Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lent, and a bunch of other stuff...

Happy almost first weekend of March y'all!  I just returned from celebrating my Mama's birthday with pedicures and lunch, then baking brownies for the hungry teens that invade once school and practice is finished.  I'm so thrilled it's March.  It's always a bit crazy around here with all the birthdays and spring holidays but I adore and thrive on! Seder dinner is just around the corner, and you can be sure I'm already thinking ahead about making a pretty spring table for that, as well as the other spring traditions that I kind of let slide last year.  I wasn't feeling it with my daddy's Alzheimer's diagnosis and I gave myself a free pass.  However, my children told me the free pass was over and I needed to get back to making life fun again so that's what I'm all about.  So important to live in the now, even if your heart is grieving what used to be.  All in. 

Last night, we attended an amazing Ash Wednesday service at our new church.  (Have I mentioned that we started attending a sweet little church in late August and the first Sunday, knew we were home? Huge blessings all around with a church that is all about community- something we were craving in our very core.)  I've never been to a Lent service but it was so fun to lay down a card with the thing we were choosing to give up for Lent, then take communion and pick up a card with "God" printed on it.  Laying down something in our life, to push some extra room in, so we can accept more of God, awareness of His presence in our life and an appreciation of this precious season and the great sacrifice we celebrate at Easter.  Oh how I love it!  (We also got the ash crosses on our foreheads with a blessing and I can now check that off my bucket list.)

Lest I keep you hanging, waiting to hear what I gave up, I shall share. I actually spent a week on this subject recently because I wanted to give up whatever it was that God wanted me to give up. So I prayed and asked Him and He made it pretty clear almost immediately... complaining.  (I know right? I was surprised too, especially considering I don't think of myself as an unusually annoying complainer type... then again, does anyone?)  But, as the pre-lent weeks unfolded, I was so clearly aware that I complain (often subtly, sarcastically, or with eye rolls and humor to mask it) all too often, don't seek to see His blessings in situations I'm not enjoying, and let it affect me and seep into my surrounding relationships.  Ack!  So off to give that up these next forty days (and hopefully indefinitely).  Are you giving something up?

I feel like this is another whole post but the post title says, "a bunch of other stuff" and it's kind of related to the letting stuff go for Lent or otherwise theme.

I feel like our life is so different now than it was last fall when I "stopped blogging" (let's all giggle at that for a moment).  (And when I say so different, I mean a little different.  I like to be dramatic for effect, don't you know.)  I just realized that I've been working part-time for an organizing company for the past 3 years and I can't tell you how it's twisted my thinking and ideas on letting go of things.  I see so many homes that aren't homes, they are simply storage units for way too many unused material items... I see older parents holding onto things their adult kids are never going to want, and I see how things trap and hold people hostage in all manner of ways.  It's honestly sickening and I find myself coming home from most organizing jobs feeling a bit desperate to throw something (anything) into a donate bin and refocus!  

Years ago, Adrain and I dreamed about getting a bed and breakfast and running it in our retirement but I think the combination of seeing my parents forfeit the plans they had for later life as they go through this Alzheimer's journey, coupled with my job as an organizer, has taken Adrain and my dreams and pointed them into a whole other direction.  We now dream of simplifying our entire life, buying a small condo, in our bustling little nearby Village neighborhood where we can walk pretty much anywhere we need to go, and maybe share one car.  We dream of  taking off for occasional weekends to do things and make memories while we can.  Shaking off attachment to things  and entirely changing the look of our next stage of life.  We honestly can't wait.  God often laughs at our plans so we're holding it loosely of course, but moving forward into this new direction for the life we crave.

