A Resolution to Keep!

It’s that time again! As we welcome the new year, most of us are probably thinking about how to make this coming year better than the last. There are so many goals waiting to be achieved! Maybe you’d like to buy a house. Maybe you want to start a business. Maybe you plan to go back to school. Maybe you’re finally going to write “that book”. Whatever your goals are for 2017, I’d like to suggest one more:

SIMPLIFY.

When I use this word, I use it broadly. Only you know what that means for your life, so do with it what you will – but do something.

– Some of you should clean out your closet, your garage, your pantry, your file cabinet.

– Some of you should focus less on making money and more on making memories with your friends and family.

– Some of you should scale back on all the junk (Junk food, junk TV, anything that brings temporary satisfaction and long-term damage.)

– Some of you need to clear out the toxic relationships in your life, and surround yourself with more positivity, even if that means fewer people.

– Some of you need to make a change that will make your life richer (not in a monetary way.) 

There are so many ways to simplify.  When it comes to my own personal life, here’s what I plan to do in 2017:

  • I plan to simplify our belongings (again.) Since Fox received a good number of new toys and books for Christmas, I plan to go through his older toys and books to see which ones are ripe for donation. I’ve already set up a Toy/Book Swap Party with my local mom group. These things are a huge hit! I probably won’t take much (if anything) from the swap unless I really feel like we could benefit from it, but it’ll be nice to see some of our gently used items go home with friends. 🙂 Anything that’s leftover from the event will be donated to charity.  

MORE ABOUT TOYS: I’m a firm believer in keeping the toys and books situation in our house MANAGEABLE. I’ve found this to mean that Fox doesn’t have as much as most kids. (That’s okay with us.) Miraculously, I’ve also discovered that I can successfully babysit my friends’ kids without them feeling bored. In fact, all the kids I’ve watched love coming over to play at our tiny little apartment. Happiness isn’t about how much you have. Even children know that.  

  • I plan to simplify my expectations. What I mean by this is I plan to let stress have LESS power over my mind. So often I find myself in cahoots about something that is, at the end of the day, pretty trivial, and I allow my stress levels to increase, which results in me having to spend precious minutes of my day dealing with unnecessary disappointment and anger. This is a very wordy way of saying I need to take a chill pill, and realize that the world will not crumble if things don’t go my way… If the dishes go undone… If the laundry piles up (yes, even though I’ve done a few purges, we can somehow still create piles of laundry. That’s a blog for another day.) I’m the kind of person who is always working on something, and as much as I thrive on keeping busy and productive, I realize that I could stand to put less pressure on myself.  

I want 2017 to be a year of Inner Tranquility. I want to be okay with the fact that things always seem to be unfinished. After all, we are all works in progress. Here are my commitments for 2017, feel free to claim them as yours too!

    1. I will embrace the loose ends of life this year.
    2. I will laugh at times that would normally make me grit my teeth.
    3. I will exhale negativity and inhale the goodness that surrounds me.  
    4. I will show more grace and mercy to myself and others.
    5. I will remember that we only have so much time.

    I wish you all a fantastic 2017. May it be a year that fills your life with simple joys, your heart with gratitude, and your eyes with happy tears.  

    XOXO,

    Val

    Advertisements

    The Great Closet Purge

     

    joyful-closet-purge-clean-out-sarah-lazarovic

    Some of you may recall that months ago I said I’d be minimizing the amount of clothes in my closet and transitioning to a Capsule Wardrobe. It’s taken me a while to post an update on this project because I didn’t quite achieved what I set out to, and I was dealing with a weird sense of failure. I didn’t want to report back that I couldn’t do it!  But I’m realizing now that I have no reason to hide in shame.  I’ve accomplished a lot since I’ve committed to live a more simple life.  Furthermore, it’s good for me to be transparent about the areas that I struggle with. It’s about the journey, not the destination, right?  🙂  So here goes…  My somewhat failed capsule wardrobe story.

    Before we moved from California to Oregon in September 2015, I got rid of half my closet. It was an exhilirating experience, yet even after that I felt that I STILL had too much, which is why I attempted to do a capsule wardrobe.  That, and I like a challenge.

    My goal was to have fewer than 60 items of clothing (including shoes and accessories but not including undergarments.)  I pulled out EVERY SINGLE THING from my closet (sometimes you have to make a mess to clean a mess), counted every single item of clothing I owned (I had somewhere around 130 items) and then created two piles: KEEP and DONATE.  The key questions I asked myself when going through my clothes were:

    1. Does this fit?
    2. When is the last time I wore it?
    3. Does this accurately reflect my style today?
    4. Is it damaged, and if so, will I actually make the effort to repair it? (Be honest!)
    5. If I was shopping RIGHT NOW, would I buy this item?
    6. Do I feel comfortable and confident wearing this?

    As I mentioned, I wasn’t able to get my closet down to 60 items (most capsule wardrobe keepers have even LESS than this… incredible) but I was able to pare it down to about 80 pieces.  I should probably run through everything again – I’m 99.9% sure positive I hung onto some things I don’t really need.

    If you missed my post earlier in the year about this whole thing, here are just TWO huge benefits of downsizing your wardrobe:

    Owning fewer clothes makes your life easier.

    • Every day we make thousands of decisions, and the more we can pare those decisions down, the more mental space we have to go about our day, the more productive we can be in other areas. (Google “Successful people wear the same thing every day” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.)

    Fewer clothes = Less clutter, Less laundry

    • This has been a huge benefit for my life!  As a busy mom who works from home, I can’t express enough how nice it is to have a MANAGEABLE amount of clothes.  (I mention the “work from home” thing because when I had piles and piles of laundry to deal with, it made focusing on work a lot harder!)

