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“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 
― Dr. Seuss

Where Did the Joy of Christmas Go?

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”  ― Dr. Seuss
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss

Remember when you were a child and you couldn’t wait for Christmas day to come? You were literally counting down the sleeps until that special day? Looking back I remember the get-togethers, playing with my cousins, driving around to look at the Christmas lights, the music and mostly the excitement of the big day building up.

So what happens as we grow up? We stop believing in the magic of Christmas perhaps? We forget about the reason behind the season and the true meaning? We end up emptying our bank accounts and then some? It could be a number of reasons. I recently polled some of our Facebook followers to see what it is about the holiday season that really irks them. The answers were: commercialization, financial strain, expense, excessive gift buying, pressure to buy gifts, the drama, and the excessive packaging. One person also resented the fact that stores started decorating and playing music way before December.

I think that all of these are valid reasons for feeling a little Scroogey.

Problem: Let’s first address the holiday in terms of the expense of it all. Who do we buy present for and where do we draw the line? We make our list. We have our immediate family, our parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, friends…Oh! Don’t forget about teachers, bus drivers, the paperboy…let’s not forget about our Dr’s…I mean PULLEASE. Where does it end? No wonder we are broke and have negative feelings towards Christmas!

Solution: Narrow your list to suit your budget. There are other ways to show appreciation. And how many mugs and smelly things can one teacher have?! Do they want a gazillion #1 Teacher ornaments? I am guessing for the most part no. At least not the ones that I have spoken with . How about writing a letter to let them know how much they are appreciated? Believe it or not, not everyone wants to receive gifts. Seriously. Unless you find truly meaningful gifts who is to say that your bus driver wants 25 boxes of chocolates. Don’t buy just for the sake of buying.

Here are some other ways that you can show appreciation:

Three Alternatives To An Expensive Gift

  • Quality Time (My favorite!) In my opinion this is the best way to show someone that you care. It is the chance to spend time together and make memories. I am more likely to remember the day we had together laughing and talking but chances but chances are I won’t remember or think too much about that sweater you got me.
  • Make a Gift. My favorite gifts are the ones that people have spent time making for me. My husband has built things with his tools, my bff made a beautiful quilt for me, my mom has made me afghans. Over the years my hubby has written me poems. These are some of my most treasured things ever! Yes some of these things still cost money but if you already have the materials to make them then you can also save money. Another benefit of making your own gift is that there isn’t all of the excessive packaging that goes with store bought items. It’s a win-win.
  • Offer your services. Offer to take your friend’s children for the day or for a sleep over so that they can have some time to themselves. That can be a real lifesaver when you need a break and don’t have family that is close by. Have your friends over for a nice meal or plan a day trip together. All of these things make for fun experiences.

More great ideas! Here are more alternatives to buying gifts from Leo at Zen Habits.

Problem: Consumerism. Consumerism is slapping Christmas in the face and turning it into a retail free for all. Companies are using Christmas as a prime time to market their products. They all claim to have the ‘perfect’ gift amongst all of the plastic and boxes. There are tons of toy commercials on TV this time of year; much to parents chagrin. There needs to be that balance between Christmas and consumerism.

Solution: Don’t buy into it. (Pun intended). Do what you feel comfortable doing. Spend what you are able to spend. There are some things that are out of our control like the commercials, the store’s music, decorations, and advertising. People feel pressured into buying from the ‘get a head start on Christmas’ slogans. You know that though? I cannot stress this enough…people need to start doing what is right for them. If you feel like the true meaning of Christmas is lost then how can you find it again? In a previous post I suggested sitting down with your loved ones and discussing exactly what your goals were for the holiday season. Make your Christmas mission statement. You may be surprised to know that gift buying and giving etc. isn’t what everyone cares about anyways.

Problem: Family Drama. This can be tricky. I feel like this one should be left to the experts. I get that all families have drama. Why does this exasperate at Christmas time? I know that some families have to drive all over God’s green (or white) earth at Christmas time. Some love hangin’ with the fam. while others just want to stay home. I haven’t had these issues because my husband’s family is all overseas, my parents live in the same town as me and my brother isn’t far away.

Also all families have different dynamics and get along or don’t get along for various reasons. Dealing with that when you are all together at Christmas can be tough.

Solution: Let the little things slide and deal with the big issues. In other words there comes a point when you realize that you cannot change people so you either accept them for who they are or move on. Well, with family this is a little more difficult especially at family functions. So the little things that annoy you should just be ignored while the things that are going to make you insane if you have to deal with them one more time should perhaps be dealt with in the form of a reasonable conversation. We hope that our families will act perfectly at all times but we know that this is not realistic so set your expectations a teeny bit lower.

My Christmas wish for you is to have a positively wonderful holiday season. Make the most out of what you have wherever you are. You can do it!!!

Christmas

 

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The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.

Interview With Kristin Allan (Heart to heart about life in the moHo, minimalism, and technology).

