Nothing is actually better than Something

About a year ago I watched the documentary “The Minimalists”. Its all about these two friends who worked in the corporate world and, just like so many of us, lived and breathed work, money, and the general hustle. They talked about how they came to the realization that it just wasn’t bringing them joy and from there the journey to minimalism began. Obviously, it’s much more detailed and interesting but it was this documentary that spurred my year of personal growth.

Like I do, I watched the documentary and, literally, the moment it ended I was already filling bags and getting rid of ALL excess things. It clicked for me. Not only did I understand it but I knew that I needed it. One of the most significant things I’ve learned this year is how important support is. First of all, I have my husband who has always not only supported me as in “allowing” me to do things my way but if, after I explain the what and whys to him, it makes sense….he joins in on the fun (and sometimes sits back and laughs at how quickly things change around here). There is nothing better than truly having and being a partner to your partner. Beyond that, when I am interested in learning more about something and making life changes, I immerse myself in knowledge. I read the books, I watch the videos, I Listen to the podcasts, find like minded friends, and join support groups online. I rarely actually participate in these groups but knowing there are people out there more experienced than me is comforting. They provide excellent guidance to people who are taking the time to ask questions (that I get to read and learn from) and sometimes they’ll share relative articles that answer questions I didn’t even know I had. Knowing I don’t know everything about absolutely anything and constantly seeking information has opened up my world. I’ve found that people want to share their knowledge just to share it and make the world better. I am grateful for these people!

There is one question frequently asked to The Minimalists that I hear on their weekly podcasts and that is “How can you be a minimalist with kids?”. I am happy that they continued to answer this question week after week because it took months for it to really sink in for me. Basically, it’s no different than being a minimalist without kids. You go through all things and get rid of the things that don’t bring you joy or add value to your life. The trick is, though, that the “you” in that scenario is the child. It’s not ok for me to go through their things and toss out the things I don’t like (those God forsaken tiny shopkins!) if it still brings joy to them. The good thing to know, though, is that kids are smarter and more intuitive than we give them credit for. A couple times a month I’ll give the kids a bag (reusable or a box now that zero waste is a part of my journey!) and ask them to work together and put all the things away that they think they don’t care for anymore or that someone who has no toys would really appreciate more than they do now. The only rule is they have to ask each other before putting anything in the bag or else Medina will put all of Amaya’s favorite toys in the bag and vice versa. They always come back with a full bag that they’re happy to part with. On more than one occasion I’ve had to take a toy out because it held sentimental value to me. I held on to it for a bit longer then, after seeing it just sit on my dresser for a few months, I realized it doesn’t serve any real purpose so I took a picture then got rid of it when I was ready. When I was ready. Minimalism means something different to everyone. It absolutely should not feel torturous. It should feel like a weight is lifted to bring you more joy. It takes time and can be done in small steps. Over the year I’ve learned that something can seem important today and that same thing is worth donating next week. So it is a constant evaluation of the things coming into and leaving your home…..or your life. Minimalism applies to people and situations too. If it/he/she isn’t ADDING value to your life or is something/someone that brings you joy then it’s time to part with it/them.

It’s taken a full year for me to get to a point where I truly, deep down, don’t desire anything more than what I need. I didn’t think I would ever get to this point (and still have ways to go, I think). For example, My wardrobe now consists of 2 black pants, 4 tshirts, 2 hoodies, 2 nice tops, 2 long sweaters, 1 skirt, and a pair of jeans. Granted, I’m a stay at home mom so this wouldn’t work for everyone but it works for me. I wash every morning and start again. For the kids: I took them shopping and let them pick out a few of their favorite things at a good quality store. So they were a little more expensive ($8 for a tiny tshirt) but since they’re only getting a few tops for the season I want them to be good quality and something they love (think sparkles, sequins, and unicorns). Their wardrobe now consists of 8 shirts, 2 sweaters, 2 dresses, and 5 pants. They don’t like jeans so I don’t buy jeans. Even with just these clothes, they wear the same 2 shirts 90% of the time. They have no desire (and therefore no need) for anything more!

So…What’t the point?

The idea here is, especially for me, that I spend too much of my life worrying about my things (cleaning them, organizing them, buying them, etc. ) and not enough time doing the things i love and add value to my life and the lives of those around me. Also, I am an anxious person and nothing triggers my anxiety quite like a mess and when I’m anxious I have less patience, and when I have less patience this house is not as peaceful and joyful as it can be. When my to do list is short (or even non existent!) then I have all the time in the world to just sit and play with the kids. 9 out of 10 times I say no to playing (or spending time with Sameer) because of household chores that need to be done. Less stuff=less chores. Less chores=more time with my loves. More time with my loves=more joy for all of us…and who doesn’t need a little more joy in their life?

