but it is too long to list. I say, "we" as my hubby did the 30 days with me. He conquered like a champ. That's just him. He grew a little tired of chicken and cauliflower, but otherwise, he found it to be fairly easy and he seemed to enjoy the challenge of finding W30 compliant snacks for work and packing on a 10 mile overnight backpacking trip with foods that match the plan. So, good for him. Not so good for me.
On the Whole 30, there is the requirement that all forms of cream and sugar be eliminated from coffee. You could have compliant cream such as coconut or almond milk, but beyond that....you must suffer. Across the entire 30 days, this is where I failed. Every. Single Day. I actually replaced my half and half with compliant almond milk and was able to successfully do this during the Virgin Diet as well. But, this go around, like that one, I still added a little sugar to my coffee. But, I am not ashamed. This was the only place I had sugar. In fact, believe it or not, I had tea about 4 times while I was out at dinner and was stunned to find I could drink it unsweetened. More on that little gem below!
Let's talk about sugar. We have very few things we purchase pre-made. In fact, my the last time my sister house sat for us, she said, there is nothing to eat in your home that does not have to be prepped and cooked. True story. But, when I looked at the hand-full of items I purchase, half have sugar. And, we drink sweet-tea. Almost every night. So, going back through and ensuring that nothing has added sugar wasn't a huge deal for us, but it was disappointing at the amount of sugar snuck into our clean diet. Though I did keep a little sugar and cream in my coffee, that is the only sugar I had daily and I can tell you without a doubt that the difference in my body and in my taste buds was HUGE.
Full Disclosure. On about day 8, I had a breakdown and went to Sonic. I purchased a sweet tea - half sweet and half unsweet. I took one sip and had to throw it in the trash. Even drinking my coffee, by eliminating all of the other sugar in my diet, it radically changed my tastebuds in only 8 days. The other cool thing? I picked up one for each of the kids. They drank theirs but asked when Sonic started making their tea so sweet. This breakdown was actually a good thing!
I had maybe 4 other times that I veered from the plan. One was for my sister's birthday. I used milk in the mashed potatoes as it was all I had, verses the chicken stock I normally use. I also had a sweet tea that evening. One day I met with a client and had fresh local Mexican with corn tortillas as well as Nachos with cheese and sour cream. My final day of total non-compliance I will talk about a little below.
Going back to sugar, can you see how this supported me in eliminating the habit of sugar? I don't even have a sugar habit compared to what is in most foods and the American diet, but I had enough that this reset me and I am SO THANKFUL. On these moments of non-compliance, I can tell you that I did okay, but not great. What I mean by this is I didn't feel great after having the butter and milk in my potatoes (I have been only eating homemade ghee until this point), the corn was good and a treat, but left me feeling overly full and the sweet tea, we will not even talk about how I felt after that!)
We didn't force the kids to be completely Whole 30 compliant. I actually feel that is unhealthy for growing kids and ones as physically active as ours. But, other than a couple of exceptions (no added sugar juice and organic dark chocolate) I removed the excess sugars from their diet as well. Okay, let's be honest. They get organic low-sugar granola bars and .......a little sugar in their mayo....and sweet tea. When I think about it, our sugars are really low! Here's the cool thing! I replaced our sweet tea with plain lemon water that I steep in the afternoons before they get home from school and they love it. Noah has had a couple of rough days due to the high school soccer season that I have treated him with sweet tea when he got home from the games, but otherwise, lemon water. Oh! And, they didn't even notice that I cut the sugar in the tea to half. Who knew?
So, that's all the good. Now, I want to address the bad and ugly. I think there is an idea that for many folks following this diet that eggs are a staple. I know from the Virgin Diet, when I eliminated eggs, that they have been a major culprit of inflammation for me (especially with my thyroid) and once they were gone, a lot changed for me. The texture of my skin, my bowel issues, my heartburn...with the W30, I really went full force on eggs again and within 3 weeks, was feeling the results which for me where not good. In addition, the idea is to increase your plant intake. Here's the deal. I don't need to increase my plant intake. So, I was not adding a lot of plant based foods. Greens, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, these things are all part of my daily diet. But, something in the elimination of all grains, adding back in the eggs and maybe the almond milk, shut my digestive system down pretty much completely. I won't go into the gory details, but after two days of severe discomfort to the point of not sleeping, I got up and had a non-compliant breakfast and lunch to attempt to reset. This was in the way of oatmeal and lunch at a local Indian restaurant. By the next day, things had begun to right themselves. The decision was made to stick to the plan. Just because we had to finish, find completion.
