Decluttering Sentimental Items

Decluttering sentimental items is the most difficult and challenging aspect of minimalism. It is advanced minimalism, and should be undertaken last. Before attempting to declutter sentimental items, you should have experience in exercising your decluttering muscles. Downsizing categories such as clothing, the kitchen and the bathroom should be categories you have addressed well before sentimental items. 

Leaving sentimental items until last allows you to build your minimalist muscle. If you attempt to declutter sentimental items too early, you set yourself up for failure. Not only do you fail to declutter the items, but you experience all the feelings involved that make the items sentimental from the beginning. It can cause you a setback in your decluttering journey.

I have finally reached the stage where I am ready to declutter sentimental items. I have tried to declutter this category before and I failed. That’s okay. My initial sweep through the sentimental category, I downsized sentimental items from three storage bins to one storage bin. Sometimes you have to take baby steps.

If you are just starting with the sentimental item category, I do recommend taking it in steps. First, gather all of your sentimental items together. Second, try to curate your collection. I found that downsizing from three storage bins to one storage bin was a challenging, yet doable goal.

The other tip that was helpful for me was that once I downsized from three storage bins to one storage bin, I took the two storage bins that were going to be “leaving” and left them in a closet for a year. After that year, I was completely okay with the two storage bins leaving and just having the one bin of mementos. In fact, after the year, I had completely forgotten what was inside the other two bins. You can’t miss what you don’t remember, can you?

This was a few years ago that I undertook the three bins to one bin exercise. I am finally at a point in my decluttering journey where I am able to address the one bin that is left. Granted, the one bin is about 90% full of items from my childhood. I’m sure your sentimental bin may look different.

Here are reasons why I am now finding it easier to get rid of the remaining bin of sentimental items. 

  1. I had a horrible childhood. Why do I want to keep items that remind me of the most traumatic time period of my life? Did I enjoy playing with those toys? No, I did not. I lived in a state of abuse and perpetual fear. The toys in the bin were given to me by someone else in the family, who had absolutely no idea of my favorite toys as a child. They had just set aside toys that they liked or thought I would have wanted. I don’t want them. Now, some of these items are worth money. I have a pair of pristine Sonny and Cher Barbies as well as one of the original preemie Cabbage Patch dolls that came in a plain cardboard box from Sears before they started putting them in shiny, colorful packaging with a plastic “window” to see inside. I still don’t want them. They do not invoke any happy memories.
  2. I have no children. Some people keep a set of their most loved toys to pass down to their own children. I have no children to give these toys to. They are just sitting in a box, not being used, played with or loved. They are taking up space. Toys are intended to bring joy. I’m sure there are children out there who would find joy in playing with them.
  3. They are not benefitting my life. The toys are sitting in a box taking up space. I am decluttering my house in anticipation of an international move. I refuse to pay international shipping to take those items with me. What’s going to happen to them when I move again? They are going to sit in a box in the closet same as they are now. Why pay time, money and energy to move something from place to place that is going to sit unused.
  4. Swedish Death Cleaning. What will happen to this box of toys when I die? They will either be thrown out or donated. Why not get rid of them now so they have the opportunity to bring joy to some child. 
  5. Is this difficult? Yes, it is. While none of these items evoke happy memories, it is still difficult to get rid of them. Yet when I sit down and think about it, I cannot think of one good reason to keep them. Do they bring me joy? No, they do not. It is still difficult, emotional and sad to get rid of them. Don’t ask me how. Emotions are complicated that way. You know those times when you feel all the feelings. Even though they evoke negative emotions, I also have negative emotions about getting rid of pieces of my childhood even if it was bad.

In addition to the one bin of childhood toys, I have other sentimental items that will be leaving this year. My entire jewelry collection will be leaving. The only piece of jewelry I am keeping is my mother’s necklace that has Jude, Simon and Jolene’s names on a heart with their birth stones. Why do I need jewelry? It does not bring me joy. No one sees me. My mother’s necklace brings me joy. I am keeping that. 

