From Type A to Type Ahh

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World – Ghandi


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Gratitude is an Attitude

I never realized how much I complained until I started paying attention and trying to consciously make another choice.  Now I am left with this realization:  I really have no reason to be complaining.  I mean literally no reason.  See I do believe there are reasons one could generally complain: unexpected loss, terminal or severe illness, homelessness, hunger, war…I think you get where I am going.  It is about scope and perspective.  When I looked through the scope at my perspective…that was an eye opener.  So let me count the ways I should be reminding myself to shut up; every time I complain about the injustice of receiving the wrong bagel with my order or that my boss did not thank me for picking up that extra work.

I woke up today relatively pain-free, as pain free as a 47 year old runner can expect to be.  I went to a job in an office, a good job that does not exploit me, no matter what my co-workers may think.  I have benefits, leave, I am protected from the elements and bonus, I get to use my brain and make a difference. I had lunch with a dear friend. I got to take the young lady I am mentoring to an event and introduce her around to colleagues.  I coached our running club with my husband after school, and I laughed and ran while being reminded of what it feels like to be a kid out having fun.  I got to come home to my warm house, with my beloved healthy cats waiting, looked at my newly neat pantry and fridge full of food and made a healthy dinner and shared it with my partner / best friend.  I am typing on my very own computer and my husband and I have more than enough money to meet our needs, though we are not rich,monetarily we both work for the government after all.  All of that is mine so I am rich in all areas that matter.  With a few daily differences the essential elements are the same: I have a partner in life, a home, food, passion, comfort, opportunities, and the love of my dear animals.  Why was I complaining?

I think some of it is who we surround ourselves with.  If a group of people or co-workers are throwing down about every little slight or disappointment in life it is a lot like being a teenager when your peers are all drinking beer.  “Here have one” becomes “don’t you think it is unfair…”  It is easy to get swept up in the momentum.  I have.  I used to a lot.  I still do but not as much. At least now when  I do I try to bring myself back to gratitude. My husband and I both wanted to focus on gratitude so now at dinner we start the conversation by listing three things we are grateful for on that day.  I can tell you after you start a conversation that way it stays more positive.  It is not that we never find ourselves less appreciative than we should be but it has changed our discussions.

I never realized how much of a choice it is to be grateful.  What you focus on you create.  So when we focus on the negative and what might be lacking that is what we feel around us.  Now that I am focusing more on all the good things in my life I feel like good things are everywhere.  I keep trying to stay present and mindful and bring myself back to gratitude.  I try thinking, if this were my last day would I want to have spent it obsessing about what was missing and every slight…or celebrating all that I have and demonstrating how much I love those closest to me.  I am not perfect and believe me as someone who is naturally sarcastic this effort is costing me a lot of good one liners.  I need to develop some snappy meditation, minimalism and mindfulness come backs.  Well a project for another day!

 


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My First Foray into Intentional Minimalism

For the last few months I have been getting reacquainted with a concept that has always interested me: Minimalism.  As I started to focus this year on being more intentional and present, I have begun to notice certain things more.  That is the downside to becoming more aware…it is a lot harder to ignore stuff.  Meditation has been a key tool for me in this process.  After meditating for several weeks everyday, I noticed something strange.  We had more money in our checking account and I rarely, if ever, thought about purchasing anything unless it was groceries or basic needs.  Don’t get me wrong I am not a shop till you drop kind of girl, but it did make me realize I am also not a terribly conscious consumer.  It turns out growing internal contentment and cultivating gratitude turns your focus to what you already have and away from focusing on what you think you want.  Who knew?

Along with this new found frugality came this desire to learn more about having a richer, calmer, and more stress free life by removing the obstacles to that goal.  In pursuit of this I have done some research.  I am still that Type A girl at heart, only now my pursuits are turned in a more Zen direction.  I have been reading and listening to podcasts.  One of my favorites The Minimalists has really helped me to understand how “individual” minimalism is.  They also recommend a revolutionary idea of setting priorities and making changes based upon that. I have been giving that a lot of thought.  I decided to narrow down some priorities: my marriage relationship, my cats, my family, health and fitness, reading and writing, and inner peace.  Voila! we have this blog as part of my process and to fulfill one of my priorities.  A place to subject you, the unsuspecting reader, to my ramblings.  Thanks for being part of the solution.  With increase knowledge comes the double edged sword.  You can’t unknow what you now know.  That is how I ended up spending Saturday doing my first intentional minimalism exercise in my kitchen.

small-kitchen-drawer-spices-ideas

I did not get here but pretty, right?

Let me start by saying I love to cook.  I love my kitchen.  If you had asked me three months ago do you like kitchen gadgets?  I would have said “not really.”  Without meaning to, I would have been lying through my teeth.  After realizing a key tenant of minimalism is getting rid of stuff to make your life easier I could not stop noticing how many things in my kitchen were only a source of frustration and not joy.  I had little gadgets crowding several drawers for so long, I just thought looking for things for 10 minutes was part of cooking.  “I am sure that spatula is in here someplace?”  I had 2 crock pots!  Did I mention it is just my husband and I.  I had a blender we have had for a decade; I have used it once.  Why did I keep it?  Everyone needs a blender!  Unless you never blend anything.  Suffice to say after about an hour and 4 boxes I now have a much more functional kitchen.  I have not had one thing fall on top of me or on my foot all week.  I have cut my cooking time down by at least 25%.  I realized doing things like this with purpose and intention, keeping my priorities in mind I can make similar choices in other areas.  I live with a maximalist so I may not be living what looks like a traditional minimalist lifestyle, but I will be more purposefully selective.  You got to start somewhere.