Getting My Groove Back

One of my favorite movies is How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Stella is very successful business woman that is down on herself because of failed romances. A friend talks her into taking a vacation. A series of events forces Stella to take a personal inventory of her life and to try to find a balance between her desires for her personal life, motherhood, and her career. Stella rides a crazy roller coaster of emotions until she finally gets into her groove. I love this movie because while we don’t all have the same circumstances, I feel like most of us are trying to find the same sort of balance in our lives. We all love it when we are in our groove. As I look back on the reasons I began my downsizing journey, they revolve around me not feeling a good balance in my life. I was so off balance that I was downright miserable. All along, I’ve known that my downsizing journey is not just about purging possessions. It is about finding my groove. I’ve been in my groove before, so I know how good it feels. I would wake up every day ready to conquer the world. I’d dance around the bathroom while I got ready. I would own my destiny and face each day in complete control of my life. There are lots of reasons people fall out of their groove. I don’t really feel the need to get into the reasons I lost mine because they don’t deserve my energy or attention anymore. The important thing to focus on is how I get my groove back. One important step is to purge possessions that take too much of my energy. While I enjoy the stuff I’m selling, I realize that I enjoy other things more. Another important step is to purge my negative energy. Pinpointing the areas causing negativity for me and that I want to change in my life is one thing. Understanding the steps to take to make those changes in a productive manner is another. I’m Type A, so I need a plan. I’ve researched ways to do this and decided the best way is to undergo training to be a business and life coach. I’m in Chicago right now doing this. I’m a firm believer that the test of how well we know something is our ability to teach it. I didn’t want to simply hire a coach to help me. I want to be a coach. I want to first help myself and then if the opportunity presents itself, I want to help others. I’m very excited about this too! This morning I found myself dancing in the bathroom. Look out – Gina’s getting her groove back!

Monkey See, Monkey Do

I took the day off work on Friday. It’s rare that I get time away from work that I can use for just me. My husband was at work and my daughter was at school, so it was ME time. Of course, I went to the spa. I got a fantastic facial, but the conversation was amazing, thought-provoking, and downright life changing. My aesthetician is one of the most insightful women I’ve ever met. She and I talked about my downsizing journey and what I am trying to accomplish. She nailed a few things that I haven’t had the courage to write about yet. Most importantly, she pointed out some things I haven’t thought of in my search for happiness. I know that true happiness must come from within. I know that I am the only one that can decide if I am going to be happy or not.  What I didn’t realize is how little I am actually doing for myself. I believe that when a person decides to become a parent that the child’s needs should come before your own. I have lived that way since the wonderful day 8 eight years ago that my daughter was born. I spend practically every spare moment I have with her.

Before I became a mom, I was a fit triathlete and business owner. I owned a bicycle shop and was fortunate enough to get to ride my bike as part of my job. In fact, I road my road bike until I was eight months pregnant and my OB-GYN said, “STOP!” As my own my boss, I had the liberty to take plenty of me time. Although most people don’t believe me, I truly am an introvert and I value my alone time. Alone time energizes me. After our daughter was born, things changed. I put my bike away and kept saying, “She will only be little once and my bike will be there forever.” Any time that I am not working, I spend with her. I felt guilty if I did anything for me that required paying a babysitter. I thought I was doing her and me a favor. I have spent the past 8 years with this mentality. It was so evident on Friday. There I was at the spa, but the only reason I was there is because I took a vacation day from work. As I was getting my facial, I was complaining about how terrible my skin looked. My astute aesthetician asked if I have a nightly routine for cleaning my skin. Well, of course I don’t! I crash at bedtime and yes, I sleep in my make up all of the time! She didn’t berate me for this. Instead, she went for the jugular. This is what she said, “Your daughter will take care of her skin because you tell her to, but not because she saw you do it. Your daughter will learn her habits from you.” Ouch. That has resonated non-stop in my head ever since she said it. Holy smokes! What are my habits?? Does it really matter if I sleep in my makeup?! Man, it’s time for a dose of reality. I do not take time for me – ever. I don’t take the time to be healthy, either mentally or physically. I come home every night and have a glass of wine to wind down. I am on my phone constantly. What in the world am I teaching her???? Now, I have a lot of positive habits too so I’m not beating myself up terribly, but I am taking note of something very important. I haven’t been taking the time to take care of myself. I have been too guilt ridden to do so, but now I realize I’m doing her a terrible disservice. In the Monkey See, Monkey Do world of parenthood, I have not taught my daughter to value herself and to spend time on herself.  That’s going to stop. I don’t expect that she will like or appreciate this very much. She complains I’m not with her enough as it is. But thanks to a facial on Friday and some great conversation, I now see that it is necessary. I picked her up from school on Friday and we immediately went to the nail salon. A couple of manicures and pedicures later, I’m hoping to improve what my Monkey sees and does.

