Just Another Recycling Story

Do you still remember my first post on sustainability?

There, I recounted how I turned from trash churner to trash champion with a renewed mindset, and that is, this: When I manage my trash, I lessen my stress and the stress I give to the environment.

Fast forward now, I am happy. And my sanity does not depend upon the garbage truck that comes to pick up irregularly!

Making Recycling Fun Together

But I don’t want to bear the burden of trash management alone. So it’s a good thing my daughter who is six has also caught my appeal at home.

She is most bothered when, after hearing the bell (the garbage truck is coming when you hear that), the truck just leaves.

The look on her face after that is pure frustration. It’s like a friend passed by without saying hi.

Warning: This is just another reduce, reuse, recycle story.
A simple experiment that will teach my daughter what plastic does to the environment.

So she has enlisted herself in our journey to lessen the waste in our household, and here are a few things that we will be adopting as we go along.

Hopefully, they become standard practice until we reduce our waste close to zero.

For now, I will be talking about paper. Do you have a lot, I mean, a lot of paper to throw away? Here’s how you can manage them!

Managing Paper Trash at Home

First, don’t take paper trash home. It’s simple, really. When you buy several packs of yogurt from the supermarket, you need the yogurt but not the cardboard that goes with it.

What I would do moving forward is to take the cardboard, as well as other unnecessary trappings and packaging that go with my items and dump them in the supermarket or the mall’s garbage bin.

These establishments have regular trash pick-up schedules and recycling facilities, so they are better at managing the trash they sold to me.

Second, reduce paper waste. Bond paper has two sides. When one is done, say, you printed out a recipe on one side (who still does that?) the next side can be used for your child’s doodling.

White paper must never be thrown without the other side being taken advantage of. I mean, how many trees are cut for these white paper!

I have a neighbor who buys white paper by the kilogram. Her trucks then take these to a recycling facility. Garbage lessened, money earned.

Third, recycle paper whenever you can. For example, paper napkins that are used in the kitchen can be added to your compost.

In fact, the newspaper that the fish seller used to wrap your dried fish can be dumped in there.

I read it somewhere that paper is mostly carbon so it can balance out the nitrogenous matter coming from other sources in your pile. Shredded paper can also increase moisture and the retention of water of the compost pit which are helpful.

A website however advises against composting paper napkins in general because they might contaminate the recycling stream. It’s your call. For me, I only use for this purpose those that were used in the kitchen.

Fourth, try not to use paper that much. Instead of using paper towels, substitute washable and reusable cloth towels. It’s easy to wash them, they can be dried under the sun and they are ready in no time.

My mom uses reusable cloth towels made from old clothing all the time. It’s a practice she got from my grandmother, and I presume, my grandmother got it from her mother.

You save money and you help lessen the use of paper in the house, which is great!

Fifth, allot a paper budget in your home. And for those instances when paper really needs to be used, allot a paper budget.

For example, for this week, paper for Art is ten pages (that could be cruel to a child who loves to paint!) That way, my child will understand that paper is not to be wasted because the next allotment will come next week.

When the supply is scarce, their use will be maximized. The shortage of paper makes the student more careful in doing her work — she can’t afford to waste any piece so she will plan and be resourceful.

If you know there is a limit to the consumption of these, then you will not splurge.

You Helped & You Saved

Bonus in doing doing the above is more savings (and you can even sell to a junk shop that buys these), less garbage to deal with and, eventually less stress.

Don’t we all want to handle that stress successfully, just like we do garbage?

Manage your trash right away and feel free to try out some of my tips and tricks in recycling, reducing and reusing.

We can sell this to junk shops and earn extra cash, too.

How about you? What steps have you taken to be on top of your trash issues, err, I mean stressors?

In case you’re wondering, I still use plastic at home. I don’t feel guilty about it but I am working on reducing my consumption of it. Are you in the same journey as I am? Hope to hear from you and learn some of your tricks. Really need help on this!

See you again next Monday for another post on sustainable living and what it means in my home one day at a time.

Take Things Slowly

I have recently pondered on the virtue of slowness and was totally shocked at what I found.

First, I realized I had been thinking like everyone else. I believed that the race is to the swift.

Second, I realized I had been looking at slowness like everyone else. I forgot that many of the best results of human creativity took time.

Third, I realized that slowness is a decision, and it has a purpose for different people with different goals and different values.

