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November 08, 2012

Thankful Thursday: 30 Days of Gratitude Days 1 through 8

Welcome to our first Thankful Thursday. As we mentioned last week, Jennifer and I decided to join in Positively Present’s 30 Days of Gratitude Photo Challenge, and do a weekly “Thankful Thursday” blog post to share our photos of the objects of our gratitude. The challenge suggests what to take photos of, which has been a fun gratitude twist for me. I am in the habit of sharing my daily gratitude (via email and this time of year, also in my Get Organized for the Holidays online workshop). But this challenge has caused me to think more deeply about very specific things and recognize how these things benefit my life. It has been quite fun…and we’re only 8 days into it! Let's get to the thankfulness...


Day 1: Words

30 days of gratitude - day 1 words


A big part of what I do for a living is writing, so it goes without saying that I’m extremely grateful for words. And I’m even more grateful for the people who read my words.


Day 2: Technology

30 days of gratitude - day 2 technology

You may know this about me, but I’m really not the most techie person around. I am grateful, however, that technology helps connect me with people I love via Facebook, texting, and phone calls. But my newest object of technology gratitude is my running app. This app helped me track my October running goal, and it really helped solidify my love of running. Who knew technology could be good for the mind and body?


Day 3: Nature

30 days of gratitude - day 3 nature

I’m not exactly what you would consider a nature girl either (my sister claimed that gene in our family), but I am grateful for the gifts of nature, especially those found through the changing seasons. This fall I’ve been more up close and personal with nature because I have spent so much time running outside. I’m grateful that running has allowed me to appreciate nature such as changing leaves, deer crossing on the road just ahead of me, and clear skies that suddenly changed to ominous stormy skies. (And I’m really grateful I went for a short run that night, and got home before the skies opened up!)


Day 4: Clothing

30 days of gratitude - day 4 clothing

I’m grateful for clothing that keeps me warm during these cool fall days. And I’m especially grateful for this cozy sweatshirt and all the trouble my sister went through getting it for me.


Day 5: Knowledge

30 days of gratitude - day 5 knowledge

I’m grateful for books and for people who share their knowledge through books. I'm grateful for the author of these books, Scott Stratten, who has the amazing and rare ability to share knowledge and humor all in one package. Finally, I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my knowledge with others via simplify 101—a big, heartfelt thanks for that one.


Day 6: Memories

30 days of gratitude - day 6 memories

I have never been more grateful for memories than I am now. It is memories that get me through those empty-as-a-drum days when I miss my sweet daddy oh so much.


Day 7: Innovation

30 days of gratitude - day 7 innovation-1


I am grateful for innovation and the ways it makes my life easier. It boggles my brain, really, the innovations that have happened just in my lifetime! I’ve gone from a time when computer programming was done via punch cards to a time when I can connect with people all over the world via an iPad (and pin stuff using the same handy device!) Innovation—what’s not to love?


Day 8: Sleep

30 days of gratitude - day 8 sleep

I am grateful for sleep and the way it restores my body, mind and soul. I’m also grateful for the incredilbe sweetness of a sleeping child. 


I'm also really grateful for everyone who is joining us in this challenge! We've been pinning images to our 30 Day Gratitude Challenge pinboard, and it has been so fun to see what you are grateful for! Thanks for joining the fun. If you haven't started yet, or you've fallen behind, no worries! Just jump in where you are. If you're wondering how you can join in the fun, the best way is to upload your images to instagram using the hashtags #simplify101 and #gratitude30. Let us know if you have any questions or comments.



November 07, 2012

Aftermath of an IKEA Shopping Trip

We're not fortunate enough to live within a respectable driving distance from IKEA, which is sad because it is my favorite store for home goods. I am, however, sure that the distance between me and the "big blue and yellow" is truly for the best. For one thing, it makes a trip to IKEA much more than an errand. It’s an event! It requires pouring over the catalog, flagging pages, measuring spaces in my home, making notes. It also requires at least one overnight stay, and possibly arranging childcare for my kiddos. (Can you say weekend away for Mom and Dad? Yippee!)


