It wasn’t until last month that I realized I’m always on the look out for something else. More specifically, I’m living in the anticipation of the next moment which almost always spoils the present moment.
Just when my mom was here and we visited New York, I took some days “off” (you know, vacation with a toddler, I’ve written before how that kind of vacation takes on a whole new meaning!) and we played tourist in New York City, how fun! Except I was tired from the drive and so very angry for getting lost as we were nearly there (who likes to take the Holland tunnel by accident when you’re just trying to find your way through midtown? Hello New Jersey, and here goes $16 in wasted tolls!)…
That’s when I caught myself thinking “Soon I will be home again”.
Two weeks prior I could not wait for my mom to get here so we could do all these things! Why, O, why?
This is just one example, but it illustrates perfectly the dynamic of my life. Occasionally I manage to enjoy the present moment — mostly those when nothing special was planned, there is no rush to go anywhere or follow a schedule of events.
Is there such a thing as a guide to teach me how to follow the Carpe Diem motto?
Sometimes ignorance is the key to happiness, don’t ask yourself too many questions.
But let me ask just one: is it just me who’s constantly looking forward to something else?
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In my most recent Declutter Tuesday post, I promised a follow-up regarding beauty products’ expiration dates.
Shelf life can vary greatly by product type, but what’s even more surprising is the choice in showing this information (or not) to the consumer.
Let’s play a little game; what’s missing on these products…
Sample Beauty Products (batch 1) - Front
Sample Beauty Products (batch 1) - Back
That is clearly marked on these beauty products:
Sample Beauty Products (batch 2) - Front
Sample Beauty Products (batch 2) - Back
See that little icon that looks like the cap of a bottle on the back of the containers? The one on the white bottle of shampoo indicates 18M, the hair product in the yellow container shows 12M and the last product by Aveda reads 24M.
This icon tells you how long this product will last (in months) from the day you open it. This is a “best before” date; after that, use your judgement.
I’ve also found this list to be particularly useful.
I find it rather interesting that the European products (i.e. products developed for the European market, not necessarily made there) will generally carry this icon to indicate shelf life. It’s not so common in the products you find almost exclusively in the US (though The Body Shop certainly sells their merchandise worldwide; wondering if the icon is there in other countries! Anyone?).
My preliminary research online did not provide much information on the matter. I’d be interested to know why there is a discrepancy!
That’s it for this week: keeping up the momentum, decluttering the bathroom a day at a time…
What are you tossing this week?
Most of us have heard this story which explains how the things that matter to you most must take priority; then if there is room left, you can add the “rest”.
It says that if you have rocks of various sizes to fit in a jar, you’d have to put the big ones first, then position the smallest stones, and eventually sprinkle with sand. Should you have started filling the jar with sand, you would not have been able to fit the larger rocks.
My blog wasn’t fitting in the jar this past week, I’m at peace with this. I wanted to write this as a reminder of why I shouldn’t beat myself too much for the lack of posts. And that while I’m serious about my blog, I don’t need to take it too seriously.
Because I’ve been busy with rather important “things”.
I left my job, and more importantly a field I’d been in for 7 years — now, that may not sound like much, but that’s pretty much my entire career to date. So yes, it’s a rather big deal.
Most people on the exit ramp just speed up and don’t really look back. I suppose I’m not that kind of person because I gave everything that I had, all the way until the end; I worked my tail off to make sure I offered as much assistance as possible in the transition process. Because I still care about the place, the people, and the work. I would not have had it any other way.
Then my mom and her boyfriend came to town, about 10 days ago. That’s great, right? We’re having a fabulous time.
Truthfully, it’s also exhausting! And I bet they feel the same way when I visit them, so no hard feelings.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working on my new job which started officially today and is already taking me to an event in Florida tomorrow until Saturday.
That trip is going to be my longest stretch of time away from Poisson. I hope I will be so consumed by work that I won’t think about it too much.
But the reality will be else I’m afraid; it isn’t just my little boy’s routine I’m disturbing, it’s mine!
I’ve been giving Poisson his dinner & bath for nearly nineteen months with exceptions I can count on my two hands. How is that going to go exactly?
I have to pack for my trip.
This week, work will barely fit in the jar, yet there won’t be room for anything else!
Today was the day I finally decluttered my bathroom’s cabinet.
