Category Archives: Simplify

Five Things You Should Quit Doing Today

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There hasn’t been much excitement around the Turtle lately. We’re in between trips, it’s rained nearly constantly this summer, and we’re both working hard to build our businesses. So I don’t have any great camper mishaps to share with you on this (hopefully not for you) rainy Friday.

As I sit here with my cup of coffee and watch water trickle down the windows in my tiny corner office though I do have some advice. You’re welcome to take it with a grain of salt or two Ibuprofen, it’s your choice. Here it goes…

Sometimes you have to quit before you can start.

There are things that we all do every day that can really get in the way of making life changes and doing big things.

There’s the obvious stuff, quit spending so much time on Facebook and go do something important instead. Quit eating so many miniature Kit Kat bars and go for a walk. Both of those were directed at me today by the way.

Then there’s the not so obvious stuff, stuff you may not even know you’re doing. You may have to really pay attention to realize what you need to quit.

If none of the things on this list apply to you then congratulations, you’re a robot.

Quit Doubting Yourself

You’re not too old, or too overweight, or too busy. Those are excuses your mind dreams up because you’re really too scared.

There’s a boy in our town with only one arm. I’m not sure if he lost the other one as a baby or was born without it, but now he’s around eleven years old and just as capable as any other little boy, and some grown men.

He’s also one of the best baseball players I’ve ever seen. He can catch a ball in his glove, throw it up in the air while simultaneously dropping his glove on the ground, catch the ball back in his bare hand, and throw someone out at second before some of the other kids even realize what’s happening. It’s pretty awesome to watch.

Kind of makes all our excuses invalid, doesn’t it?

Quit Procrastinating

I thought I would write about this later, but I guess I’ll get it out of the way. Badda bing.

Seriously though, 90% of the time when I put something off there’s a deeper reason for it. It’s not that I just don’t want to do it. Usually what it means is that there’s a step in the process I don’t fully understand or am afraid to do.

And nearly every time that I finally make myself sit down and tackle the issue it takes such a minimal amount of time that I can’t believe I put it off that long.  Especially when putting it off resulted in a late charge, missed deadline, or some other equally yucky thing. That just irks me.

Quit Trying To Make It Perfect

Most of the time done trumps perfect. I think the only exceptions are brain surgery and rocket science, and you should skip this if one of those applies to you. I’m flattered, but you probably have better things to do anyway.

Get it done, get it out there, and then work on making the next thing you do better than the last.

Quit Building Things In Central Park

In his book Start Jon Acuff talks about the concept of what Central Park does for New York City. It’s this huge patch of green land in the middle of a bustling city, kind of out of place really. Obviously they could find a thousand things to build in that space, there could be more offices and apartments and probably a great pizza joint. But they don’t. Because they need Central Park to keep the city working properly. Central Park is a break in the middle of the crazy. Not to be confused with Central Perk, which is what formed my opinion of Jennifer Aniston and all coffee shops.

Jon goes on to say that everyone needs their own Central Park. A space to rest, time to think and breathe. If you’re constantly rushing from one task to the next without spending a minute in your happy place you’ll quickly wear yourself down. Just like good design your mind requires white space to be effective.

Quit Forcing It

I’m talking to myself here. I worked hard yesterday… I stared at my design program tweaking pixels for nearly 10 hours with very few breaks. I wrote and did chores and caught up on lots of things.

And I’m feeling it today. I’ve had writers block all morning, I’m having trouble focusing and I just feeling scattered. And now I really just want to eat mini Kit Kats and watch Friends.

I know that pushing myself to do great things today won’t work. I’ll get frustrated and instead of getting in the ‘flow’ of work I’ll have trouble making my thoughts show up right on the screen.

So instead I’ll focus on small tasks. Things that have to be done – emptying my inbox, doing the dishes, website updates for a client, maybe just one tiny Kit Kat. These things don’t require a huge amount of thought on my part, but I can get them done and out of the way so tomorrow I can do big things again.

What have you quit in the name of simplifying or doing big things? Are you looking forward to relaxing this weekend or is that when you get things done? I’ll be catching up on Season 4 of Breaking Bad before the premiere Sunday night… if the rain will let the satellite stay on!

31 Lessons For 31 Years

It’s become a trend in the blogosphere ( which is an actual word according to my spell checker) to take a moment on your birthday and reflect back over lessons learned in the time you’ve been here. Since yesterday was my 31st birthday I thought I would follow suit with 31 things I’ve learned in these 31 years.

Note: I won’t be including things learned in the first 5 years of my life, because I feel like learning to walk, talk, and not pee myself is probably a given.