What do you think about “slow” people? I know some people who would go steadily through a crisis, at a leisurely pace almost, their demeanor relaxed and easy —

I love to observe unhurried people. Their peace is energizing. They make rebellion to the prevalent notion look good. I want to pick their brains.


Is Slow Really Bad?

Contrary to popular belief, taking things slow need not be bad. On the other hand, speed need not mean good.

I remember a fable by the Greek writer Aesop which glorified the steady and consistent pace of the tortoise. The quick hare did not prevail over that underdog.

I guess you know the Aesop story, WE know how the story ends.

And I remember King Solomon’s words:  “The race is not to the swift…” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

I guess you know King Solomon and his wisdom of renown.

And do you remember when, at the Mountain of Temptation, a quick solution to the Lord’s hunger was offered to Him by the hand of the enemy. Did He grasp that hand?

No, He did not. He took the via dolorosa that led to the cross and the mount of ascent. Slowly but surely, Jesus assured our hope.


Who is rushing you, anyway?

Heigh Ho, Slowly We Go

There must be something about the unhurried pace that gives slow and steady gait a good name.

Hundreds of years after Solomon, Aesop and Jesus Christ, we have frazzled people everywhere, doing things at a maddening pace in the rat race.

Speed seems to be the only way if you were to reach your dreams.

If you want it that bad, then do it QUICKLY! That’s what they say.

But I also remember that an OAK does not grow overnight.

Sometimes, it’s good to take a break, too.

A Note About Blogging

How I wish I can blog everyday, and I envy those who do.

I remember feeling frustrated that at times I would be slowed down by my other (and equally important) responsibilities.

But now, I remember, slowness can be used to my advantage.

I realized that those times I was not blogging, I was thinking… really thinking about my life, thinking about what God is doing in it.

My daughter had been sick for days, and changes are underway in our household — so…

I was slowed down, to my advantage, I think. And my slow pace benefited my family who did not have to put up with the rush going on in my veins.

I needed to slow down, I truly needed it. And the people around me needed it, too.

Maybe you need to slow down, too. And maybe the people around you will thank you if you do. 🙂

A Counter Intuitive Solution

Funny how we need to be reminded to take things slow as if it was taken out of our common sense.

Slowing down is an alien concept that when threshed out anew seems so novel and noble!

Personally, the fruit of my taking things slow was great. Rest. Composure. Peace of mind. Depth.

The compulsion to churn out content was replaced by thinking about the more important things in life that will enrich my family, and my writing life, too.

Haste makes waste.

The race is not to the swift.

Do not grasp the help of anyone you don’t trust, no matter how quickly it may end your troubles.

There must be something in those words.

Make Haste Slowly?

Just as quickness is not a solution to any problem, slowness must also be given its proper place in our lives.

We don’t rely on slowness to solve our problems. Of course, it’s just a means to solve our problems.

In fact there are times when we need to be quick in making decisions. Some situations certainly call for that.

But quick or slow, we know that in life, there are so many ways to experience a life worth living, with the people we love, at the pace we choose, and along the path we must take.

I don’t glorify slowness. I don’t glorify speed, either. Each has its own place.

But for now, I’m slowing down to admire the flower of this bromeliad given by my beloved husband as a Valentine’s gift. And while I do, I’m not checking the clock on my wall.

How about you? What slows you down for your good? Tell me about it.

You can read about my posts about my decluttering and taking it slow with sentimental items here.

Sustainable It Is

These past months, there had been several instances when the poor, tiny dump truck supposed to pick up trash in our area would just pass us by, not even stopping to collect our garbage.

You see, by the time it reached our street, it was full, dangerously tottering on one side, without room for more.

I was angry. My trash heap was growing and I did not know what to do with it. How could they not provide a bigger truck? Surely, they knew the rubbish we were keeping were long overdue.

About three weeks ago, garbage sitting in our garage for about two weeks had begun to produce funky smells. It was terrible! Flies and other insects had begun to swarm and thrive in those bags. It was totally frustrating YUCKY!

Who is to Blame?

I was angry, yes, but a realization hit me. I am supposed to be angry with myself. I let trash pile up. I was not mindful of my consumption.

If I can manage my household’s incoming, I must be able to manage its outgoing! Sounds fair, isn’t it?

And just because the local government did not instruct me to segregate, it didn’t mean I may not do it if it’s for the best.

I can blame the truck all I want, and the town officials all day, but the immediate change I need must come from me.

I had an aha moment. Others have long done it, and I am catching up. I made a resolve to segregate and to recycle. And that’s what I’m doing right now.

