30 Step Minimalism Challenge Week 4 Update

This is it! The final update and end to my 30 Step Minimalism Challenge – my personalized take on the Into Mind challenge. I learned something really surprising by going through this challenge. Here’s my last week with the steps, and what I have learned from the whole experience:

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August 24th – Don’t Look Into Mirrors
This step was extremely challenging for me which made me realize I’m a lot more vain than I thought I was. I’ve been going through some major breakouts lately, and it has been stressing me out big time. So I spend a lot more time in the mirror, analyzing and touching new blemishes, which is absolutely not healthy or helping! By the end of the day, I had completely failed; I probably looked into a mirror about 10 times throughout the day. What I realized was that going to extremes with this step was not helpful. I can’t just break up with my mirror completely. Instead I can make sure to get the most out of my mirror time. If I have enough time in the morning, this is when I can do the bulk of it. Hair & makeup can be between 10-20 minutes in which I can spend some time actively improving my reflection. But once I’ve sprayed the final mist of Rosewater Uplifting Spray, it’s sayonara until midday. I’ll give myself a couple minutes to brush or adjust my hair, blot away any shine, and give myself a couple spritzes of rosewater. Then no more mirror until I’m getting ready for bed. I’ve also decided to (once again) remove the mirror from my dressing table; there is no need to stare at myself while I’m on my computer. And I’m looking for a more hidden location for my full length mirror which is currently right next to my dressing table. I’m sure if I can decrease, but not completely do away with looking into mirrors, it will help some of my insecurities with my appearance.
August 25th – Declutter Your Digital Life
Full disclosure – I did not get the chance to complete this task. I had over 150 photo bursts on my phone so i’m still in the process of editing those down before I transfer everything to my computer and then upload onto a hard drive. The biggest thing I learned from this step is how important it is to regularly organize digital files. I’m designating the first Tuesday of every month as my Digital Declutter Day when I can clear off my desktop, download photos from my phone to my computer, and back up everything onto my portable hard drive.
August 26th – Create a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual
I was sooo looking forward to completely this step. I already have a semblence of an evening ritual, but there were some new things I wanted to add into the mix. For me, a bedtime ritual starts pretty early on; there are a lot of things that need to be accomplished before I can begin to relax. The babies go to sleep around 8pm so after we put them to bed, I do a sweep of our home to make sure everything is clean and tidy. Normally this involves some kitchen cleaning, putting away laundry, and/or taking out the trash/recycling. After that I dim the lights, brew some decaf green tea or pour a bottle of wine (depending on the night), and relax on the couch with Ryan. Sometimes we watch a show on Netflix or HBO. Sometimes we just talk about whatever. Sometimes we’re just both on our laptops, doing our own thing. Whatever the activity is, we usually head to the bedroom around 9:30pm. We’ll change into our PJs, brush our teeth, I’ll wash my face and moisturize. What I haven’t been doing until recently is journaling. I downloaded the Grid Diary app onto my iPhone, and I have been using it nightly. Once I ge the chance to mentally unload my thoughts from the day, and I make a quick to-do list for tomorrow. Then it’s off to bed!
August 27th – Let Go Of a Goal
Towards the beginning of this challenge, I committed myself to getting readmitted to the University of Florida for a bachelor’s degree. After numerous phone conversations with different departments, I’ve detemined this is a goal I should (partially) let go of. Right now I need to be focused on making smart financial decisions, and it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars in tuition just to say I actually graduated from UF. The whole purpose of going make to school is to get a degree so that it’s easier for me to re-enter the workforce. Most of the time employers just want to confirm you have your bachelor’s; they don’t care whether it’s from Cal Poly Tech or the Calhoun Community College. It could make sense one day to try to obtain a degree from my alma mater. But right now, it’s better for me to be focused on realistic, financially-sound goals.
August 28th – Take a Step Towards a New Skill