Since the pandemic has started, life has become a story of survival. With no end to the pandemic in sight, why would I need items like jewelry? They are unnecessary baubles. They are not essential for survival. I am downsizing all my items to only those that are necessary or that bring me joy. The other jewelry pieces do not bring me joy. I would not want to take the other jewelry pieces with me on an international move.

I can only wear one necklace at a time. Ok, ok, I’m sure you can wear two or three necklaces at a time. However, that just makes me think of some cheesy 80s rapper concerned with their bling. I personally prefer to wear one necklace at a time. My mother’s necklace is the only one that is meaningful and brings me joy, so it stays. Every other piece of jewelry I have is not irrelevant. 

When life is reduced to survival, you really take stock of what is important in life.

There are some sentimental items that are still in the gradual reduction process. There are some items that are too difficult emotionally to leave. I have put those in a box for a year. We will see how I feel at the end of the year. Will I pull items out of the box because I want to look at them or keep them? Will I even remember what is in the box at the end of the year.

To clarify, I do not have a life devoid of meaning. I do have sentimental items I have kept such as my mother’s necklace. I have curated a photo album of my greatest hits / best memories which I take out often and look through fondly. I have some sentimental items that are either in use or on display in my home. I’m not saying to life a life without meaning or sentiment. I am saying to curate what you have. If you love it, display it. Leaving toys in a box for 30 years and shuttling them around from place to place – those are the types of items you really need to question about leaving. 

What tips do you have for decluttering sentimental items? 

American Glassware

My most favorite thing in America is our glassware. Specifically, I love Ball mason jars and Homer & Shakespeare Laughlin’s Fiesta ware. Both companies are over 100 years old and showcase the best America has to offer.

Previously, I had been all rah-rah USA. I was in support of our troops, our country, and had many American flag themed items. Before the pandemic, I was very patriotic. That all ended on January 6, 2021. As some of my neighbors participated in the insurrection and are currently serving jail terms, I can now say that every single time I see an America flag, the only thing I feel is fear. (You should have seen the parades they had just before and right after the insurrection.)

I am ashamed to be an American these past four years when we are living through a genocide perpetuated by a government that wrongly declares covid to be “over.” With millions of Americans being deliberately killed by a known biohazard, I cannot wait to leave this country of such hate and murder. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that America would let its own citizens die in a pandemic because it’s too hard to instate a mask mandate and improve ventilation.

When thinking of leaving America, I would have to say that the only thing I will miss about this country is our glassware. Yes, I’m sure that the glassware in other countries is spectacular as well. However, I will genuinely miss mason jars and fiesta ware when I leave the USA.

While most mason jars are clear, I do have some of the 100-year anniversary jars that are blue color. When Ball first started making mason jars over 100 years ago, the glass had a natural blue tint due to the weather conditions where the jars were made. I love how mason jars are standard sizes with gradations. While originally used for canning food, mason jars are versatile in their uses. Nothing works quite as hard in the American kitchen as the mason jar.

As an adult, I am also privileged to have been able to invest in a set of fiesta ware. Fiesta ware is guaranteed to be lead-free, which is a hard found luxury in the USA. They are made with different colors with whimsical names. Each year, a new color is introduced while an existing color is retired. Some people will have a color theme in their house. Others just mix and match.

Fiesta ware is delightful in its colors. The quality of the glassware is high. It is long lasting, often handed down from generations. Some families have fiesta ware passed down from grandparents. The glassware is durable and difficult to chip or break. 

Our color theme for fiesta ware in my household consists of:

Daffodil (a yellow color)

Shamrock (a green that was recently retired)

Lemongrass (a light green)

Lapis (a blue)

Peony (a pink that was recently introduced, although we have one peony item – a mug)

  • We do not consider peony to be part of our “original” color theme

All of our human dishes and all of our cat dishes are fiesta ware. I believe in giving my cats the very best. I actually upgraded all my cat food and cat water dishes to fiesta ware before my human dishes. The cats’ lives are shorter than human lives. They deserve to live the good life.  After all, the greatest gift they bring to our lives is unconditional love and joy. 