A Change of Heart

My family began to implement a new scheme in waste management in our home.

Would you believe that there is peace knowing that even if the garbage collector will not arrive this week, my trash is good and manageable! Here are some of the things we do to lessen our home’s impact to the environment:

Lessen Waste Production. Paper bags are folded neatly, and so are plastic bags which are still clean and dry, for further use. We have made the resolve to continue using them again and again until they are no longer useful. Then and only then will they be thrown away… responsibly, of course.

These paper bags can be used for wrapping things and wiping oily surfaces in the kitchen.

Responsible Waste Segregation. Waste are segregated. Milk cartons, juice cartons, bottles are separated from vegetable and fruit peelings. The latter will go to our container compost for use as a fertilizer when needed.

Tote Bag Usage. We lessened the use of plastic. This tote bag mama is proud to have a tote handy whether I go to the supermarket or the fresh produce market. Tote bags can be washed easily in the washing machine or hand-washed. They dry easily, too. A cotton tote bag I’ve had since 2009 is still with me. It continues to serve me during those market visits or for carrying things around.

I saw this at an 88 shop at a nearby mall.

Supporting Like-minded Businesses. When shopping, I had begun to realize the impact of all those plastic to our planet. When shopping, I go for soap bars, not bottled body washes. I also replaced my plastic body scrubs with loofah sponges. Slowly, I will implement a no plastic rule in the house but it might probably take a long time. But at least a head start is here and I don’t intend to stop!

This loofah is organic, unbleached and earth-friendly! Truly sustainable!

Buying Thrifted Items and 2nd Hand. I now practice this principle — if you can get a good deal out of a second hand item, why not buy it? I find wonderful items made of wood, ceramic and stainless materials in thrift shops all the time so why not? I realized the more we patronize plastic products, the more businessmen will make them! And the more trash we will produce in the long run. We can no longer manage trash effectively as it is!

Composting, Composting, Composting. Clearly, this made my life a whole lot easier. Since fruit and vegetable by-products can be used to enrich my potted plants, I went ahead and imitated what many people do — make compost! It is easy, actually. There are various YouTube tutorials addressing this concern! This last one made my life a whole lot easier.

My daughter is covering kitchen waste with soil for composting.

That is my modest list, so far. I believe I will grow in this as long as I keep in mind that the sustainable lifestyle might possibly make our sad old earth filled with mirth. 🙂

How It All Began

So during (or simultaneous with) my decluttering adventure, which you can read from my previous posts, I slowly set aside my plastic items and opted for the wooden, glass, ceramic and stainless kitchen tools that I already have.

I did not buy new ones as I am also minimizing my expenditure but using to the full my old treasures. I also think I will continue using them until they are worn out. That way I can also save money.

And I began to do gardening and composting. Trust me, you will love helping the environment because simply, you are also helping yourself.

Recently bought from the nursery. Oh, love it!

Check out my posts on Decluttering and Living with Less.

Embrace Your Space

When Stuff Kills

Should I Rush Into Decluttering?

Carve Out Your Creative Space

See you every Monday for my Sustainable Living articles as I explore what this means in my life and my home.

How about you? Do you have suggestions to a newbie like me?

Carve Out Your Creative Space

You will reap so many benefits after decluttering your space. And one of the benefits of a decluttered lifeworld is this: you can pursue what you are passionate about with less baggage under better conditions.

I am not talking about those daily work we need to do for our families and friends, although we are passionate about them, too. Keeping the home, preparing healthy meals, etc. are creative ways to serve your family.

But I am talking about those things which were set aside when you stayed at home, worked a full-time job or business and which you would do again if you had more time and opportunity!

If you think you don’t have time, make time! That’s what they say. And the same goes with opportunity.

But there’s something about clutter I want to point out in this post. Although I’ve written about decluttering already (you can read it here), I am not finished with it yet!

First, the Standard Disclaimer

Of course if you love your home and think at this season of your life that you’re happy and glorifying God where you are, or if you make your job your creative outlet and find that there’s nothing else you want to do in life, then that is perfectly fine. We grow when we do what we love, that’s for sure.

After all, creative people are scattered everywhere — from curators, to professors, to moms and daughters! And as long as we are working with our hearts and minds with the intent to make the world a less bleaker place through our talents!

So there. But from the standpoint of a mom who stays at home most of the time, things can be a little different, as you will soon see…

What is Your Childhood Dream?

