The $5000 Purge

Last year my husband and I completed cleansing our home, releasing nearly $5000 worth of clutter. We were left with bitter-sweet feelings, the freedom of letting go, the regret of stuff no longer owned.

For the most part, regret has left. But freedom? It continuously grows. There is liberty in a less-cluttered life, something I expected to happen, and have truly grown to love. But what I didn’t expect was this: I have become addicted to a life of minimalism.

 

Story:

It was just over two weeks ago. My husband and I stepped into our garage, intending to clean, something we had avoided since we moved in three-and-a-half years ago. We picked through nails and tools, and made plans to buy containers. Then it hit. Wasn’t this the very life we were trying to leave? Did we really need containers for things we would probably never use?

Another cleanse began. We dumped tools, gadgets, a fridge and a flag. Then we moved inside and let go of more, a telescope, a set of dishes, and other miscellaneous items.

As we made one more trip to Goodwill, I thought about our stuff, and wondered how we missed those items the first time. Then I remembered the first time we had cleansed, and the struggles we had in letting go. We were different people then.

We are creatures in a constant state of flux, ever-changing, always growing. Click To Tweet

Maybe we hadn’t been ready before. But we were today.

Here is the list created last year. In italics you will find the more recent items we have released. This is not a confession, but I place it before you as inspiration. May you find freedom in a life less-cluttered.

 

Here is my list:

Hangers– How many, I don’t know, but once my husband and I cleansed our closet, the need for extra hangers was obsolete.

Workout Video – We won’t even go there.

Slippers, Tennis Shoes, Dress Shoes – Some we didn’t wear, some we owned way too many of, and, I’m embarrassed to say, one pair of tennis shoes I held on to just because they were pretty (never mind that the bottoms were worn out). We recently let go of five more pairs, three of which were at death’s door.

Clothes – I didn’t know we owned that many – Ripped shirts, shrunken pieces, old items no longer worn – we let them all go. I’m not certain how many items we let go of in the last couple months, but I do remember at least three sweaters, dress pants, old t-shirts, and a jacket I liked better in the closet than on my body.

Cd Covers – Why did we have these?

Martini Glasses – Not sure when or why we purchased these, considering we don’t drink martinis.

Chop Sticks – This is funny, since neither my husband nor I are coordinated enough to eat with a fork, let alone chopsticks.

Meat Pounder – I don’t know.

Hat, Jackets – Some barely worn. We still own too many.

Books, Movies, CDs – Books we will never read again; Movies we have outgrown; CDs – we own an IPod – need I say more? More books have left our home – some given to family, some to the thrift store.

Decorative Plates, Knick-Knacks, Trinkets, Vases – I hate little things decorating the house, they make me insane. Most of these items were already tucked away in boxes, so it was easy to let go.

Tie Clip – My husband received this item many, many moons ago, from his coaching days. It was time to let go, especially considering he never wears a tie.

Butter Dish, Napkin Holder, Candy Dish, Creamer – I will never use these. A ceramic beverage dispenser, large pretty plates, and a kombucha maker just made their way out the door.

Two Dressy Dresses – These were probably the most difficult items for me to release. They were dresses I wore to my sons’ weddings. The weddings were ten and seven years ago, and I haven’t worn the dresses since. It was time for someone else to enjoy them, though they may be out of style by now.

Purses, Ties – Unused, unneeded.

Cookbooks – Some given to the thrift store, some to my daughters-in-law.

Table Runner – I don’t know why I owned this.

Desk, Shelf, Patio Umbrella, Craft Table, Work Bench – Letting go of big items freed-up space in our home. A large tool (don’t ask me to name tools or describe them), a table for a saw, a flag, a large shelf, two small dressers, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Never mind the last one – I may still own that.)

Curling Iron – Once upon a time, in another life, I used this.

Craft Items – Beads, and all things that go with jewelry making; Embroidery hoop and yarn; Card making items – blank cards, glues, etc. These were a little difficult to let go, yet I felt stressed each time I thought about them, knowing I didn’t have time to work on anything. It’s a subject I will delve into another time.

Spice Jars – Really, how many jars does one couple need? More spice jars. Yup, we had a lot. These last ones were used to hold nails in the garage.

Dust Pan, Laundry bins, Garbage Can – These were no longer needed in our new home.

Sandals – Goes with the shoes – too many. I found out I only have two feet.

Pedometer – Never going to track how many steps I take. Never, never, never.

Frames – With nothing in them. More frames.

Toaster, Crockpot – We no longer make toast. It’s a whole diet/allergy issue. Again, another subject for another time. The crockpot, I admit, is something I’ve missed more than once. But at the same time, it’s one less large item to store, and I will never have to replace it.