In preparing to leave the USA and move to some other country, I am downsizing my house. No, I am not getting rid of any of my mason jars or fiesta ware. My mason jars and fiesta ware are all being used and bring us joy. However, when the time comes to actually make the move out of country, the mason jars and fiesta ware will be leaving. I am not going to attempt to transport glassware with me internationally. I plan to only immigrate with the basics. 

Mason jars and fiesta ware will be the only American items I will miss when I leave this country. Everything else I can do without. The glassware I use every day brings me such joy. It is hard to think of going to another country and starting over with different glassware. 

There was a story on the news recently about people who immigrated to the USA. They were asked about the one item that they brought with them from their home country that reminded them of home. For me, it would be a mason jar and fiesta ware. 

What would you miss the most if you were to leave the USA or your home country? 

The Tale of Tom Part 2

To read the first installment of the Tale of Tom, please click here.

The first fall I was in the house, I noticed muddy paw prints on my car in the garage. I bought the house at the end of August. It did not take long for me to realize that there were stray cats using my garage as a place of refuge. 

That winter, I noticed that the strays were still outside, even in temperatures below zero. It was obvious the cats were homeless! Who in their right mind would let or leave their pet outside in temperatures below freezing? I quickly purchased a bin from the store and made the outside cats a shelter, complete with insulation. 

Fast forward to current times. We have been in this house for almost four and a half years. There are now a total of four insulated outside cat shelters and two feeding stations. There were three strays that I call my originals – those were the ones that I saw that first fall and winter of being in the house. 

Then, last January, two kittens were thrown out of a truck. I am a permanent remote worker, so I saw the whole thing happen while working. No, I do not spend my entire work day looking out the window. However, when an unknown vehicle drives erratically into the area and does something as outrageous as throwing not one, but two helpless animals out of a moving vehicle, you kind of take notice. 

That means that as of January 2022, there were 5 outside cats under my care. There were the three originals and the two kittens thrown from a truck. 

On top of all this, there is a dog fighting ring in the area that is using the outside stray cats as bait. They are often spray-painted various colors. The SPCA refuses to shut down the dog fighting ring. They said that it brings in too much money. When I asked “what about the cats being used as bait?” Their exact response was, and I quote, “they will adapt.”

They won’t adapt. They will/are being maimed and murdered. 

I reached out to a different non-profit animal rescue in our area that is run 100% by volunteers and donations. With their help, I was able to trap two cats last winter and get them into shelter. They have both already been adopted into loving homes. One of the kittens and one of my “originals” that had been spray painted a very bright green by the dog fighting ring.

That means that as of March 2022, I was left caring for three outside cats – one of the kittens thrown from a truck and two of my “originals.” The rescue knows that I am working with these cats. I am providing them with food, water, insulated shelters, and a safe place of refuge. They know there is a dog fighting ring in the area and that I am trying to trap the cats and get them into the rescue to be adopted.

The rescues have been full. Americans are cruelly dumping their pets for no legitimate reason. Every few months, I reach out to see if there is space to take one of the cats. All through the spring, summer, and fall they have said they are full.

Last week, there was a space available. I had reached out because it looked like one of the outside cats (Tom) had an injury and needed medical care. I asked the rescue if they could take one in, as he looked in need of help. They said yes.

Tom was my third cat trapped and taken to shelter. He was the most difficult. With the first two cats, I was able to get them transported to the rescue within a few hours of being trapped. The rescue just came and got the trap with the cat in it and away they went to safety.

Tom was trapped on Thursday afternoon. The rescue said they would not have space to take him until Friday morning. They had some adoptions on Thursday that would clear up space, plus they wanted to prepare. 

