Transformation Tuesday #50: Get Your Garage Ready for Spring!

As I've mentioned before, the garage is that critical space that most people pass through everyday, but can't seem to get a handle on keeping organized. Some people struggle with being able to park their vehicle in the garage. Oftentimes when that happens, the garage starts to accumulate more stuff from empty Amazon boxes that you don't have time to break down, to friends or family needing a "quick storage spot" and leaving their stuff for safekeeping.

I spent a half day with a client going through her garage so that we could make room for her car. We spent about an hour sorting through, box by box, grouping into these categories:

  1. Trash
  2. Recycle
  3. Donation
  4. Keep - store in house
  5. Keep - store in garage

After an hour of sorting, I started moving the categories of items around. It happened to be trash day (yay!) so clearing that out helped free up floor space. All the items she wanted to keep in the garage didn't take up that much room, so I was able to stack a few bins alongside the wall. This is a great opportunity to grab a broom and clear out the cobwebs.

 
 

I moved donation items to my car so I could haul those away then spent the rest of the time putting various household items back inside. This is what takes the longest, but after seeing a newly cleared space, should give you a little boost of energy so you can finish out the project.

Are you ready to work on your garage this spring?

 

 

Meet the Minimalist: Rachel Corwin

A year has flown by since I joined the world of self-employment and I couldn’t be happier! It has been an incredible experience, learning so much about myself, this work, my clients, being equal parts terrified and thrilled to be running my own business.

So much has changed over the past year and I wanted to acknowledge that in this “interview." Seems cheesy but I also thought it was a good time to reflect on the questions I have asked others for this minimalism series and decide how I would answer them today.

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What sparked your interest in simplifying and decluttering?

I used to have one great response to this but now I have three! So here goes:

When I returned from an Australian vacation, my boss asked why I hadn’t responded to a particular email they sent. I was immediately alarmed that they would even ask this question and thought they must be joking. But they kept talking about it! Then I became frustrated and decided it was time for a change, to dial down the long hours I had been working up to my trip.

I started making small changes like scheduling a lunch break. It sounds so simple yet if it didn’t go on my calendar, it didn’t happen. I made a point to eat lunch with my colleagues outside (it was an incredible summer!) and take real breaks where I would walk around, get away from my desk, look away from my screen.

During this time, I started to realize that I wanted and needed to make a change in my career path. I had worked in human resources for ten years and the thought of changing jobs, let alone a career, was pretty stressful. I had to reflect and take my own advice that I would give to others. Think about my transferable skills, what companies would I want to work for, if I wasn’t in HR, what field would I be in? Would I need to go back to school?

I continued asking myself these questions for the next couple months when I discovered The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book really spoke to me because I realized that I felt out of control in the work area of my life, not knowing what to do next, and decided to take control of my stuff, the physical things around me that were cluttering up my life.

 

So that sounds like two things … wasn’t there a third?

Yes! Let me tell my long story long, self! When I was creating my last capsule wardrobe, I realized that I’ve always had capsule wardrobes and been into simplifying. When I was five years old, my parents divorced. I would pack a bag every Wednesday and every other weekend to take to my dad’s house. I had to be really thoughtful about what was going on that weekend - was there a birthday party, were we traveling anywhere, what was the weather going to be like, and pack accordingly.

It was devastating to forget something at my mom’s when I really wanted to wear a particular shirt for an event during a weekend with dad or misplaced a book that I needed to read for school. From a very young age, I had to get into planner mode and be resourceful with what I had and make it work.

 
The first picture I posted on my blog of myself in the midst of organizing! So nice to enjoy an empty space.

The first picture I posted on my blog of myself in the midst of organizing! So nice to enjoy an empty space.

 


What’s your philosophy on stuff?

As a child, I think like a lot of kids, I wanted things - books, dolls, crafts, games, clothes, etc. I was very good at sharing, growing up with three other siblings. I loved my things and had great respect for them.

Moving back to Seattle after college, I had accumulated a lot of random crap. I think during high school, we keep so many weird knickknacks, notes, pictures, mementos and we don’t really go through it until we start moving our things, whether it’s moving for school or for a job. I just kept all that stuff in a box and didn’t really think about it until I settled in my current home, which I’ve been in for nearly ten years.

We need stuff to do stuff. I need some mugs to drink my tea, I need some clothes to wear to work, etc. It’s the excess that drives me crazy! All the deals/bargains/coupons out there are telling us that we need multiples of all the things and we just don’t.

Recently, I treated myself to a Stitch Fix box, mainly because I had a referral credit and gift card on my account, so I could probably get one or two items. I have a history of buying the entire box because 1) I have an awesome stylist (shout out to Natalia!) and 2) there’s a 25% discount when purchasing all five items.

At a glance, I loved all the items she sent me. Two tops, a lightweight sweater, a dress, and a statement necklace. I tried everything on and didn’t love the dress or the striped shirt. I mean, I liked them enough that I was willing to spend about $100 to keep the whole box. Then I thought I could sell the two items I didn’t plan to wear on one of the Stitch Fix Facebook groups. And then I took my own advice that I’m always giving to clients (when they ask!): choose only what you truly love, forget the rest.

I really didn’t need another statement necklace and the two items weren’t a great fit/I wasn’t thrilled with the material. I knew I didn’t really want to spend time posting the items and waiting around for someone to buy so I dropped them in the return bag and sent off right away.

 

Do you consider a minimalist?

I do now! Minimalism for me is about having a few choices and making the best one that works for me and the lifestyle I want. It’s also about investing in things that I want to last so that I’m not constantly shopping for the perfect sofa/dress/skillet whatever … I don’t want to use all my brain power on these decisions and I want to channel that energy into doing things I love like being with my friends, traveling internationally with my partner, that kind of thing.

A friend’s mantra is if you have less stuff, you have less to take care of. To me, this means I don’t have to move things around to sweep the floor, it’s not a chore to find something because it’s not buried at the bottom of a closet.

 

What has been the most beneficial to having a minimalist mindset?

I don’t impulse shop like I used to! I’m much better about taking a list with me and sticking to it. I can easily window shop and not feel like I’m missing out when I don’t buy something.

I also try to focus on using up what I have. I’ve wasted so much food over the years because I didn’t pay attention to expiration dates on things and would overbuy (and not always clean out the fridge or pantry in a timely fashion). This has helped me get more creative with meal planning because I need to make do with what I have.

 

Will you ever be done organizing your own home?

I don’t think I will ever be completely done because life is happening all around me! I’ll have an especially busy week with clients and I can tell by looking at my entry way - there may be a pile of laundry, stacks of mail, the random to do items that creep up.

