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Archive for the 'Toss-it Tuesdays' Category

Intentionalist, not Minimalist

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Clean Kitchen!I recently rediscovered a post about intentionalism by Shanna Trenholm. She says that she prefers to label herself an Intentionalist rather than a Minimalist.

I resonate with her choice of labels. When people start getting rid of things and COUNTING how many things they have left, letting go becomes a contest and a push.

I get rid of things slowly and gently, so that I can have more ease in my life, and more room for the people who are the gems in my world. How about you?

An Example
This holiday week, I took a day to whisk two teens out of town. I took them to the Ann Arbor Art Museum and Zingerman’s Deli, about an hour away. It was an amazing day… They are good friends but had never been together for that many hours at one time before.

While I was gone, Brian took a ride with a bunch of his bicycle friends. At the end of the ride, they all came over to our home for an impromptu warm up and chat.

How things have Changed
Now, in past years, if Brian expected company I would freak out if I didn’t have several days’ notice to tidy up. I had piles on every flat surface, storage boxes out, in corners, and under the tables; and yarn, paper and other creative projects everywhere. It made things pretty hard to just sit down and chat without a frenzy of activity first.

But this week? They popped in without any notice. And I was out of town. And… not only was the house tidy enough to function, tidy enough to have 3 guys sit at the kitchen table with a clear spot in front of them… but I had baked the night before. Brian served them homemade baked goods with their tea or coffee. Score!

(The above photo is our kitchen on a normal morning these days. It has stuff on the counter which belongs there, but no dirty dishes. I took the photo not having planned a photo shoot. Amazing!)

I truly can’t believe how my life has changed. It fills me with gratitude and relief.

In just a few years my life has become transformed. It started maybe 6 years ago, certain moments made some purges necessary (the big one being my food allergies requiring a huge letting go in the kitchen). The little pebbles have become an avalanche of goodness, and my life is now functional and lovely.

The Turning Point: a Community
Three years ago, I realized that I was not making things happen as quickly as I wished. As a People Person, it became obvious that I needed peers on my journey of tossing things out. I started a Facebook group to find others on the same path.

(If you feel like letting go gently, you can  join my public Facebook group, Toss-It Tuesdays, here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tossittuesdays/ )

Eyes on the Prize?
I will never have a House Beautiful because I no longer want one. I want to be able to find things when I need them. I need to find things without flipping out and tossing one mess on top of another while calling myself stupid.

And most of all, I want to open my door to loved ones and valued acquaintances, any time they show up at my door. I don’t want to feel ashamed.

Tea Table

An Open Door
About two years ago I decided to open the door even if I didn’t like what my guest would see. I started to live as I professed: That people are/were more important than my lack of housekeeping pride. At first, I would just clear the table while they watched.

Since then, I’ve had a lot of friends over for a cup o’tea. It has been wonderful.

And this week? When Brian told me of his impromptu gathering, I was joyous! This is something I have believed could happen for years but never accomplished.

Still on a Journey
Now, don’t think I’m finished. Our attic, garage and basement are still in need of tossing. But community started things rolling for me, and I’m grateful.

Toss it Team, in the Works
I’m currently preparing a website for a private community of tossers, where members can chat using nicknames and know that snoopy outsiders or employers can’t see their activity. This evolved from requests I got, from friends who play it quiet on Facebook or who don’t go there at all. It will have a very small membership fee to support it, but not so high that it will keep people out who wish to participate.

That site isn’t ready yet, but if you go to www.TossItTeam.com you can read about it and sign up for an email notice when it is up and operating. I’m in a testing phase right now.

My Wish for You
May you find ways to live your own dreams, whatever they be. They can happen, one at a time, one day/step at a time. I believe we all can do it!

The Imperfection Club

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

I run a group on Facebook called Toss-It Tuesdays. It’s more of a catchy title than what we really do. It’s more like a support spot for folks working on getting out from under this American dilemma… too much stuff and not enough room to put it in.

A Club of Confusion
Of course, this combination creates a secondary problem which is clutter and disarray. If you experience even a small bit of this, you are not alone. If you are there, and you feel shame and/or try to keep people from seeing your living space, you are in excellent company.

