Let’s be honest, when we’re trying to simplify our lives, we don’t want to receive a bunch of random items to find homes for, and we don’t want to gift others things they don’t need, either. So how do we give and receive gifts? I have compiled some of my favorite ideas on this. But first… my favorite Christmas sweater. 🎄
Let people know what you need (or don’t need). It seems so simple, but we often don’t want to be difficult, so we don’t speak up. But here’s the thing, if you ask for what you actually need, you make it easier for the person trying to buy you gifts! They don’t have to guess, they won’t worry about getting you something you won’t like, and they can easily cross your gift off their to-do list. I just heard on a podcast recently to be a good gift receiver, become known for things you’ll always want and use. For example, I love cheese, chocolate, dry red wine, herbal teas, and local honey. I will absolutely use and love those items anytime, and they’re consumable so they won’t take up space for long! Another idea is to be known for what experiences you would enjoy, such as manicures and pedicures, massages, coffee shops, wine/beer tasting, and live music… Any gift cards that enable me to have more of those experiences are more than welcomed! Yours might look completely different from mine, but you get the idea. Make it easy by being open and honest about what you want to receive, and you’ll open up that line of communication for others to be honest about their wants and needs, too.
Shopping local is fun, and helping small shop owners is a win-win! I am not perfect at this by any means, but when I can, I try to keep it local. For example, instead of ordering books online, I asked my local bookstore to get them for me. I got a call when they came in to pick them up at my convenience. Simple, effective, it supported a local store, and I got a great, personalized experience. I did a similar thing when shopping for my new walking shoes. I knew what I thought I wanted, called my local running store, verified they had options for me to try, and went there instead of buying online. It didn’t cost me any extra money, I got to try on several styles, I supported someone in my community, and I went home with a pair of shoes that day. In fact, I walked out of the store with them on. When’s the last time you’ve done that? It’s been far too long for me. Instead of mindlessly clicking “buy now” and ending up with way more than you need or want to spend when gifting (or buying for yourself), be purposeful and mindful of your shopping experience, make a list, do research, and shop in your community.
Gift Consumables & Experiences
As I mentioned before, my main wishlist items are things I will always use. They will be appreciated, and won’t take up space or be wasted. I won’t worry about where to display or store them, or whether or not they fit or flatter me. This helps keep our homes clutter-free, and also gives people options for doing or enjoying things they might not have in their budget right now. Examples include specialty food/drink items, gift cards, memberships, online subscriptions, local experiences (movies, music, sports, museums, etc).
I hope these ideas help as you navigate a meaningful, clutter-free holiday season. Stay tuned for more ideas and random thoughts from me on IG, Facebook, and soon you’ll find me on Pinterest, as well. You can search for “Live Like A Daylily” to get right back here, too.
Stay safe, and as always, be your best self every single day, and remember to Live Like A Daylily.
The holidays are looking quite a bit different for us this year. Of course we have all of the Covid concerns in getting together with friends and family, lots of our favorite events are canceled, restaurants and shops closed or limited, less money to go around… but instead of dwelling on things I can’t control, I’m going to focus on what I can. So here’s what my Christmastime is looking like. I hope it helps inspire you to make some changes (the good ones), too!
Perfection. This is a big one for me. This year I’m taking a step (or six) back and letting things happen as they will. We picked out a tree yesterday, and I let everyone else decide what size and shape to get. My toddler helped decorate our tree, and I didn’t move any (ok, many) ornaments. I didn’t dwell for hours perfecting our Christmas cards, but instead made it special, chose meaningful photos and a quote, and clicked purchase. Perfection is the worst. Let it go! It’s way less stressful for everyone.
Busy. This is a little easier this year because lots of our usual plans have been cancelled for us. But I’m still seeing people rushing around looking frazzled and stressed. I was pulling out of a parking spot yesterday (doing a quick and simple pickup for Christmas presents, so fun!), and this lady pulled out of her spot after me, but apparently I wasn’t pulling out quickly enough, because she honked at me and zipped around me giving me a crazy look. What on Earth is so worth all the rushing and aggressive driving? Everything we’ve gone through this year with losing Prudence has made me slow way down and enjoy each moment, and I am trying to remember to continue that speed even during the hustle and bustle of Christmas.
Stuff. I know you knew this was coming. And yes, it is possible to have less stuff and reduce your consuming, even at the holidays! In fact, getting rid of things before we introduce new items we receive is a wonderful idea. Donate any unused decor, pantry items you won’t use, outgrown clothes and toys, etc. My husband and I had several discussions about our planned purchases and budgets for Christmas, I used an app I like (it’s called The Christmas List) to organize it, and then I was able to purchase things online without worry, “accidental” impulse purchases, or overspending.
