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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – My Struggle, My Story

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I have put off writing this post for a long, loonnng time. Not because I am afraid people will think I am a freak but because I want to portray this behavior accurately and maybe even help just one person who also struggles and can relate to what I speak of.

We all have a story – a part of us that we can choose to share or choose to protect and keep hidden. I finally feel as though I can share the raw, gritty details of my anxiety disorder even if it feels as though I am ripping off a Band-Aid to a wound that is always at the surface.

So now that I have finished procrastinating I am ready to finally share a chapter of my story. First let me give you some background…

I grew up in a loving home in a teeny tiny town with two working parents and an older brother. We always had what we needed but not a lot of the extra, fancy stuff. We had more than enough though. My Mom was a pretty decent housekeeper and like any parent who works full time there were the occasional times where things got messy and untidy. My parents were quite traditional in that Mom did the majority of the cooking and cleaning and dad did more of the yard and vehicle maintenance. As a small child I always liked things neat and tidy. We didn’t have a ton of stuff, definitely not many brand new things; even a large portion of my wardrobe were hand-me-downs from my cousins (I was the youngest). I didn’t mind though. I just liked my home and my belongings to be in order. I found myself always looking through catalogs and getting rid of the ones that expired, I put things neatly in piles, I was always looking to get rid of food that was past its prime and I enjoyed vacuuming, (I still do!) I liked things in straight lines and symmetry was my friend. Then there was my room. My parents NEVER had to tell me to clean or pick up my room. I wanted my closet to be organized and would only keep the clothes that fit and so I hung them according to type and even colour. Ok now this is the part where you might think I am insane; that’s ok. I would also space my hangers evenly because I thought that it looked neater. My dresser, bedside table and bookcase would always have a clean and uncluttered look. I would never, ever have clothing, garbage or items that were not put away. My posters were carefully placed on my walls symmetrically. I was constantly trying to make my room look nice. Only when I thought it looked perfect was when my mind could rest.

I loved reading and art. Ahhh, art was a passion of mine. I also played piano, loved my dance classes, and played the odd sport. I found school projects would take a long time for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t do them. I was quite eager to please, it was just very stressful and I was a perfectionist – and then some. My grades were usually average or above. Not because anything came easy to me but because I worked my ass off for every mark that I got. Like I said I loved art, I even took an advanced art class by correspondence. Any poster or project that I ever did took me hours upon hours to complete. I would draw and erase and draw and erase. I was meticulous with shading and tried to get everything looking as life-like as possible. Some might say that the process was pain-staking. I don’t think that anyone noticed how school work gnawed at me at times. I got my work done and I did fine so no one paid much attention.

It wasn’t just about order and neatness for me. A big part of my life has been worry over this and that. Sometimes things that one might consider worthy of worry and much that people wouldn’t think twice about. I would and still do agonize over many things – comments, things that have hurt me, even other people’s issues. I do not take lightly to anyone hurting those that I love – call me loyal or call me the grudge. But when I was hurt I felt it and still do for a long, long time. 

It is interesting now that I think about it. I always enjoyed going to my friend’s house SO much. I didn’t care what their home or rooms looked like. Their messiness didn’t bother me… unless it was extreme chaos. I felt like I could relax. I didn’t have to think about things being in order because it wasn’t my stuff. I have always offered to help clean up though, I still do. Sometimes I will just start doing dishes at my friends’ houses after a meal. I never want to be a burden. My hubby says that isn’t necessary but I look at it as helpful. The way I look at it, is if someone is kind enough to invite me to their home for a meal then the least I can do to show thanks is help clean up. That is partly my upbringing too.

As I grew up and got my own home and had children suddenly things got a little more complicated. I wanted my home to remain clean and tidy with everything put away in its place. We all know that is easier when you are alone but with the addition of more people under one roof things become more complicated. They don’t clean up the way you think they should or even at all. I was becoming agitated when my son was making ‘messes’ with his toys, or when my husband was not helping out with chores to my standards. I was literally picking up toys behind my little boy. All. Day. Long. My husband, bless his heart would get frustrated with me as he felt like I was just going to go behind him and re-do anything that he had tried to help with. I would sometimes point these things out. That was hurtful to him. I would refold the laundry. I would also re-clean in all the nooks and crannies that I felt he missed. I understand why this would be upsetting to him, yet I could not (sometimes I still can’t) leave it alone. We have even joked that I would be really good at being one of the basic training officers in the Military with a white glove, going around and inspecting the recruits’ rooms. Making sure that everything was ship-shape. The truth of the matter is there have been frustrations on both sides. I have been a puddle of tears many-a-day over things that I know should not be a worry – things that most ‘normal’ people don’t think twice about. I have had days where I want to call-in sick and stay under the covers and just not face the day and all of the constant harping thoughts in my head. It can be exhausting. Some days it can be a chore just to get out the door as I cannot leave until everything is done. 