I could not leave Tom in the trap for 18 hours outside when it was supposed to get below freezing that night. That would be dangerous and cruel.

I brought Tom inside into my basement. I had to keep him separate from my inside house cats so he would not spread any diseases. Tom was one of my originals I had been caring for 4.5 years. He was an intact male. Who knows what fleas/ticks/diseases he had.

So I brought the cat trap into the basement where he would be heated and not freeze in the trap overnight. I felt bad about him being in a little trap for so long, so I transferred him to a dog cage complete with blankets, cat pan, food and water. I thought he would be more comfortable that way for the 18 hour wait until the rescue was able to take him in.

The rescue saga completely fell apart Friday morning when I was unable to transfer Tom from the dog cage to a cat carrier. He escaped me.

To make a long story short, he spent the entire day (over 12 hours) in my basement hiding. I had to reset the trap to trap him again in the basement. I honestly did not think I would be able to trap him a second time. Tom is smart and Tom is hardy to have survived life outside for as long as he did through many winters of below zero weather. 

Surprisingly, I did trap Tom a second time. I was not stupid enough to try any more transfers. I left him in the trap. He was in the trap for over 12 hours before he was taken into rescue. That is the exact situation I was trying to avoid from the beginning, but I learned the hard way, that situation was unavoidable.

The rescue worker came to help me get him out of the basement, as he was too strong for me. We almost lost him a second time trying to get him into the car to take to rescue.

I am happy to report that Tom is at the rescue. He has heat, food, water, love and medical care for the rest of his life. He has been seen by the veterinarian. They estimate he is over 10 years old (a senior). He has dental issues and is indeed an intact male. He has injuries which are most likely from the dog fighting ring. 

Whether he is adopted into a living home or not, the rescue has assured me that he has a space there as one of their “forever residents” if need be. Never again will Tom be outside when it is 30 degrees below zero outside. He will get the medical and dental care he needs. He will be neutered.

Rescuing Tom was heartbreaking as he was one of my “originals.” I had provided care for him as a stray for 4.5 years. But honestly, what Tom needs is a loving home. I am so glad he was taken into rescue where he will receive the care he so desperately needs and deserves.

This means that right now I am left caring for two outside cats.

There is Kenny, who I am guessing to be about 1-2 years old. Kenny is one of the kittens that was thrown out of a truck last winter. Kenny pretty much lives in my garage. He sleeps in one of the insulated shelters. I have a snuggle safe heat disc I use to help him through the winter. I see him every morning when I take food outside. He then goes about his day. I see him every night when I bring the food dishes inside and reheat his heat disc. He sleeps in the insulated shelter.

I can tell Kenny misses Tom. They would both be there for breakfast in the morning. I would see Kenny and Tom playing together and grooming each other. It was almost as if “grandpa” Tom had taken kitten Kenny under his wing.

The second outdoor cat still left is one of my originals. Flower is very elusive. She was thrown out of the house next door. The people in that house have since moved and new people live there. Flower is the cat I saw last winter with a broken leg. She is the first one I tried to trap to be able to get her to medical care. I was not able to trap her. I have a feeling that Flower may be the last cat trapped. She is the most skittish of all the outside cats. 

Even Tom was able to get on a feeding schedule after about four years. Flower truly comes and goes as she pleases. She is scared of other cats and all humans. I sometimes go days without seeing Flower. 

My goal is to get Kenny and Flower into the shelter also. It’s hard because the shelters are so full. I’m really hoping I can get them both into the shelter for medical care and adoption within the next two years. We will see. It all depends on when the rescue has room to take more.

For now, the Tale of Tom has a happy ending. Tom is right where he needs to be. He is receiving medical care, food, water, heat and love from all of the dedicated volunteers who take care of the cats twice daily.

Good luck on this next part of your journey, Tom. I love you and I miss you. 

End of Year in Review

For 20 years I would make the trip 3.5 hours north to the Adirondacks (ADK) for my annual Labor Day weekend camping trip. That camping trip was my vacation every year. It was the only 3-day in a row stretch I ever had off. 

