Tag Archives: path

Friday Facts: Introduction

I am going to start this series, and this new formulated long-term goal accountability, with a brief introduction of what the heck we’re doing and why.  Feel free to leave feedback in the comments.

I have our plan through to April 2022.  I know where we currently stand financially.  I believe we are generously blessed with intelligence and entrepreneurial spirits.  I know we as humans were never meant to go through life alone.  I know that more change is ahead and that my plans can be derailed at any time.  I also know to trust in God because every step off the course I foresee is actually a step on the path He’s laying out for us.

The Short Version – Housing

We now have three properties.  All three properties need some serious work.

The plan is to sell the smallest property as soon as possible (re:  flip it) because it needs the least amount of work and there’s no debt attached to it.

Then we plan to use the proceeds to do the necessary work on the house at the farm we inherited from the BHE’s father; it isn’t a farm yet but a very old house in desperate need of renovations sitting on a big ol’ chunk of beautifully wooded land.

Once that is complete, we will move our little family and our pared down possessions into the farm house so we can begin the serious work on the big house where we currently live.  So much is already complete but there’s still much to be done and much to be redone (think:  serious repainting).

Once the big house is sold and the remaining debt on it paid off, the equity, the cash in our pocket so to speak, will go back into the farm to build up our dream, to complete the house, to finish the barns, to create the pastures and paddocks, to purchase our first chickens, cattle, and goats, or whatever we plan between now and then.

Recap:
Small house– fast work on the windows, gutters, carpet, and yard- on market ASAP- sold by August 2017– proceeds to Farm house
Farm house– quality necessary renovations like gut of kitchen and upstairs, redo of wiring, addition of outdoor wood burner and a water filtration system- ready for move in April 2018, on the BHE’s birthday- completely empty the Big house
Big house– complete all major renovations like the foyer and stairwell, repaint each room, refinish downstairs wood floors, update the curb appeal- on market by June 2018– sold by the time the Angel starts kindergarten

The Short Version – Farm

My husband’s father bequeathed to him a renovated 1800s schoolhouse on an acre of yard surrounded by almost 35 acres of woods.  From before I was ever a figure in his life, the BHE had grand plans for this house and property.  All through our relationship, he has discussed ideas and dreams for what he’d do with all of it if it were to become his.  A very serious conversation over 7 years ago between my husband, his father, and his sister about estate planning included the discussion and eventual documentation of my husband becoming the heir to the property.

Now we have it. 

It needs a ton of work.  The house, the yard, the woods, everything needs some serious TLC.  Or slash-and-burn, depending on if you’re asking me or him.  But the dream, folks:  the dream is a farm.

“Deich Mile Feirme” is our name for the farm that is ten miles in any direction to the nearest anything, our home in the country, our dreams coming true.  Here we will raise our children and our livestock, plant our roots and our vegetables, and grow in our faith, love, independence, and dirt.  This farm will hopefully be off-the-grid and organic, self-sustaining and supportive of our lifestyle as well as our families and communities.  This is where we will create and cultivate.

Planning and blogging and blogging about planning


The Short Version – Career

The BHE has never wanted to work for The Man.  He is fiercely independent, and he wants to work with his mind and his own two hands to build something to honor God and family, the earth and the community, free of someone else’s yoke.

I have always looked forward to entering a workplace each day, prepared to use my considerable brain and strong initiative to make changes for the better but with the assurance of first-world niceties like bi-weekly paychecks, business attire, one hour lunches, paid time off, and the like.  I would feel much more confident in my parenting skills if I knew my children were being provided with health insurance and regular dental check-ups.  Plus, I like getting out and about, interacting with people, trying new things, and getting feedback from peers, customers, community members, and friends.

Now that the BHE has left the workforce (for good), he can focus on his “career” of Christian, husband, father, farmer, and maybe even house-flipper.

Now that I am returning to the workforce, I can focus on honing my skills and developing a broader network, or a network of networks, to help us reach our major goals regarding a village to support ourselves and our children and a financial cushion that will enable us to live free of debt, to give and give some more, to leave a legacy for our children’s futures and our church, to never again worry about making it to the next paycheck or if we can afford the necessities or even our reasonable wants.

I don’t know – can’t know – what will happen with my current job.  I can see how it is potentially a long-lasting career or even the doorway into a long term career with the Church.  I can also see how my work could one day be “done” and there be another employer on my path between comfortable income and benefits to confidently independent farmer.  I will always have a passion for libraries, I will always have a passion for the Church, I will always have a passion to do better and help others more. 

I will always be looking forward.

Murphy Momentum: Plans and Thoughts

So much change in so little time…

We are still reeling from the changes of the past year.  Our path has been altered so much, yet we are still able to see how we must and can move forward.

After the deaths of three of the most beloved people in our lives, we became inundated with grief…and their stuff.  We accepted furniture and dishes, we inherited a house and property, we have had to reimagine our dreams and redesign our goals, and we now feel confident about this new path we’ve been set upon.

