2014 things

2014 things

So it’s the last day of 2014 and I spent a big chunk of today reflecting on the past year and journalling in my Leonie Dawson 2015 workbook.

It’s certainly been an enormous year for me, particularly these past four months. To be honest, I feel like I need a couple more days of this holiday break to properly reflect on the year – and then I’ll be able to write some sort of wrap up. I know it will be a few days late, but I’m sure you won’t mind.

Today however, I would like to share with you one very awesome goal that I totally smashed out of the park this year.

My “Declutter 2014 things from my home in 2014” challenge.

Yes – 2014 things! At the start of 2014 I was faced with a house full of “stuff” and I decided I needed to take drastic action.

Now, let me assure you that my home wasn’t in Hoarders territory on January 1 this year. It was perfectly respectable. But it was definitely cluttered! After moving home from interstate six months earlier we had tried to cram everything from our 4 bedroom, 2 living area, 2 bathroom Queensland home into our 3 bedroom, one living, one bathroom SA home. With not much success!

We also had a preschooler and a baby – and any parent knows just how much “stuff” you accumulate for the little ones in those early years.

I had this icky feeling that I was being smothered by all this stuff (figuratively, not literally). It was creating some nasty Chi in my life and I wasn’t at all happy with my surroundings. I was also inspired by the gorgeous Denise Duffield-Thomas, who talks a lot about de-cluttering in order to create abundance and wealth. And who doesn’t want more of that!

So I decided enough was enough and because it was the start of 2014 and New Years Resolution time, I set myself the goal to de-clutter 2014 things during the year.

And that’s exactly what I did – my tally of “things” hit 2055 on Monday December 29, when I managed to declutter the girls toy boxes at 3am in the morning, while watching over a poorly toddler snoozing in front of a Minnie Mouse DVD after being a bit spewy earlier that night. True story. #mumsglamorouslife

So what did I de-clutter? Everything!

By far the biggest clutter-culprit was clothing – seriously around 500-600 pieces of clothing. WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF!!! How on earth did I end up with 600 unwanted pieces of clothing? Firstly, our two young girls had sooooooooo many clothes. My youngest moved from a size 0 to a size 2 this year, so we had everything from 00-1 to get rid of. Plus we had been fortunate enough to receive lots of hand-me-downs from people, so we had plenty to get rid of. Also, I was completely ruthless with my and my husband’s wardrobes and got rid of anything that didn’t fit, didn’t suit us, didn’t look nice, was rarely worn, was being kept in the hope of “fitting into again one day”. It’s amazing how many clothes we had that we simply didn’t wear. nb. This tally also includes pairs of shoes, and I counted all socks and shoes individually – so maybe the final number wasn’t really that bad… Of course, most of it went to Vinnies.

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I don’t really want to think about how many Vinnies bins I filled with my 2014 things.

 

The girls "helped" declutter their shoe drawers.

The girls “helped” declutter their shoe drawers.

There was also lots of toys. So many toys! Seriously my girls simply had so many toys that they didn’t even KNOW what they had. We had a couple of plastic containers of toys stored in the garage that hadn’t been looked at in months. I decluttered most of the toys one long Friday night in the middle of the year when the rest of the family were away. I literally scoured the house for every single toy we had and piled them all up on the living room floor. This was what THAT looked like…. A sea of pink plastic….

Toys. So many toys.

Toys. So many toys.

Then I worked through them – deciding what to keep, what to bin and what to give away. The vast majority went to local SA Charity, Backpacks for Kids. I actually found this task really hard, as most of the toys had been given as gifts to my girls from friends and family. I felt quite bad for decluttering these – like I should hold onto them out of respect for those people, even though my girls didn’t like, didn’t need, or didn’t play with them. The best way for me to deal with that emotionally was to know they were being sent on to other children who were desperately in need and would appreciate them so much more than mine.

