Circle of Friends

Circle of Friends

 

A snippet in a magazine I read yesterday said that “strong social networks”, as in the kind with real people you spend time with as opposed to the “FB” and “IG” versions, were a predictor of happiness. I am alway envious of those people who seem to have those networks. A trend I have observed amongst those folks is that they have been in the same place over time or even over their whole lives. As a wannabe nomad, who sometimes against better judgment can’t help but look for the next big adventure, I feel like I have done myself a disservice when it comes to the “strong social network”.  My life seems to be a series of steps where I  live somewhere just long enough to gravitate towards my people before I launch myself into the unknown and the next adventure.

Adventure = Awesome. Leaving behind friends only to lose touch over time or just see them sporadically over decades = sad.

This week marks the 6-month point at our current home on the planet and I am taking stock. I went to buy new running shoes yesterday and this very warm woman invited me to come out and join the Thursday night running club. I told her that since we have been here I drive to work and home and that’s it. My time is for my family and my employer and the last 6 months are a bit of a blur. It feels like it might be time to go beyond that, to find my new tribe, possibly a running tribe. I have blogged about running being a spiritual endeavor for me in the past, and it has been one of the things to fall to the wayside since we made this move. Cleaning and staging our house, packing, and a demanding new job have all taken the time I would have reserved for my run time in the past. I have actually registered for 2 runs so far in 2017, The Moonlight Run (30th Aniversary Edition) and Slay the Dragon. And so the offer to come to run club is fitting for more reasons than one.

The point of this blog post? Who knows? It might be the wine talking, but here is to friends and here is to running! Cheers.

My first Mothers Day gift to myself, a longer run, with hills. 🏃

A post shared by Kristy (@momentum_mom) on

10 Things I Bought at the End of the Buy Nothing Year

10 Things I Bought at the End of the Buy Nothing Year

Our Buy Nothing Year kicked off on New Years Day 2016. Over the year, I made due with old, traded for new to me items, and graciously received gifts from family. We did, however, do a really good job of avoiding eschewing new goods, superfluous stuff and the stores you find those things in. It was definitely a reminder of how little we can all make due with. That said when our buy nothing year came to and end I certainly had some goodies on my wish list in 2017. And I am not going to lie, I might have over compensated a bit by getting myself the very best.

  1.  The Patagonia Headway Briefpatagonia_headway
  2. Hitcase Phone Case and AccessoriesScreen Shot 2017-01-14 at 5.37.33 PM.png
  3. Total Joy Skis by Head

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4. MacBook Airscreen-shot-2017-01-14-at-5-59-26-pm

5. Running Shoes

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6. Socks for the whole family

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7. Smith Chromapop Goggles 

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8. Swany Ski Mitts

 

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9. Mable’s Labels

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10. A book!

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Goodbye 2016

I woke up New Years Day 2017 thinking what I would really like to do that day was juice, create a blog post, and ski. I did none of those things; instead, I went to work. I hope this is not a trend for 2017, but I am also being kind to myself and giving myself a break when it comes to high expectations. The reason I wanted to blog on the 1st was to reflect on what had passed and to create a vision of what I want to come.

2016 was another stellar year, but no doubt a doozie. I am incredibly blessed when it comes to family and friends and the freedom to do the things I dream of. 2016 was marked by new beginnings and a lot of letting go. We kicked the year off with a major experiment in restrained consumption with our Buy Nothing Year, the results of which warrant their own blog post. I worked hard on many projects both at work and at home and found time to keep physically fit and have fun doing it. We also had some amazing adventures as a family including summer island hopping and lots of camping over the summer.

I also felt that 2016 was a big year of letting go. We sold our house and left our familiar city and I am still dreaming of our house many nights; “the little blue house” was the place I lived the longest after my childhood home. I was laid off from my job in May and took on a new role in September. I haven’t lost friends but I do really feel their absence as we settle into a new city and I have yet to really meet anyone except the people I work with. I was also caught off guard by a surprise pregnancy in 2016 that just as I was beginning to wrap my mind around it resulted in a miscarriage, another letting go.

Do I have any resolutions for 2017? No, nothing so formal. There are a lot of things I want to do. I want to juice more. I want to spend more time outside. I want to find time to run. I want to crush it every day at work. I want to help my kids be the best humans they can be. I want to blog. I want to read more books.