You’d think that after 3 days walking the streets of NYC and doing everything touristy, then driving back 4 hours, I’d find more comfort into finding my own bed, at last!
There is nothing like dedication, and since we’re Tuesday, I did my homework. It’s very possible nobody else is watching but just in case this inspires some of you, I will keep documenting. Feel free to join me and link up!
I’m going to make this easy and quick; lots of pictures, because they speak for themselves!
Beauty products don’t make any sense after they’ve been open for a while (I will have a follow-up post on this, stay tuned!). Yet I can’t help but buy more because I like to change it up.
That was until I decided to stop buying unnecessary things.
And also, I stopped buying/using care products that contain paraben derivatives (skin toxicant of varying degrees, check http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com if you want to know more) because if you can avoid it, you should too.
At the beginning, it was just a container I had to fill. I meant business!
It may not look that bad, but, really, it was.
Let me add the person responsible for this mess was my 18-month old son. Obviously. Just as long as we have this clarified, we can move on!
It took me less than 15 minutes to sort the trash — the nearly empty bottles saved aside “just in case”… In case what? That a guest who forgot their toiletries cares to finish up my 2-year old shampoo?? Gross.
And the clear bags with zipper that some products come in, in case I may need them to travel? Guess if there down here, they’ve not been that helpful. Toss.
And the 2-year old sun tanning lotion that I love but never use. Yay, that’s the perfect use for sun protection, just let it rot for a couple of years before using it. Major fail, here. Lesson learned, hopefully…
However in the end it was so worth it! See for yourself:
Tada! Orderly Cabinet
The beauty of this process: I know I won’t be missing any of those items. Yet every single piece of crap that leaves my house brings me a step closer to chaos control. And I’m all about that!
On another note, I started unsubscribing from unnecessary emails that waste my time by crowding my inbox and forcing me to sort yet one more piece of mail every few days. It’s liberating!
Tell me what’s going to feed your trash this week, I want to know!
These past two weeks have been marked by change, or at the very least the premise of many changes ahead!
I quit my job.
I gave my notice at the end of last week, and told my coworkers and clients that I was leaving the fundraising industry to get on a completely different path.
Their response was so positive that it only comforted my in my decision. I was actually quite surprised by some of the reactions I got. In a good way.
My boss attempted to keep me around, but he soon realized that what was opening up for me was worth a shot, and that I was going to take it. The pay, he asked. Is less. It’s true and he believed me. Right then he knew he would not be able to convince me to stay.
At that point, I was completely aware I must have been doing a good job because he was truly sad to see me go.
I feel like I am letting my coworkers down because I know the work coming down the pipeline is not slowing down, meanwhile more resources will be needed to replace me. Despite the pickle juice I leave them in, all of them expressed how truly happy they were (some jealous!) for me. And when the smartest of them told me how smart I am, how great I’m going to do in my new job… I was really wondering if that was really me she was talking about! So flattering.
To be frank, I’m just exercising common sense to the best of my ability, and that appears to do the trick. I do work hard. But all of my team does too. And for that they deserve so much credit.
Then when I told the non-profits I work with about my decision, I got overwhelmed by their kind words and their sincere appreciation of my contribution and hard work. I suppose it proves I made a bit of a difference in each one of their missions — a high-profile educational organization, a health group that awards grants to cancer research programs, a youth shelter in Canada, a humane group in operation for over 100 years. I helped them raise more net money to fulfill their goals. That’s actually better than sending a check ; you know, don’t give famished people fish, teach them how to catch the fish, type of thing…
My new adventure is taking me down the street, in my own town just a few miles away from my house, to a small office I’ve known for a little while now. A renown French company with a growing influence in the US. And a few people within the staff who are friends. I look forward to spending my work day with them, learning from them, accomplishing great things together.
I also look forward to better balancing my time between work and my family. To getting back on track with my triathlons & marathon goals. To starting all over with such a career challenge.
In an industry I know very little about — the boating sector in North America — for a marketing job I’m so excited about! A job that will also take me back to France a few times every year.
I am so lucky to have this opportunity.
Whoever included prosperity in the definition of the American Dream ought to pay special attention to the definition of said prosperity. From what I see, it does not have much to do with the money.
