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

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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

 

Decluttering For Young Mothers: What I Wish I Knew Then

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I have a lot of young mothers in my life and I’d like to share some ideas that I have discovered as I’ve decluttered my life and well, basically, since I’ve gotten older. I think I might be able to help you a little in this area of decluttering, organizing and keeping your life simple so you can enjoy your family.

Let’s be honest, having kids, raising kids, is all very emotionally charged. Little things they give you, rocks, flowers, a piece of paper they colored means the world to you!!

The clothes they wore when they were infants, that card that great-grandma sent when she found out you were pregnant – all these things are pregnant with meaning and emotion.

If you keep every little thing that touches your heart, you will be drowning in stuff before your kids graduate high school. I know. I did.

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE (OF STUFF)…

Your kids make things. They save things. They give you things. Not long after they make, save or give, that thing is highly important! “Where’s that acorn, Mom?!” And if you threw it out their heart will be broken. From then on out, you save the acorns.

When they get a bit older, you’ll pull out that acorn and you will be all sentimental and tenderhearted about it remembering precious moments and your child will be like, “That’s just an acorn, Mom, OMG, you’re so dumb!” Then your heart will be broken.

Then when they’ve graduated and moved to college and you’re drowning in acorns, you’re ready to throw them out and your child says, “I don’t care, Mom, do what you want, it doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Then you’re at a crisis point, standing in the living room with your hands and house full of acorns not knowing what to do.

WE’RE NOT FULL CIRCLE YET…

Then your child “finds someone.” They fall in love. They want to show them their childhood and the acorns. Lucky you saved them. Their heart is bursting to share their acorns with the one they love. Hearts are happy. You’re glad you saved them.

Then they get married and start a home. “Yay!” you shout. “I can finally get these acorns out of my house.” But your child says, “I don’t want them, they’ll clutter up my house.” You’re angry. “Those stupid acorns have been cluttering up my house for years and now you don’t want them? I’m not your storage service!” There you are in the living room with your hands and house still full of acorns. You still don’t know what to do.

Then, the babies are born. You pull out the acorns and you and your child cry and take pictures of the babies with the acorns. “I’m so glad I kept them!” You sob. “I’m so glad you did, too, Mom!” Your child hugs you. Hearts are happy!

“Now you can take the acorns to your house,” you say to the new mother. “What? No. I don’t have room. Can’t you just keep them here?” SMH. Here we go again.

WHAT TO DO?

I told you a really long story to give you a short and simple solution: Save one acorn.

Actually, you have 2 choices. Save one acorn or get a plastic bin, put it in the closet and every time your kid brings, gives you or colors an acorn, put it in the bin and got through all the acorns when they’re 18.

It would have been easier and quicker if I had made the decisions as I went along. I suggest that way. Yes, you have to make emotionally charged decisions as you go along. You’ll have to choose between the painting of that blue blob or the unidentifiable clay thing. But believe me, it’s easier than drowning in tons of stuff.

Fortunately, technology is here to help you. I wish I had this when my kids were little.

SAVING YOUR KID’S ARTWORK

Thankfully, The Pioneer Woman did a blog post that gives you 4 apps that help you digitally save your kid’s artwork and then you can have them printed and bound in books. The perfect gift to give them when they leave home and/or have kids of their own when they can really appreciate it! I wish I had this! Click HERE to go to PW’s website.

SAVING YOUR KID’S CERTIFICATES AND AWARDS

I haven’t searched (and in fact, you might be able to use the same app) but you could do the same sort of thing with certificates that your child receives. In these days where kids get awards for breathing and being alive, you’ll end up with a lot of them. So, create a digital copy and discreetly dispose of the certificate. As far as actual trophies, let me segway into my next topic…

KEEPSAKES AND PRECIOUS ITEMS

For those trophies and little things that are precious that the kids give you or save or make, here’s what I did. I bought a relatively cheap curio cabinet from Ikea. A china cabinet would work, too. A curio cabinet is a cabinet with glass doors and shelves inside. Then you can put all those items on display! When the cabinet fills up, then you can make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. And by then, the decision may be easier because the cuteness and sweetness may have worn off. I made a rule that all that stuff HAD to fit in the cabinet. That was its place. (and my mantra is, “Everything must have a place!”) So, I made it all fit! You could also TAKE A PHOTO OF IT AND KEEP THE PHOTO!

