Monday, April 27, 2015

Random thoughts about my habits and challenges

So much rattles around in my head each day. Here's a few days worth.

It really only takes a few minutes to dust, clean the bathrooms and kitchen. Yet I put it off endlessly and it weighs on me until I finally do it. Really dislike this chore so much more than others. Why is that?

I am concluding I really like going out for coffee and a sweet each day much more than I like the potential benefits of not doing so (save money & calories; less saturated fat). At least we did walk for 1 1/2 hours on Sunday.

My skills for making new friends and being a good, close friend are pretty rusty and I'm not even sure what I used to do differently. I am delving through the changes and challenges of the last 20 years to see if I can figure out what happened and what I used to do. I don't want to feel lonelier as I get older.

That is enough of that!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spring cleaning anyone?

Spring has been unusually cool, rainy and plain dreary here with the usual extremely high pollen counts and has found me inside or at the coffee shop too much with low energy! Perhaps thinking about Spring cleaning on various fronts will get me - and you - going.

Check out these interesting approaches and enjoy your weekend.

How to clean your home using only 2 ingredients

How to create a capsule wardrobe outfit by outfit

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ah, taxes are so complicated

Being my usual organized self I filed my taxes as soon as possible. Then I received more tax documents related to my inheritance. Just so you know, these K1s don't have the same deadline for delivery as everything else. They made filing amended returns complicated so I had to take it all to an accountant. Good thing that I did.

Turns out that since 2011 when I turned 62 I have been eligible for deducting some income from Georgia state taxes. We are redoing state returns for those 3 years as well and will get back a nice  amount of money.

So it seems that I need help each time something significant changes in our financial lives! When we move back to California and each year we start receiving retirement income from various sources I will have to remember this and hire a professional to do our taxes for those years to make sure we do everything correctly! Self sufficiency is only good if it produces the correct result LOL.

Happy tax day.

Monday, April 6, 2015

How many is too many? How many is enough?

This is one of my first world problems. How many of each type of thing if just the right amount?

So much has been written about how to declutter or reach the right balance point for your belongings. So many different approaches.

This is what I am trying right now.

I am following Mette's lead as she discusses in her post about creating a five year shopping calendar but I am trying to create a one year shopping calendar for my clothing and other useful things.

The first step is to decide how many of each type of garment is the "right" number. I managed to shed older tops using this approach while others had not helped me let go of them. Did they bring me joy per Marie Kondo? No, but they stayed in the closet. Had I worn them in the last year? Yes, but more because I felt I should wear them because they were hanging there. So 10 short sleeve/sleeveless casual knit tops is my number to try and I have 11 now plus 2 dressier ones. At the end of the summer if not sooner I will let the one go that is most worn out or least suited to me. I will not buy anymore until Spring 2016 when I will replace one or two.

As I continue to work on decluttering the office I have lots of these choices. Three exercise DVDs when I barely use one? Two are being donated.

Two books on colored pencil drawing when I took a class and then haven't drawn since? One will be donated but I am keeping the pencils and one book as I have realized that I like draw.

So my decluttering and therefore shopping questions for now are:

- How many is the right number to have?
- If I have too many should I let them wear out or remove them?
- If reducing the number I have, which ones of what I have are the best and/or most used?
- Do I need to add or replace in this category?
- We will see how it goes.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Moving talk

We are seeing For Sale signs popping up in front of houses around our neighborhood and we are at the 2 year countdown point for putting one up on ours. That assumes my husband retires at the end of May 2017 when in fact he may pick a later date in the year.

Regardless we are spending more time talking about the logistics of preparing for and accomplishing a cross country move.

A neighbor loaded stuff into a PODs container before putting their house up for sale. Should we consider that mode of moving our belongings vs. a rental truck vs. regular movers? Has anyone had experience with PODs for moving?

Who is likely to buy our house - someone who will live in it as is and slowly improve it, someone who will do a major renovation and/or addition before moving in, or a developer who will raze it and build a gigantic house on our big flat lot which is unusual in this part of town?

Could we do a For Sale by Owner? Not my preference but we are going to talk about it at least.

What should we repair or redecorate in the next two years based on how best to market our house for the least investment? We definitely are not going to remodel the baths of kitchen. We probably will have the exterior trim painted and some of the interior. We are fixing soon the retaining wall and stairs down the hill into our wooded area. It looks like we have found a reasonable approach and contractor for that. At the same time we will replace some dying but highly visible bushes so they have time to fill in.

How much of our stuff are we taking with us and how do we go about sorting and de-acquisitioning the rest? How far in advance do we need to start seriously doing this?

