a year of living simply: week 2

Thank you so much for your kind words and enthusiastic support of my year of living simply challenge, which I launched here last week! I’m so excited to be embarking on this fulfilling endeavor with all of you ūüôā

Over the course of the year, we’ll be focusing on various meanings of simplicity: in our possessions, routines, spending habits, projects, relationships, food choices, and more. We’ll rid ourselves of¬†clutter — physical, mental, emotional. We’ll reflect on what truly matters to us, and why, and what we hope to do with that knowledge.

year of living simply

Last week, the challenge was to identify one or two or three things that you tend to over-purchase, and write out a pledge not to purchase any more of these items for the next month {or however long feels good to you.} Personally, I have a weakness for over-purchasing tea, stationary/notecards, and pretty, flow-y scarves. I pledged to purchase no more of these items for myself during the entire year of 2015, or until I use up the embarrassingly large stash that I currently possess.

I must admit, I was a little surprised at my impulses to purchase these items, even during the first week of the new year! Especially tea. I realized I tend to visit the tea aisle whenever I’m at the grocery store, just to check out if they have any new flavors or any good sales… even though I definitely do NOT need to buy more tea because I have more than enough to last me for a good long while! So, I made a conscious choice not to even stroll down the tea aisle. I did not want to tempt myself. Same with stationary. At Trader Joe’s the other day, I refrained from even browsing their card display. Instead, I used two cards I had already purchased for friends’ birthdays, and used notecards I’d purchased after Christmas last year for all my Christmas thank-you notes.¬†It may seem like a little thing, but it feels like progress!

kind notes

The challenge this week relates to digital clutter. I don’t know about you, but I spend way too much time struggling with my email inbox that constantly seems to be overflowing, begging for my attention, distracting me from the important tasks I truly want to be working on. I have gotten better about responding to email right away, instead of putting it off and letting it sit in my inbox for days. But I still have a ton of email clutter that stresses me out whenever I open my inbox.

So the challenge for this week is to ruthlessly unsubscribe to unnecessary emails. You know those emails you delete without opening? Or those newsletter-y, informative cause-based emails piling up that you are theoretically interested in, but haven’t opened in weeks months because you don’t have time to read them? Or {for me} all the emails from literary journals with links to stories and essays and poems that I want to read, that I’m blindly hoping some mystical future version of me will one day find time to conscientiously read, even though I know I won’t?

This week, take five minutes to unsubscribe and ruthlessly delete these unnecessary mass emails you never read. See what it feels like not to get these emails for a week. If there happen to be any you miss, you can always go back and resubscribe after the week is over. For now, try it out. I’m excited to hear how it goes for you!

Side note: here is an insightful and thought-provoking post I read this week with¬†a secret to being more productive {hint: it’s doing less, not more!}

Questions of the morning:

  • How was the first week’s challenge for you? What did you pledge not to purchase any more of for the time being?
  • What digital clutter do you struggle with?

goals for the week of 12/29

And just like that … we’re into the final days of 2013. Hard to believe!

This morning at church the sermon was all about letting go of your preconceived notions and the stories you tell yourself about what your life “should” look like or what “should” happen, and to open yourself up to all the incredible possibilities around you. We each went up to the front and released a small square of flash paper into a candle flame to symbolize something we want to let go of in this upcoming year. It was a surprisingly moving and empowering exercise. I actually got tears in my eyes when I watched my little square of paper burst into flame. I want to let go of my desire to control every aspect of my life and to be more open to the joy and excitement of the unknown — to embrace life’s adventures instead of being afraid.¬†

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
–¬†take cookies & cards to the nursing home
–¬†finish reading¬†The Tea Rose
soak up time with my family and friends!
journal/reflect on this past year
set my goals for 2014, wooooohoooo! {post on this coming soon!}

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 10 pages
– donate purged clothes, books and magazines
– mail thank you notes & happy new year cards
– finish reading Edible Stories and MWF seeking BFF
– phone dates with two friends

Question of the day:

  • What are your goals for this week?
  • What is something you want to let go of in this new year?

fabulous friday #5

It’s the last friday of 2013, and it’s been far too long since I’ve done a “fabulous friday” post. So here you go…

… 5 things I’m loving right now

1. Getting to spend time with my sweet family. My poor brother is sick and hasn’t had much energy, so I rented a bunch of movies and we’ve been spending lots of time laughing and talking on the couch.

movies rented

I spy a Mr. Mur-dog sleeping on the couch!

