How to Downsize and Declutter!

In this post, I mentioned how I'm getting ready for my big move out to Portland. While going through what I want to bring, and what I'd rather leave behind, I've realized that there are a lot of things that I need to let go of (emotionally and otherwise).

The hardest things to let go of for me are sentimental items. Things a friend or relative made for me as a gift. Items that reminds me of someone. It can be difficult, but I need to remember that these items don't always represent everything that person means to me. If I hold them in my heart, I don't need a gift or trinket to remind me of them. Unless the item is particularly special to me, I need to start letting these objects go.  

My grandma crocheted the blanket for me, and the book was a gift from my sister. I'm keeping both!

My grandma crocheted the blanket for me, and the book was a gift from my sister. I'm keeping both!

Here is some of what I've learned during this process of going through my belongings, in case you're ready to start letting go as well: 

  • Start small, and with duplicates. 
    Do you really need 15 serving plates? Why do you have three saucepans? Do you need a drawer full of pens, or just one? How many pairs of socks are really necessary in life? 

    Start asking these questions, and start small. Start by filling a bag with items that are old or worn out. Then move to items you have in excess. You'll probably fill up those bags pretty quickly! 
Arrrgggh - why do I need all these dishes!? I live by myself for cryin' out loud! 

Arrrgggh - why do I need all these dishes!? I live by myself for cryin' out loud! 

  • Pick up each item you own, and ask: Is this still important to me? 
    Maybe it was important at one time, but why are you still hanging on to it? Is the item still enriching your life, or is it something that you just keep moving from place to place? 

    Only keep items that truly bring joy to you, your life, and your home. 
     
  • GET RID OF PAPER FILES. 
    I was helping my little sister move recently into a small efficiency apartment. As we were arranging the room, I noticed she had three boxes of just paper files on the floor! I couldn't believe the amount of paper that she was trying to find room to store in an already tiny room. And really, how often do we really need to refer to our old files anyway?? 

    I decided to go through my stash of paper files, and start shredding. As far as credit card statements go - shred away. It's the 21st century, people. Sign up for paperless statements that you can get through email. If you still have some that were mailed, go through them, make note of whatever you need to keep, and get rid of the rest. 

    One blessing to help with this is the Tiny Scanner App. I "scanned" files into PDFs that I wanted to save electronically and emailed them to myself. Now the only paper files I keep are things like my apartment leases, car title, and birth certificate. Everything else either gets scanned and/or shredded! 
     
  • Now that you've minimalized - STOP BUYING. 
    This is the hardest part, but the most important one. What's the point of minimalizing your stuff if you're just going to buy more stuff to replace it? Simplifying our homes and our lives can help with removing distractions, and help us focus on what truly matters.

    We read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo for my Book Club, and it couldn't have come at a better time! I love her method not only because it's simple, but because everything that you keep in the end is something that adds value and happiness to your life. Everything you own has a purpose. I highly recommend picking it up if you're looking to change your life by minimizing your belongings. 
I'm going to miss my book club girls!

I'm going to miss my book club girls!

When I began to let things go, I noticed that my apartment was much cleaner. There were less items sitting out unused, and there was a much nicer flow throughout each room. It created more room to breathe, and I don't even feel like I had to let go of very much in order to accomplish that. 

I'm so excited about what this new move will bring, and the lessons I will learn in the future. I am also excited about keeping my tidy and purposeful mentality in my next apartment with Amber! 

I'm going to miss my little apartment in Denver, but I'm thankful for the memories I had there. And everything in this room had a purpose! Love it!

I'm going to miss my little apartment in Denver, but I'm thankful for the memories I had there. And everything in this room had a purpose! Love it!

Choosing an Atypical Life Plan

The other day while working at my part-time job, I struck up a conversation with a customer, as I tend to do. 

Something unusual struck me about this conversation, as we began discussing how we came to where we are in our lives.

I mentioned that I quit my full-time high paying office job to go freelance and work as a barista part-time, and he said, "hey, I'm scrubbing toilets now, and I'm happier than I ever was before!" 

Curious, I asked if I could interview him for my blog. 

Jared recently moved back to Denver. Here is his story about finding happiness. 

Jared with espresso in hand, and a smile on his face!

Jared with espresso in hand, and a smile on his face!

Beth: What did you used to do that did not make you happy? 

Jared: I grew up working in kitchens, which was a continuous party. I used to get into a lot of trouble. Eventually I decided to quit drinking, and a whole new world opened up to me. I started going camping, hiking, and saw more sun rises than I ever had before. I started doing things that I wouldn't have done if I had been hungover and feeling like shit. 