I admit I have some crazy habits. (This is the part of my story where you will think I am a freak.) Deep breath. Here I go… I like to run my hands over the counter tops and feel a smooth surface with no crumbs. If I feel like they are too dirty then everything gets moved off of them and I clean them from the back splash to the edge of the counters which often leads to wiping my cupboards. I sweep and vacuum regularly – sometimes daily. It honestly depends on the day and what is weighing on my mind at the time. Sometimes it is counters, sometimes it is a project, sometimes it is errands or items out of place. I try not to get too busy because the overwhelming feeling is almost unbearable. It suffocates me. I have wondered what it would be like to not have the obsessions and compulsions. I can’t imagine how freeing it would be.

So you probably guessed that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Here is the official definition as per anxietybc.com.

“Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that affects about 1-2% of the population. People with OCD experience both obsessions and compulsions.

  • Obsessions are unwanted and disturbing thoughts, images, or impulses that suddenly pop into the mind and cause a great deal of anxiety or distress.
  • Compulsions are deliberate behaviors (e.g. washing, checking, ordering) or mental acts (e.g. praying, counting, repeating phrases) that are carried out to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessions.”

I was once informed by a Counselor that we all have some OCD tendencies. Many of us have habits or things that we like done in a certain way. You may have to load the dishwasher a certain way, put your groceries on the belt in the store a certain way or fold your laundry exactly the way you like it. When you have OCD it’s not a matter of having a few habits. It is also about the thoughts that play over and over in your mind until they are ‘dealt’ with. In other words if I see something that is out of place it might be on my mind over and over until I put it back where I think it should be. It doesn’t just go away on its own. It can be quite stressful for me especially if I am tired and don’t have the energy to get it done. But I do, no matter the time. <Cue frustration with my family who don’t see ‘the problem’.>

You may think then why do you let these things happen?  Well OCD can be a debilitating disorder. I put on a pretty good front and joke about it at times. Most of my friends laugh about it and say that I should go to their homes and clean. Often I take it in stride and it doesn’t bother me – there is the odd time that it does. I don’t think many people understand the ins and outs of it. Sometimes when we think of OCD we think of the person that washes their hands repetitively until they are raw. But there are so many forms of it. I should also add that I don’t always let it get the ‘best’ of me but sometimes I feel like I can’t control the beast. 

This is adapted from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health

Common Obsessions

When the fears reflected in the following obsessions are experienced, they usually result in immediate anxiety. Some of the more common obsessions are:

Contamination

  • fear of contamination by dirt, germs, or other diseases (for example, by shaking hands)
  • fear of own bodily fluids

Repeated Doubting

  • fear of not having done a specific act that could result in harm (for example, turning off the stove, hurting someone in a traffic accident or leaving a door unlocked)
  • making a mistake

Ordering

  • fear that things will not be “just right” and become distressed when things are shifted or touched
  • focus on exactness and order

Religious

  • fear of having blasphemous thoughts
  • preoccupation with religious images and thoughts

Aggressive

  • fear of harming oneself (for example, while eating with a knife or a fork, handling sharp objects or walking near glass windows)
  • fear of harming others (for example, poisoning people’s food, harming babies, pushing someone in front of a train or hurting someone’s feelings)
  • fear of blurting out obscenities in public

Sexual

  • forbidden or unwanted sexual thoughts, images or urges
  • fear of being homosexual

Compulsions

Most people who experience obsessions engage in extreme rituals, or compulsions. Acting out these compulsions does not give them pleasure, but it can help them feel less anxious or distressed. Compulsions can be very rigid and involve elaborate steps. They are either not realistically connected with what they are meant to stop or they are extreme beyond reason. Although by no means an exhaustive list, common compulsions include:

Cleaning/Washing

  • washing hands too often or in a ritualized way; showering; bathing; brushing teeth; grooming a lot or having detailed toilet routines; cleaning household items or other objects
  • avoiding objects and situations considered “contaminated”

