Saturday 8 February 2014

Weekend Recharge

I love weekends.  I am one of the fortunate people who works Monday to Friday, so the weekend means a lot to me.  I work in health care in a small town.  I find my job extremely rewarding, but also emotionally draining.  It is hard to watch friends and acquaintances battle illness.  Usually by Friday, I am more than ready for the break from my work.  Taking time to recharge is very important to one's sense of peace and stability.  We are not created to run from activity to activity with no rest in between.  In recharging, we find our balance, strength and happiness.

As a person who works full time during the week, there is always work to be done at home.  I have to get some laundry done, clean my house and work on my minimalism.  These tasks are not my favourite things to do, but I do like that I don't have a specific timeline in which to complete them.  I get to create nice meals because of the extra time.  My husband and I can linger over them and not worry about rushing to get dishes done.  We like to watch a movie or catch the latest Saturday Night Live together, allowing ourselves to rest from our chores throughout the day.

As a couple that is soon welcoming a child, my husband and I have discussed the importance of traditions.  Most of my fondest childhood memories are linked to simple traditions that my family used to do.  My husband has similar memories with his family.  My husband and I already had the practice of attending church every Sunday morning.  We enjoy connecting with our faith once a week, bringing us back to center. We have started the tradition of eating crepes after mass, a tradition gleaned from each of our families.  Shaun's family would gather for lunch each weekend after Sunday services.  The crepe recipe is from my father.  He would make them on weekends when he wasn't working and we loved to eat them.  My brother and I each enjoyed different toppings, but we both had a strong enthusiasm for the meal.  I suspect that my mother, who did almost all of the cooking, enjoyed the break from playing chef as much as the meal.  My dad would even "dye" the crepes with food colouring to match holidays.  Pink for Valentines day, green for St. Patrick's day and so on.  The first time my husband ate a crepe in front of me, I actually gasped.  He was doing it all wrong!  He was eating the crepe as one would eat a buttermilk pancake.  I showed him our crepe eating "technique".  You put all the toppings on the crepe, roll it up and eat small sections of it with a fork.  My hubby thought it was hilarious that I took such offense to the way he had eaten the crepe, but has happily converted to the roll-up technique.  As we eat, my husband and I use the time to really talk and reconnect.  I cherish this time immensely.

It is important to make sure that you schedule in time to recharge.  I am aware that a lot of people don't have the luxury of a weekend to spend recharging.  Many people are required to work weekends or spend weekends rushing their children to tournaments and competitions.  Often, other obligations take up our "free" time, until we no longer feel that our time belongs to ourselves.  Like all other aspects of our lives, we must be vigilant in scheduling in time to recharge.  It could be simply having your family sit down once a week to share a meal and catch up with one another.  It could be walking your dog in the park.  Many harried mothers I know love just being able to take a bubble bath without interruption.  One must simply ask themselves when they truly feel peaceful and happy.  When you discover the activity that allows you to find that sense of calm, schedule it in!  Make time to recharge yourself.  You will find that doing this will give you a much more peaceful outlook on your busy life, giving you the feeling that you can tackle it all.

What are the ways that you like to recharge?  What moments of peace get you through your week?  I would love to hear from you!  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Eliminating the "Extras"

My husband and I have wanted to live much more simply.  It is amazing what we have been able to accumulate in our three year marriage.  After visiting a friend in the city, I was in awe at the clean, simplicity of her home.  I went home and excitedly told my husband how much I loved her minimalist condo.  I told him that there wasn't a thing out of place and none of the cupboards were overflowing!

I have always been a bit of a neat freak, but I also like to hold onto things for sentimental reasons.  This is not a fantastic combination, as I have spent a lot of my life "organizing".  My husband isn't a lot better.  He also has a tendency to accumulate.  We each accumulate different things, but our collections take up valuable space in our small home.

When my husband and I got married, we were blessed by the generosity of our family and friends.  For a couple that had mostly hand-me-down dishes and dollar store items, this was like hitting the jackpot!  Our loved ones truly went all out.  We were so fortunate to receive a really good set of pots and pans, baking-ware and bed sheets.  We also acquired an assortment of kitchen gadgets, towels, utensils and cookbooks.

Our first home was a 525 square foot mobile home.  We could not squeeze even a quarter of our gifts into our tiny home!  We stored most our gifts in my childhood bedroom at my mom and dad's house.  We bought our next home six months later and it felt like a mansion!  925 square feet and a basement!  My mom was as excited to get our items out of her home as we were to use our new treasures. And so began a whole new level of accumulation.

A lot of what we keep is out of guilt.  It is so difficult to let go of items that people you love have spent money on.  It is also difficult to get rid of something that is useful.  We received many duplicates of baking-ware, but I decided that it was best to store it all in the cold room.  There is no way that I would use fifteen baking dishes in my lifetime, but the dishes were brand new.  I thought that I may need them "just in case".

Over time, our mountain of stored objects grew.  I started to run out of room in our cold room.  Instead of cleaning it out, I asked my handy hubby to build me some shelves.  I quickly filled those shelves. I managed to take over the closets in our spare room, as well.

I will say this: I am not a hoarder.  You might think so from my descriptions, but I am actually on par with a lot of my friends and family.  In some instances, I own a lot less than those around me.  My husband and I were just beginning to "outgrow" our two bedroom bungalow.  Or so I thought...

Several different "moments" led me to want to adopt a minimalist lifestyle.  My husband and I decided that we wanted to start a family.  I started to consider the fact that the spare bedroom would someday belong to a little person who would need room for his or her own things.  My visit to my friend's condo left a spark, as well.  I was astonished at the calm feeling of her home.  Our things were starting to suffocate me.  I was lucky that around the same time, my husband started to feel the same way.

We began to purge.  I was not prepared for the feeling of freedom that accompanied our elimination.  We took two Jeep loads to a second hand store in a neighbouring town.  The profits from the second hand store supports a women's shelter in the town.  We are on our third sweep of the house and it has come down to only keeping the items that we truly use or love.  Those are the criteria.  Pair of shoes that I like the look of but can't wear for more than an hour?  Donate.  Three extra spatulas? Donate.  Awesome DVDs that we no longer watch?  Donate.

My husband and I have pared down our items, considerably.  I only own one spatula and one cheese grater.  I have downsized my shoe collection and nearly eradicated my C.D. collection.  I have donated my books to my local library where they will be read and enjoyed.  My closet only holds clothes that I wear on a regular basis.

The things that we own are not supposed to weigh us down.  No one has ever given a loved one a gift, hoping that it will collect dust in the receiver's basement.  Once my husband and I realized that our unused items still may hold value for someone else, the guilt that we felt lifted.  We all know the old cliche "money can't buy happiness".  I am not one for cliches, but this one holds true.  True happiness lies in our experiences, our relationships with one another, our ability to help those around us and our belief in something greater than ourselves.  It is a disservice, not only to ourselves but to those around us, to allow things to take up too much space in our lives.

 I hope to explore our foray into minimalism on this blog, as well as the other ways that my husband and I try to maintain a peaceful lifestyle.  I would love to hear your ideas and experiences.  Thanks for reading!