The longest 6 days of my life. We were counting the days....Nathan and I...and the kids as the Moon was anxious to get back to baking.
You would think we would return to every bad old habit once finished! We did and we didn't. I had gf biscuits and gravy Friday morning but only had homemade chicken broth for lunch. We had sushi for dinner. I was mostly "compliant" on Saturday during the day but ordered Mexican for dinner. There's an interesting story. I ordered two chicken enchiladas with suiza (green) sauce. It came with beans and rice. I asked that the rice be replaced with a second bean. You see, on one of my non-compliant days I had rice. It is entirely possible that I will never eat rice again. I do not need it, cannot digest it, it has very little value for me and only bloated me and gave me abdominal pain. With my Mexican also came chips and salsa. A test! I sat down and thought I would do what I normally do with Mexican food - polish it off. Nope. I literally ate half and put the remainder in the fridge for Sunday's lunch. I also was up most of the night with horrific heartburn. You can bet that instead of being a grain staple for me, even in the most organic non-GMO way, that corn is now low on my food list. Not only have I cut my sugar almost completely out, I have reduced my portions by half. Let the weight roll off!
That's the story of me and Whole 30 and over the last week and still today, I am pondering where I go from here. I have some things banging around in my head and hope to cement this by the end of the day. I'll let you know when I figure it out!
Here's to your health,
When I made the decision to start the 11-week challenge, I said from the get to that I was peeling back the layers of an onion that needed to be peeled. Here is what I didn't know. I didn't know we would have weeks of illness, that I would fall or that I would be at the place where I've had enough. I knew that my line in the sand, my "enough" was here in the home and that as we move toward listing our home for sale (in uhm....a couple of weeks) that we needed to surgically remove some things that are hanging around like cobwebs in a haunted house. I didn't know my "enough" would come in the form of being really honest about some other things that needed to be addressed in my life. I knew it was possible, but didn't really see how this would go.
Repeatedly, you have read here that we cannot take care of others if we are not caring about ourselves. So, I, we, made the decision to begin the Whole 30 plan. We were gifted the book by a friend, I spent a few days looking at the book, Pinning recipes, talking to friends and we began.
Today we are past the 7 day mark and I wanted to share a few things for myself and for anyone considering making a diet change as part of your new year or part of your personal decluttering plan.
1. Eliminating gluten was easy for us as we don't typically have it in our home with the exception of an occasional (1x per month) pizza. We are going on nearly 10 years of low to zero wheat.
2. Eliminating corn is a bitch as I love chips and salsa.
3. Eliminating beans is not hard but I really am missing dips like white bean hummus.
4. Eliminating dairy has not been too hard.
5. I thought eliminating "hidden" ingredients would not be hard as we buy limited amounts of prepacked foods. In fact, if you are looking for corn syrup, MSG, hydrogenated oils, food dyes, nitrates, etc., then I am your girl. I can spot that stuff at 10 paces and we just don't have it in our home.
6. Eliminating sugar. Okay. This is where it is really hard. First, there is sugar for my coffee. Then there is the sweet tea. Okay. Then, there are hidden sugars that I was SO sure that we didn't have. There is sugar in my uncured, nitrate and MSG free bacon and polish sausage. There is sugar in my egg free mayo. Now, I am having to even more carefully go through every ingredient in every thing I purchase and it is a BITCH. Why do these things need sugar? No wonder we all have a sugar issue in this country. But, here is the cool thing. I have to admit that on day 6 I had a small meltdown and went to a local fast food joint known for great sweet tea and bought one. Actually, what I purchased was a half sweet and half unsweet tea. OMG. It. Was. Disgusting. I don't know how much of it was my body rejecting it due to eliminating sweet tea for a week and really watching for any extra sugars or if it was mental or if it is a combination. I just couldn't do it. And that is a good thing.