As I view parenting from the Monkey See, Monkey Do lense, I have a new appreciation for my mother. A lot of the good habits I have, I attribute to her. She worked sun up to sun down to make sure that our family had everything we needed. My mom used to cook breakfast for our family every morning. Not just any breakfast either. She made buttermilk biscuits from scratch every day! She worked all day, then came home and made us a home cooked meal every night. Now, don’t go assuming I cook biscuits every day because I don’t! I do work sun up to sun down to make sure my family has everything it needs. As I look back, I now realize my mom never took any time for herself. Thank you for that, but I’m sorry too. I’ll correct that for our next generation.

My downsizing journey and blog have become so much more than I expected. I am astonished at how my decision to get rid of “stuff” has turned more internal than material. I love everything I’m learning and plan to get my bike back out!

The Big Black Pot

I grew up in a small town of about 4,500 people. I went to school K-12 with the same ~90 people. In my hometown, everyone knew everyone. It was a fantastic way to grow up. Of course, I was bursting at the seams to get out. I always thought I would move to a big city in another state. It’s funny how things never work out like you think they will.  I now live an hour from my hometown in a moderately large town. My life is nothing like I imagined all those years ago. I have always been ambitious and in-turn discontent in my present setting. It’s the entrepreneur gene in me. I constantly look for things to grow or change because I thrive on the challenge. I defined success in the stereotypical ways – the size of my home, car type, brand names of clothes… Now I realize, those things don’t make me successful at all. They are good performance measures, but not true signs of success.  No one told me that after you achieve all of this, it takes a great deal of time, money and energy to maintain it. I’m tired of maintaining it. I find myself longing for the more simple life I had in my hometown. It’s amazing how things have come full circle.  The life I so wanted desperately to leave as a teenager is the life I want back. I don’t regret any of my life or career choices. I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished. I want to continue to thrive as a successful, professional. I just want to be able to go home at the end of the day to a more simple life. I refuse to believe those things cannot co-exist.

I’ve been trying to decide what I truly mean by the simple life. Looking back through memories of my childhood, I think I have figured out part of it. While I was growing up, my dad had a huge black cast iron pot. He used to cook in this pot in our back yard. He had a homemade steel propane burner. We had a really big yard and I can remember playing out back while he would fry up something for dinner. In those days, we fried everything. I think I could fry water if I had to! He used to cook fried chicken, okra, French fries, hush-puppies, and lots of fish. He used to love to entertain and cook for people. I’m quite sure I inherited my love of cooking and entertaining from him. He would host huge fish fries. He cooked for family quite a bit (and we had a HUGE extended family). What I most remember though is the big fish fry he used to host for what seemed like everyone in our town. My dad was the fire chief. At least once a year, he would move the firetrucks out of the building and would open it up to host a fish fry for the firemen, volunteer firemen, city employees, elected officials, their families, and many others in our community. We would set up tables and make lemonade. He would spend all day frying in that black pot, cranking out pounds and pounds of fish, fries, and hush-puppies. We would play, eat, fellowship, and have the best times. Those fish fries are some of my fondest memories growing up. It’s only recently that I have realized that the sense of family and community I felt at those fish fries is what I long for most as I strive for happiness. I still have my family and a great community, but it seems I am not taking the time to truly enjoy them. Life is busy. I live in a world of controlled chaos. My downsizing journey is about reducing chaos in whatever areas I can. I now know that part of the definition of simplicity for me is having time to fellowship in a meaningful way that celebrates friends and family.

