Modern-Day Royalty

An interesting thing about (average middle class American) children these days is that they are so well tended. There's no scavenging for water when their class goes on a field trip. They carry BPA-free bottles in their backpacks, filled that very morning by loving attentive parents.

They can play in the rain without getting chilled because they always have a change of clothing nearby, and if not, the school has something they can borrow.

There's no sliding around in the backseat. They sit in five-point car seats and high tech strollers like modern-day chariots.

They may as well be royalty.

We work to support them and when we aren't working, we entertain them and care for them and clean up after them.

Before they are even born our friends throw them baby showers and after they come we remember their arrival by hosting annual birthday parties. We shower them with gifts on Christmas and we set up elaborate egg hunts on Easter.

We want everything to be magical for them.

We want everything for them. Everything we had, and perhaps more.

I think kids are so well tended these days because parenting builds on the previous generation. We parent the way our parents took care of us, compensating and occasionally over compensating for the gaps that may or may not have existed in our own childhoods.

But are there dangers to over compensating? Can we possibly give our babies too many gifts or too many parties or too much attention? If we overdo it will they grow up to be generous with high social and emotional intelligence, or needy and dependent on all sorts of addictions?

I think it's something for us to consider as we finish our holiday shopping and embark on long school breaks. Can we find balance in the season of excess?

How do you find balance? Tell me in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail [dot!] com. I would like to know!!

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To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

Mind tricks & testimonials for purging all that STUFF

I continue to shed stuff in preparation for my move and I keep faltering and regressing and yes, progressing. Half of my garage contains my discarded items, the purgatory for my family's belongings. My own personal trick? Don't ask yourself if you like it, ask yourself if you wear/use it.

Letting go can be very easy and very hard. A little bit of help goes a long way. I see immense value in hiring professional organizers and asking friends and family for their assistance.

My sister, visiting from Guam, gave me that LOOK when I said I wanted to keep something. My mom reminded me to be "ruthless." A friend came and relieved me of a pretty pile of my clothing. My Facebook friends and blog readers imparted their wisdom which I've shared below.

Other tips and mind tricks for purging:

I ask myself What do I want to keep? instead of What do I want to get rid of?

Take a picture for memory.

As you go through you're closet, stick to your intentions to only keep what you absolutely love the most most most.

If I haven't worn it/used it in 1 calendar year, it's automatically gone.

Only keep something if (1) You LOVE it, (2) You NEED it, or (3) it makes you money. The "love" and "need" had some specific criteria I'm forgetting right now, but on an initial pass, it helps to start whittle down the unnecessary things. When we moved last year, it helped to think about whether I really wanted to bother packing and/or unpacking something. If I was on the fence, it usually went in the "donate" pile.

I hang all my hangers the wrong way, witg the hook facing me, if i wear it, i hang it up the correct way. At the end of one year, my roomate has to go in and get rid of the items not worn in one year. (If i see it, it is too hard to get rid of, hence the roommate doing the discarding/donating)

For beauty products and the like, I pretend I'm packing for a big trip. Anything that's not used gets tossed out ASAP. It's ruthless, but it works well. I also use the hangers-wrong-way trick for clothes and it works like a charm!

Where are you going? That dictates what you keep and throw away. Does it suit your new life?

Don't hold onto things somebody else could be getting use from.

Take a photo for posterity and ditch it.

As with everything, I always think it is great to break things up into smaller chunks. Start with one draw, one storage closet, or the kitchen pantry. When one area is done, take a break (whatever you decide). Then, go to the next small area.

Encouragement and testimonials for purging:

A dear friend, who is older and wiser, once told me that many will spend the first 1/2 of their lives acquiring things, and the 2nd half of their lives giving things away. So true. I LOOOVE purging. The past 4 years have been an extended journey of simplifying in all aspects of my life, and it has been so very freeing. Less IS more!

Relatives still buy the kids toys, so I purpose it to "purge" their closets and shelves when they are occupied almost monthly. Somehow they acquire all these teensy things and my daughter would hold onto it forever if I let her! I try to be sensitive about things that could be sentimental, but the rest goes!! My closet never looked so fresh and free, and even my email inbox...over a period of 4 weeks I unsubscribed to almost every newsletter or advertisement that wasn't immediately relevant to me...it feels so good!!!! Even in the kitchen, pantry purge, linen closet purge, under the bathroom sink purge....GO FOR IT!!!

All in one year I got divorced AND started another business (in addition to the busy law practice I already had). I became determined to simplify. I set an intention to not only get organized but to get rid of 90% off everything and to not buy something else unless I a) NEEDED it (as opposed to wanted it) or b) got rid of two items for the one I'd buy. I felt as though I had been unburied from a grave!

