Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Trip to the Mall

Today was an interesting day: I went to a local mall for the first time since moving to this part of Texas almost two years ago. It's not as if I've banned the mall...for one thing, the closest malls are probably 30 minutes from our house, so I'd have to make a choice to go - and that just hasn't happened. Oh, I go to the grocery store and other places, but not the mall. For whatever reason, I do most of my clothes shopping online. Also, the malls in this area are huge and I just don't have the yen to wander around such a huge place without a purpose (didn't do it much in my teenage years, either!). And I've also been on this journey to fight "stuff."

My trip today was actually for work reasons - laugh if you want, but it's true! I was there to pick up a recognition gift...and it should tell you something that I called ahead so that it would be ready when I arrived. So ten minutes after I arrived at the mall, I was walking out of the store, mission accomplished. But while I was there....

I went to a clothing store. Granted, it was a clothing chain I worked for during a period in graduate school. And my excuse was that while I had a few minutes, I'd see if they had anything in my husband's size. There I am, browsing the sale racks, and I've got a few items in my hands: a pair of pants for $10.97, a t-shirt for $4.99, and two pairs of socks for $1.99 each. Me = hardly a big spender. At least, though, I would have helped the cashier boost their per-sale item count - from my days at this store, I remembered that management preferred an average item count of 3 or higher.

The thing is, I wasn't sure that my husband would like the color of the pants. We have this deal: when I buy him clothing, he gets to say "no" to any item without repurcussion. I'll return it, no questions asked. So this idea that he might not like the color of the pants meant that if he didn't like them, I'd be making another trip to the mall to return them. But I was telling myself that $10.97 was a deal, and couldn't he wear them for yard work even if he didn't like the color? At some point, I realized that it was ridiculous, this dilemma of the pants. If there was a question, then I shouldn't get them. Which also meant that the other items were put back, too, because once I said "no" to one item it was all downhill from there!

Walking out of the mall, it was a little overwhelming to see all the things for sale, and how little I wanted any of it. And that's how I simplified this week: I said "no" to more stuff.

For what it's worth, my husband said he probably wouldn't have liked the color of those pants...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Lunch Dilemma

This last week was pretty stressful - well, the last two weeks, if I'm honest, with a week of travel just before that. I came back from that west-coast trip and had a hard time adjusting my sleep schedule and an extra-busy period at work meant I wasn't sleeping like I normally do. Add a busy work schedule to that, and it was a disaster! When it gets crazy like this, I know that something as simple as packing a lunch saves me some stress and worry, but it's still something I have difficulty doing at times.

Taking a lunch to work every day simplifies my life in several ways: it saves time (no driving somewhere for lunch), it saves money (and there are always other things one can choose to spend money on!) and it really does simplify my day when I have some time to relax, read a book or a magazine or look at something online - the focus on something other than work allows me time to get ready to tackle the last half of the day.

But the problem is packing a lunch. Mornings are tough for me on any given day of the week - my brain just doesn't wake up and take me seriously until 9 or 10, so one of the easiest things I can do to simplify my life is to pack a lunch the night before. One problem is that I seem to avoid doing it - often waiting until it's too late and I'm too tired and I don't get it done. Silly, yes. And something that should be easy to correct, yes. But that's just the way it is.

So one of the biggest things I can do to simplify my life is to make a one-dish meal on Sunday that I can pre-portion out for the entire week. The dish has to be something I like eating multiple days in a row, and something that doesn't get dicey as the flavors mix. One of my favorites?

Tabouleh. Extra lemon juice, extra garlic, and no tomatoes - that's how I like it. Rice and beans or chili also work well for me, as does homemade vegetable soup.

I succeeded in making tabouleh last Sunday, and enjoyed it for lunch all week long. A small success in simplification...now if I could just do that every week!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Facebook: Friend or Foe?

A couple years ago, I joined Facebook. And I'll admit, it was pretty exciting at first, that rush of connecting with friends in a new way, seeing what was going on in their lives - in all the glorious, mundane detail. I went through several phases. First, the wide-eyed, "this is so cool!" phase, where I would request or accept friends, regardless of whether or not I'd even call them my friend if we were standing in the same room - even people I didn't click with back in school days. And it's a whole other topic to wonder why I was even compelled to accept their friend requests in the first place - maybe to try an relive a childhood where I wasn't the popular kid?

The next phase was games - and I added even more friends because some of those sneaky games required *other* Facebook "friends" who played the game, too. At some point, I realized that I could delete those "friends" after adding them to the game, but that also meant remembering who I'd added and who to delete. After a few months, I deleted the games entirely...

Now I'm on to a third phase: paring down. I had been thinking about how to simplify my life and as Facebook was bothering me at the time, it's the first project I took on. It's not the first time I pared down - I went from more than 300 friends to about 250 last year. But a couple weeks ago, I deleted just over 30 percent of my "friends" - from 252 down to 171.

I guess I got tired of the drivel - the status updates that didn't interest me, the games or the links to articles I didn't care about - and in my new mission to simplify, Facebook seemed to be a looming issue that I could tackle right away.

I'll probably pare my list down even more because the change has been a good one. If I haven't ever had a conversation with someone in real life - let alone a meaningful one - then are their status updates really adding anything to my life? I'm glad that they're brushing their teeth and raising their kids and enjoying their life, but it was costing me time and energy to sift through those moments and it certainly wasn't adding anything positive to my life. So, I simplified.

Has anyone been offended? Has anyone had their feelings hurt? If they have, they aren't telling me. Truthfully, in the last few weeks, not one person I deleted has requested to be my friend again. No messages, either. And it's removed clutter from my account, so I see more status updates from people I want to - and that's the best thing of all.