So here we go, totally random thoughts in no particular order… other than numerical.

1. Bigger Does Not Equal Better (For Me)

I’m at a point where most people want more stuff. They start moving up to bigger houses with more storage space and extra bathrooms, filling up spare bedrooms with nice sets of furniture and adding TVs to guest rooms. But I’m going the opposite direction. I want less things and more experiences. Even if we do build another house at some point it will be small and simple. I have things I would rather do with my time than take care of a big house and the things that fill it.

2. Being Positive Creates Opportunities

I’m a pretty content person. I’m sure that’s partly just my nature and partly an intentional choice I make to stay positive. But it really does go a long way toward creating opportunities. I won’t get all new agey on you, but positive thinking really is all it’s cracked up to be.

3. You Aren’t Your College Major

I graduated college with a degree in software applications programming. In layman’s terms that means Big Huge Nerd. This is definitely true, but beyond that I’m a creative. I write and draw, I design and constantly look for art in everyday things. This is something I’ve done as long as I can remember, and it’s time to stop ignoring it. The programming background helps when I work on websites, but my college major didn’t define who I am today.

4. Do Everything You’re Big Enough To And Then Some

I’ve spent far too much time being worried about what other people think and listening to the voices in my head that say I’m not one of those people who does big things. This last year especially has shown me how important it is to do what you want and do it now. You only have so much time here, don’t waste it wishing you had done more.

5. Luck Doesn’t Happen On Its Own

Wayne Gretzky had a great quote about this one – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I firmly believe that luck is the intersection between created opportunities and hard work.

6. Mornings Are Awesome

I wasn’t always a morning person, but I definitely have been for most of my adult life. Mornings are quiet time, the world hasn’t fully woken up yet, thoughts can float around all free and happy, and you become part of the day as it wakes up. If I sleep later than 7 o’clock I feel like I’ve missed something.

7. Travel Often

Not only is it fun to get away and see new things, but leaving your comfort zone can open up parts of you that you didn’t know existed. Go somewhere new, try a strange food, maybe walk around with an Australian accent all day because no one knows any different. You won’t regret it.

8. You Aren’t Going To Please Everybody

The only way to not have haters is to never do anything. Make the choice instead to make yourself happy, the people that matter will follow if they’re meant to. On the same note, some people will never be happy, no matter what you do.

9. If You Don’t Ask The Answer Will Always Be No

I actually wrote about this one here, and it’s still proving itself to be more true every day.

10. Eating Raw Cookie Dough Probably Won’t Kill You

Despite what my mom said. I ate some last night, and I feel fine.

11. Relationships Are Important

This one seems kind of like a no brainer, but I have a tendency to get so involved in my own life that I don’t take the time to keep up with my friends. I lost a good friend from college that way… I’m sure he got tired of me not answering the phone. Nowadays I try harder to be there, because some things you can’t erase.

12. Cats Are Jerks

Which is probably why they’re so fuzzy and adorable. But they’re still jerks.

13. Investing In Yourself Is Worth It

I don’t like spending money, especially on myself. But I’ve learned that sometimes investing in a course, conference, or just a haircut can have a profound effect on how I feel and act.

14. Everybody Has Fears

I honestly thought I was the only one who had that little voice who said I wasn’t good enough or people would think I was a fraud if I tried to do the things I wanted to do. Turns out, pretty much everybody has some version of that voice. And they’re all wrong.

15. Redbox Is One Of The Best Inventions Of All Time

Seriously, whoever decided to put movies in a vending machine was a genius. The only thing better would be a pizza oven mounted on the side.

16. Better Is Better

This is related to #1. I’ve recently learned that while more stuff doesn’t make me happier, better stuff does. And fortunately enough when you buy better instead of more you tend to spend the same amount of money in the end.

17. If It Scares You It’s Probably Worth It

In general if you find yourself uncomfortable or afraid of taking the next step you’re probably headed in the right direction. Unless you’re approaching a bear, rabid wolf, or giant cave cricket. Then you should back slowly away, perhaps using your Australian accent to confuse them.

18. My 30s Are Already Better Than My 20s

My 20s were good years, lots of great things happened – I got married, built my first house, and had a ton of fun. But as far as my self esteem and attitude towards life in general my 30s are clear winners so far. I spent a lot of my 20’s wondering if what I was doing was right or wrong, wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up, and feeling not so hot about all of it. Now I have a clearer purpose, a better sense of who I am, and better hair… I can’t explain that last one.

