Spring Cleaning Your Life: The Vehicle Edition

I hope you’ve enjoyed and applied this series on ways to spring clean some areas of your life. Today’s post, the last one in the series…is about cleaning one of the areas of our lives that is used on a regular basis…and as a result is often full of “stuff”. Most of our vehicles can benefit from some tender loving care.

 

The Interior…What do you see as you look at the inside of your vehicle? Now is the perfect time to clear out any trash, such as old gas receipts and fast food trash. What items do you really need to keep in the interior of your vehicle?  For me, it’s anti-bacterial soap, a large umbrella, and a roll of paper towels. I also have a couple of pens in case I need to write something down. For those of you that live in areas with toll roads, it may be helpful to keep some change in one of your consoles. For the grown-ups that transport children of all ages to various places or whose vehicle serves as a mobile office, your vehicle may need to hold a few more items, but there are still ways to organize those items so your vehicle doesn’t end up as the joke of the neighborhood.

 

The Trunk…Many of us have WAY too much junk in our trunks…and I’m not referring to those of us who are blessed to have curvaceous rear ends! As you pop open the trunk of your vehicle, what do you see? Is your trunk a mess of old shopping bags, bottles of vehicle fluids, or bags/boxes of items that were supposed to have made it to the thrift store some time ago? As you take the time to clean out your trunk, know that your efforts may result in slightly improved gas mileage as the weight of your vehicle slightly decreases. (And since you are in your trunk, take this time to utilize the bottles of vehicle fluids to top off any fluids under your hood as needed.)

 

The Exterior…After all of the efforts to clean the interior of your car, there’s nothing quite like having a shiny exterior as the culmination of all of your efforts. If you’re like me and don’t have easy access to car washing supplies (such as in an apartment complex), many gas stations have car washes attached to them that can be utilized to clean the exterior of your car. For those that reside in houses and don’t mind tackling washing the car or have a significant other who doesn’t mind doing so, have at it!

 

Sooo…how is your life looking after engaging in some spring cleaning? Have you maintained an orderly kitchen and closest? Do you have a greater awareness of your financial numbers and where to begin to make any important changes? I hope so!

 

 

Be fabulous…and spring clean!

Spring Cleaning: The Financial Edition

Spring brings to mind sunshine, flowers, and tax season…which makes it the perfect time to do some spring cleaning of one’s finances.

 

Just like any other area of our lives, spring cleaning our finances entails beginning with a review of our current financial situation. Reviewing our various bank accounts, including our retirement accounts, as well as monthly bills allows us to have a better idea of how much money is in each account. Doing such a review allows us to understand where we are spending our money, how much we are saving, as well as any debt that needs to be decreased. This is also an excellent time to review credit reports to ensure that the information listed is accurate.

As part of examining the various financial accounts that we have, our financial spring cleaning should also entail determining if there are any reoccurring expenses that we could forego.  For example, are monthly subscriptions, such as a “Wine of the Month” actually needed to experiment with new wines? Is the expensive gym membership being utilized enough to make the costs worth the expense? Are half of the channels that are being paid for with the monthly cable package any that will ever be consistently viewed?

Another important aspect of the financial spring cleaning is storing or disposing of all relevant financial paperwork. For example, contemporary technology allows for bill management to be done online for many utility companies. Once bills are paid online, there is usually a confirmation after payment submitted, which means that there’s no longer a need to save bill statements. While some financial statements need to be saved, such as tax returns for a certain number of years, it is best to save relevant documents in an organized manner in a file cabinet or other storage system. Scanning documents and saving them to an electronic storage can also reduce the amount of paper clutter. Other financial documents, such as monthly bill statements where electronic confirmation has been received of payment, can be disposed of by shredding.

Once the above tasks are completed, it can be helpful to spend some time contemplating some financial goals for the coming months. Some examples of popular financial goals include: saving $1,000 for a “life happens” account (otherwise known as an emergency fund), taking out cash to utilize for spending instead of debit or credit card usage, and creating a budget. Financial spring cleaning can take some time to complete, but it’s definitely worth the investment (no pun intended, I promise!).

Be fabulous!!

