Sunday, September 23, 2018

Pre-holiday minimalist mindset gut check...

I ended up bringing just a few simple fall touches in, after my recent post.  It feels just right, and not overdone in the least. Wanting that feeling, opposed to the fall craziness I see everywhere, was making me pause. I love that I had to stop and really think about it all before purchasing anything and dragging it home, which is a change I am really embracing these days. And thank you for all the sweet and encouraging comments you guys have been leaving on these posts!  They mean so much to me. 

I've been sharing about becoming minimalist, and how it's changing my life,  and somehow this post feels right in keeping with those thoughts. At least to my way of thinking.  Mainly because if we don't intentionally plan to set out and make changes, we do things the same old way by default.  When you begin making any changes, they force you to evaluate other areas and for me, the holidays are creeping up and I have a whole list of changes I want to make and see made!  I wrote a lifeline blog series, all through last year's holiday season, called "CALM Christmas" and I still go back and read those words sometimes.  They saw me through and pointed the way out of the hole that holidays tend to become!  Last year's holidays were a bit of a challenge for me, for obvious reasons... my daddy had died in October and grief was very fresh.  I found myself taking on EVERY ONE'S happiness as my own personal mission. (Have you ever done this? I'm a people pleaser by nature and I have to fight that like crazy naturally!) I'd no sooner set that self-appointed responsibility back down and remind myself that it wasn't my job, then I would pick it right back up again, and completely ignore my own advice. I'd walk away saddled with everyone's changeable emotions, their every expression and it all felt so heavy I could barely move. 

So, this post is really two parts as I work through and remind my own self of these things.  For the first part... this gut check question literally became my personal shield- "Is this MY problem to solve?"  I had to ask myself  those words, about a million times, especially last December... Most of the time "it" wasn't actually my problem.  If someone's attitude was off... not my problem, even if they had an attitude because of an unmet expectation I was somehow connected with, or something I did or didn't do, or some such. I had to realize that 1.) I will not please everyone no matter how hard I try and because I knew that my intentions are good, I can honestly let myself off the hook here, and 2.) people have control over their own attitudes no matter how I am doing, just like I have to control mine, no matter how others are behaving.  Recognizing that, rather than turning everything back on our own selves is key.  Sadly, I worked my butt off trying to keep all the attitudes around me, all GOOD, and in the end it affected me so much that I struggled to keep my own attitudes afloat.  I had become more of a reflection of those around me, rather than a reflection of Jesus and the reason we were celebrating all of these holidays with family gatherings in the first place.  I had to redirect and re-center my heart again and again as a work in progress.  

For the second part, I began asking myself "Why are we doing this?" What I meant by this question, was to ask and ascertain, whether we were doing something because it was a tradition or because we always did things a certain way... or did we do them because they meant something to us and directed our family and holiday mentalities the way we wanted them to go?  Hint, the wrong answer is, "It won't feel like (insert holiday) if we don't have (insert whatever food, activity, gift, décor, etc.)." 

 I had an epiphany on July 4th this past year.  We were driving home from our very favorite family place in all the world, and it was just us, the Brodeur four pack... and holidays came up. Both my kids started chatting about what they did and didn't like about the holidays and somehow, among many other ah-ha topics, it came out that none of us really liked turkey!  In fact, nobody liked leftovers and one person literally hated the food.  We kind of got to laughing and asking each other why we carry on every holiday the same way... when none of us are crazy about it!?  Suddenly I said, "Hey we can change it... what would EVERYONE like instead?" Immediately they all asked for the same food that they love, a specific activity that has meaning, and that was that.  We decided to change all of it.  It was freeing! Others might be put off by it, but this is my little family and we decided as a group, to make the changes we wanted for our futures! 

What thinking like a minimalist helps, is to begin truly thinking about the whys behind things.  Why we have this, why we keep this, why we use this, etc.  It applies to our mindsets in other areas besides our homes, and possessions, and if we do something without a good reason, we should pause and think about it.  If it doesn't make us our best version of ourselves, improve our quality of life, buoy us to better serve others (especially our family) or propel us to a more lovely way of living or being, it very well could be trapping us in bad habits, mindsets or baggage.

