It’s Christmas in February!

The next category of stuff on the tidying list is “Seasonal Items.” For us, that just means all our Christmas decorations and my beach umbrella. Which are both equally strange to behold at the end of February.

It would have been FANTASTIC (and smart) to go through all the Christmas stuff before hauling it back to the attic at the beginning of this year, but alas.  I wasn’t ready yet! Plus, this session inspired me to get EVERYTHING out of the attic and find a home for it. There wasn’t a ton of stuff besides Christmas things in the attic, but what was left belonged to Husband and some of it (for shame) fell into categories I’d already been through.

I was pleased to find that each of the items he wanted to keep from the attic already had a perfect home that made sense given all the tidying and organizing we’ve done.

Now, there is exactly ONE storage tub in the attic, and in it lives a bunch of Husband’s musical-related items. It also weighs approximately 1,000 lbs. So I couldn’t even get it down, and he wasn’t ready to look through it yet.

But I digress. So Christmas stuff. A few years ago, Husband and I bought a skinny little

seasonal before
Not pictured: the Christmas tree box.  But it was there!

6.5ft fake Christmas tree. I love it. I love the smell of a real tree, but I ain’t about that mess though. (Plus I kill them because cannot be trusted to water them. Just like every other plant.)

You know the drill by now…everything went in a pile.

I knew I was keeping the Christmas tree. Aside from that, we had 3 plastic storage tubs, a box and a large bag housing all our Christmas decor.

Now that we have the skinny tree, I’ve only been putting my favorite and most meaningful ornaments on the tree.

seasonal donation
Donation pile…Merry Christmas, someone!

So I had a lot of ornaments to get rid of. And by a lot…I basically mean one giant container of ball ornaments that couldn’t possibly all fit on the tree. (I kept 4 silver glittery ones because, joy). We also have a huge nativity set that a former friend of my Mom’s gave to me. I’ve never really had anywhere to put it. It’s nice and all, but I figured someone else would get a lot more joy out of it than I will.

 

I am pleased to report that everything I kept fit in just two of the storage tubs (plus the tree in its box). We decided that said storage tubs would no longer live up in the attic as it is a HUGE pain to get things in and out of there.

seasonal keep
Kept, Sparkly Christmas Joy!

I decided to house them in our guest room closet which is HUGE.  It currently contains all of Husband’s many musical instruments (and one of my own!). I also keep pet carriers/crates for our menagerie of animals, our large vacuum, my wedding dress and a fan for guests in that closet. Deciding to keep Christmas stuff in there essentially forced me to organize it, which was fantastic.

seasonal storage
Off the floor, but easily accessible.  Yay!

It’s still a bit of a work in progress, although now everything in there that we might use regularly is easy to get to. I’d like to move some of the things in there to different homes (I haven’t tidied cleaning supplies or pet supplies yet!) and Husband will need some time to go through all his music stuff (plus the lonely 1000 lb bin still in the attic).

This was a tiring day, but very worth it as these sessions always are.  How blessed we are to openly celebrate Christ on Christmas and all year.  This is a luxury not found in MANY, MANY places around the world.  Just another of the countless reasons I’m thankful for this country and the freedoms we enjoy.

Next up is a BIG one: Kitchen stuff.

Until next time,

S

 

 

Finding Joy in the Garage

This past weekend, Husband and I tackled the terror, the disarray, the utter chaos that was….THE GARAGE!  This is how I felt *almost* until the VERY end:

me against the garage

I cannot even begin to accurately describe this mess.  Yes, I took pictures.  I will get to that.  NOT ONLY was there ZERO real organization in the garage, but the amount of leaves and sawdust and cobwebs adorning every possible nook and cranny was enough to make anyone shudder.  Not joyful.  ANYWAYS, once again, we covered several categories while out in the garage.  Some that are listed in “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and some that aren’t. We tidied:

  • Tools
  • Paint/painting supplies
  • Gardening supplies
  • Recreational Items (for us: bike gear & exercise equipment)

We have this great “Flow Wall” organizing thing, and some new wall-mounted shelves in the garage-neither of which had yet reached their full potential.  I can tell you that the ONE thing that will truly transform garage space is to hang as much stuff as humanly possible. We’re talking almost nothing on the floor.  We. had. a. lot. of. stuff. on. the. floor.

tools and rec 1
This “before” photo still stresses me out.