I have been pining for a new dresser for my daughter Joy’s room for a year now. Not just any dresser, mind you, but the 8-drawer Hemnes dresser in white. And everything else I saw paled in comparison, so my husband and I finally decided it was time to go for it. We lined up a willing grandma to keep the kiddos, booked a hotel room, and cleaned out the van for maximum cargo space. WOOHOO, we were off! We had a great weekend together as a couple, and of course made a major haul of home goods.


It wasn’t until the drive home that I think it hit us both. It wasn’t exactly buyer’s remorse. It’s more of what I would call “IKEA aftermath.” Those stacks of boxes in the back of the van? Um, those represented a whole lot of work now that we had them all home. Our little weekend excursion suddenly felt more like we’d enlisted in a DIY boot camp. Oh, and to add to this whole scenario, it’s important to note that my husband had to leave on business travel right after our return from the IKEA getaway. 


As we unloaded the van, we put the purchases in the rooms where they belong and tried to make peace with the fact that we would be navigating around boxes until we get all the assembly done. But then, I became even more overwhelmed as I started to look around the house. My daughter’s current furniture had to be cleaned off, cleared out, and moved from the room before the new furniture is built. And, oh my, she has quite the collection of “stuff” to cull through.




Dream? Yes, I have a dream of getting this mess under control!

Part of the reason we bought her new furniture was to be able to make her room more organized and functional for her. Case in point:  one whole corner is taken up by a desk. While a desk in her room is a great idea, she never actually uses it as a desk. Instead, it’s just a place where things get piled and stashed.


Given her love of books and need for more storage space, bookshelves make a lot more sense in this corner. BUT, before the bookcase is assembled, that entire desk has to be de-cluttered. Everything has to be moved off and out of the desk, and the desk has to go to a new home. That’s a lot of to-dos after an innocent trip to IKEA! Now, picture this process being repeated throughout the house, and I think you will begin to sense how overwhelmed I am feeling! I look around at these boxes and feel like we just moved in but without the helpful friends here to unpack us. (OK, OK, taking a deep breath here.)



box used as memo board

My daughter, Faith, is now using one of the boxes in the hallway as a giant memo board. Clever!


I am fighting these overwhelmed feelings by simply doing what I can in small slices of time. I cannot even lift some of these boxes, much less assemble them myself. This has to wait for hubby’s return and time in both of our schedules. In the meantime, can I declutter for 15 minutes here and there? Yes. Can I begin packing up items that will find new homes within the new furniture and storage solutions? You betcha. Can I begin the process of selling or giving away furniture that needs to leave our home? Absolutely. All of these are steps in the process.


Aby mentions frequently how helpful it is to break things into bite-sized chunks to make progress towards a goal, and I am finding that advice exceptionally helpful right now. I would certainly rather wave a wand and have this all finished, but making progress on these goals is relieving my stress and helping get us closer to completion.



book shelves

These shelves and everything on them is being placed in other rooms. My progress here is quite messy looking!

No matter what kind of organizing project we are working on, I think the aftermath of IKEA is a good reminder of two things:


1.  We frequently have to create much larger messes in order to achieve the results we desire.

2.  Working in small increments of time each day not only helps us get closer to our goals, but it also helps ward off those overwhelmed feelings. 


Whew. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 


Are you working on anything overwhelming right now? What small steps can you take each day to move forward?

Jens signature black

November 06, 2012

Simple + Eco Friendly Storage Solutions from Ways Basics

One thing I really enjoy about my work with simplify 101, is finding out about great storage solutions, and then passing that info along to my readers and workshop participants! Here's one worth mentioning:  I just became familiar with Ways Basics, a company that offers simple, safe, eco-friendly storage solutions. We found out about this company from a participant who took a recent session of our Organize Your Paper Clutter online workshop. (Take a look at this great photo she shared on the Ways Basic Facebook page of her organized office area. Pretty great, right?)


We love that their products are environmentally friendly, toxin-free and 100% safe for the household. Plus, they offer a sleak, contemporary look at an affordable price point. If you're working on any organizing projects of your own, these would be great for kids’ rooms, offices, bedrooms and more.


Best of all Ways Basics sent us a coupon code so we can share the love with all of you! Enter coupon code WBHOLIDAYS2012 to save 20% off all Ways Basics products through December 31, 2012.


Happy Organizing!