Movement. Moving our bodies helps in so many ways. But especially during times of extra stress and commitments, it’s even more important to remember to take care of ourselves. I’ve made a commitment to walk at least one mile a day (yes, I’m walking in the cold outside), for the month of December. Comment below if you want to join me and 99 Walks, and I’ll add you to my team! The 99 Walks focus of the month is “Leave a Little Sparkle”. I love it so much! What can we do to leave a little sparkle wherever we go? I’m working on slowing down, making eye contact, saying hello (or even better paying a compliment), smiling (behind my mask), and being more present in every situation. There’s a lot more opportunity for that when we slow down and walk.
Memory Making. I think all new moms probably go through the phase where we want to establish the best traditions and keep up with the Pinterest boards of the best moms out there. But that’s not what I am doing this year. I’m picking and choosing what works for us! What a concept, right? We went and cut down a tree yesterday at the cutest tree farm, right out of a Hallmark movie, and got some beautiful pictures. The lighting was perfect. It wasn’t too cold. It was wonderful. But, it has taken us five years (and five tries) to find a place like this! We’ve had some less than amazing tree-getting moments, probably mostly because I put so much pressure on making it be perfect and tradition-worthy!
Nature. Ok, if you know me, you probably know that I hate being cold. I didn’t live in the Southwest for 10 years of my adult life for nothing! But I now know how important it is for my toddler (and me) to prioritize our outdoors time – no matter the weather. It’s really incredible the benefits you get when you just go outside and play. You probably know we’re doing a goal of 1000 hours outside each year (which is about 3 hours a day). We may not make that goal this year since we started at the end of January, and didn’t get into the momentum until much later. But it’s not about the achievement. What? I know. I love crossing off the list, getting a gold star, sharing my wins… but we spent so much more time outside having fun and making memories than we would have without this goal, and that’s what this is all about! So whether you do 10 minutes or an hour, bundle up and get some fresh air each day. Trust me. It’s great!
Fun. Yep. Plain and simple. More fun! Some things I’m doing this year: I always have a Christmas movie playing, whether it’s one of my Hallmark ones or Elf, or a cartoon classic, there’s always a Christmas movie at the ready! Advent calendars! I got a chocolate one from Aldi, and we’re also going to do one from 1000 Hours Outside (a different nature focused activity for each day)! I’ll link to that below. Making ornaments… I have a recipe saved that we’re going to try (link below)! Making and decorating Christmas cookies with the family. Trying new recipes. Getting special holiday treats, hello Elf cereal and candy cane deodorant! What are your favorite fun Christmas activities? Comment and let me know!
My health. This year has been rough in that department, but I’m doing the work, seeing results, and will continue to be my best self. I saw a post the other day on social media that said something along the lines of “don’t talk about your goals, go achieve them”. Powerful, right? That resonated with me. So I’ll just leave you with one of my new favorite quotes.
My family. If Covid has taught me one thing, it’s how much I love my family. I love having more time with my husband, more help at home with the kids, and more downtime in general. We’ve had an incredibly rough year with the loss of Prudence, but my family is surviving and we’re stronger than ever.
“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”
Michael J. Fox
My friends. As someone who has moved a lot, I’ve had a lot of acquaintances, and not so many real friends. It’s only taken six years in my current town, but I finally have my four quarters.
“Be careful who you call your friends. I’d rather have four quarters than one hundred pennies.”
My Walking Community. I attribute so much of my motivation, inspiration, healthy mindset, and improved physical health to joining the 99 Walks community. It’s incredible. You can join me here: 99 Walks.
My Fashion Meets Faith Community. I have connected with some of the most amazing Christian women, and we talk about everything from seasons of friendships, to finding our purpose, to what to wear to an event, and how to tie a scarf. It’s wonderful. I found Shari Braendel during the Fall Refresh challenge when I was changing my closet out for the season, and came across the Closet Outfit Planner! I just switched out my capsule to my Christmas colors using the planner, making a few adjustments to fit my lifestyle (animal print top = Christmas cat sweater).
When I started out decluttering/minimizing, I tried many methods, as you have probably seen if you’ve been following my progress on social media. I did a little of this and a little of that, and finally, as I’m finishing my entire home declutter, I’ve figured out my own method! So here’s the thing. What works for me may not work for you, or maybe parts of it resonate and the rest doesn’t. Great! Just like I’ve done with all of the methods I’ve tried, and what one of my good friends says to me all the time, “take the best and leave the rest”.
First things first. Figure out where to start! Marie Kondo starts with clothes. Joshua Becker starts with the easiest shared living space in your home. I say start with what gives you the most trouble on a regular basis.
For example, when you open your cupboard for a coffee mug first thing in the morning, do you find yourself muttering complaints under your breath about the cabinet being jammed full with a ridiculous amount of mugs? Or worse, does opening the cabinet start a chain of projectile Tupperware that somehow ends with you spilling your coffee, something breaking, and then stubbing your toe? Yes, I have been there. And maybe that cabinet is a great place to start for you, too!