Each season, I create a new capsule wardrobe and it’s a good reminder to pull things out of the closet, dust them off, decide what to keep, what I’m ready to let go of.

 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned as an organizer?

That it can take time to let go of things. I noticed this for myself when I was doing another round of editing my clothes and knickknacks in my bedroom. I have a drawer where I store some jewelry and random things. I finally let go of these pins that I had since I was 14! Never took them out of the package and I wasn’t saving them to give to someone in particular.

Also realizing that it’s ok to not like something that you used to, whether it’s a book, article of clothing, a gift from someone. You have permission to not enjoy it anymore and that means it can be enjoyed by someone else, it does not need to take up space in your home or space in your mind.

We hang on to these ideas of “I should love this {insert name of thing} because {insert reason}.” Guess what? These ideas can go out the window and it doesn’t make you any less grateful for having given the thing a home because it was a gift, or you used to love that jacket but it’s just not your style anymore. If you can keep these things to a minimum, putting them into a box or having them in a space in your home where you are reminded of them, but don’t need to make a decision about right away, can be really helpful. Then, when you’re ready, it feels so effortless to give it away.


 

What’s your advice to someone who’s ready to start simplifying?

I know I love a good transformation and can be tempted to do things in one fell swoop, but that isn’t always practical. That method itself can be too overwhelming and dramatic.

Each person needs to figure out what works for them and I really do believe starting small is a great way to go. This starts with the question of why do they want to simplify - are they feeling overwhelmed by stuff, work, relationships?

This was something that my friend Alex talked about when she starting simplifying - she started saying no to the never-ending obligations, requests, and invites.

Talk about it with people that are important to you - your partner, kids, friends, parents, colleagues, neighbors. This might spark ideas on how you can help each other create that positive change together and build in accountability.

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So that’s my interview - thanks for playing along!  I would love to hear any questions you have for me after reading this - let me know in the comments.

Transformation Tuesday #49: that bathroom drawer again!

In my sprucing adventures last week with my mom, she found she had all kinds of extra little clear containers which I decided to repurpose for this week's project: that bathroom drawer.

I think this is my third iteration on this drawer but now I feel like it's just how it's supposed to be, know what I'm talking about?

My mom gave me a larger clear container that I turned sideways so I could shift things around. Also, since I recently cut my hair short again, I could move the hair ties and bobby pins toward the back (always good to have a few of these around). 

If you need a quick tidiness/happiness boost, here's how to conquer the toiletries drawer:

  1. Empty the entire drawer and wipe it down
  2. Have your cat join you for moral support (Archie just stared at me the whole time)
  3. Replace like items back into containers (hair, skincare, makeup, dental care, etc)
  4. Toss anything that's expired and donate unused shampoo, toothpaste, lotions, etc (or partially used, depending on the charity - the Ballard Food Bank accepts half used toiletries)
 
 

And voila! A quick tidy up can save you a little bit of time when you're getting ready to head out or when you're sleepily washing your face before  you crash for the night.

Transformation Tuesday #49: Basement + Laundry storage

This is a particularly fun transformation post because I did this with my mom, the person who taught me to be organized, respect my things, and keep small spaces tidy!

She and my stepdad moved to LA two years ago for his job and she wanted to go through some of the bins that she had hurriedly packed away during the move. She's no stranger to tackling these projects on her own but I offered to help because I knew that with our powers combined, we would be pretty speedy. Plus I was helping haul away all the donation items.

First, we started with the laundry area. We started with the way back and went bin by bin. Our goal was to clear out trash and donations, then repack items for storing. This was mostly fancy dishware, my stepdad's jam-making paraphernalia, and a few odds and ends. In two hours, we filled up the recycling and trash bins, and had tower of four or five empty storage bins. We got rid of about half the stuff that was stored down there!

 
 

Mom would have kept going but I forced her to take a coffee break. We needed to re-energize with some lattes and shortbread.

When we got back to it, we worked on the storage underneath the stairwell. This contained clothes, outdoor gear, and my mom's house decor (Christmas and other seasonal stuff). We pared down quite a bit here as well - maybe about a third of the stuff went away. Although my mom is still hanging on to my First Communion dress and veil (which is 25 years old, btw). Since she purged so much other stuff, I told her I would not judge her for hanging onto this!

 
 

After all was said and done, Mom said she felt good about having me there to speed up the process, help make decisions, and of course, clear stuff away so that it wasn't sitting around the house.

These projects are so much easier with a buddy! What kind of home projects do you like having a friend or family member help out with?

Transformation Tuesday #48: Where It All Began

I was racking my brain for ideas on transformations to post about when I stumbled across pictures of my own home improvement. I was kind of shocked to see the before picture because I really don't remember what my living room used to look like!

This was the moment that I realized "it all begin here" ... meaning, the decision to save up (in cash, no less!) for bamboo flooring in my little condo was the moment where I decided I wanted to really love my home. I knew I was going to stay here for a while and my partner had moved in a few months earlier. There was a need to make the space our own.

This project paved the way for all the organizing projects I've done since - you know things are going to get worse before they get better (having tools out everywhere during construction or pulling everything out and sorting when purging). That feeling when everything is back where it should be is priceless. Once we completed installing the new flooring, it was easier to maintain (we have cats) and we slowly started updating our furniture, piece by piece.

 
 

It was fun to look back and see how dramatic the change was from darker furniture, lots of dark chocolate browns and light cream accents to neutral blue-gray tones with pops of color. 

What's the biggest transformation that you've made in your home? Has it changed how you treat your stuff/maintain your space?

Transformation Tuesday #47: Memorabilia + Pictures

About two years ago, when I had the ultimate summer of funemployment, I decided to finally organize all my boxes of pictures.

First off, why do we shove pictures into weird, old boxes that collect dust? And pictures get all bent up? Why do we keep so many bad pictures (blurry, unflattering, etc)? I'm asking because I had still kept all of these myself!

During this round of organizing, I picked up two photo albums from the local craft store and got to work. I pared down maybe 30% of my photos and sorted them by "childhood" (through high school) and then "after" (college and beyond). After checking this off the list and texting my family some hilarious pictures from our childhood, I promptly packed up the books and put them in a corner of my closet. 

Fast forward to a month ago when a new client reached out, wanting assistance in finalizing her picture and memorabilia items. She had already done a fantastic job paring down several bankers boxes worth of stuff to about four boxes. We spent ten hours over a few days sorting through pictures, her editing out what she didn't want, then organizing them into handy photo containers. This made it easy for her to grab pictures from a particular trip or time in her life (childhood, high school, college, weddings, etc). 

This project inspired me to go back through my box - namely, the two bulky albums and pare them down to photo containers.

