What space are you creating?

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This spring we are nearing the end of a project to clear some large items and a few boxes and bags of small items in our garage in anticipation of buying an electric car in the coming months. This photo above is my dream car- a red Tesla!

I have a super fun game that I play every day to see how many Teslas I can spot on the road. It’s super fun! Many times I see this red one too! My favorite!

It’s often great to have a goal in mind for the space you are creating while de-cluttering your home. Having those pictures of dreams in your mind can really encourage you and spur you on going forward.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your spaces:

  1. How do I want to feel in this space? What does peace in this space look like and feel like to me?

  2. What do I picture myself doing in this space?

  3. What new possibilities am I opening up in my life by clearing out the clutter in this space?

  4. What surprises am I allowing for by creating some space? Empty spaces as well as empty drawers and shelves can create great energy for many things to show up in your life! You will be surprised!

Now that our garage space is nearly cleared the energy feels light and every day I see more and more Teslas! They are like a trail of beautiful dream “breadcrumbs” on the way to my intentions coming true. I can just see the car in that space. Create more space for more possibilities in your home and in your life.

When you clear a space for yourself and your dreams in your home and on your calendar you are creating freedom and peace for yourself. You will be shocked at the amazing outcomes!

What spaces are you making for yourself? Feel free to comment below! Make sure to leave space in your home and on your calendar for your dreams to grow!

Joyful Minimalism: 

If you are ready to explore your things but need  support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. 

I have 3 home clearing packages to choose from: 

Services:

http://expansive.me/services

Find out more on my website:

http://expansive.me

Recycling can be Clutter Too

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At our home, one week is yard waste week and one week is recycling week. We have a very small trash bin and a very large recycling bin. I have always tried to recycle as much as possible and not throw away a lot. However, the other day I got an “oops” notice that I could not recycle takeout containers or frozen food boxes. It turns out there are several items that cannot be recycled in our area.

Then, about 2 weeks ago for some reason the truck forgot to take our recycling. Our bin was very full, so now we have an overflow of recycling in our garage. I have boxes I am filling with recycling until it is picked up again on Wednesday morning.

Given that I spend quite a bit of time on recycling and dealing with it, especially when there is a backlog, it really made me think about the packages of items that I was bringing home after grocery shopping. So many things come in plastic clam-shells, plastic bags or other types of plastic tubs and containers. Very few plastic containers (even if they have a recycling symbol/number on them) can be recycled in our area. So, even though it may make it to the recycling plant, it may get thrown away anyway. And, recycling takes quite a bit of energy.

In a way I am glad that we have had these experiences recently because it made me think- “Wow! Having too much recycling or bringing in too many packaging items when grocery shopping is a form of clutter as well.” I was cluttering up our garage with lots of extra packaging that may or may not be recyclable. This realization made me take lots of action. It will be a gradual, continual process of change which I will update you all on, but I feel that I have made headway already.

My goal is to get down to mostly recycling: glass, paper and metal. These materials are much easier to recycle and take less energy to do so. Recycling these items is a win-win because we save a lot of water and raw materials by recycling them.

Plastics on the other hand are very complicated to recycle and also just because it has a number on it doesn’t mean it will be recycled in your area, or at all. Those number just state the type of plastic that is used. Single-use plastics are the ones that we should be most concerned about. These are ones that are used for packaging or things like takeout containers or forks, spoons, knives used at food trucks, for camping or picnics.

Here is a quote from an article I found online by Viv who sells compostable food supplies:

“While a number of plastics are now recyclable, EcoCycle encourages you to avoid plastic and single-use packaging as much as possible—in the past 45 years, it’s increased more than 10,000%!”

Wow!! An increase of 10,000% in single use plastic use. I can believe it as I look around my kitchen cupboards and realize there are many products I will not be buying anymore unless I can find them in non-plastic packaging.

Here are some things that I have started doing to reduce plastic waste and reduce our recycling as well.

Reducing Plastic at the Grocery Store:

When you go grocery shopping you can reduce the single-use plastics that you bring home by paying close attention to what the products are packaged in. Also, I have stopped using plastic bags at the store for my fruits and vegetables. I can either use mesh bags, put them in re-usable bags I have brought from home, or just put them straight into the cart. I have started to make sure that as many bottled items come in a glass bottle and preferably with a metal lid. Yesterday when I went shopping I decided to buy broth base in a glass jar with a metal lid instead of buying broth in a carton with a plastic lid. All in all I only came home with 1 plastic jar of a condiment that I couldn’t find a current alternative for. I will continue to find ways to reduce and ultimately not bring home any plastic packaging as time goes on. Next will be to buy in bulk using my own bags or jars.

