Desperately Seeking Simplicity

***Another post I wrote in 2019 and didn’t publish! I look back at those busy days and I want to stick my finger down my throat. I was running on a hamster wheel and I clearly remember the Mom and Me weekend…it was terrible. I was so tired, I couldn’t even think straight. That was five years ago now, and it was a wake up call for me. Since that time, I’ve lost more weight (got very serious about our health), I have decluttered more, and I do not make commitments to things that I don’t care about. “No” is the most powerful word! ~A ***

Three years ago, I was part of two MLM sales companies, planning a class reunion, homeschooling the kids, and up to my eyeballs in unfinished projects and events. The weekend after our reunion, I had a “Mom and Me” retreat with my youngest followed by an MLM sale event, and I was on the verge of tears the entire time. I was EXHAUSTED. I felt bad that I couldn’t enjoy the weekend that SHOULD have been fun.

I swore to myself that after that weekend, I was D-O-N-E with commitments outside the home for an entire year. I practiced saying “NO”. Over the next several months, I cleared up my calendar to only celebrate holidays with family. I quit the MLMs. I started picking up old projects that had sat around, neglected and collecting dust bunnies, and began finishing them one by one. I got rid of crafts that no longer suited me.

That one year experiment turned into two. I still felt tired.

Then this year, I went on a decluttering kick. While my calendar was pretty empty, my house was not. Things…things…THINGS in every drawer, cabinet, countertop. Things I never used, things that I no longer liked, things that were just there to take up space. One afternoon, I had the house all to myself and did something I never, ever do: I flipped on the TV and started scrolling Netflix. One of the shows that came up was Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Now hold on…stay with me. I know not everyone agrees with her methods.

I had read The Magic of Tidying Up some years ago, but never really implemented it. So I start watching this show, and immediately I thought, “This is the most adorable person I may have ever seen.” When you read her first book, you might feel like I did; the book just seems a bit “preachy” to me. But when I saw her on the show, it changed something for me. She just seems very happy-go-lucky and so friendly. Therefore, I bought her book and re-read it. Then I got her second book, “Spark Joy”, and read that as well. I began joining minimalist groups on Facebook for inspiration, and I re-read Joshua Becker’s book, “The More of Less”.

One afternoon, I was outside in the garden. I was removing old spent flowers and plants whose time had come and gone. When I was done, I took a look around and I noticed how pretty everything looked, now that the distraction of the dead plants were gone. It was an ephiphany: Remove what you don’t love, so that you can focus on what you DO love. Where had I heard that before? Well:

Yes! So I immediately went and made a list. What did I love? I love my family, my homesteading experiments, gardening, chickens, crafting, visiting friends, good food…and how much of this was I participating in at that moment? Not much. Most had been put on the back burner for far, far too long. What I thought was important simply wasn’t. I was doing things that kept me from doing what I truly loved. So it was with my household. I had it arranged in such a way that all the STUFF was a major distraction.

In addition, I asked myself where I wanted to be in ten years. That question led to several actions: I did a real, honest-to-God declutter of the house (still ongoing), I lost eight pounds (and still going), we got very serious on becoming debt-free, we reduced the number of pets we owned, and I got all gung-ho on gardening and doing my “homesteady” things again. I can honestly say that this has been such a great experiment. It’s like everything is finally coming together…that’s the best way I can explain it.

So I guess that the entire point of this post is this: If you are exhausted beyond belief and feel like you are running on a hamster wheel to nowhere, maybe it’s time for a life audit. What do you enjoy the most? Where do you want to be in a year, or five, or ten? If you want a simplified (sane) life, I highly suggest researching minimalism. It isn’t a bare house with modern furniture and clear counters. Far from it! I have found that it is just life simplified.

End note, 2021: I would highly suggest going here if you are thinking of joining, or are currently in, an MLM:

I also suggest the Reddit group: r/antiMLM :

This may come across as harsh, but I’ve been a part of a lot of MLMs and they essentially are all the same, with slightly different twists. Your income increases with recruitment (gag), and then if you meet their requirements, you will level up, anddddd then you are saddled with training in addition to maintaining your own sales each month. And so on and so forth. I remember hearing from “successful” women at conferences who were in the top tiers and their lives were pretty much 100% centered on the MLM. No thanks.

No shame if you are in an MLM right now; I just beg you to do your due diligence and run a brutally honest profit and loss, INCLUDING your time spent. Again, the resources above shine a light on the truth behind MLMs.

Happy 2019!

***May 2021: Well, well, it looks like I did write some posts since 2018! These were lost in the depths of the Draft section, so what the heck…I’m publishing them! I loved the Katie Daisy planner. As it is in 2021, I have a Katie Daisy calendar right by my desk and it makes me happy every time I look at it. In 2020, I went with another small planner; I believe it was another 6 x 8 size. I just picked it up at Wal-Mart. It was a monthly/weekly number and I think it was by Blue Sky. For 2021, I went BIG. It’s an 8 x 10 I found at Wal-Mart by Day Designer. Again, it has a monthly spread and then weekly with lots of room to write in each day. It’s a little too big, really. I would rather go back to a smaller, purse-friendly size. So do you use a planner? Leave me a comment about what you use and why you love it.

It’s the day before the new year and I am admittedly tired. I have been chair surfing all morning and finally just got out of my PJs at the crack of 1pm. As I contemplate the new year, I’m thinking of things that I want to accomplish. Not just written-down, then-shoved-to-the-back-of-a-drawer-and-forgotten things, but real goals that need tackling.

First things first, I invested in a new planner. I call this my paper brain. Google calendar is lovely but I don’t care to solely rely on digital things since they can die at any given second; just like my phone did last year. I also enjoy writing and doodling…a lot! It’s fun to go back and see what happened in a year’s time.

Last year’s planner was an Orange Circle Studio planner that I picked up at TJ Maxx.

My 2018 planner

It was a monthly planner and it was the first time in years I had gone that route rather than a weekly one. I was tired of all the extra “fluff” and wanted to get back to a month on every two page spread.

For 2019, it took me MONTHS to decide between planners (hey, it’s a big commitment!) and it was down to two: the Hobonichi Techo daily and a Katie Daisy weekly. I love the simplicity of the Techo, but as a daily calendar, I thought it would just be too much. The other factor was price. The Techo is over fifty dollars and the Katie Daisy was around ten. I finally went with Katie because the artwork is just amazing. Every page is full of nature paintings, including moths, trees, birds, and even snakes.

So I decided to use the new planner as a journal as well since it is a weekly version. Just a sentence or two about what I did that day and a note about the weather. The size is perfect because it goes right into my purse but it’s not so small that I can’t write in it comfortably.

Do you use a paper planner or a digital one? Or any at all? I don’t have a great memory, especially short-term. I’d forget my head off it weren’t screwed on.