November 05, 2012

How was your weekend?

Happy Monday! I hope you had a terrific weekend. Here's how mine turned out:



  • Run. Check! Seven miles in total this weekend. I'm off to a good-for-me start.
  • Take photos for 30 days of gratitude. Check! And I did lots of thinking about the words. :) Check back for the week 1 post on Thursday. 



  • In-home organizing appointment. Check! It was a great closet organizing appointment.
  • Laundry. Check! Gosh, I did a lot of laundry this weekend. It felt like there was a load in process all day on Sunday! 
  • Plan meals + grocery shop. No check. Tonight is the night. :)
  • Make progress on 28 day challenge. A really little check. I put away my very minimal Halloween decorations...which took less than five minutes. :) But hey, every step forward is a step forward. 
  • Do some paperwork. Check. I spent quite a bit of time doing paperwork and planning the week ahead yesterday afternoon and evening. Nice way to start the week, with the planning already done. Yay!


How was your weekend? 


November 02, 2012

What’s on your to-do list this weekend?

Before I get to the weekend to-do list stuff, I want to send a shout-out to my readers on the east coast. I had been hearing reports of power outages via Facebook...but then I saw photos of how sever the destruction is on the news. I'm floored. My heart is heavy for everyone who has been effected by this storm. I'd love to hear how you're doing. 


As for the weekend to-do list stuff, it seems like Friday arrived way too fast this week. I know this is due to Halloween and out of town visitors happening right smack dab in the middle of the week. Regardless, what this means is that there’s lots to do this weekend to catch up from the midweek break! Totally worth it...but the laundry pile runneth over, for example. Here’s what’s on my to-do list this weekend:



  • Run. I met my 43 mile goal for the month of October. My total mileage was 53.77, which I’m really happy about! Never would have dreamed I would run that far when I started the challenge on October 2nd. I set a new goal of 46.23 miles for the month of November. When I hit that goal I will have run 100 miles in two months! So…I better get busy running this weekend.
  • Take photos for 30 days of gratitude. I've also decided I need some words to go along with the will be doing a bit of writing this weekend, too. 


  • In-home organizing appointment. I have a weekend appointment with a terrific client. (Very much looking forward to this.)
  • Laundry.  There’s a big pile up in the laundry room as I type! Must address this by Sunday.
  • Plan meals + grocery shop.
  • Make progress on 28 day challenge. I’m going out of order…we’ll see what I’m inspired to do. If you’re participating, how are you doing with the challenge?
  • Do some paperwork. 


I’m going to keep my list short this weekend, since the better part of one day is already accounted for. What’s on your to-do list this weekend?


Have a great weekend!


November 01, 2012

We're taking the 30-day gratitude challenge. Who is with us?

Focusing on gratitude is something I mention a lot around here, particularly in my Get Organized for the Holidays workshop. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, I make an extra effort to keep my mind focused on gratitude. I have learned that this foundation carries me through the hectic holiday season. It's easy to feel stressed out and overwhelmed this time of year, but it is so much more rewarding to feel grateful and seek out the good that is already present in my life.


Jennifer stumbled upon this 30-day Gratitude Photo Challenge and we both love, love, love it! It’s another great way to commit to recognizing and recording what we're grateful we both decided to join the challenge. Check out the link for all the details, and see if this is something that you’d like to participate in, too. If so, we thought it would be fun to do this together!


If you’d like to share your gratitude photos with us on Pinterest, include the hashtags #simplify101 and #gratitude30 so we can see your photos and what you're grateful for each day. We'll set up a Gratitude Pinboard and repin the photos you share on Pinterest. Jennifer and I also plan to share highlights from our daily gratitude photos on Thursdays, right here on the blog, throughout November. 


Simplify101 gratitude30 iphone copy
Jennifer saved the 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge image to her phone and saved it as her background and wallpaper. This is her way of keeping the challenge top-of-mind, and since she will be using her phone to capture her images, she's got the list exactly where she needs it. Love this!


So what do you say, are you in? Let us know in the comments...and the let the gratitude, photo taking, and pinning begin! I can't wait to see what fills your heart with gratitude. 

Aby's Signature in Blue

P.S. You can find us on Pinterest here and here

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