Nursing School

One year in… almost: Nursing school from the inside

It was a year ago that I was getting ready to start nursing school. Honestly, I don’t think that you can be ready for this. It’s crazy and hard and it will make you cry and curse and generally wonder what you could have been thinking. All of that said, it is worth it. At least, it has been so far. I have cried. I have hoped that I knew enough to pass a test. I have hoped that I passed a test. I have gasped audibly when seeing a grade that I thought would be awful be pretty good. So if you are getting ready to go there, here’s some advice that I wish I had a year ago.

#1. You can’t work ahead. As a person who generally loves to plan things, this is important to know. It seems silly to say but I know a lot of people who are like me in class and it’s stressful to not be able to plan out a whole semester and work ahead. But you can’t. Work ahead, that is. It’s to much and your brain needs to be on your task at hand. I used to be able to work ahead and have no trouble. I would never consider it now. Every ounce of my brain is going into what I’m doing in class. What comes next is not on my radar until the day of the test.

#2. Those prerequisites matter. When you’re just trying to memorize bones and muscles you may not see it. In fact, a lot of times, you can memorize what you need for a class and not worry about until the final and sometimes not even then. Don’t memorize! Seriously, don’t. You will thank me when you start nursing classes. Even classes like psych, which seem like they have nothing to do with it. They do. Those things will come back to haunt you and then you have to start all over again. Learn it the first time and keep it in your brain.

#3. Work on critical thinking skills. You will take tests that are going to make you wonder if you’re in the wrong room. You will walk out wondering when you were taught that material. Sometimes you weren’t. A huge part of nursing school is about using what you know to come up with an answer that you weren’t explicitly taught. And it’s crucial. In the real world, you’ll come across situations that you’ve never encountered. That patient will be relying on your ability to figure out what to do.

#4. There’s more than one right answer. Yes, you read that right. It goes along with the critical thinking. Nursing tests are designed to test not only critical thinking but your judgement. You are going to look at the answer choices for a question and realize that 2 or 3 of the 4 choices are correct. You need to find the BEST answer. This is a judgement but again, crucial for the real world. What do you do first and why is more important to your future patients than your instructor. Be prepared, and refer to number 3.

#5. Accept passing. In my program, our grade must be an 80 in order to pass. Our motto has become “B’s get degrees”. When you’re used to be being one of the top students, it can be very hard to accept an 82 as a good grade. I have had that moment. Trust me, it doesn’t matter as much as you think. It’s more important to realize what you got wrong and why than to worry about the grade. Take a deep breath and keep going. The world won’t end. I promise. Which leads me to…

#6. Find out why your answer is wrong. Every answer I get wrong, I want to know why. If I can’t figure out why on my own, I will ask my instructor to explain it to me. This knowledge is invaluable because these questions aren’t going to get any easier. Understanding why your answer was wrong helps you get better and the next time you see a question like that, you’ll get it right. It’s part of the learning process and it helps you improve. That’s the goal because to get through nursing school, you have to keep raising the bar.

#7. Make clinical valuable. Clinical is the time to put the books to use. Everything we learn in class will be applied in the real world. Start practicing now! Ask questions, think about what you’re doing and why. Pay attention to your patient and what they say or do, or how they act. Talk to the nurse you’re working with. Volunteer to go places with your patient if they need a test or have a procedure. Everything you do, you will learn. If you don’t want to be in clinical, why are you here anyway?

#8. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” (or be wrong). You’re going to make mistakes. That’s why we have instructors. They’re there to help you, guide you, teach you. They don’t expect you to know everything. If you don’t know something, say so. If you try to fake it, you’ll more than likely get caught. If you did your homework and you’re still not sure about something it’s ok to say so. If you knew it all when you started, you wouldn’t need to be in school. It’s a scary thing to admit you’re not sure but that’s the only way to get help.

