2022 Reads

I prioritized reading again last year – and I can definitely say it’s a habit that’s carried itself firmly into 2023. When I was in school, reading and shopping were my main hobbies. Shopping is harder to maintain alongside a healthy bank account and trying to lessen the amount of items I own, so reading won out over shopping. Combining audiobooks and regular books, I “read” 133 books in the last calendar year. I kept track as I went in my planner (December pictured below), which is the only way I could possibly keep track. Writing this post has been eye opening actually, because there are multiple titles I just absolutely remember nothing about. As you’ll see, I mostly stick to a few genres – fiction, parenting, self-help, psychological thriller/mystery, and autobiography, but there are a few that don’t fit in any of those categories as well.

This is not the same as really, truly reading 133 books with my eyeballs but I am no less pleased with my ear reading. This would cost a small fortune if I was shelling out cold hard cash for each tome, and would directly oppose any attempt at bringing in fewer items, so the next point upon which I’ll touch is the HOW. I present to you, the modern library card.

I’m not sure where it was I initially learned that audiobooks and ebooks could be checked out from libraries, but it was a game changer for me. I harassed everyone in my inner circle (but who also lived in other cities than I did) until they got me a library card for their local library as well, so I had access to alllll the books I possibly could. Eric, not naming names here but this was supposed to be my birthday gift many birthdays ago…and one day I will be a very happy birthday girl with one more card to my (your) name.

Much like our brick and mortar libraries, digital libraries allow you to borrow books for a set amount of time (you can even put items on hold if they’re not currently available) and are then returned once your borrow period is up (up to 21 days). “Overdrive” is the app I use to plug in my library card info, but I hear that one is going away and will be replaced by an app called “Libby”. That app name doesn’t inspire me quite as much so they can rip my precious Overdrive app from my stubborn fingers as soon as they’re ready, but their (so far) empty threats don’t scare me.

Let’s get down to the books. If it was a no for me dog, you’ll know. Otherwise, would recommend.

January:

  • Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
  • Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
  • Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pema Chodron
  • Don’t Bite the Hook by Pema Chodron
  • Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman
  • Existential Kink by Carolyn Elliott
  • The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally
  • Getting Unstuck by Pema Chodron
  • What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer
  • The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

February:

  • Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
  • Leave Me by Gayle Forman
  • Blowing My Way to the Top by Jen Atkin
  • The Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson
  • Night Road by Kristin Hannah
  • The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  • The Guest List by Lucy Foley
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

March:

  • The Invitation by Lucy Foley
  • The Wreckage of my Presence by Casey Wilson
  • Quiet by Susan Cain
  • Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber
  • It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
  • Toxic Positivity by Whitney Goodman
  • The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth
  • The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
  • Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown
  • Slammed by Colleen Hoover
  • The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

April:

  • When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink
  • To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink
  • 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
  • All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover
  • The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey
  • Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
  • The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
  • Raising Good Humans by Hunter Clarke-Fields
  • Stolen Focus by Johann Hari
  • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin
  • The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
  • Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

May:

  • Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz
  • How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims
  • The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth
  • The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal
  • November 9 by Colleen Hoover
  • The Sweet Spot by Paul Bloom
  • The Push by Ashley Audrain

June:

  • Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
  • The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
  • All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
  • The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
  • People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Madly Marvelous by Donna Zakowska

July:

  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
  • The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  • Bewilderment by Richard Powers
  • All Adults Here by Emma Straub
  • How to Stop Losing Your Shit With Your Kids by Carla Naumburg
  • Verity by Colleen Hoover

August:

  • The Vacationers by Emma Straub
  • In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
  • The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
  • You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
  • The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
  • The Club by Ellery Lloyd
  • Hello, Molly by Molly Shannon
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  • Making Friends with Your Mind by Pema Chodron
  • The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan
  • Love That Story by Jonathan Van Ness
  • Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr
  • Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess by Caroline Leaf
  • From Fear to Fearlessness by Pema Chodron
  • This Here Flesh by Cole Arthur Riley

September:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Techniques for Retraining Your Brain by Jason M. Satterfield
  • How to Do the Work by Nicole LePera
  • The Push by Ashley Audrain (reread)
  • This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
  • Other People We Married by Emma Straub
  • The Prestige by Christopher Priest
  • Gallant by V.E. Schwab

October:

  • The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu
  • Maid by Stephanie Land
  • Vita Nostra by Maryna and Serhiy Dyachenko
  • Night Music by Jojo Moyes
  • Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro
  • Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
  • The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
  • Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter
  • Roomies by Christina Lauren
  • In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

November:

  • The Maid by Nita Prose
  • Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
  • The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
  • It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover
  • Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? by Marion Meade
  • Lighter by Yung Pueblo
  • Have I Told You This Already? by Lauren Graham
  • I’ll Show Myself Out: Essays on Midlife and Motherhood by Jessi Klein
  • You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle
  • Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
  • Bad Vibes Only by Nora McInerny
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

December:

  • Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult
  • Mercy by Jodi Picoult
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Organizing For The Rest of Us by Dana K. White
  • Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica
  • Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • How to Meet Your Self by Nicole LePera
  • Dream More by Dolly Parton
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane De Hart
  • The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer
  • The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • To Raise A Boy: Classrooms, Locker Rooms, Bedrooms, and the Hidden Struggles of American Boyhood by Emma Brown
  • Good Inside by Becky Kennedy
  • Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment by Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey

Hello, 2023

Happy 2023! Today I am alive and well and that seemed reason enough to don a humongous bow and vintage dress and twirl around for a bit. I used to have so much fun with fashion – at the end of the year most of all. I have no idea where I got the idea that YE means it’s finally time to wear what I want without a care in the world. Why it didn’t occur to me to spend the other 364 days of the year doing the same is beyond me…but every NYE I wore the craziest outfit I could think of and then wore a chiffon, bubblegum pink party dress to ring in the new year at my house, with my parents, in the life I always led which did not require anything near so formal as a pink party dress. I think it was aspirational – I was “dressing for the job” I wanted rather than the job I had, if you will.

My dad was a new years baby, so every new year is also intricately tied to my dad celebrating another year around the sun. We celebrate his birthday at Pizza King in Pendleton, and it is always a rowdy time. Rob was driving us to the celebration today and the emotions hit me like a brick. It didn’t hurt that we were listening to Noah Kahan, whose lyrics always hit me hard. The below especially stuck out to me:

“‘Cause everyone’s growing/and everyone’s healthy/I’m terrified that I might never have met me”

I can’t even accurately describe how I feel stepping into this year. Everyone IS growing and healthy, and I am also so grateful I have gotten to meet me. I felt like I was living a life meant for someone else for so long – and now I know it’s because I was. It was not meant for me, nor I it. It led me to my current reality, so of course I can’t ultimately say it wasn’t the right thing. I don’t really think the universe makes mistakes because nothing is personal, or good, or bad. It just is. And while I can’t quantify why, I can finally say I feel perfectly at ease with where and who I am. I am so thankful for my family’s and friend’s health, and I also know this won’t always be the case. What a gift that today, it is.

I don’t have a clue where 2023 will take me – but I know it will have days for twirling and bow wearing, and days where the tears won’t quit. Many days will have a bit of both.

I sure am happy to be dressing for the life I live, because it’s definitely the life I want.

Happy New Year! All my love,

Ashley

Big Boy Energy

 

This is my first blog post under my new moniker – it’s starting to settle right in and feel like I was never anything else. In case it trips you up like it did the first time I read it, it’s pronounced like “lettuce”, but Geddes. Maybe a blog on our wedding day should’ve preceded this one, but if I don’t write when I think to do it, it just…won’t happen. I haven’t written on this bad boy in ten months again. I’m no mathematician, but that’s awful close to a year.

My little buddy is almost 3 now. That fact is hard for me to wrap my head around – I would imagine that goes for any parent watching their kid grow. While my introduction to parenthood was nothing like I pictured it would be, the actual parenting gig is at times spot on and at others, absolutely nowhere near. I’ve done a lot of meeting myself in parallel to the time I spend meeting him, and I know we’re growing together. 