We sort of tackled tools first. Husband used to have a big, bulky work bench that we recently got rid of, and his step dad was nice enough to come over and build a new workstation.  So Husband was ready to re-organize the stuff he needs to do his bike mechanic wizardry and other manly tasks.  The first order of business was basically sorting through all the stuff that used to be in his work bench. There is no possible way I could begin to describe how many metal thingies there were.  ‘Tis the nature of bike-mechanic-man-ship, methinks.

tools and rec 5
The joy of tool sorting.  NOT.

I never could have done this on my own!  I wasn’t even really making decisions and I was completely overwhelmed.  And annoying. (Sorry, Husband.)  We had to have several piles going all at once: trash, donation, going to Husband’s step dad, keep and “needs further evaluation.”

EVENTUALLY, decisions were made about each little thingamabob.  Once that was done, I honestly didn’t feel any less overwhelmed.  We had a bunch of larger tools hanging on the flow wall, AND bins stuffed-to-overflowing-with- who-knows-what hanging there too.  So we decided that we needed to get everything ELSE sorted as best we could and clean up all the debris laying around on the floor before we tackled the actual flow wall mess.  As KonMari says: discard FIRST, then organize/put away!  It truly takes WAAAAY too long if you try to organize as you go.  And you can’t exactly sort through things on a floor covered with dust and debris.

All we really did in the first couple hours was just part of the first half of the garage.  The second half of our garage had a bunch of crap lined up against the walls and in two little “cubbies”.

tools and rec 3  tools and rec 4tools and rec 2

As you can see, it was a mish mash of stuff stuffed in every which place.  But our goal with was to have everything in the cubbies or hanging on the walls, in some order that made a lick of sense, and with the things we use the most as easily accessible as possible.

We decided to tackle paints and painting supplies next.  We did some tools and rec 6research and found a Benjamin Moore paint store in our area that would recycle old paint (although not for free).  So, we made a big pile and decided what to keep.  The keepers all went into one storage bin, and we had two bins of stuff to recycle. And of course, new additions to the trash bag.

Once we had sorted through painting stuff, we decided to get EVERYTHING out of the garage so we could sweep/blow out the aforementioned leaves, sawdust and cobwebs. This was no easy task.  We had a leak in our kitchen several months ago that meant our floors needed to be replaced.  We had some other work done in the kitchen as well, and all the cutting of materials took place IN our garage.  I am convinced that THE DUST FROM THAT WILL NEVER FULLY BE GONE.

As pure luck would have it, once we got all the saw-dusty cobweb-covered things out of the garage and onto the driveway, it began to rain lightly.  This of course turned the dust into more of a….mud….paste.  Then the blower died halfway through my blowing.  I wanted to give up.  But alas, I went to get the broom instead.  I swept, I wiped things down that we were keeping and brought them back in the garage, put donation things in the car, and put all the trash at the curb.

Finally we were ready to take everything off the flow wall, and sort kept items to be hung up.  It was MUCH easier to decide what should go where once it was all in piles that made sense. After that, the blower was back in business so I finished up with that. We took a break to shower, eat dinner and get a couple supplies at Home Depot.  And then, after a little stud-finding and nailing and LITERALLY AN ENTIRE DAY…we were done.

 

These pictures really don’t do it justice!  Suffice to say we both know where everything is, and it’s all organized in a way that makes sense.  No more dread of going out here in search of anything!

We have plans (perhaps in the spring) to buy a garage floor coating kit from Home Depot

garage floor kit
Photo credit: HomeDepot.com

and transform our floors. But honestly, even just blowing/sweeping it out made a WORLD of difference.  Add a quick wiping off of the baseboards and VIOLA!  A clean looking, well-organized, garage that actually makes me joyful.  I actually LIKE going out there now.  I never thought this day would come.

This is arguably our greatest accomplishment thus-far.  For that, and the lack of leaves that stick to my socks when I take trash out now…I am so grateful.

