Family, Home

I’m in Love with the Simple

A while back I wrote to you about my Marie Kondo decluterring weekend, for all the self discovery that led me up for doing it and the actual clean up. I promised to show you the results and here I am, ready to share 😉

Just a warning for those who are considering embarking on this journey themselves – it’s highly addictive. Having everything in order is so energizing that soon the desire for order and minimalism will invade other parts of your life and soon you might find yourself simplifying not just your surroundings but your daily hustle and your social circles. Just like Marie Kondo says she has no repeat customers because once you have done the clean up once you value each item differently and you are extremely considerate of the new things you buy, you will easily start considering do I really want to do this, take on this responsibility, want this person in my life (Facebook friend clean up, hello! have you tried that? best thing ever!), I have noticed myself evaluating very thoroughly who I am and do the things and people in my life support that.

The Results – My closets

This is where I started from and what actually annoyed me so much I wanted to do this. Granted my closets were slightly worse than on a normal day but I wasn’t happy even on a normal day. My life is so hectic, and I am into so many things that I need simplicity and organization at home – I know it’s a control mechanism but I hands off admit I’m a control freak and people laugh lovingly (or at least I like to think it’s lovingly…) of my OCD like behavior. These too views made me physically anxious, well at least very uncomfortable.

In addition to all the handholding my stuff and evaluating if they sparked joy and would they support the person I wanted to be, in addition to all the garbage bags and new folding techniques I wanted my closet to look pretty. Marie is a lover of all kinds of boxes for storage and can’t disagree with her. Boxes and clothes containers are practically science nowadays and oh there are so many exciting options out there. Yes judge me all you can but I actually got upset with my best friend who hadn’t told me there is a store called The Container Store in the US! How did he not understand, this is exactly what I needed in my post-Kondo life?

I decided I needed something calming and earthly, I’m from Finland and we northern girls draw energy and power from the nature, especially forest. There is not much fresh pine forest in SoCal but I could try to simulate some in my closet, surely that’s possible? From the fantastic container store I found these cute linen-cotton blend covered boxes to store my t-shirts, jeans, skirts and pajamas. I love them because they open up form the front, they have a window to see what’s inside and just look fresh and classy. They come in different sizes, I bought smaller ones for my t-shirts, pajamas and sweaters and wider ones for my jeans and thicker sweaters.

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I also found from IKEA beautiful little boxes with compartments, made out of recycled polyester and bamboo. These are great for panties and socks. I also use them for my bras, the box comes with two dividers that divide the box into four compartments, if you only but one of the dividers it creates perfect two longer compartments for longer items like bras.

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Bamboo boxes from IKEA

I also bought little sky blue boxes for random things, such as charger chords, my journaling stuff and other important stuff I need to keep handy, like passports.

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Little blue boxes from IKEA

Here is how my closets look now. You can see I have so much less clothes, the ones I have are now in constant use, save few items I noticed I never put on again and those will be going out soon too. I also upgraded my luggage, mainly because the old one didn’t look nice in the closet. Just kidding, I would not spend money on new luggage to decorate my closet. I mean, that would just be insane… But I do travel quite a bit and the old was falling apart so it was time and well, two birds…

I love my new closet, I love the fact that I’m not missing a thing, it’s amazing how few items I actually use on a daily basis. I also love the fact that I can now see all my shoes lines up nicely (I have so many compared to how much clothes I have but trust me, each pair sparks joy!), it’s nice that even on a day when something in my closet is not absolutely perfectly folded the boxes hide that a bit. I can find everything, I know where everything is so deciding what I want to wear each day is soooo much easier. I also tried to purposely keep clothes that match together as much as possible but that’s another post that I can write later about.

The Results – Kids Room

This place is impossible to keep in order! Anyone struggling with this can be happy to know that I have a full time housekeeper/nanny and my kids are very good at organizing their own room and they are told to do that every day and still it feels like it’s always a mess! Chaos is the natural state of this space and trying to force it into anything else seems to be a crime against the universe that can only be redeemed by returning the order and balance of existence, which means the room becoming messy again. This is the only space I tolerate of not being perfect though, when it’s messy it reminds me to be grateful of having kids in the first place, after suffering several miscarriages, seeing friends battle with infertility and even losing children I do not take my children granted ever. Messy room also reminds me that I have managed to give my children a home where they can play and hang out and make a mess that can then be cleaned up, if they spend enough time in their room for it to become a mess it means they have used the room for what it was meant for – play time. That being said, it was a disaster before this project. We had way too much stuff, so much of it was broken, missing pieces or just buried so deep that the kids didn’t even know what they had!