While in the ADK, I would rest, relax and reflect on the past year. I would do a journal entry to document everything that happened in the past year. I was in college working on my degrees and working 3 jobs trying to make ends meet. Life was moving at a fast pace. I was making progress. I used the time to celebrate my wins and focus on what I could do better. 

For me, Labor Day weekend each year was my New Years. It was the time to reset. It was right before, or at the beginning of, the fall semester.

The last trip I made to the ADK was in 2019. Somehow, there was this feeling inside me like I knew it would be my last visit there. 

Then the pandemic hit. 

Instead of celebrating wins, change, and goals, I’m back to trying to survive. Yes, I did have some big wins this past year. My novella is published. I now have 25 medals. I only have to earn one more medal to achieve my goal of 26 medals.

The biggest win is the fact that I am still alive in the middle of a global pandemic and that the cats and I are still together. 

I’m not sure if I will survive another 10-14 years that I need to outlive the cats. There is so much death right now. I am not privileged enough to think I will escape death. After all, I am on the government euthanasia list. The death clinic called me daily for 7 weeks straight in the fall of 2021 trying to schedule my euthanasia appointment.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to access healthcare in this pandemic. How do you live for another 10-14 years without access to healthcare?

My one goal in life is to outlive the cats so I can take care of them and keep them together. For the first time in my life, I have a goal that I am not sure I can achieve. As the covid situation becomes increasingly dire in this country, I just don’t see myself living for another decade. 

I have decided that I will no longer do a Year in Review for New Year’s. There is no reason to document or reflect on things that went well or things I can improve. I have one goal. That goal is to survive. As long as I survive to live another year, that is the only thing I have to celebrate. 

All my hopes and dreams mean nothing without the cats. I cannot achieve anything without my health. Since the health of the entire human race is in peril right now, my only goal is survival. 

If I can outlive the cats, then I will dream. I will leave the country. But right now, as long as I can survive another year and take care of my cats, that is all I need for a New Year’s goal. 

So here is to the New Year. I survived 2022. May I survive 2023 as well. 

(No more) Blue Christmas

The last Christmas I spent living “at home” with family was as a teenager in the 90s. Out of all of the horrible Christmases of my childhood, the last Christmas was one of the most traumatic. It was the year of the Blue Christmas.

That holiday season, my mother’s married boyfriend had broken up with her. She dated this married man for about a decade. He would vacillate between telling her he was going to divorce his wife and breaking up with her. When they finally broke up for good after a decade of this, he divorced his wife within 6 months and married someone else (not my mother). 

This particular Christmas was about year three or maybe year four of their relationship, and he had broken it off with her right before the holidays. My mother proclaimed that year was a Blue Christmas.

The Christmas tree was blue. While not-green Christmas trees may be popular now, they weren’t in the 90s. Somehow, my mother found a blue Christmas tree. The lights were all blue. The garland was blue. Every single ornament on the tree was blue. Every Christmas decoration my mother put out that year was blue, including the fake snow.

She took empty boxes, wrapped them in (guess what?) blue wrapping paper and put them under the tree. She said that the empty boxes were presents that year. Maybe they were a reflection of how she was feeling.

Elvis’ Blue Christmas played on repeat in the house for a straight month. There were no other Christmas songs played. The radio was not allowed to be on. The only music playing was Elvis’ Blue Christmas on repeat for an entire month. I’m not exaggerating. She actually did this. 

To this day, every time I hear Blue Christmas, I feel nauseous. I have to turn it off. I cannot bear to hear that song ever again, no matter who is singing it. 

I recently heard a Norah Jones Christmas song on the radio and was thinking I would like to buy her Christmas CD. When I looked up her Christmas CD, I saw that Blue Christmas was on the album. I will not purchase the album. I refuse to own a single CD containing the Blue Christmas song, no matter who is singing it. 

