Sowing Simply

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It’s wasn’t more than a few minutes after I had woke this morning that the theme of minimalism came into view.  This desire I have to rid myself of what encumbers, it’s real and sitting atop my brain this morning.  Here’s the thing:  I yearn to be free of stuff, replacing it with experiences, memories, laughter, joy, and carefree living.  So enamored with this way of life am I, that I wake up thinking about it at 5:37am on a day when I could sleep another hour.

I want simple.  I want easy.  I want joy, and I’m finding it!

This past Sunday Pastor and Marsha came for a visit in the afternoon.  Bob has been fighting back against a bout of the shingles and they wanted to stop by to encourage him—us! Normally when pastor is coming, I imagine people rushing around, shoving things in cubbies, and trying feverishly to make the house presentable.  I know that’s what I used to do back in the day.  I’ve been known to fill the bathtub with clothes, dirty dishes, toys, tools, newspapers, and a bevy of other items, then close the shower curtain on them until company left. Afterward I had the depressing job of retrieving all that and sorting through it, filling my counter space and laundry room with the items I had hidden less than an hour before.  Seriously, I did this, especially as a young mom who was overwhelmed with life, kids, husbands, and stuff!

Hiding things in the bathrub was a way to “look” presentable in mere moments, and it worked, but it wasn’t satisfying. It was also a lie.

This time when company came I didn’t have to shoot through the house like a bullet from a gun, picking up everything in sight and finding some place to stuff it.  This time, anything extraneous had been dealt with long before the visit happened.  Load after load, after load had already been sent to the Good Will and the Salvation Army, and the trash heap, so that there are few places in my home that still had not be thoroughly culled. A few remain, but not many.

Watch out attic, crawl space, and guest room closet, cuz this spring I’m comin’ for you!

The biggest benefit I’ve gained from minimalism to-date is the freedom to say, “Sure, come on over. We would love a visit!” and mean it—no rushing around, no panic attacks, no sweaty sessions hiding stuff in the tub and no making anyone in the house wish we never had company over because every time we do mom goes crazy!  I used to do that. Not any more!  Now, the house is clean without manic episodes or terrifying deadlines.  Now, the house is “presentable” all the time, and do you know why?  Because anything that doesn’t belong there has already found itself somewhere else.  Simple, right?!

Not so simple for some!

I’ve been talking to my sweet mom about my renewed sense of hope and joy (and my increased ease when making decisions), all gifts given to me as I have learned to be free of the things that once entangled—random stuff.  She has been bitten by the de-clutter bug. She wants to begin to simplify her life too, but knows not how.  I can relate.

When we moved from our trailer to the home we have now—a home I dearly love and thank God for every day—I was overwhelmed with stuff.  How we got all that and four people in one little space I do not know, but we had paperwork and junky junk aplenty, and worst of all we moved all of it across the lawn and into the new house.  Even then, which I cannot believe was 7 years ago this fall, I knew I didn’t want all that stuff, but where do you begin to get rid of it?  How do you sort through it all?  Where do you put it?

I’ve never been good at yard sales, so that was not an option in my mind. Besides, this was personal stuff, like tons of receipts, bank statements, old high school reports and journals I had kept, among other items.

When I was struggling to figure out where to begin, my sweet, sweet niece came to the rescue. Danielle had heard me talking about the struggle, recognized the plight, and offered her organizational services to help get rid of what needed (had needed for a long time), to go.  What a blessing she was to me that day. We talked together, sorted together, and laughed together about what I had kept and/or had trouble letting go of—it was a lot!  Having someone else there to help me sort through my life in papers and pictures was a relief.  I didn’t have to tackle that mountain on my own. Someone was there to stand next to me, encourage me, and help me part with things when I just didn’t know if I should. She’d laugh and say, “Yeah, and why are you holding onto check book registers from thirteen years ago?”  Onto the burn pile they went.

I don’t think we even banked with that institution any more.  Why did I have them?

