It’s The Simple Things

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My morning view.

Some days, there is no greater joy than looking down into a coffee mug, seeing the swirls of the perfect combination of coffee, hot chocolate and a touch of creamer and thinking, “This. This is a truly simple pleasure.”

I sincerely hope today you find at least one tiny thing to be thrilled about.

Taking Back My Peace of Mind

Inspired by my sister and a conversation she and I had before she wrote a blog about her October Focus, I took a fresh look at my daily life.

Lately I’ve felt constantly rushed and simultaneously ridiculously unproductive. Both at work and at home, I feel like I’m constantly running from place to place, but my to-do lists are just getting longer and longer.

After talking with Dawn, I started thinking about the simple daily habits that I’ve abandoned recently and bad ones I’ve picked up. I realized that when those simple things are automatic, I’m also much more calm in my day-to-day life.

So this week, I focused on six teeny things, but, holy crap, they made a huge difference. I wrote them all on my bathroom mirror (with dry erase marker—an excellent way to make lists and keep an eye on inspirational quotes), and every morning and night I checked in while I brushed my teeth about how I was doing and made a plan about how I was going to incorporate each thing into my day.

So what’s on the list?

  • Don’t hit snooze. I’ve gotten in a terrible habit of turning one snooze into five or six, which results in rushing to get out the door. I found a way to disable the snooze on my cell phone, which has led to me writing every morning (hence being back on the blogging scene) and having enough time to properly prepare for the day ahead.
  • Do a five-minute clean up before I leave for work. One of my favorite ways to keep my home tidy is to set my kitchen timer for five minutes and clean like crazy. Magically, dishes get put away, books are up off the floor, cat toys are fetched from behind doors, laundry is in the hamper, shoes are in the closet… it’s amazing what you can do in five minutes. Because I’m not rushing out the door, it’s no big deal to find five minutes during my morning routine.
  • Finish Northanger Abbey. I’ve been slowly, so slowly working my way through this book, and as much as I’m enjoying it, I’m sick of reading it. Time to move on to another novel.
  • Exercise every day this week, Monday through Friday. No pressure, no minimums. Just get moving every single day.
  • Meditate at least twice this week. I love having a consistent meditation practice. Love it! What I don’t love is getting back into practice. The longer you’re away, the easier it is to skip it and the harder it is to quiet your mind.
  • Stay hydrated. I haven’t been drinking enough water, which leaves me with less energy, especially first thing in the morning, which leads to hitting snooze, a rushed morning, a dirty home… you get the idea.

All these little things have led to other things too—I know I’m not going to get to hit snooze, so I turn off the TV earlier and really listen to when my body is telling me to go to sleep. I’m getting enough sleep, so coffee or tea is a joy, not a necessity. My kitchen is neat and tidy, so it takes less time to fix meals.

Next week, to follow up on this, I’m going to adjust the list to accommodate where I am in that space. The reward: a much calmer existence filled with fewer distractions, the epitome of a minimalist existence.

The Texas Files

Step 1: Move to new city.

Step 2: Start new job right before a major company-sponsored event.

Step 3: Blindly go through life without having a handle on anything until finally finding a few minutes to breathe normally.

Done.

Okay, now for the real updates on life:

It’s been just shy of two months since I moved to Fort Worth, and life has been a little crazy, to say the least. However, I’ve received multiple requests for some kind of acknowledgement that I’m still alive, and here it is.

I started my new job only a few days before one of two major horse shows my organization puts on each year. I hit the ground running, but it was so much fun to jump in with both feet. Thankfully, I interned here for a summer during college, so the transition was much smoother than it would have been if not for that experience.

Luckily, my sister spent a couple weeks here, and she was ridiculously helpful. We found a great apartment really quickly, and I was lucky to move in within a few days. This is the first time I’ve lived in a normal apartment complex, and I love the perks like the pool and fitness center. I have a little balcony from which I’m currently writing, and when it’s not too hot, Oedipus likes to sit outside with me.

I’m slowly settling into my space, but because I don’t really have furniture, I’m enjoying the big open feeling of the whole place. I finally bought a bed the last week, which will be a big step up from the air mattress I’ve been using. I can’t wait for it to get delivered.

Overall, I’m feeling relatively settled into life here, and after the craziness of the transition from Virginia to Texas, I’ve loved staying off the grid as much as possible and spending time doing, well, nothing.

However, now that I’ve had several weeks to recuperate, I’m looking forward to doing more exploring and re-exploring of the area. Hopefully that will also involve some more blog posts.

Kitchen with ridiculously tall bar.

Kitchen with ridiculously tall bar.

An amazing reminder every time I come and go.

An amazing reminder every time I come and go.

I finally got around to hanging photos.

I finally got around to hanging photos.

My very simple living room.

My very simple living room.

The view from my balcony.

The view from my balcony.

The 2013 Book Project

All the books I'm bound and determined to read sooner rather than later.

All the books I’m bound and determined to read sooner rather than later.

It seems as though the action of flipping the calendar from December to January prompts many people to reflect on what they have read, will read and want to read. Courtney Carter at Be More With Less put together The Ultimate Book List and my friend Kate vowed to read 36,500 pages in 2013.

