Friday, February 28, 2014

Retailers don't care about you.

Retailers don't care about you.
I know this seems pretty obvious.  But it kind of made me sick this week.  I posted this meme from Joshua Becker on my facebook page:


My brother works for Amazon.  His comment? 
Brother: " Nooooo buy more and if you don't know where I can tell you where!"Me: "don't like!"
Brother: "You have a different reason then me for your statement."
My brother would sell you death in a bottle if it had high enough mark up.  He really would.  He doesn't care about you.  Nor do the people who produce all of this stuff.  their commercials look so nice, like they want to help us or make our lives easier.   Lies.  All lies.  All they care about is their wallets.  Remember that the next time you see a commercial or billboard with smiling people plastered all over it.
And in case you are wondering, yes this is the same brother that has so much junk on his kitchen table that his stepson has no where to eat breakfast.  I can't imagine what kind of issues he will have with possessions as he gets older.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is it meaningful?

I am reading Joshua Becker's book that is being released in 10 days.  And had a bit of an  Aha! moment.  By the way, this book is so good especially for those at the start of their journey.  There is something in there for everyone.  And it will be "discounted"  the first week, but he didn't say what discounted meant.
Some have said keep what is used and loved.  Some have said keep what is used and beautiful.  JB says keep what is necessary and meaningful.  He gives an example of a home he visited.  It had a bookshelf.  On that shelf sat 36 books, 11 figurines, 24 photos, 2 souvenir coffee mugs, various snow globes, flower arrangements, vases and candles.  He stood there looking at the shelf wondering what brings meaning into this person's life.  reading? coffee? the people in the photos?  snow?  ok at that one I laughed.  (no harm meant if you like snow globes.)  But after reading this, I started walking around our home.  And asking myself, if a stranger came into our home, would they know what is important to us by what they see?
Well, yes and no.
Yes... We have a picture of a church in our living room.  I have my "faith cards" hanging on a stand on my desk.  Our wedding album on a stand in our bedroom.  Some framed hymns in various places.
No... There is a pic over our bed with yellow flowers sitting in a window with blue frame shutters.  true, it matches the yellow lamps and blue duvet.  But thanks, Joshua.  Now I don't like the picture because it is pretty meaningless.  I stood there thinking, what would be a good picture for there?  Probably a blown up picture of the lake we vacation at on a canvas.  Next vacation, I am taking a pic and blowing it up for over our bed.
No... The picture in my dining room of a basket of flowers.  Thanks, Joshua.  now I don't like it either.  What should I put there?  Well, DH and I love to go wine tasting together.  So, maybe a picture of some wine bottles?  Or a photo  blown up of our favorite winery.
I challenge you to walk around your home.  If someone didn't know you, what would your stuff say to them?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thank you minimalism!

The plague hit our home this week.  That may be being slightly dramatic, but not by much.  My kids have never been this sick.  My two year old had a fever for 5 days.  The Dr. tested him for influenza and it came back negative.  Not pneumonia and not strep throat.  We were told it was an acute virus and we would just have to wait it out. When kids are sick they just want to be held, cuddled, snuggled, rocked, and held some more.  That's what I did all week.  I am not accustomed to that.  My two year old is so independent, he has been known to sit on puzzle pieces just so I cannot help him.  But my independent little buddy wasn't so independent this week.  And as I held him, I watched my home get less and less clean.  There was toothpaste on the sink when I used the bathroom.  There was a sticky spot from juice on the kitchen floor.  There were tissues stacked by the trashcan where little hands had missed the target.  And I could feel my anxiety rising.  I didn't clean a thing for 5 days. 

And then my little buddy felt better.  On his fifth day of having a fever it broke.  That evening he played hide and seek, he let me help him with three puzzles and we played a game of Break the Ice.  I began to feel a little excited at the idea that I would be able to restore my house the next day.  (I am only slightly OCD.)  Sure enough, the next day, my independent boy was back to playing on his own.  And I cleaned.  I wiped down the bathrooms.  I wiped down the stove and the floors.  I picked up trash.  I vacuumed.  And I did it all in a matter of 2 hours.  I had not cleaned for 5 days, and I could restore my home in 2 hours!  That is not a testament to me.  That is a testament to minimalism.  Thank you minimalism!  Thank you for making my life easier, my home cleaner and my anxiety less.

Friday, January 10, 2014

living with less creates structure

"Minimalism is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you." -Joshua Becker

Living with less has so many benefits.  Sometimes I forget or take the benefits for granted.  This week I got to see, first hand, how much chaos exists with more stuff.

I went to help a friend organize her home.  She has 4 kids.  I could tell she needed help.  And as she began to explain to me the background of why her home was in such chaos, I was again struck by how much people can benefit from living with less. 

We are fed a lie.  The lie tells us that things make our lives easier.  Walk into Bed Bath and Beyond.  There is a special peeler for an orange, a grapefruit, an apple, an avocado, a melon baller, a strawberry huller, it goes on and on.  Somehow I can manage to eat every one of those foods without a special utensil.  Buy all these utensils and throw them in a drawer and it will take you five minutes just to find the right equipment for the fruit you have chosen to eat.  But each of these tools is marketed to make our lives easier.

My friend has a lot of stuff.  I mean A LOT of stuff.  Do you think it has made her life easier?  Not at all.  Or I wouldn't have been there to help her.  She says she no longer controls the order of her day.  She is living a reactionary life.  Someone is out of clean clothes?  Do some laundry.  Don't have enough clean plates for dinner?  Better wash the dishes.  Time to eat and the table is covered in stuff?  Better clean it off.  She isn't controlling her stuff. Her stuff isn't making life easier or more enjoyable.  Her stuff is now controlling her.

