito bowl or a big salad for dinner, and I have fruit, nuts, cheese and hard boiled eggs for snacks. I’m not counting calories or looking at serving sizes, I’m eating as much as I want of all those things.

Go get the Sugar Busters book, from Amazon or wherever, and start living like this. I’m not getting paid by them (obviously, there’s no affiliate link or anything here) but this is the first thing that’s worked for me. It takes some discipline but there ARE a few bread options available so you don’t have to give up on the bread entirely. I haven’t needed them, but if I ever feel like I do, I know it’s there for me.