Minimalism – Day 11

I feel like my minimalism attempts have slowed down.

  • The store didn’t have the light bulbs I need.
  • I need someone’s address to return something I borrowed. They haven’t responded to several texts.
  • I’m struggling to make decisions about my clothing.

And yet I am making a lot of progress.


Before


Progress

  • I finally let go of the half-finished quilt.
  • My Christmas package for my mom is almost finished, which moves several items out of my closet.
  • I have given away four shirts I never wear.

And as I maintain motivation to work on my room, I find motivation to make a few quick decisions in the rest of the house. For example, I finally threw out the ketchup packets in the fridge; we don’t buy that brand (HFCS) and will probably never use it. I’m also noticing a lot of areas that need work. I have a ton of recyclable water filters under my kitchen sink. They need returned to the manufacturer (postage paid!).

In the meantime, I’ve watched a few YouTubers who are documenting their journey to minimalism. Very inspiring!

Items decluttered (to-date) – 27

Minimalism – Day 7

Today my husband and I returned a couple items to Nordstrom. I love their customer service! I was able to return a shirt that I had bought 2.5 years ago, never wore, and still had the tags on it. Due to the length of time since purchase, they were not able to give me a refund but they did give me a gift certificate.

I have a new personal policy – return all unwanted online orders within a week of receipt. One of the items returned was too big for me; they had since transferred that line to Nordstrom Rack and could not exchange it for me, instead offering me a refund. One of the items was too small. That one was “limited stock” but the cashier was able to find it at another Nordstrom store and ordered it to be shipped to our home. If I had been more on top of exchanges, I could have gotten the correct sizes for all returns instead of refunds.

And it took awhile, but I finally figured out why I’m having such a hard time decluttering my clothes. If I follow all three of my guidelines…

1 – Does it fit properly at my current weight?
2 – Does it look good on me, a good color, a good fit, etc?
3 – Do I like it?

… then there won’t be much left in my closet. My very last sweater is worn and is now too small for me but I wear it because it’s my last one. I have a couple long sleeved shirts that I love. Several of my t-shirts are pretty worn and should probably be replaced soon. But my wardrobe funds are limited so I am slow in replacing things. I know I could shop somewhere other than Nordstrom’s clearance racks but I love their clothes. I grew up wearing secondhand clothes and would rather have a limited wardrobe that I love than have a bunch of clothes I just tolerate. It’s a trade-off. I’m slowly moving toward a wardrobe I love but have to replace things slowly due to funds.

In the meantime, I can probably cull a few things I never wear but everything else has to stay. I may not love it. It may be worn out. But it’s all I have.

Items decluttered (to-date) – 14

Minimalism – Day 5

This video has been enlightening these past two weeks as I’ve been processing things with both my husband and my therapist.

Basically, the video talks about the idea of Fantasy Self versus Reality Self. Fantasy Self is the person I imagine myself to be. Reality Self is self-explanatory, who I actually am. For a light-hearted example, Fantasy Self bakes elaborate vegan cheesecakes, spending hours getting it just right. Reality Self borrowed a cheesecake pan from a friend about six months ago and still hasn’t found the energy to try her first cheesecake.

A more serious example – Fantasy Self is an amazing homeschooling Mom, someone who sits down and plans what we are going to learn this week, learning things herself in front of her children so that they will be inspired, etc. Reality Self enrolled both children in public school because she needs space and alone time every single day in order to be able to parent effectively.

Fantasy Self versus Reality Self is one of the guidelines I’m using as I declutter and clean my personal retreat space. Is this item part of my Fantasy Self or my Reality Self? Do I actually use it? Does it bring me joy? I think the quilt I posted about yesterday is part of my Fantasy Self, not my Reality Self. I’m still trying to let it go.

Items decluttered (to-date) – 8

Minimalism – Day 4

I’m still working on my minimalism project. Woohoo!

But I’m having a really hard time letting go of a few things and cannot pinpoint exactly why. My husband said it’s emotional attachment, which is why I cannot find an actual reason.

For example…

I started collecting jeans for this quilt years ago, I think even before I met my husband. I saw a denim quilt on HGTV and instantly fell in love.

However, when I started working on the quilt, I made a mistake in choosing to include pockets. At first I thought it would be a really cute addition. But when I started the actual quilting, I found that it was almost impossible to quilt around the pockets or through them. Quilting through them ruined the ability to use the pockets but quilting around them looked really bad on the cat side of the quilt.

Now, at 35 years of age, this is not really my style of quilt. But I think the sentimentality makes it impossible to get rid of it. I’ve been working on the quilt, either collecting the jeans, sewing together the jean patches, or working on the quilting itself, for over a decade. Obviously I don’t love the project. So why can’t I let it go?