There is no need for shame. YOU are lovely. The space is perhaps a problem, but you are not.


A friend on the Toss-It group asked how I got my kitchen counter cleared off. (Astoundingly, it seems to be cleared more than not these days.) That’s a big question and it took years.

The real answer? Keep coming back. You’ll go backward every day. Let’s face it, especially with a kitchen we use the space so often it is guaranteed to need work just about as soon as any work gets done. This is as it should be.

SO… start over. AND and and and… don’t wait to start until it can be perfect. It can NEVER be perfect. Just keep plugging. Don’t give up. YOU can do it.

A Tiny Hint with Big Results
Anytime you find something you can get rid of and not miss it? Any time you have an inkling you could let go of it? If you give it away/toss it/recycle it/somehow let it out of your home, then you will NEVER have to decide what to do with it again.

One of the members of the Toss-It group said it this way (paraphrased): “The shame went out in the trash with our junk.” I find this deeply moving, and it has been true in my case as well.

Imperfection: An Unlikely Ally
Do it over and over, Give yourself days where you do the minimum, and even when you put more effort in, practice doing it imperfectly. I was raised to believe that washing dishes was not finished until the whole counter top had been wiped down. However, in order to make progress in my own life, I must say that I can do 4 of the 10 dishes and not wipe the counter, and that’s still worth doing.

Start over again every time, and FORGIVE YOURSELF when it feels like it’s not good enough. It takes a long time to learn new stuff. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth plugging at it.

If you want to join us on Toss-It Tuesdays, it ‘s a public group on Facebook (you do need a Facebook account). Click and I’ll approve you as soon as possible. You can belong !

Photo: my countertop first thing this morning. Imperfect… Not wiped down, but also no stacks of dirty dishes or bottles waiting to be recycled. No extra food items belong stored out here,either. Score!!! (Yes, some days it is much worse… But I’m super excited that it can happen in my current life, any day.)

Three Weeks Already?

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

We have already passed through 3 weeks of 2013 already? Is anyone else reflecting on the passage of time right about now?

As for me, mid-October through early January was a blur. Beginnings, endings, more beginnings… health scares (not me personally) that turned out OK, creative ups combined with too much  on the to-do list. Hellos, goodbyes, and good old dependable friends by my side.

Focus: Word of the Year
I like to focus on a word each year. Some years I continue the year before, if I think it will be beneficial.

Two years ago, my word was “Kindness.” I focused on how I could stay honest and straightforward but find ways to speak my truth which were also kind. It was a fruitful year. Nobody is perfect, but I continue to grow from that year of focus.

Last year I chose the word “Maintenance.” I hoped to work both on health/fitness and business/financial areas.

I did really grow as far as my health. I walked a lot, attended yoga in fits and starts, did a lot of the exercises I’ve been given over the years from my doctor and various physical therapists. I danced, both for fun and with a dance troupe.

On the other hand, I continue to struggle with paperwork routine. It’s not time to give up, but knitting a self portrait was easier than doing taxes in January.

Know Thyself
Being creative for me, brings along a weak spot as well as the lovely parts. I have not learned to be much on a routine. Some days I put one sock on, then the other, then shoes one at a time. Some days I put a sock on and then its shoe, then switch to another foot. This is just a small example.

Some days I eat breakfast before getting dressed, others I switch it. I realize that many people just have a way they navigate through the morning which works well, and which varies rather little from day to day. They waste a lot less time than I do!

The only way to get better at things is to keep at them, yes? Practice, not perfection… but then more practice. Giving up is not an option. So I keep plugging away, working at improving my weak spots.

Slow Go, but Don’t Give Up
On the good side, our house is much more manageable than it was even 5 years ago. Slowly, things start having proper places and I know where those are. Once I know where those things go, I can just find them when I need them. It’s easy to put things away when I know where the heck they belong!

Progress in One Corner
Recently I’ve been struggling with the corner of our living room which is my yarn/knitting item area. It turns out that the yarn itself is in good shape. I have shelves with clear bins on them. Each bin is designated for a particular weight/type of yarn. I know where those things go, so I can put them away. For the most part, the bins are an appropriate size for what goes in them.

