Monday, October 31, 2016

Final Thoughts on Minimizing

The first 30 day challenge is complete

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Right now it kind of feels more like saying goodbye to a good friend than a party.

I realize I can go through my items and eliminate them at any time...but that devotion of the daily purge won't be occurring.

So how did I do?

Well I tried to keep count of everything that I got rid of, and within a small margin of error, I calculated it at:

98 individual items

It seems both like a small number and also like a large that even possible?

It seems large because I think "Holy Crap did I really have almost 100 things I didn't need."  

Then in the same breath I think "Holy Crap did I ONLY have almost 100 things I didn't need...maybe I didn't look enough."

I think the main lesson I learned, aside from the best way ever to fold your clothes (thank you Marie Kondo), is that this is a process that doesn't have a definitive end.  I will be coming back at intervals to check in with my "stuff" and see if it still deserves a place at my proverbial table.

I must say that I am most pleased with my closet.  When I walk in I don't feel overwhelmed and I can easily see everything so that I can more easily pick out what I am going to wear for the day.

I enjoy having less choices.  I am not left feeling that perhaps I made the wrong wardrobe decision and I'm also not standing there for fifteen minutes trying to figure out what I want to wear.

I read a great book on this topic called "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" by Greg McKeown.  I don't want to ruin the book for anyone who  may want to read it (and you don't have to buy it you can get it through your library) but in it Greg gives you great ways to say "No" and ways to weed out those things that are "nonessential."  So he may illustrate his point with a reference to a business...but it is totally applicable in everyday life.  

So think about what things you can say "No" to and what you can weed out that will help your life focus more on the essential/important things.

Well that concludes October...on to November and challenge of exercising each day.

Won't you think about joining me?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Useful Resources

So you've been keeping up with me this month and thinking to yourself "I would like to have less stuff."

But you are stymied by not knowing where to start.

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Well for me I started on this road about a year ago and have read numerous books.  Some have been really helpful and inspiring and others...well not so much.

I would like to share a number of books that have proved helpful to me, if for nothing else than to provide me with a positive affirmation that this is the right thing to do.

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So in no particular order, except for #1 as I feel it is a great jumping off point, here are my favorite books on ways to minimize your stuff and make your life more centered on what makes you happy:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  Marie provides you with a complete start to finish plan for how to go through all of the items in your house.  She provides very poignant vignettes to go along with her advice (some of which are ways she failed initially at owning less) AND the best way ever to fold items in your drawers.

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Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke.  Gail, like Marie, walks you through different areas where you may have clutter.  She keeps a running tally throughout the book as she makes her way to 50 things (one fun added nuance is that she counts "like" things as 1 item...for example getting rid of 4 scarves would be one item of the 50).

Clutter Free by Kathi Lipp.  Kathi helps you think about your stuff in a new way.  To take stock of the items you have at home (i.e. buying a new box of cereal when you already have several of home...or buying a new book when there are 10 on your nightstand that you haven't read).  She suggests ways for you to use up what you  have..and if you don't like the item get rid of it.  There is no reason to hang on to something that isn't going to prove useful to you.

Packing Light:  Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt.  Allison's memoir combines minimalism and travelling which are two of my favorite topics (throw in food and we have a trifecta).  She chronicles the selling of all of her stuff so that she can fund a cross country trip.  She has some wonderful revelations and has a great story-telling ability.

The More of Less by Joshua Becker.  After I read this I actually put up a book review on my other blog here, but to sum that up Josh really opens your eyes as to why we don't have to be a slave to our stuff.  He has some great examples that he shares from his life and what has drawn him, and his family, to have a more minimalist lifestyle.  For him living with less has been more.

The Year Without a Purchase by Scott Dannemiller.  I have a bit of a theme of memoir's...I totally love them and it's a bit like binging on reality TV (a total guilty pleasure).  Scott and his wife decide that for one year (with a few exceptions) they are going to buy nothing new...this becomes a bit difficult as they have two small children.  However they navigate in amazing fashion, for example at one point they make the birthday gifts for the parties they are invited to.  Without a Purchase has an added dimension of making if Christ centered (they are former missionaries) and provide some relevant scripture passages.

You Can Buy Happiness (and it's cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and You Can Too by Tammy Strobel.  Tammy's memoir takes things to the extreme as she chronicles her path of getting rid of her stuff and making a life in a tiny house.

