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Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Bed is Gone!

I just sold the bed!

It's gone - there's a big dusty square in my bedroom where the bed was. I'm excited, shocked, relieved, anxious, & thrilled all at once. I have no bed! What the hell am I going to do now?! I'm so looking forward to finding out.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

100 Thing Challenge

This guy named Dave has decided to undertake the 100 Thing Challenge. His idea is to pare down his personal belongings to 100 things before November 12, 2008, & live with only those 100 things until November 12, 2009.

It's a noble idea, but his methods seem contradictory.

He has lots of stipulations for his challenge. First, he is only planning to live with 100 things for a year, after which he will go back to having all those things that he supposedly got rid of. Also, he's not counting the things that he shares with his family, like the car, the furniture, the kitchen stuff, etc, because the family is not participating in the challenge. He's counting all of his socks & underwear as one thing. & he's leaving his book collection, his wood working tools, his boxes of memorabilia, & his train set out of the count. It seems like the only things left to count would be clothing & junk. Not too much of a challenge if you ask me.

Maybe 100 things is just too difficult to achieve in this culture. I know there are people who live with less in the world; Peter Menzel's book Material World shows us several families who do. But I wonder if I could reduce my possessions to a true 100 things, including the car & every pair of socks (or should I count each sock individually?). I would like to try, but I'm not sure if I could accomplish it. Perhaps it can just be a goal to continually strive towards.

So, as a complement to Dave's 100 Thing Challenge, I would like to offer forth the Reverse 100 Thing Challenge. Instead of trying to live with only 100 things, I challenge everyone to get rid of 100 things.

Can you find 100 things to remove from your life?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yard Sale #1 Results

The yard sale went okay. I didn't sell nearly as much as I had hoped, but I did get rid of a lot of little things. I still have the bed & most of the furniture that I started with, which is very surprising since furniture is usually the first thing to go at yard sales. I've posted much of it on Craig's List as well, so there is still hope that I will soon be bed-less.

I was ready at 7:00am, signs posted & tea a-brewing. But no one even came by until 8:00am - another surprise. It wasn't that there were cars passing by but not stopping. There was absolutely no traffic on the street until 8:00am. I figured that most people would be out early to beat the heat, but it seems not. However, once they did start showing up, many people were glad that I held the sale inside.

All told, I think I can call this one a success.

I'll have another yard sale soon, so if you have things that you want to unload, bring them over!

Total earnings, Yard Sale #1: $100

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yes, I'm Anxious

Okay, so I admit that I'm nervous about the yard sale tomorrow. Many questions are going through my mind. Will I be able to really let go of all of the things that are up for sale tomorrow? Will I sell something that a friend or family member was really hoping that I would hang onto? Will I be able to sell any of this crap at all? Are my prices too high in an unconscious attempt to sabotage my project? Will I really be okay with sleeping on the floor?

Change is exciting, unnerving at times, but definitely interesting. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Wait. Did you catch that? I'm selling my bed?! Have I gone insane? I'm not leaving for another year. Where will I sleep?

I've had my bed since 1993, when I had a boyfriend & two large dogs that slept with me. We needed lots of room. We decided on the biggest, most comfortable bed we could find: a California king pillow top. Even after 15 years, boyfriend & dogs now gone, it's the most comfortable thing I've ever slept on.

But now I'm selling it. I'm getting rid of the bed for several reasons, but the main reason is that it's a symbolic move for me. This clearing out & letting go thing has been a fantasy of mine for so long that it hardly seems real anymore. Even though I've spent the last month or so putting price tags on my life so far, in a way, it's still not really happening.

Selling the bed will make it more real for me. Without that integral piece of furniture, the rest will be inevitable. With the bed gone, I can use the (really big) empty space in the bedroom to stack up what I want to keep, those things that I can't seem to let go of, no matter how much I want to.

So where will I sleep? On the floor or on the couch. I'm keeping the couch for now. I can sleep just about anywhere, so I don't anticipate that it will affect my ability to snooze. I concede that I could be wrong, but there is only one way to find out.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Let the Tagging Begin

I started tagging my stuff for the upcoming yard sale. I researched the bigger items online to be sure that I was charging a good price. I realize that these things might not actually sell in a yard sale, since most shoppers will be looking for 50-cent paperbacks & such, but I thought I might give a try anyway.

The mahogany secretary that I inherited from my grandmother is set at $500. The marble top coffee table, also my grandmother's, gets a $300 price tag. The Raggedy Ann doll that my mother found in the back of a closet: $35.

The Waterford crystal letter opener that I got for graduation but have never even taken out of the box, also $35. A massive Mexican sterling silver necklace that another grandmother curiously had in her jewelry box (she only wore things that could be called "dainty"), $30.

I have several other inherited items, as well as lots of climbing & camping gear. I have furniture (including my bed), kitchen supplies, & clothing. I also have an amazing collection of photo frames! Oh yeah, & lots of 50-cent paperbacks.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Yard Sale - July 26th

The first yard sale will be on Saturday, July 26th from 7:00am to 11:00-ish. Stop by if you get a minute; my life will be on display!

