My Memorabilia Bin

Ever since I left for college 25 years ago I’ve had this bin:

When I got ready to leave for college, my mother filled it mostly with childhood toys, as the label says. I had a second, smaller green one with other memorabilia. She hung onto it for over a decade as I lived in tiny dorms, then tiny campus apartments with four roommates, then a Back Bay studio approximately the size of most peoples’ walk-in closets.

When I finally bought my own place in Upstate New York (an absolutely adorable little two-story three-bedroom, she and her husband helped me moved (I didn’t even own a car, because Boston). When she arrived at said tiny apartment, she had brought the two bins with her, completely understandable as I now quite literally had more living space than her.

Over the next 15 years, I did manage to whittle it down to just the larger blue bin – took some stuff out, and added some more memorabilia as an adult.

As mentioned in my intro, when it came time to sell my house and move across the country to Colorado, I was ruthless with selling and donating everything, including all my furniture except my desk, chair, and office bookcase. However, the month previous to closing was quite insane and where I ran out of time to declutter was my blue bin, so right onto the little U-Haul (their smallest truck) it went, untouched. It stayed packed away in the garage of our Boulder townhouse for another nine months, and then was shoved into the garage of our new home.

Six months later, I asked Karl to drag it out of storage, put it in the middle of my office, and opened it. I was immediately hit with so many memories and quickly remembered why I never really decluttered it. It’s so true that it’s the toughest category!

So this week I’ve been veeeeeeeeeery slowly discarding items from it here and there as part of the Mins Game, but it is really difficult to let go. I’ve heard wonderful tips such as taking photos, or writing about the memory the item is attached to, or even using it one last time, but…well, this is going to be a struggle.

I really would like to get it down to just a small number of the most important things. Any ideas? Please?

Love and Peace,

Veronica

#MentalHealthMonth Challenge Week One

So I’ve completed my first week of the #MentalHealthMonth challenge. I’m really proud that despite a crazy week I only missed one checkbox and it’s the one I’m worried least about (more on that later).

Yoga: I’m doing Yoga with Adrienne’s 30-Day Challenge from last year, called “Home.” The playlist is here if you want to join the fun. It was definitely harder than expected, especially yesterday’s session. (And this is definitely beginner-level stuff). Don’t let anyone tell you yoga is just easy stretching – I can bench 100lbs but Downward Facing Dog and TableTop leave my arms trembling. I always felt more relaxed and aligned (to use a hippie, New Age term, LOL) afterwards.

Meditation: This was Days 1-7 of Basics I in the Headspace app. It was definitely hard at times, especially since I’m dealing with dental issues (root canal tomorrow, yay) that leave me with a constant toothache that’s hard to ignore during meditating. Definitely struggling to not “rush out into the traffic” as Andy says. On a positive note, I love Andy’s voice and find him so soothing and reassuring. I also love that they just added a black woman as one of the options! Headspace offered me 40% off Headspace Plus this week so I signed up, which will allow me to continue through Basics II and III.

Decluttering: Probably the easiest of the items aside from reading, but the first week is always easy with the Mins Game. I did haul out my memorabilia bin this weekend as the next thing to go through. (It was the only category that I didn’t have a chance to minimize before the cross-country move. I simply ran out of time.) This one will definitely get harder starting next week. A lot of this week’s discarded items were literally junk/trash type of things.

Blog/Course: The course is Courtney Carver’s How to Create a Microbusiness that Matters course. It reminds me a lot of Marie Forleo’s “Start the Right Business” module in B-School. The goal was to either work on the course or write a blog entry (or both) every day. As it happens, I alternated days this week. I do want to improve my blogging next week by adding photos. It’s not that I don’t know how, I’m just trying to get in the habit of writing a “plain” blog post first, LOL. I did add links for the first time to this post. In general, if I can keep at 3 posts a week I’ll be very happy. Let’s make that a standing goal, LOL.

