What No One Told Me About Minimalism

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One of the reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to find a community of like-minded people. And as we are all unique and multi-layered human beings, we could connect on a variety of levels.

I thought minimalism was a good connecting point because it would put me in touch with people who have a particular slant toward life. (We could also connect through grandparenting, being 50-something, love of humor, love of God, you see, the possibilities are endless.)

And so I’m not trying to exclude anyone in the post, but I believe I’ve discovered something that needs to be mentioned for the benefit of those post-empty nest/pre-retirement people (and even older) who are choosing to declutter and embrace minimalism.

While minimalism can be practiced by everyone no matter how old they are, there is something unique that the 50+ people have to deal with. And no one told me about it, so I’m telling you now so you can be prepared. If you’ve already dealt with it then we can encourage each other.

The thing no one told me about was the emotional toll it takes on an older person to go through his/her stuff and decide what to do with it! 

Let’s be honest, when a 50+ person decides to go through all their photos, videos, keepsakes, souvenirs and memorabilia there is a heck of a lot more stuff to go through than someone in their 20’s. And if you’re married and had kids, there’s probably even more stuff to go through! And this is all emotionally charged stuff!

This week I was in a funk and I just couldn’t shake it. And while I was into the 2nd day of going through the bin that I kept all my kids school work/art work that I deemed keepable back in the day (the photo above), I just had to quit. I was exhausted. And all I was doing was separating it into 2 piles: son & daughter. I laid on the couch and tried to shake the dark cloud that had come over me. That’s when I realized, I was emotionally exhausted. Again.

See, I had forgotten how hard it was to go through and scan and digitize all our old photos and videos. I spent weeks going through my ENTIRE LIFE! In seeing those pictures and videos I relieved all the emotion that I had felt when it happened. 50+ years is a lot of life!

That’s what’s been happening these past 2 days: I’m reliving my kid’s school years. It was wonderful! They were great! Wonderful students, both of them. Such fun to read their stories and see their drawings and find those precious cards and notes – BUT it’s emotionally taxing!

And I’m not even deciding what to do with it – I’m just going to take it to them so they can have a laugh going through it when they have time. Still it’s an emotional trip.

I’ve had a great life, full of wonderful memories and so the shadow that has come over me is not because I have regrets or sad memories, I think it’s because it was so great I wish I could go back and do it all over again.

So, remember, deciding to declutter and embrace minimalism DOES bring about a feeling of freedom and lightness, but you have to be brave enough to put the old, heavy coat of the past back on and clean out the pockets before you can discard it to live light and free. It’s gets a little heavy and a little hot but don’t let it keep you from doing it, just know that it happens.

Note to self: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” ~Dr. Seuss

Peace,

Jill

 

 

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This is the Minimalism I’m Talking About

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My mother-in-law gave me this vase when she celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary. Yes, she gave me a gift. She gave it to me, gosh, years ago. She passed away last year. I have not had that vase out of the box since she gave it to me. I had it stored in a closet.

I’ve been discarding, weeding out and lightening up for a year now and that vase keeps getting shuffled from place to place. It’s one of those sentimental, emotionally charged items I’ve talked about. I couldn’t give it away. I couldn’t sell it and I just haven’t had the time or presence of mind to be that person who keeps fresh, cut flowers in their home.  I used to be, but life got too crazy for me to keep up that practice.

But I keep challenging myself with 2 ideas: Every thing must have a place (not shoved in the back of a closet) and If I own something I want it to be used or out where I can  see it and enjoy it.

So, after making another sweep in the storage closet, after years of being in its box, I pulled the vase out and said, “If I’m going to keep this I’m going to enjoy it.” I know my mother-in-law didn’t give it to me just to hide it in a closet. So, I put it on the island in my kitchen (which happens to be like the epicenter of my home). And for the first time in, probably years, I bought a bouquet of yellow, happy flowers and put it in the vase.

Picking out those flowers, putting them in the vase,  seeing the sun spark life in that beautiful glass vase and thinking about my mother-in-law and how much she loved flowers brought such peace and joy to my heart.

In the busy-ness, sadness and constant change of my life over the past few years I have had to become the person others needed me to be. I have put aside parts of myself to care for others. I didn’t have time to buy flowers, change out water and replace them with fresh ones. That would be just another annoying item on my to-do list.

But yesterday that vase (and my mother-in-law) have reminded me that there’s a part of who I am – the person who enjoys having fresh flowers in the house – that I need to welcome back into my life.

Here’s to simple joys!

Peace,

Jill

 

5 Reasons to Digitize Your Family Photos & Videos Now!

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We had a flood last year!