Thanks Kristin for being our guest over here at the Simple Life Celebration Blog! For those that don’t know, your blog Along the Heart Trail: Tales From a Tiny Home on Wheels was started after you purchased a motor home and moved up North. I was ecstatic to be delving into your mind and hearing all about your story, reasons behind your adventure and minimalism!  

The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.
The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.
  • What prompted you to start your blog?
Hi ladies! I’m so flattered that you have asked me to be a guest.  I first got the idea to start a blog from a colleague who thought that I had a lot of knowledge to share with the world. That was about a year and a half ago.  I kind of laughed at him and said thanks, but my life isn’t that interesting. Who would read my rants and ramblings anyway? It took me a year and a half to get the nerve up to create a blog domain and write the first post. My biggest fear was that I might scare off some friends and acquaintances with my bold opinions on the state of our world. I decided that speaking my truth was more important than what others think of me.
  •  How would you describe yourself?
This is a broad question.  I would say that I’m a black sheep. I feel like I see the world a bit differently, even since a very young age.  I have always been observant of my surroundings and of other people and have a strong curiosity for human psychology and what makes people tick. More importantly, what makes people happy? A year and a half ago, I would have called myself a “people pleaser”.  Now, I have reformed myself to be a “ME pleaser” first, and when I have left over time and energy, I still love to help others to find their own happiness and purpose.
  •     Can you tell our readers how you came to the decision of leaving the town that you were in and your business to live in the MoHo?
In a nutshell, I was an owner/operator of a successful consignment clothing store in a small town.  My business partner, who was also my life partner, and I parted ways and it just didn’t make sense for us to co-own the business…after an additional year of trying to tell myself that it would work out to continue to run the business together. So I sold my shares in the business and was looking for a new life path. Enter my fiancé. He and I were both searching for more meaning in our lives. We didn’t know what we were looking for until we found each other. He’s a black sheep too. In a really good way. Last Christmas, a family member re-gifted us a book about minimalist living that we thoroughly enjoyed. It prompted us to downsize our lives and buy a 1982 26’ motorhome. We wanted to experience living with as little as possible in a tiny space to see if people really need all of the STUFF that we seem to covet in our society.  A bonus of living in a motor home is that it’s 100% portable and allows us to be adventurous.
  •       Was it difficult to minimize your belongings even further to fit in your cozy home on wheels? Have you always considered yourself to be a minimalist?
To be honest, it was pretty simple for both of us to get rid of our extra stuff.  We were both pretty minimalist when we met so it wasn’t a huge leap.  I certainly wasn’t raised with a minimalist mindset.  As a child, I had all of the material STUFF that I could have ever asked for.  But, strangely enough, our family was still not happy most of the time. I grew up on the east coast of the US and when the opportunity arose for me to move to Alberta in 2004, I left everything I owned behind, except a carry-on size suitcase with a few articles of clothing and some toiletries. I would say that was pretty minimalist, I just didn’t know it at the time.  After a few years, my mom asked if I wanted her to send any of my STUFF to Alberta.  I said “I have no idea what I left behind, so probably not. Thanks for asking. Please donate what you can to a charity.” The things that I thought were so important had become irrelevant.  Fast forward to 2011, when my ex and I separated. I left with my clothing, a few books, a yoga mat, a bed and my trusty ol’ VW Jetta. Literally, that was IT.  Having so little feels SO freeing.
  •   Do you miss any of your belongings?
Nope.  I couldn’t even tell you what I parted with, other than a bed.  I really enjoyed re-gifting some items that I knew others would appreciate having. Living in our tiny home has been like a chastity belt for purchasing or accepting any new STUFF. It’s awesome.
  •     What advice would you give for anyone else considering pairing down their ‘stuff’?
Open your closets and storage spaces. Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself by tackling everything at once.  If you find yourself thinking “WOW! I forgot I had this thing”, ditch it.  If it something has an inch of dust on it, ditch it. If you haven’t used it or worn it in at least a year, ditch it.  Even the stuff that you feel a sentimental attachment to, or feel an obligation to keep just because you are worried that the person who gave it to you might be offended if they discover you no longer have that THING…ditch it.  Then do a happy dance. Tell everyone that you are on a mission to live a simpler life.  How can they be upset when they see how happy and light you are?!
  •     Is there anything that you were not anticipating when you made this move?
Hmmmm. We have had to rely on the kindness of friends and family for showering. The shower in our motor home is VERY teenie. So we use it to house our drinking water bottle and some extra items that didn’t fit in the small cupboards.  Also, the oven is so small that you could only bake 6 muffins, so I do baking in real ovens.  Oh, also, the motor home guzzles fuel.  So we find ourselves being very calculated about how far and how often we move her around.
  •     How do you think technology has changed the world? Is it necessary? How do you think it has affected our relationships?
Haha. I will try to keep this answer brief, because I could write a novel about this. Technology is good. In some ways. I think there have been a lot of amazing breakthroughs that are saving lives and helping raise the bar for our quality of life on earth.  On the flip side, my personal view is that a lot of the gadgets that are being pushed on us as modern conveniences are actually degrading our quality of life and the human connections that we all need to thrive. The next time you’re in a public place, like a mall or restaurant, take a few minutes to sit quietly and observe others.  Chances are that you will see people ignoring those they are with to attend to their texts and Facebook messages.  Everyone is distracted by the beeps and buzzing of their phones and other devices. I think people are forgetting what really matters in life. The people. I think smart phones and the like give us all a false sense of connection.  I am a huge advocate for TECHNOLOGY-FREE days.  Make an agreement with yourself and family members to turn off all phones, beepers, buzzers, computers and the TV and go outside. Do something together that will create memories. When you go out for coffee with a friend, turn your phone off and hide it so it won’t be tempting. Life is too short to miss the special moments.
  •  If you could encourage people to read one book what would it be and why?
I have read a lot of awesome books in the last few years, but I think the one that I am re-reading right now is amazing.  It’s one of the books that first inspired me to start my blog. It’s called Turning to One Another by Margaret Wheatley.  She brilliantly explores the idea of human connection and why it’s SO important in today’s frantically fast-paced world. I’m actually writing a new blog post about it coming up!
  • Do you have a favorite blog?
This may be ironic, but I don’t really read other blogs. I try not to spend much time online. I find it distracts me from living in the moment and enjoying what’s right in front of me. I am a recovering Facebook addict.  Like many (or most?), there was a period of time when I was consumed by clicking on Facebook a dozen times a day.  Now, my blog posts even go to Facebook automatically so I don’t even have to log on there.  It’s pretty awesome.
  • What do you think are necessities in life?
It’s pretty simple to me. Obviously, food, water and shelter are givens. Above and beyond those, I think we all need meaningful relationships and loving connections with other humans. We need to do what we love every day. Even just doing little things can make a huge difference.  That’s it. The rest is just static, distracting us from living an innately beautiful existence.
  • If you could have one wish granted for the world what would it be?
This feels like a Miss Universe question, so I will try not to stumble and sound silly. I think what I would like to see is for people to start taking responsibility for their own thoughts and actions. We all need to stop making excuses, and start helping ourselves. Mind our own business and stop gossiping. Resolve our own conflicts, treat our minds and bodies with love, and start giving more and taking less. Be the change. It all starts with you.
  • Anymore adventures for you and the moHo?
Oh yes!  The adventure has just begun.  We have lived in our moHo for 6 months now. We have enjoyed it SO much that we are going to continue to live in there for as long as it’s feasible. Winter is just around the corner in Northern Alberta, so we have decided to head to the West Coast for the chilly months.  We have some really exciting ideas up our sleeves.  Human social experiments, if you will.  It’s going to be amazing and I’m super excited to blog about it all.  If you are curious: www.alongthehearttrail.blogspot.com
Thanks again Kristin. I am looking forward to following up with you next year to see where your adventures have led you! 