8. Eggs. Any of these plans are egg heavy. Last year I used the Virgin Diet for 30 days to find out what was aggravating my thyroid. Eggs. I have eaten eggs daily my entire life. Once I eliminated eggs I also found myself with no thyroid issue and no heartburn. The last 7 days I have been egg heavy in an effort to see if they still bother me the way they did. Yep. So, now, I am eliminated the eggs again.
We are forging ahead. I am very excited. I feel better than I have in a while. Below is a compliant meal of green beans, brussel sprouts, salmon cakes and mashed potatoes.
Hang with me as I get us back on track and healthy! If you are working through my clutter challenge or have made huge changes to your health, I want to hear from you!
This week the #2 Sickness Star visited our house. Again. I'll talk about that in another post. Needless to say, blogging has been low on my priority list. So, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite blog posts from around the internet about getting our bathrooms in order, complete with pictures.
When you are looking at any organization in your home, I know you want to look at form first. Is it cute? Does it look like a designer installed it or does it look like a well-done Pinterest page? Keep that ideal. Really, hang on to that. But form does not matter if you have thrown function out the window. When I was going through the hundreds of Pinterest pages for the bathroom I saw some amazing pages and some things that left me scratching my head. Why? Because the system is not sustainable and will sooner rather than later drive the home-owner mad. It has to be easy. It has to be easy for you to grab the Motrin at 2am when your kid wakes up with a fever. It has to be easy when you realize halfway through your shower that you are out of soap. It has to be easy to put away your beauty items or else you will live them all over the counter. So, make it cute, but remember, cute can only carry you so far.
You will notice I really do not include counter-top organization in this post. Years and years ago, I kept all of my daily items on my countertop on a cute mirrored tray. It made sense for me to be able to easily grab what I needed each day. The problem with this is everything stayed dirty. The tray stayed dirty, the acrylic organizers stayed dirty. They were constantly getting covered in hairspray overflow and face powder. Maybe it was just me. I don't know, but I am a big fan of keeping our bathroom items behind closed doors. Now, let's see some fun pictures!
The first is from Kelly Nan, a lifestyle blogger from Georgia and she blogs about a bathroom closet makeover that will make your heart sing. She uses a door organizer for bottles and medicines and open top organizers for items such as hairdryers. You will rarely find any recommendation from me using an organizer with a lid. Save yourself the trouble. Lidded bins for everyday items do not work. Most of us will not take the time to take the lid off to get the item back to its home. Trust me on this. Kelly Nan has more photos and gives some great tips on getting that bathroom closet organized.
This image is from Kim at O is for Organize. Kim uses a drawer system under her bathroom sink to organize beauty supplies, hair accessories, etc. Again, no lids. Drawer systems are easy and can work. She picked up these bins at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but I have seen these items in other stores.
Another linen closet using open top baskets can be found at First Home Love Life. Notice the plastic organizer for medicines on the middle right. In our old home, I used a system like this and it works very well. I opted for a different system in this house but I love these organizers for anything in the bathroom closet! But, label the drawers ladies. You know what is in there but the hubbies and kiddos need to know as well.
Kelly, over at Smart School House, uses something I have used for years in all of our bathroom drawers. Kitchen drawer organizers! These work wonders and we all have one. Check this out and make your life easy and they are great for easy cleaning.
The photo below uses bins that are literally a dollar from the Dollar Tree and I use these as well in our garage. This is a great way to organize a small space. What do you think? This image is compliments I Heart Organizing, which is always a great place to go for tips on the home.
This article from Babble is its own roundup of sorts. Lots of different types of organizing including wall, under sink and some fun DIY. For those of you with limited bathroom spaces, you may need to go vertical to get organized. Hang shelves on the walls or baskets as they did in this post!
Organizing can be rewarding and fun and a job well done. Send me some pics of your bathroom organizing project!