Running: As a longtime runner, this one was the easiest for me in someways, and hardest for me in others. I used to be a triathlete and marathon runner but got out of it after my hysterectomy 2.5 years ago. This is totally in my comfort zone in many ways, but also the most foreign in other ways – I’m 15 pounds heavier, out of shape, and moved from 1700′ elevation to 8500′ elevation, so running doesn’t feel easy and effortless like it used to, which is extremely frustrating. With yoga, meditation, and blogging I can very much keep a beginner’s mind, but going from a 4 hour marathon to 13 minute miles has been tough. I ran 23 miles this week, which I’m pretty happy about.

Reading: Like running, this was the easiest, but also the one where I missed the day. I’m rereading my favorite minimalism/simplicity books. I finished “Goodbye, Things” and am halfway through “Soulful Simplicity.” (I’m not doing the actions in them as I already have this challenge going on, I’m just reading for inspiration.) Thanks to a last-minute dentist appointment that turned into an impromptu date night I missed Friday. Luckily I love reading so am not worried about creating a habit around it. (And I’m not starting over because this is #MentalHealthMonth, not #75Hard, and part of mental health is knowing when to have grace with yourself. If I had missed yoga or meditation that would have been different.)

So all in all I’m very happy with how the week went, especially with how crazy the week was with multiple doctor appointments and contractors in the house all day every day.

Goals for Next Week (aside from the obvious continuing the challenge):

  • Don’t miss a day of reading this time.
  • Up mileage to at least 25 miles for the week.
  • At least 3 blog posts, all with at least one picture.

Peace and Love,

Veronica

240

I had my annual physical (first one in at least a couple years, really) a couple weeks ago. As usual, this included a whole bunch of bloodwork.

The results finally came back a couple days ago and although everything else was perfectly normal, my cholesterol was 240. Now, I’ve always had a high-ish cholesterol, but usually hanging just over 200. With excellent HDL and ratios, my doctors were never very worried about it.

I wouldn’t say this was upsetting in the usual sense, but it once again reinforced that I haven’t been taking good care of myself the past 2 or 3 years. I went from being an Ironman athlete to not exercising regularly (and changing from triathlon training to running to weight lifting to all other things so there was never any progressive overload) and eating crap. Add more beers, 10 extra pounds, and stress (thank you 2020) and…yeah. Wake up call. No wonder my cholesterol went up so much!

Now, my #MentalHealthMonth challenge does include regular exercise (yoga every day, running six days a week), but I was going to wait until next month to start tackling diet as to not try to take on too much all at once. With a retest in three months, that plan has changed a bit.

I’m starting with some simple swaps – instead of my usual two eggs for breakfast, one egg and one serving of Egg Beaters (I actually really love their Southwestern Style ones), chicken breast instead of drumsticks, etc. Also no more obvious junk food, which isn’t good for health or stress anyway.

I’m hoping these changes along with the exercise will help make some good headway in this first month. For April, I’ll definitely be focusing on diet. I don’t want to make another challenge because I want to make small, sustainable changes instead of doing anything drastic.

The GERD and high cholesterol have really opened my eyes and I think given me the nudge I needed to treat myself better. I’m definitely going to start now before those nudges become full-fledged bricks being thrown through the metaphorical window.

Peace and Love,

Veronica

#MentalHealthMonth Challenge

As mentioned in my introduction post, my stress levels have skyrocketed to the point of affecting my mental health. To start working on reducing stress and increasing my happiness, I developed a little 30 day challenge for March. I don’t have a catchy name for it yet so let’s just call it “Mental Health Month Challenge.”

Every day in March I’m going to:

  • Do Yoga (I’m using one of Yoga with Adrienne’s 30-day challenges)
  • Meditate using Headspace
  • Read at least 10 pages of an inspiring book.
  • Declutter doing the Mins Game
  • Run or Lift (well, six days a week so I have a rest day).
  • Blog or do Courtney Carver’s “How to Start a Microbusiness” course.

