[Destination]: Less, Part II

So, a spending freeze means different things to different people apparently.  When I first decided to take on this challenge, I meant let’s spend $0 for 31 days.  Of course, both vehicles had to go into the shop yesterday for some expensive work, but at least we’re safe on the road.  Necessity.  On Tuesday night, I got a phone call from my dear husband saying that he had read my blog (he was away at a business conference), and he was excited to take on this challenge with me.  He didn’t ask details.  He didn’t question my motive.  He was just excited at the thought that he might have to work less.  🙂  Who wouldn’t be thrilled by that?

The other morning, after he got home from his conference, I was making pancakes for the kids for breakfast.  I used the very last of the Costco-sized vanilla we had in the house.  Dear Husband immediately looked at me and said “Guess we need a trip to Costco for vanilla.”  I looked at him with a rather puzzled look and explained to him that we would just have to do without vanilla as it wasn’t what I considered a “necessity”.  I found out then, that spending freeze to hubby meant something very different than it did to me.

It’s been very difficult for me not to pack the girls in the car and head to Ikea or Target for a shopping spree, especially with all of the organizing and cleaning out that I’ve been doing.  I have many grand ideas right now for how to add some storage to our newly remodeled powder room, a small linen closet in our bedroom that I just cleaned out today (pictures to follow), and a change in decor in our dining room.  I’m making a list for when this spending freeze is over!  Of course, it will need to be in bits and pieces.  But, boy, do I want to just go and spend, spend, SPEND!

While it’s testing my resolve, I’m sticking to my guns so far.  Hopefully, I will remain determined throughout the rest of these 31 days (only 27 left!) and keep on cleaning out and reusing things that I already have in my home.  Fingers crossed!

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The past three or four nights have been pretty restless at my house.  Not only is the baby moving more, my youngest daughter is currently waking up at strange hours of the night and staying awake for 2+ hours at a shot.  Needless to say, I’m exhausted.  Today, I wasn’t going to do much of anything.  The girls watched a few movies, and I was just planning to rest and hang out.  That did not go as planned.

Every day this week, I’ve been determined to do one load of laundry, fold it, and put it away all in the same day.  So today, I changed the beds and washed the sheets.  Not really a big deal, but I got it done even though I wasn’t going to.  As the day moved forward, I was putzing around thinking about what organizing I could do today that wouldn’t take a lot of effort.  I started by going through my daughter’s closet shelf.  It was being used as a random storage area for stuff that did not have a home.  I only got through a little bit of that before nap time (hers, not mine), but nonetheless, I did some.  When I finally put the clean sheets away, I opened the linen closet in the master bedroom and cringed.  What a mess!  The proof is in the pudding:

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How on earth did I even know what was in there?  I’m pretty sure I found a Sham-Wow in the very bottom of the closet as well.

So, since I’m organizing and cleaning out, I pulled everything out of the closet and started from scratch.  I was able to get a full trash bag of donations together, and I succeeded in organizing/making this area look a little nicer.  This is just the temporary fix until I’m allowed to add some baskets or some other cute things in there to make it look even nicer.

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I was thrilled that this only took a total of 15 minutes!  Even though I wasn’t planning on doing anything specific today, I still got something accomplished.  Getting closer to having everything in my house have it’s own home.

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[Destination]: Clean Fridge!

I’m so excited to be cleaning out my house.  It’s so refreshing!  And, trust me when I tell you, this is completely uncharacteristic of me.  For those that know me, you’re probably wondering who has taken over and where the real Michelle has gone.  Don’t worry…it’s still me.  I’m just on a quest for that ideal sense of sanity.  I’m inching closer each and every day.

So today was Clean the Refrigerator Day.  I really hate cleaning things out/organizing/cleaning in general, so this project was looooonnnnngggg overdue.  Here is my before picture:

ImagePretty basic refrigerator.

To start, of course, I pulled everything out and loaded up my small kitchen counter and dining room table. 

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It really is amazing how much we can actually fit into our refrigerator.

ImageSome things I had no idea we still had.  Scary.