Last week we made the transition to Buddy’s new bedroom furniture – to be honest it was one I was dreading as he seemed adamant on keeping his crib. There was no real time constraint for why it had to be this week, but I am determined to let things go when it feels time rather than keep something in place just because I’m not “ready” to let go. It felt time enough, and it turns out it was! Though he seemed very certain he didn’t want new furniture, he was very receptive to walking into his new setup. He still has his changing table and rocking chair, but the crib was replaced with a bed and now he has a bookshelf for all his favorite reads. Rob’s parents gave us the furniture – they’re moving out of their house within a month or so (another tale to tell). I’m so thrilled we could give it new life almost 30 years after they bought it for their little boy.

A big bed in place of the crib opens up room for new possibilities – we’ve been reading books together on his bed now instead of squishing into the rocker. I love him on my lap and marvel at how my head barely fits over top of his now. I know it won’t for too much longer. I was reading “Love You Forever” and got to the part toward the end which is a real tear jerker when you’re an absolute sap like myself. I got through the past few pages through a broken voice (I was sick as well as emotional) and buddy noted the change in my voice and pace. He immediately tried to comfort me, turning around and touching my face saying, “Don’t cry mommy! You’re a big boy”.

This wrecked me much more than the book. I read all the books, listen to all the podcasts, do all the things I can to parent him as wholeheartedly as possible. I don’t see what he said to me as a failing on anyone’s part, but this is the antithesis of what I hope he knows of being a boy, and eventually a man – a full person most of all. I know he was parroting something he’s been told when he cries, and that’s okay. We do what we’ve been taught, and I know whoever’s mouth that fell out of meant only to comfort Gavin. 

I hold that and honor that as someone’s experience, and I also don’t want that for Gavin. I was blessed to live in a household with a man who let me see his full humanness – that isn’t the case for everyone. I tried to tell him that big boys cry, and also that crying isn’t negative. These are big concepts for a little guy; they can be big concepts for big people too. Big feelings can be big time inconvenient when they hit, but I want so badly for him to know he is not his reactions, and that his feelings are meant to be felt. I hope he can see his feelings as guideposts for what’s going on in his head and in his heart, but not as either a good or a bad thing. I really believe I can only do this by embodying it myself. The more authentically I live and feel and love and exist and mess up, the more he’ll understand he can (and absolutely will) too. He is a sponge, and I’ve got to be cognizant of what he’s soaking up.

Let’s see what year three brings us.

Love,
​Ashley

Strawberry Shortcake

I don’t know If you’ve heard of this phrase, but these are unprecedented times. Kidding, as long as you are at least two years old I definitely know you’ve heard that phrase. 

It’s kind of crazy to think of all that has happened in two years time. To all of us, I assume but alas I can only speak for myself. Since March of 2020 I have managed to work from home with a baby beside me, buy my dream home with the love of my life, celebrate my first born’s first and second birthdays, gotten a new job and learned an entirely new field (capital markets), and am now in the throes of planning a wedding with Rob. Life keeps getting sweeter, and I know that with each new sunrise, I am new as well. Life will inevitably ebb and flow, but I get a little better at rolling with it each time something new arises.

Gavin is in a bit of a strawberry phase. There are certainly worse evils with which he could be preoccupied so believe me, the lucky stars have been counted. However, our local Kroger is hellbent on depriving us on this front. To be fair, I don’t think we’re really supposed to be able to access strawberries in the dead of winter in Indiana, but we lead a life of privilege so they are often available. At any rate, Gavin and I had to swing by the store on Monday after work in search of strawberries. He needed to take in his car snack, because how is one to shop for a new snack without the current snack in hand? I wouldn’t know, I’m not a monster.

We secured the goods (two boxes worth) and stood in line. Luckily, everyone loves Gavin so we made some friendly conversation while waiting for our turn to check out and become the proud owners of those strawberries. While I was getting us through the self checkout, buddy dropped his mini crackers all over the floor. 

It was one of those tiny moments, the ones that can make or break an evening. There is also a third option, which is to just let it be and not allow it to define a thing. 