"A yard sale in 110-degree weather?!", you say? I'm actually thinking of holding it in my living room. It'll be cooler for the shoppers, cooler for me, cooler for the stuff - & I won't have to move everything outside & then move it back inside afterwards. That, & bottled water for 50 cents should make for a great sale!

I started researching some of my "big tag" stuff on Ebay to make sure that I charged a decent price for them at the yard sale. I know that yard sales are for cheap stuff, but still, I don't want to rip myself off. I found some of the same things that I have or similar for some pretty hefty prices. If I sell them at half those prices, I could buy myself a decent vehicle - maybe a pickup to be able to pull that teardrop trailer behind.

But I'll try not to count my begonias before they've blossomed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


On our road trip from Phoenix to Alaska back in 2004, Michelle taught me how to make beaded jewelry. Just like any other crafty thing I've tried, I loved it. I bought all the tools that I would need & started accumulating beads with hopes of making pieces for myself & my friends, as well as making a little money off of the hobby by selling some items online. But eventually, I stopped beading; I don't really remember why. Lack of time or inclination, or both.

Now that I've started to get rid of things, I have again uncovered my bead collection. At first, I thought I would just sell the whole lot in the yard sale - one price takes all - thus unattaching myself. But then I thought that maybe I actually could sell some of the pieces, & wind up making more money than if I just dumped the collection. That is, if anyone's buying.

This time, instead of going for form, I'm aiming for function. Instead of focusing on the artistry of creating the jewelry, I'm just going to crank out some necklaces & bracelets, maybe some earrings too, & put them out at the yard sale to be sold at yard sale prices - CHEAP!

If that doesn't work, I still have time - & a few more yard sales - to just dump the whole lot anyway.

Monday, July 14, 2008


To paraphrase Yoda: "There is no why, only do."

Many have been surprised, perplexed, even concerned about my new direction. They are trying to find a reason for me wanting to cash it all in & hit the road. That's understandable; it's human nature to want to know why. However, many of the conclusions that people have come up with stem from their own motivations: if they were to make the same change, what would cause them to do it? Unfortunately, there is no way for someone else to understand another person's drive unless you are similarly driven.

There is no why, only do.

The First Gift

I found a box of jewelry in the back of a closet that I haven't worn in a while - or ever. Since my birthday is in February, my grandparents used to give me amethyst jewelry for birthdays or Christmas. There were some other pieces as well: pearls, diamonds, etc. Following the "Whadday Mean" authors' suggestion, I decided to pass it on to other family members who might wear it more than I have. The amethysts went to two of my cousins' daughters who were both born in February, the pearls & diamonds to my sister-in-law. I'm not sure what I'll do with the rest of it yet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Since I started telling people about my plans, a few have commented that I might be running from something, problems or responsibility. Instead, I feel like I am preparing to stop running. I've been running on the hamster wheel long enough, & now I'm getting off.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Caterpillar or Butterfly?

They say that to become a butterfly, you must want it so badly that you're willing to give up being a caterpillar.

This new project is exciting, but still it's scary. I find myself coming across things in the backs of closets that I have held on to for many years. Even though it's just for a second, I notice the inner conflict. I want to get rid of it because of the new direction that I've chosen, my butterfly self. But in doing so, I would be getting rid of a little part of me, my caterpillar self. I'm not a very sentimental person, though some things do affect me more than others. Being able to give my things to people that I love makes parting with them that much easier.

It may be more difficult to part with things non-material. I haven't gotten to that stage of the metamorphosis yet, so I don't really know how it will unfold. I'm not sure how I will react to letting go of my house, my business, the "comforts" of this path. But I think that I want the other path, the butterfly path, enough to be able to give up being a caterpillar.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Crystallization of Discontent

Back to that book I was reading, U-Turn.

It says that many people who make major life changes do so after a "crystallization of discontent". In other words, after years of feeling dissatisfied without knowing why, the person finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together. Afterwards, there is no other alternative but to change the way they are living. Some people change their religion, others change their politics, still others change their cultural viewpoint. & some people go on the road.

p104: "Be grateful for your disillusionment - it is a gift without which you might never have found the right path."

The first yard sale is set for July 26th.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Whaddaya Mean?!

The authors of this book on living full-time in your RV say to give your favorite things to your friends & family, since you won't have room for them on the road. The best thing about this, they say, is that you can visit your things when you visit your loved ones!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

12 years ago today I arrived in Phoenix with hopes for a new beginning. I've always called this my own independence day. Independence from my parents, independence from my life as it was then.

