Life After Decluttering

Today, I’m working on a chapter of my new book about life after minimizing. Decluttering, minimizing, and organizing really does change your life. It really does do what is promised: it frees up your mind, your time and money to do the things you want to do.

The downside for people in my midlife bracket is that we do have more time. The kids are gone. Their needs are few if we’re lucky. Many of us are retiring or cutting back on our hours and we have more time to think about the negative, to worry, to wring our hands. When we’re not doing that “busy work” of keeping the house and saying we’re going to declutter, we get frustrated so we binge eat or watch Netflix. Maybe that’s just me. Or when we have no more excuses for why we can’t get out and walk or hike or do the things we always said we were going to do we just don’t know what to say.

When we come face to face with our real freed up selves right now, it can be, shall we say challenging. There’s this strange, gray-haired person in the mirror asking me, “What do I do now?” I don’t know about you but I always seemed to put others before me. So, I didn’t pay attention to the spare tire that showed up around my waist. I run and jump in my mind, but when I’m called on to do those things in real life, it feels odd and painful and parts of me jiggle that I didn’t know could. And I don’t really know how to dress this overweight older woman. I supported other’s dreams and aspirations and at this point when people ask me what my hobbies are or what my passions are, I don’t know what to say. “Uh, gardening?” I barely have a lawn.

I was always a wife, a mom and a teacher. That was overload. I didn’t have time for anything else.

So, the downside or the challenge of this time of life after decluttering is to find who I am now. And that’s a bit scary. It’s a challenge to not fall back into old patterns of behavior to avoid looking at myself and my life. It’s a challenge not to adopt new “hobbies” just to stay busy like shopping just to have something to do (and end up right back where I started in a cluttered house), or numbing my worried brain with hours of British dramas. (which I thoroughly enjoy!)

I mean, being a wife, mom and teacher was amazing. I mean, I still do those things, just in a different way. More from a distance and indirectly. But back in the day when my boots were on the ground and my hands were dirty, I had the privilege of producing, literally creating human beings. I created and managed a home and I weaved relationships that I believe will last longer than I’m alive. I poured into future executives, pastors and doctors – seriously, some of my students are those people right now. I was producing and nurturing every waking hour.

My life, right now, not so much.

But, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” 
― Mother Theresa

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I believe in seasons and growth. I have to remember that it’s just as important to BE as it is to produce or make. I know it sounds groovy, but living, breathing and being have got to be enough to be considered valuable. Just look at people who are amazing even though they are hindered in some way.  I believe in my heart that just being is enough, just not every day in my brain, which brings me down. I have to not mourn what my life was and I have to be brave enough to embrace this future that is unknown. I hate the unknown. I guess that’s why they say, “growing old is not for the faint of heart.”

So, I have to find myself, reinvent myself, find a new normal and figure out how to dress this weird, old lady I see in the mirror. Or maybe I’ll just go watch “Downton Abbey” all over again. Pass the Doritos, thanks.

Peace,

Jill

 

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Let’s Get Real about Minimalism & Getting Older

I’m working on my new book called, “Minimalist Grandma” and it’s for women in their mid to later years. I’m writing it for that audience because that’s when we really need to take the idea of minimalism seriously. Because…

  1. TBH, you are getting older and you WILL be forced to minimize your possessions eventually. It is inevitable. If you don’t do it, your kids will. Do it now while you can make the decisions and while you can still bend over.
  2. It takes too much time and money to maintain a bunch of stuff. So, get rid of it.
  3. You’ve spent your life taking care of a home full of stuff. Why not spend your time now doing stuff you want to do?
  4. You don’t want a house full of crap to trip over and break your hip.
  5. Cool grandmas put on their Converse and The Beatles and dance with their grandkids in the kitchen.

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When people think of minimalism they often think of white, stark, austere homes. It doesn’t have to be that way. Keep your collections and trinkets, just keep them because you love them not because you’re lazy. And don’t keep them if it makes your house dangerous and dirty. Maybe you could just slim down the collection a bit.

After you’ve minimized and organized that doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. You have to maintain it. See my last post about hating to do dishes. But, minimizing means it doesn’t take as long to deal with the stuff because there’s less of it.

By maintaining a decluttered and organized home, you can avoid some of the reasons why people hate being around old people:

  1. They smell weird – if you minimize you can quickly and easily clean your home and spray air freshener so your house won’t smell like eggs, coffee, joint ointment, and that mysterious musty smell. And you have more time to bathe so you won’t smell like that either
  2. They are stuck in the old days – if you minimize you have more time to get on social media and stalk your grandchildren and read articles to keep you up to date.
  3. They’re boring – if you minimize you’ll have more time and money to do fun things like parasailing (shout out to my 80 something-year-old hero and father-in-law!)
  4. They are depressing – if you have more time to stalk your grandchildren on social media, read articles in “Rolling Stone” magazine, watch the latest releases on Netflix, go parasailing and hiking, you’ll have more interesting things to talk about than all your ailments, your friend’s funerals and when you might have a date with the grim reaper.