Or maybe it’s your clothes closet. Or pantry. Or dining room table. Or mudroom? I personally think you should attack the area that will give you the most relief right away. Enjoy your newfound space in an area you use regularly, and get that boost of confidence to continue to declutter the rest of your home.
Ok, so we’ve picked our starting point. Now what do we do? This is what I have just figured out to be the easiest and quickest way to sort a space, and I’m excited to share it with you! Gather bins, boxes, laundry baskets, tubs… anything that can temporarily contain your things for sorting. Take a quick inventory of the space you’re about to declutter, and make a label for each bin! I’ve seen this done before and have used this method in the past, where you have a bin for keep, donate, recycle, etc. but this is a little different.
Let’s use the example of the coffee mug/Tupperware cabinet. One bin would be mugs. One bin could be plastic Tupperware (and lids). Another could be glass jars. And then Pyrex containers. You can be as specific as you want! Remember. This is just a temporary way to quickly sort and edit your things. The reason I like the bins instead of just emptying the cabinet out onto the counter (or floor) in piles, is that it is a foolproof way to keep like things together. It also creates a boundary for you, and allows you to see exactly how many mix-matched mugs you actually have, for example. I mean, if you fill up more than one bin or basket of mugs and there’s three coffee drinkers in the house, you might have more coffee mugs than you need to keep in that cabinet. Yes, I’m speaking from experience! On the other hand, if you’re constantly running out of Tupperware, you may find that you only have a few matching pieces and lots of missing lids. You’ve made it easy to see what you actually have, and not what you think you have.
How long will this take?
Good question. Each task is different, and it really depends on your energy level, both mental and physical. I have days I can knock out an entire closet or room, feel amazing, drop off all of my donations, take the sold stuff to the post office, and come back and do more! Other days I am overwhelmed by it all, and am lucky if I get through one drawer. So here’s my tip on time. Always set a timer for 20 minutes. You can adjust as needed for what works for you, of course, but 20 minutes is a sweet spot for me. Anything shorter doesn’t seem to give me enough momentum, and anything longer makes me feel overwhelmed and I burn out quickly.
Sometimes I pick a project I can complete in that time, and other times I use that 20 minutes to dive into an entire room declutter. What often happens is that because I’ve allowed myself to stop after 20 minutes, I get a lot done, feel pumped, and I hit repeat timer on my phone and keep going! Not every time though. Sometimes I get through a small drawer in 20 minutes, give myself permission to stop at the timer, and come back to it when I feel more energetic or motivated to do more. But I usually try to do *something* most days, even if it’s just clearing off my nightstand, for example.
So that didn’t really answer the question of how long it will take you, or how much time you should commit to this. But both of those things are going to be different for everyone and for every space. I highly encourage you to set goals for completing projects, but also be flexible. I have grossly underestimated the time it would take me to complete my whole home declutter, but it’s fine! I’m still going. I’ve made so many positive changes, and am feeling the benefits even more with each decluttering session. I’m also getting much, much better at it and plan to redo each area once I’m finished with this round.
What do I keep?
Whatever you want. Nope. That’s not a trick. Truly. Go through your things. Keep what you want to keep, and get rid of the rest. There are various schools of thought on this, but that’s my take on it. Love your elephant collection because it reminds you of your grandma and dad? Cool. Keep it all. Get frustrated every time you try to get a filing system down, and want to get rid of your filing cabinet for good? Cool. Get rid of it.
Yes, those are both examples of my stuff I’ve recently gone through. Yours will be different, of course. But you get the idea. Keep what makes you happy. Keep what you actually use. Display your memories in a way that makes you smile. Get rid of anything that doesn’t have a purpose in your home or life (like the broken mop, or platform shoes that you haven’t worn in 3 years). Get rid of things that don’t make you smile (you know the cheap decoration you bought in the Target dollar section on a whim)? Or even more so, if something causes you pain or guilt or has anything negative attached to it, let it go!
I’ll let you decide. This is your stuff, not mine. And while I’m on that subject, remember to only declutter your own things. Your family will hopefully see how amazing the house looks and feels and will start to follow your lead. You’ll have to help your young kids, of course. But leave your husband’s stuff alone (unless you’re doing laundry and come across his holy socks. I think those are fair game).
How do I organize it?
I don’t know. Ask The Home Edit! I’m definitely not an expert, but the one thing I’ve found to be a steady system for me is to contain your items. Create a boundary, and stick to it. So let’s go back to the bins in your kitchen with your coffee mugs and Tupperware. Now look at your empty cupboard. Figure out where you want your mugs to go, put only what fits there, and let go of the rest. Same goes for everything else. Find a good spot for your Tupperware and lids, and make sure it is enough to store things nicely without overcrowding. Then that’s your boundary. Don’t buy more if it doesn’t fit there.
