Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tidying Up: A Book Review

Another book that has really impacted me is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  I saw this book on an Instagram post and I immediately requested it at the library.  Unfortunately I had to wait about three months for my turn to roll around, but when I finally had the book, it was hard to put it down.

Marie's whole approach to tidying up (I love that phrase!) is to only have things in your home that spark joy.  She writes that you'll know if an item sparks joy or not as soon as you hold it in your hands.  If it does spark joy, then you just need to find a home for it, but if it doesn't, then you need to get rid of it.  Marie actually gave me permission to get rid of things that I don't like, but are still perfectly useful or were given as a gift.  It sounds funny to think that I would need the permission from a perfect stranger to throw something out, but I needed to hear it.  She explains that the purpose of the gift was for the giver to give and you to receive.  If the item doesn't continue to make you happy, then it's purpose is fulfilled and I can let that item go with gratitude.  How empowering!

Before I started this book, I already had the itch to declutter and organize the house, but now I'm on a whole new level.  I was previously getting rid of things that were no longer useful, but keeping a lot of things just because I might need it "someday".  Marie writes that "someday" never comes.  She continues on to explain that when people want to keep something they don't love it is because they have a fear of letting go of the past or a fear of the future.  While, I can't let go of some things because of the past, I mostly fall into the camp of the fear of the future.  I probably have the extra buttons to clothing I got rid of years ago.  (By the way, Marie advises that I either sew these extra buttons into the side of the clothing, or just discard them altogether)

I totally recommend this book if you in a place in your life where you feel too much clutter around you physically or mentally.  Clearing out things you don't need, use, or even want is so freeing.  I have been keeping a tally of the bags of things I have donated and the bags of garbage I've thrown out and the progress is so encouraging.  I am so tired of things every where, but the process is coming along steadily and it's making me so happy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Essentialism: A Book Review

I mentioned in my last post that there were a few books that were catalysts in helping me make some changes.  The next couple posts will be about those books.

The first book I read that made me stop and consider the way I had been living my life was Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.  In this book, Greg writes about the idea that there are essential and non essential things in our lives.  He advises that we cut out all the non essential things and only focus on the essential.

He cites a lot of examples of the difference between the two and how to determine what is essential and what isn't, but the more I think about it, the more I have realized that deciding what is essential is a personal thing.  For example, I don't really like watching tv or movies.  I especially don't like going to watch a movie at a theatre.  I feel like there is something more productive I could be doing in the two hours it takes to watch a movie.  For my husband, Jake, watching a movie allows his mind to get away from work and he's able to relax.  So, while I think it's a waste of time, watching a movie has value to Jake and it is essential that he takes time relax and not always be in work mode!  But here's the real thought:  Although ordinarily movies fall in the non essential category of my life, there are times when I agree to watch a movie with Jake because spending time with him and doing something he enjoys, is essential.   

Greg also writes about doing less, but doing it better and the importance of sleep.  Both ideas really hit home for me.  I am definitely one of those people that loves to check off a really long to-do list, but if all the things I'm checking off aren't essential, then I'm actually on the losing side.  It's a struggle to keep it all in perspective, but when I spend a day on just a few really important things, I feel more accomplished about the day than checking off a whole list of meaningless tasks.  And sleep!  I can't function if I haven't had enough sleep.  Like, I can't even pretend to function.

Another thing about Greg's idea of Essentialism, a person needs a really clear image of what is important to them before embarking on the essentialist journey.  I mentioned in my previous post that I was trying to cut out some hobbies to make my to-do list and my life less cluttered, but I couldn't do it.  I enjoy those things too much to just decide to cut them out.  If I had, instead of taking the time to have a conversation with myself, just sold all of my quilting supplies, sewing machine, and fabric and said, "Quilting isn't essential.  I'm not doing it any more", I would have been really, really sad in a week when I got the urge to sew.

My absolute favorite take away from Greg's book is the acronym WIN.  It stands for "What's Important Now" and it is meant to make me think about what is the absolute important thing for me to be doing right now and do that thing.  By focusing what is the most important thing in the moment, I will always be doing the most important thing.  Should I feed my daughter lunch or clean the house?  Should I clean the house or sit down and read?  Should I read or play games on my phone?  What is essential changes throughout the day.  Laundry and dishes are important to get done, but can't I read Berlin a couple of books and do the chores when she's playing by herself?  Of course!  Chores need to be done, but they can wait when there are more important things to do.

