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Well, the time has finally come.  I just sent EB, my youngest, off to kindergarten and I feel as though my life is beginning anew.  It is like a whole new stage of my life is beginning, one filled with more time for my passions and pursuits.  But I also feel so much pressure.  I have been home with my kids now for eight years; I can not believe it has been that long.  During that time there was no time, and therefore an endless supply of excuses.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing.  In addition to the full-time job of raising small children I have grown a business based on the skills of my past career (Does your small business need a great website?), become a writer both in actuality and now finally in my heart and become an active member of my community.  And that just brushes the surface.  But somehow that has always seemed peripheral.  There has always been this time looming when I am supposed to stop making excuses and start getting back to being a productive adult, whatever that means.  And now the time is here.

I feel like I have been given this amazing opportunity that so few people get to plan and build the future that I want.   What is going to fill me up and allow me to thrive and prosper in a way that provides balance and calm, the ability to be flexible for my kids, and the space to help them pursue their dreams?  What a gift I have been given.  Now don’t blow it!  Oh, the pressure is immense.

Enter The Redesigned Group.

I have created a group of blogs to help me explore what interests me, pursue my writing and hopefully find a way to focus and structure my time and mind.  Hey, maybe I will even make some money some day.  I have spent the last year planning and planning and building out the sites, waiting for this time when I will have the time to see it through, and now it is go time.

Welcome!  I am so excited to get started.  Please save a bookmark, share or subscribe, this is going to be really great!

What to expect from The Redesigned Habitat

I’m not going to lie.  Being organized and tidy does not come naturally to me.  It all seems so tedious.  But, I am equally frustrated when things are out-of-order or unclean and I’m a perfectionist.  Oh and did I mention my husband is a pack rat.  This whole relationship with my space causes much distress in my life.  I want nothing more than to have an orderly organized house where everything’s in it’s place and a there is a place for everything.  I want to be surrounded by an environment that soothes me and acts as a refuge, not a burden. I also am desperate to hire someone to clean my house.  Not all the time, just once or twice a month to do the heavy lifting.  I just don’t have the time to keep all the balls afloat and this is the one I hate the most so it has to go.  But my house is a disaster;  There is no way someone who came into clean would have any success.

This is where my obsession with our habitat has come from.  Yes, my house needs to be cleaner, but this is really just a symptom of a much larger issue.  I studied ecosystems in college and learned about how all the parts of our environment help and hurt and interact with each other.  As I started to see that my home ecosystem was unraveling I realized that it wasn’t just about getting one piece under control, but to transform the whole thing into a place where all the parts work together to create someplace that is in rhythm with me and my family.  Our home, our habitat should reflect our passions and our lifestyle.  It should provide what we need and have the flexibility to change as we grow and change.

There is so much more than just organizing and cleaning.  It is about what makes us feel at ease and relaxed and safe and loved and happy and balanced in our home.  So, I began this site to chronicle my journey to a more centered and productive habitat.  Topics we will cover will included cleaning and organizing, of course, but also decorating and the psychology of how your home looks and feels.  We will look into how to lessen our footprint and embrace the ecosystem around us by learning about urban farming and alternative energies and waste management and plethora of other things.

I can’t wait to go on this journey myself and to share with you all the things I learn along the way.  Our homes should be windows into our souls.  What do you want that to look like?  Let’s go find out.

 

One of the main tenets of Unstuff Your Life is “One home for everything and like with like”.   I made a sign and put this up on my pantry door.  What a concept.  Imagine that.  Everything in my house is going to have a place where it belongs?  This is crazy.  This is certainly not how things are now and I can’t imagine this happening, but I can imaging how wonderful it will be when it does.

Right now, I can’t find anything and I feel like the walls are closing in on me some days because there is so much stuff.  There is definitely too much stuff for everything to have a home to live in.

In the first chapter we learned about our relationship with our stuff by answering a series a very personal questions.  This book does not mess around and I totally agree with the philosophy presented here.  You will hear me preaching this over and over again throughout the sites and whenever you get me talking about creating change.    Creating real and lasting change absolutely requires that you look your situation dead in the eye, get real about what is going on and why and face your fears head on.  This crap about starting fresh and not worrying about what went on in the past is bullshit.

No matter where you are or what you are trying to change, something got you there and until you know what it is and have faced your true feelings about it, you will never be able to truly move on.  The likelihood of ending up right back where you started is so high that it isn’t really worth starting the journey at all.  Get real with yourself folks, that’s all there is to it.  You don’t have to share it with anyone else and there is nothing to be embarrassed about, but if you can’t even talk about your feelings with yourself then you have some real work to do before change is going to happen.  Call a therapist, quick!

Anyhoo, enough soap boxing for one day.  For me, my relationship with my stuff and my time boils down to this statement that I wrote during the exercise. This is just a quick ramble reflecting on my answers to the questions. It is not well written or even in any sort of logical order.

My stuff is definitely causing me anxiety as is the disorder and disorganization that goes along with it. I feel resentment when I feel people I care about don’t value me, my needs or my time. I am not overly attached to or apply too much meaning to my stuff, but have a hard time breaking my habits and patterns to try and fix it. I definitely need a system hat doesn’t take the joy out of things, but provides an effortless framework that will open space for the good stuff. I put value on buying things. It makes me feel good and like we are doing well. I am pretty self-aware of my issues here. There is no denial or delusion, but I can’t seem to figure out how to fix it either.

