Why Haven’t I Finished Yet?

I have been decluttering ever since I moved out of my Mom’s house around thirty years ago.  I found out letting go of possessions was a thing about ten years later.  And I have been an aspiring minimalist since I first heard the word “minimalist” about ten years ago.  So why can’t I get through my whole house and be done with it?

I realize that I will not actually finish, as in never having to declutter my home again.  I expect to go through all of the rooms, annually perhaps, to remove those items we didn’t end up using much, or maybe things we are finally ready to let go of now that another year has passed.  What I am really asking is: why can’t I get through the whole house?

I know I am repeating areas previously finished again and again, getting sidetracked with other projects, watching lots of movies, taking care of my family and basically, living life. But is there a reason why I can’t seem to finish?  Is it not a priority?  Am I afraid to finish?  Am I procrastinating because it’s hard work?  What’s the deal?

Here is where I am currently perceiving myself to be with this project.

These areas are finished:

  • The van
  • the living room
  • the dining room
  • the master bedroom
  • my clothing
  • Bobby’s clothing
  • Sarah’s clothing
  • Sarah’s room
  • the foyer
  • the linen closet
  • the master bathroom
  • the upstairs bathroom
  • the laundry room
  • the kitchen
  • the pantry
  • the utility closet

These areas were finished (maybe last year), but need to be gone through again:

  • the girls’ room
  • Joseph’s room
  • Joseph’s clothing
  • Rachel’s clothing
  • Hannah’s clothing
  • Mary’s clothing
  • the mudroom
  • the extra closet
  • my kitchen desk
  • the schoolroom

These are the areas that have never been finished:

  •  the basement
  • the garage
  • the sentimental items
  • the digital items

These are areas I do not include in this project at all:

  • the study
  • the shed

Looking at this list sheds some light on why I haven’t finished yet. That’s a lot of areas!!!  Is it even possible to be a minimalist and be responsible for all of these areas?  I don’t know. But I do think I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t take much time to go through the repeat areas. Then, there are only four main problem areas and sentimental is almost decluttered, so that leaves three that I think are doable with a little laser focus.  I can do this!

Decluttering Sentimental Items

I woke up to the beautiful sound of rain last Thursday morning, and I decided to start working on the VHS-C tape project. My son has been asking me to finish putting these family home movies onto DVD’s. So I worked on it most of that day, and Sunday too. I’ll be continuing this project (when I have the time) until I finish it.

While the movies were recording, I decluttered the school room and went through what I call the “sentimental items”. I organized by categories and made a list of “Sentimental Projects” to be completed at some time in the future. (Winter might be a good time to work on these.)  So basically, I decluttered the sentimental items and made another To Do list! You can see photos below of: my current project’s mess, the pile of photos to scan, my decluttering checklist, and my new Sentimental Projects list. Making progress!

 

Summer Goodness

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I am ready to get back into blogging now, but where to begin?

I can share the small accomplishments of my day so far.  I swam fifty laps (very slowly) across my father’s pool. (Across and back counts as one lap.)  I sold one book online and shipped it to Wisconsin.  I had a discussion about potential colleges with my seventeen-year-old daughter and her piano teacher.  I made my bed?  Ok, I’m stretching it now.

I had high hopes for this summer. For some reason, I thought I would blow through my “To Do” lists. (I have many of them.) Then June taught me that laundry, appointments, paperwork, shopping, and other people take a considerable amount of my time each day. We also just finished an unusual party marathon, in which we hosted parties for a First Communion, a Confirmation, and a high school graduation in addition to hosting and attending our regular spring/summer celebrations.

So my great expectations, left me feeling overwhelmed.  After many days of prayer and meditation, I think I’ve let them go.

I am ready to slow down. I can enjoy my life one day at a time. I can be grateful for the little things I accomplish each day and not worry about what I didn’t do.  I get anxious inside when I want to do everything at once. What needs to be done will be done eventually. I can trust God, be present, and notice the good.

