Decluttering Challenge #4: the Kitchen!

So this was a big one! I actually meant to save it for later on in this venture, but I felt compelled to get started yesterday. This one took two days! I feel like some more things might shift here still, but I found places for a lot of things that were scattered about and got rid of some extras and some garbage, and dealt with the counter sprawl.

So! Again I didn’t approach most of the deeper cleaning just yet. My main goals in the kitchen were:

-clear off the pile of stuff on the counter, including papers to be filed and basket of random junk

-find homes for or get rid of various glass jars and plant pots that were covering the tops of the counters

-go through the cupboards and drawers and make more sense of them – food and dishes

I also intended to go through the pantry closet which is mostly filled with small appliances and recycling containers, but after getting through everything else it doesn’t seem very necessary – it just needs a bit of a clean and that can wait!

I’m going to post the pictures by area because there is a lot here.

Starting with the food cupboards!

Here is the first one before:

I pulled a surprising amount of egg cartons out which were picked up promptly after posting them on the local for free page. I cleared out some other things to recycle and put our massive cereal collection and bags of chips and other pantry things back in.

Here it is after:

Very full, but everything is lined up nicely and accessible.

Next one before:

Way too much stuff was crammed in here! With the cereal out of the way I was able to arrange the rest much better. I tossed a couple old and stale things. Here it is after:

So much easier to find things! Especially all the teas.

And the baking and pasta stuff here, before:

Again just so much stuff. I tossed a few things and put everything back more orderly. Here it is after:

I feel like our baking ingredients are always a bit much, but I really like to have things on hand for spontaneous treat making so I make it work!

Here’s another before:

All our food storage containers plus chips. With the food out of the way, I organized the lids and containers and added the jars I wanted to keep, and other containers taken out of other areas. Doesn’t look quite so tidy after, but everything is easy to find and organized in a way that makes sense to me. Here it is:

So that brings me to the place those jars came from, before:

The top of my cupboard was covered!

But I thought I had room for the plant pots in here…

So that turned into this:

Got the plant stuff in here and my watering can off the counter, and arranged what else needed to be up here more tidily.

So with the jars and pots out of the way, the top of the cupboards are clear!

And the counter top sprawl here…

I decided to actually move our little filing system out here. Not the totally clear counter I was hoping for, but way more convenient for actually putting papers away instead of letting them pile up. I went through the random junk, tossed a bit and moved a lot to the craft room where it can be put away properly when I tackle that space.

So after all that, here is the whole spread now:

And a couple other little things, some dishes and things before:

Not too much work with these, took out a couple broken or needless things, rearranged the rest better and ended up with:

And that’s about it! That’s not every bit of storage space in the kitchen, but that’s where most of the work was done. I’m sure I missed describing some things, but I hope the photos at least give you an idea of the transformation here. I am really happy with with. And now I am set to take it easy for the rest of the day!

Stay tuned for the next area to be posted! And thanks to everyone who’s been doing their own work and sharing with me on the Facebook page! It keeps me motivated to keep going, too!

Decluttering Challenge #3: the Hall Closet!

After a little break after the weekend I am back in action! This time I wanted to tackle the hall closet. We don’t have a lot of spare linens or anything, so this is a big mix of cleaning supplies, towels and random household things that haven’t found room anywhere else.

So my goals here were:

– make some space for extra toiletries and first aid stuff

-organize cleaning supplies

-take out any extra garbage or unneeded things and put away things that don’t need to be there

-make some space for the breastpump and anything else that had been shoved unceremoniously

So here is the before picture:

This one was pretty easy to get through as well.

I took the diaper box at the bottom (full if random things for this next baby) and brought it to my own closet where the other box of baby clothes is and left them together, to be gone through more thoroughly when we’ve gathered more baby supplies.

I went through the top shelf and carefully folded the table cloth and a couple extra pillowcases and took out an old, cheap humidifier that I am quite sure is full of mildew inside. That’s waiting to either be cleaned or tossed now.

I went through the cleaning supplies, tossed and recycled empty containers and dried out old wipes, and arranged everything left in a way that made more sense.

This left more space on that same shelf for the first aid and body care stuff.