I’m also incredibly lucky to have my mom at home for two weeks, starting with today! She just arrived from France and I had not seen her since Christmas. It’s the third time she meets her Franco-American grand-son. We have much time to make up and fabulous memories to create!
Finally, let’s remember health is the best gift money can’t buy. Whoever is dealing the cards from up above or down below, thank you for keeping me and my family safe. But please, give my friend Bill a little break. Cancer is so bullshit.
Decluttering by picking stuff out of a pile for disposal is not working. It’s not working for me.
CC License photo credit: Paul Hammond
Tonight, just before I left the office, an email from IT caught me off guard and, shortly after, gave me inspiration.
The email was a notice to all employees that a new policy regarding data management was going to be implemented to save the company time and resources. The premise: email older than 180 days will automatically be deleted from every user’s inbox.
No exception, no excuses.
Just two weeks left before kick-off, last chance to save the “office gems” — don’t we all have them? Email arguments, best-of-the-year faux-pas and email etiquette breakage. And of course, the life-saving-maybes and other got-myself-covered emails in case someone comes to question your judgement in a few months…
At first, I thought: data storage can’t be that expensive, what’s the big deal! Let my archives flourish and build my history, my background, my memory.
But then, it started to make sense… why bother?
Save what you need when it comes around, right then and now; you can keep the rest floating around for 6 months until it automatically disappears. If it was that important you WILL know and remember to save it, share it, print it, or do whatever you want with it.
This is exactly what I’m going to do for my on-going declutter “life project”. Instead of picking things to throw out, I will be picking out the things I must keep!
When stuff piles up, I should assume it will be trashed by the end of the day and promptly pull the essentials out, and put them where they belong.
And then… discard piles at a time. How satisfying this must be!
I need renewed inspiration to continue decluttering, please link up your own challenges.
Tell me I’m not alone. Or am I?
Yesterday was a big declutter day. For a very good cause. And actually, by accident!
My cousin just moved from France to DC, she will be working for the French school there and signed a 3-year contract. She is here with her 11-year old son. A new beginning, at almost 50. Another shot at the American Dream!
I am so glad I was here to help her over the past few days. When you expatriate yourself, you have to start over on so many levels.
New job: pressure is on.
New house: maybe at first a hotel.
New friends: none yet.
Customs and languages: Uh, not yours.
Emotional and financial stability: poor.
At least she is not alone — she is nearly alone, but not quite by herself. I spent most the day on Sunday and yesterday afternoon driving to DC, helping her sign a lease (I even wrote some checks until her funds are available), helping her move her luggage from the hotel, finding food and the basic necessities for the both of them.
And so Sunday night and Monday morning I found myself happily filling up two boxes of things I own that are mostly unnecessary to me, but mostly vital for her new bare home. (The apartment is not furnished.)
Dishes and utensils.
An inflatable bed and sheets.
Basic kitchen pantry items and consumable.
A foot lamp.
And I am sure I will find more.
Too bad I don’t have a picture. Again, I had no idea what I was doing until I realized we are Tuesday and Dang! I wish I had documented, because I was just in the process of decluttering!
So today is a declutter crossroad because my declutter project just crossed the path of expat life.
How expats get started.
And where I was 7 years ago, with just 2 huge suitcases.
Nothing else, nobody else. Just 2 suitcases, a student visa and a marketing job.
I don’t know what I was thinking. White clothing are no longer in season; I was not in love with the fabric; I liked the bargain (on sale plus 20% off, how to say no); I LOVED that it was a size zero.Yep. First time at Chico’s. I felt good about that!
But I still did not like that it was white, for as much I love white clothes they cannot withstand more than two cycles through my laundry process. Why?
And so ever since I bought it over 2 weeks ago, the spankin’ new jacket has remained in the closet, with tags on.
This should have been an obvious sign — but because I had recently started decluttering, I felt more compelled to ponder my options (i.e. make sure I really wanted the jacket I had just sacrificed 10 items for, according to the new rule).
In reality, if I buy a piece of clothing I really cannot wait to wear, then I will do just that: wear it as soon as possible. Not glance at it twice a day for two weeks to decide whether I like it enough.
Bad news for Chico’s, the white jacket is a reject, I mean a return.
And $38.11 are coming right back to my pocket.
It feels so good when you can actually get paid to declutter! I suppose the key is to control my buying impulse in the first place.