How do you transport a dog across the country without it getting lose or having a terrible trip?

Where will we live in California? What are the "must haves" for each of us? What can we afford? Will we want to rent the first year?

As you can imagine there is a lot to discuss and decide! Any resources or experiences that you can share would be most helpful.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Month 3: Goal progress report

Here's my report of how I did in March.

March 2015

1. Eat to reduce bad cholesterol levels - not pastry/cookies out, less meat and even more vegetables. Weigh self daily and record.

- I am struggling with this to be honest. I have the habit of going to the coffee shop to get out of the house and then I eat something unhealthy.
- We are also struggling with selecting the foods that will help my husband with his gout, my low salt needs, etc. while being healthy. So many competing food needs due to health issues and conflicting scientific advice. I am working on creating a list of entrees that meet all of our criteria so I am not making it up each week.
- My husband can no longer drink wine or beer due to his gout problem so I have joined in abstaining except when out to eat or at book club. Fewer calories!

2. Work out at home with weights AND do stretch DVD program at least twice a week AND walk on other days (unless traveling, etc.).

- Also struggling with this. I hurt my foot so walking has been a challenge. I have settled on a spot for my indoor exercise that works. With my husband's gout problems we were discussing that we may have to take up swimming as our exercise program in the future instead of walking but for now I am walking.
- Monday I did the stretch DVD and floor and weight exercises I learned at the gym and am sore today which is good. Tuesday was a walking and yard work day. Another habit to form as I am determined to be physically strong, flexible and have good balance as I get older. 

2. Buy the clothing needed to have a wardrobe I love to wear that fits my life right now.

- Added 2 scarves that I really like although that doesn't really help with my hot weather wardrobe needs. I have made a list of stores to try for shorts, sundresses, tops, etc. and need to make myself schedule visiting them and just do it.

3. Go through all files, office supplies and my books and only keep what brings me happiness, is used regularly or will be used up over time. This has been expanded to include getting rid of other items as I encounter them and trying to only replace not add to our stuff.

- I eliminated 86 items and 1/2" of paper from the house.
- What came in: a bathmat replacing the current one, a hanging shoe holder replacing 5 shoe boxes and 2 scarves for my wardrobe.

4. Disentangle from all of my volunteer roles for the Friends of the Library in preparation for moving in 2017.

- I updated my files so I can transfer them to new people as appropriate.

Then there are the mushier goals.

5. Love and be loved.

- Friends: Spent another evening with my lovely women friends at book club and had lunch with a friend.
- Family: My husband and I went out to dinner twice, out to lunch three times, on two walks, and to an comedy show.

6. Have fun - and I'm adding, have adventures.

- Need to work on figuring out what fun and adventures are for me at this time of life.

7. Find joy in everyday life even when it involves chores LOL.

- Our little dog has passed the one year mark for living with adrenal failure (Addison's disease) and her tests show she is doing fine on the medication regime we are following. It has taken time for me to learn what is normal variation in her energy and activity and what signifies a need for additional medication between her monthly shots but we are at a nice stable approach now. She is a daily source of joy for both of us so this is a great outcome.

So, what's on deck for April?

- Warmer weather will enable more walking outdoors which I prefer. It also brings more yard work.
- I've identified a number of things we could do for fun: an antique car parade, free concerts, and two art festivals. We also will celebrate our 34th anniversary, our son's 32nd birthday and a DILs birthday although the latter two are long distance unfortunately.
- I have book club and will attend.
- The two OLLI classes I signed up for begin and I have committed to attending all sessions. One is "Art in Havana" and the other is "Eight Retired Physicians Share Their Expertise on Timely Medical Topics".  
- My husband has three overnight business trips and I will carefully plan what to eat while he is gone so I don't slip and eat poorly out of lack of desire to cook - although I may treat myself to going out!
- I will visit the stores I have listed and buy enough clothing for my hot weather wardrobe and quit obsessing about it!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Good reading in March

I read a lot of books and most of them are fairly ho-hum but this month I read two that I really enjoyed and would recommend depending upon your interests.

First is Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin who also wrote The Happiness Project and other books. I have been struggling with my inability to stick with the habits I think I want to have in retirement although when I was working 50 to 60 hours a week with lots of deadlines I had little trouble! Finally an explanation for how my personality and habit formation work together. I'm trying to adopt some of the ideas I found in this book to my exercise habit formation and then move on from there.

Second is the latest installment in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. You have to be hooked on the idea of Sherlock Holmes and his much younger wife as a storyline but I am and enjoyed this book as much as all of the preceding ones. I am even thinking of going to a day of the local Sherlock Holmes convention in mid-April!

I hope someone else enjoys these too.