The Konmari Kool-Aid...YUM!

Before



I drank the Kool-Aid, and man, it was refreshing!!!

Marie Kondo's books have been around for several years but for some reason, the craze also known as "Kondo-ing," "Konmari-ing", or OCD as they say in some circles, just hit the scene in my corner of the O-to-the-C. And it hit hard. Facebook and Instagram abandoned New Year's resolutions for "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." Did you know that some thrift shops are turning away donations because they don't have enough room, all because of Marie Kondo's inspiration?

So, here is what the Konmari Method has taught me:

  1. I have too much stuff. Perhaps I didn't notice because all the stuff is disbursed throughout five bedrooms, closets that seem to go on forever, and four million drawers. But when you open all those things up, and then put all of the stuff on the bed, it becomes very clear. TOO MUCH. Which leads to...
  2. I am a hoarder. Not just of scarves and mugs, and apparently hats, but of memories. Of the soft worn texture of my babies' blankets, of their first Halloween costumes. Of baby teeth. (You guys?!?! GROSS!) I have hoarded and hidden away milestones and achievements, pieces of our little family's past. The problem is, when things are stuffed away, you can't see them so you forget. But with the Konmari Method...I remembered. (And some ugly-crying may have occurred.)
  3. Tidying-up, Konmari-ing, Kondo-ing, purging, whatever you call it, is exhausting. And intense. And emotional. It frees all the feelings as you look at each item, hold it close, see if it "sparks joy," and decide it's fate. Don't worry...YOU get to choose what sparks joy - which is the one qualifier for what you keep - so if baby teeth do it for you, no shame friends. 
  4. Konmari-ing takes a long time. It took me about 15 hours over three days do get through ALL the clothes in my closet/room. Plan for it: clear your calendar, pick out some fun playlists, chill your favorite la croix (with/without some Grey Goose), and have fun!! Please note that you may need to acquire some baskets or storage devices to get the most out of your spaces. And learn the folding method. It's life-changing!!
  5. It gets easier. In the beginning, it was so hard for me to declare an item no longer sparked joy. I'd hold it and say, "I'm so sorry you don't seem to spark joy anymore..." before gently placing it in the "probably should go" pile. But as I went on, it got easier to acknowledge that the items I no longer used would be better off with someone who could use them rather than be tucked back into the closet of purgatory. I'd let myself remember the good times, the gift-giver, the stage of life connected to the item, and then let-it-go! 
  6. Joy does not come from THINGS. Period.
  7. Things can, however, SPARK JOY when you utilize what you own and/or it has important sentimental value. And when you are aware of your possessions, you honor yourself and your stuff through a deep appreciation for all that you have. That's where the joy comes in. This process actually makes true the saying, "counting your blessings." 
  8. Which is why it's SOUL-FREEING! Cleansing! Liberating! AMAZING! Trust me.
  9. And sometimes, 52 scarves all spark joy. They do. But old baby teeth definitely DO NOT.
  10. The Konmari Method changes you. I know it sounds existential but friends, when you do it right, you can learn a lot about why you've held onto your stuff, maybe even face some things. Like perhaps, hanging onto your kids' baby teeth (admittedly strange) is really a sign that you're grasping onto the magical years when they still believed in the tooth fairy and they didn't drive roll cars or stay out past curfew or turn your hair gray, and your most important role was loving them well and helping them grow. Maybe keeping certain things is really a request to pause or even rewind to a certain time in your life, or another version of yourself...and all of that is OK. Marie Kondo says that there are only two reasons why people hold onto something: an attachment to the past or fear for the future. So maybe the art of tidying up can give you the insight to cherish your memories and the strength to make space for new ones. 
No matter if you have always had a knack for keeping things organized, or like me, all the drawers and closets are filled to the brim, taking the time to go through it all, passing along those things that have outlived their purpose and intentionally holding onto those things that are truly important, is healthy, perspective-building, JOY-sparking work.

So go do it. Now. Or sometime in 2019. Just try the Konmari Method. I promise, it won't disappoint.

Here are some operational tips: Don't try to do it all at once. Just do a little at a time, following the path as she suggests. It makes sense and it's easier to find your rhythm. (Here's a cool checklist.) Recruit your family, or even your best friends - you can bond over too-small jeans and old prom dresses and baby-everything. And lastly, know your limits and practice self-care, especially when it comes time to let go of those oh-so-sentimental items. No guilt and no shame if you keep more than you expect. It's a process.

So I'll leave you with some wise words from our friend and tidying-guru Marie Kondo: "When you surround yourself with possessions that spark joy, you'll create a home and life that you love." Yes, please! That's soooo worth it! I'm all in!! (Big gulp.)

Love and strength to you all. Please let me know how you do. Pics too. :)

{J}

And please enjoy the order and intention and JOY that is now my closet:

After




Holly and Jenn

Happy New Year...#oneword2019





Happy New Year everyone! To all of you that added their word to my #oneword post - thank you! You have claimed these words for this year and that is powerful! Own them. See where they will take you and how they may change your vision and ultimately how they will change you by the time you are ringing in 2020. (What?!?!...writing that date just now seemed very surreal!) Pause and let that sink in for a minute. It's a reminder of the all-too-fast passing of time and the combination of the ache of loss of babies and the joyful exhilaration that a mother's heart feels as she watches those babies grow up (sigh).

So, each year my word has come to me pretty effortlessly. Mostly because the thing I needed to focus on was so glaringly obvious there was no reason to debate. But this year is was different. I had many words fighting for space in my head and they all had good arguments to back up why they should be the #oneword.

