My Own Packing Party

So y’all know (or most of you I should say), know I am a huge fan of The Minimalists. Their podcasts continue to inspire me to make room for the things that matter by getting rid of what doesn’t.

That being said, when Joshua and Ryan (The Minimalists) were downsizing their respective homes and getting rid of what no longer served them, they both did it in radically different ways. Joshua chose the decluttering method and it took him about 8 months to pare down his belongings to what was essential to him. Ryan on the other hand? He had a packing party.

What is a packing party, you ask? Basically you pack up everything you own, absolutely everything, into boxes. This includes your toothbrush, deodorant, coffee mug, your bath towel, etc… Everything goes into boxes. And then, you only unpack what you need. Only. What. You. Need.

20170508_135149

So yeah, that first day you’ll probably need that toothbrush, deodorant, towel, and clothes to wear to work. Maybe after you get home, you unpack a skillet and some cooking utensils and a plate and a fork. Whatever you NEED, you unpack. That’s it.

When Ryan did his packing party, he did it for 21 days. He only unpacked what he needed. And you know what? At the end of 21 days, 80% of his stuff was still in boxes. He said that he couldn’t even remember what was in those unopened boxes.

And you know what he did? He donated and/or sold what was in all those boxes that contained 80% of his stuff. Donated it. Sold it. Gone. Buh-bye.

I bring up this story of the packing party not just because I find value in it, but because it inspired me to do my own version of a packing party.

I am moving quite soon into a bigger apartment. I am currently living in 530 square feet with my husband, daughter, and cat and our accompanying accoutrements. We are a close family and living in a small space has been fine. Or rather, had been fine. We are moving into a slightly bigger apartment, just an extra 150 square feet or so, but this new apartment will have a bigger living room and a bigger bathroom which is really what we are looking for.

As I stated above, we are an extremely close family and enjoy spending time together. Some extra square feet in the living room actually gives us a bit of breathing room and gives my daughter more space to play. And a bigger bathroom, well, I don’t think I need to explain why that is a plus  🙂

But back to the packing party…

We are boxing up our belongings dutifully, but when we arrive at our new apartment, I will only be unpacking what is needed. Now although Ryan in his example boxed up absolutely everything, I am not boxing up my purse, or my child’s school lunch box, or anything like that. But the items that are being housed in cardboard boxes, are not just going to be immediately unloaded and dumped on the carpet to then scramble to find a home for. I want to be deliberate with what we have and what we actually use, and not just hold onto something because we always have.

I too, am going to give the experiment 21 days, as did Ryan, and whatever has not been unloaded by the 21st day, will be banished to either be donated or sold. I figure since we are moving, now is as good time as any to do this.

Are you guys interested in doing your own packing party as well? What do you think of it all? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

 

Find The Words To Help You Find Your Way

As most of you know, I am a huge bookworm. I am also a fan of quotes and the accompanying verbiage that motivates. Let’s face it: life is hard. We are all swimming in the same ocean trying to avoid the eventual tidal wave that comes our way and knocks us off our feet for awhile. Once that proverbial tidal wave recedes, we remember that we can swim, and we paddle out into the ocean once again.

If you happen to be in the midst of a tidal wave and you are looking for some help, here are some books that I think are awesome and may help you get the earth back under your feet  🙂

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

IMG_20170111_121148_043

If your life is spinning out of control and you feel overwhelmed by the clutter in not just your life, but your mind, this book is for you. And don’t worry, it is not a book that tells you to get rid of everything you own and sleep on the floor! But it will help you sort out the values that you feel are important and make adjustments accordingly.

Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen

20170508_164402-1

If you are looking to get healthier, look no further than this book. For the record, I cannot do a handstand to save my life, nor does Rachel make you try to do one. This story gives voice to Rachel’s story about how yoga saved her from a life that was on a complete downward spiral. She shares simple yoga poses, meditation practices, and some super healthy recipes to get you going on your way!

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

img_20170215_103054_693

This book. I loooooved this book! For a complete review of my love of this tome, and why I think EVERYONE needs to read it, click here.