 
 

The two albums in the box and the one sitting next to it were all consolidated to three 5x7 photo containers! I tossed a few photos along the way - mostly duplicates. I came across a few things that I had forgotten about that I'm keeping at the top of the container so I can see it immediately and smile - my Cabbage Path adoption papers of Harriet Delilah (I didn't even remember that this was the doll's name) and a beautiful card from a family friend from when I was born. This friend gave these beautiful tiny cards that are colorful, with this gorgeous laser-cutting detail. I still have one from my first communion as well that she gave me because I love looking at them.

What has helped you in the organizing process when it comes to photos and childhood items? Anyone tackled yearbooks yet? 

 

Meet the Minimalist: Jenny MacLeod

Last September, Kat invited me to a trunk show and book release party. I looked up the book, How to Become Self-Employed in Seattle, and decided to check out the event. I picked up a copy and read it cover to cover. It’s like it was written for me. I immediately researched the author and saw that she offered consultations and I reached out right away.

We’ve been working together the last few months on how to organize my business, mainly the marketing ideas. Jenny was able to pick up very quickly my need to simplify not just in my work, but how I approached my business as well.

Through our conversations, I noticed that minimalism is a key theme in her work supporting others. I knew a little bit about her background from her website, but wanted to dig deeper.

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What sparked your interest in simplifying as it relates to your work and how your live your everyday life?


My parents divorced when I was seven and my mom moved once or twice a year. When you move that often, you tend not to collect as much stuff. I came to treasure my few belongings. Happily, she always made each place very homey with art and colorful items.

Meanwhile, my dad lived in the wilderness on the Yukon River in Alaska.  I spent the summers with him and a few winters too. We were 40 miles away from the nearest village. We had a dog team, melted snow for water, fished in the summers, no utilities. Four of us lived in a one-room cabin. My only space was four feet of storage under my bed.  It was a lovely and interesting time!

We were content in a contained space with very little stuff. It also taught me about our impact on the land. When we were done with any item, we would try to repurpose it, or we would burn it.  If we couldn’t do either, we’d have to put it in the dump on our land. This really makes a person think about what they’re using because putting something into the dump felt like a failure…because we were creating a scar on the land. Very little went to the dump.

 

These are two very different worlds, yet both had a theme of minimalism. What was that like as a kid growing up?

At first, I felt left out in many ways.  I always wished for a big, beautiful house with a yard and full pantry….and my own room with more clothes, toys.  But sometime in high school or college, that changed.

Since I was always moving, I was always adapting.  I became a people-watcher.  And in high school, I got to spend a lot of time with other families in big, beautiful homes.  I noticed some things.  First, I saw that most people spent all their time in one tiny part of the house! Second, I was amazed at all of the stuff that people owned. It was common for people to have garages so full, they couldn’t fit their cars in them.  That seemed funny to me, and like a burden (imagine having to move all of that!).  Most importantly, all of these families varied in happiness, some were, some were not. I saw that the idea that people with lots of stuff, in big, “wealthy” homes who had it all would be happy … well, it wasn’t actually true.

After college, I came across the book Material World. In it, families from around the world put everything they own out on their front yard. Americans had so much stuff!  And in other places, people had just a few items.  It was like looking in a mirror about what our culture does. It really impacted me to this day. I only want to take what I need and no more.

When I was a young mom, so many items came into our house for the kids - gifts, toys, hand-me-downs, supplies.  I made a regular practice of taking things to Goodwill.  I had this idea that whenever things came into the house, things needed to go out! I didn’t want my life to look like one of the homes in Material World.

Eventually, this taught me to restrict what comes in in the first place—to be more choosy about what we purchase and use.  I built this muscle as a mom early on.  I’m so happy that I did, because later, these same habits have helped me with managing email, social media and time.

 

You don’t have a cell phone - let’s talk about this! Has this always been the case, or what prompted this? 

I didn’t want to pay for a home phone and a cell phone. If I had a cell phone, I thought that at some point I would lose it or lose the charger so I made a choice to keep the home line.  I was fine with my choice.

But then, after cell phones started becoming more common, people started to put pressure on me to get one!  Whenever it came up, I’d think about it ... but then, I’d always have more reasons to not have a phone.   

They would say, “I wish I could call you to change plans or location.” I didn’t like the idea of having a cell phone just for this reason.  I liked sticking to a plan!  Out-of-town family would say, “Then I could call you to visit.”  Well, if I’m in a store with two kids, I couldn’t be visiting with them anyway!

Some would question my logic or sense of responsibility with “What if your kid is sick at school?” I would tell them “well, they would lay in the nurse’s office until I got home and got the message that they’re sick. That’s how it used to be when we were growing up.”

The pressure made me more thoughtful about phones, and again, I’d watch behaviors.  I noticed people would allow their phones to distract from our conversations.  Or be late.  Or check in with work more often.

I really like being present and more and more it felt like a cell phone would distract me. I started to see not having a phone as a tool to be present and really in conversations with people.

Over the years, reactions from others have changed from:  why not? ... to concern/worry … to awe/disbelief, and now, many say to me, “I wish I could do that.”  I thought I would need to get one when I went back to work, but haven’t so far!  Now it’s like a social experiment - how long can I go without a cell phone!

Both my kids have smartphones and my husband used to have one but downgraded to a dumbphone as an experiment.

 

Are there any best practices or family guidelines about the kids’ use of their phones?

The only rule is that there are no phones when we’re eating. I want to create some more rules (like maybe a parking lot for phones for bedtime).  But for now, I think it’s a start that we are role modeling having limits with technology and making choices around this.

In the future, I want to have some discussions around the risks of using their phone too much, not being too reliant on it, not while driving, etc.  And, the idea that they need to take breaks.

 

We had a conversation during a meeting recently about how people are expected to keep up with all the different technologies, learn every skillset, and also run their homes with ease / raise brilliant children. This just seems impossible! I thought it was very relevant and a great reason why people need to outsource certain things in order to be good at just one or two things.


It’s so true!  It’s like we have to be Supermom boosted!  And not just moms - women, men, everybody.  There are a variety of crazy pressures on us.

First, the internet, magazines, and culture tell us we need to be great in so many areas.  We need to be in shape, do yoga, marathons, cook everything, have a garden, be sexy, be financially stable, have children who are sporty, speak another language, test super high, etc. Facebook adds to this, where it’s a constant stream of people at their best. It makes the bar high in so many areas.

Next, because all the resources are available to do everything, we’re supposed to do everything ourselves.  Clean and decorate, find new recipes, download a workout schedule….and research everything!  The best trip to France, the best insurance plan, the best place to buy a car.

On top of that, technology is always changing.  There is a constant pressure to upgrade, or things won’t work.  This means we’re always having to relearn our tools.  It’s so disruptive.  As we get older and wiser, the idea is that we can get more efficient in our work. With tools changing all the time, it takes away because we have to stop and relearn the technology.