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Little girls and footballs make the world a better place

As I walked Medina on to the field for her first flag football practice parents cheered for her. “YAY!” “We have a girl on our team this year!” one mom said. Another chimed in with “I think we had one last year too.” ONE. SHE THINKS. We got a similar reaction when both Medina and Amaya started basketball camp this year. It’s awesome that parents are excited to see them there but it’s also sad to me that it’s such a rare sight to them. It’s 2017 and people are still limiting their girls to what are traditionally “girl” sports: dance, cheer, gymnastics, etc. Those are amazing and important programs, for sure, but there’s so much to be learned from playing a variety of strong and competitive team sports that so many girls are missing out on. These are my reasons for encouraging my little girls to play with the boys:

1. Because they can.
Especially before puberty hits, girls are the same size as boys their age. They can also be JUST as fast, strong, and agile. There is no real reason to think that a young girl would be any different out on the field than a boy her age except if, right from the get-go, we put her in little glass box and keep her from moving, exploring, and building on these characteristics. When Medina (5 years old) first put her flags on and got in line I could tell she was nervous. She stood fidgeting at the end and twisting her flags. She watched as the boys ran after the ball while she just spun around in circles. BUT the moment she got the ball it clicked. She out ran the boys got her first touch down….. and fell in love. Medina isn’t one who enjoys doing difficult things so it’s important to me to keep proving to her that she can overcome her self-doubt, new things are not always difficult things and that just because she hasn’t done something doesn’t mean she can’t do it.

2. Respect.
When my girls are on teams with boys, they’re ON their team. The boys treat them as equals and the coach expects the same out of them as the boys on the team. In a world where women are still fighting for equal opportunities and treatment, it is important for girls to learn, right now, to never expect anything less. Also, it’s important for the boys on their team to see the girls there, watching them do all the same things they’re doing, have to rely on them, encourage them, and respect them. These are their peers. They will ALWAYS be their peers. These boys will be their school mates, their co workers, their friends, and their partners. They should know, starting right now, that girls are not less than. The more girls they see doing all the same things they do, just as well as they do them, the more likely it will be that they naturally see them as equals.

3. Confidence
It’s such an amazing feeling to accomplish something new. The girls are trying new things and achieving new goals standing next to little boys like it’s nothing out of the ordinary. As they grow, they’ll feel comfortable enough to jump in with the “big boys” whenever it’s necessary or just whenever they want to! I don’t want them to see males as obstacles and the best way to do that is to let them know, RIGHT NOW, that they are capable of all the same things. If they know, without a doubt, that there is nothing about being female that makes them less….there will be no stopping them.

4. The more experiences the merrier
I don’t enroll the girls in endless programs just to keep them busy because even though I thoroughly enjoy watching them, getting them to and from everything on time, around meals, and trying to keep the baby entertained is no easy task. But every single new experience has something to offer them. In only four weeks of basketball camp they’ve learned basketball terminology and some basic fundamentals. After only two weeks, Medina started dribbling balls without even thinking about it. As a basketball player, I do this. If there is a ball in my hand, I dribble it. It’s just something my body does like how someone holding a pen doodles. My Medina went from not knowing something to doing it without thinking. Her body will never forget this skill. It can only get better. In gymnastics they have become comfortable balancing and tumbling. They watch the big girls flipping around and now have that goal in mind so they work towards it- it isn’t scary when it’s familiar. Soccer has taught them how to maneuver with their feet and promotes self-discipline because, god knows, its hard for a newbie to just not touch the ball. Football will teach her how to work with others and that following directions is important. It will teach her how to get back up after falling down and that getting hurt (because even in flag football there’s lots of bumping into each other and passes to the face when you’re 5) doesn’t have to ruin an experience- It can even be worth it. When I was playing basketball, it was scoring on the really hard fouls and winning against the team that played so hard they hurt us that were the most satisfying. We would laugh and talk about our scratches and bruises the whole way home. It’s an experience. They won’t always win and it won’t always be worth it but sometimes it is-and that’s enough. There are no two sports that are exactly the same and every time they try a new one their muscles learn how to move in that specific way and never forget. It can get rusty and the quality or quickness may fade but it’s always there in the background and I’m trying to fill up their muscle memory bank with as much variety as possible!

 

 

I’d also like to mention that this applies to boys too. There are very few boys in gymnastics, cheer, or dance. Why? Boys and girls are EQUALLY capable of learning new things and that’s all that sports require. The ability to learn. Not everyone will be great at everything but one’s ability to be great has nothing to do with their sex. It’s important to present kids with a variety of opportunities and see where their interests lie. Find out what sparks joy in their hearts and let them run with it.