When 650 Equals 450

Closets and boxes and crap... oh my!

Closets and boxes and crap… oh my! (Old apartment flashbacks)

I have learned a schwack of lessons during our recent move. (Yes, a whole SCHWACK!) I am still processing the adjustment of everything on an energetic level (which partly explains my dire absence from the interwebs lately). However, while my delicate chakras continue to digest everything that’s happened to us in the past month, allow me to shine a light on a very particular lesson that I must have learned simply so you don’t have to. Read on and learn, dear friends– read. and. learn.

Two years ago, when we left our beloved winter cottage on the lake and came back into the city to rent something “basic and cheap” for Harbour season, we stumbled upon our ghetto apartment in the heart of Victoria. It met our sole criteria– “basic” and “cheap”– so we signed our names on the lease and thus ushered in an era of Pain and Suffering for ourselves. (That was Lesson #1, by the way: “In the future, craft a more extensive/less pathetic list of criteria for winning apartments”. CHECK.)

Anyway. Right after* (*yes, not right before) we had signed our souls away for the low, low price of $650 per month, I asked our landlord what the square footage of our glorious new residence was. I needed this information for tax purposes, and our landlord didn’t skip a beat when she answered “640 square feet”.

Okay– 640 square feet. Small. But manageable.

Since I am a mathematical genius and have a keen attention to detail, I proceeded to take the measurements of Marty’s studio space manually. I needed to know the percentage of Marty’s work space to our whole apartment (yay for home office deductions!), so I wielded the Measuring Tape, divided the size of Marty’s studio by 640 square feet and voila! I had a number I could plug in to the tax forms come tax time.

Welcome to our bike room slash art studio slash plant storage space! Yeesh...

Aaahhh… Welcome to our bike room slash art studio slash plant storage space slash recycling depot! Yeesh!

During the next two years, we did nothing but complain about our 640 square foot apartment:

Yes, we have a lot of stuff in here, but gee– it feels so cramped in here!

It would sure be nice to live somewhere with 2 million square feet! At least! Then we could fit all of the art supplies, bike stuff, books, etc.

By golly, 640 square feet sure feels small!

(This wasn’t even factoring in our other complaints, like having elephants for upstairs neighbours and that time when the building leaked, flooded our apartment, and ROTTED OUR MATTRESS!! But I digress.)

For nearly two whole years, our apartment felt supremely tiny. We were horrified at the thought of having visitors there, so nobody was allowed to enter unless it was 100% essential. (My mom never actually saw our place, despite coming to Victoria several times during our lease. Cough. And when we needed to have a friend water our plants while we were away on holidays last year, I probably spent about three hours blathering about my supreme embarrassment before permitting her to even cross the threshold of the apartment.)

And then I needed to e-mail her helpful photos from afar, so she could locate specific items that could technically be ANYWHERE

And then I proceeded to e-mail her helpful photos like this from Arizona, so she could locate specific items that could technically be ANYWHERE on our jam-packed shelves.

Needless to say, when I saw a listing for a much, much larger suite on the top floor of a heritage house, I lunged at the opportunity to jump from our microscopic ship. So we packed. We cleaned. We unpacked. We cleaned some more. And just before we had our final walk through in the old, tiny apartment, I decided to measure the whole place, just for kicks. (Yes, I am a nerd.)

I whipped out Ye Olde Measuring Tape for the last time there, calculated some lengths and checked them twice. A few days later, I plugged the numbers into my trusty adding machine and was stunned to discover that they yielded 445 square feet total, not even close to 640. Thinking I must have made an error in the basic length x width formula, I calculated all the areas again. And then again, when I arrived at the same number and thought to myself that I must have missed a decimal place or something.

Nope. 445 square feet. No wonder it felt so small!

For two years, Marty and I crammed an art studio, a fully-stocked inventory of art reproductions and supplies, a virtual Tour de France of bicycles, and normal things like a bed, couch, and dressers into a teensy-assed 445 square foot apartment! If somebody had asked us out of the blue, “Hey! Do you want to live in a 445 square foot apartment?”, we would have answered an emphatic HELLS NO! If we were methodically checking out places to rent, a 445 square foot place wouldn’t have even made it onto our radar. By a long stretch! And yet we lived in one, quite miserably, for nearly two years of our lives.

