staring up at a new habit.

You ever feel like you're at the bottom, just staring up? Staring up at the habit you wish was, indeed, a habit.  

You ever fall into the same old habits, or as my shrink used to call them "negative coping tools"?

I suppose I'm the only one.  

Here's the thing.  The first 6 months of marriage hit me like a Mack truck.  And I don't think there is any good way to get hit by a Mack truck.  Who was this person in "my" house..."my" space. Where I go?  New last name? Who am I? My old friend, Depression, decided to say hi.  It turns out that talking through all of this with Mom, friends...and, oh yeah, that guy in my house, helped ease the transition.  Scary things aren't as scary when they're out in the light of day.  

Which leads me to a WTF moment.  If marriage is going well, business is booming, I'm moderately healthy and we have food, friends and shelter, then why the hell am I still mired down in the negative habits that got me through those 6 months...and through many tough times in the past.  Let's be honest...negative coping tools help or we wouldn't do them.  But sometimes they stop serving us and I'm sick of my Fab Four: shopping , eating , drinking and sitting too much.  All of them numbed the pain enough to help me get through a day or 20, but man...it's time for new ones. 

Healthy food...no food desert in sight.  Walks around the block - mine happens to be a perfect mile.  One glass of wine in the evening...same effect as 4, but 75% fewer calories.  Being content with what I already own.  That hit of dopamine from something new only lasts a few minutes.  

So here I am.  Standing at the bottom, looking up.  But while I'm looking, I'm going to unlace my shoes, because I just walked a mile.

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If you have a habit you want to work on, I'll be posting a photo from my walks on Instagram for the next 30 days.   Post what you did in the comments section.  Even if it's just a word.  Get it out there.  We can't do this alone.   I heard a great quote from The Minimalists saying not to "should all over yourself".  Join me. Make this a must. 

more than the purchase price.

I just looked on the counter and saw that my well-meaning husband had brought home a huge box of Saltine crackers.  They were on my shopping list, so I was glad he bought them, but wow...that was a big box.  And we have a tiny kitchen.  

This reminded me of something I see happening in most people's homes: shopping without considering your storage space.  It feels great to stock up when a needed item is also on sale, but when you get home and realize the only place you can store it is on the kitchen counter, it becomes a problem.  

What else is it costing you by sitting on your counter?

  • Aggravation at having to look at it
  • Anger from having to move it each time you clean
  • Guilt from buying too much
  • Annoyance that it's been 10 months since you bought it and you still haven't used it
  • Money to house items you're not using - Bay Area real estate is valued at $1,000+ per square foot 
  • Shame from throwing away food that expired - it could have helped feed the hungry
  • Pain from hurting your back moving around something you aren't even using
  • Time moving it to "clean up" when friends are coming over

Next time you're at the store, remember: the purchase price isn't the only cost.  




May Decluttering Challenge!

Well hi there!  

It's time for another 30 day decluttering challenge and a chance to win a 5 hour organizing session! 

The rules are the same as last time: 

1. You need to get one item out of your house every day - by donating, recycling or trashing it (as a last resort!). 

2. You need to comment every day on either the daily photo I'll be posting to our Facebook page or to this blog post.  Simply name the item you threw away.  

On May 31st I'll draw the winner of a 5 hour session from the group of people who posted something every day. 

I'm a firm believer that less is more and that the less we own, the more easily we can care for our homes and focus on the important things in life.  I am also a recovering shopaholic who loves the thrill of a good deal.  Calling my company "the simplified life" is a daily reminder to myself to work on this.  At this point I have pared down tremendously, but I'll be doing the challenge along with you...as well as not purchasing anything (other than food or toiletries if what I currently have runs out) for the next 30 days.  

If one item a day is too easy for you, The Minimalists and Nourishing Minimalism offer some more extreme challenges (and Becoming Minimalist offers several creative ways to declutter).  If you do more than one item, please post everything you're jettisoning to help encourage others. 

tidying up.

Declutter to Clear Your Life,
Not Just Your Living Space

A guest blog by Iris Price.  

Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo says in her latest book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” that “A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective.” By refreshing your outlook and making your life easier to navigate, decluttering your home ultimately gives you more time to accomplish the things you really want. But first you have to know what you really want.

Many of Kondo’s methods may seem a bit odd to Westerners. Right away, for example, you sense there is something too genteel about referring to purging your house as “tidying.” She encourages you to commune with your stuff, item by item, and even thank it for its former service as you toss it in the giveaway bag. But her unusual mix of ritual and introspection inspire Kondo’s techniques for ridding your life of extraneous, stress-producing “stuff” once and for all.

If you think the amount of clutter in the average Japanese house, tiny by American standards, can’t possibly rival that of our burgeoning McMansions and offsite storage units, you may be right. Nevertheless, the Japanese are really good at cramming the closets and corners of their homes. Square foot for square foot they probably have more clutter than we do. Just take it with a grain of salt when she says you should do your entire tidying in one shot.

To get the most from Kondo’s book, don’t worry about following her methods to the letter. The main takeaway points are these:

  • Determine why you want to declutter and organize. Keep digging to get at the heart of what motivates you. Ask yourself why you want a tidy house. Is it so you can spend more time with your family and less time hunting for things you’ve lost? After every answer ask yourself “why?” again and again. The final answers will reveal your values and passions.

  • Declutter by category, going from the easiest items to purge to the hardest: clothes first because they are easily replaced, then books, followed by papers and documents, all other household articles large and small, and finally, keepsakes. You’ll hone your decision-making skills as you progress through each category, and by the time you get to those really tough choices --like whether to give away the cake plate your stingy mother-in-law gifted you 20 years ago -- you’ll know without much hesitation what to do.

  • Deciding means asking yourself whether each object makes you joyful at this point in time. What made you happy ten years or 10 months ago may do nothing to inspire you today. Whether it’s functional or potentially useful is irrelevant using Kondo’s measure. What counts is whether an item “sparks joy.” If you no longer feel the love, ditch it. Open your life to new possibilities without the clutter.

  • Don’t even think about storage solutions until you’ve gotten through the entire purge. If you’re conscientious about discarding anything that does not “spark joy,” you are likely to find that your present storage spaces – closets and drawers – are more than ample for your new needs.

Once you make it through the process, Kondo says, you will never have to do this kind of extensive decluttering again. You will have a heightened sense of awareness and automatically weed out during your daily routine the things that no longer hold meaning for your life.

 

Iris Price is a single Baby Boomer whose antidote to a lack of retirement funds was to launch a long-delayed career as a writer. While others her age concoct bucket lists and travel the world, she bought a new-construction home and obsessively creates lists of must-have home improvements and personal realization goals. She  specializes in writing about home services and self-motivation.

 

 

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Have you read this book?  Thoughts?  We'd love to hear your take on it!  

And about that folding, check out the how to on YouTube.  

 

outsource to simplify.

Let's face it, there isn't enough time.  Time is our one finite resource.  That can be a very depressing or very motivating thing.  My personal focus for this new year is to spend as much of my precious time as possible only doing what I love.  Or doing things that will help keep me healthy so I can enjoy doing the things I love, even if I don't love going to doctors, exercising or eating healthy all the time. The good news is, technology has our back.  That great dream of the 50's, more computers = more leisure time, can be fact rather than fiction.  So, without further ado, the top seven ways to outsource the things you don't want to do (shopping! cooking! chores!), freeing up time for the things you enjoy. 

1. Munchery 

This. Is. Genius.  Go to their website, create an account, choose your food and watch it magically appear at your doorstep at the appointed time.   Get $10 off your first order using this link (I get $10 off too, so this isn't entirely altruistic of me). I don't know about you, but after a long day of work, cooking a meal for the family just doesn't sound like a fun idea.  The foods here are cooked by top notch SF chefs and average about $10 an entree.  They arrive chilled, with instructions for heating them.  There are several delivery times and several entrees available (gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, etc. are options as well).  Pair your entree with a side and follow it with one of their desserts or beverages.  

2.  Amazon Prime

Virtually anything you need can be on your doorstep in 2 days.  If the thought of going to a big box store makes you shudder, and your local market doesn't carry something, this is a lifesaver. An added bonus is the free Prime Video streaming that can be accessed online or on a Roku or similar device. 

