Looking Back and Moving Forward

Looking Back and Moving Forward

I’ve been spending some time thinking about the last 12 months and what has led me to where I am in this new year. Of course, my family, friends, and the many blessings I have received have been key, but as I look back I have noticed the many “breadcrumbs” that led me on a journey and helped me achieve many goals and hold on to joy even when circumstances tried to steal it from me.

I started 2018 wanting to continue on my journey to minimize spending and accumulating possessions, but I wanted to be happier and more content. So 10% Happier and The Year of Less were a great start. I then started reading simply for enjoyment, no need to take notes or have a highlighter handy. The women whose stories are told in Breaking Night and The Hiding Place demonstrated even the biggest obstacles can be overcome when you keep your faith and let God lead the way.

During the summer, after a co-worker posted a great review, I pulled Girl, Wash Your Face off my wishlist, into my cart and waited anxiously for it to arrive. I quickly read through each chapter. Mind blown! It gave me new perspective, made me step out and “do something” even if it wasn’t perfect or pretty. I set up a new blog and submitted an article to No Sidebar. I didn’t really expect anything to happen and then while reviewing my emails one day, I was notified they accepted my article! I kid you not, my heart leap and I nearly fell out of my chair. Soon, there is was, in digital print, my name and the article I wrote on one of my favorite websites! I promise that article would still be hiding in a journal without the kick in the pants from Rachel Hollis. Thank you Rachel!! Thank you No Sidebar!!

No Sidebar has become like a home base for me and has left breadcrumbs connecting me to many great resources and other writers with common interests. I connected personally with Erica Layne and her Life on Purpose Movement and Introverted Mom’s Club on Facebook and Cheryl Smith and her many inspirational articles.

The Simple Show podcast is a favorite and I listen to it often. It was been a huge factor in my growth during 2018. This is my go to “breadcrumb factory.” Tsh Oxenrider’s interviews have led me to numerous influential people and places. Two favorites being The Lazy Genius Cooperative and Emily P. Freeman and her podcast The Next Right Thing. Thanks Tsh!

By October, I was coasting…I was connecting with people through my blog, writing and meeting many of my goals. All was good…I had a routine and everything seemed to be falling into place. Then that Bermuda Triangle of holidays happened. I was traveling, trying to tie up loose ends at work before the break, cramming candy and costumes, a turkey, presents, and a Christmas tree into a few months. I fell off every wagon I had climbed onto. I know now I gave myself too much to focus on at once. I had too many expectations and not a lot of flexibility. I was spending too much on stuff I didn’t need, eating too much, my routine was out the window, I was cramming in lots of commitments because they were “for a good cause” and stress and anxiety snuck back into my life.

All I had worked for seemed so far away and I didn’t know how I would get back. As I sit here writing, I’m still not back there. My tree is still up there are piles of laundry on the floor and dishes in the sink. The beef stroganoff I made was a complete fail and I’m still nursing my back I pulled out on Christmas Eve. But you know what? Those wagons that I was coasting on? They are still there, just waiting for me to hop back on and steer them and I can’t wait to clear a path and do it!

Although, I got off track and things are still a bit chaotic I’m feeling really good about moving forward in 2019. I don’t have a “word” or list of resolutions for this year. I’m working on more of a mission statement inspired by a quote from the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,which reads, “By investing in fewer things we have the satisfying experience of making significant progress in the things that matter most.”

If you are still pondering words and resolutions I say toss them out. It’s been reported 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February anyway! Instead, figure out what it is you really want to do and….

  • Make a mission statement.
  • Write a few obtainable goals, take an inventory in a few months and dont be afraid to change them.
  • Look for breadcrumbs and follow them!
  • Get a pack of gold star stickers and display your achievements – even the small ones.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work out. Something bigger and better might be just around the corner.
  • If you fall off your wagon, dust yourself off, and just get back on. Don’t wait until the 1st of the month, or a Monday, just start over even if its 3:17 on Tuesday.
  • Don’t be afraid to change midway through the journey. Life is not static, it’s always changing and we are always growing and learning.
  • Don’t put yourself into a box trying to be something other than yourself.

Each one of us has a special gift. Please don’t think what you do is insignificant. There is someone out there waiting to read your story, wear your jewelry, hear your song, display your art, eat your cupcakes, or maybe something as simple as sit on your lap and listen to you read a story.

We all have a light, let 2019 be the year to let yours shine.

Be well,

Lori

Published at No Sidebar on 1/1/0/19.

Where to begin….

compass small

So how am I going to accomplish this healthy heart and joyful soul? Which road should I travel first?

