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My favorite quote:

Keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away."

Dunah Mulock Craik

April 1826 - 12 October 1887

Your Clutter Free Journey

Take the first step on your Clutter Free Journey to living a beautiful, clutter free life! On your journey, you will examine your relationship with the stuff in your life and it's impact on your overall well-being. You will learn to make choices over what you invite into your home. The way we feel inside is directly reflected in our living spaces. In turn, our living spaces affect our internal well-being. By making small, steady changes in our living environment, we can change how we feel inside and make our homes a reflection of what is important to us.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 100!


WOW! 100 days of decluttering! Doesn't purging the excess feel great! Look around and notice the difference! If you have just skimmed the top of your personal clutter, start the 100 day challenge over. Go through the daily posts of days 1-100 to motivate you on your way. If you have made a huge dent and can really tell a difference, then set up a system of regular routine decluttering and you will never have to face the mountains of clutter again!

It is by no accident that the 100th day ended on April 15, tax day. I had decided this to be a perfect day to end our Declutter Challenge! perhaps each year as you prepare your taxes you can look around your home and release the clutter!

I am going to take a few weeks off from this blog and assess what I want to do with it, as I look at my schedule and decide how to incorporate it. I hope you have had a very successful 100 days! Thank you for following me and please let me know of your progress and clutter count!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gratitude and Appreciation

Day 99 of 100

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake earlier this year, I thought a lot about how blessed we are. When you hear about something like this, it is hard to think about anything of material matter, as most of us have so much and those in Haiti have nothing, not even clean water and food. I have thought about this often and wanted to address in the blog. However, talking about purging all our excess in the midst of such tragedy seemed so superficial.

But the more I thought of it, I realized that getting rid of excess, actually helps us to see how blessed and fortunate we truly are. Most who are reading this are wealthy beyond measure. We are in heated homes, with clean running water and food, and hopefully, surrounded by those we love and hold dear.

Holding on to everything we have (when it is no longer useful to us) actually makes us come from a place of want. Whereas, giving with a grateful heart and letting go with love and kindness, opens are eyes and heart to appreciate all we really have. It gives us perspective on what is truly important in our lives. When you look at and recognize that stuff is stuff, it all seems so silly and irrelevant. Hanging on to an old pair of skis that we will never use again, seems crazy, especially when there are people who don't know when their next meal will be.

With breath of kindness, gratitude and appreciation let the clutter go!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Routines

Day 98 of 100

WOW! I can't believe it has been almost 100 days since I began this blog. Our household certainly has benefited from decluttering and I hope yours has as well! Only 2 days left in the challenge!

As you have probably realized by now, decluttering is and should be an ongoing activity. Hopefully,, you were able to jump start it with the 100 day challenge and it has become a habit. Once you begin to declutter and see and feel the benefits of doing so, you are naturally motivated to continue.

If you have been able to stick to the challenge and have really cleared out a lot of the clutter in your home, after the 100th day, you may want to make a new goal. Perhaps on Saturday mornings you will go around your home and declutter a certain amount of items or for a certain amount of time. Or maybe, each day you will look for one item to declutter as you go about your day. Remember the rule that when you bring something new into your home you will let something go. Finding a routine or activity to tie to your decluttering will make all the difference. It is much more likely that it will happen, if it is around something that you always do.

See how you can be creative with this, making it your own! Be sure to involve all family members as you continue on your Clutter Free Journey!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Broken Window Theory

Day 97 of 100

I am sure many of you have heard of the Broken Window Theory, made popular by Mayor Giuliani. Its basic premise is that by fixing the small things, it keeps them from building up, getting worse and compounding. A building with a broken window, if not repaired is more likely to be vandalized, leading to break ins and further damage and destruction. So by fixing the small things, ie: the broken window, quickly, further damage is avoided.

I really believe this theory to be true when it comes to our clutter. Think about how when you make your bed first thing in the morning, your bedroom automatically stays neater. You are much more likely to hang up and put away clothing, rather than flinging it on the bed.

Or, if you have you have emptied the dishwasher and wiped the kitchen counters,you are much more likely to put the dirty dishes away, rather than them piling in the sink.

