right on schedule.

TEN!

You know how when you talk a big game about doing something, you get called to the mat pretty quickly to do it? Yeah, that happened.

I was all set to talk about our minimalist schedule and how we say no to everything and never leave our house and live so calm and peacefully. And then there was this week.

My newborn baby boy turned ten without my permission. Despite my best efforts at cancelling October to avoid this impending fact, he went ahead and crossed over into double digits. Naughty boy. He played his first lacrosse game on his birthday. We went to Moe’s for dinner.

This was after spending Monday making an Athena costume. And then going to the Young Life banquet Tuesday night. And now it’s Halloween with all its festivities.

Life happens. We all have obligations, needs, errands, meetings, demands we make and that are made on us. Some things we just can’t escape.

But we do have a choice about how to live. We can say no. We can create more margin. We can take a step of faith to avoid the Crazy Busy life that has become the norm for the world. To step back and look deeply at the things that matter and make choices that fall in line with our hopes and dreams for our life.

I skipped days 29 and 30 of 31 Days and I’m letting that go. Who says I’m behind?

More than anything this month, I wanted us to look at our lives and just think about how we live: are we passive participants in what life brings us, or mindful activists who live with thought and intention? It applies to all areas of our life: Food, Input, Stuff, and Schedule. We have a choice about how to live.

Sage Grayson commented earlier this week about how the word simple often gets lumped with shallow. She wondered, is there a way to live simply and deep? I think so.

I truly believe that if we live mindfully and strive to eliminate all the excess that crowds our life, we can enjoy the things that matter most to us. Our hearts and minds aren’t in competition with the constant input and obligations that so many accept as normal in life. We don’t have to lay down and believe that we have to eat garbage because we are tired and don’t feel like nourishing ourselves well. We don’t have to feel obligated to use facebook or instagram to be connected to people. We don’t have to fill our homes and closets with more more more to feel satisfied. And we don’t have to rush from one thing to another simply to keep our kids happy and our schedules full.

We have a choice about how to live. I want to choose to live mindfully, and minimally. To live my life to the fullest and enjoy the pleasant places God has given to me.

What about you?

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This is day 31 of my series, 31 Days of Mindful Minimalism. Thanks for joining me on the journey!

 

yes and no.

best day ever

Oftentimes the simple act of saying ‘no’ means you are saying ‘yes’ to something else. I shared yesterday about how we said no to children’s extracurricular activities, which said yes to a whole lot more peace and sanity up in here. The minimalist schedule means a lot of nos and yeses.

I’ve spent the better part of today working with my mom on a goddess costume, for my middle girlie to be Athena at her homeschool co-op this week. because of that, I’m saying ‘no’ tonight to a long blog post, and ‘yes’ to chilling on the couch with my man watching baseball.

When has ‘no’ meant ‘yes’ for you?

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We’re in the homestretch of my series31 Days of Mindful Minimalism. This is day 28.

from white noise to white space

 

Reposting one of my favorite blog posts from last year. Hope it blesses you today. 

I had a surreal moment last fall when I watched Jack trot down the sidewalk to his piano lesson in his Cub Scout uniform, with me in the car and a cooler packed so he (and the girls) could eat a sandwich in the car on the way to Scouts and Heritage Girls while Scott was in class. Wasn’t this just a little too much?

About this time last year I posted about how crazy our schedule was. We were doing many things, but not doing anything well. Busy-ness had become the white noise by which we lived. We’d begun to slip away from the things in our lives that mattered most- quality time with family and friends, serving and hospitality, healthy, homecooked meals and time for the children to play freely.

For some people, it’s not too much. But for our family in this season of life, we were losing ourselves in the process of keeping up and fitting in. I had to step back and look deeper into our motivations for doing all that we were doing. Why was I looking to have my children in clubs, teams and activites? Were they really benefitting? Was I letting guilt and fear be the reason we participated in things?

Early this year, I read Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. So much of the book resonated with me, inspired me, and affirmed me. The main point he makes is that children need to be given the grace to be children and not rushed into the ‘more! faster! earlier!’ mentality that has become the norm for our culture.

