I’m here…

november 2013 042

Hello friends!

I’m here to check in, to reconnect, to remember.
I’m here with a cup of peppermint tea and the reminder from my sweet Auntie emailing me to tell me to just write.
I’m here in my new house. It’s simple. It’s perfect. I can’t wait to share it with you.

I’m here. Dipping my toes into truth telling.

I’m here at a fork in the road and I am leaning right in to all of the uncertainty.

Mostly, I am here in gratitude. To have this space to write. To have you all to connect with.

I listened to a podcast the other day that spoke of the dangers of luxury. Actually, it wasn’t luxury that was the danger, it was laziness that can come from luxury. Complacency. Getting so comfortable that you forget to learn and push and grow.

And although that doesn’t exactly describe my situation, I connected with the idea.

Getting through the first stages of grief is like that. It’s been so excruciating for so long, that when the pain starts to turn to a dull ache you call that good enough and settle in. You are tired. Exhausted. And so, dull ache feels like a vacation. Like a luxury.

And so you get comfortable.

But it’s not really comfort. At first it’s rest. Well deserved rest. But then, it starts to feel more like fear. Fear of moving past the grief, because that feels like leaving your loved one behind. Fear of making changes in your life that will take effort and perseverance and maybe a little bravery. Fear of being vulnerable.

And so I decided I didn’t have to wait to reconnect with you, with writing, until I am comfortable again. This whole adventure is about the journey, as it has been the whole time.

So tonight, it was time to just write.

Hope you are all doing well. Can’t wait to show you what I have been up to!

Big News!!!

Hello friends!
So here it is, the big news I hinted at earlier… we are moving! And I could not be more excited.

The new house is perfect for us… as far as finished square footage, it is half the size of our current house, and compared to our current (beautiful but time consuming) corner lot we will have a fraction of the outdoor maintenance. AND it is… wait for it… next door to my brother and sister in law! And to answer the most common question that she and I both get asked next… YES that is a good thing 😉 Actually, it is a GREAT thing.

It’s funny… we we bought our current house, we thought we were moving in the right direction. And in hindsight, it was the right step for where we were. It was a big, beautiful home that needed a ton of work, and we have made it into a home we really love.

But this new house and all that it means… this is our new dream. More on all that later.

As you would guess, we are starting to pack up and we are treating it as pure opportunity. I will take it as a win that as I was on the phone with the moving company, the man giving us the estimate was looking at our photos from our listing and said we have “WAY less stuff than the average 5 bedroom home.” But still… we are taking this as further opportunity to only keep what we need, use, and love, and get rid of the rest. Knowing that we will have to move anything we keep is the perfect motivation to get rid of things that I might be on the fence about. I am keeping mental (and literal!) notes about the whole process, and I’m hoping to write to you all about how to create the same opportunity without actually having to move. But for now, I wanted to check in and give you all an update.

Back to the boxes!

Learning as I go…


Hello friends.
It’s been too long.
Back in March, I was preparing to speak in front of a group of moms about one of my passions… creating simplicity in a world that seeks chaos. It was wonderful. They were such an inspiring group, and I only hope that they learned half as much as I did.
I decided it was time to shift my blog from what it had accidently become… a blog about simplicity and grief, to what I had first imagined it… a blog about simplicity. Without really meaning too, I waited for a night that I could sit down and write about one without the other. And here I am, two months later without a single post.
I sit down almost every night. I try to write. But it turns out, I can’t separate the two right now, not yet.
I have fun news to share, my friends, and I have tried to write about the sweet without the bitter, and I learned that I can’t. Not yet, anyway. So I promise I will just take it as it comes, and just write my truth from this point forward, as I had done from the start of this adventure.
I’ll save my updates and my fun news for another night. Tonight I have stopped fighting the truth and am allowing a couple of months of grief to break though the flood gates. It’s painful and necessary and I am a bit brokenhearted. Learning as I go.
I just had to remind myself how much I love writing. Remind you that I am here. And set the table for joyful times ahead.
Thank you for being out there.

Peace, Love, Home

cake on the couch

I am a high school teacher, and I often look out on my students and am overwhelmed by how hard they work and how serious are the struggles with which they are dealing. I often tell them something like, “You guys are awesome. Look at you!” And they smile.

I have always told my husband that I have a strategy for keeping our kids safe when they are teenagers. My strategy is this: I am going to keep my home chock full of comfy couches, yummy food, and a welcoming spirit. My goal is to provide such a warm home that when my kids and their buddies are wondering what to do that night, and are choosing from an entire spectrum of largely questionable choices… one of my kids might mention that their mama is making a pot roast and cookies and OF COURSE ALL YOUR FRIENDS CAN COME OVER!

