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Posts Tagged ‘Sterling Jaquith’

Remember back at the beginning of the year when I was participating in the Catholic Minimalism Challenge, and making all kinds of progress, and posting impressive updates?

Well, along about week three, we got the flu.  For the second time.  As you might expect, that derailed basically everything except survival.

But a new challenge started last week, and I jumped at the chance to pick up where I left off.

Week One is supposed to be the Master Bedroom, which I did thoroughly in January.  In addition, I have kept up with it in the months since, and have even gotten rid of more things.  So I only needed to devote one day.  I went through the closet and drawers, and got rid of two small bags of clothes and a stack of books.  I did not go through all the jewelry and the sentimental things–I think once a year is enough for that.

I don’t have any pictures from the first day as there just isn’t that much change to show.  For the rest of the week, I worked on the hallway outside my office  I was SO EXCITED to tackle this area!  Here’s before:

 

What a mess, right?  Things were constantly getting knocked off  the top and on to the floor, and every time I walked by all that mess it made me sad.

This was the perfect time to tackle this area, because most of this is homeschooling material, and my homeschooling days have ended.  Lorelei will enter 8th grade at the local public school in August.

So I went through all of the homeschooling books, and got rid of some of them.  I probably should get rid of a lot more, and I admit that putting them in boxes and moving them into the garage, which will be the VERY LAST THING that ever gets minimalized, is just punting the problem down the road.  But let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, right?

Lorelei is spending some time dog-sitting for my sister with Emily, so I did not have her much-needed assistance with this project.  Therefore there is another box filled with things that she will need to go through.  Not my box, not my problem!

I’ll show you what it looks like now, and then I will explain what I’ve put there.

 

This shelf and this area now mostly belong to me.  I am feeling happy that as my children grow and sort of leave, I am able to claim more space in this house for myself.

I love that the top is currently bare.  I hope it can stay that way.  I might consider putting some pictures or decorative items there, but the space is crowded and things might get knocked off.

The top shelf is primarily books I have received in exchange for my honest review thereof, or have won via social media giveaways.  I probably don’t need to keep them all; that’s something I will revisit next time I go through the challenge.  At least I want to keep a list of them.  I am also keeping whatever books I am currently reading on that shelf, and my extra journals.  Most of these books were previously stacked in a dusty heap on the bottom shelf, and some were sitting in a cardboard box in my office, a space that has now been freed up!

Second shelf are Catholic project items.  For example, I have a binder for the Catholic Minimalism Challenge, and it lives there.  My prayer journal is there.  My binder with various Advent and Lent and other liturgical year tools is there.

The bottom shelf is a work in progress.  It currently contains homeschool materials that I borrowed from others and need to return, and extra folders, notebooks, and such that may be needed when school begins.  I’m thinking that we will need space for extra paper and school supplies for use in doing homework and I am willing to use the bottom shelf for that if need be.  I will have a better idea how I will use that space by the next Challenge.

Finally, in the corner you will see a couple of totes.  Yes, I found a use for some of the many totes that were taking up space in my bedroom!  One of them is holding a lot of prayer journaling supplies–scissors, glue stick, colored pens and pencils and markers, Catholic coloring book, prayers, prayer cards.  The tote keeps them contained, and if I want to go elsewhere to journal everything is ready!  The other tote is holding a special Christmas gift from my husband–a monthly subscription to a mystery to solve.  It’s really fun but also takes time we don’t seem to have, so I am keeping it all organized here so that when we devote an evening to working on it, everything is ready to go.

So there you have it! Next week is bathrooms.  Again I expect to spend one day on them, and then I am planning on working on the laundry room and the upstairs hallway for the rest of the week.

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This week was Kitchen Week, but my kitchen is far from finished for a couple of reasons.

One, I never planned to do the whole thing this week because there weren’t enough days/categories for me to go through everything (I have a lot of dish ware I want to go through).

Two, John has been watching me, y’all.  He was inspired and asked me to help him go through his half of the closet and bedroom.  I had to strike while the iron was hot, so three day of Kitchen Week I was actually back in the bedroom helping him.  We still need to minimize his part of the bathroom and then maybe I will post pictures of the whole thing.  It looks wonderful!

We made a trip to Goodwill this week to drop off the fruits of our labors:

kitchen 14.jpgI already have another bag ready to go!

Now I’ll show you what we (that is Lorelei and I) did manage to do in the kitchen this week.  On the first day, we did the pantry.  We have a closet we call a pantry, and then a cabinet where we keep food, so we did both of those.

We got rid of a lot of things in the pantry and rehomed others.  There wasn’t really a lot to get rid of in the cabinet but at least we straightened it up!

The next day we did refrigerators.  Yes, that was plural.  Is it crazy that we have THREE?  Two were given us when the house burned down, and then when my father upgraded and gave me his nice one, I moved one of them to the garage.

I got rid of a few things from each fridge, but more importantly I relocated things in a way that made more sense to me.  So the one in the kitchen has things we use every day, and the freezer has as much of the meat and vegetables and such as it will fit, which is sadly not too much.

The garage refrigerator is near the kitchen, so I like to keep extras of things there, like second bottles of ketchup or steak sauce.  I also keep baking things I don’t need every day there, like vegetable shortening and stone ground corn meal.  And right now there is a bunch of beer and sodas left over from our Christmas party there.

I don’t seem to have gotten a good picture of the freezer but what I have put in there is mostly ice packs. 🙂

Finally, the downstairs refrigerator is mostly used for its freezer capacity.  That’s where I put bulk meats, which means right now it’s full of steak.  Emily keeps a few things in the fridge because her room is down there, but mostly when I stash something down there to make room upstairs, I forget what I’ve done and whatever it was goes bad.  As you can see, I also put some of the leftover party beer down there.