#9. It’s ok to be scared. It sounds silly but there’s a lot at stake here. The biggest thing is the life of the person who is trusting you to help them. You’ll probably be scared. It’s ok. So is everybody else. Some people just hide it better than others. Everyone I talked to was afraid the first time they gave an injection. Some people were even scared the first time they went into a patient’s room. You’re going to be afraid at some point. It will be ok though. Each time you do something, you gain confidence. Then there are new things to be scared about but you can be sure that eventually you’ll become less scared and more confident.

#10. It will go faster than you think. In August, it seemed like the task was huge. I thought I would be in school forever. Now, I’m looking at the calendar and seeing that I’m much closer to the end and it’s a little amazing. I still have a way to go but every day I get a little closer and it’s going a lot faster than I thought it would. Take a deep breath and keep that in mind. The end will arrive sooner than you think!

It’s nearly April, and this semester is almost over. Summer semester will be crazy fast too, especially since it’s only eight weeks and we have two courses to complete. It’s a lot and it looks overwhelming but I know that I’ll get through it and get to the other side. And then the end will be much nearer. It’s scary but exciting to think about where I’ll be a year from now, especially when I think about how fast this year has gone. So if you’re just getting started, be prepared. It’s a wild ride but it’s possible to get through it. And you’ll be amazed at what you can do when you get to the other side. Until next time! For now, I have to get ready for another clinical day tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Minimalism

How did I get to minimalism (or the great purge)

As I sat here looking around, I felt a kind of relief and then a little annoyance that there was some mess on the table. So I cleaned it all up. In 5 minutes. No joke. A task that used to take me 30 minutes to sort and clean took 5 minutes. Marie Kondo would say it’s because my stuff has a place. This is partially true. Most of my stuff has a place and if it’s not mine then it’s probably a child’s. It goes in their room and I try not to think about it to much. That’s one of Marie Kondo’s things too – you can’t force other people into this. They have to come to it on their own. If they have no interest in it, they’ll simply reaquire stuff and be back where they started. So, I try not to look to hard at other people’s stuff. But I am still amazed at all the progress I’ve made so far.

Getting here was a task all on its own though. I mean, I’m 40 years old and I had stuff in my house from when I was 16 years old. It’s moved numerous times and was still buried in a storage box somewhere because it was “sentimental”. Most of that stuff is gone. Actually, with the exception of some pictures, it’s all gone. I didn’t want it, I didn’t need it. I was keeping it out of some sense that it “meant something” to me but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what. I still don’t know what I was keeping it for but it doesn’t matter anymore because it’s gone. It’s wonderful.

That sounds weird to most people. Heck, a couple of years ago I’d have thought that it sounds weird. This purging of stuff to get down to what you truly love is a strange thing. Another blogger described it as a sickness and in a way it kind of is. You have this odd feeling that you have to get rid of stuff and you can literally walk through your house and start seeing things everywhere that can get tossed (or donated). It’s all you think about sometimes. As I’ve reduced the amount of stuff, the feelings have decreased and I feel less of an urge to declutter. I still have my moments though. I’ll find myself wandering through the house looking at things and thinking about if I still want them in my life. Often the answer is yes but occasionally I still get a no. Marie Kondo promises that you do get to a point where you no longer feel the urge to do this. Of course, she also does her “tidying” in these marathon sessions where you do everything at once. I’m moving at a slower pace and I’m not doing this exactly the way she does since that would make a giant mess that I can’t deal with. But the overall theme is the same and it’s still working for me.

The most useful thing for me is that I feel less anxious about things. There is less mess and thus less to worry about cleaning up. Actually, when I stay on top of it and do my daily cleaning like I’m supposed to, there’s no mess at all. If I let it go for a few days, I get small piles of stuff forming but since I know where everything goes, it gets put away quickly. I feel as though if other people could feel this same feeling they’d get it. They would understand why that desire to toss things is so strong and have that same feeling of relief when looking around at a space that is clean and full of things that are joyful. I used to look at those hoarder memes and think to myself “At least my house doesn’t look like that!”. Now I look at those memes and think to myself “They just need to declutter a little and those problems will go away.” I used to think storage boxes were the answer. Now I realize that I don’t need that many (and have gotten rid of a lot!). I used to wonder how people could live in a house that was only 500 square feet. Now I can see how it could be done. I would have to declutter a lot more before it could happen but it could happen. That’s not a plan of mine, by the way.

