What I’ve Learned in Quarantine: Less Really Is More

What I’ve Learned in Quarantine: Less Really Is More

Read Time: 8 minutes

The last few weeks I have been in a major slump.

I have had no gumption to post on Instagram, I take longer to respond to comments from other users and my beloved practice of writing for one hour a day to create content for this site has gone by the wayside.

I have been feeling frumpy and i’m honestly surprised it took 5 months in quarantine for me to feel this way – I was expecting it to happen sooner. The repeated loop of athleisure wear, grubby ponytails and the daily commute from my bed to my kitchen table and back again is really starting to wear on me. I recognize that there are much worse situations I could be in – I could have lost my job, had to give up my apartment because I couldn’t pay rent, or not be able to afford groceries (all of which I can still do). But at the core of it all, I have been told to stay home, as many others have, and it’s starting to feel a bit like the film Groundhog Day.

Credit – Giphy

Amidst the slump, I have been cleaning my apartment – a lot of cleaning in fact. I take pride in a tidy home. Despite living in a seventies three story apartment building in which the hallways look like a crack-house, I firmly believe that it doesn’t matter how old your home may be. If you keep it looking clean, beautiful and loved, it can be made to look brand new.

This cleaning includes dusting bookshelves, wiping down my blinds and vacuuming, among a plethora of other standard household duties. However, one cleaning activity which I recently completed was a closet, shoe and makeup clean-out.

Truthfully, I love closet clean-outs. Organization in general makes my heart happy. Frankly, I get anxious if there’s clutter. Not so much with other people, but especially within my own space – even a small pile of clothes on the floor or a small stack of dishes.

I’ve seen a lot of posts recently about lessons people have learned in quarantine. Most are fairly standard – peace within myself, rediscovering old hobbies, making time for balance and making time for play and remembering that there are more important things in life than work (although work is fairly important, but you get my point).

If there’s anything that I’ve learned in quarantine, it’s that I really don’t need that much stuff.
Says the girl who has been waking up and putting on the same pair of yoga pants and t-shirt for the past 5 months.
Credit – Giphy

No, really though.

I tend to do a closet clean-out twice a year – once in the Spring and once in the Fall. During these periods is when I will typically swap out my winter clothes for summer clothes and vice-versa. It also allows me to step back, objectively view my closet and shoes and ask myself certain questions: What have I not worn in a year? What do I continue to keep because I LOVE it, but never wear it? Why am I keeping that in my closet? In addition to – could this be up-cycled and made into something new?

As I get older, I have become more aware of the detrimental impacts surrounding fast fashion on the environment. As the fashion industry continues to crank out new trends every season, subsequent clothing retailers produce clothes to keep up with the demand of staying on trend and fit the consumer’s needs. In turn, there is an enormous amount of clothing produced yearly, that is incredibly wasteful and only serves to meet the demands of the trends in that moment, despite the fact that the trend will have come and gone in a matter of four months. Stores guilty of the practice of fast fashion include retail giants such as H&M and Zara.

Don’t get me wrong, i’m no clothing saint. As a consumer I am guilty of buying into the practice of fast fashion. Pre-COVID, I would go for my annual (sometimes bi-annual) cross border shopping trip with a girlfriend to Target, and stock up on cheap, cute clothing for the upcoming season. All of these items of clothing primarily have tags listing “Made in Guatemala” or “Made in Venezuela” – another point of concern within the fashion industry.

That being said, i’m starting to do and be better to become a more mindful, responsible consumer.

Despite my Target shop, I would say that the majority of my clothes are pieces that I have had in my closet for quite some time (we’re talking years).

One extreme case of clothing in my closet, is a sunflower dress that once belonged to my mother. While still in amazing condition, we estimate it to be approximately 21 years old. There’s a Christmas photo in my parents’ house of my mum, brother and I (roughly at age 6 or 7), in which my mum is wearing the sunflower dress.

I don’t buy clothes at a rapid rate anymore. If anything, my rate of purchasing clothes could best be described as glacial. Furthermore, during COVID, I haven’t gone online shopping once for clothes.