More recently, I got tired of working for companies that didn't care about me as an employee. I worked in management for over 10 years, and although I enjoyed it, I realized that I didn't enjoy having someone else manage my time, and my life. 

Beth: What was the turning point in your life when you realized you needed to make a change? Was it something you had to do for yourself or something that forced you to have to make a big decision? 

Jared: Just after I quit drinking, my mom passed away from breast cancer. I am so glad that I quit drinking before then, otherwise I'm not sure I would have gotten through it. It was extremely hard to watch, but I'm glad she was surrounded by the people she loved the most. 

After my mom died, my outlook on life changed completely. I realized that at any point in time, I could lose someone I cared about forever. It made me appreciate the time I spend with my friends and family, and at the same time work harder at being a better person. 

Recently, the big decision was to move forward with ending my relationship with my wife. Divorce is never an easy decision, and this case was no exception. In the end, I decided to make the best out of a rough situation. After I sold the house, I quit my job, and fit everything I owned into my car.

I realized that I could go anywhere, and for the first time in a long while, I could do anything that I wanted. It was one of the most freeing feelings I've ever had in my life. I decided to use the time to travel, and visit friends. I began to heal. 

I began to understand that nothing is ever as bad as it seems, and a negative can always be turned into a positive. 

Beth: What do you do now that makes you happy? 

Jared: I have realized that the stuff I own, the money in my bank account, the job title I have - none of that makes me truly happy. I find happiness in nature, and having the best friends and family anyone could ever wish for. My best friend and I text every morning wishing each other a good day, peace, love, and positivity.

I used to think that having a place of my own with plenty of high-tech things to fill it was what would make me happy. But living a clean lifestyle, and remembering the places I've seen and the people I love is what makes me truly content. 

Beth: What is something that inspires you? 

Jared: My dad. He has always had my back, and supports me and my choices no matter what. He's awesome. If and when I become a father, I hope to be half the man that he is. 

Beth: What is one piece of advice you can give to people unsure of where they are in their lives? 

Jared: Don't be afraid to make a change. If you don't like your job, quit - you can always find another one that will make you happier! If your relationship is unhealthy, don't just stay because you think it's easier. It's not fair to either of you. If you're unhappy, take action. Even if you're not sure what action it is - just do something! There is so much more to life, and you shouldn't stay in a place that doesn't make you feel your happiest and best self. 

Learn how to do what you love, and it will create positive things around you. 

Happier than ever!

Happier than ever!

Jared now makes a living helping friends clean their AirBNB rentals, and exploring nature whenever he can. 

Everything expressed here was approved by Jared, and are his own ideas and views. The statements above are his own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog. 

I'm Moving!

It's not much of a secret anymore, but to my friends I haven't been able to catch up with over the past few weeks:

I'm moving to Portland, Oregon in April!

After my visit to Portland in October of 2015, I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. An added bonus is that there is going to be another love moving there with me: my big sister, Amber. 

Yeah, we're pretty excited. 

Yeah, we're pretty excited. 

Denver holds a very big place in my heart. Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, I loved where I came from but I never really thought of a city as being something I could connect with, or something that would identify me. Denver has completely changed that. I've lived here for 13-years now, and have had some truly amazing experiences that have shaped the life that I'm so grateful to lead each day. 

Living in Denver has helped me to grow into my own skin, learn to love myself, and find meaning in my work and career. It has also allowed me to meet friends that I know I will have with me for the rest of my life. 

Now, it's time for the next chapter!

Funnily enough, I began writing this post back in April of 2016. I was almost ready then, but I let certain circumstances delay taking the leap. Now that we're off to the start of 2017, (and after some VERY long conversations with Amber), I've felt the pull again. And this time, it's for reals. 

Lucky for me, I already have some wonderful friends in Portland, and Seattle. But leaving Denver will be really hard. My parents, and younger sister Taryn still live here, as do so many close friends that I consider family. There will be a lot of tears (mostly from me, I'm sure). 

Probably one of my most favorite Thanksgiving moments ever captured. We could not stop laughing! 

Probably one of my most favorite Thanksgiving moments ever captured. We could not stop laughing! 

In preparation for my move, I've already begun to take an inventory of what I want to take with me and what I want to leave behind. As I do so I feel a rush of excitement. The thrill of the unknown gives me something to hope for. A new sense of purpose. 