Dad always left a good deal of grease in the pot and used it over and over. He would clean it out when the grease was old and add new grease. It was never empty. My dad died a little over 10 years ago. I brought his black pot home with me and put it away in the garage. I have walked past this pot numerous times over the last 10 years. I would look at it and sometimes have pleasant memories, other times I would really miss my dad. This pot has been sitting for 10 years with the same grease. You can imagine that it had gotten pretty nasty. A couple of months ago, I finally summoned the strength to try to clean and restore that pot. I have soaked, scraped, and worked for weeks hoping deep inside that I had not let it sit for too long to ruin. Last weekend, I finished! My husband helped me get the last bit of rust out of it and we have begun the process of seasoning it. Seeing that pot back in working order made me cry both tears of sadness and happiness.

This black cast iron pot symbolizes so much for me. After my dad died, something inside of me changed. I’m sure that happens to everyone as we lose a parent. Whatever changed caused me to shut down a part of myself. There is a part of me that I have let sit, the same way I let the pot sit. I restored the pot and now it’s time to restore me. That pot had collected a lot of dirt and rust that had to be scraped out. I feel as though I have collected the same sort of contaminating things in my life. Downsizing is my first step in restoring myself. My dad was my source of strength and encouragement. Who knew he would be able to speak to me again ten years later in the form of his old black pot? That pot was never empty and fed countless people as long as it was kept in working order. It was down and out for 10 years but is back and better than ever. I want to never be empty and to feed thousands as well. I have been out of commission in this area for the past 10 years, but I feel like I’m back and better than ever too. It’s going to take a bit to get the pot and myself seasoned just right, but oh what we will produce when it’s done!

Thanks, Dad, for the lesson and the big black pot!

Motivated Mondays

I am super productive on Monday mornings. I wake up ready to attack the week head on. Most Mondays I do not struggle to get out of bed at all. I throw back my coffee and exercise with zeal. I knock out all of my morning chores and do it while smiling. I go through Mondays feeling great with lots of energy and usually in a great mood. I do laundry on Monday nights. I choose to do this because I refuse to dread my weekends based upon the pile of laundry I have facing me. I’d rather have a long Monday than a chore-filled weekend. Around 8:00 pm on Mondays, I fade. My energy is depleted, smile is gone, and I’m desperate to get in bed. Tuesday mornings do not go as well as Monday morning. I don’t have trouble getting up (I’m a terrible sleeper anyway!), but my energy to exercise and knock out my morning duties is waning.  I don’t even have to tell you what Wednesday-Friday mornings are like! Let’s suffice it to say that I rarely get in a workout on Friday! I’m trying to figure out why I’m gung-ho on Mondays and so-low on Fridays. My best theory is that on Mondays I’m rested and reinvigorated from the weekends. I have time on Saturday and Sunday to think more about my journey. I also have time most weekends to accomplish some tasks needed to move my downsizing project forward. I make plans on Sundays for how to attack the week. I start every week with a promise to take care of myself, to exercise, to eat well, and on and on…. On Mondays I’m excited to get started on making me the best me I can be! (That sounds like a Dr. Seuss line! I can amuse myself on Monday mornings too!) I listen to a motivation podcast every morning while getting ready for work called “Every day is Saturday”. This has made me think a lot about the difference in my days of the week. My Mondays are better than my Saturdays, so I’m trying to figure out how to make every day like Monday. How do I keep the energy and level of motivation I have on Mondays? They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over. I have been doing the same Monday for a really long time. I’m in need of change for my well-being, both mentally and physically. I want to be as productive on Friday as I am on Monday. Honestly, I have no idea how to do this yet. I’m still counting on the fact that simplifying my life will free up some of my resources, such as my energy and time. If I feel great on Monday because I have replenished my reserves on the weekend but terrible on Friday because they are empty, then I must find a better way. I’m frustrated at my weight and lack of fitness but can’t find the energy to be consistent in doing anything about it. I’m frustrated that I don’t celebrate Fridays! That used to be my favorite day of the week. Once again, I am open to any and all advice! Please chime in if you have a magic formula!

