1mo. intentional living update.

     IMG-6677“All good things are wild and free” -Henry David Thoreau

Life has been kicking my butt. I’ve got so many school and work writing deadlines that I’ve had to put this blog in the back burner. But a good sign is that I’ve wanted to come back on here and express myself and update whoever is interested in my intentional living experience. So I’m writing this on my phone but I’m getting it out one way or another before the month is over.

I can’t believe it’ll almost be a whole month since I decided to make some changes to the way our family lives and invests our finances. I’ve gotta say that I was able to almost completely switch off the mindless consumerism that I was used to taking part in for my entire young adult life. It’s kind of like one of those horrible things that once you learn, you can’t unlearn or keep taking part in. Unsubscribing from shopping sites in my email definitely helped. Not being able to see supposed sales (that weren’t even an actual score due to not actually needing any of it in the first place), was a game changer. Some sites slipped through despite hitting the unsubscribe button and these loud, ridiculous, ALL-CAPS & exclamation marked sales announcements begging to be opened just seemed ridiculous to me. I had never perceived it that way before.

The websites I wasted most of my time on, pre-lifestyle change, were Ulta, Sephora, other makeup sites, Macy’s, & Amazon, especially that last one. (They have everything!!) I say I wasted my time rather than spent, because the issue wasn’t very much that I was sending us to bankruptcy actually spending at these sites. The issue for me was how many times throughout the day I caught myself wondering what to purchase next. This wasn’t due to necessity rather than underlying unmet needs and, most likely, psychological issues lol. I would think of buying something due to the cliché perceived need of filling a void, avoiding responsibilities, being exhausted, being depressed, boredom, loneliness, lack of stimulation, impulsivity, a need for endorphins with a minimal effort requirement, etc. I didn’t come to these conclusions easily.

Luckily it usually takes me a week or two to finalize a purchase just because when I’m not being impulsive then I’m indecisive and like to get the best deals lol. But for this same reason, making my next purchase became a real nuisance that simply took up too much space in my mind.

Two weeks ago I had a few writing assignments due for school. (I’m a full time Master’s of Social Work student). As a good procrastinator would, I left my assignments to be worried about, the same week they were due. Ok I’ll be honest, I typically start and finish a writing assignment the same day it’s due. Go ahead and judge me. But I get A’s and so the cycle is positively reinforced and then perpetuated. Anyway, this was the first time this month that not visiting shopping sites, was actually a challenge. I found myself really itching for something new. I had this anxiety-ridden urge to just at least put something in my online shopping cart to start considering. What’s been great about this lifestyle change is how much I’ve learned about myself thus far. It’s left room to gain awareness of my own behavioral patterns, underlying needs and coping mechanisms. I realized that backed up anxiety and stress leads to ruminating thoughts of consumerism and avoidance for me. But just like with any challenges, awareness, realization and acceptance is key to having control to change behaviors. After all, you can’t make a change you don’t recognize needs to be made.

My kids continue to be okay without getting new toys bought for them and seem to understand our reasoning/lifestyle change. An added bonus has been that they’re learning about saving up for stuff and the value of money in general.

We fell off of hiking (not literally), one weekend because we went to visit family, but we got back on again today. It was great. I feel my happiest while out in nature. My daughter was proud of herself for not asking to be carried this time around. We’re getting used to this particular hiking trail we’ve done this month. Visiting the beach is our other favorite, free-to-do thing on the weekends, but it’s been too cold lately.

I’ve struggled to minimize my eating-out although I believe it’s difficult with the job I do. I work with youth who are on probation and I drive around and meet them in their communities (in a nutshell). So there’ve been so many times that I pack a lunch from home and never end up making it to the office where they’ve got a microwave to heat it up and eat it. Rarely do I crave cold meals.

Did this blog feel like it bounced around from topic to topic too much? Figuring this blogging thing out but also figuring that that’s just kind of how my brain works.

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Mindful purchases and Rules

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I am slowly coming to notice which materialistic things will be a little bit more of a sacrifice to give up completely. The first challenge I faced occurred this past Wednesday morning. Wednesday mornings start a little bit earlier for my family and I. My son begins class half an hour earlier and so then I can take my daughter to her preschool earlier too. In the past, Wednesdays have been reserved as Mommy-daughter date days. We go to Starbucks to share a little breakfast snack and spend some one on one time together.

After dropping my son off at school, we headed out to my daughter’s and on our drive my daughter asks “Mommy, what day is it today?” I mentally slapped my hand to my face realizing I hadn’t thought about this when I told myself earlier this month that I wouldn’t buy any more Starbucks. After responding honestly (of course, I mean, what kind of mother would consider lying to their kid about what day of the week it actually is. I’m being sarcastic), she asked if we could go. I asked her why she wanted to go. “Because I want to have a date with you and talk with you”. Swoon. We went. I got the response I was hoping for, in that she wasn’t more interested in buying some Starbucks Madelines, but actually appreciated our one on one bonding time.

This experience made me realize that I will be selective and mindful about what we choose to spend on. There is a difference between dragging myself into a coffee shop to spend money on my morning fix that I could have made time to brew and throw in a thermos at home versus upholding a family tradition involving quality time that my daughter has come to cherish. I take back my Starbucks ban. I will say, however, that I kept the cup and refilled it with regular college campus coffee later that day for free. Win.