BABY CLOTHES & TOYS

I will refer back to the acorn story. Save one or two important items. Save the dedication/christening outfit and one or two others. And only save a couple of special toys. Here are some reasons:

  • Your daughter may only have boys and your son may only have girls and you’ll end up with a bunch of clothes for nothing but just looking at once or twice.
  • Your kids won’t use them for real. It will be fun to pull out and look at take one or two photos with the babies wearing it. But believe me, your grandkids will not wear those old, out of date, dry rotted, yellowed clothes that have been in storage for 20 years to preschool. Seriously.
  • The toys will be dangerous and out-of-date. I say that with confidence because, by the year 2039, there will be more and different safety regulations and your kids WILL follow current safety trends no matter how safe you thought their toys were today.

PHOTOS AND VIDEOS

As much as it’s trendy to print out photos or have those cute canvases, tiles or books,  I am telling you, listen to one who lived through the years of rolls of film, negatives and prints and VHS tapes and the giant cameras, 8mm and the projectors – DIGITIZE YOUR PHOTOS AND VIDEOS!! I have 30+ years of videos and photos on 2 thumb drives. And I LOVE photos! So much easier and SAFER! We had a pipe burst and I almost lost all of my photos and VHS tapes- and they were the originals with no other copies!

You are probably more familiar with what is available out there. I’ve heard of several apps that might help, so look around.

HEIRLOOMS & MEMORABILIA

Heirlooms are special items that are passed down from generation to generation. Memorabilia are souvenirs, things you saved to remember a special time or event.

Let me give you a general rule of thumb: Your kids don’t want your stuff! 

However, heirlooms are important and they will get them whether they want them or not. Then I’ve done my familial duty and they can decide if they want to stop the chain and get haunted by Grandpa Jack, haha!

As far as heirlooms that originate with you, your jewelry or special items that you own, you need to decide exactly who gets it and make sure you state that in your will. (GET A WILL MADE, EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU’RE TOO YOUNG TO MAKE A WILL!) Store the item carefully, or better yet, use it and have it out so the memories of you using it will go along with the item.

About your memorabilia, your kids won’t have your memories to go along with it so it won’t mean anything to them. They might like to look at the stuff once but don’t pressure them to keep it forever. What a burden! And get rid of it before you kick the bucket so they won’t have the guilt of having to give it to Goodwill or chuck it in the trash. Do them a favor!

COMBINE SOME IDEAS

Since my kids are older, I was able to create some shadow boxes to display important items and photos all at the same time. I have one devoted to my daughter’s ballet years with her shoes, photos, newspaper clippings, etc. That way they’re protected and on display to enjoy all the time. The act of limiting the items and photos to what will fit in the display made me have to choose and eliminate thereby trimming down the number of keepsakes.

WHEN WILL YOU STOP BEING THE STORAGE SERVICE OR FAMILY MUSEUM CURATOR?

I decided that when my kids were settled in their adult lives I would stop storing their stuff. In our case, when they were married and settled in a home. It helped, too, when they had their own kids. That’s when they could see how meaningful the stuff was.

After they were settled, that’s when I said, “Come get your stuff or I’m going to get rid of it.” Then, when they didn’t take stuff that I thought they should have, I realized it meant more to me than to them. I had to decide again and I kept one acorn. So, I still have a cabinet of my favorite things that belonged to my kids. I have some shadow boxes. Of course, it’s up to you!

NOW THAT I PREDICTED YOUR FUTURE…

Let me remind you that decluttering and living that minimalist life is very difficult with kids. Your kids are their own people and it may be important to them to keep stuff. Be patient, you can have their room back in 18 years. And that goes by too quickly! You can let them have their space for now to become the people they’re meant to be.

