Creating sensory memories

Creating sensory memories

Walking the baby down our country road
As we’ve come around to one year since my maternity leave, I’m realizing how acute my sensory memories of that time are.

Sound: Anne Bogel’s voice while listening to the podcast “What Should I Read Next” (newly discovered during my maternity leave) and narrator Hillary Huber from listening to the audio version of Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightley, the first audio book I attempted on my leave (which is when I rediscovered audio books).

Taste: Spinach salad with craisins, walnuts, avocado, blueberries and an olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing that I ate almost every day for lunch. Also, the Adventure Trail Mix from Aldi that got me through all the late night feedings.

Smell: New baby, of course. Also, spit up. And the dirty diaper of an exclusively breastfed baby, which I’ve heard likened to buttered popcorn.

Feel: The feel of my CityMini Jogger handlebar bouncing along the gravel road during my daily walk. Read more

The Curated Life: Clothes

The Curated Life: Clothes

Over the past two years, I have slowly culled my wardrobe. Before I purchase anything knew, I think long and hard about what my wardrobe is missing, what I would use most and what I would be willing to shell out more $$ for.

I don’t wear out clothes very often (except those that have already been relegated to “barn” status b/c they are too small/large), so investing in pieces that are a little more pricey, but fit perfectly, are of good quality, and are very useful? That I think I can do. I’ll have them for years. (In fact, I have some clothes that I got when I was 16, and shoes I’ve had even longer than that.)

I’ve gotten rid of anything that doesn’t fit right: too small, too large, too short, too wide, too loose, too tight. I’ve gotten rid of anything I don’t like (duh!). And anything I like, but don’t wear (usually because I don’t like the feel of the fabric). I’ve paired down on things I do like and wear, because, really, who needs 15 ribbed tank tops? Or 20 t-shirts from various activities/places that remind me of college? And do I need to mention the college hoodies?

When we thought we’d have to move in December, I packed nearly all my clothes, just leaving out one set of pjs, a pair of yoga pants, 2 pairs of jeans (flare and skinny), a pair of cords (cause I LOVE me some cords in winter), a long sleeve t-shirt, and my sweaters and slacks for work.

I’ve been living on roughly that amount of clothing for weeks now. And, while I miss certain things, I’m realizing just how few clothes I need. And maybe, just maybe, I can donate/consign some more clothes, even if I like them and they fit, to make my life a little more simple. It’s a revelation.

Meanwhile, I made a few select purchases: a pair of tan cords (I’d been dreaming about these for months and found a pair on sale for $25), a lightweight base layer (definitely needed this with how much outdoors stuff we do, on sale for $22), and a Northface yoga sweatshirt (again, I’d been dreaming of this for about three years and saw one in the outlet, didn’t buy it, regretted not buying it, then saw it on sale at REI for $68). Normally, I wouldn’t spend more than $10 on a pair of pants or $15 on a sweatshirt, BUT I’m realizing that quality matters. And that one Northface sweatshirt that fits so well and is so comfortable? That means I can finally say goodbye to numerous college hoodies. And it’s not all expensive. I’d identified a need for “casual Friday” jeans for work and desired something in a dark wash, without any whiskering or anything. I found a pair of Quick Silver jeans at TJ Maxx on clearance for $7, and they are even long enough to be worn with heeled boots. Score.

Quick Silver jeans

Curating isn’t necessarily about getting rid of everything, just like frugality isn’t always about being cheap. Sometimes, purchasing select items is important and quality can trump cost.

The Curated Life: Horses

The Curated Life: Horses

People ask me all the time: “Do you ride all the time? Like every day?”

I hate getting that question.

Because it forces me to face my answer: No.

I don’t. In fact, I recently admitted to going six months without riding at all. Six months!

It’s ridiculous. Terrible. An atrocity!

My girl, Chappy

I have this beautiful, wonderful thing at my fingertips and yet I don’t put it to use in my life.

There are a thousand excuses–I have them memorized. The limited daylight in winter. The wet or cold or hot or windy weather. The responsibilities of life. Work. Home. Relationships. Time.

Honestly, they are valid excuses. But they are excuses, not reasons.

And I don’t want to live excuses anymore.

As Husband and I attempt to pay down big student loans and simultaneously save enough for a down payment on a house, we have gone over every single expense with a fine tooth comb. Every. Single. Penny.

We’ve made big changes and little ones. We tweaked our car insurance to save $15 a month, and at one point even got rid of our internet service at home.