Personally, though, and what I am getting at (since the subject of creativity is so broad this post isn’t enough to discuss everything about it AND I don’t know much about it either) are those things that relate to some dream, wish or desire which had been repressed due to the mundane demands of a role you have to fulfill in your life.

Do you have a hobby, say, crocheting, or a thing with words… Is your dream to be a published writer of children’s books, or a vlogger, or have a homebased business selling crafts you’ve made yourself?

Are you a musician, writer or a painter? Or maybe an artist, coach or influencer?

If you dream to be one or more of the above, let me first say that you will greatly benefit from working in a corner where your creative material can be sown so that they can shine.

True, there are people who can weave wonders anywhere they go. They can write books from coffee shops. They can make movies from old cameras. They can make a novel using typewriters. These are the no-bells-and-whistles guys. Are you one of them? Good for you!

But for a wife and mom like me who is in the house most of the time and keeping the home from sun-up to sundown, there is no other place like HOME as the venue for those creative juices to flow.

But there is also no other place like home to crush that creative endeavor.

Ironic, isn’t it?

I remember wishing, really wishing to have a bigger space so I can have a study area of my own. That way, I can shut the door and try to focus on my poems, my stories, and just write the movies in my mind!

But I allowed myself to be stopped. A lot of times, I would just postpone my work, or forget it altogether until very much later.

Obstacles for me are unfinished chores — yeah, that’s a great one. Moms, come on, back me up on this. This is a real obstacle. And chores don’t get DONE, ever.

Another obstacle is the clutter — a cramped up space with too much stuff is to blame, and maybe as much as its sisters — laziness, lack of focus and lack of determination to be productive.

What Clutter Does to Creativity

And if you have something you really want to do — paint, crochet, sew, write, cook, etc. and if nothing gets done, it sort of enervates you. Have you experienced this?

If you are a work-from-home mom or a stay-at-home mom, I’m sure you understand the challenges present when your house is cluttered and messy. You can go to my post entitled When Stuff Kills to learn more.

To reduce your stress level, I guess my suggestion (which worked for me) is to promise yourself you’ll be KIND TO YOURSELF. You can’t possibly do everything at once. Knowing your limitations is self-care.

The chores are there, yes, but we can control them. Maybe not 100% control but we have enough control to avert household disasters. Plus, we can schedule. We can postpone. We can prioritize. And then, we can delegate.

But when it comes to your own clutter — only YOU can sort that out. Not Marie Kondo. Not Lisa Woodruff. Not Emilie Barnes. Not expert organizers. Not even your husband. It’s ONLY YOU!

Why? Because only YOU can determine which must stay and which must go, but do take your time, as I pointed out in this post.

Seeking Help From Experts

I have been helped by reading books like Emilie Barnes’s More Hours in My Day and Survival for Busy Women. I also love going back time and again to the wisdom of Edith Schaeffer in The Hidden Art of Homemaking.

And let us not forget Marie Kondo and her Netflix show. 🙂

Being surrounded and taking notes when a super mom in action comes into view also helps to give me inspiration to keep on doing what the Lord has given me to do in my home!

I don’t have a super sure formula to determine whether you are a creative soul or not, or convince you of my belief that we are all created to be creative in some way.

But I believe this, humans were made in the image of God. And in the beginning, God “created”… — things were created and did not come to be without divine action, or more appropriately, art.

The Uncaused Cause — God is a creative being! That to me says so much about ourselves who are made in His image. It also says tons about what you and I can do because of our ability to create beautiful.

As beings created in the image of God, we can go to Him through His Word and prayer to find out what facet of his creative image we can display in our lives, in our homes, and among the people within our circle of influence.

Serving With our Creativity

So what happens when we, created to be creative, fail to discover or practice our creative powers?

In my experience, suppressing my creative feelings and impulses affected me, my health, my relationships, etc.

And instead of blessing the Lord with the talents He gave, and instead of gifting others with the fruits of creativity (whatever the genre or the medium), a suppressed creative will wallow in the unmet desire to SERVE others with her gifts.

Yes, creativity, I believe has a higher purpose other than release oneself from the haunting of “the project that will never be”. Creativity ultimately is for the glory of God and for the service of man.

If you are uplifted for every creative job done, think also of how others can benefit from and be encouraged by your gifts!

What is your creative gift? What do you intend to do with it and WHEN? (Note to self.)

Cafe or Your Very Own?

Of course, I am still working on my creative space but here are lessons I have learned in the process. Here’s my tiny story.

I wallowed in helplessness as I looked at what I have. Every table is occupied! My daughter uses the dining table as her study table while I use a console table to pound words on my laptop.