 I could seriously go on and on, but this is something I'm chewing on at present.  My heart is a deep well with what minimalism can and is doing for those who embrace it.  In a world where more is sought, less is appreciated and savored and I don't think that makes anyone truly happy. I would dearly love to hear your thoughts on this.  I know we're a ways away from the holiday season, but it comes a lot faster than we typically realize and I want the right heart going into the months, October through January.  How about you? 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Capacity + Party (Becoming Minimalist)

I recently had a little birthday & transformed this buffet table (that I've overshared like crazy), into a party zone in about five minutes time, and I wanted to share how easy that was, based on the lifestyle I've been adapting.  

I've been sharing different aspects of becoming a minimalist, I've shared how finding your own personal capacity can really help you in the home editing process, and after this particular party experience, I felt totally validated in my choices for paring down everything and holding onto ONLY that which I love and use regularly. It made creating simple festivities a breeze and because there was so much less available in my storage spaces to choose from, it made decisions simple. (Hm... anyone hear a familiar tone there... kind of like my ten item wardrobe thoughts! The less to manage, the less to choose from, the easier life is!)  Normally, I'd hang onto too many serving and party items that might get used once a year. What I'm finding works for me these days, is having pared down "stuff" to only that which can be used again and again, in a variety of ways, with very little fuss and bother, rather than keeping something that is seldom used, in case it's needed.  

(Most of the time, if it's not something I use regularly, I can do without it on the special occasions too.) I actually gave this a lot of thought as I was working through my most recent home edit. I almost always develop a system to help me think through any processes.  It's how my mind is wired and I do it for literally every situation, including things like grocery shopping and unloading those same groceries.  Always, a system happening in my brain. Haha! 
 Throwing a party without becoming a maximalist. (grin) 
1. Establish a space that can be easily adapted for occasions. (I found myself naturally using and decorating this little table space for every occasion, so this is my newly christened "party zone." I like this better than bedecking an entire home with party goo.) 
2. Think through the types of gatherings you like or tend to host and what all that requires. (For example, I dislike having people for formal dinners, yet I enjoy casual throw-togethers such as cheese trays.) (A short example to inventory and have on hand in your home, could be platters, cheese boards, small bowls, glassware, etc.) Then be ruthless with yourself, and donate or consign all the other excess that you actually don't use, but that is taking up precious space in your home! 
 3. Determine what party pieces, serving items and décor you need/don't need and then purchase or pare down accordingly. Consider dual purpose items, such as a glass container that could hold either flowers, or a candle.  Or a round serving item that can work both decoratively as well as hold a cake. 
So, based on my little system, I used the big white vase that I've previously shown with faux fig branches, to hold my birthday flowers... I adapted a glass vessel for some candle-light, and used this wooden round (Crate and Barrel) both for the cake, as well as for this little champagne station.  I used a simple party banner that I had on hand from New Year's Eve, and decided that I may keep using it again and again because it's fun! 

 I like to use my breadboards as decoration between uses, and I love that this table has a flippable shelf that doubles as wine storage when needed and is a smooth shelf on the opposite side, when not needed....  Anything with a reversible or dual purpose usually as me at, well... "dual purpose." 

I had a sweet birthday and have been loving this new way of life.  It touches every part of how I do things these days and I'm not even an extreme minimalist.  If you're on the fence about embracing your own brand of minimalism, just consider all the time you won't be spending doing things the same old ways!  One additional perk from living this way, is that you'll find yourself sorting out the broken, chipped, non-working junk, and you'll gravitate instead, toward choosing that which is lovely, pretty, useable, etc... it will actually improve your overall quality of life. 

You'll love and know what you have, and where it all is.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Fall cozifying with a minimalistic mindset

 Normally, about this time of the year, I'm bringing in pumpkins and branches and going a little crazy with the whole fall décor thing. This year is different because I've been working so hard on getting our home "just so" with less, (or at least my brand of less, since that amount is deeply personal & unique to each of us) that I found myself loving it the way it is, and not feeling like disturbing the balance.

I wanted to do a different type of home fall tour and I hope you enjoy... The more fall clutter I see on social media, the less I want to invite that same clutter in my own home, so mine is more about the feel and coziness.  (I call it Fallitizing or Cozyifying.) (Feel free to adopt my made up words.)  I may at some point bring home a pumpkin, but I kind of need to think it through first, because I have no idea where I would even put it at this point. I have no desire to just purchase for the sake of purchasing because it's what I've always done. Which brings us to the becoming minimalist mindset... This is a big change in my thinking so I'm celebrating it.  I think about things BEFORE any purchases are ever made, whereas before I would often just see, grab and buy.  Now, I need to visualize it in my home first, see how it makes it better, (does it?) and then I still think about it, not getting it about eighty percent of the time!  (My budget is much happier these days... which brought me to today's post.) 

