Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Project 20:14 Slow Steady Progress 08

I had set some real goals (aka dates to have stuff done by) for my decluttering/de-owning project 2014.  In typical K style... life happens and the above mentioned "goals" become lost amidst the sick people, the birthday celebrations, the Church retreats, etc.  I like goals because they keep me focused, but goals can also totally derail my efforts.  

"I can't get it done, so just forget the whole thing!"  This line of thinking has crept into my life before, but not this time.  I am trying to adopt a different tune to sing.  It goes something like this....baby steps, baby steps, baby steps.  Some days I will get a lot done, others it will be very small, but relentless forward progress is often that way...slow...steady...forward motions.

This weekend I realized what eats much of my time and honestly, it's just how it is.  I am a mom.  A mom that homeschool's the children.  I have other outside commitments to church, friends, and family.  As I should.  So rather than becoming completely frustrated by not meeting my goals, I will embrace the few steps off the path to larger goal of a life surrounded by simplicity.  

My kitchen is the hub of all activity in our family.  I have a counter that is about 6 feet long and 2.5 feet wide to work on.  School?  Taught from the counter.  Groceries come in?  They land on the counter.  Meal prep?  Counter.  Bill paying...Counter.  You get the idea.  So much of my day is spent here and my time is often filled with clearing the counter so I can think.  

Wait?  You don't need a clean counter to think?  You must be one of those normal people...  I need a clutter-free and clean counter to think AND work. 

Saturday, I found myself in a bit of a huff because I had cleaned every day last week and still found a counter that looked like this

6 foot long brain


Smaller brain whose only real job is to collect clutter


I have been wanting to declutter one particular cupboard in the kitchen that I had previously done, but I wasn't as ruthless as I needed to be in clearing out what I didn't need.  

I had about 30 minutes of free time and a small bit of extra energy, so I challenged myself to see if I could get the cupboard re-worked and the counters squared away.  

I can think again!

Yes, it will collect clutter again!

Not a HUGE transformation, but one that makes more use of the space.

The point of this post is to encourage you.  Do not let the daily hustle and bustle and incoming clutter bombs derail your efforts.  Do something everyday, no matter how small.  Do not let the lack of perceived progress get you down.  Remember that this is a mindset, not a look or style.  Enjoy the little moments of counter clarity...cause tomorrow is grocery day.  



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Faith


Sometimes all that is revealed to us is the very next step that we must take as we step out in faith.  

Faith is not believing in something that we can not see; faith is knowing we can trust that God will  lead us into the fog as he prepares us for something that He has planned just for us.  He always has and always will, the only variable is whether or not we take the time to listen to His whispers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Project 20:14 The Lull 07

My intention with this endeavor has been to declutter/de-own at least one thing, every day, till I reach my goal.  The goal of owning less to make room for more.  The goal of possessing nothing so that I can embrace all that God has for me completely.

So when I saw that yesterday and today I had not really thrown anything into the donation pile or the trash bin, I was disappointed in myself.  I took an evaluation of my days to see exactly why I didn't have the time to put towards my project.

It was then that I realized that I WAS in fact decluttering and de-owning.  But it wasn't physical stuff.  It was the stuff of busy-ness.  It was taking care of the bills and the filing of documents and the planning of parties, and the re-orienting of myself after a weekend away from the home and my family.

I was struck with the idea of mind clutter.  That which fills my mind and often times paralyzes me because I have so much to do, so much to be responsible for.  I have relationships with people that need me.  My time.  My presence.  I have responsibilities as a mom, wife, and friend.  And when I allow things to pile up in my mind, on my to do list, I become overwhelmed and I must spend the time I need to in an attempt to clean up my mind clutter.  Mind clutter often results in guilt which is never a good thing.

I am a perpetual list maker.  A professed disorganized organizational freak.  I don't know how I arrived at this, but it is what it is.  I am what I am.  So, I make my list, I cross things off, and I get done what I can.  My mindset has typically been one of negative thinking..."I still have THIS much to do!" Neverminding what I HAVE accomplished.  In my mental crazy box, it is never enough.  Until now.  I have implemented limits to my to do list.  Three  things per day.  I can manage three "to do" items per day.  I might have more than that on my list, but that just means that I have choices.  I like choices.  I also like progress.  I would love perfection, but that isn't happening, so I will settle for progress.

