The shirts off my back

ELEVEN less shirts taking up space in my life.

Don't fit right - out!

Don't feel comfy - out!

Don't look good - out!



Now that the hubbub of Christmas is over, the putting away has begun.  I hope you had a good day - I did!

As The beloved Christmas decor items are dusted and wrapped, a great opportunity comes up to critique each item....

- Do I still love this? Or is it being put out from habit?

- Is this still in good shape? Or am I just remembering what it was in its glory days? If it needs TLC, do I still love it enough to fix it properly - right now?

- Is it something that someone I know would love it more? Maybe it should be passed on to them.

- Do I have more decorations than are really needed or wanted? Don't be afraid to be choosy, picky and snobby about what is on display!

I found some outdoor ribbons that are getting tatty after this windy season.  And I pared down some homemade ornaments that the kids weren't all that attached to anymore. I passed on a holiday movie and some Christmas books that the kids have outgrown too.

The other opportunity is when
bringing back the regular home decor items that were displaced by Christmas. How many are going to be put back out?! The same questions will be asked of these things as the Christmas things.


The Big Picture - Taking Control

In this day and age of western wealth and choices I am blessed to find that there are many areas of life that I am ultimately accountable for…

  • my physical fitness
  • my financial health
  • my home's presentation
  • my business activity/career choices
  • my relationships with friends and family
  • my body's intake of nutrients
  • my family values (and how I present them to the children)

In all these areas I can either LET things happen and live with the consequences or I can take control and really participate in the process to best control the outcome. Sometimes crap happens that is beyond our control (though an amazing amount of bad luck is avoidable with careful forethought). When the doodoo does hit the fan, how the crappy new realities are dealt with is also within our control.

Sometimes things are in conflict… but even with compromises, the most important values can all be met to a decent degree - with conscious effort.

One secret to forming good habits is making the desirable habit more comfortable to do than the undesirable habit. It's a trick that has worked well for my time parenting and for my own growth, though sometimes it is extremely difficult to figure out. (One example that comes to mind was forming the habit of eating dinner together at the table. As dinner is made ready, I turn off all the lights everywhere in the house except the kitchen. It makes the kitchen the most comfortable place to be at dinnertime, and wow it works! )

The other good habit trick is thinking about how the action will affect the future… will eating this (X) make me feel like crap later? …will saying (X) hurt or help the situation? …will buying (X) make daily life easier or harder? It's amazing how thinking ahead can curb regrets!

Over the years, family and finances have come the easiest. Avoiding the pain of debt is far more important to me than updating my wardrobe seasonally or buying sparkly trinkets on credit. Debt is worth the pain when it comes to the roof over our heads though…. through patience and careful timing, our climb up the real estate ladder thus far has been successful by only counting on one income when deciding what we could afford (that sure annoys the bank when your comfort zone is a fraction of the qualifying amount!). Not buying more house than we could afford to maintain was a saving factor a few times too! Crap happens, and it did more than once, so having a small mortgage and no consumer debt kept our heads above water (barely). Enough close calls have really put a point on how my sanity is connected to my financial security, therefore like a squirrel, I try to stash away in times of plenty for the inevitable lean seasons. (The only barrier to that is my husband really feels squeezed so we do have to relax a BIT so he doesn't feel like he works so hard just to survive. )

Sacrifices for family happen every day…. sacrifices that are easy because the results are so rewarding and long lasting. The return on investment for working part time from home so I can be here for the family is really excellent. The money is NOT the important part of that equation for this family. And as long as we can do it, I will be here keeping house.

Housework…. LOL not my easiest priority to say the least. I love a clean house, but I am uncomfortable in a "sterile" house.  It's an emotional stumbling block that I am working on in my journey towards LOVING LESS. I have uncovered some demons over the years that I have associated with "stuff" and the amount of it. Honestly my progress in this area has been monumental over the last few years, but there is still quite a ways and I occasionally slip. Having a neat freak husband is an excellent motivator since I truly would like him to be comfortable at home (he never knows from one day to the next what state of disarray the house will be in when he gets home from work). One thing though… He does know that 99% of the time there will be a home cooked meal for dinner. Other than occasionally feeling burned out trying to figure out WHAT is for dinner, I do enjoy cooking and making a varied menu. No picky eaters would survive in this house! Grocery shopping is by far my favourite kind of shopping, and I can get adventurous in the kitchen.

