Back to the Basics | 30 Day Minimalism Challenge, Days 8-13

By the start of my second week I am starting to feel more aware of my surroundings and the effects this challenge is having on me and my daily choices. I find that I am putting more thought into each move I make rather than relying on my impulsive feelings and gut reactions. This is new to me. I am the reason that checkout lines in grocery stores are so profitable. I walk into a buying situation and I am immediately distracted by things that were not on my list but somehow they ended up coming home with me as a deemed “necessity”.

My biggest failure during my second week is that I was not as reflective as I would have liked to have been with the challenge. When I started this journey, my expectation was that I would review my notes each day and reflect on the items of the challenge to measure what I was doing and what I was not doing. I find that when I am not organized and focused, my life really does spin out of control. I know this is common sense, but my lack of self-discipline masks this from my logic on a daily basis. Its like I go through the motions and don’t even realize that I am defying common sense! So, I’d like to spend week three focusing on developing my self-discipline. I believe this challenge is actually challenging people to do just that – develop some dang self-discipline! My method to attack this madness – slowly! – is baby steps.

  • CHECK-IN 3x/day – how am I doing? Am I staying focused on my daily needs?
  • EVALUATE how I am feeling at each check-in to gauge my efforts and adjust.
  • MEDITATE. Start out small – with 5 minutes of quiet.

While my lack of organization in the project makes it seem like somewhat of a flop – I am comfortable by the small victories I have had with checking my internal voices. We are very close to finishing our kitchen renovation and the timing could not be more perfect – my oldest babe starts Kindergarten next week, and with it a new chapter of chaos.

So I want to know your tricks! If you have been living a more minimal lifestyle – how did you get over the transition hump? How did you stay focused and motivated? Thanks in advance for sharing!

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Back to the Basics | 30 Day Minimalism Challenge, Days 3-7

Days 3-7 seem to be a blur for me. It is as if I blinked and it was Tuesday of the following week. I have had some victories over the past few days. My number one victory is following #10, No email or social media before lunch. I would have to say that while this is a difficult feat in our tech-savvy world, I am ever so mindful of this habit now. My instincts still reach for my phone as my internal alarm clock jolts me awake at 4:32 am every morning, but I now freeze as I touch the phone and withdraw back to my pillow. I am finding it difficult to hold of from the email before 8am – as the business I am in depends on being reactive to inquiries immediately. But my personal world waits. And I am enjoying the peace that it is bringing me.

Another victory has been instilling a morning ritual (#6). I decided to tackle this one before really starting on an evening routine because I am much more a morning person (hence the fact that I automatically wake up at 4:30am).

I also took a super-long walk on Sunday morning. I think I was gone for well over an hour. I finished listening to The Minimalists’ Everything that remains on Audible. I am not sure if my walk would count for (#19) “practicing mindfulness”, but I am counting it for myself. There is something so satisfying about feeling like you are the only person awake and alive when I wake up with the sun on a walk.

I have also discovered that TV has become a crutch for me. I like to have it in the background while I am cleaning or doing mindless chores. We have a lot going on right now and last weekend we spent inside our home working on house projects. Next weekend I am going to be preparing to send my oldest baby off to school for the first time, so I imagine I will be deep in organization mode trying to prepare for the beautiful chaos of back-to-school.

Since today is going to be mostly a computer day for me at work, I plan on taking my break-times as reflection — is anyone else like me in that I have to fully commit my focus to reflection? — I want to study what my stress triggers are (#26) and then evaluate my top priorities (#9). I believe this will help me get into a better mindset for my weekend of prep and organization.

Tomorrow will be another fly-by-the-minute day as I am headed to a town in North Alabama to see a good friend of mine who is headed to Texas to start a pretty lengthy treatment for a health concern. No matter your spiritual preference – good vibes sent her way would be greatly appreciated.

