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Archive for the ‘Simplify’ Category

Planning

Life is not easy right now. I went from being homeĀ  a few days a week to being in school Monday through Friday, as well as working three evenings. Factor in ball practice, games, squeezing in gym time, grocery shopping and cooking, meeting the needs of my family, attempting to stay in contact with friends, studying for several hours a day…you get the idea. Every hour of my life seems to be filled up right now, and I don’t have much time for anything out of the regular schedule.

Keeping the house running smoothly takes a lot of effort. This not only means keeping it clean, but also insuring that laundry is done so clothes can be laid out the night before, food is available for cooking in advance, and supplies such as dish detergent and toothpaste are always on hand. I’m amazed at how a little thing like being out of baking powder can throw a whole afternoon off.

I’m trying my best to do a “clean as you go” method, but my family is having a difficult time adapting to this. I don’t want to spend my Saturday mornings cleaning the house, butĀ  I also don’t want to make housecleaning into such a big daily routine that I get way behind if I miss a morning wiping everything down. Any advice?

One a positive note, I’ve found it extremely helpful to plan out my days in advance. Each evening I jot down what the next day (may) hold. All meetings, gym time, kids’ practices and who will be doing the drop off/pick up, etc. I also make sure that we have our clothes laid out the night before and an idea of what we’ll pack for lunch the next morning (I don’t like to make lunch until the morning of…I have no idea why.)

All in all, my very busy life is getting simpler by means of planning and anticipating what’s to come. Of course, life happens and there are always unexpected events like sick children, grinding breaks, and snow days, but it’s nice to have a basic plan to work with.

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January Challenge

(Nirvana by E. Pi Longo via Flickr)

Simplify

I just love that word. It brings to mind calming waters, a clear pasture, a smooth stone, and all that other Zen-y jazz. I’ve spent the past few months really focusing on doing just that. Simplifying my life. Getting rid of excess. Clearing space so I can clear my head.

Notice I said “Simplify” and not “Organize.” I spent years and lots of energy trying to organize my life. Multiple notepads and lists, labeled clothes baskets, holders for my ten million pens, boxes for the twenty million toys, bulk buying of stuff we don’t even really need (just in case!), endless hours planning and re-planning our “next big organization project.” Enough. I’m done with trying to rearrange junk to make it all fit. I love the look and feel of clear surfaces, near-empty drawers, and unused space. Come to find out, we don’t actually need more space in our home. We just need a lot less stuff.

An important figure in my life liked to collect things. Well, “liked” is a strong word. She felt a compulsion to hold onto items. She felt more secure when she had multiples of the same item, just as back up. Her house was clean, no doubt, but so cluttered that it was difficult to breathe in there. No clear walkways, no clean surfaces. Every table had neat stacks of magazines or books on top, or nick nacks or mixed-matched picture frames. She had furniture on every wall and in every available space. Half-finished projects sat around waiting for attention. Bookshelves overflowed with books that hadn’t been touched in twenty years. One of the bedrooms was so full of junk you couldn’t even see the bed. All this so she would have her “stuff,” just in case. After she passed away we found lists made on note cards detailing the contents of cabinets and drawers. She had so much stuff, yet her imbalanced desires for organization and hoarding drove her to list out exactly how many plastic containers, bread machines, and pairs of scissors were in each drawer. She died with all of these unfinished projects left, ones that had been a burden on her for years and years. I can’t tell you the number of times she muttered the line, “I need to get that back bedroom cleaned out. Then I can turn it into…” She never got around to it, in the 18 years she lived in that house. My sister and sister-in-law did it in a weekend.

I don’t want this for my life or for my children’s lives. I don’t want “stuff” to dominate my thoughts and patterns. I want to be free of excess, whether that be actual things or the way I write or how I choose to spend my leisure time.

The goal of the month for January is Simple. That’s it. Just keep it Simple.

This month I’m going to share some steps I’ve taken to create a more simple existence, as well as try new ways of making my everyday life flow more smoothly. I’m always open to suggestions via comments, and I hope you’ll choose to go on this journey with me. Happy New Year, everyone!

(My single favorite resource for Simple Living is the blog “Zen Habits.” The author has another site called “Mnmlist” that’s got a ton of information on how to simplify. Consider them required reading for the next month!)

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