Thursday, January 30, 2014

Project 20:14 Small Stuff 05

Today was a busy day with outside appointments and catching up on some errands before heading out this weekend.

Sticking with my parameters, I set out to declutter/de-own one small drawer.  I got on such a roll that in 20 minutes I managed to clean through 2!  These drawers are in my nightstand.  I bought this piece about 4 years ago to hold my pajamas and some journals, nighttime reading, and to have a place to hold my lamp.

I had so much JUNK stuffed into these drawers and what's more, I had ZERO reason for keeping 98% of it!  Of the 2% I kept, 90% of that were items that were not put into their proper place, ie, books that should have been placed into the bookcase, pens and highlighters that belong in the office, and cell  phone cords which belong to phones I no longer own.

Now my stand is holding precious letters from my children, husband, and friends.  My filled journals and a few sentimental items that I will probably keep for a very long time.  This morning these special things were mixed in with so much trash that it is impossible to think that any of it mattered to me.  Tonight, these drawers are special places that will no longer be a catch-all for things with no home.

I am beginning to see the journey to less is about more than getting rid of stuff.  It is embracing what is truly important, making room for those things, those people, and letting go of all that weighs me down.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Project 20:14 Parameters 04

Thinking it might be beneficial to lay out some parameters with regard to the Project.

With regards to decluttering/de-owning

*Be patient and positive.  We didn't acquire these possessions overnight, we won't de-own them overnight. Rest assured, it won't take as long to de-own as it did to possess!

*Be diligent.  Do one thing every day, even something small, a drawer, a cabinet, a shelf.  Some days will be very productive, some will be about taking baby steps.  Like the saying goes, "Just Do It".  

*Try to get a price for anything worth value, but don't hold onto it if it doesn't sell.  Put a "sell by" date on the item and then give it away for free to someone who can be blessed by it or donate it to a charity.

*Storing of items for growing children is helpful budget-wise, but save nothing that will not be worn within two years.  By then it will be out-dated.  It could bless another child before it is used by ours.

*Grandkids can have one container of toys kept here.  All else is given to them directly or donated.

*While decluttering, ask if keeping it will provide one or more of these things:
      *Is it something we love?
      *Does it serve a function? (Even if the function is that it adds beauty, within reason)
      * Does it reflect who we are as a family?
      *Is it beautiful?
      *Would someone else love this more than us?
      *Is having this item worth the maintenance to keep it?
      *Do we possess the item or does it possess us?

*When bringing new items in
      *Do we need this?
      *Are we paying cash for it or taking on debt for it?
      *Does it help us to fulfill our Family Mission?
      *Is it worth the work it will take to maintain it, store it, possess it?
      *Does this allow us to continue to have fewer things while having a fuller life?

As I go through this journey I may add to or edit some of these parameters.  I think the most important is to just start.  Go through the easiest rooms first and work towards the more challenging areas which for me will be photos, books, and sentimental items.  

Project 20:14 New things 03

Today I spent some time at Hobby Lobby today and happened upon a pair of lamps that were originally 89.99.  They were on clearance for 18.00 each.  These are the deals I just can't say no to, especially when they meet my newfound mantra, do I love these and will I love them in 5years?   Yes and Yes!

My prayer corner with lamp that does not offer enough light

New Lamp, fantastic light

I also found an answer to my fruit bowl problem.  Because of the gas bananas give off, they can not be kept too close to the other fruit because it causes the other fruit to spoil too quickly.  Banana "trees" are not very pretty, in my opinion, and when there is only one left or one breaks from the bunch, it lies on the counter too.  This little gem seems to solve the problem and fits my criteria of loving it and providing function.  

The rest of the day, I spent jotting some ideas down in my journal.  I have some nice visions for our school room, the fireplace I hope to re-face, the backyard I look forward to creating a prayer center in, and the built ins I plan to display things of beauty rather than things I stuff there and never find time to dust.

The kids are enjoying the subtle changes.  Little do they know, their room isn't safe either.  

Project 20:14 Week One 02

Yesterday was our second "snow day" in four days.  Consider that it didn't snow, and barely iced at our home, but still, local schools were closed for those who had to travel on highways and on roads in more rural areas.

