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Simplifying life seems to be a continuous project for me. It goes in fits and spurts, but it’s always going.
I’ve been reading some inspiration lately, and one post challenged me to write down my goals:
Check your mindset:
1. Write down your goals. What do you want from this change? Where do you feel the greatest need to slow down and simplify? What do you stand to gain?
2. Write down your strengths. What are you already good at? Gardening? Organising? Planning? Cooking healthy, cheap meals?
3. Write down your weaknesses. What challenges will you face? What circumstances will make change harder for you?
4. Check your answers. You need to be in this for the right reasons. You need to understand that you come to simple living from a unique place. Your journey won’t look like anyone else’s. And that’s fine. Great, even. Perfect.
5. Get to it. Committing goals to paper helps you achieve them.
So here goes.
Slow. Feel slower, simpler, less frazzled, less behind. I want to stop constantly feeling like I’m behind on just about everything.
Enjoy. I want to get to enjoy our lovely home (even if it isn’t perfect), my horse, our land. They’re not burdens, they’re blessings.
Invest. I want to invest in the things God has given us to steward. Our time, our home, our land, our animals, our friendships, our family, our life.
Explore. I want to have adventures. Get out. Get going. See someplace new. Leave behind the crazy. Refresh. Restore. Make room for wonderful experiences.
Ryhthm. I love having rhythm to life, not necessarily patterns or habits or set schedules, but rhythms to live by.
Get rid of excess clutter, especially in the garage!! Also books, DVDs, desk supplies, craft supplies, clothes and shoes. (I’ve been doing a lot better on the books/DVDs/clothes/shoes, but there is always more progress to make!)
Organize necessary stored supplies, especially in the study, garage, barn and garden shed. (Shelving, shelving, shelving! Thinking about asking for this for my birthday.)
Quiet, calm atmosphere. Not too much stuff, not too much furniture.
Preparedness. Extra toiletries, paper towels, flour, laundry detergent. Because the stress of running out is far more energy-consuming than being prepared ahead of time.
Slowing weekends. Yes, Saturdays are for productivity. But if I clean/do laundry more during the week, Saturdays are simpler, especially now that I have to share that time and space with Husband. Also, Sundays. Sundays are not for errands. Sundays are for rest. Remember that. Do errands before Sunday!
Simplify finances. Don’t use credit card. Open work account for Husband. Open business account for business. Separating, simplifying. So much less stressful.
I’m generally consistent. I’m a rule follower, when I make a plan, create a rule, I stick to it.
I love organizing (I just need some supplies, like shelves!)
Keeping our calendar realistic and making regular do-to lists. I was in a rhythm, I’ve gotten out of it. I need my rhythm back.
Filing. I hate filing paperwork. But I love a clean desk…
Weeding. Gardens are great, upkeep is not.
Our schedule. Both working full time, and each commuting an hour each way, makes for a full day before we even get home.
Getting up early. Getting up a little earlier would make mornings better, more productive, easier, simpler. I’m just bad at it. Luckily, summer is arriving and with it the sun. It’s so much easier to get up in time to throw in a load of laundry and make sure the dishwasher is loaded when the sun is up early too.
I was recently browsing through a few home design blogs, when I came across this one by Joanna Gaines. A recent post of hers struck me as something I would love to incorporate into my year: Simple and Clean in 2015. Seriously, I definitely recommend it.
1. Donate items: Definitely doing this as I unpack/try to find places to put things! Although we’re also saving for a yard sale to see if we can get a little cash for our items since we have so much to get rid of. You would not believe the sheer number of vases I have unpacked. Vases!
2. Fill garbage bags: Absolutely. Anything I can’t identify, is used, in poor condition, can’t be donated. It’s gone. Now. Not “think about it”. Just tossed. Makes life so much easier.
3. Every object has a home: This is the big one for me this year. I’m still unpacking and settling in. Which means I’m still finding homes for everything. And I am in desperate need of shelves so I can start storing things properly. The stacks are driving me crazy.
4. Label: Without kids, this one doesn’t really apply. After all, I’m the only one that cleans up, so as long as I know where everything goes, we’re good.
5. Once a day catch all basket: I don’t have an upstairs, so I don’t need this specifically. But I have a renewed determination to spend 15 minutes at the end of each day putting things away. I did this for the first time last week and it was revolutionary! When I went to clean the house Saturday, I didn’t have to spend a few hours returning things to their homes! Now, I’m not anywhere near perfect at it yet. I’ve hardly been home this week, so Wednesday will be the first time I get to put things away, and I can tell you the kitchen counters are already full of stuff…
6. Once a week purge: Once a week sounds rather refreshing. I’ve generally left the fridge and pantry to Husband, as he is the cook. But things get out of hand sometimes with both of our busy schedules. So I think a regular food purge is in order. Of course, it will help when our pantry actually has shelves…
7. Team effort: This is a great idea, but every house is different. In my house, I clean, Husband cooks. I might ask him to put away some of his own things, but for the most part I think the amount of time he spends cooking (dinners and lunches!), means he’s off the hook for most of the cleaning.
8. Whistle while you work: We used to play music constantly while we were at home, working or playing or cleaning or whatever. When we moved, that tradition fell between the cracks. But we have dusted off the iPods recently, so I’m enjoying having the music playing again =).
