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.

Bag lady

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. ~Hans Hofmann

I have to give myself just a little bit of a break here, because I truly am not that big of a purse girl, despite my lifelong obsession with shoes. If I could apply the same principles I use when selecting a handbag to every other part of my life, I would have been a minimalist of the highest order a long time ago. I am extremely discriminating when it comes to buying bags. The bag needs to be high quality – usually leather – and must go with the majority of my clothes. It can’t have crazy logos all over it, and it must only have one strap, since any bag with two will slip right off my shoulder. It has to be large enough to hold the “essentials” (hair brush, wallet, makeup, keys, etc.), but not so large that it will be cumbersome to carry (since I realize fully that no matter how large it is, I will fill it to capacity).

I generally buy a new handbag about every 3-4 years. For a girl who is barely in her thirties, I think that shows quite a bit of restraint. I consider handbags to be a long-term investment – something that I’m willing to spend a few hundred dollars on, as long as it meets ALL the criteria. In the end, I think the cost-per-use is pretty reasonable, even if I purchase something high-end. The bag that I’ve owned and (mostly) loved for the past 4 years has been my black leather Dooney and Bourke hobo. It was the perfect size and color, and was suitable for almost any occasion. Unfortunately, it was also a catch-all, and could also be considered by some to be a deadly weapon.

Handbag, or deadly weapon?

Bonus: handbag doubles as wrecking ball.

I have nearly screamed in frustration when trying to find my car keys, which always manage to shimmy themselves to the very bottom of the bag, underneath all of the other items that I deemed too important to go without for even just a few hours. Most of the time, wading through receipts, gum wrappers, hair ties, hand sanitizer, and nail polish produces nothing, and so I slam my bag down, inadvertently scraping the hood of my car with the metal clasp, yanking out as many items as necessary before seeing the glint of those familiar keys…and only then, does my heart rate return to normal. The whole situation has become a source of stress for me, and so I decided to do something about it.

I have a pretty fabric wristlet that I received as a gift from the woman I purchased all my bridesmaids’ wristlets from (check her Etsy shop out – such cool stuff!). I love it, but haven’t used it very often since it’s so much smaller than what I’m used to. I never thought I could fit everything I needed into it. But yesterday, I decided to try. I pulled all of the stuff out of my purse that I knew I truly couldn’t live without. Cash, phone, keys, chapstick, one hair tie, and gum. To my amazement, my hairbrush actually fit, too. I really don’t need anything else! It was so nice to not have to lug my heavy bag around when we went out to dinner. And I know that when I return to my car in the parking garage tomorrow after work, I won’t be panicking looking for my keys. And no more scratches on my car!

I might not match everything in your closet, but I'm fabulous.

I might not match everything in your closet, but I’m fabulous.