Rob and I agree on many points, and one of those is the concept of “body positivity”. We are both firmly on the side of “body neutrality”. I don’t think it’s super productive to pretend I love the six inch scar connecting my hips from the day I met Gavin. It isn’t ugly, and it isn’t beautiful.
It just is.

So I set down the toddler (who is very much a flight risk) and trusted him to stay near me. He did, and he also heard me say, “that’s okay” while I bent to pick up the crackers. And not in the “that’s okay, but I wish my eyes were laser beams that could sear right through any obstacle in my way while I also simultaneously dissolve to become part of the landscape” type way. He will sometimes drop crackers, or whatever similar equivalent applies to him at that time, just as he will also absolutely astonish me in his myriad ways. I “drop crackers” all the time, myself. I want him to see me drop them, sometimes even crush them up until they’re hardly discernible, and then I want him to witness the cleanup, the restoration, the being okay.

I won’t always react as my most evolved self. She’s a great gal, but I can’t be her all the time. My lowest self is also a great gal, and I’m not her all the time either. I don’t concern myself with being a perfect example for Gavin, because that shit doesn’t exist and I think it’s important he knows that. If he can watch me give both him and myself grace, I’m hopeful he can one day do the same for himself and those he loves.

Pema Chodron said,
“Since death is certain, and the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?”

I don’t pretend to have the answer to that, but it sure has made me think.

2.24.21

Today was pretty normal, which is of course a gift. 

A normal day means my people are healthy and my day operated according to schedule–the dogs didn’t even have an accident in the house! Hell, maybe this day should be classified as superb for that fact alone.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much effort goes into making things appear baseline normal. It takes great skill to make any task look easy. Have you ever tried to cut someone’s hair? Bake something from scratch? Survive a pandemic with some semblance of sanity?

There are exceptions to every rule of course, but much like T Swift I know I’ve never been a natural, all I do is try, try, try.

I am getting more comfortable cutting Rob’s hair each blind stab in the dark I take at it (twice now, and he still loves me so I guess I may not be too bad at it). I know that excellence takes time and mastery and patience. But when am I going to master the Covid life? 

It’s something I often wonder, as we’re a year in now and I am still front row on the struggle bus. You too? Yeah, probably. We’re all figuring it out, all the time. If it wasn’t the Herculean effort of juggling WFH full time with childcare and general life, it would be fighting traffic and daycare runs and less time with my loved ones. I hold space for the difficulty of the season while also recognizing the immense privilege it’s wrapped up in.

I hate to spoil my earlier question for you, but:

I’M NOT GOING TO MASTER IT.

Life is one of those things that I don’t believe can be mastered, regardless of the effort put forth. The game can change in one breath, one second, one decision. I won’t master Covid life, or the life that comes after. I can only master my response to it all.

I let go a little easier each time I remember that fact.

The Dainty Days used to look so different. My days used to genuinely be so different! But they never felt as good as they looked. Today, they feel so SO much better than they look.

These are the days.

Love,
Ashley

Dainty Do Over

Hellooooo there.

I genuinely don’t know how to show up on the internet anymore. To be fair, after 2020/Covid I don’t know how to show up most places anymore.

I started The Dainty Days back in 2014, and my oh my life looked very different! Even before that, my very first blog was started off as kind of a diary for me to share my day, my outfits, and general thoughts on both. This was back when bloggers were bloggers rather than influencers, and I wanted so badly to join their ranks! I was a fresh college grad working in a field I had never intended to join (retail) that slowly started sucking my soul dry and strengthening my misanthropic tendencies. The Dainty Days was my personal haven and I had such high hopes for where it might lead.

I now find myself in a different field I never intended to join (finance), working and mothering and living through a pandemic. The Dainty Days didn’t turn out according to plan. Neither did my life–it is so much better than anything I’d planned. I now find myself missing the haven I’d created for myself on the interwebs. Getting caught up in growing a following and working with brands distracted me from what I actually set out to do–write. 

My life, interests, and hair has changed drastically in the last six years or so, and thank God for that.
I look forward to sharing a new perspective and…whatever else comes to mind honestly. I am a lot more than a gal who loves to braid hair, and it feels good to break free of the corner I braided myself into. I don’t get dressed every day, I certainly don’t do my hair every day, but I do learn how to let go and lean into life a bit more each day. 