I want to bottle my Motivated Mondays and drink from this bottle every day!

I’m Back!!

Finally! I have some time alone to sit and write. It has been almost 2 weeks so I’m about to burst. My schedule has been a bit hectic and finding time for me has been impossible. It’s not a bad thing as I’ve spent a lot of time with family and friends. In fact, it has been quite refreshing. Fall is a busy time in a college town if you love football and your team is the best in the nation! RTR!

The last time I posted I told you we were close to deciding where we might like to move. We talked with someone about building on a lot in a neighborhood we really like. I think we have decided against that. It was way more money than I want to spend and I can’t imagine ever getting a good return on that investment. Soooo…. we are still looking. We are super close to being ready to list our current house for sell. We have a person doing some touch up painting, etc… right now. I have cleaned out all of the closets (insert wide-eyed emoji here!) and bagged up everything we want to donate. I have separated out some great things to sell later, perhaps in a moving sale. I’m ready to do this!! In the meantime, I threw our house up for sale by owner. Help me spread the word that I’m ready to make a deal! My impatience got the best of me!

I continue to do a great deal of self-introspection and realize I have tons to sort out concerning my future and my happiness. As I do this, the list I’m making of things important to me changes. I haven’t shared it with you because it is a very telling list. It’s not that I have things to hide, but it is because it changes. The things I thought were important when I started this journey seem to be more superficial and I keep diving deeper.  For example, when I began making my list it included features I want in a house. Seriously. That’s embarrassing as I realize that is the least of what makes people happy! I’m really glad I didn’t share the list with you from the beginning because you’d think I’m crazier than you do now. The changes in the list are the result of my journey. When I do get to a final list, I will share the iterations with you because they tell a fascinating story.

As the past couple of weeks have passed, I’ve made notes about various thoughts for future blogs, so stay tuned. I plan to share thoughts about maintaining discipline, motivation, my health, and relationships. My schedule over the next couple of weeks is less busy so I know I’ll have time to write. Go enjoy this beautiful fall Sunday!!

You can fake caring, but you can’t fake showing up

I had an interesting interaction over the weekend and I realize I need to reassure you all that I’m really okay. If you read my last post, you know that last week was tough. I saw a friend on Friday night that had obviously read my blog (which is fantastic, btw!). She hugged me, which I appreciate, but I could see a look of worry in her eyes. I had not anticipated any one worrying about me, because I suppose I’m not worried about me. I could be completely wrong, and if I am, please keep worrying about me, but I feel like I have my head on straighter than I ever have. I feel in control of my life and my destiny. I have taken a step back to truly assess my life in order to make decisions that can help to enhance my and my family’s happiness. I have been brutally honest with myself while assessing my situation. I have a very keen awareness of my environment and the people surrounding me. While I’d love to look at the world with rose colored glasses, I’m really very pragmatic. Everyone has gifts and I feel fortunate that mine is discernment. I believe I got it from my dad. He had the ability to size up people and situations very quickly and he was always right. I don’t propose that I’m always right, but I’m pretty good at it too. That being said, don’t worry about me, but thank you if you did!