Setting boundaries and keeping them are I think the simplest way to maintain our lifestyle of living with just what we need. I recently redid my capsule wardrobe and now I have exactly 27 hangers. I won’t add any pieces to it unless I take something away. I do have clothing in a bin that’s not in season and or not in my current capsule theme, but I’ve also created a boundary there and won’t add more than the current bin allows.
As for how to actually organize it? Also up to you. I do like Marie Kondo’s folding method for some things. And I like the clear bins for fridge and pantry storage like they use on The Home Edit. But ultimately I don’t think this matters much. If you have less stuff, you’ll need less storage solutions. If you like to keep things in boxes and baskets, cool. If you would rather just use your drawer or shelf as is, cool. I promise you that you will think you’ve found your perfect method and you will probably change it multiple times. It’s fine! It’s a process. Try to have fun with it.
What do I do with the discards?
I’ve struggled with this a lot. And here’s what it comes down to for me. If you have the time and patience to sell it, go for it. You can do this on fb marketplace, Poshmark, eBay, and various other places online. I’ve done all three of these, and there are definitely pluses and minuses for them all.
If you would rather donate your things, find a place in your area that aligns with your values. Covid has made this tough. At this point in my journey, I am giving away most things on fb or dropping at Goodwill. For clothing, I actually started a local swap, and we send anything that doesn’t get claimed off to ThredUP. You just create an account, print a label, and schedule a USPS pick up. The other benefit of this is that it’s an online consignment shop. I may get a few bucks here and there in store credit, but if the items don’t sell, they donate them, and if they can’t be donated, they recycle the items responsibly.
Let’s break it down…
Start where you need it the most.
Gather baskets/bins and label them temporarily for sorting these items.
Set a timer for 20 minutes and start sorting into bins.
Repeat until you’re done with this space.
Keep what you want, get rid of the rest.
Return what you keep to it’s new home, leaving space for future items.
Stick to your boundaries.
Re-home the discards ASAP. Don’t keep them in your home very long!
I’m a bucket list girl. I always have been. I’ve dreamed and made bucket lists and to-do lists for as long as I can remember. And I usually get them done! I don’t take no for an answer… I put all my time and energy into getting to the end goal, and I’ve accomplished and experienced some pretty awesome stuff along the way!
Since getting married and gaining a step-daughter four years ago, my lists have gotten more purposeful and specific. I wanted to start new family traditions, and make everything exciting and memorable! Add in my baby (who just turned 2), and oh man… My lists were intense! I’d ask the family what they wanted to do for summer, fall, or Christmastime, because of course each season has its own list, and usually they’d come up with one or two items that were important to them. That left me with the incredible task of filling up the perfect bucket list for the entire family! So I’d pour over pre-made lists on Pinterest, stress out about not finding the one that met our needs exactly, then decide to find the perfect template for one that I could fill in with ideas from various ones that were ok, but didn’t make the cut as a whole. The entire process was nuts! In trying to create the perfect family memories, and not miss out on anything, I was stressing myself (and everyone else around me) out so much that it would often create tension and make us all miserable.
I remember trying to get the step-daughter involved one Christmas. It was so incredibly important to me to create wonderful memories together as a family. So I bought a bunch of supplies to make tons of different types of cookies and to make our own personalized (but matching, of course) stockings, and I planned to spend the evening like they do on the Hallmark movies: drinking eggnog and having a wonderful time. You know what happened? The kid used glitter glue and put a word in a different language, I don’t even remember what it was, maybe German, on her stocking. It was so pretty. I was like, see, look how perfect our Christmas is! Then we looked up what the word meant… it translated to ” this sucks”. I. Was. Crushed. Why was this happening? I set everything up to be the perfect stepmom with the perfect blended family, and we were going to have the perfect Christmas! I’ll bet you can guess that the rest of the evening did not go well.
It has taken pretty much the entire four years of being a stepmom (and now another 2 of being a bio-mom) to realize that I can’t make everything perfect. In fact, I can’t make ANYTHING perfect. It doesn’t matter how much I want something to go a certain way, or how much money I spend on decorations, or how much time or energy I put into something. I can’t control everything. Shocking, I know. I really thought I could. I wish I had figured this out a long time ago, but you know what? I am just so grateful I’m learning now as I go, and hopefully we’ll all remember these times with at least some pleasant memories being created as we navigate life together during the holidays, and on the ordinary days, as well.
I didn’t make a fall bucket list this year, but we still did some fun stuff. We visited a few orchards, made apple crumble, carved pumpkins, dressed up for Halloween and went trick-or-treating, bought special seasonal coffees and goodies we don’t usually keep around, went to a wiener roast, played in the leaves, rode in the combine… you get the idea. We did all of the fun things we wanted to do (while being Covid-safe, of course) – without a list. WHAT? I know. I am just as shocked as you are. So if you’re like me (Enneagram 7, if you hadn’t yet guessed that), and you want to make sure to have the best holiday season, take it from me. Don’t try to squeeze everything in. Don’t force people to do things with you they don’t want to do. Trust me, it is way more fun to have less expectations and a family who is all in a good mood at the holidays (and every other day).
