That’s a Wrap: One Year of Blogging

“If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” -Henry David Thoreau

***

THE SHORT

Minimalist Packrat is one! It’s been a wonderful year and a grand experiment in right livelihood.

We have gone through many drawers of clutter together. We have laughed. We have shared. We have changed our relationships with our things. We have overcome obstacles and limitations. We have accepted that there is life beyond the shopping mall and it is better to slow down, live simply, and simply live.

Due to the economy and a drop in our online income I must now stop blogging full-time and instead seek a mainstream job,  but I will continue to write as I find the time.

Most importantly, as I seek an hourly position, I shall be sifting through all of the unpublished work I’ve created over the past year, and polishing it into finalized tiny books and tiny stories. Perhaps the universe will surprise me, as Thoreau hints at in the quote on top, and provide me with the reality I can dream so vividly in my mind.  Let the grand Kindle experiment begin, and let me find an hourly job in the meantime that can provide me with respect, livelihood, and satisfaction. And with that non-ending ending I bid you namaste and many blessings to you on this fine fall day.

With lots of love and admiration,

-Tanja

****


Let me leave you with something special, and something simple too. With a smile on my face and bells on my toes, I present a year of learning in review, compiled just for you, dear reader:

1) On Attachment: Over the past year I was able to release many of the last attachments I had to possessions. I’m still stubbornly clinging to my jewelry making supplies but I’ve discovered that’s all right too. It’s my one area of excess and I also understand if I lost all those beads my life would go on just fine. I have largely released attachment to that which is ephemeral, and for a packrat in recovery, that alone has made the journey worthwhile.

2) On Credit Cards: I was in a car accident in the spring of 2010. I was hit by a drunk nurse who didn’t realize she’d been in an accident because she was so wasted. The wreck tore my body up, specifically my neck. As the zen farmer would say when their neighbor shares words of pity, perhaps it was a blessing, perhaps it was a shame.  I can simply move on from what happened and let life continue to unfold. One of the ways it unfolded is with a settlement. The settlement let me pay off the last of my credit card creditors. I had worked towards becoming debt-free for many years, and this is the year it finally completed, thanks to one drunk nurse. I haven’t used credit cards for over four years, I don’t have one in my wallet, and I will never use one or have one again.

3) On Addictions: By exploring minimalism so intensely, I was finally able to start working through my addictive tendencies. I did not know I had the strength to quit smoking, but this year I have quit. If nothing else had happened within the last twelve months, that one change in my life has given me a second chance to live. I am continuing to reduce my “corporate addictions” and I am fascinated to discover I do have the strength to walk away from their legalized drugs (caffeine, sugar, soda, pastries and sweets.) I will continue to reduce my need for packaged foods and processed products, and strive to eat more and more living foods. I believe that the corporations keep us addicted to their products, with flashy ads that get into our consciousness, and with chemical additives that affect our brain chemistry. I believe that it is also weakness on my part, but it is a weakness I am learning to banish. I do not want corporations making me work harder and need more money so I can buy their soda, their cigarettes, or their donuts. I will continue to pursue this further, and I’m delighted with the start I’ve made.

4) On Tiny Living: By living in a 200 square foot tiny space I have fundamentally changed my future reality. I have always insisted on a larger space and I spent years yearning for more. My “dream homes” were always in the 2,000+ range of square footage. After happily and comfortably living in 200 square feet I know I could master just about any studio, rv or houseboat out there. This is very exciting for me because I believe I will be able to live much more cheaply in the future than I have done. Where before I may have insisted on a one bedroom at a minimum, now I can be happy with much, much less. 600 square feet of anything would feel spacious to me now, whereas before it felt like an overstuffed mess. :)

5) On Shopping: I was a minimalist before I started minimalist packrat, but I was a moderate minimalist and I was just starting to work through the maintenance aspects of keeping stuff from entering my life. I still felt tempted (and failed) when shopping and I still wanted “the best of the best” just like I’d always striven for. Over the course of the year something finally started to “switch” in my brain though. I almost took a thousand dollars of our savings and bought brand new living room furniture with it. At one point Patrick and I were at the counter filling out the sales paperwork when the saleswoman, who’d been grating on us continuously, finally pushed us over the edge with her single-minded and ferocious determination to sell us a bottle of stain protection spray. I stood there stunned while Patrick kindly rebuttled her sales tactics over and over again. Could she not see how incredibly rude and aggressive she was being? We were spending nearly a thousand dollars in their store and my man had said no a dozen times already. I understood at that moment how incredibly offensive many sales people and their pitches have become. I also decided I didn’t have to put up with it. Short: We walked out, decided we didn’t need recliners after all, saved our money, and decided to start shopping as humanly and minimally as possible. I made a commitment to not support the concept of sales, which includes sales people, and in the process discovered I needed very little after all. I’m on an unofficial quasi-shopping fast and I kind of love it. ;)

