Project 333 ~ My closet struggle

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It’s a closet Johnny Cash would feel comfortable with. Minus the jeggings and striped pink sweater.

Have you ever seen so much black on one shelf?

So after reading about Project 333 for months now, I finally body-checked my resistance and started some serious sorting and pitching. My beloved calls this “playing closet”. It’s a quirky thing, but I only felt comfortable pulling the essentials out with all of my other clothes staying put on the left side…with a sheet over them…Casper-style. Yes, it looks like I’ve got a shower stall in there, but the whole point is that I can’t see them, right? Out of sight (or under sheet), out of mind.

It really does feel a lot more relaxed getting dressed in the morning. I can see what can mix and match so much easier, and I’m not overwhelmed with a sea of color and patterns. It’s no surprise that black dominates here, and I have the accusing teens to prove it..”Maaa-ooom, you look funeral bound 80% of the time!” Oh, well. It’s slimming, chic, doesn’t show our dog’s hair, and I happen to really like Johnny Cash.

I perused people’s wardrobe capsules while trolling online for Project 333 inspiration, and I found that many of them were just too monochromatic or one-color-heavy. The Northwest is a dark and rainy place…I’m desperate for many colors…like Joseph and his fancy dreamcoat. I have my Frenchie days where I just want to wear my BlackbootsBlackDressBlackcardigan. Then there are the days that only a bright multicolored sweater and sparkly Converse will do. It’s just. enough. variety.

I’m feeling like I should have done this long ago! Looking forward to the ease of having my wardrobe be an uncomplicated activity.

If you’re taking this project on, I’d love to hear how it’s going!

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updateWhole30

Hoo-boy! Hardest thing I’ve ever done, eating-wise. I’m doin’ it, though and following the darn rules. It started February 10th.

The positives:

-Skin is clear and a bit glowey…really enjoying that

-Bloat is gone and although theWhole30 folks recommend not measuring/weighing oneself until Day 31, I believe I’ve lost some cm in the waist

The Sugar Dragon is close to being kicked to the curb (don’t test me with gummy cokes, though…they’re a weakness)

-I discovered that alcohol does not need to play a part in my nightly ritual

The negatives:

-I’ve been cranky and short with my offspring

-I had a couple of days where emotions took over and I felt a bit out-of-body, and not in a good way

-My energy didn’t go up to the high level it is now until Day 18

-I experienced the “kill all things” stage for one day too long

*Looking forward to eating a bowl of Kashi (of all things!) on the 11th. Even though my spouse thinks it “tastes like the front yard”, I miss my sticks and twigs.*

Have a wonderful week, friends!

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ProjectEnough

Enough  \i-ˈnəf, ē-, ə-\ :   equal to what is needed

This word has lost meaning for me along the way.

I’ve been trying to reacquaint myself with the concept and have identified several opportunities to embrace it. As an American accustomed to a certain lifestyle, I’ve become lazy about challenging myself to stay within the confines of enough. I realize that enough means many things to different people, but I do know what it should look like for my family and me…and I hafta admit…

This

ain’t

it.

Although I’m thoroughly fascinated by the Joy of One concept…and I love the idea of Project 333.…and I covet the Tiny House People’s simplified existence…I’m still tuning in to what enough looks like in my home and in my own head.

I’ve identified the areas where I’ve wandered off the enough path.

I’m aware that it’s best to focus on one goal at a time (for maximum success), so the plan is to be aware and purposeful in one area for a month at a time.

February ~ Enough is Enough….Commitment to maximum health with TheWhole30

March ~ Enough Stuff….A moratorium on buying anything new

April ~ ‘Enough Said….Listening more/Talking less

May ~ Enough Already….A mass media hiatus

June ~ I am enough/You are enough….Only allowing positive things to be said about myself and others

* * *

My February focus, Enough is enough, is already underway (started this in late Jan.) and that’s another whole post in itself.  Hoo-boy! It is really clearing my head (and my tummy issues–bonus!) and I think I might be walking into a way of eating that will stick with me for the long haul. The positives are too plentiful to ignore the fact that TheWhole30 is one amazing thing to do for your body and future longevity. I finish the month of protein/vege/fruit/fats intake (with no other carbs) on March 10th and will do a re-cap of how I redirected my meals…it’s not easy, to be sure…but really, really worth it.

March brings a hold on my Amazon.com problem. By problem, I mean my weekly visits to get “just one more book”…be it for my job as a teacher or for my own development (nonfiction are my favorite), I can spot something worth throwing in the ‘ole cart every visit. Yes, I always buy used, but friends…like anything else, these items add to a whole lotta crazy wallet drainage…not to mention the space these books take up in my home has become an issue. Avoiding the mall and other places of temptation will not be hard and I’ve pitched any kind of catalog temptation, so we’re good there, but the cyber-shopping? Good grief, I need some awareness! I think just using the computer for blogging and work will be in order.

April is when I will hyper-focus on what people have to say…and when I do speak, I’m hoping it will consist of mostly questions about what the other person has shared. I notice that with my 3rd graders, they are usually thinking about what they want to say when someone else is talking. This is normal when you’re eight…not so much at 43. Being present and really hearing another’s words is important and I’d like to be better at it.