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider.  Tsh has a very successful blog, The Art of Simple, and in Organized Simplicity she pulls from many of her blog posts simple yet effective strategies for how living with less is really a way to GAIN more in your life.  The book is a very quick and easy read and is full of practical suggestions.

And just for the upcoming holidays:

Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ways to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays by Elaine St. James.  The book has a little age on it, written in 1998, but some of the ideas can still be used.  She provides suggestions for gifts you can give and how to have others give to you in a way that is meaningful for both of you (like giving experiences instead of an item).

I hope that I didn't overwhelm you with reading material but I totally love books and I picked up all of these, except for two, at the library.  The two that I didn't get from the library I passed on through PaperBackSwap so that someone else could enjoy them next.

So do you think you'll read any of my suggestions?  If so which one is first up?

If you've read any of these I would love to know what your opinions of the book(s) were.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The End is Near

Just two more months till Christmas

That phrase packs a big panic punch for people with children, or perhaps your last minute shoppers.

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I cannot even imagine the claustrophobic feeling of being in a crowd like that...but yet people do it year after year.

Do they feel full of Christmas spirit?  

Chances are probably not.

Like those last minute shoppers I have a bit of a frantic feeling as I am nearing the close of my month of giving items away.

I want to make sure that I've gone through all of my areas (both at home and at work) to ensure that I've taken stock of my possessions and that what is left is truly something I want to hold on to.

However like kids on Christmas morning I am also excited to kick of the next month, November, and a new challenge:

100 push-ups, 100 crunches, and 100 squats everyday

This is probably the perfect time for this one with Thanksgiving falling in November (I promised my husband I wouldn't do the vegan challenge during November less any relatives think I didn't like their cooking).

I have tried all month long not to dwell on the money that was spent on the items that I have put out of my home.

I did spend some time thinking "Why did I buy this stuff?"  And it leads to feeling a little bad about the money I spent and the time I invested in bringing the items home (not to mention the physical space they occupied for so long).

But a few moments of mindful breathing and I'm ok.  I'm letting go of the negative and focusing on the how much I love my closet now that it is neat and only has items in it that I enjoy wearing.

This weekend a friend of mine told me about a coat she purchased.  She said the first time that she wore it a friend told her she looked like the Michelin man and she has never worn the coat again.  That was 8 years ago...and she still has the coat.  I wanted to go into her house and take it away, but that is a personal decision for each of us to make about our stuff.

I hope she knows that she is a beautiful woman and doesn't need to hang on to any of these negative vestiges.

Do you have an item that you hang onto even though it only brings up negative feelings?  If so think about  moving it on and out of your life.

Friday, October 21, 2016

It's More Than Just Stuff

Everyday I look at the things that I own and evaluate it

1) Do I need this item?
2) Do I make use of it often?
3) Is it still in good working order?

By taking a quick inventory I have worked to make the decision to keep an item, or discard it, much faster than I did in the beginning of this process.

I try to look at my possessions with fresh eyes every day...and you know what?

Everyday I find at least one thing that doesn't meet my standards.

Aside from the physical possessions I have found that making decisions for living life itself has been simplified.


Purchasing and obtaining stuff doesn't really cross my mind.  I don't have days where I think "I'll head off to the mall."  This month I bought one book for under $10 and that was after I waited about a week (needed to determine if I really wanted it or not).

With all of the removal of items you definitely think twice before bringing something back in.

Saying No 

At first blush this seems like a harsh approach...but you will thank yourself if you take the time to only say "Yes" to those things you really want to do.  Don't let "yes" be an automatic answer when someone asks you a question (this has applications for both personal and work life).

We don't need to keep ourselves busy all of the time.  You can't accomplish tasks to the best of your ability if in the back of your mind you are thinking about the litany of other tasks that lay ahead of you.

Turn Off Your Media

We take in so much information in a day that turning off your phones, not watching the news, only looking at Facebook once a day are really healthy options for you.

Taking in all of the negative information that is put out there in the media can bring you down and depress you.  I'm not saying be completely oblivious as to what is going on in the world but guard yourself against taking too much in.

I've found that I am a much happier and calm by not having the constant chatter of what the latest crisis in the world is.  I can take the time that was previously given to media consumption and instead spend it with my husband and kids.  Building a strong and loving relationship with them is way more valuable.

