πŸ’° Stoic Week 20 πŸ¦΄

Epictetus - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

β€œWealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

– Epictetus

When the year started, I started taking stoic walks with my daughter, I had 50 quotes to go through (from Willem Van Zyl’s Stoic Quote of the Day Habit List on Coach.Me).

We had some lovely walks, then we fell off.

Like a chess match, sometimes I feel a few moves behind my day instead of in front of it.

Surprisingly this year has been the hands down best year of my life, sure I got a bit side tracked by the magnitude of change that went down this year, but I’m starting to get back up.

One of the things that brought me down was being very drained when my kids scream and not just admitting it to myself and adjusting to it. The reality is I’m not good with screaming, but since it’s just me “on duty” I get through it, but I didn’t let myself have the extra coffee I needed afterwards without shame. Now I am. I read some books that say distress only triggers you if you have internal baggage that needs to be reflected on and learned from, but I don’t agree. I think that is true, but also screaming is pretty draining even when you don’t have baggage, but I’m not sure because sometimes the kids walk right past each other without a problem. I’m not sure if it’s mirror neurons spreading the discomfort from one brain to another or if it is a reflection of internal baggage, but what I am sure of is 5 years into parenting, I’m still not into screaming.

Another thing was a weird side pain that lasted a month until I drank corn silk tea.

Another was obviously the stress of the many changes which happened when society was grounded by the government for the slightly worse flu that we decided to respond to in a drastic way after ignoring all past threats completely… perhaps we should take a week off to stop the flu every year, but I don’t understand taking months off for the corono virus this time and nothing for the normal flu that kills 40-60,000 a year… it doesn’t matter much what I think though, since I don’t have the political power to have a choice in what happens.

Still this is the best year of my life, all year my son has been with me. He was born in March last year.

This week hasn’t been perfect, Monday my daughter was a bit sick with probably the normal flu, which killed nearly 200 children in our area this year…

But it’s been great.

Great doesn’t have to be perfect (ie impossible) anymore.

My husband and I have two bedrooms, a school room, a bathroom and share a kitchen and pool. It’s very small, I never measured the space, but I don’t think it’s much bigger than a tiny home. We moved here, with my daughter’s god father, when I was about 8 months pregnant with my daughter, who is now 4, so about 5 years ago. We will probably find the most affordable house we can and move into our first house later this year (hopefully).

I was hoping we would pare down our things enough here to be ready for a tiny home or a container home, but as of now my husband prefers a traditional style home, so it will probably be something uninspiring to me, but any home is a better financial decision than renting.

Everyday I don’t know when we will return to our summer home in Hawaii, everyday I don’t know what kind of home I will return to when we come back, everyday I don’t really know what will happen to the overall state of the economy.

But once I mentally surrendered having control over other people’s sickness, life or death, the global or national economy, and even if or what house my husband gets, I found a deep inner peace.

And now I’m doing my best to get back to the things I do control.

Monday I was a bit sick, but I did the white laundry, colored laundry and cloth diaper laundry, folded it all, helped my daughter with her “mood meter” app to learn about EQ, helped her with her “Mightier” bio-feedback tablet to teach her how to down regulate her heart rate/fits. I was mindful through ~90% of the day, present through ~75% of the day, proactive through ~95% of the day, grateful through 100% of the day, kind through ~98% of the day. All those things are invisible, yet so important. I’ve come so far in the past 5 years since I’ve lived here.

I delivered both my children here at home, so the tendency to want to stay could be strong, but my husband isn’t very comfortable anymore and I do care, so I understand, and it also will free me to leave the place I delivered them.

Hopefully it will free me to see them as they are, 1 and 4, neither one babies anymore.

Lately I want to get rid of my wedding dress, but I’m a bit worried about offending my husband.

I still fit, I wear it on Chinese New Years, but I don’t want it anymore.

I want to start a new chapter in our marriage and for me, it would help to discard the dress that is a memory of a bad time.

I don’t particularly like the way the dress looks on me, it definitely doesn’t spark joy. It wasn’t too expensive $125.

It’s not a bad dress, but I don’t want to keep it, and it’s a shackle to the past.

There is a holiday I would like to celebrate by putting my dress and my husband’s suit on display on our anniversary, but since we don’t…

Not only do I not want the dress, I actively want to discard the dress. It would be like a butterfly shedding older skin.

I wanted to get married in casual clothes in my favorite place in the world, Half Dome, but my husband wanted his mother there, so we married locally in a hot air balloon that she said she would go into, but then declined to do so at literally the last minute. The dress reminds me of a bad time, of the death of romance and freedom and many unwelcome compromises and cultural clashes that were just beginning between my husband’s Latin and my Asian expectations.

My husband and I are doing all right now, but I still want to get rid of the dress, it just really seems like he could possibly take it the wrong way.

I guess what I can do is give him the dress, as a memento, or save it for my daughter as a memento, and then it no longer counts as “mine”. But I would really rather get rid of it, it seems like the getting rid of my wedding dress would level me up as a minimalist in an empowering way.

