Category Archives: Resources

Things I Learned by Downsizing – Part Two – Books, Clothes, Household Items

Previously you read how I minimized the papers in my life. I hope that my story and tips help you reduce the amount of dust that collects in your attic. Today we’re looking at how to reduce the amount of books, clothes, and household items we have.

Books

My treasured possessions were my books. Boxes in the attic, stacks and shelves in the house and the garage. Books were everywhere! I figured it best to begin with the hardest things to get rid of. So, one night I set up three long tables in my living room, and my friend helped me stack those tables high with books. I invited people over to take whatever they wanted. I wondered if I’d regret letting my precious books go. After the last friend left with a book bag full, I packed up what remained and donated them to a local non-profit the following day. I felt lighter.

Clothes

Just today I dressed for a meeting, looked in the mirror and said to myself, “Nope. I don’t love it. It’s outta here” and I tossed it in a box. Project 333 helped me reduce my wardrobe.

Now I own about 60 pieces of clothing, half cool weather and half warm weather clothes. So far, no regrets about anything I gave away or sold at garage sales.

Unexpected benefit of owning less clothing: less laundry! I don’t know any woman who wouldn’t like less laundry.

Household Items

Bowls, plates, glasses, sheets, towels, blankets. We had WAY too many of these. My new kitchen is half the size of the previous one, so most of the superfluous items found their way to the driveway at the old house and were sold at garage sales.

Closet space is scarce at the new house, so I kept one spare set of sheets for the beds and one set of towels for each bathroom. Simple feels so good!

The greatest blessings of downsizing:

  • Friends adopting books I gave away
  • Thrift store owner loading up old patio furniture to resell
  • Children who spent their shiny quarters for board games, toys and books
  • Friends who repurposed framed art and wall décor
  • My kids furnished their homes with pieces from our house
  • Handyman using our old fence boards for projects

Thanks

I have so many people to thank for enduring this process with me: Serena, Kelly, Glenna, Silva, Bonnie, Carrie, Shawna, Dot, Aaron, Michelle, Lauren, Loren, Marisa, Toby, Fran, Joann, and the good folks at Neighborhood Thrift store.

To my dear husband: Thanks for putting up with my recovery process as a former pack rat. I love our smaller home, simpler life…and, you!

In the letting go, I was blessed to see the joy on all of these faces as they relieved us of our possessions. Switchfoot singer/songwriter Jon Foreman asks, “do you posses your possessions or do they possess you?” How would you answer that question?

Helpful links:

How The Minimalists began minimizing

If the House Burns Down Tonight – Switchfoot

Clean Out Your Closet – Project 33

Neighborhood Thrift

 

The Springs Silent Retreat – Walking, Drawing, Reading – Part Two

I spent the first day of silent retreat settling my brain and body. Unplugging from all electronic devices felt freeing. So many hours filled with contemplation and simpler activities were like water for my thirsty soul.

 

Walking

A workday’s worth of solitude and silence was like an oasis in the desert. I walked several miles, ate lunch in a meadow (a golden meadow because it’s been a hot and dry summer here in Central California). I was alone and it was sunny and quiet.

As I left my picnic spot and looked back at the oak tree whose shadow I’d sat underneath, I saw a tiny oak tree in its shadow. It was the perfect picture of how I felt that day, covered in God’s love and grace. When I got back to my room, I filled more pages in my journal with words and drawings.

Drawing

I love to doodle. It’s stress relieving for me. The session called “Quilt Making” provided the familiar experience of having crayons, colored pencils, and markers in my hand. We were to draw something representing significant memories. The leader shared a reading that inspired us to remember the good things in life. When our drawings were complete, we hung them together, seamed like a lovely quilt of hand-drawn memories.

Reading

As you know, I love to read. While packing for the retreat I wrestled over which books to take with me. Ultimately, I decided not to take any, which felt really weird – I never leave home without a book.

However, I borrowed “Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen from the lending library and read it in a day. In true Nouwen style, a contemplative read and suitable addition to my silent retreat experience.

