Friday, May 26, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today was the last day of project week at school. The kids worked hard all week, and they produced wonderful results, but I am looking forward to next week, when I can get back on schedule.

After taking people to school, and to projects, and back to school, and home again, I did my weekly shopping. I'm happy to report that I did not bring home anything extra from my shopping trip. I stopped by Goodwill and came home with a necklace (for my niece, the reason I stopped by the store), a shirt for me (because I have a hole in the shirt I am wearing. I literally am wearing out my clothes), and a cluttery Oreo box as part of my other niece's birthday gift (for next week). I did not buy a Little Miss Sunshine lunchbox for $2.99, even though it was cute. I don't need it, and I passed it up.

I'm glad I got my grocery shopping done for the week. Last week (with school activities) I didn't get everything I wanted, but we got through without an extra trip. This week I spent a ton of time shopping, but I feel confident in my menu plan and grocery shop. I'm ready for the week to begin.

On a different note, I think I will be following the advice of Juhli, to create a vision board of what I want our home to look like. If I can demonstrate to my family what I want, instead of just trying to get rid of the clutter, maybe they will be more eager to simplify, declutter and minimalist the home. (Also, I'd really like a verb form of minimalist. Minimalize?)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Daily Declutter

There is clutter everywhere in my house! No matter what I am working on, I find little bits of clutter that I can get rid of. Sadly, I don't feel like I am making progress, although I know I must be.

I went out to the shed to check for a couple things for the craft project I was finishing. While I was out there I found a chalkboard that needs to go back to school, and some glow-in-the-dark stars that I bought when my kids were little. I have obviously never put the stars up, and the kids can no longer be considered little, so the stars can go to someone else (and yes, they still glow). I was also reminded of the Cherry Ames books I kept from my childhood. (I'm not sure if anyone else remembers her, she was a nurse in the '40's.) I will not be rereading these, at this point, but I offered the first ones to my daughter. If she loves them these books will not be clutter; however, if she is indifferent, I do not need to keep them for another generation. Either way, these books need to be read, and they do not need to remain in a box, just taking up space.

I also finally replaced my too-soft pillow. The old pillows (it took a while to find the right one) will go to my sister, who just moved to town and is waiting for her house to be available. I am sorry it took so long to replace my pillow; the replacement sat around the house for a long time before I finally put it on the bed. The old pillows sat around for a couple days before I took them out to the car (to deliver this weekend). I know the replacement and removal process should be automatic, but it wasn't in this case. That is disappointing to me. I need to get better at that.

Still, I haven't brought home anything other than food or library books this week. I have removed several things, and I am slowly clearing the bookcase in the shed.

By jumping around (now in the garage, now in the shed, now in the house) my family does not feel like I am denuding the house. If the shelf in the garage sits empty for a month I can give proof that we don't really need that shelf, and instead it would be better to store bicycles there; if I empty the bookcase in the shed, I can prove to my family we no longer need that storage system. They won't feel threatened and I will make progress. I know this, but it does make me feel like decluttering is not making as much progress as I would like. Slow progress is better than no progress, though!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Daily Declutter

Still moving forward. I sold a ceiling fan on Craigslist. Now I have a little more space, and the guy who bought it was really happy.

Other things are piling up. I'm working to get the silver polished so I can put it on ebay, and that't sitting around on the bar. The felt balls I'm using to make a trivet are drying, as is the birthday gift for my niece. The visible clutter is bothersome, but I know it is a step in the right direction, so I am working to get these tasks finished up so I can move on. By the end of the week everything should be finished and put away.

The library is my friend for reducing book clutter. Stopped by today to exchange books. I picked up a book I know I owned in the past, but it only took a couple days to request it from the library. For the most part, however, the things I read from the library are books that I will only read once, and I'm really glad I don't have to rehome them when I'm done.

The rest of the day was spent driving kids places. Not productive, but that's my job at this point.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Minimalism and My Family

I've gotten rid of a lot of my stuff, and I have a lot of stuff to work on still. But I also have a lot of stuff in my house that isn't mine. There are a lot of things that belong to the family collectively, live movies, books, dishes, paint (in the garage) and other stuff. I have to look at it, clean it, organize it (or organize around it) and otherwise deal with the quantity of stuff that exists. How do I balance my family's right to own what they value with my right and desire to reduce the amount of stuff I have to live with.

This is an popular question for people who are adopting minimalism. I've seen lots of blog posts elsewhere about how family members adopt minimalism. Usually it's a matter of "let them make their own decisions, and when they see how happy you are with less they'll come around."

But what about in the mean time? What about when your family is afraid the house will "look like a hospital room" if you get rid of all the clutter? What if you're going crazy every time you need a serving bowl and you have to shift things around because there's so much in the cupboard? (And I'm sure the two examples here are completely random and not something that has happened in my own personal life.)

I don't yet have a lot of answers.

 As I was on my hands and knees reaching to the back of the cupboard to get the dish I need, I swear that I will get rid of a lot of this stuff to make room for the things I need, and to make access to the things I need a lot easier. I will move some of the things that are in my way, to make my immediate life easier. Hopefully my family will become less attached to the things in storage, and hopefully they will not mind if I get rid of things that have been in storage a while. Hopefully they will find a clearer house more pleasant than a cluttered one.