Back to the Basics | 30 Day Minimalism Challenge, Day 2

I did this while riding in the car with my boss as I listened to him battle his day over the phone. I naively see myself as an empathetic person, but there are so many instances in my day-to-day life where I am shocked when I learn something new about a person that I did not see before. I am naturally a judgmental person – not because I am know-it-all, but because I am genuinely intrigued by human lives and interactions. I am curious about what is going on in a person’s brain and why they act/respond the way they do. This causes me to pass judgement too soon because people are so complex and hardly ever show all of their colors at one time. It is important for me to sit back and digest what I am taking in and look from all angles instead of the 2 dimensional view I have at any given moment.

I digress – it was an emotional day for me at work, so my brain is in overdrive trying to make sense of it. Today I am back on track. I consider the previous paragraph my journaling time. I almost went bare-faced today – and honestly got very close – but I decided to test those waters this weekend.

Have you been on this journey before? Any suggestions to keep the momentum up?

Back to the Basics | 30 Day Minimalism Challenge, Day 1

30 Day Minimalism Challenge | cissyromano.com

30 Day Minimalism Challenge | cissyromano.com

7:45a So, Day 1 and I completely forgot about my promise to challenge myself in my hazy wake up at 5:30ish this morning. That’s OK. I quickly caught myself by 7:15 on my way to work. I currently have my Outlook closed (#17) and my notifications on my phone are now silent (#29).

I am not preparing for my day. It is early and quiet in the office. Hopefully I can use this time to strategize my 30 Day Challenge. I am going to start with these two items to get my momentum going:

  1. Create/Follow a morning ritual. (#6)
  2. Create/Follow a relaxing bedtime routine. (#22)

11:30a It is now my lunch break, so I have a chance to transcribe my brainstorming session from this morning. Here are my plans for the first two challenge items:

MORNING RITUAL: this one is actually pretty straightforward for me. Because I am a mother to three small children, I naturally already have a routine in place. However, there is always room for improvement (i.e. maybe don’t hit the snooze from 5a – 5:30a…) For this challenge, I am committing myself to the following:

  • Rise earlier – 5a.
  • Journal for 20 minutes (#21)
  • Meditate for 15 minutes (#2)
  • Learn to enjoy solitude (#8)
  • No email or social media. I am taking this a step further and adding no electronic devices before I leave for work. (#10)
  • Be ready – showered and dressed – before the kids wake up for breakfast at 6a
  • Eat breakfast with my kids

BEDTIME ROUTINE: this one will be slightly more difficult. We are currently in the middle of a home renovation project, so it causes our nights to be slightly chaotic. However, I will try to get this as close to “relaxing” as possible. I get home between 5:30p and 5:45p every night, so I am going to start there.

  • Cook dinner and eat at the table. (we have a terrible habit of watching Wheel of Fortune during dinner – don’t judge… at least we eat together)
  • Clean up the kitchen and wipe the counters down.
  • Bathe the kids, then storytime. (no TV)
  • Kids in bed at 8.
  • 8-8:30 evaluate my challenge progress and update the blog.
  • 8:30-9 read
  • 9 – lights out!

 

Back to the Basics | 30 Day Minimalism Challenge, the beginning

minimalism challenge

Original list by Into-Mind.com

So, it has been awhile since my last post. I have a ton of excuses of why my time has been consumed elsewhere… but I’ll save you from my pity cry. 🙂

I recently read a post from The Minimalists about their favorite bloggers (I can’t find the original post! Sorry!) and of course I clicked on every single recommendation – as I can not get enough of other people’s simplifying testimonies. One of their recommendations was Blonde on a Budget. I spent a great deal of time catching up on some of her recent posts and found this: the 30-Day Minimalism Challenge. I think the list/idea was originally from into-mind.com, but I LOVED how she attached her daily updates from the challenge in the post. I am also really digging the simple concept of the 30-day challenge.

