Packing a bag for the hospital

With the due date rapidly approaching, my weekly knocked-up newsletters (from several sources, because I like second opinions) have increasingly been focusing on the all important packing of the hospital bag.

As in, what should you bring with you for labor, delivery and recovery – other than whatever scraps of clothing you can still use to cover your body for the ride to the hospital, along with a pair of flip-flops or Uggs, as appropriate.

There is nothing remotely minimalistic about those lists – with some topping out with over 100 “must have” items. Reading through made me feel like I was heading to a doomsday preppers camp for an extended stay rather than a couple of days in a well equipped modern hospital.
I get that it can be nice to have a few of your own things, its common knowledge that a hospital gown doesn’t flatter anyone and I fully understand the need to smuggle in some snacks…  But enough with the 3-of-everything in at least 3 sizes policy.  And for a planned c-section, I understand a mumu or something similar would be nice for the ride home, to keep clothes off the incision.

Since I don’t want to give the hospital staff the wrong impression, I shall arrive with a packed bag. Trying to at least look the part of a prepared mother, although I’m sure my cover will be out the window 5 minutes in. So far my bag contains 2 toothbrushes (brand new, for this special occasion), toothpaste, lip balm, a pair of socks and a warm zippered hoodie. Oh, and a nice roll of my personal toilet paper, I don’t trust that the hospital will supply the tender quality that my bottom is used to.  This is where I have stalled out. I know I’ll have to add some clothes for the kid to come home in, some undies, toiletries…  and some other crap I guess. As long as I have my iPhone and charger, I can operate the command center from just about anywhere and bring in supplies. During the hospital tour I made sure I had decent reception and finally AT&T’s “largest network in the nation” managed to cover my whereabouts.

Oh, and look at the time. Time to go stab myself again, ugghhhh.


Stuff, stuff and more stuff.

No denying that with new babies come new needs, and new stuff. Especially when it’s the first baby in the family.
Cribs, changing tables, clothes, scrubs, wipes, car seats, strollers to just name a few.

I haven’t been around babies much and I really don’t have a great idea of what is necessary, needed or just nice to have. I go from being scared that I’m accumulating way to much stuff, to fearing that I won’t have bare necessities to keep an infant alive.  Also, before you tell me that “it’s all going to be fine”, you best remember that I’m about as full of pregnancy hormones as I can be, so I don’t have to make sense, be logical or any of that.

When I read this most excellent post by Joshua Becker of becoming minimalist over the weekend, it hit home. It was a really nice and subtle reminder that my own brand of minimalism is still an important ideal to me. With all the endless fucking cuteness readily available in baby-land, it is hard to not want one of everything. Ordinary items that are easy to pass up become irresistible once they’ve been embroidered with tiny ducks, frogs and monkeys.  Them marketeers certainly know how to make ovaries rip out a wallet and make a purchase.

But, for now I’m less critical of my stuff accumulation. I’m taking it easy on myself and allowing this once-in-a-lifetime experience to wash over me. I’m practicing ahimsa (non-harming) by being kind to my bloated self – and always continuing Svadhyaya (self-study).

And on the self-study front, I’ve had some unexpected breakthroughs.

  • I still think most all doctors are idiots, but I’m now allowing for the idea that they actually got into medicine for other reasons than to fuck me over – that simply comes as a convenient byproduct.
  • I’ve also accepted that hospitals need to cling to their stupid procedures because in the current system and political climate that is the only way they can operate without getting sued out of existence, and there are some nice people who work there. Again, fucking me over not the primary goal, just a happy coincidence.
  • I have also accepted that thanks to my FVL blood clotting stuff, old age and the preferences of a husband that loves me dearly, that giving birth in a hospital attended by an OB is the way to go. To minimize the “fuck me over” factor, we will have a lovely doula and a couple of select friends with us at the hospital.

And last big observation – it’s really not just me and the husband having a kid.  Granted, we get to be the stars of the show as mom and dad, but the participation of our families, close friends and really all the people in our lives have only added to the whole experience.  I resisted at first, but a couple of good friends knocked some sense into my head and now I wouldn’t have it any other way. This kid is going to grow up around some awesome people and personalities.

I’ve also knocked my head against some mild annoyance. Unsolicited, ridiculous advice tops the list, and then it’s always a matter of ideals or lifestyle that are so far from matching up with my own way of thinking that tend to trip me. Funny enough, most of the child rearing advice I get is from people who either have no kids or raised them 40 years ago. Relatively recent moms & and dads just pat me on the back and say “you’ll figure it out, we all do” and smile reassuringly.