A few months ago I went to a friend's house and she asked me to walk through the home with her to look at what she should do to eliminate clutter. Her home is beautiful and we chatted about a few areas but it was the bathroom where I found that most of her clutter lived and it was hidden away as not to be seen. She had boxes and bins full of toiletries. Travel size, full size, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, bath gels, gifts with purchase, you name it! I asked her if she was using all of them. No, but she might need them. Then she confessed that she sometimes bought more because she has so much she cannot tell what she does and does not have.
I recently worked with a client in a similar place. A lovely home. Not what we would think of as cluttered. She simply needed assistance in releasing some things. One of the primary places we worked was in the bathroom.
It's not intentional. It's those darn gifts with purchase. Or, it's that flare of eczema and you try 5 different creams until you find the one that works. It's our hair that becomes limp and dull and we are trying to find that perfect shampoo. Then there is the suggestion from Real Simple or from a friend or just the simple need to purchase items. Finding ourselves with a bathroom full of lotions and shampoos and eye shadows is quite easy really.
When thinking of my clients - and myself - I thought of the four personalities that I encounter or meet or know and want to talk about them here and how it relates to this work. Which one are you?
Never Enough Nadine
Everyone Else is First Evelyn
Practically Perfect Patty
Susie Someday has a bathroom full of products - that she never uses. Someday Susie will use these items. Someday she will make that effort. Someday Susie will be someone else and will look in the mirror and like what she shes. Susie has invested in a ton of products find that person but she never uses them. But, she keeps buying or accepting.
Never Enough Nadine also has a bathroom full of products. The difference is she actually uses them. She uses product after product that she reads about or her hair dresser suggests or her friends rave about because all of those people - in her mind - have it better than she does. Their hair, their skin, their lives. She purchases and purchases and uses and the end result is the same. She wants to like what she sees but cannot. Maybe, just maybe, there is that perfect fix.
Everyone Else Evelyn needs some of what Susie and Nadine have in their cabinets! Instead of investing in herself, she puts everyone else first. Her kids, her husband, her friends, her clients, the pets, her parents. She needs some skincare, a new lipstick and that perfect shampoo but she is so busy tending to everyone else, that her own real needs fall behind.
Then, there is Practically Perfect Patty. Maybe you don't fall into the above categories. Your self-care is on track, you neither hoard toiletries nor sacrifice yourself. I know a couple of these women. Not many, but a few. I envy them. They are very balanced and understand their needs. But, guess what. For the ones I know it came through tragedy or pain. Maybe they are divorced, lost a child or have a medical condition that makes them approach their bath habits in the best way possible. For some, maybe tragedy is not part of their story and they just are one of those folks who were born under the right star, made great choices and are living life the way it was meant to be lived or they've lived long enough to figure it out. I don't mind saying I want to be Practically Perfect Patty. I want that balance, that self-care. But, I'm not. Not YET.
Today, I am Evelyn. This challenge for me is about peeling away those layers and shining a light on the places where I excel and those where I fail - for myself. In this challenge my own challenge - is to stop giving it all and keep some for myself.
What about you? Do you see yourself in any of these profiles? If so, what can you do to change it today? Look in your bathroom. At the counters. In the drawers. Under the sink. In the linen closet. Identify yourself and begin the process of finding balance.
Now, the task:
1. Identify yourself in the profiles
2. Take a serious look at your bathroom(s). Open the drawers and cabinets.
3. Begin to purge. Let go of the samples that you will NEVER use, the half-empty bottles of items you hate, that horrible eye-shadow that is out of style or a mistake. I know you hate to throw away things, but in this case, do it or donate it.
4. Make decisions about what you really use and if you find that you are Evelyn and truly lacking, come up with a plan to get what you need.
5. Strive for balance. Be like Patty. It's not about perfection for others. It's about loving yourself enough to put your needs first.
I have included two images in this post. The first is from my client's stash and the second is from Room in the Inn where we donated the items so that homeless folks in our community will have some really great stuff to use in the shower!
Now, get to gettin' and as always, let me know how it's going.
