Start with a Small Space

Everyone has those places in their house. Where you think “if I could JUST get this space organized everything in my life would fall in to place”, that one small area that is holding you back from success! 🙂 For me, that area was under my sink. It seemed to mock me with its lack of organization and reminded me of all the goals I had yet to accomplish-for example my desire to rid my house of as many chemicals as I could. A fine goal to be sure but with the number of hazardous materials still under my sink, it should have come with its own safety video.

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In an attempt to rid myself of this impediment to my potential awesomeness and to continue to implement the principles we learned in February about minimalism I decided it needed to be dealt with. I was SO lucky in that Hannah Hearin from Home Refreshment (www.homerefreshment.com) reached out and offered her assistance to put me on the right track for success. Working with her was easy, and just the right amount of kick in the butt accountability I needed. I sent pictures of my problem area (not without a little shame) and she created a plan based on my budget and aesthetics. So simple!

I decided that anything that did not fit in the two containers I bought would just have to go. Side note: Thanks to Hannah I took my first trip to The Container Store-a magical place that I could probably blow an entire paycheck in! I also made some natural all-purpose cleaner to replace what I had discarded (if you want the recipe let me know-I love it!).

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A well-organized space is a beautiful thing to behold, isn’t it?

So now as you can see I am free to win my Oscar, climb Mount Everest, and bring about world peace-I just needed to get to that silly sink first!

Single-Tasking and the FDA

The focus this past week for our minimalist month was single-tasking. I was TOTALLY on board for this since slowing down is not something I do very often. I was perhaps a little skeptical about what the benefits would be but I was still willing to try. I got off to a slow start with slowing down things and I reached a point where I felt like I could not handle one more thing when…”BUM BUM BUUUUUM” the FDA showed up at work!!!

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FDA= This dinosaur    My face=Basically my exact face when they showed up.

I have mentioned before that I work in a microbiology lab and due to the nature of our work, we are subject to unannounced audits by the FDA. A coded page goes out to the whole company when the FDA shows up and honestly when I heard the page tears came to my eyes. In order to get everything that is needed for the audit a “war room” is set up (real dramatic right? 🙂 ) to support any requests the auditor makes. Then starts the never-ending barrage of requests. Training, calibration records, complaints, a tour of the facility, laboratory records all requested basically at the same time. Multi-tasking is not just useful, it is mandatory!

After multiple 13 hour days and rehearsal every night I was starting to feel broken. This is when it hit me: single-tasking is not just about concentrating every now and then on a specific task. It is about giving your mind and body the break it needs/deserves. I am a planner and I love to be busy but I think we get to a point where we have pushed ourselves so far that even our achievements and hard work fail to make us feel fulfilled and instead we feel like we are constantly behind and will never catch up.

My attempt to practice single-tasking this week was a total failure, however in experiencing the opposite of my goal I have become a true believer in the benefits of taking tasks and attacking them one at a time, of allowing ourselves moments to be understimulated, and in understanding that “being busy” does not mean you are accomplishing anything worthwhile. I am attempting to redefine what success is in my life and at this moment success to me is as simple as an uninterrupted cup of tea.

A House Divided

Every four months or so my husband and I have the same “discussion”-what some might call an argument but who cares about labels? I reach a breaking point with the amount of things in the house and the constant cleaning so I go on a bender ripping through the house looking for things to get rid of. My husband usually follows behind removing things from the discard box saying “we might use this someday!!”

This scene is probably not foreign to many couples; there is not always perfect agreement when it comes to what is a “necessity”. My lovely husband is a keeper (in more than one way); he becomes sentimentally attached to EVERYTHING. When I tried to get rid of a pan that we had used in our first home he became very upset about it and insisted that we needed to keep it since we might need it. Mind you we had three other pans just like it so it was more about the memory for him than the usefulness.

This sort of interaction causes more than a little contention in my house. With this month of the balance project focusing on minimalism the “discussion” happened again. This time we decided to really have a sincere conversation and try to see the others point of view. I explained to my husband that the whole reason I wanted to downsize was to allow me more time with him and our daughter and less time with our home and things. He explained that he found use in the items that we wanted to keep and was nervous that I would simply throw everything out. I want to embrace minimalism to bring peace in my life and it seemed to be doing the opposite of that.

So what did we do? We realized that (not to be clichĂ©) communication is everything. We decided that a compromise would be the best way to solve our problem. I agreed that my husband’s studio space was his and I would not try to minimize it and we would let me help him organize his space so that when he needed something he could find it. We took a trip to Ikea and invested in some storage facilitators agreeing that everything he might need at some point should be able to fit in that space. I do believe Ikea has both saved and severed many a relationship. 🙂 In conclusion there is no right way to be a minimalist, the key is to remember the goal is more mindful living and there is no perfect formula for that.

Snapseed Me and the hubby as portrayed by a very generous caricature artist