I disagreed with a few things Greg wrote, but all in all I really enjoyed the book and I got a lot out of it.  If your schedule or to-do lists stress you out, you should make some room to read (or listen! I listened to the audiobook) this book.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Little Introduction

Hello again!

I have previously stated my intention here on Thirty-Five Eleven, but I wanted to tell you a little more about myself.

I have been married for four years to my best friend, Jake.  We met in college at Southern Virginia University where he graduated in Business and I double majored in Business and Studio Art.  We have a beautiful daughter whose name is Berlin.  She is about 14 months and she consumes the bulk of my energy!  We also have two great dogs, Kio, a full bred Chihuahua, and Omi, a Chiweenie or Chihuahua/Dachshund mix.  We live in the Salt Lake City area and really enjoy it here, for the most part.

Jake works full time for a customer experience company and I have the real privilege of working from home to stay with Berlin.  I currently own an Etsy shop called The Sapphire Memories where I sell clear stamps that I have designed and had produced.  It's a really fun business and I absolutely love getting my ideas out into the world in a product form.  As part of my effort to get back to the core of what I love, I have also started painting again.  Painting was my passion in college, but once I graduated and started working in the real world (I worked full time for a few years before we had Berlin), I couldn't prioritize painting into my schedule.  I always felt shame when I would think about it because I knew that I abandoned what I loved doing most, but the resistance was too great.  I am proud to say that I have picked up my paint brushes again and I hope that painting will take a more prominent role in my life.

As an artist, I have so many hobbies!  A few months ago I was feeling overwhelmed by all the things that I like to do and I was trying to get to the core of what I really enjoy doing, but it was so difficult!  I came to the decision that I don't have to cut out things that I love, I just need to embrace them in different capacities.  Two of my biggest hobbies are quilting and scrapbooking.  At some point in the last five years, I thought about making both of those hobbies into a career.  I would be really pumped about the idea and then my motivation would just slowly sizzle out because while I enjoy both of those activities, it's not where my passion is.  My passion is, of course, painting, and I was trying to use either scrapbooking or quilting as a means of filling the hole that was made by not painting.

Since realizing that about myself, I have been liberated by the fact that quilting and scrapbooking are just hobbies.  I don't need someone to notice me and pay me to do it.  I can just do it because I enjoy it.  My scrapbooking pages don't need to be super complicated with the latest products and my quilts don't have to be made from the newest fabric line with the hottest pattern.  I never realized all the restrictions I placed on myself until I had that moment when I was completely honest about what I really wanted to do.

Even though I had that heart-to-heart with myself, my life is still complicated and it's still a battle to prioritize and get things done, but now I have a direction to go and that's made all the difference.

In the coming days I am going to be sharing some of the books and podcasts that have inspired, encouraged, and motivated me.  I will also be working on the website design to make this space more beautiful and make sure that you can find whatever you're looking for easily.  Bear with me as I make these changes and get this website up and running!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I believe that life should be about doing what you love, beautifying the space around you, and being who you want to be.

My name is Megan and I want to share my journey with you.

I recently hit a period of my life when I felt that I had no purpose and no direction.  My mind felt cluttered and anxious.  I was busy every day, but I never accomplished anything worth while.  I realized that over time, I had begun to push away my passions for substitutes that only filled the holes in my life half way, but I was not nearly as fearful of failing.  This, as you can guess, wasn't good enough and it wasn't fulfilling.

Things started to change when I entered 2015 with the mindset that this year was going to be a great year.  I was so certain that 2015 was going to be a game changer in my life.  So far, it has been.  I have found so many resources this year that have pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, pick up my space, and have the courage to be the person that I want to be.

As I have been making these changes in my life and home, I have felt the urge to get online and share the experience.  The intention of this blog is twofold.  First, I wanted a space that I could be myself and share what I love.  Second, I would love to reach at least one person and inspire them to live the life they want the most.

Striving to live the life you want is an every day effort and requires you to live with intention, but why not go for it?

I have decided to just do it and although it's a work very much in progress, the results have been well worth the effort.  Here's the life that I want to lead:

I want to be an artist who works out every morning, lives in an art-filled, but otherwise minimalist home, makes quilts for people she loves, and documents the journey.

Who do you want to be?  What can you do today to get you closer to being that person?