Checking

  • checking that you don’t harm others or yourself; checking that nothing terrible happens; checking that you don’t make mistakes

Ordering/Arranging

  • making sure things are just right, or are consistent with a specific rule, such as bed sheets or notes on the desk

Hoarding

  • collecting seemingly useless items, such as paper, magazines, towels, bottles or pieces of garbage
  • unable to throw these same things away

OCD

It is unknown as to what causes OCD. Some think that it may be genetic (which I am unsure of as I am adopted). Recently research has identified that people with OCD have low serotonin levels. It is one of the brain’s chemical messengers that transmit signals between brain cells. Serotonin plays a role in the regulation of mood, aggression, impulse control, sleep, appetite, body temperature and pain. All of the medicines used to treat OCD raise the levels of serotonin available to transmit messages. Some other studies say that the brain activity is different in people with this disorder. All I know is there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer.

So what can we do? It wasn’t that long ago when doctors thought that this disorder was untreatable. Cognitive and behavioural therapy and medication (anti-depressants) are a couple of ways that people seek help. I cannot speak for either though I am learning about them with research. Many people with OCD benefit from supportive counselling in addition to treatments aimed at reducing the symptoms of OCD. Individuals may see a therapist one-on-one, or they may involve the partner, spouse or family in counselling. Group therapy (with people who have similar concerns) can also help. There are options which is encouraging.

I just want people to know that they are not alone. Though it can feel like it at times; like you are a prisoner of your own thoughts. It is not hopeless. You should not feel ashamed. You are worthy. Seek help with a specialist that understands anxiety disorders. Find a support group and surround yourself with people who accept you know matter what.

happiness

For me the pain isn’t gone nor is the sadness, the tightness in the chest, the palpitations when something is weighing on me. Yes my loved ones have been victim to the wrath of getting in my way to get things done. Yes I have yelled, screamed, cried and freaked out. There is no cure but each day is a new day with new possibilities and I know that those closest to me love me anyways. I will continue to try every single day to keep the upset to a minimum. I know I have come a long way and still have a ways to go. I know that I can take this curse and turn it into a gift as I have with helping others strive to get out of their chaos and get more organized. I can take each day as it comes and look forward to the possibilities instead of dreading the worst. I. Am. Me. And I too am deserving of a life that is valuable.

If anyone out there reading this, thanks for stopping by to ‘hear’ my story. If you have anything to share I would love to listen.

Hugs and happiness,

Krystal

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books to let go

Ditch the Clutter 10 Day Challenge

books to let goKrystal and I have some more stuff to let go of (there’s always something, isn’t there?), so we thought we’d make up a 10 day Ditch the Clutter Challenge for all of us to kick start the process.

For each of the 10 days we have a list of ideas for what to let go of. Day 1 will have one thing, Day 2 – two things, Day 3 – three things and all the way up to 10 things on the 10th day. To make this more fun and supportive, we’ll be posting what we’re letting go of on our Facebook Page (and Twitter for those of you who follow us there).

You can post your photos there too and/or comment and let everyone know what you’re able to let go of. Often we just need that little push of accountability to get something done. Let’s do this together!  Follow the posts on our Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/simplelifecelebrations Share this with your friends so that they can join in the Ditch the Clutter Challenge too.

Ditch the Clutter Challenge

                                          Choice One                           OR                     Choice Two

DayOne Piece of furniture that you’re not using Board Game or other Game
DayTwo  2 items from coffee table or side table  2 cleaning supplies/tools you’re not using
Day Three  3 travel items (incl. bags, backpacks)  3 pillows or cushions that you don’t need
Day Four  4 items from under the sink  4 items from the TV stand
DayFive  5 old or outdated things from the fridge  5 knick knacks or decorative items
DaySix  6 pairs of shoes/boots/footwear  6 items from the bedside table
Day Seven  7 things from your workout stuff  7 things from the junk drawer
Day Eight  8 kitchen items that aren’t being used  8 school supplies/papers that aren’t needed
Day Nine  9 shower/bath items that are just taking up space  9 things from the creative corner/crafting supplies
DayTen  10 pieces of clothing (kids, adult, seasonal)  10 bookshelf items (books, magazines, clipped articles etc)

 