Items decluttered (to-date) – 7

December Challenge – Day One

Today I didn’t make any huge changes to my bedroom / bathroom / closet but I was able to get the ball rolling. First I completed some basic housecleaning chores; I washed the sheets, tidied the bedroom, and swept the floor.

Then I dug through my supply of light bulbs, thinking I would get one of the easiest tasks out of the way. I found three different sizes of light bulbs. None of those three fit the outlets above the bathroom sink. Oops. So we’re still missing half the light bulbs in our bathroom and I now need to buy more.

I also did a quick scan of my house, picking up any stray papers that were lying about. I only found a couple, as I’ve mostly been staying on top of what the FlyLady calls “hotspots,” places where things just pile up because they have no home. I also dug through the closet and pulled out all of the papers scattered around. Those I tucked into the big blue bin in my closet. I haven’t touched the sorting, scanning, organizing process for all of that paperwork, but at least everything is in the same place.

Progress! I’m not sure I’m going to get anything else done today. I have to leave shortly to pick up my youngest daughter from school, run a couple of errands, pick up my oldest daughter from school, run a couple more errands, make dinner, and then we have youth group tonight at church. Whew!

Items decluttered – 3

December challenge

A few years ago, I read a blog written by two women who were close friends. They would plan out their year, month by month, by picking a challenge to complete each month. They would start a new running habit, pick a home improvement challenge, plant a garden, etc. These were mostly fun projects that involved a lot of hands on work plus the potential to learn something new.

After reading through a lot of the blog archives, I was inspired to take on a few challenges of my own. I don’t remember all of the challenges I attempted but I’ve been feeling inspired lately to take on a new challenge. I want to focus on minimalism and moving forward on making my bedroom a safe and comforting retreat. So for the month of December, I’m going to attempt to make at least one improvement in my room each and every day (except Sabbaths). This includes the actual bedroom, the master bathroom, and my closet.

At first, I thought this is too small of a challenge for an entire month. But it’s a holiday month and my two girls are off school for the last two weeks of December. So hopefully bite-sized pieces each day will make for a big difference at the end of the month.

I started making a list of things that need to be done and realized this is actually a pretty big project, if I try to do things in their entirety. For example, I have several books that need to be returned to their owners. This means I need to track down the owners’ addresses, package the books, and take them to the post office. While this isn’t a huge task by itself, I have quite a few projects that involve multiple steps. I need to return several orders to Nordstrom. I need to ship some clothes to a friend. I need to sell some books online. I need to declutter my hanging clothes and I’ll have to decide if any of it can be sold or if I’m going to post things on my local BuyNothing group. I have a huge pile of paperwork that needs to be sorted, scanned, and then recycled.

Hopefully this will force me to complete a couple of very small tasks that never seem to get done. There’s some damage to the front of our bathroom cabinet but it’s an easy fix involving some glue. Then we have several burnt out light bulbs that need to be replaced. Easy fix but never gets done!

So this project will keep me quite busy! And of course, I hope to blog about my progress. Hopefully my room will feel much less cluttered and more relaxing by the time I’m done. Once my room is complete, my to-do list will certainly be much shorter!

Decluttering

I seem to be going through an organizing and decluttering frenzy. I’m not exactly certain why, though I suspect it has something to do with seeking to control one of the only areas in my life where I feel I have control. In much of our house, I cannot control things being thrown, banged, or just generally being treated poorly. My kids, probably due to their environment during their formative years, have little respect for belongings, both mine and theirs.

In an attempt to establish some boundaries, we have mostly made the master bedroom off limits. The girls cannot play their music on speaker phone in my room. They are not allowed to rummage through my belongings. They are not allowed to destroy anything. These things have been issues in the past.

Now, my room is a safe and quiet place. In an attempt to make it an emotional retreat, I have been decluttering like crazy. In some ways, I am drawn to a minimalist lifestyle. I know that I will never be considered a true minimalist as I love books. We have two bookshelves full of books in our bedroom and more books piled in the closet. However, I have slowly been culling our collection, eliminating books that I will never read or that I do not truly enjoy. I am leaving books that I hope to read someday and books that bring me joy (Marie Kondo style!).

I’m also spending a lot of time cleaning out my closet. Even though I’ve gone through my clothes several times, I still have clothes that don’t fit or that I’ve never worn. I’ll be working on clothes after I conquer the massive pile of paper clutter that piled up in our closet. Don’t have time to sort through the mail? Toss it in the closet! Need to scan and save that document on the computer? Toss it in the closet! Working on the FlyLady system has been enlightening in several ways. I no longer have multiple paper hotspots around my house. Just my closet!