I arranged the top and bottom shelves so there is some empty space as well as room for a few little boxes and the cleaning bucket and such.

And made everything else fit nicely!

That’s about it. Most of what came out of here was just garbage and it is so much easier to get to everything now. I think I actually added in more than I took out, but it looks emptier now.

Here is the after shot:

And a closer look:

Next I think I’ll work on the bathrooms before moving on to the fuller, busier rooms!

Thanks for following along, please feel free to share your own progress! Watch for the next post soon!

Decluttering Challenge #2: Kids Room!

Onto the next room! This one was a lot less work than I thought it might be. Again I skipped the cleaning stuff for now, just to focus on getting things organized and tidy.

Here is what I focused on in the kids room:

– Rounding up misc. things under the bed and in the junk bed drawers and putting them in their place.

– Properly organize the dress up stuff.

– Toss (or take aside to fix) ripped or broken things.

– Go through clothes to take out things that don’t fit or aren’t worn and organize what is left.

– Organize toys and games in the closet, purge if necessary, and see if there are any books to be donated.

Here’s a shot of the closet before, this was my main focus:

Continue reading →

Decluttering Challenge #1: the Bedroom!

For this challenge, instead of trying to hit targets of certain numbers of things per area, I want to look at whole rooms and dig really deep into problem areas.

I decided to start with the bedroom. As I said in my last post, before I began I made a list of tasks that needed to be done for each room.

So for reference, here are the things I focused on in my bedroom:

– organize and properly store clothes “for later” as my room had become a storage area for clothes that don’t fit my pregnant self, outgrown kids clothes to save for each younger sibling, and some piles of things needing to be donated that haven’t been yet

– find places for or donate all the extra junk in the closet, including going through some random boxes of things, some of which really did not need to be there

Most of this was centered around my closet and a nearby shelf, both of which had become a big mess of random projects and things that I did not know where else to put.

One of my rules I am holding myself to through this challenge is for everything I take out of one place to either find a place where it belongs somewhere else, or to leave our house entirely. I’m trying to get rid of wandering things that don’t really have any place to go, making space for things that are really important and letting go of things that are not.

So while I moved things that did not belong in the bedroom out, I tried to put them away in their exact places, or at least bring them to the closets or rooms where they will stay, likely finding their permanent spot as I get to those other rooms later.

Now, without further delay, here is my bedroom “before”…

Laundry that is never quite put away, kids toys taken or stashed away, bunches of clothes and random bags and pieces of decorative items or things needing repair or half finished projects. Quite a bit here.

So I started with the clothes. Saphira (age 4.5) helped me quite a bit with this part while her sister napped.

I went though a laundry basket overflowing with things I had taken from the kids dressers as I noticed they didn’t fit, a basket of kids shoes that I had set aside from our porch recently for the same reason, a bag of baby/toddler clothes I was set to purge before I got pregnant again, piles of things I had pulled off our hangers that Drew wanted to purge and that I could not wear while pregnant or in the summer, and whatever else was laying around.

I used a couple different totes, filled one up with clothes of Saphira’s to put away for Trinity for later.

I refilled the laundry basket with clothes that Trinity might be able to use now and put them in her room to go through when we tackle their stuff.

I filled the other tote with my clothes for when I am back to my pre-pregnancy shape,  and with some formal things we just don’t use often.

I filled a small box with clothes we can keep for the baby, which I put back up in the closet for going through further as we gather more of what we need for this next little one.

I finished trying on some maternity pants I got from a friend, hung up what I wanted and put the rest in to the donate bag.

At the end I had two garbage bags full of clothes to just take to the thrift store, and two totes of kids clothes and shoes and our own extra stuff that can be stored in the garage.

With the clothes out of the way I was able to get to the rest of what was on the shelves more easily.

Saphira helped me take out and put away all the kids toys and books that were around.

I made some space for a couple of kids items that I will be trying to get rid of that I need out of their sight.

I took down some decorative things for us to either make room for or add to the donate pile.

I out our extra bags and purses back in the storage bench where they live with my jewelry making supplies.