6) On Decorating: I started the year still salivating over the latest cute Ikea fabric, or amazingly shaped groups of vases. Color and form, to any artist, is such a fun thing to play with… but I’ve decided to take a fairly permanent hiatus from the concept of decorating. Decorating, in most cases, is the result of shopping, and I have spent a lifetime inside shopping malls, stores, yard sales and thrifties already. I’m tired of shopping, and therefore I am tired of decorating as well. Perhaps someday the ornamentation will return in importance to me, but right now I have the simplest of touches and they fulfill me: My white curtains, beautiful blankets, my funky footstool, my small ganesh wallet card that sits clothespinned to a cord near my computer, a few crystals, and a chakra banner that I still haven’t quite put up. Lately my Raise your Voice protest sign has joined the fray as well. This is enough for me. I no longer yearn so intensely for Pottery Barn or TJ Maxx, and when I do yearn, I no longer give in. I am free and I am spending less. By giving up decorating (or minimizing it), I reduce the amount of money I need to earn. This wonderful lesson was hard-won and will stay with me for my lifetime.

7) On Simplicity: I had a friend once who decided to spend an entire winter camping out in the Ozark Mountains. I thought she was nuts, as did many others. But I also had a profound respect for the boundaries she was willing to push within herself. Hilde survived the winter, and as the days passed by, her inner peace grew until I could feel it like a flame of love engulfing her. She was a walking, talking breathing mystic and I was honored to have an opportunity to know her. The path of simplicity is different for all of us. For some it will be extreme, like Hilde living in her snow-covered tent. For others it will be a lessening of junk, shopping and scheduling. It is all beautiful. For me, I strive to walk a little further into the wood, to discover that peace Thoreau spoke about, to experience the clarity, harmony and connection to our earth that Jim Merkel has discovered. Simplicity is a path of our own choosing, and it can bring with it an inner stillness that isn’t available for sale anywhere in the world.

And with that we come to an end.

One year of blogging and connecting.

It has been a pleasure.

Thank you!

Thank YOU.

thank you.

***

 

the minimalist packrat clutter bootcamp

 

50 Responses to “That’s a Wrap: One Year of Blogging”

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  1. Happy 1 year Anniversary, Tanja. It’s clearly been quite an eventful year. I always appreciate your insights.

    I’ve been on my minimalist journey for over a year now and I still feel like I have so far to go. I think part of that is because of my family situation. I so wish my husband and I were totally on the same page and we had raised our kids with a minimalist mindset from the start. A huge challenge is living in a combined household with my parents. When you’re just one voice in a house of 10, it’s easy not to be truly heard. I still dream of a quiet tiny house like you have someday.

    I look forward to seeing how your writing experiments go. I’ve been considering seeing if the Kindle world of writing is a more feasible option for me. It sucks about having to find regular employment. I’m in a similar place but haven’t quite figured out where I’m headed yet.

    I wish you all the best! Thanks for sharing your world with us all.
    Faith | Minimalist at Home recently posted..Experiments in Simplicity

    • Thanks Faith! You and I have had similar challenges integrating minimalism into someone else’s space. Right now I think I’ve lost the challenge. ;) We’re contemplating moving back to Arkansas where we’re pretty sure we can find work and sending money down to Cora. It’s up in the air right now.

      I’m interested in the idea of kindle and tiny priced pdf ebooks as well. It’s an experiment and those are always fun. :) Plus the list of people saying it’s worth a shot is growing. There’s Meg, Annie, Francine, Allan, Karol, Joshua and Leo all doing Kindle right now. I’m willing to stop writing on the blog for a little while to see if I can get some work polished and put up on Kindle. ;o

  2. Tracy G says:

    Those are beautiful reflections, Tanja. Thank you for being you, and best wishes in all you do.

