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I want to be like Angelina.

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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

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52 bones we abuse

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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.

It's very difficult to take a decent photo of your own foot -try it.

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.

yeah, well "I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty." ~ Imelda Marcos 1987

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.

Tip: http://donateyouroldshoes.org/

Inspiration: “Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

One-day one-thing: Sort your shoes.

Clothes: Who am I?

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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.

Nothing can hide. I like it!

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.

Additional links: Simplify Your Life Zen Habits (scroll down Zen’s post ,  if after sorting you still have a lot of clothes) And if you still need help organizing your closet visit Apples for Olive.

My Ugly Belts are Laughing at Me.

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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.

belts living large

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.)

Animal shoes

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I haven’t wanted  to sort my shoes this second time around.  I know I have shoes that need repair, and my conscious mind says,  “If you really wanted to wear them you would have had them fixed already.”  Pfft – I am not going to listen.

So instead of sorting my shoes today I am going to pick on my shoes.  The pair that first comes to my mind as “annoying” will go directly into the box.

I have a winner!  (I think I have tried to get rid of these several times)  Here’s the lucky winner, what beauties, ha,….they aren’t even that great.

dim witted mule shoes- clomp clomp clomp! be gone!

Let me explain why these shoes are annoying.  Have you ever walked down an aisle in a grocery store, or a long hallway in a  school,  or even an art museum all alone and you sound like a slow moving dim witted mule?  Clomp clomp clomp.  Here are my dim witted mule shoes.  (Different from shoes that are mules)  They are great on grass or carpet but completely awful every where else.  They are fun inexpensive shoes good for casual summer days and art fairs.  Clomp Clomp clomp.  They are toast.  Poof. Gone.

(Ah… much better.  This little task makes me want to get rid all my annoying clothes, like the rain coat that is an awful color and every time I wear it I feel like a clown, or even better underwear that wedges, or socks that feel awkward… I digress)

So it’s your turn to take a mental inventory of shoes that bother you.  You don’t even have to get up right now. Just make a note of it and finish your coffee.  After you finish your breakfast find your victim and throw them in the “box” and viola you have your completed one day- one thing  task for today.

Stay the course.  I am planning on working on some other areas today as well, but not too many.  I might  am going to paint this afternoon. Cheers!

Give away clothes box

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I rate this habit as easy. Everyone can do this without much effort at all.

I have too many clothes.  I think you might have too many clothes also.  Here’s what I do and am doing.  I have a “give away” clothes box.

No mistake what goes in this box.

It’s nothing fancy, so when I finally finish the de-cluttering of my clothes,  if I want,  I can recycle the box.  Smart thinking right?

The box is outside the laundry room, so that when I am folding I can make decisions to keep or donate.  And this way the clothes are clean.  Children can easily learn to put what they won’t wear any longer in the box.  And it’s really good for them to learn to donate and how to let go. I line the box with a large heavy duty trash bag and when it gets heavy but I can still lift it, I put it my car and take a trip to our local Good-Will.

Funny thing is, when I am shopping at  Good-Will sometimes I see my old things.  I still like them, but I never ever want to buy them back.

Anyway, Good-Will gets more money per item than I could ever get  in a garage sale, and money  is put to good use.  It’s all good,  a win-win.

( I recognize this is a box.  Oops!  My rationalization: it’s a temporary box being use as a tool to get to my goal)