Forward Thinking

All our hopes and dreams seem within grasp now.  It will not be easy.  The steps we see laid out in front of us, the process we’ve created to handle what comes our way, the plans we have developed to see us from this point to the fruition point are all thoughtfully sought and spiritually guided as we rely on our Maker once again.

We have been through hard times, and we have always been surrounded by bountiful blessings.  Now that we recognize them, we see where we have been blessed, we know how to be thankful and less fearful of the future.

Where We are Now

Yesterday morning was greeted with a lot of excitement and a little trepidation as I phoned my new boss to inform her that I would accept her offer of a position.  I will be the Communications Specialist for the local diocesan office.  My “vast skill set” and “impressive education” have landed me my dream job!

We worked hard to get to this point, but this is merely one step.  Much work will still need to be done.

The BHE will be stepping up around the home as he steps out of the traditional role of breadwinner.  Shortly after I got off the phone, he called his boss to deliver his two-weeks’ notice.  The BHE is now a SAHD!

That’s right, folks:  my bearded, hardworking, dedicated, driven, intelligent husband will be caring for our children day in and day out.

But what about the projects?!  We have so many projects between the three properties we now own that, yes, the BHE is going to need some help.

We discussed at length how we must set aside our control-freak natures and accept the assistance of others.  We must tamp down our pride and stubbornness to get ahead by asking our friends, family, and neighbors for help.

Assistance and Accountability

I’ve been working diligently on 1-year, 2-year, and 5-year plans to show us each step of the way to our goals.  I have been plugging projects into a spreadsheet and constantly jotting down ideas that I toss at the BHE and he tosses back at me.  I am researching ballpark figures for what we want to do, where, and when.  We even had a realtor come out to give us some advice.  Yes, folks, we are moving forward like a steam engine, chugging along but aware we need to slow well before the curves.

The first thing I believe we will ask for is help with the children.  When I enter this 8-5 M-F office job, the BHE is going to need someone to rely on a few days a week to care for our babes.  He can’t get work done with two toddlers!  We figured with the Angel starting PreK in the Fall on MWF, it would be best if he was SAHD those days but a friend or neighbor watched the kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Evenings and weekends will see me back in my Mommy role when he can get even more work done.

What is that work, you ask.  Well, that’s where the Accountability comes it.

As much as we would like physical help, like people to paint or build or mow or roof or watch the kids or whatever, we also need to be reminded where we are on our path.  It is all well and good if I print up a pretty checklist or create a spreadsheet that we look at from time-to-time, but we need to be reminded to check things off and follow the steps we have laid out.

When I complete my projects list, when I finish those long-term plan sheets, I will post them here for you to see where we are and where we are going.  I keep thinking something cheesy like Friday Facts to share what we’ve completed and learned then Momentum Monday to explain where we hope to go next.

For instance, this week, I’ve built up our inventory on the eBay site and accepted a new job; next week, I will complete my father-in-law’s taxes so we can be (almost) all caught up on the clean-up of his estate and take a day to myself to prepare my body and wardrobe for the return to the workforce.  This week, the BHE made serious progress on finishing the final bedroom upstairs at the big house and made some dough taking a truckload of cans to the recycling center; next week, he will complete that bedroom and order the replacement windows for the little house.

See?  I’ve told you what we are doing.  Now I feel like I’ll be letting you down if we don’t do it.  That’s how this accountability thing works on my end.  On your end, you get to share in our triumphs and pick us up when we falter.  Thank you, dear reader, for agreeing to be part of our village.

That’s What Friends are For

I look forward to not only getting stuff done but getting connected to my village as we complete projects, move forward, and stay on our thoughtfully sought path towards our dream goals.  In return, I will learn more about you so I can find opportunities to assist you where you need it.  Networking is a powerful tool.  Apply it correctly and we all see our goals come to fruition.

Where are you on your path?  Do you need some help getting up and moving forward?  Do you know how you can help others in your village to do so?

100 Blog Post Ideas!

This is my 100th blog post!

Thank you for following along on my Thoughtfully Sought path through life.  Sometimes the way is clear, other times the road is bumpy, and there are days where the path is washed out.  Thanks for sticking by me, reading and learning and maybe even growing with me.

 

So, for your pleasure, particularly if you are also a blogger, here are 100 ideas for blog posts (mainly based on what I’ve already done or have planned to do):