We threw a lot away and below are the results. What was the best thing though, kids were happily humming after the clean up. I could feel the change in their energy, maybe some of it was them mirroring mine but they were calm. Both were in their room playing with their toys, even my 9-year old pre-teen who cannot be dragged away from Minecraft and Fortnite without threats or bribery. My 5 year old daughter spent hours in the room playing with the toys she had left, singing the whole time to herself.

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We also organized their closet. I bought a little kids storage shelf from IKEA, we put this at the bottom of their closet and placed here their every day clothes so that they can take them out and put back themselves. I also bought a similar smaller shelf from IKEA for smaller garments like swim suits, tights, socks and so on. I had some basic plastic boxes we had gotten from the local super market and finally I bought some organizers from IKEA, linen ones for their clothes and basket like cubes for their smaller toys and costumes. I also found these really nice shoe cubes from Amazon. They were perfect for organizing their shoes, which are small but take a surprisingly lot of space when not stacked. The cubes came unfolded and was a bit of a task to get together but was worth it and are very handy.

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The Results – Living Area

The before pics you see here are not how my living room looked on a daily basis, this was a combination of pre clean-up letting go on purpose and starting to clean up so everything is a mess situation. Our apartment is not big, we don’t need much and the open plan makes it just the center of our home, it combines our kitchen, dining area (where all eating happens) and our living room. It is the heart of our home where we eat, entertain, watch movies, play, pack lunches, do homework and just live as a family.

In the after pics you can see that everything is pretty much as it was, just the extra mess is gone and everything is in it’s place. The bookshelf has been organized and books arranged by color (someone mentioned ocd?) and there’s a sense of calm.

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Our home wasn’t that bad to being with, we were not hoarders or anything, we didn’t have stuff from the last 4 decades, we are not big shoppers and we try to keep things organized but the new world order is a breath of fresh air. Everything seems a bit easier, it’s easier to use the space for all the different things it needs to be, it’s easier to keep clean, it’s easier to get dressed, it’s easier to cook, it’s easier to just be.

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Work

Business and Pleasure in Chattanooga

When you travel a lot on business it can get jarring. You’re often flying in to a city that is not that exciting to begin with, you rarely get to stay anywhere cool and either you’re stuck in a hotel at the airport or near to an industrial hub of some sort. Even if you happen to have any time between checking in to your room and running off to meetings, you’re often just too tired to explore and enjoy your surroundings. That’s me at least, business travel is rarely inspiring and the best part for me is almost always seeing colleagues that are usually just a name on slack. Sometimes though, just sometimes, life gives a gift of a travel experience that you didn’t see coming at all.

I’m in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m visiting a furniture factory and to be honest expected that to be the most exciting part of my visit. Don’t get me wrong, I love factories! I think they are microcosmoses of smartness and hard work and a clean, efficiently running factory is always very impressive. I have heard good things about Chattanooga, mainly about how beautiful it is, how the downtown area, surrounding hills and the Tennessee River running through the town are simply gorgeous.

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The Tennessee River

Chattanooga was founded by John Ross in 1815, named back then Rossville Landing. In 1838 it changed it’s name to Chattanooga which means “Rock coming to a point” or “Lookout Mountain” in Creek Indian. It’s located in Tennessee, bordering the state of Georgia, on both sides of the Tennessee River. It’s known for, according to the Internet, for it’s amazing nature, great hiking, kayaking and mountain biking possibilities. As much as I would love to spend several days exploring all of the above and although I don’t have any meetings today I still need to work and I need to restrict my exploration of this place to areas where there are plugs and Wi-Fi connections. I still need to be able to work but I’m confident I can kill two birds with one stone, enjoy the town and be productive.