Spring Cleaning Your Life: Focus on De-Cluttering 101 ( Baby Steps to Getting Your “Stuff” in Order)

As we continue “spring cleaning” our lives, read on for a reminder about the importance of de-cluttering…

 

That I’m not the most organized person is both an understatement and the absolute truth (at the same darn time). Without realizing it, over the years, I have held onto items that I have not used or needed. As I mentioned in a previous post, some of those items have moved with me as I transitioned to new residences and even to new states. However, for the upcoming season of my life I have decided that I am going to ruthlessly de-clutter and purge items that are not adding any value or use to my life. For some of you who need to do something similar in your life, read below for some helpful tips from someone who knows that the struggle of decluttering is “real” and who is here to help you through it!

 

Words to Live By…

 

Step One: Be clear about YOUR purpose for de-cluttering. Without a solid rationale for why you need to shed excess “stuff” from your life, you will likely NOT be able to do so. For some, the purpose may be that an upcoming move to a new residence is the reason to de-clutter. For others, moving in with a husband or wife may be a great reason to do so. Others may realize that they have difficulty even accounting for the “stuff” they have in their life because so much other “stuff” has overtaken their space. Some may have realized just how much money they are paying every year to rent out a storage space for their excess “stuff”. (For me, the reason is an upcoming new season of life and a fresh start…that can best happen if I’m not lugging “stuff” with me that is irrelevant.)

 

Step Two: Tell at least one friend or family member about your intention to declutter. By telling a friend or family member about your plans and some form of time-table, they can encourage/nag/harass you to ensure that you follow through on your plans. I’ve had times where a friend who is could easily run her own organization business as a side hustle helped me organize my closet, which I greatly appreciated and needed at the time.

 

 

Step Three: Start small and pace yourself. Depending on how much “stuff” you need to declutter or purge, it can be helpful to start with one drawer, one bin, or one part of a larger closet. For my own process, I choose to start with the MANY toiletries that have made their home under a bathroom sink.

 

Step Four: Be ruthless about determining what you will keep, toss, or donate. For my start under the bathroom sink, I examined and disposed of any products that were practically empty or had expired. The products that I had used a bit of but did not like, I threw out as well. For products that were virtually non-used, I “gifted” them to a friend who was able to share them with her niece and the hair-dresser of her child.  When I began purging the clothing in my closet, I kept the articles of clothing that were in good condition, flattered me when I wore them, and that I actually still wear.  I tossed those articles of clothing that were in bad condition or need significant repairs. I donated to a local thrift store those articles of clothing that were in good condition but were too big or too small, or otherwise not flattering on me. I also had to FORCE myself to go through old papers from various chapters of my life and shred some, toss some, and organize the rest.

 

Step Five: Repeat until all areas of your belongings that need to be de-cluttered or purged are complete. The process of totally de-cluttering and purging areas of your life may take some time, depending on how much “stuff” you have. I’m still in the process of finishing my de-cluttering and purging of excess “stuff”. I am attempting to do one bin a weekend or on holidays or days off from work.

 

Step Six: Enjoy the outcome of your hard work! The process of purging and de-cluttering items is not an easy one, especially if you are someone who holds onto belongings for far too long (like yours truly!). However, I am not even quite finished yet and I am already pleased with my results. (And, if you need additional motivation about how life-changing de-cluttering can be, there are countless books on the subject). As I mentioned in a previous post, I found two unused gift cards that I can’t wait to use as one of the outcomes of my process. I’m also discovering that by purging clothing items, I am more likely to wear a greater amount of my clothing and have a better knowledge of what additional items I need to buy to fill in any missing pieces. I’m not quite finished with my process… but I can honestly say that I feel less burdened down by some of the “stuff” that had long since served its purpose in my life.

 

No matter where you are in the process of de-cluttering and purging excess “stuff” from your life, don’t give up! It’s a process and while the outcome is significant, so is the entire journey.

 

Be fabulous…and clutter-free!

(And join me again next week as we focus on “spring cleaning” our finances!)

Spring Cleaning Your Life: The Kitchen Edition

Now that we are WELL into the spring season, this is a perfect time to declutter and clean various aspects of our lives. So, for those of you who need encouragement to embark on a spring cleaning program…look no further! In this series of posts, you’ll find inspiration and practical tips on ways to ruthlessly purge items and to do a hard-core cleaning of areas that are often overlooked or even ignored. Grab your cleaning gloves, supplies, and trash bags. Let’s get started…with a focus today on the kitchen!!

 

kitchen tumbler blog

 

Whether you consider yourself to be a self-taught chef, a foodie, drive-through diva, or something in between, most of us utilize our kitchens in some manner. Even if you rarely utilize your kitchen, there are usually items in the cabinets or refrigerator that should have seen their last days as well as the fact that dust or grime can build up over time in the kitchen.

