Optimized vs. Maximized: What are you?

Hi friends! I am back today with another minimalist Monday vlog. I know that I can get in the habit of pushing  through things quickly only to pile on more tasks and before we know it our life becomes a treadmill of productivity over balance.  Often it is just busy work tricking us into thinking we are being productive. I’d rather be effective than busy. I’d rather have an optimized live than a maximized one, how about you?

Video!

I’d love to know what you think in the comments below. This year has been a turning point for me and oddly enough it started by decluttering my house using the Konmari method from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I know it won’t work for everyone but I am so thankful for the day that I pressed play on that audio book. It might be a good gift for someone who is struggling with clutter and overwhelm. I used to be maximized and my art studio was proof of that! Do you have any good books to recommend? Let me know in the comments below and til next time happy crafting!

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You know what? I am really excited for Christmas this year!

Hi friends! I have a confession to make, I usually approach Christmas with a bit of dread and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting together and spending time with friends and family, watching Christmas specials with my hubby and kids and attending the kids Christmas concerts at school. But then I have the shopping/gift anxiety, the clutter of too many decorations added on top of an over cluttered house and cooking anxiety. I actually declined an invitation EVERY YEAR from a sweet friend to a fun cookie swap because I was embarrassed about my cooking ability, instead I would just lurk on Facebook the day of the event and feel sorry for myself as they shared pics of all the fun they were having. I was so lame. I would live in a state of overwhelm from November 1-December 25th. But this year I am looking forward to the holiday, why you might ask? Because of the decluttering process I started in February. I have room for decorations. I spend less time cleaning on a daily basis and if we are having people over I can have the house presentable in 1 hour (vs the 8 hour cleaning marathon two days before Christmas last year!) I finally feel like I can relax and enjoy the season.

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I am also looking at my gift giving with new eyes, this is something I have been leaning towards for the past few years but now I am not going to feel badly about it. I have received gifts that I couldn’t use before but the guilt of getting rid of something I did not need make me keep the item. I don’t want others to feel that guilt either so I am changing some of my gift giving tactics. The following are my gift giving guidlines:

  • Give a gift that is consumable: A bottle of wine, coffee, fine vanilla etc.
  • Give a gift card to a restaurant, grocery store of the recipients favorite store
  • Make it reusable: Craft cute handmade gift card packaging that can have a label removed and it can be reused.
  • Make it handmade AND useful: Hand knit hats, mittens, cowls, socks, cutting boards etc.

I used to feel bad picking up a gift card and then I’d go into panic shopping mode. I didn’t want someone to think I didn’t care about them enough to select a perfect gift. Ironically that meant I would buy completely random stuff that did not hit the mark. How did a holiday of love and togetherness come to this? I say “no more!” We will have joy and abundance this Christmas, the question is will you be too stressed out to enjoy it?

I know some people gripe about my random konmari posts but I have to say for me The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo was life changing. I can’t guarantee results for everyone but I am looking forward to all aspects of the holidays and that makes me happy.  One thing I love is sending handmade cards, I will attack that with gusto and enjoy every minute of making them, addressing them and sending them off. And I will go to that cookie swap this year. If my cookies are a disaster I know of a few good bakeries. 🙂 I hope that regardless of what you celebrate that you enjoy the season without stress and anxiety. Happy crafting!

This one tip can help build your crafty stash and your relationships! {Konmari Craft VLOG}

Hi friends! Wouldn’t you like to have access to more stuff without having to buy and store it? Well you can, as long as you are willing to share too. Today we are going to talk about ownership verses access. I know there are many things we want to own because we use them too often to borrow them every time but for those once in a while things borrowing can be just fine. I am lucky and have several friends who enjoy papercrafting as does my mom and sister so we borrow and lend all the time. It allows us to try new things and keep our projects fresh without breaking the bank. In today’s Konmari craft room video we will talk about owning vs borrowing stuff.

Video!

This video posted to YouTube last night and I always love to the read the comments left on these posts. They are always thoughtful, respectful and open my mind to other opinions. One theme I heard over and over was that they would like to lend and borrow more but all too often items come back broken,or they don’t come back at all. This makes me sad to hear. I think this will happen but in most cases people will treat your things better than their own (I know I do if I borrow something and I try to use it right away so I can return it and don’t forget about it!) I even had a sweet friend buy me a new die cutter platform because she thought she ruined it by putting the die in without a cutting pad. It has a scratch but I didn’t care, it still worked fine:) I guess you might not want to lend anything that would harm your friendship if anything happened to it because accidents happen and people make mistakes.  The loss of a thing should never cause the loss of a friendship.

