Friday, June 12, 2015

Slow and steady wins the race

Here's a post I wrote a year ago. Even though I've been at this for quite a time, there is still work to do. There probably will be as long as I have young children in the house, and probably longer. 

I'd really LOVE to be one of those people who could just purge my house in a weekend and BE a minimalist right away.  But, sadly, I'm not.  I've been at this for a while and I'm still no where close to done.  I call myself an aspiring minimalist, and who knows when or if I'll ever make it to calling myself A minimalist. I'm not even sure I want to be a "true" minimalist. But I'm working toward something.  And that's a success in itself.
It's easy to look around and be overwhelmed and feel like I'll never get there.  But when I really think about it I can see how I've changed.  Every once in a while I look back at old photos and it reminds me that I am making progress.

When I look at my kitchen right this second, it looks cluttered and messy to me.  But looking deeper, it's all stuff I can take care of in a matter of 5 or 10 minutes.  One counter is full of strawberry jam that I finished canning and needs to go downstairs.  One counter has a few remnants of breakfast on it.  I can remedy those things easily.  But the kind of cluttered that it used to be could not be cleaned up.  It was "clean" and obscenely cluttered!

If you're starting on this journey, I really encourage you to document it.  Not that you'll ever have to show anyone, but for yourself.  These types of photos can really inspire me on days that other things don't work.  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What I'm listening to

One of the things that keeps me going is listening to podcasts. It's great to hear the perspectives of others who are on a similar path as you, or who may have already been down this path and are now reaping the benefits.

Here are my favorites

The Art of Simple
Tsh Oxenrider is a world traveler, blogger, and the author of several books, including Notes From A Blue Bike, which is currently assuming one of the top spots on my Kindle, and she loves Jesus. Her podcast consists of chats about simplicity (and much more) that make you feel like grabbing a cup of coffee and joining in the conversation. Click above to get to the podcast, or click here to learn more about Tsh. (Not a typo. Pronounced "Tish" but spelled Tsh.)

Simple Life Together
Simple Life Together was the first podcast on simplicity that I ever listened to. The podcast had probably been around for six months or so when I stated listening. I immediately went back and downloaded and listened to every single episode in order. I really can't get enough of Dan and Vanessa Hayes, the husband and wife team behind this successful show. As they have been simplifying their lives, they have stopped recording episodes on a regular basis, but they still run an episode every few months. Don't let that stop you though, there are some great tips throughout the show and I still go back and re-listen to episodes every now and then.

The Slow Home Podcast
Brooke McAlary is the creator of the Slow Your Home website. Brooke has been focusing on living simply for over three years. She's an author, blogger, and most recently a podcast host. I'm enjoying listening to all of Brooke's interviews, and chats with her co-host, her husband, Ben.

Modern Farm Girls
Liz Wolfe of and Diana Rodgers of Sustainable Dish talk about farming, sustainability and Paleo living. My husband and I are slowly creating our small one-acre homestead and this podcast has been very informative as well as entertaining. I look forward to each episode. While I may never completely go Paleo, I'm always moving closer to that type of diet, and I love all the information presented.

Other podcasts that I enjoy...

About simplicity

Value of Simple with Joel Zaslofsky
Minimalism For The Rest Of Us with Robert Wall - You can listen to an interview with me, at the very beginning of my journey here!

About life

Hope*ologie is a member site that helps you find hope when you need it most. The Hope*ologie podcast, however, is available for free on iTunes. This podcast is hosted by Gary Morland and his two daughters, Emily Freeman and Myquillyn Smith. Gary is an "ordinary guy" who knows that Jesus is the answer and does his best to share the message. Emily blogs at Chatting at the Sky and is a writer. I'm excited for her newest book, Simply Tuesday, which is coming out in August (available for pre-order now!) Myquillin blogs about making your house a home, no matter how long you plan to be there. Her Instragram photos are inspiring to say the least! You can find her at her blog, the Nesting Place. Together these three, along with guests from time to time, chat about everything! It is very enjoyable. Although it's not specifically about simplicity, the underlying themes of joy and hope fit well with simplicity ideals.
(I'll admit, I'm not a member of the site, yet. I heard about the Hope*ologie podcast on an episode of The Art of Simple and searched iTunes to subscribe. It wasn't until more recently that I went to the website and realized that Hope* was a member site.)

About parenting

Inspired to Action
Kat Lee talks with others about how to be a Godly parent, and how to take care of yourself in order to be the best parent you can be. Just the intro makes me feel blessed every time.

About gardening and farming

Chicken Thistle Farm's Coop Cast 
and Vegetable Gardening with Mike Podlesny

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What minimalism is to me

Minimalism is individual to every person who strives for it.