There’s something to be said for this way of life. After all, life’s not about stuff. Keeping up with everybody else isn’t the goal and ultimately, there’s always somebody who has more money, and thus more stuff, than you. Also, those people are rarely as happy as they seem. Finding out what really makes you happy and getting rid of all the extra stuff makes life better. There’s less cleaning to do and the things that you love shine through. I think that’s the best part because life should be about what we love. Until next time!

Healthy Eating

Eating well

I am in a weird place with food. One of my goals is to reduce my carbon footprint. Currently, according to the best estimates I can make, my footprint is below the US average but still well over the world average. In fact, compared to my state, I’m well below average (at 5465 per year compared to the state average of 15,918). If I had access to public transit that number could be lower. In actuality, my number is likely higher than what it calculated because I don’t know all of the mileage that I travel every week (I’ve never tracked it to find out). Even if I was double what I calculated, I am still significantly below average which is good. A large part of that is food. Eating less meat reduces your carbon footprint because vegetables don’t use up as much carbon to produce and market. Eating locally whenever possible also helps this because there’s less transport. This would be easier if I had access to a farmer’s market. Most of the ones here are on weekends, when I work.

I am hoping to be able to work on this and eat even more locally and more vegetarian. There are farmer’s markets open during the week further away and there is also a farm nearby that sells produce seasonally. I may try to shop there more. It pushes up the emission from the car but may be worth it to eat more locally. I’ll have to see though.

Currently, I am meal planning in my journal. I also have lots of ideas written down with various recipes to try. Often my recipes are general ideas of what was in something and I’ll go from there. I modify recipes a lot because many of them include bell peppers and I can’t stand those. In fact, they are the only vegetable that I won’t eat. Unfortunately for me, they show up in almost everything so I spend a lot of time modifying recipes to exclude them. You would think this would be a quick fix but sometimes a recipe isn’t workable without the peppers in it like when the peppers are central to the dish. I avoid those.

My goal this week is to not buy lunch at work. I made myself lunch for tomorrow already which is good. Tomorrow will be the real challenge because when I get home from work after a 12 hour shift I rarely want to make a lunch. I am thinking about options though. I have a vegetarian chicken patty that I could make real quick and pack a sandwich. That might work well. I’ll try and update on Monday (which means I’ll try to remember to update about it…). For now, I’m going to go chill out and watch some YouTube videos. Until the next time, lovely people!

Bullet Journal

For love of my BuJo!

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This is my bullet journal. It is purple and it contains my life. No, I’m not kidding. I take this with me pretty much everywhere and it is more than just a planner. Some people have heard about bullet journaling and have no idea what it is. Others have never even heard of it (the horror!). Like most things these days, it has a following. I am totally a part of that group, although I’d never have thought I’d love it as much as I do. If you want an in depth explanation of how the system was created, you can go here: Bullet Journal

In the picture above, you see almost all of the stuff I use for my journal. My washi tape is put away with the stickers. You’ll see what I mean in a minute. First things first. Why do I love it so much? Honestly, because it’s so adaptable. I have weeks that are crazy and I have weeks that are almost sleepy. Now, the crazy is far more common but the sleepy weeks always get to me. In a regular journal, it just looks like I forgot to plan that week. It seemed like such a waste to me but there’s not much you can do about it in a regular planner. You can put stickers on the pages, and I have done that but it’s still kind of tough for me to stare at that empty space. Then there were things I wanted to put in a planner but couldn’t because there just wasn’t enough space for it. So then I had all this paper in there. Bullet journals were my fix to both problems.

