Wrap Up

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It has been almost a year since we began this journey of decluttering. This picture was from my first post of 2014. Getting rid of one item a day has been life changing for me. What began as a literal one item a day turned into groups of items over a week or two. What began as a process of decluttering my home turned into a decluttering of my mind and spirit. I learned how much hold stuff has on me. I am confident it holds me less now. I still struggle to release some items. Eventually, what needs to go, will. I like that about me now. I hope in this year, you have been able to let go of items, thought patterns’, or whatever is holding you back or slowing you down. I am grateful for your presence in my journey. I appreciated your comments over the year. Blogging has been a good challenge for me. I am still getting my blog skills refined. I think I’m a weekly or biweekly blogger. Daily isn’t my thing. I have a strong idea of what next year’s goal will be but I will share that January 1. I will continue to blog. I hope you will continue to follow me. It will be a new topic but hopefully with its own insights and lessons to be learned. I’m sure it will.

I just read an article about setting goals not resolutions. Resolutions don’t have staying power. The two are similar except resolutions have guilt built in. If you don’t do it, you feel bad. Goals are things to strive for and learn lessons along the way. The goal isn’t always met but you always learn. The difference is huge. I hope you set at least one goal for yourself this new year. Small or big, it doesn’t matter. Either hold the power to change you. You will grow if you strive for it. This year you saw me struggle, learn, accept, and whine. My home still has too much stuff. My goal was still met. One item a day I can confidently say was done. Most importantly, I found you – a group of loyal followers who understand and sometimes relate to my journey. Please join me in the new year. I’d love to keep our dialogue going.

Until the new theme for 2015 (that rhymes by the way), I pray for a safe last few days of the year. I pray that God, who loves you beyond measure, will become so personal to you this coming year. I trust that you will seek growth, faith, and integrity as you step into 2015. I love you.

Dream Big!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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Is it? Do you feel like it’s the most wonderful time of the year? I don’t. I feel like it is the most squished time of the year. I believe that Christmas is important. Celebrating Jesus and His birth is of highest value. However, that isn’t what is being celebrated. I know everyone talks about commercialism and finding the real reason for the season. I know and live daily the real reason for the season. We celebrate Jesus all year because He is our life and our Savior. Hang with me in this next comment – I don’t think it’s realistic for our family to truly celebrate Jesus during this season.

Don’t misunderstand me, He is a part of our celebration but He isn’t the reason. The reason for most families to celebrate each season is, family. Family expectations, traditions, and taking time to hang out with each other. Jesus is a part of us so He is a part of all we do. When we go see Christmas lights, we count manger scenes (26 this year). When we eat our meal with family, we pray before we eat (not the norm for our extended family). I feel so much pressure this year to be spiritual leader, Santa, baker of Christmas cookies, top chef for dinner and full of joy during the entire experience. The expectations on each of us at the holidays need to be managed but sometimes they just need to be done too.

I said above that it isn’t realistic for us to truly celebrate Jesus during this season. It’s too busy to do more than just add Him in. You see if I were going to truly celebrate Jesus and His birth, I wouldn’t add it in-between opening gifts and making stuffing. I would fill the crock pot with something yummy to simmer all day after eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast. I would sit at the base of our Christmas tree (some traditions are necessary) and read the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke. I would ask one of my kids to play Christmas songs about Jesus’ story and we would sing. We would worship Him beneath the star on the tree. I would ask each child to share a dream they want to come true and we would bring it to Jesus. We would pray for God’s plans to be revealed for us and through us. I would reflect on the year and the many blessings we received. I would teach my children that loving Jesus is 24/7. During Christmas, we demonstrate that love with others by doing the traditions, eating the bad fruit cake (has anyone honestly ever eaten fruit cake? – not me), and attending events that are important to others. We can do this because Jesus is living through us. God uses this opportunity to show His love to our extended family who may not know Him yet or has forgotten how great Jesus is.

I am overwhelmed with the week ahead of me. I am savoring this moment to sit in my quiet home at 5:30 a.m. and write this to you. I am excited to work on my daily Bible Study when I finish. I look forward to hearing my son praise the Lord in song when he sings at church this morning. I will fill my mornings with Jesus. I will pour Him out the rest of the day. Tomorrow it will start all over.