It’s slow going, but hopefully each step toward organization will be a permanent improvement. I really want to move next summer. We’re renting a two bedroom condo and I would love to move into a three bedroom house (probably also a rental). But I don’t want to move a ton of stuff we don’t need. I can’t believe I shipped 15 boxes to Washington and packed my car to move up here. I own an entire condo full of stuff now. However did that happen? The least I can do is weed out a bunch of stuff we no longer need. Our local BuyNothing Facebook group has been amazing for taking tons of my stuff, proving that one woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure.

August Goals

I’ve been thinking a lot about the goals I want to achieve in August. I’m almost afraid to write any. My girls go back to school on August 31st so the month of August is almost entirely summer vacation. We are slowly developing some better boundaries so that I’m able to get a few things done even though they are home all day. We do spend a lot of time together but mama still has work to do even if they aren’t in school!

I think my number one priority is exercise. My husband and I have been walking together every single day. The girls won’t come. They are invited but would rather stay home so we are finally getting daily alone time. It’s been a massive blessing this summer and is way more than I even dreamed of. Prior to this, the girls wouldn’t leave us alone in the same room. But if they have to choose between leaving us unsupervised and exercise, they’ll pick leaving us unsupervised. It’s wonderful!

After we get paid, I want to register for my first WA 5k. I should have registered several months ago when I first picked out the race but I was afraid to commit. What if things got explosive again in our home? What if something happened that sapped all of my emotional energy and left me without motivation to run? What if I can’t train to run the entire distance before September arrives? Well, I decided to register anyway. FlyLady keeps reminding me that perfectionism is detrimental in all aspects of life.. I don’t have to run the entire 5k. I don’t have to break my previous 5k record. I just have to show up and try. Just try.

So I think that continuing exercise, both for my health and to embrace the alone time with my husband, is my only real August goal. Other than that, I will keep working toward decluttering my closet, getting organized, and finding additional meals that my entire family will eat. But other than the exercise with its tangible goal of training for the 5k, I’m just going to do whatever I can. I am just going to show up and try.

Juggling

Lately it feels like I’m juggling multiple balls and can’t keep them all in the air. Life at home has actually been fairly calm. We’ve only had a couple of meltdowns in the last few weeks and it’s been a month since our last rage. Praise the Lord!!

Despite the calm, I’m struggling. When life calms down enough to give me breathing room, I start thinking. Processing. Daring to dream just a little. And that makes me realize how far from normal we really are.

Awhile ago I posted that my therapist has me trying to identify my core values. Honestly, I’m stuck at two. My second core value is that life can always get better if I work hard. I’ve always been a planner and a dreamer. I worked hard in high school and earned a scholarship to college. (How I lost said scholarship after my freshman year is a long story). I lost a ton of weight in my 20’s. I budgeted, scrimped, saved, and paid off a ton of debt that my husband and I accrued both before marriage and after marriage. I’ve studied Latin, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. I read a ton. I truly believe that if I work hard enough, I can improve my mind, my health, my spiritual life, my marriage.

Unfortunately, I cannot force that improvement on my children. I cannot force them to stop raging. I cannot force them to stop melting down. I cannot stop the permanent trauma they’ve so generously shared with me. I cannot force growth so that they no longer rely on me to keep their emotions stable.

This family life and my core belief that I can always make improvements are at odds with each other. I’m trying to determine if it’s possible for me to regain control of the emotional state of our family. When my children melt down, it changes everything. The other day, one of my daughters had an hour long meltdown. I sat near her, offered comfort (she rejected it for awhile), and eventually was able to pull her out of it. But addressing that meltdown was at the expense of my other daughter because I disappeared downstairs to deal with daughter #1. When the meltdown started, I was engaged with daughter #2. So daughter #2 was left behind so that I could deal with daughter #1. And after that hour long meltdown, I no longer had the energy to study Chinese or exercise or do anything that required much of an effort. My energy was completely sapped trying to connect with daughter #1 and help her deal with the huge emotions that caused the meltdown.

How do I learn a language while trying to navigate the emotional minefield in our home? How do I find the energy to exercise on a regular basis? It’s a good sign that I’m once again finding the motivation to do these things. But I cannot control my environment enough to exercise, keep up with my Chinese studies, complete the FlyLady assignments, finish the taxes, declutter, etc. There’s not enough of me to go around.

I was hoping to write a more positive post today but this is what’s been on my mind lately. The challenge – how do I help my girls heal enough that their daily struggles stop sapping every bit of my energy and motivation?

Homemaking milestone

The FlyLady system has been helping so much (six weeks in) that I sat down at the computer today and wondered what I should do next. Normally I have a long list of emergencies to tackle. Today I have nothing. All my fires are put out. I still have a few urgent projects *ahem*file taxes*ahem* but nothing that’s considered an emergency.

I have hope that someday I’ll no longer be drowning under homemaking tasks. Yay FlyLady system!