Simplify Your Life

 

In September of 2014 I took a solo month-long road trip across the country.  All of my belongings for survival fit into one Chevy Cruzer.  During that month I came to realize that I could survive on much less than I was used to.  When I returned home I started the process of simplifying my life.  I was always an extremely organized person, but I wanted to get down to the basics and have more room in my life for what’s truly important – the people in it.  I’ve slowly gone through different categories that have helped me take back control of all that “stuff” we all accumulate over the years.  I want to share with you 8 steps that helped me take back control of my life.

1. Go through all of your paperwork.  I mean everything.  Paper hidden in filing cabinets, drawers, closets, laying in a pile on the counter.  Make three piles – one pile of junk paper to recycle, one pile of paper to shred, and one pile of paper to file away.  Then, as you go through your papers to file, see if you can go as paperless as possible.  Enter every bill that you’re able to online.  A lot of companies do automatic withdrawal so you don’t even have to think about it (as long as you have the funds in your account to cover your bills that is).  For the papers you absolutely need to keep label file folders and neatly organize them in a filing cabinet so that you can easily find what you need when necessary. Every few months continue to go through the files and weed out what you don’t need.  Also, when I get my mail I immediately go through it and do this process as well.  I weed out the junk to recycle and put important papers in a bin to file once per week.

2. Clean up your computer.  Go through your email and make folders so that you can easily sort your daily emails into the proper place.  Unsubscribe from all the junk email you get so you don’t have to waste your time going through and deleting unnecessary emails.  Organize your pictures into folders so that you can have everything neat and tidy.  Delete old documents or programs you don’t use anymore.  Then back everything up.

3. Go through your books.  Do you really need all those books on your bookshelf if you have already read them?  Pick out your absolute favorites that you will read multiple times, sentimental ones, or books you need to reference for work or school and then donate the rest.  Go to the library for books, or borrow one from a friend.  A perk to that is you can discuss the book with your friend after you finish reading it.

4. Clothes.  Many people have more clothes than they need.  Myself included.  I had four closets full to the brim – yes, four.  And that is after going through them year after year, yet I still found myself with too many clothes.  My method to simplify was a challenge I gave to myself.  I was going to wear every single article of clothing that I owned.  If I didn’t want to put it on in the morning, then it went in the sell/donate pile.  If it didn’t fit, then it went in the sell/donate pile.  And if, at the end of the day, I didn’t like wearing it, then it went in the sell/donate pile.  I had 24 pairs of jeans.  Who could possible need 24 pairs of jeans?  Not me.  If an event comes up, instead of rushing out to buy a new dress, ask your friends if they have one you could borrow.  Chances are most dresses you own have only been worn a handful of times anyway, but it would be like a brand new dress to one of your friends.  Do you have a ratty old t-shirt…perfect, turn it into a rag to clean your house.  Old towels?  Make them dog towels for your pet, or donate them to your local animal shelter.

5.  Use it up.  I was going to use everything up in my house before buying more.  That included all my bathroom toiletries, all my paper supplies, and all of the food in my pantry.  Before, I tended to buy multiples of things so that I would never run out, but that just creates more “stuff” piling up around your house.  The whole purpose is to simplify and reduce the amount of things you have.  So, once you are down to the basics, you can keep an eye on when something is running low and then get it the next time you are at the store.  That way you won’t buy unnecessary items, and your food will always be fresh.  Clear out old medicine that has expired.  If you have 50 pens and pencils do you have a friend who is a teacher who could use some extra supplies?

6.  Refrain from impulse buying.  Surprisingly I have done really well on this one.  I used to get whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it.  If I walked into Target to buy one item, I would come out with five.  Why?  Because I saw it and thought I needed to have it at that exact moment and the next thing I knew I was paying for $100 worth of items when I came in to only spend $20.  Decide what you are going out to buy before you go to the store and stick to it.  The idea is not to bring extra unnecessary items back into your home when you are trying to clean it out.