I start with priority #1. Food. I need to find a place that serves decent vegan and gluten free food, or a steak house with impressive grilled veggie side dishes (!). I google vegetarian restaurants and Google tells me about a restaurant called “Cashew”. Quick glance and I can’t believe my luck.! Not only is this restaurant Vegan but they seem to have Gluten Free Doughnuts – hellz yeah! So off I go Ubering to the North Shore of Chattanooga.

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Walnut Mushroom Quinoa “meatballs”

Cashew is downstairs in a cute building with surrounding businesses selling often handmade local goods. I take a seat on the small patio and wanna cry from happiness. All is vegan and by far most dishes are gluten free. The menu has all kinds of dishes from vegan nachos to hamburgers and soups. I opt for Walnut-mushroom-quinoa “meat”balls on a garlic kale bed, topped with cashew cheese. It’s just heavenly, so simple and so good. I usually don’t eat desserts. I try to avoid the sugar and extra calories but when I find gem places like Cashew I usually enjoy the offering. This time I have a hard time deciding between the gluten free brownie, gluten free doughnuts, gluten free cookie or something called the Blondie, which apparently has macadamia and maple syrup on it. I’ve never had a dessert with macadamia or maple syrup that didn’t taste good so I opt for that. I also feel like the dessert is named after me so it’s practically a sign.

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Vegan Gluten Free Blondie with Maple Syrup

I take a bite of the blondie, and I swear, I feel like I’m having a palate orgasm. This is not only good, it’s hands off one of the best pieces of cake I’ve ever had.

After some lunch and working a bit I start to walk in the part on the North Shore. It’s warm, by the way. Really warm – I’m wearing jeans and tennis and it’s too much. I should be in shorts and sandals. It’s nice warm though, sunny and not too humid at all. The leaves are still light green but fully grown and everything smells wonderful. I walk down to the river and admire the view, right on the opposite shore I can see the Hunter Museum of American Art. The view is simply spectacular.

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The Walnut Bridge

I decide to cross The Walnut Street Bridge, which is a cute walking bridge made of wood and medal that ends right next to the Hunter Museum on the South side. Once across I continue my walk just enjoying the look and feel of the city. It’s beautiful, clean, a mixture of old and modern, natural and urban all at the same time. As I’m walking I notice the town has several spots where you can rent a bike. I don’t get to ride a bike outside that often and I’m thrilled. You can rent a bike with 7 speeds up to three days, $8 / day. The system is pretty nice because while your rent period is valid, you can pick up a bike, return it and pick up another one as many times as you want. I adjust my seat, which miraculously extends to the height I need (I’m pretty tall) and off I go!

I head east on the South shore, pass the aquarium and up the hill through the an area with cute houses and condos. After a while I turn back and return the same way, the road goes right next to a luscious hill with oaks and flowers that smell like heaven. The experience is meditative and makes me smile to my core. I head back and decide to cross the same bridge back to the North Shore. There is a couple with a new born baby, dressed in blue outfits taking their first ever family pictures. The moment is very endearing, with the grandmother taking pictures slooooowly while the new mom trying to hurry her as she sees a group of people gathering behind the grandma waiting patiently to cross until the photos are taken.

On the North Shore I do few more laps in the Coolidge Park, enjoying the view of the river and the town. I’m getting tired though, it’s still really warm and I have now biked almost five miles. I return my bike next to the Outdoor Chattanooga center in the Park (if you’re looking for outside activities such as biking and kayaking in Chattanooga, this seems like a great place to start!). I’m thirsty, want to check my emails and need something to drink.

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The Coolidge Park

I walk a bit and notice a shop that sells products from local Noog businesses.

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Souvenirs from Locals Only

I love supporting local so I go in to get few souvenirs. This store sells art, crafts, local goodies such as chocolate and jelly. They have hand painted cards and hand made jewelry. Everything is quite cute.I do a bit of shopping and ask the shop assistant for advice for a good café near by. 

She tells me about Milk & Honey that is down the street, about a block away, and a lady behind me says the place is really nice. I don’t need more reassurance and walk over to the café. It’s a cute little place, maybe a bit hard to spot from the road next to it but it’s there and I walk in. They have all kinds of nice things, from regular coffee and tea selection to pastries and ice cream. They also have a couple of gluten free options a muffin and what they claim to be “The best Gluten Free Cookie in the World”. I ordered an orange & ginger ice tea and the cookie, both delicious.