Kristin Allan is a Pennsylvania native who migrated north to Alberta 9 years ago. She strives to live simply by minimizing the stuff and stress, while maximizing the love in her life.
For several years she operated a women’s consignment clothing store which she founded in central Alberta.  “Buy it used” is her motto.

She and her man half recently sold most of their belongings and purchased a 30 year old motorhome to live in for the warm season, until the bitter northern Alberta winter chases them into a warmer space.

Kristin loves to share her knowledge of minimalism, growing food, healthy communication and veggie cooking with curious folks.

kristin

Why I Try to Buy Second Hand

I think we can all say that we have bought something brand spankin’ new at one time or another thinking that it was da’ bomb. BUT…before you know it,  it has sat around collecting dust. It just wasn’t what you had hoped for or maybe it was too confusing to even use. Perhaps you tried it out and it wasn’t at all what you thought it would be. Sound familiar? We have all been there, done that. We feel badly for wasting our hard earned money.

I have been making a conscious effort in the last year to buy used. Whether it is furniture, an appliance, books, toys, or clothes there are so many reasons why it is good to buy items used.

First of all when you buy used you do not put a strain on the environment. You do not have all of the packaging that your product comes with. (The tape, boxes, bubble wrap, foam packing, manuals, instructions etc.) Also, you may be preventing things from going into the landfill when you get them second hand. Bonus!

I also just love the look of used, antique and vintage items. I think that things have more character when they are old. Have you noticed that people are refinishing old furniture and repurposing things all the time now? I love it!!! People are making beautiful, functional, artistic pieces out of old things. Ever noticed that old appliances and furniture were built to last not just to outlast the warranty?!

Another obvious reason for buying used is to save money. Why pay an insane price for something that you can potentially find in the same condition for much less money? It’s like when you buy something and then the next day you find that same item for sale. I always feel like I have been ripped off by spending more than I needed to.

