Monday, February 8th, 2016
Blog #1 Update
As of today, February 7, 2016, I have lost 12 plus pounds. The eating part is going well although; I am weary of being so rigid and not being able to go out to eat mainly because restaurants are not really conducive to a “liver detox” cleansing diet. Nonetheless, I am determined to continue until February 14th when we will celebrate at our favorite restaurant on the other side of the island. Most of the time I marvel at how quickly the time flies by, however, remarkably the last five weeks have slowed time down considerably!
Blog Entry #2 Living With Less in 2016
My close friend and yoga colleague in Vancouver (Canada) asked me if I would write about how Tony and I managed to dispose of 2,207 items in 2015. Our goal was to recycle and/or eliminate 2015 items in one year. It did not mean that one matchbook or piece of paper was considered one thing. A pile of paper on my desk that I have been meaning to sift through counted as one. A box full of graduate papers written and long forgotten counted as one item. Dusty textbooks went to our local village bookstore and counted as one each. Generally speaking we counted every article of clothing as one item as well as each pair of shoes. You get the picture. It is incredible how attached I was to the strangest things. For example, single earrings that have been around for years were still in my jewelry box. Why? – the hope of finding the earring had long been forgotten. Luckily, I have a young friend who only wears one earring and so she got them all and each one counted for one. I was particularly attached to clothing – all manner of tops, bottoms, dresses and miscellaneous items had been stashed for some later date or event that would likely not be worn anyway. Styles and taste changes, even though I tend to live in my favorite yoga clothing most of the time. At first, the clothing went slowly. Plastic bins revealed tops and bottoms I had completely forgotten about and obviously hadn’t been worn in literally years. Tony and I made a vow that if we bought a new clothing item, we had to recycle something, otherwise we would eventually end up where we started and we were determined to take a very Zen approach to our new, more spartan lifestyle. Speaking of Zen, a wooden “meditation” clock I loved but had never used is currently sitting by the door for recycling to be donated to our local transfer station where there is a well organized recycling center. They are happy to receive anything usable and in good condition. Downstairs in the laundry room our shelves were lined with about 25 big plastic bins containing everything from forgotten clothing to Tony’s previous engineering project plans, business manuals and obsolete papers. He was actually happy to get rid of them and remarked feeling relieved to purge all that stuff he thought he might need at some later date. Just an illusion …. Art work, picture frames, photos, wintery clothing we thought we might use for visits to the mainland, old towels we assessed would be handy for something all got tossed into the recycling pile. Living in paradise is not without its challenges. Virtually everything rusts, rots or molds, bins or no bins – so there is no point in saving anything that isn’t in active use. We learned this fact the hard way. Other than our emergency preparedness bin for natural island disasters and our Christmas decorations, the shelves are quite bare at this writing.
In December of 2015 we were short of our goal by 178 items and frantically took a second look in every closet, shelf and drawer to see what else we could dispose of. There was plenty. That dress hanging in the closet for five (!) years until I lost 5 pounds to fit perfectly – gone with the wind. Even though I lost the five pounds several times over, the dress continued to sit on a hanger without a second thought. Young friends were offered halters and tank tops that no longer “worked” for me. Silk scarves gathering dust floated into the hands of friends that fancied them. Accessories that hadn’t seen the light of day made it into the box. Some of the hardest items to part with were dishes. I covet dishes and books. Parting with books was easier since I have discovered Kindle. Kitchen tools and dishes that belonged to my beautiful Mama had survived several moves because of my attachment 16 years after her death. Admittedly, I kept a few of my favorite pieces and promised myself to use them or lose them. We had peaks and valleys during this process. At times we were able to get rid of stuff with reckless abandon. Other times a month or two would slip by without getting rid of a single thing. A year was a reasonable time to rethink our strategy, take a deep breath and begin again.
“It is because of our attachment to things that we suffer. By letting go we find that we have not lost anything except our attachment.”
~ Sogyal Rinpoche ~
This year we have reduced our goal to 1,000 items. I’m still working on recycling books that I continue to be attached to. Last year we were actually happy when something broke so we could count one more thing to add to our list. What follows are a few practical tips you might find helpful:
If it doesn’t fit in your closet and/or your dresser, get rid of it. That applies to clothing you aren’t really crazy about or waiting for things to fit you. Don’t forget the shoes you have tucked away and haven’t worn in years.
Don’t keep gifts you don’t like or won’t use; know that someone out there will love it.
Digitize your photos and get rid of all those boxes of images you never look at. (I’m still working on this.)
Get a recycling box and put it somewhere visible to remind you to move things out of your space and into the bin.
If you buy something new get rid of the old.
Got doubles? – such as kitchen utensils, ask yourself how many spatulas do you really need to be happy and functional.
Clear your counters of clutter regularly.
There are organizations that are happy to receive your old cell phones and eyeglasses (Google that!). I heard of a place in NYC that refurbishes old cell phones to give to women in need.
“The root of suffering is attachment.”
Black Sand Beach, Big Island, Hawaii