I’m rethinking this. Maybe it is the most wonderful time of the year. It is the time when I savor Jesus more because I see how many are missing out on Him. It’s the time when I rely on Him to fill me so I can tackle the expectations of the season. Even if He is often overshadowed by twinkling lights and ugly Christmas sweaters, He reigns in me. I feel it more prounounced during Christmas. The contrast is good for me to see.

This Christmas, savor our Savior. “For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Merry Christmas.

Dream Big!

P.S. A picture of cookbooks I cleared out and plan to donate. I have honored my commitment. It has been good to purge. I’ll try to write once more before 2015. Wait until you see what is in store for next year.
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Thanksgiving clutter

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I am hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. I made a turkey once in college while keeping my phone on speed dial to my mother and the butterball hotline. I am sure over the years I have made a few other turkeys for other occasions. Actually hosting the meal the day of Thanksgiving is a first. My mother has graciously hosted our meal for my entire lifetime. I can count on my hand the number of times I have missed it. It is an honor for me to get the actual day to cook for those I love. What has been impacting me about this event is not anxiety of whether my turkey will be moist but instead, how much can I change without upsetting others?

Decluttering is about change. This year Thanksgiving is about change. Changing a holiday requires sensitivity and a bit of boldness. I respectfully asked everyone who is coming what dish is important to them so I am sure to include it. Although I want to serve my yummy cranberry bread, Brown and Serve rolls from the store are a staple in our meal. Yams, normally made from a can and with an entire bag of marshmallows, are being replaced with the real thing and slightly less marshmallows. I found myself struggling not to buy the canned cranberry. Do you know the one that when it comes out its in the shape of the can with the lines of the can impressed upon it? I wasn’t crazy enough to make it from scratch my first year so Trader Joe’s cranberry sauce in a jar will suffice. The green bean casserole is gone and my yummy asparagus with lemon juice and pine nuts will step in. Change – even positive change – requires emotionally energy and forethought. Traditions need to be honored and respected but new ones can be added and outdated ones phased out. I encourage you this holiday to declutter your “we always do this” mentality. Keep what is loved by all or even highly valued by just one of your loved ones. Get rid of the excess. We never eat the celery served every year so it’s gone. Make sure to add something new that may turn into a tradition. Our “new” is reading slips of paper my family has been writing on all month to say what we are thankful for. After dinner, we will turn those slips of thankful papers into a paper chain to decorate our home for Christmas. I have wanted to do this for years. Change takes time but it’s worth the effort to get there. I am thankful for you and the time you give me to read my thoughts. May the Lord shine His face upon you and be gracious.

Dream Big!

P.S. Here are a few pictures of my continued stuff decluttering. Still getting rid of things and technically it adds up to one a day since I last wrote. I want to finish the goal I began January 1.
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The return of joy

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October has been a different type of declutter month.  When I started the “get rid of 1 item a day” on January 1, I meant it literally.  As time went on, I began to blog weekly and purge a group of items weekly.  One friend suggested I “get rid of” emotions like “I’m no longer bitter about this” or “I’m not jealous of that.”  At the time it felt like a major deviation from the goal.  Fast forward to September with school starting. The baggage of unfinished or delayed projects caught up with me.

Summer is binge on my kids time and I let everything else go to the back burner.  This makes September my catch up month.  After days of packed to do lists, I felt exhausted.  The next emotion is sadness.  I miss my kids.  Sure they are home at 3pm and I have “free time” until that time of day, but I miss them.  This year with two in middle school, I didn’t bounce back out of the “summer is over” blahs so quickly.  Which leads us to October.

I have given God my October.  I explored three new Bible study options and found the right one for me.  I scheduled lunch or coffee with few friends and preserved my time to declutter my emotional and spiritual life.  I have had two beach days where I sat in solitude.  God showed up big time.  I began biking again.  I returned to 24 hour fitness to declutter my belly fat.

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It is October 23 and I’m at the beach right now as I write this.  I rode my bike for an hour and now am sitting for a bit.  Just lovely.

What is the big takeaway from this blog today?  Sometimes the junk in your house needs to be on the back burners.  Your spiritual, emotional and physical well being may need to declutter first.  You’ve read about me processing the removal of stuff from my home all year.  This October declutter has felt the best.  My dear friend who lives on the East Coast, said to me last week, “I hear joy in your voice again.”