3.  Google Express

Multiple stores, same day or overnight delivery, free delivery on orders over $15.  They are offering a free 3 month trial to get you hooked.  After that it's $95 a year.  (Another great article on the matter...and Instacart as a great supplement for your fresh groceries)

4.  Safeway Delivery

Groceries to your doorstep on the same day you order them.  Done and done.  No need to get caught in the long lines or wandering the aisles of junk food. Coupon code EASY7 will let you try it for free.  

5.  Target Curbside

So you love Target, but don't have time to stroll the aisles?  Shop Target on the Curbside app, pay, and your order magically appears out front.  It's like a Drive Thru Target.   Get $10 off your first pickup using promo code GETCURBSIDE.  

6.  Purple Tie

 You put your clothes in their purple bag, put them on your porch and they come back to you dry cleaned.  So easy.  The prices are in line with most dry cleaners.

8. Home Joy

As their website says:  book, clean, joy.   Yes, we can all clean our own houses, but once in a while it's wonderful to just come home to a clean house, no elbow grease or Simple Green needed.  

7.  Dog Walking and Day Care

Sometimes you just need a break from man's best friend.  With a quick google search of your city name and "dog walking" you should be able to find someone to come and walk Fluffy for you.  Or even take him to the dog park.  Another option is hitting up your neighbor kid.  He could use a few bucks.  

Well, I hope this gave you a few ideas on how to lighten your load.  We are pretty darn lucky to live in a place where all this is available.  So here's to more time with your family and less time doing chores.  

doing without.

The next 30 days are either going to suck or be totally awesome.  As you may know, I've had some manner of "chronic inflammation" for the past 4 years judging by the dermatitis on my legs. Chronic inflammation seems to be a new buzzword and I hate jumping on bandwagons, but I've had 4 doctors tell me the same thing.  

So...in order to see why I am so darn inflamed,  I've been put on a 30 day elimination diet.  No wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, fish, seafood, nuts, alcohol, caffeine, joy.  I'm going to need a little moral support.  If any of you were planning on continuing the 30 day decluttering challenge, maybe you could do that at this time!  We could support each other in meeting our goals.  I'm going to add no spending (other than food) to this mix as well.  In January, I always feel strongest and most capable of meeting goals, so I'm going to go big.  I won't add in "lose 5 pounds", but it may be an offshoot of this diet and it sure would be nice to fit back in my old jeans.  

Anyone with me?  Shoot me an email. :)


new year's minimal reads.

Hey there...have a couple of days off work?  Too tired after the holiday to do any organizing?  How about a few motivational blog posts.  Check these out:

Have a full closet, but nothing to wear?  Check out Courtney Carver's Project 333.  Learn how to maximize your wardrobe by minimizing it.  

Is that wanderlust kicking up it's heels in your heart again? Wish you could hit the road, but have far too much stuff to fit in a backpack, yet alone a 10x10 storage unit?  Check out Colin Wright's Exile Lifestyle....one guy, 65 items, a whole lotta traveling.  Not for the faint of heart, but definitely inspiring.

Or maybe the holidays were a bit too good to you and your kids and you'd like to give Santa a piece of your mind.  If only you could catch him without tripping over toys.  If you have an inkling that maybe this isn't the way you really want to live, check out how Joshua Becker and his family of 4 are Becoming Minimalist.

If you still don't think you can pare down a bit while having kids, I'm sure Leo Babauta and his SIX KIDS could teach you a few Zen Habits to prove you otherwise.

And finally, a gal's guide to paring down and choosing simpler when it comes to the Every Day Small Stuff.  

Those fantastic blogs should give you some food for thought in between your New Year's sips of champagne.  See you next year! (groan!)

open letter.

January.   It's so close. That clean, simple blank slate.  Soon the holiday decorations will be put away, the  guest rooms vacant, and the last of the champagne fizzled away.  Promises of amazing things to come are floating on the horizon and this is truly my favorite time of the year.  I generally make my way through Your Best Year Yet and come up with all the goals and changes I want to make in the coming year.  