7.  Having less makes you feel like you have more.  More freedom, and more room in your life for the things that truly matter.  You appreciate what you do have, take better care of it, and use everything you own.  You have less stress by having everything organized in it’s place, less clutter, and less to clean.  And you will find that you have more money by not needing to buy everything you think you need or want.  Also, try selling some of your items and then putting the money into savings for a rainy day, traveling, or an emergency fund.

8.  Enjoy nature.  Now that you have simplified your material life, go out and enrich your internal self.  Time spent doing something you love is worth it’s weight in gold.  Exercise your body and mind in whatever way makes you feel good, whether it be lifting weights, yoga, meditation, hiking, walking your dog, reading a book, a favorite hobby – whatever it is, just get your body and mind moving.  You will 100% always feel better about yourself after you exercise or do something you enjoy.  Eat better.  Use food as the fuel it is meant to be.  Keep yourself feeling good and staying strong by watching what you put in your body.  Find out where your food comes from, read labels, educate yourself.  We only get one mind and body. Take care of it.

I hope you find yourself headed towards a simpler, happier life! If you want help in clearing the clutter in your home contact the experts at Simplicity Organizers!

By Lauren Schilling of Simplicity Organizers


READ a Book, GIVE a Book

 

2017 READ a Book, GIVE a Book Celebration!

Reading is a life skill and it is unfortunate that during the summer months, many students lose valuable literacy skills when they stop reading during their break from school. Summer reading loss negatively impacts our struggling readers, and ultimately our entire community. Children who do not have access to books or adults who can read to them are especially susceptible to falling behind over the summer.

As a result, by the end of fifth grade, these students are approximately 2 1/2 years behind their peers in terms of reading ability.

Simplicity Organizers is hosting our annual book drive in the month of May. We are encouraging the Charlotte community to donate gently used children’s books Preschool – 5th grade to our READ A BOOK, GIVE A BOOK celebration. This year we will be donating the books to Windsor Park Elementary in hopes that every single student will be able to take home several books to read over the summer!

We would love for you to partner with us and help us reach our goal of collecting 5,000 books this May!

Click here to download our Read a Book, Give a Book Flyer

Books can be dropped off at Windsor Park Elementary or email Simplicity to find a book drop off location near you:

Ballantyne, Barclay Downs, Cotswold, Dilworth, Matthews, Myers Park & Southpark

Simplicity Organizers

info@simplicity-organizers.com

704.464.3713

Windsor Park Elementary

3910 Sudbury Road 28205

980.343.6405

 


30 Before 30: Streamline Wardrobe

By Caitlin Helgeson

 

Last fall I stumbled upon the Unfancy Minimalist Blog and was first introduced to the concept of capsule wardrobes; which is defined as a compact wardrobe consisting of staple pieces, usually thirty items and fewer. I was intrigued but apprehensive.

What about all the money I’d spent on the clothes in my closet? There’s no way I would have enough outfits for work, play, and special events if I’d paired my closet to just thirty items. How boring and uninspiring.

Around the same time, I was browsing Facebook when I saw a giveaway from the, Less is More Movement group; a year long movement to help break the cycle of over-consumption and its resulting clutter making space for what matters most to you – a joint venture between Charlotte-based companies Simplicity Organizers and Spunky Avocado. The giveaway was for two free hours of closet consultation, closet purge, personal styling services, outfit coordination and/or personal shopping services from Whitley Adkins Hamlin at the Queen City Style. I immediately entered and was thrilled when a few days later I received notification that I was the winner!

From there I had an initial phone call with Whitley, who is truly the epitome of a sweet Carolina Girl. I instantly felt comfortable with her, like an old friend, and knew I was in good hands with a true tastemaker. I shared with her that my closets were jam packed, but with few things that I actually loved. I expressed interest in having fewer, more quality pieces and that at almost thirty years old, was ready to have a more refined and sophisticated wardrobe.