I have felt these pressures increasing over the last 15 years, and have been fighting them in my own ways, thanks to some amazing books!  

Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz was huge for me, and helped me instantly. He started with “is too much choice a bad thing?” He was at the forefront of the discussion around decision fatigue. He also explained how trying to maximize every decision actually created a lot of stress and unhappiness.  He encourages readers to look for the good enough.  This took a lot of pressure off me!

Another great book I read, advised readers to be pointy, not well-rounded … as in develop your strengths and outsource the rest.  This was Now, Discover Your Strengths, based on Gallup Research. You can’t be super strong in one area when you are trying to do a million other things.

Many other books inspired me to want space in my life, physically and mentally, for being present, for happiness, for peacefulness.  

To do this means embracing some limits.  

 
 

 

You’re in the business of helping others, in a way, simplify their business ideas / goals. If you weren’t doing this kind of work, what would you do?

I would probably be teaching art to preschoolers—I used to do that and loved it, or I’d thought about being a remodel consultant for moms. In an alternate universe, I’d have gone to grad school and would be doing social science research.

My next dream job is to be a professional critiquer (I don’t know if this exists.)  Where I would look for everything that is or isn’t working in a space or user experience.  I love making things work so the customer feels welcome and taken care of.

As an older lady, I’d love to create large, concept sculpture.  

Oh!  Or I would be a bartender. I love a Negroni served up and with an orange twist.

 

Why do you believe it’s such a struggle for people to get clarity on their own / why work with a business coach? What do you see as the biggest roadblocks for them?

I think this is related to the other questions - the biggest struggle is that there’s a lot of parts of the business to work on and so many options and/or tools to do it.  Self-employed folks feel the pressure to do it all and to do it all themselves. Just because you have a business doesn’t mean you need a website and Facebook and QuickBooks and to offer coupons. Every idea they have heard, people think that they have to do.

The other thing is that research can be overwhelming. It can be hard to find an answer and then you think you have to keep researching. You could look at how to market a small business for three weeks straight!  People will look at websites of others in their field and think “they are already doing it” or “they are doing it better than me.” It makes it hard to start because of that pressure.

The fun part for me is to ask clients what they want most and help them get that.  We focus in on what they really want (with work and life), who they want to work for, and what their style is.  We use those things to say yes to some strategies and tools and no to others.

A really big thing is to pick tools that you like.  For example, if you are on Facebook and love using it, then yes, use it for your business!  But if you hate Facebook, then don’t!  If you like QuickBooks, then great.  If you hate it, then use something else—Excel, a notebook, or hire a bookkeeper.  

People come in with a lot of “shoulds” around business. I ask what they WANT and LIKE and do these as much as possible. I help them limit the tools and plans so they can get some movement on their plans.  I suppose this is a more minimalist approach.

 

Do you consider a minimalist?

Hmm, at first I didn’t, but now I think I do! When I first heard this word, I kind of imagined someone who had an apartment with a white carpet, two pieces of furniture, very spare and spartan.

Then I realized, I like minimalism. It means having a few things that you love and that work for you, and blocking out the rest. I actually think this is the most important skill that the next generation needs - to learn how to block out the stuff they don’t want or need. There is always a flood of opportunities and pressures and things you “should” do.

Limiting what comes into my life saves me so much time and energy later, and creates more room for the simple pleasures and what makes life feel special.

 

What’s your advice to someone who’s feeling the overwhelm and wants to start simplifying their life?

Write out everything that is bothering you or is on your mind. Just get it all out so you can see it. We’re not allowed to “complain” in this culture. This is your chance. First, observe how much you were carrying around!

Then, find a way to work on one thing at a time. Perhaps, write each one on an index card and pick one to do at a time … perhaps randomly. Or pick the easiest thing to do on the list, get it done, then cross it off.

And/or, I suggest picking up a great book for inspiration and guidance.  Perhaps, Getting Things Done, by David Allen, or the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, of course.  Or The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

And, I really recommend getting a book vs. looking at the internet.  The book is limited and contained.  ☺

 

What else do you want people to know about the life of Jenny Girl Friday?

My son has a wrench for a doorknob, we have a dirt yard, I drive an old VW van and have to get in through the passenger side door … all of that is to say our life may look a little quirky or unfinished from the outside …  But, I’m very happy and love my life.  My teenagers are really funny and easy to spend time with, and my husband is constantly doing interesting things!  I love my friends and Seattle community. I'm doing my dream work (my clients are the best!).

Somewhere, I read or figured out … to identify the #1 thing you really want in your life and find a way to have it or work toward it … and then, it’s easy to give up other things and have less when you have that number one priority in your life. For me, I wanted to savor my life each day, which means loving my work, a peaceful home/family life and having a few simple pleasures.  

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I felt so energized after this interview. She had so many great bits of wisdom to share and quite a few book recommendations that I want to add to my reading list.

If you want to learn more about Jenny’s work as a new-fashioned Girl Friday, you can find her on her website. If you need a kickstart to tackling all your business to do’s or have just bouncing some ideas around self-employment, grab a copy of her book here. You’ll find everything from handy checklists to words of encouragement for working your dream job.


 

Transformation Tuesday #46: the Craft Box

I love transformations, big and small, and the craft box, or "stash" as my friend explains here, is no exception!

Last month, I decided to remove the gift wrap/craft storage that hung over the door of my hall closet, mainly because the hook was starting to bend which meant I had too much stuff. I consolidated ribbon, a couple gift bags, and all the art supplies into whatever box I had around the house. This sat on my bedroom floor for about a month (yikes!) until I found the right storage solution.

I decided to treat myself to a trip to Storables and found the large Cascade bin in gray - I wanted something pretty and sturdy. I also needed an odd size in order to fit my practice calligraphy pad and this was one of the few options out there.

 
 

Seeing all my supplies in a nicer bin makes me so happy and it was such a quick fix. What kind of tiny transformations have you made around your home? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Transformation Tuesday #45: Unpacking the Bedroom Closet

I had the privilege of working with my dear friend who recently moved to Ballard and needed to strategize how to set up her closet. She and her husband, the talent behind these fun videos, moved to the neighborhood so they both could be closer to work and save time off their commute.

Not only was I thrilled to have more pals nearby, but this meant I got to help them out with getting their closet the way they want it. That's the fun part about moving - you're starting over in a new space and can set things up that make sense and make life easier.

Crystal had already done a significant clothing purge before moving. We didn't get a chance to connect before they had to leave their old place what with work and travel, but I made it over there a couple days after they got into their new place.

