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What I know:

It isn't about our stuff.
It's about our connections.

Bigger. Better. More.
Rarely is.

Our best lives create space
in our homes and hearts
for the people and activities
that make us genuinely happy.

You must be present to win.

Use something you’ve been saving.

40.  Use something you’ve been saving like candles, nail polish, lotion.
Love this idea from (once again), Gretchen Rubin.

You know I discourage people from keeping things for Justin Case.
(just in case…)
And perhaps the new socks or the nicer bottle of wine or the new towels don’t really belong to Justin;
you’ve just been waiting for the right time to wear, drink or use them.
Make that time now.

Small treats, little indulgences, and moments of self care seem especially important in our lives right now.
With so much uncertainty, loss, and mixed emotions; finding small ways to feel better, make the routine a bit more interesting, and use what we already have will brighten our days.

So go ahead, open the jar, uncork the bottle, snuggle into the socks, light the candle,
enjoy the chocolate.

Be kind to yourself.
​It’s okay.  Really……

Two minutes is still two minutes.

For many of us now it seems as though we have an abundance of time.
(Although probably not for those of you working from home, home schooling,
parenting, making three meals a day, etc. etc. etc.)
A friend commented recently that she feels a sense of luxury around the time she can now spend
on things that interest her.
How lovely is that?

How can we best use our time to give our lives shape and meaning?
To do what we have to do, so we can have time to do the things we love to do?
And connect to the people we love and care for-even if it is from a distance.

I’ve talked before about how there really is no saving, making or wasting of time;
there is just how you manage it.

Better time management skills helps us to keep our clutter under control.
As I have mentioned numerous times, and will continue to remind people,
one of the best of those skills is The Two Minute Rule.

If you can do something in two minutes or less: Do it now.
Hang up your sweater.
Put the dirty dish in the dishwasher.
Move the laundry from the washer to the dryer.
Recycle the junk mail.
Throw away the dried up pen.
Cancel an email subscription.
Say Thank You.
It’s really rather remarkable how much you can accomplish in two minutes or less.

Use the time you have now to create small changes and habits that will have
an impact long after we go back to work, kids are back in school,
and we begin to adjust to the inevitable changes that await us.

A secret of adulthood

Just because something is fun for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s fun for you.
And vice versa.
Gretchen Rubin

Along this same line; just because journaling, Zoom meetings, binge watching Netflix,
learning algebra via Youtube is working for someone else during this time of staying home-
doesn’t mean it will work for you.

I know we’ve all seen lots of suggestions for how to cope with being home, maintaining a routine and 
keeping ourselves engaged and connected as we adjust to our new circumstances.
Now, as always, we need to pay attention to our physical, mental, emotional health and well being.

True, this could be a great time to try a new hobby, find a different way to connect to people,
and practice self care.
And this is also a great time to do what has worked for you in the past.
Familiarity and routine help ground us and give us the sense that although many things 
seem crazy and out of control, there are activities that a center us and make us feel at home with our selves.

If you’re not a phone person, it’s great to connect through short texts.
Frustrated by trying to keep a journal?  Maybe just writing down one thing a day you’re grateful for.
Love to read but can’t seem to concentrate or find a new book that holds your attention?
Reread something you loved in the past.

Find ways to engage yourself.
New things maybe or the tried and true.
No beating yourself up because ‘everyone else is ________’
and you aren’t interested/don’t want to/tried it and you didn’t like it.

And most of all, be gentle with yourself.
This is a challenging time.
Remember to breathe.

(Here are several more of Gretchen’s Secrets of Adulthood)

Help me. Thank you.

Help me. Help me. Help me.
Thank you. Thank you.  Thank you.

Anne Lamott’s favorite prayer

Pretty much sums it up I think.

Given the uncertainties of life right now,
(as if life was ever certain)
it is important to be willing to ask for help;
from our God, from our family, our friends, and ourselves.
Although we may be experiences times of loneliness, sorrow, fear and worry, 
acknowledging our vulnerabilities and needs,
and allowing others the chance to be there for us,
can make us all stronger and feel less alone.

Gratitude is a verb and a practice.
Despite all that we feel we don’t have in our lives right now,
there is still abundance.
There always have been and always will be people who have more than you 
and less than you.
Stop comparing, ranking or feeling guilty about your situation compared to others.
It’s not healthy or helpful-for anyone.

Offer help where you can.
Ask for help if you need it.

Say Thank you.
Again and again and again.

We are all in this, together and alone.
​(Always have been…….)

Befriend your shredder.

Mail and daily incoming papers present a clutter challenge for most people.
Spending less than two minutes a day with your paper eating buddy will have
an immediate and helpful impact on your piles and disorganization.

Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed and buried in paper
and your shredder is feeling abandoned and ignored. 
Establish a paper sorting routine: ACTION  READ  FILE 
and deal with the papers on a daily basis.

Speaking of filing, and your file draw.
If you’ve taken care of your taxes for 2019,
now would be a great time to purge your file drawer.
(I’m guessing you have a bit of time right now at home to take care of this…)

Most papers that people file never get looked at again.
Don’t file papers if you could easily get the information again.
IF you needed it.
If you do file, file in broad general categories.
Use the Like with Like guideline.
All insurance papers in one hanging file.
within that a folder for Home, Health, Car, Life, etc.

All paid Bills for 2020 in one folder.
Toss last month’s when you get this month’s
that shows your payments.

One folder for 2020 Taxes.
Next April you can go through that folder and sort by category as necessary.

One hanging file for all your important documents.
When you need to find your birth certificate or car title or key to the safe deposit box, 
you can quickly go through that one file and find what you ned.

As you sort, toss warranties and manuals for things you no longer own.
(Rethink even keeping manuals, most can be found on line now)

The folders of remodel projects, garden ideas, recipes?
Only keep the ones you really think you’ll use-in the next month or so.

The fewer steps you have in your Filing System, 
the more likely you will be to actually File things!
Make it as simple as possible.

The sound of shredding paper is the sound of a less cluttered life.
The sight of a full recycle bin is visual proof of a simpler life.

Befriending your shredder will give you more time to spend with your other real friends.  
(And isn’t that part of the life you truly want to be living?)

Minds and hearts.

“The mind is clever, but the heart is truly intelligent.”  David Montgomery

Our minds can help us figure out where to keep the scissors.
By listening to our hearts,
we will know what we want to use our scissors to create.

Use your brain for sorting, prioritizing and organizing.
Allow your heart to guide your use of the time and space you create.

Do what you can.

Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.

Good advice in general, and especially helpful now.

Today, let’s apply it to your pantry.
Most of us have been spending more time cooking at home than we usually do.
And limiting our trips to the grocery store.

For those of you trying to manage working from home, 
home schooling your kids, 
trying to keep the house reasonably clean,
and still reach out to other people in your life:
You may not have time for the following activity.

However, the rest of you can jump right in!
First, instead of looking at this as just another chore, 
perhaps you could reframe it as a treasure hunt?
Or an archeological dig?
Or a chance to bring order and control to one small area of your life.

So, clear the kitchen table, 
set up a bag or box for donations,
open the pantry door, and begin.

The goal of this fun is to get an inventory of what you actually have on those shelves.
By sorting through the boxes, cans, and  packages you will see how much of what you have.
You will  prioritize where it belongs on the shelves; 
know where it is when you want it,
and know what you need to add to your shopping list.

Start on the top shelf, left side.
Take out each item.
Be honest.  Will you ever eat this?
If yes, set it on the table.
If not, and it’s still good, and you know (be honest now) that you’re never going to eat it, 
into the donation container it goes.
Yup, you spent good money on it, and maybe you intended to make a fabulous new recipe with it.
That was then. This is now. Move on.
As you take things off the shelves, group the keepers like with like on the table.
All the soups together.
All the packages of pasta.
All the packets of seasoning mixes.
All the breakfast cereal.
All the snacks.

Work your way across each shelf, left to right.
Top of the pantry to the bottom shelf.
You may need more than the table, use a counter, or the floor.

You may find items that don’t really belong in the pantry.
Set them aside to deal with later.

Once the panty is empty, wipe down all the shelves.
(That probably hasn’t happened in a while!)

Now look at what’s on the table.
Consider how you might consolidate, and contain some of those like items.
Do you have an empty shoe box that could hold all the bags and boxes of pasta?
(A magazine holder laid on its side is a great place to stack packages of spaghetti or linguine noodles)
Another smaller box that could hold the seasoning packets?
A box for all the bags of nuts?
Keeping like with like and containerized keeps things easier to access.
Look around your house, you probably have containers that could be repurposed and work great.

Once you’ve consolidated like with like items.
Now we’re going to put things back into the pantry in a way that makes sense to you,
and gives the things you use most often the best access.
Keeping in mind that light things should live on the higher shelves and heavy things low.

Decide what food you use most often.
Put those in the center of the middle shelf.
What next?
Arrange things with accessibility and frequency of use as your priorities.
Also keep in mind the idea that you’re creating your own ‘store’ at home.
Pasta near the pasta sauce.
Soups on a shelf together.
Baking supplies close to each other.

This isn’t rocket science, no need to over think this.
Use logic.
Make the arrangement work for you.

Once the shelves are restocked, here’s a chance to look at your inventory.
Maybe add some things to your shopping list.
And pause to think about what you put in the donate bag.
Is there a theme there?
How can you use that information about impulse buying, 
or sale things that didn’t save you money because you never ate them, 
food habits you no longer have, 
or your tendency to not write down what you really need and instead buy duplicates of things you already had but couldn’t find?
No beating yourself up.
Just use this as a chance to pay better attention in the future.