Naive? Maybe. But I spent most of my high school years NOT getting into trouble because I had a place I would rather be. One of my best friend’s parents created a home that was so loving and inviting that it was just the place my little friend group always wanted to be.

Tonight, my beautiful friend sent me this blog post by Cup of Jo. Man, did it get me thinking. Creating a haven for my children doesn’t start when they hit the teenage years. It was a beautiful reminder that even though little ones don’t choose where to spend their evenings, they are equally in need of a home that is a place of comfort and love. A place they would choose to be.

One of the other things that spoke to me in Jo’s post is the concept of making evenings special. Light candles, slow down, giggle and snuggle and read…. there are little things we can all implement to make our home a refuge and a soft place for our children. And for ourselves!

If any of you have rituals to add to the list, please share!

You and your path…

Hello friends!
I have to tell you that I am utterly humbled every time I bump into someone and they say, “I love your blog!”
I always feel a mix of gratitude, vulnerability, surprise, and lots more gratitude. This writing thing is so therapeutic and so fun… sometimes I forget that my words actually go out there into the big, wide world. And that people are reading them.

I am so honored to share this space with all of you 🙂

Next in the conversation, I usually get to hear a story about something that you are working on, simplifying, or just going through. Again… honored.

We all have so much to learn from each other. I would love to give you all a piece of this space, right here, to tell about your thoughts, your latest project, your struggles, your journey, your tips… anything! This is such a great little corner of the world, and it has been so motivating and healing for me to reflect on my path. If you would like to do the same, you have the floor!

Finding Peace in the Process


I’ve been struggling, friends.

It took me a while to figure out why because I am doing all sorts of adulting over here, and adulting is stressful with all it’s deadlines, health issues, decisions, spouses, kids, chores, lists, life, death, etc. So I guess when I noticed myself feeling a growing sense of anxiety, I just accepted it. A (lying) voice told me to accept it. This is what happens when you grow up. The responsibility catches up with you and of course you feel awful. Right?

It was a total stranger who made me question this voice.

I know this might seem strange, since I find myself writing some private thoughts to all of you, but I am typically a deeply private person. Maybe too private.

But I am learning. I am watching the wise people around me who go through crisis, and you know what they do? They reach out. They circle the wagons and they gather the village and they lean. I am watching. I am learning.

So when this voice was really messing with my head one day, and my rock/bff/husband was out of town, I reached out to some… strangers, really, on an online group I belong to. This group has nothing to do with grief, but it’s a cool group of women, so I took a breath and dove in. It was much longer than this, but I’ll summarize my post as,

“I’m stressed, I’m sad, I’m not parenting well. I’m grieving. I’m failing. Help.”

The very first line of the very first response I got was this:

“Grief is big, it is real, and it is long.”

You know what that felt like? Permission. I read on…

There were others. There were online hugs, wishes for peace, great advice. But I think the most impactful messages were, like the one above, from women who had also lost loved ones and were still grieving. These women were 18 months, 3 years, 6 years out and still they grieve. I found these to be the most comforting messages, so of course I had to sit down and figure out why.

I thought about how much comfort and peace I am finding as I simplify and declutter my home. And how that experience feels so different from the other big decisions in my life right now.

What’s the difference?

When I declutter a drawer, the drawer is decluttered! It’s neat, it’s clean, it’s tidy, it brings me a sense of peace. Like, right then.
When I grieve, parent, meditate, or ponder some of the big decisions that we are facing right now, there is no tangible result. There is no beautifully decluttered part of my brain or heart or life that I can step back from and admire.

Instead, these things are all just part of a slow and usually invisible process.

I think, looking back, that I have been putting quite a bit of importance on the anniversary of my dad’s death. February 4th came and went. I had gotten through all the seasons and holidays and firsts, and yet…
On February 5th I was not magically restored. I was not done. I had not checked grieving off my to-do list. And maybe…definitely… I was disappointed. In myself.

And that pressure to see instant results, I now realize, was seeping into the rest of my life. I was taking processes like parenting and learning and healing and deciding and trying to turn them into prizes. Finish lines. Boxes to be checked. And then I struggled and wondered why I was so impatient and anxious all of the time.

I forgot.

I am not on this planet to check boxes. I am here to live. To grow. To be kind.

I forgot that it’s on the journey itself that the living happens.

And now I am remembering.

I am remembering that the parenting happens every day, in all the minutes. As my very wise friend told me once, “All of those minutes matter.” I will continue to simplify my home and life because it allows me more of these minutes. And I will not put pressure on myself and allow frustration that it is not done yet. I will live the “doing” just as much as the “done”.

And that goes for the other things too. These decisions that have to be made and healing and growing that needs to be done… it all happens in the journey. The answers will come as I am living my best life, and making time and space for what matters.

