The other day, I stumbled onto this little known non-profit it’s called,”because I said I would” The premise behind the concept is that when people are true to their word and follow through on their promises and commitments the world becomes a better place. I tend to agree. Also the action of writing your promise down on paper really can solidify your commitment. I found the “because I said I would” concept completely complimentary with my Dad’s mantra “be true to yourself”, which is now how I live.
Rewind back to last year when we struggled to raise funds for our dog, Batman’s, wheelchair. It was during that process I really understood how difficult it is to raise funds after you have tapped out your resources. So I promised myself that I would donate once a month to a cause. Not to a huge corporate fundraising machine, but rather to an individual or a family. (In my mind someone that’s who really needs it and I know the money goes directly to their fund, a win-win)
I wasn’t sure how I could keep this commitment because money is so very tight. I had to come up with an amount that I could handle regardless of what other emergency pops up, and they pop up all the freakin’ time so I settled on ten dollars. How could I remember to give ten dollars? My answer; ten on the tenth.
So here you have my first “because I said I would.” 10 dollars every tenth of the month to a fundraiser on youcaring.com. ( a free fundraising site)
What will you do because you said you would?
Once a pack-rat always a pack-rat? Could this be my fate? I am disgusted with all the crap in my new fixer-upper.
Even after all this time of moaning and reasoning, learning, and purging, there is still too much crap! I give advice like it’s nobody’s business, yet here I am facing a mess. And when I see it I feel like, “Damn what happened?”
What’s my excuse? Tell me because I would like to know.
My guess is that I am fearful. All the self help books out there claim fear is the strongest of emotions that guide our decisions….so I must be afraid.
Afraid of what?
I am afraid of being without, even though being without is my goal. So I have a major problem here.
I was raised in the material world, with the material girl. I used to claim to my step sons that Madonna was my sister….they were kids (little kids), they didn’t now any better. I also told them I was from outer-space and that was even way cooler than being anyone’s sister. Point being materialism runs deep in my veins. I am ashamed to say, one of my nick names was “Shoppin’-Shirley.”
I held no limits and knew few worries. Whatever, whenever as long as it was fun, and even better if I could buy something. My life was spinning without direction or boundaries. Anything was possible. Everything was an adventure. Things were fun. Buying was fun. For me the late 80’s and all of the 90’s were out of control. And I liked it!
Sorry if I am repeating myself
So fast forward to reality, ugh, do we have to? Yes we do. Now I am still on this quest. I call it my “journey to living better with less” but I am in a funk. I have not reached my goals. I am slowly pulling myself out of this funk, but that doesn’t make the extra stuff magically disappear.
Now for the: What am I going to do about it question?
I am going to start over. I am going to the Start Here section of my blog and follow my own advice. I may skip around the numbers some, depending what I feel like doing. I am adding a new twist, I am going to hold myself accountable. Astonishing right? Accountability. Wow.
I have been lax in taking photos. So regarding photos, I am going to try something new. I am going to take Reward photos, pictures of stuff packed-up and ready to go. No matter where it is going. The rule is there are only four places anything can go:
4. ?Question? box.
The ?Question? box is new to me. It’s my last thin thread of my holding-on tendencies Items placed in the ?Question? pile can live there a week, and only a week. Seven days. After that week is up their fate is sealed.
This is my plan. If you are in the same boat maybe you too can kick-start your journey to living better with less. Wish me luck. Cheers.
Tip: The more you put in the ?Question? box the better.
Inspiration: “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosby
One-day one-thing: Make a ?Question box? or area.
I am getting pretty good at organizing garage/house sales, and brother do I kill it with the signs.
I use Craig’s list and signs on major intersections. That’s it. I have a sale kit with a staple gun and signs and wire stands from old political signs. All you have to do is take the political sign off the wire holder and turn it inside out and tape your awsome sale sign to the plastic. So easy, and they go into the ground perfectly.
I never hold my sale if the weather is bad, and now because you can place ads for free at a moments notice that is easy to accomplish.
My signs are always florescent poster board, sometimes with added reflective wrapping paper. It makes a difference having a great sign. People always tell me they love the signs…lol. Some of my best slogans are: ” Don’t MISS this SALE” or “Something 4 Everyone Sale,” “Best Sale Ever,” ” Turn Around Cool Items. ” Often my signs are a shapes, maybe a circle or the shape of a dresser if we have furniture. Stars cut outs on top of the signs in a contrasting bright color also helps grab attention. And note: If you tell someone not to “miss” something they just can’t resist.
But this sale I am going in for the kill!