Enough about that! Let’s move on and talk about my downsizing efforts! I’ve learned some great things already. One of the benefits of my busy schedule is that I cannot rush through this process. I simply don’t have the spare time at home to finish this quickly. This is good for me because I’ve never been a patient person. I like to make decisions and act on them immediately, then move on to my next project. In doing that, I fail to spend enough time in the present moment to appreciate all that I have and be grateful. I find that in my head, I’m usually living two steps ahead. That’s a great mindset at work, but at home it isn’t so great. I want to savor every moment with my family and friends. I am making a concerted effort to do that. This weekend is a great example. I finally had a weekend at home without work obligations and the Alabama football game was out of town. This would have been a great time to clean out closets and get rid of stuff. However, we were invited to two weddings, a birthday party, and a christening. I’m not going to lie to you all about the true me and I will tell you that in the past, this would have been a complete nuisance to me. I would’ve been annoyed that I couldn’t do exactly what I wanted and work towards my goal of downsizing. It’s rare for me to have a whole weekend free so to have to everyone fill it up with their events that I feel obligated to attend would’ve made me grumpy. It’s not that I don’t care about them because I’m happy for them. Truth is, I could be pretty selfish sometimes. As I work to live more in the present and appreciate my family and friends, I made a clear decision to attend as many of these events as I can and to not worry in the least that I’m accomplishing nothing towards my downsizing goal. I’m so glad I did this! Yesterday’s birthday party was so fun and I grew closer to family. Last night’s wedding was beautiful and a blast! We were able to spend time with some important friends in our life that we haven’t seen in several years. Today will be more time with family and I’m looking forward to it! I’m not stressed at all that I have done absolutely nothing at home and it looks like a storm blew through! This week I heard a great phrase that I promise to internalize and do my best to live by – “You can fake caring, but you can’t fake showing up.” Who knew that downsizing would teach me this?! Love it!

Riding a Roller Coaster

This blog is about downsizing, but it is also about learning about myself and the things that affect my happiness. As I look back over my life, I have experienced many good and bad times. It has been quite a roller coaster. This week has been a roller coaster too, and I’m really glad that it is Friday afternoon. I’m ready for this week to be over. Work hasn’t gone as well as I want this week, which is stressful. Today is the anniversary of our second daughter’s death. She has been gone six years today. It would be very easy to be all ‘woe is me’ right now, but that wouldn’t accomplish anything except for making me and those around me miserable. In the past, I have gone through some tough times and I allowed myself to be consumed by the situation. I’ve truly been in some dark places in my life and never want to do that again. I’m smart enough now to recognize when the dark times are approaching and do everything I can to reverse it. This is one of the main reasons I am downsizing. I can feel the overwhelming feelings becoming too much to handle. Just like this week, there are always going to be moments of adversity. Thank goodness they don’t happen all of the time! I have learned to acknowledge the bad times, learn from them, and move on. I want to spend my time thinking about the good things that have happened this week. One of the great things is that at work, we were able to celebrate one of our team members successfully beating cancer! Talk about a victory!!! He taught me a lot about how to face hard situations as he faced his fight with grace and courage. I never heard him complain. There are some fantastic people in my life! Speaking of fantastic, another great thing happened when one of my best friends surprised me with a gift honoring our daughter in heaven. I’m amazed and humbled that other people remember her Heaven Day.  This weekend we get to celebrate with family and friends at two weddings and a christening (sounds like a movie title! Ha!). All around me life is good, and I am going to make a conscious effort to focus on that. I get to decide if I enjoy riding roller coasters, and the truth is – I do!

My downsizing efforts are moving forward! I am a planner. I like to look at the big picture and then make a strategic plan for how to get there. In order to do this, I have to clearly know what I want the end result to be. If I know that, I can take the necessary steps to get there. I cannot fly by the seat of my pants and hope for the best. I’d go nuts!! Sooo…. I have to know where I will be moving to before I can decide to sell our house and begin to sell furniture. My husband and I have been doing quite a bit of looking and we think we have settled on something. It’s not final, so I’m scared to put it out there! I’ll tell you all next week hopefully! This will be a huge step. It frightens me and excites me all at the same time! There are moments when I am devastated and get teary to be leaving my back yard, but I know happiness can be achieved anywhere – it’s totally up to me to will it to happen.

I’m anxious to get my weekend started, so I’ll wrap it up for today. Have a great Friday night! I know I will! I love roller coasters!


An Epiphany!