I am now 6 weeks out from full term (of 40 weeks). Doctor initially wanted to schedule induction beginning week 39, but we hope to allow labor to start naturally, when the time is right. Come week 35, I’ll be switching from Lovenox (blood thinner) to Heparin, which has a shorter half-life in the body, in case labor starts early. Not really looking forward to stabbing myself twice a day, but oh well, for a most excellent cause. I feel so close in some ways, but I know the home stretch will be the hardest. Like any good endurance race, you’ll end up leaving it all out on the course and probably puke as you cross the finish line. Fine with me. I’m getting to be ready to meet the little monkey :)

Lots of lasts

Moving day is pretty well upon us, with all the frazzles and hassles moving tends to bring.

The garbage men will be thrilled to see us go. We’ve been leaving them increasingly heavier loads over the past few weeks, compared to our usual half a garbage can and some recyclables. The part of the Stuff that survived the move is safely loaded into a pod in the driveway, to be picked up and moved to the new digs Friday. The dog is making great headway turning itself into a Chinese crested, but once we settle down again maybe he’ll consider regrowing some hair.

The Cat, iBite, seems to be the only one unfazed by the move. In fact, he’s been having the time of his life clambering in and out of boxes and playing ‘hide, seek and I’ll fuck you up’ in the rubble. When we move, he’s in for some jail time in the laundry room when the floors are getting installed. Payback buddy. His outdoor privileges have also been revoked and will be reintroduced very slowly in the new house.  There is more traffic there that concerns me, plus there are some other kitties around. iBite doesn’t exactly back down from confrontation so he’s looking at leash time confined to the back yard, at least to begin with.  Judge me all you want.  I leash cats. I’ll spare both of us the humility of walking him though, have to draw the line somewhere.

Yoga has kindly relocated itself to the back seat for the week. I’ve been pretty exhausted and stressed out. Normally those are 2 excellent reasons for hitting the mat, but I just have nothing left in the tank at the moment. Oh well, Yoga totally understands and we will pick it up again soon.

All quiet on the blog front

And mind you, not because nothing is going on. A whole lot of shit is taking place behind the scenes, contributing to a chronic case of not-enough-time. Especially not-enough-time for blogging, which  must be a terrible disappointment for my 3 readers.
Things are looking up though. One house sold, another one bought. Closings to happen this week. House 1 mostly packed up and stuffed into a pod. House 2 will have the gnarly carpets ripped out minutes after closing and wood floors installed a couple of days later. After that, we will unload and set about digging the new digs.

I’m excited. It will be great to put this chapter of my life behind me and start a fresh one. We were able to cull a whole lot of our earthly possessions (aka junk) and will be starting fresh with a lot less baggage. It’s not quite minimalistic yet, but at least showing some strong tendencies in the right direction. I had really hoped to hit up the flea market or do a garage sale to make money to pay down debt, but in the end a couple of things conspired to not make that feasible, so Goodwill got the lot.

In the middle of all that, I also taught my first proper community class at the Yoga-Shed. It was pretty scary to be on that side of the yoga studio for a change and I had a lot of butterflies in my stomach. Went pretty well though, probably because most of my students were all seasoned yogis. Class was over a bit too quick – I had anticipated a couple of beginners and thought we’d spend a bit more time on demos and corrections than we did. Live and learn – so glad that I survived the first one and  kind of can’t wait to do it again :)

Keeping your desk clean

Just about every minimalist/feng shui/organizational expert insists on having a clean, uncluttered desk to work at.  Zen Habits, one of my favorite minimalistic blogs even provides a 3-step program to a permanently clean desk, imagine that.

Lord knows I’ve tried, and I keep on trying, but at any given time you can usually find some stray papers or items that don’t belong. I bit the bullet the other day and ordered me a ScanSnap receipt scanner, so now all those little pieces of paper that otherwise would have hung around my desk for MONTHS are getting sucked in and spit out in an orderly fashion, and reasonably fast too.  Even with that, shit keeps finding its way to my desk. In my feeble attempts to keep a clean desk, the shit just migrates behind me, and piles gather on top of the hutch I have behind me. I’ve noticed the exact same phenomenon happening on my kitchen table at home. Mail, headphones, coins, dog leashes, pile of crap that has to be returned or relocated to work, you name it.

I think I am going to once more try the Zen Habits 3 step method and get a basket, one for home and one for work.  Problem is that it is just so much easier to put stuff IN the basket than process it OUT of it….  but maybe this is a chance for me to practice both Sauca (cleanliness) and Aparigraha at the same time.

Sigh. Day at a time, right?

Shedding. Round 47.

That would be in the match of Moi versus the Stuff.  So far I’m gaining a little, but the Stuff is definitely in a very strong position and using trickery to stay there.

