A love note for you, as we enter the holiday season

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The human heart is an incredible thing. It can break in half and still keep beating. It loves even when it is hurt. And, it dares to hold so many things at once: sadness and joy; grief and gratitude; longing and abundance.

The holidays have a way of magnifying the weight of those things. They feel like opposites—in conflict with one another—when they're actually parts of the same whole. It’s impossible to live a full life without feeling and experiencing all of it. This is wonderful news and terrible news, all at once.

Here's the good part: our hearts are not alone, even when it feels like that sometimes. We may not know how we light the path for someone else and make carrying the load feel worth it. We may not know how we lift each other up and help each other move forward. And yet, we do.

Your courageous heart helps my courageous heart. And for that, I thank you.

The life-changing magic of doing what works (and ignoring what doesn't)

Books about home. I'm slightly addicted.

Books about home. I'm slightly addicted.

A friend recently wrote something on Facebook that made me laugh. While on a road trip, she had listened to the audio version of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a wildly popular book on decluttering with a cult following. Here's what my friend had to say about the author's life-changing advice:

  • I guess Ikea won't solve my problems
  • I pretty much need to throw away 2/3 of my belongings
  • I have been folding my socks wrong
  • The author obviously does not have any kids

My friend noted that she was still headed to Ikea. And, to that I say, Go girl! Ikea may not solve our problems but it certainly helps ease the pain. 

I've read The Life-Changing Magic and have referenced it a few times here on the blog. Off the top of my head, here are some things I found helpful:

  • Declutter by category, not by room, starting with clothes
  • Discard first, organize later
  • Don't declutter mementos until the very end
  • If it doesn't spark joy, let it go

And while I've found these tips helpful, I'm a rebel and don't always do what I'm told. I suppose the "spark joy" rule goes for advice as well. I tend to follow the advice that inspires me to action, and I discard the tips that make me feel stressed, tired, or like I'm doing it wrong. 

I had an epiphany sometime last year, and it happened when my husband was out of town and the stomach bug was taking down the rest of us one by one. I was also in the middle of painting my oldest son's bedroom. I felt the bug coming on, but I refused to set down the roller until a few minutes before I got sick. Then I proceeded to feel like hell for about 12 hours. 

But in the minutes and seconds leading up to that? Totally happy. 

The epiphany was that doing things around my house gives me energy. Not everything. But certain things. When it comes to decluttering or tackling the next project, rather than follow some master checklist that someone else created, I ask myself, what's driving me crazy? What's the next thing I can do right now that will make me feel better?

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all of the things, because I don't know where to start. But when I really stop and think about it, I'll realize something like, "The thing that's making me nuts is that when I open my kitchen cabinets, plastic cups fall out on top of me." So I'll declutter the kitchen next. 

I turn to books and expert advice (and blogs, heh) when I need to get my head around the task at hand. Sometimes, I need the extra voice to inspire me, motivate me, or give me a creative idea I haven't thought of. 

Here's what I don't do: use the KonMari method to fold my clothes. I spent an entire day trying to follow that advice, and that's a day I'll never get back. 

Cheers to Ikea! 

Angie

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The art of pausing and celebrating

I feel a surge of creativity in the summertime. It's the illusion of long, unscheduled days and weeks that makes me think, I have so much time! That's why my summertime to-do list always looks something like this: 

•declutter the house

•decorate the house

•sort through 25,000 photos trapped on old discs and hard drives

•read the stack of books I've been meaning to get to

Does anyone else have a list like this? I took that question to Instagram and Facebook a couple of weeks ago and many of you answered, "Me! Me!"

This list is also my New Year's Resolutions list. And, I've been making this list for about six years, ever since we moved into the house we're in now. 

The underlying why behind my too-ambitious list is this: I value making my home feel more like home, and I value feeling at home in my life (which is somewhat the same thing, but also not the same thing at all). So at the beginning of June, with my list in one hand and my proverbial why in the other, I started chipping away. Here's what I've done so far:

•decluttered the kitchen pantry as well as the art supplies stored in the kitchen pantry, and moved the pared down art supplies to a new location because the crayons and markers kept falling into the trash can. 

sorted the contents of the attic

decluttered toys 

•hung some cool skate board art on my oldest son's bedroom walls

•painted my middle child's bedroom and hung shelves and artwork. 

•donated and tossed many things

I'm not being all "woo hoo! look at me!" although I am proud of myself. My point is that I didn't realize I had done all of these things until I stopped for a moment and took an inventory. I was so focused on the next thing, that I didn't appreciate how far I'd come. 

I'm all about riding the wave of momentum, especially when I'm trying to tackle something big. I love the satisfaction of checking things off the list. The problem is that the list is never ending. 

Pausing and celebrating is just as important and necessary as the doing. So this week, I'm adding that to the list. 

How do you balance doing, with not doing?

Related: here's a video I did a couple of years ago with Solange Swafford about how learning to be can transform your to dos. 

And, If you're into podcasts, here's a really good one about the importance of celebrating, (hint: it's restorative and life-giving) and lots of candid talk about why we don't celebrate more often. 

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