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Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
+ Robert Fulghum

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Winter Fun

Pulling It Off in 2014 / Step One: Declutter

Re-purposed bank

Yesterday I wrote a post about mendiants, little French candies made of dark chocolate, dried fruits, and nuts. I spotted them on Manger, a blog written by a beautiful woman with a beautiful family living in a beautiful home in the beautiful countryside of France.

Later in the day, I had a conversation with a friend about how I enjoy websites like Manger that show glimpses of a life well-lived. Of people who are “pulling it off.” But, I told her, when I look at the gorgeous photos, I can’t help but revert to the practical. If you have 14 dogs how are you keeping the dog hair out of the food? I swear I spend half my life sweeping up hair from one dog, let alone 14.

And the mud! I live in the country, too, and it’s really all about mud. How do they manage the mud when they come in from a walk through the picturesque countryside? And dishes! Big families use a lot of dishes. Who’s washing all the dishes? And doing the laundry? How do you get your 15-year-old to pose for a photo? Do you bribe him? Threaten? Do the kids ever argue? When do you find time to write? To work out? How do you stay so thin? Do you ever sit down and just stress-eat your way through a pint of chocolate-peanut butter Haagen-Dazs ice cream?

There was a pause, then my friend said, “Of course you’re practical. You’re an editor. Those blogs are like the glamorous younger sister and you’re the big sister. You get to be the responsible one. It’s how you’re wired, so you might as well go with it.”

Oh. Well, okay then.

I guess what I’m saying is, I think it’s fun to get these glimpses and they do inspire me, but when it comes down to it, I don’t just want to watch other people pulling it off. I want to get better at pulling it off myself. I want specifics. And then, of course, I’ll want to share them with you. Because as C. S. Lewis once said, “Nothing is really ours until we share it.” Amen to that, bro.

And, as we all know, pulling it off takes work and effort and focus. It takes “working smarter, not harder” as David Phelps, one of my bosses at Special Olympics International, used to say (in his charming Australian accent).

So this year I’m going to focus more on the original intent of my blog, which was to chronicle all of the things that make up a mom’s year. For the past three years, I’ve used the blog more as a diary and idea generator, but this year I’m going to hone in on the topics on all those cool new buttons that Tim installed for me up there on the right.

Whether you’re a practical “older sister” or a glamorous “younger sister” (or brother—sorry!), I hope you’ll join me and share your own thoughts and ideas. And maybe by the end of the year we’ll all feel a bit more like we’re pulling it off!

First things first: Let’s get organized. It’s hard to be fabulous when you can’t find anything. And as FlyLady, the High Priestess of organizing, says, “You can’t organize clutter.” So step one is to lose the stuff. I’ve given myself a challenge to de-clutter one thing a day for the rest of January. Can you find 15 or 10 or even 5 minutes a day to do this with me?

Today I started with the kids’ art cabinet. I tossed bits of paper and broken pencils and other detritus. I’ll have Lily go through the markers to find and toss the ones that don’t work. I’ll also ask her collect all the broken crayon bits to make these again at some point.

We were using a wooden box to hold pens and pencils and miscellaneous bits, but after taking a bunch of stuff out it was still looking like this:

old bin kids art

So I chucked it.

Last year, some friends gave us an adorable English phone booth tea holder/bank for Christmas. I took out the last few tea bags and turned the can into a pencil caddy. (I put the top with the coin slot into a bin holding miscellaneous items in case someone wants to use it as a bank some day.)

And that gross old wooden box has been replaced with the nice little basket on the shelf underneath. Now we just have to keep it this way!

organizing kids art

Are you up for the Great Decluttering of 2014? If it’s feeling overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, borrow this idea from FlyLady: grab a garbage bag and run around the house (or your office!) and grab 27 things to throw away. Seriously, go do it!





  1. Marilyn says:

    I’ve recently been doing some of the aforementioned, gorilla de-cluttering. Case example – as I was gathering the trash this morning, I spontaneously threw out a couple of pretzel/crackers boxes that I couldn’t remember opening in the several months. Methodical? No. Cathartic? Definitely. 🙂

  2. Shannon says:

    Marilyn, that’s a great word: “carthatic.” I feel such a huge sense of relief and satisfaction when I chuck things out. Or give them away. That feels even better. 🙂

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