  3. nicole says:

    A huge challenge is living in a combined household with my parents. I’ve been considering seeing if the Kindle world of writing is a more feasible option for me.
    nicole recently posted..Murano Glass by NasonMoretti – Part 3

    • Hi Nicole,

      It can definitely be a huge challenge. It all depends on what moment it is. :) Things fluctuate so much with roommates, and whether it’s a parent or not, and a tiny house/main house or not, it’s still a roommate situation. The personalities have to work together to at least a limited degree. :)

      I’d love to hear your experiences with Kindle if you go forward with it.

  4. Bethany says:

    Congratulations! Your insights, as always, are inspirational. In regards to your insight on addiction, don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re not weak! As you clearly pointed out, processed foods and other legal chemicals like alcohol and caffeine are designed to get you hooked. You’ve recognized that they are after you AND you’ve quit smoking. Hardly signs of weakness, in my opinion. I look forward to hearing about your job search. Be well!
    Bethany recently posted..Occupied

  5. Thank you Bethany. ;) I loved your latest post by the way. It’s a perfect piece on how to change the world. It should be must reading for everyone.
    Tanja from Minimalist Packrat recently posted..99% and The Lost Art of Being Gentle With Yourself

  6. Meg says:

    Hmmmmmmm I think I recognize that kitty cat ;D

    Best of luck finding work, especially work that your body can handle. Most of all: Happy Blog Birthday!
    Meg recently posted..Thoughts on My Relationship With Food

    • This one is Abby. She was a feral stray that adopted Cora along with her brother. Her brother didn’t make it through kittenhood before running off but Abby decided to settle in. She’s funny. She will run in terror if you try to pet her while you’re standing up, but if she’s on the couch and you’re on the couch she can turn into a little purrball. (The raccoon is a baby that one of our neighbors saved. He’s going to be released back into the wild soon… if he’ll go.)

      Thanks for the Happy Blog Birthday wishes Meg. ;)

  7. s.e. says:

    Dear Tanja,
    I really enjoy your blog and look forward to reading what you write when you find time. I hope that one day you will be able to be entirely self employed again. Good luck finding a job that provides enough income while also meeting the other requirements you mentioned.

  8. Annie says:

    Wow, has it only been a year? Seems like I’ve known you forever! I am so glad to have made your acquaintance – you have taught me a lot.

    Interesting that you are looking for real-world work as I quit my job to focus online… Life is like that sometimes.

    Congratulations on your first full year! I’m so proud of you!

    Peace,
    Annie
    Annie recently posted..Priorities and Cutting Corners

    • How funny, we’re switching places Annie. It seems like you just picked up those extra hours, how awesome you’ve decided you can do without them again. I’m so close! I know I’ll get there again. In the meantime, I’ll find a nice job to do somewhere. ;-0
      Tanja from Minimalist Packrat recently posted..Nickels and Dimes and National Bank Transfer Day

      • Annie says:

        Well Good Luck Tanja! I probably could have hung in without the day job but at the time I seriously wanted a change, and WM gave me just that. It was just enough to make me realise that freedom is more important to me than a steady paycheck. :) Good luck my friend, give a hollar if you need anything! I’ll still be lurking here, reading ur posts!

        Hugs,
        Annie
        Annie recently posted..Katie’s Shopping Trip

  9. tammy says:

    oh tanja.
    you are amazing. i never cease to find joy in the way words just flow from your “pen.”
    i read thoreau at a very young age and i truly think he is what started me on my path
    to minimalism. when you’re young it seems to really take. luckily my husband went along.
    i wish dearheart that you didn’t have to go back “out among the english” to find a job.
    i wish you could make exquisite jewelry and write books and make homemade wonderful
    soap… or whatever else your amazingly talented and creative self could dream of.
    i have not been to eureka springs in years. when bob and i discovered it one luminescent
    autumn day… it was perfect. i fell in love and have always wanted to go back. it’s been
    so long now. might not even recognize it. but i could almost see you supplying handmade
    wonders to some of the shops there. and a small place for patrick to practice and sell his
    holistic abilities. the ideas are endless! and since it will take little now for you to be content,
    happiness takes on a whole new meaning!!! warm and cozy… simple food, simply cooked…
    easy, comfortable clothes… pets to cuddle… and the love you have for each other!
    i’m glad you’re still going to post sometimes. i would consider it such a loss to not have you
    in my life now! all the very very best! (and i love raccoons!!!)
    love,
    tammy j