I am already seeing little differences. With no finish line to run to, I am more patient with myself, and with my sweet kids. I am yelling at them less. I am giggling with them more. I am taking more time for myself, my husband, and my kids, because… really, that’s what I am trying to get more of anyway.

Living and learning, over here, my friends.

I’ll just close by wishing for you what one of my wonderful stranger-friends wished for me that day.
“Big hugs. I wish I could send you a cup of tea, and a quiet spot to sit and just be. “
Wishing the same for all of you!:)

A day to do less and live more…


Hello everyone!

I am lucky enough to be writing this from beautiful and very snowy Colorado. As of this morning, snow totals in my city were at 16 inches, which earned us our second snow day today.
snowy patie
I sit here on a chilly Tuesday night, looking back on these fun four days home with my babies.

The weekend was wonderfully busy. We had my niece and nephew over for a sleepover one night and went out with friends the second night. Sunday rolled around and with it came the snow… and the announcement of a snow day! Ahhhh, man. I thought I loved snow days as a student. They are even better as a teacher and parent!

I woke up on Monday morning with the day stretching out in front of me.

I had more options than hours, of course, and so I sat in my favorite spot with my cup of coffee and started to prioritize.
favorite spot
The cupboard that holds the tupperware, my makeup shelf, our nightstands, my bra drawer, and then of course blogging about all of these…. These were all projects I wanted to tackle with my found day.

I started to map out the day as I listened to my little cuties hop down the stairs in their footie pajamas.

And then…chocolate chip banana pancakes happened. Then the Magna-tiles came out. Then books, costumes, giggles, and tag. Next was a blissfully quiet hour of reading and tea for me while the kids played together. Then the snow gear went on and we all played outside. The neighbor kids joined in, which turned into a hot-chocolate-and-marshmallows date at our house while jackets and mittens dried by the door.
snow gear
I got the pot roast in the crockpot while the kids relaxed, then they helped me make homemade bread. After dinner, a movie, and snuggles, it was time for bed.

It was a fantastic day.

But early in this wonderful day, my projects started nagging at me. I was having a blast with the kids but I was thinking about all of the decluttering projects I wanted to get done.

And then I remembered… What is the POINT of all this decluttering?

The point is to get rid of The Noise to make space for what I love.

So if I am lucky enough to find myself in the situation where I am doing EXACTLY what I love… well then, the projects can and should wait.

And with that simple realization, the nagging thoughts disappeared. The projects would be there tomorrow. (And they were! Today I decluttered the Tupperware, bakeware, and nightstands while the kids played in their snow day fort.)
There is nothing more important than enjoying my family and my life. I won’t always have the chance to enjoy snow days with my kids, so I did my best to make the most of them.

And I just found out… another snow day tomorrow! WOOHOO!

Minimalism Mini-projects

Hey all!
I have been elbow deep this week in teaching, skiing, and loving on my family… It’s been great!

But now, it’s Sunday night and I want to be productive. But only for, say… 10 minutes. 😉

I wanted a small and manageable project to tackle tonight and after the crazy Broncos game, my brain is fried. I went onto Pinterest and typed in “minimalism project” and found my new favorite blog!

Irene writes “Compulsively Quirky,” and her most recent post is about rethinking the junk drawer. It’s a great post, with an interesting idea of re-naming the drawer to create more purpose. Loved it!

As I browsed around her blog, I came across another post that I want to mention, because it’s about something we have been doing for months now and man, do we love it. She writes about creating an “eternal donation box.” We actually have two… one for my clothes that my daughter grows out of that will be heading to my niece, and one for the Arc when they come for their next pick up. I think it is key that these boxes are easily accessible, to make it as simple as possible to toss something in them, but also out of the way, so they do not create visual clutter.

For us, this means that the box for my niece is on the floor of the linen closet, which is right outside my daughter’s room. The Arc donation area is actually the bench that we keep at the foot of our bed. We have lots of room in there to fill up before the next pick up.

I’m off to tackle the Junk- I mean Utility Drawer!:)
Have a great night!

How and why to let go…


I’ve been there.

You’ve been on a decluttering roll.

You are starting to see some progress! You have purged your closet. Then purged again. You are not yet where you want to be, but you are on the right path. You’ve trashed all the damaged stuff, donated all the ill-fitting stuff, taken bag after bag to goodwill. But off to the side of your closet, separated from the clothes you need, use, and love, is a little group of hangers, or a little pile of clothes. Or maybe it’s the kitchen and it’s a little stack of dishes.

These are the things that you just can’t let go because they are BRAND NEW or (to be read in my mother’s voice) REALLY GOOD QUALITY.