When Epictetus said wealth consists not of possessions, but of lack of want, it really sets my heart on fire to discard more clutter.

If I didn’t have kids, I think I would own about a back packs worth of items, the computer, some clothes, some toiletries, a box of photos and letter, perhaps a knife and a pot to cook, a cup, a plate, some glass bowls.

But since I do have kids, permanently home-schooled kids, we have art supplies, music supplies – drums, piano, keyboard, bells ext, a few books, bikes, their toys. They both have very few clothes and perhaps less toys than average, but very nice ones in that they are still “into” them, legos, duplos, dinos, a few stuffed animals, a pop up bus, some foam mats.

When I declutter it is as a person (an individual), a mother (thus I keep my son’s diapers ext), a family administrator (thus laundry soap, cleaning towels) and a teacher (thus the craft bucket, art supplies, music supplies, book ext.

The first special thing I ever let go of was my motorcycle.

I only had a motorcycle, no car, for many years.

It was more than a vehicle, it was a lifestyle choice, an environmental choice, an outdoor life style kind of choice, a statement of ownership of my own life and independence.

I knew an orphan in college who lost their father to a motorcycle accident, I vowed that if I had kids I would be done.

So when I was pregnant, we got a simple care as soon as we could and I sold the motorcycle for exactly what cloth diapers would cost me.

My motorcycle became, white cloth diapers.

A few years later the diapers could have been used again for me son, but the elastic was worn by age, so I decided to let them go and get a colorful print instead. I’m glad I did.

I’ve de-cluttered thousands of things, but only a few have been special to me. I would like my wedding dress to be the third special thing, but only if I can get away without damaging my husband’s feelings about it.

I came from a hoarding family, multi-generational, both sides. For me a lack of clutter is breathing room, literally, I grew up with asthma and allergies.

I don’t advocate anyone to have less than they are “into” but I advocate for everybody to let go of what is beyond what is wanted.

I really enjoyed both “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” by Marie Kondo and “The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck,” by Sarah Knight, but for me the two are unfortunately linked.

For me meditation is best done physically, by decluttering my actual living space. Perhaps because I had to wait an entire childhood and part of adulthood to be away from my parents who prevented decluttering, perhaps because of the way I am, perhaps because I am extremely visual so everything I see gets to me (or even what I don’t see and know that is there). Perhaps because I don’t enjoy cleaning too much and the less items we have the faster cleaning goes, perhaps because I was prevented from having friends by having unacceptable living conditions I feel it is either one or the other more than it needs to be, whatever the case de-clutteredness is close to Godliness for me.

I thought I could get through the Kon Marie method of going in order through 1. Clothes, 2. Books, 3. Papers, 4. Miscellaneous, 5. Mementos, but each time I got stopped by clothes.

I hated all my clothes, but I didn’t want to go naked…

Since then I have a few dresses that I either like or at least – almost like – and I would really want to get through the first category keeping only what I actually want.

What’s helped is seeing clothes more like towels, I have so few I wash them all weekly, they get worn in a year or two. Which is financially okay since I get mostly affordable dresses, but I find it’s somewhat refreshing psychologically to get a dress with the intention to keep it for a year, possibly two.

It takes some of the pressure off trying to find a perfect dress, trying to look perfect or even off my own eventual death.

I think some of not wanting to let go of items is linked to a fear of death, as if holding onto a pair of shorts that didn’t work out will keep us alive forever…

Mentally taking in my clothing inventory, I have a purple dress I would like to let go off, a blue sun flower dress I love, a green dress with arm ties that drive me crazy that I would like to let go off, a black and green dress I like, a yellow sun flower dress I love, a pink dress that is a bit uncomfortable, a martial arts gi that I like okay, but wouldn’t mind replacing with a pink one, two tank tops, two bras I would like to get rid off and a bunch of underwear the elastic is getting messed up on that I should replace. And one pair of purple shorts that I don’t like, even though nothing is wrong with them at all. So out of 10 items I have (that isn’t underwear) I like at most 30% of what I have and 0% of the underwear.

I have 1 hat, but kind of want another one for writing. I love 100% of my hats.

I have 2 pairs of shoes, but I’m thinking of letting go of the old ones. For some reason my old pink sandals are more dear to my heart than my wedding dress. I love 100% of my shoes.

So, I’m working on replacing my wardrobe with things I like and sneaking out the clothes I didn’t like slowly so my husband doesn’t get too mad about the money lost, but I don’t want to stop decluttering.

That’s why I find I always have to violate the Kon Marie Method order, because I never have enough clothes I like available for purchase at any cost in order to dump the clothes I hate.

For one, I’m an off size, very small, and the second thing, my taste goes in and out of style. It was in stores right before the stores got shut down. Hopefully it is still there by the time the stores reopen.

Part of the problem was taking a long time to know my own taste.

I’m a summer in skin color, kind of ashen, but I only like colorful clothes.

So hopefully I’ll find a silver dress for Monday, red for Tuesday, orange for Saturday and teal for Sunday when the stores reopen, I hate sending dresses back and forth online even more than I hate going to stores in person.

