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Mind tricks & testimonials for purging all that STUFF

I continue to shed stuff in preparation for my move and I keep faltering and regressing and yes, progressing. Half of my garage contains my discarded items, the purgatory for my family’s belongings.

My own personal trick? Don’t ask yourself if you like it, ask yourself if you wear/use it.

Letting go can be very easy and very hard. A little bit of help goes a long way. I see immense value in hiring professional organizers and asking friends and family for their assistance.

My sister, visiting from Guam, gave me that LOOK when I said I wanted to keep something. My mom reminded me to be “ruthless.” A friend came and relieved me of a pretty pile of my clothing. My Facebook friends and blog readers imparted their wisdom which I’ve shared below.

Other tips and mind tricks for purging:

I ask myself What do I want to keep? instead of What do I want to get rid of?

Take a picture for memory.

As you go through you’re closet, stick to your intentions to only keep what you absolutely love the most most most.

If I haven’t worn it/used it in 1 calendar year, it’s automatically gone.

Only keep something if (1) You LOVE it, (2) You NEED it, or (3) it makes you money. The “love” and “need” had some specific criteria I’m forgetting right now, but on an initial pass, it helps to start whittle down the unnecessary things. When we moved last year, it helped to think about whether I really wanted to bother packing and/or unpacking something. If I was on the fence, it usually went in the “donate” pile.

I hang all my hangers the wrong way, witg the hook facing me, if i wear it, i hang it up the correct way. At the end of one year, my roomate has to go in and get rid of the items not worn in one year. (If i see it, it is too hard to get rid of, hence the roommate doing the discarding/donating)

For beauty products and the like, I pretend I’m packing for a big trip. Anything that’s not used gets tossed out ASAP. It’s ruthless, but it works well. I also use the hangers-wrong-way trick for clothes and it works like a charm!

Where are you going? That dictates what you keep and throw away. Does it suit your new life?

Don’t hold onto things somebody else could be getting use from.

Take a photo for posterity and ditch it.

As with everything, I always think it is great to break things up into smaller chunks. Start with one draw, one storage closet, or the kitchen pantry. When one area is done, take a break (whatever you decide). Then, go to the next small area.

Encouragement and testimonials for purging:

A dear friend, who is older and wiser, once told me that many will spend the first 1/2 of their lives acquiring things, and the 2nd half of their lives giving things away. So true. I LOOOVE purging. The past 4 years have been an extended journey of simplifying in all aspects of my life, and it has been so very freeing. Less IS more!

Relatives still buy the kids toys, so I purpose it to “purge” their closets and shelves when they are occupied almost monthly. Somehow they acquire all these teensy things and my daughter would hold onto it forever if I let her! I try to be sensitive about things that could be sentimental, but the rest goes!! My closet never looked so fresh and free, and even my email inbox…over a period of 4 weeks I unsubscribed to almost every newsletter or advertisement that wasn’t immediately relevant to me…it feels so good!!!! Even in the kitchen, pantry purge, linen closet purge, under the bathroom sink purge….GO FOR IT!!!

All in one year I got divorced AND started another business (in addition to the busy law practice I already had). I became determined to simplify. I set an intention to not only get organized but to get rid of 90% off everything and to not buy something else unless I a) NEEDED it (as opposed to wanted it) or b) got rid of two items for the one I’d buy. I felt as though I had been unburied from a grave!

I can honestly tell you that esp with kids most of us have so much more than we need. I have found (having moved 9x in 10years) that each time it is sad at first to part with things, but once you realize its the people, experiences and memories that bring hapiness its liberating and freeing to declutter and downsize. I think you will feel less overwhelmed, have more time and be happier once you purge. Less to clean too which is always nice.

I’m a purger. Love to get rid of stuff, And even I could do more of it.

We just recently moved. It was an eye opener to how much STUFF we didn’t use but yet had to have it.

I went from 4bedrooms to a subaru wagon full of stuff to move to the bay. I took photos and said goodbye.

I just keep purging. I almost NEVER ever regret.

Thank you everyone for your help and please keep the advice coming, readers and friends! The rest of us need it. 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_1454.JPGgetting it out the front door can be the hardest part

A beautiful mess

Sometimes lately I feel scattered, unfocused, spread thin. Life spilling over and making my edges more noticeable as they crumble, bits and pieces of me falling away.

My house.

My community.

My business.

My belongings.

