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Dejunking is good for the soul

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I’m a little bit rusty at this whole blogging thing. What you should see here are several photos: 6 diaper boxes full of clothes and toys heading to donation, 3 large garbage bags full of clothes and linens heading to donation, a truck load full of recycling and the garbage bags of actual garbage that are now in the dumpster. Saturday we spent the day purging through every drawer, closet (okay, I have to do the coat closet still…) and the random accumulated piles of junk and we purged. Purging is something I have LOVED doing over the last several years. Living in a smaller home with a family of 5 is no joke. I think, really, any family with small kids probably has to do a lot of dejunking as time goes on. But, still, I do think it’s magnified in a smaller home where you have to be a bit more choosy about your possessions, lest ye become hoarders. The week before Christmas has become “get the house clean and purge the crap” week, traditionally, for us. It just feels good to go into the holiday and then the New Year without a bunch of unwanted, unneeded junk sitting around.

I have been familiarizing myself with Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering. (Just a heads up, the link to her book is an affiliate link, which means if you purchase via that link, you’re also supporting this blog! It doesn’t cost you any extra, isn’t that great?!) Kondo is a genius and her book should be required reading in every high school across America! We SHOULD be taught how to maintain clutter free happy homes, right?! I have been listening to it on Audible and reading snippets in my free time, too. I’m hoping to have dedicated time to sit and read it cover to cover so I can highlihgt and take notes as well. Such a good book.

While I did not follow her method to a T during this past week’s purge-sesh, I did use many of her ideas. I freed myself from hanging on to belongings simply because they were expensive, given to me or held a place in the nebulous future where I somehow have a small enough figure to fit into them. I touched each item of clothing and made quick decisions. “Do I like this?” “Does this fit?” “Is this something I feel happy wearing?” “Does this represent who I am?” “Does this serve a purpose for me?” It just made the process so quick. I did this as I purged through the kids clothes, too. I involved them and asked them similar questions on things I was unsure about and they had such good input. We did this with their toys as well, which, actually, they are so used to purging their unused toys at this point that they practically did that part on their own. Mommy heart = proud.

I was amazed at how quickly we blasted through all the things. In the past I’ve hung on to the things we were getting rid of for a time – to think it over, to find a friend to give them to, to try and sell the things worth a bit of money. But the last few times I’ve gone through this process, I’ve found so much more peace and joy from making the decision that these items no longer had a place in my home and immediately removing them. Hauling them to the car that day so I could drop them off at their donation spots the next time I was in the area has worked so well. It’s allowed me to really close the door on those items, rather than find them recirculating in the laundry and feeling ragey feelings over the fact that I was washing, drying and folding something I had decided was dead to me!! Never again!! So. That’s pretty much done. Bring on the holidays!!

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Oh, I did get a quick snap of this cute boy. He’s my helper, every day. Isn’t he edible?!

Friday Favorites | 12.18.15

argan hair oil, goat cheese, green olives, adele, erin condren, copper stamped book mark, muk luk slippers, carly

 

Friday is a good day for favorites, no? Here are a “few of my favorite things…” (yes, I’m singing to you!!)

1. Organix Argan Oil of Morocco Renewing Hair Treatment – I deal with dry hair that gets greasy quick. Riddle me that. It’s super annoying. Anyway, I found this AWESOME argan oil spray and have used up nearly 2 bottles of it in the last 4 months. With daily use, usually just a spritz after styling, my dry hair is quenched and manageable yet still light and not weighed down in the least. Plus, it smells amazeeeeeiiiiinnnng… Would make a good stocking stuffer y’all!!

2. Goat cheese and green olives – Yes. Together. I know. Try it… seriously. This with a little deli turkey on top of a cracker is my favorite snack right now. I eat it almost every day. I have always been a big fan of pimiento stuffed olives! Aren’t those to-go cups convenient and adorable, though?!! Love!

