Minimizing

I’ve become more aware of this trend lately. All these movies, shows, books, articles, and blogs that talk about how cleansing it is to get rid of everything and only keep the bare necessities. I commend these people for their extremism, and yes I refer to this idea as a tad extreme (to a certain extent). Mainly because I strongly believe that in life everything has a balance, and when it comes to minimalism there should be a balance to consider as well. Plainly speaking, minimizing to the point of having 10 items in your closet or no furniture to sit on is not going to be for everyone. Especially not this little family.

We recently dived into this ‘cleansing’ of  our stuff wholeheartedly, and we are actually still amidst this process. The idea of minimizing for us was sparked after watching the movie ‘Minimalism’ on Netflix. That spark was fanned into a flame when we kept stumbling upon posts and articles with people describing a sense of freedom and happiness after they let go of all their unnecessary stuff.

Into the journey of purging “40 bags in 40 days” we went.

In the beginning, we were feeling a bit stuck in our lives and in some ways a little unhappy too. It’s not like we blamed our feelings on our stuff, but going through all the areas of our home together has been a great way to connect and make some new decisions together.

Through this process we have noticed something a bit key for us. While letting go of certain items feels cleansing, other things are harder to part with. We have come to realize the balance between keeping or purging everything.

Here’s the deal…

Each time we pick a small space to de-clutter we start with the intention of analyzing each item before making an executive decision about whether to keep it or not. If the item brings us joy, has a purpose, or has been used recently and will likely be used again soon, then the item will stay. Whereas if the item hasn’t been used in quite some time, is broken, makes us sad, or is no longer of value, then we will let it go.

Some items can be sold or donated, and others can be thrown straight in the trash or recycling bin.

While we know that in many ways stuff is ‘just stuff’, there are some things that can still serve a purpose in our lives and add value to our time together. This has been key to our moving forward. If our time together will not be enhanced by what we our keeping in our home, then why should we keep it?

So… We may not be getting rid of all the furniture in our home or downsizing our closets to the bare minimum of essentials, but we are making positive decisions and changes.

And every step forward feels like a breath of fresh air and a little block being lifted off our backs.

We are minimizing, for us.

Here is an overview of what we are accomplishing, and I have full confidence that if you need to find space in your home and your life, you can do these small things too.

  • Clean and organize drawers, cupboards, and shelves
  • Clean out each closet & dresser – donated/sold anything that didn’t fit or hasn’t been worn within the last year. (If it was too small/too big we made the decision not to hold on to the item in hopes of getting back to that size)
  • All the clothes/shoes/toys my daughter has outgrown were sold/passed on
  • DVDs/Books – All unloved items were sold or traded in for store credit at second-hand shops
  • Fridge/Freezer – expired items tossed, fridge cleaned
  • Bathroom – anything that will potentially kept being unused was given away or tossed, the rest was organized and cleaned
  • Basement storage – this is the largest task and we are slowly working through it. But if it’s been sitting in a box for years, and will continue it’s life there for the foreseeable future, why should we hold onto it.
  • Yard – spring cleaning, raking
  • Shed/Garage – cleaned and organized
  • Car – junk tossed, upholstery and surfaces cleaned
  • Financials – using a spreadsheet we calculated all our fixed/variable costs and created a budget
  • Computer/Emails – we cleared our browsing history, did the computer disk-cleanup and defragmentation, and sorted through our email boxes

I’m sure there will be other nooks and crannies of life that we will continue to discover that may need some cleaning up, but for now I think we’ve done pretty good.

What are your thoughts? How do you tackle minimizing or simply de-cluttering?

 

Purpose

Purpose. What is this blogs purpose?

This is a question I have been asking myself a lot since I created this blog. Initially, I wanted to explore my creative writing again, because it was something I loved to do when I was younger and when I went to finish my university degree in the fall I had that fire re-sparked in a travel writing course. Then I came back to my routine, back to the life I left behind for a few months. A life with my loving husband, beautiful daughter, and a 9-5 office job. My focus shifted.

I wanted to inspire others to get out of the house and explore the world around them. Partly because we love to explore, and partly because we started noticing how common it is for families to live an almost sedentary lifestyle. Seeing toddlers master an iPad made my heart feel sad. (This may be due to a childhood lacking a lot of technology and containing an abundance of outdoor adventures.) However, I have never been fully certain of how we are suppose to accomplish the feat of inspiration. There are so many accounts we can find on different social media platforms and blogging sites that have people sharing their travels year-round. It’s not unique,  it’s time consuming, and if someone wants that inspiration they already have plenty of ways to find it. It’s pretty easy, and that is wonderful.