The first organizational step on the Unstuff Your Life journey is to find homes for your keys and purse or wallet and then take care of the mail.  Oh, that cursed mail.  It piles up and creates and ridiculous amount of clutter.  Organizing all this, finding homes and creating a system here was one of the most cathartic things I have done in a while.  Nevermind the random tupperware containers all over the house.  Soon they will be replaced with beautiful bowls that will have a home and look like they belong there.  Who would have thunk it?

It was exhilarating to throw over fifty old magazines into the recycle bin.  These magazines have been piled up and moved from place to place for years.  Now that they are gone, I can not imagine what value I thought they had, but at the time I remember thinking it was absolutely imperative that I go through each of them and make sure there weren’t any recipes or projects that I needed to tear out and save.

I do this, I save recipes and project ideas.  I like doing this and I don’t find anything wrong with it, but when I am not actually doing it and the magazines are sitting around for two years, it is time to let it go.  So now, I have a place for those magazines to go and a time set aside to deal with them and if it doesn’t get done then they get tossed into the recycling and if that happens a couple of months in a row, then I will cancel the subscription because at that point it is just me wasting perfectly good paper.

Just because something sounds like a good idea and sounds like a brilliant idea if you actually followed through on it, doesn’t mean that at this time in your life it is a reasonable thing to expect of yourself.  I have definitely determined that parenthood and growing up (not from kid to adult, but from thinking I am an adult to actually being an adult) is just a series of lessons in letting go.   Let it go, what is the worst thing that can happen?

As Andrew Mellen (the author of Unstuff Your Life) would say… “You are not your stuff. Repeat after me. No really, do it. You are not your stuff.”

Another Favorite Quote from Chapter 1:
When faced with the loss or failure of a thing, no matter how cherished.

So if we think of ourselves as guardians of these things, as stewards responsible for the care and maintenance of these objects, but not their God, then we can be appropriately vigilant and also softer when something about their condition or even existence shifts. We can feel sad or disappointed or relieved, and still not feel called to do anything other than feel. That sounds liberating to me.

 

I have recently started working through an amazing book called Unstuff Your Life!: Kick the Clutter Habit and Completely Organize Your Life for Good.  This book is amazing.  As you will soon see we have entirely too much stuff.  Our house is relatively smallish and with two kids and two adults and a dog and a cat, we are literally busting at the seams.

A new house isn’t in the cards for us right now although we hope to be able to make some changes in the next couple of years that will improve the situation (stay tuned!) so getting rid of some stuff and improving the storage situation is imperitive.

I also want nothing more in life that to hire someone to clean my house.  What a luxury!  And with the business growing and as busy as I am with trying to manage kids and work and volunteering, I think I may just have what it takes to convince the hubby it is worth the money.  But,  we all know you can’t have your house cleaned if it isn’t already somewhat manageable.  Otherwise, you are just going to pay a lot for very little.

So, feeling a new sense of urgency and desire, the two of us have set out on a journey of self discovery and reduction.  This is not an easy undertaking for either one of us.  We both, in different ways, get attached to our things and hold onto stuff for strange and unnecessary reasons.  We have this tendency to line our walls with shelves and furniture and places to store all this stuff we have.   Papers and magazines pile up.  I can never find anything because nothing has a true home and my husbands idea of cleaning up is moving things from one place to another, which compounds my inability to find anything.  We are a mess, the house is a mess and it is time for change.

The great part about Unstuff Your Life is that it isn’t just about organizing your space.  It is about changing your relationship and the way you relate to all the stuff in your life.  In my years of learning about making life changes, I have come to determine (and you will hear me talk about alot throughout the sites) that willpower doesn’t work.  You must change the way you think about something in order to make real and lasting change.  Yes, sometimes you can bully your way through and somehow convince yourself to change and many if not all of us have done this at one time or another, but this is no fun and it will never free you from what was causing you to do whatever it is you are trying to change.  Real change comes through transformation and transformation starts in your mind and heart.

In the first chapter of Unstuff Your Life you learn about why you create chaos in your life and in what ways.  You also discover what your true life values are.  This was my favorite of the exercises.  You look at a list of words and circle all the ones that are meaningful or important to you and then you go through answering a series of questions that will help you hone the list down and you end up with a list of five words that represent you and what is truly important to you.  It is work, don’t ever think that meaningful change or really anything with true meaning will come to you without effort.  This took time and thought and self reflection and was so worth it.  I now have a litmus test for my life.  Are the things I am doing, the things that I am buying, the people I am surrounding myself, the lessons I teach my children and everything else living up to my true values in life?

I am happy to share my true value words.

Abundance
Kindness
Wisdom
Support
Learning

My proudest moment when working through this chapter was when I realized that my answer to the question “If resources and access were not an issue what would you do with your life?” was actually in line with the plan I have created for myself and am working toward now in my life.  That is pretty exciting stuff.  All the work I have done over the past years has really paid off and now I am actually on the path to living the life that I am meant to live.

And, I am also on the path to a clean and organized home.  Hurray!

Favorite quote from Chapter 1:

Now, I’d like to say that what we think of ourselves is the most important thing, which I believe is true, and that nobody else really cares what kind of cars we drive, or whose name is on our clothing, or what we’re reading or listening to, which is not true.  Some people do care.  They may even care more than they should or more than is appropriate or more than is even healthy.  We can’t control them.  We can control only ourselves.

So instead of projecting into our friend’s or neighbor’s mind, which can’t be very comfortable, let’s just say that, going forward, what other people think of us is none of our business.  Unless they make it our business by sharing it with us.  So until they do, and given that few of us, if any, can actually read minds, let’s take all that energy and funnel it through our imaginations into much more fun and productive pursuits.