By buying used items, you support local businesses (consignment shops/thrift shops). In my community much of the money from these items goes back into my community. Cool! Buying from Kijiji, Craigslist or the Buy n’ Sell also helps other people declutter. That make me feel good too. 🙂 “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-jsCyovGeI

When I buy used I always find that there is a sense of satisfaction knowing that I saved money and got a deal! Don’t get me wrong I not only buy second hand but I sell and donate a fair bit as well. Here is a list of some of the items that I have sold, donated or given away since the beginning of the year.

 

I have been getting rid of lots of things!
I have been getting rid of lots of things!

I have made $1145.0 from the buy and sell it was stuff that no longer served a purpose in my family. Yes we have made purchases as well but the selling is outnumbering the buying. I may have to research and wait a few days or even weeks to really find what I am looking for but it is totally worth it! It also gives the kids incentive to let go of some toys when they can make a little money for themselves.

I would love to hear your reasons for buying used items! Drop us a comment below. Thanks!

 

 

Minimalist Packing

minimalist packing

 

We’ve gotten pretty good at packing light. This is important now that some airlines have begun to charge for ALL bags! There was the spur of the moment trip to Great Falls Montana where the Cevrainis left their house with nothing but a change of clothes, some P.J.’s and a few snacks! It was one of the best weekend’s ever! (The whole story is back on my personal blog: http://cevraini.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/lewis-and-clark-adventure/ ) I went to Edmonton for the week for work in the spring, and only took a back pack and my laptop bag (pictured above)! I had enough clothes for the week, including some workout stuff. Krystal and I went to North Carolina for the weekend for a retreat and we had a duffel bag each! Our families went to Florida this spring for 10 days and the Worths (5 people) had 3 suitcases and the Cevrainis had 4 (one for each person). We saw families with A LOT more than that and they struggled through the airport. Never again will we be like that.

The benefit is, it usually only takes me about 15 minutes to pack and then I don’t have a ton of stuff to try to carry around! I love it! The only thing we were missing for Montana was swim suits, but we did that on purpose because we all needed new ones and they were cheaper there! LOL!

Here’s my list of things that I normally pack in my suitcase (to be checked):

  1. PJ’s
  2. Toothbrush & paste
  3. Shampoo & soap
  4. Small bottle body lotion
  5. Norwex facecloth – this is the only thing I use on my face
  6. Norwex towel – this is light weight and dries quickly
  7. Contacts, solution & glasses
  8. Minimal “first aid” – tylenol, homeopathics etc.
  9. Feminine hygiene
  10. 4 pairs undies & socks
  11. 1 sport bra
  12. Capris or my other comfy pants
  13. 2 short-sleeve tops
  14. 2 long sleeve running tops – these are nice and are cool or warm for every day, great for layers
  15. 1 yoga pant
  16. 1 yoga top
  17. Swim suit
  18. Sandals
  19. Journal & Pens
  20. Books (1 or 2)

Here’s my list of things that I normally pack in my carry on:

  1. Passport and documentation
  2. My small wallet
  3. Book and notes that I’m working on
  4. iPhone and/or GPS for travel car (and charger)
  5. Laptop
  6. Few granola bars and snacks
  7. Kleenex
  8. Gum & mints
  9. Lip balm
  10. Water

Try packing less the next time you travel. What’s the worst that can happen? You may need something, but chances are it’s pretty minor. You won’t regret it – and you’ll love the ease of moving through the airport compared to the others that need a cart!

 

Clutter Chaos

gerberia daisies

The dog wants out in the middle of the night. As you fumble towards the front door, you trip over the pile of clothes in the bedroom, bump over the box in the hall, stub your toe on the stack of books at the top of the stairs and have to push the coats & shoes out of the way as you struggle to get the door open…

You decide that you want to make a special cake for your 8 year old for his birthday. After pulling 8 pans out of the cupboard, including a bundt cake pan (what the heck is that thing for, anyway?), you finally find the one you’re looking for. You rummage through the pantry trying to find the brown sugar. When you finally find it, you realize that it is hard as a rock. You run to the store and end up buying a cake from the shelf instead; for twice the price of the sugar…

Your husband calls you from work and offers to take you out for dinner. You are elated and excited. After spending 10 minutes looking for your babysitter’s number on that piece of paper, you jump in the shower and knock over 3 shampoo bottles that have a tiny bit of shampoo left in them. Then you try to grab a fresh towel and pull down 5 others in the process. You untangle the cords from 4 different curling irons. You rummage through the closet past outfits you wore 10 years ago to find your favorite pair of jeans. You realize the top you wanted to wear is wrinkly in the dryer. 15 minutes later, you realize that the iron you plugged in isn’t heating up because it’s the one that your hubby was going to fix and you remember you bought a new one two months ago and find it still in the bag from the store sitting beside the freezer. After dumping 3 make-up bags out onto the counter in the bathroom, you’ve got your mascara on and quietly pray that it’s only a year old instead of the two you think it is. Your husband gets home and you realize that you forgot to tell him to pick up the babysitter. You get annoyed that he didn’t think of that and you start the evening off glaring at each other…

