The season is passing far too quickly. We’ve filled it to the brim with good things. These are special days with a new baby, the return to school, and even football. The cool weather is a welcome change, and the days have a crisp beauty that I relish. I have a few new blog post planned, but here’s a little photo review of early fall.
Hello! I’m back, and I’m delighted to introduce a new family member! Just one week ago, we welcomed Hattie Grace into the fold.
Life is certainly different than it was when I started this blog in 2009. I had two small boys, a teaching fellowship, and a crazy grad school schedule. Now, in the summer of 2016, I became the mother of FIVE. Our whole world is different now. We have three boys and two girls. I am a mostly at-home mom, but I’m also a doula now. We homeschool (something that was certainly not in the cards in 2009), and we are all a little further along in the big quest of figuring out who we are as a family and what that looks like in our world.
These are wonderful changes, but they also mean that blogging gets pushed aside most of the time. I am grateful if anyone still reads these posts–even after months of silence on my end. I still don’t intend to ever call this blog “complete,” saying good-bye to a project that has meant a lot to me over the years. Just know that long stretches of time might pass without something new, but I’m still over here dreaming up ideas and waiting for the right moment to share a piece of our life with you.
‘Til next time…
Dear Patient Readers,
I’m here! I’m glad that you are, too.
Yesterday, it was 66 degrees. We went outside without jackets. I started to believe that spring actually had sprung. This morning, however, the world is frozen again. Water that collected in a snow sled out back is frozen solid. Snow is falling and blowing. Pretty as a picture–just not the picture that I was hoping to see. I enjoy winter, but these little hints of spring over the last few weeks have made me excited for planting things, making pastel crafts, and preparing for Easter.
This is limbo–a weird in-between state.
Spring has always been a good blogging season for me. I guess it is the urge to start something new. The Yarn Harlot calls it “startitis” in her hilarious book, The Yarn Harlot and in her blog by the same name. I feel it! I want to start all kinds of new things–a garden, a knitting project, some redecorating, and of course–SPRING CLEANING.
I hope you’ll stop by to see.
We hit a rough patch early in the fall. We had been working hard on the house–painting, cleaning, organizing, and decluttering. That’s exciting! All good things.
But then there was the flat tire, the dented car door, the leaking sink,the dentist appointments, the strange little stomach bug with a slight fever, the lost library books, and those pesky multiplication facts. Sigh. Real life.
Suddenly, in the midst of all that LIFE, I kind of crumbled under a whole lot of self-doubt. Have you ever been there? You’re working hard to do all the right things–to check off all those boxes–but you always feel behind and inadequate. That’s where I wallowed for awhile. Homeschooling, in particular, was feeling like a bunch of “get dones” instead of the joyful privilege that it can be.
I’m not one to linger in a bad mood for long, and I knew I needed to do something to shake the funk. I reached out to a group of homeschool moms who might understand. Their responses were incredible. They were practical, offering actual help for spelling and reading. They were whimsical and inspirational, reminding me that I’m not alone. One friend told me to get back to the WHY of our decision to homeschool–to return to all the things I love about educating my children at home. That advice was a true answer to prayer, and I followed it immediately.
In our homeschool, getting back to the WHY means experiencing the outdoors. It means learning through all of our sense. It means learning by doing. It means reading lots of things from a variety of sources and subjects. It means learning together as a family. And it looks a little something like this:
Oh goodness. I’m being pulled in many directions these days, and I’m sure that many of my readers can relate.
I’m working hard at my simplifying project, and I keep having to remind myself that it gets worse before it gets better. Am I the only one who finds this to be so? Our new bedroom is basically finished, but there are still odds and ends to be done. We’re decluttering like mad, but that means there are piles of things in every corner.
My doula business has been launched, and I’m pleased to have a client waiting for her precious new baby. I’m making sure that my childcare plans are settled and my bag is ready.
We joined a homeschool co-op this fall, and we’re still finding our way in that new routine. Additionally, we’ve found ourselves making new friends in a different community of home learners that fell into our laps rather unexpectedly. It’s exciting to connect with families that share similar values.
I wish this post could be a bit more colorful, but in the process of digging through our belongings, I seem to have misplaced my camera charger. I’m hoping it shows up soon because I love all the sights of autumn!
Spring cleaning is great, but fall decluttering is truly valuable. Fall matters, and here’s why.
A long time ago–no idea where or when really–I read something that compared autumn to the “letting go” process that we need to go through in order to grow. I grabbed on to that idea, and I’ve thought about it often over the years.
The tree naturally drops the leaves that once served it well. Those leaves sprouted from buds last spring, and since their beginning, they have been a source of nourishment for the whole tree. They spread their green selves toward the sun and got to work creating chlorophyll to feed the tree. It’s an amazing system. But as cold weather approaches, the leaves end their food-making role. They stop creating chlorophyll, stop nourishing the tree. The tree drops them to the ground, leaving empty space where each leaf had been. The braches are bare, ready for the new buds that spring will bring. If the tree held on to all the old leaves, there would not be room for new leaves–the tree’s only source of food. There would not be room for growth.
