Book Review: The Year of Less

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The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

Rating: ★★★★☆

This book convinced me to stop buying sh*t. That in and of itself is an accomplishment. Really. If you don’t believe me, you should see my amazon account … Yikes.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this book. One, I *love* memoirs that are narrated by the author. It just feel that authors know exactly where to put the emphasis and it just works. Ya know? I’m a big fan.

Since lockdown, I’ve been doing a lot more chores. Normally, during the school year, I barely have time to sleep, so my parents are pretty lax about my not doing chores. In lockdown, my parents have tasked me with doing the dishes most nights after dinner considering my school basically gave up on remote learning. I used to HATE doing the dishes, but oddly enough, now, I kinda like it when I’m listening to a good audiobook. Sometimes I also listen to more narrative based podcasts like Lore or This American Life. So far, I’ve listened to Make Trouble by Cecile Richards, The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, and now Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Anyways, this book actually made me kinda look forward to doing the dishes. Crazy! I know, but let that show as a testament to how good this book is.

Anyway, moving on from my tangent, I just found this book to have some, dare I say, profound insights. One of my favorite ideas Flanders talks about is asking yourself “Am I buying this for the person I am or the person I want to be?” After listening to this, I didn’t think much of it, but now I realize – this is such an important idea. I can’t tell you how many shirts, pens, and books I’ve bought thinking to myself “this is what ideal me would wear/use/read”. Like do I really want to read Pride and Prejudice? No, not really.

Here’s a tidbit of information from The Year of Less I want to share with you all: a shopping ban is more like a browsing ban. Think about all the notifications you receive from your favorite stores. I get an email at least twice a week from LL Bean. I almost always scroll through it, imagining myself as a savvy outdoors-woman. It made me all the more inclined to purchase whatever they were advertising. The solution: stop browsing, stop window shopping (IRL and online), unsubscribe, and unfollow.

Cait totally convinced me to try a shopping ban. I’ll be writing more about that here. She also encouraged me to start decluttering. I will be headed off to college in the fall of 2021, so I want to gradually start decluttering to avoid the massive pain of rapid decluttering.

Lastly, Cait really made me think critically about myself and my finances. Like I said earlier, I’m about to go to college. That means for the most part, I’m going to be responsible for my own finances. My parents have agreed to give me a small monthly stipend for expenses when I’m away, but I still have to be a fiscally responsible *gasp* adult. Because of this honestly scary revelation, I have started tracking all of my purchases whether I spend my own money on it or not. I’m planning to do another post about this. Ultimately, my goal is to be more conscious and mindful about what I’m spending and why.

“The ban uncovered the truth, which was that when you decide to want less, you can buy less and, ultimately, need less money.”

– Cait Flanders, The Year of Less

Honestly, everyone needs to read this book. I think “seeing” someone else do it helps you feel like you can do it – you can want less, buy less, and save more.

I’m beginning a 3 month long shopping ban. I’m hoping to extend it to 12 months, but I’m starting small!

Wish me luck!

Sincerely,

Marie

the year of less

Quarantine Essentials: Snack Edition

Spending loads more time at home, has some benefits: more time exercise, spending extended periods of time with your family (it’s debatable to whether that’s a benefit or not), and much more time to spend snacking.

I have embraced this additional snacking time. Here’s what I’ve been snacking on!

Blog Post 4-11-20 Quarantine essentials home edition terra chips | unsalted almonds | strawberry jam | parm crisps | goldfish

Terra Chips

My friend, Alexa, introduced me to Terra Chips this year in our biology class. We often had bio right before lunch, so it was basically snack time. One time she shared her Terra Chips with me, and I’ve loved them ever since. Controversial opinion: I think the parsnip and sweet potato chips are better than the blue ones.

Almonds

Almonds are such a good study snack. They are great for long lasting energy and are a source of protein and healthy fat. I like to pour a small bowl of goldfish and almonds when studying.

Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves

I love this stuff! I will never buy any other strawberry jam for as long as I will. One of my favorite snacks is toast with butter and strawberry jam. Also, one of my go-to meals is a PB+J, so this is an essential in my household. My dad exclusively eats this jam.

Honeycrisp Apples

Unfortunately, these are out of season, but when I get some, I eat so many of these. They are great by themselves or with peanut butter.

Parm Crisps

I actually discovered this in April when they showed up in my family’s Instacart order. These are fantastic! I tend to eat them straight out the bag, but you could also use them to top salads and soups.  The only ingredient in this chips is parmesan which goes to use that this isn’t a highly processed snack (like goldfish), so this is really the best you can get from chips.

Dark Cherries

Dark cherries and a lack of school are the two single best things about summer. I used to live in Seattle, and although the cherries shipped to New England can’t possibly compare to those of Washington, the ones here are pretty good too.

Raspberries

These were my childhood favorite snacks, and they are still my favorite. I love raspberries so much! Sometimes when I’m feel particularly indulgent (which is basically all the time) I add a dollop of Nutella on top of my raspberries.

Happy Snacking!

Sincerely,

Marie

Dealing with Disappointment

Yesterday, I competed in an online Congressional Debate tournament. It was States. I was so amped up and excited. I thought I had a real chance at placing in the top three. I didn’t. I got sixth.

I was incredibly disappointed, sad, frustrated, and angry. I spent the rest of the day “licking my wounds” and processing my own disappointment.

First, I yelled and screamed. That lasted like a minute because I was pretty beat from a long day of competition.

Second, I sat in bed, wallowing. My mind ran in circles beginning and ending with “What could I have done better?”, “What’s wrong with me?”, and “Why did the judges like x competitors’ speeches over mine?”

Third, I cried. I had a nice good cry. I refuse to cry in front of other people, but when I’m alone and need a release crying is a great option.