“I believe that simplifying a child’s daily life is one of the best ways to restore a sense of balance in parenting. By simplifying their toys and environment, their schedules, and the sense of rhythm and regularity, you allow them the grace to be a child… Simplifying acknowledges how a child comes to understand the world- through play and interaction, not through adult concerns and information. The pressure is off when childhood is no longer seen as an ‘enrichment opportunity’ but instead as an unfolding experience- an ecology- with its own pace and natural systems” ~Kim John Payne

When I look back to my childhood, my fondest and sweetest memories are of my backyard. We spent hours building forts, making sandbox cookies, swinging, digging, creating, imagining…. no internet, very little television, no electronics- all very simple and wide open. I want the same for my kids.

So this fall, we took a step of faith and decided to stay home. No scouts, no sports, no music lessons. I chose to release my fears of my children being behind because they missed one season or one year of instruction. This year, we needed to breathe. To focus on the heart of our home and relationships.

What we’ve gained is freedom. My children finish their lessons and have the freedom to be outside, to sit and read, to play without rushing. They are more relaxed, happy and at peace. We have the time to keep a friend’s young ones so she can have a lunch date with her husband. We can make a meal for someone just home from the hospital. Bedtime has become enjoyable instead of stressful. Having friends for dinner doesn’t mean giving up our one free night of the week. We can take a bike ride and soak in the fresh air and sunshine with nothing else on the agenda.

White space has replaced the white noise of being busy. Margins become the norm and not the exception. Our souls have room to rest.

gray31days31 Days of Mindful Minimalism: Day 27

 

crazy busy.

crazy busy

 

During my week of less input, I read this book. I’m a big fan of Kevin DeYoung. I love the way he writes- though he is incredibly smart and theologically deep, his writing is approachable, direct and funny. He’s in the trenches of raising children and growing in the Lord. In Crazy Busy, he helps us see the underlying sin issues of why we are so busy, like pride, input addiction, and the need for Sabbath rest. He also examines ways we can stop freaking out about our children, and how we don’t have to feel guilty because we aren’t seizing every available opportunity for Christian service and missions.

“We are here and there and everywhere. We are distracted. We are preoccupied. We can’t focus on the task in front of us. We don’t follow through. We don’t keep our committments. We are so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t even notice the most important things slipping away.”

I loved this book and highly recommend it. As the subtitle promises, it’s mercifully short- a quick weekend read. Any author who says his “life feels like something between a perpetual summer camp and a three-ring circus” has got my attention (and respect)!

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31 Days of Mindful Minimalism: Day 26.

 

the minimalist schedule.

simple chickpeas

In thinking about mindful minimalism, I guess what I’m really going for is simplicity. But that word bugs me, I think because it is so overdone now. Everything is simple: My magazine is Real Simple. My trashcan is Simple Human. My chickpeas are Simple Truth.

sim – ple [sim-puhl]   adjective, sim·pler, sim·plest,

1. easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.: a simple matter; simple tools.
2. not elaborate or artificial; plain: a simple style.
3. not ornate or luxurious; unadorned: a simple gown.
4. unaffected; unassuming; modest: a simple manner.
5. not complicated: a simple design.

As much as the word gets overused, I can’t deny that these definitions describe perfectly the way I want to live my life: Not artificial. Unadorned. Not complicated. 

After examining my habits and relationship with food, input and stuff, I want to spend this last week of 31 Days looking at time and how I spend it. To see if there are ways I can work toward more mindful use of it. To consider how I can eliminate waste of it.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I’d wanted to spend a day or two answering questions and sharing thoughts about what we’ve talked about this month… I’d still love that- let me know in the comments about anything you’re thinking through that we can address at the end of the week. Who knows, maybe like Suz you’ll get your own guest post!

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31 Days of Mindful Minimalism: Day 25

 

minimalism at home: good thoughts from others

octobers

via pinterest

I’ve had a great time writing through the month of October with The Nester’s 31 Days Challenge. It’s also been encouraging and inspiring to read the wise words of others. here are a few posts that have resonated with me, as I think about home and keeping it simple.