I am planning to have a table of “Name Your Own Price” items…..who can resist that??? Another sign will say, ” HAVE 2 HAVE sale” sign. “Useless stuff Sale. ” “TOO BIG wont FIT” Sale…. for my new house. And a “too little SPACE Sale” sign…..”Help me I’m a Hoarder, Sale.”
I think you get the idea, I am not planning to have many more of these sales, so I am going to have fun. I am thinking I might sell sodas as well. If it’s warm and the sun is out, I can make .75 cents a can. Plus it keeps people happy, they stay longer and might just buy something.
In our town, garage sales are the ultimate signal that summer is near. Garage Sale-ing a ritual, every Thursday is always the first day of any sale. People map out the sales they are going to hit and make a day of it. I like to be open on Thursday and Saturday. I cant stand Friday because it is too slow and Sunday people are too cheap. We’ll see how it works out this time.
My real issue here is most the stuff I have is what I decided to keep. Ouch. Now I am going to have to measure each room and be realistic. It’s going to be a challenge, especially since, this is it. My last chance. I am not moving all this stuff one more time, not going to do it. Minimalism here I come. That has been my goal all along, but talking and doing are two different things.
The tough cuts await……I have to empty the storage unit and a garage….ugh.
And you know what’s in those three containers? Pottery made by students and professors from Cleveland State. More average pottery than anyone ever needs. At the time,the pottery was the most important thing for me to pack up and protect, err to hoard. I still love it. Every item was made by someone learning about design and clay. Sigh.
Tip: Price everything, people are shy and don’t want to ask.
Inspiration: “You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.” – Eric Hoffer
One-day one -thing: Remember the every decision is an action, and action is how you create change.
As hopeless as the world appears to be, as down I am about the holidays and my own personal problems. I do get nuggets of hope.
I cherish these nuggets, because in my world, they are few and far between. I tend to question everything with this one word: Why?
Why if we have the resources, why can’t we solve problems? Why if we have the intelligence, why can’t we solve problems? Why isn’t taking care of people in need a top priority in our world?
We are a powerful country, a wealthy country, home to super wealthy corporations, but we seem to have become a country of people who don’t really care. It appears we have learned to blame the victims, and look the other way, as if they are not our reflection.
Society reflects itself, we are exactly what we see.
Why or what has led us to believe that it’s A-O.K. to let the homeless suffer in our streets? What twisted message have we been hearing that has warped our humanity into a callous self-righteous existence? What religion supports this? What government supports this? Why do we support this?
Mind you, I don’t believe that we as individuals think that this is right. But when faced with the decision as to what should be done about it we get over whelmed, we don’t know how to help, and we end up doing nothing. And by doing nothing, we are essentially turning our backs on people in need.
I don’t have much extra money, at the moment, but I am going to NYC tomorrow, and I will be taking twenty five dollar bills and handing them out to homeless people. I think I will make PB&J sandwiches to go along with the money. A simple brown paper bag with a sandwich and a five. I want to help, I want them to know that they are not forgotten.
So where’s the hope?
Where are the nuggets I spoke about?
The “hope-nuggets” are people I meet who do good things. They are individuals who are standing up and showing they care. Many I know in person, and others I know through on-line relationships. Those are the hope-nuggets, real live people. Individual people who are making a difference how ever they can.
Thank you for existing. Thank you for sharing, and never give up on making someone’s life better. You restore my hope in humanity and you inspire me to be a better human being. I am so grateful for all of you.
Inspiration: “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people. ” ~Gandhi
I want to be one of those people that makes a difference. But I’m frustrated because I never get my ideas off the ground. For whatever reasons I lack the focused dedication that is required. I get one idea and that may get shot down or hit a road-block and before I know it, I have another idea.
I was brought to tears today because while talking about this I began to realize that maybe I am not cut out to be the facilitator. That maybe the best I could do was throw my ideas out there and just maybe someone else would pick one up and run with it. Maybe someone out there has the drive, the time and the focus but needs some ideas.
So that’s what I am going to do. Every so often I’m going to un-clutter my ideas and give them away.
Here is an old idea, which I still think has merit.
Pennies4People. During the Kosovo war I coordinated the logistics with the Red Cross and National City Bank, (now PNC bank ), to collect and process pennies which were to be donated from students at my children’s’ elementary school. I was to make the collection containers, collect the pennies weekly and drive them to the bank, and the bank would run them through their coin machines to count and then issue a check to the Red Cross. The Red Cross, a non-political neutral entity, would use the funds to help the refuge families struggling in the midst of the war.