Also, you are being financially responsible to hang on to toys and clothes that the next child can use. So, don’t get frustrated that you have to have more storage space than that cute childless couple in Simplify magazine.

Unless you spend every waking hour chasing after your child and guaranteeing that they will need counseling when they’re older, just resign yourself to the FACT that your house will be messy, dirty, crazy, CLUTTERED and unorganized most of the time. You can reel it back under control periodically, but this is your life with kids. Don’t worry, when you’re my age, you can have your minimalist dream house. But by then you’ll miss the craziness!

Do the best you can.

I wish you peace and sleep,

Jill

 

 

The Emotion of Color

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I have a friend who is so laid back and we tease him about how he can just put up with anything and nothing bothers him. There’s an old joke about someone like that who they say, “sat on a nail and didn’t move. When someone asked him if it hurt and shouldn’t he get up and move he said, ‘Nah, I’ll get used to it directly.'”

Sometimes I think that there are things in our lives that we just put up with and suffer from when, with a little effort, we could be freer and happier.

That’s the way I feel about decluttering and organizing. I don’t think people realize what a burden clutter can be. It’s a mental, back-of-the-mind sort of burden. That’s the way I feel about To Do lists, too. It mentally bogs me down until I can get all the things done.

But I’m straying off topic.

I want to talk about color in our homes and how it can help or hurt us.

Husband and I heard a statistic yesterday, “Most people live in an average of 11 homes in their lifetimes.” We did the math and it’s true for us. 9 of those homes we lived in were rentals. We were very restricted to what we could do to make those homes comfortable and peaceful. We had to live in what we had.

So, I understand that, but if you have some freedom or own your own home, you can do things to create a living space that nurtures your body, soul, and spirit. Simply by addressing color. You may not realize that color is affecting your mood and your ability to concentrate or sleep unless you pay attention.

One thing you can do is to be intentional about the colors you choose for each room. You can paint the walls or if you’re not allowed to, then choose fabrics and rugs and accents to change the effect.

Think about what each room is used for and choose a color that supports that activity. You can do some research yourself online, read some articles, it’s not secret information after all. But here’s a basic introduction:

Blue .         Calming, peaceful, soothing. Good for bedrooms and bathrooms. Think of the sky and the ocean. Pair it with the color of sand or white for a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere.

Red .         Exciting, motivating, energetic. Good for rooms where you are very active. Living room, dining room, kitchen. Too much can be overwhelming. Orange is in this category, too. I think of a big glass of orange juice to give you a kick start to your day.

Yellow .     Warm, cheery, friendly. Yellow reflects light so it’s good for dim rooms. I think of daisies, bright and happy.

Green .      Natural, relaxing, welcoming. Great color for offices, living rooms, and bedrooms. I think of forests, bamboo, green fields. A great natural color.

Purple .     The color of royalty, dignity. Be careful with the shade and how much you use.

Black .      Elegance in small amounts. Of course, don’t overdo it or it will be depressing.

White .     Crisp, clean. Gives a bright, airy feel to rooms.

Tan, Beige, Sand. These natural colors pair well with almost any color. They give a soothing, relaxing effect. Think of a day on the beach in the sand.

Of course, the shade of these colors you choose can affect the mood, too. So, think carefully before you overdo it.

I know there are people out there who like wild, bold colors and lots of patterns and that’s awesome in the right setting like a studio where you want to be inspired to be creative. However, I would never be able to relax in a bedroom like that.

See, clutter, in all it’s varied colors and shapes affect us in the same way. When you have a room full of clutter, your eyes can’t stop flitting from item to item and so you’re not encouraged to rest and focus.

These are just some things to think about. I hope it helps, encourages and inspires you!

Blues and greens to you,

Jill

 

 

An Organized 2019!

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Happy New Year! 

 

I’d like to invite you to go to my page titled, “An Organized 2019!” where I will be writing posts to help you declutter, minimize, and organize your home, your possessions, and your life so you can free yourself up to enjoy more of the things that matter to you! 