Pretty much every bout of a closet clean-out, I find something that I can get rid of. As I get older, I am also becoming more responsible about where my recycled or donated clothes go. I used to simply drop-off my clothes at Value Village (similar to Savers’ in the United States, if you are American). However in recent years, I have heard this is not the best place for donated or recycled clothes (within the fact they are a for-profit company, and very little of the money they claim goes to charities, actually goes to charities, which I think is shady) so I try to avoid it if I can.

Despite having a track record of fast fashion, H&M has a reputable textile recycling program, which I have taken advantage of. More recently though, I have been taking my clothing to my local recycling depot, where I’ve since learned that they recycle textiles, in addition to standard recyclable items such as cardboard, paper, plastic, cans and bottles. Through the recycling depot, the clothes are distributed to reuse organizations and companies. Any returned textiles that cannot be resold are recycled and reused to make different materials like rags, paper, yarn, carpet padding, or insulation. This helps divert used and unwanted clothing from ending up in the landfill.

There’s enough garbage in the landfill as is. My old pajama t-shirt from a past breast cancer run/walk, doesn’t need to end up there either.

As silly as it sounds, the gradual shrinkage of my closet in size and in clothing I don’t wear, brings me a sense of peace. It makes me less anxious in terms of making decisions (something which I have enough trouble with already), when there’s less to choose from. It also makes me feel better knowing that I have been more selective in choosing where my recycled clothes will go. Knowing that pieces of clothing which once sat stagnant in my closet, not being worn, are going to somebody who will wear them instead, or will be reused and created to serve an alternate purpose, brings me peace of mind. As ridiculously easy as it is to get rid things we no longer wear, I personally want to do so in a way so that my old materials, when going out into the world, will create as little waste as possible.

Mindful with Make-Up

This same sense of peace also comes from getting rid of old make-up. Despite that, some anxious tendencies still grip me when it comes to throwing out old make-up:What if I don’t find this color of eyeliner again? This cost me so much money, I can’t bear to throw it out even if it is expired.

I used to be the type of girl who would go through all steps in a makeup process according to beauty gurus on YouTube – moisturizer, primer, foundation, concealer, powder, bronzer, blush, highlight, eyebrows, eyeliner, mascara. Hey, if you are one of these girls, all the more power to you.

Credit – Giphy

While I still have all of these products in my possession, I find that in quarantine, I have really come to appreciate my natural face (It’s also not like I have a busy social life where I see people every day, these days). Rather than focusing on caking my face like when I was younger, I now focus on taking care of my skin. Keeping my natural face looking as natural as possible, serves as the basis for when I now purchase make-up. I also find with this approach I use less products, both in the number of products I buy, but also the amount of a product. This simplifies my routine significantly.

I purchased a CC cream that eliminates at least 3 of the steps above (primer, concealer, foundation). CC creams are magical elixirs which do a bang-up job of making your skin look natural but beautiful, while having a ton of extra benefits. In the instance of the one I purchased, it’s color-correcting, SPF 50 (Hiss – the sun! Out, damned spot!), anti-aging and hydrating. It’s also not tested on animals – another benefit which I find myself paying more attention to, in addition to vegan products. The current moisturizer and anti-aging serum I have are vegan.

The powder I use typically eliminates the other 4 steps concerning my face (powder, bronzer, blush, highlight). While I love the process of putting on makeup (I find it therapeutic), I find that my time in quarantine has taught me, if anything, that less really is more.

Simply put, I’ve learned in quarantine that I value having less clothes in my closet because it reduces my time spent on what I choose to wear and allows me to appreciate the clothes I do have. I also appreciate that this process allows me to be more mindful when it comes to assessing what I need to purchase and where I will purchase it from. I value not buying into a wasteful industry such as fast fashion, because I am trying in my own life to be more environmentally conscious – buying into an industry such as fast fashion would be counter intuitive to that. I appreciate my natural face and natural skin as I get older, reducing the steps in my beauty routine and spending money on fewer, high quality products.

