Another item scratched off the bucket list!

Your money is only as valuable as what you choose to spend it on. ~Joshua Becker

I can’t remember when, exactly, I first started seeing people standing on the ocean…I was probably sitting on my towel at Long Beach, and perhaps briefly looked up from my magazine, and glimpsed a person standing upright on a surfboard with a long paddle in their hand. It was a few years ago, at least, and I have been fascinated with the concept of stand-up paddle boarding ever since. I have always wanted to try surfing, but not being particularly balanced or athletic, I’ve been too intimidated to try. But this seemed almost doable. Since I first took notice of this phenomenon, it seems that SUP has exploded in popularity. Every time I look out over the water on a calm day, there are folks paddling by. And I just watch them and say to myself, “one day…”.

Well, that day was Friday. Hubby and I have talked, and talked and talked, about trying paddle boarding for ages. He even tried, rather ambitiously, to build a couple of them. But, as can often happen with projects like this, it proved to be a bit more complicated and time-consuming than anticipated. And our time, like everyone else’s, is quite valuable. So, after doing a quick cost-benefit analysis in my head, I calculated that spending the money and purchasing a couple of boards would prove a wise long-term investment. Fortunately, our local surf shop was having an incredible Memorial Day Weekend sale, so it was the perfect time to buy. Curtis did not need much convincing. We went to Surfari as soon as he got out of work on Friday, and picked up everything we needed to get paddling.

Naturally, this was followed by one of the worst Memorial Day weekends ever, weather-wise. But on Monday, the skies cleared and we geared up and headed out, steeling ourselves for some seriously cold water (about 49 degrees). I found a great little beach that was perfect for our maiden voyage…a protected inlet with shallow, clear water, with parking close by so we wouldn’t have to haul our boards very far. Curtis jumped right in and prone-paddled out to deeper water, while I gingerly tried to kneel on top of the board while it was barely deep enough to float freely. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t going anywhere until Curtis gently reminded me about the fins on the bottom of my board. Doh!

After a few fits and starts, I got going and paddled around on my knees for a while. Curtis bravely attempted to stand up, and ended up going in the drink. After a couple of attempts, he was able to stand up and paddle rather confidently, so I gave it a go. I felt rather like a newborn giraffe…wobbly and not quite sure what to do with my limbs. It wasn’t a matter of if I was going to fall in, but when. So I played it very conservatively. I would stand and paddle for a short while, then get back down and either sit or kneel on the board once I lost my nerve. I found sitting on the board quite pleasant – sort of like kayaking, but completely unrestricted.

I followed Curtis out toward Ten Pound Island, but the water was much choppier out in the open harbor. He fell in again, at which point we retreated to the safety of our little cove. He did a few “tricks” on the way back in, ducking under the ramps that ran from the private residences down to their docks…really wish I’d been able to get some pictures, but until I can figure out a waterproof solution, these will just be moments captured on my mental film reel.

So, yes…an expensive weekend, for sure. But I think we are going to get a lot of mileage out of these boards, and hopefully it’s an activity that we can turn to instead of going out for an expensive meal and drinking our paychecks away, which is one of our usual summer pastimes. And if we can sell our kayak, that would cover the cost of one of the boards and free up some storage space. Win-win! 🙂

My SUP

My new baby, getting all finned-up and affixed with fancy bungee cord.

The adventuremobile, ready for action!

The adventuremobile is ready for action, and quite happy to be put to use!

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Two steps back, two steps forward…

Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful. ~John Maeda, The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life

I bought my mom a pair of Toms for her birthday, right after Christmas. I had sent an email out to the family before the holidays, saying that I would be donating to charity in lieu of gifts (except for the kids…I am not yet willing to be the evil aunt just to maintain my minimalist “cred”). But these were perfect for her – fuzzy, soft, and red, with small white polka-dots. They were fun, just like she is, and too perfect to pass up.

Naturally, I’ve been admiring them every time I see her. I would never buy anything for my mom that I wouldn’t wear myself, and I remembered how comfy they were when I tried them on in the store. I began to have the familiar feeling of rationalizing the purchase of a pair for myself.

My office is in Boston’s Financial District, just steps away from Downtown Crossing – a shopper’s paradise. On my lunch break, I escaped to one of my favorite stores, City Sports. They have a good selection of Toms, and I found a nice Army-green pair that I knew I could wear with almost everything in my closet. I tried them on, and they were exactly as cozy as I had remembered. Toms donates a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair they sell, which further justified my purchase.