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At Milk & Honey

I’ve agreed to meet my colleagues for dinner as soon as they land to Chattanooga and get checked in to the hotel. It’s late afternoon now and I want to get some rest, take a quick shower and change my clothes before I head out again. The day in the sun, the 5 mile walk and the 5 mile bike ride have worn me out! I feel happy though, it has been nice for the first time in who knows how long to have a day to myself. I’m almost never alone, I’m always either at work or with kids, maybe with a friend, but never alone and as much as I feel guilty of admitting it I do miss my alone time. It gives me the opportunity to ground my thoughts and emotions, put everything into perspective, plan and dream for what’s next. Alone time is to my soul and mind what sleep is to my body, it’s the moment when all the hard work and (mental) exercise settles in and when I grow. It makes me a better person and it allows me to re-center my true self. I Uber to the hotel and on my way I hear my colleagues have already arrived and ready to head out for dinner sooner rather than later. I rush to my room, take a quick shower and change.

We have a table booked at the Stir, a loft look and feel kinda restaurant right behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Here you have fine dining but also a pretty nice bar. The staff is friendly and helpful accommodating my gluten free vegan diet. My colleagues order oysters with bacon to start. It sounds very unorthodox but the guys did seem to like them. Then again these guys would probably eat tiny rocks if they were served with bacon, so not saying much… I have a tuna bowl without the tuna and it’s pretty yummy. My colleagues also order scallops (they look really good), a steak (that was huge) and as a dessert apple pie that apparently is heavenly good – my gluten free self has to settle with the sweet smell.

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Stir

 

I didn’t have a lot of expectations for Chattanooga, I was so pleasantly surprised and feel really blessed to have gotten to know this town that I would have never otherwise even noticed on a map! I would recommend this place if you want a quick weekend getaway with your family or you wand a date weekend with your partner. I didn’t get to explore all the hiking opportunities but I will make it my business to explore the trails the next time I’m back.

Family, Home

For the Love of Simple – Clean Up

In my previous blog post I wrote about how my somewhat chaotic but always rewarding life nudged me on a journey to explore my need to simplify my surroundings and how that led me to try out the KonMari method of tidying up.

Today I wanted to share what Marie Kondoeing my apartment looked like. Before diving into details I do have to say that it was an experience nothing like I expected. I was excited to get everything cleared out and I expected it to be easy or hard depending on the category we would be attacking. I was pretty comfortable with clearing out my clothes (I actually had a pretty good idea what would probably go) but I was sure the kids’ toys would be a problem. I was also a bit worried about how my housekeeper (yes, as a single mom living on a different continent than my family, I need one) would handle this as I thought maybe me sitting down with the kids to hold everything in our hands wondering whether the item sparked joy would seem weird to her. Not that I mind what she thinks but I felt this wouldn’t work without her support, she does live with us most of the week and is the person in charge of maintaining everything in order after the clean up.

How I prepared

In addition to the very important part of the post clean up life visualization that I described last week, I looked for a fairly comprehensive list of categories to attack. Marie lists 5 categories and although many of them are pretty easy to cover I was especially worried about the biggest category Komono a.k.a. Miscellaneous. I was sure I would not be able to figure out everything to go through without a good list of sub-categories. I would end up doing it by room and well, that just wouldn’t work. I found a nice list from Neat Little Nest that really helped us to work through all the subcategories in our home. Luckily our home is not huge, we’ve lived here only a year and I’ve done a few discarding events already. In addition to the list I only got myself three rolls of heavy duty garbage bags and we were good to go!

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Our living room mid clean up – kids taking advantage of the confusion and building an pillow fortress!

The Process – My Clothes  I piled all my things on my bed, I had more than I expected. Just like everyone. I had thought I had few things. I had a lot of things. So I started to sort things out, holding each in my hand. Nothing went as I had imagined. The items that I was sure that would go, mainly did go. But then I got into the items I use on a regular basis. There was a shirt I really liked and used, but I realized it was worn out from the elbows – had been for a long time and it was time to let it go. There was a bag that I used regularly, it was nice, it went well together with a pair of shoes that I really liked but I realized I actually didn’t love the bag. I actually didn’t like the material, how it made me feel and what kind of a person in my opinion would use a bag like that. Out the door! It was so empowering to find a piece of myself through evaluating my likes and dislikes.

