The Great Purge


Minimalism Project Update:

Well… I’ve been hard at work on this for 2 weeks now, so I thought it was about time I write up a little progress report.

It’s been a very emotional adventure!  I don’t think I own very much, for a single person, but what I do have is, in my opinion, quite nice.  I think it’s easier when you’re trying to get rid of “all that junk”.  I’ve certainly done that many times over the years.  I’m expecting my upcoming yard sale to be quite popular!  😉

I feel lucky to be able to do all this sorting in my sister’s house, where I can spread out my belongings, take pictures of those items I’d like to remember, and even get some use out of  favorite things.  One last enjoyment.  A goodbye.  It makes me happy.

OK…here’s the rundown…

Clothes:  Very easy to part with.  Practically everything I own is from thrift stores, really old, ill-fitting, or just not my style anymore.  I don’t like any of it (a few items notwithstanding).  Decided that this is a fine time to toss it all and redo my wardrobe with a few quality pieces that will travel well.

Shoes:  Easier than I thought.  Living with only 1 pair of shoes for two months was a good test for me.  So far, I’m down from 31 pairs, to 12 pairs + my bunny slippers. Still a work in progress.  I can do better.

Bags:  Two rubbermaid tubs  full of purses & various bags!  Luckily Timbuk2 cured me of my addiction. I’ve got it down to:  a brand new Timbuk2 netbook messenger (wore out my 1st one after 4 yrs use), a Haiku mini purse, and 2 small bags from Chile (good for blending in).  I rock!

Kitchen:  I thought this was going to be tough, as it seemed to be the bulk of my belongings, but then I realized,  if I ever need to stock a kitchen again, I’ll really enjoy shopping for new things! (hehe)  The only problem I’m having is deciding which ONE water bottle and/or travel mug to keep.  Way too many to choose from!

Household:  A little tricky.  There’s a few heirloom items that my Mom would kill me if I got rid of, so I’ll be asking her to store them for me.  There are also a TON of Chile memorabilia, which I think I will just add to my Mom’s collection as well.  All of this combined should fit into one rubbermaid, so shouldn’t be a big deal.  As for the rest of the art and decor, I’m happy to sell it.

Movie & TV DVDs:  Selling almost everything, except for a few of the good ones that I’ll just slip into my Dad’s collection.  No reason to get rid of all my Harry Potters!  😉

Music CDs:  Handed entire collection over to a friend.  Easy peasy!  🙂

Books:  Turns out this is the most difficult purge out of all!  I’m a bit of a book collector.  After almost two years in storage, I’d forgotten how many “new to me” books I haven’t even had a chance to read yet!  How many books do you think I can read before I head back on the road??  Yikes.  I probably need a Kindle, huh?  😦

I used to be a Book Collector! And I say "used to be" optimistically.

Furniture:  Luckily don’t have much.  Loveseat gone to a Craigslister.  Friends took my bookshelves.  Futon to my sister’s guest room.  Antique desk & cedar chest to my Mom.  Dresser & nightstand to be sold.  That’s it.

The unknowns:  Hand-me-down cruiser bicycle held together by beer label stickers, currently using.  And the love of my life – my Honda Scooter.  I don’t even.

+ + + + +

So there you go.

It’s a lot of work, but I am absolutely loving this experience so far.  Even with the tough choices and the occasional mini-heartbreaks.  I’ve also learned so much about myself with each question I have to ask my belongings.  Do I need you?  Do you add joy to my life?  What do I really need to be happy?  These little questions start huge conversations in my head, every day.  This has been good for me.  🙂

What would be hardest for YOU to part with?


No Turning Back


As it always seems to be with me, out of nowhere I decided to head back North to visit friends, check my PO Box, return my overdue library book, rent the smallest moving truck, and get all my stuff out of storage.

Since I had a ride back in the moving truck, I splurged on a Greyhound ticket! (Why is bus travel so freaking expensive in the US?? I mean, really.)  Oh well.  I enjoyed a nice 3 hour ride, chatted with some fun and random bus travelers, and even got to speak a little Spanish at the Denver bus station with a guy who was asking for directions.

What I was expecting to be more of a fun and relaxing time with friends, with a little packing thrown in, turned into a super stressful, overly emotional time for me.

I had a million thoughts, emotions, and to-do lists running non-stop through my head, the entire time I was there.  I certainly did a lot in a very short weekend.