In that vein, you may have noticed some new offerings from The Simplified Life.  I've switched to 5 hour sessions , a slightly higher price point and prepaying for sessions.  I want to share the reasons with you.   

First, the 5 hour sessions.  The 2 and 3 hour sessions aren't as effective as they could be.  In surveying client needs, and other organizers'  success with longer sessions, this is the way to go.  We will spend more time organizing and less time pulling things out and putting them away - basically, I can do more work in less time for you.  Also, fewer days are required to achieve the same (or better!) results (which means you have to ask for less time off work!) .  

On a personal level, I have been feeling spread too thin and stressed out; basically the opposite of what I am teaching and preaching.  I am arriving at some clients' homes exhausted and unfocused and that's not fair to them.  In the past, my days have been about 9 or 10 hours long.  Working 5 actual organizing hours a day, rather than 6 and only driving to one client per day rather than 2 will allow me to better serve that client with fresh eyes and enthusiasm .

And finally, finances.  Ugh. The dreaded money talk.  It makes my skin crawl and I wish I could just go help you all for free and have my bills magically paid for.   This is half the reason for prepaying sessions...it's taken care of and we don't have to have an awkward  "we had such a great time, got so much done, hey, so about that check"  conversation about it.  The other reason is that once you have skin in the game, you'll be more motivated to finish.  Trust me.  There are going to be times you don't want to organize any more than you want to compete in a triathlon, but knowing you're already committed will keep us moving forward towards finishing your space.

 As for prices, I have not raised them in any significant way since 2007 and hope that you can appreciate that the subtle raise in prices is due to increasing costs, not increasing greed.  As a business owner, I pay an extra 15% on top of my normal taxes due to self employment tax.  Healthcare,  sick and vacation days are on my own dime and since 2007, the cost of existing has gone up significantly.  This isn't a complaint, just an explanation as to why your local service providers, myself included, may seem to provide services at a steep rate.  This applies to organizers, hair dressers, massage therapists, personal trainers, etc.   

Please remember that this is a once in a lifetime investment in YOU and your well being.  No need for daily or monthly touchups once we whip your space in order.  I will teach you to keep it that way for good.  

The good news about hiring local and self-employed is that you are often supporting someone who is following their passion and using their skills to help others.  

If you would like a more detailed account of why longer, but fewer, sessions are beneficial, please shoot me an email.  Or you could just shoot me an email to say "hi".  I like those!

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30 day decluttering challenge begins today!

***UPDATE:  If you want to comment on this post, you need to register for Squarespace.  After typing your comment and clicking "post comment", you need to click "create squarespace account" and enter your name, email and password.  Then you need to click to the left of "cancel" on the bottom of the account creation screen.  For some reason "create account" is in white letters and barely visible.***

Hi there!  Are you on board?  Ready to lighten your load?  Want a chance to win 2 organizing sessions with The Simplified Life and one session with life coach, Elyse Nakajima of World So Wide

Well, today is the day.

There are two ways to participate.  I will be posting on our Facebook page at 9 am each day stating what I've gotten rid of.  You just need to add your item as a comment on my post i.e "chipped mug". 

Or, if Facebook isn't your thing, then add your comment each day to bottom of this blog post.  You will need to follow the prompts to create a Squarespace account to be able to post.  If you don't want your full name displayed, just put your last initial.   

If you want a few more details, please read more about the challenge and why you should declutter.

Ok.....go.  Get on it!


why should I declutter?

As you may have read, we are starting a 30 Day Decluttering Challenge on October 29th.  

"But why?", you ask.  "Can't you just wave a wand and make things organized?"

Well, the thing is, every single one of us has stuff that we don't use.  If you don't, you probably wouldn't have contacted the simplified life. or looked at our Facebook page.  You'd probably be blogging about your minimalism while backpacking through Europe with only 38 items to call your own.  

And all that stuff we don't use is costing us a lot: time spent digging through it or moving the piles from place to place; money spent storing it, organizing it or buying a new one because we can't find the old one; frustration because we're late for work and can't find the keys or the kids are late to school because they can't find the text book they need that's buried in their room; guilt because we "should" be able to run the house better or maybe because now we're yelling at the kids or our spouse.