Everyone in the family is exhausted. You check the calendar and realize that there are 3 times in the week that you have to be in the opposite sides of town at the same time. You can’t remember the last time all of you sat down and had a meal together. You don’t remember the last time you just played a game with the kids or had a pajama day and just stayed home. If you’re not going to a practice or a recital; you’re heading to the mall “for something to do”. You realize that there are several items of clothing in all the closets (some still in bags) that have never been worn and are now too small. You have multiple projects on the go, and haven’t touched any of them in months. You are exhausted, and just don’t know what to do.

We have been there too, we know what it’s like. We’ve been doing a lot of minimalizing over the past couple years, we’re here to help you. Minimalizing isn’t about throwing out everything in the house. It isn’t about living like a hermit. It’s focusing on what is really important and getting rid of all the excess. It’s not about keeping up with what everyone else has or does; it’s about doing what is best for you and your family.

The Simple Life Gals encourage you to go through different areas in your homes and lives and really prioritize what is important to you. We welcome your questions and we’ll support you in whichever way we can. If you would like to book a session, with us, check out our sessions here: Organizing Services.

Spring is in the Air

This is an article that I wrote last year that fits well with this weeks theme.You may want to do a personal challenge of your own? Even if it is a small challenge, it is still moving forward! Follow Shawna on Simple Life Celebration’s Facebook page as she completes her 365 Thing challenge by getting rid of at least one item per day for the WHOLE year! 


☼Spring is in the air, the snow is melting, the sun is shining and the geese are beginning to fly back home. It’s as if that fresh air and sunshine brings with it this yearning to clean and find order in our lives! With Spring comes the inspiration to clean and tackle those areas that don’t regularly get touched.

 

I have been reading endless blog posts not only about Spring cleaning but also about clearing mental clutter, clearing emotional clutter and not letting other distractions get in the way of living life. I mean REALLY living life! I am taking this all as a sign from the Universe that this year we need to put a spin on things; in true Simple Life style. 😉

 

We say it all the time. We are not only Professional Organizers, we want to help you simplify your lives so that you can take the time to enjoy the important things. In fact this week I took a few minutes to physically write down a list of simple pleasures. You know the things that we so often take for granted. Many things that I wrote revolved around time; taking a moment to really enjoy the company of friends and family, going for a bike ride, surprising someone with a kind word or note of appreciation, cuddles and LOTS more. What if we made the time to enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures? Wouldn’t life be grand!?!

 

And the thought that screams into many people’s heads is but I just don’t have the time! Poppy cock I say! I challenge you to really look at the time in your day. You may spend an hour watching some show on TV that you won’t even remember in the morning. Are you on Facebook once or twice a day? How much time do you spend on it? How often do you sneak on the computer or your phone to check emails? Do you find that you have subscribed to way more than you can find to read? Are you running from one thing to the next all week long? Perhaps it is time to recheck priorities and figure out what truly matters to you. Life gets crazy at times but if you don’t want it to be busy then evaluate your schedule.

 

Last year Shawna and I had our Minimalist Challenge. This was where we divided all of the areas in our homes into zones and tackled each one individually. We got rid of LOTS of stuff that we did not need, love, or use. We gave ourselves two weeks to get each space done. (Empty, clean, sort, purge, reorganize, put back together, and get the donations/recycling out of our houses.) It was really quite freeing and it was doable because we all did it together. We encouraged each other and were accountable. It was a personal challenge with a manageable time limit!

 

This year we wanted to do a followup to the Minimalist Challenge from last Spring.

We are calling it the Simple Spring Cleanse.

Here is the actual definition.

 

cleanse

verb (tr)

 

  1. to remove dirt, filth, etc, from

  2. to remove guilt from

 

We want to cover both of the above definitions. By all means feel free to do the usual Spring clean but we are asking ourselves to also think not only about the physical stuff but also the mental, emotional, and even digital clutter that inhabits our worlds on a a daily basis.

What sorts of things can we get rid of?

 

  • items in your home that are broken, that you no longer need, want, or love.

  • magazine, newspaper or other subscriptions that you no longer read.

  • email/blog subscriptions that take time away from other important things that you want to do. (Keep you favourites only!)

  • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google plus etc.- can you limit these in any way? Can you cut down your time here or have a day a week that you disconnect? Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist talks about Finding Significance in a World of Distractions. YES, love it! The gist is to recognize the distractions and manage them.

  • Emotional clutter. What is this anyway? Bernice Wood from the Blog, Living the  Balanced Life talks about what it is here:

Some of the emotional clutter we may carry:

Worries Low self-image

Toxic relationship Guilt

Anxiety Fear

Inability to trust Anger

Negative outlook, pessimist

Read more about this!