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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My Mother: 10 Lessons at 60

My Mother: 10 Lessons at 60

[TW: ED]

Reading Time: 10 Minutes

Today my mom turns 60. This past weekend, I asked her to reflect on life as she turns the big 6-0 – looking back on lessons learned, what she’d go back and tell her younger self if she could, and what she plans to do moving forward.

I’ve focused a lot of my energy recently on writing about my dad, about his absence and inconsistency throughout my childhood, and (in the works at the moment) his alcoholism. But throughout this writing, I’ve often thought “What about mom? Why focus so much energy on the invisible parent when the other was so present. She was the real hero of these stories”. She understands that my writing is a way to work through what I’ve lived through, but I thought it was about time that I focus on her – what a perfect week/day to do so.

In the past, she’d put her own needs aside to raise us offspring, while at the same time, putting up with an immense amount of bullshit from my dad. She’s pushed past the societal stigmas of raising 2 kids as a single parent and the criticism that’s been dished out to her that kids from broken homes end up troubled. My brother and I have not let this stigma define us, shape us, or take hold of us – speak to past teachers, speak to family friends, speak to our places of employment and you will find praise of 2 hardworking, caring individuals. That’s not meant to boost us up, in fact I take it very humbly. What i’m saying is we owe that praise to her.

She often makes enough food to feed a small army and at 60, still hasn’t figured out the correct quota of person to pasta ratio. She found love again at 52, after choosing to stay single for 15 years so she could raise us kids (meanwhile i’m over here lamenting about being single at 30). She has shared her appreciation for older music and movies with my brother and I (a la impromptu Milli Vanilli boogie sessions in the kitchen). She is strong, she is kind and not afraid to speak her opinion. She is helpful and she is loving – happy 60th birthday to my momma. Without further ado, here are 10 lessons at 60 from my mother and 2 lessons she hopes to adapt moving forward.

Accept your partner as they are

“If you find yourself in a relationship, especially when you are younger, accept your partner as they are – do not try to change them. If you find yourself trying and struggling to change aspects of your partner, it may be wise to take a step back, reconsider who you are with and whether that’s the person you’re meant to be with. Reflecting upon my first marriage before your dad, my ex and I grew apart in different ways. I was naggy and didn’t speak for long periods of time (when upset). Looking back now, I recognize he was perfectly fine the way he was – it’s crazy now that I reflect on it.”

I asked her what she thought she was trying to change in him, and she said “all those dumb guy things – the things young guys don’t think about, but you expect them to. Especially when you are younger you think they can read your mind, you don’t communicate. That’s another thing – you should never not speak – even if you fight and yell at each other, it’s better to do that then not talk. Eric (her current partner) says he has nothing to work with when I shut down.”

Your friends can be your family

“My friends are more like my family. I have friends that I connect with more than family members. Just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean you are automatically close with them. It also doesn’t mean you have to be friends with them. Some people have that (connection with their siblings), but just because you are related, it doesn’t mean you have to work at a relationship that is hard, or try to the point where it’s disturbing in your life – you can give up on it.”

Struggles are what make you stronger

“Every struggle led me to where I am now, which is a very positive place (I commented that it was probably the healthiest place she has ever been). Eric and I allow each other to just be ourselves. Every hurdle that you jump through and come out the other side, leads you to a better place.”

Wisdom with Money

“I would have been way wiser with money way earlier. But it was all about the party. You made the money and you spent the money, and you tried to save it but then took it out of places you shouldn’t have. I often think of Whistler Blackcombe, I could have bought a place for $8,000. Why were we so stupid with money? Why are you so smart?”

I proposed I thought it was because the economy was okay back then (in the 80’s), and the cost of living was cheaper, so there wasn’t as great of a need to save. As I pointed out to her now, I can’t afford to buy a house. “There were also jobs you could get without schooling, which may have also meant more disposable income when I was younger. I was also somewhat behind in money from raising your brother and you. So I would say just be wiser with money.”

Traveling lighter makes for a happier trip.

“Every trip I take I learn to take less with me because the less baggage you take with you, the happier your trip will be. Travel is so much easier with less and you usually don’t end up wearing half of what you take.”

