#33- The Story of Stuff… Part 1

Before 2013 ended, my neighbor was over at my home boasting about how she’s been cleaning out and throwing away/donating tons of things from in & around her home, something I do for fun on a weekly basis when I’m bored.  She mentioned to me a book she was reading about organizing your life and the challenge the book posed to get rid of 100 things all at once.  Why not?

I’m an anti-hoarder. A minimalist of sorts, though I do appreciate my photos, mementos and book collection.  In general, however, I don’t see value in having lots of stuff and I believe in some extreme cases, having your home overtaken by things can lead to anxiety or stress, even if it’s not seen by the naked eye.  Having lots of stuff, in my opinion, means more to clean, more to maintain, more to concern yourself with.  Assuming you want your things to be well cared for.

For myself, not having a lot of stuff past the basic necessities means I am freed from tedious housework, free from maintenance and repair and free to spend my time/money/efforts on more meaningful happenings in my life.   Small home = less $$$ spent cleaning, decorating, filling, heating which in turn = less stress and anxiety.  I sometimes laugh at the concept of paying someone to clean or take care of all your stuff for you. To me, personally, that’s even more bizarre than having to have lots of stuff to begin with.  And then to hear someone complain about having to work all day inorder to pay someone to maintain their stuff for them….well, it’s crazy to me.  A vicious cycle! haha

Back to where I was going with this: I don’t need stuff.  It took me about a week and a half to find 100 things, but I found them, bagged them up and took them down to our local Social Services Thrift Shop. Lots of clothes I keep thinking I’d wear again, but won’t.  Lots of Toys & CD’s from the girls room.  Home decor, sunglasses, Vases, Baskets (how do baskets make their way into my house?) linens and other odds and ends.

I made self-imposed rules for myself, such as Sets of things count only  as 1 item. Things that have to be thrown away because they are beyond value or repair don’t count, they just have to be thrown away.  Let’s be sensible here.

Honorable Mentions:

A small stash of Assorted Pampered Chef gadgets that I got from hosting a Pampered Chef party in 2004, but never once used.

Coasters we never used, because we have kids and when you have kids, protecting your furniture from things like water marks is just funny.

Tupperware that has no hope of finding it’s mate.

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All in all, we found 126 things without even touching the Office, Kitchen or Dining Room.  I’ll save those rooms for Round 2.

A largely uneventful Bucket List item, but I know that if I die soon and my Husband is forced to move the family back closer to relatives, he will be soooooo sooooo thankful I was never a hoarder. On the flip side, I wonder if my compulsive need to throw things out will have the reverse effect eventually on my kids.

#22- Osmosis

I am a Spa & Massage junkie.  In 2013, I visited a Japanese Onsen, Ten Thousand Waves,  during our visit the New Mexico.  I had given them great feedback and had mentioned that I would be there every month if I lived closer.  The manager kindly responded and recommended I check out Osmosis, in Freestone (Sonoma Coast)- another Japanese inspired Spa. Well, of course I will, dear manager guy! (#22 on my list)

Actually, as soon as he mentioned Osmosis it triggered a long-ago tucked away to-do item from my teen years- true story.  Every summer we went to a camp in Occidental, and directly on the road to the Camp, we would drive past Osmosis. I said to myself back then, “One day, I’m going to go to that place!” Needless to say, I was thrilled to be reminded of this place and my quest.  Often my life motto is “out of sight, out of mind,” but I digress….

Osmosis offers a unique, only-spa-in-America, treatment called the Cedar Bath.  It is a traditional Japanese process which is pretty much how it sounds- a bath filled with Cedar sawdust, mixed with a few other fancy things that together create its own crazy compost heat energy. Yup, we sat in decomposing sawdust.