 

  • Mental Clutter. The Minimalist’s, Ryan Nicodemus writes about Decluttering your Mental Clutter. He describes this as “the voices in your head that won’t be quiet.” We all know about that. Those things from the past or present that make you feel anxious and weigh on your mind. These included physical health, circumstances, and past troubles. Time to deal with these and say good bye!

 

 

  • Unfinished projects. If it has been sitting around forever and you haven’t dealt with it then decide if this is something you really want to do. If you do then stop making excuses and schedule time to do it!
  • Nostalgic clutter. Gretchen Rueben author of the Happiness Project describes this as, “things you hold on to from your past that you don’t need or use.  Things like old text books, old love letters, etc.” I think I may still have all of my binders and textbooks from college. Hmmmm…

  • Aspirational clutter. How about those jeans that you are hoping to fit back into again?

  • Commitments. How many things are you involved in? Are you running from one activity to the next all the time? Do you want to be? Do you have time for the things that you really want to do?

 

Sound good? We think so! Let’s do this together. We can share stories and support on our Facebook page too. http://www.facebook.com/simplelifecelebrations

 

The end result is happiness in the palm of our hands….Mmmmmm…..


 

Need help getting started? We can help!

www.simplelifecelebrations.com

krystal@simplelifecelebrations.com

shawna@simplelifecelebrations.com

Towards a Simpler Christmas

simple Christmas

Written by Shawna November 2011

Well, it’s getting much closer now…we just got some snow here this week. Honestly, we’ve been pretty lucky that we haven’t had any up until now. That’s been kinda unusual! But with the snow, for me [S], comes more thoughts on Christmas.

As many of you know, I’ve been working toward a more Minimalist lifestyle. In particular, less stuff and MORE FUN has become my motto. This holds true for our Christmas plans this year.
We are going to be going to Disney World in the spring, plus, we’ve decided that we really don’t need so much STUFF. The kids’ Christmas wish list actually only had 5 items on it, most of which were pretty minimal. They even decided to ask for an XBOX 360 together (we’ll see what Santa thinks on that one) rather than thinking about separate stuff.
I have asked family to refrain from getting the kids so much STUFF – it’s not that we don’t appreciate it all, but we’ve come to love the time spent much more than the things we have – including the kids! They’ve discovered that they’d much rather go DO something than sit here surrounded by all their stuff that they just end up having to clean up all the time!
We each have our “things” that we love. Of course, for me, it’s my computers and iPhone. For my husband, his games and his beer stuff. My kids – their movies and lego and games too. But…our favorites have become each other more and more and that makes me VERY happy.
I’m encouraging people to give more gifts of time instead of stuff. What do I mean by that? I’ll give you some examples
  1. Wrap a new game and an invite for friends to come over and play at your house some night during the year. Make it a family friendly one – there are lots of them like the Cranium games and many different Monopoly versions are available.
  2. I recently stayed at the Executive Royal Inn in Calgary – they have a special offer that I think would be an AWESOME gift for your family! Instead of a bunch of little things that the kids would play with once, try this: “All Inclusive” Family Getaway Package: Deluxe accommodation for 2 nights, Prime Rib buffet dinner for 2 nights, breakfast buffet for 2 days, Family of 5 Zoo pass, Boxed lunch for the Calgary Zoo trip – $399 incl. taxes – that would be more fun and a little mini-holiday that you would all enjoy. Look for more deals like that one! You don’t have to go far!
  3. Season passes to area amusement parks, zoos, museums, etc – whatever your family favorite is. It’s cheaper to buy them ahead of time, and you’re going to go anyway, so why not make it a gift!?
  4. Shared babysitting between family and friends – babysit for free for each other, even overnight, so that each of you can have quiet, personal space “away” from the kids. Learn who you are as a couple again!
  5. Tickets to live theatre or music concert – Believe it or not, my kids (and my husband and I) absolutely LOVE life theatre! We’ve seen everything from small local productions of Willy Wonka to the Lion King and all have had my children mesmerized! It’s fun getting all dressed up and going to a special “show” like that. It’s a real treat and you’ll be surprised how much your family enjoys it.The Nutcracker and Scrooge have been favorites that we’ve seen several times now. Even seeing a special musical concert is a treat as well. Add a gift card for a restaurant and make it even more special!
  6. Our Organizing packages are something very simple, ready to go that you can just enjoy giving to someone that “has everything”. It’s perfect for the Mom with no time, for the mother-in-law that has everything and even for the busy Dad who just wants a break. Gift packages like ours are more about finding some free time and enjoying your family and doing something yourself than it is about the “stuff” in the package.
I’m sure you get the idea. These can be inexpensive local items to the more extravagant – whatever fits into your budget and lifestyle. I would rather spend more money on 1 great thing for all of us (like the Disney World trip) than the same amount on many, many different things that we outgrow, don’t need, and clutter up our lives.
I’ll be talking more about other aspects of the season that I would like to inspire you to simplify in the coming posts. I also read some posts this week:
I think these will inspire you to rethink how you feel about the holidays and what you focus on. Don’t try to change everything – just start with something. Make some new, SIMPLER traditions this year!