It really is nice to wear clothes I like, basically comfortable, summer dresses all year, especially ones with a bright tropical vibe. It just took me a long time (34 years) to really admit what I like and get it when I find it. I love cute dresses, joyful dresses, comfortable dresses, vibrant dresses. I like something that could be danced in or could be cleaned in, I like not having to change to be able to move freely.

Thinking about my style more I want to get some fake fruit for my hat to let it be silly. I love a silly style. Whimsy and humor have been too scarce in my life so far. If I could get something that makes me smile, it would be worth the effort. I don’t do T-shirts, but Amazon does reasonably priced custom tank tops, so maybe someday I’ll think of something that makes me laugh for a tank top.

I was going through my financial records recently and thinking that for me true wealth is my friends. My family overall, unfortunately is like debt…

I love my husband, my two children, I appreciate my dad and my sister, but all those relationships have become cluttered by emotional baggage and trauma (except with my son). My daughter and I, according to her, have fixed our relationship, so that’s great, but I think it’s a long road ahead with the remaining three relationships that could use repair.

My husband and I are off to a good start, we have kind of got the bullet out so to speak, but I think it will be much harder with my dad and my sister.

I’m hopeful the “Emotional First Aid” book will help me create a relationship that doesn’t create any sense of dread with my father and my sister.

It’s not like they are bad people, but we had so many “bad times” together, so they kind of take me back there emotionally like the Cranberries takes me back to the 1990s.

There was a minimalism documentary by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus that really changed my life forever.

They said at the end “love people, use things.”

I had been doing it wrong my whole life.

So now, even though I’m trying to do the Kon Marie Method of having items that spark joy, I always put people ahead of that.

I have a team of four imaginary friends when I declutter, Marie Kondo, Matt Paxton, Joshua Millburn, and Ryan Nicodemus, actually five, Sarah Knight as well.

And it probably takes that much to let go of the unwanted. That’s how hard it is to silence the voices of the people who lived through the depression telling me I “have to keep everything, in case,” what if I live the remainder of my life with excess baggage though? What if I don’t have energy to play with the kids after cleaning excess junk the older generation never had to deal with though? What if my husband and I divorce over arguments about clutter, space or messes that a little bit of rebuying something I threw out could have prevented though? What if I find my life purpose in the creative activities that empty space I enjoy helped me get in the mood to pursue though?

What is the cost of letting go of some clothing I didn’t like?

If I keep it, it doesn’t mean the sweat shops close down, if I keep it to donate it – the mess doesn’t leave my house for months longer, if I keep it, it doesn’t make a big jump in our families savings, if I keep it, most of the family won’t notice either way, if I keep it, I feel burdened.

In the Q.U.I.C.K. method of organization book they refer to people like me as “tossers” I prefer to think of myself as a “minimalist at heart” in the company of most people who ever lived outside of modern times, in the company of Epictetus and Henry David Thoreau.

It’s not about the number of items, but it’s really about making more room for sucking the marrow of life. I feel like the extra clutter is right in the way of the life I want to live.

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.

– Henry David Thoreau

It seems to me the more “possessions” I have, the less I can accurately discern what wealth is for me.

I know wealth is my friends love for me, the laughter and peace of my children, the beauty of the sunrise, the ability to write and think freely, a kind smile from a stranger, a joke or good song easing the pain of life, the surprise of everyday being different than the last, the company of friends, the ability to take my kids to an open park, or walk as a family on a nature trail, to have peace of mind that we have enough for groceries and rent without double checking, the sound of a song bird, the way images from stories in books can stay with you all your life, the smell of a library, the taste of Hawaiian shave ice, the smell of guavas.

But I want to know more, I want to suck deeper of life’s marrow.

For me I think that means much less visual distraction and much less “stuff”.

Anyone have something special that you let go of intentionally with either a feeling of freedom or regret?

Update: My husband was completely fine with me getting rid of the wedding dress, he kind of understands me by now (after 5 years of marriage). It was nice. I told him it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with him, but I wanted to be with him in a new way, not the way we were. I think he really understood what I meant. I put a lot of the clothes in a bag to toss, I’m torn between taking a few items to donate, but if I don’t “really do it” tomorrow then I’ll throw the bag out Thursday. I wonder if donating something with a negative vibe for me is a blessing for someone else or just transferring a problem. I’m guessing one person’s trash is another’s treasure? It’s weird, but I can’t wait to be rid of the dress, I’m so excited to get rid of it tomorrow.

One reason in particular I wanted to get rid of my wedding dress is because 10 years after my mother cast my father aside like garbage for another man who didn’t love her, she was deeply attached to her wedding dress. She wanted me to wear it. I didn’t want to wear the dress of a failed marriage and I was so puzzled at how she could value a $400 dress so much more than the marriage that cost much more and the human being who loved her faithfully and constantly. It’s an unstated goal to get rid of as much as I can from my wedding, so that what is precious about my wedding is my actual husband, so that he is what I have from that day, to value the person, not the things. I’m not saying a person can’t value people and things, but for me, I’d rather err on the side of caution that my priorities are crystal clear in my own heart and mind.

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