The concept was that elementary school children (grades 3rd through 5th) could join together and raise donation money. Everyone has a penny, everyone could participate no matter if they were wealthy or not. And for one penny the students would know they were helping children on the other side of the world. I was hopeful that this program would spread through the city school system, and grow city by city.
I owned the web site Pennies4People. Everything was in place. That is until I received a letter from the elementary school principal telling me that the school had a Serbian family in attendance, and they thought we had to be considerate of their feelings. This made zero sense to me. I tried to explain that the Red Cross was not picking sides, that they are politically neutral, the funds would be used to help everyone. People who needed food, water, shelter. It didn’t matter. The principal’s answer was NO!
I was totally dejected, my contacts at National City Bank and the Red Cross were equally dismayed, but it didn’t matter. Life went on.
I believe(d) in teaching our children the importance of compassion and understanding for those suffering, and equally important showing them how the smallest action can make a big difference. I thought this was a win-win-win, if there is any such thing. The principal shot it down, and my idea died with that rejection letter.
Since that time, many different organizations have used the fund raising term “Pennies for People.” Back then no one was on the internet with this idea besides me, but that doesn’t matter now. I realize this isn’t the most original idea today, but that’s not the point, it’s still an idea.
So if you see anyway you might be able to use this for something good please do. I’ll continue to post ideas. Maybe one day you’ll read one that will work for you. And if you do please take it and make change happen.
(Right now watching a football game in the background I thought why not have Pennies4People on any Sunday at every stadium that has a game. All those people in the stands have pennies. Banks need good PR -Donate to homeless shelters or for heating oil for the elderly, anything – you get the idea)
I’ve been a bit single minded, focused only on my self lately. This is nothing I am proud of or ashamed of, it’s just that there’s more to life then my problems. I share them in hopes to help others as well as myself , but depending on a person’s frame of mind (that day), my issues may seem irrelevant. I can’t help that and I can’t care.
But I do care about many other things in the world besides myself and my struggles. And today I am going to share a cause that is very close to my heart.
You probably know I have Siberian Huskies, and if you didn’t know, here’s their web site: Batman and Ice. My dogs are family dogs, they were purchased from a breeder and never suffered one day of their lives; pampered and loved, spoiled almost rotten. They are minimalist Gods.
It wasn’t until I met Kristen that I learned about all the abused, neglected and abandoned Siberian Huskies out there in our towns facing certain death. Kristen is an awesome lady and a true-blue advocate for the under-dog, for those dogs left to die, those who are abandoned and for those who have suffered beyond any of our worst nightmares.
When Kristen was a full time nurse, she began to rescue, rehab, and place Siberian Huskies with loving families. She found that working with the dogs was where her heart was, it was her passion. At that point she made a life changing choice. She gave up the security of a regular paycheck and all the other benefits of full-time employment. I’m not certain if she had any support for her decision. It was a bold move with a completely unknown future – that decision took a lot of courage.
(more people should follow their hearts)
Fast forward a several years, Kristen founded the non-profit Siberian Husky Emergency Life Line fund (a non-profit 501c3 tax-exempt organization) and in addition Kristen now owns and operates a boarding kennel she was able to purchase last year.
Please take a moment to look though her site, and learn about the many dogs up for adoption and those who are still in rehab. Many of my dogs’ friends were adopted directly from the Shell Fund Rescue. They’re all absolutely awesome and beautiful creatures who have adjusted wonderfully and are now living in loving homes.
Kristen’s expertise and continued dedication for the health and welfare, and placement of these abused Siberian Huskies is incredible and unwavering. If I been more educated before buying my dogs I would have certainly look to the Shell Fund first.
Here’s my plea:
Since this is the holiday season, please consider donating even 5.00 dollars to help feed and care for these homeless Siberian Huskies. Your donation is a tax write off and it would mean the world to me if any of my readers could show some love to this worthy cause. I know times are tough for everyone, and unfortunately in poor economic times donation are low.
Please help if you are able, really any amount is better than nothing. Maybe you could skip your latte today and help save a life at the same time. I would love that! Your small donation will help nurture these beautiful creatures until they are ready to be placed in loving homes.
Nothing would make me happier. Cheers!
“The greatness of a Nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” -Mahatma Gandhi
I know Kristen will be surprised when she reads this, I didn’t ask permission. So Surprise Kristen!!!!! :) I hope this helps!
I’ve been taking mental notes of talk that puts my mind into a negative or an overwhelmed and hopeless place. Most of the time it’s discussions about something I can’t control, and I don’t like, or things that make me sad. Talking about issues that make you feel small and helpless can make you crazy. It can raise your blood pressure and it can causes stress. And even worse, once you’re finished with the conversations, nothing has changed for the better.
