Someday Never Comes

I recently wrote a post for Medium.com, a site where writers gather to share their latest.

The article is about Someday. The day that never comes. The one we only dream about. Because life slips by too quickly.

I want you to read this article. To realize that dreams are only dreams, unless you dare to make them come true. That life is only lived once. That everyone needs to fulfill their Someday.

Here is the link to my article, Someday Never Comes.

Don't wait for Someday. Someday never comes. Click To Tweet

How many Somedays do you have in your dreams? What will you do to make them come true?

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Shopping Stats

As a society, we love to shop. I know I’ve done my fair share. Because I have a curious mind, I decided to do a little research on how much we, as Americans, spend on shopping, in both time and money.

Here are some shopping stats that will blow you away:

On average, a single adult spends approximately $65 per week on food. (choosingvoluntarysimplicity.com)

25% of our grocery dollars are spent on processed foods and sweets. (creditdonkey.com)

The average American spends $454 dollars per year on alcohol. Upper income (over $150,000 per year) spends nearly three times as much. (bevrage.com)

Clothing was difficult. It seems there are those who spend a lot, and those who spend very little. Some people prefer purchasing many items, while others would rather buy one quality piece. But this is what I found (from August 2011): In a survey by corporette.com, over 40% of people spent between $500 and $1000 in the first half of the year, 27% spent less than $500, and 22% between $1000 and $2500. According to Forbes, Americans spend $1700 per family per year. The answers seem to be all over the place. I think what it really comes down to is this, we spend a lot of money on clothing.

How long do people spend shopping? Women spend the most time in a physical store, 399 hours per year to be exact. To be fair, those hours include shopping for the family – for clothing, food, and toiletries. (nydailynews.com)

Men and women both spend five hours each week shopping online, with men spending 28% more money than women. (bigcommerce.com)

We spend:

$1600 per household per year on electronics. (gorave.com)

$1100 on coffee. (2012 business.time.com)

$2482 per household on entertainment. (bls.gov)

$1641 per year on a dog, and $1125 caring for a cat. (fortune.com)

$371 per child per year is spent on toys. (worldatlas.com)

$1500 per year is spent by the average American smoker. (aol.com, June 20111) For those who smoke one pack per day, the cost is $9200 per year. (smokefree.org)

$608 is spent on personal care. (valuepenguin.com)

$1345 on manicures. (wisebread.com)

$2041 are spent on vacations each year. (latinpost.com)

We have an expensive society, no doubt. Looking at these numbers makes me seriously ill. I often wonder if we don’t overspend on things that don’t matter, like junk food that doesn’t nourish us, clothing that sits idle in our closets, coffee we could make at home, and toys our children don’t play with.

We overspend, and overspend, and wonder where our money went. And then we look around our homes, and there it sits, inside magazine subscriptions we never read, and in chairs that never get used.

My home, my life, they are far from perfect. I am far from perfect. I still make purchasing mistakes, and spend my money on things I don’t need (like the three bottles of nail polish I recently bought). But I am trying. Trying to spend less, to be a conscious consumer, and purchase only what I need. Trying to live a simpler life, with less focus on stuff, and more on what matters.

Like vacations with my husband, events with family, and a solid retirement plan.

Which brings me to this: 26% of adults have zero savings. Nothing to fall back on in case of an emergency. 36% haven’t begun to save for retirement. (creditdonkey.com)

What does this have to do with minimalism? Everything. We are a consumeristic society, fed commercials since birth. Told to buy and buy and buy. We aren’t taught to save, aren’t told that we really don’t need toys and extra clothes or three bottles of polish to survive.

It takes much less to live on than we think. Click To Tweet

Maybe it’s time to rethink where we spend our money and time. Maybe it’s time to place it in what matters.

It’s simple, when you think about it. Give up coffee at the shop, even once a week. Stop needless subscriptions, and extra trips to the grocery store. Put the dollars away, in the bank, or a retirement account. Watch your money grow.