  1. RECIPES! Start snapping photos of what you’re up to in the kitchen.  Even the easiest stuff helps someone out there.  (Seriously, I once forgot to drain the water off the noodles when making macaroni and cheese.)  Here are some of  my top-visited recipes:  PancakesHoosier Caprese Salad, Beer Bread, and Chicken Pot Pie.
  2. Photo posts. Took a series of pictures while walking in the woods, playing with your kids, trying on clothes at the mall?  Share ‘em!
  3. Top 5 lists. Best Instagram accounts, worst parenting advice, favorite kids’ movies, date night ideas, and anything else you get excited about.
  4. Blogging tips. LOOK!  RIGHT HERE! THIS POST!  Hahahaha!
  5. Other bloggers. When in doubt, see what your friends are doing.  Most bloggers follow other blogs so make a list of your five favorite blogs then see what their last five posts were about.  You’ll get inspired AND you’ll have a Top 5 List for a blog post.
  6. Personal blurb. The “About Me” and “About Us” sections on a lot of blogs are very short and to the point.  Round out another point for your readers.
  7. FREE STUFF! Everyone loves a deal so explore something free in your area and blog away.  Make sure you take pictures.
  8. Cheap stuff! Again, everyone loves a deal.  Tell us about your coupon experiences or that deals website you found.
  9. Review products. What do you use in the bathroom?  The laundry room?  Why?
  10. Review services. Convince me why I should or shouldn’t pay for Amazon Prime or Grove Collaborative or that automatic diaper delivery.  I wrote one here about Kroger’s ClickList.
  11. Book review. Or movie or restaurant or whatever it is you really like to do.  I love to read so have linked my Goodreads account to my blog, so I can share what I’ve been spending my “free time” on as well as how I liked the books.
  12. Social Media. Tell your readers about your other accounts.
  13. Review social media you use. Write a whole post about what you do and do not like about Facebook or Instagram.
  14. Review social media you don’t use. Why is that LinkedIn account so hard to remember?  Does that networking really help people land jobs?
  15. Try a new one! My foray into SnapChat was a disaster.  I should’ve told my readers about it.
  16. Share your goals. You’ll not only motivate your readers but also feel like there’s someone holding you accountable.
  17. Technology.  We’re surrounded by it, we’re using it every day, and we are all looking for the “perfect” computer or phone or ereader.  If you are blogging, you obviously are using some THING to get your words out there.  Tell us about your laptop, your Internet provider, your local library’s wifi…
  18. Life lesson. You did something recently that you may think is mundane but is really a life lesson for all of us.  Check out my cleaning challenge post or my approach to Minimalism to get inspired.
  19. Vacation!  You finally got some time off and away so tell us about where you went, what you did, who you saw, and what you spent.  Really, we want pictures and to know what hidden gems you found in that town no one has heard of.  Or we can live vicariously through your beach pictures.
  20. Location.  Where do you blog from?  What’s going on around you as you talk to us?  How comfy is your chair or how loud is your barista or what do you do to keep your 10 month old from slapping the keys as you type?  No, really, I need to know.  He keeps trying to make the clackity noise with me.
  21. Pose a question. If you do this on Twitter, you can blog about the feedback.  Or blog about how you’ll get feedback next time.
  22. Quotes.  Tell me some words you live by or are inspired by.  Let your readers know who inspires you or what Biblical message fills you or why you lean on the words of your grandmother.
  23. Embarrass yourself. Seriously, we have all been there and done that.  If you want to connect with someone, tell them how human you are.
  24. Memory lane. It may be cathartic for you but it will also show your readership you are human.
  25. Positive from negative. Take a negative comment you’ve received on social media and flip it around; give the haters a taste of their own medicine but also show how you can put a positive spin on anything.  Or at least explain how taking the higher ground is so hard but ultimately more satisfying.
  26. Gratitude.  Write a thank you note to your readers.
  27. Oldies.  Revisit an old post.  You can rewrite it, add your current perspective, take newer and better photos, or trash it completely and tell your readers why it had to go.
  28. Seasons.  Write a post celebrating whatever season it is in your hemisphere.
  29. Weather.  Tell us what is has been like where you live and how you’ve been coping, whether it is super-hot and sunny but you don’t have a pool or it is super rainy but at least the hurricane went around you.
  30. Why.  Tell your readers why you started blogging and why you keep blogging.
  31. Future.  Write a letter to your future self.
  32. Past.  Write a letter to your past self.
  33. OOTD.  We want to see the face behind the words, and we want to see what you’re wearing.  I’m a SAHM who wears roughly the same thing every day.  I should show you my skirts, my breastfeeding tops, my stains and fingerprints, my love of cardigans… that shows a lot about me!
  34. Debate.  Pick a controversial topic and explain why you think and feel as you do.  Or take the route I did and explain why you don’t debate.
  35. Best posts. Compile a list of your most popular posts.
  36. Unpopular posts. Compile a list of your least popular posts and see if you can up your numbers.  Or if you need to do some housekeeping and delete those posts.
  37. Anthem.  What song gets you going?  What music inspires you?  What do you listen to when you need to calm your mind?  What is on your Pandora station?
  38. Hobbies.  You do more than blog so tell us about your other hobbies.  Here’s a little something I did about reenacting.
  39. Network.  There are people out there like you that are making money doing what they love.  Are you making bank?  Could you use a little extra?  Maybe you could use the help of your readers to land the perfect job.
  40. Presents.  There was a gift-giving occasion recently in your life, I just know it, so tell us what you bought or made and who you gave it to.  People like me really need help on this.
  41. Survey.  Conduct a poll or survey to better guide you on what to write next.  My posts are all over the place, from recipes and reenacting to child rearing and crafting.  Ask your readers what they want to see more of.
  42. Apps.  What do you use every day?  What apps are on your first home screen?  What apps got deleted within days?
  43. Profile.  You told us about yourself; now tell us about someone you care about or someone who inspires you or who you are voting for next election.
  44. Rant.  Get it out there!
  45. Diet.  What do you eat?  Why?
  46. Shopping.  Where do you buy what you eat, wear, decorate with?  Why?
  47. Open letter. Write something personal from you to a personal hero or new mothers or late show producers.
  48. Blogiversary.  Look here!  A post commemorating 100 blog posts.  Or do a post commemorating the age of your blog.  Or the number of “Likes” or “Followers” you have when you hit a milestone.
  49. Crafts.  Everyone is looking for a DIY they can do for cheap or fun or a gift or for recognition.  What did you create?
  50. Honor.  Write a post in honor of a holiday or Pi Day or Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  51. FAQ.  Pay attention to who asks you what and how often you get asked the same question.  I had so many people ask about how we handle our finances that I wrote a post about it and shared a spreadsheet.  But I bet I could come up with a post of FAQ regarding cloth diapers, rural life, and living so close to ALL of my in-laws.
  52. Printables.  Everyone loves free items they can download and use to make their lives easier.  Check out my grocery shopping helpers here and here.
  53. Interview.  You know someone influential, whether in your family, your community, your niche, or even more famous.  Write up your Q and A to spread their knowledge and influence.
  54. Pros and Cons. Pick a topic and do some research. Make a list of the pros and one of the cons, and you can generate interaction by asking your readers for their input.
  55. Before-and-After. This can be funny (your child before the first day of school and then after), a tutorial (your face before make-up and after), or inspiring (your pantry before you clean and organize then after).
  56. News.  Pay attention to multiple news sources and viewpoints, and research and write your own news article about something that matters to your blog’s readers.
