Archive for the ‘If You Do One Thing’ Category

15 minutes to Zen

Wow, I got a great, unexpected response to my last post, Simple Pleasures, where I talked about my desire to live a less cluttered, more purposeful life.  Most of you did not post, but many of you emailed me or convo’d me through to talk to me about having the same desire.

I thought since there are so many of us of the same mind, I’d share something else from the book “Sink Reflections” that was an epiphany for me (and I’m not exaggerating!)

I was brought up – intentionally or not – to believe that if you are going to do something, you should do it right.  It’s not a bad standard, unless you make “right” to mean “perfect.”  I’m certain this was my own interpretation of the saying and not something my parents told me; I rarely remember them being exacting about my performance, and usually only when it was sub-par.

So as a newly married housewife, I found that doing it “right” meant making everything look perfect – not too hard when it’s just you and hubby in a 720 square foot house!  Child #1 came along and it was slightly more difficult, and then #2, and then #3 and perfect was just a ghost of a dream.  When vacuuming “right” means that every single thing is picked up off the floor and the furniture is moved…well, let’s just say I haven’t seen the entire floor in probably a year, even though I’m constantly picking up toys and clothes and mopping up spilled milk.

My solution (thanks to the FLYlady)?  “You can do anything in 15 minutes.” 

She doesn’t mean it literally, but think of it this way: you got into the mess you are in bit by bit.  You can get out that way, too.  I spend about 15 minutes with my daily keep-up tasks: running the dishwasher, switching over one load of laundry, picking up stuff that has accumulated in places that were clean, sweeping the floor.  I also wipe down the sink with a washcloth and swipe the toilet seat and back down with a bit of toilet paper (I’m working on something reusable for this!)

Some of those I can do while I wait for something else.  I can load the dishwasher in the time it takes for my coffee to brew.  I can throw in a load of laundry or switch it over while I’m browning meat for dinner.

Then I spend 15 minutes doing other chores – once a week I dust, or change sheets, or wipe down the appliances.

Finally, if I have the time, I try to take 15 minutes to declutter: a couple times a week I work on decluttering an area or cleaning up a

30 to 45 minutes a day, and my friends and husband have noticed a difference.  I feel more at rest.  And I’ve learned that vacuuming up only what I can see is good enough – that’s where most of the junk is anyway!

This was a pile of boxes twice as big - now it's easy to find what I need for WeeEssentials and Dyeing To Spin!


And what was the epiphany?  That I can clean my house daily in half an hour!  It’s not perfect, or anywhere close, but I don’t expect it to be anymore.  It’s clean, fairly picked up, and I’m keeping up.  And as I get rid of the things I don’t use or don’t love, I’m finding I get more and more cleaning done – some days I get done early now!  Pretty cool, huh?


Simple Pleasures

I was out in my garden this morning, rueing the fact that I had avoided weeding the watermelons for so long that the crab grass and other weeds that surround my garden had made that patch almost indistinguishable from my lawn.  It was the fact that the weeds were so dense they were hard to pull that bothered me, but at the same time, I found peace in weeding.  It’s a methodical, deliberate task, done in a quiet, uncluttered space.

I’ve mentioned my quest on this blog before – I want to live with purpose.  I may not end up famous, or rich, or popular, but I want to be content because I’ve chosen a path and lived it well.

This past year I was thrown for a loop.  I was going along well when all of a sudden we had three children.  And that third one was a big deal, because suddenly everything was different, harder.  Going from one to two was, for some reason, infinitely easier.

I found out later that it was, perhaps, the fact I was diagnosed with chronic major depression years ago and never did anything about it, coupled with post partum depression after Baby Girl was born.  My life was literally spinning out of control, and at the same time, Wee Essentials was growing with a lot of speed.

Fast forward to now, and I’m on medication and feeling better than I have since I was a young teenager.  I’ve created systems and routines and worked with my husband to schedule time for everything that has to be done.  It may sound like I’ve regimented my life, but what I’ve done is relearned how to live with purpose.

One of the major things that has helped has been a book called “Sink Reflections.” Many people know the author as the “FLYlady.”  I’ve learned a lot from her, but I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is that when your house is cluttered, your life is cluttered.  Your mind is cluttered.  And your spirit is cluttered.

We don’t have a cluttered house.  You wouldn’t call the TV show “Hoarders” to come help us.  But when I decided that if it’s not useful and if I don’t love it, it needs to go, more peace settled on my house.  I’m not done yet, but my spirit is lighter because my physical burden is lighter.


My challenge to you is to find 20 things in your house that you can do without, and throw or give them away.  Don’t save them for a yard sale, don’t think about freecycling them.  Just stick them in a box and then put them in the car.  Go to the Goodwill or the Salvation Army the next time you run errands.  Remember, if you are saving them “just in case” it’s likely you won’t use them.  Don’t be selfish and hang onto items other people could use!  (Trust me, I know personally how easy that one is.)  Good luck, and go!