A New Season

My second son will be graduating from high school soon. While gathering up photos to use in a slideshow I’m making for him, I visited an old blog, called My Thoughtful Spot, that I kept from 2006-2010. I really enjoyed reading some of my posts. I was funny back then. I know I had more time to write, because I wrote while I was nursing babies, which was… all the time. It got me thinking that I’d like to write like that again. (It was basically an online journal.) I wonder if I can make time for it now.

My life has changed so much since those days. Or maybe I have changed.  The old me was very hopeful, grateful, and enthusiastic about parenting, home management, homeschooling, organizing, decluttering, and simplifying, even though I am sure she was tired from the pregnancies, nursing, waking during the night, and caring for babies, toddlers, and young children.

I am different now.  I feel like I am in some kind of transition period. Maybe it’s a new season of life.  I feel like I don’t have any experience with it, yet in a way I do.  My children are 20, 18, 16, 13, 10 and 8. Although I’ve never had a 20 year old before, I have been 20. And even though I’ve already been a mom to children of the other ages, I know I can’t be the same parent I was before. Will they be getting the new and improved version?  The older and wiser me?  I sure hope so.  And I hope writing here will help me to not take myself so seriously.

Book Quotes: Uniformity with God’s Will

I needed to hear these today:

“Little man,” says St. Augustine, “grow up. What are you seeking in your search for happiness? Seek the one good that embraces all others.” Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next…

God wills only our good; God loves us more than anybody else can or does love us…

Let us place ourselves unreservedly in his hands because he will not fail to have care of us…

Project 333

So I have a whole year of capsule wardrobes under my belt. (That sounds ridiculous to literal me.) Last year I put together a Winter Capsule Wardrobe mostly from items I owned.  Then I created my first Spring Capsule Wardrobe with the help of an ebook and by purchasing new clothing.  It was exciting, although I had many questions.  I enjoyed looking more feminine most of the time, but I’ll admit I sometimes sacrificed comfort to look like a forty something year old mom who could make 90 outfits out of twenty something items.

I continued the concept with my own version of the Summer Capsule Wardrobe. It was easy and comfortable.  I may have had a few too many items that I didn’t end up wearing.  Then came the Fall Capsule Wardrobe, which was fun and comfy except for a few pieces that felt tight because I gained some weight.  I used an ebook again and my mother commented on how nice I looked in colors I didn’t usually wear. Instead of gray, charcoal, or black, I was being seen in public in burgundy and pink.

When it came time to set up another winter one I hesitated.  The clothing in the winter ebooks didn’t look warm and cozy to me.  And I had so many nice fall clothes and a pile of old winter clothes in my basement. How would I choose? I decided to go with a clothing experiment I’ve done in the past called Project 333.  For me, it was a quick and easy way to choose from what I had (and what I got for Christmas) to make a simple winter wardrobe. Because it included outerwear and accessories (and mittens!) I had to choose only my favorite winter items.

Here they are:

  1. blue boot cut jeans
  2. blue skinny jeans
  3. black skinny jeans
  4. green skinny jeans
  5. burgundy skinny jeans
  6. gray sweater
  7. 24601 T-shirt
  8. purple flannel shirt
  9. purple long sleeve T
  10. white long sleeve T
  11. burgundy flannel shirt
  12. burgundy long sleeve T
  13. navy striped sweater
  14. black turtleneck
  15. white sweater
  16. black cardigan
  17. beige cardigan
  18. gray cardigan
  19. navy hoodie
  20. fringed cardigan
  21. hiking boots
  22. black western boots
  23. tan heeled boots
  24. snow boots
  25. black & white plaid scarf
  26. black scarf
  27. red scarf
  28. mittens
  29. gloves
  30. sunglasses
  31. winter coat
  32. tote bag
  33. purse

It’s fun to experiment with new ideas and see how they work in real life.  I’m not completely sold on the capsule wardrobe concept.  I don’t know if it matters to me whether or not it appears that I am wearing many different outfits.  In fact, I recently saw a male acquaintance who was wearing a short sleeve black T-shirt with blue jeans and comfortable looking sneakers.  I think the last time I saw him he may have been wearing a short sleeve black T-shirt, tan shorts and comfortable looking sandals.  That is how I used to dress.  The fact that I noticed this and had a desire for this simplicity will likely influence how I dress in future seasons.

