No Substitution

Ok. Getting back on track, there is no such thing as presto-chango. There is habit breaking, weaning, paring, elimination and hopeful non-replacement. Budget, body, mind; substitutions are as plentiful as the problems we leave behind.

I have completely convinced my minimalism-desiring self I do not need anything. Except for new tires, or a rim, or not; still working on that. Four different businesses; four different diagnosis. As soon as I find one untried business that comes up with a plausible reason that corresponds to any one of the others, I may be able to do something about the perpetual low-air tire light.

In the meantime, as empowering as it is to say “no” to instant material gratification, I have moved directly into substitution. The new move isn’t a positive one, either. In fact, it may be more detrimental. I have deeper, longer arguments with myself over my replacement gratifier: deals.  The struggle is more constant than ever. Most email and post advertisements are easily disqualified, deleted. The ones that tempt are the “deals” sponsored through sites offering deep discounts. Advance commitment is the new barbed selling lure.

For example, there’s a new frozen yogurt spot that popped up near my regular market, that hasn’t actually been my regular market for very long. The new grocer won out over my previous market mostly by convenience. Closure of the store nearest me, numerous construction projects on the way to the other two sort-of-close-by, much better produce offerings and a cash-for-schools incentive that donates 10% of my purchase total to a program that will assist a friend’s child in taking a school-sponsored marching band trip abroad this coming winter, also played into the decision.

Ok, Getting back on track, I’ve been successfully avoiding that yogurt establishment, so far, using the carrot method. I drive by to pick up fruit and yogurt and mile and promise myself when I hit my next goal, 4.6 pounds away, I will indulge. I’m pretty sure I won’t succumb even then, because that would be monstrously counterproductive.

Then along comes an offer: $6.00 will get me $10.00 in frozen yogurt. I don’t need $10.00 in frozen yogurt. I also don’t really need $6.00 in frozen yogurt. However, if my finally-made-it-to-my-next-goal treat is going to cost approximately $4.00 anyway, it makes economical sense to go for the coupon commitment. The coupon will likely require an accomplice; preferably one who advance commit and will split the difference.

It’s ok to snicker at that idea. I know it’s ridiculous. The chances of me waiting to reach my next goal, which could be a month or more, are pretty slim. Which is what I am still trying to be: slim. So, I throw up my hands, close  my browser and decide I’ll decide tomorrow.

Hopefully, the almost irresistible offer will have expired. I’ll be disappointed, but fiscally and healthily responsible.

There’s no substitution for that.

Quote for the Week:

substitutions are as plentiful as problems

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Retrain Your Brain: http://www.forbes.com/sites/carriekerpen/2014/05/13/seven-ways-to-retrain-your-brain-for-a-happier-existence/

Retrain Your Brain: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8647/5-ways-to-retrain-your-brain-into-a-positive-powerhouse.html

Retrain Your Brain: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/08/04/ep.brain.crave.cohen/

 

 

Bulk Down

Bulking – it’s a new term I’m hawking; coining, if you will.
I figured I’d better claim in in the poor man’s patent kind of way; in writing. I could go the whole mail-it-to-myself route, but seriously, I don’t think it’s going to earn me. Expirable; might as well add that one to the list, as well.

I also have a back-up vice. Sometimes, even I can find it amusing. Sometimes, even I cannot. I’ve got membership to one of the big ones. The most appealing part is cheaper gas. It’s usually only pennies, perhaps a nickel or a dime per gallon savings. I fill-up twice a month; on occasion thrice. During the holidays, I might even hit weekly. It’s not exactly around the corner, but then again, not much is. A trip over, almost always turns into a trip in.

I’ve got a budget and an analytical nature. Self-posing questions abound. Here’s an interesting one:

Does someone like me need to purchase bulk?

Financially, it makes sense for the hard goods: toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, moisturizer, Q-tips; purchase cost savings may not add up, but the advantage of non-repeat market stops helps me live within my means. Less shopping means less temptation, excluding, of course, anything that escaped my list, but aims for my cart, anyway.