Thanks for being here.

​Ashley

One Year Later

Today Gavin turned one. 

Well, he’s almost one. They finally yanked him out of me at exactly 8:35 pm, so we’re awful close.

I never got around to writing his birth story…it’s like having a newborn baby is hectic or something? This seemed like the right day to talk about it so here we go 🙂

As a little background, I spent the few months leading up to his birth moving into my new house, learning how to handle my finances, waddling around to work and doctor visits, and vehemently disagreeing with anyone who told me I would surely be having Gavin early. I also referred to Gavin as “Boris”. This was a name I picked after being inspired by the adolescent drug dealer and verified miscreant in the novel The Goldfinch. I throw this in there to let you know I was so scared of this child that I couldn’t even call him by name. He was due on Christmas Eve and I was certain he’d be here after New Years.

This was purely out of self preservation, as I was positive I was in no way ready to mother. The nursery was set up, the maternity leave too, and yet I was so deep in denial I could hardly see straight. This was not how my life was supposed to look when I brought another human into the world. 

It sure is handy that God prepares the called, rather than calling the prepared.

In case you didn’t know, giving birth is so glamorous. I really don’t know why some people act like it’s difficult or anything less than utterly sublime. You feel connected to the baby immediately, you both sleep through the very first night together, and then you ride off into the sunset.

Unless you’re a human woman, on earth, in which case it can be a tad different than that.

I arrived to the hospital around 5 or so in the morning when contractions were roughly 5 mins apart and I genuinely had no clue what that day would turn into. I was pretty much confused from the second I stepped into the hospital until I stepped back out of it again — to say the process is fully explained and user-friendly to the first time customer would be a bold-faced lie. 

When I finally got my hand to steady enough to sign my name for the epidural, I could breathe again. If they had asked for my right arm in exchange for the epidural I’d have gladly paid the price.

Gavin was “sunny side up” and apparently that was causing some problems. After multiple attempts at flipping him and nearly four hours of pushing, an angel of mercy finally threw out the C word and away we went to the operating room after the easiest decision of my life. I started sobbing once this was an option and the nurses kindly explained to me that C sections are okay too and that there is no shame in that. OF COURSE THERE IS NO SHAME! I was crying in relief that I could finally stop what we all knew wasn’t working and get that baby out into the world where he was ready to be.

Because we’d spent so much of the day trying to get hime to come down and out, we got to begin the C section process by pushing him back up again. It was every bit as lovely as it sounds.

It was more than worth it though, the second I heard his cry.

When I got to see his tiny, angry face for the first time, my very first thought was
“He has my dad’s nose!”
Imagine my delight to report that he also has his momma’s eyes, except prettier.

Unfortunately the long attempt at getting him out ye old fashioned way left him a little worse for the wear and after one night next to me, it was off to the NICU for buddy. He had a subgaleal hematoma, which to my understanding is a bleed outside of the skull, and left the back of his head very soft and kind of like a sand bag. We spent three days in the NICU getting him healthy while we got acquainted, and the nurses there were so incredible to us that it felt like I got to have a little crash course in how to care for a newborn. 

I will never forget when I asked if they had a pair of clippers for his tiny nails since I hadn’t packed one, and it was suggested I just bite his nails myself as that’s what most moms do. I informed her we had only just met and were not yet on that level so he could just wait until we got home. I mention this in case a first time momma needs to hear it’s okay not to immediately bond and stick like glue. I’d never been around babies much, and though the love was there from the second I saw the positive pregnancy test, our bond took more time than that. I now “clip” his nails with my teeth without so much as a flinch. 

When Tay came back to visit me, I had to meet her in the waiting room as visitors weren’t allowed in the NICU because of flu season. Imagine my delight in discovering the pair of panties I’d worn in to the hospital on the morning on Dec 20th wadded up in my pant leg! Of the leggings I’d been wearing in public for more than a day! Tay had stuck them in there when I handed her my clothes after changing into my hospital gown and they apparently stayed right where she left them. Honestly it gave me the laugh I needed in the midst of a scary situation.