I will be giving you about 2 weeks of instruction, advice, and encouragement to help you achieve some peace of mind.

So, hop on over to that page and let’s have some fun!

Peace,

Jill

 

Minimizing My DVD Storage

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Even though my minimizing started a few years ago, it’s still going on. It’s a lifestyle now, I guess. Even as I was unpacking the boxes and getting settled in, I found myself still weeding out. I’ve taken several trips to Goodwill and thrown out even more stuff. I’ve now started putting giveaway stuff immediately in the back of my car to drop off on my next trip into town.

I was packing my old house before I knew what my new house would be like, so I moved some “just in case” things. I kept a couple of floor lamps that I’ve since given away and some storage baskets that I just didn’t end up needing and my daughter took those home with her after this last visit.

So, when I got in this new house I decided where I wanted to put my DVD collection, but I didn’t want to buy a piece of furniture just for them. I didn’t want to spend the money on a bookshelf or DVD shelves or some sort of cabinet. So, I did a frantic Pinterest search and discovered a simple and cheap way to store my DVDs so they didn’t take up much space – put them in CD sleeves in a 3-ring binder! Brilliant!

So, I ordered a 3-ring binder and CD sleeves from Amazon and typed up a Table of Contents so I don’t have to flip through the whole thing in order to decide.

The downside is that you have to get rid of all the cases with the photos and inserts. But do you want to downsize or not? Sacrifice! And then you have to throw them all out. I discovered that some recycling centers will take them as well as some libraries.

It was like a V-8 moment, DUH! Why didn’t I do this sooner?

Happy organizing!

Peace,

Jill

Minimalist? Haha!

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This is a still shot from a video of Husband and me closing the door on our home of 22 years. 

If you’ve followed me, you know that I had moved toward a more minimalist lifestyle. At least moved toward thinking minimally. I blogged about it. I came up with a decluttering strategy. I worked for about a year (or more) to minimalize our home. You can read about it in my earlier blogs. I even called my blog “Minimalist Grandma” for a while to chronicle my journey into minimalism.

Then the move came.

Let me say up front that I am SO glad that I took the time to declutter and minimalize. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to move the contents of a house that we lived in for 22 years across the country.

It made the move easier because I did not have to make any decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of at the time of packing and the move. I knew that everything in the house was going with us.

 

However…..when the movers came and boxed up – what I considered our bare necessities – it was shocking! We had SO much stuff!! I was SO surprised that we still had so much stuff, crap, whatever you want to call it.

I laughed at myself for thinking I was anywhere near a minimalist.

It was really embarrassing to think that it took 3 companies to move our belongings across the country. 3 companies! The packers, the movers and then the specialty company to come pack up our tv and my large mirror. 3 companies.

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The packers and movers even acted like they had never seen so much stuff in their lives. But then, maybe they just hate their jobs, haha!

We had an interim period of about a month where the company stored our stuff and we stayed with our kids until we found and closed on a house.

Then we moved in. IMG_2638 5.JPG

Now, this house is much larger than our old house and so when our stuff got inside, it didn’t seem like much. And it only took me a few days to unpack and a week or so to get everything in its general place. (You know it takes years to really settle in) So, I took that as a sign that my minimalistic effort had some benefit.

But to be honest, I still really can’t believe that I still have SO MUCH STUFF! If you knew how many trips to Goodwill and how many bags of trash and how much stuff I gave away, you’d understand. And even while unpacking here, I had a bag for trash and I’ve taken several trips to Goodwill. I’m still decluttering!

Husband hates it when I say this, because we are still recovering from the move, but I am thinking ahead to when we move from this house to the house we will retire in and thinking about what to get rid of. I don’t want to move so much stuff ever again!

I’m glad we’re finally here. I’m glad that everything went relatively smoothly with only a few bumps along the way. I’m thankful for my stuff, too.

But let me give you some advice…declutter now!

Peace,

Jill