These are just 3 things that came to mind and I know there are tons more (goodness knows there is a multitude of blog posts out there about it) but consider scaling your life back.

Can you think of some ways you can scale back?

What would your life look like if for one week you tried one, or perhaps all 3, of these things?

In an effort to keep myself accountable of the items I purge I found several scarves that I love the patterns or but don't love them when they are on it's time for them to go.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Side Effects of Minimizing

Taking the time to consider each of your possessions and determine if they are useful and bring joy to your life can have some unintended consequences.

At this moment you're probably thinking something all of the time it takes to go through your stuff.  Or perhaps the emotional turmoil of parting with things you've been hanging on to for so long...

Well you would be mistaken...I mean unintended as a positive thing.

I've found that there are "projects" I've left undone that were just waiting for me to return to them, such as:

  • I have pictures that I took down from my bedroom walls, when it was repainted 2 years ago, that have not been put back up.
  • Yarn that I've been saving for a crocheting project.
  • Kids artwork that is waiting to be framed and hung
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This weekend I took some time and handled those things that have been lingering...and you know what?

It felt just as good to get the picture hung back up in my room as it did to get rid of 22 items of clothing a couple of weeks ago.

Having things finished feels amazing.  

It leaves you with a sense of weight being lifted off of your shoulders...weight that you didn't even know existed.

I found that some of the artwork I was holding on to for framing perhaps didn't ALL need to be held on to.  I selected some of my favorite pieces that the kids have created and recycled the rest.

It may sound a little callous to have disposed of some of their work...but really what were they going to do with it?  It's been on a shelf for a couple of months and no one has even asked about the various pieces.

The creation of the art is what is exhilarating and thinking back to the time they created each piece with their friends is a fond memory...we don't need the actual item to keep that good feeling alive.

So what I would like to know is if you have unfinished projects in your house?

Are they ones you could knock out quickly?  If so why not tackle one or two of them and enjoy the freeing feeling. 

Also a small update on the items I've been purging.  I was lucky enough to sell a pair of shoes today and yesterday I gave away a charm bracelet that I've had for several years and never worn (the charm isn't even on the bracelet yet).

Monday, October 17, 2016

More Than Just a Purge

I am about halfway through the first month of my challenges and I have realized, through the various blog posts I've read and the minimizing that I've done, that the process is much more than just getting rid of stuff.

It's also about using up the items that you those 10 bottles of hotel lotion you bogarted from your previous vacations.

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I don't know about you but I love to pick up the small lotions, shampoos, conditioners, etc from hotels to have "just in case."

You know "just in case" I run out of shampoo I will have this handy dandy super cute small one that can tide me over.

But the truth is we as Americans are never far from our supply of goods.  Grocery stores and box stores are open ALL the time.

I've decided, much to my husband's chagrin, that we'll use up the small size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, soap, and toothpaste.  I know it will be a little tedious to change out the bottles every couple of days BUT there is no need to hoard the items.

What led me to this kick was looking in my linen closet where I keep a drawer of toiletries...I'm a little ashamed of the mess BUT for full disclosure I'll show it to you:

I think it's going to take a while to use everything up...but oh how exciting when it is finally cleaned out.

Are you like you keep sample sizes?  Do you pick them up at every opportunity?

I need to work on this because I don't need to pick them up and bring more stuff into my house.

I've kept up with the purging.  Today I found a stack of books on one of my shelves that I wasn't going to read again, or had not made use of in a long I took them off to Goodwill and hopefully someone else will find them to be useful.

What is the item that you stash away?  I know for some it can be soap or teas...the options are limitless.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Am I Done Yet?

I am a week into my first of 12 challenges for the year...and you're thinking "Is she already asking 'Am I done yet?'"

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No silly

I chose the title because for the past year my family has been through the various rooms of our house and have culled out the items that didn't bring us joy, were broken, we no longer used, or had multiples of.  We've taken truck loads to Goodwill and yet...

I find it absolutely amazing that I am finding stuff everyday as I strive to give/sell something everyday this month.  And I'm not just finding 1 roll of ribbon that I don't need I found 10 rolls (they were donated to my mom's primary class at our Montessori school).

Over a year ago I read the best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

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That book was the beginning of a change in mindset for me.  Marie has you touch and think about each and every item that you own.