Here's to self-love,
Last weekend we were hit with a new Executive Order from the POTUS on immigration. The world went instantly mad. I have to say, I went right along with it and I want to talk about why. As the mother of an immigrant (calling all you international adoptive parents - despite some of your views, our children are immigrants), I quickly saw the possibilities, especially in regards to the current POTUS and his chief advisor, a man known for promoting white dominance. So, I began to do what I always do - read, research, think, repeat. I read both liberal and conservative news, go directly to the source (in this case the Executive Order and laws on immigration) and then drew my own conclusions.
My disclaimer is that this blog post is a blend of facts, opinion and speculation. And before reading on there are 4 things you should know.
1. I am not in favor of completely open borders. Nor do I believe we can solve the problems of the world by allowing all people to migrate to our soil. I do support our current system of visa issuance, vetting of immigration, etc. I do not have a good solution for our Southern borders. We currently have a wall going across part of the US, officers, drones, etc. and folks still get in. We will never completely eradicate illegal immigration or the threat of violence. It's a pipe dream.
2. I do feel that any current undocumented immigrants without a criminal record should be issued a permanent work visa or given legal resident status. We have turned our head to these folks for years as we KNOW we are dependent on them for a significant portion of our economy. Why not give them a legal or documented status?
3. I do support undocumented folks with criminal records (felony) being deported.
4. "Dreamers" or people who were brought to the US by their parents under the age of 17 should be given citizenship - immediately.
So, let's talk about borders. I want to say again - I am NOT in favor of open borders. To many who know me that only confirms your opinion that I am the most conservative person you know, right? Well, I am a moderate and if that makes me more conservative than you, so be it. Moving on. Most developed countries do not have open borders. If they did, you would not need a passport or need to file for a Visa to travel abroad. Have you ever been to Switzerland? I have. Guess what. Armed guards. Who check passports. And, not just at borders. Let's talk about Canada. Did you know that if you are US citizen with a DUI on their record, you are refused entry into Canada? What about Saudi Arabia? Guess what? Visas for tourism do not exist. And, if you are a woman traveling alone, forget it! So, before we lose our minds, let's think about what entry into other countries looks like and how easy it is to move from country to country (legally) and what other laws are in place to protect that country from terrorism or smuggling or culture or.....
Do you know about the Visa Waiver Program or the VWP as it is called? Did President Obama also ban the same folks being banned by the new POTUS? Technically, no. Did Obama work with the Department of Homeland Security to create intensified screening in regards to the 7 countries listed on the Executive Order? Yes. It is apparent that the U.S. Government knows something I don't making the threat of nationals from these countries since 2011 a heightened risk due to the number of folks who are taking boot camp sessions in the Middle East with ISIS. The VWP is a program that allows folks from certain countries to travel into the US for business or vacation without a visa. Most countries seem to have these reciprocal programs (which is mentioned in the EO). These countries banned are no longer allowed to participate in that program and now need a Visa to enter the US and this happened under President Obama. The current POTUS took this a step further and banned those same countries. When he did that he overstepped the bounds of his authority and stepped into Constitutional la-la land where he is the supreme ruler. Thankfully, checks and balances were set up and he has gotten a big fat slap on the wrist.
With these things said, I want to get to the point of why the Executive Order issued last week was a problem. I want to give you the FACTS and not the hysteria or memes or headlines. Let's first talk about whether or not the EO was within the bounds of the Constitution. It was not. Do you know why? In 1965 the Hart-Cellar act abolished nation of origin restrictions on immigration. Period. It amended immigration priorities and made it illegal for immigrants to be discriminated against based on where they were born. The POTUS references the Immigrant and Nationality Act of 1952 in its authority to issue this travel ban, but in actuality, a later law (1965) made his act of banning based on nationality illegal.
The numbers vary greatly depending on what you read. The POTUS team says a few hundred were impacted by the order, which other numbers make them to be around 90,000. It is very vague as to whether that 90,000 is the number that will be affected during the 90-day ban or where this number comes from. What else was vague? Well, pretty much all of it, my primary concerns were initial decisions to turn away US CITIZENS and green card holders. A friend of mine said, they'll be vetted. Guess what? They've already been vetted. Over and over and over again. I have several friends whose spouses are from foreign countries, including the Middle East and the vetting was intense, and long and scary. Please explain what additional vetting needed to happen.