Something else that is currently running out is my scented candle from Bath & Body Works. I’ve been using scented candles as a form of self care for years. My absolute favorite scent is Gardenia. Brings back good memories of trips to Hawai’i with my family. So I’m wondering if this is something that I should allow myself to repurchase. I want to be careful especially in this early stage of making this lifestyle change that I am not overly excusing potential purchases in the name of self care and it being a need.

So far, experiences that involve bonding with my family have been legit enough to spend on. I’m also considering items that run out that bring me peace, such as candles.

Which items do you allow yourself to repurchase?

Sunday Hiking Picnics and Intent

We are beginning a tradition of going hiking every Sunday morning.
My partner, “J”, grew up in close proximity to mountains/hills and so hiking comes naturally to him. I did no such thing growing up.

We went hiking yesterday. Sundays coincide with grocery shopping days for us, so we purchased some stuff to make sandwiches to have a picnic out by the hills.
My kids have grown accustomed to hiking from an early age (thanks to J’s side of the family) and my son in particular, loves the experience.

There was little to no complaining because we prepared well. We ate our sandwiches first, took kids to the bathroom, packed water and fruit for after the hike.

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The trail we’ve explored twice now takes us 30-45 minutes to complete. The sights are beautiful and there are a couple of little brooks here & there we get to listen to.

After the hike, we sat down to have some mandarin oranges and mango. There was a nearby pre-dug hole that the kids discovered and they explored it for maybe 30 minutes. I was glad to see that I haven’t completely passed on my squeamish gene to them. They picked up slugs and worms with their hands, came to show us and then were asked to return them to their homes, which they did.

After our picnic-hike, we went to buy groceries and then went right back home to have dinner.

It’s amazing how adding a little more physical activity to our days, allows us better rest.
My daughter, “E”, age 4, actually napped yesterday. My son, “A”, 6, actually fell asleep within the 15 minutes I usually stay in their room playing meditation music for them. My son typically struggles with the onset of sleep.

The only purchases we made yesterday were on groceries meant to last us for one-two weeks.

This past weekend, I have bonded with my partner and my kids more.
I’ve deleted one of my social media accounts; Snapchat. I’ve decreased my follower amount on Instagram to contain only those followers that I personally know and feel comfortable sharing a piece of my life and family with. I’ve deleted a lot of past images on there and have gotten content down from over 1,000 image posts to 327 as of today. This year so far, I have decreased my phone’s photo gallery amount from 1, 800 photos to 200. I have been uploading the pictures I want to save onto Google Drive. My phone feels hypothetically lighter.

There are lots of terms being used to describe similar lifestyle changes. Minimalism, Slow living, Mindful living, Intentional living, etc. All of these terms are related. The intent I have in implementing these changes to our family is a combination of many of these aspects. My intent lies within the strive for peace, bonding (family/nature), humility, and an appreciation for simplicity and resourcefulness.

Thanks for reading.

For too long, I’ve been a victim of consumerism.

This is a new month and thus a good a time as any to implement positive changes. Also, the combination of our bank account being pretty pathetic a couple of days ago while simultaneously listening to the audiobook version of “The year of less” by Cait Flanders, was a big enough sign from the universe that we’ve got to change the way we play the game.

I’m married and I’ve got two young kids; 6 & 4. I’ve come across a couple of inspirational minimalist stories and watched countless YouTube videos of white people who’ve chosen to live in “little houses”, but none of these people I’ve come across cybernetically have had children and spouses to impose their wild ideas on. I’ve had a hard time relating to these stories for this very reason.

So I’ve decided to embark on this journey anyway and make it my own, learn along the way and hopefully inspire others.

Today was the first day of living this way, per sé. (I used to be a poet). Yesterday I wrote down some guidelines for myself. I needed to get these ideas out of my head to make them concrete.

Here is a rough draft of my guidelines:

Buying options:
Food
Gas
Kid’s clothes

***Purchase items below only once you’re out of original item.***

No more buying:
-makeup
-toiletries                                                            -handbags
-shoes
-clothes
-kid’s toys
-home items                                                       -Starbucks (no offense)

Life adjustments:
Home made coffee in thermos
Pack lunches and healthy snacks
Use dining coupons
Dine out as family on weekend only

Weekends:
Saturdays: dine out once
Sunday’s: dine out once

Ideas of free family bonding:
Go hiking
Go to park
Go to free museum days
Park picnic
Beach picnic
Home movie theatre night
Family game night
Cook/bake together
Go to the library
Creative project night

 

Today Saturday 02/03/18, I posted about this lifestyle change onto my Instagram. I want to be held accountable. My kids were told about it yesterday. They seem to be on board as of today but I’m prepared for future challenges. My partner is up for it as well.

Today was such a fulfilling Saturday. We had breakfast here at home. We had lunch at home too. We cleaned out clothes to donate. Bonded over Lilo & Stitch 2. (Which, as an adult, was surprisingly engaging). Got laundry done. My daughter helped dad wash the cars while my son drew on his sketch pad. We colored together and played with Legos.

Later on, we went out to have dinner at Red Robbin. It was a nice dining experience and it felt responsible because it was such a mindful decision. It wasn’t accidental that we went there because we had been out shopping around that area and were suddenly starved and the kids were out of control already or anything.

Afterwards, we just went back home. (This has never been the norm. I mean, it was 6pm on a Saturday night). Reality is that my children really prefer and enjoy being home though. They are little homebodies and I don’t blame them. Their toys are there. They could get into their pajamas and kick off their shoes. They could cuddle with mom & dad. And the best thing of all is that they were in their beds by 8pm as usual.

Today we spent a mindful $40.

Excited for this journey. Thanks for reading.