How De-Cluttering Made a Difference

In 2013 one of the first things I did was take a month to de-clutter my home.  As the one year anniversary was approaching in 2014 I wanted to repeat this good action, and to raise the bar a bit  too.  I had experienced some success creating support groups on Facebook for doing a raw cleanse together, so I reached out to see who might be interested in de-cluttering and simplifying their lives.  I originally thought people might laugh at me and perhaps a few did, but a group of 32 people decided it was worth their time.

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My living room after de-cluttering feels nurturing and more expansive.

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I now have more space that encourages creativity

Knowing I had done a complete sweep of every drawer, closet and room just a year ago, I anticipated this would be easy.  What I found was this year I was more ready to let go of duplicates, excess and items I am no longer using.  It is one thing to organize your stuff, but a real different step to go through each item and sort out the excess.

To make the group worthwhile I thought it would be good to get a couple of books on de-cluttering.  I found The Joy of Less – A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay and SoulSpace – Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life by Xorin Balbes were two great books on the topic.  The books and our support group kept me on track.

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The 2 books I choose to help with de-cluttering

The Joy of Less is a great book that goes room by room making suggestions for dealing with clutter and going through the items in your home and office.  One of the biggest lessons from this book is the value of emptying the drawer, closet or room versus just plucking out the items you are ready to get rid of.   Her method caused me to look at why I  keep things and encouraged me to only keep that which I love and that is “useful and beautiful.” Sometimes we fear getting rid of an item as equivalent to getting rid of a part of ourselves.  This is not easy work, it takes some time, reflection and a willingness to try new things, but it is valuable work allowing me to let go of things that no longer serve me.

There is something to be said about knowing what you have in your home and going drawer by drawer, closet by closet and room by room is a way to truly know what is there.  For me, my bathroom and kitchen were the most cluttered.  I found I had cosmetics from the 1980′s and 6 potato peelers, and this is after I thought I had done a complete de-clutter job just one year prior!

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The process of de-cluttering my bathroom included taking EVERYTHING out first.

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After getting rid of about 1/3 of the stuff in my bathroom

It felt so good to let go of those items I had been hanging onto and really coming to grips that I wasn’t using them and I never was going to use them!  There is a freedom which is hard to put into words, but it is palpable!  We sometimes hang onto items that were our “someday selves” as we want to believe those dreams might happen, but getting real and acknowledging that ship has sailed gives us back our power now.

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Some of my kitchen items for donation, including 4 potato peelers I no longer need.

Another key concept in Jay’s book is that “Less stuff = Less stress.”  Having less stuff means there is less stuff to take care of, worry about, repair, clean and replace.  She provides a great method of sorting through items we will “treasure, trash or transfer.”  After doing this round of full de-clutter, I noticed that the next time I did what I call “top to bottom” cleaning in my home, it took about 1/3 less time.  There is less to clear away before dusting, less to pick-up each night before bed, and less on my floors to move when I vacuum.  The sense of freedom was beginning to echo in having more time for the things I love and want in my life!

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Even the act of removing one item, makes a difference.  Before photo.

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After photo with only 3 items max on a surface.

SoulSpace is a good companion book as it is all about creating a space that shows personality and what’s important to you without clutter.  The goal is to feel at home within the space we create.

I originally thought I just wanted to de-clutter, but as time passed, a new topic of minimalism is now seeming to be a common thread.  I think even some of the appeal of walking the Camino was knowing I’d have to carry all the items I needed for two months on my back.  Knowing you have to carry it is a profound process in finding out how little you can get by with.  I am now taking “A Simple Year: Twelve Months of Guided Simplicity” course and exploring what minimalism has to offer me.  What I am finding is that unless I set up new practices, I will be de-cluttering every year.  So stay tuned to see what new lessons I learn!

“It’s not about living with less, it’s about clearing out the things that don’t add value to your life to make more room for the things that do.”  ~ Colin Wright

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“Recalibration is an intentional restructuring of your life, using your goals — your passions — as a compass. Rather than heading toward the traditional, inherited definition of ‘success,’ you set a new standard, identify new metrics for achievement (and failure), and slowly whittle away the extraneous bits that get in the way of your new direction.”