This is last week in my journal. Notice, there are still stickers. There’s also color. And best of all, I can look and tell you at a glance what I did that week and what I didn’t get done. My handwriting needs some work too. Anyway, on to what I love about this. First off, there’s no wasted space. My whole week is here and I’m not looking at a crowded day and a couple empty ones, which would have happened in a regular journal. I also get to draw in here and that’s another reason that I love it. That piece of pie on Tuesday? I drew it in because I wanted it there. I added stickers to the other days. It snowed Wednesday – see the note I wrote?

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This is also in my journal. It’s a habit tracker. I can tell very easily what things I need to work on and what things I need to improve on. You can’t do this in a regular planner easily – I’ve tried. At a glance, I can tell you that I need to work on my meditation but that I’m doing well with blogging every day (except my weekends when I have to work). This was freehanded but I took a ruler to my April one. The dots help a lot doing these types of things though. There’s still more great stuff you can do though!

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This is my master grocery list – all of the things that I buy. Some of them regularly and others just as needed but it helps when making a list to look at what I tend to keep on hand and compare to what’s in the house. Especially when you’re trying to meal plan.

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That’s in here too, by the way. I can move the post its around as needed to create a menu and then a shopping list. I need to modify this in my next journal to make the meal planning part work better but this works for now. And the fact that I an change things as I need to is also great! It allows for time to see how it works and then make changes once I see what is working well and what might not be.

At this point, you’re probably thinking that you can do all of this in a regular planner. You’d be right. A lot of this is hard but not impossible in a regular planner. But I also have this in my journal:

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This is my personalized travel map of the US, the states that I have at least partially visited at this point. And yes, I need to work on this – another thing in my journal is my bucket list and travel plans – but this is something that can’t be done in a regular planner. I’ll always have this and I can update it as I go to new states. I drew it by hand but you can buy stickers of these types of things on Etsy, so if you don’t think you can draw, that’s ok.

That’s something else that’s awesome about a bullet journal. I get to practice my handwriting and my art. Anywhere I want. My pens fit in a small pencil pouch and they travel with the journal. It’s very portable. My journal is an A5 size (8×6, roughly) so it fits in all my bags easily. So there it is. My undying love for my bullet journal. If you want to see more (or just be wowed at some art skills) check out BohoBerry. She has a whole site that features her BuJo regularly. There is tons of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest as well. Come, join us! You know you want too!

Fitness, Healthy Eating

Did you lose weight?

That question has been following me around lately. Anytime I see someone who I haven’t seen in awhile or when I post pictures (a rare moment), I hear it. It’s a question that I’ve wanted to hear almost all of my life. At just 5’2″ (or very short, in most people’s worlds), I have been overweight all of my adult life. I’ve never been obese or so overweight that I seemed it but rather, I was just always bigger. When I was younger I used to tell myself that I was just built bigger. That’s true, to an extent. I have a good bit of muscle on me but honestly there’s a good bit of fat too. I have been working towards getting rid of this weight for a long time, although never by extreme dieting. I don’t do well on crazy plans that have me eliminate all of anything. When I graduated from college, I was wearing a size 14. After I picked up running a few years back, I dropped to an 8. I was happy with that number but every BMI chart still told me I was overweight.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. Numbers are not everything and the chart can’t decide if I am happy with my body or determine how much muscle and fat there is on me. But I can and I also knew one thing with certainty. I ate a lot and not much of it was good food. I wanted that to change. So at the end of December I started to make definite changes in what and how much I was eating in an effort to be healthier. That’s the true goal here – health. However, it’s had an unintended side effect. I started losing weight.That’s when I decided to try a couple of things.