Soft goods are good only if there is commitment to their longevity. Experience has revealed there is no way I could consume a bulk amount of straight-up fruit in one week. However, sliced and tray-frozen, vacuum-sealed and clearly labeled, I have an extended supply for alternative use. Adding to oatmeal or yogurt, using as slow-melting flavored “ice” for my water, or as a thickener for fruit smoothies – are logical uses. I have used some in illogical ways. Like, hmm, defrosted strawberry mush stirred into hummus. Think of hummus as chickpea butter, and defrosted strawberries as alternative jelly. Not exactly Paleo, but not white bread PBJ, either.

Extended-life goods, pouches of quinoa, cans of tuna, chicken, boxes of black bean burgers, control portioned cheese, hummus; the freezer is our friend. Good buys aren’t always great ideas, though. Checking dates on yogurt is a solid determinant. If there’s no chance I will eat 24 single cups of plain yogurt by an expiration date, there’s no chance I’ll buy it. Bulk can bring you down, too. I’ve back-fired away from Greek for a while.

Milk, produce, and whatever yogurt happens to be 10/$10.00 (or less) wins; items best left to unfortunate fall-back “Hello, Darkness, my old friend” I-can-only get-there-on Saturdays or Sundays. Of course, if the choices were toenail clippings or an over-abundance of Greek yogurt, I’d go with the Greek. I think. I don’t know. Multiple senses rebel just considering taste and texture; characteristically thick, bitter curdle. A non-gourmet fact is some people do chew their nails. That makes me think there must be something to it. It also makes a magnificent argument for bulking down.

Quote for the Week:

Expirables demand a commitment jakorte 10 21 2014

 

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Smithsonian on Expiration Dates: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/sell-and-best-dates-food-are-basically-made-hard-get-rid-180950304/?no-ist

Conditioned Taste Aversion: http://psychology.about.com/od/classicalconditioning/f/taste-aversion.htm

Items Worth Buying Bulk: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2014/03/18/15-items-always-worth-buying-in-bulk

Crush

Crush sucks up a lot of my daily life.

Most late afternoons, my perpetual lists and lists of lists are updated, reworked; feasible within normal limits of someone who has no other circumstance or person requiring energy divergence. Daily, I corral 4 or 5 must-do’s, herding them to the top of the list. There are always a few wishful thinking “If-I-Feel-Like-It’s” further down. Eventually, the IFLI’s rotate into prominence, and other not-so-urgents take their place. The harder things and the piddily things slide up and down; the regular things are the ones I remain committed to.

Post-work early evenings, an hour’s worth of unlisteds begin. Walking comes first, if possible. Postbox mail retrieval, plant watering, clothes changing, disassembling my lunch box, dinner, dirty dishes, assembling lunch, cat tending, prepping clothes for the next workday; all rote. Then, the decisions begin.

Some days the mail purposely remains unread. Nothing-to-handle piles itself up on the sideboard. Seeing it sitting there is a stressor semi-easily re-categorized as semi-ignorable. On the days when action is required, I clump the must-handles together, and rifle and toss the rest. Unless it’s a magazine; then, it piles itself on the coffee table for another someday. Under the handle it once rule if I am holding a bill, I want to pay it, file it, and be done with it. I take myself upstairs and wait for the computer boot, all the while staring at my list.

A problematic get it-out-of-the-way temperament derails me. Payment secured or scheduled, logic dictates continuity; other acts must follow. I update my register, review the budget, log expenditures in EPS.* As long as I am sitting at the computer, I might as well delve into the weight of main and multiple email accounts, checking for more required payments and due date reminders hiding between notifications: Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook, Word Press, Sparkpeople, MyPoints, E-Reader, Kohl’s, Pet Supplies Plus, Current, Vermont Country Store, FTD, The Grommet, Living Social, Groupon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Sears. AT&T, Verizon, Zingerman’s, Costco, Kroger, Daytrotter, MeetUp, Snapfish, Omaha Steaks, Live Nation, Amazon, Expedia, Women’s Ministry, Crafty Kids, Brad’s Deals, What on Earth.  Click, delete. Click, delete. Occasionally, just delete. Unless MyPoints has a click-thru, or if I haven’t logged my nutrition or exercise into SparkPeople, or if an email actually looks save-for-a-later-date interesting. Coupons don’t get deleted either. Discounts should never be sneezed at.