We sorted by category and set aside a Uhaul box for all donation items. We ended up filling two boxes with clothes and shoes! I was impressed by her quick decision-making ability, by this time she had really built up that muscle and was just ready to get her closet in order.

We spent time talking through what types of items worked well for her corporate job and the numerous PR events she attends versus what she wants to wear when lounging around at home.  By the end of the afternoon, we had the left side of the closet with work only items, with a pants/skirt hanger used to help visually divide between that and the next mini wardrobe. She had quite a few items that are great year-round and can be worn at work or when she's out and about working on her side projects or hanging at home on the weekend. The far right of the closet housed tops and dresses that aren't part of her corporate wardrobe.

It was fun to see it come together and we'll have more pictures once she picks out a bed frame with built-in storage. Stay tuned for the final "after" pictures!

 

Transformation Tuesday #44: Kitchen Pantry Purge

My neighbor and I were chatting recently when she mentioned that she still needed to find time for organizing her pantry. I worked with her earlier this year on her kitchen cupboards and storage, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to do some more decluttering. 

She has a shelving unit in her entryway closet, stocked with dry goods like flour, pasta, rice, quinoa, and canned goods and various sauces/condiments. She admitted that it was probably a quick project since a lot of items were likely expired and just needed to be purged.

We coordinated schedules so I could get to organizing while she was away at work. What an awesome gift to give yourself - coming home to a tidy home (or in this case, a tidy pantry)! Side note: if you have ever wanted to treat yourself to this or gift this to a friend, let me know! 

In just under an hour and a half, I was able to do a simple purge:

  1. Remove all items while grouping into categories (pasta, rice, soup, sauce, etc)
  2. Check expiration dates
  3. Wipe down shelves
  4. Return unexpired items to shelves, still grouped by category
 
 

Roughly half the items were expired so out they went (items on the left of the top right picture)!

We decided that it made sense to get some handy shelf risers, making it easier to see what's in the back. Otherwise, it's easy to get caught in the cycle of not seeing what's there, overbuying that item, and ultimately having to toss it when it passes it's "best buy" date.

I also recommend when you do your own pantry purge, if you are running low on an item, especially one that you get in bulk, tape a note on the pantry shelf or cabinet door as a reminder. The next time you are checking your cupboards before a shopping trip, you can stock appropriately.

Use the capsule wardrobe approach - what has expired in the pantry, note what type of item it is. This is probably something you shouldn't buy in bulk anymore because you aren't getting through it fast enough or it's just not appealing anymore. 

What tips do you have for conquering kitchen pantry clutter? Let me know in the comments below!

Transformation Tuesday #43: the Trip Home

Last week during my trip, I realized I had (unintentionally) been on a jeans fast. Well, I went on a bit of a shopping spree while visiting Hong Kong. I picked up five new shirts (!) which I'm going to incorporate into this season's capsule wardrobe (and will be switching a few things out as they rotate in). In my defense, it's the year of the rooster and there were some pretty adorable rooster apparel to be had, plus I found a great-fitting button down at Muji (and picked it up in three colors!).

I needed to find the best way to fit these items back into my suitcase for the trek home. I knew I would have room but also didn't want to carry as much in my carry on bag/purse on the plane. One of the things I love about traveling is that I take a break from daily tidying rituals, like putting clothes back into the dresser or hanging up my coat. One of the not-so-great things about traveling is trying to pack all this back up:

 
 

The easiest way to start packing is to completely empty the suitcase. It looks even worse here:

 
 

I started by picking out my PJs, shoes, and the clothes I planned to wear that day and on the plane ride home. Setting those aside helped me see what was left to pack. I folded up all the tops and pants into the packing envelope, then added the shoes I wasn't wearing, and the souvenirs I had picked up during the trip. 

 
 

This made the final morning SO much easier as far as getting ready and throwing my toiletries into the suitcase before heading out the door.

 

 

Meet the Minimalist: Kat Garsi

Kat builds web experiences using UX, UI, and interactive design. She was a long-time project manager and is extra focused on getting shit done in all areas of her life!

She has left jobs to teach herself something new, make a career change, and follow her dreams. Obviously, she was the first person I turned to when I decided to transition to the world of self-employment. Kat not only had all kinds of great advice and wisdom to share with me, but she also is responsible for the design of my website and logo. She also has her own side gigs helping entrepreneurs launch their businesses and living the crafter-life.

While working closely together, we would share book recommendations and tips on organizing, what the best planners were on the market, how to use washi tape in said planner-ing … and I came to realize she was really getting into minimalism, and not just through decluttering physical stuff. Read on to hear what she has to say …

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What sparked your interest in simplifying and decluttering?

I think I’ve always had a minimalist streak in my veins.

I grew up in a small space with a lot of people. With four kids and two adults in a two bedroom house, there just wasn’t a lot of space for too many things. There wasn’t a need, or really an option, to get more stuff.

As kids, we would get toys and presents but there wasn’t the level of getting new things that I see today. There seems to be a constant “now I need this, and this, and this” and always needing to replace something to get the next version or the trendier version of something.

My grandmothers were also immaculately clean, organized and probably “minimalists.” When we would go to one grandma’s house, she had a teeny box, smaller than a shoebox, that served as a “toy chest.” She collected animal figurines from Red Rose Tea (you can still buy it at the grocery store) and we would play with those.

They definitely influenced me. They lived through the depression and would reuse what they had (sour cream containers, yogurt containers), but wouldn’t hoard extra stuff. They would keep just enough things that were useful and important to them.

 

What's your philosophy on stuff?

First off, I don’t hate stuff. Stuff is needed and fun! But I think we’re inundated with messages about having whatever is the latest thing. So my philosophy is all about letting go of the stuff list and just feel good about what you choose to have around you - or choose not to have around you. It’s about choice. And you don’t need a lot of things around you to be content. To have a space you enjoy coming home to, so you can do the activities you enjoy, that’s what is important to me. And that means something different to everyone.

I think that people who live making more minimalist choices, tend to have an abundance mindset versus one of scarcity. When you practice an abundance mindset, you know that there is more than enough out in the world for everyone. You don’t need to take all the things you think you need right in this moment.

With a scarcity mindset, there’s never enough money/stuff/space so you take what you have and clamp down on it even if it doesn’t serve you. There’s a fear of letting go. I’ve been in both mindsets and there’s so much more joy following the abundance mindset. I’m able to be more intentional with the choices I make because my choices aren’t coming from fear. It’s not just about less stuff, it’s a way of thinking.

 
 

 

What most recently has triggered the decluttering bug for you?

