Over the past few years I’ve been continuously reducing the number of things I own. This is a process I refer to as “decrappification”, borrowing a phrase from the computing world. Basically, I am trying to simplify my life and that includes decluttering my house.
So, of course, something comes along to upset my plans. That something is a renewed interest in cycling this past summer. I got the two bikes I owned out of storage, tuned and cleaned them, and I’ve been slightly less than obsessed with riding since. One bike is a 1990 Univega Nuovo Sport 10 speed road bike, which is great for riding on pavement. The other is a 1992 L. L. Bean Approach (non-suspension) mountain bike with all-purpose tires, which is suited for riding on gravel and dirt roads in my neighborhood.
I’m riding my Approach indoors on a trainer now that it’s gotten colder as winter approaches, but that’s not the same as being outside. My Univega, having skinny road slick tires, is clearly not suited for winter riding when there is snow and ice on the roads. I don’t want to subject my Approach to road salt and grime. That’s why I bought a pair of used Mongoose Spectra full suspension mountain bikes a couple days ago, for the princely sum of $50.00.
One has a frozen front fork but a good rear cassette. The other is just the opposite. Both have cable and twist shifter issues. All four tire tubes won’t hold air. Here’s the thing: between them I can make one good, essentially $25.00 winter beater bike for riding after it starts snowing. If it gets salty and dirty, so what? (I have no idea yet what I’ll do with the leftovers, but I’m sure something will come to me.)
Oh, and did I mention I’ve got my eye on a Kent/GMC Denali aluminum frame, flat bar road bike?
Sometimes the process of decluttering and decrappification is not about messy rooms or an overabundance of possessions. Sometimes it is about time and commitments. There are a finite number of hours in each day, week, month, and year. How we apportion our time has an impact upon us.
For example, for the past three years I’ve been on the Board of Directors of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine. It’s been an interesting experience, and I enjoyed being with the people on the Board. However, when my term recently expired, I chose to not continue. The thing is, I found myself stretch thinly more often than not this past year. As much as I valued being on the Board, it wasn’t an essential use of my time.
I once read a suggestion that one should make a list of one’s top five time commitments, in terms of personal importance. Anything that didn’t make the list would then be considered optional. For me the top five commitments (in no particular order) are work, church, friends and family, home maintenance, and exercising. Among other things with which I was involved in varying degrees, the Board didn’t make the cut, so I cut it. Cutting commitments which aren’t essential, useful, or pleasurable frees up time for those which are, and decreases my stress. Give it a try!
Time can’t be made or found, but it can be prioritized.
I’ve been building a home obstacle course the past few weeks which I have been calling my “mini-Ninja” course, inspired by the show American Ninja Warrior. When it’s done it will look like a grown up version of a kid’s jungle gym. The problem I have been facing is that the darn thing is so heavy it’s difficult to assemble on my own.
That came home to roost last Sunday when the structure collapsed while I was trying to raise the taller of the two end pieces. I managed to dodge most of it, but I torqued my left forearm a little trying to stabilize it before I saw the futility of that effort. I admit, looking at that pile of timbers an pipes I felt more than a little discouraged. I may even have sung a few choruses of “the old four letter serenade”.
There thing is, it’s not a bad idea-it may even be pretty good! It’s the execution that has been problematic. So I have come up with a new idea for stabilizing the two end pieces in two directions at once to help keep them standing. Instead of trying to man-handle 12 foot long 4 x 4 timbers into place in brackets to connect the two ends, I’m going to use two 12 foot long 2 x 4 timbers which will be much easier to maneuver and will accomplish what I need just as well.
The upshot of this is that when you suffer a setback, it’s OK to get angry and annoyed. Go ahead and vent-I sure did! But get it out of your system and get back to what you were doing. If you need to, rethink the process and come at the problem from a different angle. Just don’t give up.
Here is my revised plan-bracing in two directions!
I strenuously exercise on a regular basis because I want to be healthy. I eat vegan because I don’t want animals to suffer on my behalf. I decrappify because I want less stuff cluttering up my house and attention. I do 90 percent of the repairs on my house to save money and frankly, because I can. So there you have it, the motivations for four of the big ticket items in my life.
Here’s the thing: motivation is all at once personal and situation-specific. At the end of the day, each of us must identify that which we value and how much we value it. For example, if you want to lose weight but aren’t willing to move a bit more and eat a bit less, you like the idea of losing weight but you aren’t motivated enough to do the necessary work. I lost count of the number of times someone has told me they’d love to drop a few pounds, but when I suggest easy ways to start, they balk.
They are not motivated so much as they are wishful. Well guess what, there ain’t no genie in a magic lamp here.
It isn’t just weight loss, either. Anything that can or should matter to you (and I leave it to you to make that distinction) is subject to motivation. And, that which is subject to motivation is also subject to its loss. So how do you find and maintain motivation? Here is what works for me: keep the reason I started something in mind (I keep my “before” photo on my fridge to remind myself why I exercise), I participate in online accountability groups for support and feedback, I view challenges (like home repairs) as opportunities not limitations, and I don’t let setbacks define my level of success (speed bumps are not the end of the road).
I took a lunchtime walk yesterday on the Kennebec River Rail Trail, as I usually do during the workweek. The day was moderately sunny, although it had begun rather cloudy and certainly cold-a chilly 6 degrees Fahrenheit at my house. It was around 30 degrees at noon.
I started out bundled up with my heavy winter coat, knit cap, and wool mittens. I usually shoot for a 30 minute walk. By the time I was five minutes in I had to remove my cap because I was heating up. By the time I reached the half way mark, I had also removed my mittens, and shortly thereafter I had unzipped my coat. I actually had worked up a light sweat by the time I got back.
Here’s the thing: I had prepared myself for my noon walk based upon expectations I formed at 6:30 in the morning regarding the temperature. What I should have done was check my smartphone for updated weather information prior to my walk, instead of relying on outdated expectations. As it turns out this principle applies to a lot of things in life: make decisions based upon reality not preconceptions.