I cannot tell you how many times we have calculated the cost of keeping a horse, down to the penny. And it’s not cheap. Beyond the cost of feed and board and farrier and vet care there is the time. The daily grind of cleaning stalls, feeding, letting in, turning out. It all takes time.

But she’s my baby. My girl. Not just a part of my world, but a part of me. I would do anything to keep her. Letting her go just doesn’t feel like an option, because I think it would break my heart.

The value that she brings to my life isn’t tangible, it cannot be given a numerical value. It just is.

Horseback riding.

Then, earlier this year, I brought forth this idea about living a curated life. And recently, I realized that this part of my life, this horse-loving barn-cleaning part of my life, should not just be consumed, but curated.

Carefully designed, molded, shaped, collected and pieced together. Chappy should be too. The value she brings to my life should be forefront, not vaguely remembered from six months ago. The beauty and life that she offers should be capitalized on.

So I have decided: It’s time to curate.

My desire is to ride two or three times a week. It’s completely doable, I just have to commit. I’m thinking if I make space to ride Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at least two or three of those times should work out, with decent weather. And Sunday makes a good back up day. (Usually Sundays are set aside to spend with God and Husband, but Husband said he would love to come with me to the barn to watch me ride on Sunday afternoons.)

And just to make things clearer, I want to set some goals. Goals for me and for her. Goals that will motivate me to ride more and will benefit us for years to come.

Goals for me:
1. Ride 2-3 days/week
2. Ride Chappy in large pasture
3. Begin taking Chappy down trails near stable
4. Train Chappy to load/unload from our trailer
5. Increase comfort level at lope in large pasture
6. Add hitch to my truck and increase my trailering skills

Goals for Chappy:
1. Consistently keep head down
2. Maintain consistent, easy pace
3. Increase neck reining ability
4. Continue to work on side-passing
5. Begin flying lead changes in large pasture
6. Begin turn on haunches

By the end of the summer, I would love to start taking Chappy to Northwest River Park on weekends, to practice trailering, and work her in the round pen there, then take a few walks in the open area of the park. Perhaps by fall we will be ready to tackle a trail =).

So there you have it, my breakdown of goals to bring this part of my life from consuming to curating. Wish me luck!

Curating my life - riding

More thoughts on curating

More thoughts on curating

A few days ago, I mentioned my new desire not just to organize or clean or DIY or decorate, but to truly curate my home, my life, my heart.

And I’ve been thinking…what does this desire extend toward? What areas of my life could be influenced by my plan to curate instead of consume? I mentioned my books and DVDs already, those are probably the most obvious. Then, of course there’s other clutter…clothes, shoes, jewelry, blankets, linens, dishes, knickknacks. It might even include personal care items, cleaning supplies and other things tucked away in closets. What about my pantry? The food I eat?

And what about my thousands of digital photographs? Music files? Files in general?

And, um, does it include less concrete items, like my education, experiences, travels, relationships? The way I spend a Saturday morning or a Monday evening?

What about my faith? Grace? Growth?

And what, exactly, should be my standard for curating? Enjoyment? Peace? Excellence? Beauty? Truth?

What about my new word for the year: “Singleness of Heart”? Is that my standard for curating?

Sunrise at the oceanfront.

It brings to mind a verse I have hanging over my desk… “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Phil. 4:8

Is there any part of my life that this idea would not utterly transform?

Curator or Consumer?

Curator or Consumer?

Think of yourself as a curator, rather than a consumer.I saw a quote recently that got me thinking…am I living as a curator or consumer? And if I want to be a curator, what does that mean? What areas of my life would that touch?

The fact is, I DO want to be a curator. I want to be surrounded with intentionality, not just stuff. STUFF needs to go, so LIFE can be lived in our home.

What first comes to mind are my book and DVD collections… I’ve been working on these for the past year, regularly going through my shelves and purging anything I won’t read again, anything I wouldn’t recommend to others, and anything I don’t intend to share with our children whenever we have them. It was a good start.

I kept on at the DVDs, pulling anything that we rarely watched, didn’t thoroughly enjoy, or wouldn’t recommend to others. Again, it was a good start.

But is that enough to truly be considered curating?

Doesn’t curating take even more care and precision than that?

According to to curate means to “take charge of (a museum) or organize (an art exhibit)” or “to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation”. I like those definitions, and my start is a good one, but not enough.

If I’m truly to curate my books, shouldn’t I keep only the best? Only the most excellent? And shouldn’t my DVD collection be comprised of those movies I find most wonderful? Most inspiring? Most entertaining?

I think I have some work to do…