Have Patience.

“Patience is something I have learned. Having patience has benefited me in that I don’t get agitated about little things. Patience also requires me to …”

Slow Down.

“If your pace is slower you have more patience. I’m in no hurry to get things done any longer. Sometimes things irritate me, but very little does anymore. I used to be the Queen of Rushing when I was younger, but I don’t rush anymore, I allow myself down time now. Some people might say it’s wrong, that you should live in the moment, but I don’t live in the moment. I know what I am eating a week and a half from now – that’s who I am. I have always had to be one date ahead, but that’s not something I think I have learned (a lesson from) – that’s something I see as a good thing for me, it’s what I do. It’s not something I would want to change ever.”

I asked her if she wished she lived more in the present over the years – “It was not a possibility as a single parent of 2 kids. But I look back to the summer holidays, that one summer we went to Drumheller – we put Sun In in our hair and you kids went back to school looking healthy and tanned. I look back at those times and I was present. I still knew what we were having for dinner and still knew what we were doing the next day, but I enjoyed it, I was with you kids. At home, when working full time and running from one activity to the next, I always had to be ahead of it. Now, I don’t have to do or be that way (both of us kids have flown the coop) but it’s an organizational thing for me, it’s part of who I am. I would rather be the way I am than at 4:00pm in the afternoon go “hmm what am I going to have for dinner?”. Speeding up to slow down, as I put it, and she agreed.

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

“I have learned how to laugh at myself. If something is funny, and little things just happen, I don’t take it home with me. I don’t come home and say “oh my god, oh my god”. Instead of beating myself up about things, I can laugh at myself which is important. You don’t care as much about what people think as you get older.”

I told her I looked forward to growing older for that reason.

Eat Healthy, Everything in Moderation

“I think that a diet, like a really restrictive diet is not healthy – I think that the strive to be thin can be all-consuming. I did all kinds of stupid stuff. I took laxatives when I was in my 20’s, I made these muffins that were held together by bran and nothing else. I’ve always had a weight problem. I do love Weight Watchers, I don’t know if you can pump them up on your blog. My mother had me on this diet when I was 8 that was grapefruit, boiled eggs, and Swiss cheese and that’s all I ate for like a week. Those kinds of weird things – doing things to your body that are destructive. I just think healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle are the way to go, but also to live a little once in a while – have that doughnut if you want to, everything in moderation.”

As I pointed out to her, with that sort of diet when you are 8, you are reinforcing the belief that your body is not what it should be, you reinforce the idea of an “other”, like it should be something that it’s not. The second point is that creates such disordered eating when you start so young, in women especially, which is probably why she ended up making bran muffins with nothing to them.

“I would say enjoy life – if people relaxed a little bit more about diets, they would find their weight wouldn’t fluctuate so much and would probably be happier.”

Walk Away From DramaEspecially Workplace Drama

When talking about her previous workplace: “I was seen as not very social or friendly because I wanted to avoid the drama that filled my workplace. When I was younger I may have made more of an effort to be social but as I got older, and especially at the specific location of where I worked, my intent was to come to work, do my job and leave. Nobody there liked their job. They got stuck there because of the money, they were grumpy and hated what they were doing. They were trying to create something out of nothing and trying to make other people unhappy because they were not happy. It’s toxic – they were not happy in their own lives and there was so much talking about everyone else behind their backs. You don’t need it – stay away from it.”

2 Things To Work Towards

Become a Better Listener

“I would like to, in the future, between 60 and 70, to not, while someone is talking, have my brain going in a million different directions in how i’m going to respond to them. To stop my brain and actually listen to somebody. That’s one thing, it’s a big one. It’s always going – when you’re talking to me, I’m thinking of what i’m going to say or something else. And it’s not you, it’s just who I am and my brain has had to do that for years. That’s something I’m going to work on. It’s back to the point earlier about slowing down.”

Express Gratitude on a Daily Basis

“I would like to wake up every morning and think of something I’m grateful for, to take a page from your book. Because sometimes you forget, all the good you have and you need to remind yourself every day.”

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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