2019

I started this blog one year ago with a post called “2018”.  It was so hopeful. I was doing a Whole 30, exercising, and I had a plan to declutter my home in six months. As always, I resolved to pray and meditate daily.

Now, looking back at 2018, I can say that I did complete that Whole 30.  And I did complete another one during Lent for six whole weeks!!  And I lost a total of 15 pounds! But after Easter, I went back to my usual eating habits; and sometime during the fall, I stopped working out. I’ve gained back most of the weight I lost.  I made huge progress on the decluttering, but I did not complete the project. I lost interest in the fall, perhaps around October, when I went on a Hallmark Christmas movies binge.

This was an emotional year for me.  It was filled with uncertainty and change, and the feelings that go along with it. I was often full of fear, and I have also enjoyed the freedom and peace that comes from prayer and trusting in God’s power.

As 2019 was approaching, I felt the familiar desire for setting goals and the hopefulness of achieving them as I have so often done during my adult years. But at the same time I felt a fogginess of mind, a lethargy that has stopped me from enthusiastically setting goals.  I don’t know its cause.  I suspect perimenopause, or burn-out, and/or a desire to rest and take things one day at a time.  So this year I am starting out slowly. I do want to plan out my weeks, (I do not enjoy winging it with dinner) just not the whole year.

I signed up for an online course called Simplified Organization. It’s a six month course, so it will be very slow moving. Many of the tools in it I may already use, but I am most interested in being encouraged in fulfilling the roles of my vocation more cheerfully. I’ve also been reading books for fun, for inspiration to live more “intentionally” as people say nowadays, and for growing spiritually.

Here’s my list:

I expect to eventually set goals, not for 2019, but some shorter term goals that I can continue to focus on until they are achieved.

Fall Capsule Wardrobe

We’re about halfway through the fall season, and I’m just getting around to posting about my fall capsule wardrobe. Yesterday, I packed away a couple of sleeveless tops and a pair of shorts that I kept out because we were still having some hot weather in October, but I think that’s over now. I also noticed that there are several items I haven’t even worn yet.  Maybe I don’t need them.

I’m sorry to say that I haven’t worn the black jeans because they’ve been feeling too tight. I gained a few pounds. I’m not tempted to wear the dress, skirt or pumps in the colder weather. And the same for the jean jacket. Sweaters and sweatshirts feel cozier.

So here is what I have been wearing, starting with the tops: white, gray, black, and charcoal long sleeve T-shirts, an ivory top, a striped long sleeve T-shirt, a chambray shirt, black plaid and burgundy plaid tunics, and my Les Mis T-shirt.

The bottoms are: blue boot cut jeans, and burgundy, hunter green, and blue skinny jeans.

The layers are as follows: charcoal, olive, gray, and beige cardigans; navy and gray hoodies; and a black raincoat.

The shoes and accessories are:  black western boots, gray converse sneakers, hiking boots, black sling-back pumps, a scarf, a black handbag, a black tote bag, and a silver necklace (not shown).

The inspiration for this wardrobe was from The Essential Capsule Wardrobe: Fall 2018 Collection found at Classy Yet Trendy.  I basically copied it by using what I have and buying several of the items in it.  I simplified the wardrobe a bit by not adding the beige ankle boots, suede jacket and handbag. So I use black with everything, which may not look as nice sometimes, but it saved money.

