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Not as Scary as it Looks – NBC 26 Women Today

I got an inquiry in January to do an interview for a local news station. One of their talented reporters does a recurring segment called NBC 26 Women Today that showcases women who are making a difference in the local area. I am honored to be a part of this wonderful group of professional women and to be recognized for the passion and help that I bring to others. I do not love being in the spotlight. At all. And Paige Tucker made this process easy and comfortable. We had a conversation and then walked through a little of what I do together. She is a gem and I love what I do so it was a really enjoyable experience – despite the scared look on my face for the still shot on the video clip below.

What women in your life inspire you to continue toward love and good deeds? Who is setting examples for you for good? When was the last time you spoke words of encouragement to those people? I’d like to encourage you to write a note, send an email, use words to express your gratitude… even if you think they already know.

In Case of Fire

I ask a lot of questions when working with people to find peace and freedom in their home. The questions vary by person and situation. “Do you like this item?” “Do you want to keep up with the care and storage of this item?” “Is this item an excess duplicate?” And so on.

One question I ask myself but not others is, “would you rebuy this if you lost it in a fire?”

Maybe you will think this is morbid. At times I sure do. That is exactly why I don’t ask this question of other people. I simply ask, “would you buy this item again?”

I should say that I have never had any reason to ask this question involving a fire. I’ve never experienced a fire myself. I’ve never even known anyone personally who has been involved in a house fire.

That is until this past year when I found out that the house of my friends burned. It was an accident that they had nothing to do with. Each of the seven people in their family made it out safely but hardly any of their possessions did. A photo or two and a small amount of other precious items.

Maybe you’ve known someone or you yourself have suffered this loss. What is the first word that you think of when you hear about a house burning down? I think of words like tragedy, devastation, and loss. Then I think of words like rebuilding, starting over, and community.

There are a few lessons that I want you hear from this as you continue reading. First, from my friend, make a video documentation of what you own because the insurance dealings are difficult and this video will help. Second, the less you own, the less hassle you will deal with both in everyday life and in emergencies or loss. Third, it’s all just stuff and only some of it is necessary and beautiful.

Make a Video/Take Photos
I spent a little bit of time walking through my home recently making a video of all of my belongings. It took some time but it is done. I got serial numbers on things like the TV and my computer. Be sure to get in close on jewelry and artwork, perhaps getting photos of these individually.
As another quick practical tip, have a fireproof safe that you store your important paperwork in as well.

Own Less
Remember that “less” is different from “none.” The less things you own, the less things you have to keep up with in the day-to-day. And, in the unlikely but still real possibility event that you suffer a fire or natural disaster or loss of a loved one (more on this specifically in another blog post to come) you have less to deal with.

The Necessary and Beautiful
When my friends started rebuilding their belongings they had immediate needs. They made a list of all the things they would need and their amazing community stepped up in beautifully unexpected ways. Yes, I used the word “need” in that last sentence correctly. They needed clothes, basic kitchen items, and basic furniture. But we also thrive when we have beauty around us. They might not be the first things we buy after a fire but they are probably on the wish list just the same.

I’m not asking you to get rid of everything you own except that which you would need right after a fire. I’m asking you to think about what you own and WHY you own it. Do you want to keep 3 sets of fine china that you wouldn’t purchase again if it was all broken? That is totally fine. Just know WHY you are keeping it. Chances are they are sentimental items and we all know those can’t be replaced. (I’m also not saying you need to keep everything that is sentimental but that is for another time.)

Just in Case: The 20/20 Rule

There are dozens of tips and questions to ask to help you decide what to keep in your home. There are too many to say all at once while in a decluttering session. Some, however, hold more bang for their buck. One of them is the 20/20 rule.

I first heard the 20/20 rule from these guys. And now I use it frequently with others. The basic idea is this, if you are holding on to an item just in case you might need it one day, you can let go of it if you can get it again in less than 20 minutes for less than 20 dollars.

One example might be that you have 16 rolls of tape. If you are holding on to these just in case you might need some tape, you can apply the 20/20 rule. Since you aren’t using this tape definitely (it’s a just in case item), and it will take you less then 20 minutes (on your next grocery run) and it will cost less than $20 (you can get the brand name for around $3) you can let someone else have it. Otherwise those 16 rolls of tape are taking up valuable real estate in a drawer and in your mind (another topic for another article).