  57. Case study. Switch internet providers, unplug everything when not in use, line dry your laundry, or go without television for a month, then share with your readers what differences you saw in your lifestyle, mental and physical health, monthly bills, etc.
  58. Stream-of-consciousness. This was a writing prompt idea that I did in various classes throughout junior high and high school.  Just write.  Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, points, plots, or any of that.  Just write whatever comes to you.  Set a timer or give yourself a word/length limit. For your blog, just click “post” when you’re done.  Or add a selfie from while you were writing.  It gives readers a view inside your mind at the same time it will help you generate new blog ideas!
  59. Comfort zone. Make yourself uncomfortable by doing something no one would ever think you’d do:  try a different church, eat at a Thai/Indian/Russian restaurant, shop exclusively at the mission store, or strike up conversation with a random stranger every single time you enter a coffee shop or use public transit.  This could make for some really good stuff.
  60. Call them out. If you’ve got something going on in your life that is dragging you down or driving you crazy, call out the people who are involved.  Maybe don’t name them or point the finger, but at least share what you’re going through and how anyone who may think they are part of the problem can now see you’ve tossed the ball into their court.  This post did that in my life…and I didn’t mean for it to!
  61. Coloring book. Draw something fun and then take a picture to post on your blog.  Invite adults to release some stress by printing and coloring the image you drew.  If that means a cross with the sun’s rays or a flowery swear word, have at it.
  62. Recap.  Write a post about the posts you did the month before or during this month last year. Revive your old posts for new followers.
  63. Experiment.  Try something new, like go vegan for a week or shop at a grocery you’ve never been to, and tell us about your experience. Heck, drink 10 glasses of water a day for 10 days and blog about it.
  64. Hometown.  Give a shout out to the village that raised you, the place you grew up, the neighborhood where you learned to ride a bike.  Country music stars make millions off of this idea.
  65. Video.  Break out from behind the keyboard and get behind the camera to record yourself.
  66. Collaborate.  Contact other bloggers in your niche to learn what you can do together to generate more readers. Then blog about it.
  67. Host a giveaway. Note that you’ve contacted other bloggers, determine what each of you can contribute to give to your readers, the ones who will follow each blog for a chance to win something.
  68. Repeat.  Grab any of these items and do it again.  And again!
  69. Advice.  There’s something you want your audience to hear and think on, something you think all of us are falling short of, so throw caution to the wind and tell us how we ought to live our lives. Controversy will spark conversation.
  70. Implore.  Tell us why we need to get out and vote. Convince me the Paleo Diet is necessary for my health and that of the planet. Get readers to donate to a worthy cause…or their local libraries.
  71. Guests.  Invite your readers to submit guest posts, or share about a blog where you’ve posted as a guest.
  72. Share.  Ask your readers to share your blog, whether your tweets, photos, FB posts, whatever. If they like you, chances are, they know others who would like you, too.
  73. Bucket list. Think about accountability here: the more people who know what you really want to do before you die means the more people that can not only remind you of your goals but maybe help you see them come true.
  74. Birthday.  Wish yourself a happy birthday, and tell your audience what your boyfriend/kids/parents did or got for you. Or what you did for you.  You could include your dream birthday experience, too.
  75. Compile answers. Think of a question often asked in your industry or niche, and look up memes or quotes by famous people who have answered that question.
  76. Bad habits. Sure, I post about eating organic and using Seventh Generation cleaning products, but I should be more honest and open about my vices. Your readership would like something juicy about how you sneak in watching trashy television, how you only go to story time for the snacks, how you binged on the kids’ Halloween candy…
  77. Opposition.  Research an opposing viewpoint, some stance that contradicts how you think or live, and let your readers know what the differences are and where you can agree.
  78. Reply.  Go through all the comments you’ve ever received on your blog.  Copy them and reply to them in one big post.  Show your readers that you care, you’re listening, your blog is interactive.
  79. Plug-Ins. Share what you think are the best plug-ins for your blog.  You’ll help other bloggers or inspire newbies.
  80. Meme.  Create a meme about your current situation at work or home and share it with a short blurb.
  81. In memorial. Write a short bio of someone you’ve lost and what about them was so special to you.
  82. Hypothetical travel. Use the fantastic online world to discover more about a place you’ve always wanted to visit.  Then share with your readers a mock itinerary and ask if anyone has actually been there and can add to your post.
  83. Celebrities.  Who do you like to follow?  Who makes you roll your eyes?  Who do you think should have won an Oscar?  Share your views, tabloid style!
  84. A day in the life. From when you wake to when you lay your head down, walk us through your typical day.  Tell us what you want to change and what you hope to do every day of your life.
  85. TV.  You’re busy; we all are.  With everything you’ve got going on, you still make that one show a priority.  Why do you watch it?  What makes it worth the time you give it?
  86. Lotto winner. Go beyond your bucket list or your date night ideas.  Write the post about where in the world you would travel.  Now write a post about how it your life would be, where you would go, what you’d do with your time if you won the lotto.
  87. Go-to piece. There’s something in your wardrobe you always have, no matter the season or the occasion, no matter the cost, that you just have to have and know you can grab it whenever.  Tell your readers about that flashy scarf that dresses up any outfit or those jeans from college or that pair of earrings you haven’t taken off since you put them in.
  88. Local festival.  Attend a festival or fair near you and tell us about it.
  89. Get free stuff. Sign up for one of the hundreds of websites that want to give you stuff, like BzzAgent, or a survey site, like Inbox Dollars.  Write about your experience.
  90. Finding time. Tell us how you find time to write and edit your blog.
  91. Other writings. Let your readers in on what else you plan to share with them.
  92. Job vs Passion. So many people identify with their jobs just to turn around and say they don’t like what they do for a paycheck.  Imagine you meet someone at a party who asks, not what you do for a living, but what are you passionate about.  This idea is shared by the Minimalists.
  93. More coverage. What do you think there should be more mainstream coverage of:  influential teachers, sporting events with your favorite animal, the layout changes at your local supermarket?
  94. Downtime.  Let us know what you do to recharge.  Everyone is so overworked and we’re all looking for a calming outlet, so share what you do when you’re not blogging, not at work, not functioning as your kids’ short-order cook.
  95. Cleaning hacks. Housework is a necessity (unless you’re ok with hoarding and filth); you know you cut corners somewhere so admit it to your readers.  Maybe it isn’t even a cleaning hack!  My kitchen floors always look clean and shiny because of the type of ceramic tile we chose.
  96. Buyers’ remorse. This goes beyond the common review of an item you purchased.  Really let us know why you keep kicking yourself over that one buy.
  97. Worth the cost. Again, go beyond a review and share what amazing thing you’ve found that is so worth the price.  Free isn’t always better!
  98. Finding blogging ideas. This post was a struggle after about 74 items.  I should tell you where I found these last items.
  99. Build upon your village. There is some part of your life that you geek about, like a show, a clothing line, a character, a scent.  There are others around the world that geek the same thing, trust me, no matter how strange or uncommon you think it is.  Tell us your closet passion and gather the together the other freaks like you.
  100. 100 blog post ideas. Share your triumphs and pains after wracking your brain for 100 different ideas on what to blog about.

