Category Archives: What can I do today?

Minimalizing the Closet

This is the year that I enter into my third decade.  As such, I feel like I have higher expectations for myself — expectations of acting responsibly and more grown up.  Well, not only does my wardrobe not reflect that, it also doesn’t meet my expectations for minimalism either.  So, some change is in order.

Through some Googling, I found that the “10 Essentials” for a woman’s closet in 2012 (courtesy Tim Gunn) are as follows:

  1. Basic black dress
  2. Trench coat
  3. Classic dress pants
  4. Classic white shirt
  5. Jeans
  6. Cashmere sweater
  7. Skirt
  8. Day dress
  9. Blazer
  10. Sweat suit alternative

This seems like a great list if you have a “normal” office job or if you live in the city, but I currently work outdoors 4 days a week and live in a rural area.  My lifestyle is very much “outdoors.”  So what to do?  For work I normally wear jeans, boots and a T-shirt (plus or minus a hoodie sweater, weather dependent).  As my hair has been very short recently, I wear hats and headbands a lot too.

I guess my goals for the closet overhaul are as follows:

  • Trend towards more neutral colors for my t-shirts
  • Try to stick to dark wash or black jeans versus distressed jeans– I distress my jeans enough everyday at work!!!
  • Try to grow out hair a little and stop relying on hats so much– with the warm weather coming up I am going to need the added breeze!
  • I also want to try to add some of the wardrobe basics from above just to have them on hand for when I am not grungy and dirty.  A girl likes to look nice now and then!

For this “more realistic” closet makeover I guess my general tips are:

  • Stick to neutral colors that will mix-and-match well
  • Only buy stuff that you LOVE
  • Only keep stuff that FITS WELL
  • Don’t get duplicates or more than you need
  • Don’t forget to give away items that no longer fit, etc. to charity.

And don’t expect this to happen overnight.  Classic pieces are acquired over the long-term.



The Zen of Doing Dishes

Getting things done feels good!  As the kitchen sink is the epicenter of a clean house, I like to shine mine up periodically à la FlyLady style.  When I don’t feel like doing the task, I like to remember a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh about the mindfulness of doing the dishes…

“To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only
when you aren’t doing them.  Once you are standing in front of the sink
with your sleeves rolled up and your hands in the warm water, it is really
quite pleasant.  I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware
of the dish,  the water, and each movement of my hands.  I know that
if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes
will be unpleasant and not worth living.  That would be a pity,
for each minute, each second of life is a miracle.  The dishes themselves
and that fact that I am here washing them are miracles!”  –Thich Nhat Hanh

Redefining Normal

I have an aunt that is fond of saying “Normal is just a setting on a washing machine.”  Her saying is a nice reminder that when it comes to humans, “normal” is relative, and a moving target.  Even within the context of one life, what is “normal” can vary from year to year, from life stage to life stage.

Recently I have had a few adjustments of my own.  I found out that I will be taking daily medication for the rest of my life.  Whereas before I used to get up and eat when I pleased, now I will have to take a pill with a glass of water and then wait a full hour before being able to eat or drink anything, including coffee or tea!  In the big picture, this is a small change.  Others of us may wake up one day to find even bigger adjustments in our lives.  This New York Times article is a particularly touching example of a woman who undergoes a dramatic readjustment of “normal.”

One of the biggest points of interest to me is whether we will make the adjustments in our lives based on voluntary versus mandatory changes.  In other words, will we only make changes in response to unexpected (or even expected) health crises or will we take impetus on our own in the name of prevention?

In my case, I think that a mixture of both response to personal and environmental health AND a desire for prevention are driving my hunger for change.  Here are the changes that I aim to make within the next few weeks to redefine my normal:

  • Train myself to take my medication– each morning I will take my pill with only a glass of water, and then wait the requisite one hour before eating or drinking
  • Quit caffeinated beverages– I have read that caffeine can exacerbate anxiety, something which I am keen to rid myself of as much as possible
  • Learn to use only toothpaste and deodorant as cosmetics– I am trying to cut back drastically on the amount of chemicals and plastics that I consume, most makeup and creams end up breaking me out anyways, and that is not pretty!
  • Get a low maintenance haircut & embrace my natural color and texture– for each person this could mean something different, personally I like short haircuts that dry quickly
  • Get in the habit of keeping the kitchen sink empty– the kitchen sink is the epicenter of a clean house, and cleaning dishes is a meditative task
  • Resist unnecessary spending and impulse buys– it hurts savings and never really ends up feeling good… I will reward myself with experiences instead of things