Now, what about legality? I have recently seen several memes saying "no one is illegal". Well, they are as there are laws around how you enter a country, so if someone has not followed those laws they are here illegally. Period. There are many illegal immigrants in the US. Some say around 11 million. And, despite what those who are anti-immigrant would lead you to believe, they are not all Mexican. They are European and Israeli, and Middle Eastern and Chinese and a host of everything in between. Many came into the US on travel Visas and just sort of forgot to go home. I want to stress that my OPINION is the government should make these folks legal residents or at the very least issue a permanent work visa, UNLESS they have a felony or DUI's, in which case they should exit immediately.
Why do I care? With my views on the borders and as I do not support completely "open" borders, what makes this different and why am I opposed to this "ban"?
1. This was a knee-jerk reaction which I have no doubt was proposed by the Emperor - Senator Palpatine himself - Bannon - and did not take into account EXISTING LAWS. We are entering dangerous waters with Republicans - dangerous Republicans - in charge of both houses and the WH not to mention state level governments who are riding the line of Constitutionality each day with new laws which seek to undermine checks and balances.
2. There was no plan for implementation in US airports and essentially no notice at any other airports meaning many people were stranded in places. Is it tragic? No, it happens in international travel but there was little thought put into this plan.
3. This not only banned folks with travel visas but our OWN citizens, already vetted as well as immigrants given entry due to their roles in fighting alongside the US in Iraq.
4. Some of those affected were families bringing small children into the US for life-saving surgeries. That may mean NOTHING to you. But, for me, the mom of a child born with a cleft lip and palate and knowing that coming into the US has meant greater access to medical care for her means something to me.
5. It could be my family. I know. I'm jumping to conclusions. But, what happens if the current POTUS tweets some assinine thing about China, makes them public enemy number 1 and we are out of the country unable to get back in with our kid who was not born in the US.
6. Had any thought been put into this, my guess is that somewhere there is a law that allows the POTUS or DHS to slow down travel from those countries or limit the number of visas issues from those countries. Instead of a blanket ban, they should have begun here. And, instead of LYING and saying that President Obama did the same thing, they could have explained the VWP of 2015 and how there is indication that these countries pose additional threats and that the issuing of visas from these countries may slow.
What is amazing to me is that through all of this, Twitter continues to be the primary mode of our POTUS's communication to the people and he has attacked our checks and balances system that we were all taught as children. "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" (@realDonaldTrump)
For now, I will continue to read and think and research and repeat. I will speak out against what has become an international circus (did we have bring everyone else into our crazy) and I will use my mind to form my own opinions about right and wrong. Regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, I hope you will as well.
I came across some pics tonight and wanted to share what double duty looks like. This is our living room acting as a NASA launchpad complete with cardboard spaceship!
Tonight I am lying in bed in an lovely B and B situated amidst an enchanted wood in a land far from my home. It has the best amenities, lovely hosts, and each time I come I relax and rest. This is the home of my inlaws and I hope they are at least half as comfortable and rested in our home as I am here.
It is my hope that any guests of our home are able to find peace and respite from the world. The space is not perfect, but the beds are warm, there is almost always something simmering on the stove and we have comfy seating for interesting discourse.
What do you have? The last few months, I have had several clients living in overwhelm and I consider it an honor to work in their space. When looking at spaces, I ask what is their vision for the room. Frequently, the answer is a place for guests. It is sometimes difficult to imagine for those of us not experiencing this way of life. Honestly, these are often my favorite clients as there is something so satisfying in showing them a different path.
Our living rooms are often the rooms that are the worst. A dumping ground if this is your main entry. Project central. Where dinner is eaten when the kitchen table is too cluttered to sit down. Where we fall asleep. That DOUBLE OR TRIPLE use space that needs our attention.