Once buddy was cleared and we were good to go I felt like a fugitive when they discharged us. Like are they sure I was ready to take this entirely dependent creature home??

I was, it turns out.

Having spent a year loving more fiercely than I knew was possible, my heart has expanded in every way. You really can’t fully grasp what your parents did for you until you care for someone else in that same way. Parenting is the most selfless act I’ve yet encountered, and it also gave me a new understanding of our Heavenly Father. 

Gavin doesn’t scare me anymore. Life doesn’t scare me anymore. I now know that if I have to cling to something, that thing (whatever it is) is not for me. The right things will always find me, and I will become prepared for them in due time. 

I was told to enjoy this year, because he’ll be my child forever but a baby only a year. 

I completely understand the sentiment, but I’d like to expand. The same is true for all our relationships, at all times. Life isn’t lasting, so each stage certainly isn’t either. I think 2020 has cemented that one for us all. I spent my maternity leave trying to fit back into my work pants, which was a super good way to spend precious time when Gavin was asleep considering I’ve spent the entire year working from home. This was something I couldn’t have predicted, just like most everything else in my life. 

We have no idea how long we have with our people, and though the “firsts” are easy to track, the “lasts” won’t be. I am holding space in my heart for every first of Gavin’s and I am much more present with my people these days, when I am so lucky as to see them. 

Gavin was born a year ago today, and I was too. What a year it’s been.

​🖤 Ashley

Hi I Broke the Shopping Ban

Picture

​…and I have NO RAGRETS, not one letter.

In my experiment with my half year of less, I decided to not shop outside of the necessities until the end of 2020. Much like Cait realized during her own experiment, it would be more aptly described as a “browsing ban” more so than a “shopping ban”. I have to shop for my normal such and such, it’s aimlessly browsing that then leads to unintentional spending that I’m looking to stop.

As a thrifty girl who loves to peruse the aisles of all nearby Goodwills, I knew this would be painful to stop doing. I prefer to remove temptation rather than test my willpower so I initially decided no more Goodwill visits until 2021.

BUT
I really wanted a desk.

I won’t say “need” because clearly my life has been going along well enough without one all these months while working from home, but I wanted a place to station my WFH setup that I wouldn’t have to keep moving around.

I had been popping into any Goodwill I passed while driving alone for a few months now and had absolutely no luck so far, but yesterday I found my new girl. The one I’ve been waiting for. So I pulled the $57.77 trigger and I have never been so excited to bring a piece of furniture into my home!

It should also be stated that as I contemplated buying this desk, I traipsed through the clothing aisles. I found a Madewell flannel that I absolutely knew I needed, shopping ban be damned! In my former thought process, I would’ve had no problem rationalizing spending another $5 on top of the nearly $60 I already was. This time, I put the flannel down and paid for the desk while beaming on the inside and hell, maybe even the outside.

I am sharing this because little victories are indeed victories, and I’m counting this as one. It’s the thousand little promises we break to ourselves (that seem so insignificant) that teach us not to trust our own damn selves. I want to be a trusted individual, to myself most of all. I really believe we show up for others how we show up for ourselves. 

Love,
Ashley


P.S.
​Here she is!

Where to Begin

Hello again!

Far and away the most frequently asked question I get is where to begin this whole minimalism/mindful/decluttering journey.

I have been on this kick since 2016 ish, and I have consumed a lot of material that I am so happy to share with you! It’s also worth mentioning that this journey is uniquely your own. You’ll forge your own path and find what works for you, and please share with me when you do! There are so many great resources out there, and here are some I’ve found:

