I've never thought of myself as a minimalist.
In fact, I would lean more towards the term "maximalist".
I've always been someone who has felt the need to keep most everything. I'm the mom who has a tub for each of the girls from every single year of their schooling. My mantras used to be "we might need that someday" and "just in case".
I have ALWAYS kept excess in all areas -- clothing, kitchen gadgets, bath & body products...you name it. Always.
Now, I have gone through periods in life where I've done large decluttering projects and have organized the various spaces in our home...only to quickly fill them back up over a period of months (sometimes weeks).
Things started to change for me when I left my teaching job in 2018 and moved into an administrative position, as the Director of Special Services.
This meant moving from a large classroom with a nice-sized storage closet to an office.
An office with no storage closet.
An office with no cabinets or cubbies or shelves.
This was a mindset shift for me that took some work.
I wanted to have everything I would "need" at my fingertips.
This meant that I first had to go through EVERYTHING I had in my classroom and make some decisions.
After thirteen years of teaching (10 of them in the same classroom), this was quite a task.
I started by moving everything away from the shelving units that would stay in the classroom. I would stack everything there that would stay in the classroom for the next teacher.
Then I opened up some tubs to put my personal belongings in that would either need to go home with me, go to my new office, or be donated elsewhere. I wanted to be able to be out of the classroom sooner than later, as there was already a new teacher wanting to begin preparing her classroom for the next year.
So I pushed through, sorting and tubbing, sorting and tubbing. As I got a tub filled for my new office, I would carry it down there. As I got a tub filled to go home, I would carry it to my car.
I was out of my classroom in less than a week.
THIRTEEN YEARS of teaching, emptied out within a week.
Full disclosure, when I got home with the tubs of personal items, I carried them straight to the basement, where they sat until December 2019.
However, the items in my new office at school needed to be dealt with.
I arranged the office furniture in a way that would be inviting and functional and I opened the first tub.
I was brutal with my discarding process. The full office reveal is HERE.
We can still keep the things we love and need. I can still choose to decorate with signs on the wall, photographs of my babies, and various cozy pillows & throws. We can have all colors & textures in our home and we can have a few extra paper goods stored away, too.
The difference in how we were living our life before we started on this "cozy minimalist" journey and how we are living it today is all found in the purpose of the possessions we have chosen to keep.
The difference is found in where and how we store items.
It's found in the intentionality of what we choose to display on our walls and surfaces.
It's found in the ability to maintain an orderly environment with less possessions.
Last week, I wrote about my dream and commitment to write a book.
In an epiphany of sorts, the day after I wrote that blog, I started to journal about our journey from chaos to (mostly) clutter-free. The words started pouring out and I realized that this was probably a good place to dive into my first book.
As I sit here writing, I look around and am so grateful for the peace that has made its way into our house over the last four months.
Thanking God for personal growth here at the farmhouse,
I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas morning as a child.
There was the year that we woke up to 10-speed-bikes sitting in front of the tree, surrounding the rest of the gifts for my little brother and me.
There was the year that it was snowy and cold and after all the gifts were opened, we both got carried outside with our eyes closed to find the playhouse they had ready for us. In fact, Mr. Farmhouse and I used that playhouse as our chicken coop until just last year when we moved to the farmhouse.
There was the year that he and I peeked at our gifts and our two "big gifts" were missing on Christmas morning. My mom had saved them for last and had wrapped them up with our parents' names on the tags. We were trying to play it cool like we didn't know they were missing, because we didn't realize they knew we had sneaked out to the shop to look...lesson learned!
Even into adulthood, we have always been provided with everything we ever dreamed of, so naturally I have wanted to provide the same feeling for my own girls.
However, we have some financial goals that we are working towards to be able to provide for them later in life...in high school when they need a vehicle to drive, to help them with college expenses, and of course, when they get married and start having children.
Going into debt or dipping into savings at Christmastime is tempting, but after working so hard for an entire year to save and work the debt snowball, we don't want to lose our progress at the end of the year because of gifts.
I cannot even tell you how amazing the process has been.
The girls couldn't even think of three items for each category.
They were sitting together at the dining room table as they tried to think long and hard about what they truly needed and the conversation they were having warmed my heart.
H: I can't think of anything for "something I need". I don't think I need anything.
C: I put an electric toothbrush because mine broke a few weeks ago.
H: You know, I will be needing a new softball glove this year. I'll put that on there.
The girls are completely aware that we would buy toothbrushes or softball gloves during other times of the year, but instead of using that gift slot for something else, they both decided to use it to replace items that are worn out or too small.
I was able to shop for the gifts without breaking the bank and literally all in one night (Black Friday with my sis-in-law!).
They will each get stocking stuffers and one small gift from Santa and that is IT.
The tree is still pretty.
The farmhouse is still cozy.
The magic of the season is all around us.
With four gifts each.
I can't wait to see their faces on Christmas morning.
Happy December from the farmhouse, friends.
There are 56 days left in 2018.
A few friends and I have been following along with Rachel Hollis's "Last 90 Days", where she has challenged people to make the last 90 days of the year count.
Well, I was successful in following her "Five to Thrive" for about 15 out of 31 days in October.
And now...that 90 days has dwindled down to 56 days.
So this weekend, I've taken some time to regroup and do some planning for the next two months.
The girls and I did some deep-cleaning in our bedrooms and the rest of the house.
I planned out our meals for the next few weeks.
We set some goals for ourselves and made a commitment to make these last few months of the year meaningful.
If you're feeling like things have gotten out-of-control and you just want to gain some peace and calm in the near future, feel free to join me in building some habits in the next 56 days that will help us to enjoy the holiday season.
More info to come in the morning.
I got here after 10:00 p.m. Monday night.
I got checked in and headed up to my room.
I unpacked for the week and snuggled into my warm, comfy hotel bed to call Mr. Farmhouse and let him know that I arrived safely.
I'm spending my week in a hotel as I attend a conference that will teach me all about the responsibilities that come with my new job.
Tuesday, I was up early and ready to take on the day. After a day full of meetings, I made it back to my room about 4:00 and worked hard on finishing some items on my school to-do list. I met some friends at 6:00 for supper and came back to the room to do some reading, call and visit with the girls, and hit the sack.
This morning, I opened the hotel dresser drawer to get my clothes out and that's when it hit me...hotel life is amazing.
When I was packing to come over here Monday, I packed only what I would need.
I was intentional about what I put into the bag, as I knew I wouldn't want to carry anything extra with me.
I have one outfit for each day, my school bag, my electronics chargers, and the two books I am reading.
And so, as I was getting ready this morning and packing up my bag to take downstairs to the conference, I thought to myself...wouldn't it be wonderful to live like this every day?
Why can't we be intentional with what we have in our home?
Why can't we only keep what we need?
You may recall our KonMari journey that I blogged about when we were still living in the old house.
It was a journey where we looked at all of our belongings and asked ourselves, "Does this spark joy?" If the answer was no...out it went.
Since then, we've moved and we've accumulated more belongings.
I think it's time to go on that journey again.
I would love to walk into the house every single evening and think to myself, "Living the hotel life is really grand."
Happy Wednesday from the 9th floor, friends.
Make it a good one.