I bagged up my Waldorf doll pieces and pattern and put it on my shelf where I will actually see it and finish it, hopefully.

I organized mine and Drew’s special books and projects on our own shelves without all the extra stuff around it.

I put the basket of candles and the memorabilia boxes tidy on the higher shelves, after having tucked little cards and drawings and papers of special interest each in their appropriate box.

That is basically it. I may or may not take my box of notebooks and sketchbooks and things to the garage, I kind of like having it on hand lately.

I put the cushion back in the cat bed and set it up on the closet so Link has a place to chill out in there again.

I brought my breast pump and a box of clothespins to the hall closet to be established in there when I get to that part.

I ended up with a very small bag of garbage and a few things besides clothes that we can give away or sell.

So,  I got things put back in a tidied manner and set aside everything that can be taken out.

Here’s the after shots:

So, it’s actually not quite as clear and spacious as I was hoping. Apparently there are still a lot of “things” I think I need, but everything is organized and some long overdue donations will be made, and there is some empty space now if gifts or whatever need a place to be stashed!

I decided to leave the cleaning and regular stuff out of this, so I did not finish putting away my clean laundry or make my bed yet. But I feel like that will be so much easier now! And that means this room was indeed finished in a day, it seemed like a lofty project so I’m proud of that.

I would love to see and hear your own progress if you are following along with your own declutter! If you feel so inclined,  please leave a comment here or an update or a photo on my Facebook page!

I aim to have the next challenge post out within the next couple days, so keep an eye out!

Decluttering Challenge Introduction!

I think it’s that time again for me. I do this periodically and I feel like it is always ongoing – trying to clear out all the “extra” stuff so the things we need, use and love are easier to access, use and put away.

And it gets hard sometimes! With young children I don’t always feel like I can allow myself long spurts of dedicated time to really get to the bottom of piles and the backs of closets.

But I feel quite motivated now to give this another dedicated attempt. And unlike challenges I’ve done in the past to get me going, where I’d try to reach targets of certain amounts of items just to make progress, I’d really like to go deeper this time and feel like I have actually finished something at the end of it.

I’ll be sharing my progress here for anyone who would like to follow my own steps or be inspired to create their own structure for getting to the bottom of their own messes!

So, first things first, before getting started, I’ve been working on a list room by room, listing all the things I know need to be done in each place by task. I’ve included some cleaning things in this list, because my regular maintenance is spotty at best, but that is not necessary and will actually be easier to tackle after the moving of “things” is done if you have deep cleaning that needs done, too!

Just to show you what I am working with here, this was before I thought of the laundry room, garage and shed so it’s incomplete. I won’t copy out my list word for word here as it’s specific to me, but I will go through the steps I take in each place as I tackle each area so you can see what I actually did.

So to start, I encourage you to make your own list specific to your own living spaces, and what your problem areas are and what you know you need to do with them. This will help you get to the root of your own clutter and should help you a bit more than just following my template exactly.

I’ve just started in on my bedroom first, it is definitely not the easiest place to start but it makes sense. So my next post will come when I have completed that and it will go over what the state was before and after and what I did to get through it all.

If nothing else, I hope watching me push through and just get things moving will help you get some momentum going too if you’ve been feeling stuck!

Please feel welcome to share your own efforts and progress along the way too, either here or on my Facebook page! It would help me, too, to see what others are dealing with and what they do with it!

Balance and the Wild Nature

I’ve been undertaking magical studies and learning about the hermetic laws. And I’ve been working to understand and to challenge my own prejudices, privileges and perspective in the realm of social justice. And trying to integrate all the things I am learning into my ideals and ambitions, figuring out how things fit together. How to best use my talents and passions to do my work in a way that is helping instead of harming.


And I’ve struggled with it so far, as I am now immersed in a spiritual community that makes me feel so safe and connected, so in place, after years of trying to figure out where I fit and where I didn’t. Who I was and who my people were.

Yet white supremacy, colonialism, those attitudes are so pervasive in my world. Even amongst people who are doing their best to heal themselves and others and to act in love, I can see now the ways that we perpetuate harm and resist confronting these dangerous attitudes in ourselves and in the people around us, for the sake of comfort and positivity.