Until next time…….S

 

 

 

Unprepared for the Apocalypse? You’re Not Alone.

Today’s tidying agenda:

  • Emergency Supplies
  • Rain Gear
  • GAMES!

“Emergency Supplies” was defined as flashlights and survival kits in “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.  We have 3 flashlights and exactly NO survival kits.  You guys, I don’t even know what would be in a “survival kit.”  Freeze dried astronaut food?  MORE flashlights?  Flares?  A CB radio?  Clearly we are not prepared for the apocalypse.

Our “rain gear” consists of one umbrella for each of us.  We have no galoshes, or ponchos, or any other thing that will help anyone in case of a monsoon.

If there’s a disaster, don’t come here.  Unless you want to play games by candlelight. I kept a lot of candles.  And we have games.

Games were pretty simple to clear out and give away because we didn’t have many to begin with.  I kept favorites and let go of what we weren’t using.  Before and after below:

games before

 

games kept

Once again, the items kept fit perfectly with room to spare into the cabinet that houses games and DVDs.  And of course, I had a nice little container of items to donate for someone who will get more use out of them than I.

I never used to be a big fan of games, but now I really enjoy them.  Especially when our game-geek friends/family come over to play and teach us fun new games.  (I’m looking at you, Ryan/Bethany and Matt/Megan!)

I feel as though this newfound game-joy started around the time Husband and I got rid of cable.  We still watch TV, but mostly now we’re tuning in to specific shows that we really love.  It’s much more intentional, which is fantastic.  It’s also much more fulfilling in a way-we’ve cleared away TV clutter in order to ONLY watch shows we really love, OR do something else like play games with friends.  I used to LOVE zoning out in front of the TV. And I guess I still do from time to time, but these days, I’d much rather chat over dinner (and wine!) or play games when people come over.  I suppose this is all a part of my desire to interact more intentionally with people and less with screens.

Now, who wants to come over and talk to me and play games?!?!?

 

S

 

Crafty Crafts & Fluffy Things

Today I tackle art and crafting supplies and toys-random, I know.

I added arts & crafts supplies as a category (maybe this is my “sewing kit” category!), but it’s kind of a hybrid of the office supply category, too.  I came across some crafts stuff (stick on letters, scrap booking type papers) as I was cleaning out office supplies, and I took care of that stuff then.  But I also had scraps of fabric, and some leftovers from making hanging pots of fake flowers for our front porch.  AND I paint, so I have a good bit of painting supplies as well.

Honestly, this “category” was pretty easy.  I trashed the fabrics I didn’t love, and any scrap

fabric kept
Fabric scraps I kept!

booking items that didn’t spark joy.  The fabric I kept lives in our master linen closet, since there’s plenty of shelf space open in there now.  Scrap book items and miscellaneous craft stuff (like my one giant flower stencil) live in the office supply cabinet under the printer.

I didn’t get rid of any of my painting supplies-I haven’t been “collecting” them that long to begin with!  Most of the painting supplies I have are relatively new; I haven’t been painting on my own for much more than a year at this point.

art station
All of this brings me joy.  🙂

PLUS, I am planning to ramp up my art endeavors in the near future which I will be excited to share here when the time is right.  🙂

So, one of the next categories is “stuffed toys.”  I just called it “toys.”  While Husband and I do not have any kids just yet, we DO have a highly adorable niece and nephew that come over from time to time.  We have a little fabric storage cube of toys for them to play with.  I also had a giant tub/storage container filled with stuffed animals I’d kept over the years. There were no throwaways from the downstairs toy bin, but there were some stuffed animals in there. I gathered those and made a pile.

I can’t really explain why this was so hard for me.  But at the risk of sounding certifiably insane, I will attempt it.  Ever since I was a kid, I just….have always looooooved stuffed animals.  If I ever dropped one, I felt mean. If my brother ever threw one at me, I felt worse for the stuffed animal than myself.  Weird, I know.  And yes, I realize that these are not LIVE animals.  NONETHELESS, it was hard to look them in their tiny little eyes and be all, “BYE, YOU’RE OUT OF HERE, CUTE FURRY THING.”