    • Hey Tammy,

      What perfect words. ;) I’ve been contemplating so many ideas in my head, and soap was one of them. ;) I made some wonderful aromatherapy sprays at one time and I just adored them. There was also a friend with an amazing sprout operation who quit and moved to an intentional community. There might still be a local sprouts gap in the supply chain. That would be so much fun!!!! I could be sprout girl, queen of the mung beans. ;)

      I bet Eureka is almost exactly as you remembered it. What an amazing, eclectic little town. I’ve always dreamed of being sufficient enough to live there. The big world of Fayetteville is a close, close match in it’s own way. ;)
      Tanja from Minimalist Packrat recently posted..Nickels and Dimes and National Bank Transfer Day

      • tammy says:

        amazing timing!!!
        when i got notice just now of your reply i was in the middle of viewing images of fayetteville!
        it is simply beautiful. i had no idea. and don’t you just love the name. fayetteville.
        yes! i could easily see you as a little sprout queen!
        this is going to be fun.
        will look forward to all your future posts on this journey of discovery, renewal and the next step!!
        cheers and hugs,
        tammy j

  10. Kathleen says:

    Dear Tanja,

    Thank you for your generous, upbeat, honest posts. They have really helped me in my life. Good luck in your future writing experiments, and work search! I will look forward to whatever you do post.

  11. Martha (MM) says:

    Happy Blog Birthday! Very touching post and one I can relate to. I wish you the best!
    Martha (MM) recently posted..Very Pinteresting

  12. K.D. says:

    Dear Tanja,
    Thank you for your beautiful, inspiring post, and for all of your advice and inspiration. I wish you all the best as you move ahead along new paths. I hope that you will continue to share with us.
    I can’t believe your blog is just a year old!
    Happy Blogaversary.
    K.D. recently posted..The road to hell is paved with…

  13. CONGRATS on your one year!!! I’m just so happy to have found your blog and am even happier that despite needing a day job, you’ll still be around here :) You are truly a huge inspiration!!
    Megyn @ Minimalist Mommi recently posted..How the Grinch Stole Halloween

  14. Christina E says:

    So lovely written!
    I wish you Good luck to find a job that suits you!

  15. Congratulations on one year and I hope you find a job you like as you return to the traditional workforce Tanja.

    How’d you get the raccoon to pose like that? Looks pretty tame!

    • Hey Mike, One of our neighbors spotted two baby raccoons on the sidewalk near a park in town. He looked around and spotted momma raccoon dead by a creek with a metal pipe stuck through her head. Our neighbor decided to give the two coons a chance in life and brought them home. One of the babies died, the other one is who you see here. He was around three weeks old in this shot. Our neighbor will be releasing the coon soon, now that he’s a little older, as he’s gotten feisty and territorial with his dogs over the food bowl. ;)

  16. Sandie says:

    Hi…Congratulations for the post here because this can help a lot!!Thank you!!
    Sandie recently posted..Contests And More

  17. Jill Foley says:

    Happy Blogging Birthday! I can’t believe it’s only been a year – it seems like I’ve known you longer.

    When I first read this post earlier I was in a hurry and didn’t read it carefully. I just now sat down to read it again and read the part about you having to cut back on blogging and get a real job. I had to read it a couple times to let it sink in….. I wish you the best. I truly hope you find that you still have plenty of time to come back and entertain us with your writing and encourage and inspire us as we continue to seek to live simply.

    I will miss, miss, miss you…..
    Jill Foley recently posted..Simple Joys – Apples

  18. Mia says:

    Wow Tanja, it feels like I have known you my whole life!!

    I remember my first comment, although it was not the first post of yours I had read – I have read every single post and they have all brought me different kinds of comfort, for different reasons. I really feel a homely sense of community here… anyway I digress. My first comment was reading back through previous posts and I came across one about fear and your cougar incident. I was struggling then with anxiety after a fairly gnarly period of drug abuse, and I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But you told me it was all going to be ok – and it was! It always has been. I can look back on that time and smile now, at how small I thought I was, and how connected we all are in the strangest of ways. It sounds hippyish and flakey, but its true! Your blog and Thoreau’s words and all the good, kind & wise advie out that has contributed to a greater universe. I love that thought. Honored to have spent this year with you, if only electronically!