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Half of my closet, not too bad but can’t really see everything properly. 

Going through my own clothes took way longer than I had thought. It was fun though, to think who do I really want to be, what kind of clothing does that girl wear and what fits that image of my best self. The only things that I didn’t get rid of yet that didn’t spark joy were my luggage. One big check-in bag from Benetton that my ex-husband got us a long time ago. It was cute at the time and had a pair. The other has broken months ago and this remaining lonely one isn’t in great condition anymore. The zippers as loose and frankly the whole thing reminds me of a life that is in the past. My other piece is a carry-on that my friend borrowed me, it’s a great piece of luggage but it’s not mine and not particularly pretty. So I decided that I will treat myself to new set of luggage, which I btw am getting from Mark & Graham. Once these beauties arrive I promise not only to write a review and a travel organization post but I also promise to get rid of my old luggage.

The Process – Everything Else: The other categories in Marie’s method are Books, Papers, Komono (miscellaneous) and Memorabilia.

Banging through these categories was pretty easy, most books would stay – I only got rid of few that I had gotten from my therapist post divorce (no joy sparking here!). Kids books would mainly stay, we love all of these and having them in my bookshelf brings me a ton of joy. My mom used to own a library (not really but thousands of books) and I feel they are needed to make a house feel home.

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My bookshelf and random stuff everywhere

Papers were very easy, this category was already done few months back. I had, with the help of the great housekeeper, organized our must keep papers such as birth certificates, into a little document suitcase. I really didn’t have to do anything here!

Komono, this one I was excited about. I figured this would be the quickest category as I am definitely not attached to electronics or kitchen utensils. I was thankful about how Marie had tackled this area in her book. Her, oh so practical examples, were really helpful, for example her explaining how there was no point in storing old boxes for electronics in case you would want to sell them later on. I had about 10 different small electronic boxes lying around. All out the door. There was a lot to go through but working through everything on the list I could see we were making quick progress. Finally we came to the point in the list that I dreaded: Kids Toys.

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Kids’ room – kitchen corner

I was so sure this would be the worst part of it all. My kids are not good in getting rid of things. They have stuff they have not touched in months, things that are missing pieces, are dirty because someone smart thought it was a great idea to take them outside to play but nothing can be thrown out. We had gone through this many times and always the result was the same, if I could convince them to get rid of 5 small toys from Happy Meal boxes I could consider it a success. This time, however, was different. My son flat out told me that he would trust me to choose, as long as I didn’t touch his video games. Fair enough, I said and didn’t discuss further. My daughter somehow didn’t seem to care too much either. I told her I would not get rid of her play kitchen, dolls and their things, Barbies and their things or her costumes (she has about 10 different princess, witch, Disney character outfits that she really likes). After hearing that, she told me I had free hands on her stuff too. I didn’t believe what I was hearing. Maybe it was them seeing do this in other categories or maybe I just had my timing right but I quickly got to business before they’d change their minds.

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Kids room – general mess

Wrapping up

In the end, we got rid of more or less 10 garbage bags of stuff. My house keeper took the good items to sell in the flea market but some of the things just went into the garbage. I am happy with the results but I won’t be sharing the after pics until I’ve finished organizing the things we kept. I am still missing some boxes to finish our project.

Everything has it’s place now and I feel much calmer in my own home. It feels more me. As Marie predicts, tidying up your home has usually life changing effects, we had some too and I want to share those with you in my next post when I share our after pics.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!

Personal

For the Love of Simple – Self Awareness

My little chaos

When I was younger I was pretty relaxed about organization. A little bit of clothes here and a little bit of books there didn’t really bother me, I was comfortable in my own little mess. I was never extremely unorganized, I’ve never been a hoarder or flat out disgusting but I definitely was happily oblivious to my surroundings and tried to tidy up when I’d have visitors coming over or things piled up too much. Otherwise I’d just breeze through the piles of clothing and dishes.