Oh, by the way, I found out last night that the teenager threw out her matching family Elf pajamas… WHAT!? The old me would have completely lost my head over this. But no, the new me gave her crap about it for a few minutes (while trying to remind myself that this was NOT a big deal). I brought it up a few times today with the hubby to have him help me fix this “crisis” for our Christmas day photos – we’re not into buying a bunch of stuff we don’t need this year (hence why we’re reusing these and not getting new ones for everyone), so I’m not about to replace them if she is just going to throw them out after one use again. We’re still coming up with solutions… but my top choice so far is to have her wear my super obnoxious Mrs. Claus dress instead. Haha! I think that’s fair, don’t you? But honestly… this time next year I will probably still give her a hard time for this in jest, but I don’t want to have a repeat of past years where there’s yelling and crying and all sorts of stress-filled moments. Moments that should have been fun and full of love and warmth.
So, this season, I am going to breathe, take lots of long hot baths, go for long walks outside, drink seasonal coffee drinks, make our home as tidy and cozy as possible, and enjoy myself doing whatever else feels right in the moment. Hopefully the rest of my crew will take a cue from me and have a little relaxing fun, too!
Nobody else is feeling any stress or anxiety right now, right? 🥴 Yikes! Between Covid, the election, and everything else life brings us on a regular basis, this can feel a little overwhelming! Stress is no joke. Trust me. I know! I have gotten so stressed/depressed/anxious in my life at times that I would be physically ill for weeks, and I wouldn’t be able to handle everyday activities, let alone function properly in a traditional job setting. I really do get it. I’ve been there. But not anymore. Sure, I still get upset sometimes, feel out of whack, and find myself heading in an unhealthy direction, but the difference is that now I recognize it and know how to help stop it. I also know what brings me joy and refuels my tanks (check out the last post for more on our tanks).
I can hear some of you right now going, oh, she’s going to tell us to get on a prescription medicine, or start using marijuana or CBD… I don’t actually use any of these options for myself, but if they work for you, great! If not, great! That’s one way I’ve eliminated a lot of unnecessary stresses in my life. I really try not to pass judgment on anyone else for anything they do. They make their own choices and will have to deal with their own consequences… just like all of my consequences come from what choices I make, and how I choose to react to my life. Try it. You do you. Let everyone else do what’s right for them. It’s such a simple, yet underused concept, especially in times like these.
So what do I do when I need to destress and refuel?
Seriously, don’t overthink it. Just open your door and go outside. Breath in some fresh air, get some sunshine, and watch nature happening around you. It’s incredibly healing, it’s free, and it’s just outside your door no matter where you live. Just do it. Even for 5 minutes!
Exercise doesn’t have to include a gym, equipment, a workout buddy, a personal trainer, a subscription, or fancy athletic gear. When you open the door to breathe in that fresh air, take it a few steps (see what I did there?) further, and walk around the block. Feeling good? Awesome. Walk further! Going for a simple walk outside is incredible for our bodies, minds, and spirits. Check out the 99Walks app for more inspiration and encouragement on this!
I know you knew this was coming. It’s what I’m super passionate about these days… get rid of clutter in your home, on your calendar, your to-do list, in your car… surround yourself with only the things you absolutely love and actually use! It is so amazingly freeing to have a space that calms you lights you up. Imagine walking into your tidied room full of all the fantastic stuff you love (and that’s it)! Try it. Do the timer trick… set a timer for 20 minutes and declutter the space that gives you the most stress/anxiety in your daily routine. Whatever that is for you. Do it.
Yes. That’s it. Be nice! Do something thoughtful for someone else. Make someone a packed lunch (hello, farmers)! Send a card. Perhaps try gifting someone something you’re decluttering. I’ve had a lot of fun with that recently. If I see something that I don’t need or use any longer but it reminds me of someone, I give it to them. I did sell and donate a lot of boxes of stuff in the beginning, but now I am down to smaller spaces and fewer items. It makes it easier to find a meaningful way to regift my things to someone who will appreciate them.
This means something different to everyone, but I’ll share my favorite ways to relax. My husband takes over baby duty for a bit so I get some uninterrupted alone time. I draw a bath, sometimes with Epsom salts and essential oils, sometimes with bubbles… whatever feels right at that moment. I light candles and turn a salt lamp on. I sip on a glass of wine (or hot tea, but it’s usually a nice, dry red). And then the rest depends on my state of mind.
If I am feeling really overwhelmed and need a brain break, I’ll dive into a novel I can get lost in – usually crime fiction, psychological thrillers, and the occasional flowery romance for me. Other times I’ll pop in my AirPods and watch a show or movie I can also get lost in – Hallmark Christmas movies are winning this category at the moment. And sometimes I feel instantly inspired with my alone time, and I will watch a training or read a blog, catch up on emails, or even write a blog post. I’m currently sipping on my $3 Aldi Malbec, sharing my thoughts with you as they come to me, while soaking away the day in my kid’s orange-scented bubble bath! It doesn’t have to be fancy. Whatever works!
