Category Archives: minimalism

A forced minimalism experiment

A forced minimalism experiment

In March, when our house was robbed, my jewelry was stolen. Luckily, I was wearing my wedding ring and one pair of earrings at the time of the burglary. Below is the list I prepared for our insurance claim and a photo of what the burglars left behind.

Our bedroom after. No, we are not slobs; the burglars made this mess. They also destroyed the leather jewelry box that had been my dad’s shown in top photo.

The jewelry that was left behind by the burglars. Guess they don’t like the Oregon hippie stuff…

There is no way to replace the necklace my uncle bought me when I was born, of the earrings a former boyfriend sent me from Switzerland. To be honest, even though these are only “things,” I cried when they were stolen. I loved wearing them and I loved the stories behind them. Jewelry is personal and often one-of-a-kind. Not replaceable.

There is no shortage of jewelry to buy here in Ajijic, from expensive things in boutiques to street vendors with colorful beadwork. But I am a thoughtful consumer now. I think through my purchases and ask myself questions. I am finding that I don’t need very much jewelry.

What are my lessons? I’m trying these on:

1. Don’t own anything that will make you cry if it’s stolen.

2. Life goes on in all its wonder and joy even when you lose things you have cherished.

3. We all need less than we think we do.

4. Don’t buy things to fill a void left by something else.

5. Some things can’t be replaced, but their memories remain.

6. Dang, I miss some of my stuff! 😦

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List of stolen jewelry submitted to insurance company:

 

1. High-quality gold chain (approx 20 inch) with Libra zodiac pendant, engraved on back with “Christina Susan 9/29/64,” purchased in Germany in 1964.

 

2. Gold thick twisted hoop earrings, 1970s.

 

3. Long silver and brass earrings, Switzerland, 1990.

 

4. Silver earrings with pink semi-precious stones, Alison Shiboski jeweler.

 

5. Turquoise earrings, 2 pr, one pr studs and one long dangle.  

 

6. Turquoise disc pendant.

 

7. “Found object” earrings, 2 pr, Marilyn Kent jeweler.  

 

8. Thin gold necklace (18 inch?) with 3 small gold balls (1970s).

 

9. Silver necklace with handblown glass beads.

 

10. Matching necklace and earrings with red coral beads and silver accent.

 

11. Metal folk art heart earrings.

 

12. Red enamel earrings.

 

13. Long (24 inch or more?) silver chain with goddess pendant (pendant from Greece).

 

14. Long (30 inch?) thick gold-plated rope chain with rhinestone sphere (1960s)

 

15. Cut crystal earrings.

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Experiences and changes; more opportunities to let go

Experiences and changes; more opportunities for letting go

It’s been a while since I posted anything, largely because all of my electronics were stolen in mid-March. I won’t go into the details of the burglary, but will express that we are very fortunate to have excellent landlords and neighbors who helped us in the aftermath of this unpleasant and disruptive experience. Losing those electronics and my jewelry has been yes another lesson in letting go.

Does being burglarized influence our desire and decision to live in Mexico? No. Burglaries happen everywhere. In fact, our neighborhood back in the Pacific NW was well-known for burglaries.

In fact, we have been looking for a house or a lot to buy in Ajijic, with the intention of spending seven or eight months a year here. That will be a big change in lifestyle for sure.

As I’ve mentioned before, we got rid of a lot of stuff before making this one-year jaunt to Mexico. A. Lot. Of. Stuff. We kept the things we will need to live when we return: bed, dressers, desk, chairs, table, kitchen things, cookbooks, winter clothes, garden tools, hobby stuff (camping, canning, soap making, beer making, skiing, dog-fostering, bicycling). We also kept art and (speaking for me here, not “we”) a major quantity of old (1920s to 1980s) photos, files, journals, and inherited mementos. Where will all of these things go when we sell our house and move South for the majority of each year? How much will go with us (not much, given moving costs and constraints), how much will go away, and how much will remain in the Pacific NW for our summer life?

Semana Santa (Holy Week) was interesting. This was the trial of Jesus, where he was condemned to death:

Gran Isla Navidad resort in Barra de Navidad. Stayed there for a treat and golfed at their lovely course:

Wine on our mirador:

Me and Frida, being beautiful:

Buy what you need — more learnings

am learning another way to buy things while living here in Mexico for a time. Given my desires toward minimalism, this is a good lesson.

In the US, it is clear that more is better, more is more, things are meant to be bought in great quantity and will make us happy. Of course, people with means spend frivolously in every country and culture, I am sure. But in the US, it’s the norm and despite the growing wealth inequality, more people have means than they do in Mexico or many other places.

In the US, there is the Cult of Costco. Stock up! Need olive oil? Buy a gallon. TP? 24 rolls. Paper towels? 12-pack. And of course you have a big house to store it in, don’t you? At least 1,500 square feet per person, right? You should have cabinets enough for all that stuff.

Here, I went in to the local stationer and asked for envelopes. The clerk came back with a box of envelopes, already open, and asked me how many I wanted. My husband went to buy some string to tie up plants, a large roll was produced and he was asked how much he wanted. Rope? Same thing. Need cold medicine? The clerk will cut the number of pills you want from the blister-pack behind the register. Need to wrap a holiday gift but don’t want to store rolls of wrapping paper? No worries, you can just buy one sheet of Christmas wrap. Groceries? Buy what you need. One stick of butter, a few eggs, a few potatoes. Flour or sugar? One kilo bags. Shopping doesn’t consist of cart-loads of groceries.

One thing that makes this work is walkability. When you can walk to stores readily, there is no need to stock up and make your house a storage unit. Grateful we live in a walkable neighborhood here in Mexico, and in Oregon too.

So I don’t have a box of envelopes sitting around that might seal themselves shut in the humid season before I get a chance to use them. Feels right. Feels smart.

Still aspiring to minimalism

Aspiring minimalist

I’ve been an aspiring minimalist for a few years. I’ve been inspired by Courtney Carver and The MInimalists and Marie Kondo (yes, I Marie Kondo’d my clothes, books, etc.). I feel like I hve less stuff than many or most of the people I know. I’ve been getting rid of things for maybe two years. When we decided to move to Mexico for a year, that went into overdrive. Sold, donated, threw out — lots and lots of stuff.

Yet, somehow we still managed to fill a storage unit of things before packing the car with essentials for our year and hitting the road.

Now, I am one month into living in a furnished rental house without most of my stuff. So far, I haven’t really missed anything. Maybe I miss paging through my (pared down) cookbook collection, but hey, there’s the internet where I can find recipes and look at food photos. On Day of the Dead, I wished I had photos of my deceased loved ones with me in order to make an altar. And I wish I had brought more T-shirts. That’s about it.

My questions to contemplate during the next 11 months: When we get back, what will I do with all my stuff? Move it all back into the house? Go through things again and get rid of more? Get rid of whole boxes without opening them up? Will I remember what’s in those boxes (duh, of course I will because they are all labeled neatly and thoroughly)? What will I want to do?

Will this year free me from my attachment to our house and former lifestyle (gardening, food preservation, soap making, beer making, dog fostering)? Will it make me want to move again, to another place, to downsize even further, to change lifestyles? Will I have found other things I like to do as well as home-making things? Will I lose the emotional pull of sentimental items, photos, things owned by my parents? Many of those things have gone already, but how close to the bone can I cut without injuring myself? Or do I have enough distance and callouses now to get out the cleaver?

See prior post: https://cookgardentravel.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/stuff-vs-travels-struggles-of-a-minimalist-wannabe/