Everything seems a mess, my hair consigned to the bedhead style. I need a haircut but I thought I just cut it. I have hardly looked in the mirror for a week. I keep forgetting deodorant. I haven’t done any formal exercise for most of the month. I haven’t been cooking much either. My 4 year-old wants to eat only bread. Our car broke down then got broken into. We’re moving and we don’t know when.

I am in the process of changing and simplifying. But I have to dig out of the rubble before I can take a deep breath. It’s like everything has to get a little bit worse before it can get a whole lot better.

And so, after a weekend of madly cleaning my house for a showing, and then sorting through the piles of stuff I’d thrown into the garage to get it OUT of the house, I am here. Thinking about the messes I’ve cleared away, the messes still waiting for the magic wand. My “trash” that will hopefully become someone else’s treasure. Wondering why my desk drawers and kitchen counters aren’t always this empty because it feels so good. Why do we love stuff so much and why do we want it all around us? For a distraction or a band-aid or a disguise or a preservative?

This purging of stuff has brought me a buzz. Strangely enough, it’s not so different a buzz from finding the thing I really wanted. The materialistic circle of life.

In clearing away the detritus–not just papers and clothing and toys but other things I won’t get into now–I feel like I’m seeing myself anew, yet again. Though I may (occasionally) look put together, I am (often) a mess. When we married my husband wrote in his vows that I was “a beautiful mess” on the morning before the evening we fell in love. But I was a mess that day because I’d been riding my bicycle in the rain on city streets.

So maybe, if the messy part comes from adventure and risk and fun, maybe it’s okay. Maybe I can learn to love my messes simply because I had the privilege to make them.

Is there something about yourself that you’re learning to love rather than shame? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com.

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Unintentional Love Notes

It’s all bittersweet.

Time marches along and our babies get bigger and eventually they will leave us. Strangely enough, we want for them to leave us. We want them to be somewhat like us, adults with purpose and intent and independence.

Leo Babauta wrote a post on his lovely blog Zen Habits about the messes his (six) kids leave around the house and how he, as a neat freak, stays sane by viewing the legos on the floor and the cookie crumbs on the counter as unintentional love notes.

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Some love notes from my sweet GiGi.

I adopted this mentality for laundry a couple years ago and it has helped immensely. My little family makes a helluva lotta laundry. Giovanna changes (and dirties) her clothes multiple times per day. Skyla poops on her clothes multiple times per day. James washes his clothes after every use. Add Emile, as mothers of little boys everywhere know, produces the dirtiest, stinkiest laundry.

But when Emile isn’t home, when he’s at his other home, my laundry pile decreases. And believe it or not, this makes me nostalgic. When James is traveling as he often does, the pile is even smaller. And while I appreciate the reprieve, I’d take the laundry over the absence of laundry any day.

I don’t like chores. I don’t like cleaning. I don’t like doing dishes. But I enjoy the end result. The clear surfaces, the sparkly counters, the zen vibrations from a clean home, the calm before the storm. A clean home tricks me into thinking I’ve got everything together in life, that I’m the kind of person who does her taxes early instead of late, who regularly edits her wardrobe instead of hanging onto clothes for sentimental reasons, and who never makes impulse purchases.

This is not me.

I’m working on letting go of these idealisms. These pictures in my head of the woman I want to be. Serene and polished. A woman who conquers life (and life’s messes) and looks good while doing it. A woman who moves her body daily and showers daily and eats local. A woman who writes without succumbing to distractions or inhibitions. A woman who loves without fear.

Though I believe in the value of these aspirations, I do not believe that achieving this ideal picture is the purpose of life.

Picasso said: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

Alas, it must be more important that I sit down to do my work rather than clean my kitchen or put the toys away or wash my hair.

Maybe it’s not important that I have everything together. Is that possible?

Maybe my drawers are disorganized and that’s okay.

Maybe my eyebrows are overgrown but I’m still beautiful.

Maybe my bed is rarely made but I am not a slob.

Maybe my computer memory is stuffed to its limit but my own memory is not.

Maybe I haven’t practiced yoga for a few days but my body is happy anyways.

Maybe I haven’t lost all the baby weight but I am healthy anyways.

Maybe I wasted too much time on Instagram/Facebook this week but I made some meaningful connections.

Maybe Giovanna and Emile make messes everywhere all the time but they’re actually leaving me unintentional love notes.

