October Recap

Seriously, where did October go?? It seems like only yesterday we were packing for our trip to Canada and now, Halloween is over and we’re sitting smack dab in the middle of November 2nd!

When I looked at my bullet journal last night, the month of October was pretty sparse. We didn’t track much of anything during our vacation, except for miles walked. We went “off leash” on our eating…meaning, we enjoyed a bit of bacon with our oatmeal breakfast every now and then, sank our teeth into a lobster roll in Maine, and had a real soda…a blueberry soda at that. We also gave ourselves permission to enjoy afternoon froyos from the ice cream machine on the cruise ship. I suppose, we might have gained a few pounds this trip if it weren’t for all the walking. We walked 196.2 miles this month, bringing our total for the year to 797.8 miles.

A few other milestones for October include:

Having dinner with Angie’s grandma and aunt in Toledo, OH. This was the first time she had seen either of them in more than 20 years!

Taking Ticky (and her parents) to Trunk or Treat at Bledsoe Creek State Park. This was our first family outing since my niece moved back in with Ticky’s father. Everyone had a great time, though it was hard to keep the little one in costume.

We made 1.5 year’s worth of laundry soap. That’s 320 loads of laundry. At 4 loads a week (which is generous around our house – we usually average 2-3), that’s enough soap to last 80 weeks or more.

We had our first frost, but not before harvesting our last eggplants. My mom planted two eggplants in late June just to “see if they would grow” and lo and behold, they did. We ended up with 6 late season eggplants.

I finally started writing about our trip in our experience journal. The first entry is called Glamping in Niagara Falls. I always mean to write about our trips in real time but I’m usually too tired at the end of a fun day (or too far removed from the Internet) to do that. And besides, it’s probably better to focus on enjoying the experience rather than worrying about chronicling the journey anyway. There are plenty of cloudy days (like today) for writing. Or reading.

Speaking of which, the craziest thing happened last week with our library. I’ve been on a waiting list since July for Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and since September for At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe. When I checked the queue, I was still weeks away from checkout for either one so I checked out two other books I wanted to read and started both of them. Somehow, the very next day, both of my books on hold automatically checked out to me. I have 4 books to finish (now 3) in the next 2 weeks! Challenge accepted! I suppose this means I won’t have time for other people’s drama…I mean requests for my time…this month. Oh well 🙂

Ah, drama! Avoiding drama was the key reason why we wanted to do a happiness project this year anyway. The goals we set were specifically geared toward sharing experiences with one another; experiences that nourish our souls. And for the most part, we’ve done well with our project .

  • We’ve already read 54 books, exceeding our goal of 26 each.
  • We’ve cut back on eating meat, averaging 13.5 completely meatless days per month.
  • We’ve gone outside a lot more than last year to camp, hike, paddle, letterbox, garden, or just relax.
  • We’ve traveled to new places and experienced new things.

Though the year is not over, I can’t help but start to reflect on what all of this has meant so far. Has it decreased the amount of drama in our lives? Not at all. In fact, the drama is worse than ever. The holidays are approaching, after all. What it has done though is to help us better respond to the drama…and even that is still a work in progress. I’ll talk more about this in the remaining months of this year but in the meantime, we’re thinking about and planning for a new project in 2018. Stay tuned for more on that front too!

How was your October? Are you still on track with your goals for the year?

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Having Me Time vs. Living a Me Life

Though it didn’t start out to be, this was our actual to-do list from yesterday:

Originally, it was just a scrap of paper where I jotted down the words “free breakfast”, “Kroger freebie” and “feed the ducks”. When Angie later added “take flowers to cemetery”, an official to-do list was born and I carried it around with us all day.

It was there when we walked to Chick-Fil-A. It was there as we sat leisurely sipping coffee for an hour. It was there when we did an Easy Shift at Walmart and scanned a few items into Shopkick. It was there when we decided to make stuffed peppers in the crock pot for dinner. It was there when we ate our picnic lunch and went for a walk. It was there when we stopped to visit with my mom and put new flowers on my grandparents’ grave. And when I took it out of my pocket last night, I was so happy to have had such a great day, I posted it on Facebook.

The post received a few likes, which is fine. I’m not in the business of curating my life on Facebook anymore so like or no like, it’s all good to me. What bugged me though was the call I received this morning from someone I work with. “I’m glad you were able to enjoy some me time on your day off,” she said.