19. Marry Someone You Like

I don’t care how uncool it might be to want to hang out with my own husband (really, when did that become uncool?). He’s my best friend and we have fun together no matter what we do. I couldn’t imagine it any other way, and I highly recommend marrying someone you actually like to be around.

20. You Don’t Live In A Bubble

Although I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert I’ve spent years acting like I live and work in a bubble. I’m realizing now that it doesn’t matter what you do or how good you are at it, you need other people around you to succeed.

21. Consistency Matters

You become what you do every day. Do the things that will lead you where you want to go and you’ll eventually get there. Do the wrong things consistently and the grand gestures won’t matter.

22. If You Don’t Make A Change No One Else Will Do It For You

If you are stuck at a certain point in your life, spending your time unhappy and wishing things were different, you have to cause change to happen before it will. No one is going to come along and offer you a new life. Unless you witness a murder.

23. The Journey Is More Important Than The Destination

You should have a destination in mind, but don’t rush the journey trying to get there. Enjoy it, savor it, get lost a little along the way. You may end up somewhere better than you even expected.

24. Laugh Everyday

Even if it’s just at yourself. Find something to laugh at everyday and you’ll be just fine.

25. Don’t Worry So Much

It doesn’t do any good most of the time. I’m not great at this one, but I’m working on it.

26. Find Something You Love And Do It Often

When I was younger I read a lot, wrote often, sketched regularly, made cool things out of random stuff I found outside, and had a ton of fun. As I grew up I quit doing those things because they didn’t fit my new life. Now I find myself going back to the very things I loved to do growing up, and even incorporating them into my dream job.

27. Start Now

Whatever it is you want to do or be, if you start now you’ll be that much closer a year from today. The time will pass whether you start or stay where you are.

28. Do Your Best And Then Let It Go

I’m a perfectionist, if I can’t get something just exactly like I want it I have a tendency to trash the whole thing. But sometimes done is better than perfect, and sometimes the act of doing is more important than the result.

29. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously

This whole life thing is marvelous, but unfortunately you’re not going to make it out alive. I hope you already knew that, if not I’m sorry for ruining your Tuesday. But now that you know you might as well make the most of it… have fun, laugh, play, work hard, do big things, and eat cake.

30. You Will Regret What You Don’t Do More Than The Things You Did

This speaks for itself. Base your decisions on whether you will look back at the end of your life (see #29) and wish you hadn’t been too much of a wuss to (insert awesome thing here).

31. Keep Learning Everyday

Try your hardest to learn something every day. If you pay attention it doesn’t even take that much effort. There are lessons everywhere, and there is always someone who knows more than you do. Ask questions, pay attention, read everything you can, and soak it in.

Ironically enough I wasn’t sure I knew 31 things when I sat down to write this post, but 1800 words later I guess I’ve proven myself wrong!  If you made it this far I commend you, and your commemorative lapel pin will be in the mail shortly.

Do you have any lessons to add? What would you tell you from a decade ago if you had the chance?

 

Project 333: Quality Over Quantity

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Writers Note: I know things have been really quiet here lately, I’ve been slacking in the writing department big time! I hope you’ll hang in here with me though, because I’ve been working on making this a much nicer experience for you guys. I’m nearly finished redesigning my own website – www.snazzyturtle.com – and then I’ll be working on the design and branding for the new blog. I’m also building up some content so there won’t be so much downtime in between posts when life gets busy. Exciting things are coming soon!

Have I ever told you about my clearance t-shirt addiction? It used to be a bit of a problem.

Academy Sports, which is like kryptonite to my frugality, always has a clearance section. Always.  They set up rack after rack of t-shirts, running shorts, cargo pants, skorts, and other wonderfulness at deep discounts. Now, I’m not a skort lover, and I really only need the standard amount of pockets on my pants, but the t-shirts get me every time. Especially on the $4.88 or less rack. I mean, who can argue with a $2 t-shirt? Honestly for $2 I might have even bought a skort, it was that bad.

So every time we went, which at times was more frequent than it probably should have been, I would load up on cheap shirts. I might only spend $30 but I would leave with an armload of new clothes. It was a wonderful thing.

The problem was this… for every one shirt out of the bunch that I loved there were usually 5 that didn’t fit quite right. Or after a month or two they started wearing thin, because there’s usually a reason a shirt has been marked down to less than the price of a gallon of milk. Academy really doesn’t have bad clothes, they sell great stuff and I love the store, but the ones they put on the lowest priced clearance rack are probably not made by the really dedicated clothes-making elves. More like the disgruntled elf who really wanted to be a leprechaun but had overly involved parents.