A few weeks later, Whitley showed up at my house. She was spunky, energetic, inspiring and engaging. I think there can be a sense of intimidation about having a professional stylist come assess your things, but Whitley is so down to earth and feels more like a friend you’ve known forever. She asked a lot of questions about my home decor to get a sense of my style. Then we made the trek upstairs as I unveiled what I had been hiding behind closed doors…

“A streamlined wardrobe represents more time + more money + more energy for the things in life that really matter.” –Unfancy Blog

In full transparency of the actual process, I am showing you the true ‘before’ images. I had so much stuff that I had not only maxed out our master bedroom closet, but was also using the guest room closet which included a dresser also full of stuff. I am embarrassed to share these pictures, but confession is good for the soul, right? And it serves as a visual reminder of the clutter and chaos I was dealing with prior to my closet purge.

Closet One

Closet Two

Whitley and I systematically went through every garment in my closet. Some items were easy and immediately went into the “no” pile. These were the clothes that I had been lugging from house to house with every move, the ones that I always bypass in my closet with no intention to wear again. Then there were others that I was on the fence about; those I tried on for Whitley who gave me her best Joan Rivers-on–Fashion Police on what worked and what I should toss. By the end of the evening my bed was covered in clothes that no longer suited me and what remained in my closet was sparse.

You can see below that I paired my closet down by almost 67%! Wow, I’m a nerd… Was it shocking at first? Absolutely. In fact, Whitley made an effort to ask me a few times how I was feeling. There is certainly an initial feeling of panic when you stand before your closet and see more empty hangers than clothes.

ITEM BEFORE WHITLEY      AFTER WHITLEY
Tops 81                               38
Dresses 74                          14
Pants 25                              7
Skirts 12                              1
Hats 12                                8
Total 204                             68

After the purge we discussed what I felt my personal style was, whose style I admired and what were the most important pieces to replace first. Since I spend most of my time at an office, I let her know that getting some staple work pieces was my priority and then adding in some fun pieces for weekends, parties, and going out would follow.

About three weeks later Whitley returned to my house with a rack full of new clothes to try on. It was like being a real-life Barbie. There is a certainly a comfort about being in your own home and being able to try things on at your own pace. It was actually an enjoyable process which is very different than what I typically find with dressing room experiences. The in-home process helped Whitley to refine my style, tastes and sizes which was important.

I had completely underestimated the stress, disharmony and agitation that my chaotic closet was causing me every morning. I can now open my closet doors with a sense of peace; seeing things that I truly love, that fit me well, and make me feel confident. A sophisticated closet calls for grown up hangers so I invested in Huggable Hangers – crazy the amount of joy a hanger can bring.

I was hit with an aha moment during this process – over-consumption is a disease that can creep into all aspects of life – not just your wardrobe. Food. Social Media. Distractions. Attachment. Natural Resources. Minimalism is not a lack of something, it’s having the perfect amount of something. I feel a huge sense of gratitude towards Simplicity Organizers and Whitley from the Queen City Style for giving me this opportunity! And now the after pictures…

What I learned:

My closet was lying to me! When I started to think about what I wore day to day, it was the same usual few pairs of jeans with a few different tops, and that’s about it. It boiled down to my choices being limited to the same few things that I felt comfortable in. The rest of my closet was full of things that I didn’t love anymore for one reason or another (itchy, missing a button, stained, outdated, no longer fit, etc.)

Prepare for a large upfront investment: Be prepared to spend some money upfront. It is certainly an investment to replace the majority of your closet, but that’s exactly what it is — an investment in yourself to look and feel better. I funded my new wardrobe by selling my old wardrobe. Places like Clothes Mentor will give you cash on the spot for your things. I took my nicer items to consign at J.T. Posh in Dilworth. I also joined a few local selling Facebook groups and had great success with PPU (read here for the premise and lingo). I let friends and family have their pick and then donated the rest to Goodwill (read about their new GW specialty store).

Don’t keep ‘fantasy clothes’: “I’m keeping that for a special occasion.”, “I will wear that again when I lose ten pounds.”, “I have no idea what to wear this with, but I’m keeping it because it’s cute”. There was no reason to keep clothes for made-up scenarios.