Once everything was out of the fridge, I started pulling out all the shelves and drawers.  I wiped down the inside of the fridge, and then washed and dried all of the shelves and drawers.  All in all, this project took a full 2 hours of my morning.  Once everything was cleaned, I got rid of (my favorite part) all expired or downright yucky food.  My trash can is full…again.  Then, I figured out a much more desirable organizational strategy for my shelves and how to stock them.  This was the end product:

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Ahh…I literally breathed a sigh of relief.  I can see what’s in my fridge!

What a difference!  Now that I can see what we have, I’ll better know what we truly need in the future.  Hopefully, we won’t continue to buy 10 salad dressings at once, which mean we’ll use what we have…which means we’ll save money!  SCORE!

When was the last time you cleaned out your refrigerator?  Even just got rid of expired items?  Don’t let it go too long!

 

 

[Destination]: Less, Part I

Well, here I am at Day 2 of my Spending Freeze month, and it’s going pretty well.  It’s actually been pretty funny.  As I’ve been cleaning out my dining room today, I keep thinking about things I could buy in order to help me organize several rooms a little better.  Hmm, kind of defeats the purpose of a spending freeze, but at least I haven’t acted on those impulses!  I’m realizing more and more that this challenge will be a difficult one for me.

While cleaning out is good, I very much have the tendency to purchase things to “fill the void” that the now well-intentioned, donated item has left.  Sad.  So very sad.  Does anyone else have this problem?  However, I’m also finding that creating more space in my home and finding a place for everything that does belong there is causing me to create more space in my mind.  (I honestly thought there wasn’t anymore room up there.)  I’m feeling more free emotionally, physically and spiritually, all just from getting rid of the clutter in my life.  Just after cleaning out one small room…miracles do happen!  

I read this quote by Karen Kingston in her book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, and it really struck a chord: “Life is constant change.  So when something comes into your life enjoy it, use it well, and when it is time, let it go.  Just because you own something, it doesn’t mean that you have to keep it forever.  You are just a temporary custodian of many things as they pass through your life.”  A temporary custodiananyone else feel that like a smack in the face?  DUH!  How many times does the Pastor have to say it?  How many times do you have to see it from friends and family who have passed on?  You CANNOT take all the stuff you accumulate with you to wherever your afterlife leads you!  So why let it bog us down, cause us depression, anxiety, weight gain, and destroy our quality of life?  (And if you think it doesn’t do all of those things, I’m here to tell you that it does.  Take a close look at your own life to evaluate if that’s happening in your home.)  Yes, our acquired possessions connect us with many different things.  We associate them with memories, people, relationships, seasons and different events that have happened to us.  But just because we rid our lives of the excess that those possessions causes doesn’t mean that the memories we hold dearly will leave as fleetingly as the item we’re donating, selling, or throwing away.

Are you afraid that you might forget those all-important memories one day?  Fair enough; we all might.  But there are many ways to document those times.  Think you don’t have enough hours in a day to do something like write your memories in a journal or take pictures of your things and write down why they’re important to you?  Start with just setting 20 minutes per day aside and see how far you get.  Make a scrapbook.  Then, make sure that book has a place of it’s own.

I’m writing this all from just two days of decluttering.  Two days!  It seriously does feel as though I can breathe a little easier.  I’m slowly starting to put things into practice (such as a regular cleaning routine…which I’ve never successfully had…ever…in my life) that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  My sister will tell you that I’ve never wanted to clean a day in my whole life, and while I can’t say I’ve desired to clean, I would like to keep my house in a working order so that I don’t feel embarrassed to invite people over on a whim.  I’m getting so much closer!

Item number 2 on my to-do list today is to write out some recipes that my family enjoys eating.  Once I do that, I’ll start pairing items I have in my pantry, refrigerator and freezer to those recipes and trying some substitutions if I don’t have something.  Then, the menu planning begins!  It’s starting to scare me how much I’m enjoying this whole organizing/spending freeze.  But hey, who knows…you might just like it as much as I am starting to.  Give it a go.  Again, you’ve got nothing to lose!