I’ll be providing weekly recaps as the day-to-day is pretty boring and repetitive, but so far I do think it’s helping. I’m using a 75 Hard template checklist to make sure I do every item. (I crossed out the actions and replaced them with my own.) Although March is already underway, I invite you to join me to bring down the stress levels and simplify a bit. If you do, please let me know! I’d love to follow your journey as well.

Peace and Love,

Veronica

My Story

Hi there! I’m Veronica, a.k.a. The Minimalist Hobbit (or, attempting to be, but we’ll get to that). I’m in my mid-40’s and live with my wonderful partner of 15 years in the Colorado Rockies, where we just bought a house last year and currently work remotely in the IT industry.

So why am I starting this, or in this case, restarting?

I started dabbling in minimalism about ten years ago when “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” came out. After living in tiny places in downtown Boston for years, I bought my first house – a cute little three-bedroom way larger than any space I had lived in before. Although I had moved with all my possessions (including furniture) fitting into U-Haul’s smallest van and my stepfather’s minivan, I quickly filled up the new space with way more than I had ever owned in my life. The breaking point for me was my office closet – a large double closet literally overflowing with stuff of all types that would fall out when you opened the doors.

I started decluttering my piles of shoes, clothes, books, etc. I did two or three KonMari rounds over the proceeding years, a Declutter 1000 Things Challenge, and countless rounds of the Mins Game. These all helped a lot to reduce my belongings to a less-overwhelming number although I definitely still had way more than I needed. The final push came in 2019 when my partner and I sold or gave away about 90% of tour possessions including all furniture in his five-bedroom house and my three-bedroom one so we could fit into a small two-bedroom furnished townhouse across the country in Boulder. It was at this point that I was finally back down to what I felt like was a manageable amount of possessions.

Shortly after moving, however, I discovered shopping in a city for the first time in 15 years. Specifically, Boulder”s amazing consignment stores. My wardrobe, which had been pared down to almost nothing, quickly tripled in size. Nine months later, we bought a house in the mountains that was much bigger than the Boulder townhouse and purchasing continued (Hello, 2020 stress!). Overwhelm has now hit hard – not just in my possessions, but also with work stress, health issues (some a direct result of stress), and pouring money into our fixer-upper.

So now I’m on a mission to simplify – not just my stuff, but every other part of my life as well. To kick off things and start to try to lower my stress levels I’m starting off a 30 day challenge, which I will talk about in my next blog!

Peace and Love,

Veronica

Book Minimalism for the Bookworm

In a continuation of Friday’s theme, let’s talk about curating our book collections. (Where my fellow bookworms at?). I love books – I especially love physical books, so I know how easy it is for those bookshelves to start overflowing with beloved “I’ve read this a million times” books, “I should keep this for reference” books, and the ever famous “Some day when I have a million free years I will tackle this To-Read pile of thirty books” books.

So how can we start taming our collection and reading voraciously without being buried under a mountain of books? (Which to me doesn’t sound like a bad way to go, but I digress…)

1.) Get an e-Reader: I am Team Hardcover, but e-Books definitely have their place – they obviously take up much less space, allow you to carry around an entire library, and (especially important for those of us who have 5-6 books going at the same time) automatically bookmark your place for you. If you prefer e-books, then rock on with your bad self, ditch the physical books, and enjoy. The one caveat I will give is that it’s easy for your eReader to become cluttered too. Make sure to delete books that you won’t be rereading and organize your files if possible. Otherwise it can still be impossible to get your arms around your collection.

2.) Donate books to your local school or library: Almost all libraries accept donations to either add to their collection or use during book sales to raise money. If you have childrens or YA books the local schools or children’s hospitals may be interested. I always find it easier to let go of things if they’re going to a good home. (I had an original Atari 2600 that I knew I never used but was sentimentally attached to (#GenXProblems) and was only able to declutter it when a good friend of mine said she’d take it off my hands.)

Speaking of libraries….

