Decluttering: Drowning In Paperwork

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am decluttering and minimizing our living space, as well as getting ready for our new bundle of joy, who will be here in less than two months! Time slows for no one, my friends  🙂

One of the projects I have been working on has been the accumulation of paperwork. Specifically paperwork that was shoved into this beautiful but handy file box:

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Guys, this thing was filled to the brim with paper. Stapled paper, paper-clipped paper, paper that was at one time important, but now, not so much. When I first purchased this file box about 5 or 6 years ago, I had it super organized. File folders detailing exactly what was nesting inside each folder. Folders that were listed in alphabetical order, because that is how I roll.

But somehow over the past few years, with moving to Oregon and then back to California all in the space of 14 months, this folder began to become a “catch-all” for ANY kind of paperwork, whether it belonged in this file folder or not. Even after being back home for over two years now, this file box was still a hot mess.

Time to act.

So I took everything out. Every last bit of paper. And let me tell you, there was a lot of it.

Ah, beautiful empty box…

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I wish I could say that I was able to finish this project in an afternoon or even one whole day, but that simply was not the case. Working on any sort of project when you are in your 3rd trimester of pregnancy, gets tiring pretty quickly. But I kept at it.

I decided what paperwork was important and utilized my current file folders to accommodate these items. What I deemed important enough to have a file folder for:

  • Tax Stuff
  • Automobile
  • Medical
  • Apartment (Lease agreement, etc..)
  • Pet (Important paperwork regarding our cat)
  • My Daughter (Certain in-school projects that I have decided to hold onto. We do not keep all art projects she has made or all homework tests where she scored well. We keep a few important things that we think she will appreciate when she is older and that is it)

Once I decided what to keep, the paperwork items went into their appropriate folders, alphabetically of course!

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Everything that was not going back into this folder box, got shredded, thrown in the trash, or recycled, when applicable. This part took a looooong time. I wasn’t annoyed by the longevity of the project in terms of the discarding and sorting. But it made me realize that we humans are literally drowning in paperwork and it also made me really want to limit the amount of paperwork that actually makes its way past our front door. I am really going to make a concerted effort, along with my husband, to try to curtail the paper that seems to flow like water into our lives. Even something like asking for a receipt to just be emailed to me instead of giving me a paper receipt.

Because here’s the thing: I do not want to do this project again. Like, ever. Even though I have a degree in procrastination (I jest, but it seems like it sometimes), I am making it a priority to deal with paperwork as soon as possible. No more letting it pile up on the counter. No more shoving it off to the side to deal with it “later”, whenever that is…

What I like about this decluttering project is that it didn’t cost me a dime. I already had a file box and file folders, so no extra purchases of those items. The only “cost” was just my time, which was a bummer but at least this project is done.

If you are looking to declutter and organize your paperwork and feel like it is all just too overwhelming, start slow. You don’t have to do it all in one day. I certainly didn’t. Think about what papers are important to you to keep. What paperwork is going to matter a few months from now and what isn’t. Is every receipt necessary? It is definitely a process, but remember the end goal: peace of mind and being able to lay your hands on papers of importance within seconds.

Any tips on decluttering paperwork that you want to share? Let me know!  🙂

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Currently…The End of Summer Edition

Hellooooooo September!  🙂

I can’t believe we have reached this point in the calendar year, yet here we are! Although, the temperatures here in Southern California were undeniably hot and yucky. Yes, yucky. We had a crazy heat wave here every day with absurd temperatures. Lots of 100°days and grouchy people everywhere. See, our summers here are pretty normal but around this time of year, Mother Nature doesn’t get the memo that the thermostat is supposed to go in the other direction. Ahhhhhhh life…

Oh well, it has cooled off from the insanity of last week, but the month is still young and I am guessing we will be back to praising whomever created air conditioning once again  🙂

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: The book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner.

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I loved this book and I get why everyone raves about it  I had to wait a few weeks until my request came in at the library but it was worth it. Definitely a must-read!

What I Am Absolutely Over: Every single day, there being a news story concerning the person occupying the White House. Not going to get political here but I am exhausted by the sheer madness of what continues to headline our news stories. *sigh*

On The Healthy Living/Pregnancy Front: Trying to eat as healthfully as possible and to drink enough water and stay hydrated. Pregnancy is one of those things where something sounds good one day, and then the next day, you’re like “bleh!”  🙂 Cherry frozen yogurt has been my newest craving, and in this warm weather, it hits the spot!

Also, a friend gifted us some baby clothing that they were no longer using as their daughter is now in the toddler stage. This gift was truly a blessing!

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We are literally starting over with this baby and all the accoutrements that they need and require as my daughter is 7 years old and any baby stuff she had has long since found another home.

And yes, I am having a girl!!!

On The Minimalism/Decluttering Front: I am trying to, on days when I actually have energy, to organize and declutter things because once the baby arrives, there will be zero time for any of that.