Probably my reading list. I love reading about people who are challenging the way that they think about how they live. I loooooove Marie Kondo. She lit the fuse of the firecracker in my mind, that it’s not crazy to want to live this lifestyle. It’s about living intentionally, living how you want to feel. The most important part of her book is when she visualizes with a client about what they want to feel like when they come home. It’s more about the flow she wants to have and how she creates her space around how she wants to feel.

 

Were you surprised about any of the items you ended up purging?

Yes! It’s surprising how many things can get stuffed into little corners and drawers! Kondo talks about how things take up space and have energy. When you have cabinets, drawers, and desks that are overflowing, it doesn’t feel good. It’s tight. It’s stressed. And you’re constantly thinking about “where do I put this” or “I can’t put this away because it won’t fit” and it ends up going on the floor. It bothers me when there’s an accumulation of a lot of things.

Bruce Lee said that in order to live with flow, to have a mind like water: “Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.  Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water.”

To me, this also means to become free of extraneous thoughts and extraneous things that weigh you down. When I have simplified my space, my mind is open to be free and creative.

 

Was there anything silly or odd that you ended up purging?

Decluttering my craft supplies is always a surprising exercise. Crafters have a special term for the things they collect to craft with. We call it our “stash.” When I laid out all my craft supplies, I had all these ribbons, embroidery hoops, buttons, fabric, glitter, glitter spray, glitter glue, a bedazzler. Why!? Ok, the bedazzler I kept, I don’t know if that’s weird.

At the same time, collecting for my stash brings me joy, so while I try not to overdo it, I don’t purposefully force myself to stop adding to my collection.

My favorite find during a decluttering session was my oversized Howard Dean for President t-shirt. I took a picture of it then said goodbye to it.

 

What's the difference today in choosing the abundance mindset?

The abundance mindset made a huge shift in my life - especially around work. In the past, I worked to work. I worked to support myself in school. I worked to support having my own place. And then I realized, what was I working for?

Then I thought that I would figure out what I would want to do with my life by thinking about it - like it would happen magically. All I needed was a great idea! That does not work.

Going outside your comfort zone, being intentional, trying a lot of things and taking risks - these are the ways to take you in new directions - especially if you feel stuck at your job. You get to make choices of where you want to spend your time.

Sometimes these acts lead you to letting go of a job that is holding you back from where your energy can take you. With an abundance mindset, that’s ok because there’s a sense that you know you can find another job. It will be hard, it will be risky, but it’s not the end to leave a “good” job because it doesn’t serve you. You’re able to make decisions from what you know is right instead of from fear.

I’m grateful to have embraced this mindset and make decisions for myself to leave a job or two that wasn’t quite right. It’s lead me to grow and do new things, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

 

Do you consider yourself a minimalist?

Yes! I’m so minimal because I recognize that I have the power to make choices over what I bring into my life. I make the choice. Being intentional, being selective, being able to let go. To me, these practices are minimalism.

Before reading Marie Kondo, and a few other authors who talk about similar ideas, I had never asked myself the question “what activities bring you joy?” until I was at least 30 years old.

I don’t know if it was just the era I grew up in, but the idea was, if you didn’t like something you would “learn to like it” by doing it over and over. And that continuing to work on something that you didn’t enjoy was “good discipline.” I learned a lot from those experiences, but I rarely got to the positive side - like, if I truly don’t enjoy something, why do I continue to do it?

I’ve learned that forcing yourself to do something that isn’t serving you or bringing you joy, is what slowly hurts your spirit and your energy.

You might find something that is really weird, obscure, and bizarre and the only way to nurture and explore it is to spend time with it, and not feeling obligated to doing things that drag you down.

 

What's your advice to someone who's feeling the overwhelm and wants to start simplifying?

Stop with the information overload! When starting something new, it can be overwhelming just to start that new thing (what books should I read, classes to take, equipment to buy). Stop!

My advice is just to start doing it. Do something in the smallest way, in the best way you know how. Don’t worry about mistakes. Break it down - what’s one thing I can do now to just try it out?

And when you start simplifying, there are no rules. You’re not trying to get down to a certain number of shoes or books or cups.

Simplifying is a practice about making choices to add positive energy and release negative energy from your life, wherever it resides (stuff, work, relationships, food, information). You’re practicing your power of choice. Does this (thing, job, whatever) really add to my life? Does it support and nourish me? You get to decide.

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This was an incredible interview! I love Kat’s approach to minimalism and how she has given herself permission to try new things, keeping what brings purpose to her life and shedding away what doesn’t.

Here are her book recommendations that are great guidebooks to making choices - each one covers a different aspect of life:

 The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (obvi)

18 Minutes

Getting Things Done (This is huge, how you process things. The best takeaway is if it takes less than five minutes, just do it.)

The War of Art

Big Magic

Win Forever by Pete Carroll (seems like an odd choice in this list but it’s inspiring - he talks his unique philosophy and also about how he got fired from several jobs before coaching the Seahawks. It shows that anyone can keep going, even when others don’t believe in them.)

You can find out more about Kat's side projects on her website katgarsi.com or Instagram!

 

Transformation Tuesday #42: No New Jeans!

In last week's post, I was packing for my trip to Hong Kong and I'm typing this week's post from my Airbnb in the Lan Kwai Fong neighborhood. 

I have to say, I struggled with whether or not I should post anything for the TT series. I can get obsessive with following a routine, even when I enjoy it, but hadn't scheduled enough time before my trip to schedule something to go out. The other part of me thought that maybe I would get inspired and sure enough, in walking around yesterday, one of my travel companions and I were talking about shopping habits.

She was wearing a great pair of Madewell jeans and she asked me about the brands I typically wear which then turned into "what was the last pair you bought?" I had to rack my brain to reply. Even in typing this, I just realized it's been exactly a year. I had a gift card to Stitch Fix that I redeemed in the fall of 2015 and got a great pair of Mavi burgundy pants and then I got one more box before going to Tokyo, requesting stretchy, versatile items specific for travel. I received a pair of Liverpool boyfriend jeans in a light wash which I kept and brought with me on this trip.

In paring down my stuff, I'm not trying to get to a certain number of things. I'm just trying to be more mindful of what I bring into my home, how I'm going to use it, and how I can store it. I'm kind of glad that it took awhile to realize that it's been a year since I bought jeans. I've been really happy with my seasonal capsule wardrobes and feel more confident in having a more defined style than ever before in my life. I used to love retail therapy (don't get me wrong, I still enjoy shopping!) but I've also gotten used to that awesome feeling of being able to see everything in my closet and know that I can grab anything and be dressed in just a few minutes.

For me, this is more a transformation of a daily ritual that used to be stressful (having a stuffed closet with "very little to wear," read: "very little to wear that I felt comfortable and stylish in") and is now much more enjoyable. There's something to be said about being able to easily put something back in it's home right away and maintain that calm, clear space in a bedroom.