This week, as I examined this space and hoped to give you direction, I learned a few things. I have a difficult time in sharing if it is not a place where I struggle. I am struggling right now in other areas, but this is not one of them. However, I have some clients who are and with their permission over the next couple of weeks I'll be revisiting the living room and sharing with you some triumphs and tips to help you tame your own space.
This week, I feel like I am peeling back the layers of the onion. My fall last Sunday seriously threw me for a loop and I am now 90% recovered. The lack of sunlight is continuing to affect me. The recent astrological events that have uncovered deep wounds from my past and examining these and how they have shaped me is difficult. And, the state of the world and finding where I fit and what my voice holds is on my mind. With these things, it almost makes me ask why I am focused on creating beautiful warm spaces.
And then, I remember. Because we need sanctuary from the world and we need to be able to open our doors to others who desperately need the same thing.
Our living rooms provide that space. Let's keep peeling this onion together, find our voices and bring warmth and peace to our homes.
Blessings on your space,
On Monday I have someone coming to look at the house. Squeeeeee!!!!! On Monday I have someone coming to look at the house. Oh No! Okay. Breathing in a paper bag. What needs attention? The den. Which is the second living room. Which is a room that is a giant multi-purpose space and may or may not be clean at any given time. Right now, it is a laundry staging area, den with TV and couch, office, gameroom, sewing room, paper staging area as I file..... And, that's okay.
The keys to all of those things are containment and organization. This can take a lot of forethought. We have one area that is the actual living space. It contains a couch, wing chairs, gaming system, tv.
Behind the couch are two large bookshelves plus shelves that line the wall that contain our children's library. At one time we had more than 600 children's books. Over the last two years, I have sorted and sorted and let the kids sort and we narrowed it down to our favorites and are down to probably 350. I know. 350??? There are some things that even an organizer holds on to!
This space also contains my office. At one time I needed (or felt I needed) a large office area that was also the holder of my crafts. I've talked about this before. I have purged and purged and purged and now have a small amount of craft items that I really need plus the office supplies that I need to function. Seriously, when you make the decision to begin the purging process, you realize you need much less than you thought you needed. With that said, I have the vision of a dream office in my head and as we move toward this house process, I am holding that dream vision!
If you have a living space - a living room or den - that does double duty, I want you to look at that space as compartments. Sometimes we get overwhelmed when we look at whole spaces. I know I have in the past. Then, I realized if I would compartmentalize my multi-space, chunk it down, I could work through it.
For example, if I needed to do major work in this space, I would first look at our seating area. In theory, you did that earlier in the week, but I would start there. Can you sit down? Is the TV area a mess? Are the DVD's and games put away? Is the coffee table clear and better yet, is it beautiful?
Do you have an office area in this space? If so, remember discussing this in the bedroom? Does your desk have empty glasses, is there paper on the floor, can you actually work in this space? (We'll be doing a full on office clear out a little later).
Toys! Oh yes, the toys. Are there toys everywhere? Do the toys have dedicated bins? Do your children know how to put them away? Do they do it?
When you approach these spaces in chunks, they become waaaaaaaaaayyyyyy easier to manage! So, below, you'll see an image from a couple of hours ago at my place. I am in a big filing project as I have been looking for an important document, which, BTW, I found, exactly where it was supposed to be except that it had gotten tucked into another document. All of the papers on the floor were recycled and I am still working through filing what is on top.
Tonight, I want you to look at your space. If you need to, create a diagram on paper and label the spaces. I find a visual can be very helpful and begin the work of cleaning, clearing, purging and organizing space by space.
In the words of Neecy Nash, "Get to Gettin".
I began this post on Sunday. Then, all hell broke loose. What I mean is that I fell in the middle of the night during an attempt to get a 13 year old Pomeranian named Ginger to the door before she urinated in the hallway, or on her bed, or on Arwyn's bed or some other place besides the yard. I am bruised up one side in a visible way and down the other in an invisible way as my right side appeared to take the brunt of the muscular damage. My head was also injured as it slammed on the hardwood stair. (You can see the stairs in the top right photo!) Miraculously, Ginger was neither injured nor peed in the house, so there's that.
