CNF: The Making of a Home

When I was seven I had a hard time keeping my markers to myself.

Everything about this new foster home was different than the other places I’d been. When you step out of the car, you are met with the arch admired only by weddings and those who want to show their best clamoring vines. It stretches over the main path and allows only the skinniest to get by without a scratch. Up the cement walkway and knocking on a bright red door came next. It opens and a fork in the layout shows an immaculate living room to the left. 

It’s a blue room, a color for royals and steamed throw pillows, that elongates the house with a mediocre fireplace and small shining figurines lining a brick mantel. A small den sits in the corner of the room. To the right, a dining room holds a large wooden table, a minimum of five chairs and a large china cabinet. Yes, filled with china no foster kid wants to break. Be wary of this room, it gets even the most obedient children in trouble. It’s dressed in a swirling rug of red, browns, and yellows. Splitting the rooms, a steep skyward staircase leads to three rooms, a master bed and bath, and two smaller bedrooms with a connecting bathroom to the right. 

Back at the fork, going through the dining room will lead you to a small ranch style kitchen with it’s small window sink, fridge equipped with lock to keep out wandering hands, and a sun room (built five years in the future) that leads to the back yard. Going halfway through the kitchen, you could turn left and meet the rest of the house. A living room, where the foster kids can gingerly play video games and a out-of-tune piano, a small half bathroom, and a set of stairs leading down, down, down, to two more bedrooms, a living room for the older kids, a large pantry and laundry room, and home of the spikets. You know, those spiders that look like crickets that jump as high as your waist if you startle them. 

It was too perfect. Too together. Everything needed to be dusted and cleaned and vacuumed and I, not a clean or dusted or vacuumed tiny person, knew I wouldn’t fit there. So I did what every foster kid wants to do.

I made a place for myself.

I took my markers and I drew on the walls. I drew on the pillows. I drew on the pristine glass tables and the thick windows. I drew on the stairs and I drew on the railings. I drew on the ceiling, above my bunk bed, and I drew on the floor by the bottom bunk. I drew in the bathroom and I drew in the kitchen. I drew on the wall outside by that thorny rose bush. I drew on the stones that go round to the backyard. I drew on the wooden fence that falls apart every few years. I drew on the base of a bush near the corner of the yard and a big tree that took up the front. I drew on the leaves of the flowers near the window sills. I drew on the linoleum of the kitchen floor and the tile that lined the back-splash. I drew on the curtains and I drew on the carpet. I drew on a plate that I hid in the china cabinet for four years. I drew on the mail in the mail drawer and the metal where the mail dropped. I drew on it all.

And then I was settled. Nothing was perfect and neither was I. 

 

Book Review: The More of Less by Joshua Becker

To be clear, this book is [NOT] a memoir about my own journey in minimalism. Although I share some of my own story along the way to illustrate what I am saying and hopefully provide inspiration, the book isn’t about me. It’s about you. It’s about the joys of owning less. It’s about how to implement minimalism in a way that transforms your life for the better.

Heya,

When I first started this adventure into Minimalism, I knew one of the first things I would do is read books about the topic. I wanted to get first hand accounts from others who have become hoarders, or semi-hoarders, like me. Joshua Becker is one of the authors that I discovered while doing research.

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I really liked The More of Less. It chronicles the time when Becker first discovered minimalism, via a neighbor, and the almost immediate change it made in his life. He goes on to give great advice on how to become a minimalist, inspiration from his own experiences, and ways to let minimalism set you free from the confines of clutter. Sounds woowoo, but he does it in a very tasteful way.

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“Minimalism…it may conjure up images of sterility, of asceticism, of bare white walls, of grim frugality, or of someone sitting on the floor because he doesn’t have any furniture. How boring and colorless! Who would want that?”

In one chapter, he lists all the misconceptions of minimalism, and what normal people – who haven’t done the research – decide what living with less means. A Cult. A Fad. A misguided attempt to feel sorry for all the things they bought on their over-extended credit cards. He talks about the different ways to combat these thoughts and how to discover for yourself what it truly means.

There’s a humorous tone to the novel that allowed me to feel that this whole ‘minimalism’ thing doesn’t need to be stuffy or stuck up or serious or devoid of emotion and color. (One chapter’s title is The Battle of the Jell-O Molds) It can be jovial and exciting and tiring but yet exhilarating. That last one I felt, myself, when I went through my first de-cluttering session. I’d taken all the boxes of books out, for donation, and my table was completely clear. I could see the white! There’s was a feeling of euphoria as I noticed that it looked so together. So…adult-ish.

Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own

At the end of the book, Joshua Becker includes his chapter notes on minimalism. From there you can get the names of authors, books, articles, and bible versus that have inspired him in his journey.

 

I would definitely recommend this to all newbie minimalists who are looking for guidance on starting out. If you’ve already read this book and want to discuss it, leave a comment below. I’m always down to chat with you guys!

 

Joshua Becker Creator of BecomingMinimalist.com

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade

P.S. Yes, I hope to start writing book reviews again! Follow the blog to get more updates.

You’re an Adult. JUST SAY NO!

Heya,

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn as an adult is to Just Say No. I’m no push over but I often find myself saying yes to things I don’t want to do.

Things Asked To Do:

  • Go out on the town/Club
  • Babysit
  • Meet for coffee/Hang out
  • Listen to solicitor’s spiel- At&t comes knocking, the Dish guy at that table in Walmart, the person who waves a pamphlet at you on the street
  • Sex – your partner wants to or you’ve set a date (yes, people schedule sex…don’t judge!), you go out to dinner with a new beau
  • Specialized Parties: Baby shower, birthday, weddings, etc.
  • Adding coworkers to social media sites…just say NO lol
  • Drugs….say no. And no MEANS no

I forget and end up saying yes to so many things. Then I’m standing there, listening to whatever it is they’re pushing, and wondering how long I need to fake smile. As an introvert, I am drained after a long day of “peopling”, as I call it. I love to hang out and go places with friends but I also love to do things on my own with no pressure.

ALONE NOT LONELY

When I say yes to things, I always have to make sure I drive myself. No carpooling for me! I like to be able to leave when I want and say no to the ‘after party’ if I choose to. I didn’t know to do this my first round in college and spent so much time wishing I could go home or feeling like people would be angry with me. Also, I spent a lot of time as the ‘designated driver’ when I didn’t want to be. NOT because I wanted to drink but because I didn’t want to have to stay. It was a mess. Now I know better. I always tell people that I love to be Alone, Not Lonely. I want to have a best friend who I can go out with but I also want to curl up with a book for 10 hours. Without being interrupted.

I also need to learn to say NO to solicitors. I don’t know why I always felt obligated to listen. I think another part of it is that I get so embarrassed when people ask me things. I’ll be shopping peacefully and someone will step into my space and say ‘do you have internet service?’ and I would stick around long enough to hear a few lines and struggle to wiggle my way out. Now, I just say “no, thank you,” or “I already have internet.”

I’m also working on keeping “I’m sorry” out of my vocabulary when it’s unnecessary. The not too distant me might’ve said “I’m really sorry but I have internet and…”. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I shouldn’t feel sorry for taking time for myself. I shouldn’t be apologetic because I don’t want ads pushed on me. I shouldn’t feel obligated when people want to invite me to things I don’t feel comfortable doing.

I’m an adult. I CAN SAY NO without fear. So can you.

Good Readdance,
Jade

P.S. YES, you CAN say no to family. Especially if the situation will hurt you or trigger you. Don’t go. Don’t feel obligate.d Take care of you.

Indecision and Finding an MFA Program for US!

Heya,

In January my guy reminded me, which he often does, that it’s about time to figure out where I want to go for graduate school. He tells me that he loves me, he supports my dreams, and that he’s willing to go wherever I want to go.

This is NOT helpful.

Don’t be fooled; this is not the first time we’ve had this discussion. There’s usually some give and take. I want to make sure he is ok with moving somewhere far, as in across the country even, with a completely different lifestyle. He reiterates how much he’s open and he can get a job wherever we go. “Don’t worry about it!” he says. I want to make sure the place is Kid and family friendly. He says that we already make Naomi feel loved and she’ll flourish wherever we are.

It’s a broken record.

This isn’t a problem, you might say. You might even be giving me some side-eye right now. Let me explain. I’m the type of person that’s very, very indecisive when my decisions will literally change someone else’s life. I mean, I mull over changes in my life. Weighing the pros and cons until there’s a clear-cut path for me to choose. Then I take it with no regrets.