These are ideas to get you started. If you have other areas/things you’d like to let go of…GO FOR IT! Also, you can let go of more things each day too! Share your photos/lists on the Facebook page (or comment on this post and tell us what you’re able to get done!)
Don’t forget to get these things out of your home as soon as possible. Garbage to garbage, recycling to recycling, donations donated. Do not let them taking up any more of the precious space in your heart and home! For our local peeps, Krystal gathered together a list of where you can take your stuff. Download it here: Local Places to Donate

I also created a Decluttering Divas Play Sheet (kinda like a “game card”) that you can use to track your progress each day. Download it here: Decluttering Divas Play Sheet

UPDATE: PHOTOS FROM THE CHALLENGE SO FAR

If you have questions or ideas about the Ditch the Clutter Challenge, please email us or post it on Facebook. We are here to help!

minimalist-dresser

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My daughter's new bedroom.

How I Transformed My Daughter’s Room

My daughter's new bedroom.

This is my daughter’s bedroom. We recently renovated it into this pretty, more grown up room. What once was a room with bubble gum pink walls and a garden mural, is now a room that she can once again enjoy as a tween and continue to grow into. I REALLY wish that I would have taken before and after pictures for you to see as it was a really big transformation!

My husband was laughing at me because when I get an idea and know what I want to do, there is no stopping me. The kids had a week off of school and I had some extra time off due to the Family Day holiday. I am always so gung-ho beginning these type of projects and then when I am smack dab in the middle of a huge mess I go, “what the heck possessed me to start this?!” Anyone else do this? 🙂

I want to give you the deets of what I did here as well as the pros and cons to doing a project like this yourselves. First off we had to do the usual prep work when painting. I pretty much always let the kids choose their colours with a wee bit of guidance of course. But really it is just paint, it is not like it can’t be changed again if you don’t like it or outgrow it. It is nice for them to have a comfortable place to enjoy. We toned down the bubble gum walls with this more neutral colour. The theme wall is a vibrant and gorgeous turquoise. I was advised to do two coats of primer and then two coats of paint. This was a total of 16 hours of painting alone for this project! I wouldn’t want to cut corners with painting though as then you will not be happy with the coverage and end up with an uneven colour on the walls.  I have to say that I may have been slightly high from the fumes over the course of two days!

Here are different views of the room with a little description of what went on.

Cute Little Corner

This corner used to have a clothes hanger stand, a huge teddy bear and this shelf. The shelf was full of knick knack type things plus papers and posters. Now we have all of her nail art/make-up stuff off of her vanity desk and she uses this shelf to organize all of that. This shelf was in her room already and was bought for $5 from a garage sale! The branch wall decal was $17 and tied in the colours nicely. It was easy to apply and can be removed just as easily.

Theme Wall with Vanity

Her vanity was a present from us a few years ago and is her most expensive piece of furniture in her room. She uses it ALL the time for homework, getting ready in the morning and doing her nail art. Together we decluttered the desk drawers and the surface as well as the shelf on top. The shelf and mirror were purchased from her school garage sale a few years ago for $5 each. We repainted and distressed them with paint that we already had. Score! Less is more when it comes to surfaces. She is able to let the things she loves shine whereas before she just had too much stuff out; it was very cluttered and she didn’t have room to be the creative gal that she is!

No Wasted Space Here! Behind the Door.

Here is the area behind the door. I wanted to make use of all spaces and leave these things accessible but not in the forefront. So I purchased the little over the door hanging storage to hold her purses, robe, scarves and hats. It really works well and was just $10.  The bulletin board I kept in the room so that she can keep her calendar up and display her awards and fave. pictures. My handy Mom and I made this a while back; it has pockets and ribbons to hold her papers/pictures.

A Zen Corner

This corner houses her tall dresser. We were able to get her canvas crayon picture up that she just made. (I think that it is important for them to be able to display their creative art!) Over here she has her special Himalayan salt lamp and alarm clock. She bought this over-sized pillow for $13; it will be nice when her and her friends hang out. There are two new curtain panels and rod in her room that cost $60. The curtains are supposed to help keep the cold and light out – bonus!

 Pretty Little ExtraTouches

With a new coat of paint the window box that my hubby made went back up. She applied some of her cute stickers to dress it up. It is mostly empty right now; we used it for stuffies before. It works nicely from hanging all of her headbands neatly. The chandelier is one of her favorite things in this room. She now has adequate light and thinks that it is so pretty. It was the most expensive purchase at $50 plus the cost of the bulbs. It was so worth it as she says the light makes her happy! We wanted some of her photos displayed that remind her of things and people that she loves. The frame was $20. She used to have several homemade frames (from Popsicle sticks and such that she had outgrown.)