Well, while my focus has shifted a bit, one thing remains the same. My desire for an outlet continues, and I will be using this domain to put my musings into writing. This used to be done with a pen and a paper, but now a computer and a keyboard will do the trick.

This blog may change, transforming as we go, but for now I have a few key areas in mind. We will still share our travels on here. We have so many tales to reminisce. Everything from Colombia to Ghana, and Canada to the USA. There will be more, but for now we are centering ourselves and recording what has passed. I would also like to share some personal pieces, which will be found in this musings section. Art will also be posted. It may be visual or written, depending on the inspiration.

We hope you enjoy sharing in this little slice of our life.

– Crystal

The Bojo Beach Experience

Almost an hours drive to the west of Accra, a whole 15 GhC  allowed me into a little piece of paradise. Upon entering the resort gate we begin our journey with a short walk across a white foot bridge, with plenty of small fish and crabs scuttling across the wet sand below. The bridge ends at a pebble covered pathway, nestled between luxurious palm trees, and leading us to a boat dock just past the resort. The escape to Bojo Beach is marked with a canoe ride across a calm canal. Emerging from the swaying boat, our toes enjoy the warming comfort of the white soft sand. This peaceful, private gem is scattered with thatched umbrella-topped tables, complimented by wooden chairs. A security guard patrolling the island makes it feel safe and secure enough to leave our belonging on shore so we can take a dip in the ocean. The ocean licks the beach with its white foaming waves. Enjoying the salty water escape from the beaming sun is a treat unto itself. The water remains shallow for quite a distance. Wading out to my waist, the shoreline becomes a far sight, and the waves curl strongly against my back. With the undercurrent gaining its strength, we decide it is time to enjoy some local fare at the beach-side restaurant. Filling our stomachs with the delectable taste of chicken and rice, before returning to our sandy escape and laying in the sun.

At Bojo Beach we hear a tale of a popular hip hop artist named ‘Castro’ that went boating with a lady and was never heard from or seen again. This mystery was a big reason for the locals timidness in the water, too fearful to wade or swim too far into the ocean. Their fears of the tide taking them out to sea were in part validated by the strong undercurrent, encouraging us to go further than we cared to. The feeling of the beach is of a relaxed, peaceful nature. Tourists and locals alike were frolicking in the tidal waves or spread among the sand to let the sun’s rays darken their skin. In contrast to the safety and serenity of Bojo Beach, and located the opposite direction from the capital city of Accra, is the not-to-be-forgotten Boti Falls. Where visitors are welcomed into the land of elusive beauty, and our imagination is caressed by the wonder of what might lie beyond the next turn. Boti Falls rounds out an exploration of some of the most exquisite natural beauty around Accra, Ghana. Pleasing the soul and the timid adventurer in us all.

Please refer to my Boti Falls post for a glimpse into our hike to the falls.

Autumn in the country

14114902_10157360386535274_2826204754260214935_oWet grass pads my feet as I look out into the countryside. Silence momentarily fills the air, there is no wind rustling the grass or the trees. Tails begin to flick, whipping at the pestering flies feasting on the horses’ coats. The field beside our little white house is home to an array of beautiful stallions and quarter horses. Colours ranging from browns, reds, grays, to a black and white painted breed. Each a stark contrast to the fields of green grass they are feasting on. Above a black crow flying past calls out to alert others of his presence. His calls echoing through the surrounding hills and into the valley below. As I breathe in, a moist cool air fills my lungs. It’s a peaceful autumn morning up on the hillside. The cloud covered sky refusing to allow the sun it’s glory of peaking through. Choosing instead to tease us with a sprinkle of rain. A toad lets out a deep bellowing call in the distance, enjoying his taste of the skies watery treat. Slowly the forest covering the hills begins to stir awake. Birds hidden in the woods begin to chirp and sing to one another in a calming chorus. The Mariah wind begins to speak her peace to the trees. Whispering sweet nothings and letting us know that it is time to start the day. In agreeance, I can hear the cattle begin their morning talks, mooing in the neighbor’s field. Deer emerge from the treeline, prancing coyly in search of their favourite meal. Mother Earth has agreed to share her spoils with them today, as I see them settle in a patch of alfalfa. With the white-tailed deer enjoying their breakfast feast, I decide it is time to retreat and let the animals eat and start their day in peace.