The Trouble with Minimalism

This subject has been on my mind recently, what with all of the different movements gaining attraction in the world today. I'm talking specifically about minimalism, sustainability, zero waste, and other movements that aim to simplify and create time to make meaningful, informed decisions. It all sounds good, when you think about it. Who doesn't want more time in their day? Who doesn't, deep down, know that they need to focus their attention on maintaining relationships than maintaining their stuff.

I will admit, I watched a Netflix documentary on the subject of minimalism and I was intrigued. I went through loads of clothes, papers, and other items that I could skimp down on and "simplify."

It was when I was helping my fiance move into his apartment that I realized I might be too distracted by the movement, the cause, that it has started down the path of obsession. I found myself getting frustrated, even a little mad at Justin as I was packing up two boxes of his DVDs, thinking how could he possibly need all of them? Thinking that there is no way that he will ever play this game again, or watch this movie. I got upset with him wanting to go out and buy a bunch of stuff for his apartment, because I was thinking about the wedding registry that I had carefully created because I wanted it to be the best, most practical, "minimalist" list for our new lives together.

How unfair it was for me to get upset with someone that does not align themselves to the minimalist philosophy. I made him feel bad for valuing the things that he has accumulated over the years. He's not a packrat, there are memories infused to every one of those games, and he actually doesn't go out and buy useless things...ever. He appreciates quality over quantity and that will help us not have to keep replacing things over the years.

It wasn't fair. I had become too obsessed with being a "good" minimalist that I was somehow making my life and my thoughts more cluttered. I do think that's the danger of movements like this. People become so wrapped up in the idea that they need to be a "good" member of the group, and they feel guilty if they indulge. It's like a diet. If you're doing well on a low carb diet and you have a two-scoop ice cream cone well, you are probably going to feel guilty for the rest of the day. And why? It is not a sin to eat ice cream, just like it is not a sin to get enjoyment out of some of your things.

So why do some feel guilty about it? Well, I believe that is a combination of a couple of things. First, it's pride. We believe that we cannot possibly do wrong if all the "rules" are laid out for us, and we are going to be perfect at following this lifestyle. Secondly, I believe that the tempter is using these outlets to distract from what is really important: being lights of the world, and thinking on things above. We have the best intentions going into these self-help programs, but we cannot help ourselves. Once again, our best bet is asking the Lord to help guide us in our everyday lives.

In conclusion, I like the thoughts behind minimalism, because it takes the focus off of earthly possessions and tries to help people free up more time. However, I'm not going to stress too much about it anymore.

Engaged!

As of April 29, we are engaged! It definitely wasn't a surprise that it was coming, but it is still very exciting. It happened in Carson Park, while we were taking a walk around Half Moon Lake. I didn't take any pictures because I wanted us to just spend the first few hours together, telling family and close friends, and not being tempted to post on social media.

So far, we have a little bit planned. I found my wedding dress this weekend. We know where the reception will be and the date: January 20th of next year! I feel like I may regret that in the future, what with me finishing student teaching on January 19th. I can handle it, though.

We have also begun a registry. We are sticking to Amazon, because it is convenient for those who prefer online shopping, and because the selection is HUGE. It has been a lot of fun determining what pieces will go well together in our first home. We also went with Target because I know a lot of people (myself included) wait until the week of to find a wedding gift. No biggie, but I got them covered just in case.

As for our first home, it will be an apartment. Justin will live there until our wedding, and then I will move in. I am so excited to gradually put our things together and to streamline everything to fit into the apartment. I have been having a real minimalism kick, and I think it's here to stay. I am not hardcore by any means, but I appreciate only having things that are useful and beautiful, to a point. I have a few knick knacks that are very special to me, and I know Justin does, too.

I will keep updating as we have more details planned!

New baby nephew

Last Wednesday, Justin's family grew by one. We visited his brother and sister-in-law in the hospital a day later and got to meet little baby Nathan. His big brother was definitely enjoying the spotlight of mom and dad paying so close attention to him now that there were other people to hold his brother.

Baby Nathan is so sweet. It has been almost eight years since I have held a newborn baby boy that is that small, and I was definitely thinking about the first time that I got to hold baby Uriah a day after he was born. Uriah was a much bigger baby though. This time, my arms never got tired.

It will be so fun to see those brothers growing up together, especially since they are only 2 1/2 years apart.

I got a new job!

T-minus 11 days or 5 shifts until I am DONE working at Target!

Ideally, this would mark the very end of my days working in retail, but I can't predict the future.

I already have started working at my new job, at the Boys and Girls Club, and it's gone really well so far. It seems like I have a lot to learn still.

I'm just glad that I have an opportunity to get more related experience before I go straight into student teaching and then as a TEACHER!


Fun Weekend in St. Paul!