So, to all my tribe out there, you should consider minimizing. I have found it to be quite liberating!

Peace, freedom and The Beatles,

Jill

 

The 1 Plate, 1 Bowl, 1 Fork, 1 Spoon, 1 Cup Experiment or Confessions of a Mess

Before we left Georgia, right at the beginning of my minimalist experiment, my husband had an idea: if we only had one plate, bowl, fork, spoon, and cup for each of us we could cut down on the number of dishes we had to wash. He suggested that we wash our own so we could really cut down on the time we spend cleaning up. But who will wash the pots and pans? Ah, there’s the rub! (or scrub, haha)

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We tried this out and I will be honest with you, I was the fly in the ointment. I hate doing dishes, even one or two. After I plan meals, make a shopping list, shop for food, put away the groceries, cook the food and eat the food, I don’t want to anything else to do with food! So, dishes often sit in the sink until the next morning when I have more energy to tackle them. Sometimes I will clean up right after dinner, but sometimes not.

I am the person, in my teenage and young 20’s who would rather eat cereal from a coffee cup and with a measuring spoon rather than washing a real bowl and spoon. True story x 20.

I am the person, as a working mother of teenagers who left a dirty pan out on the stove- on which I had cooked a ham the night before- and my son’s friend walked by and ate a chunk of ham thinking that I had just cooked it. I felt so guilty! I thought I had poisoned him! But in all fairness, he had been at my house many, many times and knew my sketchy housekeeping skills.

I am the person of whom my nephews say, “I know it’s Jill’s house when I walk in and there’s a bunch of dirty dishes in the sink.” They feel uncomfortable if the kitchen is clean. Truth.

In my own defense, my aversion to doing dishes has to do with the fact that I prefer to spend time with people rather than cleaning. I know I sound all sanctimonious right now, but it’s true. After dinner with family and friends, I don’t want to clean the kitchen while they enjoy the after-dinner talk. When I finally get finished cleaning I don’t want to walk in the living room just in time for them to say, “Thanks, it’s getting late and we have to go.” I know, I could wait until after they leave to clean up, but who wants to do that? I want to watch tv or go to bed.

So, needless to say, my husband’s experiment didn’t work for me. It does for him. He still washes his one little bowl, plate, fork, spoon and cup.

When it comes to dishes, I confess, I am a mess.

But go look in my closet or the laundry room. I’ve got it together there.

Just don’t judge me in the kitchen.

Keeping it real,

Jill

Morning News Clips

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Well, here I am, up at 4 in the morning. I used to make fun of “old” people and their habit of waking up at 4am and eating dinner at 4pm and here I am doing that very thing!

I thought I’d just give you some snippets of thoughts today.

In Local News…

Just recently I took a map of Texas and I outlined the natural regions of the state. I know, I’m kinda weird like that. I just wanted to see where I lived and how it was defined. It was interesting, I found that I live at the edge of about 3 different regions: Gulf Coast subtropical, prairies, and piney woods. I guess that explains the sometimes weird weather here.

I started a 3-gallon fish tank. I have a beta fish named Elvis and a catfish named Ron Swanson, because of the mustache and attitude.

In World News…

So, last night Husband had to go to Home Depot and I went with him. Living here in the “outer suburbs” I sometimes feel like a character in an old Western when I have to “go into town” for supplies.

He went into the store and I stayed in the car. I had my phone and I wanted to check my blog to see if there were any comments I need to reply to, so I Googled my name to locate my blog and lo and behold I saw that my books had made it to Barnes and Noble, Walmart (Haha!), ABE Books, Thriftbooks and I saw that they had made it to sites in Japan, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, the UK, and Australia. So crazy! I noticed that some of my books had been sold in those countries through Amazon, but now they’re being sold on other sites as well.

I also had one of those knowledge panels pop up on Google with my name and “author.” So, I guess if Google calls me an author, then it’s official.

However, there’s still a matter of my shower needing cleaning.

Speaking of Cleaning…

I’m working on a new book based on my blog and my experience in decluttering called, “Minimalist Grandma.” I’ll be submitting it to a publisher soon. Cross your fingers!

Have a great day! Thanks for stopping by!