~ Colin Wright

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I’d like to give a shout out to our Facebook “De-cluttering and Simplifying” group of 32 people.  By setting weekly goals and reporting out, our group was able to let go of 101 classic metal trash cans worth of stuff we no longer needed in just two months time.  I think that might have been enough stuff to fill an entire house!  I am grateful to have the pleasure of not just my own wins in de-cluttering, but I also got to experience the big wins of the group!

If you would like to be part of our next round of private De-cluttering and Simplifying group on Facebook, please let me know and I can add you in.  I anticipate starting our next cycle at the end of 2014.

Links to Raw Recipes

Below are some amazing raw recipes available on the web.  Many are videos and some are links to their website with written recipes and preparation steps.  Different people will prep their food different before juicing or making raw recipes.  Try various ways to figure out what works best for you.

Barbara's beautiful salad, Hood River

Barbara’s beautiful salad, Hood River

You may wish to bookmark or subscribe to these sites for the future.  Enjoy!

Simple Beauty a Year Later

In 2013 I began the process of simplifying my life.  In February of that year, I took on the goal of de-cluttering my bathroom and finding ways to simplify my beauty routine.  During the past year I have focused on more ways to simplify my beauty routine when possible, while picking products that are kind to the planet, kind to animals, kind to my pocketbook and most of all kind to my own skin and body!

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Camino Debrief – The Initial Third Of The Walk

I began my May 2013 blog with the statement “How does an out of shape woman in her mid 50′s prepare to walk 500 miles?  In it I mapped out how I prepared for my Camino.  Now that I’ve been back for a while, I want to go over how I handled the physical parts of the Camino and share some of the adventures and beauty with you.

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My first step as I left my albergue in St. Jean Pied-de-Port

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Project 333

As part of “A Simple Year” course that I am taking, I learned about this neat project where you look at simplifying your wardrobe.  It’s called Project 333 and it is the brainchild of Courtney Carver, a minimalist blogger and author.  The goal is to select 33 items to wear for 3 months.  The reason for doing this is to simplify your life thereby having more time and energy for meaningful and fun things, and less time spent in the closet or out shopping.  I thought this would be easy as my wardrobe was tiny, I am not into fashion and with my size 11 narrow foot, shoes have never been my thing!

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Clothes that made the cut for the next 3 months

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What You Need to Know About Plastic Bags

It’s a love, hate relationship!  Plastic bags have allowed us to easily cart and store items since the 1960′s.  As my Mom says she “loves plastic, because they didn’t have it when she was a kid”.  The love part includes that they are cheap, light and quite durable, but that’s where the love story ends.

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Example of a plastic bag used by many grocery and retail stores

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2013 Trash and Recycling Update

As many of you know, in January 2013 I began a project to simplify my life.  One way I sought to simplify was by reducing my trash and my recycling waste.  I read Beth Terry’s book “Plastic Free” and it made me aware that there is no magical “away” that our trash goes to.  Instead, our trash goes to the landfill where it sets and often contaminates things sometimes for centuries to come.  Many items do not decompose, either due to their composition or the environment they are in.  So my passion for reducing my trash grew stronger, but could I make a difference?

There really is no "Away"

There really is no “Away”

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Looking back at 2013

As each year starts, I select a word or words to guide me in the year ahead.  For 2013 “Experiencing Miracles” were the words I picked, or should I say those words picked me?  I got myself a jar and each time a miracle occurred this past year, I wrote it on a piece of paper and tucked it in the jar.  Each of us can set our own threshold for what a miracle is.  To me, it is something outside of the ordinary and very special.  The threshold is high, but not beyond reach.  I like to live my life where miracles are an easy part of how my life unfolds.

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My 2013 Jar of Miracles

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Raw Cleansing – Results & What’s Next?

During the initial 3 weeks of September 2013, I went on a raw cleanse so I was actively cleansing while blogging about it for Vegan MoFo.  I started out by taking my measurements, journaling as I went along and making notes of how I felt and responded.  I would say going into this cleanse that I felt the best I have in many years!  I am not someone who has been sick or symptomatic, but my health has definitely been improving over the past 2 years.  I think the periodic raw cleanses with the change of seasons have been good for me.  For me, doing raw cleanses has shifted from being about weight loss, to being far more about the other changes I have been witness to.

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August 2011 on top left and September 2013 on top right. Trying to show skin and inflammation changes, but that is very difficult to show clearly.

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