Think about how piles seem to be magnets for more stuff of all varieties. If you keep a pile from starting in the first place it prevents clutter from accumulating.

Also, by decluttering the small stuff, it really adds up and prevents a much bigger problem down the road!

So go ahead and apply the broken window theory to your decluttering and transform your home one "window" at a time!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Success Sunday

Day 96 of 100

Today I thought I'd share the success I have had in "decluttering" myself of my cell phone while in the driver's seat. As I posted previously, I thought lent to be a good time to start. I have to admit, at first it felt very awkward. Not using it to make a call out was one thing, but not answering it was even more difficult. It made me realize how dependent I was of the constant stimulation, as I could have a conversation with virtually anyone at any time.

Statistics always show the higher rates of accidents but I wonder about how many people get lost, take the wrong turn, forget where they are going or go much longer routes because they are so engaged in conversation. I know some people are proud to be multitaskers and perhaps somethings allow for this. However, when you are operating a 3,500 pound vehicle full of precious cargo, should you really be multitasking?

Because my job requires multiple phone conversations among many people, I wasn't sure what impact it would have when I decided to hang up and not talk while driving. What I discovered instead was that much of these calls were superfluous and that when made during non-driving time, they could be much more to the point.

Occasionally, I have needed to stop to take an important call or make one to say I am running late. But on the whole, the impact has only been positive. I can truly say I do not miss it! I feel like I have bought myself some quiet time each day!

Only a few days left in the challenge...go find some clutter!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tim the Declutter-er

Day 95 of 100

With only 5 days left in the Clutter Challenge, the Simpson Family has been busy! Specifically, Tim has been busy decluttering. Yesterday he sold a coin collection that he had been hanging on to for years. It was something that interested him at one time, but due to multiple hobbies and interests, particularly his reptile collection, it had not been pursued. He sold the collection to a co-worker who was very excited to expand his collection. He will treasure and honor these coins and they will be appreciated! Tim is putting the money from the sale towards an Emerald Tree Boa, a snake he has talked about getting since we began dating, 24 years ago!

He also went to the dump today with a truck load of stuff! He cleaned out his work room and had a ton of trash and wood. In addition, we recently had 5 trees taken down in the back yard and he has been busy cutting up and chopping all the wood. So not only are we decluttering the house but also the yard!

What do you hope to tackle in the nest few days!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Soccer Season

Day of 94 of 100

Tim can't believe what a huge soccer fan I have become. When we met, I didn't know the difference between a baseball, basketball or football. Well, that may be an exaggeration, but I knew nothing about these sports and could have cared less. I still do not care to watch any of the above listed sports, (I realize that some GA football fans consider this to be a sin) but I have come to love the game of soccer! The love of my children and watching them play was how it started, but it has evolved to something that I truly enjoy. This is good, as we often find ourselves at the soccer fields many an evening. In an 11 day stretch the week before last, we had 9 games, 8 High School and Timothy's first Rec game. This doesn't include practices or any other activities. As much fun as we have had cheering from the stands, we have been so busy and everyone is exhausted! I honestly do not know how my high school-er has done it between all the games, school work and extra curricular activities.

As much as I love soccer, it is a good thing it is a seasonal sport. Two of the boys play in the Fall and Spring. It is intense for a few months and then there is a break. During "off season" they continue to exercise and stay fit, but the intensity is turned down. For them and for our family, this is a good thing. We could not do this year round. Bodies need a break, my house needs to be cleaned, chores need to be done, etc. Like many things in life, you appreciate something when it is not there all the time. How I look forward to the new season after a break!

Are you hanging on to things in your life, that have outlived their purpose, time or season?

Do you have items from when your children were young? Unless they are sentimental, don't kid your self thinking that your kids will be glad you saved their swing, bouncy seat or exersaucer. By the time your child has a child, they will be either antiquated or recalled. The new ones will probably be voice activated and levitate, as they gently lull the baby to sleep. Your old one will not compete.

What about items from a craft/project you had always thought would be fun to begin, but never did. Or perhaps you did and realized it wasn't for you. Preparing to do something can sometimes be part of the fun. However, sometimes we realize after amassing large amounts of materials, we really are not that interested.