Farmer’s Market:

I am also going to make a real effort to shop more at the local farmer’s market because plastic packaging is not so prevalent there. I of course have a lot of reusable bags I can use and many of the products are packaged in paper or in glass jars. Also because the products are produced locally it doesn’t take as much fuel use to get them to shoppers. This is a great win-win situation where you are creating less waste, fewer items to recycle and you are supporting local farmers and makers.

Making Your Own:

Another way to reduce single-use plastic packaging is to make some of the items that you usually buy in the grocery store yourself. Three examples that I have tried or will try that usually come in plastic packaging are the following:

Bread: While you sometimes can get bread in a paper bag, many loaves come in plastic bags. Knowing that we buy at least 1 loaf a week, I decided to teach my son how to make bread. We made 2 loaves and then wrapped them in fabric bags to be stored on the counter for slicing for sandwiches and toast. My son was thrilled, had fun and noted that the bread tasted amazing!

Pasta: Many types of pasta come in plastic bags or in cardboard boxes with plastic windows in them. This week I am going to show my son how to make pasta since we have a pasta roller and cutter at home. We will make a batch of fresh pasta to use for dinner and it will save packaging!

Yogurt: Usually every week I buy Greek yogurt. I always buy the largest container that I can, but it is still a plastic container. For this reason I looked up how to make yogurt online and it is so easy! As soon as I am done with the yogurt I have in the refrigerator I will make my own.

As time goes on I am sure that we will make lots of other items that we usually buy in packages. We will continue to reduce our waste and recycling.

Take Out Containers:

Last night I tried an experiment and it worked great! We went to a local restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I know that we always take leftovers home with us and since these containers cannot be recycled in our area, I decided to bring two glass containers from home to the restaurant to put our leftovers in. This worked perfectly! Sure enough, we filled both containers with our leftovers and there was no food waste and no container waste either!

Buy Locally:

When you buy items locally (not just groceries) you reduce the amount of packaging because you can bring your own bags and you are not creating more recycling by having all of those cardboard boxes and packing materials to sort through. Also, it takes less fuel/transport to get the items to you. There are some wonderful zero waste products that you may need to order online, but those companies usually use very little packaging and it is easily recycled or even can be sent back to be re-used. I know that my local UPS store will take packing materials and re-use them which is a plus for those times when you need to order certain things online.

Vintage Clothing:

For my summer wardrobe(since I have de-cluttered old summer outfits) I have my eye on going to the local, beautiful vintage clothing store for a couple of special items. In this way I am reducing waste because this clothing is getting re-used and given a new life. Much of vintage clothing is also made from more natural fibers such as cotton and silk. It’s great to be excited about making old clothing new again by getting a “new-to-you” outfit.

I would love to hear your ideas on reducing plastic waste and other waste. Comment below or send an email to me:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Joyful Minimalism:

If you are ready to explore your things but need weekly/daily support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. I have accountability packages & coaching packages: 

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com


Are we afraid of the present moment?

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A little while ago as I was working away daily on clearing my home of extra clutter, I went through several “memory boxes” I had of old letters, journals and other mementos. It was a very interesting process because it had been so, so long since I last looked at these items. Most of them were from the 1990’s when I was an exchange student in Mexico or later on in college. A quick look at most of these items made me realize that by keeping so many of these although I didn’t look at them, symbolically I was living a lot in the past. I began to wonder- Are we afraid of the present moment?

I posted a photo of my memory boxes and journals on social media and so many people said that it would be so very difficult for them to get rid of those items. It made me ponder my own attachments to these letters, journals and documents. Yes, it is important to have a record of where you have been, and maybe my son or future generations would like to look at these items to get to know more of who I was or what I did in life and my relationships. On the other hand, by keeping so, so much of this old stuff, I felt a bit stuck in the past and part of me felt held back by even having so many boxes and bags of the past hanging around. It felt like a strange old security blanket telling me to hold on, but not to look at my present moment and live here.

Here’s what I did with those old memories that I feel at peace with here in my present moment. I can tell you that I had to take 2 passes at my old papers in order to be at peace with what I kept and what I recycled. I didn’t look at every single letter, but I did save sections of letters from people that still matter to me now in my present moment. The limit I put on myself was that I could keep 1 notebook full of old cards and letters and one box of memories of journals/mementos. The last go-round of looking through those things and making the notebook took over two hours. However, I really feel so very much lighter and able to live right now in this beautiful moment with the rain falling outside my window. Right now I am content with who I am and who I am becoming and some memories along the way that I did choose to keep brought me to this moment here today.

This process made me realize that I was really afraid of the present moment. I was hanging on to a large amount of the past in the physical form of these items. A lot of times physical and also mental clutter from the past can hold us back from living our true potential right now. Having fewer of these items means that i can begin to live in the now.