The Cabinets (with non-food items). Open each of your cabinets and conduct a brief assessment of their contents. For your cabinets that hold your dishes, cups, plates, pots, pans, and plastic ware, dispose of any items that are chipped or damaged in a way that makes them unsafe for use. With regards to your plastic ware, dispose of any items that are badly warped or oddly discolored or that have lids that have somehow migrated elsewhere. If there are any kitchen gadgets that you don’t use and that are in good condition, create a pile for them (and any other items!) to be taken for a thrift store donation or to be sold online for a profit.

The Cabinets (with food items). For these cabinets, determine if there are any food items (including seasonings) that are expired and need to be tossed in the trash can. This may also be a good time to determine what basics (such as spices or canned goods) that need to be re-stocked and create a list. If you need to, clean the cabinets of any crumbs or liquids that may have spilled out from any items in these cabinets.

The Refrigerator. Review the contents of your refrigerator and toss in the trashcan any leftovers that have been in there for a questionable amount of time and may be unsafe to consume. This is also a good time to determine if there are any condiments that have reached or surpassed their expiration dates and need to be tossed as well. Wipe down the refrigerator shelves and drawers with a cleaning cloth or wipe to rid your refrigerator of any crumbs. Also wipe down the refrigerator door and top of the freezer of any stains or dust. Use this time as well to add any additional items to your grocery store shopping list.

The Freezer. Just as with the refrigerator and the cabinets, review the contents of the freezer and dispose of any items that are questionable. If you have a freezer that requires defrosting, this would be a good time to do so.

Countertops, Cabinet Doors, Floors. Use a cleaning cloth or wipe to thoroughly wipe the counters and cabinet doors. Sweep the floor well with a broom. After sweeping, then use a mop or some sort of cleaning tool on the floor to clean it any stains.

*Quick note, for those of you that have roommates (and I’m not referring to a spouse, significant other, or your child/ren) doing a spring cleaning of the kitchen would be a great task to attempt to coordinate to do together. This can help prevent any “issues” that could occur if someone’s items are tossed without any warning.

Now…take the time to enjoy your well-cleaned kitchen!!

Be fabulous!

Filters and Angles

In a society that loves to remind us that “new” is always best and that “more” is what we should all be striving towards, the idea of anything less almost appears laughable. One only needs to view the social media posts of friends, family, acquaintances and sometimes even complete strangers to come to the conclusion that his or her life somehow is not “enough” because they are missing certain elements-an attractive and attentive significant other and children that always appear camera ready and well-behaved, an expensive residence, flashy vehicle, dream career, or the ability to take expensive jaunts around the world at any time.

 

 

It can be hard sometimes NOT to look at what appears to be the lavishly wonderful lives of other people and NOT want what appears to be the perfect life. This can be especially difficult for those of us that are patiently (well maybe not always patiently!) waiting for new opportunities and seasons of our lives to manifest in a meaningful manner. Depending on your personality, it can be disheartening and envy provoking to view what appears to be the perfect lives of others displayed on social media.

 

 

But as I’ve gotten more “seasoned” at this game of life, I’ve come to realize that a significant amount of what’s shared on various forms of social media may not always tell a full and accurate story. The vivid pictures of extravagant vacations and pricey shoes may be masking massive consumer debt. The never-ending glamorous shots of the seemingly perfect and ridiculously attractive couple and their frequent updates may be disguising two individuals whose relationship needs some significant support to become healthy.  The chica or fellow who always seems to be having the most adventurous life may in fact be extremely lonely.

 

 

I’m not saying that EVERYTHING on social media is an inaccurate depiction of reality, because that would also be a false statement. But, I am saying that before people starts measuring their lives, accomplishments, and significant relationships against those that are posted online (which is a pointless activity anyway!!) that they remember the concepts of filters and angles…which simply means that what we’re seeing online has been captured in such a way that only the best elements are magnified. So, before anyone begins to worry about how his or her life does not measure up to the amazing lives of the people they know online, keep the perspective that has been often shared throughout the ages of how comparison is the thief of joy. Enjoy and seek to improve your life, relationships and progress towards the dreams that have been placed in your heart, not to impress anyone else or for social media fame. In doing so, you will fulfill your purpose and likely have a positive and lasting impact on the lives of those around you. Life is so much more than striving for the perfect social media post and I hope that you get to enjoys yours to the fullest!

 

 

Be fabulous!

