Cleaning House (Literally & Figuratively)

Happy February. AHHH IT’S FEBRUARY. How is it February?! Okay, so, yeah, the fact that the first month of the year has absolutely FLOWN by is kind of throwing me for a loop. But! I’m actually feeling really good going into this new month — my spirits are high, I’m feeling optimistic, uplifted, and enthusiastic about tackling the next 28 (well, 27 now) days with purpose and passion.

Why am I in such high spirits, you ask? Well, a multitude of reasons, really! The obvious answer is that Penny is just such a joy right now! I mean, not that she isn’t always, duh, but just in particular right now. She’s so engaged and animated, she “talks” all the time, and is so responsive to your interactions with her… 5 months is just such a fun age!

 
We’ve also made some forward strides in our childcare search: we’ve actually found a daycare that I’m really excited about! I was previously leaning more towards a nanny/nannyshare, and I have met with a couple of people that I really liked, but ultimately we decided that enrolling Penny in daycare part-time is a better fit for my work needs, and for our budget.

 
A spot for Penny won’t be available until this summer (not that this was surprising to us — daycares in Northern VA are very competitive. I inquired into one that doesn’t have an opening until January 2019!), so we are still looking at bringing in a part-time nanny to help bridge the gap until then, particularly because my parents will be doing a ton of traveling this spring. I made sure to be upfront about these plans to our top two nanny candidates, and they both said they’d be willing to take the position on a temporary basis. So hopefully we’ll be moving forward with that soon too. Stay tuned!

 
Another big reason I’m feeling so upbeat is because I’ve been doing a lot of physical and mental decluttering lately. In a revelation that likely surprises no one, I own a lot of crap. I mean, you point me in the direction of basically anything with sequins, faux-fur, polka dots, Harry Potter, schnauzers, foxes, or unicorns, and I will want to purchase it. So, as you can imagine, our house was already on the cluttered side before Penny came into the picture… along with the myriad of baby-related paraphernalia that tends to come with procreating, lol. We just have so much stuff, you know?

Enter the KonMari Method. I plan on going into this in more detail later in a separate post (when I’m closer to being done, lol), but the essence of this project is very simple: your belongings and surroundings should spark joy in you. So I’m trying to get rid of all (or at least, most of) the unnecessary things we’ve (okay, okay, I’ve) accrued over the years, and breathe joy, calm, and purpose back into our home.

Hahaha, I feel so pretentious typing that last part of the previous sentence, but the thing is… it really is working! Things are very much still a work-in-progress (I swear, I’m being ruthless in getting rid of stuff, but we still have so much crap!), but I really do feel happy walking through our kitchen and actually seeing clear counterspace. And filling bag after bag with things to toss or items to donate/sell feels very cleansing. (I do wish I’d taken more “before” photos tho.)

 
And so along with the physical act of organizing our home and simplifying my life, I’m being proactive with regard to getting my mental and emotional clutter cleared out as well. I won’t lie to you guys, I hit a pretty rough spot emotionally a few weeks ago. I was feeling extremely overwhelmed about finding time for work, motherhood, my marriage, my pups, my family, my friends, my health, and myself. The lack of control I was feeling quickly had me spiraling out, making me feel like I was never going to be able to achieve the kind of balance I wanted in my life. It was leading to blowups between my husband and me, tension in my other relationships, and a general sense of unhappiness and discontentment.

Something needed to change. And in a total surprise twist that absolutely nobody saw coming </sarcasm>, turns out that thing was me!

Now, I’ve never really been the kind of person who’s super into, like, the power of positivity and having mantras and putting good vibes into the universe and all that kind of stuff. I mean, if I’m honest, I used to think that sort of thing was just a whole lot of hooey. But. I can’t lie. This ish works.

 
It sounds so cheesy, but I’ve been adopting a mentality of daily gratitude, focusing on personal affirmations, and being proactive about creating — and knocking out — daily to-do lists and it’s done WONDERS for me. I feel like I’ve been able to maintain such a positive attitude these days, even as I take on new work projects like large-scale events and promotions, as well as personal projects like KonMari-ing the house. And a huge part of what has helped me achieve this attitude is my Panda Planner.