Staples First, Fun Later: For me and my lifestyle, I needed staples – jeans (black, white, and denim), quality work pants, quality and comfortable work shoes, a versatile navy blazer, etc. These items helped to build the foundation of my wardrobe and then I was able to fill in with some additional “fun” pieces.

Critique your multiples: I had probably fifteen pairs of jeans folded beautifully in my closet, but I only wear one or two. The other twelve no longer fit, weren’t comfortable, etc.

Say no to miscellaneous t-shits: This was hard for me. I saved every single sorority or fraternity function shirt throughout college. They all represented memories and I had tricked myself into thinking that if I no longer had the shirts, I no longer had the memories. My mom and I made a t-shirt blanket using the shirts I loved the most and I threw the rest away. Now I actively throw away or politely decline every t-shirt I’m offered. If you must accept a free tee for courtesy reasons, give it away or ‘lose it’ before you get it into your house. Once the free tee finds its way into your house – game over. It will stay there forever and become your new pajamas. Trust me, your husband will thank you for saying no.

Quality over quantity: I admit that I used to buy a new $20 Forever 21, Old Navy or Target item without thinking twice. These were the quick hits that I would wear to one specific event and then not like a month later. What I DO need is quality pieces in my wardrobe that I can easily style and re-wear frequently. Whenever you go shop really question your purchase. Are you just buying that because it’s on sale? Is this an impulse buy you’ll regret later? Do those jeans even fit correctly? Will this fall apart the second time I wear it?

Find out the other items on my “30 before 30” list here!

 

 


Toxic Products: The Monsters Under Your Sink

We all know the garage and basement can accumulate and store a stash of toxic products that are rarely if ever used. But underneath sinks, inside bathroom cabinets and closets can be just as guilty.

At some point we’ve all fallen for the As Seen on TV wood floor cleaner, soap scum eraser, callus remover, hair thickening shampoo or the like. As well-trained, albeit unfortunate, consumers of stuff, we tend to find what we think will be a better replacement before we finish the first one.

Household cleaners and personal hygiene items fall victim to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome turning bathroom closets and cabinets into clutter magnets. Not only do we tend to have a surplus of these items in our homes, but the majority of these products are rather toxic and can cause serious health issues.

Did you know: toxic products

According to the EPA, indoor air quality is typically five times, but sometimes up to 100 times more toxic than outdoor air?
Not only are many of the ingredients used in these products toxic to the touch and through the air we breathe, but once disposed (if not disposed properly) can leach into our groundwater.
Only about 10% of the 10,000 chemicals commonly found in personal care products have safety data.
The last time the US passed a federal law to regulate the ingredients used in personal care products was 1938.
Here are our suggestions to help you decide what gets to stay and what gets the boot, as well as tips for respecting the planet through the process:

Clean out. If you haven’t used it in 12 months or if it is past its expiration date, it goes in the trash. Remember many personal hygiene products have a limited shelf-life, especially cosmetics. So either use it or lose it.
Green out. Making your own hygiene products and household cleaners can save you money but also save you from exposure to potentially harmful substances. Here are some simple homemade recipes for hygiene items and household cleaners. If you aren’t comfortable yet with the idea of making these at home, EWG skin deep and EWG household cleaners are simple guides which can be easily accessed from your phone in the store aisle to help you determine which products are considered safe to use. See some of our favorite skin care and cosmetic items here.
Dispose responsibly. If it’s not safe for our bodies to ingest, absorb, inhale, etc., or if it is a medication, it should not be flushed or tossed in the trash. Earth 911 is a good resource for finding drop-off centers in your area. For local Charlotte folk, Extension Master Gardeners of Union County usually hosts an annual household hazardous waste collection every April. Many local sheriff’s offices will take OTC and prescription medications you need to dispose of, but you may want to ask if there are any they cannot accept.
Now, relax in your bathroom like the spa it was meant to be rather than the toxin-filled plastic bottle junkyard that it once was.