A pipe burst in the kitchen and it flooded the kitchen and the water flowed through the floor into the basement into our laundry room, the storage room, my husband’s shop and into my studio. It was horrible. It ruined a lot of things, but thankfully nothing super important. But almost. My photo albums and boxes of loose photos and my home videos were very nearly destroyed.

And that “almost” motivated me to get off my bohunkus and finally get around to digitizing my photos and videos that I had been saying I was going to do.  And it was one of the best things I ever did!

Here are the 5 reasons why you should digitize all your family photos and videos now!

  1. You will have a copy of everything in case your originals get damaged or destroyed.
  2. You can give a thumb drive to different family members so you are not the sole owner of the family history in photographs and videos. It’s a relief to know that if something happens to your copies someone else has them.
  3. It is SO easy to share the photos and videos with others or on social media. And you have them handy for special events like wedding, reunion, anniversary slide shows. ( A thumb drive of family photos and a digital photo frame makes the best gift ever for an adult child!)
  4. You will enjoy them more often because they are so easily accessible and organized. It will be easier to share your family’s story with kids and grandkids which is so important!
  5. It will cut down on clutter if you choose to dispose of or give away the originals.

So, having convinced you that you need to digitize your photos and videos NOW, here’s how I did it:

Before I get started, let me tell you that it took quite a while. It was time consuming and tedious! I had just retired from my job so I was able to make it a full time job for about a week. So, before you tackle the job, just get it in your head that it’s going to take a while.

012(This was my messy, junky workspace for several weeks while I was transferring videos! ) 

Now, my goal was to get a copy of ALL photos and videos onto thumb drives and give both of my children the exact same photos and videos. There were photos of just my son or just my daughter but I decided to give them both ALL of them. You may have a different goal, so adjust as needed.

  • The first thing I did was to purchase a reasonably priced color scanner from Amazon.  I had a pretty good scanner on my printer, but I knew I was going to scan my brains out and I didn’t want to have it break down in the middle of the project.
  • Then I got an external hard drive. My husband already had one, so I didn’t have to purchase one. I didn’t want all the memory on my computer being used for this project. You can get one from Amazon between $50-$120.
  • I then created a work space where I wouldn’t be bothered for the week or so (or more if you can’t devote consistent time to it) it took to finish the project. I wanted to be able to walk away and then come back and know exactly where I was.
  • Then I began to organize my photos. So, this is a decision you’ll have to make to suit your style and needs. I started with my loose photos which were actually duplicates or extra shots of events that I had organized photo albums. I decided to make piles of my loose photos into different categories (which ended up how I organized them in files on the computer) like: old family photos, wedding & early married life, kid’s births, kid’s school days, church family, vacations, etc.
  • Then I got out the photo albums. I could have pulled all the photos out and included them into my organized piles, but my photo albums were already in chronological order of events, so I decided to use the photo albums as my guide and input the extra shots as I went along. When I came across duplicates or those blurry indecipherable photos, I threw them out!
  • I started scanning! Once I finished going through the photo albums and including the extra shots from my piles, I found I had a ton of other random photos. So, I scanned them and put them into the categories that they most closely fit.
  • TIP: When scanning the old ancestor photos or really old family photos, I put them into photoshop and typed a caption with all the names that I knew. That way my kids and grandkids would know who the people are that they’ve never met.

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THE PHOTOS WERE DONE! Now on to the videos! Whew!

  • Most of our home movies were on VHS, so I bought a video converter from Amazon. I hooked up our old VHS player to my computer with the converter and began to transfer the videos. There was no way to speed up the transfer, so I had to let the videos play for days! I did not edit because I found that my kids like to watch them all, every minute! They like to see all the detail, hair styles, house decor, all the details that I would probably edit out.
  • I ran into a problem! I had some videos on Hi-8 or 8mm tapes and I didn’t have a player or an old camera. After some asking around I found one from my father-in-law and I was able to get the movies off of the old tapes.

FINALLY I WAS READY TO TRANSFER!

I went out and bought some thumb drives. I estimated how many photos I scanned and checked the size of thumb drive I needed. Then estimated how much space I needed for the videos. To be honest I had to go back to the store twice! I ended up using 3 thumbdrives, 2 64GB and 1 32GB for each set of photos and videos. I should have not been so cheap to begin with and gotten the larger thumbdrive!

HERE’S A RECORD OF YOUR WHOLE CHILDHOOD!

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That’s what I said when I gave the thumbdrives to my kids for Christmas. I put the 3 thumbdrives on a ball chain with a couple of charms (just for fun!) and made a box with an old photo of them on it. They loved it!

I hope this helps you to get your family memories safe and easily accessible.

Peace,

Jill