It’s not always obvious which parts of our dreams and attitudes are part of the very system which has and continues to destroy cultures and the wild nature and wisdom from which we all come.

And getting through the first few hermetic laws brings me to a place of looking for balance. And with all the centrist rhetoric surrounding the clashes between white nationalists and anti fascists lately, I’m drawn to dissect what balance and moderation really mean. How they happen as well as why they are important.

We have this tendency to strive to remain in balance. To see both sides, draw from the energy of polarities, to be in a place of relative calm in between the commotion of the fringes. We think highly of that state, we see it as a noble and desirable goal.

But balance is not really a state of being. Balance is a process. In our inner worlds and without, balance is something that we can see by looking at the larger picture of movement and transformation over time.


True balance implies a stillness which is basically stagnant. In these bodies, in this place in this time, we are constantly in motion. We are never really at any plateau, we are constantly rising and falling through lessons, hardships and achievements. And the kind of peace in moderation that we revere is not something that we can really hold for any length of time.

So in our outer world right now, there is a great imbalance. The system that we have allowed and supported to rise to dominate the earth, people, parts of ourselves, has grown to such an extreme that it is faltering and simply can not continue to grow without approaching calamity. And, in accordance with natural laws, so it meets resistance.

We have reached a point where the push against so many groups of people, against so many parts of ourselves can no longer be ignored or tolerated even by those who were able to be generally accepting of it thus far. There is a counter.

And clinging to this attitude of balance, of respecting both sides or trying to find a place of diplomatic mediation does not serve us at this time. In fact, it may be perpetuating the strain and increasing harm.

Because the middle ground is not fairness or unity when such an extreme level of force is pushed against us already.

Seeking balance now means embracing the opposing forces within us and without, to truly neutralize the threats that can no longer go unchecked.

And I have always thought of myself as a pacifist. I really admire lack of aggression as a tactic, as a response. To truly make peace, from a spiritual perspective, I try to recognize the fears and motivations of those who are the aggressors as well, in the sense that we are all here to learn and every experience has some truth and something for us all to learn from.

But there are other parts of me too, other parts of all of us, that know how to defend, to take a hard stance, to stand up and say that enough is enough. This is an important part of us, with an important purpose that should not be dismissed or repressed just to keep up the appearance of balanced calm.

Because the idea of enlightenment that beings us past the “lesser” emotions of anger and fear is a construct of the same oppressive system that is terrorizing our world right now. We are spiritual beings, and in a sense we are beyond all of the drama and strife that can seem so overwhelmingly powerful.

But that is not all that we are. We are creatures of this Earth. We are creatures with passions and instincts, with potential for great love and a great protective nature that can cause us to become quite fearsome adversaries when what we hold dear is threatened. These are our abilities, our gifts and challenges for a reason.

Imagining that we must overcome our defensive nature for the sake of some imagined peace is a patriarchal stifling of our feminine, feeling wild selves. It does not serve us, it does not serve anyone who really needs our service right now.

I follow a principle of “do no harm”. And I could interpret that to mean do not act, do not cause discomfort, do not confront, but I do not see it that way.

When we are in a time with such a great imbalance of power, poised to destroy so much that we hold dear, taking no action or trying to stay neutral actually serves that harmful force, helps it or allows it to continue.

The duty now is to add our energies to a resistance. Whether we choose to push back, turn the wheel hard in the other direction, to engage in violent situations to physically protect people, to have uncomfortable conversations and call things out so they don’t slip by unnoticed – the way to do no harm now is to resist. The only way to find balance and peace now is to counter the oppressive forces in whatever way we can. Any effort to stay in a state of unaffected repose ourselves only serves as selfish comfort and it is not something I will promote or allow to be idealized anywhere around me. We need to feel the fury and the pain here, get ourselves right into it. We need to expose ourselves to the truth of the mess all around us, so we can feel the truest reactions we have to it, the natural responses that will lead us to act in the most meaningful and purposeful ways. Trust the instincts of our wild nature as it connects us to those who are suffering the most, because that is what is at stake. And it knows exactly how to protect itself, if we will truly listen.