Why 2018 Will Be the Year of Editing

minimalist, edited life, minimalism, new year

Good-bye 2017

While many people are spending these first few weeks of December frantically scrambling to make their Christmas ideals a reality, I’ve already skipped over Christmas in my psyche. We finished funding our Christmas budget over a month ago and we’ve already picked out and purchased most of what’s going under the tree. So, we’re pretty much just waiting for the day to actually arrive.

Since I’m not anxiously preparing for Christmas, my mind has been on loftier things. The approaching new year.

Investing in 2018

It’s no secret that New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday and January is always my favorite month. It’s a new beginning. A clean slate. A time when all the possibilities are possible…  A fresh start.

I love the idea of gathering up all the experiences of the last 34 years of my life and investing it all into the new year to make personal progress and grow in all areas of my life. That may sound profound to some, but as a highly introspecting person, it’s just normal for me.

I had a strange epiphany last year that not all change has to be big and small steps in the right direction are still growth. Last year I was wading into uncharted waters when New Year hit and my life in general had had some pretty big changes. The pressure I was putting on myself to have some huge New Year’s goal or plan was downright depressing. So when I took a step back and gave myself permission to ease into this new change one baby step at a time, it gave me a sense of relief that I wasn’t slacking or letting myself off the hook completely.

2017 has been inspiring. It’s been eye-opening. It’s been refreshing. It’s been jam packed with opportunities and I have thrived. I’ve learned more about myself, my potential, and my God-given purpose in life. I continued to ruthlessly declutter and minimize my belongings. I’ve opened up space, physically and mentally and the year has just flown by.

Seemless transition of growth.

Now 2018 is staring me in the face and once again, I’m struck with an awakening. I’ve always looked at New Year as a way to jump start change. I’ve always planned a big New Year’s project to tackle as soon as Jan 1 gets here and then some other personal development items to take on immediately thereafter. But this year, I’ve realized, I don’t want the new year to be a jolt of change anymore. I want to edit my life to the point where the transition from one year to the next is a seamless progression of growth.

I don’t want to stagnate. I refuse to become complacent. (It’s just not possible with me anyway.) What I want is steady growth as a way of life. Moving methodically from one challenge to another without the expectation that this change is going to “revolutionize” my life or suddenly make me who I’m supposed to be.

Living an edited life.

My journey to minimalism has ripped off so many personas of who I thought I was or who I wanted others to think I was. I’m comfortable in my own skin now and I have clarity of mind. I don’t feel the need to do a complete turn-around. I know I’m headed in the right direction.

That’s why 2018 will be a year of editing. I want to hone my skills, carefully weigh my options, swap things I like for things I love, invest in meaningful relationships, and make the distinction between things that are useful and things that are needful.

What does “editing” look like in a practical manner? I’m still working that out, but I think it’ll be a series of challenges. Twelve challenges actually. One for every month in 2018 to cover topics like health, business, relationships, cleaning, hobbies, and such. Stay tuned for the finalized list… hopefully before January first arrives.

What are your plans for 2018? Are you wanting to make big changes in your life or are you also wanting to edit what’s already going well? Let me know in the comments.

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Mindful Dirty Dishes

Mindful Dirty DishesYour Spacious Self

I knew that 2016 would be a year of clearing.  I had too much to do, too much stuff, too much mental clutter.  I felt suffocated.  Something had to change.

I had an idea floating around in my mind of intentionally setting time aside to devote to clearing.  A set amount of hours each week, on a set day, where the only focus was getting rid of stuff.

I mentioned the idea to an online group when the topic of the new year, goals and resolutions came up.  Someone in the group offered me the title of a book that she said helped her.

I’m all about books.  And a recommended book, to me, is a piece of gold.  It’s been tried and someone deems it worthy to offer to someone else.

The book was called Your Spacious Self by Stephanie Bennett Vogt. I bought the digital copy right away. (Already trying to reduce clutter.)

The book started with the author talking about her morning routine of putting her clean dishes away.

She said the act of placing each item where it belongs first thing in the morning gives her the feeling of spaciousness.  Each plate is stacked in it’s place.  Each glass has it’s own space in the cabinet. And after everything is put away, her counter is clear and clean.