Then after I’m done (my bath times range from 20 minutes to over an hour… I just soak until I feel renewed – I don’t set a time restraint on this), I will get dressed in comfy pjs, throw on a robe and slippers, and usually I continue with a book or movie in bed. Sometimes I’ll indulge myself in a yummy foot lotion, or luxurious body butter, and sometimes I get my hubby to help with this part! He gives an excellent foot rub and back massage. I am very lucky that this can be part of my relaxing routine!
Do what works for you.
I wanted to share some of my favorite ways to destress and unwind to hopefully inspire you. But here’s the thing. You need to do what’s best for you! Maybe your distressing and relaxing go-tos look nothing like this, and that is fine! But make sure you do them. Put your sanity (and the sanity of all of those around you) first. Unapologetically. Be kind to yourself. Take the time to make sure you’re getting what you need. And just try your best to relax. Yes, even today.
We talk a lot about letting go of things. Excess clothing, duplicate kitchen utensils, unused hobby supplies… but there are so many other things we let go of in the process of finding simplicity in our lives. I read about this in several IG accounts I follow and bloggers I look up to. Some examples include letting go of what others think of you, letting go of the pressures of keeping up with our neighbors, letting go of having a busy schedule, and there are so many more valuable takeaways.
But the biggest thing I’m learning to let go of is control and perfectionism. Thinking I can and should take care of everything perfectly. Feeling the pressure to not only meet expectations but exceed them… but who am I trying to convince? Who really gives a hoot what I’m up to? I suppose my immediate family benefits from me meeting certain expectations of keeping the house running, but otherwise, does anyone really care how well I do anything? I mean, sure. I have people in my corner, rooting for me to succeed, as I know you do (even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes). But ultimately, people are waking up and thinking about their to-do list. Not mine. And not yours. And they are just as insecure about their abilities to meet their expectations of themselves as I am mine.
So where did I get this idea that I had to perform a certain way? I know even as a very young child my teachers told my parents they were concerned about how much pressure I felt to get straight As. Apparently I’d get very upset with myself if I got even a B+, but it didn’t come from my parents. I was doing that to myself. And I think on some level I’ve been way too hard on myself my whole life. No one else is really to blame for how we treat ourselves, are they? So it’s time to take action and be our biggest cheerleaders! Let’s let go of all the pressures to have the perfect home and the perfect family and the perfect social media presence. Trust me. No one is perfect, even if they show you they are on Facebook. In fact, they probably feel worse about themselves than I do on a bad day if they are trying so hard to convince everyone online that they’re perfect.
You may have seen on social media that we had my two year old‘s milestone photo shoot this week. I mean, I know I’m not the only one that goes completely batty for family picture days! It’s like even if we are somewhat put-together on a normal basis, for some reason on picture days suddenly we have no clean laundry, someone is having a meltdown, and the whole process is chaotic and definitely not what we want to remember when we look at pictures we paid to have someone take for us. Time to let all of those pressures go! This time I forgot the only prop I wanted to bring, we got dressed in unplanned outfits right before we left, and it was fine!
We had a birthday party for the little guy with close family this weekend, too. And this was the most relaxed, simple, enjoyable party we’ve had! Luckily since I’ve been decluttering so much, it doesn’t take too much effort to make the house look nice. And instead of a complicated menu, we did a nacho bar, cheese machine and all. We even portioned out all the toppings to be less germy. This way people could grab food whenever they wanted, instead of waiting for everyone to arrive, or feeling bad for eating without people. We let the little guy kind of run the show, playing and interacting with his grandparents, opening presents, feeding him when he calmed down enough to notice the food. Going with the flow was so much more fun for me, and I’m sure less intense for everyone else, too. Next time we host something we’re keeping the cheese machine and doing this again… or maybe a potato bar? Repeat what works and lose what doesn’t! Just because you’ve done something a certain way forever doesn’t mean you can’t try something else this time. I’m going to especially work on this as the holidays draw near, and I encourage you to do the same. Let go of what doesn’t serve you. Let go of trying to be perfect. Let go of trying to control everything and everyone. Let go, and let things happen organically. It’s been a tough road for me, but every time I really do let go, it’s been so worth it.
I had no idea what I was going to share with you today. Honestly, I have so much bouncing around in my head, and some of it is far from positive and productive. The last thing I want to do is share a post that takes away from your happiness or inspiration, so I thought about skipping it today. I thought, you know what? I don’t have to be perfect, I can skip a post, I can choose to sit here and stress out and fume over frustrations I have very little control over… and I could have. You may not have even noticed if I didn’t post this week, anyway! But instead, I got my booty off the couch, bundled up my little buddy, laced up my running shoes, and got outside and went for a jog. WHAT? Who am I?!