10% Happier by Dan Harris

41TFgZuntRL__SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Amazing book. If anxiety is getting the best of you and you’ve heard about meditation and aren’t sure what exactly it’s all about, check out Dan’s book. He is a broadcaster for ABC who had a panic attack on national television and this is his story about how meditation helped him.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

img_20161020_160845

This book, just wow. Lysa writes about how broken we can feel and get as women and how we can overcome that. Although Lysa does have bible verses sprinkled throughout, please don’t let it deter you if that’s not your thing. This book will break open your heart and put it right back together again. In a good way 🙂

Everything That Remains by The Minimalists

IMG_20161227_180015_189

I know I have two books listed here by The Minimalists but this one is my absolute favorite! It basically chronicles how Joshua hit rock bottom in his life (his mom died and his marriage ended in the same month), and with the help of the concept of minimalism, he shed which didn’t matter in his life and began to focus on his relationships and what was actually important. In turn, his best friend Ryan saw how changed Joshua’s life was and embraced lifestyle changes of his own. Want to know how The Minimalists became The Minimalists? Read this book. Some life-changing stuff here that you can totally apply to your own life.

Are there any books that you have read that you feel have helped you overcame obstacles in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

March in the Rearview

The month of March went by with a whoosh, right? Whew…  🙂

A quick look back:

What I enjoyed this month: Reading, obviously! But also trips to see my beloved ocean and coffee dates with friends  🙂

Huntington Beach is my favorite local beach and it makes me feel all the feelings when I am there!

IMG_20170305_124615_791

I read Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham which I looooved!! If you are a Gilmore Girls fan, than this book is for you! Lauren talks about her life and of course, behind the scenes stuff about the BEST SHOW EVER!!!

IMG_20170309_095429_636

I also drooled over read The Minimalist Baker’s cookbook Everyday Cooking. I want to eat everything in this book, especially her recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bread. Yup. You read that right  😉

IMG_20170314_094539_881

What I am absolutely over: Choices for White House appointments/jobs who have absolutely no qualifications for said job, but get said job anyway. I can’t even…

On the healthy living front: I did really well exercising this month until the last week of March. Ugh, so annoying. But the good thing is, is that I recognize that it has been a week since I worked up a sweat and I am getting back into my routine. Older = wiser, right?  😉

On the minimalism/decluttering front: If you remember, I mentioned that for the month of March I was going to declutter 3 separate areas of my home: the kitchen, electronic stuff (my computer), and the bathroom. Suffice to say, I accomplished my tasks! Guys, I actually have ONE EMPTY DRAWER in my kitchen!!!! *cue squealing* I love that one empty drawer. I refuse to let anything get in its recesses again!

I also unsubscribed from emails that I no longer want to receive, and blogs that I no longer want to read. Mission accomplished.

And as for the bathroom, icky nail polish, expired medication, and make-up that has probably seen better days, has all gone in the rubbish bin.

All in all, March was a very productive month and I am looking forward to getting some more things accomplished. I’ve got momentum, y’all!!!

By the way, all my pictures in this post are from my Instagram account. Come say hi!  🙂

How was the month of March for you? Did you get in any decluttering?

Living a Life That Is True To You

Along with several other words in today’s lexicon, the word “values” has sprung up in more conversations and blog posts over the past few months. “What are my values?” and “What do I value in life?” seem to be the springboards onto which fraught conversations are run.

Value can be what you esteem to be worth relative merit or importance; what you consider to be essential or important. What you won’t back down on.

But are you backing down? Are your values taking a back seat to the monotony of life or the frenzied clamor of life and its draining entities?

Are you living a life that is true to you?

IMG_20170106_120640

“I’ve started asking myself: What type of person do I want to be? How do I express my interests and values? Am I living a life that’s true to myself and not the life others expect of me? By spending more time dreaming about what I want for the future, I’ve started to form a better idea of who I want to be and where I want to go”. -Sarah Moss

I am utterly enamored of this quotation by Sarah Moss because it causes one to step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life and really examine what is adding value to our lives and what is not. It causes one to think about the things that they are doing and wondering introspectively if these things are being done for someone else because it is what is expected or are they being done because we want them to be?

You are never too old to re-imagine the direction of your life and decide that things aren’t going quite the way you expected. It is also okay to feel a certain way about things and not feel guilty about them.

For example, I value my time with my daughter as sacred. If something is going to impinge on that time with her, I say no to other requests of my time. My child is only young once; there will be a point where as she gets older, Mom is no longer “cool” and friends will become her end-all, be-all. Children grow so fast; before you know it, they are out of the house and on their way to college. So for me, my daughter and our quality time come first. I place a high value on that.

While not related per se, minimalism helps me in this capacity. If I had to spend my time constantly arranging, organizing, and taking care of all of our things, I would have less time to spend with my daughter. Instead of snuggling together and watching a Charlie Brown cartoon, or baking cookies together, I would be cleaning, organizing, and taking care of our stuff.

And that is just not okay with me.