So, Lindsay, how to we keep track of things we lend?

I got a great tip from my mom. Whenever you lend something out put a return address label on the item. I often get sheets of free return address stickers in the mail from charities I have given to in the past but you can order them or print them on your computer as well. That way the borrower knows it’s yours if they forget (it happens to the best of us!) and when you lend something keep a check out list just like a library so you know who has what (And you don’t drive yourself insane looking for that butterfly die you were sure you bought LOL!) I lend my crafty stuff to about 6 people so I can usually narrow it down if I need an item I lent for a project. I think the benefit outweighs the risk.

The other topic several people mentioned was that they didn’t have any crafty friends or they lived in such a rural area that supplies were hard to find. This is a bit more tricky but I bet there are more like-minded souls around than you think, or, you might be able to teach some folks your craft. You local library or church might also have scrapbooking, quilting, knitting or painting groups that you can join (or maybe you can start one!) I have enjoyed scrapbooking and painting groups at my local church, I am not a church member but they welcomed me just the same and I have started knitting and painting groups at the library. Find your tribe and if you can’t, create one by sharing you passion! I also realize that many viewers are homebound or not available to attend groups when they meet but you can find many forums and galleries online and share ideas and inspiration. I can tell you from experience the more light you put out, the more comes back to you.

I think the best thing about borrowing and lending is getting to see my friends more often, it builds the bonds of friendship and it feels good to help and we feel gratitude when we are helped. We were taught that sharing is good in kindergarten, we just need to remember that now that we are grown up. 🙂

Share your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to know what you think. Happy crafting!

Konmari Vlog: The Value of our STUFF!

Hi friends!  Everything I think about “stuff” I am reminded of the George Carlin bit about stuff: “My stuff is good STUFF, everyone else’s stuff is CRAP!” There is some truth to this. Studies show we value things we own much higher than things we don’t. The mere act of ownership makes us think differently about our stuff. This is why it is hard to have a yard sale and price our things (things we don’t even want mind you) for less than we think they are worth. If you are trying to declutter but getting stuck on what to do with your stuff watch this video, I think it will help.

Video! (If reading in email click over to watch the video)

So many people have asked me why I didn’t just sell the stuff I gave away after decluttering my craft room. There were many reasons, mostly I wanted it out efficiently but another reason was I’d rather give it away to someone who would appreciate it rather tan sell it for a tiny fraction of what it was worth. It’s silly really because the end result is the same whether I threw it away, gave it away or sold it but I wanted to feel good about discarding and giving stuff to friends and organizations who could use it felt best.

It is almost like I was worried about my “things” have a good home and I am not alone. Also, who wants to throw money away and when we place a value on our things (we do, even the things we no longer want) it feels like throwing money away to toss it, or like we are getting ripped off to sell it for next to nothing. In ANY of these scenarios the goal is to get rid of the excess items we don’t want so why do we get so hung up on the “stuff”?

Here is the TED-ed video that I mentioned. The Konmari method is from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I hope you enjoyed this little vlog. Remember, It’s not about the “STUFF”…OK, maybe it is a bit. 🙂 Happy crafting!

Are you stuck on the treadmill?

Hi friends! When we liken something to “the treadmill” it usually means unending drudgery but did you know our minds strive to keep us on an even balanced path, this is known as the hedonic treadmill and that is what we are going to chat about today in this weeks Konmari vlog! *If you are new here “Konmari” refers to the boom The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and it was the book that helped me declutter my art room and my home by only keeping items that “Sparked Joy.” I highly recommend it:)

Today we are talking about hedonic adaptation, or the ability of your brains to seek out a balance after something good or bad happens to us. When I first completed the Konmari declutter in my craft room I felt fantastic! I had a cleaner more spacious room and I was on cloud 9! A month or so later I was feeling a sense of let down, I could not see that I had made a difference, I had gotten used to the “new normal” and I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything. I decided to do another round of Konmari…then I learned about the hedonic treadmill and it all made sense!