  • It was great to see friends, but the time was too short.
  • Loved being able to get around without having to depend on other people – I could walk everywhere, or take the city bus, or ride my scooter (after I got it out of storage).
  • Felt the love at my Starbucks when the baristas remembered my name, my drink, and asked me where I’d been.
  • Warmed the barstool of my favorite hangout, caught up with my favorite bartenders, and got hit on by college students.
  • Had too many things planned, so only made it to one brewery.
  • Announced a visit to First Friday Art Gallery Walk as a vehicle to see a bunch of friends in one spot.  It was touch and go, but it worked out.
  • Stressed about doing so much in a short amount of time.
  • Realized the realness of the moment. No turning back.

Walked around town, loving all the sights and sounds of the place that became a real home to me.  Got consumed with all the wonderful memories I built there.

Which leads to the pain and heartbreak of second-guessing myself. Am I doing the right thing?  Why am I leaving a town I love?  Maybe I should just forget it all, stay and build my roots back up??

So then I think about what that really means.  Yikes!

  • I’d have to get whatever job I could find
  • Get a little apartment for all my stuff
  • Do the same old stuff, the same routine
  • Now all of a sudden, my future is looking horribly bleak

No no no, I can’t move backwards like that!

A really good friend of mine there has also been thinking about what comes next for her and we had some good chats about what it means to move on.  How do you measure the value of a place?  What are you really leaving behind?

I thought a lot about it.  And I’m not really “leaving” anything.  My real friends will still be my friends.  The town I call “home base” will still be there whenever I come back.  It’s not the end, it’s a new beginning.

I started to feel more motivated, got that fire burning again!

So I worked hard sorting through some of my belongings. Even had some friends come over to pick through and buy some things.  Of course, in doing so, I would actually see all my wonderful little things, relive the stories connected with each item, and lose myself in the melancholy of it all.  I would burst into tears at the oddest moments.  I would get annoyed and angry that I had to deal with all this junk at all.  I hate all this stuff!  Why can’t I just dump it all at the thrift store’s door?

Oh right…I need the money.

Sort, pack, sort, pack.  Have emotional beers with friends.  Go to bed late, attempt to sleep on a friend’s couch, have weird dreams, get up early again.

It was a rough four days.

My brother and sister drove up on Saturday to help me get the truck loaded up.  Three more friends showed up to help carry boxes.  We got the little truck and my sister’s car loaded up super quick!  A Craiglister came by to pick up my hand-me-down loveseat.  Took in one last meal with good friends.  And then headed South with all my worldly possessions.

Three of us unloaded everything into my sister’s garage in 15 minutes.

All of a sudden, in the large expanse of that garage, my few stacks of belongings looked very tiny.

But I am happy.

Now the real work begins.  Wish me luck!

A friend's portrait of my move

Things I’ve learned along the way


Lately I’ve been talking with a friend about our purpose in life and all that, and was asked some basic questions about how I personally was handling things.  My reply email turned into word vomit – or maybe like a statement of affirmation to myself.  Thought I’d share it here, as it’s a good reflection of where I am at the moment.  [Edited and names changed to protect the innocent.]

* * * * *

Dear Friend ‘O Mine,

Well, for one thing, there’s no right answer for how to live your life.  Everyone is different.  We all come from different backgrounds, have different needs and dreams and goals and lifestyle requirements.

Just be the best YOU you can be!

Don’t be afraid to dream big and take small actionable steps every day.  And know that there isn’t one “right” way to live your life.  Don’t live by anyone else’s rules.  It’s your life, your choice… and it’s terminal.  You don’t have time to “wait to be happy”.  Do something NOW!

Make conscious choices on a daily basis.

If you are happy in the location you are, doing what you’re doing, living the life you’ve chosen today, that’s great!  Own it.  Love every day – because you made the choices that brought you there.

We all talk about the elusive “one day”.  But that’s a harmful statement and stops you from being able to live in the now. 

Don’t plan for an unknown future, live for today!

If you keep thinking “oh one day I’ll get around to traveling to that country I’ve always wanted to visit” (or go to school, or try that career, etc), you’re not actually making the CHOICE to make that happen.  It’s just wishful thinking.  Not that there’s really anything wrong with that per se, fantasy is a healthy part of the creative mind.  But it’s just that, in the mind.  Not a choice that you’re actively working on.

So, know yourself.