Seasons…

I am blessed to live in a part of the country that has been flirting with an early spring. When I say flirting, I mean some days it’s almost 70 degrees and then the temperatures will fall back to what would be considered normal temperatures for this time of year. I’ve vacillated between being gleeful about not having to utilize the shovel that I bought this year to being less than thrilled that school districts have not had to utilize many of their snow days (because when school districts cancel a day of classes, sometimes other organizations do as well!). But regardless of what the temperature reads on a thermostat, the calendar indicates that the first day of Spring for this year is sometime around March 20th or so. That means that soon we’ll hopefully be able to pack our away heavy jackets and sweaters and make room for cute spring clothing and accessories. And most importantly, as we all know, no matter how rough or mild the weather of one particular season may be, it always eventually has to make room for another season.

 

 

Our lives are like that as well. When we’re younger, we can’t wait to enter the season of adulthood, where we don’t have to answer anyone, can eat whatever we want and live life according to our own terms. Once we become adults, some of us desire to go back to the time where someone else paid our bills, scheduled our appointments, and made sure we were living relatively balanced life-styles! During adulthood, many of us long to enter the season where we are married and have children. Many of my married women friends say that at times they envy single women who have no responsibilities to a husband or children, though they also readily admit that they often take for granted having the built-in support and companionship of a husband (and don’t have to deal with the “opportunities” presented by contemporary dating). Many of us that work full-time jobs are excitedly waiting for the opportunity to retire and live life in that season. And I know from various interactions with those in their golden years, that they miss some of the challenges and interactions from their working years. Seasons…

 

While we all know logically that every season comes and goes, there are times in which we feel that the current season of our life is lingering a bit too long. This feeling is particularly true when we are ready for the next season of our lives to manifest. That feeling can sting even more acutely at times including (but certainly not limited to!) waiting for the opportunity to move from one employment opportunity to another, to go from being as single as a dollar bill to having a permanent plus one, from being without children to pushing a stroller with a bouncing bundle of joy, it can seem as if our current season or state is never-ending. But it is at those times when it is even more important to remember that eventually all seasons change. And that our job as we expectantly wait for the next season, is to thoroughly enjoy our current season of life. So…shine brightly as you work the job that isn’t your “dream” job, enjoy the opportunities and relationships that you are able to while waiting for your “plus one” and family. The new season will come (though usually not in our own timing) and enjoying the current season certainly makes the time go faster and ensures we have far less regrets than if we grudgingly endured the less desired season.

 

 

Be fabulous…and remember that seasons change!

Habit-Forming

Habits are practices or tendencies that we engage in so routinely that they have become almost second-nature. Most of us have habits of various kinds in which we regularly engage. Some habits are helpful and help us to become healthier and more productive individuals. Other habits that we engage in cause us to become stagnant and stunt our growth in some area of our lives. “Where” we are today, both literally and figuratively, can be attributed to some extent to our habits.

 

Soooo…with the above in mind-take a few moments now to pause and think about some of the habits in your life. And since it’s a self-reflection, be brutally honest. Are your habits serving to help manifest the vision that you had for your life this year? Are your habits helping you to become an individual whose life has a positive and lasting impact on those around you? Or are your habits going to ensure that your 2017 looks eerily similar to your 2016, despite your best intentions?

 

I challenged myself to the same scrutiny that I’m asking you to do regarding your habits. As I reflected upon mine, I could see some of the amazing ways that my habits have improved my life. As someone who is disciplined about working out most days during the week, I can see how that habit has improved my physical and mental well-being. I can see how the habit of certain financial practices has helped me to move closer to certain goals. I am also well aware of how my habit of connecting with God on a regular basis has helped me to overcome some of the challenges in my life and ensured that I’m a blessing and support to the people in my sphere of influence.

 

At the same time, when I’m being brutally honest with myself, I can see how some of my habits have been detrimental to some areas of my life. The time that I spend consuming various forms of media on a daily basis is not helpful in accomplishing the goals that I have laid out for myself this year. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with media consumption, I know that I spend more time doing so than I should, especially when one of my goals for the year includes creating media that others will consume. I also am aware that my habits of worrying and trying to control when and how certain aspects of my life will play out means that I’m not trusting God to do what He does best, which is to control every aspect of the universe, including my life. So, clearly I have some areas in which to continue growing.

 

“They” say that it can take anywhere from 21 days or longer to form a habit. So, as we soon enter into the third month of the year, let’s focus on creating some new habits that will help us to reach the goals that we have in the various arenas of our lives.

 

Be fabulous…and form some new habits!