Purge, Cull, Let Go

originally published on June 20, 2014 on Polkadot-Bow

I hold on too tightly to things in this world. I’m trying to let go, or at least hold on loosely. Loosely like the way I sometimes hold onto a sheet of paper that sweeps smoothly out if the wind changes direction.

Purging makes me think of vomit, of puking, of throwing things out. It makes me think of trash, things invaluable.

Purging is what I do to those old homework papers, to the broken hair accessories, to the worn-out socks. To my old bookmark collection that used to be so valuable, to my old spelling quizzes. Judge me, but I used to think it was important to keep proof that I was a great speller in elementary school.

Culling makes me think of pastels, of black and white, and of refinement. Of curating an exquisite collection of valuable items. Once I learned about the job of a curator at a program at a museum. We learned that placing fewer items in a same size case could bring more focus to those items, make them more important, more appreciated.

Culling is what I do to my wardrobe, selecting out what I don’t wear anymore, to bring more focus to what I enjoy wearing. Culling is what I do to birthday cards, greeting cards, holiday cards. I discard the ones with generic messages, and keep the meaningful ones from close friends.

Letting go makes me think of the wind that could blow the pages out of my hand if I let it. Of inhaling and exhaling and letting the cool air refresh my mind from everything I used to think I need.

Letting go is what I do to my old Highlights magazines, with the stories I so treasured. I need to face the fact that I’m not going to take the time to read them all over again. Letting go is the hardest, and I’m not ready to let go of everything I don’t need yet… And that’s okay, because I have to take this slow.

I have to purge, cull, let go.

Ah. I’m not actually sure in what direction to go in here (in writing this post…) so…

Why I Ripped Up My List of Goals

Originally published on August 18, 2014 on Polkadot-Bow.

First, why I created my list of goals.

I wanted to go on an adventure. In my eighth grade French class, we had “bell-ringers” where we wrote down answers to the questions at the start of class. On Fridays, the question was usually, What are you going to do this weekend? I would write, Je vais faire une aventure. I imagined going on a hike, or prancing through meadows, or climbing trees. Becoming the outdoorsy, nature type that I always wanted to be. Almost two years later, that hasn’t happened.

Not only did I want to be outdoorsy adventurous, I wanted to be a homemaker/ fabric/ crafty type of person who wears handmade aprons and skirts and carries around knitting needles. Yeah. That hasn’t happened, either. I mean, I’m learning to sew, but it’s still not happening. After years of reading craft blogs, I realized that I’m not really a crafter. What I want to do is be creative. Take on those challenges.

I also went through a phase where I wanted to be a polyglot expat nomad traveler person. I’d meet new people, become best friends with someone from another country, walk all over the place, and learn how to pack light. I’d explore cultures and experience all kinds of new things.

And then I wanted to become minimalist. I actually still do. Hey. Maybe that will happen.

But I built my goals list around who I wanted to be, even while I was pulling away from those ideas. I still intend to do a lot of the things on my goals list:

Wear a tie with suspenders
Dress like Stargirl
Climb a tree
Watch the sun rise

But there are things that I’m not so sure of:

Learn to knit (well. I can…make a rag)
Live in another country for at least three months
Be able to do the splits again (is that still possible? I could do it when I was seven, but then I stopped stretching)
Win a debate

I mean, it’s not that I don’t want to do those things. I would be happy to do them, but I also know that I can’t do everything. And what if I’m meant to do something different? I think when I wrote the goals list, these were things that I wanted for myself, simply to feel accomplished, or feel like I’ve… experienced something. I don’t need a list of goals for that.

I believe that God has something in mind for me. And if I go after these things that I came up with, I’m running away with my own idea of life, not paying attention to what God wants for me. He has a picture, and if the picture doesn’t include knitting like awesome or being persuasive for things I don’t believe in, then that’s fine. Because I don’t know what’s best.