This post was supposed to be about the living room and it is. It is about my favorite space in our home. It is the entryway and front living room. It is bright and full of sunshine and it is clean. Almost always clean. We all enjoy this space. It is a workout room, dance floor, play and work area. Many days those hardwoods are full of a train layout or a board game or the scene of an elaborate display of American Girl dolls and their accessories. But, at the end of the day, it is clean.
But, this is not always how it looked. This room has served as dining room and office. Truthfully, we never quite got the vibe of the room entirely. The ladder shelves were there and of course, the built-in. I painted the bright colors a few years ago, but we never settled into this room until last fall.
We are working toward putting our home up for sale. It has been a long process for tiring reasons and excuses that I will not list here. But, I am working with a realtor and old friend who called and asked if she could send a home stager to my place. Oooh....really? This woman, Carol Bass, is not only a prominent home stager in the area, she teaches courses and needed a test space in which to work. Uhm....yes please!
I will be honest. I was EXTREMELY nervous. The process of sorting and going to Goodwill and organizing had begun and I had some DISASTERS in my home. But, I put on my big girl panties, cleaned the house, left the disasters and invited her and her team into my home. At this point, I had already packed a box of knick-knacks from this room and had given all of the bookshelves and cabinets a once over in regards to releasing books that we just didn't want or need. So, there was that.
The image below is what the staging ladies walked into:
I know. Not tragic, right? But still, this room is lovely and could be so much more. The challenge has been the orientation of my home and needing to have my office area near the kitchen as that is where I spend half of my day or at least want to spend the day. But, we let go of any preconceived notions and gratefully allowed these ladies to work magic. And, they did in so many ways as evidenced in the collage of photos at the top.
So, where did that leave us? It left me with a big fat mess in our second "living room" that we call the den or simply "downstairs". But, it also left me with an opportunity to make a second sweep of some things, namely my books. The ladies did a great job moving furniture and "deleting" (as they called) some items from the room to get it ready to sell but it also left me me with somewhat of a sense of unease. They didn't know which books were precious to me and which could be put away. They don't understand feng shui or that I had the books arranged in the room in a certain manner to support the bagua. What they did understand was that we needed somewhat of a blank slate, which they gave us in removing so many items. So, I pulled all of the books off the shelves and out of the cabinets, sorted them into categories, removed anything that I did not want in the home and reorganized them. I left the remainder of the room exactly as the ladies left it for me. During this process, I am guessing I let go of approximately 50 books in total, which truthfully, was a huge relief and two less boxes we will be packing and moving to the new house.
The morning that Carol and her team were to come to my home, I nearly backed out. I was in a panic for about 5 minutes, worried about judgement, worried they would break something, worried they would......fill in anything imaginable. But, I knew that I needed this. I needed someone else's perspective. I knew I needed the change. I knew that I needed to experience what my clients experience every time I walk into a home. This space, this "living" room is so much more now. It is comfy and welcoming and it is has been cleared of anything we do not need.
Today, if you have one living room or two, I want you to walk into it and really think about what you see and what you feel. Think about whether or not it is welcoming. Are the seats free of "stuff"? Can you sit down? Do you or your guests have to carefully walk over items in the floor? Are there items in this room that do not belong but have a home?
If so, that is your primary task today. Walk through your LIVING ROOM(S) and if there are items that are present and actually have a home, put them away. If there are SO many items that you do not know where to start, pick one to two points. For example, the seats. Clear the couches, chairs, loveseats, whatever and then clear the tables. You need a place to sit free of items that need to be moved and your tables that are around your rooms need to be clear so that they can be a resting place for your hot tea or glass of wine that I am going to recommend you have later today. If you have children and these items belong to them, you know what I will say, make them put their things away. It's that simple. No, you cannot go outside, swim, watch TV or play on the Xbox until these items are placed in their correct homes.
If I can do it, so can you.
Peace on this February day.
I’m Dana Croy and I am a modern day mama. Balancing family and work is not always easy (not to mention a little self-care). Though being Mama to two fantastic kiddos is a huge part of my life, that was not always the case. I wear many other hats and invite to sit down and find harmony with me.