3.) Get a library card: Take full advantage of your local library, especially if you’re the “only read once” type of reader. Even a small-town library can really expand your selection. As a bonus, librarians are often happy to help you find new reading material that you wouldn’t have even considered before.

4.) Toss the reference books: I’m pretty sure you don’t need a dictionary in the day and age of the Internet. (OED> than Merriam-Webster, fight me.). Separate out all of your reference books with the intention of tossing them unless proven that the information can’t be found online.

5.) Shop Intentionally: We all have those books that changed our lives and we will read over and over again (Some of mine are the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, A Moveable Feast, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). For those few, shop locally and find the most beautiful illustrated hardcover version you can – then you will have a small quality collection of your favorite books. With fewer books on the shelf (and more eye-catching versions), this will have the bonus of being more noticeable, sparking fun discussions with guests.

These are tips that have greatly helped me get my books under control. I’d love to hear from you – what are some of your all-time, “changed my life” books (or just ones that you love to read over and over)?

Honoring your best you,

Veronica

Friday Five #1: Books

Welcome to the first installment of the Friday Five.

Today, five books you need to read. (I’ve included the Amazon links but highly encourage you to purchase at your locally-owned bookstore.)

1.) Soulful Simplicity. My copy is nearly worn out. I love Courtney’s “voice,” her story, and how she simplified not just her belongings but all facets of her life.

2.) The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. I read this essay over and over on Mark Manson’s site before it was fleshed out and published as a book. This is required reading for everyone. At the very least, read the essay for free at: https://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck.

3.) The Little Book of Hygge. The days are getting colder and shorter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Perfect time to brush up on the Danish art of hygge, sometimes translated as “coziness” (but means so much more).

And a couple fiction books:

4.) A Moveable Feast – Hemingway at his finest. It’ll make you want to move to Paris and he dishes on all the well-known writers of the time.

5.) A Song of Fire and Ice – Sure, you’ve seen “Game of Thrones” (Which is the name of the first book in R.R. Martin’s series), but the writing is great and after all – Winter is coming.

So curl up by the fire and enjoy! I love a good thought-provoking (sometime note-taking-necessitating) non-fiction when I have a bit more energy and an escape-worthy fantasy/fiction book when the brain is done for the day. If you read any of these, drop your comments below!

Honoring Your Best You,

Veronica

Dress for the Life you Want

We’ve often heard of “Dress for the job you want.” Well I say, dress for the life you want. Especially with so many of us still in quarantine, it can be easy to get stuck in the “sweatpants and no bra” rut that is Corona Life. While joggers and baggy hoodies certainly have their place (you can pry my gray velour sweatsuit out of my cold, dead hands), living in them 24/7 will eventually start to affect mood, productivity and keep you from feeling Your Best You.

So, here’s a three-step process for getting in the groove with your wardrobe.

1.) Describe what your absolute ideal life would be. Write it down. Get as descriptive as possible. Now, what would you wear as that person?

2.) Shop your closet. What items in your closet match what you envisioned Your Best You wearing? Separate them out, and put them on the nicest hangers you have, all matching. (I love the thin copper ones, personally.) I like to put everything in one place – clothes, shoes, outerwear, etc. so I can see my entire wardrobe all at once.

3.) Clear out the clutter. Now, take the rest of the clothes, shoes, etc. and box them up. No need to part with them yet. Just get them out of your closet, and preferably put the box somewhere you won’t be tempted to “break into it” like the attic or garage. Be sure to put the date on the box.

4.) Take inventory. Your closet is probably a lot smaller now – perhaps too small if you didn’t have many clothes in the “Your Best You” category. No rushing to the store – that defeats the purpose here. Slowly curate a list of the key items you need to complete your new wardrobe. Perhaps create a Pinterest board.

5.) Curate your wardrobe. After at least 30 days you can start slowly shopping for the PERFECT version of each item on your list. No compromising or “making do.”

