Three Wise Women

There are definitely more than three, but three women came to my mind today. Vicki, Thuy and Susanne.  I want to share their wisdom with you too.

Vicki is a woman who lives in my neighborhood. She and I would see each other as we walked kids to school in the morning. She walked her grandchild and I walked my three kids. Every so often we would have time to chat as our walks were in sync. I used to wonder if I should go back to work and I asked her if she worked when her kids were young. She told me that she didn’t and she had advice for me. She said if I didn’t really need the money, then I should continue doing my mother’s work and be happy that I was raising children and that was good enough. She said, and this is the best line, that has stayed with me forever:  

“The more money you make, the more money you will spend.”  

In our consumer culture and always wanting more, this was brilliant advice. I think of her words often as they spoke to me. I think women must also choose what makes them happy, and if working makes them happier than staying at home with children, then they should go to work and be happy. For me, I’ve always wanted to stay home with my kids, but felt like I should be doing more and I struggled with what was best for my family. Hearing Vicki’s words, helped me to be ok with my choice to stay home and I try to remember these when I start to get restless.

I tend to get restless often and like change. I like to shake things up and discover and learn new things and redefine myself. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it creates angst. I am not ready to go back to work just yet (or if ever) but I start to think of what else I can or should do. I am in the stage of my life where my kids are older now and don’t need as much help from me, but their schedules are so flexible and still need rides and help with homework and meals at sporadic times. I can do my work and help them and still have extra time. Susanne mentioned that she finds happiness by helping others, outside her own family and recommended that I find ways to help others too. I think she’s brilliant.

“Helping others creates happiness.”

I volunteer 2-4 hours per week, but maybe this isn’t enough. I am thinking about Susanne’s words and seeking out other ways to help others and have a couple ideas. 

One of the ways I volunteer is helping out at a thrift store that PEO owns and operates. All donations and sales go to support women in education. I love this mission and I love being part of this organization. I really do enjoy helping out and being part of something good and am happy every time I show up. Today I was working with Thuy, and we were talking about the 40 bag challenge and how I have been trying to fill 40 bags of stuff to create more open space. I was telling her how I’ve been cleaning out drawers and bins and collecting bags of stuff to donate to our shop. I was telling her how our house was small and that I like it that way and that I don’t need a bigger house, but just need less stuff. She shared that she also has a small home and that she tries to limit the amount of stuff she brings home. I was telling her how one designer once told me as we were redesigning my small office, that I should limit the space I was planning for my magazine storage, because the more space I had, the more space I would fill.

“The more space you have, the more space you will fill.”  BRILLIANT and SIMPLE advice.

I took her advice and limited the storage space and still think of purging vs. saving my magazines because of what she said so many years ago. As we continued talking, we discovered that she used to work for the company that designed my office, and that SHE was actually the woman who had come to my house many years ago and shared this brilliant advice that I still heed today. Who knew??  What a small world, right?  She is so smart.  I can’t believe we shared this connection too.

All these stories are connected and I’m thankful for all the women in my life.

More Money = Spend More.

More Spending = More Stuff

More Stuff = More Space.

Spend Less = Collect Less = More Open Space.

Life is Good.

Happiness = Helping Others.

Be Happy.

 

 

 

 

40 Bags in 40 Days

Lent began this month, which is the 40 day countdown until Easter arrives. Typically Christians will give up something, practice kindnesses or practice mindfulness in different ways. It’s a time to slow down and reflect on our lives and to be aware of the sacrifices that Jesus made.  When we act in this way, it helps us to connect to our Christian faith and to live out our values. I am sure this is typical to other religions that encourages followers to spend time being mindful or fasting and being present to honor their faith.

I’ve chosen to follow along the 40 bags in 40 days idea that someone shared, which so nicely coincided with Lent. Basically I am trying to fill a bag everyday of stuff and clutter that we don’t need and to create space. Typically I don’t want to take the time to declutter because it takes time and can be overwhelming. However, while I’m being mindful and looking for a way to organize my house and to create decluttered space, this challenge is just right for me and is something I am enjoying doing everyday.  

Today I worked in the kids’ bathroom and emptied out all the empty or nearly empty bottles and cleaned up their space. It looks so much nicer now and actually makes me happy when I walk into their space. Clutter makes me crazy, but I’m also lazy so sometimes I just look over and around it, when in reality, I think it took me 10 minutes to finish this little project.

Last week I emptied out our silverware drawer that collects everything imaginable from straws to plastic spoons and knives and disposable chopsticks to a gazillion serving spoons and forks that I don’t need. I spent 15 minutes emptying it out and repurposing it and now every day when I open the organized drawer and can find what I need without the chaos of moving 25 other pieces, I smile. I’ve created space and I love the new look and will not be embarassed when a friend opens the drawer.

I’m liking this project and am thankful that I’m taking the time each day to declutter. There are lists you can create to help manage this project, but for me, I’m just flowing through the house and working through where the need arises each day.  I have a couple ideas for tomorrow and the next day.

Want to join along?  Here is a link to the challenge:  

http://www.whitehouseblackshutters.com/40-bags-in-40-days-2014/