I needed a container to hold some things but I didn’t want to purchase one. So I took a shoebox and covered it with scrapbook paper to make it pretty and voila! I have a container that didn’t cost me any extra money out-of-pocket! #frugal

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In Other News: School is back in session which has been an adjustment to say the least. We are back to a schedule which after the looseness of summer, has taken all of us some getting used to. I figure by the end of the month, we should be doing all of this, easy-peasy, lemon squeezy   😉

How is life going for you these days? Are you ready to transition into Fall?  🙂

Justifications Concerning Money

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My lovely friend Tanya is celebrating a birthday this week and had a post about reflections on life and what she has learned now that she is a year older. One of the reflections she noted, I absolutely loved and want to talk about in more detail.

This is what she said:

“I like shoes. I like purses. I like clothes. I like spas. This does not make me a bad person or a frivolous spender. It means I know where I like to spend my discretionary money, which does not need your approval”.

Boom.

This particular reflection of Tanya’s really stood out to me because I feel as women, we constantly feel the need to justify our lives and what we do with them. We are constantly having to defend our decisions and why we made them.

For example, decisions that always need explanations even though they are nobody’s business:

  • Having children. “Why don’t you have kids? Don’t you want them?”
  • Marriage. “Why aren’t you married? Don’t you want to settle down with someone?”
  • Childrearing: “If I were you, I would stay home with my children. I wouldn’t be working”.
  • Money: “Why do you spend your money on things like that?”

Women get asked these questions and so much more and we end up on the defensive, trying to articulate why we made our particular decision.

The money angle though, is what I want to focus on because I feel like in the blogosphere, this is a hot topic.

Personal finance blogs talk constantly about saving your money, being frugal, and don’t frivolously spend. “Stay home and cook dinner! Don’t eat out…ever!” “Don’t turn on the heater in the winter! Wear four sweaters at a time and cuddle under a blanket! If your fingers go numb, just sit on them! They’ll warm up in a minute!”

I jest, but you get the picture. Finances are important. Paying down debt is important. Having a savings account is important.

But so is having a life.

We are actually meant to live our lives and not sacrifice small moments of happiness in the name of frugality. I don’t mean go and spend all the money, but if fresh flowers on your kitchen table make you happy, that is OKAY. You don’t need to justify that $3.99 bouquet of flowers you picked up at Trader Joe’s.

When it comes to the topic of Minimalism, people operate under the assumption that stark white walls are the way to go. No couch, just a cushion to sit on. No art on the walls. No pets, because that is not very minimalist of you!

That is all nonsense.

You can call yourself a minimalist and still enjoy paintings by local artists on your walls. It is okay that you own a pet and gasp! they require dishes and food and other accoutrements. It is okay if you like colors and your wardrobe isn’t all monochrome.

My point is, we are wired as human beings to enjoy life and you don’t have to justify how you spend your money. You like shoes, fine. You like taking a ballroom dance class twice a week, fine. You like channeling your inner Julia Child and like to bake up tasty treats on the weekend, fine.

It is all okay.

Don’t let anyone ever make you feel guilty for the choices you make in life. No more justifying.

No more defending.

Currently: The “I’m Back” Edition

Hey everyone! Long time, no talk to  🙂

I hadn’t planned this several week absence from the blog, but with moving and end of the school year stuff for my daughter, time just got away from me. You know how it is…

But I am back!

So yes, I have moved. And I love my new apartment! The bigger bathroom has been a lifesaver. Lol, it’s the little things. And I still have 4 boxes that have yet to be unpacked. And that is important because in my last post, I mentioned that I was having my own version of The Minimalists packing party, where you pack up everything you own, and only unpack what you need. You can read about that here.

I gave myself 21 days and lo and behold, we still have 4 boxes that are sitting here. So the next thing to do, is to open those bad boys up, see what is inside them, and then decide what to do with the items, whether to donate or sell them. Another project, but one I am looking forward to  🙂

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Last week, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary! 9 years and counting   He brought home these beautiful red roses for me! They are actually a very dark, dark red, but no matter how I took the picture, they came out lighter, lol. But I love them!  🙂

I am glad school is out and I we don’t have to get up so early in the mornings for awhile. Mama need a break  😉 So far we have been swimming at the pool, going to the library, eating ice cream, and watching old episodes of Bewitched. I forgot how much I liked that show!

Saw this outside of a furniture shop:

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How is Summer going so far for you guys?  🙂

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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!!!

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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  😉

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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?

Minimizing in March

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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.

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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?

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So, the beginning of March is next week. Anybody else totally thrown by that statement??? I mean, 2017 is flying by. The good thing is that Spring starts next month, which is always a nice time of year.