But I would keep them, because who wants to get rid of a brand new shirt? I’m sure I’ll wear it sometime, my tastes will probably change and the odd cut of that neckline will be very flattering in a few months. No, not so much. And so I eventually ended up with a wardrobe that I only wore about 50% of.

That was pretty easy to ignore though… until we started decluttering. I mean really decluttering, the last round or two before we sold it all and moved. That was when I couldn’t avoid the cheap t-shirts any longer. I only had so much room in the closet of the Turtle, and I didn’t want it taken up with clothes I didn’t wear. But I still tried to sneak some of the newer not flattering shirts into the bunch, because I might take up painting or catfish noodling and need something to wear.

Shortly after that I found out about Project 333 and decided to give it a shot, so you basically know the rest of the story. I pared down to 33 articles of clothing, including shoes, purses, hats, and sunglasses, for the first 3 months we were here. Obviously there wasn’t any room for stuff I didn’t like, so all of them went to Goodwill. That in itself was freeing in an odd way.

And then a funny thing happened. I started looking at the price tags on clothes a little different. I still want a deal, but it has to be worth it at full price for me to want it at a discount. The cheapest clearance rack still gets a look through, but now I usually pass up the $2 shirts. After all, 10 $2 shirts that I don’t wear would pay for 1 really nice shirt that I’ll wear for years.

In fact I even bought a $50 hoodie the other day. It was on clearance, retail price of $75. I bought it to replace all of the hoodies that are sitting in my tote waiting for the fall swap. The reason I paid $50 for a hoodie when I obviously could have found a cheaper alternative? Quality and comfort, obviously. The neck of this one was wide and comfy (my biggest complaint usually), the cut was loose but flattering, the fabric was super soft, and it was a brand that I know and love. It’ll last me years in good shape. Because of all those things, combined with the fact that now I have fewer clothes in general, I didn’t mind spending a little extra money for one item.

Quality doesn’t have to mean more expensive, you can shop around and find brands that are well made and not quite as expensive, or you can buy as you find things on clearance, which is what I try to do. But the plain and simple truth is that if you aren’t buying as much you can afford to pay more per item, that’s just math. In the end you might even find you’ve saved a little money while getting nicer stuff, which is a pretty cool bonus.

So, I think that’s been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this project so far, the lesson of quality over quantity. And once you apply it to one area of your life it’s easy to extend the thinking elsewhere… household items, time, fitness, relationships, even food. I think we can all agree that one really nice sandwich made at home trumps 5 gas station corn dogs any day. Right?

Look around, is there something you’ve been avoiding spending more money on by spending less money more often? Or something you’ve been giving a ton of time to but only halfway doing? I was guilty of it in a lot of areas, but it’s a work in progress!

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Average

First off, I have to apologize for having gone rogue and left you hanging here. I hope you found the Oreos and the remote.

Evidently our brief tent camping adventure actually tried to kill me, which might make me the biggest wuss in the history of tent camping.

In reality that’s probably not what did it, but the timing is definitely hard to ignore. I’ve been sick for the last eleven days with pleurisy. Which I now know is a Latin word with the literal translation “Horrible stabby pains throughout the torso accompanied by sudden onset asthma”. I think the Greeks referred to it as “Oh my God why does THAT hurt now?!” and it’s marked on the Mayan calendar as a series of flying monkey carvings and comic book swear words.

Needless to say I’ve had trouble focusing on writing anything of any significant purpose. But as of yesterday I’m feeling much better. I believe it’s due to threatening myself with a return trip to the doctor… cleared it right up. Others might attribute it to the round of steroids, but I’m sure it was just my super strong self control.

I haven’t just been lying around groaning though. I mean, I have been lying around groaning, but I’ve done plenty of other stuff as well. Remember that secret society I joined a couple of weeks ago? The one that you probably thought was a cult when I disappeared? Well you can quit tracking down their bearded leader, it’s turning out to be one of the best things I’ve done in quite some time.

Last week we were placed in groups of 24 and given a partner. We introduced ourselves, started private Facebook groups, shared a cup of Kool Aid, and waited for the actual experiment to start on Monday.

The experiment itself is nothing overly magical. Right now it consists of a short email every morning asking us to do something very simple, to take one small step down the path towards our goal. Pretty basic stuff.

If I’m being totally honest with myself I was actually pretty skeptical when I joined this group. As excited as I was about the mysterious aspect of the project and the possibilities that came along with it I really didn’t know how it was going to help any of us face our fears, much less achieve our goals. I’m not sure Jon Acuff even knew what he hoped to accomplish, which is probably why he called it the Start Experiment and not the Definitive Start Project.

