Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reverb10: Things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

1. Junk - I'll be weeding through several boxes of junk in December and January. If it doesn't have a place or a purpose, it will be going in the garbage or giveaway piles. My life will be changed by not having all this stuff cluttering up my apartment.

2. Clothes that are too small and shoes I don't wear - I'll be trying on a lot of things. What doesn't fit doesn't stay in my closet or dresser. It will go into three piles, based on condition: garbage, giveaway, or consignment. This will change my life by giving me a neater, roomier closet and less guilt each time I see clothes I can't fit into any longer.

3. Extra craft supplies - I'll be assessing everything and asking myself, "Do I still enjoy this hobby? If so, do I still enjoy this item?" If the answer to either is no, it's getting listed on ebay or etsy, given away, or tossed. My life will be changed by not having the stuff around, so it will easier to find what I do love and enjoy my hobby more.

4. Old magazines - Anything more than 6 months old will be going in the garbage. My apartment will be less cluttered, and I'll be happier.

5. Books I'll never read again - Our bookshelves are simply past capacity. An apartment can't hold many bookshelves, so I'll be picking through the collection and either donating books to Goodwill or selling them on The resulting life change will be less stuff and room for more books that I'll be more likely to read again.

6. Printed versions of some teaching materials - I have all these worksheets and lesson plans I wrote while I was teaching full-time or while in college to satisfy course requirements. Some of these materials are now five years old, and unused since that time. I would like to use them someday, however, so I'll be transferring any and all non-copyrighted works into Google documents for storage. The results will be a couple less heavy boxes of stuff, and a lot of freed up binders and folders.

7. Unused school supplies - It's been a year and a half since I taught, and I have a couple years' worth of school supplies stashed away. I don't need them, and they are cheap. The whole lot is going to the Goodwill store so someone who can't afford notebooks and folders can use them. I'll have another empty box, and be satisfied with knowing I provided a child with school supplies.

8. The considerable amounts of pasta in my pantry - I'll be using it up by making yummy food, and my pantry will be less full. I'll be able to find what I want to cook more easily, and it will make cooking dinner go more quickly.

9. Volunteer work that doesn't feel fulfilling - Volunteering should never feel like a burden. It should make you happy to help others. I volunteer in a couple different capacities right now, and one of them simply isn't fulfilling my few requirements for a good volunteer opportunity in that it doesn't help the less fortunate, it doesn't give me a sense of pride in my work or in helping others, and it interferes with other daily activities. It, in fact, actually helps people who are in pretty good condition, financially-speaking. Cutting this activity will free up time to do other volunteer work that is more fulfilling, and will make me happy.

10. Partially-used bath and body products I don't like but feel guilty throwing away - I'm coming to terms with the fact that just because I paid for it doesn't mean I have to like it or use it all up. Anything that doesn't do its job or doesn't make me happy will go in the garbage. I'll have less stuff and be happy about that.

11. Cable television - Cancel the cable after the college hockey season is done. We've got a Roku with Netflix and Hulu Plus, so we'll be able to watch what we want when we want. The resulting life change will be not being tied down to the TV schedule and not having to watch TV shows on our laptops.

A lot of it simply boils down to extra stuff. I feel weighed down by it all. I've spent a good portion of the morning looking for my library card in a sea of junk. It's just time to get past all the junk in my life and stop feeling like each box of stuff is tied around my ankle, keeping me back from enjoying my life at home.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reverb10: Wisdom

What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

I took a part-time seasonal job in November, but at the same time,I received approval for our county school's substitute teacher list. I'd waited 13 months for the approval to come. My husband urged me to do both, and I found that the other job (which I totally loved) really interfered with me picking up substitute teaching jobs. I had to quit last week. It wasn't the easiest decision, but it was certainly the wisest. The difference in pay is huge - two days of substitute teaching pays more than two weeks of retail work would have, and this job actually furthers my career goals rather than simply giving me a paycheck and a nice discount.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverb10: Party

What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

2010 was a quiet year for us, party-wise. Our friends are scattered throughout the metro area, and Trevor has a different work schedule than most of his friends, so it's tough to get together with people. I think the best party I went to this year, though, was my sister's college graduation party. It was the first time my whole family was together in nearly a year, and the only time I've seen some of my family members since my wedding in 2009. The food was simple, Midwestern party food - sandwiches, salads, and desserts. My mom ordered the same cheesecakes we'd had for our rehearsal dinner, and they were amazing! I think we all had the leftovers for breakfast the next day.