I am happy to say, however, that I persevered.  After staring at the pile for *quite* some

stuffed animals kept
The lucky survivors!

time, I actually plucked out the ones that sparked joy REALLY quickly.  Judge me all you want for the stuffed banana, but that has survived like 4 moves AND HE STAYS. ESPECIALLY after I threw it across the room for my little Pomeranian; she bounced off after it and happily trotted back to me holding it in her mouth like a ginormous yellow smile. *SQUEAL*

One of the many perks of this process has been freeing up storage spaces.  We have a basket with a lid downstairs that I absolutely LOVE. But it’s empty now, because the things that live in it either didn’t make the cut, or live elsewhere.  And I know I shouldn’t be surprised at this, BUT, all the toys from our little toy box, plus all these stuffed animals fit perfectly in there.  Now, when my niece and nephew come over (or any other children for that matter!), everything they might want to play with is in one spot, easily accessible.  CHEERS.

One last stuffed animal note: I had a favorite stuffed animal growing up.  It is a stuffed white cat.  Rather predictably, I called it “big white kitty,” BIGGIE for short, and I (no joke) dressed up as it for Halloween for 2 or 3 years in a row.  This thing is RATTY, ya’ll.  It is threadbare in places, and I’m 99% sure the

stuffed animal sentimental
I even made up a song about this cat.

tail fell off at one point.  My Mom re-stuffed it and sewed the tail back on.  I almost let it go, but I couldn’t.  I’m not sure I could say that it definitely sparks joy, but it DOES spark a certain sentimentality.  And like my blankie from when I was little-I decided to keep good ‘ol Biggie.

I REGRET NOTHING.

Next time, I will be stuck out in the garage sifting through tools and crap.  I can’t say I’m looking forward to that one, but it desperately needs to be done! Thankfully, Husband has agreed to let me take him captive for this session. Lucky him. 🙂

Until Then,

S

 

 

Various, Joyous Miscellany

You guys, there are 20-something tidying categories under the heading “Miscellaneous” in “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.  I’ve noticed that there are a few that don’t really apply to much in our home, and I’ve noticed a few that are missing.  Still others were categories I’d already spent a good bit of time cleaning out last year.  So I’m going to be consolidating most of what’s left as I blog through all of this.

SO, this time, I’m covering:

  • Sewing kits
  • Valuables
  • Collectibles
  • Linen & Bedding
  • Towels

People in Japan must do A LOT more sewing than I do because it never would have crossed my mind to make a category specifically for “sewing kits”.  Nonetheless, I had two.  I also found A LOT of buttons.

sewing kits
I found a ton more buttons after this.  the little sewing kit on the right is what I kept.

I donated one of the sewing kits, threw out all the buttons and kept a tiny sewing kit.  (Even though I have used a sewing kit a total of ZERO times.)  Eh, well!  At least I have one.  I might also point out that my mother can sew her brains out…perhaps another reason I’ve been too spoiled to need to sew on my own!  I suppose this would make sense as a category for anyone who actually sews.  🙂

Next up was valuables, like wallets, money (including checks and credit cards and gift cards and coupons) and passports.  We do not have like…wallets and money laying around.  Unless you count our jar of change, which, I guess I should because that sucker has like $35 in it or something!  Husband and I each have only one wallet.  Anyways, I had already done a lot of coupon organizing when I went through papers.  This session basically consisted of me cleaning out my purses and throwing away old credit cards and receipts and stuff. Everything went into our safe except items we’re actively using in our wallets, current coupons and our money jar.  Pretty boring.  I didn’t take pictures. Because it was boring.

Originally, I thought the collectibles category was a bust.

rocks kept
Who wants this donation pile?!

But then I remembered my rock collection. After trashing everything that was just, well, a plain looking rock, I was left with a few shiny things that didn’t seem like trashcan material.  But now I’m stuck.  Can you donate rocks to Goodwill?????  Ima try.

