reflections: changes made and to make

Sometimes I get discouraged because of the little progress I’m making in simplifying my life and living more sustainably. I have a long way to go, but I’ve also come a long way in the last few years.

Changes I’ve made in the past few years:

  • Showers
    • I stopped using the old harmful shampoo and conditioner, and started using soap and apple cider vinegar rinse.
    • I wash my hair less often–a few days a week.
  • Clothing
    • I’ve defined my style and become more careful and selective in the clothing I choose to buy.
    • I’ve made fewer and fewer impulse purchases.
    • I’ve learned about capsule wardrobes, sustainable fashion, and clothing companies.
    • I’ve gradually turned away from less responsible companies and turned towards more responsible companies.
  • Simplifying
    • I purged and let go of a lot of belongings and electronic files.
    • I culled the emails in my inbox from more than 2,000 to less than 50. Now it fits all on one page.
  • Miscellaneous
    • Instead of drying my hands with paper towels every time I wash my hands before putting in or taking out my contact lens, I now use a reusable, cloth towel specifically designated for that (that way, I know it’s clean without generating as much waste).
    • I’ve also thought a lot more about my priorities, and approach things differently now. I’d say I’m more minimalist now than I was before.

Changes I’m working on/ want to make:

  • Getting enough sleep and consistently waking up early enough to ride the bus, so I don’t have to ride the car as often.
  • Taking shorter showers.
  • Reading my emails less often. I’m trying to only check it once a week, but sometimes I need to check it for certain things, and then it’s hard to resist reading the rest of my emails.
  • Living with less waste. Some examples are with contact lens solution bottles and yogurt cups, which can be recycled, but still involve a lot of plastic.
  • I want to try gardening this year, so I get to grow some of my own food and learn about that.

reflections: blogging

In this post, I reflect on Allison Vesterfelt’s post “Stop Blogging. Start Writing” and how it relates to my life. First, especially if you’re a blogger, I suggest you read her post. I think she makes some great points in it.

The second paragraph in particular resonated with me. She writes, “Blogging is a medium for people to do what people do best.” I started my first blog as a place to document the things I made through sewing or crafting. Okay, so that’s not really what I do best. I’m not that great at sewing or crafting. But the part about blogging being a medium.

The blog started as a medium to share my sewing. I focused on the sewing, wanted to share what I made, and a blog was the platform I chose. After a while, I got caught up in the blogging game. I wanted more followers. I wanted to be one of those super cool popular bloggers that everyone (it seems like everyone) wants to be, because they have all the followers and sophisticated blogging knowledge and business cards. Especially in the craft blog world, super cool business cards are a thing. I wanted one of those. (I kind of still do. Because, have you seen any of them in online pictures or in person? They are super. cool. (enough to make me repeat the phrase).) For me, making the blog into a nice bloggy blog wasn’t what I should have been focusing on.

It was no longer about sharing what I made or the content itself, but the fact that I had content so readers would see something. I tried to post regularly so that readers would have new things to see and they would stick around. Except…why weren’t they sticking around?

I barely had any page views. Was it because of my pictures? The layout? The fact that the url ended in .blogspot.com? Because I read in blogging guides that those are all important factors to consider. I tried hard to follow the blogging rules.

The topic of my old blog changed from sewing, to style, and then to sustainability. It was partly because my interest changed, and partly because I realized I didn’t have much to offer on the topic of sewing anyway. I still barely had any readers.

At that point, I had also been kind of bending in weird directions to make the content of my blog fit things that I thought people would want to read. I added pictures, because of Pinterest, and because apparently people like looking at pictures. I added random little sentences because apparently people like reading random little sentences to go with their pictures. I had to make myself blog, and that’s what I was–a blogger. (A not very good one, I thought).

And it ended with the end of my blog. I didn’t think I would blog again.

