Minimize Your Possessions

Perhaps the most obvious accomplishment in living a simpler lifestyle is to minimize the amount of possessions you own. This is one of my favorite parts of moving toward a simplified existence. I don’t generally find it difficult to let go of what I really don’t need. And there is nothing better than that feeling of peace, space, and relief to walk into a room that has been newly decluttered, cleaned and organized.

But what about the hard E1172DC3-76F8-43C2-8723-52FF007C2F09questions? What happens when others in your family don’t share the same ease of letting go? Or the shared goal of picking up and putting away? It’s not an easy thing. Sometimes it is just too overwhelming. I struggle with this in my own family more often than not. I’ve found that the only thing to do is lead by example. Continue to declutter my own things, clean up and find places for what’s left, and hope that my family is inspired to follow suit. (Then giving praise and encouragement with small accomplishments.) Sometimes it works. Sometimes… I move onto the next thing and hope for the best when it comes around again.

As I’ve mentioned before, I habitually ask myself a few simple questions when decluttering any area of my home, regardless of wether it’s one drawer in my nightstand, a bedroom closet, or a larger project like an entire room or the garage.

  • Do I really need this?
  • Will it bring me closer to my goal?
  • Do I have another one like it, or something that can be used in its place?
  • How often do I actually use it? Do I even use it?
  • Can I borrow one instead?

8A789C89-BF34-42B3-AC32-EB569A09DCE9Finding that you don’t truly need it or love it? Box it up to send off to the Vets, or place it in the car for the next drop off. Don’t look back.

I have been working temporarily from home for the first time this week and I have to say how much I have had the itch to sink my efforts into another round of decluttering. But alas, I had to keep my head down and focus on other priorities! Still, the New Year is coming and I am dreaming of fresh starts. Aren’t you? Let’s make it SIMPLE and encourage one another along the path to our goals in this new year!

S-pend significantly less

I-dentify your priorities

M-inimize your possessions

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L-

E-

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The Immense Power of One Simple Word

For a number of years I have been practicing the discipline of One Word. One Word is the simple act of selecting a single word (not a phrase, not even two words – One. Word.) on which to focus throughout your entire year. This has never failed to both dramatically challenge me as well as improve my life in many unexpected ways.
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Your word can be a fruit of the Spirit, a discipline, an attribute of God, or even a character trait that you wish to develop.

For me, the annual selection of this word is done prayerfully and with much meditation. I have come upon my word in various ways over the years. Sometimes it is something that weighs heavily on my heart, and I don’t want it (Fearless). But, in the same instance, cannot deny it. Other times it is something I am sorely lacking and know that I need much of to make an extensive change in my life (Joy). And still other times it is revealed to me by God through scripture, a feeling that will not go away, or repetition of a subject coming up in my life in many areas that resonates with what I have been struggling with, or seeking (Journey).

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This year my word was revealed to me early on and with little effort… Clean. Excuse me, what God? Did you mean something else?
No, Barbara, CLEAN.

Ok. I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it too. Oh, this can’t be right. I am focused on simplifying, decluttering, letting go… cleaning! This must be a self imposed word.

So I spent a little more time in prayer. And it was swiftly revealed to me that I need to focus, not only on cleaning my house, but in having a clean heart, a clean spirit, a clean mind. My body needs to be cared for, as His temple, through clean eating, and that there are many other ways in which I need to “clean” up my act. Well, ok then. Clean it shall be!

So, what do we do with this One Word once we have it? There are numerous ways that you can choose to focus on your word throughout the coming year. Do a word study and journal everything about your word that resonates with you. Questions about an aspect of your word? Write it down and do a little research into that, too. Do a scripture search and memorize some verses that feel right with what is being revealed to you. Pray and meditate often on how your word is moving in your life, and how you can live it out. Share your word with a group of trusted family or friends (or blog readers!)and discuss how this word is coming up in your life often, and what changes are occurring in you because of it. Jot your word down in different places so you won’t forget about it. I plan to post mine in my planner to come across unexpectedly throughout the year, just penciling it in, as well as getting creative with fancy lettering, color and stickers to remind me how vital this simple word will be to me each time I stumble across it. Remember it. Ruminate on it. Allow it to follow you throughout your days and make a conscious effort to have it at top of mind each time you are challenged. (And you will be!)