Learning to manage my time is a complex thing. It is easy to stay busy completing tasks. The hard part is prioritizing those tasks. I read a great article that said that people that jump from task to task rather than having laser focus on one and completing it are less effective. Boy! That stung! I am the queen of ADHD (and yes I have it!). I am always jumping around from task to task. I take my pride in my ability to multitask. Most times I can circle back around and finish what I’ve started, but the truth is that some things fall through the cracks and I fail to complete them. This drives me crazy and causes me tremendous stress and guilt. So my big epiphany for the weekend is to start one task and finish it. Stop jumping around. Don’t laugh if you figured this out as a child! Ha! Actually, you can laugh at me and this simplistic idea because I’m laughing at myself. Sometimes the answer is staring you in the face and you look right past it. Back to time management, if I must pick a task and finish it before starting another, this means I must prioritize things. Before my epiphany, I didn’t really have to decide what was most important to me or what should be done first because I was doing everything at once. I’ve thought a lot about how to prioritize. Some things must be completed because timing dictates that I must finish them, not because I rank them high in importance to me – like laundry! It is not important to me to do laundry on a Sunday, but my family appreciates clean things to wear during the week.  There are other tasks in my life that must be assigned a level of importance so that I can make a good decision on how to prioritize my actions and time. This is all coming full circle to the first blog I wrote and the idea of putting on paper the things that are important to me.  I’m not quite ready to share that list yet because I’m still working on it, but I can tell you that I will look at the list differently now that I have a new component of time management to consider.

Prior to this journey I had been doing  a lot of introspection and found there are several things about me and my life that need attention. I chose the path of downsizing to address the changes, but downsizing is just the tip of the iceberg for the things I need to do. It’s work time now but I promise to be back tonight with another blog talking about the complexities of life and how to pursue happiness. Have a great Monday!!

Time is all we have

Time is all you have.

William Penn said that time is what we want most, but what we use the worst. That’s certainly true for me! I am 100% Type A (no surprise to you who know me!). This is both a blessing and a curse. I love this about myself because it makes me driven, ambitious, and competitive. I hate it because it stresses me out when I feel like I don’t have time to live up to expectations. (Such as this blog! I’m writing about time and don’t have time to finish this!)  I have been complaining about not having enough time since I was a teenager. I have vivid memories from college and early in my career when I was stressed about not having enough time. I would call my Dad to vent and get reassurance that things were going to be ok. He told me time and again, “Gina, time is all you have.” It seems like a simple statement and is easy to dismiss, but if you truly break down the message, it is very profound. How do I define time? Is time defined as my work day? Is it the amount of time I have at home or with my family and friends? Is time my 44th year which I am dedicating to downsizing? Or is time larger than that? Time is the whole of my lifetime. I have found that I tend to define time differently depending upon my immediate life need. If I have a deadline at work, that is how I define time. If I’m looking at Facebook memories of our daughter, that is how I define time. So on and so on, I think you get it. Regardless of what things come and go in our life, be it people, possessions, or jobs, the one thing that remains is time. My Dad was telling me to manage my most valuable asset, my time, and everything else would fall into place. Time is all I have.

It has been over a week since I have had the time to sit and write. Correction, it has been over a week since I have managed my time correctly and have been able to sit and write. I have been frustrated and feeling overwhelmed because I feel like I don’t have enough time to accomplish everything. A normal day for me goes like this –

  • Morning: Wake up at 4:30 and have coffee, hopefully force myself to do some exercise, get our daughter up and ready for school, pack her lunch & snack, make sure the dog is taken care of, get myself ready and leave the house by 7:30 to drop her at school and head to work.
  • Work day: Most every day is jam packed with meetings of all kinds. When I am not with someone, I am working like crazy to finish my work load. I usually work thru lunch. If I do go out for lunch, it is for work. (I squeeze in a friend lunch every once in a while, but not often. Today was a treat!) I frequently have work obligations outside of normal business hours at social gatherings and various events with which TTS are affiliated. I work a lot.
  • Evening: Either pick up our daughter from after school homework club or relieve the babysitter, make sure she has finished her homework, practiced piano & violin, and make a decision about dinner. We try to always eat together as a family, sometimes at the table and other times in front of the tv watching a show we all enjoy, but together. After dinner, comes cleaning up and getting our daughter to shower and to bed by 9:00. At 9:01, stick a fork in me – I’m done. I am lucky because my husband helps with dinner, the kitchen, and getting our daughter to bed. After she goes to bed, I crash.