There are always pros and cons to projects and I wanted to share them with you!

Pros

Cons

  • Vibrant clean walls, lots of time with my daughter, a skill that my daughter learned (the steps to painting properly)
  • A decluttered room with only the things that she loves and uses
  • A room that she can enjoy and grow in to
  • Several hours of painting

 

  • Taking the time to recycle, sell and donate her old things
  • $ spent to update the room

All in all this project cost about $400. This includes all of the paint (I have lots left), drop cloths, brushes (which I can re-use), rod, curtains, over-the-door hanger, wall decal, chandelier, bulbs, duvet cover/sham, pillow, register and picture frame. It was well worth it and I saved money by putting in the labor ourselves. Not to mention we are getting money back from the old décor and toys that we have sold. We were able to get rid of one bag of garbage, one bag of recycling and we donated three bags of stuff. Decluttering creates a canvas for us to be creative.

Yay us!! I am so proud of my daughter for staying with me the whole time to get the job done. I didn’t have to ask her once to help out. Plus she made us lunches every day! She now has this skill to take with her when she gets her own home. She loves her room especially the new, happy lighting. 😉

Thanks for following our ‘little’ project!

Krystal

Effort-1

Organizing Barbies!

All in one place!
All in one place!

Every week I like to work on at least one organizing project. Recently, my daughter purchased some Barbie items second hand; specifically the camper, car, and tent that you see in the picture above. The dolls and accessories were getting out of hand in her room. So Barbie and her entourage had to find a new home. They moved residence to the family room in the basement. After just an hour or two, everything was all in one place ready for Megan and her pals to play. I just love it when everything has a home!

Here are some more pictures of how I organized everything. (I sure wish that I would have taken before and after pictures of this process!) Next time.

This houses a ton of Barbies 'must haves'. :)
This houses a ton of Barbies ‘must haves’. 🙂

 

I had this storage unit that I initially bought for my son’s room. Then I moved it downstairs to hold stuffies. Now it is perfect for Barbie Doll stuff. Sometimes you have to play around with the storage that you have rather than buy new stuff all the time. I LOVE reusing things. If you are finding that you are needing more and more storage then it is probably time to do a purge. * Here are 10 Creative Ways to Declutter your Home.

 

The 'wheels' and the 'crib'.
The ‘wheels’ and the ‘crib’.

 

Beside the storage unit we have the Camper, V Dub Beetle, Tent, and House. I am sure that Barbie and Ken would be so happy with this living arrangement! 🙂

 

Using the top of the unit for a few more items.
Using the top of the unit for a few more items.

 

Using all of your space vertically is a great way to maximize the area. The smaller container to the left on top holds the shoes and purses. Good thing I don’t have this many shoes and handbags – I would be in BIG trouble! haha

 

Barbie Accessories Drawer

 

This is the top drawer of the storage unit that holds more accessories.  Here we have inexpensive clear containers (3 of them) that we got from the Dollar Store. This was the only thing that we bought ($2). I chose the clear containers so that my daughter and her friends could find what they want easily.

 

Barbie Clothing

 

Here are all of the Barbie clothes. I used a Zip Loc container that I had on hand. You will see in the container to the right that this has clothes from my Barbies from the 80’s. Yes they are a wee bit dated but everything comes back in style right?! Did anyone else have Barbie and the Rockers? The one that came with the Cassette?!

**FLASHBACK**

 

Barbie Sets

 

Here in the bottom drawer of the unit I have 3 sets that she received as gifts. (A barbie pool, pediatrician set, and hair styling set.) Gee, Barbie does everything doesn’t she?!

 

Barbie Suitcase

 

This small Barbie suitcase was given to my gal from Shawna’s gal. It is the perfect size for the dolls to fit in.

There you have it. I am happy with this system and it looks nice. My daughter is happy that she knows where everything is. Win-WIN. Yay!

For more tips head on over to Facebook for more organizing ideas, repurposing ideas, recipes and inspiration. We would love for you to share your organized spaces with us.

 

 

 

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.

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Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

Simply Reflecting

WARNING: This post may contain extreme pride!