I can relate. I also have a morning routine of emptying the dish drainer and putting all the clean dishes away.  I often feel I can’t really start my day until the dishes are put away and the counters wiped down.

However, the thought had never occurred to me before reading the book of making the task a mindful practice of clearing. I didn’t use the time spent in appreciation of the items or the space devoted to each one. I was often distracted by swirling thoughts of the past, plans for the day, and the constant to-do list.  Cramming utensils into already full drawers while wondering how I was going to make space for all the things I should be doing that day.

Mindfully Washing Dishes

There’s a lot of talk of mindfulness these days.  Some find it a bit woo-woo.  Perhaps too much on the spiritual side. Is it meditation? Do you have to chant or repeat some list of affirmations?  

I think of mindfulness as simply being fully present in the moment.  Being consciously aware of what I’m doing and walking with the thoughts that are associated with it. 

Sometimes mindfulness can lead to epiphanies and new perspectives.

Washing Dishes and a Perspective on Business

Rowena shared with me how applying mindfulness to the act of hand washing dishes led to an epiphany in how she approaches her business life.

Rowena starts by equating washing silverware to the mundane, monotony, and tedious tasks that she must tend to daily in her work. These tasks don’t seem to move the needle much but tend to take up an inordinate amount of valuable time. It’s the daily grind. All work. No play.

Rowena appreciates washing plates and bowls the most.  They open up more counter space when cleaned and don’t have any tiny places for food to get stuck.  They’re like the fun and creative portions of projects. They move quickly, create the feeling of accomplishment and show obvious progress.

Cups and glasses are similar to the occasional awkward project that requires a bit of extra attention or perhaps a special tool.  Rowena says that the usefulness of these projects balance the slight annoyance of the spending the extra time to care for them.

Big projects, daunting tasks, and procrastination remind Rowena of washing pots and pans.  They’re bigger than anything else.  They take the most time and are often the dirtiest.  In the long run, these are the utensils that we use over and over again. They bring the most value to us as we nourish our bodies.  The best way to deal with them is to get to them right away. Add a bit of soap and water immediately and allow them to soak if necessary.

In business, these are the biggest and most valuable clients.  Perhaps the work is daunting. Perhaps it will take a long time to complete. However, procrastinating only prolongs the time needed, makes relations sticky, and dirties more water to see it through to completion. Yet, with a little forethought, planning, and immediate action, these tasks can be broken down into more manageable pieces.

From Mindless to Mindful

Mindfulness takes the mundane and transforms it into something profound.  It allows you to step back from simple, seemingly mindless acts and helps you make space for gratitude without judgment.  There are some things in life that we just have to take care of.  There’s no way around it. But instead of feeling stuck in the situation, just be in the situation. Take part. Be an active participant in your life.

The next time you’re washing your dishes, clearing the counters or making your bed, be mindful. Appreciate the moment and be intentional with your actions. You’ll never know what new insights you might gain in the process.

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Mental Cleanse with an Info-Fast

mental, cleanse, info, fast, blocked, artist, creative

mental, cleanse, info, fast, blocked, artist, creativeWe live in a world where information is forever at our fingertips.  We used to say that when the internet became available, but it’s more true now since smart phones have entered everyone’s back pocket.

It’s wonderful.  Want to know about realism? Taylor Swift’s latest album? Who were The Monkees and why should I care? (Before my time, y’all.)  The answer is just a tap-swipe away.

Any question can become a study.  Any study can become a rabbit hole.  One bit of information leads to the next and before long you have information overload.

Artists like to learn about art.  We want to learn from those who have succeeded and accomplished great things.  We need some more great ideas.  The internet makes it so easy and accessible.

However, information overload is a big cause of artist block.  You get so much great information and learn what the famous people have done but you’re left with no path to take.  Because you can’t follow the exact footsteps that another creative has taken.  When you do, you become a copy.  A wannabe.  An impersonator.  And nothing is ever as good or as successful as the original.  Besides, you want to be known for your work, not for someone else’s.

