Monday, September 23, 2013

Minimalist Monday

By Carolyn Greene

It’s Monday, the beginning of the week, and most of us are already overloaded with things to do, places to go, and people to see.  Sound familiar?  What makes the to-do list even more overwhelming is the fact that every time something is needed to perform those important tasks, we must first spend twenty minutes searching through piles of stuff to find it.

My husband and I have spent more than thirty years in the same house (with a large basement for storage), and during that time we’ve collected many possessions that have gradually changed from blessings to clutter.  We’ve also added activities that keep us bustling from appointments to deadlines.

What’s a busy, overloaded person to do?

First, be grateful.   Those things that gather dust in the basement or attic were, at one time, blessings from a generous God.  The work deadlines are further blessings … opportunities to provide for our family and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.   With each new book I write, I am thankful for the blessing of creativity and for the readers who make it possible for me to perform a job I enjoy more than any other in the world.

Second, minimize.  The Flylady, a home organization guru (, encourages her followers to do a “27 fling boogie” every week.  Or perhaps it’s every day.  At any rate, the idea is to hunt down 27 items to give away or throw away.  It’s amazing how easy it is to find 27 things that no longer add value to our lives, but which may bless someone else.

In our family, Thanksgiving was a time when we encouraged our children to sort through their old, outgrown toys that were still in good shape and give them to a charity so other children could enjoy them.  This not only made space in their toy boxes for the new gifts on their own Christmas wish lists, but it also taught them the pleasure of helping children who were more in need than they were.

Third, reduce the inflow.  Speaking of Christmas wish lists, my friend and fellow author Jenn McKinlay overheard a father tell his children that the previous Christmas they’d received everything they wanted, yet it was the family’s worst Christmas ever.  This year, he told them, they could each have four items, and that’s it:

Something to wear.
Something to read.
Something you want.
And something you need.

Such a plan would certainly make a child think long and hard about what goes on that wish list.   And for us adults, there’s the one in, one out (or two out) rule.  If a new pair of shoes comes into the closet, one or more pairs need to go out.

Fourth, focus on what’s really important.   A well known financial expert suggests we keep an open hand policy … a hand that’s open to give to others is also open to receive blessings.  I prefer the image of an overflowing teapot:  God continually fills our teapots with blessings.  Out of that teapot full of blessings, it is our duty and honor to fill the cups of those around us.

How do you (1) manage the abundance of blessings in your life and (2) use them to serve others?

Carolyn Greene is blessed to write for two publishers of inspirational fiction, including the Southern Blessings series for Love Inspired which will be launched in June 2014.


  1. Carolyn, what a wonderful post! Thank you for the tips. And the inspiration.

    I love the 27 Fling idea! I live with so much clutter because I'm a packrat. I need to learn to move stuff out of here.

    I also love that 4 things idea for Christmas. May implement that this year.

  2. Glad you liked it, Missy. I wish I'd known the 4 things for Christmas when my children were little.

  3. Carolyn, I am commenting so you will know that I read your blog! Your suggestions were good, and I already do most of them. I liked your idea that the clutter surrounding us represents the many blessings we have; gifts from friends, family pictures, or beloved books. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks, Sandi. As with most things in life, we can find plusses in the minuses, and minuses in the plusses.

  5. Carolyn, thanks for the great ideas.

  6. Hi Carolyn! What a great post. I loved the ideas. Now I need to implement them. I'm the 27 fling idea and reduce the inflow idea apply to the TBR pile? Slow reader that I am, I read as much as I can and give away many, but the pile keeps growing!

  7. You're welcome, Merrillee. Christine, the 27 fling boogie can apply to anything you have too much of, whether it's TBR books, outdated tax receipts, or your husband's Nascar collection. (grin)

  8. What a fantastic post! And one I needed to read this morning...yesterday...last year...thirty years ago!

    I just moved much of my mom's 'treasures' into my house. Today, my SIL texted me to see if I wanted my mother's china cabinet. Well, yes, I do! but I turned it down. I don't need it, I don't have room for it ... I just WANT it.

    Keep up the good blog posts!

  9. Oh, I could do with getting rid of 27 things!

    And, Jesse, take the china cabinet; otherwise, you'll spent the next 20 years thinking, "I should have...."

  10. Jessie, I know someone who has three houses full of bequeathed furniture crammed into her house. You did the right thing (unless, of course, you have a strong sentimental attachment to the piece).

    Pamela, I could use a bit more of your self restraint. :-)


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