Sunday, February 17, 2013

Striving For Simplicity, Part 1

Several years ago I chose striving for simplicity as my email address. I was going through a time where I was overwhelmed with life. I was doing so many things that didn't improve my life or support my values and goals. It was frustrating and negatively affecting my spiritual and mental health. I felt so out-of-control.

One thing I've learned on my journey is that striving for simplicity is a process and life long goal. I won't arrive at simplicity--total simplicity in my life time. But, I'll make many steps toward that end. For a few years now I've been taking baby steps. But, recently I've been re-energized. I've discovered some blogs and Pinterest posts that helped motivate me to make a big push in my efforts.

Joshua Becker's blog, Becoming Minimalist is a God send. I bought his e-book, Living With Less: An Unexpected Key To Happiness, and started reading is last night. I think it's geared toward young people but the reviews say it's good advice for all ages. It's also a bonus for me that he writes it from a Christian perspective.

Product Details

Living with less weaves together several of my ideas and values. My heart yearns for this state. It yearned for it when I decided years ago to simplify Christmas and make it more meaningful. It yearned for it when I research information for simplifying life. It screams at me when I look around my home and see such a mess.

I have too much stuff and stuff needs to be maintained, cleaned, organized, and put away. I don't want to spend time doing those things. I'd rather spend time doing things that speak to my heart such as crafting, gardening, baking, and spending time with family and friends.

Another thing that's spurring this current round of purging is my desire to buy a house. I want a simple, 1,500 square feet homestead to call my own. I've been wanting this for a couple of years since my divorce in 2010.

Events leading to my separation and eventual divorce left me in financial ruins. It wasn't pretty. I didn't think I could ever buy a house of my own any time soon. I prepared myself for a long and hard road to recovery. I was middle aged and starting all over again.

My life began this spiral back in 2002 when my husband and I built our dream home. You can see the sales video of it here.  It was a 5,000 square feet brick front colonial with three levels, five bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms in an upscale neighborhood. I loved that house. It was perfect. We entertained and enjoyed many extended family gatherings there. But, something was not quite right. Something wasn't quite right for years. It finally came to the surface while we were living there and my life unraveled.

As I've learned, things happen for a reason. This was a BIG wake up call for me. I wasn't living an authentic life. I wasn't following God's calling for me. I wasn't happy and I needed to make some changes--BIG changes. My problem is I seem to wait until my pot is boiling over before I take action and that's what happened back in 2008.

One of the things I've learned from that experience is that bigger isn't better. More isn't better. Having lots of things doesn't make you happy. And, ignoring this was detrimental to my health. I was terribly unhappy on so many levels. But, I pushed through. I kept going. I had to maintain for the sake of my family, my children. I did this until I could not function anymore.

I realize this is going to be a long post so I'm ending it here. You can read the second part in Striving For Simplicity, Part 2.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Aloe Vera

I keep an aloe vera plant in my kitchen to treat any burns that may occur while cooking. I don't have any natural light there. But, it seems to thrive under a fluorescent light which is mounted under the cabinet.

For more information on how to use aloe vera, check out the Discovery Channel's article.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Handmade Christmas

For a long time I've felt that Christmas has become too commercial here in the United States. We seemed to forget the reason why we celebrate Christmas--which is celebrate the birth of Christ. 

About 10 years ago, I had a strong urge to put more meaning into the holidays, simplify, and produce less waste. I read several books, including this one

Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ways to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays (Elaine St. James Little Books)
which helped me make the transition. I wanted Christmas to be less about things and what the children got as gifts. After some extreme negotiation, I got my husband to agree to scale back the number of gifts we gave our children down to two and some stocking stuffers. We also decided to give gifts only to a few extended family members and close friends.

Fast forward six years...Continuing on my path to make Christmas more meaningful and less commercial, I decided to give my children handmade gifts. I consider myself quite crafty and they seem to appreciate what I make. Last Christmas I gave them custom clipboards with mini calendars which they could use as clipboards or hang on their wall to use as a calendar and memo board. 

My youngest daughter got this one. She's going through a stage where she's determining who she is and her place in the world. Being accepted is important. I wanted her to know that no matter what, she is loved.

My son is a no fuss, no color, no pattern kinda guy. He would have been happy with a plain, solid blue clipboard. But, what fun is that? I tried to keep the design simple so that he could as least tolerate it.

My older daughter is quite the social butterfly. She is also on the cusp of leaving the nest--at least for a few years--to continue her education and journey. This was her gift.
I think they all liked these gifts. (At least they were gracious about it and told me so.) I enjoyed making them and I can't wait to see what I'm inspired to make them for next Christmas.

Friday, February 1, 2013

My Junk Drawer

Right now, I have one junk drawer. Surprisingly, it's organized. Here it is.

What's in your junk drawer?