It wasn't a raucous bash. No one was really dressed up. There wasn't any booze served or any shenanigans, but it was my favorite party this year because we were all there together.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reverb10: Beautifully Different

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

Maybe I should have titled this "A Beautiful Mind." You see, one of the qualities that makes me different is that I have a very, very good memory for people. Ask me where my keys are, and I'll probably tell you five wrong answers before I hit on the right spot, but ask me about the girl I met at the party Saturday night and talked to for five minutes, and I could tell you everything I learned about her. Ask me again in a year, and I'll probably still remember everything.

Where this talent really shines is at our church's preschool check-in, where I volunteer on Sunday mornings. People are genuinely touched when I remember them or their children's names, especially if I say something like "I always remember Kelsea because she always has such cute dresses." Of course, it's not the dresses that make me remember these kids, but I love to throw in the extra compliment. I know these parents probably had a hectic morning getting their kids ready for church, doing their hair just right, and maybe even ironing the little pleats in the tiny dresses, so someone simply must acknowledge their work, right? ;)

When I make them smile, I smile, and that's what makes me feel beautiful.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reverb10: Community

Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

This prompt has sat in an open browser tab all day. It's hard for me to even begin to explain all the places I've found a sense of community this year, both online and in the real world. I began 2010 as a newlywed, in a new place, knowing no one except my husband and the apartment complex management staff. It was in 2010 when I started to try to find opportunities for us to meet people.

The first and most significant place with within the church we attend. We started going there in January, though it was March before Trevor began holding weekends off to join me at services regularly. We were immediately welcomed, and I got involved in a women's bible study group. I started to meet people, both from my group and from other groups. I started making connections, and eventually got involved with a scrapbook group at the church (my second one in this area -- another one invited me in October 2009).

The other significant places where I've found community have been online. The creative avenues are the most obvious ones, though -- blogs,, and even Split Coast Stampers have provided me with creative community. I've also used Twitter and Facebook to foster community with the people I left behind when I moved to Georgia. I've been in touch with so many people I never would have been able to keep up with otherwise.

Perhaps the most important place I've found community this year is among other pilot wives -- through online forums like JetGirls and Pilot Wives Club, and in person through meeting Trevor's former college friends and current coworkers (several of these people fit both categories). Knowing others who deal with this unpredictable and frustrating lifestyle helps to deal with it just a little bit better. It can be heartbreaking, like when we learn about marriages that can't withstand this career, or it can be uplifting, like when we hear about couples getting away somewhere exotic thanks to the benefits of this career. I would honestly say that this community is the one I'd like to more deeply connect with in 2011. I know there are a lot of connections to be made within the pilot wife community, and I'm eager to make them.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reverb10: Make

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

The last thing I made was a half dozen baby cards for my mother-in-law. Ever since I made the first batch of cards for her two years ago, she has been in love with my handmade cards. These were a special request because Trevor's cousins are all having babies (and a few of his close friends are adding to their families, too).

I finished the cards about ten minutes ago. My materials were rub-ons from Making Memories and American Crafts, Nana's Nursery paper line from DCWV, cardstock from Bazzill, Click 'n Stick Mounting Squares, Making Memories buttons, and thread.

The thing I would most like to make right now is my wedding scrapbook. It's been a year and a half since our wedding, and I really haven't started working on it. It is an intimidating task. Not only do I need to clear the time, but I have to clear perfectionism from my mind as well. I know that if I focus too much on making it perfect, I'll never be happy with it, and I'll never complete it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reverb10: Let Go

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)

My skinny jeans. Unused school supplies. Fear. Facebook "friends" I never speak to in real life. The pursuit of perfectionism. Guilt.

It was just time to unclutter my life.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reverb10: Wonder

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

There were two activities I participated in over this past year that cultivated a sense of wonder in my life: travel and working with children.

