Monday, July 14, 2008

Simplifying Life

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

From the Shaker song Simple Gifts,
written by Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848

There's a lot of talk these days about finding balance in our lives. I know it's certainly something I'm always after... a way to be healthy yet enjoy good food; finding time for myself vs. time for community involvement... slowing down to smell the roses yet getting everything done I want to do in a day.

I know you understand exactly what I'm talking about.

I can get distracted and off balance from seeing something in my house that I should take care of, or something I want to do. So as I'm doing one thing, I stop and do another thing, then forget what the first thing was as I begin to do yet a third thing.

Again, I bet that sounds familiar to many of you.

For me, finding balance in my life involves two things: slowing down enough to plan my day, and simplifying my life enough to focus on what's really most important. I don't know about you, but I can SO easily get pulled in twenty different directions (I can even do it to myself!) unless I know what I want to accomplish, and follow the plan. And the plan comes out of knowing what matters most to me.

We've known for many months that our oldest would be moving out at some point this year. I knew that when she left, I wanted to make her room into a guest room. When she was here, my sewing room served also as a guest room/home office/library/mess. I let the room get out of control with too much stuff stacked here and there. It's amazing how much stress that kind of chaos causes for me!

So I've finally taken the time to get things organized once again. And I decided it would be a great time to de-clutter and simplify. I donated three huge boxes of books to our local library; I sent another three boxes of miscellaneous stuff to Goodwill. These are all things I've thought I HAD to have around me. But in the end, it was just stuff taking up space in my house and weighing down my spirit. I simplified it down to the things that matter most to me, and I let the rest of it go.

My daughter left her bed but took her linens with her when she moved, so I needed to start from scratch setting up the guest room. The photo above is the chenille bedspread I ordered. The room looks nothing like the one pictured, but you get the idea. The bedspread is soft and plain and simple. My plan is to finish off one of the many UFO (unfinished objects, otherwise known as quilts!) I have going and lay it at the foot of the bed, with a matching pillow at the head of the bed. I've moved my office into the guest room, too - and organized shelves within the closet to keep all my records and files.

The sewing room has been organized as well, with labeled bins for fabrics, notions, and those aforementioned UFO's. I moved my sewing machine under the window for more light, and so I can look outside as I work. Hubby put together a small bookcase in there so I have a spot for my quilting books now. There's even room to add a plant, to bring some greenery into the room.

I'm truly breathing much easier today, now that so much stuff has gone away, and my home is organized. I posted last week about cleaning the garbage foods out of my kitchen. That's made a huge impact on my ability to eat healthy this past week. I'm not fooling myself: I've lived long enough to know that I'll have to do this again in a year or so: being a pack-rat is part of my personality (especially when it comes to books!)

But I've made a vow to work toward balance in my life -- my health, my family, my creativity and volunteer work -- and much of that begins by simplifying my environment.

How about you?

Until next time...


Lora said...

I know exactly what you're talking about! The clutter really affects the way we feel! We are in transistion mode - between two houses so there are piles and boxes all over the place. I hate it!

Twix said...

Beautiful bed spread! Way to go on getting organized! Fast how kids grow up and move on, huh?! :)

Sheri said...

I've been a pack-rat too, and this past week feeble attempts to save my house and my sanity began. I'm finding myself buried by the overwhelming whole of what has to be done, but I keep reminding myself - SMALL STEPS!!

Glad you've succeeded.

Rayann said...

It's amazing how if everything else is organized that, well at least for me, I tend not to want to binge, and my food isn't out of control.

PEA said...

Back in January, I decided to take control of my clutter and it was unbelievable how it felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders when it was all done. I got rid of so much stuff, I had to make quite a few trips to the charity center to deliver all the boxes and bags full. I also made a yard sale and got rid of more stuff. Like you though, I know I can be a real pack rat so I'll probably have to do it again next January! lol It just lightens the spirit it seems when you can finally have room to breathe!! Love that comforter you've ordered!! When my oldest son moved out, I made his room into my computer room...when my youngest son moved out, I made his room into my guest room:-) xoxo

Katschi said...

I have a difficult time getting rid of things even though they no longer work for me. I have spurts of organizing spells but they don't seem to last. I find though when I'm taking care of my body I tend to get to work on my surroundings too. I think many of us can definitely relate to the topic of balancing our daily lives and surroundings.

Deborah said...