The final category for this post is linens, bedding and towels.  I did a MAJOR overhaul on our two linen closets last year.  But I still got rid of a lot (mostly towels) and reorganized a little bit.  I must confess that I did NOT make a pile to begin this category. This prompted Husband to accuse me of getting lazy.  IN MY DEFENSE, we keep these items in only TWO places in the house, so they’re all practically together anyways.  AND I felt like I already had a good handle how much we had, mostly because of all the purging I’d already done.  Below, my finished linen closets.

linens master  linens guest

The master bedroom linen closet is getting kinda empty, and I love it.  I decided last year that I don’t need more than 3 sheet sets for our bed…in fact, 2 would suffice.  But I kept 3 because they all bring me joy.  And 6 towels is also probably too many for 2 people, but husband and I have very different requirements when it comes to towels, so it is what it is right now!

The guest room linen closet obviously has more stuff in it, but it includes beach towels and spare comforters.  I am pretty pleased with how this turned out.  Looking at these pictures together, it still seems like a lot of stuff, but it feels good to me at the moment.

linens donateThe donation box was of course still stuffed and overflowing. And most of this came from the guest room linen closet since ours was already whittled down quite a bit.

As I go through all these categories of things, I’ve been surprised how much I held onto over the years. I’ve never looked at my things as critically as I am now.   I still had towels that my parents probably bought 20 years ago, for crying out loud! It’s like it’s taken me until the ripe age of 33 to realize that I am FULLY an adult, and I no longer need to hang onto every hand me down like I did when I first moved out on my own.

And once again, looking at my pictures, I’m thinking about how much I still have.  The joy test has been so helpful as I purge.  But I have a feeling that there may still be more to come.

I’ve talked a lot about pushing myself and maybe even getting a little uncomfortable.  And I’ve certainly done some of that, but I know I can do more.  The reality is, I could probably get rid of 5-6 more towels and not even miss them.  I’d still have plenty for us AND for guests. That’s the most eye opening thing about this process as a whole as I look back. Every time a HUGE pile goes out the door for donation, I almost immediately forget what went. And I always, always, still have PLENTY.  Not just enough, PLENTY.  So I’m constantly asking myself, “What more can I give, what more can I give?”

For now, I’ll keep trucking through my remaining categories, looking for joy and finding it (plus many more heaping doses of gratitude).

Until next time,

S

 

Keeping an Eternal Perspective

One of the things I think a lot about as I reduce the amount of things in our home is eternity.

I remember years ago, a series Louie Giglio did called something like “Living as if Heaven is Your Great Reward.”  While I cannot recall specifics from the nights he spoke about this topic, it always stuck with me. And these days, I think I’m finally scratching the surface of what it means to live life in light of the reality of Heaven.

Anna R. Brown Lindsay said, “We may let go all things which we cannot carry into the

let go of things
Photo taken in Isle of Palms, SC

eternal life.”  What a timely sentiment as I seek to let go of worldly possessions.  The reality is, no matter how much wealth or how many things we amass on this earth, they will not accompany us to our coffins and/or to the hereafter.

People rightly strive to have the basics needed to live, and it’s OK to have things that you want too, but there IS a point where buying more or getting more will no longer satisfy whatever it is you’re longing for. That point may look different for different people, but I believe it is something worth really, honestly exploring in your own life.

Even if you don’t believe in Heaven or anything after death, why not think about how much “stuff” the people you leave behind on this earth will have to deal with?  This is not a pleasant thought, but it honestly is one that I think about as I tidy and de-clutter and vow to remain vigilant about how much stuff we let enter our home.  I don’t want to pass away some day and leave a mansion and a storage unit filled with STUFF for my loved ones to deal with.  I’d much rather pass on things that I truly cherished, found joy in, or that meant something to me or to our family.  This kind of thinking gets us outside of ourselves, thus I think it’s important to consider as we decide how much space and how many things we really require to live.

Keeping an eternal perspective keeps you grounded; keeps you focused on what really matters in life.  In the end, it will not matter what car I drove, or what my house looked

obey god help people
Photo taken in Highlands, NC

like, or what I wore today.  Those things will pass away.  What will matter is whether or not I made other people feel loved in the time I had here.  In one of her many books, Joyce Meyer wrote that while Jesus was here on earth,  “He focused on obeying God and helping people.”  We would do well to follow that example as best we can.