As I traveled around the US this year, I was constantly marveling over how airports are all different, but all feel the same. I felt as though keeping my mind open and imagination alive in the airports and airplanes kept me from becoming a jaded, female version of George Clooney's character in Up in the Air. Of course, there were also the wonderful sites I visited, too. Standing at the summit of Mauna Kea. Kayaking across Kealakekua Bay. Snorkeling with yellow and blue fish. Floating in the Pacific Ocean, holding hands with my husband. Sinking into powdery soft sand on Oahu. Staring into a mummy's empty eye sockets at the Field Museum in Chicago. Looking up at the teeth of a fossilized t-rex. Considering the concept that the learning doesn't end when your formal education does as I watched my sister and her boyfriend receive their degrees this spring. It is impossible to see these things and not be filled with wonder.

In July, I started a volunteer role at my church, assisting in the preschool Sunday school class. Working with the children fills me with a sense of wonder. I'm constantly wondering how much of the lesson they are absorbing, why they think they are in Sunday School, and what they are really thinking about. I love to see how they are full of wonder. Their lessons are presented in a theatrical format, with a low stage, sound effects, lighting, and sometimes, we have puppets. Though the effects are very minimal and easy to do, it seems like the children don't know that it isn't magic. Their reactions are a mix of wonder and excitement. Seeing my 30+ children (I'm just one of 10 adults in the room with them) is one of the highlights of my week. I like to think that they are helping me keep a sense of childlike wonder as I help them learn to be good citizens and disciples.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reverb10: Moment

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

The water was cold as it lapped up into the kayak. It was 7 a.m., and we were behind Dave and Erin's kayak by quite a bit. The four of us were crossing Kealakekua Bay to see Captain Cook's monument, which is only accessible by boat or hiking trails. As we approached the monument, I started to see little yellow things int the water. I thought they were dead leaves from the tree above.

When we reached the shore, my arms were killing me, and I was certain I had burned a bit, too. I reapplied the greasy, spray on sunscreen for the second time that day before putting on my snorkel gear and jumping in the water. I was startled to find that the yellow things were not leaves -- they were fish! Hundreds of yellow fish about the size of my hands were in the water, along with larger fish in all sorts of colors: brilliant blue, black, purple, the whole rainbow, it seemed! The coral was also brilliantly colored, completely unlike what we had seen off the coast of Jamaica the previous summer. I floated in the water, thanks to the smelly rented life jacket that came with our snorkel gear and kayaks. I could have spent all day watching the fish flitting about under the water, but soon, catamarans carrying hundreds of tourists began coming in, and it was time to leave the bay.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reverb10: Writing

What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

Playing all those silly Facebook games. Watching TV with Trevor. Twitter.

I'm pretty sure most of this can be eliminated, though watching TV together actually helps us connect after the busy days when he is home and after the trips he must go on for work.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reverb10: One Word

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)

Traveler. I've been very fortunate to be able to travel over the past year and a half, thanks to the flight benefits I receive through my husband's job. I have joined him on the spur of the moment when his work trips took him to Kileen, Omaha, Houston, and Tallahassee, as well as lesser known places like Columbus, Georgia and Dothan, Alabama. Our personal travel has taken us home to see our families and friends in Minnesota and North Dakota. We have also been able to visit friends in Chicago and Detroit, sneak off to Savannah for a one year anniversary trip, and spend 10 days in Hawaii with our Chicago friends. I've also been able to see the Atlanta area through new eyes as my parents visited us this fall and saw the big attractions we just don't make the time to see as we go about our day to day lives.

My One Little Word for 2010 was not Traveler. It was Organize. I feel like I have made huge strides in that aspect, though. Decluttering has become a huge priority. As I look back on the move to Atlanta and look forward towards the possibility of future moves across town, across the country, or even across this apartment complex, I have a strong desire to cut down on the amount of unnecessary, unloved items in our home.

I'm still mulling some words for 2011. A part of me wants to continue Organize into 2011 because there is still some work to do, but I feel like that would be cheating. One word I'm considering might be a "secret word," like Ali Edwards had this year with Athlete. The word relates to a goal I'm not quite ready to share with the world just yet, though my closest family and friends know about it (no, we're NOT having a baby, just to put that to rest right away). Over the rest of December, I'll be looking for words others are choosing for their One Little Word and considering them, as well as flipping through the dictionary to see if something really stands out to me. I'll be asking myself what my goals are for 2011, what passions I'd love to see take a firmer hold on my life, and what habits need to be built or broken.