Cinderella and the Power of One

I was once Cinderella. Okay, not quite. I didn’t have an evil step-mother, or sisters, or mice. Or even a fireplace to clean. But I did do a lot of cleaning.

My mom loved collections. She wasn’t a hoarder, in fact, our home was very tidy. But hanging throughout our home were shelves, and on the shelves were little cups and saucers, vases, thimbles, and spoons. They all needed to be dusted, every single week. Can you guess who got that job? Yup – me – Cinderella.

I pulled each item down, rubbed a soft cloth across its shiny body (unless my mom wasn’t watching, in which case I skipped this step), placed it on a table, wiped the shelf down, and put everything back. It was a long, tedious process that I swore, when I became an adult, would never be repeated. And it hasn’t.

Needless to say, today, I hate dusting. My home contains little that needs wiping down. I have one coffee table, a large candle and holder placed in the center; a side table in the dining room holding one vase; a chalkboard placed in the center of the kitchen island. It’s simple, all I have, and all I want. Because I have made a discovery.

I have discovered the Power of One.

One is a statement. Bold. Strong. Powerful. (Just look at those one-word sentences). One often speaks louder than many placed together. A piece of art in the middle of a wall, a bright vase in the middle of a table, a single trinket on a window sill.

One is important. Significant.

This year, as I reduce my belongings, I am embracing the Power of One. In the bathroom, I have eliminated my extra nail polish, have reduced my shampoo to one I love, and my face cream (which used to be three), is one single jar.

One is easy, no choices to make, no extra things to buy.

I am not stopping on my quest for one.  I will reduce my gift wrap to one simple brown paper, wrapped with simple ribbon. I will own only one set of measuring cups, and only one cookie sheet will sit upon my shelf.

We own so many unnecessary things, so many multiples of the same item. Too many ladles, spoons, and spatulas. Too many of everything. I am as guilty as anyone. But I never want to clean as much as I used to. I never want to be Cinderella again.  

Will you join me in my quest for one?

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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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10 Reasons I Love Lists

It’s safe to say I am obsessed with lists. I love the numbers lined up neatly on the side of the paper, the sense of organization, the details of what needs to be accomplished. In all honesty, I never have just one list. I have multiple lists, all for different facets of my life. If you are a list-maker, you know what I mean.

This week, it turns out my lists were an illusion, a futile attempt to keep my life simple and organized. Sometimes the best-laid plans . .

I will never stop making lists, but after this week, I began to wonder: Do lists give us the illusion that we can accomplish more than we really can? Do they truly keep us on task? How many other people are list-makers? Are any of them famous? I did some research.

It seems lists are common among some very well-known, accomplished people, celebrities like Madonna, Ellen Degeneres, and Martha Stewart. But that’s not all, Benjamin Franklin was well-known for his lists, as were Thomas Jefferson and Charles Lindbergh.

I guess I’m in good company.

If famous people make lists, then they must know something the rest of us can learn from. They must know how lists can turn a hectic life into a simple and organized one. They probably also know that some weeks, even the grandest plans can go awry.

Because I love lists, I have created one just for you:

The top ten reasons I keep a list:

 

  1. They keep me organized. I have a list for each area of my life, including work, website tasks, and home chores. More than that, I keep lists of books I want to read, and movies I desire to watch.
  2. They help me remember. I don’t have to rely on my memory for all the things that need to be done.
  3. They keep my brain free for more important things. The less I have running around in my brain, the more I can focus on what needs to be done each day.
  4. I know what I have to do. No guessing, wondering, or thinking about it.
  5. I know what I have accomplished. I love crossing items off my list.
  6. It takes away stress. Less to think about equals less stress.
  7. It gives me peace. (Which only makes sense if there is less stress.)
  8. It gives me control. In a world that feels totally off-kilter sometimes, it’s nice to have a little control.
  9. It keeps me focused. I know what needs to be done, and I do it.
  10. I am less likely to procrastinate.

Yes, sometimes I wonder if lists make my life more complicated. It’s one more thing I need to do. But then again, without them, I wonder how much I would accomplish. I wonder if I would remember the twenty things that need to be done on my website, the people I need to call, or the essays I still need to write.

This week didn’t go as planned, but that won’t stop me from making lists. The pieces I didn’t get done this week are just transferred to next week, and I don’t even have to think about it.

I will always love lists.

Are you a list maker?

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An Unintentional Life of Simplicity

It began as a simple act, one thin piece of paper needing to be filed away.

I opened the first of two small security boxes, each containing twelve green folders. As I slid the paper inside its designated file, a broken tab caught my eye. I pulled the folder out, inspecting its contents. The pages were old, torn, yellowed with age. Papers I had long forgotten, most of which I no longer needed.

I made two piles, one for the shredder, the other to be refiled. But I didn’t stop with that one folder. I sorted through each file, amazed at the amount of papers our small family had accrued. Half an hour later, I was done. Each file was cleansed, a large pile of papers ready to be shredded sat by my feet, and my two file boxes had been reduced to one.

I stared at the pile before me, happy, content, and a little confused. I hadn’t planned on this, and yet here I was, another piece of my life simplified, another pile of junk ready to be tossed, another room one step closer to the minimalistic life I desired.

How did this happen? I used to plan my days around simplicity, wondering what I could do to make my life easier, constantly looking for something to throw away. I set goals, made plans, even plotted steps on a calendar. I looked forward to the day I would have a simple, minimal life. And it all seemed so hard.

Was it meant to be this complicated? Probably not, but I think in the process of creating goals, I had forgotten the most important part. I had forgotten to enjoy the journey.

Minimalism isn’t about having less in your life, though that is one goal. Simplicity isn’t about an easy life, though that is definitely an asset. What this is really about is the journey, the changes in ourselves, the new life waiting for us on the other side.

When I decided to enjoy my travels, my life became easier. Just like the files I purged, I am constantly purging my life, and no longer have to think about it.

I am on a journey, and always will be. Life is like that, the old and new intermixed, a constant transformation. But now I enjoy this path, no goals, no long lists, no plotting my travels. I am truly on my way to an unintentional life of simplicity. And I am loving every minute of it.

Enjoy your journey!

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