Somewhere in the middle of that is laundry, straightening up the house, grocery shopping, and making sure all other household appointments are handled. My husband works in Birmingham so any vet appointments or doctor appointments are mine. Whew, I’m tired from just typing this out.

Please don’t think I’m complaining. I love my job and the people I work with. I love my family too. It’s just that as I look at my schedule, I realize there is no time for me. I never have alone time and as an introvert, that means I am constantly exhausted. It also means there is no extra time to accomplish my goal of downsizing and blogging about it.

I’m telling you all of this because it explains why I am choosing to downsize. I want to manage my time better so that I have more time to enjoy life and to stop being exhausted. I think less home obligations will free up some of my time.

The irony in all of this is I can’t seem to find the time to downsize so that I can better manage my free time. It’s a good thing I gave myself a year to figure this out! Time is all I have…

Eating an Elephant


Eating an Elephant

September 18, 2016

What a week! It feels great inside to make a decision and to have a clear goal to attain. The path to the goal might be difficult, but I still love having something on which to focus. This week turned into a normal juggle between home and work. Our daughter wasn’t feeling well this week, so I had to stay home with her and miss some work. That normally stresses me out because I have so much to do, but this week was different. I was glad to have some unplanned time at home to begin to look around and decide how I want to start this downsizing plan. It only took about five minutes for me to become completely overwhelmed at the size of the project! I honestly had no idea where to begin. Over our almost 18 years of marriage, we have accumulated a lot of stuff! I couldn’t decide what needs to go and what needs to stay. I could tell our daughter was watching me. She has always been an old, wise soul in a cute little girl body. She has a wonderful way of bringing me back to center and reminding me of the lessons I try to teach her. I told her I was having a hard time trying to decide where to begin. She laughed and said, “Mom, how do you eat an elephant?” I love when I get confirmation that the things I’m trying to teach her have taken hold. I was reminded of the morning we were chatting as I was taking her to school. She was feeling overwhelmed at her busy schedule of school, homework, and various other activities. I then asked her how to eat an elephant. We had a great discussion about doing it one bite at a time. Now, she was teaching me and she was right. I have to eat this elephant one bite at time!

My first bite was to tackle the junk drawers. You know, the places you throw things that you don’t want to get rid of but you have no idea where to put. I brought in a large trash can from outside and began to fill it up! I did this for all of my hidden places and organized as I went. Two 39 gallon trash bags full later and I had eaten my first bite! Next, I went through some of our daughter’s toys. Awhile back one of our best friend’s dad coined my favorite term ever – Gibblin’ shit. This refers to all of the little junk our children collect at birthday parties, fast food restaurants, etc… The stuff we hate and they love. Out it went! Next bite eaten.

Children are so different than adults when they feel bad. Children don’t whine and lie around in self-pity. Our daughter had a small fever and didn’t need to be at school, but she didn’t feel lethargic. I believe she was inspired by my actions, so she decided to head to her room and start her own downsizing. I received some great advice on my last blog (go read it) so I was very careful to not step in and try to control what she decided to keep and to purge. I gave her four categories to classify her belongings: 1. Things she wants to keep; 2. Things she wants to donate; 3. Things she would like to sell; and 4. Things that need to be trashed, then I left the room. She’s such a rock star and I am so proud of her. She did a great job and everything was her decision, so she feels fantastic about her work. Another bite eaten!

Over this weekend, I moved on to my next bite. Purging the various things I’ve collected and that are sitting around the house. They are nice and look great, but I don’t need them and don’t want to move them. Some of you may have noticed that I went a little crazy on FaceBook selling things. This was a small bite and just the beginning of our downsize project. Stay tuned over the next several weeks. I will be selling furniture and clothes as I have time to sort through it all.

I’ve gone back to read my first few blog posts. Wow. They were pretty negative sounding. We all have ups and downs in life. I began this journey because I’ve been in a down time. I’m ready to climb out of that valley. The first few steps (elephant bites) have been taken. I’m feeling energized and ready to continue!simplify