Another example might be a bundt pan. “I might make a bundt cake next year. Maybe. I should probably hold on to it.” A bundt pan takes up valuable space in those kitchen cabinets. If you are holding on to it just in case you might make a bundt cake at some point, you can let it go. It falls into the 20/20 rule but also, you can probably save even more time and money by borrowing this item if you ever decide to bake that bundt cake. Then, not only are you not buying a pan that you probably won’t use often, you are also building community, saving money, and freeing up time and space in your home and head.

What items are you hanging on to just in case that are taking up valuable space in both your home and your mind? What can you let go of today to help bring more peace and freedom to your home?

#LRSOMG2020 February

How is your goal of decluttering your home in 2020 going? Let’s work together to keep that momentum going!

I just didn’t realize how much stuff I had that I didn’t need anymore.

– DW, #LRSOMG19 participant

Starting February 1 we are back for our third year and fourth round of The Minimalism Game hosted by Little Red Stool Organizing (#LRSOMG2020).  I’m inviting you to join the LRSO community to play along with thousands of others who have played this game before you. The Minimalism Game is a great way to have fun while bringing more peace and freedom to your home. And it’s completely FREE!

Whoo-hoo!!! I think I did every day….. My house feels a little lighter but there is still so much more to go! Are you doing another challenge soon?!!! 

– JD, #LRSOMG18 participant

Before we get to how the game works and how you can participate. I want to address one thing. The word “minimalism.” Throw what you think of the word “minimalism” out for a minute. Now think about how nice your house would feel if you had a few less things. I can just picture you with your eyes closed, a deep sigh of relief and peace, and a rested posture. THAT is what I want you to think about the word “minimalism” from now on. 

On to the basics of the game!

On the first day of the month you will get one thing OUT OF YOUR HOUSE. On the second daytwo things. The third day? You guessed it, three things will leave your home. That’s how we are going to play. You know you. If you can only get items out of your house once a week because of work, etc. then make a box/bag that WILL leave your home at the end of the week. If you can’t trust yourself to get rid of that bag at the end of the week, get it out the same day.

Day 11 from participant

Each day I will post 2 graphics. One graphic will be a short list of ideas of items you can consider pairing down in your home. These are only ideas not requirements. This is the post you will comment on with your photos to get points in the game. The other graphic will be a tip or encouragement of some kind. Interaction is encouraged. So keep your eyes peeled for those helps!

Not only is this a FREE tool for you to use, and community for you to participate with, we will also have PRIZES!!!

Click here to go directly to the Facebook event.

Entries look like this:
1. (Required to be entered) RSVP “yes” to the Feb 1 event on FB.
2. (Required to be entered) subscribe to LRSO’s newsletter.
3. (Required to be entered) “Like” Little Red Stool Organizing’s FB page.
4. Comment “done”  on the corresponding day’s post when you’ve completed the day. (1 point/entry)
5. Post a photo on the corresponding day’s post when you’ve completed the day. (2 points/entry)
6. Post a photo on your personal page tagged with #LRSOMG2020, post must be tagged and public for points to count. (3 point/entry)
7. Partner up with someone AND let us know who your partner is. Both partners must participate for at least 10 total days to receive points. (5 points)

Winners will be announced Saturday, March 2, 2019.

The Minimalism Game concept is from The Minimalists. The content in this event is from LRSO. This contest is in no way sponsored by The Minimalists or any social media platforms. Anything posted as a part of #LRSOMG2020 may be used for future marketing for LRSO.

Top Ten of 2019

Choosing only 10 after photos of all the work I did with the greatest people this year was super tough! I had the honor of walking with people through tremendous growth and that just doesn’t show up in a two dimensional image. For that reason, I’ll share my favorite images and the stories behind them. And to make it even easier on me I’m going to do them chronologically. I just can’t show favoritism! I love everyone I work with so much!

#1 Cozy Den

When you live in a house with this many delightful windows, have a lot of sweet friends, and a good variety of play options you have a lot of people over. This cozy den is actually a play room! Behind the couch is a piece of furniture that houses a variety of toys for different ages and of course there is the fun slide and massive, snuggly bear! This family of four has a lot of fun together and as you can tell, they can be cozy too.

#2 Basement

This basement belongs to a couple who was literally days away from welcoming their first child into the world. With the help of a thoughtful family member, we tackled some important spaces in their home: kitchen, basement, attic.

After a move-in, a round of flooding, and a laundry room move the basement was the last place either of these two wanted to be. However, their beautifully old home has little storage so they would brave the crazy and go down for light bulbs and paper towels. Tossing a lot of stuff, adding some shelves, and putting like with like made this basement not only functional but also not scary and maybe a little beautiful.