Now, my life is so far from simple right now. I have way too many irons in the fire than I am comfortable admitting at the moment. I suppose I am a perfect candidate for this challenge, but the looming possibility of failure scares the crap out of me. Now is better than never, right? Plus, it will give me purpose for giving my blog the TLC it needs.

When I sat down to start planning out my July 21st – August 19th challenge, I noticed some of the points of the challenge were singular events and others were more of a daily practice; so i’ve sectioned off those singular-event items from the others. My daily updates may just be that – updates. Others will be addressing points of the challenge directly. Hopefully my method of challenge-organization will make sense when it is all said and done.


 

Daily Practice Items

  • #2 | Meditate for 15 minutes
  • #6 | Follow a morning ritual
  • #8 | Learn to enjoy solitude
  • #10 | No email or social media before lunch
  • #17 | Practice single-tasking
  • #19 | Go for a walk and practice mindfulness
  • #21 | Journal for 20 minutes
  • #24 | Practice Gratitude

The next 30 days will be interesting to see how it unfolds for me. Won’t you join me and hold me accountable? Pretty please.

Here is a printable version of the list (thanks Blonde on a Budget).

If you are joining me in the challenge, let me know your updates too! If you are just following – any ideas or words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated!

Back To The Basics | Less Toys = Life With More

So, it’s been a little over two months since the lightbulb went off. That is about 10 weeks of increased sanity, increased time, and increased love of my home. I’ve tackled several areas of my home thus far, but my happiest is our toy collection. It is my belief that no matter if you have one or 10 children, you loathe toys. Am I right? They are everywhere. No matter if you are diligent about picking up said toys, they seems to appear in every spot besides the spots that you designated: sock drawers, your bag for work, the fridge… I was ready to declutter this part of our lives. R.E.A.D.Y.

I should set the stage. We have a very small home compared the American average. Please don’t ask me the square footage, because I have never been able to understand why we talk in square footage when it comes to homes. But, either way, trust me – it’s pretty compact for a family of five. I love that it is small. Small house payment. Small surface area to clean. We are on top of each other – and I like for my family to always be in my line of sight or within an earshot. – sorry for the tangent – OK, so our toys lived in every part of our house: the kids rooms, our rooms, the bathrooms, the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the den, and even outside! Seriously. Every room.

I decided I was going to confine the toys to three areas: my oldest daughter’s room, the twins’ room and our den. Then, I used the KonMari method and dumped everything into the floor of my den and started sorting. I found the easiest to get rid of where all the miscellaneous piecy kind of toys that had missing parts or were bound to have missing parts in the near future. DONE. The hardest to get rid of were books. We have been given so many beautiful children’s books over the years that I found the memories of people giving them to us made it difficult to part with them. I then resorted to a max number of books allowed and reminded myself of our fantastic library and the experiences we have had going to the library to pick books out. DStorage Container for decluttering toysONE. I purchased a clear box with a handle similar to this for a small collection of toys for the twins room. I also left a toy castle in their room between their cribs. Because my oldest daughter is at the age that she is able to play by herself, we allowed a few more toy options for her room. She houses all of the children’s books in the house as well as most of the stuffed animals. The stuffed animals now live in a pop up tent/castle that does an excellent job at concealing the large collection of stuffed animals that she was not able to part with. She also had a small(er) collection of Barbie and Barbie accessories in her room. All toys are now contained in similar clear boxes in her storage unit from target. The third place that houses toys is in our den. We have another cube storage unit that we store the following in: music toys, puzzles, blocks, plastic toy animals, and dress up accessories. We also have a basket with our balls and then a small kids table for the girls to sit at and play. The toy kitchen and kitchen accessories are also down there. Our arts and crafts are housed in a small fabric box on top of our tv and the games are right next to it in a plastic storage bin.

So, we no longer have toys in our line of sight no matter where we walk in our home. It takes me – MAYBE – 15 minutes to pick up the worst tornado that is possible. Yes, 15 minutes. I have control back. My kids are starting to play in concentrated areas instead of at my feet while I cook. I am happy. My husband is happy. And my kids hardly miss the HUGE AMOUNT that we donated to the Salvation Army.

