Monday, June 27, 2016

simplicity 2016: "the more of less"

Last April I was feeling a little overwhelmed by all the things I had going on in my life.

To be honest, I don't remember what they were, but I know I must've been super stressed because I purchased this book called "Simplify" by Joshua Becker. On Amazon. And read it in under two hours.

It was amazing.

So amazing in fact, that I wrote a review. And shared it on Facebook. And then my friend Jessica read it.

The book. Not the review. So that was cool.

And tonight, over a year later, I sat in a bookstore with 40-60 people and listened to this same guy (Joshua Becker) talk about his new book. And also talk about how this idea of minimalism and simplicity started in his own life.

(Wouldn't have known about it if it wasn't for my above mentioned pal Jessica. Shout out for her!)

Now, I'm not going to recap his entire story, but if you are interested, check out his books or his blog.

Both awesome resources.

Instead, I am just feeling the need to share what I got out of tonight. And if you are still reading this, thanks. Appreciate the companionship.

You see, I recently finished clearing my home of things that I know longer want/need/or that no longer serve me.

And I have been in utter awe since I finished that process almost a week and a half ago.

In awe of how much...LIGHTER I feel.

I mean, I know that literally I got rid of hundreds of pounds of stuff - which is embarrassing, but I physically feel lighter and I can't exactly explain it.

I feel like I have more energy, and I know I am definitely getting more things done. So that's a nice pay off.

But then tonight, Joshua mentioned that clutter in our home actually occupies space in our brains.

Because we are managing the clutter mentally, even if we aren't dealing with it physically.

Which makes total sense.

Because I am a planner and a manager. So if I plan all day at work and manage all day at work, only to come home and continue managing, then it's no wonder I am always so tired.

The amount of relief and emptiness I have been feeling has been more refreshing than I ever thought possible.

So with that part done, I guess I am on to the next thing?

I mean, I don't know what simplicity is going to hold for me the rest of the year, but I sure am thankful to have started it.

I think the reason I avoided it for so long was because having a little bit of clutter to manage became my protective shield.

If I was busy cleaning and tidying, then maybe someone won't yell at me. If I keep myself occupied with organizing stuff, someone can't manipulate or harm me.

But, I am not in danger anymore. I am safe.

I no longer need to hide behind the armor that is stuff.

I am secure in my less and in fact, I am safer because of it.

Tonight was an affirmation. One that I think I needed more than I realized.

An affirmation that I am doing what is healthy and good for me. And that it is what God has wholeheartedly called me into this year.

So friend? I am affirming you. Whatever you are doing for your healing and wellness, keep doing it.

If you need a cheerleader, I am standing here with my pom-poms.

You are doing great and don't forget that!

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”


Saturday, June 18, 2016

simplicity 2016: a cleansing rain

I have lived in the PNW for my entire life, minus four years of college in gross nasty desert California.

Because of this, I sometimes take for granted the cleansing power of the rain.

Think about it for a moment, don't you often find yourself taking for granted that which brings great value to your life?

Especially if it's something that happens often?

I know I do.

While I have always enjoyed the rain, I lately have found myself craving and basking in the glorious heat wave that has hit Seattle.

June has a tendency to be a little rainy, so this heat wave has been a pleasant surprise. At least for me.

But yesterday and this morning it was wet and cold and a little miserable.

Like, it was raining, but not really. It was light enough that you didn't need a jacket, but when you go to pump gas, giant drops of water hit you aggressively in the eye. #rude

Which is the most annoying kind of rain. And to be perfectly honestly, I was inwardly really salty about it.

Because I want to be outside and when it is rainy, I don't.

I know, first world problems.

I came home from some errands this morning, drank some coffee, ate mac and cheese (always a good choice) and fell asleep on the couch (it's been a long week, don't judge me for taking a nap at 11:30 in the morning).

I woke up to the sound of POURING rain outside my window.

And instead of being pissy about it (apparently the nap fixed that), I felt oddly calm and at peace.

I realized in that moment that rain has this incredible cleansing affect on not just the earth, but also on my soul.