My life is a simple one, because I have made it so. That is not to say that I don’t experience heartache or have difficulties that I continue to overcome, it means that I choose a simple life because it aligns with my values. I strive for a minimalist lifestyle because spending time with loved ones is important to me and spending time taking care of stuff, is not. A simpler life helps keep me on my way to having more fullness in my life.

I still have dreams that I can’t wait to bring to fruition. Approaching a new decade in my life has brought home to me so many things, and I still continue to learn and grow and remind myself to stay true to the essence of who I am.

Are you living a life that is true to you?

When Organizing Stops Working

The season of warmer weather is starting to beckon us fragile souls, in need of some Vitamin D and a yearning for shoes other than boots. With this need, also comes the need to clean, organize, declutter, and/or purge. I too, am minimizing parts of my space and have already rid our home of needless things.

But there is a difference between tackling a few spaces that have become unruly, and organizing the same things over and over.

2017-03-14_15.06.20

If you feel like a hamster in a hamster wheel, just spinning and spinning, and organizing and organizing and feeling like it is Groundhog Day and you are sorting out the same space/things over and over again, well maybe this quote might help you:

“If organizing your stuff worked, you’d be organized by now”. -Courtney Carver

Courtney dropped the mic, amiright?  🙂

But seriously, think about that sentence for a quick moment. If organizing your stuff worked, you would be organized by now. Wow. Is organizing all of your stuff working for you? Do you feel overwhelmed? Does the thought of going to the Container Store to purchase containers to hold your stuff, send you into the panic zone?

Well maybe, just maybe, there might be too much stuff for you to deal with. Maybe all that organizing and re-organizing is sending you a clear signal that minimizing might be in your future.

Speaking from experience, it is no fun to spend an entire weekend, every few months or so, organizing all the things. Having less frees up your space, but most importantly, it frees up your time! More time to do what you really want instead of cleaning out a garage full of items that you can’t even remember putting in there. More time in the day is something we would all love to have, right?

If you had less stuff to clean/keep track of/maintain, and you now had a windfall of time, time to do what you really wanted to do, what would you do? Take a painting class? Learn to bake? Finish that book that has been sitting on your nightstand? Finally getting around to planting a vegetable garden?

Are your things preventing you from living the life you really want to lead?

If you need help answering this question, no problem! We’ve all been there!  🙂 These books might help:

The More of Less by Joshua Becker

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

Don’t let the things you own, end up owning you! Live the life you really want to live

 

 

 

 

Minimizing in March

IMG_20160208_153146

Happy March friends! 🙂 Spring is on its way, can you feel it?

Although I am a person who is not a fan of clutter and excess stuff, sometimes life and its baggage creep into the living abode. Whether it is paperwork, a junk drawer that has long exceeded its usefulness, or countertops that are not being used ideally because there are ill-placed items on them, clutter has a way of making its presence known. Well I see you clutter and it is time for you to go!

I feel like March is the ideal month to do a bit of spring cleaning, don’t you? Want to join me in minimizing your living space these next few weeks? Okay! So here is what I am focusing on this month. It’ll be easy-peasy, lemon-squeazy!

Kitchen

Junk drawers are the worst, aren’t they? Ugh… A “catch-all” is one thing, but junk drawers have a way of spilling over to other drawers and pretty soon, you have several of them filled with sheer nonsense. So I am tackling these junk drawers along with my cooking utensil ones as well.

20170306_103630

Countertops are not for unopened mail with postmarks of over a week prior. It’s not for random pens and paper that somehow are not placed back where they should be. Keys have their place as do sunglasses. I am taking back my countertops!!!!!!

Electronic

Friends, how many emails do you get in your inbox a day? How many of them are for things you are no longer interested in? Yup, me too. Time to do a little unsubscribing. For example:

(*) Blogs you are no longer interested in. There are some mom blogs that I used to read back when my daughter was a toddler, you know around the 2 to 3 year age range. Well, these mom blogs no longer interest me and many of them are for families with several children whereas I only have one child, so they are just no longer applicable to my life.

(*) Advertising emails you inadvertently signed up for. I purchased a hat for my husband for Christmas which bears the logo of his favorite football team. Well since then, every day in my inbox are emails from this company letting me know all the glorious sales that they are constantly having. Um, no thanks…

Bathroom

I am going to do a thorough sorting of my medicine cabinet. Expired medicine has no business being there and make-up that is past its prime has got to go as well.

See how easy this is going to be? Three simple things to focus on that anybody can do and it doesn’t require giving up several weekends to do it  🙂

So let’s get started! Who’s with me?

Essentialism: A Book Review

This book my friends…this book gave me all the feels ♥

Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is an absolutely outstanding book. Absolutely. Outstanding.

