Unexpected Minimalism

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I’m super duper busy this week, so this post might be a little blurby! Our church is having a sweet little Valentine’s banquet this weekend for about 30 people, and I ended up in charge of setting up, decorating, shopping for the food, and making desserts.

Does anyone else love being busy?

Stick with me through this.  I have a point, I promise!

We usually go with paper, plastic, or foam plates for church functions since there are so many people.  But if you’ve ever once in your life used a disposable plate, you know those babies would never hold up when loaded with a hefty steak and a generous baked potato.  And who wants to eat off of plastic at a Valentine dinner?  

And I also needed salad plates, dessert plates, bread plates, cups, sturdy forks, knives that actually cut more than butter…

I was starting to feel quite nauseous pricing out “good” plastic.

And then…

I remembered real plates are a thing.

I searched our church kitchen, and I found them!  A few years ago, someone had donated some dinner plates, bowls, and saucers.  We also had a pretty decent collection of matching drinking glasses.

Y’all….I went out and bought enough real dinnerware to feed 30 people for less than what it would cost to use plastic.


I wanted to share all that with you because I think it makes an *excellent* point that minimal is whatever you need it to be.

Sure, the stack of dishes in our church kitchen got a little bit taller this week.  And, yes, I’ll be washing dishes for a long while afterwards.  But…

  • I saved money.
  • I have better quality items that can be built upon and reused. (Imagine a future potluck with NO PAPER PLATES!  Insane.)
  • The church kitchen has plenty of empty cabinet space, so storage is a non-issue.
  • I ensured that the only thing going into the trash cans this weekend will be paper napkins. (I’m working on making cloth napkins to pair with our fabric tablecloths!)
  • People can eat comfortably without having their forks snapping in half :/

Minimalism can be based on so many factors.

Environmental impact, cost, storage space, long term usefulness, quality, personal value, etc.

For this banquet, I considered all of these things, and I concluded with keeping more stuff than I started with.

As I’ve said in another post, minimal is relative.  I also believe it’s much more broad than going through your trinkets or wardrobe and labeling each item as joyful or not.  It can be based on deep pondering, not just an immediate emotional reaction.  It can be based on what you need, it can be based on what you want, it can be based on what you know you don’t want or need.

One person’s method doesn’t have to be your method!  If your method is bringing you peace and joy, don’t let anyone else take that away from you in the name of “doing it the RIGHT way.”

Chocolate covered strawberries, anyone?!

Social Media : What It Is. What It Ain’t.

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More and more frequently I’m seeing people express a distaste for social media. They seem exhausted and heavily burdened by it.  Emotionally tortured even.

“There’s so much negativity.”

“The comments are always so hateful.”

“It’s full of fake news and graphic, disturbing images.”

“I can hardly stand to look at my Facebook anymore.”

And then there’s me… Wondering how in the world these people haven’t yet figured out how to use the interwebs.

Social media, and the Internet as a whole, is what you make it.

Nobody forces you to open that app and start scrolling. Nobody forces you to Google controversial topics. You don’t get any brownie points for getting the last word in on a snarky comment section. No one says you HAVE to remain friends with cousin Judy even though she Vaguebooks daily and shares disgusting photos.

When did everyone hand over their lives to technology?

Of course, we’re all going to stumble across things that don’t jive with our sensibilities once in a while. But there’s a significant difference in an accidental stumble and an intentional nose dive.

I’m going to tell you a secret.

Get ready. It’s huge.

 

You control what you look at.

 

Scrolling through a Newsfeed of “garbage” and then complaining about it makes no more sense than listening to a song you hate on the radio when all you have to do is… change the station.

You have what you tolerate.

Unfollow, unfriend, block, delete, deactivate. You can get rid of the burdens with a click. (Minimalism spans so many aspects of peaceful living!) Search for uplifting pages, “like” things that make you smile, share a positive story. Be proactive in your own joy and spread a bit of it to others.

My social media pages are full of awesome because I don’t tolerate any of the baloney, and I choose what I DO follow carefully. I will unfollow a friend at the drop of a hat. Just because I knew a person in high school,or even if I know them now, heck, even if we’re friends now, doesn’t mean we have to be friends on social media. I don’t follow news station pages. If I want news, I’ll seek it out intentionally from a direct source. I’m an advocate and supporter of several emotionally weighty causes, but I don’t follow these pages on social media. I have to mentally prepare for reading up on these topics and will do so when I choose to, not when an algorithm is set to pop it up into my life.

YOU are the filter for your social media.