 

Seven Steps to a Simpler Less Stressful Holiday!

I see many people fluttering about at Christmas time. People that are looking for the perfect presents. People wondering if they have bought enough for everyone on their very long list. There are those that feel that if they don’t have dozens of ornate cookies for Christmas then they have failed in some way. Let’s not forget about all of those holiday parties that we are supposed to attend. Before we know it all of our days are booked up and we haven’t done anything that WE really wanted to do. <Insert sigh>

Maybe I think a little less conventional, but isn’t Christmas supposed to be about the meaning and not the stuff? Don’t you want to spend time with the people that you care about most? Those that make you happy? Is anyone going to care, let alone remember that you spent a little less money this year? The most precious gifts that I have received have been kind words, hugs, time made for me, and beautiful hand made gifts that I will hold on to my whole life. These gifts bring me joy every time I think about them. All of these things have a memory and a story behind them. They are special.

How can we get away from the nagging thoughts that if we don’t have a Martha Stewart perfect (ugh I hate that word) holiday then we are a failure? I want to let you know that you can. Rebel with me friends! Here is how we can have a holiday cleanse. Lets’s ditch the guilt once again and get on with living. Let’s start REALLY living our lives the way that we want to with those that we care about.

Simple Step 1:

Be grateful for all that you have. If I were to choose three things right this minute they would be; 1) health 2) the people in my life 3) the opportunity to live somewhere where I can freely voice my opinion. Once we reflect on all that we have we will desire less. Our cupeth really is quite full. There is always something to be grateful for, even in our darkest moments.

Simple Step 2:

When it comes to gift giving let’s simplify our list. Very few of our childhood memories revolve around gifts that we have received. I have always remembered kind words, handmade items prepared lovingly for me, and of course the gift of time. In today’s society time is the most precious gift that we can give each other. Spending time together gives us invaluable memories that we can hold forever.

Some of my most favorite gifts:

~a surprise weekend away that my hubby planned from start to finish. He gave me the gift of quality, romantic time just the two of us!

~my blankets that my mom made (I appreciate the time, effort, and love that went into each stitch.)

~my quilt made from Shawna. (Again there was a ton of time that went into it and it’s beautiful.) I display it in my living room so that I can see and use it every day!

~last year Shawna gave me a tin of inspirational quotes (so creative!) and made us a certificate for a lovely meal at her home. Little does she know that one of these days I will take her up on that!

~I also love the Christmas messages and letters. They are rare but I have a couple of friends that send a neat snapshot of their year!

~Friends/family have taken our kidlings so that hubby and I could have a date or a night away. This is such a precious gift. The gift to reconnect to your spouse is priceless because when our marriage is running tickety boo then everything else seems to fall in place.

Joshua Becker reminds us about what those precious gifts are. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on physical items here are 35 gift ideas that won’t easily be forgotten.

*And seeing as I am on the topic I also think that it is a good idea to explore gently used options. Shopping locally will also help keep those unique stores alive. Both will leave less of a mark on our earth.

Simple Step 3:

Just say no! You do NOT have to attend every party, every Santa Claus appearance, every cookie exchange. Do the things that bring you joy. Isn’t that what the season is supposed to be about anyways?

Simple Step 4:

Plan. Plan. Plan. A clear, concise plan will keep you on track for getting what you really want out of the holiday season. Make a list of everything that you want and make it happen. If you have a family how about discussing it over a nice meal? Take everyone’s suggestions into account and then decide from there what you can do. I guarantee everyone will be happy to have some input.

Simple Step 5:

Lists. I just LOVE lists. 😉 I even got an excellent app for my phone this year to keep track of the gifts that I wanted to get for everyone. It is called Better Christmas List. It was $1.99 and my favorite features are  it creates separate groups for family, friends, work etc. and it sets and tracks budgets for groups or people! Cool beans! By making a list it will help you stay on track for what you want to get people and save the bank by letting you know where you are at with your budget.

Simple Step 6:

Budget. This is important. Christmas spending can easily get out of hand. Shop within your means. If you are on a tight budget then give a homemade certificate. How about invite your friends over for a nice meal, offer babysitting so they can go on a date, girls day out? The possibilities are endless and what a great way to make memories together!

Simple Step 7:

Declutter. When we get rid of the extra ‘things’ we save time from not having to move them, clean them or think about them. Get rid of the broken items, the duplicates, things that no longer have a use and that you don’t love. Clear away space wasting items to get ready for the festivities!