I can only do something productive if the conditions are right.

Wrong!

We can do what we believe in if we believe in it hard enough and invest time and dedication to make things happen! And this is hard to do, for some have done it (Roald Dahl comes to mind) and I envy them —- EVEN WHEN YOU ARE SWIMMING IN CLUTTER! (There, I said it. Whew.)

For me, nah.

I used to say: Coffee shop! Let me go to the coffee shop. That’s where those cool kids go, right?

Well, some people go to coffee shops to drink coffee, but for me, the coffee could turn cold before I touch it. I wasn’t there for the coffee. I was there for the rest and peace and quiet that a coffee shop can give somewhat.

But going to coffee shops OFTEN will dry up your cash. Coffee, cocoa and tea in coffee shops will strain your budget. Too much of the sweet cakes and goodies will make you sick. It didn’t seem right to me to keep on going to coffee shops to work…

So I thought, why not do it at home?

So I took an honest and brutal assessment — my home is my ONLY creative space during this season of my life — I have to make it WORK for me.

There’s just one little problem. If you’ve read my previous posts, you already know the reason why!

Now when I looked at my obstacles I found this on top: Clutter! Too much things I am keeping that are cramping up my space and draining my creative juices down the drain.

Clutter is not only physical clutter. We have clutter in our hearts, too. And certainly, we have clutter in our minds. 

(I didn’t wake up with this thought. I had to learn this the hard way. You can read my turning point story here.)

And as long as it is clutter, it will not help us, it will hinder us.

What kinds of clutter are you wrestling against?

Too much stuff in your home? Declutter and manage them!

Too much stuff in your heart, those baggages? Unload and liberate yourself!

Too much stuff in your mind, a to-do-list as long as a mile? Begin by taking one step after another!

Having determined your major obstacles, it will be easier to move, breathe and soar.

And here’s more — which I have to remind myself a lot of times, too…

PRAISE GOD for every success, small it may seem.

CELEBRATE with others, and create connections with people who care. (In another post, I would love to write about toxic people we need to limit our interactions with, especially if going through a tough time. Soon!)

REST knowing you have done your best and give yourself a treat.

SERVE others with your successes.

LOVE what you do, and make it a goal to always do.

Having done those, we can all move together towards achieving our dreams.

How about you? What obstacles are stopping you from pursuing your creative dreams? What type of criticism keep you going, and taking that next step to your dreams?

I’d love to hear what you think! Share in the comment box below!

Next post: Why Perfectionism Slows You Down… See you!

Should I Rush Into Decluttering?

The idea that you need to declutter is almost always a result of a clutter crisis in your home. For some, it is necessary to achieve a serene atmosphere and lessen the level of stress inside the house and between and among the people who live there.

If you do have enough space AND enough time, I believe you may take your time slowly and surely, and the emotional, physical and mental demands the process may impact on your nerves will be lighter compared to one who needs it for the sake of peace.

Like me. I had a major crisis before. I dealt with tons of stuff in my small space. Wanna know my story? You can read my previous posts here and here.

But whether you are of the first type or the second, there are several things here you may need to consider when decluttering.

Have a Plan in Place

Rushing into a phase of decluttering without knowing why you are doing it (since it’s all the rage nowadays, it seems) can be disastrous. You might end up getting rid of things you need and keeping things you don’t need. And whether you are downsizing or decluttering or shifting to a minimalist lifestyle, planning is CRUCIAL so you can face the challenge like a rational being.

As moms, we don’t just go ahead and get rid of our personal stuff without blinking. A lot of thought is involved before one goes to the trash or give pile.

We can however do it decisively because we are the ones responsible for our homes. And we are the ones watching minimalism videos and listening to organization podcasts. 🙂

But since the husband and our children may not be on the same page at the outset AND have their own passions and attach varying levels of interest and attachment to their possessions, we cannot just grab anything lying around (although we hate those multi-piece toys with parts always missing, or husband’s collection of cellphone and laptop cables) and dump it in the trash.

So what do we do? Having a plan to address objections, suggestions and violent reactions must be in place if we want our decluttering boat to sail on smoothly.

In an imperfect world, there will likely always be a struggle, but when we have a plan, a spiel, and negotiation strategies, we can strike up a deal with anyone to quickly or eventually (this might take time) let go of something that is no longer useful to them.

Be Sensitive and Listen

There is a kind of sensitivity that must be present when we declutter. We need to be sensitive of our feelings, and we need to be sensitive of other people’s feelings as well.

