Tag Archives: seasons

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

 

Things I Learned by Downsizing – Part One – Papers     

 

I’m back to blogging this week–finally! This last move into a smaller home has been the biggest task of my life. Impacting my thoughts, emotions, and body has been a good transformative process and I’m thankful to be settled now.

The downsizing process began a couple of years ago by reading “Everything That Remains” in two sittings. My thoughts about stuff will never be the same.

Since moving into a smaller home a few months ago with one-third less stuff, here are the things I learned about purging the papers in my life:

Kids school papers

Everything from math fact worksheets to book reports cluttered our attic. Multiply this by three since I kept schoolwork from all of my children. Instead of keeping all those papers, send them to grandparents and special people in your lives or use them to make an envelope or wrap a gift. Take photos of their artwork, they’ll be digital and last longer.

Pay stubs, bills, and receipts

I cannot tell you how many boxes of this stuff I found in the garage and attic, including paycheck stubs from my first job in the 70s and receipts from a zillion places for things we don’t even own anymore. I tried shredding and burning it all myself, but it was taking ages and burnt out my shredder. My friend offered to take dozen boxes off my hands and had them shredded for me.

Journals, recipes, letters

Hysteria erupted when my husband found my diary from high school and saw all those tear-stained pages of my true loves lost! I’m so glad we found all my journals. Now, they are together in one box, a collage of my thought life.

The butter-stained recipes written by my mother, grandmother and precious friends are in a separate box together. Maybe someday I’ll compile a book of these handwritten recipes.

My grandma wrote to me weekly when I lived out-of-state for a couple of years. She passed away nearly 30 years ago, but I have all of those letters in a special box now. It felt like a warm hug to read her words. I’ll do that again someday when I am missing her. I’ve added cards and letters from other grandparents and loved ones to that box. A separate box holds the cards and letters from my two best friends I met in first grade and we are still best friends today.

Cards

So many boxes of cards! Some of those are in my new garage waiting to be sorted. I saved the ones with heartfelt notes inside and the ones my kids made all those Mother’s days ago. Though, most of the cards landed in the recycle bin.

Rewards of purging paper

The rewards are too numerous to mention, but the greatest is how much lighter my life feels. I felt buried underneath all of this paper/memorabilia and I’m glad it’s almost all gone.

Tips for a successful paper purge:

  • Hire a professional organizer. My favorite organizer works locally here
  • Keep your children’s original writings and art
  • Don’t buy storage containers–you’ll have plenty once you start getting rid of stuff
  • Follow “minimalist” types on social media
  • Keep receipts for big items, like furniture, vehicles, and home improvements

Is it time for you to shred, box, give-away, or recycle some papers?

Come back next time for tips about clearing out books, clothes, and household items.

Pruning, Bearing, Harvesting. Where are you in the process?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2 (NIV)

My husband and I experienced a long season of job, financial, and relational challenges in recent years. Figuratively speaking, the leaves fell off, limbs were pruned, old wood burned up. A season of struggle. Then sprouts of new leaves and good fruit burst forth. A season of opportunities. Now we are prepared for the proverbial harvest. A time to gather and seize what is ahead.

Have you ever questioned this process? I have!

I learned something interesting as I observed the peach orchards alongside the road to my daughter’s house. I drive by as bare branches pop with brilliant green leaves in springtime. Plump sun-kissed peaches mature during summer. The autumn leaves turn a regal gold before falling to the cool ground.

Peach trees are drastically pruned in winter. In this orchard, all but one or two main limbs were sawed off every tree, leaving fresh wounds exposed to near freezing temperatures of winter. Limbs that had once been fruitful now lay between rows of trees, ready for the burn pile. Did you know:

  • Branch collars are rings of living cells that generate new tissue to cover the pruning wound and are located where the branch was once attached.
  • The more a peach tree is pruned, the more vigorously new shoots grow.
  • The fruit bud formation is dependent on light penetration, necessitating the severe pruning for light to reach the fruit-bearing branches.

In the above passage of scripture, Jesus spoke about God, the gardener of all life, pruning what no longer bears good fruit. Just like the peach tree, this pruning is necessary for our lives to receive more Light and produce better fruit.

The peach tree is created to produce branch collars to protect the wound and produce new tissue. Likewise, God is with us during difficult times. He prunes limbs of sin and unfruitfulness with love and tender care. He created us and knows that for us to produce better fruit, we must lose the dead stuff in our lives.

This is painful.

It hurts.

Our Gentle Gardener does this to promote new life within each one of us. We carry light and truth and hope when the Holy Spirit lives inside us. And that light shines brightest when unobstructed with small tasteless fruit and dead wood.

Where are you in the pruning, bearing, harvesting process? Harvest is a time of celebrating, pruning, not so much. Pruning is harsh. I’m ready for harvest, how about you?

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I like to photograph sweet moments, like the arrival of my second grandchild. I also enjoy capturing images of beautiful places in the world. But, reality is that there are plenty of bitter moments.

How do I respond to the bitterness in life?

I’m not good at reading daily devotionals daily. Sometimes it takes me a month to read a 7-day devotional, as it did with “Savor” on my YouVersion Bible app.

Shauna Niequist is one of my favorite authors because of her down-to-earth writing style. When I read her books I feel like I’m spending time with a good friend.

A particular day’s devotional reading stands out to me. I remember this final sentence, “…when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

Bitter and sweet moments are part of every life. I appreciate how Niequist encourages readers to embrace both types of experiences and glean what we can from whatever life serves up.

“The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and reweaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness. Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy. So this is the work I’m doing now, and the work I invite you into: when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”DSC04534

How do you manage bitter moments in life?