Back At It

Hello again family and friends!
It has been almost 13 months since my last blog post.
I had put this blog to the side for a time being
in the hopes that disconnecting
would help me reconnect.

I don't know what else to say
except that I believe that was a great decision for me. 
2016 was an incredibly difficult year.
I won't go into details in this post,
but there was a lifetime of loss and grief all packed into 12 months.
Or so it seemed, anyway.

Letting go of this blog also gave me the space
to pursue other passions.
One of them being working alongside
Eran at the Good Mother Project.
This has been on a volunteer basis and has
been incredibly rewarding.
It opened up doors for me to share
my own Post-partum journey and 
walk alongside other women in their own 
journey of being a mother, 
and yet not losing a sense of themselves as individuals.

In June, at what I would consider to be the height of intense grief,
I began to purge. 
Somehow it helped me process and work through my pain.
One afternoon, I grabbed a garbage bag and just began filling it with stuff.
I started in the toy room and filled the bag to the brim with
toys that hadn't been played with in ages.
I filled more garbage bags with just that,
It felt amazing to clear out the space physically
as I also cleared out space mentally.
I spent that time thinking and praying.

A short time later I went through my closet.
And then through our household items.
Since June I have cleared out at least 
one garbage bag full of stuff.
There were things I had that 
we moved to Portland and back again 
and still hadn't been used.

The process of clearing out unwanted or unused things
felt so good to me.
Soon, by November, I noticed something.

Not only was our physical space becoming less cluttered,
I realized how much stuff we can really live without.
How much we had been hanging on to for no reason at all.
Once I let go of the guilt of hanging on to certain items
(you know, oh but so-and-so gave me this and they would be so sad if I gave it away).
Or saying no when people offered me hand-me-downs I know we/I wouldn't use,
I freed myself up to really start narrowing down our material possessions.

Soon I realized that there was a name for what I had 
been doing the last 5+ months.
Minimalism isn't what you may think.
It isn't having one chair, one lamp and an end table in a room.
It isn't having absolutely nothing on your kitchen counter,
or a fridge free of your kids' art work.
No, it isn't having all white walls displaying one simple piece of art.

It is simply removing clutter.
It is removing all of the STUFF.
All of the distractions that are keeping us from living a full and meaningful life!

Having two small children 
I never imagined that I would start having more free time.
That I would crawl out from under piles of laundry
or dirty dishes.
But guess what?
I am doing it.
I am nowhere near where I want to be,
but I am starting to see the light
and let me tell you, 
it is beautiful.

Adopting a minimalistic lifestyle has made room for so many positive things in my life.

1) My kids. 
We play! We roll around on the bed and giggle.
 We sit on the floor playing Barbies. We have ukulele concerts, we make and play with play doh, we paint, we colour and we play games.
It is so incredibly freeing to sit for an hour playing Sorry with my 5 year old and not have a gnawing feeling that I should be doing 10 other things. 
No guilt. 
We make tea, we sit and we play. That is it.
I can go for a walk with my 2 year old and
listen to her nonsensical chatter about nothing and everything.
 I can smile and laugh because I am really tuning into what she is saying.
I appreciate her silly sentences because I am listening to her.
I am not thinking about the list of to-dos waiting for me at home. 
I lay in bed with them at bed time and read and talk without thinking about all the laundry I have to do afterwards. It is a beautiful gift.

2) My marriage.
Through everything we experienced last year,
making time for my husband has been my #1 priority for 2017.
I am so thankful that throughout last year he made it a priority for the two of 
us to get out alone and connect.
Once again, freeing up time has allowed for us to continue this.
The evenings used to be a time for me to clean up the kitchen and do laundry.
I'd fall onto the couch or into bed exhausted because
I hadn't allowed myself to rest after the kids went to bed.
Or, if I did, I couldn't do so guilt free because there were dirty dishes
waiting for me the next morning.
No more. 
Now we watch shows together, without me distracted while finishing a chore.
Or we make tea and play cribbage together.
We can talk uninterrupted and give one another our full attention.
Once I had kids, I never thought this was something I'd get back until they moved out.

3) Me time.
Carving out time for myself has become easier.
This is still typically the one that can take the back burner the easiest.
But with everything I learned during my post-partum anxiety period,
I also know its very important, so I try to make it happen.
Being a mom is a full-time job.
Whether you stay at home or go to work and come home,
there are no breaks. 
Working around the clock is exhausting,
and I have learned to schedule in time for myself,
just like I would if I was at a real job.
Setting Jane up with an activity while I 
sneak into the living room to read my book for 10 minutes gives me
just what I need to keep up with my active 2 year old for another few hours.
Often times when Claire gets home from school,
the two of them will play downstairs for an hour,
and I will use that time to start dinner prep and then give myself the remainder of time 
to lay down and close my eyes to pray and rest. 
Or, I will simply just cruise Facebook and Instagram for a few minutes. 
It is easier for me to spend quiet time with God too.
Reading, praying and meditating have become practices that 
really ground me and set me up for a better day.

How does adopting minimalism cause all of these great results?
Getting rid of STUFF has given me the freedom to also clean and tidy less stuff.
The less stuff I have for my kids to throw about,
the less there is to clean up.
The fewer clothes we have, 
the fewer I have to wash.

I am the kind of person that sees clutter and feels overwhelmed.
Doing a complete overhaul and eliminating much of that clutter,
has freed my mind! 
I never realized how much mental space
all of that stuff was taking up as well.
It resulted in my reevaluating my time management.
I started taking a closer look at other aspects 
of how I spend my time as well.

Cooking is something I thoroughly enjoy.
So while I had heard several ideas in cutting corners in the kitchen,
I could never justify it because I actually enjoy preparing meals.
What worked for me was meal planning.
This has cut out a huge chunk of time trying to come 
up with dinner the day of.
Instead, I know what we will be eating for that week,
and I can be prepared.
I also spend a day every 3 months to make abut 30 freezer meals.
As a mom, there isn't always time in the day to make a home cooked meal.
Now on days that I know will be busier, I can take out a freezer or crock pot meal 
I have prepared and there is dinner, just like that. 

Each month I go through one area of our home. Toys, clothes and general stuff.
Sometimes, I do two or more.
Every single time I am clearing at least one large garbage bag of stuff.
 It amazes me how much can still be cleared.
Last month we removed large bulky furniture that
wasn't being used and simply just a place to store more stuff we don't need.

I organized and went through the girls' art supplies and put them into bins.
I rearranged furniture.
Its amazing how simply turning a shelf on its side can clear up space
and become more functional.

Minimalism isn't just getting rid of stuff.
Its also not bringing more stuff in.
It is so easy to scoop up a bargain, simply because its on sale!
I am a sucker for that red sticker and scoring a good deal.
That kind of mentality can be addicting.
A while ago I read a way to avoid that
is to ask yourself if you'd pay the regular price for it.
If yes, then buy it.
If no, then ask why you feel like you 'need' it.
Usually, its just because its too good of a deal to pass up.
And that friends, is not good enough!

Heading into this year my goal,
or resolution,
is to live with more intention.
In fact, intention is my theme word for the year.
I want to focus more on living with purpose.
Having every thing I say and do have a reason.
And ultimately,
having that reason be to glorify God.
Honouring Him and my family.
I truly feel like adopting and learning to practice minimalism will help
free up the space in order to do just that.

I am not sure what this blog is going to look like just yet.
And that is okay!
I won't be giving myself an expectation
for posting often or trying to engage a particular audience.
For now, 
it is going to be a space for 
me to keep posting my feelings on life in general.
Oh - and of course sharing cute photos of my girls! 

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