To this day, I refuse to have anything blue at Christmas. I do not want blue lights. I do not want blue ornaments. I do not want any blue Christmas decorations. 

There is one exception.

I have this bluebird of happiness on my Christmas tree. It was made by the (now retired) receptionist at our veterinarian office. It is the only blue thing I will have for Christmas. It is the bluebird of HAPPINESS. As Catherine O’Hara says in Home Alone, Christmas is the Season of Perpetual Hope. The bluebird of happiness is the only blue thing I allow at Christmas.

There will be no blue Christmases in my household as an adult. We choose happiness. 

Merry Christmas. May it be happy and full of love. 

Medal 25

It’s A Wonderful Run has been on my running list for over a decade now. I’ve been keeping an eye on it and either the weather does not cooperate or it is too close to my fall marathon. This year everything came together perfectly so I was finally able to complete this race on my Bucket List!

The town of Seneca Falls, NY was the setting for Bedford Falls in the Wonderful Life movie. The location is just over an hour from me. While I really wanted to be able to do the race in person and run over the famous bridge in the movie, I did the Covid-safe virtual option.

Using my Garmin, I submitted my official results for the race. I am quite proud in that I was the first female Masters finisher and the second overall Masters finisher! This is the second time since I achieved Masters running status in 2019 that I have come in first place in a race! 

The bell on the medal really does ring. It is most certainly a cherished medal. I am so happy that for medal 25 I was able to finally participate in It’s A Wonderful Run.

If you would like to support my race, please consider a donation to my favorite charity for homeless humans, Back on my Feet, or donate to your local no-kill animal shelter.

Completing It’s A Wonderful Run is a huge accomplishment for me. As I look to retire from competitive racing, I am so glad I was able to meet my goal in finishing this race.

For 2023, I only have one more medal to earn to achieve my life goal of 26 medals. I want to be able to retire from competitive running on my own terms before distance running is taken from me either from Covid or some other unfortunate health means. 

I am feeling pressure in choosing a race for medal 26. I feel like it has to be something meaningful. I am reviewing my running bucket list to see what is feasible for 2023. In the meantime, I am so happy that It’s A Wonderful Run was medal 25.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my running journey thus far all these years. As the movie says, “no man is a failure who has friends.”

Medals 22, 23, 24

In 2012, I completed my Canadian Hat Trick in Montreal. This year, 2022, I completed my American Hat Trick thanks to Philadelphia! A few weeks ago, I completed the Italian Stallion Challenge portion of the Rocky Run! In completing the Italian Stallion Challenge, I ran a 5k, a 10k, and a half marathon. This medal trinity is meaningful in a few ways.

First, I now have a hat trick in both Canada and the USA. Luckily, I completed my Canadian hat trick a decade ago when I was still able to travel without much difficulty. Completing a hat trick in both countries checks off an item on my running bucket list.

A second item was checked off my running bucket list with the Rocky Run achievement. I have now achieved 8 medals from Philadelphia. Why are 8 Philadelphia medals significant? 

When I chose my running tattoo, I chose the Philadelphia Marathon logo. Philly was my first half marathon. Philly was my first full marathon. At the time I had my running tattoo done, I had 8 medals. So when the Philly logo was tattooed on my arm, I had the artist add stars so that there are 8 stars that matched my 8 medals. My thinking at the time was that I would keep adding stars on my arm – one star for each medal. I would add stars in batches every few years to match my medal count.

Adding more stars to my existing tattoo has not been an option, for multiple reasons. Suffice it to say, I have 8 stars, and it will remain at 8 stars. Thus, the 8 stars needed a new meaning.

Since my running tattoo is to commemorate Philly being my first, I decided that the 8 stars would represent each one of my Philly medals. In completing the Italian Stallion Challenge portion of the Rocky Run, I now have 8 medals from Philly to match the 8 stars of my tattoo.

This is a huge item checked off my running bucket list.