 

References:

EWG

Earth 911

Modern Hippie Housewife


Life Simplified: Expert Advice on Getting Organized

By Amy Trainum of Style Blueprint

Organization isn’t one of my strong suits … just ask my parents or any of my former roommates. I could care less if my personal belongings are scattered around or in a pile on the floor. Hunting for misplaced items has become routine — I’ve even had to resort to buying a few Tile Mates, which are tiny squares that attach to items like keys and beep to help you find them when they’re hidden. (If you haven’t heard of them, check them out! They are extremely useful and reasonably priced.)
Recently I decided to make a conscious effort to work on my organization and get things in order, except I honestly didn’t know where to start. So I took a guess — and purchased Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You’ve probably heard of it, as it’s had a lot of hype, which is probably why I fell for it. While I wouldn’t call buying it a big mistake, it was definitely a little overzealous to think I’d be able to emulate Marie’s organizational extremes. As I read the book I was constantly overrun with questions like “I need to talk to my shoes? And fold my socks because they need to rest?” If you’ve read the book, you know what I am talking about. If not, you won’t understand until you’ve read the book. I still can’t explain the theory for the life of me. Instead of feeling encouraged and up for the task of organizing — or as Marie says, “tidying up,” I felt overwhelmed and hesitant. Yet, I refused to give up. Instead, I went to professional organizer (they do exist, thankfully!) in Charlotte, Laurie Martin of Simplicity Organizers, to get her help and am so glad that I did. Laurie broke down the really important aspects of getting organized from where to start, what supplies to purchase, what to keep or get rid of and, most importantly, how to maintain everything once you get it in order.
I’ve found Laurie’s tips and tricks extremely helpful, and I know you will too!

Here’s to getting organized!

Where’s the best place to start when tackling an organization project?

Wherever is causing you the most trouble. If your closet is a mess and driving you crazy, start there. If your children’s things went from barely under control to unmanageable over the holidays, start there. If you’re worried that your tax records for 2016 are scattered to the winds, start in your office. It’s like asking the doctor what’s the best exercise. The right answer is “whichever one you’ll do.” The same is true for organizing.

How do you help clients decide what needs to be tossed or just needs a designated place?

By reminding them of the definition of clutter. Clutter is anything that is unused or unloved, anything that exceeds your storage capacity, and anything that if tossed, can be easily and inexpensively replaced should the need arise. Let go of clutter and find good homes for the keepers.

 

When in doubt remember clutter is anything that is unused or unloved. #teamdeclutter

What are some small daily steps someone can take towards getting organized?

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Digging out of too much stuff won’t happen in a day either. Like any big project, small, sequential steps get the job done. Can you consider a “spending detox” while you dig out of the excess you already own? Stemming the flow of new things into your home will at least keep you at even. Can you commit to filling one bag each day with either recycle, donations or trash? Another way to consider small steps is by vowing to spend 30 minutes each day on de-cluttering. If you live in a family, get all family members on board. By actively participating, they are more invested in the project, and as the old saying goes, “Many hands make light the work.”

What’s the biggest mistake you see people making while trying to get organized? How can it be avoided?

The No. 1 mistake is leaping before looking. It’s important to really think about WHY you’ve gotten into this situation before you strategize HOW to get out. The solution is to think before doing. The doing is very important, but it will be greatly enhanced by doing some soul-searching first.
Filing important papers is something we absolutely dread. What’s the best way to keep everything in order?

A place for everything and everything in its place is a good mantra for papers, especially. If you have a system (whatever system works for you — and letting them live in unruly piles is not a system), it is very easy to put important papers where they are easily accessed. Most people like file folders with clear labels. Put newest papers either in the front or back — consistently. Purge old papers that are no longer active or relevant. Start your new year’s tax file on January 1 so that no tax record is ever “homeless.”

Laurie says it’s important to avoid unruly piles like this.

Once a house or room is organized, what steps are imperative to keeping it that way?

Set a timer, put your cell phone away, play some music, and spend 20 minutes (10 minutes for children) at the end of each day tidying your home. A designated time each evening will start you out on a fresh start for the next day. Daily tidying will prevent hours of organization overhaul. Follow the One In-One Out Rule. If a new toy comes in, an old one needs to go. Ditto with clothes and electronic gadgets. Remember, if an item exceeds the space available to store it, it’s clutter.