A Challenge for You

I feel I’ve hit a block.  Runners get to it.  Writers get to it.  Apparently, minimalists get to it.

Am I A Minimalist?

It is hard to define where I am on the path to Less Equals More.  I know what I want.  I can see with my mind’s eye the ideal I am striving for.

But I can see with my real eyes what my house looks like right now.  I wouldn’t say it is a mess.  In fact, the load on my shoulders feels much lighter, knowing what I have accomplished.

However, you wouldn’t be able to tell I have done anything.  There’s a reason I’m not bothering with before-and-after pictures on the blog.  To the casual visitor, my house doesn’t look changed at all.  Only if you’ve seen me (or the BHE) loading the rear of our SUV multiple times a week for drop-offs at the Trinity Mission or the recycling center would you know I’ve been doing anything different.

I want to reduce.  I want to have less Stuff.  I want less weighing on my mind and filling up my to-do list.  I want more time to invest in my children and my other passions, like visiting and hosting friends, writing for my blog and that fiction novel I’ve been talking about for years, going to parks and volunteering at the library.

I know I can DO more if I HAVE less to take up my time.

But I’m at a Standstill

Between the crawling infant and the rambunctious toddler, between being a friend and a wife as well as working on the renovations in our large old house, between the needs of my family and the need for rest, I feel I’ve come to a standstill in my decluttering work.