 
Brought three pairs to get me through 10 days. So far, so good!

Brought three pairs to get me through 10 days. So far, so good!

 

I'm curious what others haven't purchased in a while - coats, tops, dresses ... what else? 

 

Transformation Tuesday #41: Packing Light

I'm pleased as punch to be packed and 99% ready for my upcoming trip to Hong Kong! It's been a whirlwind January as far as work goes. I've spent the last two weeks working on a move and was able to have all of yesterday afternoon to get my suitcase in order and drop into a yoga class.

I thought I packed and organized my bag pretty well on my last couple trips here and here. However, I think I've hit a whole new level - check out the open space next to the green jacket! I don't plan to do a ton of shopping and generally bring back consumables like tea and candies for gifts. It's not like I saved room to fill up my bag coming home.

 
 

It's such a thrill to have this ready to go 48 hours beforehand. The only To Do's left on my list are picking up some snacks at Trader Joe's for the plane (I'm a fan of the jerky sticks and dried apple rings) and researching the best option to get from the airport to the Airbnb. Not too shabby!

Anyone have any packing tips to share? A favorite checklist to ensure you've packed everything you need? Let me know in the comments below!

Transformation Tuesday #40: First Capsule of 2017!

I suppose this is more of an internal transformation with how I approach building my wardrobe and not as much a dramatic space/stuff transformation, oh well, so be it!

I started creating capsule wardrobes a year ago in an effort to remove some of the decision-making in my life. I followed the guidelines of Project 333 to a "T." Over time, I have found that following the rules in the beginning helps me establish routine (which brings some stability in an otherwise hectic schedule) and that discipline actually sparks creativity for me.

When I built my fall closet, I decided to break the "rules" because I had gotten the hang of this process and wanted to incorporate a few more pieces beyond the suggested 33. I also put my valet stand by Hungrack to good use. I didn't want to dump all my clothes on the bed since most of everything is hanging up in my closet (see: I like being efficient - why remove it from the hanger when it's going right back up?). I was able to use the rack to review all my coats, dresses, and flowy tops/cardigans easily. I could pick through pretty quickly, place items back in the closet and whittled my wardrobe down to 42 items. 

A year ago, I started with this process, with special (unplanned) cat cameos:

 

Now, I can easily grab most of what I'll use to build the capsule using the Hungrack!

 
 

Are you trying out a capsule closet this year? If so, what guidelines have you found to be the most helpful?

 

Transformation Tuesday #39: Makeup Cart Cleanout

I'm really excited for this week's transformation post because I got to sit down with the lovely Vanessa Ronquillo of Contour and Blush. Not only did she have some great advice about the shelf life of makeup products, she walked me through a cleanout of her own makeup products. In only 15 minutes, she cleared out several expired items, wiped everything down, and reorganized like items.

 

 

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How did you get into makeup artistry?

I suffered from severe acne during college and to remedy the situation and not feel as self-conscious, I learned how to apply makeup. As I began doing it, people commented that they loved the makeup I did on myself so I started doing makeup for family and friends. Eventually, I started getting referred out to other people for weddings and special occasions.

 

What do you love most about being a makeup artist?

I love making other people feel wonderful about themselves. I truly believe people are beautiful, sometimes it takes someone else to tell them they are. Makeup is a way to enhance features and when I apply makeup on someone, I get to know their personalities and get a sense of what makes them happy. I celebrate my clients and it brings me the most joy when they get excited about my work

 

What tips/tricks do you have for getting the most out of your makeup?

Each product is different. If you love something, use it until the last drop, but I suggest if you are running low, buy a new one before its almost gone. I tend to overbuy makeup to make sure I never run out of anything, but I’m obsessed with makeup and always love trying new products.

For mascara, if it looks dry on the wand then I toss it. Shadows and powders have a longer shelf life so I hold on until it hits pan (when you see the bottom of the container).

Everyone should do a biannual clean up of their makeup, at a minimum. People don’t realize that there are expiration dates on formulas so pay attention to those. Sometimes you can stretch its life and I’m totally guilty of that at times.

It's ideal to store your products at room temperature, not too much humidity. Brushes can be kept in a cup, upright, and cleaned on monthly basis with dishwashing soap and olive oil (2:1 ratio) if used daily. Otherwise, if they are used less frequently, you can keep brushes in a container in a drawer.

 
 

If someone wants to revamp their look or overhaul their current stash of beauty products, where should they start?

Look at fashion magazines, YouTube gurus, or Pinterest. I love looking at different avenues for inspiration, seeing what the new beauty craze is, and trying it for myself. Some work and some don’t, but that is what is the most fun about it!    

 

For a complete novice, where does one begin?

YouTube! You can find anything on there. I did that too, and found someone who’s the same ethnicity so I could see the makeup application on a similar skin tone and skin type.

Some basic products to start building your beauty arsenal: foundation for a solid base (I always have foundation), brow pencil or gel (this really helps frame your face), long-lasting mascara, lip pencil (can serve as a lipstick, not just liner), and blush.

 

What's are your favorite beauty ritual?

I wash my face every night with my favorite Japanese face wash called Perfect Water (it literally is the best thing out there and gets rid of everything!). I exfoliate every week (I love Asian beauty products but also will use the Clean & Clear exfoliant) and weekly I wear face masks to bed.

 

What's your best beauty advice?

Make sure you love yourself first. Regardless of how many products you use on your face, the most beautiful people realize their inner beauty first because it truly shines through in your appearance.

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If you want to see more of Vanessa's work, check out her Contour and Blush. You can also follow her personal Instagram for a healthy dose of travel, beauty, philanthropy, and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Transformation Tuesday #38: Kitchen Table Time Lapse

The kitchen table is one of the couple hubs in my home that attracts a lot of clutter. I live in a small space and don't have my own office or work space so the dining area serves as my desk, project area, and an extension of my counter space when baking or cooking. 

I had a few craft projects that required a space to spread out and sure enough, the table was covered in calligraphy supplies, pictures, photo albums, and who knows what else! It's so easy to gather everything up into a nice pile and simply relocate it to another room that I can shut the door on. This method works if you have someone dropping by unexpectedly or don't have a few extra minutes to spare. A better habit that will help you control the clutter is to actually put each item back in their home when tidying. 

Calligraphy supplies went back into the hall closet, planner to the entry way, laptop back in its carrying case, and pictures back into the album. Don't forget to do a quick wipe-down of the table (I spilled some of my ink ... whoops)! 

 
 

What does your kitchen table look like? Do you have any tidying tips to keep your table clutter-free? Share in the comments below!