I’m no stranger to goal achieving attempts either, I’ve done plenty in the past in an attempt to try and move myself along. I’ve read books and bought courses, I’ve joined small groups of other entrepreneurs. I’m a pretty smart girl and when I set my mind to something I can be very motivated. But despite all that I’m still basically in the same place I was 5 years ago career-wise. Nothing significant has changed. I’ve learned things, improved things, gained business and lost business, worked and not worked. But the net result of it all is that I’m still not where I want to be, nor am I much further down the path. Things were getting stagnant in the life’s work department.

Then a funny thing happened. I joined a group of 2,547 other people who also wanted to push through and do something more with their lives. People who had lofty dreams and challenges and fears just like I do.

At first it was disorganized, no one really knew what to do or expect from the project, or what was expected of us. But in the last few days things have started to happen in big ways for people. Something has shifted in the wind. People are coming out of their shells, they’re making moves previously considered unfathomable, they’re doing things that were totally unconsidered, although entirely possible, before.

I personally have stepped way outside my self induced shell, and I have to say the air is pretty invigorating out here. I’ve put myself out there and asked for help on my own website (do you have any idea how humbling that is for a designer?), I’ve confessed my fears and faced them in front of hundreds of people, I’ve made great contacts with people doing exactly the thing I want to do, I’ve found people willing to mentor me and others willing to be clients, my website looks better than it ever has, my teeth are whiter, and my laundry smells like fresh cut daisies. No kidding.

I know It might sound crazy or even cult like, and it might be very hard to understand how a simple little experiment could have such an effect on so many people, but in reality it’s not just the experiment. It’s the other people going through it with you. It’s the accountability, the community, the fact that no matter what you’re afraid of there is definitely someone else afraid of the same thing and another 20 people ready to tell you that your fear is completely unfounded*.

It’s also the tasks we’ve been given. We weren’t told on the first day to write a business plan or hand out 5 business cards. Instead we were told on the third day to identify our superheroes, those people who have come before us and done exactly what we want to do. That in itself was a humbling experience, reaching out to someone and saying “Hey, I’m not sure I know what I’m doing, but you seem to… can I ask you some questions?”. That’s not something I would have willingly done before, and it’s pretty damn hard to do if you’re older than 12. But I’m learning now that it’s oh so important.

I’m also learning to ask for help, I’m learning to not stop learning, and that no one operates in a bubble. All from letting down my guard and admitting that I can’t do it all myself. Which ironically is something I actually didn’t need a group of 2600 people to learn, but I’m glad I found them anyway.

It’s been a pretty intense four days to have only received four short paragraphs by email. I feel really good things coming out of this, and I can’t wait to share them. Especially now that the flying monkeys are gone.

For now the moral of this story is this little quote, which is one of my favorites. I’m starting to think it’s the key to a lot more than I thought.

I hope you can find something scary to do today.

 

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

– George Addair

 *Unless it’s a fear of garden gnomes, the conclusion was reached that the fear of garden gnomes is well founded.

One Lovely Blog

Tuesday wasn’t a good day.

We buried my grandmother, and there were lots of tears and stories and food. Because those are the prerequisites for a true southern funeral.

But on the way home I checked my email and found a lovely little bright spot in the the way of a comment from Ginny over at My Simplicity Quest, which is a really fun little blog following her story of working towards a simpler, more minimalist life. If you’ve never seen it you should check her out!

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Her comment was to let me know that she had nominated me for my first ever blog ‘award’! I only say award in quotes because evidently there will be nothing to sit on my mantle… Which is actually just fine, seeing as I don’t have a mantle and would prefer it bare if I did.

But I digress.

Ginny has given me the One Lovely Blog award, and I think it’s awesome that even one person finds purpose, or inspiration, or humor, or anything at all in what I have to say. It makes this feel more real in a way, so thank you very much Ginny for thinking of me!

A blog award is really more of an opportunity to recognize other blogs that have spoken to you in some way, which I think is a great idea, so I’m paying it forward. Here are the rules:

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog(s).
  • Post the award image in your acceptance post.
  • List seven random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate others for the award and notify them on their blog.

7 Random Lena-isms:

1. I’m abnormally afraid of water.
2. Despite #1 I love white water rafting and air boat swamp rides.
3. I have no sense of smell. Never have.
4. I know every single word to a large amount of eighties rap.
5. If you leave me alone in a car I will sing. Loudly.
6. I read The Hobbit somewhere between Kindergarten and 1st grade.
7. I’ve never seen any of the Godfather movies.