Exercise Ball and Pump – This is the only item I gave away that I actually ended up buying again. It seems it kept me in better shape than I knew. It takes up a lot of space, but I decided that the space is worth my health.

Fifteen Photo Albums – I tossed blurry old pictures, duplicates, and goofy photos we didn’t like. The fifteen photo albums were now only four large ones (that took up a lot less space).

Rug – Unnecessary. Plus two smaller rugs.

Twelve Reusable Grocery Bags – They are always giving these away somewhere, especially at holiday time. I’m learning to say ‘no.’

Two Game Systems – We kept Wii, for the child in us.

Two Aquariums and Miscellaneous Items – When taking care of fish became more of a chore than a hobby, my husband decided it was time to let it go.

Lamp – Part of the move – no longer needed.

Robes – How many does one person need?

Christmas Stuff – Lights, decorations, ornaments, they were all released. No regrets – not even one. One more subject for another time.

Cookie Scoop, Frying Pan, Kitchen Utensils – So easy to collect kitchen items. My husband enjoys buying them for me more than I enjoy receiving them. I finally had to tell him to stop (I told him nicely). Large pretty plates we never used.

Two Coolers – How did we get so many? Heaven only knows.

Two Fans. – We were already cool. (Sorry, couldn’t pass that one up.) A large shelf and a television antenna.

Necklaces, bracelets, dresser knobs, candles and holders, other miscellaneous tools and kitchen items. Plus, two dressers, an armoire, a grill, a fridge, and a telescope.

Wow.

This is not the whole list. But it does give you an idea of the types of items one can let go of.

My life will always be a continuous motion of cleansing. Isn’t that what life is, releasing the old, discovering the new?

What will you release today? Where will you find your freedom?

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Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a legacy is talked about like it is a profound statement of one’s life, that they must have conquered demons, built churches in far-off lands, changed the world, or left millions of dollars to charity.

But what if legacy were more than that? What if legacy meant the person we are, the one beneath the skin. What if legacy meant kindness, consideration, generosity, or thoughtfulness? What if legacy were our soul?

Of course, legacy does rest beneath the examples I gave. After all, you can’t be a cruel person to want to change the world, can you? The thing is, not everyone has the means, or the desire, to do something like rebuilding a city in a far-off country.

I’ve been thinking about legacy lately, mostly in reference to what I own. I often wonder what would happen if I were to die today. Would people look at my home and be impressed by my amount of books? Would they see my clothing and shoes? Would they notice my organic shampoo? Do any of these things matter?

We all want to leave a legacy, something for others to remember us by. A few years ago, I lost an aunt and uncle (they were married). Their home was filled with stuff, rooms that couldn’t be entered, a garage containing boxes but never a car, and a basement with one small path leading to the washer and dryer.

They will probably be remembered for all their things, and a home that often couldn’t be entered.  But their legacy was not their stuff. These two people were generous and kind. They were, as the old saying goes, ‘the salt of the earth.’ They laughed and told jokes, they reminisced, and gave me hugs when I so desperately needed them. Their legacy, without a doubt, was the remembrances of who they were. It was kindness and generosity.

I look around my home and still see plenty of ‘stuff,’ things that will mean nothing when I am gone. Family will toss junk, laying it to rest beneath piles of rubbish in a trash pit somewhere on earth. Some will be given to charity. And very few pieces will be kept for themselves. How do I know this? Because none of my earthly things are treasures, except to me.

I truly hope no one remembers me for what I owned. When I am gone, I hope I am remembered as someone who loved beyond borders, who rejoiced for others, and who wept. I hope others remember someone who cared for the elderly and children, whose family was the most important, and who held her husband’s hand, even when she was angry. I hope others know that I dreamt of a better world for not only my family, but every person left on earth. I hope they remember me as a survivor.

Legacy isn’t about ‘stuff.’ It’s great to leave money to help others when you are gone. It’s fun to receive family mementos and cherished trinkets. But what’s really important is this, what type of person will everyone remember?

 What will your legacy be?

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Turning Wine into Water, or Why I Gave Up Wine

I love a glass of dark red wine, hints of chocolate, the feel of the earth upon my tongue, the aroma of a forest in my glass. I love red wine so much, I invent descriptive phrases, like, “She is wild and untamed, a complicated spirit, both bold and shy. Her feet are adorned with leather, white roses decorate her hair.”

But this isn’t a post about my expressions for red wine. This is a post about health.

Red wine is said to contain health benefits (though I think that information was invented by the wine industry), lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancers. It can even eliminate an upset stomach. (The last one I can attest to.)

But every good thing has its downside, and wine is no different. Liver damage, disturbed sleep patterns, and weight gain are among the detrimental side effects of too much wine.