This weekend was so much fun and a much needed day date for Justin and I.
Our work and school schedules conflict so often recently, so I was really looking forward to spending a WHOLE DAY together! Not just three hours or so.

We drove to St. Paul in the late morning to go to the Science Museum. Justin really likes Science so I made the suggestion. He was the one who suggested the cities, but we didn't know what we wanted to do.

St. Paul from the car

When we got to the museum, it was much more kid centered than I thought it would be, but we got a lot out of the bottom floor, which was all about physics and math (go figure). It was also cool to see a real mummy and dinosaur bones. 

Justin looking at the amoebas on the human body floor

I took this photo to try to figure out how to make this for my future classroom ;)

The mythical creatures exhibit had a lot of cool statues, like this unicorn

Afterwards, we (I) got very hungry and walked a little bit down the road to Zamboni's Pizza. Justin had been saying all day about how we will be going right across the street later that evening. Well, right across the street is the Xcel Energy Center where the Minnesota Wild hockey team play. We have been talking about going to a Wild Game all year, and Justin's parents were almost going to get us tickets to a game for Christmas, but didn't know when we wanted to go. Since we had already gone somewhere that day, I thought he was just teasing. 

We did go to a game though! We sat in the very highest seats but it still felt like we had a good view. The game was a good one to watch because I got to see my first shootout and my favorite player (Mikko Koivu) won the whole game for us!

I kept saying all day how fun I was having. Although all day dates are few and far between for us, they sure are fun. 


October Update

Fall has arrived here in Wisconsin. It is easily my favorite time of the year. This year is a little different because I have a ton of things to do for school. I began my placement in a fifth grade classroom, and am now back at the University for a month to go over lesson plans, create lesson plan calendars, and essentially do an entire semester worth of assignments in one month.

So, I might need to cut myself some slack if I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. However, I've been doing a lot of hobbies to give myself a break from working all the time. I have a couple of Christmas gifts to knit yet. I also have been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls before the Netflix special next month around Thanksgiving. :)

Justin and I have been taking a lot of walks in the fall weather. I love taking walks year round, but there's something about walking with the cool air on your cheeks that is a little different. Justin has been in his new job for about a month. He really loves it and is excited for all the opportunities that he has.

I absolutely LOVE teaching. Being back to student mode has been a hard adjustment because I got a glimpse of what teaching will be like. I absolutely am convinced that teaching is the best job in the world!


New Semester Thoughts

I am now two weeks (about) into the new semester, and I thought I would share my thoughts about it.

Entering the new semester didn't go as smoothly as I would have hoped. My classes are all smashed together, which proves a lot more draining than I originally thought. I have early wake up times, busy days, and lots of projects. I don't get to change scenery or change classmates all that much. It's been hard for both me and Justin to go from days with little obligation to full days with lots of responsibility.

These things take time, they always do...but I was talking with my dad the other day about how I can't understand how it is that I used to be so excited for school to start, and I used to LOVE school as a student. He simply answered that I have become an adult, and know more than I did when I was a kid. I think that is definitely true. I really have been taking care of what media I allow myself to partake of, because there are some things I can handle, and others that I can still handle, but cause a lot of distress and anxiety for much too long.

Beyond knowing more about the world, I think I've reached a point where I am kind of over being in college. I am excited to have my own classroom and start in a new town or region. I have different priorities than most 21 year olds, and I can't decide if that's something I should feel bad about or not.
It doesn't matter, because I don't feel bad about it. Sometimes I compare my experiences with my sister's, who was very involved in her college, and become disappointed that I didn't have as many stories come from these years. I don't think, as long as you are behaving yourself, there is any wrong way to experience life, as long as you are content. I have been more than content for 90% of my college experience, actually. It's easy to focus on the negative, but I really don't have anything to complain about.

If you haven't noticed, I tend to come to this little online corner when I have a lot on my mind. I wouldn't say that I am necessarily unhappy, but I don't feel completely comfortable in this new routine. I feel as though I am constantly looking forward to the next thing, so you can imagine that I am a bit discontent with how some things are going. It doesn't even bother me that I have unwanted thoughts, because they bore me now and I realize are just part of the territory when I get just a little bit anxious. I am dwelling on things longer than I would like, but I am continuing to learn more about what I need to lead a more content life. I don't necessarily say a more happy life, because I am very happy with my life, I'm just unsettled about certain things. I have become more accepting of the fact that my brain thinks about things differently than most others, and that's okay, I just need to find out how to work with that, and maybe there are some good things that come with that.

I am looking forward to (although I'm still working on living in the moment) beginning my time in an elementary school for half of the semester. It's going to be wonderful and at the perfect time of the year, too, right around the holiday season! There is a lot to be thankful for, and I am so glad that I have been given the experiences that I have, knowing that they will continue to strengthen me and cause me to grow. I just sometimes need some reminding :).