Best products someone should have in their home to prep and stay organized?

Label maker, file folders, clear lidded containers, drawer dividers and matching slim-line closet hangers will all make your life easier and neater. But don’t go overboard. And don’t buy supplies until you’ve done the first step in getting organized. Buying organization supplies might be an endorphin rush, but without serious thinking first, these purchases are likely to become more clutter.

Before buying a bunch of organization items, have a plan in place, and get rid of what you don’t need.

Favorite places to shop for organizational products to use in clients’ homes?

The Container Store, Target, Lowe’s and an office supply store. If you can’t find what you need there — consult Google!

 


The Why and How of Order

Clutter comes in many forms- none pretty. We have cluttered homes, calendars, schedules and minds. How to deal with all the clutter and chaos is where many people start. If you’re a shopper, buying matching containers and bins to hold all your things sounds like fun. Hiring a professional organizer seems like the perfect solution for taming too much stuff. With the right supplies and the right talent, the clutter problem will be solved!

Hold on a minute. Buying more things to solve the problem of too many things is an inauspicious start.

A more reasoned starting point is why. Why do I have so much stuff? Am I a recreational shopper? Am I a doormat for family “heirlooms”? Am I keeping up with the Joneses? Am I buying ‘just in case’? There are plenty of whys. And the answers may vary, but one thing is certain. If you don’t explore why, the how will suffer.

At the Cornwell Center’s Learning Connection, Robin’s Rules and Simplicity Organizers connect and you will learn why and how to make 2017 your best and simplest year ever.

The Why and How of Order

Wednesday, Feb. 15
10:30am-12:00pm
The Cornwell Center
FREE- no registration required

Robin’s Rules of Order will help you with why. The principles and practices explained in the book will guide your thinking. Thinking that should precede any doing. The Rules pave the way for Simplicity Organizers to do what they do spectacularly well. The how. These professionals specialize in clearing out the unnecessary to focus on what matters most-creating space, balance and harmony in homes and lives. Simplicity does much more than just purging and organizing stuff. They’re really your partner in ‘life simplified’. You’ve answered the why by considering Robin’s Rules.

The next step is for Simplicity to show you how. That inauspicious start can be the perfect ending!

Why? Robin’s Rules of Order

How? Simplicity Organizers  

 

 


Procrastination

 

When we willingly defer something even though we expect the delay to make us worse off, we’re procrastinating. (per Piers Steel) And most of us are guilty as charged. It’s so easy to find a distraction that doesn’t demand much commitment that avoiding a demanding task or project is commonplace. But dragging our feet doesn’t make the job go away. It only makes us feel guilty, inadequate and ultimately overwhelmed.

Procrastination has many faces. The thrill-seeker loves the euphoric rush of waiting until the last minute. The avoider often has unrealistic expectations or a serious case of perfectionism. The decision avoider feels that by dilly-dallying, he’s absolved of any responsibility for the outcome.

Procrastination might be a basic impulse, but it’s also bad habit. It’s costly and anxiety producing. Failing to file taxes on time results in fines. Late papers and projects can mean failing grades. Dithering over a decision often closes the door on options.

Here’s a procrastination conundrum: Avoiding the onerous task doesn’t seem to make people happy. This is what William James was talking about. Not doing something we know needs to be done is exhausting and defeating. In our heart of hearts, we know that “One of these days is none of these days.” Henri Tubach

So how can we overcome the tendency to dawdle? Try better planning. Set deadlines or have others set them for you and impose penalties for failure to comply. Expect interruptions- they’re part of life so give yourself enough time to complete the project even if the roof springs a leak or the dog goes missing.

Divide projects into smaller parts, each with better definition so the tasks are concrete and you don’t have to think about how to start. Restrict your options.   If you need to buy a new washing machine, determine your budget. Ask two friends for recommendations. Read several consumer reviews. Pick one that looks good enough- no expectation of perfection. Buy the darn thing!

