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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.

Less isn’t (necessarily) none.

People worry that letting go of things will mean the will end up with none.
Who they are and what they love will somehow disappear into the trash or Donate bag.

No one is asking you to give away every book, every pair of jeans,
all of your souvenirs, all your sports equipment, or all of your pots and pans.

Decluttering and simplifying means you keep what’s important to you.
What you actually use, value, and love.
Letting go of the extra or excess means what you keep
can be easily stored and accessed, used and appreciated.

You will realize that more isn’t better.
More is just the same thing, over and over, multiple times.

It is totally up to you to decide how much less you are comfortable owning.
How much space and energy you are willing to devote to keep and maintain
what you say is important?

You may end up with only one of grandma’s tea cups.
You may hold on to three of your ten college sweatshirts.
You may give away all of your kid’s Legos.
Sometimes less might be none,
but usually, 
if your are honest with yourself;
​less is just the right amount…

Boxes of photographs

For those of you overwhelmed by the idea of even starting to go through your photographs,
try this.

Grab a timer, a box of photos and two containers.
Set the timer for 30 minutes.
Open the box of photos and begin to sort.
At this point you only have two options:  Keep or Toss.
To make that decision as easy as possible, here are a few guidelines/suggestions.
Toss the duplicates.
Toss the scenery pictures.
Toss the out of focus ones.
Toss the pictures of people you don’t know or remember.
Toss the ones of people or places you’d rather not be reminded of.

When the timer rings.

Toss the Tossers and set the Keep container aside.

Continue this process until you’ve sorted through all the boxes.
(you may need more than one Keep container……just sayin)

If you never get any further along in the process than this initial sort,
at least you know you’ve been intentional about the ones you’ve kept.
And you have far fewer boxes than when you started!

At this point you may want to send the photos off to be digitized.
You may want to scan them yourself.
​You may like the options that having them available on your computer offers.

Or you may want to do a more detailed sort.

The next round of sorting the Keepers is to broadly categorize them.
All the birthday shots together.
All the vacation.
All the Christmas.
All of the single shots of one person or couple.
(No point in trying to figure out specific years)

Oh, and it’s okay to toss more as you are going through the images again.

At the end of this sort, again options.
Put them in albums.
Create a book.
Offer them to family members who might be interested.

The point of this exercise is to edit and consolidate all your photos into a collection
that is manageable, accessible, and that you might even look through!
(and to absolve you of the guilt of yet another ‘should’ project in your life……)

Will it take several 30 minute sessions?
Will it feel like work?
Yes, a bit.
Will you take a trip or two in the Way Back Machine?
Of course!

If it is important to you; you’ll create the time.
If it isn’t; you will find an excuse.
Honestly own either option.

Story telling.

Humans make meaning by telling stories.
We attach stories to all of our possessions.
Which is why it is hard to let go of things 
we no longer use, need, love or value.

Sports equipment we aren’t using holds the story of when we skied every weekend.
(Ten years ago, and not since)
Our stash of fabric holds the story of all the quilts we created and gave as gifts.
(The sewing machine hasn’t seen the light of day in four years)
Our closet of professional clothes tells the story of our climb up the corporate ladder.
(We no longer work in that field, wear that size, or dress like that for Zoom meetings)

Recognize that the story and the thing are two very separate things.
Keep the story and the memories, let go of the stuff.
Where and how are you willing and interested in creating a new story?
How can letting things go gracefully open up space for this life, today?

Done beats perfect.

Stop waiting until you have extra time,
or money,
or the exact shade of paint,
or you take another class,
or you get permission,
or you get an apology.

Waiting for the stars to align,
or you perfect the technique,
or your skill level hits mastery,
or even until ‘later’;
keeps you from enjoying the discovery of a process
and stops you from getting on with your life..
And often creates mental and physical clutter.

Holding out for perfect keeps us stuck.
Do the best you can, where you are, with what you have.
Finish the project with what’s available to you right now, 
or agree to abandon it.
Either is a valid and acceptable choice.
I promise.
Move on.

Make it easy.

Life is complicated.
Look for ways to make it easy.

