Thursday, September 27, 2018

Minimalism and Scheduling

I spent the entire day (well, most of the day) working in the garage, sanding and painting furniture for the shop. Not glamorous. The painted child's table is cute, but I haven't really made progress with my living space.

I read a friend's blog, and she mentioned reducing her commitments as part of minimalism. I really like including that aspect of minimalism. Minimalism isn't just about the physical things; it's about reducing the surplus from your life so you can enjoy your life.

I have a high schooler who attends classes at the junior college, takes a sport, is very involved in 4H and doesn't drive. And another high schooler who is raising a Guide Dog for the Blind puppy (with meetings). And I volunteer at my church, and run a shop with my mom and sister, and try to make a little money on the side. And I'm married, and I'd like to remain so. It's not a simply schedule, and it's hard to determine where to make cuts in order to simplify our lives and our time together.

Part of me wants to make cuts in our schedule. Drop the sport. Don't get another puppy. But this is out life right now. Kids activities are what helps our kids to grow into the people they want to be. Raising animals, helping people are important activities and I want the kids to be contributing members of society.

For now I keep our Sunday separate. We do occasional petting zoos through 4H, attend church and occasionally put on a shared meal, and visit my parents on various Sundays. But we usually keep Sundays as our day of rest, spending time together, playing games or just reading in the same room. It gives us the rest, and time together.

I will continue to look for ways to cut down our obligations, but I don't want to cut things that are important to someone just to meet the goal of minimalism. Minimalism is the tool to make our lives enjoyable, not a goal in itself. If I don't declutter anything on a given day, it might not be a failure. Perhaps I am just doing the things I intend to do in my life.

Perhaps sanding and painting just give me a lot of time to think.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Daily Declutter

The problem with clutter around my house is that the stuff starts off as useful. Then it slowly outlives its usefulness and it hides out in my house. At least, that's one of the clutter problems.

I cleared out the mugs yesterday. There was some grumbling in the ranks, but we no longer have three mugs that no one uses. They are all too small for our giant cups of tea! I need lots of tea to get me moving in the morning. So the cute-but-useless cups can move on to their next life. (The cup in the shape of a dinosaur moved on to my son's memory box. It actually was put away in there. If he has a special child in his life at some point, my son can share his cup with that child. If he runs out of room in the box, he can decide what is really special after all.)

I also found tour books from past vacations. They won't really be useful to other people at this point (we should have passed them on sooner) but they also won't fill up our bookshelves. Our shelves have become over-full, and display items, pictures and things, had been shoved to the side to make room for books. Just eliminating those few books created enough space to go back to displaying pictures from our trip -- a much better use of space in my opinion.

I also spent the morning taking a standardized test for the first time in many, many years. The testing format is exhausting! I will give my kids a lot more support when they have to test in the future. If for no other reason than because it reminds me how hard testing is, I'm glad I did that yesterday. Even if it did prevent me from getting a whole lot of decluttering accomplished.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Daily Update

I have moved every shop-related container out of the house! I have washed and priced and packaged everything, and I no longer have baskets and boxes and bags lying around! Better yet, they are now at my mom's house, to go into the shop and be useful to someone else.

Just getting that done makes everything else easier. The top layer of clutter is gone.

Menus are planned for the week -- no emergency last-minute runs to the grocery. Nothing fancy this week, but no last-minute time sucks.

I  finished knitting a Christmas gift. Now I can get rid of the leftover yarn, since I never really cared for the way it knits (but it will work for the project).

This week I can start to actually work on the second layer of clutter -- the stuff that makes life more challenging. I'll be clearing out the cups in the cupboard -- my husband says they all fit if we just put forth the effort. I'll clear out the ones no one uses, and save the effort!

Not exactly minimalist, but definitely simplifying: the puppy has developed a schedule, and does his business on command! Less time walking him in circles and fewer rags to wash, so I feel highly rewarded!

Today I have a written test, so I can substitute teach at the kids' school, so I won't get as much decluttered as I might other days. However, forward progress is my goal, not perfection!

Friday, September 21, 2018


Well, yesterday I did not move forward. I almost did, a couple of times, but I didn't complete anything. However, I am writing about it, which would not have happened in the past. I'm trying to keep the writing going, even if I haven't done anything to report.

I went shopping, but I forgot my list. So I'll have to go out again for the items I need but which I forgot (I didn't accomplish the "once a week shopping" which is my goal).

I worked on laundry, but I still have a basket worth to fold and put away.

I didn't do anything with the basket of clothes for the shop. (I keep dealing with things for the shop. I may have found a source of clutter.)

I will remain optimistic that things didn't get any worse yesterday. I put away the groceries I purchased.

And that's about it for today.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Daily Declutter


In the last several days, since I have felt I need to have something to write about, I have discovered a lot of clutter. I begin to understand why I have been feeling so...enclosed by the house. There's just so much stuff here, stuff I have stopped seeing but continued feeling.

I noticed a stack of Consumer Reports magazines. I received them as a gift, they showed up in the mail, and I stored them every month! I don't care for this magazine -- if makes me feel I need to go buy things every month, and makes me feel like the things I have are no longer good enough. So I stored the magazine, in case I found that I would need it later. So that's in the car, waiting to be dropped off at the library. If I  -- or someone else -- needs to purchase a new mattress or refrigerator or whatever, it will be there. And not at my house.

I returned the baby-size puppy kennel to someone else who will be getting a puppy this month. It is one fewer thing for me to store, one fewer thing that needs to be purchased. One of the other women in our puppy-raising group was surprised that we didn't have our own. Less to own, less to store is better for me.