I'm also realizing that I have accumulated a lot of crap over the years. 

In my post "Letting Go" I discussed my discovery of minimalism, and how I started applying it to my daily life. Even with everything I've learned, and how many material things I've been able to let go of, there's still more that I am holding on to that I don't really need. And honestly, I'm not sure I want to carry that stuff with me anymore. 

More about how I plan to do that in my next post (teaser alert!), but this is about my Portland announcement. I hope to see everyone before I go, but please know you're always welcome to visit!

And I'll be back to visit too, of course. That's a promise. 

Saying Goodbye

At the end of 2016, my family and I had to say goodbye to a very beloved pet - my darling little Dimitri.

It's never easy saying goodbye to someone you love, and this was the first time in my life I had to make the difficult decision to let go of an animal I've had as a part of my life for the past 15 years.  

Dimitri's first bath, after we took him home from the shelter. He's the only cat I've ever known to actually enjoy a bath!

Dimitri's first bath, after we took him home from the shelter. He's the only cat I've ever known to actually enjoy a bath!

Back in Ohio, me and my college roommate, Jess, decided it was time to get a cat. I grew up only having small animals (hamsters, lizards, etc.), and never knew what it was like to have a pet like this. We made plans to go to the animal shelter together.  

When we first got there, we were completely overwhelmed. There were SO MANY CATS EVERYWHERE. There were kittens, older cats, and everything in between all running free in a big room. We had no idea where to begin! 

Eventually, we decided to sit on the floor across from one another and let the cats come to us. Jess had her eye on an older cat - big, orange, and a little scraggly looking. I was quickly falling in love with a playful black kitten. But there was one cat that just wouldn't leave us alone. He kept butting his head into my back and meowing at me.

Exasperated I said, "what the heck do you want, cat!?" and he looked up at me, meowed, walked into my lap, and curled himself into a ball. He looked up at me, quite comfortable in his new spot. 

I said, "Jess, I think this is the one," but she was going to take some more convincing. I told her to just give him a chance, so she called him to his lap by patting her knees and saying "c'mere kitty!" He got up from my lap, walked over to hers, and curled into a ball. 

We both looked up at each other and smiled. This was the one. We took him home that day. 

Dimitri curled into the tiniest box he could find. He loved when my mom did puzzles, because that meant an open box on the floor for him! 

Dimitri curled into the tiniest box he could find. He loved when my mom did puzzles, because that meant an open box on the floor for him! 

From then on, he snuggled with us constantly. He loved being on laps and getting his head scratched. He loved playing with the plastic rings around the lids of milk jugs. He would run to the door when we got home, meowing constantly as if to tell us all about his day. He loved everyone immediately, and charmed the pants off anyone who met him. He even won over the most adamant "cat haters" with his charm.  

He had a long and happy life, and I'm glad that we could give him a loving home outside of the shelter. But it's never easy to say goodbye. 

They say it's better to have loved and lost than to never love at all, and I've always believed that to be true. The happiness and joy that is felt from loving other people (and pets) I would take no matter what - even if it ends in heartbreak. 

I refuse to let fear of loss hold me back from loving. The scars from where my heart has been broken just shows that it is being used to its fullest potential. It is constantly growing, changing, and loving more and more. 

Have you loved a pet dearly that you had to let go? What is your favorite story about them? 

What is success?

A little while ago, my friend Sienna was in town visiting. It seems that she often inspires my posts, but I'm not too surprised about that. It is easy to make light conversation with her, but the really good stuff comes out after a bottle of wine has been opened and the hours stretch far into the evening. These conversations cover topics from life goals, to sexuality, relationships, politics - nothing is off limits. She brings out the passion in people, and inspires me to look inwardly but also to see the world in a different light. 

I treasure these nights! 

Sienna and me at the Gay Pride Parade, 2016. 

Sienna and me at the Gay Pride Parade, 2016. 

This particular evening we got on the topic of success. She felt she was taking a step backwards because she was moving back in with her parents. This decision freed up time and finances in order to allow her to pursue acting and poetry - her true passions. 

My younger sister has been doing the same thing for a little while now. She's been living with our parents, and using any moment of free time to build her own production company from the ground up.

It has allowed her to worry less about money, while at the same time build something that truly makes her happy. 

In our society, much of someone's success is directly correlated to how much money they have (or, let's face it - how much they can show it off). People judge others, and themselves, on the size of their home, the quality of their car or phone, the clothes they wear, and everything in between. But do those things really bring us happiness? 