    I hope we can all continue to walk into that wood with you! Peace and love. xx

  19. Rachel says:

    What a year! Thank you for sharing it here with all of us. Your journey has fueled inspiration for many of my own.

    Fingers crossed for you on finding a job that you enjoy and I am hoping/praying you will continue to write here. Excited to see your work on Kindle.
    Rachel recently posted..Rejecting the Supermom Ideal

  20. summer says:

    Thank you, Tanja! You have inspired me so many times. I have only commented once before and you wrote me back the kindest words. I know good things will come to you. You have given so much to others. There is a special job out there for you, because you are truly special!

  21. Willow says:

    I add my voice to the others wishing you a Happy Blogaversary and also a happy period of time in the working world. When you find a job that you love, it isn’t so hard to go to work most days.

    I look forward to your posts as often as you can write them–you’re always an inspiration!

  22. Josh Martin says:

    Congrats Tanja and happy anniversary! Best wishes as you look for hourly paid work and with the book plans!
    Josh Martin recently posted..A punch to the face: Stepping out of our comfort zone

  23. Marianne says:

    Thank you thank you thank you T! you have changed my life for the better this year and i will forever be connected to you by that. Im so glad you have taken off the veil of companys and their food products. its so funny, once you realize they are providing you only advertising, not anything of substance. Have you seen “Forks over Knives” yet? it will really help with going to a more plant based diet. i loved it.
    good luck on your job search. Hopefully you will find one that fits your lifestyle and personality.
    Marianne

  24. Ellen says:

    Tanja,

    I’ll miss your posts! I feel like I’m having coffee with a good friend whenever I read what you’re up to.
    So glad you’ll still be posting; albeit, less frequently.
    Much happiness to a beautiful person!

  25. HI Tanja,

    I’m so sorry I’m late to comment on this post — I read it when it was published and then time got away from me.

    I wish you the best of luck finding a traditional job that treats you well. I’ll be sending you positive energy and good wishes.

    It’s been a blast connecting with you this year. You were one of the first bloggers I “met” when I started blogging and you immediately welcomed me into the cyberspace. You have no idea how grateful I am to you for that.

    I hope to still see you around as you’re able to write. And I’m always available by email too. :) Please keep us posted on your Kindle adventures as well!

    Thanks for a great year, Tanja.
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted..Emergency Fund Savings – October (And Other Ramblings)

  26. Happy belated anniversary!!! I didn’t realize our one year marks were so close to each other. #1 & #6 have definitely been big steps for me as well. Congrats to all of your accomplishments & cheers to many more in the years to come!
    Elle Dougherty recently posted..Happy Anniversary! The End.

  27. andre says:

    What did you do before taking the cat’s picture? he seems angry by the look of his eyes! Haha. Kidding. Belated happy anniversary to you :)
    andre recently posted..Kitchen islands with seating

  28. Melany Ross says:

    Really cute cat you have over there, though he looks kind of sad in the second picture.
    Melany Ross recently posted..maxworkoutsreview

  29. Hazel Delle says:

    Congratulations to your awe-inspiring achievements. Happy one year anniversary. I always read your blogs and they are really amazing. I got a lot of ideas. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Hazel Delle recently posted..Triactol

  30. Sarah Cohen says:

    Congrats on your one year blogging. We still looking forward for more years on your blogging. For sure in your one year blogging you are already a professional blogger. In fact, I learned a lot from your posts.
    Sarah Cohen recently posted..Hair ReGrowth Is Possible with A Hair Loss Treatment

  31. Happy one year blogging anniversary. You really a great blogger. Thanks for sharing your learning. You inspire a lot of bloggers to reach this one year anniversary. You shared various interesting topics that give wonderful learning and ideas to us.
    Trishia Hanley recently posted..3 Tips For Using Forex Day Trading Systems

  32. Happy anniversary. I love your cat. It is so cute. I have cat at home also. In fact, she has four kittens already.
    Katrina Koole recently posted..Hemorrhoid Surgery

  33. So, happy for your blogging career. You are a smart blogger. Happy one year anniversary and hope you can have write more blogs to us.
    Amanda Baldwin recently posted..Natural Pain Relievers for Joint Health

  34. Jenny Llyod says:

    Kudos. So keep blogging for many years. I know that you can still share a lot of posts to us.
    Jenny Llyod recently posted..Aging Skin: Treat it with Anti-Wrinkle Creams

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