Meet the Minimalist: Alexandra Perwin

I met Alex before she relocated to Seattle, about five years ago. She had moved from LA and found herself in Ballard. I was so excited to have a friend that lived so close by and we found ourselves enjoying many tea dates, sharing tips on how we saved money, working on our negotiating skills, and what we were doing to save for retirement.   

Last year we both started exploring simplifying our lives and our clutter, when she invited me to join her in an online course, A Simple Year.  I love nerding out with her on anything from tidying tips to budget hacks so joining this course connected us with others who have a similar mindset. She’s come a long way from her previous life in LA to what she prioritizes today as far as the material things she holds onto and what her longer term goals are. I think her story will resonate with people because so many of us can relate to that "stuck" feeling in a job or having anxiety about the physical clutter to the "obligations" clutter in our everyday lives. 

During the day, Alex is hard at work as a controller. She spends her free time hiking, playing darts, enjoying craft cocktails, and cuddling Maxine, the most adorable Bichon-poodle rescue you will ever meet.

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How did you get into slowing down and simple living?

It started with my anxiety. When I started simplifying, I was also going on anxiety medication. I had a lot of stress at a job that paid well but was detrimental to my health. I wanted to feel more in control and step away from “needing” that job.

 

What first introduced you to simple/slow living?

I started focusing on early retirement and found the online FIRE community (Financial Independence Retire Early). I stumbled across several blogs where people were focusing on building wealth, having experiences, and really living life in a way that they wanted to rather than in a way that someone told them they should.

 

Who’s in this community?

They are a group of a bunch of different bloggers. Some share their whole financial picture (how much they make, what they’ve saved, their targets) while others show graphs that indicate where they’re at. The others, like the Frugalwoods, focus on how much they are saving to live their best, frugal life.

 

What’s the best part/what have you found to be the most helpful from this community?

Especially after living in LA, the drive for materialism and acceptance for a certain standard of life - it was nice to find a group of people that didn’t want that. That there were other people like me, looking for something similar.

It was so “keeping up with the Joneses” kind of lifestyle and here in Seattle, I could have a fresh start. That the car I drive wouldn’t be representative of my worth as a person. Moving up here let me reexamine my life. What I wanted to do, what I wanted to be, what kind of life I wanted to have.

I still had a lot of stuff [when I moved here], not very practical stuff. I mean, you saw my old shoe closet - it was ridiculous!

 

What have been some of the positive changes you have made as a result of simplifying?

I don’t feel as stuck. I have less attachment to the stuff. It’s no longer a reflection of me, it’s just things.

I was able to cut down (slightly) my standard of living so I could take a more fulfilling job. I also phased off of the anxiety medication.

My partner moved in and there was totally room for all his stuff. I didn’t have to do anything special to prepare for this. We didn’t have any of those arguments that people have when they combine households.

 

Have you gotten any kind of push back from others around these major changes and living a different way of life?

Some people think I’m crazy for wanting to retire early. I just don’t buy the latest model of something when it comes out because I have this bigger goal that I’m working toward.

Part of me gets too focused on the retiring early so I can live my life, and as a result, sometimes I don’t take as much vacation time as I should. It feels like it would be a delay in my goal (spending the money on the vacation). I’m not at the place of Frugalwoods yet as far as what I spend on experiences.

 
 

 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to simplify?

Marie Kondo asks her readers “who do you want to be in your space?” I feel like “who do you want to be in your life?” is a good question to ask yourself. What you spend your money and time on - does it spark joy? Friendships, obligations, stuff - if they don’t bring your joy, you should get rid of them.

Keeping that question in mind, I definitely say no to a lot more [invitations, requests, obligations] now.

 

Do you consider yourself a minimalist?

I don’t know that I consider myself a minimalist. I have too much stuff to be considered a classic minimalist. Part of that is that I live with someone who isn’t a minimalist and has more stuff than I do.

I like to focus on living light and have been following Living Light by Coco.

 

What kind of stuff would you never let go of?

Camping gear, cross country skis, the activity-based things. Oh, and the shoes I wore on our first date. I haven’t worn them in three years because they hurt my feet too much (I danced in them for about six hours) but that’s the one sentimental thing I hold on to because it makes me so happy to see them in my closet.

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If you want to follow along with Alex’s adventures in living a simpler life and enjoying the outdoors, you can find her on Instagram or YouTube.  You’ll get a healthy dose of nature, original music by her partner, Mike Thornhill, and cameos from Maxine.

 

Transformation Tuesday #37: Lighter Living Area

I had the pleasure of working with my massage therapist earlier this year on organizing her living room. During a much-needed deep tissue massage, I had mentioned that I stumbled upon the KonMari book and loaned her my copy. The next time I saw her, she had done a thorough sweep of her home but still didn't feel like everything was in quite the right place.

I was excited to see her home because she, like me, loves tidying up and enjoying the lightness of a space - it makes the day to day activities easier and chill time more enjoyable because there isn't clutter to climb over. Aside from being a massage therapist, she also practices Reiki and has been taking classes in herbal medicine and wildcrafting (her home smells delightful!).

Her work is focused on helping her clients experience immediate physical relief. When she gets home, it's so important for her to have a space where she can relax after a physically taxing day.

Her charming apartment was already in pretty good shape, we just gave it some extra TLC by working through a few piles of miscellaneous items that hadn't found a home yet and rearranged the furniture to open up the space. This allowed for a more open area for morning yoga without having to shove a chair or ottoman to a corner.

The living room looks and feels lighter! She described the space as feeling "purified and clear" which is exactly what I aim for when I work with others in their homes.

What can you do to "lighten" up your living space? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

 
 

Transformation Tuesday #36: Spruce(r) Things - Christmas Edition

Last week when I was tidying up our storage unit, I was looking at the Christmas decor and realized I needed to get a tree now or come up with another plan for decorating the house. Don't get me wrong - I love having a tree and decorating it for the holidays. This year it just felt like so much was going on so I decided to get creative with what I had in my Christmas bin.

I've been on a kick lately where I really want to use up what I have, as much as possible, before adding another errand to my list and another thing to purchase. I find when I have some constraints, I'm often more creative because I'm working with less. As much as I love the scent of a Douglas Fir in my home, I thought this would be a good opportunity to make do with what I have while saving a little cash as well.

I give you my newest little time lapse, Spruce(r) Things, the Christmas Edition! In less than 20 minutes, I cleared off the wall in the living room to string up lights and hang my "Merry Christmas" sign and ornaments. Definitely transformed an ordinary wall into something more festive for the holidays. I opted for some pretty calligraphy letters for more of a holiday feel. My little decorating project was interesting enough that even Archie and Walt made brief cameos to scope out the scene!

I'd love to hear your Christmas decorating hacks or tips - let me know in the comments below!