Hope this helps. It’s a fun little (or perhaps big depending on your closet) project that can really help give you clarity and get you out of the Quarantine Blahs.

Honoring Your Best You,

Veronica

The KonMari Step We All Skip (And Why It’s So Important)

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As everyone knows, the first step in the KonMari process is clothes. Dive in and tidy any shirts, pants, and other apparel that doesn’t spark joy, thanking them for what they have provided you before moving on to books, right?

Wrong.

In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo says:

Before you start getting rid of things, take the time to…visualiz[e] the ideal lifestyle you dream of….Think in concrete terms that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.

This was the main reason I have had trouble decluttering my wardrobe (if you’re a regular reader, you know this is a constant battle for me ), as I wrote about in “Find Your Wardrobe, Find Yourself.”  For me, not picturing (and being honest about) my ideal lifestyle didn’t effect tidying books, kimono, or even memorabilia, but showed in the large and completely incohesive closet (and dresser, and coat closet, and shoe racks (multiple).

However, this doesn’t just apply to clothes. Not clearly seeing whether you would like to start holding formal dinner parties could lead to unnecessarily holding onto fine china, not to mention the cabinet to keep it in. Not being honest about whether you’re really going to take up skiing could lead to boots, poles, and skis gathering dust in the basement.

So do not skip this step. Visualize the lifestyle you want to work towards (avoiding the Fantasy Self trap that is easy to fall into with the KonMari method), get as specific as you absolutely can (I literally planned what a weekday and weekend would look like from waking up to bedtime), and write it down.

And then? Knowing what sparks joy and needs to remain in your life to reach your goals becomes a breeze.

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

What I Learned from Another Failed Project 333

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. – Henry Ford.

Back in early April, Courtney Carver of “Be More with Less” sent out another Project 333 challenge (You can read up on the challenge and its rules here.) Although I had attempted Project 333 a few times before and always given up after two or three weeks, I  decided to give it yet another go.

So, two months later, I have finally quit. Except not really. This time I stuck with the challenge long enough to learn some very good lessons about how many clothes I really need, what I need in a wardrobe (hint: Not real pants), and what I really wear on a daily basis.

In early April, this is the 33 items I pared my wardrobe down to:

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Thanks to a never-ending winter, I had to include everything from a down parka and mittens to tank tops and a pair of shorts to accommodate temperatures from 10F to 80F and everything in between. It actually ended up being a Project 323 because I never wore that white button-down shirt.

So two months later, this is what I’ve learned:

  • hate black clothing. On myself, that is. I love it on other people but don’t feel right or comfortable in it at all. My go-to neutrals are white and gray.
  • I don’t need fancy clothes. Or even business casual clothes. Or real pants. I wore the khakis and nicer shirts to the myriad doctor appointments I had just to make myself feel more adult, but it was totally unnecessary. I would have done better to switch those out for more t-shirts and another pair of shorts.
  • finally learned how to pull together a cohesive wardrobe that goes together.
  • I do like having about 33 items in my closet to choose from.
  • I also like putting away non-seasonal items and getting them out of my closet.

So, like I said, I quit the challenge, but have just re-done my closet with a different 33 item capsule wardrobe with the following rule changes to make Project 333 work better for me:

  • I will be changing the capsule wardrobe when the weather changes. Having one pair of shorts to wear while my parka was still taking up space once the summer arrived drove me batty.
  • I will not be counting my Converse collection towards the total. (Yes, I have a problem. No, I don’t plan on seeking help for it.)
  • I will also not be counting jewelry. I almost never wear any in the first place, but I want to be able to accessorize on the rare occasion I do wear it.

So here’s my summer capsule wardrobe that I’ll keep until it cools off in the fall:

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Admittedly, with these new rules the challenge is a lot easier, but it’s also much more workable for me and my situation. I’ll provide an update either if something changes or when I switch to my fall wardrobe.

And the Converse collection? Here she is, with another pair currently shipped and on their way.

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Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica