Monday: Moving Toward Minimalism

What am I willing to give up or sacrifice in order to make room in my life for the habits that will make me healthy enough to live an active lifestyle now and for many years into long life? – note to myself, December 2013

When I realized in the spring of 2013 that I wanted to change my life (see June 4, 2015 post called “Fitness Friday: On Running), I knew I would need to be more physically active to lose weight, and conversely, that I wanted to lose weight to be more active. My husband has always been very athletic and I wanted for us to be able to do things together into old age–such as climb the sand dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. In the past, he might go work out at the gym or try a new workout video while I sat in my craft room making scrapbook pages or greeting cards. In the past, this had made me happy.

In the fall of 2013, a friend and I rented a table together to sell our unwanted crafting supplies at a “New to You” sale I had participated in for many years. It was basically like a big crafters’ swap event; I sold the items I no longer wanted then used the earned money to buy others’ cast-offs. As my friend and I stood at our table, gazing out upon the rows of other tables overflowing with unwanted supplies a lot like the ones on our table, we commiserated over the difficulty of our respective weight loss journeys. As we chatted, I looked at the other women behind their tables and had an epiphany: almost every crafter in that room was obese–some morbidly so.

As I walked through the room, I noticed that one woman had stamped all of her shopping bags with the phrase, “She who dies with the most supplies wins!” This woman was quite large and, because she seemed to have difficulty standing, she stayed seated the entire time. At that moment I saw the correlation of the obesity and the supply hoarding, and I saw my future all around me–a future that I didn’t want. I knew then that I would have to make some tough decisions in my life. We only have 24 hours in each day, and between working full time and doing the things that need done daily, such as laundry and cooking and dishes, there are only so many leisure hours available. Did I want to spend those hours alone in my craft room, sitting on my butt, trying and failing to use up the many lifetimes worth of supplies I had so compulsively accumulated?

The answer was a resounding no. Around this time I saw a television segment about an elderly runner named Olga who was confounding scientists with her athletic abilities as they improved instead of declined as she aged. Reading What Makes Olga Run? The Mystery of the 90-somethingTrack Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives was incredibly inspirational. (Check out the website here: http://whatmakesolgarun.com/). If Olga could take up running in her eighties, surely I could start running in my forties!

Further searches of books in the fitness section of the library led me to read Younger Next Year* Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy–Until You’re 80 and Beyond (read about this book and more here: http://youngernextyear.com/). This book was the one that helped me quantify what I actually wanted and needed to do to lose wight and be fit as I grow old with my husband. The level of fitness I wanted to achieve would require 45 to 60 minutes a day of exercise a minimum of 6 days a week. This was what I set out to do, so I began a schedule of running on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and taking barre classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Friday nights we rewarded ourselves with a movie night out.

Exercising 6 days a week drastically reduced the few leisure hours I had before beginning my fitness journey. By Christmas time I had internalized the understanding that in order to have time to exercise regularly and be active with my husband, I logically had to give up some of the activities that formerly took up my time. That was when I wrote the opening quote in my calendar to force me think about what I really wanted from my life. By now we were DVRing most of our shows and I would watch TV almost exclusively while folding laundry, averaging about one hour per day (and no commercials!). I managed to squeeze in reading on my lunch break at work, during car trips, and for a few minutes before bed each night. The main issue was the crafting.

Through the years I had accumulated enough supplies to fill an entire side of our finished basement, and I had recently moved everything into the spare bedroom. Since I began scrapbooking in 1997 I had accumulated thousands of dollars in supplies. I had made dozens of beautiful scrapbooks, hundreds of greeting cards, and countless other paper crafts. I had taught classes and sold my creations at craft fairs, but I felt the hobby no longer fit my new life. Dismantling my collection of supplies would be no small undertaking. The irony of the situation was that I wanted to give up the crafting to make time in my life for exercise, but because I was already exercising nearly every day, I didn’t have time to get rid of my craft supplies.

I did an internet search on how to reduce craft supplies. There weren’t a lot of hits that yielded me the type of information I was looking for: specifically, what guiding principles to apply to downsize a huge collection into something that I could still use from time to time when the creative muse struck, but which wouldn’t need to inhabit an entire room. One of the posts I stumbled across during this time was by Miss Minimalist. Her philosophy instantly resonated with me, and I have subscribed to her blog ever since. In the year or so since I discovered her blog, I have done more research into the Minimalist movement. My first attempt at practical application of Minimalist philosophies has been with my wardrobe, which was logical since I was rebuilding it as I lost weight and got rid of clothes that no longer fit. My next application of Minimalist philosophy will be on my craft room. Now that you have the back story on why I am doing it, stay tuned on Mondays for my adventures in culling an eighteen-year collection of supplies by ninety per cent!

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4 thoughts on “Monday: Moving Toward Minimalism

  1. Happy to read about your journey and life changing changes you are making. You should be very proud! I am in need of a purge myself so I will be watching your post for ideas that help you. I do hope you never give it up completely! Even with no mojo I hope I never do either!

    • Thank you for your feedback, Tina! I think back to when I first started crafting and everything fit in my wheeled tote and a matching paper file. My goal will be to keep approximately that much and only buy for specific, current projects. I hope my journey will encourage you on yours!

      • You are doing a great job to get healthier–much sooner than I have–but I am still working on getting rid of my overloaded closets and body!!So I walk my 20-30 minutes almost every day and I am doing better. Still to much yarn though!!!!

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