What else was there? Books, magazines, paperwork, old business cards, plastic knives and spoons, odd and mismatched kitchenware and plastic containers, pens, broken crayons, used batteries, old toiletries and makeup, craft and sewing supplies, knick knacks, bric-a-brac, old towels and linen. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. By far, most of it was recycled, sold or passed onto other people or charity organisations. There wasn’t much that was tossed at all. Thankfully. Re-use, re-purpose, re-gift, re-cycle and all that.

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So what have I learned? That I really don’t need that much stuff. That “stuff” doesn’t make me happy. That I now value quality over quantity. That I value presence over presents. That more stuff makes my kids less grateful and less imaginative. That it feels good to let go of the past. That it feels good to know others will make use of things that would otherwise sit at the back of cupboards or the bottom of drawers.

Most importantly – I learned that I really value a clean, light, uncluttered home. I feel more comfortable. I work better. I’m more relaxed.

I need my spaces to be light, bright and airy. Free from clutter and mess and stuff.

The older I get the more drawn I am to Eastern principles such as Chi and Feng Shui – perhaps it’s because I’m better at getting inside my own head these days. But it feels good to be more in control of my environment, because it’s a big part of being in control of my life.

So what about 2015? Well I’m not about to declutter another 2015 things – I’m not sure I have that much stuff left! So my goal for this coming year is to really CREATE my home. Sure, it’s already a physical structure – but thus far I haven’t really created it as our HOME. We moved back in here 18 months ago, and have been somewhat living in limbo. I avoided hanging pictures because I wanted to paint first, we haven’t planted gardens because we’ve had limited time, we haven’t replaced the carpets because we haven’t had the budget. We still have our hodge-podge furniture, a cobbled collection of hand-me-downs and Ikea flat-packs. Nothing really matches and there’s no discernable style. There’s not much in our home that tells the story of US, our family, me.

So that’s my plan for 2015. To turn my house into my home. To create our sanctuary. To make it our happy place. Wish me luck!

Is your clutter making you sick?

Is your clutter making you sick?

Don’t think clutter impacts on your wellbeing? Think again!

I’m sure we’ve all watched those episodes of Hoarders and thought to ourselves – “How can people live like that?” Piles of decades old newspapers lining the hallways, stuffed toys stuffing every single closet, rusty saucepans spilling out of kitchen drawers. Ugh – it sends most of us non-hoarders into a tailspin! Often in these shows, there’s some sort of documented psychological issue that precipitated the hoarding – the compulsive need for “things” often comes from a place of deep unhappiness, anxiety or  trauma. It really is quite a serious condition, and if you, or someone you know fits this category, I’d highly suggest looking for some professional assistance to help you work through it.

But I’m not talking about that level of clutter today. What I want to talk about is our everyday, run of the mill clutter. The type of clutter that the vast majority of us DO have in our homes, and which doesn’t come from a place of mental distress. It just comes from a busy life, full of stuff and things, and potentially with limited amounts of time and space.

Overflowing wardrobes, toys sprawled across every single room in the house, bathroom cabinets teeming with expired beauty products, cans of corn with expiry dates of October 2013. You get the idea. Most of us have clutter. And most of us just put up with it, perhaps telling ourselves that we’ll get around to clearing it out “someday”. Right?

Apart from the mental health aspects, the thing that always strikes me about the people on those Hoarders-type shows is how physically unwell they generally always are. They often complain of having multiple health conditions, many of which disappear once they get on top of the cleaning, clutter and chaos.

As with pretty much everything in life this falls on a continuum. We don’t have to have floor-to-ceiling clutter to be affected by it. Even your average run of the mill clutter can have a negative impact on our wellbeing. All the more reason to make that “someday” today, and take action on clearing your home of the unnecessary “stuff”.

Here’s just a few ways clutter affects your physical health,

  • Increased respiratory stress – due to dust, allergens and airborne particles
  • Increase falls hazards – not to mention the intense pain of stepping on a stray Lego piece barefoot – youch!
  • Mould. This stuff is toxic. Don’t just think about the mould growing on your shower curtain. How about the mould you didn’t know was growing on your winter boots, or that suitcase you put away slightly damp last winter?