However, there were boxes on the floor which held items without clear homes. It turned out that they mostly fell into these categories:

  • Materials used specifically to teach particular classes, in bags ready to go out the door when I should teach that class.
  • Store samples of my knitting patterns, not currently living in a store.
  • Store-purchased sweaters which were shrunken/felted on purpose, to be sewn as fabric.
  • The knitting magazines I’ve chosen to keep. (I let go of dozens of magazines about 6 months ago.)
  • Projects needing my attention. This mostly is sweaters I bought but that need an alteration or repair.

Luckily, I just happened to “inherit” 5 plastic under-bed boxes recently from my sis in love who just moved.  Those items, other than the magazines, went into the boxes, got LABELED (imagine that) and put in a safe place in the basement where I can get into them easily on those infrequent occasions when I need them.

My yarn area is relieved.

On the other hand, I think one word for 2013 is still going to be “Maintenance.” Then again, I have a lot of half-done projects I hope to finish. Maybe it needs to share space with “Completion.”

What do you think?


PS: The image above is 1600 x 1200 pixels in size. If you know how to save it and use it as the wallpaper on your computer desktop, please feel free to do so if you wish.

In Search of Ease

Friday, September 14th, 2012


Autumn is sneaking up on us here in Lansing. The trees are changing color in tiny bits here and there. We are getting more rain. The biggest thing I notice is how chilly it gets at night. I need to close the doors at sundown or it’s too cold inside.

What I’m noticing is that when we all go inside more, we start noticing what in our homes doesn’t work. All around me, friends are talking about de-cluttering or letting go in its many guises.

Letting Go

I’m fighting closet clutter yet again. Clothing is wonderful stuff to me. Each piece can be an artform itself. In addition, putting things together is an artform I call costuming (even if you’re just going out for tea or shopping).

I get sentimental about clothing. I know I’m not the only person who does. Right now I have so many clothes on my three clothing racks that things are wrinkling each other on the hangers. This just doesn’t work.

In my house, I find that most things do indeed have an assigned place. The “A place for everything and everything in its place” idea goes awry because I have too many things to fit in the assigned place.

Non-Narnian Wardrobe Management

Buying more hangers doesn’t make a closet bigger! Ironically, I think I tried that idea first. In the absence of a wardrobe out of Narnia (bigger inside than out), I need to “get real.”

When I look at what I have, one item at a time, I don’t want to let go of much. The idea of taking everything off a rack and then only putting things back that I adore and use sounds sane and tempting.

Then What?

But then, what would I do with the scrumptious sweaters that have the wrong silhouette, and the work shirt I embroidered in 1976? What about the amazing Hawaiian dresses and African dresses I have which either need alterations or don’t have places to wear?

Can I bear to let them go? Can I store them somewhere other than the closet? If so, where?

Mind you, the real goal is to make living in this house more at ease. I love the word Ease. It seems such a sane goal. A reasonable goal.

Discipline can Create Ease

Cairene MacDonald of Third Hand Works is an expert on the benefits of discipline. She says this-

Here’s what discipline is really all about:

  1. Creating conditions that bring out your best self.
  2. Having a clear sense of purpose.
  3. Being willing to be uncomfortable.

I want to create ease, by choosing the sorts of discipline I need and value. I want a clear sense of purpose. My purpose, for today, is Ease… in finding things, having clothing not be wrinkled when I pull it out, being able to put garments away without having to fight with both hands to fit it on a rack.

Are you going indoors more now, too? Finding a struggle against your own environment? In search of physical ease in your space?

I wrote a blog a while back, on how I had to take a photograph of a well-used suit before I could let it go. I re-learned some things about my process by reading it again today. It’s here: A Letting Go Experience

Also, if you are interested in pursuing this journey with some other like-minded folks, I have a Facebook group called Toss-It Tuesdays (if you are into Facebook). It’s small and friendly. I need to approve people before they can post, but I get to people pretty quickly. I’d love to have you join us.

Are you going through any letting go? What tricks do you engage to help yourself through the process?

Toss it Tuesday & Daddy’s Daffodil

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I am glad I set a theme for tossing on Tuesdays when the weather was nasty outside. In Lansing we’re working on a week of gorgeous. It’s hard to want to do anything routine here right now.