When I was in southern California, it didn't rain very often.

And when it did, it stunk and just made a huge mess.

But here in Washington, while we do have floods and the rain can create problems, it more often than not gives the earth this sweet, clean smell of new beginnings.

It was probably because I am so tired, but I couldn't stop myself from crying a little.

I cried as I thought about my Serve Seattle family that just graduated and moved out today.

I teared up yet again as I thought about having to move. #stresscentral

And I teared up as I realized that Jesus created this simply, yet beautiful way of giving us a fresh start.

Maybe we mess up and do something stupid.

Maybe we are in over our heads and are not sure how to get out.

Perhaps we just have too much going on and need to simplify.

Regardless of the need, I am realized that the solution is often the same.


Specifically a cleansing rain.

I think that's why the old hymn uses the analogy of all our sins being "washed away."

And maybe that's why God used a flood so long ago. To give the world a fresh start.

However, this afternoon, I am basking in the cleansing nature of this therapeutic rain as it compels me to slow down and breathe.

As it reminds me that tomorrow is a new day, and I have the opportunity to start fresh.

That no matter what I face, I serve a God who is in control and loves me enough to send a cleansing rain.

The cleansing stream I see, I see;
I plunge, and O it cleanseth me!
O praise the Lord it cleanseth me!
It cleanseth me, yes, cleanseth me.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

simplicity 2016: hanging plants and baby birds

Back in April, I wrote a post about my long procrastinated project of planting a garden.

I planted some herbs, potted some lavender and hung a fuchsia basket that was supposed to have magnificent purple and dark pink blooms.

And has it ever blossomed! It's quite possibly my favorite part of my little garden.

And today, I discovered that it is also the favorite place of my two new neighbors.

The most adorable little birds I have ever seen!

Unfortunately, I think I scared a few months off their lives when I went to water my fuchsia this afternoon....

I turned on the hose, carried it over to the basket and started watering the plant.

Then, as soon as the water hit the soil, a tiny bird SHOT out of the basket and perched on the ledge underneath the upstairs desk.

He just sat there, puffing his chest and staring straight ahead, hoping I wouldn't see him.

I walked over to inspect the basket a little more closely, and he got extremely agitated and flew away, squawking vehemently at me.

When I peered inside, I realized why.

His woman was inside and I was invading their space.

I didn't see any eggs, but I am almost positive she is pregnant or the eggs are hidden. Otherwise she would have left the nest too.

I had to snap a photo, but tried to be super quiet and careful. Then I creeped away. Well, I had to shoo the crow away. He was being a douche and needed to leave.

If you are still reading, you know I am about to tie this to simplicity in some way, shape or form.

My thought might be a little jumbled, but here they are:

1) I am stressing out about moving, but these little babes know and expect to have a temporary home.

2) How am I going to protect these little babies when I move?!?

3) I strangely feel like I have my own little bird family and it's weirdly comforting?

4) I am totally naming them. Mr & Mrs Fitzwilliam and Geraldine Peabody

5) I really hope the babies come before I move. Otherwise I am leaving the plant here and just getting a new one. Because I am not going to be responsible for killing baby birds. Or making them homeless.

Those were the main thoughts.

The other main thought I had hit me when I walked inside and stopped annoying them.

I guess this is where simplicity ties in...

When I realized they were in there, everything stopped.

I mean everything felt like it stood completely still.

There was this beautiful moment when it hit me that new life was happening right under my nose.

Right by my front door, another story of life was taking place.

You see, life is busy.

At least where I live.

And I don't see it changing any time soon.

And amidst all the chaos and busyness, I often forget I have control over how crazy my life gets.

I can't control all of it, but I am realizing I have a lot more say in my schedule than I think I do.

My little neighbors reminded me of that important fact. They reminded me that life at its core is truly about the day to day.

Vision and long term goals are important; but, if we don't have time to stop to smell flowers and watch pretty birds, then we are too busy.

I know they won't stay forever, because they have other things to do; but, I really hope we stay for the same length of time.