The blogs I’m nominating are ones I find to be especially interesting or inspiring in some way, they all have excellent and very different writing styles and a way of spinning a story in their own special way. Some of these may have already been the recipient of this award, or some may not find it as neat as I do because they’ve been around the blogging block already, but I’m nominating based on blogs I read and keep up with. I hope you’ll take the time to check them out!

Gallivance

T-Shirts & Twine

Boof & Monk Monk

Living Simply Free

I hope everyone has a great Independence Day and a relaxing weekend! We’re about to pack up and head out, with a 60% chance of rain all weekend I’m expecting an adventure. I hope you have one too.

On The Beauty Of Working A/C And Starting

Lest you think we melted into a puddle of goo after the air conditioner went out last week, we’re still here. In fact, we’re now the proud owners of a superbly cool tin can (fiberglass, I know I know) with two brandy dandy new air conditioners.

But I’ll get to that in a minute. There’s plenty going on in this catch up post, so I might get a bit scattered, I apologize in advance for that.

First off, I have to mention the passing of my Maw Maw this weekend. My dad’s mom. She lived a long and mostly healthy 91 years and up until the last few she was independent and strong, to a nearly comical point at times. You knew not to wander in front of the TV when the game was on for example… any game actually. That was a running joke in her house. And I’ll never forget her shaking her cane at us like a character out of a movie when we tried to decline coming to dinner after some random family event. She, like a lot of my family, was larger than life at times. She was the matriarch on my dad’s side, a position she handled gracefully.

She also marked the fourth death in my family in the last few years… preceded by my Grandmama on my mom’s side, as well my aunt and cousin from the same side. That’s a lot to lose in a short amount of time, and it was especially tough on the family due to my cousin and aunt going much too soon.

It does however have the sobering, but beneficial, effect of making you consider your own mortality. I don’t want to look back at some point and realize I wish I had done more, or played more, or loved more. I don’t want to assume that I have another 60 years and find out too late that it was really only 10. I want to enjoy now as much as I can, to avoid the regrets that come with ignoring what you’d rather be doing. So that’s what I plan to do.

Now, onto a lighter note. I’ve joined a secret society! Sort of.

I’m a big fan of Jon Acuff’s writing, he’s the author of Quitter and Start (if you haven’t read those you’re really missing out!). He’s a great writer and an even better motivator, and he keeps a blog over at jonacuff.com which I follow. Last week he posted on his blog asking people to sign up to join him on an adventure. The post was up for about 24 hours before he took it down. It was vague but intriguing, and the only commitment at the time was to email him a little information, then wait and see what happened. Considering this is already the Year of Change I figured what the heck, and shot off an email.

I had almost forgotten about the whole deal, between the air going out and my grandmother’s passing. But then yesterday I got an email from him containing the link to a private Facebook group dubbed The Start Experiment. Of course I joined immediately, to find around 700 other people already there introducing themselves. It’s already been inspiring seeing all these people who are ready to do something beyond the norm, and the experiment hasn’t even begun yet. I won’t reveal too much, but so far it looks like it will start as a personal challenge of sorts, with an accountability partner. We will be asked to push ourselves outside our comfort zones every day for 24 days in some way or another, and I can’t wait. As an added bonus, did I mention I’m part of a secret society? I think we should get a handshake or some sort of power ring.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we didn’t melt in here last week when the air conditioner started messing up. There were a few sketchy days, but we were able to limp along by turning it on and off at the breaker when we needed it. We had to keep it off at night or it would freeze up, and I kept it off as much during the day as possible, but regardless we made it.

I did remember last week that we had an extended warranty that had been thrown in with the purchase of the Turtle, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what they would take care of. As it turned out, it was actually a pretty good warranty. They even offered to pay for a mobile repair guy to come out and fix it so we wouldn’t have to pack everything up and find a shop that could take us in. This time of year most repair shops are two or three weeks out, so that seemed like a terrible option all the way around.

After looking for a mobile RV repair place for hours though I was beginning to think a camping trip to the parking lot of a service department would be in order, until I found a place about an hour and a half away called Southern RV. They did warranty work, were certified, and said they worked anywhere in middle Tennessee… so of course they weren’t open that day.

I did get in touch the next day though and was able to get them started dealing with our warranty. It took several phone calls between myself, the repair shop, and the Xtra Ride warranty adjustor, but we finally came up with a plan. The warranty would pay for nearly all of the service call and all of the parts and labor to repair our existing unit, and we would cover the remainder to install a second unit in the bedroom. Great!