What do you spend your money on that you could be saving? Where will you put it? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As for me, I’m putting an end to nail polish.

Have a simply beautiful day.

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Letting go of Collections, to Make Room for What Matters

Don’t hate me, but I can’t stand collections. Multiple pieces of the same item lined on a shelf, like dusty soldiers waiting to attack, give me the heebie-jeebies. I hate clutter, in both my house, and in my mind.

I blame this hatred of collections on all the collectors I’ve known in my life.

My mom was a collector, albeit not an extreme one. Still, she owned thimbles, vases, cups and saucers, and tiny spoons from each state she visited. I wrote a story about her here.

My dad was a collector, too. In fact, his collections multiplied like evil bunnies. If there was anything to collect, my dad found it. He collected keys (here is a story about my dad), half-used paper, little nibs of crayons, and even old Pringles containers.

My dad’s brother was a collector, and so was his wife. Together, their home was piled with toys, books, stuffed animals, those weird little ceramics found at card stores and tucked in the back of thrift stores, brass elephants, and old papers and magazines they piled high in their living room, hoping to one day read. Their house, quite literally, was a hoarder’s house.

My husband was a collector, for a while. Though if you asked me what he collected, I couldn’t tell you. It seems anything, and everything, made its way into our garage, shop, and outdoor shed. Maybe he wasn’t a collector, as much as he was a non-tosser. (Thankfully, he’s changed.)

I once knew a woman who collected Beanie Babies. (Remember those?) She was obsessed, as many collectors are. She’d call every store in town until she found the Beanie Baby she thought she needed. During work one day, she spent an hour on the phone, then took off in the early morning for another hour to pick up said Beanie Baby. If the boss would have known, she would have lost her job. I wonder if it would have been worth it.

I look around my own home, which some might consider bare, and am thankful for all the collectors in my life. My home is simple and neat, and quite easy to clean. Just the way I like it.

But it makes me wonder, why do people collect? What is that makes them fill empty spaces in their homes with needless items?

For some, collecting fills a void, like mindless shopping. An emptiness that won’t go away. A hole… Click To Tweet

For others, it is boredom. Without knowing how to spend their time, they spend it shopping, collecting that which isn’t needed.

For many, it is a demonstration, to the world, and to themselves, that they are rich.

Most of us collect something, knick-knacks, dishes, shoes, clothing. I’ve even known people who have collected cars.

I have had my own set of collections in the past, like old Christmas ornaments, cookbooks, and I still own plenty of novels. Craft items once filled an entire room, paints, clay, beads, and leather goods. Hobbies once provided hours of joy, and perhaps then, they were collections that were worth my time and money. But one day, it was taken away, and I could no longer do that which I loved. That part of my life is over, and all my collections are gone, something I never regret.

Because it seems, when I let go of my collections, when I stopped buying and spending time on needless activities, I found something greater. I found Moments.

Moments walking, meditating, practicing yoga, and reading. Moments with my husband, and my family. Moments I will never forget. Moments that matter.

I can’t say collections are always bad. They can preserve memories, or provide a way for us to escape after a long day of work. Collections, for some, are dreams in the making. And if collections truly make us happy, perhaps we should keep them.

But often, collections gather dust and dirt, sit tirelessly on an old shelf in the corner, and take away time and space from what really matters.

I wonder if it’s time to let go of too many collections, to reduce our lives to the important stuff. I wonder if it’s time to stop collecting needless things, and start collecting Moments.

Do you collect? What? And why?

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Minimalism – A Few of My Favorite Articles from the Internet

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with technology, which, of course, includes the internet. The internet can be overwhelming, an overload of information that is hard to sort through. For me, the biggest concern when seeking information is whether the site is credible.

Sometimes, I get frustrated when I do searches, but overall, I love the internet. I have learned a lot about many topics over the years (and am learning to weed out less-reputable sites), including: herb gardening, environmental concerns, recycling, simple living, cooking, finances, and even how to use less trash. I guess you could say the internet is my digital way of hoarding, without having to own extra books.