LESSON LEARNED: Use a measuring tape and figure it out for yourself.

ANOTHER LESSON LEARNED: If it feels small and cramped… it probably is.

So there you have it! Now you never have to live in a 445 square foot apartment unless you’ve made an informed, conscious choice to do so! Aren’t you glad that I learn these embarrassingly simple lessons so you don’t have to? You’re welcome! :)

We are Moving. Enough Said.

It hit me about a month ago:

“Wait a minute. I’m aiming for more ease in my life, but right now, all that I have on my plate is:

  • Incorporating our art business, and all the super fun paperwork that entails
  • Tax prep (more super fun paperwork!)
  • Completing a coaching program
  • Consoling Marty when he realizes how many custom paintings he still has to work through on tight deadlines

Obviously, I need to round my life out with something else. Something major. Something all-consuming.”

So we are moving. HA.

(It didn’t transpire exactly like that. But we are definitely moving and we are now neck-deep in cardboard boxes and Magic Erasers.)

Part of me feels elated to be heading somewhere new. Our new suite is spacious– nearly twice the size of our old apartment. It’s also a mere two blocks away from our favourite sandy beach and gets us out from underneath our club-footed, insomniac upstairs neighbours. Truth be told, though: I’m really nervous, too. I’m nervous about moving somewhere new but being plagued by the same old issues. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in hauling everything we own to a new place. And stumbling across gems like these doesn’t help, either:

For real? This box has been in a PAID STORAGE UNIT for at least five years. How embarrassing!

For real? This box has been in a PAID STORAGE UNIT for at least five years. How embarrassing! I don’t even want to know what “rarely used toiletries” are in there.

'Hmm... Well, Dana M., we'd love to hire you on the spot, but we'd feel more comfortable if we had PROOF of your familiarity with a fire extinguisher.'

‘Hmm… Well, Dana M., we’d love to hire you on the spot, but we’d feel more comfortable doing so if we had PROOF of your familiarity with a fire extinguisher. You wouldn’t believe how many people lie about being familiar with fire extinguishers on their applications…’

Yeah. Forgive me if I’m mysteriously absent from The Internet for the next few weeks. If you need me, I’ll be framing my Fire Extinguisher Familiarity certificate (W.T.H???!!!) and scrubbing floors. (Seriously. Who issues these certificates? And who KEEPS THEM IN A FOLDER FOR FIVE YEARS??)

The Empress of Ease

Affirmation 11 Ease

You might recall that I declared 2014 the Year of Ease. You might also recall that I err on the side of Over-Achievement and that I have an unfortunate tendency to make things way more complicated than they need to be.

Well. As it turns out, Ease plus Achievement is a remarkably counterproductive concoction. Recipe fail! It’s like mixing caffeine with melatonin and praying for sleep. It’s like pairing white cats with black velvet and hoping that one of those things won’t rub off on the other thing. Wishful thinking, my friend! It ain’t gonna happen!

Try pairing spaghetti sauce for dinner with wearing a white shirt. Recipe for disaster, no?

Or try pairing spaghetti sauce for dinner with wearing a white shirt that day. Recipe for disaster, no?

January was a short-lived but powerful experiment in Ease Gone Wrong. On one hand, I was yearning for the warm waves of Ease to wash over my existence like a soothing, amniotic balm. Passively sinking into Ease. Letting Ease embrace me gently like an angel. On the other hand, I wanted to Excel at Ease and to be the bestest, ease-iest* woman on the face of the planet (and in the history of the Universe). Lifting up the Trophy of Ease! Competing for the Blue Ribbon in Ease! No pressure, though. Ease into Ease, right?

Accepting the Ease Award with a starfish jump!

Accepting the coveted Ease Award with a starfish jump!

Ha. I started off with good intentions. At the beginning of each new week, I would think to myself, “What can I incorporate into my days that would feel dreamy and ease-filled?” Each Monday morning, I would sit and ponder this question with the most earnest of hearts and, after a few minutes of relaxed contemplation, would write down a handful of things that would feel like silky and luxurious pockets in my otherwise frazzled schedule.