Down to 601 unread emails, I’ve been sitting for another hour now. If I haven’t already taken my evening walk, by this point, I’m not likely to.  I log out of my inbox and the news pops up. All sorts of things distract me; horrific, entertaining, intelligent, dumb. Unlimited information streams nurture fears of missing important pieces of the world. Cruising creates another time crush, which I eventually abandon out of boredom. Before kicking off the internet, I convince myself I should make sure I’m not missing a Facebook birthday. I should play moves in my current 30 Words with Friends games in the interest of promoting myself as being responsive, polite player, and for the added benefit of possibly making another move later.

Glancing at the list, I bite my lip and sigh. Not enough time for that, not enough concentration for that, not enough enthusiasm for that, before I do that I have to do this. Between overwhelm and laziness, I succumb, self-offering certain possibilities for tomorrow.

On these strangely justifiable late weekday evenings, the mindlessness of Candy Crush is enthusiastically welcomed. It’s a wind down experience; a blanking, mind-numbing, pre-retiring near-necessity. After using all 5 immediately available plays, I smooth into another crush. This one involves cookies and pastries that thankfully don’t resemble reality. When those plays have dwindled, I flip back to the first crush, and back to the second crush, and back to the first crush. Until the next energy deposit is 20 minutes away and I have cruised past a decent bedtime for a responsible adult.

Somewhere in between, sometimes, some things get done. I’m not sure that the reason I don’t do these things is because I don’t want to do them. They’re on the list because I want to do them. I have plenty of time; not enough incentive. Plenty of responsibilities; not enough reasons for resistance.

First thing amid the disappointment of morning, the list is reappears. Contemplation, evaluation, reprioritization, recommitment: re-ordered as attainable tasks I aim to accomplish, today. I set the bar again, prepared to leap past it, though I fully expect the crush.

 

Quote for the Week:

The remedy for responsibility is candy crush

Enjoy this week’s Discovery Links

Crushing Demographics: http://www.mnn.com/money/sustainable-business-practices/blogs/candy-crush-saga-addiction-is-worth-millions

Hedonic Adaptation – No Pay for Play: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=science+of+brain+waves+during+acndy+crush&qpvt=science+of+brain+waves+during+acndy+crush&FORM=VDRE#view=detail&mid=3292BD8E7F5DD384DD333292BD8E7F5DD384DD33

Non-Addictive Stress Relief Games: http://stress.about.com/od/funandgames/tp/games.htm

……………………………………………………………………………………

PS. EPS = Every Penny Spent, spreadsheet of where the money goes, and goes, and goes…

PSS. I don’t pay to play, never will.

Less, More or Less

I’ve been flirting with Zen, exploring peace and super stunned by mini-homes. Last near-end of winter sparked an interest in an intriguing early July Event-brite posting. A click and another lead me to a place I had been before. About a year ago, I stumbled upon Leo Babauta and shared his ZenHabits.net site in one of my weekly Midweek Encouragement Newsletters.

At the time, I was focused on eliminating excess and clutter. It was, after all, the third time I’d be moving in six years. Each time – losing a little more. A little more of my belongings, and my memories; paring down for expense reasons. I also got tired of moving it all around and having to pay people to help me do so. Luckily, many of my movers were acquaintances content with a sandwich and a few bucks for gasoline.

On an only slightly warm July early evening, I coerced a companion into first discovering a school I never knew existed in my neighborhood, and then attending a free seminar by a duo known as “The Minimalists.” Traumatized by the death of an immediate family member and the demise of a relationship (sound familiar?) the search for something more began. Interestingly, Babauta discovery played a part in leading them on to greater things. Actually, it led them on to lesser things, which, in my opinion (and theirs) has led to greater things.

I see the draw. Lamentably, there isn’t much I am willing to minimalize. My things are functional, and my drawers and closets aren’t stuffed. If something breaks, I might not replace it. I don’t have much that will break, though. Going on five years without a television has been easy, except for those few times a year when I find myself wishing I could tune in to a special program.