My ultimate goal is to achieve 26 medals. Once I have achieved 26 medals, I will retire from competitive running. I will still run, but I won’t be focused as much on medal achievement. My goal for retirement is to be able to keep running until I die. My focus will change from full and half marathons to medals to being able to run the marathon of my life – I want to run until I die. 

I am now registered for a race in December 2022 in which I will earn medal 26. The race I have scheduled for December is another race that has been on my running bucket list for a very long time.

That means that as I head into the 2023 running season, I will look to earn my 26th and final medal. That’s a tall order. I started looking at races for 2023 for medal 26. I did not realize how difficult it would be to choose a “final” race to earn medal 26. While I will continue to run even after achieving 26 medals, it will be the end of an era. It makes my choice of race for medal 26 feel like it is so significant. It is actually quite daunting trying to choose a race for medal 26.

For now, I am proud and content in the 24 medals I have earned. By the Grace of God, I look forward to earning medal 25 in a few weeks.

Once 26 medals have been achieved, I will have new running goals. I may try to run a certain amount of miles in a year, or a certain number of days in a row. We will see. I will keep running, but I will have new goals that no longer include chasing after medals. For now, though, I am still on the path of medal achievement. Here’s to medals 22, 23, and 24. 

Vacation Allure

We all like vacation. At least, I haven’t met a person yet who doesn’t. Vacation is when we get to relax, unwind and have fun. We get to explore new places and experiences. Even if you stay home for a staycation, it’s nice to simply have the break from the workday. 

One of the allures of vacation is empty spaces. Who doesn’t love a hotel room /Airbnb /other accommodation not your own home? Part of the love of hotel rooms come from the fact that they are practically a blank slate. A hotel room has the essentials – a bed, a bath, maybe a coffee maker. The only belongings you have in the hotel room to personalize it are those items that you really need for the length of your stay. That may be a bag of clothing and some toiletry items.

You drop your bag off at your hotel room and go out the door. You are free to explore without being weighed down by your earthly belongings. You feel free. Vacation is very enticing.

Minimalism allows us to create that same allure of vacation at home. You can curate your surroundings and your belongings to ensure that you are only surrounded by what you need and what you love. This is not to say that your walls should be barren and your cupboards empty. I’m just saying that if you get rid of the CLUTTER at home, you can capture that vacation feeling every day.

I say this, but even as a minimalist, I am not perfect. I have my weak spots. For me personally, the area of my home most likely to become cluttered, remain cluttered, and attract clutter quickly is my kitchen counter. They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and mine is command central. It’s always been that way for me. 

When I was working on my degrees, the kitchen was where I would do all my schoolwork. It was where I would write my 20-page papers and where I wrote both my masters’ thesis. My kitchen table is where I wrote my first novella and continue working on my second. I often put things on my kitchen counter that are in “transition.” For example, if I plan to make zucchini bread in the morning, I put all the ingredients on the kitchen counter the night before so everything is ready to go the next day. 

It seems my kitchen counter is always in use. There is always something on it. It is always cluttered.

Last week I had a plumbing emergency in my kitchen that necessitated me completely emptying my kitchen counter. The experience was mind blowing. It took emptying the kitchen counter for me to realize just how much clutter was on the counter.

Once the plumbing issue was fixed, I did not want to return to the cluttered kitchen counter that had existed before the plumbing emergency. I was much more mindful of what I put back on the kitchen counter. 

If it did not need to be on the kitchen counter, I set it aside. I have an entire basket of items that used to be on my kitchen counter that now need to be relocated. I do not want my kitchen counters to reach that level of clutter again.

They say when trying to declutter you should completely empty a space and then only put back what you absolutely need or love. It definitely works. I did not fully realize how absolutely cluttered my kitchen counters were until I completely emptied them.

If you are stuck in a rut on your minimalist journey, I highly recommend completely emptying a space. Only put things back that you need or truly love. All the things that don’t make the cut need to either leave or find a new place within your home. 