In addition to trying my darndest to not be completely outraged every time I turn on the television, I stumbled across Tara Stiles and read up on her holistic life and yoga practices. I liked what I read and proceeded to check out ALL her books from the library. #sorrynotsorry She is awesome-sauce and if you are looking to incorporate some changes in your life, head to your local brick and mortar and check out her books!  🙂

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On the minimalism/decluttering front, I have rid myself of a pair of boots that I no longer wore and I have a ginormous bag of all of my family’s clothes that are ill-fitting and/or no longer worn, ready to be donated to Goodwill. I also have a very nice coat that I am giving to my husband to sell online, because it is heavy and itchy and because of those things, I no longer wear it. It is a gorgeous pea coat (my favorite coat style), and I wish I could wear it but I know it will go to someone who has cold weather much more than we do here in California and will get tremendous use out of it.

February has been a weird month in that we have had torrential downpours and storms here, and let me tell you, that is not normal. We get emergency broadcast interruptions on the television, we get flood alerts on our cell phones, we have meteorologists telling us to get off the freeways and stay away from hillsides where mud can come sliding down any minute. For those in other parts of the country and/or world, it probably seems silly and that we Californians are making a big to-do about nothing, but I assure you, it is not the case. When your state has been in a severe drought for many years and then all of a sudden since the beginning of the year, you get these crazy three-day storms happening every ten days or so, you start to wonder what the heck is going on. Literally, there are sink holes with cars in them, freeways completely flooded where it has to be shut down, and people’s homes sliding down hills. Oh, and dams overflowing.

Yes, Mother Nature. We got the memo. Lovely to see you too  🙂

Suffice to say, I enjoy taking morning nature walks and haven’t been able to take as many as I would like but that’s okay. It is supposed to rain again this weekend (surprise, surprise), but after that, I should be able to definitely get in some more next week!

How has February been for you guys so far?  🙂

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:

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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:

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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?  🙂

The Joy of Less: A Book Review

Less, less, less. 2017 is all about less. Less clutter, less nonsense, less of what no longer serves a purpose.

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay was a book that I was super excited to delve into because I had heard quite a bit about her in the minimalist circles and her book lived up to the hype!  🙂

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Can we just pause and give thanks for libraries? Because seriously, without them I would be lost! ♥

So back to the book… the author Francine Jay runs the popular website missminimalist.com and her book is chock full of awesome tidbits. I really love how she opens the book with the term “philosophy”. We have to change our mindset and change our relationship with stuff in order for this whole minimalism thing and life without excess to work. Our stuff exists to serve us, not the other way around.

“A container is most valuable when it is empty. We can’t enjoy fresh coffee when old grounds are in our cup and we can’t showcase our garden’s blooms when wilted flowers fill the vase. Similarly, when our homes -the containers of our daily lives- are overflowing with clutter, our souls take a backseat to our stuff”. – Francine Jay

Ms. Jay had an interesting passage in the book about “aspirational stuff”. Basically these are items that we bought to impress others or indulge in our “fantasy selves”. You know, the one who is 20 pounds thinner, the one who has fabulous cocktail parties, the one who, well…you get it. Human beings have a tendency to acquire many of their possessions in order to project a certain image. Clothes, cars, etc… Ready for some minimalistic truth?

Products will never make us into something we are not.

High-five, Ms. Jay. High-five.

Less stuff equals less stress and I completely agree. In the book, it is pointed out that:

  • We stress about not having stuff.
  • We stress about how to acquire the thing we want.
  • We buy the thing and now have to be responsible for it and take care of it.
  • Then the item inevitably breaks and now we are stressed about our broken item and now… THE WHOLE PROCESS STARTS ALL OVER AGAIN.

Ugh, what a cycle!

Less stuff equals more freedom. Things can be anchors and tie us down. They keep us from exploring new interests and developing new talents. They can drain our energy and sense of adventure.

“Too much clutter can weigh on our spirits. It is like all those items have their own gravitational field and are constantly pulling us down and holding us back. We can literally feel heavy and lethargic in a cluttered room, too tired and lazy to get up and accomplish anything”. – Francine Jay

We want to be able to actually enjoy and live our life, right? Living simply, buying only what we truly need, and learn the joy of having enough.

Other brilliant tidbits:

  • Life is the space between our things.
  • We need space for our ideas and thoughts- a cluttered room usually leads to a cluttered mind.
  • By creating space in our homes, we put the focus back where it should be: on what we do, rather than what we own.
  • When we clear our homes of all the excess stuff, we can devote our space, time, and energy to the people we love.

Friends, I really loved this book and I recommend it to anyone looking to start their minimalist/decluttering journey and I also recommend it to those of you already well on your way in your simplifying journey. My point is, this book is for EVERYONE!  🙂

“When we become minimalists, we strip away all the excess to uncover our true selves. We take the time to contemplate who we are, what we find important, and what truly makes us happy”. – Francine Jay

What truly makes us happy…that sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  🙂