I guess I started a littleMonday, too. When I decide to let go of something, it doesn’t always go in the trash or the recycling bin. Those things sit next to the back door until I take them out to their proper new homes. I had quite a pile back there not long ago.

Last week I took a shoe and a bike bag to the shoe repair to get them fixed. They are now repaired and no longer by the back door. We had a huge box which was so stiff it was hard to fold and fit into the recycle bin, so I put it in my car. Monday when I was near MSU’s recycling center I put the box in the large recycling trailer there. Monday I also took our expired compact fluorescent bulbs to the food Co-Op where they will get them to the proper place.

The pile by my back door is much better than it was last week Tuesday. I still need to sit in that office and toss more papers.

If you’d like to join the Facebook group for Toss-it Tuesdays, you can click here. You need to be logged into Facebook to see it. (That’s life in the “free services” realm.) You can also share in the comments below, if FaceBook isn’t your thing.


It’s still gorgeous outside… summer-hot sunny weather. I’m in heaven.

Daddy’s Daffodils

The flower above? My father planted dozens of bulbs at least 40 years ago. He died in June of 1973.

The fragile bulbs he planted are long expired. The big, red tulips faded many years later. The standard, heavy-duty, determined all-yellow daffodils? Still going strong in more than one spot. I took this photo in the dark, with my car’s running lights for illumination.

The first daffodils are always a big deal for me. This year they are early. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Toss-it Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

It’s Tuesday again, whether we are ready or not. I’m still tossing things out as much as I can while I proceed through each day.

However, on Tuesdays the focus is all about “Toss-it Tuesday.” Some of you have been traveling with me on this fascinating bumpy road.

This week I’ve been working on tax records. I’m tossing any paper that I can, while sorting through the papers I need to keep. There is a lot of tossing going on here.


Last week friend Brenda asked me to take some of her old costume pieces and give them to new dancers at my dance rehearsal. I did that, plus I took along a few things from my own costume stash. They were all happily snatched up and taken to new homes.

Current Plan

This week is less fun. Papers… old receipts I don’t need for IRS documentation. I’m on a roll. Hopefully the roll will continue easily.

Papers. They are the hardest thing for me to deal with. They are small enough to not look like I did much. Each one requires individual decision-making… slow going. However, dealing with them makes a strong impact on my life.

Come Along?

If you’d like to join us, come on over to the Facebook Group page for Toss-It Tuesdays. It’s a closed group which means I need to add you to the list. However, it’s small and friendly that way and it seems to be working. You’ll have to be on Facebook and friend me to join in there. Information is on the group page.

Please consider joining us… or just post a comment here on this blog post if you prefer!

The Sweetness of Enough

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Half of an orange tastes just as sweet as a whole one.
— Panamanian Proverb

Half an orange is enough. A bit of time snuggled with a dear child is good when a full afternoon is not available. A peek of sunshine through the clouds is enough to get a winter-weary soul through a long day.

This week I’ve been practicing doing household tasks “well enough.” The concept of regular maintenance versus project-focus has helped me let go of impossible or unworthy standards.

The Toss-it Tuesday project is helping me stay focused on letting go. One table or dresser top at a time I’m working through things which never had an official home. I either assign a home or let it go. It’s rewarding.

Small steps are adding up. Half oranges? Definitely sweet.

In the 3 gratitudes per day department (day 6 of 21):

  • The simple pleasure of a warm facecloth on my face.
  • Time today with an 8 yr old snuggled on my lap.
  • The simple and relaxing act of making knit stitches with wonderful yarn.

Toss-it Tuesday

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

It’s Toss-it Tuesday again! Did it catch you off guard, too?

Last week Wednesday was my first tossing day. I did spend a little time most days last week going through piles of old magazines. About 3 dozen landed in recycling, though I kept some others.

Last Week Took More than Tuesday
Wednesday I found a copy-paper box with 6 glass 2-quart canning jars in it. I got them thinking I’d use them for my dyeing studio but never needed them.

A dance friend does a lot of canning. I asked if she wanted the jars. She was very happy to have them. She’s got a child with many allergies and this will allow her to make homemade apple juice. Win/win.

Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?
Also, Friday my good (magenta) dress coat lost its last button. Fortunately, I felt it pop and saved the button before it became lost.