3. Adele’s new album, 25 - So good!! We all know Adele is the bomb but her voice on this album is transcendent. The perfect “jammin’ in the car while I wait to pick up my kids from school” album.

4. My Erin Condren Life Planner – My EC Life Planner is like my brain on paper. I’d be totally lost without it. I use the horizontal planner in Jolly Jester (isn’t it CUTE?! I thought it matched my logo and just could NOT say no…). There are about a million awesome planner-gals on YouTube that share how they decorate and plan with their ECs. I, personally, minimally decorate mine but I do like to cute it up a bit now and then. I’ll share more of my favorite planner accessories soon!! For now… take $10 off your first purchase when you use my referral link! https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/carlycarlson0128

5. Michelle Mach Jewelry & Gifts - I recently commissioned Michelle Mach to create some beautiful hand-stamped copper bookmarks (both the full sized style, pictured, and the smaller clip bookmark style, too) for the girls on my Usborne Books & More leadership team. They LOVED receiving them as gifts (the responses were so fun to hear!!) and I kept one for myself as well. ;) I just finished reading my first book using this bookmark and it just made the whole experience more special and enjoyable. Yes. A bookmark can do that… get one (and give one, too)!! :)

6. MukLuk Slippers – I luh-ovvvve my MukLuks. They are so fuzzy, cozy and warm. I wear them as my go-to house slippers and only change out of them when I must go outside. And even then, I sometimes pop them in my purse to take them to put on once I get to our destination (you know, like if I’m going to my parents house, I’d rather wear my comfy slippers than anything else!!)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, however the opinions and views are entirely honest and my own!

 

December Book Nook | Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielson

Heaven is Here

In 2007 I was a brand new mom, with a brand new baby, spending most of my time in our little apartment in Rexburg, Idaho. I began blogging as a way to keep in touch with my family back home in Oregon, and show them all the cute things our baby, Stella, was doing. BFF Rachel and I spent hours, maybe even days, coding our sites to perfection. Scouring the internet for the perfect digital scrapbook papers and embellishments and new fonts to make our little corners of the internet our own. I remember day-long conversations consisting mostly of, “Hey, when you get a minute could you check my blog?” or, “I just can’t get this spacing right, what was that code again?” or, “Seriously, could you just log in and fix this for me…”. Blogging became a bit competitive. Who’s was prettiest, wittiest and most commented upon?

I tried so hard not to get sucked into the competition of it all, the comparison game was something I had long ago decided I didn’t want to be a part of… but my competitive nature just could never leave well enough alone. I soon set my blog to “private” just to give me a bit of peace over who was reading, commenting or not commenting, etc. and decided I was blogging for me, for my family, and no one else. But, Google Reader kept me abreast of all my favorite blogger’s most recent posts. I was invested in so many young moms through their writing and photos, most of them I’d never (and probably will never) meet. One that inspired me most was Nie Nie. Her cheerful, beautiful, clean and simple life gave me so much to aspire to. I wanted to be that apron-wearing, husband wooing, child-adoring, book reading and mini-Martha-Stewart mom. The glimpse into her world gave me hope that what I desired was achievable. Better yet, she’d disabled comments on her blog and I somehow felt comfort knowing that while she did have a following, she didn’t really care. She was doing this for her. That made it seem more personal each time I read her words, more “just for me” and less for show.

For those who are unfamiliar, Stephanie and her husband Christian were in a terrible plane accident in 2008. It was a tragedy that shook the internet – the blogger community as well as our church community (which always seems more tight knit in these tragedies) came together and watched with our breath held while our beloved Nie Nie lie sleeping in a coma for months, her sweet babies being raised by  her sisters and her husband by her side.

