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 am an over-thinker.
I often complicate things that should be simple.
I sometimes spend more time writing out a detailed and systematic to-do list than actually working on the task at hand.
I have often created elaborate New Year's Resolution plans and intricate systems for managing my work- and home-life.
These systems are almost always difficult to implement long-term.
Every day is a new day, full of surprises and challenges.
My work calendar has been filled up with meetings, webinars, and out-of-town conferences for the last few months.
I knew this year would be an adjustment period, but to be honest...it's been pretty overwhelming.
We've had some situations come up in my department that are uncharted territory for our district. We've had students transfer in and students transfer out. I've been working with and learning from several outside agencies.
I've been reading several books about leadership and project management and not putting unrealistic expectations on yourself.
Through my reading (and YouTube & blog exploration), I've come up with three goals for myself to really focus on from now until the end of this school year.
There are a million things biding for my time every single day.
I have some choices about what I allow to take my energy every time something new comes across my desk, across my phone or email inbox, or in front of my door.
I have choices about when to say "yes" and when to say "no"...and I can assure you that when it comes to my family, the answer should always be "yes".
I need to be intentional with my time, with my commitments, and with Mr. Farmhouse and the girls.
Some days, this might look like closing my office door and pushing through the items that haven't gotten enough attention that week.
Some days, it might look like closing whatever I'm working on at school and heading home right after school.
Some days, it might look like laundry, dishes, and sweeping the kitchen floor.
Being intentional is so important.
I have always been a "just in case" person.
I'd better keep that piece of paper "just in case" we ever need it again (even though I could print if off the internet any time I want).
I'd better save those toys and clothes in a tub in the basement "just in case" (even though I trashed boxes that hadn't been cracked open in over eleven years when we moved last summer).
I've realized through the years, however, that I have hardly ever needed those "just in case" items!
Thanks to the KonMari method, I pared down quite a few of our belongings right before we moved to the farmhouse.
I tried to be very intentional in my decorating and purchases made when we moved in.
I've tried to transfer a lot of my "paper clutter" from paper to digital copies.
My complicated systems are now simple and intentional daily reminders...a checklist that I move through during my free time at home and school.
Less is more.
A simple and manageable system is so much more effective than an over-complicated and unattainable plan.
One Day at a Time.
At the end of the day, we can't be all things to all people.
We WILL NOT mark every single item off of the "to do" list and even if we did, there would be more tasks tomorrow.
We have to be intentional with how we spend our time each and every day.
I wake up in the morning and do my Bible study, have some prayer time, and then I crack open my calendar app.
I look at my list of the things that must get done that day on my Trello board and I schedule them into my little pockets of open time on my Google Calendar that used to be wasted.
As I work through the day, I mark items off my list as I complete them and I move the tasks down through the day if something comes up that is a higher priority item.
If I don't finish the tasks for the day, I have learned to forgive myself and move them to the following day.
We can only do what we can do.
We can do our very best...
give our best effort...
try to strive for perfection...
and still we will fall short.
We will never be "caught up"...but do you know what we can be?
We can be present.
We can wake up every morning renewed and full of purpose, ready to try again.
We can be intentional and we can strive for the beauty of simplicity...one day at a time.
Have a great week, friends.
Love from the farmhouse,
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.
When I read the book It Starts with Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig, over a year ago, I learned about the importance of a "reset" for our bodies.
That's what the Whole30 is all about....resetting your body back to a “whole” diet with all real, clean foods and nothing processed.
After my first two rounds of the Whole30, I gradually fell back into my old eating habits and in turn welcomed back the joint pain, constant exhaustion, and digestive issues that come with eating “Frankenfoods”, as Melissa Hartwig calls them.
About nine months ago, I read Melissa’s second book, Food Freedom Forever.
It was with this book that I really started to understand the process of resetting, occasionally enjoying foods that are “worth” going off plan, and then quickly resetting again.
So you spend most of your time in this "reset" period of eating the foods that are very best for your body.
It was such a novel idea to me after spending years trying to "get healthy" and "lose weight" and "get in shape".
Research shows that calorie-restriction (or the complete restriction of specific foods) does not promote a sustainable lifestyle.
It makes so much more sense to live in a place of "reset" with an occasional jump off-track here and there.
And then this week, as I was trying to stay caught up with classroom planning, home responsibilities, and three little farm girls, it hit me...I should be living most of my life in a place of "reset".
I think we've been getting it wrong all these years.
Instead of mirroring that "reset" lifestyle, where we focus on the basic principles of sustenance, we overindulge in every way, every day.
And I'm not just talking about food.
I'm talking about the over-connectedness we have by being in constant communication with those around us by texting and social media accounts.
I'm talking about saying "yes" to every single request to volunteer or spend time on various projects outside of the home.
...about having so many belongings in our homes that we are slaves to them...spending every extra minute in life cleaning and maintaining them.
...about eating out three or four times a week because everyone won't be home all at the same time or early enough to eat supper at the table.
...about being so involved in every extracurricular activity offered to your family that you don't have time to just be home with those you love or to spend time with your church family.
Sidenote: Check out our minister's blog post from today...crazy timing, considering most of this post was already written!
I think the struggle is that these things I just mentioned above are THE NORM.
In the average American family, times of "reset" seem to be few and far between...only happening on a rare weekend when there is nothing else going on.
The problem with this is that we NEED more "reset" than that.
A healthy physical, mental, and spiritual life is promoted when the "reset" becomes the regular.
When we spend time sitting at home, instead of rushing from 'Point A' to 'Point B'.
When we purge unloved and unneeded items, instead of letting them control our homes where we must organize them and clean around them constantly.