2. Speaking of laughter, I can’t get enough of the Michael Bolton Honda commercials that have been playing this holiday season! Every time one comes on I start busting up. This one might be my favorite. They always remind me of the SNL digital short that Michael Bolton did with The Lonely Island … hilarious!

3. For Christmas, Erica got me this amazingly delicious tea from Flying Bird Botanicals called “Bluebird Morning”… it’s caffeine-free but really gives me a boost of energy in the morning. I can’t get enough!

bluebird tea

4. I also can’t get enough of these dark chocolate oranges from Trader Joe’s. The little chocolate orange slices are so cute, I can never eat just one!

dark chocolate orange

5. One of my favorite bloggers, Nicole Antoinette at A Life Less Bullsh*t, put together a wonderfully motivating and helpful guide to de-cluttering your life as you head into the new year. You can download the guide and worksheets for free on her blog, because she’s just that awesome. Something I really love about Nicole is that she always gives clear, actionable steps that you can take to make a difference starting now. In her de-cluttering guide, she breaks it down into four categories: physical space, mental space, digital space and emotional space. I’ve never felt more energized to clear out the clutter in my life and set a game plan for my goals in the new year!

Questions for the evening:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?

 

recap of my clutter-busting summer!

Happy Friday, friends!

This summer — inspired by the Clutter-Busting Challenge hosted this past May by Crystal at Money-Saving Mom, and the amazing Victoria at Snail-Paced Transformations who is continuing to give away, get rid of, or sell 3 things from her home every week this year — I have been on a mission.

My goal: get things out of my house that I no longer need or use, and get them into the hands of people who do need or could use them.

It’s amazing how much STUFF we accumulate, right?? I am not even the biggest shopper, and still I am just floored by the amount of THINGS I manage to bring into my life and into my space. Books, clothes, magazines, papers, flyers, do-dads, mementos, knick-knacks … where do they even come from??

In regards to clutter, this summer has been a perfect storm of sorts. I moved back home into my childhood bedroom, which was still crammed with stuff from high school and from the year I lived at home after graduating college. Plus, I brought home boxes of new stuff I’d accumulated while living in Indiana.

I was determined to slowly sort through everything through the course of the summer and get rid of as much as possible before moving up the Bay Area to begin my Steinbeck Fellowship. Also, as longtime blog readers know, I really don’t like to waste things, not even uber-ribe bananas. So if an item was useful, I didn’t want to just throw it away — my goal was to repurpose or donate as many items as possible!

clutter busting

Three months later, I’m happy to report my room is much cleaner and less cluttered, and I’m feeling more energized as a result! Here is a list of all the things I got rid of this summer, including how I repurposed some items:

  • 3 boxes of books: donated to the local library and the Boys & Girls Club
  • approx. 40 back issues of various magazines: donated to local senior centers and hospitals {just make sure to tear off the address label and any other personal info before donating!}
  • 2 large bags of clothing, including my heavy winter coat and a bunch of scarves: donated to Goodwill
  • 3 lovely little girls dresses, still in great condition, from when I was a little girl: also donated to Goodwill
  • 4 pairs of shoes I never wear: donated to Goodwill
  • 2 large fleece Snuggies that were not being used: repurposed into two handmade no-sew baby blankets for two friends of mine who each welcomed beautiful babies into their families recently
  • 2 outgrown T-shirts: transformed into diy pillows
  • 10 small hotel shampoos and soaps: donated to a local homeless shelter
  • 1 no-longer-used cellphone: donated to a soldier through Cell Phones for Soldiers.
  • 3 large trash bags full of old papers no longer needed: recycled

WOO-HOO! It feels so wonderful to de-clutter! Not only did I physically get rid of a ton of items, I feel like the act of clearing and sorting and donating was emotionally cleansing as well.

mur sleepy

This task was an amazing reminder of what a difference you can make little by little, day by day … I never imagined at the beginning of the summer that I would be able to get rid of so much unnecessary stuff, but slowly and surely I did!