Will power has been compared to a muscle that can be strengthened through exercise. Making now the time to act, paves the way for that pattern to more easily be repeated. You can become one of those people who accomplish things in a timely fashion. The best way to get something done is to begin.

 Getting Things Done by David Allen is full of time- management tips.

“The Thief of Time” essays edited by Chrisoula Andreuo and Mark White

By Robin McCoy

 

 

 

 

 


Nature: Your Personal Decompression Chamber

Natures peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

~John Muir, Our National Parks

While rubbing elbows with the birds and the bees can become a bit more challenging during the winter months, getting outside and moving in nature should be a priority all year through. The benefits of crisp clean air, a good dose of bright light or the peace found in the sound of rippling water can go far beyond that moment to completely transform your day. Research is piling up to show that perhaps one of the quickest ways to a better mood and a healthier mind and body, is simply moving your lunch hour and/or your exercise routine to a park, a field, a forrest, or a patch of grass near you. So bundle up, if necessary, but just grab those boots and go. Don’t let a little weather keep you from getting out there and enjoying all those gifts the natural world has waiting for you.

Here are our top 4 reasons for soaking up a bit of nature right NOW:

  1. Kick the Seasonal Blues

If you are anything like me, the lack of sunshine during the winter months can get leave  you feeling a bit down. So much for myself, in fact, that we moved to Florida for four  years to combat it. It is not necessary, however, to pick up your life and move to the sunshine, just make an effort to get outside everyday around noon when the  sun is at its brightest, to soak up some of nature’s very best blues busters. If you also combine your time outside with some exercise, you get a double dose of that mood  lifting healing-power.

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. “

~John Burroughs

  1. Relieve Stress Naturally

Think of nature as a personal decompression chamber that is always available to you. It heals, soothes, and restores. Feelings of overwhelm that are too often a part of our modern lives, can be gently and quickly eased by simply taking a walk outside, breathing, and noticing the beauty and continuity of the natural world.

Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  1. It Doesnt Get Boring

Nature is ever-changing. The color, the light, the scents, the living things, will never be the same from day to day and season to season. Research shows that we are far more likely to keep up with a workout that does not feel monotonous and at the same time, feeds our soul. So, while I am not suggesting you give up your gym membership, moving your workout or your yoga practice outside a couple days a week will keep you routine (and your lungs), fresh.

Is the spring coming? he said. What is it like? …‘It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under the earth.

~Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

  1. Up Your Ecological Intelligence Quotient

Even if you don’t consider yourself a true “nature lover”, exposure to nature is key. By upping your time spent outside and making an effort to absorb the gifts of nature, you will move toward an appreciation for it. So if bugs freak you out, or if the wind makes you a bit crazy, take a moment to literally stop and smell the roses or the rosemary or a sprig of pine and see if it doesn’t instantly pick you up. Then, give it a try the next day, and the next and the next. Your love of nature is sure to grow, making you far more likely to become a protector of this beautiful world. And it is no secret, that we need many, many  more protectors.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

 

 

 

 

 


Use Your Gifts for Good

Earlier this year Simplicity and Carolina Organizers volunteered their skills for a major transformation of the Fashion & Compassion’s* jewelry room. Even Laurie Martin, the team leader at Simplicity, was speechless when she first stepped into the room and saw the huge quantities of beads to be organized!

Our jewelry room is the where the heart of our ministry in Charlotte happens… Women overcoming human trafficking, addiction, incarceration, domestic abuse, as well as refugees and immigrants find purpose, peace and community in this room as they create the beautiful jewelry designs we sell to fund our work. These women’s lives are often full of chaos – when they come to Fashion & Compassion and we want them to find hope and healing rather than disorder and disarray.

Fashion Compassion sorting

Creative-types aren’t known for their organizational skills and this is true for our wonderful jewelry-project staff! They have amazing design skills and huge hearts, but keeping thousands of beads in order is not their specialty. We’re so grateful that Simplicity and Carolina Organizers took our project on… Simplicity developed a plan and we secured the supplies needed, then a dozen of Charlotte’s finest professional organizers went to work sorting and arranging beads for 2-3 hours one weekday night. Our jewelry room was transformed! The atmosphere of the room now matches the peaceful, happy spirit of the rest of the beautiful 116-year old Victorian house in Dilworth we call home.