I can honestly tell you that esp with kids most of us have so much more than we need. I have found (having moved 9x in 10years) that each time it is sad at first to part with things, but once you realize its the people, experiences and memories that bring hapiness its liberating and freeing to declutter and downsize. I think you will feel less overwhelmed, have more time and be happier once you purge. Less to clean too which is always nice.

I'm a purger. Love to get rid of stuff, And even I could do more of it.

We just recently moved. It was an eye opener to how much STUFF we didn't use but yet had to have it.

I went from 4bedrooms to a subaru wagon full of stuff to move to the bay. I took photos and said goodbye.

I just keep purging. I almost NEVER ever regret.

Thank you everyone for your help and please keep the advice coming, readers and friends! The rest of us need it. 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_1454.JPGgetting it out the front door can be the hardest part

A beautiful mess

Sometimes lately I feel scattered, unfocused, spread thin. Life spilling over and making my edges more noticeable as they crumble, bits and pieces of me falling away. My house.

My community.

My business.

My belongings.

Everything seems a mess, my hair consigned to the bedhead style. I need a haircut but I thought I just cut it. I have hardly looked in the mirror for a week. I keep forgetting deodorant. I haven't done any formal exercise for most of the month. I haven't been cooking much either. My 4 year-old wants to eat only bread. Our car broke down then got broken into. We're moving and we don't know when.

I am in the process of changing and simplifying. But I have to dig out of the rubble before I can take a deep breath. It's like everything has to get a little bit worse before it can get a whole lot better.

And so, after a weekend of madly cleaning my house for a showing, and then sorting through the piles of stuff I'd thrown into the garage to get it OUT of the house, I am here. Thinking about the messes I've cleared away, the messes still waiting for the magic wand. My "trash" that will hopefully become someone else's treasure. Wondering why my desk drawers and kitchen counters aren't always this empty because it feels so good. Why do we love stuff so much and why do we want it all around us? For a distraction or a band-aid or a disguise or a preservative?

This purging of stuff has brought me a buzz. Strangely enough, it's not so different a buzz from finding the thing I really wanted. The materialistic circle of life.

In clearing away the detritus--not just papers and clothing and toys but other things I won't get into now--I feel like I'm seeing myself anew, yet again. Though I may (occasionally) look put together, I am (often) a mess. When we married my husband wrote in his vows that I was "a beautiful mess" on the morning before the evening we fell in love. But I was a mess that day because I'd been riding my bicycle in the rain on city streets.

So maybe, if the messy part comes from adventure and risk and fun, maybe it's okay. Maybe I can learn to love my messes simply because I had the privilege to make them.

Is there something about yourself that you're learning to love rather than shame? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com.

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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The great purge

I'm moving (more on this later) and I've decided to purge roughly half of my belongings. I've wanted to do this for years and now that I'm doing it I'm sure it will be the greatest purge of my life. Never again will I accumulate this much stuff. Plastic sunglasses, outdated eyeglasses, ancient eyeshadows, piles of pantyhose though I haven't worn pantyhose in years. A broken candle pedestal from Peru, a Cuban statue missing his partner, a necklace with the tag still attached and no memories of how it arrived in my possession. Have you noticed that going on vacation can be like going on vacation from your stuff? (If you've never engaged in retail therapy you might not understand.) Less is more. I want quality over quantity. I want every item of clothing to be something I love wearing. I don't want to engage in a constant battle with my children's toys. I don't want clothing to live on chairs or the laundry room or anywhere but my drawers and hangers. And I definitely don't want more than one junk drawer. The place where objects goes to die.

I've been hanging onto too much stuff for too long, doubting the universe's ability to provide for me. No more. As my husband says, we must edit. Shopping is human but editing is divine. It's not like I'm daring to be a minimalist, but I'd like for my dresser drawers to be tidy.

So I'm having a garage sale this weekend. I'm selling scarves from Laos and dresses tailored in Vietnam and a sweater from France and maybe my Ciao Bella t-shirt from Italy. These are the hardest things to part with, these souvenirs from my travels (not the never-used food dehydrator nor the commuter bike I should have sold years ago when I got a new road bike). But does it matter what I was doing when I bought it if I no longer use it? The memories live inside of me. The threads of my mind, not the threads of a shirt, make me who I am today.

"If it comes, let it come. If it goes, let it go."

I'd love to hear your decluttering/purging/moving tips! I will share them in a future post. Tell me in the comments below or email me lucymiller7[at]gmail.com. 

If you're in the Seattle area and would like to drop by and check out my stuff, email me for my address.

IMG_1020.JPGOne large box + one large bag full of my clothes alone and that's not all of it...