It seems this is time of year we are frequently reminded of the hungry, even though people are hungry every day. We are informed that some people don’t have heat, homes, or even shelter. We can read about countries withholding clean drinkable water as a means of political control and we see images of hungry babies. All these horrible scenes play out everyday of the year.
So why do I do it? Why do I allow myself to go there? Why? I do it because I want “it” to change for the better. I want the world to get better. I want wrongs to be righted. I want life to be better for everyone. But I know talk is cheap and I know I can’t change the world. There are just so many different areas that need fixing. It is entirely overwhelming.
Still, I have to believe if we try harder we can find individual ways to actually improve another persons quality of life. If everyone contributes to a small improvement imagine the accumulated overall effect.
I like to use Angelina Jolie as an example when I explain my feelings about helping individuals. Granted she saved the lives of more than one, but I believe she is of the mindset that ” if I can help one person I will” That’s a mindset I truly admire. She didn’t have to do what she did, she did because she felt she had the means and she wanted to.
Same with so many other people not as famous as Angelina. People like my neighbors who vacationed in Africa, and never expected to come home with their new eight year old daughter. People like this open their hearts, homes and families to children who had little to no chance of a decent future in their own country.
Not everyone can adopt a child, I realize that. It’s a recurring thought for me, but I realize I don’t have the resources required. But there are other ways to touch, improve, and help someone’s life.
Below are few of my favorite sites that to do just that. When you donate to an individual or family they actually benefit right away. (or shortly there after)
One laptop per child: http://one.laptop.org/
Buy a goat: http://www.heifer.org/
Micro lending, invest in people in other countries and get your money back plus some. http://www.kiva.org
Buy your eye glasses on-line, and someone gets a pair for free: http://www.warbyparker.com
Get the gift of giving water. http://www.charitywater.org/
Donate blood. http://www.redcross.org/
Please add your favorites unique charities in the comment section. Cheers!
Tip: Honor of someone else by giving in their name.
Inspiration: ” The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.” – Walt Whitman
One-day one-thing: On strike
The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons. The 52 bones in your feet make up about 25 percent of all the bones in your body. And we thrill ourselves by paying sometimes as much as a week’s paycheck to contort those bones and ligaments into unnatural positions. That’s right. We pay dearly for these individual professionally designed torture chambers. I am guilty of it my self. In fact, I bought a new pair of heels yesterday.
The good news is that I bought with purpose and forethought. A novel concept for me. I picked a pair that would match more than one dress. Whoa. Who am I? This is a monumental shift for me. I was shocked at how easy this was to do, and how accomplished I felt. Such a simple thing and now I have new shoes for the majority of this year’s events. If I am lucky enough to go out somewhere nice, I have it covered from head to toe. No worries.
I am ditching my old shoes that I was holding on to for those “just in case” moments. Just in case I wanted to look like I stepped out of the 90’s. I don’t know when I bought the shoes I am getting rid of – no clue. I sold my silver dress (I never wore) last month and forgot to eBay the matching (I never wore) silver shoes.
This is what clutter does to you – it literally messes you up to the point that thinking straight is no longer doable. I don’t even try.
All that aside, I am pretty pleased with myself and I’m ready for the next challenge. Until then, I will take this small win, and pat myself on the back and move on. Less is definitely more. I’m starting to like this.
Inspiration: “Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
One-day one-thing: Sort your shoes.
Last week I handled sorting my belts after a little self-talk-therapy. I now own four belts total. There’s a fifth one hiding in a box somewhere, and when I find it I have no doubt it be long out of style. Which brings me directly to my point today; style and de-cluttering your closet.
Before you sort clothes you ‘ll need to define your look, your style , or lack there of. Don’t worry if you feel lost doing this. In the end, if you haven’t figured it out, your clothes will tell you.
I have little style. I love fashion, and I buy fashion, but I don’t wear it. I am a dog person- rain or shine, a dirt person-yard and garden work is fun and I paint- the paint always finds it way on to whatever I am wearing.
I love comfort but at the same time I love the discomfort of high heels and formal gowns, black tie type formals. How many “black tie” events have I gone to in the last few years? Zilch. I love wearing formal gowns so much, I often daydream about having a themed party for ladies only and making the required dress code an already owned formal or gown. Play-dress-up and party. (No one ever likes this idea.)
Reality: I wear jeans. I swear to God, I think I wear them ever day of the year. So how many khakis, and slacks do I really need? Answer: Two pairs of dress slacks for business. No khaki’s needed, I only bought them for the two weeks I worked at Target.