When I first stumbled upon the term I pictured a white, sterile room in a flat with a wall of windows and one black leather sofa with one end table.  But that's not what it is for me.

For me, it can be summed up in this quote by William Morris.

It is just that simple, and it is not simple at all.  

Follow my journey through My Simple Chaos!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why now?

Some of you may know that I've been trying to simplify and minimize for quite a while now. I've tried a number of different methods, and I've made great progress. I've also fallen back a number of times. I've never gotten to a complete "clean slate." Why do I think this time will be different?

Well, it has to be.

Marie Kondo explains in her book why other methods fail, and why hers works. It makes sense. She's a little over the top with her relationship with items. But she makes a lot of good points about how and when items serve their purpose, and more importantly, what to do with them after they have accomplished that purpose.

I work good with deadlines, and I have a pretty big deadline coming up. I've been accepted into the Associate Degree Nursing program for this fall. At orientation last week the program director basically said "I own you. This is your life. Say goodbye to your friends." She wasn't quite so formidable about it, but the main point was clear: The program is intense and will take a lot of my time and energy. I want to be able to give the time and energy I do have to my home and family. I don't want to spend a majority of that time cleaning and organizing.

There are a lot of other goals I've had in mind to work on this summer, but I've decided to put them on the back burner. I am shopping more locally, and eating healthier, but I'm not making that my main focus right now. As I've thought about all the things I want to accomplish and learn about, I've realized I can't do them all at once, and I've realized I can't do them well with a cluttered house. They say a cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind. I believe it. I feel the effects of my disorganization. I need to get it under control, and I need to do it before September.

Do deadlines motivate you? If not, what does?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Describe the life you want

I downloaded yet another book about decluttering this morning. Because obviously the secret to getting my life together is sitting around reading books about getting my life together. 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. 

Task #1: Describe the life you want. In detail.

Coming up with this list was actually easier than I thought. I just went chronological through what I wished a typical day would look like. 
  • I want to wake up in the morning to a clean house
  • I want everyone to be able to get dressed in one swoop, without having to dig for clean, matching clothes.
  • I want to feed my family some sort of quick, healthy, pre-made breakfast.
  • I want my children to clean up after themselves.
  • I want to have lunches ready to go the night before.
  • I want to get everyone out the door with plenty of time to spare.
  • I don't want to be responsible for all of the critters every morning. 
  • I want to get in a clean, reliable car and go to work/school.
  • I want my brain to be able to focus during the day. 
  • I want to eat a lunch that I brought from home, that is not PB&J.
  • I want to come home to a clean house and put my pre-planned dinner together and into the oven and then spend time with the kids while it's cooking. 
  • I want to fly kites with the kids.
  • I want my husband to be happy to come home. 
  • I want to clean up quickly after dinner. 
  • I want to spend time with the kids after dinner, and then put them to bed at 7:30 every night.
  • I want to spend time with my husband after the kids go to bed.
  • I want to go to bed at a reasonable time. 
Sheesh. That's quite a list of just the logistics of the day. She also wants me to go into greater detail about things such as: 
  • I want my furniture to match
  • I want my bedroom to be a sanctuary where everything matches.
  • I want my home to be peaceful and smell nice. 
  • I want the kids' room to stay clean for more than 5 minutes!
  • I want to be able to put together weekly menus and stick to them. 
  • I want to spend more time outside. 
  • I want to read more without feeling guilty.
  • I want to get my homework done before 11pm. 
So that's it. No big deal. 

Step #1 is to explain WHY I want these things? 
  • I want less stress in my life.
  • I want happy, healthy relationships with my family. 
  • I want to do well in school.
  • I want to keep my family healthy. 
  • I want our finances to be stable. 
  • I want to be happy.
There it is. 
What would your answers look like? 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Summertime and the living's easy

I've never been so happy for summer to come. Well, not since I was a high school student. I finished my spring semester two days ago, and I'm taking the summer off before starting my nursing program in the fall. Can I just say that I'm over the moon excited?! Every once in a while I just can't contain how excited I am about becoming a nurse. Whatever form it takes. I've heard many say "Don't get your heart set on one area of nursing... you might get disappointed." But a friend said it differently. She said "Keep your options open. You may change your mind on the field you want." She had left the childcare field and went to nursing school with the plan of working in pediatrics, but fell in love with oncology. My original, and current, plan is to work in obstetrics and become some sort of prenatal educator. I often feel that will lead me to a degree in midwifery. But maybe not. I'm also starting to enjoy the world of nutrition. 

So on to the summer... This is the first summer I can remember where I'm not working and/or schooling a combination of full time hours. I'm extremely excited about hanging out with my kids this summer. Yesterday we flew kites.