Decide what’s really important to you (not for your parents, not for your friends, but you). What made you make the choices that you are living with today?  Are you happy with where you are and what you are doing?  Are you “just trying to get by” and “someday” you’ll do something brilliant with your life?  Are you meshing your past, present, and future and making the best decisions for yourself for today?  Or are you following the herd and being “responsible”, regardless of how that makes you feel?

Don’t wait.  Be happy today.  Make the hard decisions if you need to.  Be selfish, and fearless, and take actionable steps forward.

Not saying you need to sell everything you own and run off like a gypsy tomorrow.  I certainly didn’t do that.  It’s taken me 10 years to make sense of things and come to these realizations for myself.  10 years of wasting time and repeating the same mistakes!  I’m quite horrified.  But it’s better than never figuring things out, right?  Hopefully it’s not too late for me.

So I’ve made the decision to live for myself today, because tomorrow may not come.

That is very real to me right now.  What society told me was important turned out to NOT be important to me at all.  Like when you’re a kid and discover that your parents don’t actually know everything…..turns out society lied!

I’ve worked a series of crappy jobs my whole life.  I’ve lived with a house full of junk, I’ve lived with very little.  Neither gave me happiness.  Pleasing other people was not the road to self-improvement.

Happiness turned out to be real life experiences, making the human connections, learning on the road instead of the classroom, expanding the boundaries of my own self.

I can’t help others if I can’t help myself.  I’ve learned that I absolutely need to be selfish, because that’s the only way I can be truly selfless.



In which she dreams scariness & wakes herself up


Haven’t been sleeping well lately.  Insomnia is back again.  Actually having bad dreams and waking myself up.  I’m not a big dreamer, so it’s always shocking when I actually remember having one.

Lately they’ve been about death and suicide.  Horrible, right?  *wibble*

I looked up the meanings so I would quit scaring myself.  Here are some possible interpretations:

Dreams of Death

Symbolizes inner changes, transformation, self-discovery and positive development that is happening within you or your life.

You are undergoing a transitional phase and are becoming more enlightened or spiritual.

Although such a dream may bring about feelings of fear and anxiety, it is no cause for alarm as it is often considered a positive symbol.

Dreams of experiencing your own death usually means that big changes are ahead for you. You are moving on to new beginnings and leaving the past behind. It is symbolic of a personal transformation or a new stage in your life.

These changes do not necessarily imply a negative turn of events. Metaphorically, dying can be seen as an end or a termination to your old ways and habits. So, dying does not always mean a physical death, but an ending of something.


Okay, yeah, this makes sense now.

What Is My Purpose In Life?


This is a reprint (aka, my notes) of Jacob Sokol @ Sensophy’s awesome blog post of the same nameREAD IT! Copying it here so as not to lose it in the black hole that is my blog favorites.  I am and will continue to work on answering these questions for myself.  It’s a work in progress…

What is my purpose in life?

“Everyone has a purpose in life… a unique gift or special talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.” –Deepak Chopra

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Quote of the Day



“If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think every thing you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned ….. Tyler”

—Fight Club


Fight Club

Have I mentioned I don’t like cars?


So….today found me behind the wheel of a car….the steering wheel, that is.


The concept of me actually driving hasn’t come up in about 4 years, so it was a bit of a surprise when the opportunity presented itself.  But since they don’t believe in alternative forms of transportation here, it was bound to come up one of these days.

On a semi-related note, I’ve been working on my ability to say “no”, to not agree to things that make me uncomfortable/unhappy/stressed/whatever, to react in my own manner instead of how I think other people want me to react.

So back to the driving incident…

I was happily enjoying the comfy chair at Starbucks, the reward for a long energetic walk down the trail, when I got a call from my sister.  With the help of a friend, she had delivered her car to the shop for whatever it is you do at the shop.  But after getting the call that the car was ready for pickup, was unable to find someone free to drive her back over there.

I was her last hope.  Like Luke Skywalker.

My sister asked me if there was any chance I would consider driving her over in the other car.  She knew I would probably be at my SBUX and was in the area.  I mumbled something about “maybe” and she promptly showed up to pick me up.


I got in the minivan (passenger side), and immediately started crying!

Wow, really?

Panicking at the possibility of maybe driving??

She drove us back over to the house and we sat in her driveway for quite awhile.  She brainstormed other ways of getting her car, while I went through tissue after tissue, as my brain processed the situation.

On one hand, I didn’t want to agree to something I was not comfortable with, just because I “should” do it.  I didn’t want to feel pressured by obligation – one of my big no-no’s.