Fashion Compassion beads

Everyone has unique gifts and skills this world is desperate for. I’m grateful that Simplicity and Carolina Organizers blessed us with the gift of their skills and time – we were certainly in desperate need! What do you have to offer to a world in need? Creativity, bringing order out of chaos, or one of millions of other gifts and skills? Consider what you have to offer and find a place where you can use your gifts for good.

Fashion Compassion

*Fashion & Compassion is a 501c3 non-profit organization providing part-time, transitional employment to women (and some men) in vulnerable communities around the world – including Charlotte! Fashion & Compassion’s products are available for sale at their website and their local boutique and workshop located at 1717 Cleveland Avenue. Please consider shopping with a purpose at Fashion & Compassion as you purchase gifts for loved ones this holiday season.

Fashion Compassion leader

By Michele Dudley, Executive Director, Fashion & Compassion

 

 


Less is More During the Holidays

Wreath

Ultimately we want to fill the holidays with more joy, relaxation and time with family and friends. Instead, we have a tendency to fill the holidays with more commitments and more stress all the while draining our bank accounts and adding to landfills.

Many of us can certainly be guilty of spending half of a day making and packaging cutesy Pinterest holiday treats (which will soon be forgotten) for every last neighbor and co-worker, rather than spending that time fulfilling a holiday tradition with my children (an action, which will unfortunately, not be forgotten anytime soon by their precious minds).

How do we shift our actions to align with what we want and what brings us true happiness?

  • Wrap yourself up in only the important things. Decide as a family what activities/traditions are non-negotiable. Before taking on anything extra, ask yourself, “Am I doing this for myself, a family member or friend? Would I do this if I couldn’t brag on Facebook or Instagram that I did it? Am I doing this for pleasure or because I feel like I ‘should’ do it?”
  • Put on blinders to advertisements. First cancel, then recycle all catalogs. Unsubscribe from and delete emails from retailers. Consolidate your shopping trips and eliminate them, when possible, to free up time and to avoid the impulse buys.
  • Go green. Choose live decorations, garland and pine cones. The scent brings joy and there is nothing to store away at the end of the season.

The Center for a New American Dream reports that more than three-quarters of Americans want the holidays to be less materialistic. Yet people are still just gifting stuff for the sake of gifting, with utter disregard for the consequences to the recipient and the environment. An online survey conducted for eBay in Nov. 2008 found that of U.S. adults who receive gifts during the holidays, 83 percent receive unwanted items. It seems we love to give more than we love to get.

How do we remedy the issue of “stuff” while satisfying our desire to “give”?

  • Give experiences, not stuff. Click here for a list of suggestions on non-physical gift ideas for everyone in your life, including your children.
  • When a physical gift seems like a must, create something.
  • Re-gift. If you have acquired a gift that you feel bad getting rid of, sell it and donate part or all of the proceeds to a charity in honor of the person who gifted it to you. See our list of charity suggestions here.

We’ve all experienced the overwhelm of too much stuff. Our garages and playrooms are bulging at the seams and quite frankly, so are our nerves and patience. Review these tips for managing your garage and your playroom so you can spend more time living rather than being a manager of things.

In closing, remember one thing this holiday season…less can, in fact, be more.

 

SIMPLICITY’S DECEMBER PROMOTION

If you book services from Monday, December 12th-Wednesday, December 23rd, you will receive 15% off your entire organizational service.  This does not include organizational supplies.

SIMPLICITY’S GIFT IDEAS:

GIVE THE GIFT OF TIME!

When you purchase 4 hours of organizing,

you will receive one free hour that can be applied to a Needs Assessment

or a to a basic hour of organizing.

(Cost $260)

BUY 1-GIVE 1

Pre-purchase one hour of organizing for yourself and receive a free hour of service to give to a family member or friend who has not used our services before.

(Cost $70)

*Travel restrictions apply.