When I got older this changed. Maybe it’s the kids that contribute to the mess, making it potentially not so little anymore or maybe it’s just maturity but I really can’t handle clutter or ugliness in my surroundings anymore. I am a single mom of two with a busy job. On one hand I need to take care of our family by making sure our home is a happy place for my kids, by making sure that they have what they need in and from school. I make sure they are able to get to swimming lessons twice a week, and that they have proper food to eat. My son has some special needs and meets with a therapist twice a week, planning and organizing the support he needs is sometimes consuming especially emotionally. On the other hand I have a wonderfully demanding job that gets very busy, involves regular travel and requires me to jump from one area and skill set to another very quickly. I’m lucky to get to interact with many people from all departments of the company but keeping everything flowing can sometimes be challenging. Add to this that I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I have a mind that rarely forgets anything meaning that whenever there’s a massive information and stimulus flow it really can get a bit overwhelming and let’s be honest – there’s not a day in my life where there isn’t a massive information and stimulus flow happening.

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Therefore, I guess as an attempt to control my life, the busyness and overflow of just everything, I’ve started to feel a burning need to simplify and calm down my mind. This has started to slowly invade every are of my life but I’ve found that one of the biggest noise factor that I can control is my physical surroundings, more specifically my possessions. Having a steady job allows me to afford more things than ever before (college times and entry level jobs with a baby helloooo!) and being able to choose makes me do just that, choose. I nowadays find myself thinking about not what I can afford as much as what do I really want. Just because I can afford it doesn’t mean I want it and on the other hand I want to take care of my hard earned money as I do not take it for granted. I still remember what it was like not to make ends meet and having to ask parents for help. Not fun. I also feel anxious when I buy things I really don’t need or when I have things that don’t, as Marie puts it, spark joy. It’s money, time and space not well spent and when it’s not good for me I feel disappointed with myself. In a very similar way to overeating unhealthy foods. Not only do I feel physically bad fo overeating I feel bad emotionally for not having taken care of myself. It’s a double whammy.

The research

Paulo Coelho can be very insightful. Once I had recognized the need to simplify my surroundings I started to notice articles, books and podcasts about minimalism everywhere.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. – Paulo Coelho

In addition to number of articles on the topic I read and watched on Netflix about The Minimalists, read Joshua Becker’s Simplify, Genevieve Parker Hill’s Minimalistic Living, and listened to Minimalist Mom Podcasts. I had heard about Marie Kondo but didn’t really pay attention to her message until I had worked through my mental transformation through the many resources I studied. This was more than anything a trip to myself, my values and how I wanted to live. Funnily enough I now realize that Marie asks you to do just that before starting: Think about what you want your post tidying life to look like. Without knowing this would be crucial to the process I had been unconsciously figuring that out for a long time.

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The main things that I realized about myself during this time: Excess of anything makes me anxious and unhappy, I don’t like shopping or spending money, which means I’d rather have few (even if more expensive) quality items than a mountain of things that don’t last, are not pretty and don’t make me happy (i.e. spark joy), and I like to have beauty in my surroundings. These thoughts were on my mind for weeks if not months, brewing up in a wonderful little ball of self awareness.

Photo by Toa Heftiba

My Mom the Master Minimalist

During Christmas I visited Finland, and home, for the first time in over 5 years. It was a wonderful two week trip to a winter wonderland where we had the precious opportunity to spend time with family and friends, many who didn’t know my daughter who is 5 years old at all.

While visiting my mother’s apartment I noticed something amazing. She had very little stuff. She had everything, but there was so little of everything. Funnily that was my first thought: “My mom has very few things”. When going outside to play with kids I took my jacket from her entryway closet and noticed she had only couple of handbags, maybe two winter jackets, a hat and a set of gloves – maybe two. When I went to her small bathroom I couldn’t help notice she had so few bottles, snooping around more carefully I noticed she had everything. The magic was she had only one of everything! So brilliant! I was amazed. I felt frankly a bit stupid of ever feeling I’d need more than one day cream or night cream or shampoo or conditioner at the same time but yet I had to admit her way still felt brilliant. Something clicked. Of course you don’t need more than one of any item at any given moment. It’s not like you’re going to put on two winter jackets at the same time or two sets of gloves on top of each other (though I might have done that when it got really cold, come to think of it…).