9. Be grateful: I view cleaning and caring for my home as a way of stewarding the things that God has given me, it helps me have a good attitude about all the work, and keeps me smiling as I thank Him for each and every room and the little blessings that He has provided that make our abode so comfortable.
Also, I like to reward myself for all the stewarding with some time to just enjoy the blessings, this time of year that means sitting by a warm fire and soaking it all in.
There’s a certain amount of pressure for all of us, I think, to be endlessly productive, to create content around the clock, to say big things every day, if you’re a blogger, or every Sunday if you’re a preacher.
Let’s resist that. It’s not how nature works. It’s not how seasons work. There’s planting and reaping and harvesting, and there’s the practice of letting a field lay fallow for a while, allowing it to prepare again to produce. For the first time in a long time, I’m practicing silence, laying fallow, trusting that the world will keep spinning quite happily without quite so many words from me.
Right now, in my life, this is profound. Lay fallow? Silent? It feels foreign. But there has to be a way to incorporate this into my oh-so-full life of working, living, renovating and more. There just has to.
Frugal or simple? It’s a question I ask myself almost every day.
Much of the time, frugal and simple are not equivalent. I desire both, I need both. I am confined by the restrictions of a tight budget and am determined to live within my means, and yet I desperately need simplicity to maintain my sanity and keep my focus on what is truly important.
At times these needs are warring within me, each vying for top position until I nearly spin out of control. And so I find myself almost daily working to find the right balance. Because there is no one hard and fast rule that always works, few situations are ever the same, and honestly, what is “right” can change based on the day, time, circumstances and so much more.
It’s a balancing act.
My mother posed a question to me a few days ago, and I was glad it was a situation I had already addressed in my own life–a simple one, laughable really, but honest and practical. I always, ALWAYS use more conditioner than shampoo, especially because my hair is super long and curly. So when I get to then of my conditioner and there is still a little shampoo left in the bottle, what do I do with it? Or when a well meaning friend gifts me a toiletry set in a scent that I don’t prefer, or including products I simply don’t use, what do I do?
I spent several years lugging around boxes (and I do mean BOXES) of toiletries whenever I moved (which was pretty often). It got to be one of the most annoying parts of moving–packing up all those bottles of things again… So a few years ago, I vowed to use as many of them as possible before going out and purchasing anything new–a primarily frugal decision. Even if it wasn’t my favorite brand, if I could use it I would. And I did. It took nearly two years to pare down my collection, but I did it.
A few things were left over, things I just don’t use. So I donated them to a local thrift store that benefits a children’s hospital. Because I just don’t need the frustration of trying to force myself to use something I don’t like or the guilt of throwing it away. And guilt from donating it? Definitely false guilt. Someone else can enjoy it and the proceeds will help children in need.
Oh, and that pesky little bit of shampoo left in the bottom of the bottle? Simplicity wins out of frugality on that one. I just don’t need a zillion almost-empty bottles of shampoo hanging around. When I can, I send it over to Husband so he can use it up, and if he can’t use it, it goes in my travel bottles or straight into the trash. Because for my own sanity, I need to pick my battles, and a few ounces of shampoo is not a battle I need to fight right now.
Each day I am presented with another one of these decisions, frugal or simple, simple or frugal. Often times the frugal side wins out (eating in instead of eating out), but sometimes I find a solution that creates a good balance–simple enough to help me slow down yet also in keeping with our financial goals. It’s a bit of give and take.
I have been on a mission to simplify all year to aid in my desire to learn how to slow down.
This weekend, I tackled the pantry. Husband often asks me what we need or have while he’s perusing grocery store aisles…and most of the time I have no idea. Our pantry is so disorganized that we end up buying more than we need of something and not enough of something else just because we can’t keep track of it all.
This is ridiculous! There are only two of us living here (unless, of course, you count Ginger, but the pantry doesn’t pertain to her…she has her own closet that needs organizing).
I started by clearing out the shelves, because this space under the stairs is short and cramped and I can’t stand being in here for long. Much easier to sort through everything on the counter or table.
The first order of business is to remove everything from the pantry that doesn’t need to be there. Chocolate fountain? Nope. Sangria serving set? Um, no.
I also pulled out anything that was past its expiration date (and a box of taco shells that had been mostly eaten by mice last winter…yes, a hazard of living in an old farm house is field mice that move in when it gets cold.) And I put everything near its expiration in another pile to be used ASAP, like a few boxes of jello and a little Bisquick.
Further, some items like hot tea or cocoa are stored in a basket above my baking shelf, so those things came out as well. Lastly, miscellaneous baking supplies came out.
Personally, I like to keep my baking supplies in clear glass containers on this bookshelf in the kitchen–everything is readily available and it is obvious when we need more of something (as you can see below, we are completely out of whole grain flour). I do, however, keep backup supplies and some smaller items in plastic containers in the pantry (inside of containers because of, um, mice…).
I restocked my baking supplies on the shelf, made note of what we need to purchase more of, and organized the little items back into their storage containers.
Next, I grouped items together: Cereals, snacks, jams, soups, etc. etc. Each group is designated a specific location in the pantry so when we look in there, we’ll know where to find it. These items were placed back on the shelves.
Voila! It took less than an hour to totally revamp my kitchen pantry, and I am sooo much happier with it. (There’s even an entire empty shelf!)
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