We can display empathy to the people we love especially if we know WHY we are doing it and HOW we are to do it.

For many who have shifted to minimalism, they know that that stuff can actually stop people from doing, enjoying and growing in what he or she loves.

There are others who declutter because they recognize a growing addiction to material things in themselves and would love to model a life of simplicity to their children, that is, if contentment is valued in the family.

Or perhaps you are addressing a debt problem that resulted from credit card purchases of stuff you ended up not using.

We all have our WHYs, and it’s good to communicate our values so that the family can slowly go with our flow.

And then we can discuss our HOW to give them the proper expectations and prepare them. It’s also good to assure them that others can benefit from the item.

Things can go smoothly when we know and believe in the reason why we are keeping the home tidy and clean and efficient for everyone.

So if a child does not want to let go of a toy then we don’t fuss because we have the process under control.

The other day, I set up a garage sale. You see, part of the decluttering process is letting go, and one of the ways to do this is to sell some items that are still good and might find a place in another family home.

I remember feeling annoyed that my daughter was crying and clutching an old reader of hers. She’s way finished with that reader, and she knows it, but she still wants it.

I was tempted to argue, and at the same time plead with her. But my daughter loved the book.

I resolved to let her keep it with the condition that she must prepare to let go of it before her birthday. I always give a deadline for giving up something.

Again, this might sound cruel to you, and you may skip my advice, but personally, if I see the beginnings of a hoarding attitude in my child, I will not hesitate to address it. Eventually, she will thank me, I know. Better to start early, I believe.

Address Sentimental Items Last

Marie Kondo, the Netflix sensation who introduced her revolutionary tidying methods to the world suggests saving for last those items that have sentimental value to us.

What are sentimental items?

Sentimental items are those we do not want to let go because it reminds us of important events or people in our lives. We usually cannot part with them, but we can have a way of storing them so that they don’t mix in with all the clutter we have at home.

These can be wedding photographs, baby’s first booties, or the last picture you had with your grandmother. Sentimental items are emotionally charged we’d rather take our time with them.

Are you the type who easily gets distracted and stuck when confronted with a sentimental item? I am.

The Konmari Method is not saying we should let go of sentimental items if we are wrestling with guilt feelings in parting ways with them. Instead, she says, if they give us joy, we should keep them by all means!

Marie Kondo says we can put sentimental items in a box that “sparks joy”, give it a special place in the house and KEEP IT.

Come to think of it, we can actually give it a home when we have said goodbye to the non-essentials first.

Address Passion Projects Thoughtfully

Professional organizer and blogger Lisa Woodruff came up with a term called “Passion Projects” which include those items we love to use in line with the hobbies or activities we are passionate about.

If you love painting, gardening, fishing, reading, and have an entire collection of tools and things for that passion, you don’t need to rush anything in organizing those or downsizing those. Like sentimental objects, we can put them among the last ones we organize.

How do we know if it’s a passion project? According to her, you know it’s a passion project you’re dealing with when the person says: “You’re not touching my shell collection.”

The other day, my husband looked around and appreciated the result of my decluttering adventure. But he was gentle to remind me that I have a lot of books.

I was immediately up in arms. Clearly, Books = Passion Project.

You see, I have not touched the books YET (I’m getting there), and have not allowed anyone to touch my books.

My inner defense lawyer was suddenly framing arguments when I realized he was right. My books are not exempted.

My husband knew I loved my books but he also knew that too much of what you love in a small space can be difficult to manage. Listening to Organize 365 especially Liza Woodruff’s approach on passion projects was a breath of fresh air! Eventually, I can now take a look at my books and not feel guilty about dealing with them, even if it meant selling or giving them away.

How is Your Decluttering Adventure so far?

I have shared ideas that worked for me in decluttering without rushing through it without a plan in place and strategy at every turn. Knowing what you need, what you love, and WHY you are doing it are key to a low-stress level and highly enjoyable experience tidying up your space to greatness.

No matter the obstacles you are facing or may be facing in the future should you decide to downsize and declutter, remember this:

Ultimately, ridding your home of things you don’t need and you don’t want will benefit everyone.

Next post is Carving Out a Creative Space. Watch out for it! 🙂

When Stuff Kills

I once thought a lot of stuff can help me, which is true at some point, but what I failed to realize is that the reverse can also be true: a lot of stuff can kill you!

The stuff that you can manage is the type that can help you, encourage you, uplift you.