The allure of vacation is that we get to stay in an uncluttered hotel room. You can capture the vacation feeling at home by reducing your clutter. It does not mean nothing. It means curating your space mindfully. 

Silence is Golden (Fork)

You may have noticed it’s been rather quiet here on RewindLiveSlow the past few months. That’s because I have been working on seeing my novella, A Rose Blooms at Golden Fork, to publication! 

I am so grateful for early readers of my draft, an amazing editor (all mistakes are mine), and a fantastic illustrator. The first of a three-part series set in 1849 Gold Rush America, A Rose Blooms at Golden Fork follows Rose Davis’ journey from her homestead to the fictional mining town of Golden Fork somewhere in the American west. 

The novella is available on Amazon kindle and as a paperback. Pull up a stool at the Lucky Shoe Saloon to watch Rose and Adelia’s love bloom as Rose follows her dreams of opening a hat shop on the frontier.

Part two of the Golden Fork series is currently in progress. In part two, we follow Harriet from Jasper’s General Store and Luella from the mill. The peddler makes a reappearance. We finally learn his name and his unexpected ties to one of the town residents. Golden Fork is growing and now has a newspaper and many other new businesses.

In addition to part two of the Golden Fork series, I have another work in progress. I am also working on my memoir that follows my journey achieving my marathons. Each chapter focuses on one of my medals. At this time, I am unsure which work will be available first – my memoir or Golden Fork part two. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this incredible journey with A Rose Blooms at Golden Fork. I appreciate you all. I hope that you find the novella enjoyable and are able to get lost for a little while in simpler times. 

You can find Golden Fork on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Rose-Blooms-At-Golden-Fork-ebook/dp/B0BL48KT46/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=rose+blooms+at+golden+fork&qid=1668184606&sprefix=rose+blooms+at+golden+%2Caps%2C132&sr=8-1

Medal # 21

Rejoice! I have conquered! That is the phrase reportedly exclaimed at the end of the first marathon. This past weekend, I completed a half marathon to earn medal 21.

I had originally planned this half marathon benefitting Ukraine for last spring. Needless today, the weather and life did not cooperate for me to train and complete a spring race. Fall is traditionally running season. It is much easier to train through the summer for a fall race than it is to train through snowy and icy winters for a spring race.

The race benefitted United Help Ukraine, which is a charity that is sending medical supplies to Ukraine. I used my Garmin, and running around my village, completed the 13.1 miles to earn the medal.

I have now earned 21 medals on my way to my 26 medal retirement goal. I have another race this fall. I am hoping to run that race this weekend. The race is supposed to be in November, but given weather and my training schedule, I may be able to complete the distance early. 

If all goes well, the “November” race will be my American hat trick. It is a race that will see me earn three medals if I am able to complete the Italian Stallion Challenge. 

There is a sense of urgency to earning my 26 medals. The big unknown is how much longer I can do this. I am very fortunate in that I have not had covid. However, the American government not only expects everyone to get covid, they want people to get covid multiple times until it either kills you or permanently disables you. This is not a prospect I am looking forward to. I am trying to earn my 26 medals before I get covid. When American society refuses to mask and has a ”you do you” philosophy, it is only a matter of time before you get covid. No place is safe. The hospital has said repeatedly that if you don’t have covid when you go there, you will get it while you are there. We can’t even get healthcare without being exposed to covid.

Medal 21 is special to me, as I wanted to do something to help Ukraine. If I did not have the cats depending on me, I would have volunteered to go to Ukraine to fight. The American government has me on the euthanasia list in the pandemic, so they are completely fine with the idea of me dying in Ukraine. As much as I want to help, I do have three young ones depending on me.

While I am very proud of medal 21, I still have five medals to go to reach my retirement goal. It seems like it is always the times when you are so close to realizing a goal that it is precarious. 

Hopefully this weekend the weather and my body will cooperate for me to complete my next race. 

For today, we can Rejoice! I have conquered! Here is to medal 21.