All this to say that I am loving having less.  It’s not a burden at all. I don’t miss one thing I have thrown away, and I’m happy, glad, and tickled to help others get started on this journey to minimalism that I am finding so very joy-filled.  I’ve talked with my mom about putting a date on the calendar when we can deal with her purge, and I will keep bugging her until she does it.  Nothing happens if we don’t make a plan.  She is ready to get rid of the pile of stuff she has that no longer serves her or fills her with joy.  I’m proud of her for making the choice to do it.  I have found that my ability to make good choices without worry has been remedied in good part by getting rid of all the clutter that filled my brain and made me fearful.  I think getting rid of the clutter in her living space will do the same for her. In fact, I’m sure it will!!!  I can’t wait to help her get started.

Right now, sowing simplicity into my life is the greatest of adventures!  I want everyone to join me on this path, but if they don’t, that’s okay too. This adventure, it’s really for me and truthfully, I’m about as excited as a six-year-old on Christmas morning about it!

Speaking of Christmas, you know you only have EIGHT more weeks to shop until it’s here, right?

Yeah, that gets your heart pumping doesn’t it?  You’re welcome!!!

What are you doing lately to live a simpler life?  What stuff will you be avoiding this Christmas, in lieu of memories, experiences, and generosity toward others?

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Give It Away

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I had a red sweater.  I have it no more.

THREE REASONS WHY I BOUGHT THE SWEATER

  1. It was my favorite color of red-BRIGHT!
  2. It was on sale.
  3. I needed something to wear to a fall event and thought the sweater would be nice.

THREE REASON WHY I DONATED THE SWEATER

  1. It was a cable knit design, which doesn’t look all that good on me since cable knit sweaters are chunky and I am chunky.
  2. I hated the collar.
  3. I was done feeling guilty about buying it every time I went into my closet.

THREE REASON YOU SHOULD DONATE YOUR SWEATER

  1. It no longer fits you.
  2. It was bought as a gift, but doesn’t reflect your personal style.
  3. It makes you feel bad every time you look at it, because it cost too much, or it never fit right, or it’s scratchy when you wear it, or it always ends up in the bottom of your closet and in your way.

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER

(Especially when stepping over stuff every day, or hunting for something you can’t find and cursing under your breath, or having to give up hope because it will not and cannot be found!)

Things we keep in our homes should…

Reflect who we are as people today, not who we were ten years ago.

Make our living space more relaxing, not more stressful.

Create joy and peace in our hearts, instead of reminding us of that huge “to-do” list.

Have their own specific resting place (their own home, where we can always easily and quickly find them).

Draw attention to what we believe in, work for, love most of all, and want to share with others.

Make feeling guilty or embarrassed about inviting people in, yeah, someone else’s problem.

Be a blank space that encourages imagination, instead of overtaxing our senses.

WHERE TO START

This month, I will be taking part in a simple living exercise aimed at defining my space a little better and letting go of things that get in the way of joy or celebration.

The holidays are coming, and with them an opportunity to share living space with some of my favorite people in the world.  I don’t want to be too busy to enjoy their company, and I don’t want to be nagging them about cleaning up all the time.  I want to create a warm and inviting home space where they can feel free to be those incredible “imagineers” God made them to be, and I want them to have room to stretch out and do those things they love, maybe with a hot cocoa or mocha latte and a cookie near by.

Now, through October 31st, I will be viewing my home with two objectives in mind:

  1. To rid it of anything that doesn’t reflect who we are as people today, and/or encourage us to be all God wants us to be tomorrow.
  2. To eek out blank spaces where love and creativity can enter in and memories can   be made.

What item in your home has become your red sweater?  What is still hanging around your house from ten years ago, but in no way represents who you are today or hope to be tomorrow?

 

 

 

 

Sowing Simply-Sept 13

This week’s Sowing Simply project addressed the paper clutter in our home, but first, our guidance from God, to get us started.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  Matthew 6:19

COMING CLEAN

Below, is evidence of a bag full of paperwork that has sat on my bedroom floor for months, maybe more than a year!

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This bag is from TJ Maxx and it’s HUGE!  Here’s a close up.

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Everything in this bag is paper, except for that address book in blue at the top.  Seriously, this is 20 lbs of paper that has to be sorted piece by piece to determine which is to be kept and which is not, but wait.   There’s more…

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We’ve got some serious overflow going on here, and there’s even more…

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This doesn’t include paperwork stored up top, in the attic.  All this stuff is taking up space in our home and my heart. Why?