That’s how it was when I first moved to Florida. My lease was up and I had the choice to renew for another year or make a change. I talked with my coworkers (a group of older women who had been ‘stuck’ in the same job for 20+ years) and they practically begged me to leave. “You’re young!” they said. “You don’t have any children and you aren’t married or in a relationship. This is the perfect time to start over. Girl, take your dreams and go.” So, I took that advice and ran with it. I packed only what I could fit in my car (hey, even old me wanted to become a minimalist!) and drove the 19 hours with a friend in the passenger seat. See, I’ve only had to make decisions for myself, before Tony and Naomi, and so it’s scary do otherwise.

So it’s seriously a big deal to me.

It’s not just about the school and what kind of education I will get. I know all about the risks of going into academia. I know, I know, I know, I know. People never let me forget. “It’s so hard to find teaching jobs now,” or “I don’t think you know how tough it is to break into that world,” or “Why don’t you just write as a side job?” I get it. But this is my dream. I will go all in. However, I’m also aware that – WHATEVER I end up doing – finding something straight out of a school, EVEN with a Master’s, is slim. We will most likely live wherever I go to school for years after I graduate. There’s also that fear that I join a program and something happens, like failure, and I end up having to leave school. Then we’ll definitely be stuck in that city, I’ll be emotionally distraught (Obvi), and who knows when we’ll be able to move again. It’s a HUGE decision.

When I choose an MFA program, I am choosing where Naomi will spend the next 5+ years of her life, at least. I’ll also be completely uprooting Tony from his job and a city that he loves. He dreamed of moving to Florida all his life and now I’m asking him to leave. Yes, he says he’s fine with it and it’s time for a new journey (he’s been here 8 years. It’s been 6 years for me) but it’s still a hang up for me. I want to make the right decision for my family. I want to make sure that whatever happens we feel happy about where we live and feel safe in our home.

That’s a lot of pressure when I’m also worrying about ‘am I going to get in?’ I also think ‘what if I choose the wrong school?’ and that’s a big one. What if I DO get accepted to several places and I don’t go with the best offer for me, my education, AND my family? I get chills just thinking about it. Whew.

Thank you for listening to my rant and yes, I know. It’s a little far off. Buuuut….not really. Applications are usually due by December 1st.

I still need 3 recommendation letters, to take the GRE, write my 30 pages of creative nonfiction, complete the classes I’m already taking so I can graduate on time, raise Naomi, foster my skills as a writer, be an attentive and honest woman for my guy, and handle my small business. It’s a lot. I have less than 10 months to do it all. So thank you to those who choose to follow me on this journey to MFA.

Good Readdance,
Jade

Goodbye January 2020! 13 Books Read!

I’ve read 13 out of 120 books for 2020 so far!

Heya!

It is officially the second month of the new decade! How are you feeling? How was your January? Did you read any books that you loved in January? Did you create a Reading Goal for this year?

I have a goal of 120 books for the year 2020.

I wanted to keep my goal realistic as I have a tiny human, a small business, am a full time student while prepping my grad school applications, and I’m also focusing on my own writing. One goal that I made was to take time to read every day. That way no matter what life does to me I am still doing something I love consistently.

Curling up with a great book is almost always the answer!

I’ve split between audio books and physical books. Sometimes I have to do so many things around the apartment, or I’m commuting, and I can’t hold a book in my hand. I’m chasing Naomi, feeding Naomi, changing Naomi, doing homework or cooking, etc, etc, etc, etc, I could go on. Audio books and a pair of blue tooth headphones are essential for a new mom!

(As I type this Naomi has given up playing with her toys. She stood fussing at the side of my chair until I picked her up. So now I’m typing this one handed. Perfect example of when an audio book would be useful!)

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This is a busy life!

January Books: 

I was able to get in books on minimalism and meditation, a handful of romance novels, a nonfiction graphic novel, science fiction, and paranormal romance!

Also!! This crazy thing happened. The other day I was tired of trying to find a book to read, going through my endless TBR, so I randomly chose an audio book on my way to school. I didn’t read the synopsis or anything. The cover intrigued me so I clicked “Borrow”. It was The Oxford Inheritance by A. A. McDonald. I looooved it. It was fantastic. I really enjoyed listening while the story unfolded.

Then today I was at the $1 Store and I saw the book in person! It was a complete and utter surprise and I knew I had to buy it. I know, I know. “How are you keeping up with minimalism if you keep buying things?” you might ask. I loved this book. It sparked joy for me. And that’s all the criteria I’m using before I buy something and bring it into my home.

oxford2

In total I’ve read 13 out of 120 books.

Good Readdance,
Jade