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!
Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

Last weekend Shawna and I got together to evaluate our business and how we did last year. I knew that we had accomplished a fair bit but was really surprised when we started to write it all down. Let’s just say that I am so freaking proud of us for what we have accomplished in 2012!

  • The Celebrate Life Summit; a week long celebration that included 9 live events and 15 interviews with many of our favorite blogger friends.
Freezing in February for the Food Bank Event
Freezing in February for the Food Bank Event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • More organizing sessions with some fantastic clients
  • More speaking engagements
  • The release of THREE new E-books
  • A Simple, Healthy Kitchen Event
Health Street Event
Health Street Event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SLC Gals

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • We have been providing y’all with daily challenges on our Facebook page. We have had good feedback from these!
  • We have taken our own advice and SIMPLIFIED; no more doing things the hard way!
  • We have welcomed more clients and subscribers and appreciate you ALL so much!
  • We were featured as Champions of Technology.
  • We attended a Community Information Night and met some people interested in organizing.
  • We have met so many mentors, friends, and amazing clients!

We couldn’t be more grateful for all of the opportunities that we have had. Our goal is to help people simplify their lives by ditching the clutter and the guilt. This will continue to be our goal in 2013. We cannot wait to share our next exciting plans with you!

 

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!

 

Simple Life Celebrations – Tech Champions!

Thank-you Mr Jamie Syer (Communications Coordinator) for the lovely write up in the Olds Connected Community website and featuring us as Champions of Technology!

If you are wondering what the Simple Life Gals are up to next read all about it here!

If any other local businesses are using technology in an innovative way you can contact Mr Syer here at jamie@jamiesyer.ca

 

What’s happening next for the Simple Life Girlies?
Open post
You can use this for towels or for the coats as I mention in this post

Christmas Front Door Clutter

I’d like to thank Kathleen Windsor of Windsor Graphics for this question:

How about a front entry tip for Christmas? Expecting about 50 shoes & boots at my front door & snowsuits from 6 kidlets. Help!

This is a fantastic question and one that I think most of us can relate to!

For the boots:

  • Use a low long plastic container(s); remove the lid. When everyone is in the door, these can be moved to other locations to dry so that they are out of the way. The containers can easily be wiped out later.
  • My parents have a small back entry and we always have big tobogganing parties (and thus the same issue!) Everyone takes off their boots at the back door and then carries them down to the laundry room where there is more space and a floor that can easily be cleaned up.
For the coats:
  • a coat “tree” (the kind with the arms) for temporarily hanging snow pants & jackets. Again, this can easily be moved to a different location so that the clutter isn’t at the back door. There’s no messing with hangers and snow pants (which NEVER seems to stay on the hanger!) There’s one at Jysk http://www.jysk.ca/hugo-coat-rack-3.html … – I use mine in the bathroom as well for towels. 🙂
You can use this for towels or for the coats as I mention in this post
  • My parents have a heated garage (which is also very clean & organized!). We all take off our coats and snow pants out there and hang them on Dad’s wood working equipment, benches, etc. so that all that stuff isn’t in the house. The mitts & toques stay out there too.
  • For all the coats of the “non-wet” 🙂 type…I remember when we grew up that we always put the visitors’ coats on my mom & dad’s bed. I still do this from time to time if there are a lot of people visiting me. Of course, it means that your master bedroom will be “seen” by many people… 🙂 That may be an overwhelming thought for some. If that’s the case, use another room for this purpose!

For the toques and mittens:

  • If these are just damp and cold, use a mesh bag and collect them all – hang the bag in the laundry room. Depending on the kinds of mitts & toques they are (and the degree of cleanliness…) you may be able to toss the whole bag in the dryer and let them dry while everyone is visiting. Then they’re nice and warm for when everyone goes home!
throw toques & mitts in and hang the bag
  • Use another big container to toss all these in and remove them from the back door area. They won’t dry very well in there, so keep that in mind. At least this will get them out of the back door area and allow for easy pickup at the end of the visit.

What are some of your suggestions for the back door clutter that occurs during the holiday season? How do you deal with it? Let us know in the comments!

For more great tips on keeping those seasonal clothes under control, read Krystal’s Seasonal Confusion! If you’d like some help getting your home ready for the holidays, contact us for a virtual session! You can send us photos of your space and we can give you step by step instructions for what to do. Alternatively, we can possibly book a mini-session and spend an hour with the two of us tackling that trouble-spot!

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