I know there is much more to do.  I cringe when my eyes land on the attic door, knowing full well what lies behind it.  Every time I leave the house, there is something in the back of the car that needs to be donated or recycled.

So I know I’m still making progress, but it just doesn’t feel like I’m progressing as fast or as steady as I was.

What’s that line from the tortoise?

It will all happen as it is meant to, through our brain and brawn.  We will keep working towards our ideal.  It may not be a big project that shows amazing results within hours or days.  It may be lots of little projects that will never be seen by the casual eye.

But it will get done.  My shoulders can relax as I know I am making progress each day.

Each day, I look to my List of Sevens to do another little something to move us forward.  Each day, I paw through at least one box from the attic.  Each day, I fill a trash bag or recycling bin with Things we don’t need or are truly trash.  Each day, I remember that getting rid of Stuff will not take as long as it did to acquire it all, now that I’ve seen and felt the goodness that comes with becoming unstuffed.  Each day, I am grateful for God’s grace, life’s blessings, and how I am physically and mentally able to remove the Stuff to make room for more grace and blessings of a less tangible kind.

Maybe I Need to Spice It Up

Join me.  Check out this challenge and think on the reality of it:  are you ready to get rid of the excess?  Are you emotionally and mentally ready to shed the extra Stuff weighing you down?

If so, send me a message or comment below.  We’ll go at it together.  We’ll share photos of our successes.  We’ll virtually back-pat as more gets taken out of our homes.  We’ll give encouragement and challenge each other to take one more step, remove one more Thing, and make one more change that leads us down a cleaner, greener, healthier, happier path through life.

We will WIN this challenge together!

Are you ready to take that step?

 

 

These are a Few of Their Favorite Things

In all of this process, taking these steps on this thoughtfully sought path of ridding the excess, this marathon of which I feel I am just at my starting line, I have suffered two great losses.  My beloved grandmother passed away in February and my grandfather followed shortly thereafter in July.

Let us not address the emotions right now.  Let me bypass the discussion on grief.  Let me bring down that wall, for now, so that I may continue on with our discussion of Stuff and minimizing and jettisoning and becoming unstuffed.

Let me be cold about the pain for a bit while I focus on the steps I’m taking towards Minimalism.

Other People’s Things

My grandparents had multiple lifetimes’ worth of Stuff in their 3 bedroom, 2 dining room, 2 living room, 2 bathroom, 2 car garage house.  Lucy was in her late 80s and Frank was in his mid 90s when they passed away.  They had two sons.  Each of their sons had two children.  They came from large families where each member in turn had a large family. My grandfather was a veteran of WWII and my grandmother was a sentimentalist.  And a clothes horse.

Dear Lord did Lucy have a lot of clothes! 

Holy Mother, I wasn’t aware how much she had until a trip to their house shortly after her funeral.  My grandfather led me into the front bedroom to show me the closet.  I picked through blazers and lightweight jackets to see what fit my body and my lifestyle*.  Then he took me into the back bedroom for more of her clothes, the casual wear and sporting wear (golf and brisk walking, people, really).  Then we went into the walk-in closet in their bedroom.

Seriously, what on Earth was this little old lady doing with ALL THESE CLOTHES!?  Holy crap, people.  I think I took 5 or 6 totes FULL of clothes, the great big totes, and maybe five garment bags stuffed with coats and such…and took maybe only a third of what she had.

She made her own stuff or bought really high quality clothes.  She didn’t own a stitch of denim, everything was very classy and smart.  She was my height with a similar build, albeit with much less butt and thigh, at her healthiest.  But she shrank and twisted as the years went on, so she was a rather short and boney lady in the end.  I’m not.  So most pants and skirts plus shoes and accessories were left behind.  I’m told a charity connected to the Catholic church came in, boxed it up, and took it to where it can do some good.

Picking Through the Pieces

It was 5 months later, after my grandfather passed, that I finally went through those totes. I had to!  With all the other household Things we acquired, even with all the shedding of Stuff before this happened, I needed the space.  Things had to go!

I re-applied the Konmari approach.  I tried on everything.  If it didn’t fit, needed mending (or shoulder pads removed), or truly wasn’t my style, it went in the discard pile.  Also, there were a lot of sets, like she made a jacket, skirt, and slacks out of the same material.  If the jacket fit but the two bottoms didn’t, I put all three into the Donate pile.  Someone somewhere will have some really high-quality suits.  If the whole suit fit but the jacket had shoulder pads, I first thought I could one day sit down and do the necessary tailoring to remove the pads.  Then I realized that was a pipe dream because (a) I don’t want to make the time for that nor (b) do I have the skill necessary to do it right.

Donate pile!

I’m quite happy with, and know I am very blessed with, the items which do fit me: my body, personality, and lifestyle.  I also know that just about every item has my tears on it because it all smelled like Lucy and some pieces even had a tissue in a pocket or a jeweled pin on the collar.

Hold up, gotta bring that wall back down!

I know, this is a lengthy post about Stuff and I’ve given you way more details than necessary about going through hand-me-down clothing, but this is cathartic and healing and you’re still reading.  Thank you.