Hayley at The Tiny Twig is doing a redo of her No Brainer Wardrobe series. I like this post and her idea that Abundance will NOT give you great outfits. Abundance will only give you a full closet.

Edie at Life(in)Grace has talked this month about More and Less. Her post on More Order in the Closet came at just the right time. And just today, she posted about her pantry. My favorite line was her disclaimer at the bottom: “Remember, all of this organization and beautifying is so we can make our kitchens places of nourishment for the body and soul.”

Nester’s series on Home:Uncomplified has been beautiful. Her simple, thoughtful posts always give me something to mill around in my head. I really loved her words in this post about seasonal decorating. “Why did I spend money on pretend things when the real thing is right in my backyard? I still want to be able to walk into my home and know what season that is, but I don’t need to rely on a bunch of items made in China.”

Y’all know how I feel about my sweet Ellen. You can’t read her words without being moved. I am so blessed to call her a dear friend. She’s been writing this month about hope and it’s almost impossible to pick a favorite post. This one really pulled on my heart strings. Also? Check out her bathroom. (I told her not to come looking for me if that little blue table goes missing.)

I can’t let this post pass by without also sending you to read the blogs of Kristi and Kitty. They are both real-life friends and their posts this month have really fed my soul. Being part of a church plant myself, reading Kristi’s words have been really inspiring. And spending time with college girls a little makes me love and appreciate the gospel work that Kitty pours her life into each day.

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This is day 24 in a series called 31 Days of Mindful Minimalism.

minimalism v. sentimentality

sitting room

As I write this post, I’m sitting at Nannie and Dida’s (my paternal grandparents) dining room table, sitting in one of their dining room chairs. From where I sit, I can see a beautiful round dining table-turned-coffee-table in my sitting room, given to me by Scott’s mom. Flanking the love seat there is a table with a beautiful white marble lamp and a drop leaf side table, both from my maternal grandparents. On the table rests a silver footed candy dish. Above the couch is a gorgeous oil painting of a woman we call “Aunt Jenny”- which used to hang in the dining room at Nannie and Dida’s.

You can see the pattern here. My home is filled with pieces that come from our family, each with a little story of their own. That drop leaf table has had the finish stripped because my Mimi always had to have a glass of ice water near by, and she ruined all her tables with water rings. “Aunt Jenny” was resting herself behind a dresser at my parents house, and I invited her to live with us. The marble lamp traveled from Mimi and Papa’s house in Rome, Georgia, to Papa’s retirement home, and then to my house. Every morning when I turn that lamp on to read my bible and drink my coffee, I think of them.

I love the clean lines of a minimalist home. My friend Shawna calls it  “buttoned up” style. There is something so soothing about a house that is completely uncluttered, almost stark. But I could never live that way. I want to be surrounded by stories and things that carry a story of the people I love.

That’s where minimalism loses in my life. Sentimentality wins. I would rather air on the side of too much stuff than get rid of something that tells a story. It might not be very valuable in the world’s eyes, but it’s priceless to me.

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31 Days of Mindful Minimalism: Day 23

on organizing.

capri fetish

closet clean out round one. apparently i have a problem with capri pants. there are nine pair in that pile. i have no words for this.

This post last year stopped me in my tracks and I haven’t forgotten it since.

what it said: organizing is often well planned hoarding.

When you think about it, it’s really true. The source for that post went on to say that organizers are more covert and systematic about their accumulation of stuff. It’s all neat and tidy so you don’t realize how much excess there really is.

“No matter how organized we are, we must continue to care for the stuff we organize, cleaning and sorting our methodically structured belongings. When we get rid of the superfluous stuff, however, we can focus on life’s more important aspects. Said another way: We can spend the day focusing on our health, on our relationships, on pursuing what we’re passionate about. Or we could, of course, reorganize our basement again.”
~
The Minimalists,  Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

I’d rather pursue what I’m passionate about than sort through a closet full of capri pants. (Nine pair. Seriously?)

gray31days

 

This post is day 21 in a series called 31 Days of Mindful Minimalism, my personal journey to observe my habits in daily living, and live with more thought and intention.

closet clean out.

allie mac top

 

Me and my girlies ready for a night out. I’m wearing my Lawson Top handmade just for me by Allie Mac Designs. I always feel like a million bucks when I wear this shirt.