All the information about other people is great for a knowledge base, but it doesn’t propel you forward on your own path to excellence.  Instead you become stymied.  Frozen with too much knowledge and no instruction.


Good artists copy, great artists steal – Pablo Picasso.

Who can argue with Picasso?  He’s famous, his art is known world wide, and he’s dead.  Your chances to debate him are fairly limited.

He’s got a point here. You can have a lot of talent.  Really be a good artist with all the details of your craft worked out. You study the greats and copy their work.  It’s great stuff, after all.  But those ideas are not yours.  You’re not producing original works of art.  They’re copies.

Copies are a great way to practice.  They’re also a great way to learn new techniques.  But they will never be the thing that makes you great.

Great artists steal.

How can you become great by stealing an idea from someone who has become great by it and not just be a copycat?

You have to let those ideas morph into your own.  That means an info-fast.

An info-fast is when you no longer allow yourself to study, read about, or copy someone else’s work, process, and ideas for a period of time.  I recommend no less than a week.

Just as a food fast helps to cleanse your body, an info-fast will help you clear your mind.  You have plenty of information already.  Too much, really.  You have to stop adding more to it and let what’s in your mind simmer for a while.  Then, the ideas that have been planted in your mind by the information you have taken in have time to take root and start to grow into something unique and original.

It will.  No doubt.

Any idea that originates with someone else can become your own unique idea in time. Because you add the fertile soil of your mind.  The nutrients of your experiences.  The water of your dreams and musings.  Given enough time, someone else’s thought will grow into a completely different looking plant.  It will reach into different areas.  The roots will dig up things that you’ve never taken the time to think about before.  You’ll want to visit it, water it and prune it until it becomes a masterpiece.

It’s tough to shut off the flow of information for a while.  Especially for creatives and introverts and readers and perpetual students.  (AKA, me.)  But you will be wonderfully surprised and rewarded for the time you take off.  All of a sudden, finding direction and taking that next step isn’t so hard.  Your mind will lead you.

Have you been copying great works when you should be creating your own?  Will you challenge yourself to an info-fast? You can comment here.

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Welcome 2015

Happy New Year to you all!

Books to read in 2015

We rang in the new year about like we always do.  My husband went to bed by 11pm, my daughter fell asleep on the couch and my son and I stayed up putting together a puzzle.  When the clock turned over to midnight, we wished one another a Happy New Year, brushed our teeth and went to bed.  I suppose it’s not the most exciting way to celebrate, but at least I can say that I saw 2015 tiptoe into our lives.

To kick things off today, I’m putting together lists of things to do this year.

First is my book list.  You’ll find it to the right of the page.  I’m a firm believer that if you want to make the best of life, you must obtain knowledge.  Books are key.

Read the Bible in One YearI’ve also found a 52 Weeks To An Organized Home list on Pinterest. It’s not 100% fitting for my home, but close enough to be a good start. I’ll start with my kitchen counters and sink today.  One organizational project a week should be doable.

I started a daily Bible reading program this morning.  I found a copy of The One Year Bible (New Living Translation) at Goodwill a few weeks ago.  It’s set up with a passage from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs daily.  And the Living translation will keep the reading light.  Generally I use the King James Version for my studies but I know myself, and “easier” will keep me engaged longer.  Preferably, for the whole year.

As far as typical resolutions, I guess I don’t have any.

I really just want to continue doing the best I can every day.  Looking for better ways.  Implementing new ideas.  Being open to people.  Being frugal.  Reading.  Helping.

Our pastor recently spoke on considering what we can contribute to the church and the work of God and not just on what we get from it.

 

When Mary poured expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet, she was taking the best she had, probably what would have been passed on when she died, and gave it to the Lord.  (John 12:3)

The message was to offer the best of our talents to God now and not have them still setting on a shelf when we die.

So this year, 2015, I’m giving the hashtag of #DoLifeBig and using Jamie Grace’s song, Do Life Big, as my theme song.  I want to make sure I’m not holding back my best just for the sake of holding back.

So here’s to a new beginning.  To doing my best.  To doing life big.  To new changes…  Of course, today is the first of the month and some things don’t change.  Rent is due.  Oh, well. #DoLifeBig

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