Of course, this has had a dramatic effect on our daily choices.  I've spent the past 3 years downsizing our things little by little.  That's an odd way to phrase it, but true. We're still thinking and dreaming and we constantly ask one another, "would we take this to our condo someday?  Why do we keep it now then?" (Throw pillows will of course go and are of great importance... Wink.) I did the Madame Chic closet challenge and have spent the entire last year going season by season, paring down my clothing to only about 22 items in any given season and it's incredibly FREEING. As in, totally life changing in every way and I so recommend it if you haven't done it. (Jennifer L. Scott is the Author and all three of her books are delights.) I don't have a linen, hall or decor closet stuffed with anything much other than some toys for tiny visitors... what we have is what's out, we love it, and it's seen and used daily. We all have one set of sheets and we wash them and put them right back on.  My kitchen holds all we need for any entertaining event and we even have an empty cupboard. When we started this process, we decided to have zero guilt about it, no matter who gave it to us or when we got it, or what we spent.  It was time for a life change and we flung ourselves into it! I even got our Christmas decorations condensed  into one large bin.  ONE. 

I figure at this rate, by the time kiddos graduate if not long before, we'll be all set and living ultra-minimally.  (And side note, sweet Ava wants us to do this when she's a senior in high school so she can be in on the adventure a little before she goes to college. Um yes. And yes please!)

Anyway, this is truly my heart these days and I daresay my passion.  Part of why I wasn't certain the direction I could take this blog, was that so often you see social media showing more things to purchase, new ideas to incorporate, extra this, better that, new trends here, etc.  I was at war with this idea and needed the space to shed actual things, and find my focus in all of it.  I will still gladly open my home to you as we continue, and share our spaces. We have a few inexpensive home tweaks possibly to come, (can you say rip off that cabinet and hang open shelving?) but I do fear that it could be a bit more boring (or perhaps refreshing?) as we have more blank, breathable walls now where we didn't before, and are working on this daily less is more mindset in literal ways of having less.  I included a few shots from around the house that make me smile since it's been quite a while since I shared any home photos and I'd like to say that I naturally gravitate to soothing, calm neutrals but even more so when the outside forces feel chaotic or stressful like this season we're in with my daddy.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Lent, and letting go, and what I've said here about being so easily trapped by our possessions and excess. As always, you are precious gems and I adore your readership and encouragement and hope this place encourages you as well. 



  1. I love your church lent activity and always enjoy our lent service as is does feel like an opportunity to kick a bad habit. We are cozy minimalist (think The Nester) at our home and as our youngest started high school and our other daughter graduated college, we moved to a smaller home. My youngest helped with almost every decor... decision as we completely redid the house having sold many of our items. This is my relaxed, favorite house. Best decision ever.

  2. Oh, and I'm giving up desserts for lent. Again.

  3. Love this read! I'm wanting to do the 40 bags in 40 days for lent, and as of now, I am 3 bags behind so I need to get busy! I feel like the stuff in our lives causes too much chaos, and I want to be free of that so I can totally focus on God and the plans he has for our family. I've prayed a lot about where my ministry needs to be, and I feel God telling me it's within my home with my husband and children - and I don't want to waste any of that time feeling guilty about not constantly cleaning so the clutter must go. Plus I know there are people out there that can be blessed by me passing things along. God Bless You and Your Family. Praying for your sweet dad!

  4. What a great post. Thanks so much for sharing. Love to hear about your lenten experience at church. Sounds very powerful. I would love it if you found it in your heart to share more about paring down and removing clutter and excess from your home and life. This is an area that I, like I imagine many others, find so challenging and debilitating. I want what you have but don't know how to get there, as crazy as it sounds.

  5. So happy to see your post this morning :) Thank you for sharing your heart, and home photos.

  6. I was so happy when I saw your post. :) I love reading about simplifying, etc. just not where I want to be with it yet though. Haha, not even close. :P Going through a couple of closets and my kid's old playroom (which has become a junk room) is on my spring list!! :D

  7. Always good to hear from you. I don't usually post but wanted to encourage you regarding our father. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about 7 yrs ago, so a understand your heart. I have 3 sisters so we all do our part to support her, GF food,weekly workouts and church. So far she is sustaining. Please post more on your it need to do the same. Kristie

  8. I don't know how I missed you are back but YAY.....You are BACK!!! :))

  9. Love love love!! I've been into capsule wardrobes lately...for the past year and a half. I've realized that while they do make dressing easier, they tend to make me LOVE to shop. Not good. I also get tired of those same pieces and cannot wait til the ne t season of clothes!! Does this happen to you?