When we have the freedom to say "no" to activities and even volunteer opportunities because we know that it would not put us in a healthy state of mind.
When we have time to plan a healthy weekly menu and make food (or enjoy Mr. Farmhouse making the food) for our family each night instead of taking advantage of the drive-through whenever it's available.
In order to make this work, we have to be intentional.
It will take carefully calculated decisions each and every day to find that "reset" life.
However, I'm looking forward to taking these next six months to really hone in on what are the most important parts of our life at the farmhouse and starting to weed away everything else.
I need a reset.
How about you?
I really love Amazon.
We have had a Prime account for several years and use it for everything from coffee to toilet paper, books to home decor, music to movies.
Some day, I will talk to you about the joys of Amazon's "Subscribe & Save" program and my new-found love for Audible.
Some day, I will talk to you about how amazing the Amazon app is and the fact that I have a dream to sell a children's book I wrote on Amazon someday.
Amazon has a host of items that fit my taste...and my budget.
As you've probably seen in some of my other posts, I love signs and wall-hangings to fill the walls of the farmhouse.
Amazon has a nice selection of high-quality signs.
I have tried to be very intentional with the items I bring into the farmhouse, since we moved in last July.
One of the things I try to think about when I purchase items is the functional purpose that they could serve in our home.
These containers are perfect for organizing AND looking adorable.
A nice warm throw is always a good item to have lying over a chair, reading available for snuggling up with a good book. I also love the natural pop of color that this wreath brings.
Seek out items that bring joy to your heart and make your home feel peace and calming to you.
Be responsible in your spending and intentional in what you allow into your home.
And enjoy the process!
Happy Friday from the Farmhouse, friends!
It's such a great word.
So fresh. So promising. So full of hope.
Happy New Year, friends.
Here we are. January 1st.
I used to set goals for the new year in several different categories.
I made these big elaborate lists and sometimes I stuck to one or two of my "resolutions".
A few years ago, however, I began trying to really focus in on one word or phrase each new year.
One year it was "balance", another year it was "no".
This year, I've had three words and/or phrases running through my mind over the last few weeks, so I think I'll use them all as my focus for 2018.
Our minister has been preaching for the last several weeks on the transformation that should come from knowing Jesus.
I want to focus this year on being transformed because of Who Jesus is.
I want people to be able to see Him in every aspect of my life.
I want to be transformed.
I read an article this week about the addictive nature of a cell phone for young kids.
I was convicted about the addictive nature of technology for myself.
I know that technology can be a good thing, but I think sometimes satan uses good things to distract us from our purpose.
The purpose of being a good wife.
...of raising Kingdom kids.
...of building deep relationships with people.
...of creating a home environment that is beautiful for our families.
...of taking care of ourselves so we can pour into others.
This year I will set limitations on social media usage and spend more time focusing on face-to-face interaction with those I love.
Do fewer things, better.
I am notorious for working hard to balance too many spinning plates.
I can usually multi-task without much problem.
I say "yes" often to lighten the load for others.
I get a lot accomplished and a lot of times, those accomplishments are just "good enough".
This year, I want to simplify.
To do fewer things and to do them better.
What are your goals for 2018?
Do you set resolutions?
If you could choose one word to take with you this year...what would it be?
Make it a great year, friends!
New Year's Love from the Farmhouse,
One of my favorite things to think about when I'm starting to decorate a room is what details I can add to really make the room "mine".
Today, I worked on the office nook.
I would say this room is considered "finished", except for whatever I might find in tubs over the next few days.
Hopefully I've got it organized enough now that I should be able to categorize any extra items and put them right away.
Some of the details that I really adore about the new farmhouse office nook include the herringbone plank clothespin board, the Rise & Shine sign, and of course, the typewriter Scentsy warmer.
I love the Farmhouse caddy sitting by my camera and the wire basket from Dollar General holding all of my Bible study items.
My childrens' picture on the "love" picture frame along with the funky desk lamp are both details that I enjoy.
Through the whole process of moving and planning and decorating, I'm trying to remember to take time for the details.
I wanted my office nook to be someplace that I can come each morning to spend time with Jesus.
To be able to load and edit photographs for my clients in a peaceful environment.
To be inspired in my workspace.
To pay attention to the details as I mold the space to fit exactly what I am visualizing in my mind.
I wanted to have a refreshing place to create.
And I think this farmhouse office nook will be just that place.
She has a specific order that you are to go in to make the system work and she promises that for those people who have gone through her entire program, she has seen no rebounds. Once I started this method, I was hooked. It became an obsession for me last summer and I flew through the decluttering and organizing tasks associated with several categories.
I was really making good progress.
Near the end of the summer, I was nearing the end of my KonMari journey. I still had a few categories left to go through.
And I stalled.
Right there in the first week of August, with the items sorted and ready to be tackled, I stalled.
I just left the sentimental items piled in a box, put the holiday decor back into the garage, put the tub of electronics into a cabinet in the laundry room, and took the teaching supplies back to my classroom storage closet.
I had made amazing progress and when I started working at school again, I just lost the momentum to continue!
The house stayed clean and organized for the first few months of school, but once we hit second and third quarter, I started losing control. Again. I rebounded.
Sure, we didn't own as many items as we did prior to my first KonMari round, and we were more careful about our purchases now, but still...it was just a little unfinished.
Fast-forward to this last spring.
Our buyers contacted us and we began to make plans to move. I was still exhausted by the end of the school year and unfortunately didn't have it in me to start another KonMari round before school got out.
In dealing with the house sale and purchase hiccups and trying to get the closing all worked out, I haven't even had a chance to start yet.
But guess what? It's coming.
I'll be starting my second round of KonMari this next week while we still have two weeks in the current house.