We all have parts of our regular life that are essential to us, and I think most of us differ on what, exactly, makes up those essentials. For some it’s a killer pair of jeans, or a specific workout, or maybe a particular app on their phone. Looking at this list I see a lot of contradictions, although needing both sides of the bell curve, avoiding extremes, and trying to find balance seems like a healthy way to move forward, not a contradiction. Right? (RIGHT?!) Lawsy, I hope so. Otherwise I’m a walking contradiction fueled by Diet Dr. Pepper…not that there is anything wrong with that.
My Life Essentials:
Putzing: This is my quirky way of unwinding; I pad around the house, imagining updates and new paint colors, sketching out blueprints and planning renovations in my head. Or I’ll wander around the produce section of the grocery store touching the fruit and veggies. I wander around my own head, touching old memories and looking at old ideas, testing them to see if they still work. I make lists just to cross things off, I imagine fantastical things. Putzing is my alone time, my detox time. I can putz for hours.
Adventure: As a definitive counter-point to putzing, I also crave adventure like, woah. I love exploring new places and trying new things, that could be a city across the country or it could be a new restaurant with some kind of exotic fusion menu. I am an interesting mix of homebody (see above) and adventure seeker, and it can sometimes be hard to figure out which will solve feelings of restlessness or anxiety. But, I need both. I desperately need both.
Books: I remember the first book I ever bought with my own money. I was working two jobs, saving up for my first semester of college and decided to buy The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series and re-read them before the first movie came out in theaters (what up, 2001). I bought the cheapest version the bookstore had—a $4.99 half-sized paperback—one at a time over a few weeks. In the last 15 years I have amassed a considerable book collection and a bonafide library in my office (and the living room). Sitting in front of those shelves, running my fingers over the spines, reorganizing my “To Read First” shelf (yes, shelf) and reliving the stories and memories associated with previously read titles is one of the most calming things I can do at home. (See: putzing) Does this make me materialistic? Maybe. Do I care? No. I’m a paper-and-ink book person and I’m not willing to fight it.
Inspiring and Interesting: My walls are covered in art and my shelves are crammed with books; I’m kind of a bad minimalist that way. But I cannot explain how much joy I get from art on my walls and books on my shelves. I love learning. I love learning about new things, new people, new words, new ideas. I love learning old things for the first time, random facts, chronology of world events, social or geographic history or myth of far-flung places and interesting factoids close to home. I am also trying to have at least one piece of original art in every room of our home, and so far that plan has worked out splendidly (yes, even the laundry room, it’s a tiny watercolor of lavender fields that is just lovely on the lavender walls). (Yes, my laundry room walls are intentionally lavender.) (Stop judging me, they are perfection.)
Razor sharp kitchen knives: I love to cook and I find mincing vegetables therapeutic, but only if my knife is crazy-sharp. I found a gentleman pretty close to me who has a knife sharpening hobby out of his spare room, he is my favorite Arizona discovery so far. For $3-$5 per knife he does his honing magic and I continue to mince.
Chapstick: I’m not talking about lipgloss, or lipstick (neither of which I have worn for years). I’m not talking about Chapstick brand stuff that is pink with a waxy flavor. I will wear Bert’s Bees in a ruby grapefruit color, but I prefer Natural Ice, although it is next to impossible to find in grocery stores, gas stations, big box stores, or boutique stores. Sometimes I’ll find it at REI and stock up. Last fall I finally got the brilliant idea to order a dozen tubes of Natural Ice from Amazon. They are now nicely lined up in my dresser waiting to rescue my chapped and dry lips.
Diet Dr. Pepper: My caffeine source of choice, preferably with a tremendous dose of fresh-squeezed lime, and a straw. I know, I know, “Soda is so bad for you!” and “Aspartame will kill you!” but I can’t help it! The heart wants what the heart wants! To my credit, I have drastically reduced my DDP intake, I now have a 12-ounce can (and a whole lime) at lunch, and drink water the rest of the time. Well, except for weekends, more soda on the weekends. And on road trips. And when I’m stressed or sad…ok, so I might have a DDP consumption problem….
Sunshine: I am one of those people who will never go tanning, I wear sunscreen always. However, just a few minutes of sunshine will lift my mood in amazing ways. I do some of my best putzing sitting in a sunny spot. Seattle weather would probably be better for my skin (and save me thousands on tubes of sunscreen), but
Sparkly Unicorns and Pegasus Ponies: I am (mostly) kidding on this one. (Or am I?) Hmm…actually? Not really kidding at all, but I should probably define this need as “whimsical sarcasm” instead. A generous dose of whimsical sarcasm is a pretty good explanation of why I send hundreds of funny, snarky, sometimes dirty, and generally giggle-inducing photos and texts in any given week. Yes, hundreds. I guess this is the reason Tumblr was invented, but there is just something about getting a laugh-cry inducing text from a friend that subscribing to a social media feed cannot provide.
My Favorite Non-Essentials:
High Thread Count Sheets: Several years ago my older brother found 1,000 count Egyptian cotton sheets on Amazon for something crazy like $100 dollars. He ordered them immediately. I ordered them immediately. Several other family members ordered them. They are heaven. I don’t care if 1,000 count sheets don’t come in cute polka-dots, or fancy stripes, or chevrons, or mod floral graphic print. I have a hard time sleeping in scratchy sheets and silky sheets are right out. I need 1,000 count Egyptian cotton, preferably white because I’m high maintenance like that.
Office Supplies: I have an unhealthy obsession with office supplies. Stacks of college-ruled paper, packages of Sharpie’s in a rainbow of colors, boxes of unsharpened pencils waiting to be ground to a point and fill a notebook with ideas. I love office supplies.
Fresh Flowers and/or Live Plants: I love having fresh flowers on my dining room table. I have very rarely had anything fancier than a small bouquet from the grocery store, but even $6 dollars worth of tulips will keep me smiling for two weeks. About a year ago I tried my gray-ish-green thumb at houesplants, and except for a few tragedies, I have managed to keep a couple of them alive for quite a while, move to ARizona be damned! We’ll see how long that lasts.
Things I Could Easily Live Without:
Smart Phones: I know, it sounds nuts, but I am becoming more and more anti-smart phone. It’s not that I don’t like the convenience of having a mini computer-communicator-television-navigational system-word processor-camera the size of a credit card, it’s just that after sitting at a computer for 9 hours a day with the expectation to respond to email promptly and answer the phone by the second ring I kind of relish the idea of walking away from technology for a couple of hours. I don’t know, maybe I’m not using my phone the right way, but I very much prefer a larger screen for most of my online needs (actually, my dual-screen set-up has spoiled me forever for even a laptop screen, maybe that means I’m getting old and short-sighted, but a 2×4″ screen just cannot compare to TWO large monitors and task lighting. Sigh. I’m old, aren’t I.
Voice mail: I hate voicemail, hate it. Remember when voicemail used to be an add-on? My cell phone is now also my work phone and I have to retrieve messages, but it is one of my most loathed tasks.
Popcorn: I haven’t had popcorn since I was in junior high, and I don’t miss it. I like the smell well enough, I won’t gag at the movies or anything, but I have absolutely no desire to try it. None.
What are your life essentials? What can you life without? It just occured to me that I haven’t listed people anywhere on here, and maybe there is some deeper psychological flaw that I should be concerned about, but for now I’m just going to disclaim* that Some People are essential, Others are hit or miss, and A Few I could easily do without. (*Disclaim is a verb, right?)
Format for this post inspired (okay, blatantly heisted) from Stacy at The Cat’s Meow.