#3 Toy Corner

What a treat to help this family of 3 get ready for their second child! Going through toys was so special to see what toys their toddler enjoyed and what toys they wanted to set aside for their new baby. With a little thought and rearranging, we were able to let go of some things, put some things in a “when she’s older” bin, and even have some room to grow as a birthday and day of birth were coming quickly.

#4 School Science Closet

When I got the call to come help with a school science closet I wasn’t sure what we were getting in to but this was so much fun! This science closet houses earth science, physical science, and biology. Sorting these items was a mix of memory lane, learning, humility, and nerding out. With three different sciences also comes multiple teachers which means this area needed all the bins and labels we could come up with. Also, science and learning change from time to time so we were able to think through what would be best for the teachers to advance the students’ learning and growing. And just look at those cute little lab coats!

#5 Girl’s Closet

All things girl are housed in this little space. I think what I liked best about this session was the energy that her mom brought. She was motivated, ready, made decisions easily, and had a blast doing so. She was thoughtful about what stayed and what left. One of my favorite stories of the year was when this mom kept a googly eyed crazy headband that I thought for sure was going straight to the trash. While I never throw away a client’s things without their permission, I do often catch on quickly to what they will or will not toss. That time I was mistaken!

#6 Garage (from scratch)

One of the most exhilarating jobs I had in 2019 was this garage design and install from scratch. This family of 4 had just moved into this home that had just been built and wanted to start their garage off right. Storage, labels, easy access, and room to park 2 cars. I laid out a plan, purchased supplies, hired a handyman, and we got to work. The parents put in a good amount of time decluttering down to what they wanted to keep and I put all those keepers in appropriate (like with like) bins complete with labels.

What you don’t see here are the tiny stickers that they placed to be sure they park their cars in just the right spot as to be able to get out of their car without dinging the wall or other car. There is one in front of them and one to the side of them. Genius!

#7 Kitchen Cabinets

This young married was one of my most grateful clients ever. She simply could not contain her gratitude as we worked through each section, seeing items that she could easily let go of, finding homes for the items that were useful and beautiful for her and her husband, and experiencing the peace and freedom immediately as we went through the process.

Instead of a wall of glasses that they didn’t use and casserole dishes spread throughout the kitchen cabinets, they now have what the like and what they use in easy to access areas. And because these cabinets are glass front we chose items that they like to look at as well.

#8 Move-in Breakfast Nook

A military family of four found a home to settle in to and I had the privilege of helping them. The mom has a beautiful eye for decorating, doesn’t she? Moving during a school year and especially right before the holidays meant the kitchen table was a drop zone for this family. Once we were able to find homes for some other items, put together a real drop zone, and get through some boxes, we were able to uncover the table and the entire family can sit together again for meals.

#9 Kids’ Bookshelf

I started 2020 suggesting you start with a bookshelf if you were having a difficult time thinking of a place to start. This is one of the many bookshelves I worked on in 2019 and how fun is it? This family has 2 elementary age children and an infant. Using that information we made shelves for each of the children and a few others for sets and shared book. I was brave and moved all the books to the front edge as that is what looks best and reminds people that nothing else goes on the book shelf in front of the books. When I returned to the home for the next session, I was told that the girls were reading books, putting them back on the shelves, and moving the books back to the front all on their own. I have no illusion that all families will do this or even want to do this but without providing the opportunity for beauty and order you never know.

#10 Women’s Closet

As simple as this may look to you, having all the same hanger for your clothes can make a big difference in finding peace and freedom in your morning routine and when hanging clothes. The similarity of hangers means you don’t have to look at a lot of different items when you are only wanting to look for which shirt you want to wear that day. You aren’t thinking about the different hangers on purpose but your mind is having to put up with it while also trying to choose a shirt. Put another way, choose hangers that are going to be white noise rather than a rock concert. You have to see them but you don’t have to be bothered by them. This client prefers the velvet hangers but you can use any hanger that are the same (I prefer tubular hangers as they are easiest to get clothes on and off of) will do the trick.

Are there other sessions and photos that I absolutely love? Yes, of course! I post before and after photos at least twice a week and adore every session. So you can head over to Facebook and Instagram to see those all year round or even go back and see what fun we had other than the 2019 Top Ten.

What areas of your home are you most excited about having worked through in 2019? What areas are you ready to tackle in 2020?