May will bring some solitude, I believe. Although I’m not a big TV watcher (2-3 recorded HGTV segments are my “shows”), the commercials I’m fast forwarding through are still seeping in. I’m also witness to the materialism when it’s blaring in the background with someone else plopped in front of it. We’ve done a pretty good job of limiting mindless screen domination…funny thing, my kids’ favorite is The Brady Bunch series on Netflix. ‘Watched it twice! We’re deliberate about what we DVR and make a date to watch it…but those damn commercials…the more is better message is definitely affecting me and the little people in our house. I’m over it. In fact, I’d love to see this month’s project turn into a step toward getting rid of it all together. It’s not just TV, of course, when dealing with the effects of advertising. I’m banishing magazines and ad-heavy internet content as well. Pinterest is a black hole I seem to fall into when it comes to seeing how others live (particularly with home design). I think the first step of enough and being content, is not having the superfluous, excessive more, more, more that creeps in through the media.

June is a month to really think before I speak. There is so much negativity floating in our country’s air. I’m always surprised at the outright meanie pants folks on the web who use the guise of anonymous to crucify someone with their words. I’m shocked by how brutal the media is with dissecting the lives of people trying to find their way. I’m not a person who feels compelled to give my opinion on others’ decisions and lifestyles…in fact, I was brought up to love and accept, which for the most part, I feel I do pretty well. But, there is always that less-than-loving thing that can escape from my lips…sometimes it’s about the woman yelling at her child in line at the grocery store…sometimes it’s the guy who’s signaling to me in sign language as he cuts me off…and sometimes it’s just quiet judgment as I watch people at a safe distance. I realize it’s all the same…it’s ugly and dark…not a place I’d like to dwell. I will reel in positivity in the beginning of summer! It’s a good time for it.

Do you ever create little projects for yourself to improve your life? I’m interested.

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Five things to do to help your kids declutter

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Before I wax poetic about closet clutter and the kidlet dilemma, I’d like to point out the resource that supplied my simplifying race car fuel this week. Joshua Becker, a dad and husband and rational minimalism extraordinaire, tells us how to unclutter with our offspring. In a very succinct way, Becker gives advice about each area in the kid declutter journey, but her also reminds us why this process (and all of the other jewels that come with minimalizing our lives) is important. Good stuff, friends.

Helping my kids LET GO.

After reading Joshua’s book I took a good long look at the Scary Abyss, otherwise knows as my teen girls’ closets. I have epic avoidance strategies when it comes to anything closet-related, so overcoming my fear was the first step. Considering I’m as welcome in their rooms as a toddler in a glassware store (they know my intentions after all), it has been challenging to get my hot little hands on the excess. The clothes and shoes remind me of a layer of newspaper in our old guinea pig’s cage…what color is the carpet again? And why is every school paper received this year being horded in a ball the size of Texas? It was clear that both of my lovelies were growing wary of wading through ill-fitting jeans, worn discarded shoes, and sentimental stuffed animals to get dressed in the morning. I do believe the attachment to younger-year-items has waned enough to start the process of letting go, but they weren’t thrilled about trading in a Saturday afternoon for it…until….I did five things:

1) Put on some tunes. Their tunes, specifically. Once we got bopping to some Top 40 and I told them that we could get this thing done in 15 t0 20 songs, it didn’t seem so bad. The energy in the room changed.

2) Let them be in charge. I backed off and sat on their beds, allowing them to pick up each item and hold it up like Simba in the African savannah and we made a group decision about whether it was allowed to take up closet real estate. I allowed the other daughter (the one not in the hot seat) to make creative signs for our carpet piles (“No…Crap I shouldn’t have bought is not acceptable…change, please”) and allowed items to switch from one to the other without protest.

3) Let them pick the charity to receive their clothing. They’ve been watching me deconstruct the house and noted who has inherited our wares. I think it’s more meaningful when they physically walk the bags-‘o-stuff into charitable organizations….especially the toys that have been cleaned, ready for new sets of little hands in shelters and daycare centers.

4) Ask them to try on items in question. Somehow the act of sliding their long legs into high-water pants gets the message home that they are indeed bigger now. Holding on to clothes that don’t fit clouds the good stuff and propels the “I have nothing to wear” state of mind.

5) Know when to quit. Once we finished the closet, I was ready to attack my youngest’s yard sale of a desk. I had a gleam in my eye that must’ve frightened her, because she yawned (twice) and said she was “done for now”. I didn’t push it. If this process was ever going to happen again, I needed to acknowledge the backing off boundary.

The good news is both of my darlings said they felt good about their “new” closets. I believe the word light was uttered in there somewhere, which made my simplifying yearning heart pound like a jackrabbit.

We learned some important lessons in the process as well:

The Mall Crawl (shopping trips that involve meandering without purpose) frequently results in impulse purchases that are destined for the give-away pile after few wearings (i.e., poor use of family funds).

-The 80/20 rule still stands in teen closets…they really do only don 20% of their favorite old standbys.

-Having all items hanging in categories makes it much easier to get dressed.