You get the idea.  Our stuff costs us.  

I almost hesitate to say I'm a home organizer, because it's bigger than that. I want you to not just have an organized home, I want you to have a simple, joyful, peaceful home that allows you to recharge and gives you the calm (and energy!) to follow your passions and I firmly believe that too much stuff is hindering that.  I don't just want you to organize your piles, I want you to get out from under them.  I want you to love everything in your home - to edit your possessions.  Does it mean something to you? Does it's quality make it joyful to touch? Why have 20 cheap purses when you could have one nice one that you love, that will last and that makes you feel special? Quality over quantity...that is what decluttering and buying mindfully allows you to have. And freedom.  Think about it. 

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30 day decluttering challenge.

You heard it here first.  

Starting on October 29th and continuing until Small Business Saturday on November 29th (aka the day after Black Friday), we will be conducting our first 30 day decluttering challenge!!

So what's in it for you?   

A chance to connect with other community members committed to ditching the stuff, as well as a chance to support a local business (...the simplified life.). Accomplishing anything in life seems to come down to the amount of support you have.  Please use this as an excuse to make a real change in your environment!

Oh yeah, and one lucky winner will receive two free organizing sessions and one free coaching session to help kick their efforts into high gear.   Yeah, that's like $1000 worth of free services.  Get on it. 

So what do you have to do?  Easy peasy.  Post in the comments on this post, or on our Facebook page each day with your name and the one item you either tossed or donated i.e. "1 broken mug".  Just a couple of words.  That's it.  Please be honest.  Set a reminder on your phone to post each day.  You can do it.  

Quick Tip: If you need an easy place to unload a few items, check out the San Francisco Parent's of Multiples Club Consignment Sale.  You don't need to be there to sell and you'll get 60% of the sale price.

The fine print:

  • If you don't live in our service area (SF, the peninsula, San Jose or Lodi), we will substitute the "Virtual Reality" package in place of in person organizing
  • You have to post every day
  • The winner will be drawn out of a hat on November 29th at 6pm and will be announced in a new blog post

 

thank you.

I just want to take a moment to thank you.  

Thank you for being you. 

Thank you for giving me a reason to wake up every morning.  

Thank you for giving me a chance to have a calling rather than a career.

Thank you for helping me put food on my table, keep my lights on and my body clothed.  

Thank you for showing me your insecurities, your dark corners, your fears and allowing me to share in your journey to become your best self.  

I don't think I can adequately express how inspiring you all are to me each and every day.  

You haven't just been patrons, you've been friends.

I feel like one of the luckiest people on earth to get to see one of you each and every day.

 

                                So here's looking at you!!  You're the best!

                                So here's looking at you!!  You're the best!

Be strong and brave and continue on the journey you're on.  It's worth it and you're worth it.  

 If you have something you're thankful for today, leave me a comment below!!! 

so simple you can't help be organized.

Get Organized!

  • Which one of these is not like the other?  Group like items together!
  • Sort and purge any items that are worn out, expired or otherwise not being used.  Your holey undies...they've gotta go.
  • Contain like items in attractive bins or baskets (opaque ones will always look neater, but be sure you label them!) 
  • Assign a home for each container of specific items (i.e. scotch tape) in your house. If an item isn't there, you know you've run out. This eliminates the “I know I have it somewhere” dilemma...and the "Oh man, what am I going to do with 42 rolls of tape?" dilemma.
  • Make it a daily habit to put items back in their homes.  Seriously...put your toys away!   
  • Make it a weekly or monthly habit to look through your cabinets, bins, baskets and drawers for items you don't use any longer – then grab them and send them on their merry way out of the house!

 

When you're done, reward yourself. But, maybe not as much as this cutie did...

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game time.

In the years since I started consciously downsizing, I've played a game with myself: "what can I get rid of today". 

We are now in the semifinals of this game, with a month to go before combining households.  

If you want to watch this unfold, stay tuned to the blog.  

 

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This would be the contents of 6 boxes of home decor and clothes I've had at my family's shed.  An entire Mustang full. 

Samaritan House will be getting a sizeable donation.