The Panda Planner is a planner, gratitude journal, goal-setter, and habit-encourager all in one. It’s got monthly, weekly, and daily sections, the last of which being where it really shines, IMO. There’s space to reflect on what you’re grateful for and excited about each day, what your daily projects are, list out your schedule and tasks, and a space to reflect on how your day went (and how you can improve the next one) at the bottom.

I know it probably sounds silly, but this one little notebook is has been instrumental in helping me reshape my priorities, focus on the positive, and stay on top of my responsibilities — both work- and Penny-related. I’m only a couple of weeks into using it, but it’s given me the tools to maintain such a great outlook that I actually look forward to filling it out each morning, referencing it throughout the day, and having my little period of reflection each night. And I swear, this isn’t a post sponsored by Panda Planner or anything, I just genuinely love it and feel like it’s helping me cultivate so much happiness and contentment in my life.

The hardest parts for me to get on board with initially were the spaces for a daily focus and affirmation, because it just made the whole thing seem a little too hokey for me. But truth be told, filling out those squares each day has actually been one of the most effective things in helping me figure out my new normal without getting overwhelmed.

For example, I’m a people pleaser and have a really hard time saying no to people — both in terms of my job and in my personal life. So my schedule always ends up packed really tightly, and I get stressed out thinking about all the places I need to go or the people I need to see in a day. And so some of the ideas I’ve been trying to remind myself of lately include:

It’s okay to say no.

You don’t have to (and can’t) please everyone.

Everything is temporary.

One step at a time.

Now is not forever.

And, like I said, it really is working! Whether or not these count as actual “affirmations” or if they’re just really good things to remind myself of, I like that the planner reminds me to go back to it every time I open it up. And as for my daily focus, they’ve thus far been things like gratitude, perspective, professionalism, appreciation, productivity, and serenity.

  
Anyway, I know this might sound silly to some of you (it did to me!), but I just feel like I can’t even properly express how light and uplifted I’ve been feeling lately. Even with a long list of to-dos on my task list everyday, I feel so much better equipped to deal with things these days. And I feel like it’ll just keep getting better and better, as I continue to simplify and declutter my life.

Of course, that being said, Penny could have a bad night where I get like three hours of sleep, and then I could get overwhelmed trying to KonMari the monstrosities that are my desk and bookshelves, and some new crisis might surface at work, and everything could totally fall apart. Who knows? One day at a time, right? 🙂

7 Comments

  1. Larasays:

    LOVE this! And what’s your lip color in the last pic on the left???

  2. One day at a time, one surface at a time! I’m easily overwhelmed myself, so when I try to do too much at once… I end up giving up halfway through, usually. Take a deep breath, and don’t be afraid to use the To Do list as a To Done list when you’re feeling overwhelmed! Sometimes I list my daily tasks I do as a matter of routine and being able to mark them off just reminds me of how much I *have* done even if I feel like I haven’t done anything!

    • Yep, that’s absolutely been the key to me being able to maintain my motivation to continue simplifying. Not even one room at a time — one thing at a time! In the past I’m sure I would’ve tried to just overhaul the entire house in one fell swoop, but obviously with Penny I don’t have the ability (or desire) to do that, which I think is a good thing! It keeps me a little more grounded and less likely to dive off the deep-end and just give up altogether. I like that To-Done List tip, too!

  3. YOU look fabulous Gretchen! Have you lost more weight or maybe it’s just the positivity and radiance. So glad you’re hitting your stride!

    • Thank you so much! I’m down a little bit but nothing super significant — another work-in-progress! 🙂 Following along with your own home simplification journey has been so motivating for me to keep going with my own decluttering efforts too, so thank you for your posts on it as well!!

  4. Jennifer Maksays:

    Ugh this is amazing. So inspiring — I think the hardest part is getting started and remembering to focus on focusing on yourself!

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