It was much like the mud bath I experienced at Indian Springs, only different friend and different substance. Jessica, who I’ve written about [ here ] was my willing volunteer this time around.  We sat in the spa for 20 minutes, overheated then spent another 30 minutes trying to wash it away, followed by 30 minutes of Sound Therapy (aka, snoozing to music on a comfy bed, wearing a blindfold). It was interesting, but we agreed that next time it has to be a solo experience because we spent most of the time being mind-boggled, instead of relaxing or just straight laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

The Osmosis Spa Grounds is truly phenomenal, and we were encouraged to put on robes and walk around to ‘meditate.’ I’m so glad we did, and that we didn’t feel rushed.  It was just beautiful!

I would definitely recommend anyone check this place out, but not necessarily for the Cedar Bath.  I would love to go back for a massage one day.

#23- Chez Panisse

I have been feeling pretty smug ever since getting a reservation at The French Laundry for my 2012 Bucket List, and was eager to not only experience divine food again, but to also employ my Call-Center knowledge at different locations.  Once again, it worked like a charm and I had dinner reservations in no time at the Restaurant portion of the World-Famous Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

“Tell me again, what is this restaurant?” Blake asked me as we suited up to go.  The baby-sitter smacked her forehead and I shook my head in amazement.  I opted not to entertain the question, hoping he was half joking.  We love watching Top Chef, we have established that we love great food, we’ve anxiously followed the news about the devastating kitchen fire earlier in 2013.  On our way over the Bay Bridge, Blake’s sister called. I could hear her hollering on the other end of the phone, “CHEZ PANISSE??  HOW on EARTH did you get reservations THERE??”  This place is quite the place for food.

And like The French Laundry, I’ll refrain from critiquing the meal because I don’t find myself to be worthy enough to critique something so above my skill.  There is a reason why this place is well-known, so yes, the food was amazing.

The overall experience was not as phenomenal as I had hoped.  Our waiter didn’t know the answer to simple questions, and there was no romancing whatsoever on his behalf on why or how this food was special.  Maybe it was our bad luck, but something that sets the bar high, in my opinion, is when the food presented has a bit of a story or history or explanation as to why the restaurant chooses to prepare/serve it in such a way.  Maybe I’ve been spoiled by too much Food Network, sure, but at the same time when you dine at a restaurant famous for this kind of service, it is what you come to expect.

All of that can be overlooked somewhat, when the dish itself was as mouthwatering good as it was this night at Chez Panisse.  A date night success, and as we told our Server, A perfect way to start the New Year out right.

#10- A Sunday Stroll

San Francisco and I have a love/hate relationship. So very much to experience, so very much anxiety around being in a big city.  I’m that driver who goes 5 under the speed limit out of fear of hitting pedestrians or cyclists, or finding myself the wrong way on a one way street.  I’m also that doomsday-prepper who wonders if TODAY (the day I’m in the city) will be the day of the next “Big One” or the long-overdue West Coast attack by terrorists.  And if nothing else, I wonder if that crazy person I’m about to walk past is the crazy person that will try to mug me, shoot me, or kidnap my child.  I do keep this all to myself and put on a brave face (lest I be classified as “just like your mother”) and so far lady luck has been in my favor.

Luck was also in our favor this past Sunday when we decided it would be the perfect family day to kick off the 2014 Bucket List with our first task- Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge (#10).  This slightly differs from our previous accomplishment of “Walk 50 yards out on to the Bridge, snap a picture, spit your gum out over the rail watching it til it hits the water, then get back to the car cause it’s cold and we only put a quarter in the meter.”  The weather was perfect, albeit a tad windy, the tourist pile up was minimal and we were all energized.

Which was a good thing, because we blindly went into it thinking, what? It’s only a mile or so total, right? Um, no.  It’s 1.7 miles one way.  It’s seems so much shorter in distance when you’re driving across….. Oh well. Natalie was a trooper! Holly was skeptical, but silent.  All in all, I’m glad we did it.  It’s one of those things where travelers around the world but it on their own bucket list, yet locals take advantage of having the option to do it all the time.  I will admit, it was a little fun to see all the tourists and hear the different languages spoken, knowing they were embarking on something they had flown halfway around the world to do.

So there it is! First bucket list item checked off and in the bag 🙂