To succeed in trimming your wardrobe you have to be brutally honest. It gets easier the more clothes you toss, a sorting momentum takes over. It feels good. Remember everyone has different requirements for their clothing needs so adjust accordingly. For example some people have uniforms and dress codes. Just make sure those items are always kept current and in good repair.
On to the work. Here are some top questions to ask yourself as you look at each item of clothing:
1. Have I worn this in the past year?
2. Does this piece remind me of anything negative or bad? If there is even the slightest bad memory associated you must toss/donate immediately, no excuses.
3. Does it fit now? Not ten pounds for now, today- remember brutal honesty.
4. Can you remember when you bought it? If it was so long ago, you say you have no idea, then get rid of it. (unless it’s become “vintage” and it passes all the other requirements)
5. Do you feel good about your self when you are wearing it?
6. Is it part of a total look or is it a stray that never looks right with anything? Toss/give away the stray.
7. Do you have to tug at it? Particularly under garments, stop the suffering now-toss.
8. Is the elastic rotten? ( I tried on an old swimsuit and the elastic crumbled. Sad but true.)
9. Do not think about how much something cost. Actually erase the amount spent from your memory bank. It’s useless information.
10. Any progress is good, you an always come back to and continue this task as a “one-thing one day” action.
Some minimalist are extreme in the clothing area. I am not. ( Remember -I am only in the process to minimalism) I like this easy route for now. Concentrating first on raising my clothing awareness will help me immediately in two areas; I will only buy what I know I will wear and my closet will only house items I like.
It’s your turn now. Look at your life and how you spend the majority of your time. Once you have a handle on that, you can begin downsizing your wardrobe. Use the questions as a guide. It will be inspiring, easy and you might even learn something.
Tip: Look up shelters for homeless and/or abused women and fresh start organizations. These woman will really benefit from your donation.
Inspiration: “I wear my sort of clothes to save me the trouble of deciding which clothes to wear.”~ Katharine Hepburn
“I’ve been shopping all my life and still have nothing to wear.” ~Author Unknown
One day – one thing: Sort underwear, socks, and all your shoes, if you still have time tackle your clothes in the closet.
Downsizing my wardrobe will be very tough for me. Because clothes, in the scheme of things, don’t take up much space. For example, today I was looking at my belts. I don’t wear the majority of them, but then that voice in my head said, “Don’t sort those yet, they don’t take up any space, you don’t have to make those choices today.” So I didn’t sort them……What?!?
The goal isn’t to keep things because I have the extra space. That is what got me into this mess in the fist place. Yet still after all this time, my resolve, and all that I have been doing, reading and focusing on, that little voice, that little hoarder voice was convincing me not to move forward. Devil hoarder voice won. I took my filled bag of give-away-clothes to the Good-Will and my belts stayed and lived on another day.
Not only did the ugly belts survive, but now I still get to see them. Sad, but one hundred percent true, some of these belts I have NEVER even worn. But I still kind of believe I would need one of them in the future. I might. It’s possible. (it’s NOT possible) I think the belts are laughing at me behind my back. Telling their little belt jokes. I hate them.
Right now I am going to take a time-out and SNAP myself back to reality. I mean seriously,what the h#ll? If I was in a gym I would have earned a penalty of 25 push-ups or even worse burpees.
(back to reality – time to face the core issue)
Unfortunately I can, and still could, make anything seem perfectible logical to buy, save, or even pick out of the trash for myself or for someone else. In a matter of seconds, I can present at least four perfect rationalizations that justify any acquisition, whether it’s lavish or simply junk. The very root of my problem is my acquisition rationalizations. I can not let that continue. I need my rationalizations to focus on my goal and my goal alone. I need that voice to tell me why it’s better for me to donate, sell or throw away things. That has to become my stronger voice.
The devil hoarder voice has lived inside me a long long time, and I don’t think it wants to leave. I’m its host. I gave that devil hoarder’s voice life. Now I have to squelch it silent….for good.
The lesson here is the one I stress over and over again; do a little something each day in the right direction and soon you’ll be closer to living better with less. Lesson served. (to me)
Tip: Never go clothes shopping dressed in sweats. This only makes you think you need everything you see. Dress nicely, look good and feel good about yourself, and then ask “do I really need this?” – before buying anything new.
Inspiration: “Women usually love what they buy, yet hate two-thirds of what is in their closets.” ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
One day one thing: Sort belts today!
Miss Minimalist Wardrobe (Comment section is interesting also.)