Finding my own personal fulfillment has come from not only looking within, but creating more time to do things that I truly want to do. Yes, a degree of happiness comes from the stability of having money, and being able to purchase the things we need to live. But after a certain point, more money doesn't equate to more happiness. 

I highly recommend everyone see the documentary "I Am" - it illustrates this point beautifully.

There are plenty of cultures that live with their families throughout their entire lives. If they get married, they move out to start their own family but often still live nearby. It's not a measure of success as to whether or not they live alone in a big apartment or huge house - in fact, it may even seem wasteful. 

Me and my sister, Amber, having fun in Disneyland last month! We could live together happily, I am sure of it. 

Me and my sister, Amber, having fun in Disneyland last month! We could live together happily, I am sure of it. 

Having family nearby allows everyone to have a helping hand when they need one. It means extra care for the kids, friends to share meals with, and safety. It is the creation of community and relationships, as opposed to isolation. And as humans, we do not thrive in isolation. 

I have a friend that has one of those big fancy apartments. She makes a good amount of money, can buy the latest gadgets, and is a pretty good definition of what our world deems "successful". She is also unhappy with her job, has very few relationships, and often dines alone.

This is one circumstance, but I have to ask - would sharing a space with someone free her up financially to allow her to quit her job, and find something that is fulfilling? Would it help her feel more comfortable around others so that she can build more relationships? Would it make her happier? Maybe taking a step back at first would be the best way for her to take a step forward in the future.  

Many of us think it's embarrassing to have to move back in with the folks, or find a roommate after a certain age in our lives. Some of us would rather get into even more debt than to deal with the embarrassment of having to explain that to someone. People ask with a grimace, "they are 35 and still living with their parents?" when they should be asking (without judgement), "what is their plan, and their next move in life?"

For someone to accept that sharing space with others is an option that will open up new opportunities or help remove a burden in place of struggle is a huge success, in my opinion!

So Thankful!

Thanksgiving

I don't know about you kids, but I feel so lucky to have all that I have and to live this beautiful life. Even with everything that's been happening in the world right now, there is so much beauty in every day that sometimes I think I might burst.

To put it simply, this life is pretty darn awesome. 

There are a gazillion things that I'm grateful for, and this list barely scrapes the surface. Nevertheless, in honor of Thanksgiving, here's my little list for which I'm constantly thankful: 

- The fam. All of 'em. 
- My ridiculous, wonderful, loving, selfless, hilarious friends. 
- Bicycles.
- Those moments we can set aside our phones and enjoy each other's company.
- Impromptu dance parties. 
- The Denver Bicycle Cafe. For reminding me that working at a cafe doesn't have to suck - and in fact, it can be pretty darn rad. Case in point, this
- Lazy mornings when you can sleep in then watch back-to-back episodes of Bob's Burgers. 
- Sweet and passionate kisses.
- Extra large hot water heaters. 
- When a song hits me at the very time I need to hear those words. 
- The moment I finish reading an amazing book. 

Yep, that was a good one!! 

Yep, that was a good one!! 


- Safety pins.
- Really big hugs. 
- Helpful neighbors. 
- Snow boots.
- KARAOKE NIGHT. 
- Thoughtful gifts. 
- People who really listen. 
- People embracing (and sharing) their talents. 
- Days off. 
- Really delicious coffee. 

I made this one myself! 

I made this one myself! 


- Shared meals. 
- Puppies. 
- Shoes I can stand in for hours that don't hurt my feet.
- Police officers, firemen and women, emergency room doctors, nurses, and anyone else working their butt off during the holidays. 
- Home.
- All of my friend's beautiful little babies that were born this year. 
- Live music. 
- Earplugs. 
- Laughter that makes me forget anything bad ever happened.
- Hope. 
- Movie nights. 
- Jokes that land at the perfect moment. 
- Park naps on warm summer days. 

There's so much more that I could put on this list, but for right now that'll do just fine!

Most of all, I'm thankful every day that I have so many wonderful people (like you) in my life.

Yes, there are terrible, awful things that happen in this world - but let's gather, eat a bunch of food with the people we love, and focus on the good stuff. 

Wishing you and your families all a wonderful and beautiful Thanksgiving! 

Current Mood | A New Season

I remember once when I was working with my friend Sienna, I asked her if I could put on some music, specifically my "Melancholy Mood" playlist.

Her response was, "I feel like that playlist is always my mood."