It makes me grateful that I have spent so much time moving clutter out of storage, so I can move house-clutter out of the house. I'd rather get rid of it entirely, though. But decluttering shouldn't happen at the expense of my family's comfort, and sometimes they feel stressed or threatened when I change too much, too quickly.

Most important, the pursuit of minimalism shouldn't be about "stuff." It shouldn't be about material things. I am pursuing minimalism because I want to improve my life. I want to spend more time focusing on what is important -- my family, my friends, people -- and less time dealing with clutter. Sometimes, after I spend a couple of busy days with my family, I think that I am not decluttering "enough." After all, if I've been busy driving people to lessons, attending the fair and the zoo, I haven't "minimalist-ed." (Yeah, like that's a word.)

I need to remember that minimalism is a tool to improve my life with my family. If I am making my family unhappy by getting rid of stuff, I am working too fast. I'm prioritizing stuff above my family. Getting rid of stuff in preference to the needs of my family is not better than collecting stuff in preference to the need of my family.

So I will continue moving forward, slowly. I may slow down as the school year comes to a close, so I can be present with my family as they conclude their school years. I will remind myself that focusing my on family is minimalism, if I carve away the need to get rid of stuff and instead focus on what is most important.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Daily Declutter

This weekend I added a couple items, and didn't get rid of anything. I have needed replacement sunglasses, and this weekend I bought an emergency pair. I've been looking for a pair I like, but we went to the zoo Saturday and I needed a pair immediately because the sun was so hot and bright. I have been happy since then, because I have really missed having sunglasses.

I also bought a new reusable cup. I've had a large plastic cup that I have been using a lot, for a long time, but somehow it got lost. I was sad, because the weather is getting hot and I need water. So the new cup will replace the lost cup, and if the lost cup turns up then I will give it away (and not keep it for just in case).

On the other hand, I did ship an item from ebay. Slowly getting rid of stuff that way. I did decide to post the silver/silver plate, because I would like to pay off my car early. That adds another task to my list, but it will be worth it in the end. I've made enough to prepay two car payments, and that's definitely progress.

The remainder of the day was spent with family: we went to the zoo, to dance class (and a volunteer meeting) and a celebratory dinner in honor of my son, who worked so hard on preparing for his (unfamiliar) competitions at the fair. I didn't make much progress with "stuff," but I did spend time on the important things, which is what minimalism is really about.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Daily Declutter

This is one of those days that remind me why I need minimalism. There are no activities that I would like to cut, but having a schedule and having the home running smoothly allow me to be present in the moment, and that is definitely a desirable goal.

This morning I had a meeting at the kids' school (planning for the future of the school), I took my son to his competition at the fair (we'll find out results tomorrow), then grocery shopping and back to the fairgrounds to volunteer. It doesn't sound like much, but it took up the whole day! Sadly, by the time I got to the grocery they were out of the organic milk I like, so I'm not sure how that will impact my schedule for next week.

Still, I got an ebay sale packed up in reused packaging material, arranged for food for the week, supported my family and didn't make a mess. I didn't buy anything when I stopped by Goodwill, although I really could use a pair of sunglasses. I didn't succumb to temptation, not was I much tempted by anything, which is an improvement. I'll chalk this up to a win, and hope to do as well tomorrow.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Daily Declutter

Yesterday I had nothing to post because I was crabby with my family. I'm not proud of it, but I figured that if my family prefers to live with clutter, I'd leave everything lying around. Unfortunately, I have to live with it too, and so today I'm back on track.

My son is working of schoolwork with a friend today, so I tried to Not Act Weird in front of them. I headed out to the barn (big and red, no livestock) to clear out some of the clutter that lives there. We still have more LEGOs than any family should own, but there were other things that I could work on. I cleared out a box of silver or silver plate serving-ware I bought a bunch of years ago for my husband's class. He demonstrated science that removed the tarnish from silver, and needed lots of tarnished silver for that. But that was years ago, and I am still storing (tarnished) silver that we don't use for anything else. That is a big box that can go. (I don't know yet if I will sell it on ebay or just donate it, but it is no longer in "storage" and it now is somewhere I will know I need to deal with it.

I also went through a box of "Things I'm saving in case I need them for Christmas." Decorations I might want to make with the kids, things I might want to use to decorate packages, containers I might need to give gifts in are all sitting there, year after year, waiting for me to have enough extra time at Christmas. However, I don't see myself having extra time, outside of family activities, to sit with my family and create new decorations. If I do, I'd rather make gingerbread houses that I don't have to store, rather than something I do have to store and bring out for display every year! So a bunch of things from that box got donated, and instead I am storing more glass jars in there and a couple of gifts I already have. Better storage for the things I do want to keep, and better access to the things I do want to keep. This is good!

And, since I do still seem to have some of that Depression era mentality that makes it hard to get rid of "perfectly good things," I am making a mermaid necklace and jewelry dish for my niece for her birthday. That should be normal enough for my son and his friend, it will get rid of some of my craft stash, and I can avoid a trip to the shops, all wins. Hopefully my mermaid-loving niece will like her gifts.