Okay…the analogy isn’t too hard. I’m sure you are getting the picture. We have to drop stuff if we want to have room for the things that really matter. Want to grow in knowledge? Drop the “noise” that clutters up your mind and wastes your time. Want to grow in your faith? Drop the voices that aren’t feeding your soul. Want to grow in the way you organize or manage your time? (Imagine me raising my hand enthusiastically and shouting “Me, me!”) DROP THE CLUTTER.
But here is the best part. Trees do not mourn the loss of their leaves. They aren’t out there in our backyards thinking, “I can’t lose these leaves. I worked so hard to create them last spring. I can’t get rid of that one. It’s such a beautiful shade of red. Oh no! Not that one! It’s the biggest leaf I’ve ever seen. No, I’m keeping that one. I don’t want to waste it!” That doesn’t happen. The leaves simply do not serve the tree any longer. They must go. Why do we analyze each item and place value on it that is far higher than its practical worth?
I have a closet full of things that served me once-upon-a-time. They don’t serve me any longer, so I’m passing them to someone who will enjoy them, value them, and be blessed by them.
This is why fall matters to me. It is an opportunity to drop the old and settle in for a beautiful season, free from the STUFF that holds me back. I have many wonderful memories of fall, and the emotions of those happy times come flooding back and motivate me to make new autumn memories with my husband and children. I can’t do those things freely if I’m held back by old thoughts, old regrets, and physical clutter.
What will you drop this fall?
I received a great response from my first Simple Living post. Thank you, dear readers! It seems that the desire to simplify is strong among my friends and family. I feel encouraged by your messages here and on Facebook.
As I said in “My Story” (linked in case you missed it), my love of simple things and a simple lifestyle has been present my whole life. I have many inspirations all around me, and I’m pleased to be able to share them with you. Some of these sources are new to me while others are not new at all!
- YouTube Minimalists: I love YouTube! For a long time, I thought it was about silly cat videos and wild teenagers, but I was wrong. Sure, you can look up singing kittens, but you also can learn many new things. I’ve been learning plenty from some inspiring and interesting content creators such as Melissa Alexandria, Samantha Lindsey, and Coco. Their videos make me excited and hopeful! Melissa promotes a positive, can-do attitude. She discusses a wide range of topics including minimalism, food, and sustainability, and I simply love her channel. Samantha is a fairly new YouTuber, but I won’t be surprised to see her audience grow and grow! She is a favorite of mine because we share the Christian faith, and that isn’t a common trait in the minimalist movement. She speaks in a gentle, pleasant way that makes you feel like you are chatting with a friend. Coco’s channel is called “Light by Coco,” and I love the whole atmosphere of her beautifully edited videos. Everything about “Light by Coco” is simple, graceful, and elegant. YouTube is loaded with videos on living simply, and I enjoy many of them. One final favorite is Sprout and Blossom by a woman named Mary. It’s a great channel, and you can also visit the accompanying blog; www.sproutandblossomwellnes.com.
- A Visit to My Sister: I’m sure that Kristy would not call herself a minimalist, but she has some of the habits and characteristics of one. When I visited with my sister and her little family this summer, I was struck (again) by the simplicity of how they live and the simplicity of what they enjoy. We are alike in many ways, and pleasure in the small things of life is something we’ve always shared. We do have a big difference though. Kristy is inherently, naturally NEAT. I am…not. When we were kids, I envied her perfectly tidy room. Now, I feel inspired rather than jealous. I have trouble with paper clutter and little bits and pieces of things being kept for no real reason. My sister doesn’t seem to struggle with those things, and it shows in her home. I may be the Big Sister, but I know when I can learn something from my little sister!
- My Children: While my children are definitely a big reason for our clutter, they also play a big part in inspiring me to minimize our belongings. They don’t need stuff. They need me–not Mommy cleaning all the time or trying to distract them so that I can take care of messes. I know that a simple life will allow them to thrive and truly enjoy this magical time called childhood.
- Jesus Christ: This is my last and most important inspiration. Among other things, Jesus teaches simplicity. He teaches that the only “things” that matter are the things of the heart. Modern Christianity might seem like a culture filled with stuff, but Jesus actually lived a life of few possessions, and He showed others that the physical elements of their lives pale in the light of eternity. He called His disciples to leave behind their homes and belongings in order to follow Him. They couldn’t be weighed down by the stuff of life if they were going to accept Christ’s mission to travel around the known world healing people and teaching the message of new life. Sure, it’s probably pretty easy to not worry about your sandals when you are the Son of God. I get that. Even so, Jesus is the perfect model of simplicity. Something to think about…