As we homeschool, I did not let the kids have a complete day off, but they did have some time to play outside in the very cold temps and wintry elements.  This freed me up to tackle a few small de-clutter/de-own assignments.

First on the list was my hall closet.  It is a small closet that holds our coats which are very rarely worn, my vacuum, and a few odds and ends.  The tragedy of this closet is that I can't find any room to hang anything in it.  When guests come over, their coats land on chairs or the couches.  When we get home, our jackets sit on the backs of our kitchen chairs.  Little thing, but really irritates me.  Seeing things that should have a home but don't because there is too much stuff in the "home" are the points that would lead me to think..."If only I had a bigger home, a better home, a "nicer home.  Enter Project 20:14.  Learn to love what I have and recognize Jesus in my midst.

Time to either make room for the jackets or get rid of the jackets.  Or both.  Using A Slob Comes Clean Decluttering techniques

Hall Closet Before

About 30 mins later, this is what I discovered

Perfectly wonderful hall closet!

I culled through years of stuff.  This is a closet that I have "cleaned out" not so long ago, but I never really de-owned the things in the closet.  This day was different.  Two garbage bags of junk were removed and one 30 gallon bag of coats and tote bags were collected to donate to those who could use a warm coat during a very cold winter.  I placed the remainder of the coats, one rocket to be played with soon, and my vacuum back into the closet.  The top shelf holds a box of gloves and hats as well as the vacuum attachments.

If you come to visit, I will be able to offer to hang your coat.  Please let me!

This seems like a simple no brainer, I know.  But it set a something in motion.  I moved to de-cluttering and de-owning a few other areas as well as sprucing up a few things around the house.

These pulls and knobs have been in the closet for 2 years.  We forgot all about them.  Now I am installing them on my cabinets and they will offer a touch of beauty to some cupboards that I have been not appreciating lately.

Decluttered our art bench

The Hope-less Chest was not spared.  Rosie was a bit nervous that she might be next.

Hope-filled Chest!  Table linens, yoga gear because I do yoga in this room and blankets for the couch cuddling weather

One element that I want to try to keep in my project 20:14 is to spend as little money as possible.  Too often I decide to "organize" and spend money on things to buy to organize the stuff I should really get rid of.  I would prefer to spend money on things for the home rather than things to organize it.  

I have a bookshelf that has been sitting unused, collecting dust in another room.  For quite some time I have wanted to buy a cabinet to house our entertainment components.  But the cabinet I want and the budget were not jiving.  Yesterday, I was struck with the idea that I could re-purpose the bookshelf and clean up an eyesore in my familyroom.  I rather like the results, though I am sure my husband wasn't too excited about walking in from work with a project to do on a week night.  He must love me.

Project 20:14 01

I am embarking on a new project that has been going on behind the scenes in my home for a few years.
This year, 2014, will be the year the biggest changes happen.  Having been on a "less is more" interiorly for a few years, stripping away the "busy-ness" of life, attempting to make room for God to move in more and more with each passing day, I have come to the crossroad of where my exterior life must now look like my interior life.

I have been feeling quite claustrophobic in my home the last year or so.  Allowing myself to slip into a sort of intolerance of my home, a quite ungrateful place to be, and seemingly wanting more...a bigger home.  A newer home.  A "nicer" home.  But the spirit has been working on me as well and the desire for this newer, bigger, and nicer home is not at all reflective of the simpler, "less" lifestyle that I am trying to achieve within.

Project 2014 is a multi-layered endeavor which I hope will bring me closer to the place I desire to be, the place I desire my family to be.

John 20:14 says
"She turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus."

"She" is Mary Magdalene.  I have been that Mary in my life.  I have thrown myself at His feet and prayed for His mercy.  And He has offered it to me overflowing!  And today, I find myself wanting earthly things to make me happy when I know, when I have experienced that love of Christ that is the only true contentment that I will ever have.  I have allowed myself to become blind to the Jesus before me in my own home.

Project 2014 will provide me to recognize Jesus in the blessings of my home.  My beautiful home complete with my beautiful family.