The fewer steps involved the more likely you are to comply.

Storing frequently used items in a bin?
Leave the lid off.

Filing papers?
Use the broad categories.
(Paid bills, Important documents, Current year tax information, etc.)
IF you need to retrieve the paper, then look through the file.

Use hooks to hang frequently worn or reworn clothes.
Much easier than wrestling with a hanger.

Keep your grocery list on your phone.
You’ll have it with you when you are at the store.

Pay bills online.
No need to write checks or search for a stamp.

The best way to eliminate extra steps?
Quit doing things that aren’t helping you live your best life.
Stop living from should and start living from choice.

Two minute rule

If you can do it in two minutes or less, do it now.

Recycle it.
Hang it up.
Put it away.
​Reply to the email.
Toss it in the trash.
Make the phone call.
Load it into the dishwasher.
Give someone the benefit of the doubt.

It’s in your hand, deal with it now.
Take care of it now and you won’t have to handle it later.
(Later you’ll be in the midst of other things needing your time and attention)
Trust me.
You can take care of many small tasks in under two minutes.  
I promise.

If you can do it in two minutes or less, do it now.

That was Then.

That was then.
This is now.

Then you were often the host of meals and parties for twenty.
Now you invite three or four people for dessert and conversation.
(Do you need all those serving dishes?)

Then you baked cakes and cookies and tried new recipes all the time.
Now you stop by the great local bakery and buy one or two treats.
(Do you still need a cupboard filled with cookie sheets and five sizes and shapes of cake pans?)

Then you wore professional clothes to work every day.
Now you’re retired. Or working from home.
(Do you still need a closet filled with clothes for a life you no longer lead?)

Then you played golf, or tennis, or skied, or did beading, or created hand made cards, or, or, or?
Now you don’t.
(Do you still need equipment and supplies for hobbies you no longer enjoy?)

Are you getting the drift?
Clutter can be the result of not letting go of Then, and
failing to realize and recognize you and your life have moved on to Now.

That was then.
Be here now.

Give up

Give up.
Give up trying to be perfect.
Give up comparing yourself-to anyone.
Give up always needing to be right, (or have the last word).
Give up waiting for all the ducks to be in a row before you start.

Then, give yourself permission to:
Retire an expectation.
Be okay with being imperfect.
Let No, be a complete sentence.
(No explanation, justification, apology)
Try something new, just for the fun of it.

Striving, comparing, and competing is exhausting.
Give up the fight.
See what spaces open up.
Pay attention to how it feels to let go.
​Give yourself the chance to have the life your heart is longing for.

Little bites

When a project or task seems a bit overwhelming;
organizing the garage or going through old photos;
start with just a little bite.

Focus on one shelf.
Go through one box.
Literally, set a timer for 15 minutes.

Making a few thoughtful, focused decisions
moves the process forward.
Small positive results and changes build on themselves 
and reinforce the progress you are making.

It took time for the situation to get to where it is (ack),
and it will take time to create the organization and systems
you desire.
Start small.
Be consistent.
Acknowledge your progress.
Change will happen.

Forget about how it looks

If you’re interested in changing how your house house looks,
think about how you want it to feel.

Our brains tell us lots of stories (many of which aren’t true).
Many of them shoulds, expectations and judgements.

Before you start your next ‘little bite’ of organizing a space,
pause and consider how you want the space to feel.
Forget about how it’s supposed to look, or
what should be in there,
or what other people will think about what you’ve done.

How is what you want different from how it feels currently?
What would need to change to make your desire the reality?
Let that be your guide.

Cluttered is a look.
Being relaxed in the space is a feeling.
Organized is a look.
Comfortable is a feeling.
Open space is a look.
Welcoming is a feeling.
Neatly arranged is a look.
Ease of accessibility is a feeling.

There is a connection between how you use (or don’t use)
a space and how you feel there.
Use that sense to help guide you in making the descisions
of what to keep and how to store those things.

You are far more likely to maintain a space that feels good to you,
that you enjoy using, and where you like to spend time.
​Create spaces that support the life you want to be living.