“We begin with the end in mind.”

First day of orientation, I am already thinking of the end. 16 months will go by very quickly and by the end of Dec. 2018, I will have graduated and become a nurse. I am eager to build community and take advantage of all the resources available but I find myself thinking, I will not have enough time. My fall and spring are completely booked. I will have a few weeks off in December, which likely spend visiting the south (Savannah, Charleston, etc.) and then visit NYC around Christmas. Spring break in March will likely be a volunteer working clinical trip to Guatemala with the student club Nurses without Borders. Between spring and summer semesters in April-May will be a two week a trip to a developing world to do another clinical project. I am hoping to go to Africa.

My program is the closest I will ever come to going to an all girls school. 79 people in my cohort (4 are men). We are the 24th cohort in the school’s history. I am 1/2 Asian American women. There are other minority groups but those were the stand outs for me.

I love it here, and happy with my decision to attend Duke. My new home neighborhood is also great. It is safe and people know their neighbors. They say hello to one another and it feels like a kinship. There is a neighborhood list serve in which emails begin, dear neighbors.

I love living on my own, making independent decisions about how I want to live. San Francisco could not offer me a place of my own. For that reason alone, it was worth leaving.

I love my new mattress too and most objects I am putting into my home. Following the Marie Kondo method, only accepting objects and things that bring you joy. Then you will be surrounded by all love and joy. I love my orange bench at the entry way, the mint pistachio green plant stand and my new dining table set. I even adore my new glassware from the thrift store.

16 months and then I begin anew again.

30 days left in SF

I have packed away 19 small boxes of mostly gear and have probably 10 more small boxes left to pack. As I write my spreadsheet to account for my inventory, every item that went into a box is loved. I love my snow jacket, my puffy coat, my puffy pants, mountaineering mitts, hats, and everything else. I have been building my winter collection and I haven’t lived in winter in 5+ years.  Maybe Marie Kondo was on to something and it is important to hold each item in your hand.  
I am almost done selling all my furniture – 1 floor lamp, 2 side lamps, a rolling cart, 1 sleeping bag and pots and pans remain. I do have my bed/sofa/tv left but a friend is visiting next week so I have to keep them for a little longer. Although I was sad to see my furniture and plants go, they served me well and now found a new home. I am grateful for not only selling everything but nothing was wasted and everything found a new home, even the items that went to goodwill. Selling everything also gives me the freedom to create a new identity in a new space. I look forward to having a home of my own for a few years, no roommates.  
I have started to reach out to the Duke community for advice on my move and getting started. I am surprised, although I should not be, everyone is like me, kind, helpful, all with deep dreams and they are all over achievers. I have never been surrounded by people who are just like me. I hope it pushes me to be a better me.  

What tempts you?

In HIV counseling today, the conversation about Lent came up and I asked someone to describe to me what that meant.  She described it in a few ways, but what resonated the most was when she asked, what tempts you?  She said some people give up social media, or certain foods like meat, or sweets.  My initial answer was I really like carbs and that would be hard to give up, but she said that wasn’t a very good answer.  I thought about it again and I think buying stuff tempts me.  Every other day it seems like I want something.  Last week, I wanted the juicer (I still do, but I don’t think it is practical).  This week I bought a yoga strap to help me stretch at home and a new water bottle for the gym.  Each week brings new thoughts of stuff I need or want, whether real or imagined.

I am not overwhelmed by stuff because I have a deep desire to be a minimalist.  I find the idea of a nomadic life, blissful.

This week, I went around the house looking for things I don’t use to sell or give away.  I started with the garage and sold a saddle (seat) from my old bike.  I sold a red wagon that I had bought months ago to use as a gardening project that never became anything.  I am have a potential buyer for my endurance road bike .  I am selling items that (as the best selling author Marie Kondo would say), don’t bring me joy.  They are items that sit around, and are not used/loved.  Interests change and I think that’s ok too.

I may start the purge soon too, for anticipation of having to move states or potentially countries for nursing school.  I have conflict in selling everything I own and moving with nothing or moving with everything but then sometimes the bringing everything does not fit in the new space and you feel anxiety for spending a lot of money, effort and sometimes tears to haul it across state lines.

My goal for the next month – 40 days or so – is to not buy stuff, whether needed or not.


Reducing clutter

I am nearly done reading the spark joy book and found it mostly helpful. I threw away a box of mementos. I have literally carried it around since 1989. A neighbor made it for me, dated and I’ve used it to keep letters, cards, and maps. I kept maps from races, cities visited, mountains climbed. The book says to thank the item, hold it in your hands, then toss.  I found it to be true too, most items had value at one point but no longer have that sentiment.  

I threw away journals and calendars that I kept from years past, even one from when I was in studying abroad in China. It was the first iteration of me sharing my life publicly. I remember writing in that notebook, then writing it into an email and sending the email to my readers. My friend John who was a mentor in high school, said for someone who works in a cube, my weekly emails were the best part of his day. He loved reading about my life and learning about me from a far. He died from a heart attack while I was in college but he meant so much to me when I was younger and I still remember the joy he found from reading my emails/travels.  

I threw away these papers mostly because it is not meant to be shared. There were letters and cards from someone to me. In her book, she says to throw away anything you would not want someone else to read. A few years ago when I found my mother’s journals when she was a college student, I read through some of them but decided to throw them away without reading them for the same reason, if she were alive, likely she would not want me or anyone to read it.  

My biggest reason for reducing clutter, 1. to reduce the items that you keep to be meaningful, 2. if I were to die, I don’t want my stuff to be a burden on someone else. Someone has to go through your stuff. It should be a simple process and not take days, months and even years of anguish. When my grandmother died, it took 3 full days to remove 30 years of life from a Chinatown studio.  When my mom died, it took years to go through her things.  Stuff should not be filled with this heavy emotion but just things that help you in your everyday life.   


Sparking joy

I really shouldn’t read books like Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo. Those of you who know me, know, often, I like to discard everything. Some might say, it’s a problem. It used to happen in cycles, like winter to spring, ridding my closet of anything that didn’t look or feel right. Then, the feeling advanced to furniture and physical items that were taking up space and making me feel suffocated. Then, the feeling grew to digital, I like to delete people from my address book if I have spoken to them in a year. They don’t get filed away, but deleted from my life. The disappearance clears my mental space, making room for only those who are important to me and worth my time and energy. If I needed to contact them after a deletion, then the universe would find a way to make us meet again, but so far, I’ve never made a mistake in this regard.  
In her book, she says, only keep items that spark joy. Even if it’s practical, like thermal wear, you should keep it only if you like it. I happen to like thermal wear but that was not my problem. I opened the closet and removed the last of “work”. I have not worn this button down shirt or work pants since 2012. I can even recall specific times I wore this shirt or these pants to school at Camden with my snow boots for a presentation. I saved them in the closet for the “what if” I need a professional looking shirt or something. I pulled several other items in this work category and now have nothing remaining from Banana Republic or Calvin Klein. I have no black pants, skirts or dresses. Interesting, in her book, she says of her clients, it is not the work clothes that did not spark joy but it was the job itself. Interesting, will wearing scrubs bring me joy?