I was living outside of Cincinnati & working at Bob Evans (a restaurant chain). I was living in an old three-story house near the restaurant with outside doors that didn't lock because the door jams were eaten away. One night I invited some people from the restaurant over to my house after work. We played cards & drank into the wee hours of the morning. Soon everyone at the restaurant decided that my house was the place to go after work to party. Since the doors didn't lock, people just went in whenever they wanted. I would come home from work & there'd already be a game of spades going & a three-quarters full bottle of Jack on the table.

I liked it at first. I was 25 years old; I wanted to party too. Every night we drank & played cards until 5 or 6 am. Every night. But eventually it started going sour. I would come home to find people I didn't know in my house. Some of them were smoking pot as they drank. Then the pot smokers started selling it out of my house. The pot buyers would stay to smoke & play cards. I started sleeping with my bedroom door locked & my clothes on because I never knew who was in my house. One night, I came home to find that my entire CD collection, which I kept in my locked bedroom, was stolen. Over 300 CD's gone. I decided to leave.

I needed to move from that house, & since I was going to move, I decided that I would MOVE! I researched different cities: LA, where my brother lived; New Orleans, where my grandparents lived; Phoenix, where no one I knew lived. I took the third option.

When I told my parents that I wanted to move to Phoenix, they were understandably surprised. It was my first big move as an adult & they didn't have the confidence that I would be able to handle life on my own. My dad fought it, offering up different worse case scenarios, but I wasn't discouraged. Finally, he suggested that I visit Phoenix before I make the final decision to move there. He bought me a round trip ticket for a weekend reconnaissance effort, in hopes that I would come back disillusioned. Instead I came back having found a job & a place to live. There was nothing left to do but wave goodbye.

I drove five days in a U-Haul truck with my two dogs in the cab, & pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex in Phoenix on the afternoon of July 4th. I spent the evening drinking Budweiser & watching fireworks, a celebration of my independence.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Square Hole

Whenever I've heard of someone having a mid-life crisis, I've always imagined it to be a negative thing. The stereotype has always been of some guy, fearful of aging, losing his hair, losing his youth, who goes out & buys himself a Corvette in hopes of recapturing both.

But is that really true?

Maybe the mid-life "crisis" is really a mid-life awakening. Instead of being a desperate attempt to regain something lost, maybe the mid-life crisis is instead an attempt to gain something we never had: respect for ourselves, regardless of what our parents, our friends, society in general think of it.

I spent my twenties & early thirties trying to live the life that my parents raised me to live, being a "respectable" person with a decent job, a house, etc. But I somehow always wound up a little off the mark of what a "real" person was: no 9-5 job, no aspirations to motherhood, no 401K. A square peg in a round hole, so to speak.

I've come to the conclusion that there is a square hole out there. I just need to find it.

The Business of the Business

Many people are wondering what will become of The Spanish Place, my Spanish language school, if I high-tail it out of here. For me, this is a dream come true. I have spent a lot of time & energy creating this place, where adults can learn Spanish in a friendly, collaborative environment. No tests, no homework, no pressure. The present incarnation of the studio comes pretty darn close to my original vision. Mission Accomplished.

So now what? Although change is inevitable, I don't want to close the doors of the studio, not only because of the energy that I have put into it, but also because of the increasingly positive energy that comes out of it. I would really like to find a way to keep the studio open while I'm away, whether that means hiring someone to manage the place, or selling it to someone who will maintain the philosophy it was built on. Perhaps this person could add their own vision to make The Spanish Place even better.

This is just one aspect of my current challenge: to let go of my attachments in a mindful way, not just willy nilly. This is one of the reasons that I have set a one-year time frame. I don't want to toss away my former life, just reorganize it. & for that, I will need some time.


This book I'm reading says that the average mid-life crisis happens at age 37. Interesting.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sleeping Quarters

I just discovered the teardrop trailer! It's just big enough for a bed & a little bit of storage. Perfect for the simple life! So cool.

Start Here

I've finally decided to make my dream a reality: I'm selling all my stuff & going off on an adventure. I've been wanting to do this for a long time - maybe five years or more. Something always kept me from doing it, though. But I finally have no obstacles, no dreams that seem more important. Nothing is more of a priority right now than to live as I want to live, not as I imagine I SHOULD live.

What is that exactly? I'm not quite sure. I just know that "getting ahead" has really held me back. I own a house & a small business, both of which I love. What I don't enjoy is constantly having to make it better. Not that I'm against improvement. I believe in self-improvement most of all, which is why I find myself here & now. I finally have the opportunity to improve me.

Within a year from now, I'd like to make a departure from what has been my norm. First thing's first. Undo what I've done. Sell the house & everything in it. Simplify. Not disassociate, but associate from another angle. Who says "homeless" means "hopeless"?

I've started getting rid of my stuff, the stuff that I have been carrying around with me my whole adult life - & a bit from before that, even. Shedding off the proverbial old skin, clearing out unnecessary cobwebs, dumping my stuff into other people's lives. It feels great!

The journey toward my goal is pretty exciting. It might turn out to be more thrilling than the adventure itself, but that's the beauty of it all. If I don't like it, I can do something else.