Needless to say, I was “there” the day that Cessna fell from the sky. My mom and I bawled to one another over the phone, we prayed every day and fasted, too. Mom participated in the online fundraiser auctions, I proudly wore my “I Heart Nie” shirt. I became obsessed with Courtney “C Jane”‘s blog (Stephanie’s sister who provided a home for 3 of the Nielsen kids while Christian and Stephanie recovered) and fell even more in love with those beautiful Nielsen kids. My heart broke for them, those kids were on my mind every day, but somehow Courtney made it all seem so manageable… positive, even, most days.

Reading Heaven is Here is something I can’t believe I have put off for so long. With the end of Google Reader, I lost track of most of my favorite blogs and I never really got the hang of the new blog readers. They just weren’t the same. Anyway, I think losing touch with that minor obsession and all the bloggers involved was probably a good thing in the long run, but due to all that, it’s just something I haven’t been focused on for a few years. Even though I was aware of Nie Nie’s book, and had thought about buying it for myself a few times and had it on my Christmas wish list for years (haha!) I just hadn’t gotten around to getting my hands on it yet!!

I was listening to an NPR program a couple of months ago and the interviewee was discussing how literature is life changing and how we should not carry guilt about books we had not yet read. You know, a lot of the time we feel we have something to prove when it comes to the books we’ve already read. It can be embarrassing, for some reason, to admit we have not read something that everyone else seems to have read. But what he said really stuck with me… and this is paraphrased, I can’t track down the exact quote… but he said that books are there for us when we need them. We are drawn to read them at a time when we needed their message and at any other time their impact may  have been lost on us. I think that’s exactly what happened with Heaven is Here. I needed Nie Nie’s voice in my life this week. As expected, I left this book edified and inspired in so many ways.

Stephanie tells the story in three parts: the courtship of she and Christian and their early marriage; the accident; the time after the accident leading up to now.

Every time-frame she tells of is filled with raw honesty. She shares her testimony of God, prayer, hope, motherhood and love so openly and in such a way that you can’t help but feel a deeper connection to your own story. Their courtship was adorable – I hope for these types of experiences for my daughters. Reading about her becoming a mother and wanting so much to fill her home with children was inspiring. And then, the accident… wow. I mean, I had “lived” that through C Jane’s blog and through the snippets we got on Nie Nie’s blog, but as heart-wrenching as it had been to watch through the lens of the blogs, it was nothing compared to reading Stephanie’s first hand account of those dark and trying days. I can’t even imagine. The accident itself and the recovery was harrowing and humbling. Reading all that she overcame… I just… I had no idea it was such a dark time.

I’m not a literature critic, so I can’t possibly give this book a professional review. I can tell you that the writing was beautiful. The memoir was beautiful. And Nie Nie is beautiful.

Highlights:

“Maturing as a mother is a gradual, but steady, process, if we let it unfold, and this decision to stop nursing before I’d originally planned to was one of my first steps. I can only do my best, and that’s all that matters, I’d tell myself. It wasn’t the last time that the physical demands of motherhood overcame my ideals. I’d never let go of the truly important things, but my criteria for what the important things were often realigned.”

“Let them look all they want. Let them go ahead and look at me, the luckiest mother alive.”

“I know, now, without a doubt that the true source of happiness, self-worth, and authentic beauty doesn’t come from the outside. Women are constantly being persuaded to want something unachievable, to look younger or thinner and above all to fit in because being different is too painful and embarrassing. I have accepted myself in a world that does not accept me, because I have learned [ . . . ] that our hearts matter most… It’s a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, that leads to a beautiful life.”

 

The moment I turned that last page I had to quickly hop onto the Nie Nie Dialogues and catch up on the last few months worth of posts. I follow her on Instagram, so I have seen their newest baby girl and their beautiful new home… but there is something so sweet about her written words. It was like receiving a phone call out of the blue from an old friend. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are feeling the need for a pick-me-up or a bit of perspective in your own life. Did not disappoint, and I know I’ll read it again!!

 

Links:
Nie Nie Dialogues

C Jane Blog

Buy Heaven is Here on Amazon.com

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. The opinions and views contained in this post are honest and entirely my own.