It was so funny at the time, but I'm starting to understand how she feels! It may have been the election outcome, the sad news that keeps popping up all over the world, or that it's already dark at 5 p.m., but lately my mood has been a bit more melancholy than usual. 

I have always loved fall. I love the chill in the air, the excuse to stay in and snuggle under a blanket with a book, and the colors of the leaves. Fall in Denver has been drawn out a bit longer than usual this year, which I must admit has always been something I've wanted. However it seems that the looming winter is weighing on my shoulders. 

I went for a walk this morning to try and shake off my state of mind, but my steps dragged. When I looked up I saw the moon still fading in the early blue sky, and it just made me feel tiny. 

Maybe it's okay to feel small and helpless every now and then. The problems of daily life can feel a little less heavy when compared to the rest of the big bad world.

Sometimes the moon only seems bright when compared to the absolute darkness around it. 

It seems that there's just not enough time to do everything I want to do. 
Sometimes I feel so full of love I want to burst, and other times I feel so sorrowful I want to hide under the covers all day. 
Sometimes everything just seems too big, and impossible to reach. 

I'm just one tiny person that hopes to do big things. 

I know that things will start getting brighter, and that my mood will lift back to its normal height of happiness. But right now, I'm just going to accept things as they are. Sometimes I just need to exist where I am at the moment in order to get to where I need to be. For some reason, I find comfort in that. 

Girls on the Gorge | An Amazing Adventure!

Last year I took a road trip with Nina to Montana, where we whitewater kayaked with Girls on the Gorge. 

My post about the trip breaks it all down, but it was a pretty amazing experience. Not only did I learn a lot about myself in just a few short days, but I got to see the beauty of Montana's rivers, and meet some truly wonderful women!

Nina and I on the river! 

Nina and I on the river! 

We were lucky enough to have Sprout Films along on this trip to film us for a video they were making to promote the Girls on the Gorge kayaking program. Here is the full video (keep an eye out for me!):

Ladies, if you have the availability to take this trip I HIGHLY recommend it. It's such an empowering experience, and an adventure I will always be thankful for!

For more information about Sprout Films, click here. 
For more information about Girls on the Gorge, click here. 

Missing You

Lately, I've been missing some of my favorite people:

From top left, clockwise: Megan (as lazy susan), Amber, Ryan, Sienna.

From top left, clockwise: Megan (as lazy susan), Amber, Ryan, Sienna.

Oh, and of course the beautiful Betsy that started what I call the Denver Friends Pacific Northwest Migration! 

You need to check out her Instagram page. Trust me. 

Although these folks are not physically in my life anymore (at least for now!), I think of them constantly, and miss them dearly. 

It's interesting looking back on the people that have come in and out of my life at different times. People that were so close to me at one point I barely know now. People that I only knew as random acquaintances years ago are now some of my dearest friends. 

I love how life is a constant ebb and flow of different connections and relationships. It's ever-growing, and ever-changing. There is comfort in the constant, but also excitement in the change. 

Friends that are far away, I just wanted to let you know: I love you, and I think of you all the time! I really truly hope to see you again very soon!

Freelance for a year!

My LinkedIn profile just alerted me to something I may have otherwise missed: I have been working freelance for just over a year as of this month!

I am a little shocked at how fast the year has gone by, and also so thrilled that I've made it this far. You might remember, I kinda jumped right into this whole career-change thing. It was scary, but also a risk I was willing to take in consideration of the new freedoms I could gain. 

I've certainly had my doubts along the way, and I am constantly learning how to manage my time. I've had my moments of feeling like every extra moment of my time is filled with work, and my moments of oh-shit-am-I-going-to-be-able-to-pay-rent-this-month. I've even tried applying for full-time office work again after being so frustrated with the instability (and lack of benefits) that comes with being self-employed. 

Then I get a steady few months of work, get back into a routine, and remember that I can do this... 

Work outside on a beautiful morning!

Work outside on a beautiful morning!

And this... 

Bike to the park on my lunch break (that I can take whenever I want)!

Bike to the park on my lunch break (that I can take whenever I want)!

And I'm SO HAPPY all over again. 

I'm sure I'll have tough months moving forward, I'm not naive about that. I'll still have doubts, and have exciting moments of success. Overall I'm just going to continue riding the wave! 

I may even find a full-time job someday that will allow me to have kind of freedom I'm looking for but also let me do work that I'm passionate about! ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! 

But right now, that little tidbit of news made me really proud of myself. I truly feel like I can accomplish anything I put hard work into. I am so glad I took the chance!