My husband and I have long enjoyed wine. For many months it was our beverage of choice with our evening meal, just a half-ounce or an ounce to keep cancer and heart risk at bay.

But apparently our budget didn’t love wine as much as we did. We found ourselves spending more than we wanted on this simple luxury. So we did what all good couples would do, we cut back.

Instead of drinking wine each evening, it became a weekend indulgence, and instead of sticking to my little half-ounce, I upped the amount, just a bit. My husband did the same. We ended up drinking the same amount, but in a shorter amount of time.

(Now, before you think we are a couple of lushes, or as Bing Crosby calls Fred Astaire (in the movie “Holiday Inn”), ‘fractured,’ keep in mind the amount we drank was still nothing compared to the amount doctors claim we can have (one glass for women per day, two for men, the typical glass containing five ounces). Still, it was too much for us. (Especially for a girl who passes out after an ounce or two).)

Like most everyone, our weekends had become our time to unwind, and wine was our weapon of choice, so when the holidays hit this last year, it was easy to carry our weekend unwinding into weekday celebrations. But by the end of the year, I began to notice something.

I wasn’t feeling well. Neither was my husband. Since we knew wine could help our stomachs, guess what we did? Yup, we drank more wine. (I never said we were quick learners.)

By early March, something snapped in both of us. I’m not sure of the key moment, but one day we looked at each other and said, “Enough.” And for the first time in years, we gave up wine. We turned our wine into water.

It wasn’t a magical moment. We didn’t turn into energy machines, and we certainly didn’t feel better. In fact, the first two weeks were pretty crappy. We were tired, restless at night, dreamt wild dreams, and our bodies went through some crazy cleanse.

I never thought of us as heavy drinkers, and by society’s standards, and according to doctors, we weren’t. Yet the constant stream of wine had begun to take a toll. It was when we let go of wine and drank more water that we began to see the impact.

I have always drank a lot of water. But I wonder if it was enough, considering how alcohol has a tendency to dehydrate our bodies, causing us to lose water quickly. And my husband has been borderline dehydrated many times he has had a physical. Crazy, considering we a world full of water.

Water is a necessary ingredient in our bodies, with many benefits. Here are a few:

BENEFITS OF WATER:

Hydration. Our bodies contain about 60% water. If we are sweating and eliminating water, our bodies expect to be replenished.

Calorie-Stopper. If we fill our bodies with the necessary amount of water, it’s hard to over-eat.

Natural Skin Moisturizer. What better way to moisturize your body than from the inside out.

Prepares Muscles for Working-Out. Muscles need not only food, but water.

 

We discovered the health benefits of water, something I knew all along, but didn’t realize how much I was stopping those benefits by drinking wine. It wasn’t only health benefits we discovered by giving up wine. It seems there were other benefits we would discover:

Time. Without shopping for wine, and making extra stops at the store on Friday night, we have more time.

Money. We spend less. By spending less, we have money to give to a worthy cause.

Sleep. We sleep better, overall. I can’t say we never have disrupted nights of sleep, but it is better than it used to be.

Health. My wine belly is gone, and my husband has lost weight. Both reasons to celebrate.

I still love a good glass of red wine. But now it will be a treat reserved for special occasions, which not only simplifies my life, but expands the budget. For now, I will enjoy a great glass of water.

If you have a hard time drinking water (I know many people who find water disgusting), here are a few things you can do.

  1. Add lemon, lime, or a squeeze of fresh orange.
  2. Add cucumber and celery.
  3. Add mint and a touch of honey.
  4. Add smashed berries.
  5. If you are having a really difficult time, try some sparkling water with the above ideas. It tastes like soda!

 

Have a simply happy, healthy day.

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My Top Thirteen

I love articles about simplicity and minimalism. I love them almost as much as I love chocolate. Almost.

Minimalism is a hot topic lately, found all over the internet, lined on bookshelves in the store. Some of you have practiced minimalism for a long time, some of you are in the middle of it, and others are just exploring. Wherever you are, enjoy it! It’s a fantastic journey.

As much fun as it is, we all need guidance and encouragement some days (and some of us, ahem-me, need it more often than others). Thankfully, there are many sites to help. So many, I had a hard time choosing which ones I wanted to tell you about. Thirteen was as minimal as I could get.

 

So here they are (in no specific order),

My Top Thirteen: (While these are mainly about minimalism, a few sites tie simplicity into their theme, which, in my opinion, go hand-in-hand.)

Theminimalists.com — Gotta love Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. They tell it like it is, and live the lifestyle they preach. They are open, honest, and provide extremely useful information. They go beyond the basics of ‘stuff,’ and discuss things like writing, photos, and relationships.

Becomingminimalist.com – Joshua Becker is the man behind this story. I love his revelation that started him and his family on the journey to Becoming Minimalist. Great articles. Fantastic advice.