Here is the short video by TED explaining the Hedonic Treadmill.

Have you ever said things like:

  • “I’ll be so happy when I lose 25 pounds!”
  • “If only I could get that promotion my life would be perfect!”
  • “If I had a big house like her’s I’d surely be happy!”
  • “If my art was every published I’d be happy!”
  • “If I had “x” amount of dollars in the bank I would feel satisfied”

If you then hit one of those goals you might know what I mean. I thought if I ever got my work in a magazine then I would be satisfied, then it was when I get my own column I would be happy, then it was if I was hired to teach at a convention I’d be happy or hitting 100k YouTube subscribers. It turns out I am just as happy now as I was before. Now this might sound incredibly ungrateful and I do not mean it that way at all BUT I have found achieving a goal to be kind of a let down. I think that the work is the reward and pursuing and progress feels better than hitting an end goal. Think about it, remember when you were first learning a new skill whether it is knitting, painting or playing an instrument, think about the thrill of making something that resembled a scarf, picture or a song. Those little wins kept you going. As you begin to master a craft you need to make it more complicated and advanced and the thrill you get from each step higher is not as great as the first thrills you got from knitting row upon row of a wobbly-edged scarf. Finally you have mastered a skill and you are leveled out on the treadmill.

I think the way to maximise your happiness without falling prey to the treadmill is to set daily goals that will put you on a positive path while minimising the “let down” of goals. The other thing about goals is how disappointed you can feel if you don’t hit them, say if your goal is to lose 30lbs by Christmas and you east healthy and exercise every day and only lose 20 you will feel disappointed but if you said “I am going to walk 45 minutes a day, write down everything I eat and make healthy food choices until Christmas” and you look and see you lost 20lbs you would feel great for sticking to a plan and not feel bad because it wasn’t 30. Does that make sense? Make your daily actions reflect who you want future you to be.

How to swap goals for plans:

  • Instead of “I will learn to paint like DaVinci” Try “I will paint 1 hour a day for 3 months”
  • Instead of “I will lose 30lbs by Christmas” Try “I will do some form of exercise each day and eat reasonable portions of healthful food going forward”
  • Instead of “I will have my art published within 6 months” try “I will send out 10 submissions to craft magazines per month.”

Get the idea? And also thing learning new things help push us past the “leveling out” plateau we hit in all areas that we are trying to master. If you painting is at a standstill try collage, knitting or jewelry making. By switching gears you put your brain in that fertile learning space and a colorway or technique in another project might push you past the block you are facing in your main art form. That’s why cross training is so effective in fitness. Try art/craft cross training (I’d say it’s more fun too LOL!)

One more thing to try…I was listening to the Happiness podcast by Gretchen Rubin the other day and one of her viewers called in and suggested making a “Ta-Da!” list instead of a To-do list, at the end of the day (or week) write down everything you accomplished. That way when you are feeling overwhelmed like you haven’t done anything you can look back at your Ta-Da list and see that you really are killing it:) It is the same principle of taking before pics of your pre konmari home, when you have evidence of what you have achieved it helps pull you off the treadmill. You could also keep a blog and post what you make each week, seeing the work add up pays off!

I’d love to know what you think! Leave a comment below and continue the conversation. Happy crafting!

Random Crafty Things I Hoard…

Hi friends! Today I want to talk about some random bits I collect. I was reminded of this while cleaning up after my live stream on Friday afternoon. I put my supplies away and then placed the color swatch I painted to determine what colors I was going to use in the painting in my “random crafty collage junk drawer” I had to giggle at the pile of swatches I have saved over the past 2 years and I thought it would be a nice jumping off point for this weeks Konmari Craft Room video. Remember, it’s NEVER just about the STUFF.

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(If you are reading this in your email click over to my blog to watch the video)

It can be hard to be intentional or even know what we really want or need in this day in age but you can hone your skills to live a life of intention instead of habit. It all started when I read “The life changing magic of tidying up” by Marie kondo and decided to keep only items that sparked joy (or really use) and it was life changing to say the least!

I know my hoarded items are not crazy excessive and they are well contained but I enjoy adding to my stash of color recipes every week (aka live show paint swatches) and the corks are useful and the bottle caps, well, they have a use by date now that I no longer teach little kids craft classes but one thing I can say is that my hoard is intentional where as before the konmari method my hoard was an uncontrolled “Well I better keep this in case I need it, or someone I know needs it, or someone I have not yet met might like it ” scenario.