  • The Minimalists
    • These two gentlemen introduced me to minimalism (and my sweet friend Alex introduced me to their podcast!).
    • Netflix documentary Minimalism
    • Authors of MinimalismEssential, and Everything That Remains 
    • Their fourth book will be out in 2021
    • Years worth of great podcasts on every imaginable facet–this is where I began
  • Gretchen Rubin
    • She is the lawyer-turned-happiness researcher responsible for the Four Tendencies framework, and a treasure trove of free material to jump start you on your own Happiness Project.
    • Author of The Happiness Project and Outer Order, Inner Calm (many more as well but I found these to be most valuable)
    • Cohost of Happier podcast (to be really honest, not my favorite pod)
    • More free content on gretchenrubin.com
  • Dana K. White
    • Blogs at aslobcomesclean.com
    • Incredibly real approach to decluttering
    • Author of ​Decluttering at the Speed of Life and How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind–this book introduced me to concepts like “clutter blind” ness and how to trick your slob of a mind into noticing what you typically don’t (this is to those out there who, like me, cover every flat surface possible and then forget that those items don’t belong there)
  • Marie Kondo
    • I read ​The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up but don’t necessarily find myself agreeing with her approach–you will make a humongous mess before you make real progress but many have found success with this so who am I to say
    • I use her folding techniques and think they are absolutely genius
      • There are countless youtube videos on her folding techniques, to be honest I would skip the book and head straight there
  • Cait Flanders
    • I am a little bummed to say she no longer blogs, and that her blogs are not available anymore
    • Her book They Year of Less is the inspiration behind this little project of mine and an excellent resource for any mindfulness/minimalist practice
    • She mixes the worlds of personal finance, mindfulness, and minimalism seamlessly and has lots of great resources on her website caitflanders.com (including budgeting tools)
  • Fumio Sasaki
    • Author of Goodbye, Things
    • His simple and humble writing style is immediately endearing and I loved to read about his personal experience minimizing 
I hope this is helpful for where to start your own minimalism journey. These individuals have inspired me to really make a change in how I approach the things in life. I am sure you know that people matter, things really don’t, but their work has made it possible to put knowledge into action in my life and I hope it does the same for you!

Love,
​Ashley

The Nitty Gritty

Let’s get down to it. 

The steps laid out by Cait in the epilogue of The Year of Less are as follows (grossly oversimplified by yours truly):

  1. Declutter your home
  2. Take inventory of the items you own the most of
  3. Write 3 lists:
    1. Essential items you’ll need to buy as you run out
    2. Nonessentials you’re not allowing yourself to buy for the duration of the spending freeze
    3. Approved list of purchases
  4. Unsubscribe/unfollow emails or social media accounts that tempt you to spend unnecessarily
  5. Set up shopping ban savings account
  6. Tell everyone you know
I think I nailed the sixth order of business, hmmmm?

One of my favorite aphorisms of Cait’s is that “personal finance is personal” and so is this experiment. I won’t be opening a new savings account for this six month sabbatical from spending or taking inventory of the items I own the most of. I am midway in my decluttering journey and no longer have large accumulations of crap I don’t need or use. I do however have medium accumulations of crap I don’t need so I will be beginning with step 1.

My plan:
  1. I am getting my floors replaced this upcoming weekend, July 4 and 5. My goal was to have the remaining problem areas decluttered by this weekend. I have all of three days to complete this lofty goal, but I’ll take my best shot at it.
  2. Skip
  3. My lists
    1. Essentials I can replace as I run out:
      1. groceries/food/cleaning supplies
      2. basic makeup and haircare
      3. toiletries
      4. gas and basic bills/expenses/upkeep items
    2. Non essentials I’m not buying for the rest of the year:
      1. books
      2. clothes/shoes/vanity items
      3. whatever random thing I’m certain will bring happiness at the moment 
    3. Approved spending:
      1. curtain for over my kitchen window
      2. photo gifts for my loved ones for Christmas – no more than $50 this Christmas **more to come on doing away with expected gifting
      3. a wedding gift for the one wedding I’m attending between now and 12/31
      4. intentional meals with friends and loved ones
      5. one PSL when they launch this year
      6. rugs for Gavin’s and my room
  4. I will be muting all of the accounts on Instagram I leave feeling less-than after visiting and unsubscribing from any lingering email lists I haven’t gotten to yet
  5. Skip
  6. Nailed it
I won’t be perfect at this. I will falter and fail and pick right up where I left off, and I will take you along for the ride as much as I possibly can.

Tomorrow’s post will be a compilation of my starting points for aspiring minimalists along with a collection of “before” pics.. 

Thanks for being here, this should be fun.

​Love, Ashley