Do you have joy in your voice?  If not, take the time to declutter the joy killers. The best deterrent to those joy killers is God’s word.  Reading then listening in silence has changed me.  God had a ton to say.  I just had to sit and listen.  If you need a starting point, try Psalm 23.  Embracing the care and love of our Shepherd toward us, always returns joy.  I encourage you to declutter your life inside and out.  It makes all the difference.

Dream Big!

Fall is here

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Finally there is a slight chill in the air, even if it only lasts a few moments. I decided to dig into my linen closet to make some space and pass along unneeded blankets to those who do need them. I also found a few baby blankets as well. I even discovered the liners for the crib to keep the baby’s full diaper from leaking onto the sheets. I now can get sheets and blankets in and out of the closet with ease. No more moving around unused items when I want to make a bed. I encourage you to look through your linen closet too. The chill in the air will continue and lengthen in duration. Those that have little can truly use our extra blankets.

This past week was less about clearing out than moving forward. Apart from this blog, I am a writer of devotionals, fiction, presentations, and more. I love to write. As I reenter this season of writing, I am slowly being reminded of how much I love it and the world of writers. I had an opportunity to attend a luncheon for Chicken Soup for the Soul contributers. I had the pleasure of being published in their book for the Bride’s Soul a few years ago. The luncheon was in Marina Del Rey. The people were awesome. What’s cool is that I don’t feel nervous in those settings, just inspired and invigorated. I talked with the owners of Chicken Soup – a lovely husband and wife team. They are incredibly friendly and approachable people. When I reconnected with the VP of Chicken Soup, she asked me why she hadn’t seen any submissions lately. Wow. Not only did he remember me she wanted stories from me. I thought about why I hadn’t written for awhile. Part of it is that I had submitted a few stories that weren’t accepted. I figured it was a one time thing to get in a Soup book. However, I need to press on though because even the senior editor remembered me from a previous luncheon.

I write this to encourage you to see the opportunities before you. God has great plans for us. We need to step through the open doors He provides. I don’t have any guarantees that I will get another story in Chicken Soup, but I need to try. Saturday reminded me that I am a writer and thrive in that world. To not embrace that is, to me, shutting an open door. The outcome of writing isn’t as important as the process and the people I meet along the way. I am grateful that God gave me a nudge this weekend. If the weather in California truly begins to turn to fall, know that I will be cozied up with a cup of tea in front of my ipad embracing the process of writing. What does fall have in store for you? Look for your open door.

Dream Big!

Juggling too many balls

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As you can see in the opening picture, our family has too many balls. I asked our kids to go through this huge box that was full of balls. I ended up keeping the laundry hamper to now be the keeper of the balls. The kids quickly got through our huge stash of balls. The 100 degree heat in the garage motivated a fast sorting system.

I realized this literal clutter of balls is nothing compared to my figurative collection of balls I keep in the air daily. Soccer practice, school drop off and pickup, worship ministry, speaking ministry, writing, being a friend, being a daughter, being a wife, being a mother, helping music club, helping PTA, girl scouts, boy scouts, meal planning, grocery shopping, ….. My list isn’t even close to done. This juggling act women perform daily is crazy and amazing. Lately, I am ready to toss a few more of my balls into my Goodwill basket. I have cut back, said no, and even quit a few things this year. However, I still have too many balls. My decluttering of stuff is also encouraging me to declutter my activities. I need space to breath and breath in God’s goodness. I shared with a friend the other day how I am having these great moments with God but they are just moments. They don’t sustain me. I need a deep breath with God not just a quick gasp for air. It’s time I juggle a few less balls. Step by step, they will find their way into the Goodwill bin. I honor commitments but won’t add more. I will support my kids’ activities, but they aren’t adding more either. It’s a process that takes time. Time is a gift I plan to cherish more. I hope you find space in your day for a big breath of God.

Dream Big!

P.S. I also got rid of the table below. It is from my parent’s home. I am so glad it is finally gone. It went from a cluttered office to the garage. It took me a year or so but I finally got it out the door too. Huge milestone.
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Schools and schedules

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My kids are back in school. The first few weeks we are all tired. Alarms are set. Bedtime is enforced again. Summer is over. The heat isn’t over but the no schedule part is. This summer I kept our schedule very loose. I truly overscheduled last school year. This year, I have said no to more opportunities and kept those items on my list that I enjoy, or my kids enjoy. Yet, after a summer of freedom, even those few tasks can seem overwhelming. As I slowly enter back into the world of alarm clocks and schedules, I will also reenter my blog.