 (This is how the room looked before all of the changes I'm sharing today.)

Because I'm not even remotely casually spending (not that I ever went buck wild with spending, just so you know) I have forced myself to think differently when I do spend, if that makes sense.  My past self would never have considered spending a little more to get what I actually wanted, as I was content spending less to get something "close" or a "knock off" and then I noticed that because I spent less in the first place, and didn't think it through, planning and plotting to save up etc... I could more easily replace, toss, discard... and it created a weird cycle that cost me more in the long run.  

I am sharing two sweet examples today, and bear with me for all the wordy explanations but I do think it's important to share, as many of you are following along and working to become minimalists in your own spaces and minds.  We used to have a thrifted chair in our office. (Top photo) I painted it, recovered it, added casters and it was fine.  Not horribly comfortable as an office chair, but fine. When my husband closed up his old office, several good pieces I had purchased came back home to me.  Some went, some stayed.  Four linen covered dining chairs stayed and one of them functions as an office chair when not needed at the dining table. (Our dining table has six chairs at a time, one resides in the master closet, and the other is in the office, so if need be, we still have eight dining chairs to arrange.) I couldn't part with this thrifted chair so it got moved into the bedroom and I removed the casters on the bottom.  But the cushion needed recovering, and the paint needed retouching. I really wanted to add masculine elements because the chair felt a bit "too sweet"  and feminine with all the curves, white and soft colored upholstery. (I do try to keep a neutral balance of feminine and masculine in our bedroom.) I pulled out the deep gray chalk paint that we used to stencil our laundry room floor (here) (best choice ever btw.) and it was instant love.  As I shopped for fabric to recover the pillow and seat cushion, I used a coupon but purchased exactly what I really wanted.  A textured gray wool that wasn't inexpensive.  I figured it would wear like I wanted, and be more timeless.  I was right.  However, then it came to me, that the chair might be better suited in our living room as it really went better in there now, with the changes.  So I swapped places with the big upholstered armchair and had a moment of heart pitter patters.  (Please note, this room functions like a dream, but it doesn't photograph like I ever want it to.  The floating chair never looks right in the photos but it does in person.)
 (Little side note... I scored this wood planter at Goodwill for six dollars and it inspired a gathering of simple, yet favorite treasures on my "mantle" shelf here.  As I rethink what I'm keeping, I find myself feeling quite a bit more sentimental about that which stays... as though all the excess kept me from truly appreciating that which has meaning?  I'm  not sure... but maybe.) 

 Example number two is blankets.  I needed to replace a beloved furry throw that we used nightly but was coming apart and couldn't be washed any longer, along with a ratty knit one that had been washed one too many times.  I had seen a sale at West Elm (one of my favorite stores) and decided just to look and see, even though I had never purchased anything there.  I immediately found two throw blankets that were just what I wanted with soft and chunky textures, so I worked out the splurge, something I would seriously never done before. (With the sale, they weren't much more than I would probably have spent before, but the quality was miles beyond what I would typically have gotten, so I'm figuring they will last.)  I could not be more thrilled with these choices.  (This chunky soft gray one... oh my!  I'd take this over a bunch of pumpkins any day. Haha!)

 And that brings me to today's wrap up.  No, I haven't added a ton of true fall décor yet... and actually I might not, who knows.  Instead, I've got yummy candles and tealights sprinkled here and there that I light nightly.  I've got the perfect mix of pillows on the sofa (I actually only have these pillows now... all others have been consigned.) along with those soft throws. (One old one that I kept in the mix with the two new ones is velvet... oh my!) I have added lots of pretty texture in each room, while keeping colors muted.  When I walk into our open concept space, I think I can feel my heart beating slower.  My steps calm.  Fall cozifying at it's finest, inviting me to slow, savor and enjoy.  

Keep in mind, that minimalism can be about having next to nothing... and for some people that is what it means to them.  For others, it's more about having less, better quality, and only what is used and enjoyed regularly.  I'd say I fall more into that category. How about you? What does minimalism in your space look like? 

(Up next, I'll be sharing my birthday and how I practice capacity in my home, while adding in party elements!)