A friend shared this quote with me recently (Thanks Nikki!) and I think it’s fitting for the leap my family has made this year. We feel like we have all given up a lot and some days we are still asking ourselves what for or if we made/are making the right decisions. This quote feels like a good thing to think on as I say Goodbye to 2016 and look forward to 2017. May 2017 be the best year yet.

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As a postscript, I love that I found this quote overlayed on an image of Yosemite which was the last life we let go of before moving and growing into something new. I remember that decision feeling really uncertain when it was fresh and in retrospect, I know that it was the right move for us letting us grow and evolve in so many ways. Remembering that is reassuring to me now.

Kitchen Cupboard Project

About a year ago a friend started helping me with some long overdue projects around the house. I explained to her that I wanted to do things that would make me more excited to live here while also having a broad enough appeal that if we decide to sell sooner rather than later, the updates could be appreciated by anyone. So for the last year I have been painting, hanging curtains, refinishing furniture, putting up shelves, and decluttering. It has been hard work, sometimes the progress has been slow, but the results have been pretty fantastic.

The most recent project in this series has been the painting of my kitchen cupboards. When my friend first suggested it I asked her “Really? People Do that?” A quick Pinterest search revealed that indeed people do do this. Here is a little photo journey of this project that actually took me a few months to finish with all the other things going on in life.

Getting started

These cupboards really were not so bad. Although oak did give a dated look to the kitchen, when we were updating a lot of things around the house to be a little cleaner and more modern.

Admittedly it was not just a case of the the cupboards being a little dated, but also a little grungy. Nothing some sandpaper and good scrubbing in the backyard could not fix!

Pulling the cupboards off

Cupboard doors sanded, washed, and drying in the backyard.

Looking at the size of our kitchen I estimated this would be a quick job. Not so. I did two layers of primer before doing two layers of paint. I had to wait for the cupboards to dry in between before flipping them to do the reverse sides. I spent a whole weekend just doing the top cupboards, which was the bigger job as there are more of them.

Safety first

After letting my paint cure a few days with the cupboards sitting out in the garage. I brought them back in and got ready to install the new hardware. I am always practicing safety when working on my projects. Here I am using the old corded drill my dad gave me to drill the second set of holes for the new handles.

Wowza! Looking so different already.

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Now if you are wondering why it would take me months to complete a project like this I would like to present you with exhibit A. I knew I was going to have to fully empty the bottom cupboards to keep this guy out of trouble.

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But I got through painting with a toddler in the house and eventually got the bottom cupboards back on. The black was the part I was really nervous about. But it turned out so good! Even my husband had major doubts and ended up admitting he really liked it. My friend Lindsey is so smart. Are you reading this Lindsey?

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The finished productimg_9196img_9195img_9197

I was so very pleased with how this project turned out. It looked fantastic. And just as I wrapped it up I accepted a new job in another province very far away from this little blue house. In 7 more days this house is going to belong to some new people. I am a little sad to walk away after all the work, not just in this project but in many projects we completed over time. However I recognize how much we learned from our first home, how easy it was to sell because of the care we gave it, and how often, its important to turn our gaze forward to look at the promise of the future rather than holding onto the past. All that said, I loved this little project and I hope the new owners will love it just as much.

Battling My Closet and The Capsule Wardrobe

Have you heard about the Edmonton woman who wore the same dress for a year? How about the B.C. Mayor who wore the same suit for 15 months? She did it as an exercise in simplification. He did it to prove a point about “the sexist scrutiny women face in the workplace.” Both of these stories captivated me, but why? I think as I embarked on my own year long challenge, I came to realize the year challenge idea is a thing. People are challenging themselves to do all kinds of things, like this  Alberta family who are eating like pioneers for a year.

As part of our buy nothing year, clothing has repeatedly come up. We have lots of clothes, but holey socks and having no pants that fit can be very real problems and so we have had to evaluate needs, wants, and what constitutes too much.

Battling my closet

Don’t we all want a closet that contains only the items we really love to wear? If your closet is anything like mine than you have things you are waiting to fit into again, things you feel bad to get rid of because you know you spent good money on them, and clothes you need to keep just in case. But in reality, I bet you are wearing the same five shirts, 3 pairs of pants and 2 dresses all the time. I see my kids do the same.