Because they are cute and are keeping me company. And I am selfish and want to peek at baby birds!

They are also reminding me about practicing simplicity. So that helps too.

"a bird is safe in its nest - but that is not what its wings are made for..."


Saturday, June 11, 2016

simplicity 2016: receipts

At the end of December, when the Lord gave me this theme of simplicity, He also gave me three specific areas in which He wanted me to cultivate it.

They were/are: finances, technology and stuff.

January was a solid month. I was on my phone less. I was watching my budget. And I told myself I would start purging through my things soon.

But I didn't.

You see, I am not a hoarder or someone who is messy.

I am organized and tidy. I try to live simply.

So, I didn't see the need to rush through purging and cleaning because I was already so organized.

(insert eye roll)

However, the Lord gently nudged me and said I would need to have the plurging done by June.

At this time it was March, so I knew I had better get started.

And I did.


As in three boxes. One night when it was raining and all my friends were busy.

Because for all my order and love of structure, my house can sometimes be procrastination station, and I put off the things that I don't love doing.

Like dishes. Or laundry.

But last month, my landlords came to me and said they were going to be putting their house on the market and it would probably be sold by the end of the summer.

This was in May.

The Lord said by June.

Now it's making sense...

But moving....gross.

Not my most favorite pastime.

Sure, the new adventure will be fun, but right now I am in Whine Town.

Tears about not wanting the stress of moving.

Inward fits about the hassle of finding a new place to live.

Because, I live in Seattle.
And everyone and their mother wants to live here right now.
So that means that any and all available housing is expensive or unavailable.

Also, ambiguity of any kind is super annoying to me. As well as being in limbo.

Which is how apartment hunting feels to me.

Some people love it, but it's just not really my thing.

I like my lists and my order and the consistency that it all brings to my life.

So needless to say, this moving thing had me feeling all out of whack....

And when I feel out of whack or have a problem I cannot solve, I clean.

And organize. Purge and throw all manner of things away.

Don't ask me why, but it helps. Every time.

So Wednesday night I cleaned. And binge watched "Rizzoli & Isles." And ate tater tots.

I only intended to go through one box of miscellaneous papers and then settle in for the evening.

Since I don't have that much stuff.... (imagine this said with sarcasm)

6 hours, yes.... 6 hours later, I sat down on my couch.

Pretty pleased with myself.

Also ashamed.



Once upon a time, I kept every receipt known to man because, identity theft is a thing.

And I was convinced that someone out there wanted to steal my identity.

It didn't matter that I had no credit history and made barely $1,000/month.

I thought the only responsible thing to do was shred all of them, therefore and forevermore removing the temptation for someone to steal my identity.

And maybe it would have been.

Except that I never actually made time for that.

I made time to put them all in a box to be shredded later.

But I never actually did it.

Well, there was that one time I took a bag to Office Depot and paid them $1/pound to shred it for me.

So that's something.

But all the rest were put in a box six years ago. Never to be heard from again until Wednesday evening.

In comes the shame....

At the end of the night I had two and a half bags of receipts, to do lists, old planners and car insurance paperwork for a car I haven't had in five years.


Now that it's done, I feel tons better.

Moving feels a little less overwhelming, packing doesn't seem as stressful, and I feel like a total boss for all the work I got done.

Still ashamed of the clutter, but proud nonetheless.

It's almost the middle of June, I only have a few more spaces to clean in my apartment and I am waiting to hear back from a few housing opportunities.

Things are feeling manageable.

All because of this practice of simplicity.

This year is teaching me that simplicity isn't necessarily about having less stuff. Or even in doing fewer things. Although I think those are definitely parts of it.

I'm realizing simplicity for me is about uncomplicating my life.

Boxes of receipts are complicated.
Unused decorative pillows are complicated.
A digital camera I haven't used in eight years is complicated.
Not being able to get into my hall closet because of boxes is complicated.

So in getting rid of/gifting/shredding/throwing away stuff, I am clearing space (both figuratively and literally) for anything the Lord wants to bring into my life.

And that's more important than any of those old receipts.