I will begin to declutter, de-own, and simplify.  I will organize the small bits I choose to keep and I will appreciate each and every item (I pray) that I leave in my home.  I desire to have my exterior life reflect my interior life and to allow that which no longer blesses me materially be a gift to someone else that it will/can bless.

I desire to appreciate my home and have my heart changed so that I no longer desire things but rather desire loving relationships that are life-giving.  I no longer want to maintain and care for things that do not proclaim my desire for only that which breathes life into my family.  I want to recognize Jesus in my midst.

Living with less will allow my family and I to spend more time with one another, enjoying the only commodity we can never buy more of.  Time.

Some blogs and web-sites that I have found helpful in this quest for a more intentional life are:

Becoming Minimalist
A Slob Comes Clean
The Simple Year

I am also embracing some very intentional direction with my nutrition and health.  My training will be "minimal" this year, instead, I will be embracing the moment I can maintain my health and if a race falls into place along the way, wonderful.  If not, that is ok too.

Project 20:14 will be a year long process, and truth be told, it will be a lifelong process.  I hope my posts will inspire something in you as well.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Leading Up to Project 20:14

For several years now, I have felt compelled to simplify my life.  Not just in activities, but in mental clutter, physical clutter, spiritual clutter, and emotional clutter.  Even electronic clutter.

The more I strip away, the more I feel compelled to go deeper.  Yes, there is a human component to this draw to becoming less attached to the "stuff" in my life, but it is more than that.  It is a call to become free from the worldly so that my family and I can focus on where He is bringing us.

My husband and I have spent the last several years paying off a huge amount of debt.  HUGE.  And truthfully, we do not have much to show for that debt.  Yes, we live in a comfortable home, have two cars that run most of the time, and have all of our necessities and many of our wants, but, we do not live luxuriously nor do we have a fortune stashed away for our children's college tuition or our retirement.

So what did we "gain" by racking up tons of debt?  I truly don't know.  Some was medical debt.  Honestly, I just don't know what the rest of it was.  What it has cost us, however, to carry this debt I do know.  It has robbed us many nights of restful sleep.  Time with our children.  Time with our friends.  Opportunities to help others.  The ability to help our children with school expenses.  My husband has worked 6-7 days a week for the last 12+ years.  While I am thankful that he comes home to us every night, and understanding that many people have husbands that travel to far off locations for weeks at a time to provide for their families, I still desire that he could be here on the weekends, doing what dads do with their children.

We have learned valuable lessons that both my husband and I will never forget and we hope our children will also learn from.  First and foremost.  Consider any debt that you might take on VERY SERIOUSLY.  Think of the loss of freedom that debt will shackle you to and if it really is worth it.  Some debt is.  Most is not.  Think about how much the debt will actually cost rather than thinking the you can afford the monthly payment.  Debt seems not so terrible when you  only see it as a monthly payment you can afford, but the reality of debt is the number of monthly payments you will make and the years of your life that you can never get back paying it off.  Hear me on this...DEBT IS A PRISON.  I do not make that statement lightly.  I make it as a woman who has lived it.  And recognizing that I have not had to live in extreme poverty, I have experience extreme despair and hopelessness from our situation.  I would go so far as to say that there is NO DEBT that is worth the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll that it will take on someone, but sometimes, as in the case of medical debt, there is not much choice.  (It should be noted that all of our medical debt was accrued when we had "good" insurance.  Today we now participate in a Sharing Program that has allowed us to help others with their medical needs.
Thankfully, we are quite nearly debt-free.  Our goal now is to quickly pay off the remaining amount that we do owe while building our savings.  We use a combination of ideas from Dave Ramsey and others as well as a budgeting software that has truly worked for us the past 8 months, You Need A Budget.
I am beginning a new project for 2014.  It will be a year long process of learning about how to value people and my relationship with them over the shiny new things that I only think will make me happy.  It will be about learning to live with less so that we can live life more fully, more peacefully.  It will be about finding and recognizing Jesus in my midst and having the ability to let go of my worldly possessions so that they can help others rather than offer me a false sense of success.  I will strive to become someone of significant, intentional living rather than a collector of stuff.  I will strive to become more humble and more quiet allowing God to take the rightful place at the center of my life.
I look forward to sharing my family's journey with you.  I will try to share the good, the difficult, and the not so good.