I met Tiffany and her husband, Stefan almost one year ago.  They own Arma Communications, a marketing company based in Naples, Florida, and were instrumental in helping me get Chapter3Blog off the ground.  They are professional, knowledgeable, and fun to work with.  They are also taskmasters and keep me on my toes every week!

Tiffany writes a wildly successful blog,  “No Ordinary Homestead“, and she was kind enough to write about a Chapter3 in her life.  Hers is one of those life lessons, inspirations, and good things to know for all of us writing the next chapter . . . wherever it may begin.

Enjoy her story!


 

It’s my great pleasure and honor to write for Chapter3Blog this week. Although I’ve only known Linda a short while, she has greatly influenced my own thoughts and life, purely by her “leading by example” style. I hope to one day emit as much poise and confidence in all that I do, just like Linda!

In my short 35 years of life, I have encountered several life-altering events, from multiple nearly fatal car accidents to moves across the world. While these events did trigger many big changes and have an impact on my life, nothing has influenced me more than one simple change within myself: the way I feel about “stuff.”

 

All About That Stuff

As a kid, we may not always have had a lot of money, but we did have a lot of things.

These days, it seems we all have a lot of “stuff.” But what you do with the stuff and how you utilize it is the big question. When your stuff weighs you down and becomes a burden, you have a problem that needs to be dealt with.

How to deal?

Simply . . .  simplify.

Take it 15 minutes at a time, just one drawer or shelf whenever you can. Because having less actually made my life better.

And it continuously allows me to improve my family life, business, education and happiness every day.

 

A Little Background

After my husband and I graduated from college, we decided to move to Germany. Since it was a company paid move, we took more than most probably would — but hey! you only move around the world once!

We spent 5 years in Frankfurt and moved three times, each home getting progressively larger.  Along the way, we acquired a huge dog, bought a farmhouse, increased the size of our family with a beautiful baby girl, grew a garden, picked up new hobbies and enjoyed life.

All of these life steps added more stuff to our home . . . and along with the stuff came more responsibility, more to clean, and more for our to do lists. And with so much more, we found ourselves less and less happy.

 

Too Much Storage Ain’t a Good Thing

Our farmhouse had tons and tons of storage. Too much really. But we fell in love when we saw it back in 2006.

farmhouse

But there was all this STUFF!

You see, we bought the place from a hoarder. Scrap wood, wagon wheels, screws, table legs, rubber washers, broken furniture — apparently nothing was too big or too small to save.

When we moved in, we threw away 15 dumpsters of trash to make way for renovations.  But there was so much more. And we brought all the stuff we had collected during our six years together in Germany.

We remodeled. And we continued to throw stuff away. But we rarely got rid of “useful” things we might need one day…

After 5 years in the farmhouse, we made a huge life choice to follow a new career opportunity, move to Berlin, and sell the farm. One thing was clear — it was time to cut WAY back on our belongings.

 

Words of Wisdom

At the beginning of my decluttering journey, I found the blog “Pancakes & French Fries” and read about the William Morris Project.  It spoke to me.

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. –William Morris, The Beauty of Life lecture, 1880

So we purged our farmhouse.

What did we get rid of?

  • A large filing cabinet full of paperwork after the important stuff was digitized to Evernote which can be accessed from the cloud 24/7 worldwide
  • Hundreds of books thanks to digital versions and utilizing the local library more often
  • Clothes, shoes and more clothes – about half of our wardrobes which we weren’t wearing anyway
  • Boxes of dishes and glassware that I hadn’t used in the last 6 months (or longer)
  • Baby clothes that our daughter had grown out of a year ago
  • Everything we weren’t in love with or didn’t need
  • An unopened box that I’d been carrying around the globe for 10 years

 

What was inside the box? A few dolls that were browned and tattered. Totally worthless. All because I was too unmotivated or “busy” to open the box.

Do you have things like that in your home?

attic-after-500x333

Letting Go and Receiving More!

Once we got more organized and let go of the clutter, great things started to happen. We became more focused and able to solidify in our minds what was important to us, stay motivated and happier, and ultimately concentrate on our goals.

When you’re not spending hours every day picking up after yourself or worrying about the pile of papers on your desk, you can actually accomplish more, be more relaxed and enjoy your family, friends and the world around you!

 

Keep It Going

After the farmhouse, we moved to Berlin for 18 months, and downsized to a 1700 square foot apartment in the heart of the city. It was one of our greatest experiences yet.

As my husband’s project there wound down, we started thinking about heading back to the US, something we’d always wanted to do. And once we made a choice to move back to America, we purged half of our belongings AGAIN before we left Europe. 

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

It was my mantra then, and it still is today . . . five years later. 

We love living in a smaller space and have a more harmonious family with lots of communication because of it. We moved back to paradise and warmth (aka Naples, Florida) into a modest 1,900 square foot condo with virtually nothing to maintain outside of our four walls. By having less, we have time for more (especially more fun.) And we also run a nearly paperless home and office with cloud solutions like Dropbox and Evernote.

So what’s the moral of this story? Start letting go of the stuff in your life that isn’t important to you….both physically, mentally and emotionally. You’ll be astounded where life takes you!

What do you have in your life that you’re holding on to? Is it really worth having, or are you just making excuses? Do you love it? Can you live without it?? It’s time to start making those hard choices!