Once I’d collected up all the clutter, this is what I had…

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From another angle.

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Be thankful I didn’t show you the drawer where we keep our phone directories.  You’d have nightmares.

This table is approximately 6 ft long.  Piece by piece this mountain had to be sorted and sifted to determine what was valuable and what was not.  Could I do it?  I was ready.  I was determined. I was going to get ‘er done–or die trying.

I did it!!!

Here is what was left after it was all said and done.  This, and one little drawer (see on right of photo), where I put cards and notes sent by family and friends over the years to encourage us.  I particularly love the notes I received from our DIL before she our first-born were wedded.  What a treasure–I’ve kept them all!

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The best part of finishing up this project is that I now know where to find what I’m looking for, when I’m looking for it.  Yay!

A side benefit of this experiment in simple living is that we are all being more proactive.  I can definitely see a change in mister, as he addresses “stuff and messes” quicker and with more confidence.

WHAT WAS FOUND WHILE DE-CLUTTERING THIS WEEK

–The $50 gift certificate Mister received from BIL and SIL two (?) Christmas’ ago. Thought that sucker was lost forever.

–$25 in cash that a friend had given me and I had set aside, intending to come back to it later.  It came back to me!  Yay and Bazinga!

–Mister’s Blake Shelton CD, that he thought was long gone.

–(1) tape from a No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency audio book set I received as a gift. I didn’t even know it was missing.

–Important retirement paperwork.

–Tax documents and receipts.

–A recipe for no-knead artisan bread I am so going to try!

FEELINGS!

It felt INCREDIBLE to see this job done. I literally feel 18 lbs lighter!   I have walked around that bag, or kicked it out-of-the-way, or grumbled about it being there, untouched, for months. No more!

IN PURSUIT OF A SIMPLER LIFE

This week my efforts to live more simply resulted in this:

–I attended my first Sunday School session in forever wherein I did not need to prepare ahead of time.

–I spent a leisurely day Saturday with my Love, doing what he loves–meeting people and chatting them up at Patriots in the Park.

–I bought (2) 96 cents caddies that I am using to store bathroom and kitchen items under the sink.  I also bought one under-the-bed storage bin that I used to store the paperwork I sorted through.  I want to work toward the goal of sweeping and dusting through the entire house in 30 minutes or less.  In order for it to become a reality, I need to rid my counter tops and sink vanities of “stuff”.  Everything looks cleaner, sleeker, and fresher now.  I feel I needed those storage bins, even though I know I keep saying I NEED nothing.

–I saved money by not buying a planter and frying pan I had been tempted to buy. More on that later.

–I culled another dozen or so books from their hidey-holes in our home. More cookbooks. I wish I had back all the money I spent on these over the years, especially those I never used.

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TEMPTATIONS

I went looking for a frying pan with a flat bottom and high sides this weekend. Those I found were reasonably priced and of good quality. They would have lasted forever, but did I NEED one of them at home?  I didn’t. As I have said before, I NEED nothing!  I left them at the store.

I was also searching for a square planter this weekend. Had I found one that fit the parameters of my search I’m pretty sure I would have bought it. I did not.  Temptation averted.  Money saved!

I still haven’t gotten a feel for how I want these Sowing Simply posts to go.  My formula doesn’t seem right to me. I feel like I’m herkey-jerkey and all over the place with my explanations of what I’m doing.  I’ll try to reflect on that this week. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments below.  In the meantime thanks for reading, and remember to stay out of the stores!

What are you doing to make your life simpler?  Do you buy cookbooks you never, even use?

 

 

Sowing Simply-Sept 7

Monday was a holiday here in America, Labor Day. Yesterday was Tuesday, the day I’d planned to share another Sowing Simply blog post; problem being, I forgot it was Tuesday.  Do you ever do that?  My whole week will now be thrown off because I had an extra day off.  Oh, well, I guess that’s not too big a price to pay for an extra day off, so I’ll be happy about it and do my posting today.

Today is officially Tuesday in Lori’s World!!

As you might know, Sowing Simply is a series of posts I’m writing about my experimentation with minimalistic living.  I’m on a crusade to discover whether or not the claim is true that living with less makes life more joyful. The experts say it does, and I’m willing to give it a go, so I started Sowing Simply with that end goal in mind.

