Organizing, Paring Down, and a Try for Simplicity

If you read my article in Spiritual Uprising Magazine this month, then you already know that my word for the year is “simplicity.” It’s not just my word for the year, but one of my cornerstones that I’ve had for some time and something that I think about a lot.

For me, one part of living in simplicity is being organized and living with less. Order makes things cleaner, simpler, and easier to manage. When I live in such a small house (though not quite small enough to be considered tiny), order requires keeping my possessions to a minimum. So, during this last week as I’ve put off lesson planning until the absolute last minute (I still haven’t finished reading the book I’m teaching this semester), I’ve been working on organizing, which has required a bit of paring down. My morning blog reading on


(something I’ve been doing since reading


article on Modern Mrs. Darcy ) gives me inspiration and an almost daily reminder to get rid of things I don’t use and to organize what I have (I’m following LOTS of minimalism and organization blogs).

In addition to those blogs, I’ve also just finished reading


by Cheryl Strayed


click for my book review

), a memoir by a woman who hiked the 1,100 mile Pacific Coast Trail. Since the author carried everything on her back, she talks a lot about the weight of the pack until she has the courage to get rid of the things she no longer needs. With all my minimalist reading lately, this really spoke to me.

So, now there’s a pile (of mostly clothes) to be taken to goodwill and another pile made up of most of my former pen and pencil hoard (plus some finds from the cabinet of doom) that I’ve already dropped off with friends who are teachers (I don’t need to keep all those ballpoint pens when I use fountain pens almost exclusively). I’ve organized my tea altar, which is really more like a few tins of tea these days because I refuse to buy more until I’ve used what I have (with no more trips to Teavana with Hannah, that’s really easy to do now… although I miss those trips and my sisters in Indiana more than I can say). I’m thinking that my craft supply hoard will be next, especially since I’ve discovered Scrap Denton (, where I can donate unused/gently used art supplies and know that they will go to do good things.

Now, without all those things taking up space, I’ve been able to clean and organize a lot better. I now have the ability to find things in my closet (I’ve turned all the hangers around again so that I can see what I’m wearing after this small pare down, thinking I’ll be having another larger paring down session when it’s warm again) and I have finally located the container of paper clips that I have been looking for since I moved in back in August. My cubicle at my office has now been outfitted with all the supplies I could need, minus the jar of red fountain pen ink that is undoubtedly in the mail to me as I type.

A calendar is always good for organizing. 

Bonus points when it involves nuns!

My bedside table got a makeover. I found this basket when cleaning out my closet. Now the books aren't taking over everything. 

And yes, that is a Doctor Who alarm clock. I know I'm cool. 

My fountain pen collection, organized as well as possible. 

I'm going to need to find a solution for all the ink soon, I'm afraid. It's multiplying!

In my search to organize and get my life in order, I have turned to my old friend, the white board. I thought of using white boards because when I was cleaning out the cabinet of doom (a previously overflowing cabinet in the kitchen that I was too afraid to look through when I first moved in), I found a white board that some previous tenant had left behind. I’ve been using it for my to-do lists and shopping lists and other scratchings ever since, and therefore I came up with the idea of getting one of those wall decal white boards to use in my room. Unfortunately, after searching high and low at both Target and Staples, I couldn’t find any and the ones online were really expensive. I made my own by putting a piece of cardstock in a sheet protector and pinning it on the wall. Later, on a shopping adventure with Anna and Andrew, I found some of the wall decals, but I have discovered that my cardstock solution actually works better (I’ll be returning the unopened wall decal soon).

Although paring down has been important, I’ve also made a purchase in my search for organization: a new planner. I’ve been following a lot of bloggers who talk about the importance of a planner (and I discovered a long time ago that paper planners work better for me than digital), but my previous planner (which I loved) was really too small to contain all the information I needed. So, I bought this monster:

If you look closely, you can see Leonie's monthly calendars peeking out to the side! 

Andrew, Joe, and Mark have already been making fun of me. (“You own an ipad, why would you carry that thing around?”)

Make fun all you want, boys. My planner and I are going to kick this semester in the face!