Scrolling through the feeds of some people can honestly be traumatic. Yet, it’s what they’ve chosen to see. What they permit. What they continually accept, day after day.

I encourage you to take hold of this corner of your life. It’s SO simple.

Allow what makes you happy. Don’t allow what doesn’t make you happy.  Facebook is not the hill to die on.

Minimizing the Little Southern Girl’s Closet

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In my last post, I shared that I had destashed two garbage bags of kid’s clothes. Today while doing laundry, I had a moment. My daughter’s closet has been PACKED since before she ever came earthside. I’ve been buying packages of hangers monthly. Even with consistent and frequent destashes, it was still jammed and I’d have to shove stuff to the side just to squeeze in a few more clean items.

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A poor quality photo.  Poor quality because I was in such a state of URGENCY here.  Look at it.  There is literally a kitchen sink in there.  (although this is actually *the best* space for our kitchen playset…  It keeps it out of sight and saves space in the bedroom.)  But this is where we stood AFTER my purge last week.  This is not minimal.  This is not peaceful.

Getting dressed and choosing clothes is always a headache. My husband simply refuses to help pick clothes because of the absolute chaos in the closet. Things that don’t fit yet, things that are super cute but kinda don’t fit yet, things that are cute and fit great but, as my girl says, have “scratchy lines inside.” (shirred fabrics) A giant mound of hand-me-downs, too-big items, or out of season things added to all that as well.

Today I decided I’m over it.

Completely and utterly EXHAUSTED by it.

You know you’re in a terrible state of excess, and dare I say ungratefulness, when clothing is a BURDEN.

Behold.

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Poor quality photo.

Superb quality destash.

This is everything except socks and undergarments.

I now have almost 100 empty child’s hangers in my laundry room.

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I’m still blown away by this.

I want to share how I went about it and to encourage you to take the plunge yourself. It took me about two hours (one nap time), and it feels WONDERFUL! I’ll go ahead and say that I kind of lucked out with a kid that despises most pants. She has maybe three pairs of pants she will wear. I’ve always been frustrated by that. No longer!

YOU CAN DO THIS!

Step One – The Absolutes

First, I pulled out everything I knew was a 110% keeper. For my daughter, that included “puppy shirt,” “Ariel dress,” and “the red shirt.” She is the ultimate minimalist. I pulled out a couple brand new, unworn things and then used the following criteria to complete this first step.

  • It must fit right now
  • It must be something we all really, really like
  • It must be seasonally appropriate

I ended up with about a dozen things in this first sorting.

Step Two – The Basics

Next, I went through and pulled out the “staples” that we liked.  Basically, things that make life easy.

  • Things suitable for everyday wear at home or quick outings
  • A few nicer things for church
  • Things that could pull double duty (shirts that layer well, cute outfits that work for any and every occasion, etc)

Step Three – The Unnecessary

The third step was to pull out the fer-shurr no’s.

  • Things that either one or both of us disliked
  • Things that didn’t fit nicely
  • Summer clothes
  • General “bleh” items.

Anything either of us didn’t care for went into the destash bucket. Bleh items went in there as well along with anything on the verge of being too small. Anything too big was judged and sorted based on “Will this summer item fit six months from now?” and “Do we even like it?” and most importantly “Does it have itchy lines inside?”

Step Four – The Assessment

At this point I still had several things hanging in the closest that I was unsure about. They fit most of my keeper criteria, but I was having commitment issues.  So I sorted my keeper items from steps one and two into these categories.

  • Short sleeve shirts/outfits.
  • Long sleeve shirts/outfits.
  • Everyday dresses.
  • Church dresses.

Looking at my definite keepers made it easier to decide on the items I was feeling unsure about.  I could see that I had plenty of this and maybe needed a few more of that.  Basing my choices on what I wanted to KEEP rather than what I wanted to get rid of made this purge much easier for me.

I finally had an empty closet..

Step Five – The Miscellany

On to the mound of random items stuffed into the corner.  (Maybe you already keep yours in a nice heirloom trunk, but going through it is still a good idea!)  I followed much of the same criteria for these things.

  • Strong appeal to us both
  • Likelihood to fit
  • Whether or not it was similar to another item

It all fits into a printer paper box. I didn’t even have to sit on the lid to shut it.

THIS is what minimalism feels like.  I know there are people out there with one pair of jeans and three shirts, and maybe I’ll get there one day, but this is amazing!  I encourage you…Don’t stop until you reach a genuine place of peace and happiness and excitement about the state of your belongings.  Don’t aim for better, aim for BEST.

I’m on a roll now.  Closets being liberated all over the house this week!