I walked toward the register with my Toms, and ran right into a display of Reef shoes. Hanging next to the flip-flops were a gorgeous pair of flats, covered in a beautiful, rainbow-striped cotton canvas. I stopped to inspect the tag attached to the heel, and was intrigued by what I read. The shoes were made through a collaboration with Nest, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to work with master artisans around the globe, “alleviating poverty, empowering women, and promoting peace.” The fabric was woven by a women’s cooperative in Guatemala that was formed as a result of the civil war in the 1980s, when many of the men were killed, and their widows had to find a way to earn a living.

Long story short, I now have two new pairs of shoes. One might call this a “relapse”, and I do feel a significant amount of guilt for having spent money that I had intended to use for other purposes. But I am determined to continue decreasing my total number of possessions, and so I immediately parted with two pairs of shoes to make up the difference. I also filled a large box with decor and other items that will be heading to our nearby charity thrift shop.

This has made me think a bit more about being a “conscious consumer”…if I do feel the need to go out and buy something, I should at least be seeking out sustainable, earth-friendly, and charitable options like these. Being a bit of a compulsive shopper, I know that I am going to have setbacks like this occasionally, but at least I can be more mindful about where my money is going.

Bumps in the road.

The intention of voluntary simplicity is not to dogmatically live with less. It’s a more demanding intention of living with balance. This is a middle way that moves between the extremes of poverty and indulgence. ~Duane Elgin

I’ve only just begun this minimalist journey, but have already encountered a number of roadblocks. It’s a bit discouraging, but I’m doing my best to get past these and forge ahead, since I’m sure my situation is not that unique. Judging by my last couple of posts, it’s obvious that I have been focusing largely on my wardrobe as a starting place to eliminate excess belongings. This just made sense, since clothes have been a major issue for me for as long as I can recall. Unfortunately, as cathartic as it has been to get rid of ill-fitting, unflattering, worn-out clothes, I am also coming to the realization that I have very few items that fit me well.

I started doing CrossFit late last summer. CrossFit is an exercise program focused on strength and conditioning, and their prescription for fitness is  “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement”. On their Getting Started page, they state: “We are a ‘minimalist program’ and this is reflected by the functionality and limited number of our exercises and the simplicity of the equipment we use compared to most commercial gyms.” How ironic that I would have chosen this particular program over all others, just months before having a minimalist epiphany.

Since I started CrossFit, I have noticed some changes in how my clothes fit. What were once tiny chicken legs can now barely squeeze into my skinny jeans, since my thighs have grown in size from so many squats. I have yet other pairs that used to be snug, but are now sagging due to sitting much lower on my shrinking waist. Sweaters and other long-sleeved shirts are becoming increasingly tight around my upper arms. While I welcome these changes, for someone who is trying to avoid purchasing new things, they are making this minimalist lifestyle a bit difficult. I have one pair of jeans that fit relatively well, though only when fresh out of the dryer. I live in jeans on the weekends (don’t we all?), so this is a sad state of affairs. I fear that I may have to give in and purchase a new pair.

Moving into a new apartment necessitated picking up a couple of items. Our dilapidated TV stand, which we were only able to use for the past two years thanks to some reinforcement from my handyman father-in-law, did not survive the journey and so a more robust one was purchased from IKEA. Our couch (also from IKEA) was torn to shreds by our mischievous furball, Seamus, so I purchased a new set of covers for it. The new TV stand is solid wood, and I know we will use it for many years to come. The new couch cover, while certainly not cheap, was a far better deal than replacing the couch altogether, and since one of our main wishes was to have an apartment large enough to have company, I wanted the living room to be somewhat presentable.

Sleepy Pixie

Pixie approves of the new cover.

Naughty boy

Seamus isn’t sold on his new “scratch lounge”…

I feel that these purchases fall under the umbrella of “minsumerism”…don’t mindlessly consume; buy only what you need. “Need” is certainly a subjective term, and I think each individual needs to determine for themselves what is necessary, and what is excessive. This paring-down of possessions is an ongoing process for me, and I think that as time goes on, I will be able to part with more items and learn to live more simply in many other areas of life.