How about clothing that has never fit? Or “big” clothes that you are hanging on to “just in case” you gain back the weight. I don't know about you, but this seems like bad Karma to me. Does your clothing match your style of life as it is now? Styles change and what we feel comfortable in and look good in changes as well.

Look at the season you are in NOW and make your home match it, by letting go of the “out of season” items standing in your way!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Basement Bliss

Day 93 of 100

After an initial tackle of the basement a while back, I had put it on hold while decluttering other areas of our home. Even though we use it all the time, because I do not see it like the rest of the house, it tends to be neglected. This week with us all being home for Spring Break, we were in the basement a lot watching movies. So, this afternoon, after a busy morning out, we began part 2 of the Basement Declutter.

I was so surprised! It really was not much! The first attack had taken care of the more obvious clutter. Much of what needed to be done centered around sorting and putting things away where they belonged. The younger boys did gather a pile of toys and toy parts to be thrown away and several items hit my Goodwill pile. In addition, we reclaimed some of the space by rearranging some furniture, making the TV room more functional and able to sit more people comfortably. Other than my sewing corner which I am in the process of claiming, we probably need about 30 more minutes and everything will be done!

Tim has been out of town all week and surprised us by coming home tonight rather than Friday. He was pleased with how much progress we made!


We are getting close to the end of our Clutter Challenge! Only 7 days left! How are you doing? Is there an area you have been avoiding? Go ahead and tackle it! I bet it isn't as bad as you think it will be and just think of the finished result!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Soaking up the minutes!

Day 92 of 100

When visiting families of young children, I often remind the moms how quickly this period of time in their lives will be. I tell them that I know it is hard to comprehend, but one day they will turn around and their children will be teenagers. When you have a colicky baby and a teething two year old and it has been raining for 4 days, your house is turned upside down and your husband is working late again, it is very hard to remember that this! But it is a short season in your and your child's life. Remembering this can help you keep perspective and patience and help you to soak up every minute!

Make what matters first priority. By letting go of the excess in out lives, we can allow more time for what is important NOW!

Only 8 days left in our challenge: Go find 10 or more!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chores

Day 91 of 100

Is there a chore you really dread doing? What about it do you dislike? Can you pinpoint exactly why you don't like doing it? How long do you think it takes you to do it “well enough”?

Really put some thought into this. See if any of the following could be applied to you and your dreaded chore:

*We can choose to think about it differently/re-frame it, approaching it with an attitude of “choosing' to do it rather than having to.

*Use a timer: Once we know exactly how long the job really takes, often we will find that the chore at hand actually takes significantly less time than we thought it does. Knowing this will make it much more bearable. Set a timer and try and beat the clock. Remember when you were a child and your parents would say they would count while you did something you didn't want to do? It worked then and can work now!

*We can figure out a way to do it differently, making it more manageable or enjoyable. ie: Turn on music and dance, listen to a book on tape or learn a foreign language while cleaning. Call an friend on speaker phone or watch a favorite TV program or movie you have taped while ironing.

*Can steps in the chore be eliminated all together? Are we doing something in a way that wastes time or is inefficient just because that is how we always have done it?

*Can it be done smarter? Think smarter, not harder. So often we could make what we do easier if we put some thought into it.

*We can figure out a way not to do it. Is it a necessary chore like grocery shopping or is it something that could be left undone? Decide what is important to you. Everyone's list will be different. We could figure out how to delegate or trade this chore with a family member or could consider paying someone else to do it.

Very rarely is there nothing that can be done. So rather than mope or procrastinate, put your mind to it and see how you can transform that dreaded chore!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Correspondence and Bills

Day 90 of 100

When it comes time to pay a bill, respond to an invitation or send a letter, do you have everything together in one place to do so quickly and efficiently? Stamps, return address labels, envelopes, stationary, note cards, etc., if all kept together make this job much more manageable and enjoyable.