Fourth, I journaled. It was a short entry about half a page in my A5 size notebook.

Fifth, I took a nap. I genuinely think there isn’t a single problem that can’t be made better by taking a nap. I loveeeee sleeping. I think I might have been made to sleep. Sleeping is key 🔑!

Sixth, I ate my favorite snack: strawberries and Nutella. There’s nothing like your favorite snack to cheer you up when you’re feeling low. Be careful not to overeat as that might make you feel even worse. Remember: there’s NO shame in going back for seconds, thirds, fourths or even fifths!

Seven, I declared to myself and my family that I was “over it”. This declaration was helpful because I decided to be done with wallowing and self-pity (which is fine in moderation). At some point, you just have to move on, so I moved on.

Writing this post now feels cathartic and renewing. I’m letting go my disappointment and resolving to spend my time on things that will make me feel good!

Disappointment is shitty, but you’re not! You will get through this!

Sincerely,

Marie

It’s OK if you’re struggling.

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It’s okay if you’re struggling. I am too.

This is a hard time. It’s hard to be productive and feel good all the time, most of the time, or even some of the time.

I struggle to focus every day. I have a hard time even starting my work, much less actually doing it. And that’s okay. We have to be kind to ourselves. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to get through this time.

Here are so ways I’m practicing being kind to myself

  1. Not beating myself up when I have an unproductive, depressed day.
  2. Eating healthy foods – so I can avoid the groggy and gross feeling I have when I eat too much junk food. Some of my current favorites are celery with peanut butter, carrots with raspberries, and orange slices.
  3. Journaling – I already have a whole post on this linked here, but this saves me every day. Having a place to air your feelings unfiltered is essential.
  4. Going on walks – Sometimes I have to force myself out of the house, but when I get outside, I feel so much better.
  5. Reading – Right now I’m reading The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. So far, I like it a lot.
  6. Crocheting – the simple repetition of crocheting helps me to quiet my mind. I also like to listen to an audiobook while crocheting. Right now I’m listening to James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney (former Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife).
  7. Writing letters – I have started pen-palling to my reverend and friend. I absolutely love it!
  8. Meditation – I can’t say enough good things about the Headspace app! It’s a gamechanger!
  9. Maintaining personal hygiene – No one wants to admit that their hygiene has fallen off a bit since social distancing began. I definitely don’t! However, taking 15 minutes to wash your face, brush your teeth, do your hair, and slap on some mascara and lip balm will make you feel soooo much better!
  10. Acceptance – accept the uncertainty and just focus on what you can do to make yourself feel better.

These are hard times. I won’t lie to you and say I’m doing well. I’m not. I’m nearly three weeks behind in my history and chemistry classes. My motivation is nonexistent, and frankly, I’m depressed. I just have to accept what is and work on making tomorrow better.

PRACTICING SELF-CARE IS THE FIRST STEP TO GETTING BETTER.

Sincerely,

Marie

The Great Outdoors + Best Hiking Equipment on Amazon

Trail to Sengekontacket Pond

I never thought of myself as particularly outdoorsy, but social distancing has changed that. I have always enjoyed spending time outside whether that was hiking, spending time in a beachside cabana, or kayaking on a lake, but I seriously HATE bugs! I would attempt to do my homework outside, but as soon as an ant crawled on my leg, it was time to pack up and go inside.

Intellectually, I knew going outside and getting those exercise endorphins were critical to my mental health. Still, I opted for TV, YouTube, and Instagram instead of a walk.

Since I’ve been stuck at home, I’ve taken more time to explore my soundings, walking down streets I’ve never been on and seeing neighbors I hadn’t seen in years.

Being outside gives yourself time to decompress. Think about all the content and information you take in every day. For me that’s YouTube videos, Instagram posts, episodes of 30Rock, music by my favorite bands, text messages, emails, news articles, homework, novels, textbook reading, and so much more. Spending some quiet time even if it’s only 10 mins can help reduce your mental clutter and leave you feeling less groggy.

Since I have been spending a lot more time outdoors and finally have the time to go hiking consistently. I decided to pick up some new gear. Here’s why I’m planning to buy and/or bought.

Number One: SPF jacket

This jacket both protects your skin from the sun and provides a lightweight layer for those cool moments in the shade. Also, it’s light even to tie around your waist or stuff into your backpack without weighing you down.

Number Two: Hiking socks

You cannot underestimate the importance of a good pair of socks. Enough said.

Number Three: Flat belt

Belts are great! I’m slim hipped, so I wear belts daily. This is a great belt in general, but is even better when hiking because it isn’t bulky and is light weight.

Number Four: Hiking boots

These came highly ranked on the Strategist, my go to website anytime I need to buy something online.

Number Five: Mosquito Repellent Balm

This is a wonder product! I was hiking in July in Camden, ME when I began to sweat off my bug spray. I had every imaginable insect buzzing around my ear. I felt like Zeus! (haha) This stuff is amazing. I lather it on to my neck and ears before hiking. Because it’s a balm it doesn’t just slide off with a little sweat. I highly recommend. Pro tip: Make sure you wash your face as soon as you get home from your hike because it will clog your pores.

Trails at Point Lookout in Camden, ME

Number Six: Hiking pants

Convertible pants are kinda dorky. I get it. But they are so so so functional! I was planting trees in Puerto Rico in the Summer of 2017 and being able to unzip my pants and wear shorts for when I got over heated was invaluable. Functionality over everything!

Planting Trees in Humacao, Puerto Rico

Number Seven: SPF shirt

Protect yo’ self! No, but seriously. Skincare is healthcare. The skin is the largest organ of your body. Take care of it.

 

Happy trails!

 

Sincerely,

Marie