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

    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!

     

     

     

     

    The Power of Unsubscribing

    One of the things I bring up from time to time on this blog is the notion of mindful shopping.  I’m convinced that many of us could stand to be more careful about how we spend our money.  Shopping is a serious addiction for a lot of people, and the rise of e-commerce has made bad habits even worse.  Since online shopping is what you could call an “anonymous experience” and doesn’t involve physically putting cash in someone’s hand, it’s easy for people to feel like they aren’t really spending money.  With a click of the mouse or swipe of a finger, we can buy, buy, buy… It’s far too easy these days to shop with nearly zero mental power.

    I have so much to say on this topic, but for this post, I’m going to focus on emails and talk about how we can resist the temptation of online shopping.

    A lot of the emails that hit our personal email accounts are promotional advertisements.  Open anyone’s inbox and you’re bound to see things like:

    • Deal of the Day!  Save up to 63% off all electronics!
    • Summer Kick Off!  All children’s shorts $4.99 and under!
    • Buy One, Get One FREE – only through Memorial Day!

    (and my personal favorite)

    • Exclusive Club Member Deal JUST for YOU! 20% OFF EVERYTHING!

    They’ll try to make you feel special… like you’re the only one they need… but those empty promises will only lead to an even emptier wallet, and more stuff in your house.  And I’ll say this until my face turns blue: About 99% of the time, we do not need more stuff.   (Say that underlined bit out loud in a robot voice, it might sink in better.)

    Simplifying your emails helps in so many ways.  For one, it limits all the temptation to buy impulsively, or buy at all.   Out of sight, out of mind!  How many times do you see some kind of deal in your inbox, click through to read the details, only finding yourself surfing the company’s website and filling your online cart with goodies?

    Or maybe you don’t actually purchase anything, but you mentally bookmark the items and add it to the list of things you “need”.  (I can’t be the only one who does this, right?)  We really don’t need much in this life, and the best way to stick to that truth is to simplify what you expose yourself to.  Unsubscribe.

    Think of it this way:  If you decided to change your eating habits in order to be healthier, would it make sense to keep your pantry stocked with sugary pop tarts and greasy potato chips?  Wouldn’t it be easier to eat healthy if you didn’t even SEE the junk?  Same idea with email advertisements: Avoid the temptation and UNSUBSCRIBE.  Get rid of the junk.

    Of course, if you’re the kind of person who never checks their emails, then this process doesn’t apply as much to you… which reminds me of this hilarious meme.

    this-graphic-poking-fun-at-people-who-never-delete-their-emails-is-going-viral

    I assume by now it’s obvious and I don’t need to say which side I’m on. 😉 Seriously, that one on the right is making my eye twitch right now.  But to each their own I suppose… *twitch*

    Anyway back to the matter at hand: Unsubscribing was a game changer for me.  I’ve heard of some companies that make the process easier for people (one is called Unroll Me), but I have no experience with them.  I went old-school and took 5 minutes here and there to just scroll through my emails and clicked to unsubscribe to the various email lists I was on.

    As you probably know, companies love to make unsubscribing tedious and nearly impossible because they don’t want to see you go.  It can a virtual obstacle course sometimes… but stay strong!! Keep clicking, keep saying “YES, I’m sure this is what I want.”  Eventually you’ll reach a web page that’s equivalent to sad puppy eyes and you’ll just have to close it out, knowing you did what’s best for your life.  It’s basically the “It’s not you, it’s me” approach.

    whengirlssayitsnotyouitsme

    I’ve gotten my emails to the point where I get maybe 5 day, and of course, I go through them regularly (responding, deleting, archiving, what-have-you) because I’m on the left side of that meme.   Most of the emails I get are from non-profit causes that I support.  I also get one or two a week from The Minimalists, I follow their blog and podcast.   I still have a few companies that email me promotional material, but I don’t feel tempted to purchase.

    If you’re having a hard time with online shopping and you’re brave enough to take the unsubscribing to the next level, here are some other things I’ve found helpful when it comes to simplifying my life and combating “stuffism“.

    1. Remove the apps on your phone that make purchasing even easier.
    2. Consider minimizing the number of business accounts you follow  IG and Facebook.
    3. Utilize Facebook’s option to hide / block advertisements.  There are advertisements in the middle of the feed now.  So annoying.  I always click to hide them… Subsequently different ads will show up, but I won’t go down without a fight!

    On that note, I feel this clip wraps up this post perfectly.  😀  Seriously, though… FREEDOM!