I’m going to start with creating a joyful soul because I have only recently admitted to my addiction of sodas and Hot Tamales and the healthy heart journey is going to be a lot harder!

On my path to a more joyful soul…..I started thinking about happiness vs. joy. I did a little research and there is some debate as to whether they are the same thing or not. Merriam-Webster considers them to be the same. It defines happiness as, “a a state of well-being and contentment joy” and defines joy as, “a state of happiness or felicity bliss.” Others describe happiness as superficial and temporary, a feeling that results from our reaction to another person or thing and joy as something bigger and longer lasting, something you create in yourself despite outside influences. I think it would be good to find happiness and joy but I’m going with Merriam-Webster and will use them to mean the same thing for ease and simplicity.

Speaking of simplicity, Sandra L. Brown M.A., in her article Joy vs. Happiness, refers to “voluntary simplicity.” A lifestyle adopted by her mother which eventually led from a life riddled with loss and pain to a place of joy. Voluntary simplicity sounds a lot like minimalism, and I know after years of attempting to simplify my life, minimalism is for me.

Rachel Jones defines minimalism as “intentionally getting rid of the excess in your life, so you can devote time and energy to the things that are truly important to you.” Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known as The Minimalists, have a lengthier and more comical definition here

I can tell you for me, having less has brought me much more joy than having excess and always being on the hunt for more. However, like many worthwhile things, it takes lots of effort to achieve and lots of self-control to maintain. Because of this, I’ve been working for years to rid my life of the excess of possessions. By the way, did you know the average American home has 300,000 things

While I don’t know if I had that many things, I know at one time I had enough stuff, even after giving a small mountain away, to fill a storage space I could have parked a car in. Even worse, I paid thousands of dollars to keep that stuff comfortable in a climate controlled unit. After eliminating thousands, maybe tens of thousands of items, from my home and office, the only thing I wish I had back was the the time and money I spent on the stuff. I even wrote about it, 8, yes, 8 years ago and I’m still working on it. Sometimes when you let your guard down, stuff tends to sneak back into your home.

I say enough with the stuff!!!

James Altucher writes about the joy minimalism brought him here. (His version of minimalism is too extreme for me!) And then there is Lydia Slater who tried minimalism and concluded, “Minimalism, I realised, wasn’t morally superior to the alternative, it was just another aesthetic choice. Nevertheless, I had learnt one really valuable lesson: I was under no obligation to hang on to things I didn’t like, just because I had spent money on them.”

It is what you make it.

I got started minimizing after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing; however, the catalyst that really got me moving was Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.  This film really lit a fire under me.

This journey has led me, not only to continue my quest to declutter, but to become more intentional about my purchases. I have started to challenge myself periodically with “no spend months” (essentials like food and gas are allowed!) inspired by Cait Flanders and her book, The Year of Less. I’m currently on my third attempt and it’s getting easier each time. What has been helpful is living in a very small house in the country…..not a lot of places for shopping and not a lot of space for storing or displaying. 

I have also developed a capsule wardrobe. Thank you, Courtney Carver! It’s basically having a few items that can easily be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. I guess as a girl I’m a little different……I don’t like to shop (except for books and cowboy boots) but seriously, shopping gives me anxiety…..heart racing type of anxiety. The decision fatigue nearly does me in whether its groceries or clothing, so having very few choices works well for me. This is not for the person who looks forward to going to her full and colorful closet and putting together an outfit with coordinating accessories. If this is you, please don’t stop! I want to enjoy the visual art of your ensemble, but I’m just a jeans and T-shirt kinda gal who owns 4 pairs of earrings and a modest collection of cowboy boots!

Minimalism has also help me open space and time for things that I truly enjoy. Simple things….writing, reading, and having awesome experiences with actual people. Like mountain biking with my son, eating delectable food with my sister, an impromptu hike in the woods with my family, talking with my friend for hours at her kitchen counter, hanging out at the youth rodeo chatting with neighbors, and dancing in the kitchen with my husband. For me these are awesome things!

This is my journey to do more of those things. I want to do more of what I really enjoy instead of just dreaming about it. I’ve been dreaming for a long time and now I’m ready to make some significant changes in what I do and how I think. Too many times I have found myself idle, letting the days pass by. I want to do more things that make me happy but I also want to create a joyful soul that can endure and rise out of the inevitable pain and disappointments that come with this human life.

So for now, I will continue to declutter (I’m in the middle of the 30 day mimimalism game), have at least one awesome experience a week and contact a nutritionist……

Until next time…..

Be well,

Lori

P.S. If you are interested in learning more about minimalism Joshua Becker’s website is a good place to start.