Going Home

Like a missionary returning to home after traveling abroad, it was overwhelming to turn my cellphone on and see the numbers in red bubbles indicating missed text messages, emails, and social media posts. I returned home just days before the 2016 Presidential election and all that noise, too. I realized that I could better control how invasive technology is in my life by creating time frames and boundaries. The first being little to no usage on Sundays and only during specific times during other days.

I know it’s challenging to find peace, solitude and silence in the day-to-day. At least once a year, if not more often, it’s good to unplug, move “off-the-grid,” and find some solace. The mind and body need that down time to function more efficiently.

Have you ever been on a silent retreat? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience. I’m looking forward to The Springs silent retreat next year, you’re welcome to join me.

 

The Springs Silent Retreat – Sleeping and Journaling – Part One

I’ve certainly heard enough noise about politics, before and since Election Day. How about you? Today on the blog I’m sharing my silent retreat experience.

The Springs

These silent retreats are offered twice a year and the ladies of NEWIM are experts at planning the perfect environment for attendees to have a unique and individual experience. I wasn’t seeking specific answers or direction, but rather affirmation and peace during this retreat.

Stress causes me to draw my shoulders up towards my ears, which creates knots in my upper back and neck. They’ve been multiplying for weeks and I needed to be unknotted. So I sought some relaxation and relief from the pain in my neck, literally.

Sleeping

Sleep had been evasive for some time, which contributed to the cluster of knots that had me wrapped up. Too many thoughts buzzing around in my mind, I struggled to shut it off. I needed to get away. Have you ever felt that way? Like the world needs to just stop spinning so you can jump off? All the noise can send you straight to Crazytown. Perhaps you just need to get away, even for a few hours to just unwind. Start with a nap. That’s what I did.

The first few hours of silence on the first day I needed to relax. I hadn’t planned to nap, but while flat on my back listening to the rhythm of my breathing, I drifted off to sleep. That snooze was just what I needed.

Journaling

With the knots unraveled, I could focus my thoughts. I spent some time writing with a pen in a journal that evening. I haven’t done this for months. I tend to do my journaling on the laptop now because I can type faster than I can write.

There was something nostalgic about having pen in hand and letting my thoughts flow through it onto the pages. I miss that tangible practice of journaling and plan to write more frequently with my favorite pens.

I’ll tell you more about the silent retreat in my next blog post. Until then, find a few moments, you might set a timer for 5, 15, or 30 minutes to just do nothing. Then pay attention to how you feel, think, and view life. See you here next time!

How do you love yourself? Part Two

Last time we looked at the most important commandment about loving God, others, and ourselves. In my research, I found little information or commentary about what it means to love ourselves, in the same manner we love others and God.

I loved the people closest to me and served others, including those less fortunate. I loved God. I believed I’d done all those things well. Yet I was tired, empty, and even resentful. How about you? Did you think you were doing things well only to learn that you might have been wrong?

For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14 (emphasis added)

I realized that I had it upside down. I thought that loving myself was selfish. There’s a big difference between loving yourself and being selfish. A BIG difference. I was so busy loving God and people that I’d forsaken loving myself. I never put myself on my “to do” list. The more Christian thing to do was to love God and others, right? So, here are some ideas to get you started loving yourself in healthy ways so you may love others and God out of abundance rather than emptiness.

10 Ways to Love Yourself

  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Take a nap
  • Soak in a warm bath
  • Go for a walk outside
  • Visit a museum or theater
  • Watch your favorite television show
  • Listen to a CD, all the way through in one sitting
  • Paint your nails or get a manicure or pedicure (maybe a facial, too!)
  • Read a book, without guilt that you could be doing other things

Want to know one of the most recent things I’ve done that felt like loving myself? I threw out the give-away pens and bought the kind of ink pens I love to write with. A small indulgence that makes me smile every time I pick up a pen to write.

Next time I’ll wrap up this series with some final thoughts and a prayer you can pray.

What is one thing you could do to love yourself better?

Check out my Self-Care Pinterest board to spark your own self-care ideas.