Marty was worried though that repairing the unit would just be a band aid and other problems would keep popping up, so after a lot of talking we decided to go ahead and spend the extra money and replace the unit we had with a new Atwood A/C with a heat pump. The Atwood’s are less expensive than the Dometic we had, and the repair shop said they were impressed with the quality of their construction, plus the heat pump will help lower the propane expense this winter hopefully. I paid for both units over the phone, then spent the next two days secretly hoping I hadn’t been duped by some kid with a fake website.

They said both units would be in by Friday and they should be able to come that same day, or Saturday at the latest. Friday afternoon came and went with no word, and I was really starting to question my own judgement. But then, at 7pm on Friday night, the Southern RV repair truck pulled up out front. The parts had come in a little after 4 o’clock and they headed out then.

It took nearly three hours to install the two units and fix a light switch that wasn’t working quite right, and I was expecting the worst when it came time to settle up. He showed me both work orders, the one they would send the warranty company for the repairs and the one I would owe for the extra labor since I had already paid for parts. It came time for the grand total and I held my breath a little…

That’ll be $85.

Huh? Oh.

That’s not at all what I was expecting. One hours labor. He even waived the remainder of the service call, saying if I wanted to give his guys a little extra to grab dinner with on the way home that would be plenty. I gladly did, and gave him a bit extra too for coming out so late on a Friday. The guys were all super friendly and professional, and they did a great job, definitely a win in my book.

Then we checked out our new units, and they are awesome. I don’t have much to compare to, just our travel trailer and this fifth wheel, but both of our previous A/C’s have been so loud you couldn’t hear each other well from one room to the next. Our TV volume would go from 20 to 50 when the air kicked on. When I walked in the den to look at the new unit I had to ask if it was on yet, it’s that quiet. And the air flow is twice as much as our Dometic Duotherm was producing.

Atwood hasn’t been in the cooling business that long, although they’ve made other RV parts for years. So we took a bit of a risk on these units, not knowing their track records yet. But as of right now I’m thoroughly pleased.

They function a bit different than any I’ve seen before though, and I had to call Atwood this morning to make sure they were working right, which I was assured they were. When the fan is set to Auto most air conditioners will run until they reach the right temperature and then cut off until they need to start cooling again. In these the fan runs all the time. When the temperature is right they switch to low fan speed and the compressor turns off, and as needed they cycle back up to medium or high and kick the compressor back on to cool things down. The result is super quiet and keeps the whole place at a nice consistently cool temp. Now that I know it’s not a wiring problem I have to admit it’s a pretty interesting process. They also have some other neat things, like the Dry mode which acts as a dehumidifier if you’re happy with the temp but want to pull some of the humidity out of the air. It also has a Sleep button,  when it’s set the temperature will rise by 2 degrees over the next hour, or lower by 2 degrees if you’re using the heat pump. All in all we’re glad we spent the money, and hopefully won’t have to do that again for a long time!

This week will be crazy as well, today is my catch up day. Tonight and tomorrow are visitation and funeral a bit more than an hour away from here. Wednesday is a morning meeting and getting ready for Thursday. And then the fun begins! We’re going to pack up the truck Thursday morning, hook up the boat, and head over to tent camp at Mousetail Landing State Park. We’ll stay there a few days fishing and hanging out. I’ve looked around and found a local concert to check out on Saturday night and a few restaurants to look at. Other than that there isn’t much in the area other than lots of rivers and creeks.

It’s an exploratory mission too, we’ll be driving around looking for an inexpensive piece of land along the Tennessee river. We’ve talked a lot about what the next step is and it would be kind of dreamy to be able to go to our own little spot on the river when we feel like it, or even live there for longer periods in the future. Ideally we would find one that someone has already set up for an RV, maybe with a concrete pad and utilities already in place. But if the price were right we could buy a 1/4 acre lot with no utilities and add them as we have the money. It would give us somewhere to go if we didn’t want the expense of paying rent at a campground, because a payment on land that small would actually be less than our rent right now. And it would serve as a bit of a home base too, without the commitment of an actual home base. We don’t want something that requires a lot of maintenance, we want to be able to leave it for as long as needed without worrying about things breaking down or tearing up.

I’ve bookmarked several great looking spots on Craigslist and some local realtor websites, and we’re excited just to go ride around a new area and look at the possibilities. Even if that doesn’t turn anything up it will still be a great weekend of fishing and camping!

Are you doing any camping this weekend? Starting anything or joining a secret society? If not you should at least go right now and do one thing that scares you… it’s great for the soul. 🙂

It’s That Time Again – Project 333 Season Finale

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This will be a two post day as I try to catch up from last week. I’ll post an update on our air conditioner situation and some other things shortly!