Now, when I created my list of goals, I made sure that they would be things that I can choose to do, if I work hard enough. I’ve seen other people’s bucket lists, and I’ve seen things like “fall in love” or whatever, things that you can’t control. And I tried to choose things that I thought would be good, like:

Become an abolitionist
Shave my head for a good cause
Thank a teacher
Sit with a new group of people at lunch one day

I don’t know if that’s what I’m meant to do. I mean, I believe that slavery is bad, and want to do what I can to help stop it. But is that the area I’m meant to work in? And the shaving my head thing, I’m not specifically going to avoid doing it, but I think that putting it on the list has made it more of a, do it just to do it type of thing. The third and fourth above, I feel like those should be things that I would do anyway, not as one-time events, but as a lifestyle.

So even though I’m planning to do most of the things on the list, I ripped up my goals because I wrote them down like I could plan out my idealized life. Even though I still intend to do most of the things, I felt like the paper was holding me back. They were these things I felt I had to do, if only to check things off.

It’s time to actually make a real change. I will, I must make The Year to Simplify happen.

originally posted on June 16, 2014 on Polkadot-Bow

I want to blog. I want people to actually read my blog. I want to grow my blog, to write things that people want to read, to become somebody’s must-read. I know that this isn’t a lazy job. I also know that, for the year that Polkadot-Bow has existed, I haven’t been going in the right direction to even go near my hope. I haven’t posted that often, I haven’t taken great photos, I haven’t tried at all. Worse, I’ve adopted the voices of other bloggers, so my old posts don’t even sound like me. I haven’t had clear direction, and to be honest, I don’t really know what this blog is about.

A month ago, I wanted to grow this blog, and to do it faster, faster. So I look for new blogging communities, new blogging tips, new ideas. I read and read. And one link led to another, and– oh! I see a catchy title. So I read and read about how to use Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and analytics until fifteen minutes of checking stuff online becomes three hours. And I stay up late, finishing my homework that I should have been doing. At last I finish my schoolwork, and go to bed. And in the morning, I’m not surprised when I’m exhausted. Then I’m too tired to pay attention in school. Which leaves me with more homework for what I didn’t finish in class. And it takes longer, since it’s harder to think. I’m stuck in this cycle of exhaustion.

Now it’s finals week, then school will be out. I’ll go away to summer camp, and then some traveling, when I can totally forget about my daily routine. But when I come back, I can’t let it happen again. I must make a change. I’ve been thinking this for some time now, and have tried various short term things, all that have failed. The other day I was reading this post at The Minimalists, and I have found that it rings true for me. When things become a necessity, well, do I have a choice?

I don’t need to read blog tip articles that almost always tell me the same things, or things I already know. For some reason, I keep thinking that I’ll find some miracle tip one of these days. I don’t even like social media that much. It overwhelms me. Well… all this overwhelms me: New content. Constantly updated. Faster loading. More networking. Easier sharing. Ideas straight to your inbox. You NEED to sign up for this.

No, I don’t. I need to focus. Learn what’s important.

My blog is about my journey to living sustainably. Um. One thing about me– I take on rather ambitious projects. That don’t succeed. But this is a necessity– because if I live a lifestyle that can’t last long, well, it won’t last long. It will collapse.

And it’s a desire. It isn’t right that I’m so often exhausted. The key to making big changes is to take it slow and steady, to avoid burnout. So steadily, strongly, I’ll go now. This isn’t the first time I’ve made this resolution. But I really want to, need to live sustainably. I must live sustainably. To do that, I must simplify.

I have my regular commitments (school, music lessons, extracurriculars, etc) but every so often I pick up a temporary project. I’ve had several project ideas, and I know that it is a bad idea to have more than one major project at a time. So then I realized that I was having trouble managing these things, because I had another problem… there’s all this clutter. There’s clutter in my room (it’s been a hazard for too long), there’s clutter in my schedule, there’s clutter in my mind. I need to simplify. I need to focus on what’s important. I need to learn what’s important. I’m devoting a year to this major project, because if I make it short-term, it’s going to last for that long.

I’ve actually already started this project yesterday. I’ve given a theme to each month. The rest of this June is The Beginning, which involves letting go of physical belongings, digital belongings, and figuring out my priorities. During July, I’m going to be away and on an electronics break, but I’ll update in August. The theme is Learning the Essentials. What do I really need?