What goals have you been working on this summer? Any fellow clutter-busters out there? I’d love to hear your tips for STAYING de-cluttered — my next task! ūüôā

some related posts you might enjoy:

cleaning out my closet clutter
tips for selling things on craigslist
year of kindness challenge: donating clothes
year of kindness challenge: donating books
year of kindness challenge: donating toiletries

clutter-busting challenge

clutter-busting-challenge1

Crystal at Money-Saving Mom is hosting a Clutter-Busting Challenge in which she is getting rid of {throwing away, selling or donating} at least 7 items for every single day of May. She is inspiring loads of others to do the same, including me! 

I already did a lot of clutter-busting last month when graduated from Purdue and moved from Indiana to California … the move was the fire-under-my-butt motivation to sort through my various papers, knick-knacks, books, clothes, kitchen supplies, etc. and decide what was worth taking with me. I ended up donating and selling everything except for the clothes, blankets, books, and important papers that fit within five suitcases and a few big shipping boxes.¬†

When I arrived home, I had another opportunity to clutter-bust: my bedroom at home {which my parents have been sweet enough to leave as-is during my time away… it hasn’t been converted to a home office, at least not yet!} There were books and papers and random STUFF that had accumulated during winter breaks and summers at home and that I hadn’t gone through in years.¬†

After a few days of sorting, I am proud to share with you the big pile of stuff that I am getting rid of! 

clutter busting

I took the clothes/shoes/purses to Goodwill and donated the books to my local library. Not only does it feel good to purge your life of unnecessary items, I also love imagining the person who will enjoy each item in its next life! 

Are any of you doing spring/early summer cleaning and organizing? I’d love to hear your success stories and tips!

You can follow along the entire Clutter-Busting series at Money-Saving Mom here: https://moneysavingmom.com/series/clutter-busting-challenge

year of kindness challenge: week 2

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope your week is off to a marvelous start!

year of kindness button

How did last week go for you? Did you join me in the #yearofkindness challenge? I was surprised at how much FUN I had combing through my closets for items to donate! Never imagined I could enjoy cleaning/organizing so much. I’ve donated clothing in the past, but something about looking through my closet *specifically* for items to give to others made the endeavor feel different — waaaaay more rewarding. Maybe also because in the past I would purge items from my closet solely in order to make room for new items. Not this time! Simpler is better for this girl. Less clothing means I can better appreciate the items I do have!

I ended up packing up a small box of four bras in great condition to ship off to Free the Girls, a fantastic organization I featured in a post last summer.

bras to donate

I also brought a box of about a dozen clothing items — t-shirts, sweaters, pants, and a pair of shoes that never quite fit me right — to the local Goodwill.

donation box goodwill

It made me so happy to give these things away to others! An added bonus is that my closet feels neater and less cluttered.

And maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe I’m just more attuned to kindness around me, but the karma was returning my way this past week! Just a couple examples:

  • I went to Starbucks on my way home one evening, about half an hour before they closed, and ordered a green tea {I’ve been battling a cold this week and am guzzling green tea like nobody’s business!} … I went to pay with a gift card I’d received for Christmas, but the barista just waved my card away, smiled, and gave me the tea for free!¬†
  • My super sweet friend Chidelia sent a box of delectable chocolate-covered strawberries. What a wonderful surprise to come home from school and find it waiting on the doorstep!

strawberries

  • My students are already participating in class, volunteering to read their writing when I ask for examples, and even laughed at my feeble attempts at humor, which is pretty much unheard of so early in the semester! {Normally it takes a few weeks to break down their shyness and get them “on my side.”}

I’m already jazzed up about this week! Okay, here’s the Week 2 Challenge: leave a stranger a nice note and quarters for the laundry machine. If you live in an apartment complex with a laundry facility {like I do} you can easily leave quarters and a note there. If not, go to a laundromat and leave a note and quarters on one or two of the machines there.

Take pictures and blog about your experience, or email me at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com, and I’ll be delighted to link to and share your experiences in my post next week!