Beginning with paring down the past by de-cluttering my old papers and journals was a great foundation for me to build upon to start being less afraid of the present moment in other ways as well. I began to get curious about why I kept checking email and social media multiple times a day. It can falsely feel like we are living in the present moment by checking up on “what’s going on.” but really we are still not in the present when on our phones so much. Things people post have already happened and you won’t get an important e-mail every 5 minutes. I noticed that every day starting in the morning I would be continually distracted by checking way too many apps. I was shocked to see that I was spending sometimes more than 5 hours a day on my phone!

Determined to get that time back and be more present with myself, my family, my friends and activities that matter to me, I experimented beginning with last weekend. I decided I would spend very little time on my phone, especially in the mornings. Mornings are my creative time, a time when my brain works best on things like writing and creating. I made sure to start my day out with meditation, tea and breakfast instead of the usual round-robin of checking email and social media. It felt so relaxing. It reminded me of the few letters that I did keep. I remember a time that we couldn’t instantly share what was going on in our lives every single second. We would save up our news and write it into letters for those living far away. We took extra care and time with those letters. We could live our lives in the present moment more, and just take a bit of time to write letters when we wanted to communicate with someone out of town.

My weekend experiment worked very well. I only checked email a couple of times and didn’t check social media at all. I was amazed at how much time I had to read, study my Japanese, do a bit of writing in my notebook and just relax a bit with my family. I really did reclaim those several hours a day and my brain didn’t feel as scrambled as it did when I was on my phone so much. It felt like real rest, real connection to the present moment and real connection to myself and others.

My question to you is: Are you afraid of the present moment? Can you get curious about what is going on there? How can you change your connection with the present moment and be there more each day? Leave a comment below or email me at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Joyful Minimalism: 

If you are ready to explore your things but need weekly/daily support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. 

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Becoming Yourself

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But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great, ever came out of imitations. What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. More difficult because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. Terrifying, actually because it requires you to set aside what your friends expect, what your family and your co-workers demand, what your acquaintances require, to set aside the message this culture sends, through its advertising, its entertainment, its disdain, and its disapproval , about how you should behave.

…..Look, every day, at the choices you are making, and when you ask yourself why you are making them, find this answer: Because they are what I want, or wish for. Because they reflect who and what I am

—Ana Quindlen from the book Being Perfect

Ana Quindlen’s book “Being Perfect” is the most amazing book that I picked up the other day at the library. It is a very short book, but a very powerful one. In it she talks about letting go of being perfect, how it was such a burden, such a pain and how she emerged into really being herself. It is so beautifully written with such a simple, lovely style. It only takes a few minutes to read, but its spell over you lasts a long time.

Imitations:

I just love the quote above from the book. I had this quote marked with a post-it note and knew I had to write about it before I returned the book to the library. The point she makes about nothing beautiful or meaningful ever came of imitations really struck a chord with me. How many times have we tried to imitate someone “successful” in our lives and it just really fell flat. I believe it was because we were just trying to follow their template to success and we were not being our true, authentic core self. How many times have we unconsciously followed the lead of messages we got when we were children about how they world worked? Those methods do not work either because they are also imitations and often of patterns that do not serve us.

Giving up on being perfect:

As a recovering perfectionist I can say that perfectionism feels physically like a deep pain in my shoulders. I actually remember feeling that during the 4 months that I was working at the coffee shop. I was trying so hard to be perfect in so many ways- working lots of hours and lots of days and still trying to do things at home and stay in touch with people. It all turned into physical pain for me. Now that I am lightening my work load and putting less pressure on myself in so many ways I have not had that shoulder pain much. It is amazing at how you can actually be holding your body in a painful position with perfectionism, and when you begin to let it go, the pain goes as well.

Beginning the work of becoming yourself:

I feel that last year after the coffee shop as well as this year has been the beginning of the process of being myself. I find myself really tuning in to what really lights my heart on fire versus the things that somehow I feel I should do. That doesn’t mean that there is no work involved, it just means that I don’t have to be doing constant activity to find the joy and purpose in my life. I believe that this process is like feeling at home, feeling like you are finally going down the right path, the one you were meant to walk down. This is a continual and ever changing process of realizing who my core, authentic self is and how to go about being her. I believe that learning really goes on forever, so I will explore this for a very long time, it’s the first step of a lovely journey to meet myself.

Do my choices reflect who I am?

I think that this question is one that I need to ask daily. I can take a look at the choices I am making. What am I choosing to work on? Who am I choosing to spend time with? How am I choosing to show up in the present moment? So many great questions to see how I am showing up in the world. Is that who I want to be?

I would love to hear from you on how you are becoming more of yourself. Comment below or send me an email at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!

-Trista