Thursday, March 24, 2011

30 Days to a Simpler Life - Week 1

Day 1: Today, gather up a bagful of things you no longer love and use. First, find a shopping bag, trash bag, or cardboard box. Next, fill it with giveaways or throwaways from around your house. Gather unwanted stuff from anywhere in your home or garage. Look under sinks, in closets, into drawers, and under the bed. No space is off limits.

Finally, put the stuff into your car's trunk to be recycled. This task could take 5 minutes to an hour, depending on how decisive you are. Fill as many bags as you can in one hour. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, page 11)

I focused on the cupboard under one of the sinks in the bathroom as well as the top of the bathroom counter for this challenge. 

Above/After:  Cupboard under the bathroom sink after I organized it.
Below/Before:  Piles of products and items I didn't use. 

There were no items to donate with this challege.  The half of a garbage bag was filled with garbage.

Day 2: Today, dejunk one drawer. If you are like most people, messy drawers abound in your kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. Do the three steps of sorting, recycling, and dealing with ambivalence that are outlined below in "The Mechanics of Simplifying." These simple steps will help you simplify and organize every area of your life. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 15)

Helped the girls clean their underwear/sock drawers.  We took out all clothing they no longer wore or had an excessive amount of.  Anything in good shape was donated to Family Pathways (1/2 of a trash bag).  Once this step was done, I showed them how to group their clothing by type and fold it.  The drawers looked so much better. 

It was interesting because a couple of days after helping the girls with one drawer, I went into their room and noticed that Sophia had organized all of her drawers.  Olivia is continuing to clean and organize her room. 

Day 3: Create a checklist of questions that will help you decide what to buy and what to forgo. At the very top of the list, write down your major life goals in sound bites.  For example, you might write "get fit", "travel more", or "study wildflowers."  Put your list in your wallet so you can consult it when you go shopping.  When it comes time to purchase something, determine whether your goals and the purchase are harmonious.

My major life goals: 
- raise two daughters who are compassionate, educated, and who want to make a difference in the world;
- be of service to others (people and animals) in need;
- travel (see each of the 50 states and visit all the continents);
- make some sort of impact or difference in the world;
- continue learning about, appreciating, and helping wildlife/nature; and
- continue making and creating crafts/art on as frequent basis as possible (daily, if possible), and share those skills or knowledge with others who are interested.

These are the goals that come to mind at this point in my life.  Of course, I may modify them as I get older and my life changes. 

There were several suggested questions in the book to ask before making a purchase:

Will it enhance my goals?
Will it create more work?
Do I need it?
Is it truly a bargain?
Do I think it will make my life easier?
Do I want it because it's trendy?
Will it bring my family together or tear us apart?
Do I want it because it will make me feel better?
Will I have trouble getting rid of it in the future?

Day 4: Today is a great day to edit your sheets and pillowcases. First, take all of your sheets out of your linen closet and put them in three piles: the Recycle Pile, the Ambivalent Pile, and the Love and Use Pile. Second, put the Recyclables in your car's trunk. Third, put the Ambivalent Pile into a lidded box or a bag in another closet so you can practice living without these linens. Finally, return the sheets and pillowcases you use to the linen closet. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 27)

When I cleaned the girls' closet earlier during the fall, I went through all the sheets and pillowcases.  I ended up donating a couple bags worth of bedding.  At this point, there is one set of sheets/pillowcases for the king bed; one set for the queen bed; and 4 sets for the two twin beds.  There isn't much excess here, so I hesitate to further donate any sheets or pillowcases.  I think having at least one spare set for each of the girls' beds is a good idea. 

Day 5: Organize your closet.

Cleaned my closet and wardrobe. In the process, I donated four bags of clothing and threw away one bag of clothes that were not suitable for re-sale. After eliminating these items, I folded and organized items in each clothing bin and thoroughly cleaned the closet. Lots of extra room which is nice.

Before (above): Clothes in bins.
After (below): Fewer clothes that are folded and organized.

Day 6:  "Freeze your wardrobe", says Allison, an artist living in Boston. At first, we thought she was suggesting we put our clothes in cold storage. A shuddering thought! But she meant, "Don't buy any new clothes for a specified time period---freeze your wardrobe in its current state (and continue to cull out the clothes you rarely wear). When you feel compelled to buy something new, write it down on a list." (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 44)

Hanging clothes in my wardrobe after Day 5.
Folded clothes are in the bins (see above). 
I like this idea because - despite having a very limited wardrobe - it makes me take a closer look at what I truly need versus what I simply want.  With the transition from winter to spring/summer, my wardrobe becomes even more limited because I don't wear many of the long-sleeve sweaters and sweatshirts (see picture above).  Ideally, this spring/summer a few new items can be added based on what is missing at this point. 
Day 7: Clear your bathroom counter of everything. Then add no more than three items. Good choices are a water glass, a soap dish, and a scented candle.

Next, declutter your bathroom cabinets and drawers. Toss any product in a jar, tube, or bottle that you have not used for six months. Include prescription and over-the-counter drugs, dried up hand cream, and perfume bottles that are so old the insides are dark brown. Bathrooms need not be a haven for half-used, nearly empty, never-to-be-opened containers. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 45)

I still have some work on the linen closet which has the majority of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines.  I will do this another time when I'm feeling well (I've been sick for over half the week).  This is what I was able to accomplish this morning with the bathroom counter:

Before:  There were ten items and
a platter filled with a variety of things on the counter.

After:  The "simpler" version of the bathroom counter with
a soap/lotion holder, platter from Brazil, and
soap dish with a new bar of soap.

If you'd like to do the 30 Day to a Simpler Life challenge, head over to Enchanted Schoolhouse.  The daily challenges are presented each day with inspiring pictures of Fairy Tale Mama's own journey through the 30 days of tasks.

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