This last week I’ve been hung up on minimalism. With all those great articles out there, I just had to share a few of my favorites.

 

A Few of My Favorites:

Budgets are Sexy – Love this site. It’s about finances, and everything that goes with it, which, of course, includes minimalism. J. Money is a down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy.

Becoming Minimalist – One of the most recent articles is written by author and blogger Jeff Goins. Check out the article, and see what happened after Jeff made a million dollars.

Becoming Minimalist (again) – This article is written by the owner of the site, Joshua Becker. A lesson about space in our home.

There you have it. Some of my favorites for the week. Enjoy!

Have a simply beautiful day!

What new knowledge have you discovered on the internet?

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Paper or Digital? Choosing a Calendar

I have had a paper calendar for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I was taught that every birthday and holiday, and even household chores, were placed on a calendar. Hanging on my bedroom wall, just over my bed, was a cute little calendar with kittens and puppies, every event neatly scribed in the appropriate square.

As a teen, I wrote lists for every day of the week (inventing my own type of calendar), and as an adult, I’ve either owned a purse calendar, or had a book on my desk.

My calendar has held everything I’ve needed to know, from email address and phone numbers, to birthdays and anniversaries. Even my daily routine was written out, every hour accounted for. It gave me the freedom to follow a plan, or deviate from it as needed. Just to know it was there was comforting.

But in the age of technology, and in the spirit of simplicity and minimalism, I decided it was time to give up paper and embrace the smartphone, and the new calendar app I’d discovered.

My phone would hold my calendar, and more. I could list errands, events, and even when bills were due. It would be cool. The only thing missing would be my daily routine, something I had grown accustomed to.

My routine should be something I’d remember. And I do. Only, my routine is general. It varies in many ways, like what type of writing needs to be done each day, or whether or not my website requires technical maintenance. And sometimes, I just need to focus on my book, or do a little marketing. It’s all written in my calendar.

Here is an example of my routine:
7:30 – Tea and Reading
8:00 – Emails
8:30 – Exercise or Yoga
9:15 – 12:30 – Writing
1:00 – 4:30 – Writing

My routine keeps me on track, makes me stay focused.

This is what happened when I decided to let go of my paper calendar:

I took everything from my paper calendar, and transferred the information to my phone. Then I got nervous. It occurred to me that the app could fail, or worse, I could lose my phone.

When I finished putting all the events on my phone, I felt a tiny bit better. Reluctantly, I tore up the calendar, and threw it away. I was digital.

For a week, all went fairly well. My phone sent a reminder of appointments, and my routine was followed, mostly without a hitch. Though I did find myself thinking about my days more than I had before, and wondering if I was getting everything done.

Week two, my phone once again sent me a little reminder of appointments for the week. That part was great. But this week, my schedule slipped, and some of the work I needed to do was pushed aside.

Week three, my routine was gone. Important matters, like working on the technical side of my site, was forgotten. I also noticed post-it notes piled on my desk, and a bunch sitting in my drawer. Without realizing it, I was writing reminder notes to myself.

By week four, I wrote out a schedule on paper, and placed it on my desk. I missed my paper calendar.

Staying focused:

My calendar taught me how to focus, and kept me on track. On paper, I made goals I could visually look at every day. I could see the day and week ahead, and knew what was going to happen without constantly having to check my phone. The paper calendar freed my mind from having to think about my schedule.

I once again own a paper calendar. And I love it. Yes, it takes a little more time to write out each week. But in the end, I get more accomplished. I am more focused.

Here is an example of the calendar I use.

There are also printable calendars available online, like this one here.

If I can ever figure it out, maybe someday I will go completely digital. But for now, the paper calendar remains in my life.

What about you? Do you use a paper calendar, or are you digital? If you are the technology-savvy type, I’d love to hear how you do it.

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