Holiday Minimalism Tips

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I’m minimizing slowly but steadily!

We’re now down to two crock pots instead of three.

Leaps and bounds being made here, I tell ya!

In all seriousness, I really have been making good progress. Especially considering the time of year and the near constant influx of new toys and clothes.

I did a pretty good destash of my kids’ clothes a few weeks ago. I was able to donate two huge garbage bags of stuff. Yesterday I halved the amount of stuff in our toy box. (I cannot express the level of combined peace and fabulocity one feels when there is OPEN SPACE in the toy box.)

Let me tell you… Attempting to up your newbie minimalism game DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON can be tough. We are extremely blessed and often exchange many, many wonderful gifts.  It can feel overwhelming to have rooms full of wrapped gifts, new toys scattered everywhere, and giant mounds of new clothes to find hangers for.  But what a blessed mess! Because of the love and generosity of family and friends, we have only needed to actually purchase clothes for our children a handful of times in their whole lives.  How amazing is that!?

I’ve realized a few things and developed a few strategies to make the most of the season without going into full on minimalist panic mode from the chaos and then following up that panic with immense “but we’re so fortunate” guilt.  I hope this helps some of you too!

Action #1. Prep Errthing.

Destash heavily in the weeks before.  Clothes, toys, kid stuff, adult stuff.  Clearing out not only gives you room to work with, but it also gives you an excellent sense of what you and your kids actually need and what you don’t really use.  Clearing the clutter makes visits at home and traveling much easier. Plan your schedule and visits to allow for a recoup period so you can get yourself refocused before going at it again. Spacing events also helps give your kids some time to detox and unwind from the excitement and RED DYE SOAKED SUGAR IN EVERYTHING. STAAHHP.  

Action #2. Destash Wisely, Graciously, and Cheerfully.

During the destash process, be on the lookout for regiftables, hand-me-downs, shelter items, etc.  I’ve noticed in our town people leave warm clothing and blankets tied to trees in parking lots for the homeless and less fortunate.  There is always someone needing a warm jacket. With all the opportunities to be a blessing and be blessed during this time, there is no reason to keep any “umm, this could maybe be useful to me” items.

Action #3. Learn to Accept Blessings.

This was actually a hard lesson for us to learn.  When we started attending our current church, we realized that many within our church family love to give.  Whether it be a helping hand, a small comfort item, or palmed cash covertly slipped over during a hug.  To say it was awkward for us is an understatement.  When we asked our pastor about it (Should we let people do this?  Should we give the money back?), he basically told us to remain humble and not refuse a thoughtful and faithful blessing from a sister or brother in Christ.  If someone feels a pull to give, let them give.  Both sides receive joy in this.  And remember that we are blessed so that we may also BE a blessing.

Side note for funsies! – We did the shoeboxes from Samaritan’s Purse this year.  My husband and I were standing at the back of our SUV in a parking lot trying to decide what we needed and how to best pack our boxes.  A wonderful lady approached us and said she had asked God for direction in blessing someone today.  And then she handed us $50. We thanked her profusely, wished her a blessed day, and then bought $50 more worth of stuff for extra boxes!  I’ve heard it said, “God will get it to you if He knows He can get it through you.”

Action #4. Always Remember Jesus.

With soooo much going on and so many physical or material aspects of the season, always keep your focus on Jesus. Giving away your old items, or even giving away brand new items, is so much easier and heart fulfilling when you really open up and accept that you’re not just giving things or donating your old crud.  You can make your home a happier place AND bless others mightily. Maybe you’re like me and often struggle with thoughts of “we have so much and others have so little.”  Now is the time to remind yourself that Jesus was sent, not because we deserved Him, but because our Father in Heaven loves us so much!  Be blessed.  And when the blessings fill you up to overflowing, start blessing others just as much!

Don’t Hate the Pinterest Mom

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I had a Pinterest Mom moment today.  I made quinoa veggie nuggetsin fun shapes…for lunch today.  And I was suuuuuuper close to having a vegan recipe.

Who does that?!

But anyways, I was quite proud of myself for trying something new and experimenting with healthy alternatives.  I was reveling in my Pinterest Mom buzz.  I decided to do a search and see what other moms had come up with.

Cue lots of “I’m not a pinterest mom” posts followed by “Ugh, friggin pinterest moms and their clean kitchens” rambles.

CAN WE JUST NOT?

Instead of finding fun and new ideas by other moms, I uncovered entry after entry of moms speaking negatively either about themselves or other moms… other hypothetical moms, at that.