The first of those things was getting back into the My Fitness Pal app. Those lovely people don’t know who I am, so this isn’t a paid ad for the app. There are other apps that do the same thing. That’s just what I use. It’s a calorie log, basically. You put in what and how much you eat and it tells you your nutrition. Calories and nutrients are all there for you to see. Almost as soon as I started using it, I realized that I was eating more than I thought. Having to look at serving sizes reminded me again that not matter how tasty they might be, a whole bag of jelly beans is not good for your bottom line – or your bottom. I think a lot of people underestimate how much they’re eating or they overcompensate with exercise. As an example: “I ran a couple miles. I can totally have that grande pumpkin spice latte.” Except that, no. You almost never work off as much as you think you have and putting the numbers in helps me see that. Or decide that it’s worth it to blow a day because sometimes, it is completely worth it to blow a day.

The second thing I did was make a concerted effort to eat better food. Less processed food, less bread, more fruits and veggies. Again, this has paid off in unexpected ways. Fresh food or food that you prepare from scratch has the benefit of control – you are completely aware of what’s in there (or not). And often, it’s got fewer calories. I have decreased my bread and chip consumption to almost nothing. I still eat bread and chips but not every day. I also try to eat them in moderation. I have this amazing sourdough bread I got from Target. That loaf may last forever because I bought it almost 2 weeks ago and I still have 2/3 of the loaf. I’m going to freeze some of it so it doesn’t go bad. I have increased the amount of veggies I eat, almost ten times. Fruit has also gone up though not by as much. I have decreased (almost eliminated) the amount of meat and dairy I eat. Except for cheese because I can’t live without cheese. It’s a downfall of mine.

With the increased yoga and overall exercise, I have lost 15 pounds since I started tracking my weight in the app (which was on January 2nd). I might fit in a size 4 (I bought a 6 when I bought my jeans but I think I might have been able to go to a 4 but was to chicken to try it on). For the first time in as long as I can remember, my BMI is almost in the “normal” range (I have about 3 pounds to go). The best part is that I’m not missing out on anything. I don’t feel deprived. I still eat junk sometimes. But now, I am aware of the choices I’m making and thinking about them. For example, when I went on vacation, I gained some weight back. But the great part is that as soon as I got home, it came right off.

If you feel stuck, like you want to lose weight but can’t, I would strongly recommend that you first, figure out why you want to lose weight. And be honest with yourself. I really believe that you need an internal motivation to be healthier, not that you want to be a certain size or have a certain waist measurement. Once you decide, what has worked for me the best is to make small changes. Replace your regular snacks with healthy snacks or track your eating for a couple of weeks. Really think about what you’re eating and why you’re eating it. Cut out soda (I still drink soda sometimes too) or decide to walk every night. Once you make that first change stick, make another one. The changes add up faster than you realize and suddenly you’re a different, healthier person.

I think that my new habits are good ones and I’m still learning what works for me and what doesn’t. That said, I feel better and that is motivation alone to keep up the changes. Hopefully, some day, I won’t have to think about it anymore and I’ll just automatically know what and how much to eat. For now, I’m sticking with my new habits and taking the time to be mindful. In the meantime, maybe I can help someone else find what will help them. For tonight though, I have some homework to finish. Until tomorrow, lovely people!

Minimalism

Minimalism in action? (the kitchen)

I feel as though I’ve hit that point in the decluttering. The one where what you have is enough and you don’t need any more  nor do you want to get rid of anything else. Part of feeling this way is having gotten rid of things that take up space but don’t work. Today, that moment happened in the kitchen when the dishwasher got tossed. The dishwasher hasn’t worked in… 5 years maybe? We’ve been getting along without it since then and if that’s true then we don’t need a new one. However, the old one was taking up space. I don’t have the time or the money to redo the whole kitchen but I wanted that space. So when a friend mentioned that a hardware store had cabinets on sale, I went to see if I could  match the color and find a cabinet that would fit in the space.

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Ok, so the color doesn’t match. However, the important thing is that it’s now useable space! I didn’t clean up the kitchen before taking these, so you will see some things out. I know that in Marie Kondo’s book, she says things shouldn’t be out on the counter. Honestly? That’s impractical. I’d spend all day putting things away. Also, the coffee maker and the other things out are used every day or often enough that I don’t feel bad leaving them out. Moving on, the cabinet, contains my cookbooks now.