Once you realize you don’t need more than one of anything, you can think about what you really want while keeping it simple and avoiding clutter. So between the money and the clutter I had come a full circle. I want less items of better quality that play well together. Clothes that combine nicely to make different outfits with less items in the closet to take space, pretty classic makeup, shoes that look good but are timeless and for the love of simplicity only one shampoo bottle in use at any given moment. Besides, I think once I get my basics nailed down I can add some special items that are trendy at the moment or just add a little spark.

Decluttered Mind

Having realized what I want and having seen a real life master example of what that can look like in practice I felt like I had decluttered my mind and learned something new about myself. I lived in an unhappy relationship for a long time where I didn’t feel free to explore who I really was and wanted to be. After my divorce I’ve truly enjoyed opening my mind bit by bit to what my ideal self and life might look like and training my mind to understand that nothing is off the table and anything is possible. There is nothing that sparks more joy than finding something that resonates with your being in a way that you just know what to scream “YES! Why didn’t I realize this before?”. Realizing how I felt about owning stuff, the space I want as my home and spending money has been extremely gratifying.

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Marie Kondoeing My Apartment

With the above journey behind me and with work getting more hectic than ever in January, I decided it was time to give Marie a go. I started to listen to her book in audible and just couldn’t help but feel so excited! I absolutely loved her stories of her childhood and how she was obsessed with organization since she was a little child. Or how she got into trouble by organizing her family members’ private spaces and throwing their stuff out without permission. My favorite part of the book is definitely when she gives advise on how to properly fold a pair of socks so they can get a proper rest after working so hard all day! This girl is a total whack job but I think genius never comes without a hint of crazy and I really love Marie’s crazy. It’s happy, it’s positive and it’s unapologetic.

Totally inspired I started to get ready, I searched for a category checklist from a fellow Marie fan, I bought two packs of super strong garbage bag rolls and announced to my kids and their nanny that this is happening.

Read next week how we did it!

 

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Intuitive Planning: Closing Books 2018

Plan and Let Go

I am a firm believer in Intuitive Planning. I love to set myself goals; life goals, professional goals, family goals, health goals and relationship goals. I often set them up, break them down to pieces, set timelines and then never visit them again. I’m not joking, I literally don’t look at my goal lists, track progress or do any further deep analysis of my success that would be expected of any self respecting life hacker. After the timeline for my goals has ended, may that be a month, a 3 month or a 1 year period, I do look back and see how far I’ve come and more importantly where I am today. It’s just a trip down the memory lane and I try to focus on the positive. I usually notice that just by having set out in a direction has usually led me to where I wanted to go, more often than not actually faster than I had planned for. If I didn’t do something I had planned for I try to think whether that something is still important to me. If not I just let it go. Once I know where I am, I will plan where I want to go (more about this in my next post).

Why I prefer this method to the maybe more traditional ways of goal setting is that it allows me to live my life without meticulous monitoring of myself. I tend to be hard on myself and if I wasn’t advancing to a pace that I deemed acceptable I’d probably get frustrated and disappointed with myself. I’ve also noticed that as long as I know where I’m going I am more creative, more flexible and definitely more adaptable. The problem with road maps is that there is no way I can control all the external variable of life. It would be pretty arrogant of me to imagine I can plan around every curveball life kicks at me on every area of my existence and I’ve learned to trust my intuition quite a bit; I know that having my goals in the back of my mind is enough to move me to the right direction.

What I set out to do in 2018

My plans for 2018 were quite simple but in no way easy. I had just separated from a toxic and violent husband, he had lived with our kids for 14 months and had abused them mentally and physically the last couple of months of their time together; the final nail to the coffin of our relationship and the main (although not the only) reason why my children had moved in to live with me. There was nothing I wanted more than to wipe away my kids’ bad experiences, heartbreak and insecurities and fill their little hearts with love, security, stability and joy. This meant focusing on creating them an environment that was always positive, predictable and filled with people who would be a positive influence to them. As they were moving in with me to a city that was new to them this meant building a social network of mom friends, hobbies, school, and therapists that could support them and me. I’m extremely proud to say that I built all that. My children, especially my now 9-year old son, is filled with laughter and happiness. We still have our bad moments and he still struggles with insecurities and sometimes we both wish he would have better self control but he is not angry, depressed and violent anymore. The best part is that we have started to define our family again, we now approach everything from love and respect and what is healthy for everyone. We are also excited making plans and setting goals for next year, we are hungry for life and excited to see what the new year brings to all of us. Rebuilding a home, family and two precious children in a relatively short period of time is not a small victory.