The end of June marks the end of my first go at the Project 333 challenge.

In case you haven’t been keeping up with my clothing inventory (And why not?) I decided to try Project 333 after we made the move to the Turtle. After going through our closet to declutter and then move I started to realize I was not the minimalist I originally thought, and it looked like a fun experiment.

So in the beginning of April I laid all my clothes out in the bedroom and painstakingly narrowed them down to what I actually loved and wore. The rest was packed away in a tote and taken to storage. For the last 3 months I’ve worn only 33 items of clothing including my shoes, purse, hats, and superhero costumes.

This first three months have been full of a lot of different temperatures, and I’ve cheated a few times, but I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve spent so much less time deciding what to wear, and my closet has never been more organized. And in a bit of an unexpected turn of events I’ve actually learned a few things about myself.

I don’t actually need 33. There were several things that were barely worn this time around. I’m not sure how many, but I’d be willing to bet I actually only wore 25 items on a regular basis. That gives me a little confidence in how little I can get by with.

Choosing wrong isn’t the end of the world. I made a few mistakes when I chose my wardrobe the first time, and the weather wasn’t quite right for certain shirts and dresses. The last few weeks it’s been warm enough, but next time around I’ll save those things for the ‘summer’ cycle. But even though I’ve cheated a few times, nothing bad happened. Courtney Carver didn’t come busting out of the closet and cuff me. It’s just a challenge meant to make you look at part of your life more objectively, to reevaluate your needs. The number almost doesn’t even matter, it’s the process and intention that counts.

The second time was much easier than the first. Part of that might be the similarity in the weather between these two cycles, most of my clothes from last time were already warm weather things. Part of it also has to be that I’m a little more confident in knowing the things I actually wear now. I’ve learned what I really need on a regular basis. The first time around there was an odd amount of fear that I would choose wrong or that I would want the clothes I was putting up. This time was pretty simple… I made sure about half of my shirts were comfortable t-shirts and the other half were nicer looking. I kept out my jeans and all my shorts, and added another dress that would work for a little nicer event.

My spring/summer wardrobe is getting there. I put a few shirts that just weren’t quite right into a donate pile and the rest of my non-33 warm weather stuff went back into the tote headed for storage, but this time it was only a few things. A pair of flip flops and a few t-shirts I might like more for fall than summer, plus a pair of overall shorts I’m not quite ready to let go of yet. I’m hopeful that by next year my 33 will be my actual wardrobe for the season. That might be a bit harder to do for fall and winter, because I have lots of sweaters and boots, but at least I’m narrowing down half the year.

Having a self imposed limit is perfect for me. I tend to hold onto things that I kind of like, or that I might like later on. It really helps to put a cap on that, it makes me re-evaluate every piece I keep out. It has to fit just right, be the right color, not be uncomfortable at all, and look pretty damn good. Otherwise in the tote it goes.

Today marks the start of the next three month cycle, and it was a no brainer for me to keep going. I was actually excited to go through and reset the closet, so I pulled the tote out on Saturday afternoon and chose my next 33 a couple of days early. I’m curious to see what I actually wear out of the bunch, so this time I also turned all my hangers around as I put things up. When I wear something and put it back I’ll turn it’s hanger around the right way and at the end of 3 months it will be obvious what’s been used and what hasn’t.

Here’s what I’m starting with:

1. Aviator sunglasses
2. Brown purse
3. Under Armour visor
4. Strappy brown sandals
5. Reef flip flops (I’ll have to replace these by next year… they’re mostly just decorative at this point)
6. Sneakers
7. Jeans
8. Cutoff denim shorts
9. Regular denim shorts
10. Capris
11. Nike running shorts
12. Hangout t-shirt
13. Jack Daniels t-shirt
14. Yellow Old Navy t-shirt
15. Nike t-shirt #1
16. Nike t-shirt #2
17. Green tank
18. White shirt with leaves
19. Shirt with cool back
20. Blue tank
21. Blue strapless dress
22. Coral sundress
23. Pink dress
24. Blue plaid peasant top
25. Red t-shirt
26. Black floweredy dress
27. Grey kitten heels
28. White shirt with blue flowers
29. Lacy t-shirt
30. Nike t-shirt #3
31. Life is Good t-shirt
32. Green v-neck t-shirt
33. Grey racerback tank

Swap items:
1. White strapless shirt
2. Green flip flops (In case the others don’t make it till next year)

If you haven’t heard of Project 333 you should check it out or create your own version… it’s a neat little challenge that might help you simplify your life a little more. Or at least your closet!