I did a big closet purge back in January when I did the clothing swap with friends. I had done another purge back in October when I gave a lot of too small office wear to my sister. And yet I still have a closet that is just a little too full and I feel burdened by items I don’t love or I just don’t wear. What is the lifehack for winning over your wardrobe? This is something that has vexed me for a while.

Does it spark joy?

Marie Kondo the famed Japanese decluttering guru says “Does it spark joy?” is the best question you can ask when deciding to purge or to keep items. I haven’t quite been able to purge to this level because I need my dirty painting shorts, my dress I only wear to weddings, and the pants I wore to the hospital when all three of my kids were born. I do think that Kondo is on to something though. I think to get really minimalist we need to focus on the really good stuff. The things that make up our favourites are likely favourites for more reasons than just aesthetic appeal. My favourites are good quality, fit me right, and earn me complements.

Are Capsule Wardrobes the answer?

Wikepedia page for Capsule Wardrobe says:

Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a Londonboutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.[1] This idea was popularised by American designerDonna Karan, who, in 1985, released an influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces.[2]

The term is widely used in the British and American fashion media, and has been the subject of several popular television series. The term has come to refer to a collection of clothing that is composed of interchangeable items only, to maximise the number of outfits that can be created. The aim is to have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing. This is usually achieved by buying what are considered to be “key” or “staple” items in coordinating colours.[3]

If you do a google image search for capsule wardrobe you will get lots of images where the wardrobe is laid out like this:

I am honestly not fashionable enough to have seasonal capsule wardrobes, but I can totally fathom doing them annually or every two years. I took a little time today to lay out my current favourites in my wardrobe. These are the things I would be happiest with if I had to throw everything else out. It’s definitely a statement in function over fashion, as I pretty much always like to be dressed for a run, whether I am running or not.

Kristy's Capsule Wardrobe

My final word on this and another important reason to consider building your wardrobe with intention is to combat the current trend towards fast fashion. When we chose fewer items of quality that we really love, we are doing good for our closets, our wallets and the planet.

Embracing Thrift Part I

In my first year of college I lived with a family as a nanny and I got free rent. I worked two days a week in a bakery and got to eat lots of delicious free or nearly free food.  I bought my clothes second hand and frequented used book stores. I remember being devastated when I had to spend $500 for a new alternator for my car, which was so much money to me at the time. I was great at being cheap without even really thinking that that is what I was doing.

Things changed as I grew up, made more money, and was granted credit. Somewhere along the way my tastes got more expensive, my needs got more complicated (as in needs for a family of five), and  I bought into a story that I deserved more. The story I am referring to is the one where I should be able to drive a newer car because other people do; I should have fancy haircuts and new clothes because those are work related expenses; I should be able to travel and dine out because I work hard. Unfortunately those shoulds don’t mean much; somewhere along the way I stopped being thrifty because of the shoulds and I am realizing now the shoulds haven’t done me any favours.

Part of what this buy nothing year has been about has been about exploring the shoulds, taking a look at what we really need, and reevaluating, everything. Today is the 1st of May and so we have officially marked the 1/3 point of this little experiment and what I am realizing is how little buying nothing new has actually affected us. I think due to the fact that our consumption has been so hearty in the past, we have the reserves to see our way through for a while. There are always more socks at the back of the drawer, unopened birthday gifts from last year to play with, and books bought years ago to read. The feeling of true need has been minimal. We did recently have to go to the second hand store for 2 pairs of pants for the big C as she literally did not have a pair left without holes in them.

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Shopping for new pants at the thrift store

In actuality I have continued to purge and declutter our house and garage over the last months and the effect is noticeable and very pleasant. I have also been seeking ways to enjoy little luxuries at a fraction of the cost; I recently went to the local hair school for a cut and style that cost me $13.50.

 

Something that has occurred to me in this return to thrift, though I had never really considered it that at the outset, is that it has been a sort of reprogramming of sorts. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, except to say that I feel like I might be creating long term shifts in my behaviour. Again this really was not my intention, but it is what I feel happening. I said to my husband last night that I could imagine doing this for another year. Thinking about this got me thinking about a Ted Talk I had seen a number of years ago about doing something for 30 days to build new habits. The talk was given by Matt Cutts, Google’s head of web spam. I am not sure 30 days would have been enough for me in this challenge but at 120 days in I feel something happening.