Workwise I set out to get a promotion and a raise (kinda figured out the two should go hand in hand). The year was insane and insanely good at the same time. I got my promotion and raise, was pushed aside due to ridiculous company politics and power struggles; bounced back, got promoted again and received another raise. The company was sold to a larger company and now I get to do all kinds of interesting new things including finding and implementing strategic and operational synergies between our new parent company and us. I learned few unpleasant truths about myself (I am not as patient and mature as I would like) but I will work on that in 2019. I also learned it is possible to completely lose motivation and ambition if you are too tired, I will have to make sure I figure out a good balance in 2019.

In a nutshell

I’m writing this from Finland, where I’m visiting home for the first time in over 5 years. I come back after a very tough but extremely rewarding year. I learned so much about myself, my abilities, my values and what I want for myself and my family. I learned how to plan intuitively so that I maximize direction with intent while harvesting all of my creativeness. I have figured out how to improve my physical and mental health, how to better take care of my family, how to make sure I don’t lose my ambition and stay hungry at work. Most importantly I’ve learned all the things I still need and want to develop in our lives and in myself in all the different roles I have – human being, mother, professional and friend.

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Always Be The Best

It’s impossible to be the best. At anything. There is always someone who is better than you.

At work there is Sharon who is organized like Martha Stewart, her email is clean, her project plans are accurate to the minute and even her stationary matches her nails while you are just trying not to forget to complete the tasks that your boss specified were the most important and if you did nothing else he hopes you can commit to finishing at least them.  At school pick ups you see Katie, who made personalized Halloween trick or treat pails for the whole class (you know who you are!), again very Martha, while you haven’t yet filled in the paperwork that authorizes your friend to pick them up if something happens to you. Your neighbor Isabel brings your sick kids Martha’s Organic Home Made Chicken Broth while you are working on the projects you have now dutifully committed to. Finally your assistant Emily is the hottest girl there is, she exercises hard core, bicycles, hikes and does mountain climbing (even Martha loses here!) and she dresses too nice for the office. She’s the girl who makes everyone look shabby and just not put together. The best part? She’s super nice, positive all the time and is good at what she does.

It’s easy to get discouraged and start hating these girls but let’s decide not to do that. We could also discredit them by pointing out that Sharon doesn’t have kids so of course her work is organized – she has all the time in the world to polish the details! Katie works half time as a tutor so crafting is practically her job, Isabel is a stay at home mom and her only aspirations are cooking and home keeping, she doesn’t have to commit to projects. Emily is insecure and overcompensates her bad self esteem with torturing her body and overdressing.  We could do that, but let’s not do that either. Let’s not do that because all that stems from our own feelings of inadequacy and honestly just gives us an excuse not to strive for excellence.

Once you get over yourself and start admiring kick ass people around you can realize this one thing you can be best at. You can be the best you. You don’t have to be perfect, but you can actively try to be better and do the best you can today, to be best in the areas that are important to you. This doesn’t mean beating yourself up for not being absolutely fabulous at everything, but it does mean not accepting mediocracy in any area. We tend to think all or nothing, compare ourselves to others and stop trying as we get discouraged. It doesn’t have to be that way, you can hold yourself to a high standard, expect excellence from yourself and learn from the people around you. Be thankful you have role models to learn from and to pull ideas from. They are free information and idea banks for you to become amazing and there is no reason not to copy their tricks and hacks.

You can only start doing this if you value and respect yourself. Where you are today or how far you still have to go do not define your worth. Your efforts do. Accept where you are and decide where you want to go. It’s is up to you to decide what kind of life you want and how you are going to move forward. Welcome to my blog, we will kick ass together!