SURELY you can’t just throw these things in a donate box. They must have a greater purpose! You have Grand Plans! Sell them on Craigslist to make a little cash, donate them to a special cause, find a friend who needs them!

My amazing-in-every-way cousin, who you would definitely want to be your best friend if you ever met her, emailed me with this exact question. She has some brand new items that she says “have been in a pile in my room forever because I don’t know what to do with them!”

So, here is my take on it, Cuz!


I get it. You spent hard-earned money and you regret it. But no matter how long you hang on to these items, you will never, ever get that money back. Quit punishing yourself and let it go. If you need permission, you have it. I’m giving it to you on behalf of your sanity. 🙂


You already spent the money to purchase these items. It turned out to be a waste. You feel bad, and so you hold on to them. But just remember… by holding on to these items, you are allowing them to continue to cost you. It is likely that every time you see them you are reminded of your wasteful decision and forcing yourself to feel guilt. Cut your losses, forgive your error, and get that thing out of your life. So you wasted some money…it happens. Quit wasting your time and energy too!


I have two main methods of getting rid of things that are more difficult to let go.

1. For some items, I post them on Facebook. These people are all my actual friends, and I would be thrilled if anyone could use any of them. Very often, a friend contacts me immediately about how much she could use the item I posted, and I leave it out for them to pick up the next day. Everyone wins!

2. I schedule pickups with the ARC. It usually take about 2 weeks from your call for them to pick up your items. After two weeks, anything that is laying around in one of my “I am totally going to sell this on CL pile” gets put with the ARC pickup pile! Then, I just have a little faith that these things will get to someone who needs them. I remember that when I was a young and very house-poor teacher, finding nice work clothes at Goodwill was incredibly helpful!

Now… you can try to sell your items on Craigslist or other online sites, but I find that whenever I decide to do that, I end up just keeping them for an extra month while I DON’T ever list any of the items for sale, because really, it’s not worth the money to me to have strangers come to my home. If the money you would get listing these items is worth the hassle of listing them, then do it TODAY. If they are still in a pile tomorrow and not posted on CL… into the donate pile they go.

And when you find yourself in the situation that you are giving away brand new things, go easy on yourself. We are all learning as we go, figuring out how to make our life as we want it. There are bound to be bumps in the road and that’s ok.

Just get those bumps out of your house so you quit tripping over them.

Go with the Flow

I have this belief that if there is an area of the home that gets messy over and over, that whatever system I have in place there is not working. I know, that isn’t exactly ground-breaking stuff. But before Minimalism came into my world, I used to see this as an organizational issue. So… when the mail and art projects piled up on the kitchen counter, I bought a storage contraption to contain it. When the kids’ art corner was a disaster every night, I bought even more storage containers to hold the growing amount of stuff.

Then I realized that these areas of chaos are an opportunity of a different kind… they allow me to stop and consider if I even WANT any of this stuff. And if I don’t want it, need it, or love it… I need to decide how I can get rid of it or keep in from coming into my life in the first place.

I realized with the mail situation, that our favorite art should be displayed and the rest can go, and that a large percentage of the mail we were getting was actually catalogs. These catalogues were, of course, directly contributing to my buying things I don’t need…. So I cancelled almost all of them. (Anthropologie is my weakness… the photos are so beautiful!) The bills go on the desk in the office to be paid ASAP or sooner (we delegate chores and that one is hubby’s). Cards and letters are read, appreciated, and then put on display with the kids art until the next Trashing of Art Projects.

So by tweaking how we deal with the mail right when or even before it comes it, the problem almost fixed itself.

Up until this morning, another area of continuous mess was my daughter’s closet floor. My sweet daughter, like her Mama, adores her friends but has no problem spending an afternoon reading books in a quiet room. In recent months, I started finding her not just in her room, but in her closet! She was climbing into the bin that I keep in her closet to house outgrown clothes until the box gets full and it heads off to my niece.
And then, she started making that little space hers. She would toss the outgrown clothes out and use pillows, blankets, and lovies to make what she called her “Nest.” I kept picking up said clothes, refolding them, putting the blankets away, etc. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

This morning it hit me. That box of clothes doesn’t have to live there. I have plenty of room in my closet, which is right across the hall. Why not let her keep her little quiet place and quit fighting it?

So, this morning, I moved the box, did a little tidying, and remade her little nest for her. When I called her up to see it, it was clear by her gasp that I had given her a great gift. She carefully climbed in, pulled out a book, and snuggled in her nest. Sigh.
Sometimes we keep swimming upstream because we don’t step back to see the big picture. This week I am going to try to identify areas around the house (and life, always life) where I am doing just that. Then, I’m going to step back, evaluate, and figure out how to go with the flow.

Hope it feels this good every time!:)