And to further that thought of food and housekeeping, I am taking gardening more seriously than ever. I have finally found my green thumb (at least it isn't BLACK anymore). There is something wonderful about eating something that you have coaxed from the soil with your own hands. Research is now saying that people that work in the garden live longer and healthier. Fresh air? Micronutrients? Maybe the "peck of dirt" thing that my grandpa used to say is true? (After all he lived to 94 and had his full brain function right up to the end, and he was a professional gardener and grew all his own veggies right up into his late 80s.) In Grandpa's honour I grow tomatoes and try to remember the many tips that he tried to share (before I was interested in growing things). We also have 6 adopted chickens, more for entertainment than anything else… they are characters! They provide us a small amount of fresh eggs and fertilizer and pest control and soil aeration too when I let them into the backyard. Sure they are dusty and a bit stinky, but they are so darned cute! Well worth the cost and effort in my opinion. With a bigger commitment, I could really ramp up the food production to develop from a novel experience to real sustenance, but I'm not sure I have it in me to put that many more hours into it.

But I really should.

My health is not that great right now. It's not dire or anything, but I have a feeling that it could be if I ignore it much longer. 40 years of eating what I want when I want is having some consequences on my body. Thankfully "what I want" is mostly good and not too much and "when I want" hasn't been too frequently. It's just that the last 10 years or so I have gotten in the bad habit of eating irregularly and then eating convenient foods instead of the foods I really want.  Lets face it good food (aka REAL food) is more expensive than the crap food-like products that are everywhere these days, so I have been being too miserly for my own good when it comes to nutrition. I am guilt of saving the "good stuff" for the kids and just eating whats left… surely I'm not the only mom that does that?

In the last year and a half in particular, bad things have been a-brewing. If I was a wise woman I would give up all things sugar and processed like my dear friend that has rediscovered energy, good health and freedom from the many inflammatory responses her body was giving her. After all, I know I have inflammatory problems too…. increased belly bloat, joint pain, nerves misfiring in my feet, weight gain, brain fog, chronic minor sinus congestion, among other less definable issues that weren't there when I was young and invincible.

REAL food is a necessity - I understand that. I just have to really live it too, for me and my whole family!

And then there is exercise. I love sauntering to the school in the morning the weekend nature walks and  dancing in the kitchen every time a fun song comes on the radio, but that isn't nearly enough. My stamina is disgraceful, I am not strong AT ALL and my expanding waistline is telling me in no uncertain terms that my caloric intake exceeds my output.

And here it comes down to accountability. When did "convenience" overtake "health" in my priorities?!

  • I do have the TIME to take care of myself (after all if I don't have time to stay healthy, then when am I going to find the time to be sick?!)
  • I am not so financially strapped that I have to eat poorly or stay sedentary (walks are free, dancing at home is free, borrowing exercise videos from the library is free too, gardening more costs some but the returns are both exercise AND nutrition!)
  • I do have real food selection options at the store that I can take advantage of

In a nutshell… it has been 100% my fault that I have formed these bad habits and let myself be seduced by sweet-salty-fatty-fake combinations even a little bit. And even worse, I have let my sons get seduced too!!!!! Unforgivable!

Moving forward.

I have a juicer, and I love fruits and vegetables.
I have a dehydrator and I love kale chips
I have garden space and enough time to use it more effectively
I have a dog that would love LONGER walks MORE OFTEN
I don't have to watch so much TV
I don't have to surf the web so much either….
I could do more housework (happy husband, self satisfaction, more exercise)

No time like the present. With Christmas almost here, it is a sensible time to create good will towards my family's health. I want to be able to enjoy many holidays to come with my family: healthy, pain free and bright.

So as I work on my home - decluttering and consuming less stuff - I want to work on taking my body seriously as well, and my family's nutrition too. Garbage in - Garbage out, right?