You are much more likely to jot a note to a far away relative, if everything is together and organized in one place. Where do you normally pay your bills? Can you make a station: a basket, container, box or drawer, the central location for all this paraphernalia? Make it something attractive, preferably something you already own and love but have not know what to do with? Think out side the box: Do you have a pretty crystal or silver bowl that sits in a cupboard that you almost never use? How about that basket you got on your honeymoon that is on the top closet shelf. Come up with a way to incorporate what you love into a task that must get done. Having everything centrally located, in an attractive container that means something to you, really will make a difference. The next time you pay bills, you may even catch yourself smiling!

10 days left in the Clutter Free Challenge! What are you working on?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Day 89 of 100

Happy Easter!

Hope you all have had a wonderful day with your family!

Back to decluttering tomorrow!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Collards and Kale

Day 88 of 100

I love all vegetables, particularly, dark green, leafy ones! They are full of vitamins and minerals and a great source of fiber! They also are another way to get calcium. Research studies suggest that dark green vegetables may prevent certain types of cancers and promote heart health! Just this week, I prepared a large batch of both Kale and Collard Greens for my family.

When I met Tim, he ate very few vegetables, raw carrots and corn being the two I remember. But with persistence, he is now a very well rounded vegetable eater and rarely complains. Two of my 3 boys will eat just about any vegetable cooked for them. One continues to resist but I continue to persevere.

Some of my favorite reading literature is centered around nutrition. I find it so interesting. I have learned that the children who eat the most and biggest variety of vegetables are the ones who have parents who purchase the most vegetables. It is simple exposure. These kids are more familiar with them and more likely to taste them. Studies show that food preferences and patterns of what children eat are largely shaped by the food purchased and the parents persistence in presenting foods over and over again, even when the children refuse. I once worked with a nutritionist who told me that some children may have to be "exposed" to a food 25 plus times before trying it and then more before accepting it.

All this talk about vegetables is because I think it is a similar process when it comes to teaching children to be declutter-ers. They must be exposed and taught this skill regularly and consistently, see us doing it and even when they resist, the message/idea must be kept alive by presenting it over and over again. Just like we want our children to have healthy eating habits, a healthy relationship with "stuff" will serve us throughout our lives.

Go find 10 and remember to eat your veges!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ahhhhhhhhhhh....Spring Break!

Day 87 of 100

I don't know who is more excited, me or the kids! We have had such a busy few months with school, activities and sports. I am really looking forward to some "down time" with the kids next week! I too, am taking the week off and we are going to sleep in, see some movies, eat out at our favorite restaurants and have a "vacation at home"! They are all exhausted, studied out and generally in need of a break!

With only 14 days left in the Clutter Free Challenge, I am also looking forward to finishing a few areas that are need of further decluttering during our break! Our hectic schedule has made me fall behind in my regular decluttering, as well as housework in general. I am looking forward to "getting back on the horse" and making the most of the next 2 weeks of the Clutter Free Challenge!

I will keep you up on my progress as I relax, enjoy my family and declutter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Plugged In

Day 86 of 100

Out to eat at a nice restaurant recently, at the table next to us sat a young couple expecting a baby. They both were texting on cell phones while waiting to have their order taken. Who knows, maybe they were actually playing video games or doing online trading, I do not know. But I do know they were not looking at or talking to each other. At the table in front of us a couple with a child about two years old, sat with three other adults and there was a portable TV on the table playing Dora the Explorer. Now granted, I remember what it is like to eat out with a tired two year old or for that matter tired teenagers, and I can empathize with their desire to eat a meal in peace. However, the child was completely oblivious to the TV, so it sat playing while she did what most toddlers do in restaurants if allowed, and walked back and forth from parent to parent, trying to get their attention. I am sure there were others is the restaurant as well, on cell phones talking, texting and checking scores of games.

It just really struck me as odd. Maybe it is my heightened awareness of clutter in our lives, or perhaps my desire to escape the hustle and bustle that seems to encompass everyday life but it really bothered me. Not that these people and their actions were intrusive to me. If anything, they made my meal more pleasant and enjoyable, as they were quiet. It just seems to be so much of it now. Like all advances, there are positives and negatives. One drawback of technology may be that although the world is smaller, our connections with those right in front of us, living with us, can unknowingly become further apart.

What do you need to “unplug” to increase the connection with those you love the most?