  • Drink my morning elixir before breakfast
  • 10 minutes of divine decluttering!
  • Get together with girlfriends over tea
  • Attend a group EFT session
  • Phone my mom and sisters

The first week of January felt Ease-filled, indeed. Granted, I was recovering from a terrible flu at the time, so I didn’t have the strength to be Empress of Ease just yet. “Luckily”, by Week 2, I had enough gusto in me again to ramp up the Ease and to start packing my schedule with a plethora of Ease-y Things To Do. In between inputting expense receipts and calculating sales tax remittances for our art business, I would barrel through items on my Ease List, feeling adrenaline and whatever hormone makes Over-Achievement feel so dang good chorus through my veins.

Yes! I just read a chapter in that Numerology book. CHECK!

Oh ho ho! I can put a big ‘X’ through that “walk outside for 10 minutes” item, NOT TO MENTION I WALKED OUTSIDE FOR 30 MINUTES. I AM AWESOME AND I WIN!!! [insert graceless and over-exuberant End Zone Dance here, made all the more awkward by the fact that I don't even watch football]

Like this. Only awkwarder.

Like this. Only awkwarder.

Sadly, whenever I would “run out” of things to do from my Ease List, I would add more items.

By the end of January, I was so flush with Ease Accomplishments that… I was exhausted. (Slow. Learner. Strikes. Again.)

At least I was able to recognize my Defeating the Purpose-ness early this time (or at least earlier than usual). So, together with my coach and dear friend, Kathy, I set a new standard for February. This month, Ease will mean carving out tiny chunks of time each day (even if it’s 5 minutes to start) and literally doing nothing. Because as much as I enjoy reading, writing, knitting, tapping, tea-drinking, cooking, brainstorming, walking, hiking, cycling, hanging out with friends, staying connected with my family, and taking the odd photograph– SERIOUSLY, WOMAN: SIT. DAMN. STILL. DO EET. FOR REAL. LIKE, NOW.  (Nothing says “Ease” quite like BOLD-FACED CAPS, right? I thought so.**)

It’s taking awhile, but I’m learning. At least there are still close to 11 months left in this Year of Ease, right? Maybe by November or December, I’ll have “achieved” Ease… in the non-achievement sense of the term, of course. ;) In the meantime, I’d love to know:

Are you a slow learner, too?

What life lessons do you need to ‘learn’ over and over again?

How do you incorporate Ease into your lives?

*Ease-iest: Not to be confused with Easiest. If you know me at all– and I assume you do if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time– you should be certain by now that I’m as far from loose as one can get. This here lady is wound tighter than a top!

** Tangential anecdote: I took piano lessons for about 3 or 4 years when I was in grade school. My shoulders were always tensed right up to my ears during my lessons, and my piano teacher would ream on them during warm-up. “RELAX. YOUR. SHOULDERS!” she would bark, while heaving her entire body weight onto my shoulders and yanking them down, presumably to detach them from my neck altogether. Surprisingly, I never became a concert pianist, nor did my shoulders ever learn to loosen up. What gives?

Sunday Signage: Beware of Giants!

Ah, riding the ferry! Nothing but sparkles of sunshine on the water and long, sweet line-ups to the indoor cafeteria for $12 paninis. Sounds like paradise, right? WRONG!

I hate to be the one to burst your bubble of bliss, but don’t you know that GIANTS are lurking in the shadowy caverns of the ferry hull, waiting until everyone returns to their vehicles to pounce? (Not that Giants ‘pounce’– they are too large and lumbering for that– but you get the idea. They are waiting to kill you while you are innocently waiting for the ferry to dock!)

Need proof? An actual, official warning sign from the vehicle deck on board BC Ferries:

IMG_1629One minute, the cars are safe and sound, parked within 12 inches of each other. The next minute, though? WHAMMO! Out pops a Giant, towering over the vehicles and waving a leg of wildebeest in rage! His torso is like a glowing furnace of fury! He’s even wearing red Oven Mitts of Doom!! Noooooooo!!! (Car #1 is lucky to escape, no? Even if that “escape” is straight into a watery grave from the not-yet-docked ferry.) I feel sorry for the people in Car #2, though. They are total goners… or at the very least, their windshield will get all greasy from the meat dribbles. Fact.