Brad and I have been getting into Alaska: The Last Frontier. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great show about two families (four couples, one with a baby on the way), and how they live off the land. They are self-sustainable, like the pioneers would have been. They hunt and gather and build their own homes. Sometimes I watch and think, “NO WAY.” I mean, why would someone choose to live that way, always working? They have to hunt and garden and gather so they’re set for the winter, because there’s no grocery store to run to. Everything is about function and necessity. Even their Christmas celebration was simple: Decorated outdoor trees, and instead of gifts they bartered, traded or offered help in some way.
I always watch in complete awe and admiration, and there are times when the simplicity of it all seems absolutely wonderful. The couples work together on almost everything. They sometimes fight but they are kind to each other and grow together as they work to find solutions as a team. Those are some tough women, let me tell ya!
Yesterday we watched an episode where it was time to get the older chickens ready for butcher, and for maybe the first time I got to actually see what it means to “run around like a chicken with their head cut off”. Craziest. Thing. Ever. And I thought, ‘yep, I can relate’. My schedule can get so hectic and I have to plan each minute, so I often feel like those decapitated chickens flipping and flopping around. Can you relate, too?
I must have started following most of my blogs later in the year last year, because I somehow missed the “word of the year” phenomenon until 2014 approached. I love the concept. Instead of (or in addition to, I suppose) resolutions…you know, that list that we often fail to accomplish…you choose a WORD. A word that represents what you want the year to be, a goal, a feeling. A word.
I decided to jump on that bandwagon and since I’ve been saying it leading up to the end of 2013, I figured it was only appropriate to choose the word SIMPLIFY. Life has gotten so hectic and crazy and busy that to put it in a nutshell, the main thing I want to accomplish this year is to simplify. That doesn’t mean I’ll remove all the decorations from my walls and shelves. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop doing the things I enjoy. But I’ll try to simplify the way I do things or the other “stuff” in my life so that the things I enjoy can truly be enjoyed. And maybe the decor will get simplified a bit, too.
One way I plan to try and simplify is with less “stuff”. Less stuff means less cleaning and less spending and less clutter. I can breathe easier just thinking about it! With a daycare, an organizing business, a craft/scrapbooking hobby and several bins of holiday decorations, that will be a challenge, but I’m up for it! I got this link via a blog post the other day and “The True Cost of Stuff” really got my attention. I continued my regular purging as I cleaned the basement (yet again), and also put some Christmas items in a box that I don’t want to keep for next year. I sold some things online in the last week or two and so far made over $100 on things like unused bins/boxes, old toys, and other unused items. I still have a large garage sale pile, but I have found that some things aren’t worth the time/effort to list on Facebook and then make arrangements for pick-up for…and those things will go on the garage sale.
After one full year of “real” blogging, I have learned quite a bit and one thing I learned is that you can spend a lot of money and time trying to do projects to share on the blog. Even those cheap dollar store projects can start to add up. There’s a sort of an unspoken peer pressure among bloggers to “keep up”…with the most projects, the most awesome ideas, the best bargain finds, the coolest house. I decided to step back and take a slightly different approach for this year.
One way that I’ll simplify blogging is to not plan a calendar, which typically winds up not working for me anyway. Life gets in the way, projects don’t get finished on time, and it’s just stressful and sets me up to feel like I failed. Most of last year I posted by the seat of my pants, sharing recently finished projects, and I’ll continue to do that. And in some cases I’ll plan projects/posts in advance. But repeatedly I’ve learned that having a 12 month organizing calendar or blog plan just doesn’t work for me. Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate for things that need to be done outside. Sometimes the kitchen needs organized more than the bathroom. I’ll try to always keep things current for the season, but it won’t be on a rigid “schedule”.
In fact, January is usually when I hit the ground running and by now would have started on the kitchen and pantry and already have plans for the next thing. I did do some organizing over the holiday break, and my kitchen does need attention soon, and I will share all of those projects with you. But I decided to go into this year a little more calmly and slowly, and give myself time to loosely plan what I’d like to accomplish, evaluate what worked and what didn’t last year, and set up some goals for 2014.
I also plan to set a project budget, and stress less about getting tons of my own projects accomplished in such a short amount of time. Other bloggers have contributors or share inspiration from around the web, so they’re not necessarily working on projects 24/7 either. I need to remind myself of that regularly. You’ll (hopefully) see more “in progress” types of posts…posts about the process of a project rather than me waiting until I have a finished product. (I struggle with that because I want to show you the end result, but I’m going to try!) As I’m working with clients you’ll see more of the things I’m doing at their homes. And I plan to share more inspirational type posts, either ideas from the internet or inspiration boards that I’ll create.
As far as my personal life, things aren’t going to be any less “busy” for some time. I still have daycare, still have organizing clients, and am still a wife and mom. I planned later last year to start a 4-H group for my daughter and about 10 other girls her age, which will begin in February or March. And I have finally made the decision to re-certify as a Jazzercise instructor, which (assuming I pass) will happen early February. I know, you’re thinking, “What is she DOING? She wants to simplify but she’s adding things to her life!”.
I decided to do 4-H because I loved it as a kid and it’s something Faith and I can do together, which we could really use. Meetings will only be once-a-month, and at this age things are pretty low key. I already have other moms lined up to help lead meeting projects, and I expect this to be more enjoyable than just “something I have to do”.
As far as Jazzercise goes, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed. Circumstances were such (won’t get into it here) that I left after teaching about nine months a few years ago. The local center reopened last summer, and I’ve been a customer since. Unfortunately, though, getting to class as consistently as I want has been a challenge. Bottom line is that I need the workout. I was so proud of my fitness and strength when I taught before, and I’m ready to have that back. We have a new owner, who also happens to be a friend, and I expect a pretty stress-free, enjoyable experience this time around. Teaching forces me to workout, and not only that, but I have to push myself, which really gets the results I want.
To make room for the things I want, I’ll have to cut back in other areas. I plan to at least gradually phase out of daycare. I’m being more realistic about blog projects. And I’m getting back to my daily routine to help me stay on top of everything else! I’ll talk more about that tomorrow!
Each decision I make, I’m going to try to remember that word: Simplify.