  10. So happy to see a post!
    Always something to think about!
    Do keep posting! Never boring, always inspiring!

  11. I was so happy to see a post from you! I have missed your sweet words. I have spent the past three years detoxing too. Perhaps you motivated me(: We actually sold our home last summer and moved into a smaller, older home close to our daughter's dance studio. We have enjoyed renovating our new home, and decluttering the items we don't need. I actually sold our bake ware this week and now have one baking pan. We will see how that works(: If you have suggestions for a versatile baking pan, I am all ears! Happy to see you back!

  12. Alzheimers is a delicate topic, which I know from personal experience. I am going to say something and hope it doesn't seem trite and simple because I know how it can wound when people minimize or simplify things in a misguided attempt to help.

    As I was reading your words, I was pondering What a gift your Dad is giving you right now. His diagnosis is changing your life in all the terrible ways Alzheimers does, but it is also transforming your viewpoint and what you value in life and I love that your father is giving you that gift even now. His legacy isn't over and his love for you still is covering you even when you cannot find it in the everyday anymore. It seems like the job that has been such a blessing to you in other ways may also have helped prepare you for your response to what your father and family are enduring. Isn't it just like God to bring goodness into our lives that helps us to endure the unendurable? I am lifting you all in my prayers and am so glad to get a chance to hear your thoughts again via your blog now that you are back. I've never commented before, so hopefully this one isn't a dud. :)

  13. Oh my gosh!!! I am actually going to write a post on this at some point because I've been saying this all along & this has been my heart!!! It's like you've been reading my mind. It has given me something to be thankful for the whole way. Who knew? God did!

    1. I am so looking forward to reading that post and hearing about the ways He has been taking care of you and your heart!

  14. I finally read this post, it took me a while because I have been on a similar journey. I want freedom from things, freedom from the allurements of our world, just stuff you know! I posted on my instagram my one post for Lent and I have been completely off, I'm doing it for 40 days with the hope of not engaging in it everyday. My point, to rid myself of attachments to things. I did not give up social media completely,but only the one that I found myself on hour after hour, day after day. I have also given up TV, I'll just read the news if I have to, but I'm off! I am so happy that you posted, missed your posts, just sharing your heart and thoughts, I love it so keep it up when you are able, because it inpires and reveals that it's not a lonely journey.

  15. As my husband and I have worked to become debt-free, we have also begun the KonMari de-cluttering approach... in the simplest of terms, if it doesn't bring you joy, why do you have it? Our house is slowly clearing so there is more space for us, the kids, the dogs and our time. We save HOURS of cleaning by simply removing toys, shelves that aren't necessary, etc. Completely freeing.

    For Lent, I gave up chocolate (as I always do) and I have given up judgment. I spend a lot of time saying "why would that person want that car?" or "how can so & so live like that?" It's not, nor has it ever been my place to judge. I've also given up complaining a bit as a result, so that was a bonus!

    Always love reading your posts, I've been following for years ;)

  16. Just happened to find your blog and love this post. It is the way my husband and I think. Less things, less space and less cleaning + more adventures.

  17. I am so late posting a comment to this post but I just have to do it. I've been reading your blog for years and am thrilled to pieces that you are back! This post spoke to me like no other blog post ever has. I've been slowly, and only moderately successful at best, trying to simplify my home. Several things struck me as I read your words...adults holding on to items that their adult children won't want, homes that are storage units for way too many unused material items, and not using who gave it to you, how long you've had it or the cost as reasons to keep things...all of my excuses right there! This post was brilliant and really struck a nerve, in a good way. I immediately went through my closet and reduced it by about a third! I just finished reading Madame Chic's 20 Stylish Secrets and really enjoyed it. My house is not cluttered except for the closets which are organized clutter. I just love the idea of having less. The hardest things for me to part with are item that belong to my girls (ages 15 and 12) whether its old toys they no longer play with, or old drawings/papers they created. How do I learn not to be so sentimental about all my girls' things? I know that if you hold on to everything then nothing is special. Thank you so much for sharing your skills, wisdom and heart! It has touched me and I've shared this post with many friends.