There are books that can be found on this subject if you want to know more – simply search your favorite online retailer. One Word can also easily be found and read about on the internet, through blogposts, etc. and there are even free devotionals on the YouVersion Bible app (which is always free of charge). But, if you are not a person of Christian faith, no worries! This awesome annual discipline can still be an amazing tool to focus your priorities and goals for the coming year!

Best to you all! Blessings in your One Word selection, and have a happy and healthy New Year!

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A Mary Christmas

First let me say, I promise that I am going to continue posts on the S.I.M.P.L.E. acronym after the first of the year!

For now, like many folks, our family has had much going on this holiday season and margin is tight. (Goodness how December gets away from me!) But, coming home from a Christmas gathering last night, as we passed by magical twinkling lights, whimsical inflated holiday characters, and serene nativity scenes, I found that I was smiling to myself in the car. It’s the small things that mean so much. I recounted in my mind some of the warm memories we are making in these weeks leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Beautiful hymns being sung in church and decorative lights, tucked into pine garland, swagging the balcony. Christmas cards being exchanged on the card tables where parishioners may leave greetings for one another each week. The lighting of the Advent candle wreath, and snow coming down outside so softly and quietly, blanketing the ground, and offering a sense of peace among the chaos of holiday preparations.

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Just this week we attended our daughter’s holiday chorus concert, I enjoyed my small group Christmas gathering where we shared about our word of the year and played the plastic wrap party ball game. (Several minutes of pure entertainment!)

Bowling with co-workers, decorating the tree with my daughter, petting the new puppy across the street, and visiting with an elderly neighbor. Yesterday was an ugly sweater Christmas Party with extended family – never mind we were the only ones that went all out and looked more than a little silly! It was the time spent with family catching up and sharing our joys and a little fun that made it special.

Waving at Santa as he made his annual rounds to each house around the borough, on a fire truck, to wish the kids a Merry Christmas. One very memorable time was when we moved here and they blocked the road off for our daughter so she could approach the truck, and then Santa reached down and handed her a stuffed horse.

The annual life-sized crèche is up 40F9E728-0E5A-4E52-81D9-FFF6C45EBCDEat St. John’s parish, and it isn’t Christmas until we stop by to admire it close up and marvel at the feeling of being a part of the most holy of nights. It is wonderful, and serene, and quiet. Silent and reverent, looking on at the scene and imagining all of those years ago. What it must have been like for each character depicted. What would it have been like to be there on that very night? I give pause and contemplate the true meaning of this season. It is not Santa, or all of the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating, baking, visiting and giving. While those are all important elements of celebrating the holiday season, the true meaning is God with us. A Savior, born of the Holy Spirit by a virgin girl, not much older than my own daughter, whose lot in life was lowly. I imagine Mary’s world to have been full of simple and direct purpose. Chosen for her loyalty and trust in God’s Plan for her life. Simple, direct, and honest.

What better example of attributes could we have for the coming year? As I plan ahead and set goals  for what may come over the next 12 months I ruminate over those 3 meaningful words… Simple. Direct. Honest.  I realize that this has become the reflection of my own needs as I continue the journey toward simplicity, and I know that I want this all of the time. Not just during the holiday season when all seems magical and we’re immersed in a more giving spirit. I have come to require my day to day life, with all of its ins-and-outs, and ups-and-downs, to be a place of slowing down, shaking off all that is unnecessary.  Attitudes, grudges, over-spending, procrastination, possessions, inclinations, or whatever else is standing in the way of a simple, meaningful, more deliberate lifestyle. And I will continue to strive for simplicity through direct and honest assessment of my home and myself.

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