I’ve begun phase 2 in the closet and can kind of proudly say that I by now have less clothing than the husband. He claims is it because I prefer light fabrics but he has sturdy shorts and jeans. That may play a part, but I’m sure that if we just counted item for item, I’d still have fewer.  This might become a touchy thing to balance – my need to purge, and his need to hold on.  Although, after he tries to stuff all those canvas shorts into his half of the trailer storage, I have a feeling he might come around to trimming the excess. Fingers crossed.

Other than that, the flea market/garage sale pile continues to grow and pretty soon I am going to have to take action on turning that into cash or getting it off to Goodwill, the cluttered area is starting to get under my skin.  Once the kick-knacks are out-of-the-way, it’s on to decide which furniture we move on into storage for now and which pieces to let go of.  That is anticipating we will be back in a house at a point before too many months go by.  We have a few good pieces of furniture, but honestly overall, about 80% of it can go for all I care. Old, used, well-worn – or never liked it to begin with.

When it comes time to live in a house again, somewhere down the road, I think I will limit the furniture to a bed, kitchen table & chairs and chairs – and a sweet couch that I can put my feet up in. The rest of the house will be for my bike and yoga mat, and eventually a nice yoga wall so I can hang like a bat when the mood strikes.
In the dream home, I’d have a laundry area big enough so that I could have a airing closet or two in there, and keep most all my day-to-day in the laundry room, thus eliminating the most dreaded of laundry chores: the putting away bit.  The more I think about it, the more I find it to be an ingenious solution, and the more I think I will make that a must factor in a home.
I’ll just leave you with that thought….   never, ever, EVER having to put laundry away again. Bliss.


Reality sinking in

Spent the past couple of nights browsing trailers & RV’s on Craigslist with the husband. We’ve settled on a couple that we are going to take a look at and perhaps tow home before the end of the month. The reality of giving up the house we bought together and moving into one on wheels is drawing very, very close. Just waiting for the bank to approve the buyer, set some dates, sign papers and out we are.

It’s been a roller coaster of emotions beginning about a year go with my husband’s accident. It still is. But now, mostly the feeling I have is excitement. I’m very ready to begin this new chapter of my life with less stuff and more freedom. The days between now and trailer time will be filled with purging and cleaning, both the physical stuff and the mental stuff attached to the stuff.

Damn, look at me go, using the word “stuff” 3 times in the same sentence. I apologize to all you English language purists out there, that has to violate some rules.  Meh, oh well. You’ll live.

The more I go through, the easier it becomes to let go of most of the crap, but then there are always certain items with memories so strongly attached that it is hard to give up. Usually it’s something given to me by someone who is no longer with us, and letting go of the thing somehow resembles letting go of the person. It’s hard to do, but at the same time it’s good to do. For both. I get to have less stuff, and my friend in spirit gets to be free wherever she is now. It doesn’t make any less of our friendship, it doesn’t mean that I don’t still wish she stuck around for a few more adventures, but it surely does make room in the life for other fun stuff.

The last of the yamas – Aparigraha – will hopefully be my steady companion for a long time as I learn to let go.

Freedom of less

Got out of bed early this morning to go for a jog.  I’m pretty solidly out of shape at the moment so just going the usual loop takes a while. But, on the plus side I do some of my best thinking when I run, even if it seems that all these deep thoughts wash right away in the shower.

This morning though, it stuck with me. As I plodded along, putting one foot in front of the other, I was thinking about my upcoming move. In possibly less than 30 days, I will be packing up the house I’ve lived in for the past few years and moving who knows where. Maybe to another house, maybe into a trailer, maybe into a friends spare room for a couple of weeks.
Either way, the less STUFF I have to take with me, the easier ANY of those options will be. I’ve for some while been motivated to cut down on my worldly possessions. It’s hard. It’s as hard as it is to shed those unwelcome extra pounds on my ass.

Just like I need to work off some pounds and rouse dormant muscles in order to keep my body leaner and healthy, my home is going to have to shed some of the unnecessary stuff.  Once that phase is done, it’s on to keeping the pounds off, both physically and stuffically.   Lean home + lean body + lean life = lighter living. Or that is my plan at least.

For more inspiration, check out this great post by Miss Minimalist on the freedom of living small. It’s so inspiring that I’m sitting at my desk at work, looking around for shit to get rid of.

It’s on with the Aparigraha.
Yoga sutra 2.39 takes this one on: Aparigrahasthairye janmakathamta sambodhah.
Indeed.  Tossing Sanskrit your way just for fun. I’m not even going to attempt a translation, but roughly this one means non-hoarding, not wanting/desiring/taking more than we need. This has been my homework for the past month as a part of teacher training, and judging by the results, it will be my homework for the rest of my life. Sigh. On on.