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I challenge you today, perhaps before you go to sleep tonight, to write down one thing you want to do tomorrow towards decluttering your life.  Then, set aside just 20 minutes to do that one thing.  That’s giving up less than one TV show tomorrow.  If you don’t get the entire thing done, don’t worry about it.  Just spend 20 minutes on it.  Set a timer if you have to.  And, let me know how it went!

Here’s to finding less in your life so you can enjoy the important things more!

[Destination]: Sanity

Wow…I am really terrible at this whole blogging thing.  Oh well; things have been busy, and my life has been utterly disorganized.  Such is life.  However, I’m searching for some sanity, and I’m slowly on my way there.

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I am determined to get my life/home in order before this next baby comes.  We have too much stuff, so in order to get my life on track and not feel so overwhelmed, I am simplifying…everything.  We finally completed the renovation of our downstairs powder room.  Now that it’s finished, the entire downstairs looks uniform and has really come together.  Check that one off the list.  It has also inspired me to begin a spending freeze.  Not because it cost a ton of money to renovate a small powder room (not that it was cheap either – it was a total gut), but it put things into perspective.  In order to prepare for the reno, I had to clean out the ginormous cabinets that were in there.  For about the five-hundredth time.  It felt great to get rid of stuff, but it also reminded me of how much of the same thing we often accumulate.  When I don’t know where stuff is, the common thought is that we don’t have any; therefore, I must go buy more.  Well, I have more than enough of just about everything.  Hence, the spending freeze.  But, what does that actually mean?

For the next 31 days, I am purging things, organizing things, and cleaning things to find out what I already have.  This includes food.  I’ve already inventoried my pantry and freezer.  Now, I’m going to make meals from whatever I currently have (I’ll buy some necessary staples as needed like milk, eggs, bread, and fresh fruits and veggies), and eat through some of the excess that we’ve acquired.  And I’m not kidding when I say excess!  You should see the lists I wrote for both areas of my kitchen!

I got this idea from Living Well, Spending Less, a blog that I really enjoy following and have taken a lot of tips from already.  Ruth has done a great job of showing just how to accomplish the goal of spending $0 over the next month, and I’m looking forward to giving it a shot.  

I’m also looking forward to the sanity that will come from all of this simplifying.  Her other tips have been really excellent and helpful as well, but I haven’t yet put them into full practice.  I’m ready to let go of the excess and everything else that results from it.  Call it nesting, call it crazy, call it whatever you want…but think about a few things that you could get rid of that could cause you a little less chaos and a little more relief in your own home.  Give it a shot; you’ve got nothing to lose!

[Destination]: Peace

Not a day goes by
When I don’t think of you,
When the world doesn’t stop
For just a second or two.

It’s been twelve years
And I can still see your smile
When I close my eyes
For just a little while.

Knowing that God
Now holds you in his arms
Has brought me a peace
That defeats the devils charms.

While I wish you were here
I know you’re in a better place
I’m reminded of that every time
I look into my daughter’s face.

She reminds me that
All good things are from heaven sent
So since you’re there now
I can no longer lament.

I thank God that I got
As much time as I had
To spend with you and
To know that kind of glad.

When I feel alone
I remember we’re never apart
For I carry you close,
Always in my heart.

~In memory of Michael Ryan Musselman, beloved brother
(August 3, 1986 – April 19, 2001)

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[Destination]: Excess Relief

When was the last time you took inventory of the food you have in your house?  I mean, really dug in the deep freezer, sorted through your pantry, and checked out your spices.  For me, I only made it through my deep freezer and regular freezer yesterday.  What did I find?  Enough food to sustain us for quite some time!  I couldn’t believe it.  Well, I could, but I don’t think I was ready to admit to the fact that we buy way more than we need at any given time. 

So, to organize this area of my life, I made a list of everything that was in both freezers, then sorted the list by food type and taped the list to the back of one my cabinets that I use regularly.  I plan on doing the same thing with my pantry, my spice cabinet, my refrigerator, and my baking cupboard.  Before I go grocery shopping again, I plan on using up whatever I have in my house.  I’m hoping to get to the point that I can get rid of my deep freezer to open up some space in my pantry/laundry room, and only buy what will fit into the freezer in my refrigerator.  I’m sure that most of you already do something like this, but for me, it’s not only going to be a space saver but a money saver as well.  I need to declutter and get rid of the excess in my life.