I forgot what it was like to live in that chaos.  Instead, I wake up, shower, get the kids ready, drink a cup of coffee, and get out my control binder.  It has in it my cleaning schedule from the Confident Mom.  Then I look at any appointments coming up in the next week.  I write down anything that I need to do to prepare for them.  I decide how my day will go, not my stuff.  It feels great.  I wish I could give her a better glimpse of that life.  Because she has no hope right now.  She has no idea how to possibly get through the day with happy children and a clean home.  She thinks it is impossible.  I assure you, it is not. But it may require giving up some of their stuff... ok a lot of their stuff.  I hesitate to use the word minimalist because it brings thoughts into people's heads of stark situations.  But this quote from my favorite minimalist sums it up for me.  "Minimalism is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you." -Joshua Becker

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Just do it!

just do it photo: yesterday tomorrow just do it just-do-it-yesterdaytomorrow.jpg

The New Year is before us, fresh with possibilities.  We have carefully made plans to lead simpler, less chaotic, more organized and intentional lives.  We are feeling inspired by the new year, fresh and clean to be made what we want.  And now it is January second.  The time for planning is over.  And the time to do something has come.  It can be quite paralyzing can't it?  How do we take all of those goals, resolutions and pacts we have made, and see them to fruition?

Just do it.  No matter how small.  Do one thing today.  Donate some happy meal toys.  Get rid of a mug.  Throw out a shirt that has holes in it.  "The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step." -Lao Tzu  So now take that step.  And tomorrow take another and the next day another.  Don't look at the mountain you have to climb.  Just look at that step in front of you.  And do the next right thing. 

Just do it.  Tomorrow will be a little easier to do it because you did something today.  Tomorrow perhaps a drawer or a shelf.  And each day will be a little easier than the one before it.  And as the momentum builds, so will the benefits.  Less time searching for things, less time organizing.  The goal is for this to become a daily habit.  When you go to put things away, before setting it down ask yourself, "Do I need this?  Do I love this?"  If not, put it in your donation location.  You can always go back and get it if you miss it.  But I am willing to bet, you won't miss it at all.

Next year at this time, instead of resolutions to get our homes in order, we can have orderly homes.  If we just take it one day at a time.  The time is going to pass whether we use it fruitfully or not.  Better to get the task started that we have more time to enjoy the results.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ready to Live with Less

Have you decided that in 2014 you would like to live with less?  Set the scene by accomplishing two tasks.  These are short and simple...  they can easily be accomplished in a day.

First talk to the adults you live with.  Ask them if anything is off limits.  The last thing we want to do when trying to live a simpler life is frustrate those around us.  Living with irritated or frustrated people does not make life easier.  In our home, my husband has asked that I not touch his books, his wine glasses or his music.  Notice that he did not say clothes.  He did not say clothes because that is not communal property.  I still would not purge any of his clothing without speaking to him.  In fact I just remind him to take something out when he gets something new.  Books, glasses and music are communal property because we both use them.  But I don't get rid of any of those without discussing it with him.  Notice that I said adults.  Children do not usually understand the concept of getting rid of what they don't use.  When they hear you are getting rid of things, they imagine ALL their things.  I allow my son to see the things I get rid of and I explain to him that it makes our lives easier. I am living by example first and foremost.

Second, find a place to keep donations until you can take them to a donation center or schedule a pick up.  We do not want to throw away things that others could use.  I keep my donations in my bedroom in order to keep my 2 year old out of them.  For some reason my two year old is fascinated by anything I put in a paper bag.  He gets it all out and I find a trail through our home.  Find a space safe from kids and animals.  You could use a paper grocery bag, an old diaper box, even an empty Target bag.  But have a place ready, so when you choose something to get rid of, it is immediately out of the way.  This will make it harder to change your mind.  Once it is out of sight, you will stop thinking about it.  Once you have two or three boxes or bags full, time to donate it.  You will feel so much better once it is out of your house.  Guaranteed. 

Now you are ready!  You are setting yourself up for success by having the conversation taken care of.  You won't get slowed down by arguments.  And your donations won't be in your way as you are trying to get your home more organized and uncluttered.  These two tasks don't take long to accomplish.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

January tracker

I am getting my paper tracker ready.  I am placing it as the first page in my control binder.  There is a line for each day.  On the left it says "what came in". On the right, it says "what went out".  Every time something comes in, something will go out.  If we don't prevent the flow of stuff coming into our homes, we can never hope to be organized.  It is much easier to organize 50 things than 100 things.  I will be writing down everything that we bring into our home that isn't consumable.  Consumables will be food, napkins, toilet paper, feminine products, wipes, laundry cleaner, dish cleaner, shampoo and soap.  I do not consider lotion or crayons, etc. consumables, even though they will eventually be consumed, because they will last longer than a month.  I am a little fearful of writing everything on paper, because I have never done it before.  My oldest son has a birthday the first week.  I know he will receive presents outside of my control.  And I don't believe in keeping those from him.  He will be given them to enjoy, but then something else must be picked out to go.  His party is at Chuck E Cheese because I didn't want a bunch of 9 year olds running through my home.  This also means there will be cheap "favors" bought with tickets from games that come in.  Those get "lost" pretty quickly.  Other than the birthday, it should be a "normal" month.  I am hoping that my fears are irrational and we aren't really bringing extra stuff into our house.  I will be sure to update you when the results are in.