But one thing at a time…
I cannot be the only one that way: buy, try on, hang back, try on, hang back. Never touch again. Sigh. I’ve adopted the tags-on approach after getting inspired by my dear friend A. If within 2 weeks the items has not moved, then it’s got to go!
Curious to hear what other tricks you all use to keep the shopping instinct in check, care to share with me?
I am closing in on 30 and I am a little scared.
Outside you wouldn’t be able to tell. I keep the insecurity inside for the most part.
Or maybe it’s because it just started to boil in me and it hasn’t overflown. Yet.
Here are some things I am getting some fear and anxiety over as I am getting older:
- every day I am asked when I will have another baby. The truth is I don’t know. Yet everyone seems to think I should put it on a public calendar. I won’t. In America they make you feel very special about this, so special that they even named a milestone on the ticking clock for you: at 35 you enter AMA – advanced maternal age. How is that for reassurance? Crap, that’s barely 5 years away now, isn’t it?
- as time passes, I become more aware that I need to “get going” to do the things that matter to me. Because 10 years go by in the blink of an eye! Such as travels. Spend time with my family (they’re in France!). And learning Spanish (for real). But how am I suppose to fit this in?
- the more time I spend in my current career, the more I realize I’m missing out on the one that is meant for me. I’ve been looking for what “the one” is and I will need to take some risks soon — remorse is always worse than regrets, I’m told.
- and of course, there is the way I feel in my body ; the older I get, the worse my metabolism, and the more wrinkles and sagging skin. And I am not even 30 yet! I know it won’t get any better from here on out!
Overall though, my life is simply going by too fast! And my mom was right: it only goes by faster year over year. How can I be ok with that?
I have every right in this world to worry!
On the other hand, I’m thrilled to see my little boy grow, to strengthen my relationships with my family, husband and friends, to gain more knowledge and wisdom, to meet new people and learn each day. Fine. I’m like cheese, or wine for that matter, getting better with age…
But no matter how much I try to think about the positive, I cannot control how much I’m bothered by the realizations that come along.
Aging is accepting you are not eternal, and that always comes as a bit of a shock.
Is it just me?
Maybe if I take the humorous approach this won’t be so difficult?
First of all, I know we are already Wednesday — and not even early in the morning! So in that regards the Tuesday post feels a bit out of place. Thanks to whom? Bluehost, the company that happens to be hosting this site and is doing a lousy job at it. Need hosting? Don’t use Bluehost.
Of course had I planned better I would have had my post lined up by Monday, but as I wrote in my post from yesterday, I got caught up reading real books lately (I’m on book #3) and I. Cannot. Stop.
Because I need to.
Because I take my blogging commitment seriously.
Because the post I wrote last night and got forever lost in the abyss of server failure? Was just about failure actually.
I was writing how much I liked the idea of decluttering but how hard I found to throw things out under lame pretenses such as “I might one day” or “could come in handy”. And as I attacked the kitchen pantry I did not find the strength in me to throw the crap, and was only able to put 3 food items away for a future donation to the local homeless shelter.
I felt lame. Granted, it was 11pm and I did not have the fierce motivation then.
But there is more.
I wanted to share this image which illustrates my failure as a “declutterer”; though I still have hope, and I know I will improve.
Let me explain: this milk jug is not so innocent. It represents my lack of discipline.
I try to buy local whole milk for my son, and about a month ago, I decided to buy my milk from this specialty grocer who carries this wonderful milk in consigned glass bottles; you pay for the bottle the first time but then you exchange it for a full one when you come back to buy your next half gallon. So green, I loved it!
In any case, this particular idea had failure written all over it.
The grocer was out my way.
I realized when I got home after my first purchase that I had gotten ripped off and paid far too much for this milk, no matter how much better it was from the generic organic whole milk from Trader Joe’s. And we go through a lot of milk, so every penny counts ; however in this case we’re talking dollars. Yes, they made a killing out of me. But just once…
As it turns out, I never went again. Many times I’ve convinced myself to just take it back to at least get my $5 refund.
Yet this stupid glass bottle has been sitting on my kitchen counter for the past month. How did this happen!?
Go ahead and condemn me for this is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, I’m going back to first base, and trying this again next Tuesday. Join me!