Hipdiggs.com – Dan is a simple man with one goal-to help the world become a better place. In his blog he shares a few lessons he has learned along the way to living a simpler life.

Missminimalist.com – Her name is Francine Jay. She captured my attention on her ‘About Me’ page. I love that minimalism, for her, is not about having an empty home, but a clean heart. It’s about giving time to what’s important in our lives. Love this blog.

Theelliotthomestead.com – one of my new favorite sites. It’s not officially about minimalism, but rather a site about living the simple farm life. Filled with both food recipes and miscellaneous recipes (like chalk paint), you will fall in love with not only the information, but the bits of wit the author includes on her blog.

Laurenjadelately.com – Lauren truly lives the minimalist lifestyle, in a 220 square foot trailer. Impressive. Many articles about minimalism and lifestyle. A beautifully crafted blog.

Smalllivingjournal.com – If you are really into the minimal lifestyle, and thinking about downsizing, this is the site for you. Stock full of information on building a tiny house.

Bemorewithless.com – My list wouldn’t be complete without the mention of this site. Courtney is the author of this amazing blog and creator of Project 333. So much information, I’m not sure where to begin. She will guide you with understanding, style, and grace.

Notquiteamishliving.com – Another lovely site, filled with plenty of recipes and ways to simplify your life. I love the way the author talks to me, as if she is a friend.

Theminimalistmom.com – The ultimate minimalist blog, with every topic imaginable, from Easter to babies, and budgets to clothing. If you are wondering about how minimalism relates to any of these subjects, this is the site for you.

Nourishingminimalism.com – There’s so much information on this site, you’ll have a hard time leaving. Rachel, the blogger and owner of this site, has a handle on minimalism. She is inspiring and motivating. Best of all, she’s a great teacher. You’ll get lost in her blogs.

Simplicityrelished.com – There’s a lot more to this site than the name implies. Information about travel abounds, sprinkled with simplicity, gratitude, and minimalism. Add in the beautiful pictures, and well, you can’t help but read this site. Thanks, Daisy!

Liverenewed.com – All about living a simple, green life. Emily’s writing is clear, concise, and friendly. When I read her blog, I bring my cup of tea, and feel like I’m with someone I have known all my life. Sweet and wonderfully written, informative and honest.

There you have it. My top sites. There are many great sites filled with incredible information. I’m sure I haven’t even come close to discovering them all. If you know another site about minimalism or simplicity that you would like to share, add it in the comments below. I would love to hear about it.

Have a simply lovely day.

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Be Still. Listen.

Mindfulness. It’s a practice, a reminder of the world around us. Phones ring, salesmen knock, work calls from every direction. Life sometimes feels like a constant, mindless activity. But I don’t think it is supposed to be that way. I think we are meant to stop, enjoy life and live, not only for ourselves, but for others, and for God.

It’s hard to find time to be still. And even when we do, it is even harder to quiet our minds. But if we don’t stop? What if we choose to live in a constant state of stress, what will happen? Turns out, plenty.

Stress brings on many problems, everything from the common cold to heart disease. www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx Stress is more than a feeling in our minds, it’s a factor wreaking havoc in our bodies.

In the book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, by Dale Carnegie,* Carnegie interviews people whose lives have been severely affected by stress. When stress was removed, diseases were often eliminated.

What can you do while living in a society that seems to promote stress? First, learn to breathe. Deep breathing has been shown to have many benefits, including lowering blood pressure and improving mood. Second, take time to be still. Listen to the world, and appreciate all you have. Third, there is plenty to read online. If you need a few ideas, I encourage you to check www.michelleacker.com. Michelle has some great tips for learning to be mindful, even in the midst of chaos.

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It’s taken me a long time to learn how to be mindful. Yet, with all my practice, I still struggle. Some weeks I schedule it on my calendar, or tape a note to my computer-a quiet reminder to stop and listen to the world around me.

This is for you, for those whose lives are in constant motion, whose harried days never end. Stop, be still and listen, if only for a moment.

 

Be Still. Listen.

 

Be still.

Listen.

To your breath.

To the beat of your heart.

To life.

 

Listen to the world.

To the whisper of the trees,

And the dance of the hummingbird

On a red-laced rose.

 

Listen to the wind

That whispers your name,

That dances through the trees,

And stands among the weeds.

 

Listen to the frogs

And crickets sing,

And praying mantis plays its funky tune.

 

Listen to the children

That laugh and cry,

And scream at bubbles in the air.

 

Listen.

To your heart.

To life.

 

Be still.

Listen.

 

*Note- I am an Amazon Affiliate, which simply means if you purchase through my site I receive a commission.

 

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