The capsule wardrobe concept makes shopping way less overwhelming for me. Instead of looking for a new top for fall (out of the endless choices), I can look specifically for a black and white plaid shirt. And tweaking it is not hard. I went with a tunic because I like to cover my butt.  The hiking boots make me comfortable in rain and mud, and the men’s hoodie sweatshirts are great on chilly fall days. (with a blanket, for super cozy)

These capsule wardrobes have also taken me out of my comfort zone, and have kept me from just wearing my grubbies all the time.  They’ve reminded me that twenty years ago (before kids) I used to enjoy wearing heels.  (and pencil skirts and mini skirts and bodysuits and Bongo jeans… Yikes!) And if I want to continue to fit in my skinny jeans, I might have to eat better or work out. I’ll just have to take better care of myself, body and soul.

 

Dear Stuff

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I found this letter that I wrote (maybe two years ago), prompted by a blog post on Be More with Less called “How to Write a Break-up Letter to Your Stuff”.  It was written quickly and without revision, but today I am appreciating the analogy.

Dear Stuff,

I am making a commitment to only be with stuff that serves a good purpose or leads me closer to God. I believe that this is how God wants me to relate to things.  I’m liking the idea of seeing material possessions as tools.  They help me to do God’s will. Like school supplies and curriculum help me to educate my children. Pots and pans are tools to cook with.  My crucifix reminds me of Jesus.

I’m writing to tell you that you are not good for me anymore.  I don’t need you; you do not cause me joy.  Some of you I did need in the past.  You were tools at one time, and you served your purpose well.  but my life has changed, and I no longer need your help.  Others of you, I don’t even know why I have you around.  I never used you for anything.  Maybe you were given to me and I said thank you to the giver because I love them and didn’t want to say no.  Maybe I purchased you when I was afraid.  You made me feel better.  From you I am learning to have a criteria for future purchases.  To ask if I really need it.  What purpose will it serve?  Can I do without it?

I am determined to live a well-ordered life.  I am working my butt off this summer to go through everything and keep only the tools God wants me to use and to let go of my attachments to you all.

I have trouble letting go of some of you.  I’d like to keep you just in case I’ll use you again in the future.  But this is not what God teaches.

He wants me to live in the present and serve Him, love Him and pray unceasingly to Him.  He does not want me to worry about tomorrow.  He says it in the Bible.  He will provide for me always.  I really need to trust Him completely and let you go.

I did not sign my letter.  It was anonymous.  And because I like to linger over ideas…  How about a list of questions to ask when decluttering, based on the ideas found in this letter?

  • Does this serve a good purpose or lead me closer to God?
  • Why do I have this?
  • Is this a tool I used in the past, but don’t need anymore?  Let it go.
  • Have I never used this?  Let it go.
  • Was this a gift? Did I thank the giver?  Let it go.
  • Did someone give it to me and I didn’t want to say no?  Let it go.
  • Did I purchase this when I was afraid?  Let it go.

Questions to ask before a new purchase:

  • Do I really need this?
  • What purpose will it serve?
  • Can I do without it?

Remember:  Live in the present.  Love, serve and pray all day.  Do not worry about tomorrow.  God will provide for you always.  Trust him completely and let it go.

DECLUTTERING QUESTIONS    30 DAY LIST

 

 

Weekend Retreats

 

I’ve been away from my home for the past three weekends. First, I attended a women’s silent Ignatian Spiritual Exercises retreat, then on Columbus Day weekend, I spent time with extended family in Bailey Island, ME.  This past Saturday, I was at a Schole Sister’s local retreat called Learning Well, with Cindy Rollins! So on Sunday, I reflected on some of the ideas I’ve taken in, made a practical plan of how I will implement my retreat resolutions, and I chose the books I plan to read in the next few weeks.

I’m toying with the idea of playing the Minimalism Game for the rest of October and for the month of November, as progress on my decluttering checklist has decreased.  I did play the game for five days before my first retreat and I got rid of 114 items from my basement.

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I also printed out a time log I found online, because it’s a super fun way to see how I’m spending my time, and it’s helpful when implementing new habits to see if they are realistic or not.  And speaking of habits… I also printed out a new habit tracker.  I created it for a 21 day period, with boxes to check off or shade for each habit, each of the 21 days.  I type my habits in the left column and fill in days of the week and dates along the top. A blank one is shown below.

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Peace!

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