If you do one thing today…Christmas edition!

If you do one thing today…

I’d bet you’re wrapping those last minute gifts.  And if you are like me, you are running out of wrapping paper – fast!

Today, get creative with your gifts!  Wrap them in fabric, in tulle, in newspaper comics or brown paper bags.  Throw Santa’s gifts in a pillowcase, tie it with a red ribbon.  Get your kids (or some kids?) to color or paint on butcher or kraft paper.

You could even host a scavenger hunt for the best gifts, hiding them unwrapped with clues to help find them.

Forget going out on some of the busiest shopping days of the year, forget buying more paper meant to just be thrown away.  Use up what you have in the house, and best of all, use things that you can use again!

If you do one thing today…Compost!

Reduce the waste going out of your house.  Compost any foods that do not contain meat or lots of dairy!  It’s easy to do, and doesn’t smell like you think it will.

We kept an old cat litter bucket under our kitchen sink, and food waste was scraped right in.  Sometimes I even added my undyed, 100% cotton fabric scraps! When it got full, it was easy enough to grab the handle and carry it outside to our compost pile.  We kept pests away by digging a circular trench and setting in chicken wire to about four feet high in the circle, tying the ends of the wire together to close it.  We had raccoons and deer, groundhogs and chipmunks, and we never saw any food disappear from within the compost circle.  It must have driven them crazy!

It’s not hard at all, and if we had been dedicated to making decent compost, we would have had some wonderful stuff quickly!  But as it was, we avoided throwing quite a bit of food waste in the trash, where it would go to a landfill and possibly never decompose because of the plastic bag!

So find a corner of your property and start!  A normal sized family will not create a large pile; in fact, if you have landscaping or a garden, you can till the food waste directly into the soil.  If you are concerned about pests, create a wire cage like we did, or invest in a compost bin (you can even get under-sink ones if you have an apartment!)  Feed your garden, your trees, your annuals, and your houseplants with the richest fertilizer God made!

If You Do One Thing…Online Bill Paying

If you do one thing today, start paying your bills online and opt for paperless statements.
Paperless statements usually go to your email account, so you can easily save the emails or save the document in a folder on your computer – less filing for you and less paper for the landfill!

We started paying our bills online two years ago and it’s so much easier!  The hardest part is at the beginning – we had to imput our account numbers, and the addresses and phone numbers of each creditor as we went to pay each bill. (Not too hard, eh?)

Online bill pay with your bank website, if you aren’t already doing it, has advantages from every angle:

Financially: Bill reminders and electronic transfers mean it’s hard to miss a due date.   Your bank statement is in front of you online and updates as you pay, so it’s hard to “bounce” a payment.  Both save you money – in late fees and in returned check fees!  Oh, and of course, no stamp! (If the bank has to mail a payment to a recipient without online payment set up, the bank covers the stamp.)

Emotionally: Easy enough to say, knowing in a glance that you are up to date on your payments relieves the emotional toll the stress of finances.

Environmentally: No stamp, no envelopes, no paper bills.  Enough said!

Extra challenge!

Cancel the catalogs and mailings you don’t look at by calling the customer service number on the enclosed order form, and reduce the trash you throw out!

If You Do One Thing Today…Water Heaters

If you do one thing today…

Check the temperature on your water heater.  Make sure it’s turned down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit from the standard 140 degrees.  If you think your family will protest or you are worried that there won’t be enough hot water, try turning it down a few degrees at a time until you find just the right spot!
Doing this will save you 10% of the energy you’d normally use to run the water heater.  That’s savings in your pocket…and in our natural resources!

If You Do One Thing Today: Natural Healing Methods

Just a quick disclaimer:  I am not by any means a medical expert.  I’d advise you to check with your doctor before you begin any kind of herbal suppliment/herbal medicinal suppliment, just as I have.  Certain herbs can interfere with other medicines, and some herbs can be harmful to people with certain conditions or of a certain age.  Make sure you do your homework!
That said:
Today I apparently lifted E wrong, and I strained a muscle in my back.  I immediately took some ibuprofen, hoping it will help the pain and any inflammation, but I will be seeking out kava kava as a muscle relaxant in the next few days, after the muscle has had a chance to heal some.  I will be using ice and heat at the right times to help it heal, and I will continue to gently stretch it, since it gets worse if I try to rest for long periods.

So if you do one thing today, I urge you to check out some herbal remedies for problems you may have, even minor ones. Again, talk to your doctor about them and research any side-effects or contraindications for age and other medicines, etc.

Here’s one to get you started:


The tea is great for stomachaches and nausea. Smelling peppermint essential oil helps headaches, especially ones brought on by tension.  If you have peppermint essential oil in a base oil, such as jojoba oil, you can apply it directly to tense muscles to help them loosen up.

Peppermint is a lifesaver for me!

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