May you all have a joyous, safe and healthy Christmas. Cheers. Xxxxx

 

 

Feeling Overwhelmed? Then Just Simplify!

If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed out and a little bit crazy you need to SIMPLIFY! How you ask? Here are some handy dandy super easy things that you can do!

1) Make your bed (even if your room is messy it looks 80% better when your bed is made!)
2) Cancel a commitment (sometimes you just need time to breathe and regroup).
3) Grab a basket (collect clutter while tidying and take them to donations).
4) Clear off counters (this makes such a big difference visually and creates room for creativity!)
5) Go though one drawer (it is quick and easy and is a do able task).
6) Sit down (have a cup of tea and plan the rest of your day/week or just take some time for you). 🙂

If you are needing assistance getting started with simplifying contact us here

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Simplify

Our Reasons for Striving Toward Minimalism

Shawna’s Reason’s & Rants

I love the idea of minimalism. I follow many minimalist blogs (which sounds weird since the word “many” and “minimalist” don’t seem to go together!) Really though, I am inspired by people like Tammy Strobel at Rowdy Kittens and Faith Janes at Minimalist at Home because they remind me that it’s all just stuff and that it really is possible to just let go.

I am just tired of the whole game of thinking I need stuff that the next guy has. I used to buy my kids stuff that “I’ll bet they’ll like that” and then see it sitting there untouched. I am tired of comparing what we have to others and living from paycheck to paycheck because we haven’t thought about our purchases. There are things in my house that I love, but never see because I haven’t gotten around to putting them out (for example, photos that I want to make into collages because I love seeing my family and friends in photos). There are things in my house that I’m not even sure why I have them there.

The toughest part is going to be letting things go that someone gave me. I’ve gotten better at that over the years. I remind myself that giving it to someone new that will love it is important too. I have also asked people to give me less things; to spend time not money.

I don’t spend a lot of time cleaning my house. I try to be sure to rarely clean on weekends because those should be days spent with my family and renewing my spirit. It is annoying and stressful on everyone to have to pick up a ton of stuff before we even begin cleaning. Having less clutter will mean quicker cleanup and more fun! The kids have been learning that over the past year, so they are getting on board with this idea too!

The time I have spent on vacation in our little condos has me completely addicted to the simple furnishings, kitchen and bath. They are an oasis because the only stuff in the condo are the basics. I love, LOVE it! We do just fine with the basics, and that’s what I want in my home. It’s amazing when we’re on vacation: we spend a ton of time together because we’re not distracted by all the stuff, cleaning the stuff, fixing the stuff etc. That’s what I want in our home: a peaceful oasis. I think the minimalist project is the way to do it.

Simplify

Krystal’s Thoughts and Reasons

For a while now I have been feeling a need to get rid of stuff. My mind is cluttered and as I look around I see things that we really don’t need; things that we don’t love. So why is it in my house? I have those fleeting thoughts and slight panic attacks, “What if I need it one day?” and “This belonged to someone special that I care about; I couldn’t possible let it go?!”

I know now that letting go of some items that I don’t really want/need; the ones that don’t give me happiness isn’t a bad thing. It may be smart donating, selling, or giving them away to someone that needs them. Ridding myself of these ‘things’ does not change my feelings about the person(s) that gave them to me.

I really feel that this process will help to clear my mind if I can get rid of the excess. Now I am not going extreme here. I will not be able to pack up and move in a moments notice or anything. I am not going to keep only three sets of clothing and get rid of all technology (that would never happen in my house!)Here are my reasons for striving towards a more minimalist home:

  • relaxation: I want to live and breathe easy knowing that I have less clutter in my life
  • relationships: less stuff allows for more time with our family and friends
  • time: more time to do the things that I enjoy
  • less worrying = more positivity
  • cleaner: less stuff to clean equals one happy mom!
  • eye appeal: sometimes when we have tons of stuff, we do not see the items that we truly love

I leave you with some thoughts from Everyday Minimalist:

A Minimalist’s Train of Thought

Less money spent means more money saved

More money saved means the longer you can live in financial peace and security

Financial peace and security comes from owning less

Less stuff owned means less to carry around, move or have to travel with

Less responsibility for your stuff also means less maintenance and more time

The more time you have, the more relaxed you will feel

The more relaxed you are, the less you will care about stuff

If you care less about stuff, it means you’ll care less about image

If you care less about image, you will care more about experiences and memories

If you care more about experiences and memories, you will be happier with less

If you are happier with less, you’ll never want or need for more

The less you want or need for more, the more you will feel free

– The Everyday Minimalist

We encourage YOU to join us in this journey; we are really excited about this! We have gone through one room at a time; sometimes even in bite size pieces as we have time. It’s an ongoing process.

“If you want to become full, let yourself be empty.” ~Tao Te Ching

If you are finding any of this process overwhelming we can help! With our organizing experience we can make a plan with you to get the home that you yearn for!

 Let us know!