Jill

 

This Next Chapter of Life

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I listen to a lot of YouTube videos, Ted Talks, podcasts. I tune them up, put in my earbuds and do stuff while I listen. Even the videos I usually just listen. I listen to such a weird variety of stuff you’d probably not believe it.

Well, I was listening to a Catholic priest the other day and he explained something so clearly, and I felt so accurately, that I ordered his book. So, I may be sharing more after I read it.

In his lecture, he described our lives as being in 2 distinct chapters. I sort of think there are more, but I won’t go into that here. He said that in the first part of our lives we are busy finding out who we are and building our lives. He called it, “Building our containers.” Who am I? Where did I come from? What am I here? What is my purpose? You know all those questions we ask when we’re young – and sometimes if we’re older if we had a challenging childhood.

We are busy getting married, starting families, building careers, etc. He then said the next chapter or second chapter we are more concerned with the “Contents of our container.” Here’s where we are searching for meaning. We begin to notice the quality of character, values, virtue, etc.

If this is an accurate description, then the whole decluttering thing makes sense. Whatever age you are when this happens (often late 40’s and in your 50’s) –  the kids are on their own, you’re in the latter stages of your career, your parents are passing away, you are realizing your own mortality, you are becoming more of a mentor, sage than a worker drone and you’re getting a few gray (WISDOM) hairs – you begin to feel this surge of a new life beginning. You realize you can do whatever you want to. Your kids are not taking all your money and your time. You’re old enough and smart enough and mature enough not to make stupid decisions so you can create a new life!

That’s why we want to shed all the stuff that weighs us down. We don’t need all the trappings we did when we were younger when we were competing when we were racing. We’re perfectly fine now with a cup of good coffee and a nice view. We don’t want to clean a huge house, we’re fine with a couple of rooms and good company. We no longer care about the container, we want the contents.

The tag line for my original Minimalist Grandma blog was, “freeing myself up so I can enjoy this next chapter.” I might adjust it slightly to say, “keeping myself free so I can enjoy this next chapter.”

Stay free my friends!

Peace,

Jill

Research Shows Clutter Causes Stress

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There was an article in The Washington Post today that shared the results of a study that was done about how clutter affects people.

The study proved that clutter can cause stress and raised cortisol levels in people living in it. The study showed that women are mostly more stressed about it than men because the burden of cleaning and maintaining the home still falls mostly to women.

The study also supported my constantly repeated idea, “You have to develop systems and routines to maintain the decluttered lifestyle otherwise it’s a waste of time.” Here’s a quote from the actual study that jumped out at me:

“Overall our findings suggest that a general propensity to procrastinate when it comes to attending to routine, everyday tasks, such as sorting and disposing of personal inventory items, can lead to clutter.” See! You have to keep up those organizing systems and routines!” 

And it continues, “Clutter while often regarded as a seemingly innocuous and common problem among adults, can escalate as people accumulate more possessions, and fail to routinely review their burgeoning inventories. At the extreme, clutter can reduce a person’s general satisfaction with life.” 

from NYT link from Current Psychology, June 2018, Vol. 37, Issue 2, pp 426-431

The underlining is me, haha!

In reality, we didn’t need scientific research to show that clutter stresses us out, we live with it!

So, let this study be an encouragement, a catalyst and a kick in the butt to get you motivated to start decluttering and organizing. Seriously, it will really help your overall well-being.

Peace and storage bins,

Jill

 

Your Home As Sanctuary

I want to give you permission today. I want to give you permission to protect your home, to keep it safe and make it your sanctuary.

Sanctuary is defined as: “a place of refuge or safety.”

I grew up in a home that was not safe and it was a place of drama and trauma. I watched as people came in and out of the house and as they did they brought pain, insult and drama. They were able to change the atmosphere physically, emotionally and spiritually as they wanted. No one protected our home.

So, as an adult, I determined that I would have a home that was safe and a place of refuge for me and my family and for anyone who would respect what I was trying to achieve.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.thingstodowithkids.com

I have had to fight to protect my home. I have had to work hard to guard its peace.

My home is my only place. I know I am welcome at my kid’s homes, at friend’s homes, but my house is mine. It’s my place. I have the authority to make it what I want it to be.

Husband and I pay the mortgage. So, we get to say what happens in it and to it. Drama and trauma people don’t have that right. Manipulative people don’t have the right. If I invite people into my home, it is understood that they follow the rules and honor the vibe. I set the tone, they don’t.

I want to give you permission to take control of your home. Your kids, extended family, and friends don’t have permission to take over and change your home physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Your home should be a place where you can take refuge and feel safe.

Peace and safety,

Jill