In this case, I have chosen to keep the matchy-matchy magenta buttons. It’s the dressy coat I wear over my gowns for singing engagements. On my other coats I tend to replace buttons with coloful, new options.

This weekend I put all the magenta buttons back on securely. While I did that, I emptied my old sewing/embroidering case which had broken.

It was a shiny metal lunch box, where the hinge holding the lid on just gave way. I’d started using an old knitting bag with lots of zippers, as my sewing case. However, I’d never moved the embroidery items from the broken box into it.

That process ended in a good toss… a lot of broken buttons, short bits of embroidery thread and elastic, and more… all in the trash. I also moved some beads to the bead box. That felt like a real accomplishment.

(I also moved some let-go-of items from near the back door, to my car. Hopefully that means I’ll take them to a charity shop on Wednesday. Alas, the place I used to go burned down just before Christmas. My routine is a little messed up by that… but nothing like the folks who worked there.)

A New Week… What Will it Be?
Today, who knows? I hope I’ll toss some things on this desk. It doesn’t stay clean for more than a few days. The main desk surface is still visible, but the piles surrounding my computer are starting to grow. (I swear paper piles grow from the bottom up, like mushrooms pushing through the leaves above!)

Are you planning to toss anything today? What will it be?

Day 4 of 21:
My 3 New Gratitudes for Today

  • Fun Clothes in my Closet
  • Plenty of yarn from which to choose, for new projects
  • Excellent soup in the crockpot for dinner. (Leftover tomato sauce, beans & some frozen veggies… not much work to make a good meal.)


Monday, January 16th, 2012

One of my favorite words is abundance. It implies plenty, in a wholesome way. Enough, not too much.

This week The Toss-it Tuesday premise worked its concept through every day for me. Unfortunately, as I decided to let go of things, the pile of discards by our back door became a mess of its own!

Today I gave away some jewelry to good friends. I sent a bag to charity. I piled my plastic recycling bin, and a few things which need delivering to various spots, in my car.

Maybe this week’s Toss-it will be the delivery day for those things. It seems that’s part of the process! Then I can go looking for more things to let go of.

Here’s a favorite quote on abundance:

If you are content with what you have, you are wealthy.

What is your plan for Toss-it Tuesday?

Toss-It Tuesdays

Monday, January 9th, 2012

I keep thinking of Dr. Suess’ “Oh, the places you’ll go!” I’ve had a bit of a technological adventure recently.

The Theme

A week ago I invited you to join me in four months of Toss-It Tuesdays. There are no rules, just a theme. There is no leader or teacher, just folks who work better with peers to cheer us.

Toss one pen or three boxes of old clothes or holiday decorations. Give to charity, recycle, give to a neighbor or toss in the trash.

If it had rules, it would limit our freedom to do the letting go. Letting go is the hard part.

(Photo is from April 2009, single, unmatched commercial socks I tossed. Oh, the pain!)

The Connection Challenge

I made the assumption that I could send private notes to those of you who said “I’m in!” in the comments. Unfortunately, since I changed my comment system to Disqus rather than the built in system for my blog, I no longer can see the email address you enter in. Disqus has it, but I don’t. Phooey.

While I’m looking into how to remove Disqus from my blog (without losing your precious comments), I came up with what I hope will work.

The Discussion Forum

I’ve set up a new web page/forum on a website called Ning. At this place we can start conversations, comment on other folks’ topics, add photos or videos. They offer fancy features, but I’ve tried to keep our forum really simple and low key.

I either need to add you to the system manually (which I’d do if I had your email address), or you can click an invitation link and set up an account for Ning.

Of course, signing on with Ning is not required to follow the idea itself. My plan is to touch base here on this blog once a week for everyone, even those not wanting one more place to visit online. You can follow along just by popping in here.

The Benefit of Community

But then again, wouldn’t it be great to chat with each other about what we’ve done, what we planned but did not do, what we hope to tackle before the end of April? If you think it would be good for you, please join me by signing up. The invitation link is here:


The Artfulness

Making choices about how we will live is a creative act, or series of acts. Let’s see how much unneeded/ unwanted stuff we can let go of together, before spring hits!