On the third day, it was time to tackle the junk drawer.  I don’t know what I thought was going to be so hard about that.  We ended up throwing out almost everything in it!  I did have Lorelei go around the house testing out all the keys we found.  We labeled the ones that fit something and threw the rest away!

I am pretty proud of that! Isn’t it awesome?

Last day was spent cleaning out under the sink.  We got rid of several vases, and discovered a leak requiring the assistance of a plumber!  If it hadn’t been for minimalizing who knows when I would have found it!

We will be coming back to the kitchen eventually to do the cabinets we didn’t get to this time.

Want to see more?  Here is Week One, here is Week Two, and here is my explanation of Catholic Minimalism.

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I mentioned in my most recent post that I was embarking upon an eight-week challenge to declutter my home.  As I was taking my before and after pictures this week I thought it might be fun to share the process with you.  Maybe you’ll be inspired to join in!

Week One was the Master Bedroom.  I followed this order (one project each day for six days): Closet Clothes/Shoes; Closet Accessories; Closet Storage; Dressers; Books; Everything Else.

This was an easy week for me because I don’t have a lot of clothes and have not allowed much personal clutter to accumulate in the past six years since I suffered the forced minimalization of our house fire.  The books were the exception, but I’ll get to that.

These aren’t the kind of pictures you’re used to seeing from me, y’all.  They are purely utillitarian with bad lighting and indifferent focus.  But they should serve the purpose.

Day One – I went through all the clothes and shoes in my closet.

Day Two – I went through my jewelry.  I didn’t get rid of any earrings so that drawer is not shown here.

Day Three – I went through the luggage and the ridiculous collection of tote bags and whatever other random things I had in the closet.

TotesLuggage

Day Four – I went through two dressers.  I don’t have a lot in my dressers as you will see, but I do have two “sentiment” drawers, one of which I put every card I think I want to keep, and I was able to get rid of some of those, as well as some things I had saved for sentimental value but could no longer remember what they were supposed to remind me of!

Day Five – OK, y’all, this was the hard day.  One thing I’ve learned since the fire is what “things” are truly important to me.  I can tell what they are because they are what I have accumulated a lot of in six years as opposed to everything else I have refrained from acquiring.  And what they are, mostly, is BOOKS.  So whereas I finished the tasks on the other days in less than an hour per day, the books took two hours and lots of help from Lorelei (she helped most of the other days too!).  Anyway, I was very proud of myself when we were finished!

Before (1)

Day Six – This was easy, a cedar chest and a couple of piles of books so I didn’t take any pictures.

In the end, we removed two miscellaneous bags of clothing and accessories and two full boxes of books that will all leave the house, and we relocated a few items to other places (where we will face them again when we get to their new homes at the appropriate time!).

Next up:  Bathrooms! I am so excited!  I’ll try to post another update next weekend!

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There’s something about a new year. isn’t there?  So fresh and clean with none of the last year’s mistakes . . . yet.  It’s natural to want to apply the newness to our lives, to make them fresh and clean as well.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who resolves to tackle household clutter at this time of year.  When it’s cold out, we naturally spend more time indoors enjoying cozy pursuits, and I have a hard time relaxing when my house is making me feel unhappy and anxious.

I wrote a super popular post a few years ago, about our American problem with too much stuff, and last year I acquired the popular minimalism guide by Marie Kondo.  And I made some progress, but this is going to be my year.

Because last year I read a book that didn’t only talk about minimalism and explain it.  This book anchored it in Catholicism, and that’s an unbeatable combination.

not of this world

Sterling Jaquith, the author of Not of This World  (which I was given by the author in exchange for my honest opinion in this post) hit the nail on the head when she wrote this: “Nothing in this world will ever really satisfy us.  Our ultimate desire will always be for God, and that is why I believe all Catholics should embrace a lifestyle of minimalism.”  This makes so much sense to me.  Our consumeristic culture encourages us to fill our emptiness with more and more stuff, but it never ends, does it?  We are always looking toward the next “must-have” item.

As my readers know, I was forced into minimalism a few years ago when my house burned down.  I was involuntarily relieved of the burden of too much stuff.  My relationship to the things of this world was changed instantly, and the result is that clutter I might have once not given a second glance now makes me anxious.  I have intentionally chosen to acquire very few extraneous personal possessions, and I ruthlessly get rid of things regularly, but the stuff seems to pile up anyway.

I find this overwhelming, and the problem is hard to tackle.  I need help, and this book provides it.  The opening chapters explain minimalism, and offer personal examples of what can happen to people who live their lives piling up possessions.  I recently traveled to Baltimore to help my mother-in-law go through some of the stuff in her home of more than 60 years prior to her moving into a small apartment.  She is very happy in her new place, but getting rid of her possessions has been very hard–not just logistically, but emotionally.  How much easier not to buy things and become attached to them in the first place!

Sterling goes on to remind us of the minimalist beginnings of Christianity–Jesus was born in a stable, after all!  His followers were poor, and throughout the ages those in religious lives have continued to vow poverty.  Following their example will bring us peace and space: “We’re going to create more space in our lives to connect with the Lord . . . The more we follow His will, the more peace we have and deep down, this is what we all desire.”

For me, this focus on Christianity is what sets the book apart from other minimalism guides and makes it uniquely motivating for me.  But that doesn’t mean the other stuff is neglected!  Much of the book involves detailed week-by-week and room-by-room instructions for decluttering, along with access to printable worksheets to help you do it.  There are also special sections for larger families, homeschooling families, and people who live in small spaces.

I am starting on Monday to follow Sterling’s program.  Buy the book right here and you can do it too!  Even better, you can join in online and get explanatory and motivations videos from Sterling and feedback from other people going through the program!

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