I know this book and the brilliance of it, has been floating around in the personal finance and minimalism blogospheres. I personally first heard of it through The Minimalists and they mention this book quite a lot in their podcasts, so I thought I would give it a go and see what all the hype is about. There must have been quite the hype because I had to wait three weeks to be able to check it out at the library as there were already a queue full of eager readers also waiting to get their hands on McKeown’s book.

“Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It is about getting only the right things done”.

img_20170215_103054_693

Basically, we as human beings need to filter out what is not essential in our lives and stop trying to do everything because guess what? We cannot do everything. I repeat. We. Cannot. Do. Everything.

Burnout and running on the hamster wheel, constantly juggling this that and the other. Overwhelmed. No time to do what we would really like to do. Multi-tasking until we collapse in a heap at the end of the day.

Sound familiar?

McKeown espouses that “by forcing us to apply more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less, empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy- instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us”.

Control our own choices sounds amazing doesn’t it? It may seem like we control what we think or do, but how many times have you made a decision out of guilt? *raises hand slowly*

Guilt is a powerful emotion. We give in and say yes to something we really, really don’t want to do, because we feel guilty. We want to avoid conflict or avoid tension. Maybe we felt timid in saying no. Whether it is to a family member, a colleague, a friend, your child, etc… It can be difficult to discern what we should be saying yes to, and what we should be saying no to as well.

“The very though of saying no literally brings us physical discomfort. We feel guilty. We don’t want to let someone down. We are worried about damaging the relationship. But these emotions muddle our clarity. They distract us from the reality of the fact that either we can say no and regret it for a few minutes, or we can say yes and regret it for days, weeks, months, even years”.

Let that sink in for a minute.

We say no, we regret it for a few minutes. We say yes, and regret for days, weeks, months, or even years.

How many times have you felt like this? The guilt? The relationship with the person that you are thinking about saying no to?

I have been there many times. You see, I am an introvert but I am also a mother. So I feel guilty when there are things that other moms ask me to join or help out with or can I do this one thing, and my first inclination is to say no. But then I feel guilty because I know these moms and our kids are friends, and then…I have suddenly spiraled into feelings of antipathy, guilt, and awkwardness. And many times, I give in and do the thing that is being asked of me even though the introvert in me is wondering why we aren’t at home basking in our aloneness.

And when I do give in, I feel regret. As McKeown states in his book, this is totally normal.

“After the rush comes the pang of regret. They know they will soon feel bullied and resentful-both at the other person and at themselves.”

Yes! I have totally felt that. And then to make the downward spiral even more unappealing, I feel bad for feeling that way, and I just end up a mess.

McKeown says to pause for five seconds before agreeing to something which can “greatly reduce the possibility of making a commitment you’ll regret”.

You want to know something interesting? Soon after I read this book, a friend asked me to work on a project with some other people and it was not something that I felt absolutely comfortable with. I took a moment and paused gracefully, and I said…

No.

I said no, I couldn’t believe it! Me, the guilt-ridden introvert, said no! I was proud of myself and realized later, that what McKeown said was absolutely spot-on: I regretted for a few minutes that I was unable to help said friend with their project, but that feeling soon dissipated and I knew that if I had agreed to said project, I would have truly regretted it in the long run.

I could wax poetic about this book for several more paragraphs but I believe you get the gist of what Essentialism is all about  🙂

Some tidbits to keep you going:

*Cut out the non-essential so you can focus on what is essential.

*Filter out what is important and what is not. Don’t get caught in the cycle of “decision fatigue” (the more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates).

*The real question is not how can we do it all, it is who will get to choose what we do and don’t do. When we forfeit our right to choose, someone will choose for us.

Have you read Essentialism? What did you think of it?

Make Room For Things That Matter

img_20160724_113648

“Make room for things that matter by removing everything that doesn’t”. -Brian Gardner

As I have mentioned previously, my word for 2017 is Well. Wellness applies not only to the physical and emotional but also to the mental. So in addition to eating right, working out, and my introduction to meditation, I am also working on sorting out what I need and want in my life and what I don’t.

This fantastic quote from Brian Gardner really resonated with me because I feel that minimizing or getting rid of completely what has no business being a part of my life, has been in a word… refreshing.

Doing things or being a part of things that are not good for my soul are just not going to cut it anymore. Lighter and freer are two beautiful adjectives that I feel are working their way into my heart. Although I continue to work on what makes me happy, that work… it’s a good thing.

Make room for things that matter by removing everything that doesn’t.