Last week I talked about how I stopped using baby wipes for a month to see if I really needed them. Did they add value to my life or were they just a habit or convenience? In June I stopped drinking wine except for 2 glasses on a holiday and birthday. Turned out in both cases these things were habits and pacifiers and not items that added as much value as I thought they did. My consumption of either the wine or the wipes was not big but it was also not necessary. I will still enjoy a glass of wine now and then but it will be more like 4 times a month (not week!) It will be a treat, not a habit.  I know it is not an excessive amount and I am not judging anyone, only figuring out what is right for me:)

I guess is there is one thing I’d like you to get from this is to be intentional and differentiate a treat from a habit.  Habitual consuming (eating, drinking, shopping, smoking) can be a real problem because in many cases we aren’t aware that we are doing it and it takes more and more to satisfy us the more we do it. Take coffee for instance, you can have a cup of coffee once in a while and get this burst of energy but if you have it habitually every day you need more and more to get the same effect that one cup used to give you. It becomes the new normal. Every once in a while I wean myself back on coffee so I can still enjoy the benefits without being such a slave to the habit. Shopping can be like that too, a little pretty here, one there and it becomes so frequent that the pleasure we once got from shopping has been dulled and we can’t appreciate any of the things we purchased. Then we wonder why we are so unsatisfied.

I say if you want a habit then pick a good one: Daily exercise (oddly enough I used to hate to exercise but I discovered podcasts so now I look forward to my evening walk with a  TED Talk and it has become a treat!), volunteering, spending time with loved ones, making art, learning a musical instrument or even tidying up. Those can become things you don’t even think about, you just get in the habit of doing them and they only benefit you and your family. They say you don’t quit a habit, you replace it, so let’s intentionally replace the habits that don’t add value to our lives with ones that do. I’ll drink to that!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, til next time happy crafting!

No More Baby Wipes! Minimalist Monday/Konmari Craft Room Series

Hi friends! A little over a month ago I ran out of baby wipes in the craft room. I used them to wipe ink and paint off stamps and tools and to wipe down my table after I was done a project. After one really messy project I realized I had used about 8 wipes and suddenly I felt like I had a problem! When I reached the end of the pack of wipes I decided to see if I could go a month without them. Find out what I learned in today’s Konmari craft room video!

Video!

I learned that it wasn’t just about the baby wipes, it’s never just about the stuff. It wasn’t about the price of the baby wipes ($1 a pack at the dollar tree) but it was about the COST of buying the baby wipes.

  • The environmental cost, think of 12 bricks of wipes going into the landfill.
  • The time cost-I have to go to the store and buy these.
  • The additional cost of the other things I impulse buy (or my kids impulse buy) when I am in the store. By not buying the $1 pack of wipes I am saving $20 on the other crap I (or my kids) would have picked up without thinking and these unimportant items would be thrown away or break soon thereafter.
  • The storage cost- Hey I’ll grab a few packs so I won’t have to return as often but I must have a place to put them…oh and if they dry out I’ll have use water with them and in that case I might as well use a rag.

I took a couple of weeks to not reach under my table for that pack of wipes. But now I barely think of them. I keep a spray bottle of water under my table and several small cloths hanging from the side. Using a cloth is now second nature.  If I need a stronger cleaner I use 1 part simple green to 10 parts water in a spray bottle for wiping my table or rubber stamps or 1 part baby shampoo and 10 parts water for clear (or rubber) stamps and it works better than wipes. You just need to change the habit. Notice I said “change” and not “kick.” We are not depriving ourselves, we are just being more mindful of our consumption.

I don’t think baby wipes are bad and that you shouldn’t use them. It wasn’t really about the baby wipes remember? Getting in the habit of looking at the things we use and the real cost of the item will save you not only money but time, effort and stress. Let me know what you think in the comments below and til next time happy crafting!

PS “Konmari” refers to the Konmari Method from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It was the framework I used to declutter my craft room and home. I found a great deal of value from it. I have also started listening to the Audiobook How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie and am finding value in that as well. Links above are amazon affiliate links where I earn a small commission of the sale at no cost to you. You can also likely find these book from your local library for free.

 

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