To my credit, I have been saying, “No.” As much as I loved that imitation potted plant I was recently offered, my little fiends would be bent on destroying it, and truthfully, I had nowhere to put it, anyway. I also passed up an event t-shirt. I really liked it; thought it was nicely done, very artistic. I truly have enough event t-shirts. I’m getting another one Thursday night. It’s mandatory that I wear it, so it will come home with me. If I wore every “around the house” logo’d, promotion oriented, group identifying shirt, I wouldn’t run out for two weeks.  They double duty as pj tops, too. Just sayin’.

Then, there’s my love and bane. Art supplies. This move provided me with a long dreamt of studio. All of my craft paper is sorted, colorized, neatly tucked away in mobile drawers within a closet. Envelopes are in another drawer; card stock in another. Gems, brads, ribbon, glue, beads, punches, embossers, cutting machines, enamel embossing powders, brayers, brushes, fabric (lots of fabric), markers, canvases: for the first time stored neatly, within reach and find. There’s an end product to be had, and release of long pent creativity. Now, I just need to find the time. I know that’s no excuse. I have an abundance of time. Time that gets sucked up by… real life, I guess.

What’s left? Clothes will wear out. I am planning on wearing them out. For those about to balk, realistically, I’m also expecting another closet intervention in the vicinity of 6 years future. Not earlier than that.

Since I’m at a point where I feel that I can’t, won’t, and don’t think I really need to minimalize, I have decided to attack organized reduction in another way. My philosophic minimalism is less about elimination, and more about non-accumulation. In this spirit, I have created, The Minimal List.

Inventories are amazing tools. My detailed, Excel-blocked stock of pantry, paper goods, pet supplies, bake and cookware, sneakers and shoes, toiletries, cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, towels, sheets; nope don’t need to buy any of these things. Some of that is due to the existence of Costco. Some of that is due to my ditzy tendency to forget my shopping list and regularly choosing to be on the safe side. I recently bought mega bathroom tissue, mega paper towel and mega napkins, only to discover I had already mega’d it all on an earlier run. I won’t run out for a while. I also have a little over another year of laundry soap. Pet supplies are always purchased on sale, usually with coupons. I buy in mock “bulk.” I cart up two or three bags at a time, and do the same with litter. It’s monetarily sound. I won’t deny the convenience factor, especially in winter.

The challenger for me is “need.” I evaluate everything on it now. Do I need new bras? No, I just bought some. However, I found one I liked and who knows how long that particular style will be available? So, while they are on-sale, and I have a $10.00 discount coupon and free shipping and get 9% cash back through DubLi, well, I heavily consider. I also reevaluate my budget, and decide what is going by the wayside, and immediately account for the reallocation of funds. Make no mistake, this constant consciousness is tiring and time-consuming. Someday, I hope, this will be rote.

When I moved into my current space a year ago, I sloughed off the suggestion that this place would be too big for me. I didn’t see it that way. I wanted the studio. I’m glad I have it. I also have to admit this place is too big for me. My smaller one was about $250.00 more a month, for one-third the space. Ridiculous, but true; it was also comfortable. I would have stayed if I could have afforded to.

Mini homes are on the upswing. I love the idea, the minimal cash layout, the reusable resources, and the limited space that demands minimal. To me, a mini home feels like a hug encouraging a conscious, embraceable lifestyle. The only drawback to mini homes is the probable lack of studio space. I’d need another mini home for that. It could double as a guest cottage, though.

So, yes, in a dreamland way, I’m onboard with this particularly appealing program. I’m keen on this mind-blowing sub-culture, hopefully headed more mainstream. Minimalism. I can do that.

Quote for the Week: jakorte 08/05/2014

Less More or Less Contentment Knabble Aug 05 2014

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

The Minimalists: http://www.theminimalists.com/

Leo Baubata: http://zenhabits.net/

I’m in love with this Tumbleweed: http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/blogs/tumbleweed/14061973-step-inside-a-tumbleweed-cottage

 (* If you are interested in signing up for DubLi, please, please, let me know and I will send you a referral link! I get credit, and you get cash back on purchases. Yes, it works! I have 7.56 cash back in my account after using a $10.00 off coupon for Kohl’s to buy bras on sale, earning $10.00 Kohl’s cash, plus I also got 9% back from DubLi)

http://us.mall.dubli.com/?BArefno=9321112