So, three things.  I can do three things.  They might be big things, they might be little things.  But here is the truest thing...if I don't get them done, I can even live with that.  My vocation as a mom comes before most everything else.  Homeschooling the children should be my very first priority directly after being able to provide for their basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and love.  For years, I have battled the folks who think I have all the time in the world to do things for them.  And there is only one reason why they have asked.  Because I have allowed them to.  And when I say yes to them, it is an invitation to ask again and again.

I have learned a few techniques, but truthfully, I am horribly guilty of taking on too much and trying to "fit" school into the empty spaces in my day.  This year has been different in that I have blocked off "school time" and stuck with it more regularly.  It means life slows down and sometimes, seems monotonous.  But I know it is in these times that I am developing a deeper relationship with my children who see that my time with them is not an after-thought.  It is a privilege and it is very important to me.

Mental clutter must be worked through in order to be "free" to be with my children.  It is not easy.  One of the first things I can do to reduce this form of clutter is to reduce my online exposure.  Email, FB, DM, etc.  Texting and phone calls can also fall into this category.  I try to limit my time in these arenas, but I have allowed these forms of media to invade precious moments of my day that in turn take away from something else.

I recall years ago when my friends and I would "give up email" for Lent.  It seems as though that would be nearly impossible today.  No one calls anyone anymore.  Seriously.  The only reason I have a land line is so that doctors can call me to remind me of scheduled appointments and sales people have a number to call!  I will admit, I don't miss being on the phone as much as I used to be, but I also will admit, I miss talking with my friends in this way.

Giving up email probably isn't feasible anymore.  This is how most communication comes through.  It is convenient and I like that I can get to it when I can, but I do have a tip on how to limit email.

Have one junk email address.  Any website you visit these days wants your email so they can send you junk.  I use mine all the time and I very rarely open that email address.  If I do use my regular email address for a website, I will unsubscribe from every single one of the emails  if they are sent to me.

I use my vacation response.  If I am gone out of town, have many outside obligations, I do not hesitate to use my vacation response to state that I am not able to respond to emails until such and such a date.  I might be able to check from my phone, but I do not have to respond until I am truly free to do so.  If the person emailing me receives that vacation response, they respect my time away and understand that a response may not be immediate.  Funny how that works.  I used to respond immediately to email and texts and then was shocked when people expected me to!  Now I set aside times of the day to check these things and respond as needed.

FB.  I have a hate/hate relationship with FB.  I hate that this is how people keep in touch with one another.  I long for snail mail.  I hate that people think that what is shown on FB is what is truly happening in someone's life.  I hate that people think FB is not a good way to have a relationship, but yet, they won't find time for a more personal encounter.  I go back and forth with FB.  Deactivate, delete, activate, blah, blah ,blah.  I will most probably deactivate again for Lent.  I need that break.  I crave it.  I do like to see the pictures of my friends and students and that is about it.  So yes, I will miss some things, but you know what?  When I am using FB I am missing things, the things of my real life.  The things within my home.  I'll take a few misses on FB.

I have enjoyed using DM (dailymile) for awhile now.  As I try to simplify my life, I find that this social app is also on the list of possible chopping block material.  It is a wonderful way to track workouts and I have made some wonderful connections there, but as I am not training for anything big and I am seeking to be less and less, this site is one that I may need to back away from for a time.

So, I suppose the past few days have not really been a lull, but rather, quite busy in fact.  My mind wrestles with these thoughts and I take them to prayer.  Not because they are huge life decisions, but because my faithfulness grows in the little things.  In the details.

I am yearning to find my true, best-version-of myself.  I am a long way from it and my version will not look like anyone else's.  My expression of simplicity will not be the next guy's.  My decision to becoming smaller will not reflect the reason of another.  This journey goes beyond the stuff in my closets.  Beyond the clutter in my mind.  This journey is about cleaning the cobwebs of my soul and making room for Him to move in.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Project 20:14 Minimalist Monday 06

Having been away on an amazing retreat this weekend with 250 of my closest teenage friends, I am taking the minimal, simple approach to what could easily be a very overwhelming Monday.

Last week, I uncovered some long lost cupboard knobs buried deep in the very untidy hall closet.  I decided that they will either be used or be let go of so as to bless someone else who could use them.

I had just enough drawer pulls and not enough cupboard knobs so those were ordered and happened to arrive while I was away.

My amazing husband equally amazing 12 year old man-child installed the hardware to surprise me.  They look beautiful, don't you think?!