Letting go of a goal is a little depressing so taking a step towards a new skill is a great way to recover from the letdown. Ryan purchased a ukulele for me awhile back. I used to randomly strum it for the babies, but after the move, I haven’t taken it out of it’s case once. So I googled a couple instructional videos and added them to my queue on YouTube. I’m starting slowly with the basics, but one of the goals on my 101 Things in 1001 Days list is to learn one song on the ukulele. I’m exciting that I’m finally a little closer to that goal!
August 29th – Clear Out Your Junk Drawer
Ever since the KonMari Method took over my life, you would be hardpressed to find a junky area of my home. But what I do have is a small mountain of papers that I keep moving from one place to the other, hoping to eventually go through everything. These papers have a home, but for some reason I keep moving them onto my desk, thinking it will motivate me to go through them quicker. Nope! So the junk papers are now getting sorted through every evening before I start dinner.
August 30th – Evaluate Your Last Five Purchases
1. Birthday Gifts (August 28th): I bought gifts for a couple different upcoming birthdays for friends and family. Since I know at least one of them reads my blog, I won’t go into any other detail. Don’t want to spoil the surprise!
2. Decaf Grande Vanilla Chai Soy Latte (August 28th): We needed a couple grocery items so I spent about 30 minutes on Friday night perusing the aisles at Target with a decaf latte in hand. While I didn’t NEED this latte, it was delicious, and I savored it through the store, on the drive home, and even had some left while I relaxed on the couch. This is the third and final time I purchased a beverage for shopping. Last week I got a green tea and the week before I got a fresh green juice from Sprouts. My takeout beverage habit is pretty under control so I don’t feel I need to cut back in this area. For some reason I’m always less likely to make unneccesary purchases after I buy a takeout coffee; it’s my way of satisfying my urge to indulge.
3. Gold Mirror + Groceries (August 27th): Whenever I apply my makeup, I try to stand far back from the bathroom mirror. My makeup always ends up looking more natural this way. But when I pluck my eyebrows or apply mascara, I always like to get up close and personal. My previous magnifying mirror had some how snapped in the middle so it was really awkward to use. While I didn’t need to purchase this new mirror, it is much easier to use than my old mirror and it looks so pretty on my vanity!
4. Chick-Fil-A (August 24th): Obviously a necessity. I spent the morning at the park with the kiddos and then did some returns. I had been craving waffle fries and sweet tea for awhile so this meal definitely hit the spot. Like most purchased meals, they’re not a necessity, but it definitely hit the spot.
5. P.F. Chang’s (August 21st): I recently discovered that P.F. Chang’s has a gluten-free menu so Ryan has been all about getting food from there. He indulged with a starter & entree and I got an entree. Their menu is a little pricey in my opinion for what you get, but Ryan doesn’t ask for much so I don’t fight him on his luxury purchases.
August 31st – Define Your Goals For the Year
(1) Make big strides towards saving for a house and (2) stop wasting time with things that ultimately make me unhappy. I am at my happiest when I am being productive. Most of the time I don’t care what the goal is that I’m working towards, just the thought that I am track to accomplish some great is enough. So cutting down on time wasting activities will give me more time to be productive and help me to actually enjoy my free time a little more. And during all this new productive time I’m going to have, I’m going to work towards keeping our budget in check and earning some additional income to get closer towards owning a home.
I’m honestly relieved to have completed this challenge. It had it’s fun moments. and it’s stressful moments. And, in the end, I learned something I didn’t expect. The classic idea of minimalism is not for me. I like to keep things simple, but I love decorations. I want a wardrobe that is streamlined, but I love things that are bright and sparkly. Minimalism has taught me to appreciate the things I own and reject impulse buys, but the minimalist esthetic doesn’t appeal to me as much. I’m still trying to find my comfortable balance between too much and too little. If Lilly Pulitzer had a party in Peter Zumthor’s thermal baths, that would be me.
I know a couple of my readers have completed challenges like this or are in the process? What was the most surprising thing you learned from the challenge? I would love to hear about your experiences!

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