And Again

So after Grandpa died, the situation at their house was much different.  After Grandma, there was still someone living in that house, using those Things, looking at Stuff.  What Grandpa wasn’t using, like Lucy’s clothes and the Christmas decorations that were still out, was what could go.  As the only granddaughter, that meant to me.

After Grandpa, the whole house needed dissected, split apart, divvied up, whatever you want to call it.  Three bedroom suites, two sets of dining room tables and chairs, two living rooms’ worth of furniture, a combined 180+ years of photos and memorabilia.

There was just. So. Much.

I came home from the 3-day trip with a box truck full of furniture, beds, linens, a vacuum, THREE SETS of ancient wedding china, TWO SETS OF CRYSTAL THAT I HAVE NO EFFING CLUE WHAT TO DO WITH, these damned totes full of toys from when I was a kid AND WHEN MY DAD WAS A KID, and lots of odds and ends like incomplete sets of silverware, FIVE NUT CRACKERS, table lamps we’ll gratefully use, and so much more.

Thank God we began Unstuffing before all of this.

So we picked up our pace with cleaning out Stuff and getting Things to various donation centers.  We sold nice things for cheap on Craigslist and Facebook. We made hard and fast (very, very fast and surprisingly not so hard) decisions on what stayed and what could go and what must go.

Don’t Tarnish the Memories

I’ve personally had to learn to let go of things I wasn’t even aware would hurt until I said goodbye.  It was hard going through Lucy’s clothes just like it was hard to walk away from the really nice furniture in the front living room that had so many memories attached to it.  It was hard not taking decorations off their walls that I knew they cared about and that had stories to go with them.  It hurt to turn around and sell the one bedroom suite we have no room nor need for, just because I know what it meant to them.

There was just so much we had to let go.

I just had to remember that the people I love are not in their Things.

Have you clung to some Thing in your home that is not necessarily yours but rather an item which you feel you MUST hold onto?

What have you considered ridding yourself of only to keep it because of guilt?  Because you think it would hurt their feelings?  Because you don’t want to seem ungrateful?

What bit of clutter is just as much a Thing in your house as it is Stuff weighing on your mind?

 

*I later joked with my father about how going through Lucy’s clothes was like shopping with unlimited credit at Librarians R Us.  Librarian Bryant?  J.C. Library?  Libraropostale!

Together on the Path

About a month ago, I really stepped up my game of removing the excess from our life.  I’m talking the Stuff in our house as well as the mental clutter that comes from too much going on in our minds and in our home.

However, let us note, that I do not live in a bubble.  I live in a large house with my husband and two children as well as our pets, and we often open our home to our friends and family.  In fact, the BHE’s family lives very close to us.  This is why he definitely had to be in on what I was doing with my days while he was at work.

Thoughtfully informing so it was lovingly embraced…

The BHE was on board with what I was doing for a handful of reasons.  He, too, recognizes the need for less Stuff, for owning only what you truly need or truly love.  The rest of it is just Junk.  He agrees that less Things means less work:  less cleaning and moving and decorating and baby-proofing and so on.

Since deciding that we would like to sell our house and move into a smaller home, we can easily see it is time to remove lots of the Stuff.  Do it now and every day rather than have to box it all up to move it and again go through all the Things we’ve acquired, whether we want it or not.

It is the right thing to do.

He also sees, as I do, how unchristian it is to have all this Stuff.

Never did Jesus say we needed to accumulate loads of Crap just because we are able.  That’s actually quite ungrateful of us, to seize every blessing we can, to excess.  It is also unchristian to not share, to not provide for the needy, to not give and be generous.

When we were buying all this Stuff, we weren’t thinking how it would help those less fortunate than us; we weren’t thinking how all these possessions would better us or the world.  We were just getting Things because they fit in our house or were on sale or looked nice or could possibly fill that blank spot on the wall, in the living room, by the back door, or in our minds.

Yeah, no, it doesn’t work that way.

It was in Ruth Soukup’s Unstuffed that I was reminded that what we have isn’t truly ours but rather God’s.  These Things are His and we were chosen to be His stewards.  So what are we doing with His money!?  Does He really want that Thing, that one more piece of Junk, which fits the theme of that one room in our house?  Or would He rather I spend those fifteen bucks on dry goods I can drop off at the food pantry?

For real, people.

Ask yourself that question the next time you are at a store looking at a Thing that some part of you thinks you want:

What else could I do with that money?

Ask yourself this one, too:

What else could I do with the time it will take me to care for this Thing?

After all, it will need transported home, cleaned, placed, cleaned again, and will eventually end up blending with the scenery or becoming just another Thing in all the Stuff weighing you down.

Do you really need more to weigh you down?  Does your family want to be more weighed down?  Don’t we all want to be a little bit lighter in our hearts and minds?

Shopping with Purpose (Free Printable!)

I get asked all the time how I do it:  how I save so much on groceries, how I only shop each store only once a month, how I manage my fridge and pantry, how we have the money to host and feed people all the time, how I make it all happen for cheap.