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Pardon the lighting.I will mention, that the binders are all paperwork. The pink one contains everyone’s important documents (birth certificates, social security cards, etc). The blue one is for my nursing program. It has any document that they could ask to see, an old resume that I need to update and a few other documents directly related to nursing school. The shelf has cords for cameras and the pencil sharpener. All of that stuff came out of a large cabinet that is in the dining room. All that’s left in that cabinet is my nursing books and a shoebox with extra pencils and highlighters, my calculator and some post it notes. Since we’re here, I thought I’d give you a tour of my kitchen. You’ll notice it’s on the small side so the decluttering has been a huge help in gaming the space more useable and functional.

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Under the sink, which used to be full. Now there’s only things directly relevant to the sink.

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This is the cabinet over the new cabinet. This is all of our coffee cups, regular cups, plates and bowls. This space will eventually get decluttered more once the kids are done with the kiddie bowls.

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Turn around and this is the other side of the kitchen. Yes, that’s all of it. The space to the left has the washer and dryer and a pantry closet. I didn’t include that here. Also, the cabinets over the microwave are empty. They used to be filled with things. Nothing up there got used because I could never reach, so to use something meant I had to climb up there and get it down. The things from that cabinet that I felt I needed have now been relocated to where I can reach. You’ll also notice that the top shelves in most of these cabinets has very little. Again, I can’t reach that stuff easily.

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My mixing bowls and measuring cups. Also, my tea pot with the matching cups. Honestly, it gets used very little however it does bring me real joy. I adore it. So it stays.

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This cabinet has my baking dishes, a popcorn bowl up top and some baking supplies.

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This drawer is still the worst. It’s my cooking utensils. I need a drawer divider or some paper to put in the bottom so stuff doesn’t move around. However, this drawer used to be packed and there was a canister on the counter. Now it’s just the things that I use all the time and no extra gadgets that collect dust.

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Other side of the oven is a set of three drawers. I just realized I forgot to take a picture of the cabinet on the right. It has all my pots and pans. Sorry about that. So back to this drawer. There’s a lot of silverware here. Honestly, it’s more than we use. I will declutter this eventually because I cringe every time I open this drawer. But for now, it’s acceptable.

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Next drawer. Pot holders, coffee, tea, salt and cooking stuff that I need quick access too. Under the potholes is actually part of the coffee maker. I could probably get rid of that too. Some of my larger mugs don’t fit in the space with that piece in, so I took it out. It’s never gone back which is probably a good indication that I don’t need it. I have been toying with the idea of a new coffee maker. For now though, what I have works fine. Maybe with a final kitchen clean out I’ll do that. For now, I’ll add that piece to the list of things that can go.

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The bottom drawer has kitchen towels and lunch making supplies. I may eliminate most of this if my kids continue to eat lunch at school. If they aren’t using this stuff then we don’t need it and when they have field trips, everything has to be disposable so I can’t use any of this. I do use my daughter’s lunch box for my lunches at work and I will use the plastic storage containers (they’re all in the lunch boxes, so you don’t see them – a thermos and three different sizes of lunch containers). So there’s still work to be done in the kitchen but it’s not urgent. We have space and nothing is coming in, which is great. I can find everything that I need quickly and things aren’t falling out of cabinets anymore. It’s been wonderful in the past couple months since I decluttered here.

So that’s where we are with this section of the house. I’ve made progress and will continue to make progress and refine what is needed and what is not. I’ve also been working on decluttering arts and crafts supplies and I may have finally gotten that down to the perfect place too. I’ll save that for another post though. For now, I’ll end with a smile and the knowledge that I am working toward an open, clean space that is filled with things that bring joy and serve a purpose. I will continue to modify those things and use the book as a guide but not a strict rule. Until tomorrow, lovely people!