I spent time this weekend doing every mom’s favorite job: the seasonal clothing change-out. Now it’s time to work on my closet. I don’t have too much seasonal change out because many of my things go year round, but I know I have too many clothes.

Probably 30% of what’s in there I don’t wear or wear very rarely, but I’m having a hard time parting with it. I can’t figure out why. Sentimental attachment? Holding out for a few pounds lost? It was such a good deal? It’s a nice brand?

Clothing is the most challenging part of minimalism for me. (Well that and my slight obsession with dishware.) I think there may be some fear involved: what if I get rid of that black dress (that I have worn once in the last eight years) and then I don’t have it if I need it (which I likely never will)? Facing reality about these (very minor in the grand scheme) things really shouldn’t be taking up so much thought. When in doubt, toss it out, right?

One thing I am trying to change is my mindset about what I buy. The things in my closet that I love the most and enjoy wearing aren’t the things that I got on a great sale. They aren’t the Target t-shirts and flats. They aren’t from the Loft clearance rack . They are the more unique pieces that may have cost a little more, but are worth every penny. I’m trying to move away from compromising quality or buying things because they’re cheap- and moving towards more thoughtful and meaningful purchases.  (starting with eliminating mom jeans from my wardrobe. this is a must read.)

If you want to make a meaningful purchase, check out my awesome friend Allie Mac. She puts heart and soul into every stitch and every. single. time. I wear something she’s made for me, I get stopped and complimented and asked about what I’m wearing. I’ve started carrying her business cards to hand out! Here’s her site.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to get ruthless on my closet.

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Day 21 of 31 Days of Mindful Minimalism. Start here to read from the beginning.

 

keeping home: the chore chart

chore chart

there is no shame in waving the white flag and hiring help to keep your home clean. If that works for your family’s budget, it can be a huge help and relief to know that your  floors will get mopped with some regularity. For us right now, we’re making it work on our own, and I’m okay with that.

I do believe our kids can learn from an early age how to keep a house tidy and clean. Despite my sweet mother’s best efforts, it really took me well into adulthood and home ownership to appreciate a clean house. I’m still not very good at it. We certainly aren’t running a tight ship or well oiled machine in our house, but the chore chart has been a huge step in the right direction. Everyone wins in this situation: the house gets cleaned weekly, the kids learn how to do the work, and my future daughter-in-law will love me because my son has learned to scrub toilets. #winning

Instead of devoting one whole day or afternoon a week for cleaning, we go with the ‘do a little every day’ approach. This works especially well for laundry to keep it manageable instead of letting it pile into a stinky mountain that must be conquered.

I’ve divided the house and each child has one bedroom and one living space (den, dining room, sitting room) that they are responsible for each week (the girls share a room, so one does their room and one does the guest room). They have to vacuum and dust each room (we do our room and bathroom each week too) and everyday the three of them rotate with another ‘job’: bathroom wiper, laundry helper and kitchen helper (which Bug now calls ‘kissin helper’ and it’s my fave).

I’ve got a bucket upstairs and down with the supplies they need: microfiber cloths, old washcloths, dusting spray and bathroom cleaner) and I help bring the ginormous vacuum up and down as needed.

Before school started this year I made a chore chart and laminated it. On one side is the chart with each day’s job and responsibility. On the other side, I’ve listed the individual tasks required for the job to be done right. I’m not militant about perfection but definitely want them to learn to do tasks well. Of course there are days things don’t get done, but we catch up on Saturdays and take Sunday off.

The best thing about it? It frees up my mind to not have to think/dread/procrastinate getting the house clean and keeps us a little closer to ‘company ready’ so we can enjoy hospitality without scrambling. Having less stuff and taking care of what we have is always a good thing.

How do you handle housekeeping at your house?

gray31daysThis is day 20 in the series 31 Days of Mindful Minimalism.