Me time? I was a little confused. Isn’t all of my time “me time”?

I don’t think I like this term “me time”. In the context it is most often used, “me time” conjures up images of a fast-paced life crammed full of activities and obligations; a life so beyond our own choosing that we feel the need to schedule a moment – and usually a very brief moment at that – to do something for ourselves. “Me time” is supposed to be good for you. It’s a way to decompress and destress, a time to be alone with one’s own thoughts and feelings, but to me, saying that one is taking some “me time” simply begs the questions: If you have to schedule time for yourself, whose life are you actually living?

Time is the only true currency in this world. It can be traded for almost anything – money, experiences, rest, relaxation, and even penance, drama, and chaos. Though we have no idea how much time we are given, we do know one thing – our time belongs to us. Or do we know that? When was the last time you actually got up, faced the day, and felt like every second, every minute, every hour actually belonged to you? If you’re like most folks, I’m going to guess you’re having a hard time recalling that memory right now. Moments where we feel absolutely free to do anything we choose are pretty rare. Which is why scheduling “me time” is all the rage these day.

Instead of scheduling “me time” though, I think I’d rather just live a “me life”.

What’s a “me life”?

Living a “me life” is not a new concept. In fact, I dare say that most of you reading this chose (or are thinking about choosing) a minimalist lifestyle for the express purpose of well…living on purpose. A “me life” is just that – a life dedicated to caring for yourself, cultivating your own happiness, and living intentionally.

But isn’t that selfish?

This is the one misguided thought that bugs me the most. Doing something for yourself is not selfish. Remember: You have to stock your own shelves before you have something to share with others. The definition of selfish is to do something without regard for other people. Taking care of yourself, living a fulfilling life, and doing what makes you happy are not pursuits that disregard the other people in your life. They directly take those people and a whole lot of others you haven’t even met yet into consideration. Happiness is inspiring. It is contagious. When you are happy, others around you will be happy too.

Okay, so how do I live a “me life”?

Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist has a great post called The Helpful Guide to Living an Intentional Life. To his words of wisdom, I would add:

Don’t settle for moments, prioritize yourself first. As I mentioned before, “me time” is comprised of those stolen moments when we finally sneak off to recharge ourselves. Don’t allow this to be your norm. Make caring for yourself your top priority. If your to-do list does not include you, you’re working the wrong list.

Own the choices you have already made. I often hear folks say that they can’t focus on their own happiness right now because they have _____ (the blank being filled in by words like kids, a house, a high-pressure job, debt, etc.). Are those things really obstacles or rather just choices we have already made? At one time or another, we probably thought that the item in that blank was the right choice for us. If that’s no longer the case, and we are able to, we need to change it. And if we can’t, we need to embrace that choice and incorporate it into our lives in a way that does bring happiness.

In 2015, I made the decision to move to Tennessee to be near my mom. Sometimes I find myself saying things like, “When we move back to Florida…” or “When we are free to live where we want…” which seems to imply that we didn’t have a choice or worse, that we can’t be happy until we no longer live here. And that’s not the case. I have to own that decision and build the kind of life I want to live right here, right now. And so do you. Don’t let what’s in your blank hold you back.

Immediately change anything that is not a good fit for you. As minimalists, we’ve gotten good at decluttering the junk from our drawers, our closets, and our garages. When a shirt just doesn’t fit anymore, we give it to Goodwill (or repurpose it as a dust rag). When a job, a relationship, or any other choice we may have made in the past no longer fits though, we convince ourselves that we can make it work. It’s much harder to declutter the intangible “junk” from our lives, yet it is those items that are far more restrictive than physical clutter. Set yourself free. If it doesn’t fit, let it go.

A good “me life” is kind of like one of those choose-your-own-adventure novels we had growing up. You are presented with a variety of equally interesting choices: Take a nap. Go for a walk. Color with your kids. Build a sandcastle. Dance. Watch a movie. Make a cake. Grow a garden. Read a book. Take a class. Start a business. Travel. Write a blog.  The decision is yours. Choose whatever makes you happy and when you’re done, go back and choose again. This is your life. This is your adventure. This is your time to be you.

Do you operate on “me time” or have you found a way to have a “me life”? I’d love to hear about it.