But it’s not just about physical wellbeing – it never is! We already know that our physical health and wellbeing is intrinsically linked to our emotional health – mind-body connection, right? So these physical health issues will certainly affect our emotional wellbeing.

But there’s also more direct correlations between clutter and emotional and social wellbeing.

  • Blocked chi – the ancient Eastern practice of Feng Shui sings the praises of clean, uncluttered open spaces. This is because clutter is thought to block the flow of “Chi” throughout a space. “Chi” is the life force, we want it to be able to move freely and swiftly for optimal health, we don’t want it to become stagnant or stuck. When Chi can’t move freely, our energy and stress levels can be negatively impacted. Not convinced? Close your eyes for a few seconds and imagine yourself walking into two rooms. The first, bright, breezy, airy, lots of natural light, plenty of wide open spaces. The second room, piled high with books, clothes, bags, shoes, too much furniture shoved into the room. Maybe you’ve already been in two rooms similar to this. Close your eyes and focus down into your body – in which room do you feel the most comfortable? The least stressed? The happiest and calmest? I know which one it is for me. In fact, I use de-cluttering as one of my stress management techniques. You know I’m getting stressed when you see me emptying my collection of Women’s Health magazines into the recycle bin!
  • Financial stress: Bills that get misfiled and forgotten so you attract late fees, food that gets wasted as it’s stuck at the back of a cluttered fridge. Having four almost identical black clutches because you can never find one as it’s stashed somewhere at the back of your wardrobe so you just buy a new one. Clutter costs us money, and that causes us stress.
  • Guilt – when faced with clutter in our homes, or our lives, many of us experience extreme guilt. “I really should sort that mess out”, “I really need to clean out that spare room”, “I really need to take those bags of old clothes to Vinnies”. We instinctively know that our clutter is detrimental to our health, so we feel guilty about it, which simply amplifies the negative emotions we’re already feeling.
  • Not to mention how clutter affects our ability to manifest the life of our dreams – it’s all about abundance and the law of attraction. This part is pretty new to me, but the total expert on it is Denise Duffield-Thomas from luckybitch.com , check out her website to see how clutter impacts on your lucky (or unlucky!) life. There’s also lots of correlations here to financial stress – just as I mentioned above!

The solution?

De-clutter!!

This is seriously one of my favourite things to do in the entire world. (I know, I’m strange – sorry!) But I simply love the feeling that comes with clearing a space, and feeling the fresh energy flowing through. I always feel calmer and more focused in a de-cluttered space, and I seriously struggle to focus in a cluttered, messy office. So yes, I’m struggling a bit now, as my office has gotten pretty disorganised towards the end of this year, due to a pretty hectic last few months! But don’t worry, I’ve already got a few days over the Christmas break set aside to declutter, clean and sort out my office!

In fact, I love de-cluttering so much that at the start of 2014 I set myself a New Years Resolution – to declutter 2014 items from my home! Sounds impossible? Nope, it’s not. In fact, I’m so, so close, to 2014 items. I’ll blog about it when I hit my target. (And no, I didn’t start with a Hoarders-style situation!)

My de-cluttered bookshelf.

My de-cluttered bookshelf.

But if you’re not a seasoned de-clutterer, don’t despair. There’s a million and one resources out there about de-cluttering so feel free to Google away and find one you like, but a couple of my favourites are listed below:

Katrina, the Organised Housewife – she runs a free year-long de-cluttering challenge, which is awesome and very simple to undertake.

Peter Walsh (from The Living Room tv show)

Denise Duffield-Thomas, of Lucky Bitch

(ps. No affiliate links here, I just love to share the people I think are great!)

So over to you? Are you a de-clutterer? Do you do a yearly de-clutter, or are you more of a de-clutter daily type of person? Or are you just drowning in a sea of kids toys, tupperware containers and “one day I’ll fit back into them” clothes? I’d love to hear your story – let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Live your best (uncluttered) life.