But I ended up blogging again. (see this blog, it exists). I feel that Allison’s post especially applies to me because of this blog (the one you’re reading). Learning from the failure of my old blog, I started over. But I didn’t make this blog to blog. I made it to share my writing, reflections, and things I learn. Blogs hold power, and I’m hoping that others will find mine valuable. But it’s more than that. Even if I didn’t have a blog, I would still do these things: write. reflect. learn. This blog is just one way I do that. And even if nobody ever sees this post, this time wasn’t wasted, because I was doing what I enjoyed anyway.

What are your thoughts? If you have a blog, why do you blog? Have you kept to your purpose?

now

Last time, I talked about my process of making goals. I came up with two–one to do with writing, and another to do with meaningful relationships. I can have only two goals, but any more than three won’t receive my focus. I was thinking of making a third goal that would cover something that I have been wanting to change–the way I use my time.

In December, when I was making these goals, I had been procrastinating. As part of my Year to Simplify project, I had already limited the websites I could go on to ones that were useful or meaningful to me. I also decided that I would only check my email twice a week. However, I found it difficult to follow this, and on Friday afternoons, I would put off doing my homework and read blogs instead. I wanted to change this so I wouldn’t have to do as much homework over the weekend.

Bedtime is when I’m supposed to go to sleep. I found that it was actually when I would start thinking about my plans and ideas for the future, and not-so-future. For brief periods of time during December, I felt this sense of relief, of calm, of peace. It hovered over me when I had the week under my control, when I had the time to do everything I needed and wanted. I had time to focus on the things I enjoyed, like reading and writing. And I could sleep, without having to be concerned about this thing or that school thing or whatever. Yeah. Whatever…Because I also realized that a lot of things I worried about were useless to worry about, either because they were trivial, or because the extra worrying wasn’t going to change anything in the end. If I thought about, say, my course selection for next year, and I had already thought it through, I wouldn’t need to review my choices repeatedly.

As I lay in bed, with this calmness settling around me, I was thinking about how awesome it would be if that were all the time. If I could just enjoy that moment, as it were, at that time.

I know from the past that any goals or plans regarding time management won’t work. I used to organize my time with specific start and end times for each task I needed to do. But I couldn’t live my life that way–it was so automated and rigid. When I break my time down like that, I spend a lot of energy just trying to follow the schedule, and it’s so much more work.

Something bothers me about the phrase, “time management.” It reminds me of the dreary time scheduling that I tried to make myself endure. By prioritizing the things that need to get done, I can make sure I always complete those tasks. That doesn’t take into account whether I enjoy what I’m doing.

I like learning. In fact, I spend a lot of my time outside of school purposely doing that–reading books, reading articles, reading the news, or taking a class such as ballet. And school has plenty of opportunities for learning. When I think of it that way, I get really excited. But the way I think about it matters. When it’s about just getting things done in a certain time frame instead of the things I can discover in the process, it’s not so fun. Sometimes it’s torturous.

I couldn’t come up with a sentence encompassing all that I’ve written about above. It’s not really about time management, but about time, how I use it, and how I see the way I use it. Instead of going through mechanical repetitions, I want to use my time in ways that are good and worthwhile–that includes doing schoolwork and enjoying it, but also doing things outside of school. I want to make this enjoyment, the excitement that comes when I start something new…I want to make that something usual, that I don’t have obsess over or time to get it down to some automatic routine robot schedule thing.

Because I’m not rehearsing for some performance of life. I’m living it. Now.

That’s my one-word intention this year. “now.” I’ve read about this idea several places on the internet, about coming up with one word to be a theme for the year. (I got the name “intention” from Rebecca at This I Wear, who chose one and wrote about it last year.)

Because now is when I live thoroughly, not later. Now is when I want to focus on enjoying, now is where I want to be.

Now means not procrastinating from homework, which is putting it off until later. Sometimes in school classes I have ideas and thoughts, not fully formed, but taking shape in my mind. But I need to think it through carefully before I say it. And then I don’t get the chance. Now. Now is the chance, and maybe it won’t be perfect or neat…Well, it’ll probably be a disaster, but it’s now or never. And I choose now, because that gives a possibility that something good could come from it.

These are just some areas of my life that this word covers. To the voice that whispers, “Not now. Later,” this is my response.