SIMPLE LIVING, WHAT IT MEANS TO ME

Ridding our home of unused, beat up, torn, ripped, stained, or otherwise no longer useful “stuff”.

Creating more blank space.

Assigning value to those things we keep, and only keeping those things that work for us.

Donating anything that we can’t use, currently own in duplicate or triplicate, or feel others would more greatly benefit from owning.

Freely sharing what we have.

Owning less.

WHAT I HAVE DISCOVERED ALONG THE WAY TO A MINIMAL LIFE

We don’t love a lot of things that had been living in our house.

We do love wide open spaces.

We don’t want to be hoarders or gluttons.

We do have a problem with holding on to things too long, even things we don’t use.

We don’t want to store up treasures on earth, where rust can destroy and thieves steal.

We do want to act responsibly with the financial blessings God has given.

We don’t see buying things we don’t need as responsible spending of our hard-earned dollars.

We do want to free up some cash to travel in the future, while we still can.

We don’t NEED anything!!!

RECENT DE-CLUTTERING PROJECTS

This month has been a long and hard one for me, even though we are only 7 days in to September.  I have been having regular visits to the Chiropractor and strictly following his advise:  Ice it, and rest!  All that rest and icing has made me yancy.  I’d been going at this minimalist thing whole hog, and I want to do more. Last night, I decided I could branch out and attempt a little do-over of my kitchen towel drawer and master bathroom closet.  Here is the evidence of what I did.

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Doesn’t that look so orderly? This is what it looked like before…

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Quite a difference, right?  And here is the master bath closet, still a work in progress:

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I didn’t like the way my wash clothes were looking all messy there, so I color-coded them this morning before work.  Ha! Can you say: OCD?

000closet-rollsAh, that’s better!

I still have some work to do in this space, and remind me later to tell you about the massive tool box you see at the bottom of that closet. What a story. Suffice it to say right now that I can’t fit the tape measures (why do we have two of them?), in the box, nor the duct tape, nor the paint brush, because mister has my girly tool box full of his stuff!  More on that later.

Seriously, remind me.

I followed Marie Kondo’s advice with the rolling of my dish towels.  WOW—you can get wayyyy more towels in a drawer when you roll them than when you fold them. Did you know that?  Sure it takes a lil more time to roll them initially, but it is time well spent, as you don’t have to move and remove towels when looking for just the right one to use later.  Does anyone beside me love having a drawer full of dish towels?  Saves tons on paper towels, which I use aplenty too, but would like to use less.

Side Benefit:  Because I rolled the towels in the bathroom closet, I was able to fit my paper towels onto the top shelf.  You can’t see that shelf in the picture I took, but take my word for it.  Rolling the towels freed up so much space!

OBSERVATIONS

I love that we’re getting our home back!

I don’t feel my life has suffered one iota from all the donating I’ve been doing.

My guys seem happier, too. Mister even cleaned out his old t-shirt drawer. Amazing!

I have spent way too much money on books in the past.  For the future:  More library visits.

I feel like with every project I complete I am helping my family to sow a simpler life—a better life—a life that is not about “stuff,” as much as folks.  Folks we love! Because of less time commitments this past weekend, we were able to sit down with friends and family and enjoy a leisurely lunch together, followed by a good long chat fest. It was GRAND!!!!  I’m loving the space we are in these days and the promise of a simpler and happier tomorrow for us all!

Regrettably, I’m starting to over-book myself with activities again, after having said no to some things I love but couldn’t keep us with any more.  I need to watch this, and be diligent in saying NO to events, invites, and projects that will put me on an overly-active trajectory.  Frankly, that’s gonna be hard for me, but it has to be done!!!  I talked to a friend about this very thing today, and she has offered to help me be accountable in this area. I need it.  I so want to run a pace that is beyond me. I so do!

Along these lines, I’m a bit overwhelmed by what I have said “YES!” to in the next few months. Please pray for me to handle commitments better.  Part of this experiment is meant to determine if I can do less and still live a fulfilling life. I think I can, but changing long-held patterns/habits is hard. I will need reinforcements to make it happen.

What phase of life are you in right now?  What could you give away and feel really good about it?