To top it off, a quick inventory of my bookshelves made me realize I have 15 (!!!) books I’ve borrowed, purchased or received as gifts but haven’t read yet. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot, but just a year ago, I read all the books I owned or had borrowed but hadn’t read yet. How does a person accumulate so many books in just a few short months but not feel compelled to curl up on the couch and actually crack a spine???

To top it off, my minimalist tendencies inspired me a few months ago to start keeping tabs on what books I’ve read or haven’t read since I moved to Virginia in February 2012. I have nothing against keeping books. I love books. I love to read. But I have a real problem with keeping books in my house that do not regularly serve a purpose.

Sooo… between the books I haven’t read since moving to Virginia and the books I’ve acquired and not read, I came up with a grand total of 20 books.

And I’m going to read them all.

The real question: after reading them all, how many will get passed along, and how many will receive a more permanent spot in my home?

Book reviews to come. Happy reading!

Life Without Internet

Every day I spend between eight and nine hours on the Internet. I’m checking my e-mail, posting press releases, researching everything under the sun in a sad attempt to fill the gaping holes in my knowledge base. I’m looking at my company’s profile page and looking for stories. It’s wonderful to have the Internet at my fingertips while I’m at work.

Not even a month ago, I did all that, and when I went home, I spent another three or four hours online.

With my move to Virginia, I decided to postpone setting up Internet service for my house until I got a bit more settled. Let’s face it: internet is expensive, especially so that I can play on Facebook and troll the blogosphere with no real purpose.

The interesting thing is that the longer I go without internet at home, the less I can remember what I used to spend all that time doing. Sure, I checked my personal e-mail about 40 times per day, I never missed a Facebook update, and I always knew the weather forecast.

Want to know a secret? Those aren’t things that take more than five minutes.

So here I am, sitting in Panera, drinking my coffee and people watching. It’s nice to have the option of a place to go to get online for a bit. It’s nice to get out of the house.

It’s not necessary.

The Great Move of 2012: Part 2 (Meet Virginia)

Hello, Virginia. Why aren’t you closer to Iowa?

Meet Virginia

Day two of driving started in Ohio and crossed the Appalachian Mountains. (Confused? See Day One. Still confused? I’m moving again.) We crossed the very northern tip of West Virginia and passed a bunch of tiny little towns that reminded me of the town in The Goonies. We also drove through two tunnels in the mountains. Mom loved them; I did not.

Pennsylvania was simply lovely. The big sweeping valleys made me want to buy a tiny little farm and a cow.

Speaking of cows, I tried to teach Mom the My Cows! game, but she didn’t get into it too much. To play the game, whenever sees cows (or horses, pigs, hay, trees, dogs…) the first person to see it says, “My cows!” (or “My horses!” “My grass!”… you get the idea). Then, if someone sees a cemetery, you say, “Megan’s cows died!” The point of the game is to collect as many cows as possible. Really, try it sometime. It’s a ton of fun!

After a sporadic My Cows!, we left Pennsylvania with the confidence that the end was in sight.

Indeed, a short jaunt along the Potomac River in Maryland and a quick trip across another edge of West Virginia left us more than ready to stop in Virginia.

Mom and I both feel pretty exhausted after another long day of driving, so we are enjoying our lovely hotel room. Oedipus is also glad to be out of his crate. On the downside, I discovered upon arrival that pets are supposed to be kept in crates whenever someone is not in the room. Unfortunately, this means he will need to spend tomorrow hanging out in his crate while we go look at places to live.

I’m excited to see all of these places in person instead of relying on photos and brief conversations to decide which sound like great places to live. I’m definitely excited to unload my car, one book at a time, just like it was packed in Iowa. I’m still wrapping my head around the idea that everything I own fits in my car. It seems like so little, but when I’m driving and can barely see out the back window, it looks like so much.

I popped the trunk tonight to see if I could quickly and easily spot a specific bag that contains a different pair of shoes. I am getting sick of wearing snow boots, especially because it’s so warm here. I took one look at the packed trunk and closed it again. Until I’m unpacking for good, I will be wearing snowboots. Let’s hope I find a place to live before summer.

The Great Move of 2012: Part 1

Everything I own fits into my car.

Beautiful clouds in Illinois

Now what?

Drive to Ohio, silly!

Today marked the first day of the Great Move of 2012. Or it could be the fourth day, depending on how you look at it. If you count the first part where I drove from Amarillo to Iowa, this is day four.

We (Mom and I) left Tiny Town, Iowa, this morning at 6:30. After a quick stop in Des Moines for a chiropractor appointment for Mom, we continued driving.

And driving.

And driving.

We crossed Iowa, Illinois and Indiana and stopped in Ohio for the night. After 12 hours on the road, it was time for a break. Plus, I had made a reservation at a lovely hotel that is pet friendly.

Things I learned today:

  1. Mom thinks the Buddha Frog is creepy.
  2. Three very long car trips in only a few weeks is too much for Oedipus. He thinks he’s dying.
  3. Illinois is exactly like Amarillo. Only with hills, trees and snow.
  4. After a long day in the car, a hotel with really soft pillows and a pool to soak your feet is the best thing ever.

Tomorrow: Ohio to Virginia! Stay tuned for another update in a day or two!