Appreciating what you have…like an awesome music collection

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A big part of my personal Journey to Simple has been about focusing on appreciating what I already have.  My family, my time, my health, my awesome dog, and my possessions.  In my efforts to edit and and to get rid of the excess, I started to stumble upon unused items throughout the house.  Some items were easy to part with, while others where like finding forgotten treasures.  One example of a long lost and neglected treasure, was our CD collection.

Ok, it wasn’t lost at all.  In fact, all of our CDs had been in plain sight on a shelf in the basement.  Most of them had been sitting there since we moved in to our current home, and many of them had not been listened to in over a decade.  In one of my more ambitious attempts to Edit and Forget It, I looked at the shelf full of unloved musical gems and I made the immediate decision to do three things:

  1. Transfer all of the music to my computer – easy access makes it more likely that I will listen to the music
  2. Donate all of the CDs to a thrift store so that more people can enjoy them – this also has the dual purpose of getting additional clutter out of the house
  3. Actually listen to the music that I own – taking action towards my simplicity goal of appreciating what I have

*Warning* Getting rid of clutter while simultaneously reconnecting with the beloved soundtrack of your life will provide more joy than you expect!

I could not have anticipated how enjoyable the process of going through the CDs ended up being.   Music is one of the simplest pleasures that we have available to us; appreciating music is a lifelong hobby requiring very little commitment and no there is no skill needed on our part.  Memories of my childhood love for musicals, my enjoyment of folk music, and the attempt I once made to enjoy classical music were revived.  I enjoyed the process of going through the music. Thanks to the computer, I am much more likely to continue listening for years to come.  Keep in mind, digitizing your music library will take time (it took me an entire day to do about 200 albums).  I put on the Lord of The Rings trilogy and started to upload the CDs one by one.  After each album was finished being added to iTunes, I put it directly into a box headed for the thrift store.  I delivered my box to the thrift store the following day.  I liberated myself of some physical things while retaining what I originally loved about those things – all in two days.

The simple decision to take action on a forgotten treasure has helped me to appreciate what I have, which is a step forward on my Journey to Simple. Based on personal experience, I can say that the best time for you to reconnect with your music library is today!

Don’t forget to leave a comment about appreciating something that you have.

Letting Go of the Excess

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For me, a big part of simple living is about loving your home.  After my lost luggage incident, I became increasingly interested in packing light.  The more that I thought about it, the more I wondered why I wasn’t living light.  Why did I own ten pairs of jeans that were only suitable for house cleaning and painting? Do I really need all of the grade two spelling tests that my mother saved from my elementary school years?  I also began to realize that my frequently cluttered and messy home was causing me unnecessary confusion and stress.  

At the same time, I had starting listening to the Simple Life Together podcast and signed up to participate in the Edit and Forget It challenge that the listeners were challenged to take on.  The basic idea is to rid yourself of 2013 items during the year 2013.  The challenge intrigued me and I jumped right in.  I imagined tackling each drawer, shelf, or cabinet in the house until I had achieved organizational perfection.  I imagined ‘Pinterest’ worthy DIY organization.  What actually happened was a few hours of zealous purging and many days of overwhelmed inaction.  I was in denial about how much ‘stuff’ I owned.  What I realized is that getting rid of 2013 items was going to require a mental shift; a change in how I look at the space that I have and how I think about living in that space.  In the end, I had a lot of fun completing the challenge and have moved on to editing 2014 things in 2014.  Here are my top five tips that I have learned while moving from reluctant de-clutterer to simplified living:

1. Act as though you are moving: Every object in your home deserves the question ‘Would I move this to another province/state/country?’  If the answer is no, ask yourself why you are keeping it now.

2. Start small: De-clutter one box or drawer before tackling your overflowing kitchen or garage.  You will stick with a small project and gain motivation for larger ones.

3. Make short and long term goals: A whole house could take weeks, months, or years to edit and reorganize.  Go room by room or drawer by drawer.  Every step counts.

4. Plan on re-visiting: As someone who had a hard time letting go of some items, it would only take a few minutes for me to get bogged down in the decision making process.  Now I work on an area until I begin to feel overwhelmed and then decide to stop and revisit in a few hours, days, or weeks.

5. Seize the day…..or moment: If you see something sitting around and you wonder why you are holding on to it, add it to the donate pile/recycling bin/garbage immediately.  Take advantage of the spontaneous moments when the feeling to purge or simplify strikes in an unplanned way.

Keep in mind, none of this is to criticize how much we all own and consume.  For me, editing my possessions has been about realizing that some of the things that I own only cause stress and clutter.  This aspect of my Journey to Simple has been all about figuring out what possessions I need, love, or provide a better quality of life, and getting rid of the excess.

Don’t forget to leave a comment about how you approach simplifying your home.

It all started with a suitcase…

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This is a blog about simple living.  Or rather, it’s about the Journey to Simple living.  A simple lifestyle comes naturally to some people.  If you are one of these people, this blog is not of you (just kidding, this blog is for everyone).  For many of us, myself included, simplicity takes intentionality.    For me, the Journey to Simple started with a suitcase…

Two years ago I was traveling to friend’s wedding in Ohio.  I took a flight to Toronto, and then caught a connecting flight to Columbus, Ohio.  I landed in Toronto and headed for the baggage claim area next to US customs.  I waited…and waited…..and waited.  I was there for two hours and my bag did not show up.  I was going to miss my flight if I waited any longer, so I went through customs and took the flight to Ohio.

Now, I consider traveling by plane a privilege and I realize that mistakes will happen every now and again.  But as I sat there on my flight to Ohio, I could not help but make a mental list of every item that I had packed in my now misplaced bag.  I had a new dress for the wedding, an outfit for the rehearsal dinner, a hair straightener, additional clothing, etc…  I added it all up in my head and realized that I had over $1000 worth of items in my small bag.  The worst part is that it was a carry on size bag.  I could have brought it on the plane.  I didn’t bring it on the plane because I never want to be the person struggling to shove my roller bag into the overhead compartment.  At 4’11”, I can barely reach the overhead compartment as it is.

In the end, I bought some great new clothes and my bag arrived back in my home town the following week. Even though it all worked out, I couldn’t help but dwell on the sense of anxiety that I felt when I thought that my bag may never be found.  It all seemed so senseless.  Why had I checked a bag at all?  I was only going away for four days.  I retuned from that trip vowing to never check a piece of luggage again.  I had a strange new commitment to travel light wherever I went.  Little did I know, this would spark a new journey to simplify every aspect of my life.

Many things have changed since this trip, but my interest and commitment to simplify every aspect of my life is still going strong.  I hope to use this blog to share some of the lessons that I have learned so far and the efforts that are to come as I continue on my Journey to Simple.  I hope that you find it helpful as you start or continue your own Journey to Simple.

Don’t forget to leave a comment about how your Journey to Simple for started!