    Now as you can imagine, downsizing my wardrobe means I wear a lot of the same clothes all the time, and that’s something I’ve become completely okay with.  I proudly have 3 pairs of jeans and a handful of t-shirts that are in constant rotation.  Sometimes, admittedly, I feel a little bored with my limited options, and I crave something new, but I have a solution for that.  If I’m going to buy something new, I need to bid farewell to something old.  (Following this rule of thumb is a great way to prevent having an excess of clothing.  It can also help with impulsive purchases.)

    When it comes to getting rid of clothes, I like to donate them to charity, or participate in clothing swap parties. And when it comes to shopping for new clothes, I try to shop from second hand stores to promote the recycling of clothing.  I still buy stuff from other retailers, but I’ve been trying to make stores like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroad Trading Company my first stops when I’m in search of something new.

    The biggest challenge I had when purging my clothes (and a continued challenge for me now when I shop for new items) is keeping my style more simple and streamlined, getting rid of (and not buying) a lot of patterned items.  My heart beats for a beautiful vibrant pattern but I found that it’s easier to mix and match outfits when I embrace a simpler look.  I did keep a few patterned pieces (mostly dresses for special occasions) but there was definitely a slight shift in my day-to-day style, and it was absolutely for the better.  My closet’s more like the In-N-Out menu now, rather that of the Cheesecake Factory (oofta!) Every item in my closet fits me well and is a style I love and would buy today.

    If you’re interested in purging your own closet but don’t know where to start, let me know – I would love to help you!  Trust me, it’ll feel like a weight has lifted off your shoulders.  It’ll at least make your laundry baskets lighter.

    Minimizing Negativity

    YOWZA!  It’s been a while since I last posted!  I’ve been missing my little blog so much, but I’ve been swamped with work and motherhood and other life things that have taken priority for the past few months.  Now it’s time to get back on track.   The easiest way to do that is to just jump right in… so here we go!

    When it comes to a living a simpler, more fulfilling life, I believe that we not only need to deal with the tangible objects that take up space (which is what I usually blog about) but it is equally crucial to purge mental and emotional clutter which can weigh us down and get in the way of some great life experiences.

    One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is negativity, its impact on our lives, and the importance of getting rid of it.

    I want to address THREE primary areas in which we need to fight and banish negativity.  A decluttering of sorts, and I welcome you to join me… if you’re brave enough to take on the challenge!

    • NEGATIVITY IN YOUR OWN MIND.  When you allow your mind to be run by pessimism and putdowns, you’re setting yourself up for a miserable, unfulfilled life.  I’m serious.  Think about the most complain-y people you know.  Do you think their minds are more full of positive or negative thoughts? And do they seem happy??   Think of your mind as a car, or a house.  Get rid of the junk and fill it with the things that truly matter.  I don’t know about you, but I only have a certain amount of mental energy each day and I don’t want to waste it on negativity.  There are no benefits of having negative thoughts about yourself or others.  It’ll slow you down, prevent you from focusing on your true values, and it could even prevent you from achieving goals you have set for yourself.  Kick the pessisism to the side and fight to be a more positive person every minute of every day.  When you start to feel negativity creep into your mind, BREATHE, and let the thought quickly pass. Overcome the moment by telling yourself something GOOD.  There is always something good to tell yourself!
    • NEGATIVITY IN RELATIONSHIPS.  Something I have learned over the years is how crucial it is to say goodbye to toxic relationships and friendships. Refining our lives ought to be a top priority.  We need to chip away at the negativity so that the beauty and brilliance we are meant to experience can be seen, felt, and shared.   As I said above, we only have so much mental energy to give to people.  Choose wisely who you are spending it on.  I understand for some situations this is way easier said than done, but I still encourage you to try.  Focus on making your inner circle of relationships one that energizes you, one that makes you believe in yourself more and more each day, one that brings you joy rather than stress.  Decluttering in this area may not be easy, but it is absolutely doable, and you will thank yourself when you do it!  Maybe you need to stop making excuses for someone.  Maybe you need to stop doubting yourself.  You do not need to make room for someone who constantly causes you pain or makes you feel small, and you don’t need to feel guilty for saying goodbye to a relationship that continues to bring you down.  Realize that you deserve to be happy.
    • NEGATIVITY IN SITUATIONS.  So many people feel stuck.  They feel that they’ve been dealt certain cards in life and have no option but to accept them.  Nose to the grind, don’t complain, be strong, “it could be worse”, yadda yadda.  I’m not sure why so many of us take on an attitude of martyrdom.  Maybe it’s because there’s a sense of community in it (the whole “misery loves company” thing.)  Maybe it’s because we don’t believe enough in ourselves.  We feel helpless, and fearful about the idea of change.  Don’t get me wrong, I completely advocate for looking at the bright side, counting your blessings, and pushing through adversity… but I’m not talking about tough times.  I’m talking about our lives, and the ways we choose to live them.  Each day that passes is a day we can’t get back.  Every moment spent on negativity is a moment that could have filled you with joy.  Ask yourself what would make you happier, what would bring you more peace, and think about the steps you need to take in order to get there.  Talk to someone you trust about it. (Definitely talk about it, it becomes more real when you do, and the more real your goal is, the more likely you will try to achieve it.)

    I hope this post speaks to someone, even if it’s just one person.  I felt like I was supposed to write it. 🙂

    REMEMBER… When we focus on minimizing the negativity in our lives, we clear the way for goodness to come pouring in.  I dare you to try it!