So….the desks and shelves are next, but I will revel in the glow of their clutter-free closets until it’s time to go at it again…ipod and trash bags in hand.

What are your strategies for clearing out with your kids? I’d love to hear!

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The Stuff Dilemma

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It seems that many people numb themselves with stuff.

By numbing, I mean finding comfort and temporary joy in acquiring things (a boat/fancier car/club memberships/a TV in every room/Imelda Marcos shoe collection/etc) instead of facing the music on what is missing or present (i.e., the elephant in the living room). The gamut of American dysfunction comes in many forms, but what I’ve seen swirling around me is loveless marriages, depression, spoiled children, drug and alcohol dependency, debt, insecurity and loneliness. Not to get all “Why are we in this hand basket and where are we going?” on you, but I’m guessing if it’s that visible in my own small corner of the world, it’s running like rampant rats in all areas.  It seems that the rug where all the ick is being swept is beginning to bulge and buckle. At some point the ick needs to be dealt with or it will wedge itself deep into the grooves. A trip to Europe and a new motorcycle will never be enough to patch a major hole that starts to unravel in the family fabric.

Where do we get these messages that stuff will pave the way to a satisfying existence?

And why do so many folks practice score keeping when it comes to said stuff? Pulling up in the school drop-off zone in a Texas-sized SUV with more chrome than an appliance store may create a puffed up “I totally rock this” feeling, but it doesn’t make the man (or woman).  We know this, don’t we? Somehow the mom cliché’ “If your friend jumps off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?” comes to mind with such unnecessary purchases. Sleeping under a wool debt blanket eventually causes one to suffocate…hence the disaster we’ve been recovering from in what appears to be a society of broken hearts and wallets.

I am guilty.  I do know “thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s pink travel trailer”, but I couldn’t sleep until we found the perfect Airstream for the Blair Bunch. It wasn’t necessary, of course, but I did have intentions of family bonding and travel adventures when we pulled it into the driveway…you know..next to all the other stuff in the garage. Yet, I have been practicing restraint this year more than any other. I’m well aware there are children in Africa who don’t eat for days—I know this because I’ve been looking at the sweet faces of the Ameena School in Kenya we support on my laptop wallpaper. Their hollow eyes bore into my heart, asking me to examine where my loyalties lie and what I’m going to do about it. The fundraiser we hosted at our home was great, but it has to go beyond one night of money-raising. It has to slip under my daily habitual living like a pea under a pile of mattresses and eventually become un-ignorable.

First, there is purging.

If you walked past my house in the past month you would be in danger of being nailed by jeans and outgrown shoes flung out of windows.  I actually brought coffee to my new friends at the Goodwill drop-off station. I’ve since learned that purposeful giving is far more effective for the recipients, and not to mention, happier for the giver. My girls and I have been dodging Dr. Seuss-looking mile high pile of kids’ books and women’s clothes that continue to be spread around local charities. The best part of this process is that my children actually see where their discarded, sometimes unused, items have value.  It’s sickening how much gear has been placed in the “don’t want this anymore” section of our utility room dropping zone! We’re not a buy-a-Hummer-love-me-some-bling family, but we have an insane amount of stuff that seems to multiply like amorous rabbits.

I’m kickin’ some consumerism tail and takin’ names.

Rather than my first inclination to become a surly recluse and never leave the house again, I’ve decided to put the ky-bash on purchasing anything that isn’t necessary. For my youngest, the necessity of uber-fancy-running shoes from a certain coveted shoe company is not up for debate—thus begins the negotiations of how much she’s willing to contribute. The “We’ll put in a reasonable amount of  $_________ towards this item and you will need to come up with  $________” seems to decrease the perceived value of spendy (read: ridiculously overpriced, cheaply made) foot coverings.

That’s another thing: sense of entitlement.

I’m not just referring to overindulged kidlets, either. Americans in general—we seem to feel that we deserve certain things (even if they live outside of the budget). In the past month I have found unexpected rewards with pitching my glossies and curbing TV watching and blog reading. Fancy shmancy décor magazines and design blogs give me the gimmees…ugly little buggers that create a false sense of “if I don’t buy this rug, I may never complete the shangri-la that is my well decorated home”. It’s embarrassing, actually– something I don’t even feel comfortable admitting. I know some of you folks are with me on this—the gimmees wrestle common sense with an aggressive take-down move that borders on violent. Stand baaaack, Pinterest.

Banishing the visuals of what I’m missing seems to take care of wanting unnecessary things.

I’ve pretty much been having a Serious Talk with myself about how these changes are going to stick. ‘Wanting so much to make these days count with healthy hearts living in simplified homes…people on a quest to make a difference and have experiences together that shape a content, satisfying existence.

‘No need for numbing because they are truly living in a state of joy.

I’m not going militant with a decision to own only 100 things (good grief, how do people do that?) or moving to a tiny (and very, very cute) house behind my parents’ property, but I can tell that the tide of change has come in and I’m up to my knees in it.  I’m willing to go completely under, even if it gets a little chilly.

How about you? What is your heart crying out for these days? And what are you doing about it?

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