This all ties into a healthier lifestyle for me.  Having staples on hand is not the problem, but when we buy and buy and don’t use what we’ve purchased, it’s such a waste.  It’s the same as stuffing my face with food I think I want that my body can’t use because it doesn’t need it.  Why not learn to do this externally to help my journey internally?

Do you stop and ask yourself whether you’re truly hungry when you’re reaching for that brownie or bag of chips?  Do you ask yourself whether those things will truly satisfy you?  While I’ve been searching my soul the past few weeks about what it really is craving, I’ve uncovered a lot of pain, a lot of trouble, and have fallen further into despair.  However, I’m starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel.  In God’s effort to build us up, we will inevitably tear ourselves down.  This only makes God’s rebuild stronger.  We have to break down to the foundation, the root of the problem, in order to fix the cracks, heal, and place each brick back in it’s rightful place.

Learning this internally has helped me to see that I need to do the same thing in my external life: in my home, in my work, and in my relationships.  So the next time you’re getting ready to do some grocery shopping, double check what you’ve already got on hand.  And the next time you go to eat something, take inventory of whether that is what your soul is truly craving.  You might be surprised at what you find.

[Destination]: Truth

So, you might be wondering where I’ve been.  Yes, it’s been awhile.  I’ve actually been wallowing in self-pity, eating my sorrows, and loathing my actions.  Yes, we all hit rock bottom, and I’m here to be honest with you.  I’m very good at saying things are “hunky dorry”.  I know all the rules, the tricks, the ins and outs about losing weight or meeting goals.  But I have struggled to put them into practice.  I am human.  I’m not telling you this for sympathy, empathy or cuddles to make me feel better.  Trust me, I’ve been getting the “you can do it” and “you’re going to be fine” speeches for a long time now.  I want so badly to be perfect.

I read a blog recently from Proverbs 31 Ministry about “overcoming perfectionism“, and it was like I was reading about every aspect of my life.  The author, Rachel Olsen, talks about the fear of failure, mistakes, and disapproval.  She mentions the “all-or-nothing mentality” that plagues perfectionists day in and day out, and the fact that perfectionists feel as though success comes so easily to everyone around them.  Man, talk about a slap in the face…but one that was spot on…one that was necessary.

I have goals.  Goals that are lofty, yet attainable.  Goals that could change my life.  Goals that would make me so proud to achieve.  As I set out to accomplish these goals, all to often I find myself becoming the victim of “I can’t”.  It’s not going perfectly?  Give up, Michelle.  Other people are telling you that you can’t do it?  Then you probably can’t do it.  But, you know what?  I have to change that perfectionist thinking and be ok with just me.  I’m not perfect and never was made to be perfect.  I’m going to fail at things; that’s the only way I’m going to learn.  I need to change my perspective here.

I’ve recently read a book called Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.  In it she discusses the truth that we, as humans, were made to crave; however, we were made to crave and seek out God our creator.  Overindulging, whether by eating, drinking, sex, drugs, whatever, is our way of showing externally that we need to fix something internally.  I’m always on the lookout for the quick fix.  I want the magic pill or diet that will make me lose 50 lbs overnight.  How easy would that be!  Pop that pill, go to sleep, and by morning you have the body you’ve always dreamed of.  Except, that body, either the one you go to sleep with or the one you wake up with, is the only one we’ve got.  It was made to be a temple, a spiritual dwelling place for nothing other than God.  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” – 2 Corinthians 6:19-20.  I’ll tell you now, I have not been doing this!  But the more you persevere, the more God hears your prayers, and the more He sends those little signs that He is in your every day.

I’ve got a long way to go.  After talking with my husband last night, we agreed to start tracking our food to be more mindful of what we’re eating.  I’m continuing my daily conversations with God, and I’m trying a new tactic – growing from the inside out.  Because, I’ll tell you what.  I’ve had it with my exterior reflecting the shabby interior.  There’s so much more to this heart than I let show.  Get ready world.  Here I come!Image