Simplifying our stuff…the journey begins

Tonight we met with our Simplicity Experimental Collective to share our decisions on what excesses we will be eliminating from our lives over the next 4 weeks. Some are cutting back on excess stuff. Some are cutting back on stress by getting more sleep or carving out more open time during the day. Some are pointing their aim at food. It was clear that a lot of thought went into everyone’s decision making process over the last week. I am enjoying this chance to get to know friends on new levels and to begin to get to know new friends through this experience. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Experimental Collectives are the way to go for me. This format reaches me in a way that church small groups never have.

Our homework between now and next Tuesday is to work up written plans on how we will execute our experiments   For some it will be a simple (not easy, just simple) plan: don’t go on Facebook or drink coffee.  For others it will require a lot of research and planning ahead; choosing how to radically pair down foods in a healthy and impactful way and planning menus in advance. For Daniel and me it means deciding how we want to go about getting rid of our extra stuff.  Will we go by genre of stuff? One room each week? Number of items per day? Will we sell things on Craigslist? Donate to thrift stores? Hold items back to possibly use in a Vintage Fellowship sale or thrift store booth to raise money for a cause? What measures will we use to decide if we are being successful along the way? I do know that we are both extremely motivated to make this move. We will have some hard decisions to make in the next several weeks and I wouldn’t be surprised if some tears were shed. This is a tiny house and the two of use have accumulated a lot of stuff over the years living on our own. I’m sure we will probably be learning a lot about which attachments to objects are healthy and which need to be broken. It’s a lofty goal and Daniel doesn’t think it’s possible, but I want to get this house feeling empty before we start adding lots of baby furniture and items. That may not happen in the next six weeks. It may take a few rounds of purging before we get there, but I’m determined. It might mean some sacrifices, some of them painful, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

Wish us luck and stay tuned!

And so begins Holiday Season 2012

Suddenly the Holiday Season has begun. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I think I have more work events scheduled already than I will have personal social ones. Seriously.  We had one potluck for Thanksgiving and are planning another one sometime after Christmas. Between now and Christmas we will also have a cookie exchange, an Ugly sweater contest day, a Dirty Santa gift exchange, a blood drive (not that I’m participating in THAT one) and an after-hours Christmas party.

In just a few days it will be Thanksgiving and I’ll be cooking lots of food for Daniel’s family (yay!) I love cooking for people. Especially when that gets to be my plans for the day instead of fitting it in with all the other stuff I usually have to do. So we are preparing for that meal and making lists for stuff for us to buy and stuff for Daniel’s dad to pick up and what to take with us for when we’re just hanging out. I will probably spend too much time looking through my knitting books and yarn stash and deciding if I should knit some Christmas presents or baby stuff. Then I will bring way too many projects with me because I KNOW I will get tired of or frustrated with a project if I only bring one or two. I need options!

We’ll also need to get the house company-ready for our Simplicity Experimental Collective meeting Tuesday night. I love having groups meet at our house SO MUCH! It’s so much less stressful for me, I get to welcome people into our home and I don’t have to hurry and figure out what to do for dinner plus it is the best motivation for keeping the place cleaned up! This week we will be discussing what we chose for our “Eliminating Excess” experiment.  Our homework for the week of Thanksgiving is to make a plan. Some will require more of this than others.  Robb (Who wrote a book, by the way) was excited that we aren’t starting to execute our experiments until next week because he was thinking of simplifying to only a few foods (7) to eat for the three weeks we’ll be experimenting and he refused to start during the Thanksgiving Feast.  I don’t blame him. I’ve seen Vanessa’s Thanksgiving Dinner Photos.  Daniel and I have decided to choose “Stuff” as our item of excess to eliminate. We have got to simplify, first of all because we don’t have room for what we have now, let alone a baby. Secondly I just want to bring the baby home to a simpler way of living than we have now. But I hope to get into that in a post on Tuesday. I’m excited and nervous. It’s going to be a wonderful experience, though, I know it.

Simplicity-An Experimental Collective

Tonight we welcomed some old and some new friends from Vintage Fellowship into our home to begin our Simplicity Experimental Collective.  We will be focusing on getting rid of excess for the next 6 weeks. Our inspiration for this topic was the book “7: An experimental mutiny against excess” by Jen Hatmaker. Jen took 7 areas and focused on them each for a month at a time over 7 months.  As we will only be focusing on action for 4 weeks we will each pick one area to concentrate on.  We aren’t confining ourselves to her topics, but many of us will likely choose from the following areas: clothes, shopping, wast, stress, media, possessions or food.  One goal of our experiment will be to find what resources we gain by eliminating the excess in one area of our life. Then we will hopefully find a way to use that resource to help others or ourselves.

I really am not sure which area will end up with my focus. Definitely not food.  There is no way I’m putting unnecessary dietary restrictions on myself at this point.  Clothes is a good one in that I could definitely pare down to 7 items of clothing for 4 weeks. Especially as I continue to grow out of my current clothing. I might do this one anyway but it won’t really challenge me to limit my wardrobe. I’m not much of a clothes horse and you won’t find a bunch of items of clothing in my closet with the tags still on.  Shoot, most of them didn’t have tags when I bought them because I got them at Goodwill or a resale shop. I’m no fashionista, that’s for sure.

Waste is one area I want to do better with, but we discussed not doing our experiments out of guilt and that’s definitely why I would be going hard-core on the recycling.  I’m leaning toward media at the moment because it does seem to take up so much of my time.  We watch something on Hulu or Netflix almost every day after work and it really eats up the evenings.  We have our dinner in front of tv shows instead of facing one-another and having conversations. Even if I don’t have the energy after work to clean or organize or work on projects, it would probably  be good for me to relax and read and get to bed early instead of staying up late to watch tv and then write a blog post and getting to bed much later than I planned.

Our homework for the week is to skim Jen’s book “7” and maybe do a little journaling to identify the area that we would like to concentrate on.  So I have some pondering to do this week.

I am excited to see what this Collective will bring and so thrilled to be concentrating on Simplicity as we enter into this Holiday season that definitely the opposite of simple in our American culture today. It’s going to be a challenging and wonderful 6 weeks!