But there’s that species that you can’t handle, and it ends up OWNING and MANAGING you, your time and your life.

Too much stuff of the second kind can suffocate you, hinder you and leave you stuck in a rut of your own doing that growing relationally with people you love and growing in what you are passionate about can become literally an impossibility.

Before you realize you are consuming too much, you may have already bought so many things to cramp up your space to the point of overwhelm.

But then, light bulb moment — you think of a band-aid solution — STORAGE.

The Thing About Storage

You go to a store and you find every kind of storage imaginable. Japan Home, Daiso, Miniso, Handyman, Ace Hardware, etc. — they all have these great storage items and organizers and you got to get one. Feeling good about yourself, you grab five of them, for stacking up, you say.

There’s nothing wrong about storage, so don’t get me wrong. I love storage solutions. But without handling the decluttering process first, you’ll end up storing tons of stuff you don’t need and the purpose of your storage plans is defeated!

Storage is still STUFF. Plus, it will add up to and encourage the accumulation of more STUFF!

So now when you go home, you realize you don’t have enough of them, or they don’t really work, or they don’t match the walls, etc.

Suddenly, and quickly, you are back to where you began. You find out that your storage ideas have failed you.

You see, the thing about storage is that it will not solve ANY problem if you are already at the point of overwhelm. So what do we do when we are overwhelmed?

Are you a Steward or a Slave?

The Bible says in Psalm 61:2:

“… when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

So again, we go back to the heart. It is a heart issue after all. But what is the cause of overwhelm? Perhaps we are loving our stuff too much even if we can’t keep home functioning properly anymore with tons of them.

Or we are filling up an emptiness deep within that only Jesus can fill? I don’t know your reasons. But I remember that the Lord wants us to be good stewards of our resources, not slaves!

Only you can say when your stuff has turned into an idol of some sort. Or if your idol has grown hands to clutch your heart and convince you that you can’t part with it.

Question is, will you allow these things to stay at the expense of your sanity and productivity?

Arranging, rearranging, labeling, cleaning up, repairing, boxing, organizing, sorting — don’t these words just tire you?

Now imagine a cabinet of clothes or a stack of boxes that you need to fumble through to look for a shirt you want to wear or a tool you want to use.

You will need to put those drawers and boxes upside down to get to your item. When your item is found, you would need to put the contents back in! How tiring that is. And time consuming, too.]

A lot of people now realize the value of living with less. And I believe them. With a plan and a purpose, living with less can be a lifestyle you may find viable.

Change is Welcome Here

I cannot believe I have allowed myself to lose so much time arranging, rearranging, labeling, cleaning up, dusting, repairing, boxing, organizing, fumbling, and sorting stuff 90 percent of which I rarely even use!

I cannot believe for so long I have allowed myself to be enslaved by things which robbed me of valuable time with the Lord, my family and doing things I am passionate about!

But by God’s grace, in the middle of a crisis, I realized: SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE.

It’s not the house, it’s not the space, it’s not other people — it’s ME.

Are You One of Us?

Let me give you some of the ways too much stuff is slowly killing you. I’m pretty sure you can relate to one or some of them, if you’re one of those people who now want to live quality lives with less stuff (which is possible, actually!)

As a dad or mom, you may think you need to find a home-based job as you are tired of that daily commute, but the chores — whoa, there’s too much to tidy up you can’t move on from there. You can’t even set up a home office!

Or you may have a hobby that is satisfying to you. It makes you relax after a long day. You want to do it, and perhaps earn from it, but the constant arranging, cleaning up, or picking up of clutter in your home present real barriers to your progress.

Or, maybe you have a business idea, which you want to develop, but your desk is cramped with piles and piles of paper unsorted from years ago there is no way you can think clearly with all those documents and books surrounding you. Opportunities are lost as the clock tick tocks away.

Was it obvious I was talking about myself? Was I talking about you, too?

It’s Time to Make Space

When I was sizing up my own home, I realized we had way too much possessions in so little space and stuff was killing me. Hubby is okay, he’s been a minimalist for so long. But my daughter and I had way too much it wasn’t doing us good.

So I prayed to God to help me. Remember my prayer in the previous post? God answered that! He led me to a place of contentment in what I already have. Sure, He’s not finished with me yet, but surely, now I’m partnering with His decluttering work in my life.

So let me ask you question: Will you fight for your own space like life itself and conquer the obstacles that too much stuff has placed in front of you?

To be continued… 🙂

Embrace Your Space

Living in a tiny house can be quite challenging especially when you can’t find joy in it.