So I did that and gave away probably half of the clothes in my closet...what amazes me though is that you can't just take one pass through your closet (or kitchen drawers or china cabinet, etc) you have to keep going back...this is an on-going process.

I pulled down a basket from the top shelf of my closet and found it was packed with Christmas ornaments (that were bought and never used) as well some random knick knacks...which were put in there because they didn't have another proper home.

So I am going to continue to examine each space of the house with a more critical eye and keep this quote from Joshua Becker in mind:
“We were never meant to live life accumulating stuff. We were meant to live simply enjoying the experiences of life, the people of life, and the journey of life - not the things of life.” 
― Joshua BeckerSimplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life

So before we kick off the weekend something for you to think about...are there things in your house that don't have a proper home...that perhaps should move on and out of your house?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Last of My 30's

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No I don't feel it is horrible, or scary, to be in the last year of my 30's.  People are constantly moving the yardstick for what is the "new 20" so I try to not to concern myself with it.  After all wasn't it Mark Twain who said "Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

I figure as long as I feel like I'm in my 20's, but acting a bit more responsibly then when I was in my 20's everything will work out alright.

Yesterday I was treated by my family to a night where I didn't cook or clean.  They prepared dinner and cleaned up afterwards.

It was heaven!

My favorite part of the evening was dessert.  My husband who can cook but has never baked did so with the help of our 7 year old daughter and 9 year old son.  They made a delicious vanilla cake with buttercream icing from scratch (trying to teach the kids that you don't want to cook from a box).

I think the end result was pretty, really is there such a thing as enough M&M's?

Once I was fully sated with dessert it was time to pick out some item(s) to purge.  Since we were in the dining room I checked out on of the drawers of my china cabinet.  I was stunned to see some many things in one tiny drawer.

I pulled everything out and thought about:
  1. whether I would buy the item again 
  2. do I already have something like it (no need for duplicates)
  3. why I am hanging on to it
I pulled out 5 aprons and two sets of napkin rings that I've never used and don't think I ever will (especially since I don't know how long I've had them...a sure sign that it is time to let them go).

Do you hang on to items because someone gifted them to you, and you think giving the item away will hurt their feelings?

Or do you find you hang on to things "just in case"?  

I'm trying to look at my stuff and realize that in the "just in case" scenario happens there are stores that I could re-buy the item if necessary.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Let The Games Begin

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Well this weekend I started my first of 12 thirty day as my Minecraft cartoon depicts...Let The Games Begin.

The first challenge is to donate, or sell, an item each day.  As I started to go through my closet Saturday I discovered that I had about 20 things I could get rid of.

These things were all in good shape but they weren't things that I wear and they just take up space in my drawers where I would prefer to have ample room for the items that I do love and wear all the time.

So I decided to amend my challenge and just make sure that every day I am getting rid of something(s).

For Sunday I weeded through a basket of old kids toys that the children no longer play with and bagged them up to donate.  I didn't take a picture because the items were a bit scattered looking...but there will be some small child that will find them in Goodwill and will hopefully get as much joy out of them as my children did.

Today I am putting the basket up for sale that those toys were residing in.

It's a really cute basket that I picked up years ago at Ten Thousand Villages.  After some thought about whether I could make use of it again I decided that it would only hinder the efforts to get rid of things if I kept an item of storage.  So again I hope whoever ends up with this will love it and pass it on when it no longer serves a purpose for them.

These three days have been really exciting and it just made me want to go through the entire house and purge purge purge....but in an effort not to burn myself out OR to be consumed by purging I am taking it small steps at a time.

To support my challenges each month I will be trying to read books on the subject at hand.  The first book I completed in this endeavor is Clutter Free by Kathi Lipp.  The book was fantastic.  I borrowed it through digital library loan so that I wouldn't be bringing in an item to learn about how to get rid of things...that just seemed like a sensible thing to do.  Kathi writes easily digestible chapters that give you examples of what she is doing on suggestions for how you yourself can be more clutter free.

My favorite chapter was on not bringing items into your house and talked about ways to get your family and close friends on board so that you can give experiences, gift cards, or time to one another so as not to wrap up another item that would need to be cared for the gift receiver.

So what I want to do know is are you trying to be more clutter free?  Or do you find it difficult to get stuff out of your house?

This month I'll will keep a tally of the items I move on and will put up book reviews and encouraging articles on the topic in an effort to get you on board with will be a fun trip we can take together.