But that’s not even the best part. I decided to check out a new podcast from the walking group I’m in, and guess what it was about… filling up our tanks. Filling up our mental, emotional, and physical tanks. It was a cute, light-hearted, 30-minute reminder to keep all of those areas in our lives in check… and guess what? I listened as I did my hardest jog/walk intervals yet. And then I went back to the couch and sulked… NO! Of course I didn’t. I decided to keep walking! I added another .8 miles to the walk, and only turned back because the little dude was obviously over it and ready for lunch at that point. Then I sulked. NOT EVEN CLOSE! I ate a healthy lunch, drank a bunch of water, and asked my husband to put the baby down for his nap for me so that I could have an uninterrupted workout – I’m doing Beachbody’s MM100. I’m on workout 62/100 and I am determined to finish by Thanksgiving, along with finishing my Couch to 5K training, so that I can run the Turkey Trot with my husband. A goal we have had in the past but have not yet done together.
Then, I lit a lovely fall-scented candle, one with a picture of my grandmother holding my little guy, got out the vacuum, snapped on the wand – I swear I have only used it a few times this way, whoops! – and I vacuumed every nook and cranny in our living room and dining room, and even got under the couch cushions! Then I made up a lovely fresh-scented mop bucket and scrubbed the crap out of that entire area. I followed up with lighting some palo santo, leaving it to finish clearing the air for me as I now sit here with a lovely cup of Passion, Love and Joy tea, and write this message to you.
So why did I share a play by play of the last four hours of my day? Because a month ago I never would have gone out for a run when I’m having a rough day. I would not have prioritized fresh air, healthy food, an uplifting podcast. I wouldn’t have decided to fuel my body with more working out, or freshen up my home (and clear my mind) with a deep cleaning. It probably would have looked a lot more like this: venting to anyone who will listen, blasting some angry music (Anyone know ICP? That used to be my go-to.), eating something horrible for me, lying down because I just don’t have the energy to “life” today… but I didn’t do any of that, because I’ve been keeping my tanks full! YOU GUYS! I have found WONDERFUL resources to help inspire, motivate, and encourage me, and I’m going to share some of them with you now. I know what works for me won’t necessarily work for you, but give it a try! Find a new way to fill up your tanks. Surround yourselves with people who lift you up! Distance yourself from drama… sometimes you just need a minute (or 4 hours) to yourself, and that is OK!
You guys, a year ago yesterday my grandmother died. Three days before that, on my son’s 1st birthday photo shoot day, my husband and I found out we were pregnant with Prudence. We lost her 5 months ago today. If you check out my IG/FB you will see that we did a lovely walk in honor of her and all babies waiting for us in heaven on October 15th for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It was very nice, and I plan to do that again. Anniversaries of sad memories can rock us. Arguments with friends or family can send us to the wine rack (just me?). But maybe not every time. Maybe instead we can arm ourselves with healthy choices when life comes at us harder than we think we can handle, and maybe we come out even stronger and better than where we started.
Resources that are helping me…
The YouVersion Bible App has a permanent spot on my home screen. Read, watch, listen, and share… all for free.
My 99Walks goal is what got me outside today, and where I found the inspirational podcast. You set a walking goal, and get a bracelet with the positive focus at the end of every month you meet your goal… this month is Find the Beauty. Lovely, right? I just started it, but I love everything about this so far!
My Closet Outfit Planner and the Color Analysis test: Yes, this has actually helped me SO MUCH lately! I found Shari on IG while searching for ways to minimize my closet, and not only found simple and fun ways to do that, but I also found a community of supportive, positive, creative, and fun Christian women! I know, right? I love my new sisterhood. You can connect with my two new favorite resources and join in the community, too!
Other Ways to Fill Your Tanks
Learn a new language – I’m learning sign language along with my little dude using a baby sign app.
Remember I told you that I’ve been having my husband bring me up one box at a time from the basement to declutter? Well, there are a couple of reasons for that, one being simply so that I don’t get distracted or overwhelmed by the project at large. But the other reason, is that he doesn’t think twice about what box to grab. And that is exactly how I ended up getting sucked into a time warp today. I’ll be honest with you, I set my timer for 20 minutes, fully expecting to get through this box just fine, thinking it was full of lots of “treasures” from my youth that I had no need for now. Boy was I mistaken. I had apparently been pretty good at paring down my belongings when this memory box was created. I moved to San Diego in 2009, and I was able to store all of my prized possessions in this tub, which was at my mom’s for a very long time. It’s been in my basement for a couple of years, but I hadn’t gotten into it until today. So, here I am 11 years later, going through memories from junior high through my twenties. I threw away things no longer relevant: old business cards, invitations to weddings and pictures of friends with their now divorced spouses, old phone chargers, and a few random receipts and badly developed pictures. But for the most part, I was sifting through years of memories… many of which I had completely forgotten.