One last idea.
My favorite pantry organizing products are:
Clear shoe box size bins-hold the pasta, envelopes, misc. bags of nuts, fruits, etc.
And, if your pantry door will accommodate it-
a clear over the door shoe organizer for the inside of the door.
Great storage for easily accessible snacks, 
places to store those odd sized little cans of things that tend to disappear on the shelves,
packets of dry mixes, small jars, etc.
It takes advantage of vertical space you might not be using,
and makes frequently grabbed items readily accessible.

Now that your pantry is organized, you can see what food you have.
Meal planning should be easier.
You can use up what you have at home, 
you can better track what you need to buy,
and you can find the snacks!!!!

So much of life seems out of control right now.
Managing your physical spaces will go a long way
in helping you manage the other areas of your life.

Be safe.
Be kind.
Be well.

Two Minute Rule

Now, more than ever, having a home that is uncluttered and organized will make life less stressful
and the mechanics of daily living easier.

Between working from home, managing the kids, prepping meals, trying to fit in exercise,
or creating a quiet moment or two alone-things are challenging.

You could tackle your closet, reorganize the pantry, sort your sock drawer,
clear out under the bathroom sink, or finally deal with the junk drawer.
All great projects.

But hey, let’s be realistic and start small and manageable.
Let’s try just one slight change in behavior.

Although right now it seems time is stretching out endlessly before us, we still need to manage that time.
A simple approach to that, and a basic of an Organized Life is:
The Two Minute Rule.
If you can do something in Two Minutes or Less: Do it now.
Put the dirty dish into the dishwasher.
Hang up your coat when you come in from walking the dog.
Put the folded laundry away.
Sort the mail.
Send a text to let someone know you’re thinking about them.

Get into the habit of dealing with things right now.
If it’s an unpleasant chore, you’ll be done with it in less than two minutes.
Instead of it hanging over your head all day.

One small change.
One big difference.

Oh, and don’t worry, I have lots of ideas to share about tackling the closet
and rearranging the pantry!

During this time of uncertainly, please be gentle with yourself
and kind to others.

(and keep washing those hands!)

What if…

I received this from a friend and thought I would share it.

There is so much fear, and perhaps rightfully so about COVID-19.

And what if..

If we subscribe to the philosophy that life is always working out for us, 

That there is an intelligence far greater than humans at work…

That all is interconnected.

What if the virus is here to help us.

To reset.

To remember.

What is truly important.

Reconnecting with family and community.

Reducing travel so that the environment, the skies, the air, our lungs all get a break.

Parts of China are seeing blue skies and clouds for the first time in forever with the factories being shut down.

Working from home rather than commuting to work (less pollution, more personal time)>

Reconnecting with family as there is more time at home.

An invitation to turn inwards-a deep meditation-rather than the usual extroverted going out to self soothe.

To reconnect to self, what is really important to me?

A reset economically.

The working poor.

The lack of healthcare access for over 30 million people in the US.

How hard does one need to work to be able to live, and have a life outside of work?

And washing our hands, how did that become a ‘new’ thing that we needed to remember.

But, yes, we did.

The presence of Grace for all.

There is a shift underway in our society-what if it is one that is favorable for us?

What if this virus is an ally in our evolution?

In our remembrance of what it means to be connected, humane, living a simpler life, to be less impactful, more kind to our environment.

An offering from my hear this morning.

Offered as an another perspective.

Another way of relating to this virus, this unfolding, this evolution.

It was a time for change, we all knew that.

And change has arrived.

What if…

Gutpreet Gill

Dig a little deeper

We’re all pretty aware of what’s in the first three inches of our cupboards or cabinets, a drawer or a stack of papers.
But what’s in the next three inches?
When we move past the items in the front, those things we use most often, wear most frequently and left so we’d be sure to find them; what would we find?
Food we’ll never prepare, expired medications or supplies, a sweater with padded shoulders, ​an over due bill or over looked check?

This week, try digging a bit deeper.
Choose a cabinet, drawer, or pile of papers and sort through it.
What really needs to live in that place?
What needs to be donated or tossed?
What paperwork needs a few minutes of your time and attention?

Spend a few minutes digging a bit deeper personally too.
Are there activities you might be willing to step away from?
Judgments about yourself or others that you’d be willing to let go?
Kind thoughts you’d be willing to articulate in a note to someone special?

It’s good to have important things up front and accessible,
and it’s wise to be aware of what we’re holding onto a bit deeper too…..

You make all the choices.
Choose people, activities and things that support the life you really want to be living.
Consider what’s possible.