Sarah xx

My five minutes of fame!

My five minutes of fame!

For those of you who don’t know who I am – I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

I’m so totally famous this month!

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This is me, Sarah, within the pages of the February edition of Runners World magazine (the Aussie version). No, not the cover girl (maybe one day, when I get game enough to wear a crop top and mini-shorts in public). That’s me on the right – telling my story of how I ran my first half marathon – at seven weeks pregnant.

Like the story says, I found out I was pregnant a week before race day, after months and months of training. Making the decision to go on with the run was a tough one, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t putting my baby at risk in any way. I was never quite 100pc confident on my decision to go ahead with the run – as with so many decisions we make daily throughout our pregnancies. Even on the morning of the race, as I was driving to the starting venue, I still had doubts – so I rang my hubby to ask if I should back out.

He was amazing – I thought he would err on the side of caution – but what he said to me was this: “You can do this. You’ve done the training – you’ve been running while pregnant for the past few weeks anyway. You’ll be fine, just take it easy and see how you go. You’ll regret it if you don’t do it.”

Having his support was a huge relief for me. Even though this run was something I was doing completely for myself – this baby was part of both of us, and the risk was for both (well, all three) of us. Knowing that he supported me to run the race was paramount.

And he was right. I was fine, and I would have regretted if I had backed out. I kept my pace very slow, I basically walked up the hills – and I checked my heart rate monitor roughly every 98 seconds. I drank soooooo much water – at least three litres during the race itself – let me tell you – carrying a one litre water bottle for a 21km jog is pretty effing annoying though.

The trickiest thing was the fact I hadn’t let my running buddy, JC, know I was pregnant. We hadn’t told anyone at that stage and I didn’t want her to worry about me during the race. So there I was, going crazy slow up the hills, with JC powering on ahead, thinking she was completely awesome! (Which she is – though she was so deflated about her hill running prowess once she knew why she was killing the hills and I wasn’t!)

I was so proud to finish – I didn’t really care about my time. Before I even knew I was pregnant my goal was just to finish, not to hit a certain time.

I haven’t run another half marathon since then. Two years ago, I started training for one, but I was plagued by calf injuries and a few weeks before the race I changed my registration to the 10km. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to run 21km. Within weeks of that race, I was pregnant again with our second baby, so another half was off the table for a while.

But now, I’m back in the game – I’ve committed to running the Adelaide Greenbelt half marathon in May this year – the same race I ran four years ago. But this time – I want to knock 30 minutes off my time. Gotta love a challenge hey!

And, no, this time I won’t be seven weeks pregnant when I rock up to the starting line. And this time, it will be me kicking JC’s butt on the hills!

Great expectations!

So 2014 is nearly here. How are you feeling about the New Year? Hopeful? Excited? Uncertain?

Me? I’m feeling expectant. As in, I’m expecting a lot of 2014. I’m expecting great health, wonderful relationships, fabulous career progression and successful achievement of my goals.

I’ve been working hard in 2013. I’ve done LOTS of research into health. I’ve done LOTS of experimenting around my (and my family’s) health and nutrition. I’ve put LOTS of new healthy habits into practice and I’ve rid myself of LOTS of old not-so healthy habits.

So 2013 was a big year. I did a lot of learning. And you know what – I feel good. I feel healthier. I feel like I understand and respect my body more. I feel like I’m finally on the right track with my health and wellbeing. I feel like I’m seriously moving towards the person I want to be. The role model I want to be for my two amazing daughters. And I can’t wait to get there.

So, yes, I’m expecting great things from 2014.  I’m not wishing or hoping – I’m EXPECTING them to happen. I’m not saying this to sound cocky, and I’m not suggesting that great things should happen to me just because I want them. What I’m saying is – I’ve put in the hard yards.  I’ve laid all the groundwork in 2013. And in 2014, it’s time to reap what I’ve sown.

How about you? What groundwork did you do in 2013 – what amazing things are you expecting in 2014?