May was a bit of a crazy month at Chez Starks. The first few weeks saw a flurry of work at my “day job,” in preparation for taking a twelve-week sabbatical. The last ten days of the month saw my daughter Rowan and me vacationing in Wyoming, while my husband stayed home to tend the pets (including the chickens!).
Nevertheless, I was able to do a few small things in May that helped me feel like I was making progress in simplifying my life. Here is this month’s run down.
Got a haircut
My hair has been a constant sore spot for me . . . forever. I have very fine, mostly straight hair and a high forehead, so there are limited ways I can happily wear it. For a few years now, I have been growing it out. If I wasn’t working, though, I just put it in a ponytail and called it good. Since the hot weather was coming, I decided to take the plunge and get a few inches chopped off, despite the protests of my daughter.
I love it! It is still long enough to make a wee little ponytail, but I can now just wash it, barely blow it dry, and it looks presentable. This has been a time, effort, and sanity saver for me.
Closed business credit cards
Greg and I run a total of three businesses currently. My financial planning firm has been my main business for twenty years, and we have had a commercial real-estate partnership for several years. Most recently, we started our online business, SimpleMoney.
In the flurry of opening checking accounts and getting various business ducks in a row, I always assumed it would be best to have separate credit card accounts in addition to the separate checking accounts for each business. The trouble was, when I majorly downsized my wallet earlier this spring, I had a million cards in there to handle. Okay, not a million, but perhaps two dozen.
Upon some reflection, we hardly ever used the bank credit and debit cards for our businesses. As a result, Greg and I decided we could live without all those accounts, and IF we needed to make a credit card purchase for one of the less-active businesses, we could use our personal account and reimburse ourselves. We decided the extra step of reimbursing would be made up in not having to tend to all those cards floating around and remembering which one to use for what purchases.
Our wallets got lighter, and our financial lives got simpler.
Did NOT pack our weekends full
Despite my work weeks being quite full in the early part of May, I purposefully left lots and lots of white space in our weekends. At most, we had a single obligation that took us into town each weekend. I knew we would need the time to recover from the work weeks and to prepare for my BIG time off for the summer.
I am beginning to think this is the secret sauce for me when it comes to feeling less stressed and overwhelmed. While I can’t always manage my weekdays, I can certainly keep my weekends light and free. This is a change that I intend to carry over into the fall when my work ramps back up. We have some significant changes coming in our family life, so this will be extra important. White space and family time for the win!
Packed carefully for our Wyoming trip
Rowan and I went to Wyoming last summer, spending a few days in Jackson and then an entire week at a ranch in Dubois. We loved it so much, we signed up to go again, this time as volunteers at the ranch.
I remembered how much extra stuff Rowan packed last summer, thinking she would need multiple diversions in a situation where internet access is nearly nil. This time, I reminded her of all the things she packed, but never used, on our last trip. Thankfully, she was very open to this input, and we were extra cautious and thoughtful about what we did pack.
For example, I brought my Birkenstock sandals in the suitcase, and my hiking shoes on my feet. Rowan made a similar packing choice for her footwear. Since we do a lot of horseback riding at the ranch, we also packed our riding boots. The biggest fail in our packing efforts centered around Rowan’s riding boots. They were large, knee-high boots, and they took up a great deal of space in the suitcase.
And guess what? When we got there and went to ride the first time, they didn’t fit her. We neglected to have her try them on before we packed them. We should have known; her feet have been growing like gangbusters for the past nine months or so. We ended up donating them to the riding program at the ranch, and Rowan wore her cowboy boots to ride.
Moderated our activities while in Wyoming
We knew from last summer that activities in Jackson can be very expensive. We definitely planned to go paragliding. Rowan went paragliding last summer and loved it, and so she saved up her money to do it again. She wanted me to go this time, and long story short, I dug deep, faced my fear of heights, and went. It was fabulous!
The weather in Wyoming during our trip was pretty lousy overall. We had lots of rain, sleet, and snow, and the occasional two-hour window of sun. As a result, the weather did assist with our moderating our activities while there. What we found, though, was that it was extra nice to have only one outing each day and to spend the rest of the day being lazy.
We could have filled all our days in Jackson with hiking outings or other activities, but we were selective. Since it was just the two of us, I did not feel comfortable wandering into the Tetons on a hike, since May is, after all, hungry grizzly bears waking up from hibernation season. Because of this, I paid for us to have a guided hike for half a day. That turned out to be a fantastic choice, because in addition to a great hike with gorgeous scenery (and just a little bit of snow!), we learned a good bit about the local flora and fauna.
I have been on many trips where our attitude was to “fit in as much as we can, in case we never come back to this place.” By now, however, I have really embraced the slower-paced sort of traveling that we experienced in Wyoming. Stop and smell the roses sort of travel. It makes a difference.
It all adds up
As I have said repeatedly in prior months’ installments of my simplifying efforts, none of these things were Earth-shattering life changes. They were all reasonably small decisions, and most were made based on mindfulness of prior experiences.
If you are on a journey to simplify your life, don’t discount the small things. Each day you have the luxury to start afresh and make new decisions. If your decisions yesterday did NOT add to your sense of well-being and simplicity, who cares? Learn from them and make a new, different decision today.
It’s a journey. And all the little steps add up.
What small steps have you taken recently to simplify your life? Share below! Or if you want to start a discussion with some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your thoughts!
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*Picture taken leaving the ranch, on our way to the airport. Of course, that day it was sunny and gorgeous!