While on retreat, I experienced a gentle whisper from God.  To be certain that what I am doing as I travel the path to less, I embrace all that He has to offer me.  And to let go of things with the primary objective being to give Him the room and space He needs to reach me.  Letting go of earthly possessions does not have to mean living with nothing.  It does mean that I have let go of the emotional attachment to things so that my eyes, heart and soul can focus on Him and moreover, help my family to see Him in me. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Project 20:14 Small Stuff 05

Today was a busy day with outside appointments and catching up on some errands before heading out this weekend.

Sticking with my parameters, I set out to declutter/de-own one small drawer.  I got on such a roll that in 20 minutes I managed to clean through 2!  These drawers are in my nightstand.  I bought this piece about 4 years ago to hold my pajamas and some journals, nighttime reading, and to have a place to hold my lamp.

I had so much JUNK stuffed into these drawers and what's more, I had ZERO reason for keeping 98% of it!  Of the 2% I kept, 90% of that were items that were not put into their proper place, ie, books that should have been placed into the bookcase, pens and highlighters that belong in the office, and cell  phone cords which belong to phones I no longer own.

Now my stand is holding precious letters from my children, husband, and friends.  My filled journals and a few sentimental items that I will probably keep for a very long time.  This morning these special things were mixed in with so much trash that it is impossible to think that any of it mattered to me.  Tonight, these drawers are special places that will no longer be a catch-all for things with no home.

I am beginning to see the journey to less is about more than getting rid of stuff.  It is embracing what is truly important, making room for those things, those people, and letting go of all that weighs me down.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Project 20:14 Parameters 04

Thinking it might be beneficial to lay out some parameters with regard to the Project.

With regards to decluttering/de-owning

*Be patient and positive.  We didn't acquire these possessions overnight, we won't de-own them overnight. Rest assured, it won't take as long to de-own as it did to possess!

*Be diligent.  Do one thing every day, even something small, a drawer, a cabinet, a shelf.  Some days will be very productive, some will be about taking baby steps.  Like the saying goes, "Just Do It".  

*Try to get a price for anything worth value, but don't hold onto it if it doesn't sell.  Put a "sell by" date on the item and then give it away for free to someone who can be blessed by it or donate it to a charity.

*Storing of items for growing children is helpful budget-wise, but save nothing that will not be worn within two years.  By then it will be out-dated.  It could bless another child before it is used by ours.

*Grandkids can have one container of toys kept here.  All else is given to them directly or donated.

*While decluttering, ask if keeping it will provide one or more of these things:
      *Is it something we love?
      *Does it serve a function? (Even if the function is that it adds beauty, within reason)
      * Does it reflect who we are as a family?
      *Is it beautiful?
      *Would someone else love this more than us?
      *Is having this item worth the maintenance to keep it?
      *Do we possess the item or does it possess us?

*When bringing new items in
      *Do we need this?
      *Are we paying cash for it or taking on debt for it?
      *Does it help us to fulfill our Family Mission?
      *Is it worth the work it will take to maintain it, store it, possess it?
      *Does this allow us to continue to have fewer things while having a fuller life?

As I go through this journey I may add to or edit some of these parameters.  I think the most important is to just start.  Go through the easiest rooms first and work towards the more challenging areas which for me will be photos, books, and sentimental items.  


Project 20:14 New things 03



Today I spent some time at Hobby Lobby today and happened upon a pair of lamps that were originally 89.99.  They were on clearance for 18.00 each.  These are the deals I just can't say no to, especially when they meet my newfound mantra, do I love these and will I love them in 5years?   Yes and Yes!


My prayer corner with lamp that does not offer enough light



New Lamp, fantastic light


I also found an answer to my fruit bowl problem.  Because of the gas bananas give off, they can not be kept too close to the other fruit because it causes the other fruit to spoil too quickly.  Banana "trees" are not very pretty, in my opinion, and when there is only one left or one breaks from the bunch, it lies on the counter too.  This little gem seems to solve the problem and fits my criteria of loving it and providing function.  



The rest of the day, I spent jotting some ideas down in my journal.  I have some nice visions for our school room, the fireplace I hope to re-face, the backyard I look forward to creating a prayer center in, and the built ins I plan to display things of beauty rather than things I stuff there and never find time to dust.

The kids are enjoying the subtle changes.  Little do they know, their room isn't safe either.