Well, I’m going to tell you how I do it.  Then, I am going to let you try out my method for yourself.  That’s right, honey:  FREE PRINTABLES!  Everyone loves ‘em, lots of people use ‘em.  I made a pretty one just for you.
image

My Method, with You in Mind

First, write out your NEED list.

Example:  I NEED paper towels soon, so even without a coupon or a sale price, I will have to buy a package.  I NEED fresh produce so I’ll look at what’s in season and on sale at each store.

Next, write out your WANT list.

I WANT my husband’s favorite chips, breakfast sausages for the Angel, and yogurt to make frozen treats in this crazy heat.

Third, if you coupon, coupon now.  If you don’t coupon, start.

Since I am a member of Inbox Dollars , I like to go to their site and access Coupons.com through it.  All the same coupons PLUS the bonus of ten cents added to my ID account for each redeemed coupon.  It’s great. 

Once I have all my coupons selected and printed, I sort them with the coupons I may have received with a receipt or in the mail.  I have an accordion folder that’s about 4″ tall where I have the coupons sorted by store, and I put them in by date.  I also have a slot for “manufacture food” and “manufacture dry goods” for the coupons that don’t have to be used at a specific store.  (The other slots in my accordion doohickey that I bought years ago in Target’s Dollar Spot hold rewards cards, receipts, and post-its and a pen if I forget my list at home and need to make another before entering a store.)

Then, check the advertisements for the stores you go to most frequently.

I have an app on my Android phone called Flipp that shows me most of my local sales ads.  I have marked which ones are my “favorites.”

Not all of the stores I like to go to have their ads available through Flipp.  Maybe you get a weekly newspaper, maybe you use a different app, or maybe you turn to Google each week to find what you’re looking for.

Personally, I use Flipp for Kroger, Aldi’s, WalMart, Target, and Fresh Thyme.  There’s a local meat market that I have pinned their website to a folder on my phone dedicated to saving money.

Finally, as I go through each ad, I write down what is on sale that I am interested in.  I mark down next to the items on my NEED, WANT, and COUPON lists which store has the best price.

I also write down things of interest that are on sale but that I don’t necessarily NEED but could possibly WANT in the future.  Or maybe I don’t NEED it now but will someday NEED it.  For instance, I buy cat litter when it is on sale and I buy as much as I can at the time.  Yes, I’ve marched through Target with almost 100 pounds of Tidy Cats in my cart.  It doesn’t go bad, every last grain will be used, and I NEED it so will buy it in bulk to save myself an emergency full-price purchase.

That is how I shop each store once a month; that is how I save money and have extra food and supplies for hosting and donations.  THAT is how you can simplify your shopping and boost your savvy ways.

Typically, I hand-write everything, but since my penmanship is quite sloppy these days, I typed it up just for you.  Yes, you, dear reader.  Check out this handy-dandy PDF for an example of how I do it:

Shopping with Purpose Example

Notes on My Method

To really save with this method, make this into something you do only once or twice a month.  I mean, keep your eye on the weekly ads, but also build up your pantry and freezer so you won’t have to go shopping each week.  You’ll save even more!

Always consider what works best for you, too.  If you have only one item on your list for a certain store, it is not worth the time used and money saved to go to that store.

For instance, we buy our cheese at Walmart.  They carry two pound blocks of Cabot for an unbelievably low price.  It is always on our Walmart list, yet rarely is there anything else we buy there.  When we go to Walmart, we buy as many of those two pound blocks as we can.  No joke.  I’ll spend more than $30 on cheese.  That is so I don’t have to return to Walmart for another month.  In that month, there may be things added to the Walmart list, like Aveeno body lotion (not needed to be purchased too regularly but still best price around for something used almost daily around our house).

Sometimes, Fresh Thyme has a great deal on certain organic produce items that I would really like.  However, if I can get the majority of the produce we regularly eat at Kroger for a better price, I’m not going to a different part of town just to get those pears or whatever. I’d rather (a) go without or (b) buy the darn things for an extra 19 cents per pound.

REMEMBER: The money saved and the time spent sometimes isn’t worth the extra trip.  Don’t drag yourself all over town to save 19 cents per pound.

Especially when we’re talking about loading two kids into car seats and dragging them through stores and making them spend at least an hour and a half in the car since we live in the middle of nowhere.

NEVER FORGET YOUR LIST!  You may forget to put things on your list.  You may not buy everything you did put on your list.  But you will stick to your needs (both at the grocery and in life in general) if you have a list to keep you on track and saving time and money.

Don’t we all want to save time and money?

Now, I have included a lovely little spreadsheet to illustrate what I’m talking about above as an example.  I don’t always have the luxury of sitting down at my computer to type up a clean-looking list like this.  So I print out a bunch of blank pages to scribble on when I have five minutes here, five minutes there to check my pantry, look at my ads, think about our needs and what we have coming up, and calculate if my coupons are worth the 40 cents I’ll save.

For you, you wonderful Thoughtfully Sought path walker, I am including a pretty PDF for you (Yes, YOU!) to print and use at your leisure.

You’re welcome.

Shopping with Purpose Printable