But then again, it wasn’t like I didn’t know how to drive.  And it was only for a short distance.  (Now if it was a road trip to another city, then no, I couldn’t actually, physically, do that because driving puts me to sleep and that’s just dangerous.)  But it was only a few miles away, to the shop and back.  And I could drive my sister’s Subaru, which would be easier than the big minivan.

So what was the big hairy deal??

I’m scared of this city.  It’s a lawless place with dangerous and selfish drivers.  I would rather ride a scooter in Big City Asia.

But probably, mostly, I was just freaking myself out at the fear of the unknown.  I hadn’t driven a car in years, I didn’t know these streets, or the car, and I didn’t trust the drivers on the road.  Great Big Scary Unknown. This was NOT an acceptable reason to say no.

Thankfully my sister was very patient and understanding with my tears and thought process.  Never actually pressuring me to just Help Her Out, Dammit!

Finally put on my Big Girl Panties, took a deep breath, and made the oh-so-very-brave decision to Just Do It!

We drove out to the shop, I hopped in the Subaru, figured out what/where everything was, did a test drive around the block to make sure I knew what I was doing, and then we were off!

As soon as I was actually driving, I was fine.  No stress.  No tears.  I followed my sister all the way back to her house and didn’t get lost or run into anything.

It wasn’t until I parked (poorly) and got out of the car, that I realized my hands were shaking.  But I was proud of myself for doing something scary, for conquering my fear of that particular unknown.

My sis drove back to work (because she’s a crazy workaholic) and I WALKED the mile down the hill to the nearest pub.

I needed a drink!



My home-sickness for Chile has gotten worse.

I’ve never had such a strong connection with a place before.  I’ve moved around a lot, loved many cities and communities.  Home is where I hang my hat.  But really fitting in?  That’s been few and far between.

About a decade ago, I attempted a move to southern California to try to “connect” with my birthplace.  That did not go well at all.  But if I hadn’t tried, I wouldn’t have experienced that “absence of connection”. That was important.

A totally different story with Chile, my mother’s country, el país de mis parientes.  I didn’t need to “try to find a connection”, it came naturally.  Even more surprising, never having been much of a family type person, was the realization on how well I connected with my family there.

“Chilean me” finally found a place where she fits in!

And then I up and leave.  *facepalm*  What the hell was I thinking?!?

I’m gonna go cry in my pillow now.

Just a small family get-together.

Spring forward!


Yay time change!

This has always been my favorite time change of the year.  Why?  More sun!!!

In light of this “Spring Forward” season, I choose to work harder with my goal of moving forward with my goals – not backwards, sideways, or sitting still, but forward.  Nothing is going to happen if I don’t do it.

“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”   — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who doesn’t love a good parade?


Gotta say…I love a good parade.  Especially for St. Patrick’s Day!  I’ve celebrated in five different cities so far.  I look forward to experiencing other celebrations in cities around the world….like Ireland!

The amazing parade floats, drinking in public, and avoiding the flying cabbage on the streets of New Orleans is fun times!  My favorite, so far, has been the giant parade in Denver, one of the biggest celebrations in the US.  I also love small town parades, like in Fort Collins, which are all about the community.  Last year was definitely the weirdest, being in another country.  Chile obviously doesn’t celebrate the holiday, or even understand what the big deal is.  Gotta love it!  🙂

This year’s parade time found me in Colorado Springs.  Definitely a different experience.  I got to enjoy the festivities with a sister and brother who live here, as well as with a new friend I’ve made.  The “holiday vibe” was very different here.  The police presence was pretty huge (this town has violent tendencies).  The parade was more of a big advertisement opportunity, rather than the community participation that I prefer to see.

Usually, I would hit up an Irish pub with friends, but today I ended up at a Jamaican restaurant for lunch, with a Red Stripe in my hand instead of a Guinness.  But that’s okay, it’s all good.  I’ll save the Irish Stout for the 17th!

Here’s a couple snapshots I took today with my phone:

Bagpipers marching in the Springs parade

Llamas! And baby llamas!!!

Quite a big difference from last year.  No parades, of course, but I did find an Expat pub, in Santiago, Chile, that was celebrating the holiday.  Had a fabulous time and ended up meeting a ton of amazing people, both expat and local.  Since I don’t have many pics, I’ll throw in some pictures from last year’s celebration at California Cantina ….

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