Here is how I am applying this to my life:

♦ I make time to work out in the mornings. This is important not only for my physical health but my mental health as well. Studies point to exercise helping with forms of depression and anxiety.

♦ I eat what makes me feel good. I have a gluten intolerance and when I inadvertently eat it, I pay for it big time. I drink my green juices, try to eat as many vegetables as I can, and I recently started drinking kombucha which has probiotics which is good for my gut.

♦ I have started meditating. You can read more about that here.

♦ I have minimized my wardrobe. I have found that there are only a few colors that I really enjoy wearing and it is much easier to get dressed and mix and match items. My daily attire usually consists of a t-shirt and jeans or pants, and a cardigan. Some days, I am wearing Converse. Other days it’s boots. When it warms up, shorts and flip-flops will be added back in. This is what I wear literally every day. There is truly something to be said for not owning a ton of clothing that needs to be sorted through every morning. Whew!  🙂

♦ I watch less television. I do enjoy my favorite shows like Sherlock, Elementary, old episodes of Murder She Wrote, Victoria on PBS, and sports games like football and hockey. Luckily they don’t all come on at the same time! However, the endless scrolling through a zillion channels trying to find something to watch? No, I do not do that anymore. If I am watching television, it is for a specific show like Jeopardy. My daughter and I watch this every night without fail  🙂 I read more books now (if that is indeed possible) or read blogs about health, wellness, and/or minimalism. So the television is still here. It is just not a supreme focus.

♦ I have cut out the negativity. Whether that is in the form of people (energy vampires), certain people online, certain blogs, or certain time-wasting endeavors, I have let it go. I want more of the good and less of the bad. If I feel like something is not adding value to how I live my life, I eliminate it from my every day.

♦ I am continuing to de-clutter. I live in a very small apartment and if one is not careful, it can feel like the walls are closing in. I make an effort to really examine items and ask if they truly have a purpose in our modest abode.

♦ I am making the present moment more important. We all get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae and it is easy to keep our face focused on what lies ahead. But I am working on being more mindful of my surroundings and noticing all the little things that may have escaped my vision before. The deep green on the leaves of a tree. The beauty of a 72 degree day in February. The first sip of coffee on a really cold morning. You get the picture. The present is important and it is up to us to be intentional with it.

Are you making room for what truly matters in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

When The Floodgates Have To Break

img_20170125_105949_370

Stuck.

Trapped.

Where to go.

What to do.

The floodgates are about to burst.

What are you going to do?

Stand there and let the waves of immobility wash over you?

Plant your feet firmly in the ground only to notice that you are actually sinking in sand?

What are you going to do?

Change direction.

Change your path.

Change your life.

The floodgates are breaking.

The word is now.

The time is here.

A step forward will change your life.

The floodgates are broken.

What will you do?

January in the Rearview

Oh January… you have been a head-scratcher for sure. Let’s dive in, shall we?

What I enjoyed this month: Sherlock coming back on my television. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Because I have cut back on how much of the glowing screen I actually watch, it was a real treat to watch Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock on my screen  😉

What I am absolutely over: Any bloody news story having to do with the current person who is occupying the White House. I can’t. I seriously can’t. This blog is not a political blog by any stretch of the imagination and I am not about to start down that slippery slope. However, I am deeply disturbed by what is going on in our country and it breaks my heart. Whatever side of the aisle you are on, we are all human beings with a genuine interest in the lives of our countrymen and this divide…it’s more than I can take.

Apparently this sign I saw at a store, tells us what we should be doing:

img_20170130_120937_447

On the healthy living front: Mama has been exercising! And meditating! And drinking green juices! Okay, I’ll stop with exclamation points  🙂 But I truly am happy that January was good for me health-wise. I feel better and I have to say meditating has helped me TREMENDOUSLY. Seriously. I am now at the point where if it is the evening and I have not meditated yet that day, I get cranky. Ask my husband, he’ll tell you. Love you honey!

On the decluttering and minimalism front: I sorted out all of my books and went through them and asked myself honest questions about whether the book was actually important to me and would I really and truly read said book again.

Well here is the pile of books that I gave to my husband to sell on eBay:

20170116_194137

Can I just tell you something about this picture? I gave these books to my husband sometime in the first week of this month and I couldn’t tell you for the life of me, what the titles of these books are. Really. Now don’t get me wrong, I loooooove to read. Reading = breathing. #bookwormsunite But having books on my shelves that I know that I am not going to read doesn’t make much sense either. Now someone new will love and cherish these books and give them a proper home  🙂

How was your January? Are you keeping calm and eating cupcakes?  🙂