For quite a while, I have not been joyful in my space. I was discontented and wanted more legroom, elbow room, just more room.

And because of that, my health, my faith and my productivity as a spiritual, social, creative and thinking being suffered.

I became a difficult person because I had a cluttered home.

And because of the clutter, I couldn’t do ANYTHING CREATIVE that could make me happy in my space.

I believe I am a creative person, but my creativity was hindered.

Yes, I was still doing the chores, loving my husband, homeschooling my child, but something was missing.

I neglected my poems, I neglected my music, I neglected my reading, I neglected my job.

Yes, I was giving out things now and then to reduce my stuff but nothing changed. I was feeling stuck in a space that I didn’t like with stuff that suffocated me but couldn’t let go of.

Change Did Come…Softly

But God changed my heart. God targeted my heart. Change started there.

It wasn’t some outward change that had happened. It was more of understanding God’s word in Luke 12:15. It was more of heart change. Only God can do that!

“Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.””

Fast forward now, I can truly say that I feel happy in my space, regardless of how tiny it would seem to some and it won’t be long for it to be a space where I can do what I am most passionate about!

By God’s grace, I was awakened, I chose to be happy, and with a little help from expert advice from YouTube and Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, I did it!

30 Square Meter Life

Yes, I live in a 30 square meter indoor space with a wide-enough area for gardening outside and I am loving it! But how did my mindset change from sad and discontented to elated and excited?

Let me tell you how.

The first time we moved in the house, we couldn’t move around. We needed to downsize, and we thought decluttering would come easy.

The space is tiny, and our apartment in the city where we were coming from was more or less three times bigger than what we have.

But at the end of the day, doing the math, we realized we could not afford it.

So from Timog Avenue, we moved to a small space which is being loaned to us with the obligation of upkeep.

So we said YES to our generous benefactor!

And aside from that, living in a semi-rural area overlooking the city is such an inducement I immediately had hopes of publishing a book idea that’s been there for years, raising organic vegetables and setting up a flower garden for my family while there.

And I did just that.

Well, wait a second, NOT YET.

I tried but the discontent that began to creep in stopped me in my tracks to growing living things in my life and in my backyard.

You see, I didn’t realize we had so much stuff. How in the world did we accumulate too much?

Downsizing is such a buzzword nowadays. We liked the idea at first. We thought well, if they could do it, WE could do it.

Hahaha.

Three years. It took me three years. Three Christmases. Three birthdays for three persons. Three Wedding Anniversaries. Three dragging long years to realize that to act on it.

When You Couldn’t Let Go

Possessions had to be considered in the equation. And boy, the problem was hard to solve.

It was hard to let go. I didn’t know how to process clutter. I didn’t want to start parting with things.

Looking at the blank space without our things in it proved enticing, but when the stuff had to be stuffed in there, my happiness level dwindled close to zero.

I was miserable. I was sad. For quite a while, I was just maintaining my space, moving things around, making room.

I was not creating BEAUTY in my home.

So I prayed to the Lord. I said: “Lord, help me! I’m stuck in this tiny house and I couldn’t breathe! I love you, Lord, but honestly, I find it hard to be thankful right now.”

My husband knows my dilemma. I love the location, but I didn’t love the abode.

And my constant source of stress is him reminding me to declutter, but that word for me was foreign, I couldn’t understand it!

We would argue about it, and I would eventually have my own way — keeping the stuff. But I knew in my heart he was right. My husband is right. And my home is a reflection of my hope. Where is my hope to be found?

The Lord dealt with my contentment issue. At the moment, I am proud to say that I have adulted and adulting is also responsible for the fact that early in the morning when I wake up, I love what I see. At night, before going to sleep, I pick up a broom and mop to clean my floors because I love my floors.

I love my bed, I love my table, I love my lamp, I love the soft rug, I love the art on the wall. I love my books on the shelves and I love being with the people I care for the most.

And for my daily morning routine, I go out and thank the Lord for the plants outside, hum a hymn of praise, smell the fresh air that surrounds me and enjoy the pleasure of listening to the repertoire of tropical birds who live in nearby trees.

But it was a long process. It was not a pressure cooker type of thing, but a slow cooker type of thing. This joy was not instantly found, but I fought for it, and God was good to give it to me IN HIS OWN TIME.

When He did, things changed. With a new perspective, ideas started to take shape. I began to embrace my space and feel, just feel, that as I love it, it loves me back.

To be continued… 🙂