And let us remember that God takes us all on our own paths; we each have the opportunity to have our own special and rich relationship with Him.  The things He asks of me probably will not be the things He asks of you.  You have unique talents that I do not possess and vice versa.  And I believe that nothing will make us more content on this earth than putting our relationship with God first, obeying what He leads us to do, and loving people.  I hope at the end of the day, He will tell me I did well with these things.

Until next time,

S

Crusty Old Medicine

Confession: whilst cleaning out our supply of medicines, I was MOST excited about finding the oldest expiration date in my pile.  I am not a believer in hard & fast expiration dates onmedicine pile medicines…most of them certainly work past that date. BUT, when purging excess, it’s a good rule of thumb to whittle the initial pile down.

I might also say that medicine doesn’t necessarily “spark joy.”  Obviously my criteria for what to keep here was quite a bit more utilitarian.

The majority of our medicine lives in a cabinet in our master bathroom, and a plastic storage bin.  (Some items like vitamins live in the pantry, and I had a few items in my nightstand.)  My starting pile doesn’t look as big as it really was once everything was out of the containers.

This goes fast, especially when you stick with the expiration date rule.  AND THE OLDEST THING I FOUND WAS FROM 2002.  Like I said…I am not super strict when it comes to expired medicines, but I’m talking about a few months to a year.  Not 14 years.  That’s excessive.  And gross.  And probably crusty.

medicine organizedTo my GREAT delight (but not really surprise anymore) the items I kept fit perfectly in the cabinet in our bathroom and the little plastic bin for the pantry.

I tried to organize by type of medicine, and put things in front that are used more often.

And the big plastic drawer I had filled with stuff is now completely empty and ready to possibly be put to better use in some other space (I’m thinking pet supplies or pantry day).

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but man.  Once again, I am feeling so thankful and blessed when I reflect on this session.  In a previous post, I mentioned the documentary “Living on One Dollar.”  A group of guys travels to rural Guatemala and attempts to replicate life in a small, rural farming town by living on one dollar per day.  At one point in the Documentary, one of the guys gets very ill and ends up having a nasty little bacteria called Giardia.  He needed antibiotics desperately.  Because of their limited income, he had enough money to travel to the doctor, but not afford the medication. Luckily, they had an emergency fund that they tapped into so he could get his fluids replenished and recover.

Thinking back to that portion of the documentary, I remember feeling so….HEAVY. People in that village probably face difficulties like that on a regular basis. And sitting here now, reflecting on cleaning up our medicine supply, I’m of course painfully aware of how EASY it is for us to have the medicines we need.  And it’s humbling to think about how many people in the world have to suffer through sicknesses for which medicine exists because they cannot afford to get to it or even a doctor in some cases.

Yet, light shines in the darkest places.  Even in this village, among some of the poorest of the poor, the people who live there always place some of their income into a “community fund” and each month, a different family gets to have the whole fund.  There is also one man in the community who has a regular job cleaning rooms at a motel.  He is not rich by any means, but he has a more steady income than the others.  He gives and helps and feeds his neighbors whenever he can.  Talk about selfless.  Oftentimes, it’s a lot easier to be giving when you know what it feels like to be desperately in need.

We are blessed, people.  So blessed.  I am starting to believe that the only comparisons I find blessingsshould ever make are the ones with folks who have less than I do.  For most Americans, that is so very counter-cultural.  We live in a world where we are BOMBARDED with advertisements and everywhere we look, we find the message that we need MORE.  No one talks enough about needing less and yet many of us could CERTAINLY survive (and in MANY cases, THRIVE) with a LOT less.  I’d rather compare myself with a person who has little so that I might continue to be humble and thankful.  So that I might have an opportunity to help that person meet a need, or pray for that person.

It is so easy to get pulled down by the gravity of what others deal with on a daily basis, but I think that’s necessary for us sometimes.  And I think if we could all focus a little less on things we want and focus more on what we can do to help someone else, the world would be a much better, happier place.  I’m as guilty of being selfish and materialistic as the next person.  But it is my intention to walk as far from those things as I can and guard my heart against them.  I can only do it with God’s help.  But He who starts a good work in me will finish it.

Until next time,

S