Someday those love notes will slow and stop and I will miss the messes. Like I said, it’s all bittersweet, another all-encompassing paradoxical truth to embrace.

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To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

Creatures of Passion

I sit down at this computer day after day because I’m searching for something. The internet is my portal and my nemesis.

I used to write poetry on a regular basis. Sometimes I’d post it on my short fiction and poetry blog sometimes I wouldn’t. I would write to get the words flowing and hopefully create something beautiful to read.

If I were alive before blogs and internet and instant gratification, I wonder who I would be. Would I write poems just for my family and my self like my great-grandmother? Would my children later bind my poems together into a book? Or would I put down my pen in favor of the washing and the cooking and the children? Would I write more because I felt no pressure, or would I write less because I had no one to share it with?

Does the internet paralyze or liberate? I daresay both. It depends on how we use it or let it use us.

When I started writing poetry back in the third grade it was for the love of it because everything we do as children is for the love of it. Back when we were creatures of pure passion. Now we have bills to pay and ourselves to impress. Distractions that shadow our passions. We stop creating just for creation’s sake. We’re too busy.

I think the people who really have got it going on, the people who inspire and move and make change with their life’s work are the people who never lose that part of themselves: that creature of pure passion. They let their creature loose everyday whether they’re solving problems in corporate america or pounding the pavement in a pair of running shoes or raising children or designing websites or churning out content or making dinner or teaching yoga or…

Creatures of pure passion feel indifferent towards accolades and money and fame. They want only to kiss the earth and leave an imprint of love. The more we allow space for the creature to play, the less frightened we will become by her creations, and the more freely we can create in all our favorite ways.

When I stopped writing poetry I shut down one of my creatures. Now I’m inviting her back by sitting down with my pen and letting her be free, unconcerned by the scrutiny of the internet or the passage of time.

She loves tall trees and dandelion wishes and she’s not afraid of sharing.

Subscribe to my poetry blog here

Are you searching for your creatures?

Are you letting them out to play?

What do your creatures love?

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Choosing Happiness Over Cleanliness?

If I followed my kids around with a camera you might be surprised at how quickly and severely they can mess up a perfectly clean house.

Or maybe you have kids of your own and you wouldn’t be surprised at all.

I bought this coffee table book for James: “A Perfectly Kept House Is the Sign of a Misspent Life.” He was not interested. He likes a clean house, as do I.

But it’s driving me nuts. With a newborn in the mix, I have very little time to clean. We live in a big house and our two older children are like twin tornados.

Spring break is coming up and it’s our year to have Emile and we’re not traveling anywhere which means it’s me and three kids at home all week and God knows that I’m going to be quite frustrated quite often if I don’t learn how to LET IT GO (cue Frozen soundtrack). The house is going to be a disaster zone and I can either enjoy the extra time with my daughters and my stepson or I can have a clean house.

I know this and yet I can pretty much guarantee that I will fight with them about cleaning up behind themselves at some point. Or more likely at multiple points. And I’m not sure if this is a good and necessary thing or a waste of breath and time. Inevitably I will either do most of the clean up myself, or exhaust myself by harping on and on, offering bribes and taking away privileges and such.

This is a significant source of stress for me or else I wouldn’t be blogging about it. (Talk about first world problems.) I want them to be mindful and aware of their surroundings and I want my living space to be zen but at what cost?

After all, I want to live life, not clean up after it.

Dear readers, what would you do? Fight the messes or succumb to their power? Ideally, I could find a balance though it has eluded me thus far. Any tips or tricks or mind games to play with them/myself?

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A Home Birth in Pictures

“Imagine what might happen if women emerged from their labor beds with a renewed sense of the strength and power of their bodies, and of their capacity for ecstasy through giving birth” — Dr. Christiane Northrup

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I’m not sure I fully explained in my birth story how good it felt to be at home, cared for by my midwife and my husband and my doula.

Natural, safe, private.

All of my wishes considered, all of my needs met.

Birthing at home is not for everyone, but it was a beautiful choice for me.

I won’t try to explain why because these photographs, taken by Jessica May Photography in the first moments after Skyla’s birth, provide a window into this tender morning, better than I can describe in words.

Aside from the few posed photos, I had no awareness that Jessica was there with her camera. I was operating in another dimension, completely wrapped up in my new baby.

I suppose I am still here. Life will never be the same. It just keeps getting better.

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