What an inspiring post. Now you have me thinking of tackling the crooks and crannies in my home to get rid of "stuff" I haven't used in over a year. I used to have that motto and lost it somewhere along the way.

Glad your shoulders are lifted from that burdon. The new guest bedroom sounds warm and cozy.

Kathy said...

I was just envying you that very peaceful looking guest room! haha! I know exactly what you mean and have to declutter every 6 months or so. I resolve not to buy any more books and I think I've bought 2 new knitting books,the book about intuitive eating that DinahSoar told me about, one that I read about when I ordered that one, and then 4 from a yard sale @25 cents know I couldn't pass those up! And so it goes!
I have a guest room set up and work very hard at keeping it in guest worthy condition. Our younger daughter uses it frequently when she has an early flight to catch since we are so close to the airport. She tells me it is like staying in a nice B&B...isn't she sweet? Knows just how to flatter me so I will continue to get up at insanely early hours to fix her a cup of coffee and see her off!

Cammy said...

Great accomplishment, Pattie! It's so much easier to be in control of our health when our environment is less distracting. I'm working toward that myself.

Have a great (and simple!) week!

Irish Mom said...

I have been decluttering as well. Feels amazing to get rid of bunches of things, especially if it goes to good use!!

Nicole said...

Oh my GOSH!! I just wrote an entry about this yesterday. I am SO with you on this. I have to manage the clutter in my house--constantly re-assessing and donating--in order to have peace.

I'm really lucky because once a month or so, we get a postcard in the mail, telling us that a donation truck will be in our neighborhood. If we want to donate anything to them, we simply leave it on our porch on the designated day, along with the postcard. I make sure to donate at least one box/bag every time they come. Since I finished cleaning out the basement, it's been a challenge coming up with one box of items to give them, but I'm still managing to do it. :)

I love the bedspread. It will look so nice with your quilts as accents.

dadivastreet said...

I am a pack rat. If I find a use for an item I've held for 3yrs, it just reinforces my bad behavior. I will admit that clearing the clutter brings much peace of mind. Maybe I should follow suit & simplify too! Thanks for the thought!

RunningNan said...

I'm glad that I grew up the opposite way. My dad was a packrat, and my mom was (and still is) very messy. My brother and I hated it and when you walk into our houses, you can tell we are totally different. I make sure I purge things right away if they start to stack up.

I love the bedspread. I can't wait to see the finished room!

Needled Mom said...

The room sounds so inviting. I'll book my reservation soon!!!! I can just see that finished quilt strewn across the foot of the spread.

Decluttering is always such a wonderful feeling. I so need to get in and organize my sewing room to make it the dream place that I imagined it would be. It's just that when I get in there I want to sew something instead. SIGH!

I sewed my R,W, and B quilt for the VA home yesterday. How about you? Did you get started on your project quilt yet?

Susie said...

Hi Pattie,
You did a wonderful job organizing this room. I think de cluttering is very uplifting to our spirits. I can get it cleaned out, but it seems to pile back up again. Haven't figured that part out yet!!

NanaKaren said...

Pattie~ You're SO right! Don't you find it uplifting to the soul to have things in order? Sounds like you've been really busy with this project and I say "WELL DONE!" The bed spread is really nice and will go with anything you choose to create! Have fun!

Kelli said...

I know exactly what you mean, Pattie! It sounds like you have been busy at work and have accomplished a lot! I have been working on making life more simple and balanced lately, too.

Manuela said...

Books are my passion (is it a surprise, then, that I majored in English with a master's in library science?)

Planning is so important in finding balance and decluttering is something I just need to plan for. I'm like you, I'll start something then I see something else and so on (like blogging--I go from one to another !)

P.S. love the bedspread. I have one similar to it in ecru.

Mama Bear June said...

Love organizing and love simplifying. Gorgeous bedspread! My oldest is hoping to move out this fall, too. Not sure the black walls will make for a good guest room, but I'm sure I could make do with them for a scrapbooking room! LOL
Path to Health

jillytacy said...

I can totally relate to this post. I try to do too much and get overwhelmed by all the tasks and all the clutter I have(and create for myself.) Like you I'm a natural born pack rat and a treasure hunter. My pack rat ways war with my need for organization, so I too struggle with finding the balance. I'm heading back to work this fall after being home with my daughter for 4 and a half years. I feel the need to clean and de-clutter the house from top to bottom before I head back to work. I've set aside August for that. i need to simplify!