In the last hour or so, I’ve experienced about every emotion possible. Sadness as I came across pictures of friends and family members no longer living. Embarrassment from some poor life choices caught on film. Joy as I recalled some amazing adventures and friendships over the years in all different parts of the country. Bewilderment at memories I have zero recollection of: how did I completely forget that I went to homecoming with my high school crush? I seriously do not remember that. So weird. Did we skip the dance? Feel free to weigh in if you remember my homecomings. Not even sure when this one would have been, probably sophomore or junior year? No clue, but there are pictures, and apparently I was there with the quarterback. Concert tickets to John Mayer in 2008… was I actually there? Did you go with me? So strange how our memories work, isn’t it? Why did I keep those and none of the other several dozens of concert ticket stubs I tossed over the years? I have tons of pictures of people that look vaguely familiar, but I don’t know their names or have any idea as to why they’re captured on camera and saved with the rest…
I read cards and letters from friends I no longer speak with that said they’d always be there for me. I found notes from my mom encouraging me when I was obviously going through rough times. I even found a card and letter from my dad that I didn’t know I had from 1996, and I feel so thankful to have that memento that I will forever cherish (he has been gone since 2003).
I put almost all of it back in that box. At some point I will digitize things, make photo albums, or arrange them in photo boxes. But for now, I will keep this box in a closet I can easily access whenever I want to take a trip down memory lane. I did keep out a few old pictures of my dad and grandparents that I will frame now, along with some special keepsakes. Evidently I didn’t want to waste the Christmas cards I bought at the time, so just wait! You might get a Pooh card this year if you’re on my card list… I’ll even use a forever stamp I found in a box in my basement yesterday!
Wow. That took a LOT out of me. And to that I will say… don’t box up your memories and forget about them for a decade or more. Keep them where you can be reminded of loved ones and times gone by. Treasure your treasures. Don’t bury them.
I just got back from my six day trip to San Diego, and wanted to share something I took away from this experience. Packing simply and traveling lightly is AMAZING! Wearing things that interchange easily is key! Most of us already know this, and probably put it into practice some of the time. The difference for me this time? The entire process was simple. Incredibly so. Packing? Done in a few minutes… I grabbed three bottoms, a few tops/layering pieces, a workout outfit, a lounge outfit/pjs, sneakers and flip flops, undergarments, my swimsuit, a tiny makeup bag, a few jewelry pieces that worked with everything … I mean, I seriously fit all of my clothes and shoes into this weekender bag. I had a backpack with the rest – snacks, electronics, chargers, etc. I used my friend’s bath stuff – seriously why did I used to think I needed to bring so much stuff? Simple is so much easier!
For perspective, I have several of these bags in various sizes, a matching set, and I used to bring an entire bag at least this size full of hair, makeup, and bath and body supplies. Then I’d have a full suitcase of clothes (always pushing the weight limit), and typically another bag of shoes, and an overflowing purse. Traveling was way harder than it needed to be! And so was packing, maintaining it all, and repacking.
This time it was light, easy, and so freeing! I even left some items I decided I didn’t need to bring home: a couple of pieces of makeup I thought my friend would use more than me, a book I keep intending to read but don’t, a bottle of nail polish I used while there and have a duplicate of at home, and I finished up my sample toothpaste and deodorant, and disposed of my travel toothbrush, as well. What? I came home with LESS than I left with. Who am I?
I think the reason I’m noticing the difference and appreciating it so much this time, is that now, FINALLY, I am feeling free from my things. So much so that even traveling has been positively affected. My brain wasn’t as muddled up with everything I needed to tend to or remember, and my ability to see things differently was apparent with less decision fatigue. I even helped my friend declutter and reorganize her small kitchen while visiting, which was way easier than doing my own, by the way. Grab a friend if you’re feeling stuck! They aren’t attached to your things.
All of this to say, even if you’ve been decluttering forever – it’s been a few years for us, with the majority of change within the last year, and just now I’m able to breathe more easily and notice the extra space. Now I grab only what I need at the grocery store, and put it away with ease. Everything has a boundary (don’t get more than fits in your drawer!) and a purpose. No, I’m not “done”… I still have a few “decluttering projects”, as I call them, on my list. But I’m nearly there. And I promise you, all of the hard work and tough decisions are so worth it! Stay the course. Keep decluttering. Quit buying things you don’t need. Only keep and use what you love. Try out a capsule wardrobe. The extra space in your home, on your calendar, in your closet, and in your mind, is so absolutely worth it all.
Also, a gentle reminder… life is happening right now. All we have are these small moments that add up to be our life. Enjoy it. Right now. Do things each day that bring you joy. Don’t push through like you’re sprinting blindly to the finish line, checking off a list as you go… take your time (or go ahead and speed up when you need to), but don’t forget to pay attention and enjoy your life as you’re living it.