I processed two more bundles of product for the shop. I just have to get them into the actual shop, and I will have a lot of storage space freed up.

I'm so optimistic about the bits of clutter that I am suddenly perceiving and removing. Since the beginning of the week, I am much more aware of the sources and piles of clutter I have, and I am taking steps to better my environment. Just knowing that the internet is waiting to see an improvement in my efforts is enough to make me more aware. I don't have an agenda of decluttering today -- today is shopping day, and I still need to make a menu -- but I am confident that I will find things to remove anyway. It's a good way to start the day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Daily Declutter

I am amazed at how much I can do when I feel accountable!

I posted several items that have been sitting on my "Ebay shelf" since before we left on summer vacation. If they don't sell very soon, I will just donate them and be done with it. Nothing is worth a lot of money, but it seems like too much to just donate. I have not posted the coffee cups from my wedding china, but I hope to do that soon. Maybe someone will want them for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I can only hope someone will want them, and they can move out of my house!

In my peregrinations yesterday, I also spotted several skeins of acrylic yarn. I hate knitting with acrylic, and I accidentally acquired these. I will pass them along to my young niece, who is learning to crochet. I think she will be happy to have anything to practice on, and not care what the material is.

I priced a large box of winter clothes for the shop. I have been ignoring it since last spring; now I have a large empty spot on the shelf, and I have one fewer thing weighing on my mind. The worst part is, it didn't even take that long, but I've been avoiding it -- and feeling the mental clutter -- for about six months!

Even the giant pile of bananas if diminishing. I put a few bunches in the freezer and I gave two bunches to a friend who stopped by and dropped off clothes for the shop. Of course, now I have clothes to sort for the shop, but surely I will get those done quickly, and not let them linger. For I am sure I have learned my lesson on dealing with clothes. (sarcasm font. If not for the sense of accountability I feel when I'm blogging, I'm afraid I would let these items linger -- in my way -- for a week or two!)

I only dealt with a few items around the house -- most things were in the shed, or virtual, but I already feel lighter, as if I'm moving in the right direction.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Baby Steps

I didn't manage to get rid of any clutter yesterday. In fact, I accepted a giant mound of bananas that otherwise would have been wasted (I'm really opposed to food waste!) and I will need to deal with them soon. Many will be frozen for baking this winter, but I will also be looking for homes for fresh bananas.

I am working on some of the mental clutter. I finished mending a pair of jeans, and continue knitting a pair of socks I started years ago. I feel guilty about starting the wool if I don't finish it -- no one else will want to deal with yarn of mysterious origin, half knitted into socks. So I knit while waiting at the doctor's office. It will reduce the backlog of projects I am still willing to house, and create something useful, possibly a Christmas present.

I'm also pulled out a box of clothes that need to be priced for the shop. Just moving it out of storage seems like a big move. I will be glad when they are all priced and moved out of my house, and out of my responsibility.

I'm mostly appreciating the patterns that I have set up. Menu planning made yesterday's late afternoon at the doctor easier, because I knew what I was making for dinner, and I wasn't mentally rushed to try and get food on the table (or worse, be tempted to pick something up. If I buy dinner I  make trash and eat something that will make me feel ill). I'm glad I didn't have to worry  about running out of milk and have to stop on the way home.

I need to deal with some of the necessary clutter we've been accepting. I still don't have a permanent home for the puppy supplies, and I definitely need to do something with the bananas! But I did have a clear spot to store the bananas on the bar, so that's a sign of progress!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Trying Again

Because that's what life is about, isn't it? Trying and failing and trying again, until you get it right? So once again, I will pick up my pen (figuratively speaking) and try to record my failures and successes as I work toward making my life fit.

I have mostly been adding to my life, not minimizing. Not in material things, but in activities. My son is taking classes at the community college two days a week -- and he is not able to drive himself. But this is an activity I want to support, so off I drive. I try to fit in errands at the same time, but this is contrary to my "only shopping one day a week" plan that I liked to much. However, two days a week is better than four days a week -- he had been going four, but he dropped a class because it was just too much. I am happier, he is happier, the whole family is happier. So I'll call this a minimalist win; reducing the number of classes so he can be happier is better than trying to cram more classes in, so he can take more credits to college.

I'm taking my friend's mother-in-law to a doctor's appointment. She can no longer take herself. My friend will benefit from not having to be two places at once, and I will make a nominal amount to apply toward debts. Eliminating my auto loan and mortgage is a high priority for me, so the extra money will come out of the simplicity I desire. It's a balance, but it will help out a friend, and that's a benefit as well.

The most un-minimalist thing I have added is a puppy. He is absolutely adorable, in the nature of puppies. He is almost 14 weeks old at this point, mostly housebroken (we're still working on recognizing his signals when he needs out), and he is being trained to be a Guide Dog when he grows up. This involves a lot of extra training! But my daughter wants to train animals professionally as an adult, and this is a good first step for her. So we have barriers around the house (to keep him from foraging in the kitchen) and puddles on the floor, and regular meetings to support us in training him. Again, not minimalist, but part of life.

So, if I want to pursue minimalism, and simplicity around the home, why am I adding so much activity to my life? Because life is about people. The people who make up my life come before reducing the number of table clothes I store (4). I continue to menu plan, and combine shopping trips, and reduce clutter (the puppy does help identify clutter, and shoes left lying around!) so I can help out a friend or support my children in their interests. Hopefully, I will also be able to reduce the clutter and distractions around the house, and I want to record and recognize my improvements.

So once more into the breach! Once again, I will improve my life, and recognize my tiny steps by reflecting and recording them daily.