I have been cleaning. Mostly kids clothes since we needed to make room for new school clothes. On that topic of clothes, I am finally getting rid of my wicker hamper. I have been done with this for quite some time but couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it. There isn’t anything wrong with this other than it’s not my style anymore and it takes up too much room. I have searched high and low for a new one that appealed to me. I finally found it and this one is headed out the door. I did realize I could use it for storage in the garage. However, I quickly pushed that idea aside because a) I’m done with it and b) I’m sure scary spiders would love to live in the bottom of this basket in the garage. Ick.

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Summer gave us plenty of times to play games and enjoy the many board games in our familiy room. I struggled each time we pulled out a game and fifty other games fell out. Ugh. So, we did a bit of purging there too. These are games we have outgrown. Someone else can enjoy them now. I loved Hungry, Hungry Hipppos but no one will play with me anymore. Besides, one of the hippos always gets stuck then one of the kids gets mad their hippo is stuck. So, bye bye hippos.

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Lastly, our divided plates. We love pancakes and french toast and waffles and … anything with syrup. These plates seemed awesome since they had dividers so you could put syrup in one of the compartments. They were fun for a short time. They are a pain to wash. Each tiny corner of each tiny compartment needed to be scrubbed. Plus, the compartments were too small to hold a pancake so everything overlapped. Practicality won out and these are off to be enjoyed for a year by someone else who will tire of washing the tiny corners too. Speaking of waffles, I think I will make some for breakfast. I need to start my day and get my kids moving forward. Thanks for your patience with me as always. I look forward to connecting more as the schedule settles into place.

Dream Big!

Summertime

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Hello friends! Thank you for your patience this summer. It has been a month since I last blogged. During that month, my daughter got sick twice and they both lasted over a week, we enjoyed a soccer tournament, we had several trips to the library, we relaxed, we savored summer even when stuck at home recovering and we took a vacation. The picture above is the sunset in Pacific Beach where we have gone the past two summers. The beach is amazing.

I figured pictures of the stuff we tossed this month wouldn’t be as fun as a sunset picture. We weren’t idle. Being stuck inside in the summer, helps with decluttering. I decluttered my email inbox which is a huge task. We finally cleaned out school uniforms since my daugther will be a middle schooler and no uniforms required anymore. We tossed various things as the weeks passed by. Nothing huge was removed from the home. Just odds and ends. My son gave me a huge bag of stuffed animals that he decided he was done with. I didn’t even prompt him. I am seeing the benefits of my decluttering. My kids are picking up on it. My daugther even wrote that organizing her room is one of her favorite parts of summer. I may be creating monsters over here. I am grateful that they are self motivated to tidy up, get rid of, and organize. My son alphabetized his book shelf and put in alphabet labels so it would be like the library. My daughter, who got a new bed this summer, is still finding corners of her room to declutter. My middle one had been sick so much, I only required her to get rid of uniforms. She needed to play when she felt good.

My silence once again didn’t mean inactivity but too much activity or just too tired at the end of the day to blog. I think that summer is supposed to be that way. You embrace it fully. You allow schedules to slip a bit. You spend a day in your P.J.s because you can. I love order and structure but I delight in the slower pace of summer. I hope you are finding time to relax, declutter, and/or have fun. Summer is still here. We have several more weeks before school starts unlike many others. We have a lot more fun to experience.

The only deep, profound thought I can give you is that as we delight in our children or the season of summer or the gift of friendship, remember that feeling of joy. The very same feeling is what God experiences every time He thinks of you. He delights in us. I hope your summer includes time of delighting in Him.

Dream Big!

Books, stuffed animals, books, stuffed animals, books…

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Summer can get so busy. It’s all fun stuff so it’s O.K. However, the past week, we have all been on a cleaning spree. On July 4th, we got a new bed for my older daughter which prompted another level of cleaning. My son caught the fever and we attacked his bookshelf. My other daughter finally decided to tackle her large assortment of stuffed animals.