Minimalism

The art of decluttering

Sounds kind of silly, right? I got 2/3 of the way through Marie Kondo’s book and I feel as though that’s her main point. In some ways, I see her point though. Decluttering looks different for every person and the things that I keep because they have value may not be the things that you see as valuable. So there is very much an art to it. However, it’s also not artistic in the way that we typically think of art. Either way, I’ve come to some conclusions about decluttering.

First, she believes that you need to start with clothing because it holds the least sentimental value for people. This is probably true for most people. I found decluttering the clothes to be the least difficult part. Shoes were a little tougher but still manageable. So, if you’re looking to declutter, I would start there. I’ve picked up some good tips on YouTube, such as get rid of socks with no match, clothes with holes and things that don’t fit first and then go from there. I don’t get real lovey with clothes, so the idea of thanking them is a bit much but it may work for you if you’re having trouble getting rid of things. I highly suggest her method of folding clothes though, because it really does save a lot of space.

Secondly, one of her big things is getting rid of papers. This confused me at first but now it makes total sense. Manuals for things? Toss them. Old credit card statements, bank statements, pay stubs? Toss them. In fact, aside from things like birth certificates, social security cards, titles or leases, you probably don’t need it. Honestly, when was the last time you used the manual for your oven? I need to go through stuff again and trim it more but currently, everything fits in a three ring binder with page protectors. Like I said, it needs more work but it’s a vast improvement from what it was before. If you have a filing cabinet, you probably don’t need it.

Next on my list was hobbies. Specifically, old hobbies that you still have materials for. I got rid of all of it. What was I keeping it for? Mostly because I paid for it. But I wasn’t using it and it was taking up space in my house, collecting dust and getting moved from storage container to storage container (sounds familiar?). I did keep some things but they were all things that I have used in the past year. It’s almost all art supplies with some bullet journal supplies and scrapbooking supplies thrown in. I keep going through things a little at a time to see if there’s anything else that can go but I think I’m getting close to a good number because I find less and less every time.

Then I went through my kitchen and cleaned out all the gadgets that I never use. I have also made food a part of this journey and am working hard at making sure that there’s no excess sitting in the closet for months. I used to pull half eaten packages out of the back of the pantry and sigh because it would have to be thrown away. Now, you can see everything and there’s no hiding things anywhere. This has the sad side effect of constant complaining that there’s nothing to eat in the house but that’s silly because there’s plenty of food. There’s just no piles of it to sort through anymore. It’s a little odd to see an almost empty pantry at first but I’ve gotten used to it and it’s made life easier. It also makes menu planning easier because I don’t have to guess about what ingredients I might or might not have. And things aren’t going bad which is even better.

Books and movies are also something that were a challenge to me. Again, I still have some work to do in this area but I have decreased numbers considerably and the house is much cleaner for it. I can dust very quickly and I can see what I have. One of the things she talks about in the book is how you get attached to the idea of a book – it’s more what it represents than the fact that you reread it. Because, really, why else would you keep a book? That makes sense when you really think about it but I kept tons of books I would never read again because I though I should. They look good on the shelf or some other such idea. There are people who get joy out of having books on their shelves just to look at. I really don’t though. I know that sounds odd but when I really thought about it, I kept the books because I thought it proved something about me. It doesn’t though. Books are to be read. I read them and now I’m passing them on for others to enjoy. There are some that I will keep (Harry Potter, anyone?) because I have and will continue to reread them. Movies work in much the same way for me. I have a select few that I watch over and over and really love. Most of them were just there to try and prove something though.

I am still working on this journey of mine. I want to have things that I love and that I use around me. Finding those things is a process and it seems silly to really think about why you have certain things or buy certain things. Ultimately, it’s about figuring out who you are and what you truly want in your life. Your stuff is not your legacy. Your stuff is not going to love you. It certainly doesn’t make you happy. Happiness has to be found within yourself. There’s nothing wrong with having material possessions but all to often the possessions begin to possess us. Stopping and thinking about your things and deciding what’s bringing you true joy makes your whole life happier and easier.