If you are struggling to find a place to start in your home – try the toys. Everyone is happy to see those go!

Back To The Basics | Living Life With Less

Budda Quote_CissyRomano.comHave you ever seen those programs about tiny houses? The ones where the people live in spaces under 500 square feet? If you haven’t – check out this YouTube channel. Absolutely fascinating. While this lifestyle would never work for me right now, it got me thinking if one day I would be able to live with a minimal number of possessions – truly live with only what I need. I’ve been intrigued by this lifestyle for at least a handful of years. It was only recently that I started making changes in my own life to get closer to this minimal way of living.

Regardless of what you have going on in your life and the number of warm bodies (human and furry friends) you are responsible for, have you ever spent an entire Saturday or Sunday cleaning up your crap? I’ll take that as a resounding YES – even if you aren’t admitting to it now, we’ve all had to take time out of our valuable and precious weekends to sort our things out. Call it “spring cleaning” or whatever you want – it exists. And it stinks. It makes you realize real quick that you are an adult and that being an adult is just not fun sometimes.

So this whole minimalist movement is about solving that problem. What if you controlled your living space and possessions instead of these things controlling you? Admit it – its intriguing right? And completely counter-intuitive to our Western culture where more is more and less is less. What if less really was more?

As I mentioned before, my husband and I have already started making smallish changes in an effort to explore this new less-is-more lifestyle. It was easy to get him on board by merely talking about how much time we would save on our weekends and dedicated free time if we weren’t having to do mounds of laundry and spend hours picking up the explosion of toys that happens immediately after the previous pick-up session.

My first step happened in January of this year – I started in my closet. Clothes seemed to be the easiest starting place for me as I am not emotionally attached to clothing. My reason for having so many items of clothing was practical and rational for this point in my life. My body has endured so many changes over the past 6 years – I have grown and delivered three human beings, so of course my body shape has been all sorts of shapes and sizes during this time period. I was hanging onto clothing with plans in mind of not being as large or round in certain body areas forever. OK, so its taking longer than I would like for this to happen. I’ve accepted it and I have now parted with the variety of sized clothing in my closets. It is still not where I want to be – I need to shed some more – but it is better than it was when I started.

My second step was our kitchen – again out of rational thinking – we are about to undergo a much-needed kitchen reno next month, and therefore we need to have all the crap that we don’t use out of the way so its easier to work around the reno and store our belongings. I have 4 of the same-sized pyrex! How does that happen? I also shed our old plates we received from our wedding. We had more than we needed and the majority of them were chipped anyway. We upgraded to stark white plates, which I am obsessed with and they bring joy to me every time we sit down to eat.

After the kitchen purge, I watched a review of a book that seemed to be taking over people’s conversations (in the social/web community I take part in): The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Her book basically summed up everything that I was reading and watching that was inspiring me to make these changes. I picked the book up in hopes that it would help me organize my plan of attack for this new exploration of mine. I’m about half-way through the book and it is amazing. And life-changing. And magic. I highly recommend it.

This past weekend we purged toys. It was amazing. It was joyful. My house smiled when we finished. My children did not even notice. Again, I feel we could purge even more, but this was an awesome starting point. My next attack will be my closet again. I plan on documenting my process now that my house is not as embarrassing. Had you only seen where I started.

I can tell you that so much peace has already come upon me and my family. After three months of slowing chipping away at the over-abundance of STUFF that was taking over our lives, I have never felt so at-ease walking into my home. It is slowly but surely becoming a place I enjoy spending my time.

Have you been intrigued by this minimalist movement? Have you tried changes in your own life? Please share with me any successes or failures you have experienced. I hope at the end of the day the promise of minimalism comes true, and I hope you enjoy our journey.

I feel a “Namaste” is an appropriate exit of this post. So, namaste.

Cissy

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