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I got the bug, even though I was exhausted from cleaning three kid rooms alongside my children. I cleared out old kitchen hand towels from my front entry storage bench. Everything fits nicely now. I laughed when I tossed the green towels because they were terrible from the day I bought them but I never got rid of them. I bought them to be drying towels. They seemed absorbent when I felt them. After one cereal bowl, they were drenched. Useless for drying anything but one dish. Now they are gone.

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My daughter’s room now has a cozy reading area once she felt ready to toss a few stuffed animals. They were located in a long, hanging pink netting with shelves as well as in a storage bench and in a pop up hamper. Now they all fit in the hamper. Progress. The bench is useful for sitting and the nook has room for a comfy bean bag chair and pillows. This seemingly small step made space for a new place of peace for her. Decluttering can do that – free us up to experience peace. Even kids need a space to decompress. Maybe especially kids need a place to decompress. I am amazed what my children face daily in this world. The friend pressure, school work, and just normal changes we all faced. A cozy nook to escape into quiet and peace is what every man, woman and child needs. If you have kids, make sure they have a mini-retreat place in your home. After some simple decluttering, mine all do.

As you see from the main picture and title, our home overflows in stuffed animals and books. Crazy. We all purged books this past week. I have at least 70 to donate. I am surprised at my progress in getting rid of books. I mentioned before it is hard for me. I cherish every book I read. I rarely reread them but I keep them as reminders of a moment of peace or a story that captured me or in some cases, changed me. Books have such power. I am grateful I now know that the power can be passed on for others to enjoy. Donating books to friends, libraries, or even Goodwill, provides a new opportunity for the book to come to life in someone else’s mind. I readily put the Christian board books into the hands of a new mommy. Her precious daughter will hear about God’s love at this young age. The chapter books will most likely go to the library. There are never enough copies of the good books in a series. This way, everyone can read Judy Moody when they want to and not wait for it to be returned. Some of the books will go to Goodwill. The clientelle at their stores will be treated to some quality books in great condition. Books are my new favorite donation. I know that by doing this, many are impacted. Much more than someone who buys an old toaster.

Dream Big!

The Past

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Another blog with non-related junk to toss and almost two weeks have passed. The school and paperwork I tossed was simple. Every year I stuff school paperwork, assignments and artwork in a folder for each child. In June, we go through and toss or save. The save paperwork is put in a nice plastic storage box in their bedroom closets. The day of purging the school folders is so nice. Next year will be easier because I have two middle schoolers in the fall. I had barely any paperwork for my current middle schooler for she rarely created artwork or made special papers. Sad but easier. My youngest will keep on filling up his folder though. Below is the result of just two elementary school folders. Surprisingly, my 5th grader had more than my 3rd grader.

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Later, I tackled our construction paper/sticker box. Crazy full. Here is just a glimpse of what got the boot. I have a huge bag of stickers. They just accumulated over the years. It was funny to trace my childen’s interests in stickers. The various phases are: dinosaurs, Disney’s Cars, tons of Disney princesses, Pooh Bear, ballerina, High School musical, and so much more. All the fads represented in stickers.

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Last but the hardest so not the least, Barbie clean out. My mom is awesome because she saved all my Barbie stuff. The Barbie airplane, camper, boat, car and bicycle survived all these years. My kids haven’t played with them in the past year or so and we decided it was time to purge a bit. The clothes were divided into still cool and too ugly even though retro. I had several items that were handmade by my sister which I will return to her. The dolls are mostly my daughter’s but they only kept a few. We had even more because our sweet neighbor gave us her daughter’s Barbie stuff when she went to college. The big items are still with us. Mostly clothes, dolls, the cars and a ton of clothes got tossed but that made a huge cut in storage space. The items will go to another friend who has younger girls and another generation will play make-believe with these dolls.

Barbie to me was always a place I could live out my dreams. My Barbie was always a singer, eventually married and then a mom. She let me explore my dreams though play. I think she is that for kids today too. The Barbies in my house were athletes, scientists, princesses, moms, singers, fashion designers and much more. This is a tough passage to get rid of some (not all). It means my kids are starting to live their dreams not act them out with a doll. They are now at that stage. However, there are still times when they will pull all the stuff out and dream big. Thanks Barbie.

Dream Big!