Everybody wants to hate on the Pinterest Mom because she has herself so together, no one can compete with her.  Newsflash.  Pinterest contains a collection of ideas, not biographies.  Pins are not trying to surpass you in mothering standards.  The issue is when people take a teeny tiny sliver of an idea someone else possibly likes and turns it into a battle.

Betty Sue, living on her homestead with her goats, may clean her kitchen with all natural products she whipped up herself and bring hand crafted gluten free cookies to the homeschool co-op she organized, but so what!?  Betty Sue is doing what makes her happy.

I have plans to make my own essential oil diffuser necklace from clay I’ll dig out of my yard.  I don’t give two hoots if you bought yours off Amazon.

Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean someone else has been offensive. 

A person living differently from you is not a personal attack.

There are a lot more people self-implementing judged feelings than there are people actually judging others.

Check yo’self, momma.  It’s okay.

My nuggets were FABULOUS.

High Spirited Children with Low Profile Parents

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A lot of the spirited child blog posts I read include a small snippet about how the parent “gets it” because they too were a spirited child.

But what about those of us that were (are) not like that?

Unlike my daughter, I’m not a pusher of the limits. I’m a private, sort of self conscious person. She is loud and proud, and you’re lucky if she even acknowledges your presence in her fabulous world. The really scary part is that we’re both extremely sensitive but in different ways. She gets frustrated in an almost ragey fashion whereas I get frustrated in a deeply saddened way.

You could say our relationship is somewhat turbulent. 

I’m pushed towards (and sometimes shoved over) the absolute brink of my mommy threshold every day, multiple times a day. Motherhood is a beautiful thing, but we often make the mistake of thinking “beautiful” equates to happy hugs and constant laughter. My laid back, all smiles boy brings me peace and softness. My girl is ruthless in her passions and carries a fierce intensity that I struggle to fully understand.  She is beautiful in the most vivid, extraordinary, breath-taking, painful way.

Oh, how I wish I could be *that mom*. The mom that finds pure joy in her children all the time. (I really think she’s just a myth.) But I have to be honest.  I often find myself with feelings of “I can’t do this. I don’t know what to do. I’M SO LOST.”

Mothering a spirited child is beyond hard. I’ve ugly cried in my shower on so many occasions.

“Am I ruining this child?”

“I’m trying so hard to help her be the best she can be.”

“WHY DOES SHE HATE ME?!”

Now let me stop my moaning for a minute to clarify. My child is not bad. She doesn’t really misbehave, and she’s not an off the wall wild child. I’d describe her as intense decisive, opinionated, strong, intelligent, independent… Powerful. Like a teeny tiny explosive sun blasting rays through your mind and heart at a rate so unrelenting, you feel like you’re going to poof into ashes at any moment.

She’s quite impressive.

The first almost five years have been absolute pandemonium for me in terms of mommyhood. I thought I would know how to parent. How to love a child. But I was blessed to raise one of the world’s most mighty people, and she has brought to light so much that I don’t know. I believe in gentle and peaceful parenting because my only other option would be to go down in flames, taking her with me.

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For as long as it takes, and as hard as it will be, I will be the balancing weight for her. I won’t crush her spirit, and I won’t try to wash away her determination. My ultimate goal is to help her reach her perfection. Not to change her, but to offer her assistance in full development. I don’t want her to be less intense, I want her to scorch through any and every issue she is passionate about. I want her to know it’s okay to feel things at a level most of us simply can’t fathom or handle.

My child and I are complete opposites. It’s taken years to figure it out, but I now know we’ve been given each other for precisely that reason.

DIYing and My Personal Minimalism

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I used to think minimalism was all about having less stuff.  But the deeper I dig, and the greener I get, the more I’m realizing how minimalism applies to so much more in life.

Minimal spending.

Minimal stressing.

Minimal impact.

Minimal sourcing.

It’s simplification in the most compounded way.

For example, I’m making significant strides in switching to more natural body and beauty products.  And while I love supporting local businesses and people that share my beliefs, I also want to achieve more independence in this realm.  I want to be more self-sustaining.  I want to eliminate the middle man between me and my (minimal) stuff.

One less step.  One less shipment.  One less dollar.

I have several DIY projects floating in my head, and I’m super excited about them!  There are ready made alternatives that I could buy or even pre-made supplies that I use, but I’m hoping to go as independent as possible.

If only I had a goat to make my own goat milk soap…  Dream big, right?!

It’s definitely going to be a challenge meshing these two sides of myself.  The crafter in me wants to hoard ALL THE THINGS because there are so many grand possibilities for random scraps.  But the minimalist in me screams NONE OF THE THINGS.