In joy & kindness,
Dallas

clear out your closet clutter!

In the coming weeks, one of my goals is to get my bedroom closet organized! {I confessed earlier that I am a huge culprit of hiding my messes away behind cabinets and closet doors … like under my kitchen sink}

Here’s a “before” picture:

My first step has been sorting through my clothes, jackets and shoes and clearing out stuff I no longer use or need. My rule: if it’s in season {i.e. summer weather clothes} and I haven’t worn it in three months, it goes in the “donation” box. If I decide after a week or so that I want to keep it, I can keep it — but in my experience, once something gets out of my closet and into the “donation” box, I never miss it.

{If you have clothes in good condition, you could always try selling them on Craigslist, but since most of my clothes would probably only go for a couple bucks I prefer to save time and go the donation route.}

A tried-and-true donation option is your local Goodwill or Salvation Army store. I’ve also rounded up some charities that are looking for specific items that might be waiting right there in your closet for a new purpose:

Blouses, Blazers, Suits, etc:

  • Dress for Success: “The mission of Dress for Success is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.”
  • Career Gear: “From its inception in 1999, Career Gear earned a reputation for helping men who are low income enter the workforce by providing business appropriate clothing. The basic offering of a suit was simple, but also powerful. For those men who were improving their work skills and employability, a clean, appropriate suit of clothing was another important tool in finding a job. To date, over 30,000 men have been served through the job readiness program.”

Dresses:

  • DonateMyDress: “The first national campaign designed to encourage girls around the country to donate their prom and special occasion dresses to those who cannot afford them for prom, sweet 16, quincea√Īera or formals. The site features a directory of local dress drive organizations across the U.S. that will enable girls to easily find out where in their local markets they can donate or receive a dress.”
  • The Fairy Godmother Project: “Help students in the Houston area who cannot afford to purchase a prom dress or tux. Each year we provide hundreds of students in the Houston area with free prom, graduation and Homecoming dresses and tuxedos. We collect donations year-round.”
  • Ever After Gowns: “A Minnesota based 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to supporting Twin Cities-area young women by providing them with new and gently used formal gowns, shoes, and accessories to be worn to their high school prom. Our clients receive all the attire and accessories free of charge. The ‘Ever After Experience’ is not just about getting a free dress, we aim to provide a warm, friendly environment where each guest feels like a princess”

Shoes:

  • Give Running: “Give Running teaches youth, through running, the character traits and skills that serve as a foundation for success in all aspects of life. We share our love for running as well as the many benefits and opportunities running fosters ‚ÄĒ such as improved health, self-confidence, and new friendships ‚ÄĒ by collecting, cleaning, and then donating new and used running and athletic shoes to disadvantaged youth in developing countries and local inner-city communities. Together, we can make a world of difference to deserving youth from Los Angeles to Haiti to Africa by giving them a chance to lace ’em up and empowering them to take a step forward ‚ÄĒ and never stop running!”
  • The Fairy Godmother Project: dress shoes, heels, flats, etc.
  • Dress for Success: dress shoes, heels, flats, etc.

Bras:

  • Free The Girls: “When you donate a bra, you give a former slave a job. It is that simple. We work alongside safe houses around the world that rescue women from sex trafficking and provide rehabilitation services. Your donation helps survivors of human trafficking make a living selling used clothing while they recover and build their new life. We accept gently used bras of all sizes and styles, including athletic bras, nursing bras, and camisoles.”
  • Bras for a Cause: “We have an ongoing bra donation recycle program. We are a distribution center that sends out bras to shelters, breast cancer survivor support groups, charities and others all over the world all year long. Now you can recycle and find a home for your bras. No matter the size, type or condition we can find a place for them.”
  • The Bra Recyclers: “We are a textile recycling company focused on doing our part to recycle and reuse bras (textiles) that unnecessarily go to landfills. We have created and support a network of Bra Recycling Ambassadors who assist us in providing deserving women with used or unused bras as they transition back to self-sufficiency.”

Clearing out your closet clutter AND helping others? Doesn’t get much better than that!

Do you know of any charities that should be added to the list? Please let me know! Happy organizing!

-Dallas