I decided to write each one in BOLD letters and sit with each of them. I prayed over each one - because inviting Jesus in is always wise - and then I waited. Would it be WISDOM? I could always use more of that. Would the old favorite INTENTION be the clear cut winner for another year? AUTHENTICITY maybe? I am striving to live more authentically and be more authentic. Maybe TRUTH? I earned an amazing practice in 2018. To ask if the thoughts my overly sensitive mind was conjuring were TRUE? (I am an over-thinker if I haven't mentioned that before). There were so many great, complex and beautiful words that made it into BOLD print, but in the end only one stood out. It literally makes my heart sing each time I look at it and say it out loud.

Like each one of us, I am on a journey. At this season in my life, my children are pretty independent and although I am still needed both physically and emotionally in many ways, it's a new and different way. It leaves time for me to ask, "What is it that I really want/need? What does God want me to do in this next stage?" Well, He showed me.

CREATE

Create space, create time, create intention, create a way for my authentic true self to shine through and of course... create what has been placed on my heart: THE BOOK. Writing is my joy and the creative inside me is bursting to CREATE and share it with all of you.

I've written it out and washi-taped it to my dream/prayer board (which will be another post) and I look at it every morning. It centers me. It's exciting to be reminded of what God has in store for this year and to keep my eyes on the prize. Which, like all of you, is to become and grow and develop into the best possible version of me, one step at a time. 

Keep the words coming! I love seeing how each one is different and feel lucky to sometimes get to hear the stories behind each one. I am wishing you blessings and focus and excitement to see how your #oneword will change you. Have an amazing day!

Love,

{H}

Photo by Nikhil Mitra on Unsplash
Holly and Jenn

#oneword of 2019


Happy 2019 friends! Can you believe that Holly and I started this blogging adventure in 2013? We really did, and we feel immeasurably blessed that you are still here with us! Thank you!

As you know, we open each year with the #oneword campaign. Looking back at previous years' words, and the runners-up, it's clear how great a guide these words have been for me. A beacon to help me create some goals and then, over the year, find a way to see them flourish. I hope that you have scribbled down your #oneword over the years and can glance back with a similar sense of perspective. And if not, there's always a new year. This NEW YEAR. Perhaps give it a try.

So there were quite a few words in the running for 2019. I first thought "growth" but then that made me think of a wart and I got grossed out. (Remember the funny story about Noah's "skin tab"? Hahaha!) Then I considered "challenge" but there have been so many viral challenges lately: the Tide-Pod Challenge, the Cinnamon Challenge, and a bunch of others that I don't understand. The word also triggers crankiness associated with all manners of weight-loss challenges, so probably not a good match.

Then the word STRETCH came to mind. It's been tugging at me for a week and won't seem to let go so I'm feeling compelled to hold onto it and see where it leads. S-T-R-E-T-C-H, as in pushing the limits, breaking free, creating with no bounds, being more of the me I want to be. That kind of stretch.

I hope that at the end of 2019 I'll look back and know I STRETCHED myself, that I grew from each challenge, and took up each opportunity to be more of the hope, strength, joy, love, faith, compassion, and grace we need in the world.

So if resolutions have a tendency to overwhelm you, if you find it too easy to fall victim of the "be-more, do-more" hellscape so common this time of year, consider #oneword as a healthier option. What do you think? How will 2019 shape you?

It is the best of times friends. Take it, shape it, and have a blessed and bountiful new year.

{J}

By the way, if you want to make a cool word cloud to inspire you, check out this site. It's free and so so fun!


Holly and Jenn

"Dad, Mom: I Don't Want to Go Back"


As many of you read in August, I offered some advice on how to manage the emotions of taking your baby to college. Today, I offer you some perspective on what to do when it doesn't work out, when the college they picked turns out to not be the right place.

For those of you who have a freshman coming home for the holiday break, and maybe contemplating staying home, here are some things you should know:

  1. According to US News and World Report, one in three, yes, a whopping 33% of college freshman will come home and stay home during their first year. Reasons will run the gamut of loneliness to irresponsibility, financial hardship to transitional issues, and usually, you won't see it coming.
  2. Homesickness is normal. Until students find their people, they may feel like a satellite floating in a universe where everyone else seems to know their orbit. But sometimes it's not homesickness. Sometimes it's something else.
  3. Your adult-child will know themselves and their limits more than you do. Don't you remember junior and senior year? All the testing and prepping and AP-ing and stretching? They learned the breaking point and they WILL NOT willingly go there again. Listen when they want to share their concerns just as much as their accomplishments. It's a gift when they let you in.
  4. You know your child. You know know their breaking point too. Trust them and trust yourself to guide and console, research and react. That is your job.
  5. You did not fail, nor did your child, if they come home. Everyone's experience is different and you need to remember that Instagram perfection is a lie. Please remind your child that too. Pressure to avoid criticism is a real thing but it is not the right reason to stay the course if it's direction is misplaced.
  6. Even four months away will change your emerging adult. She will be more self-aware, he will have more appreciation, and they will be trying to make good decisions for themselves. Sometimes she will be successful, like resisting the pressure to try cocaine because "everyone is doing it." (What happened to good-old-fashion beer pong and "Wine Wednesdays"?) And sometimes he won't, like playing too much beer-pong and missing a class because "OUCH."
  7. But when she tells you that the people and the place are not right, when she outlines the reasons and they make sense, when you know it's not homesickness, you will need to start listening.
  8. And when he does all the work and formulates a pretty good plan B, when he has all the hard conversations with guidance counselors and housing, when his voice is filled with conviction and carries the hope that's been missing, some of your hesitation will be replaced with pride.
  9. When she tells you that her brain, her heart and her gut have all shown her the signs to stop and reassess (because you've trained her to do so since she was little), you'll feel a little more confident in her skills and abilities to do the whole adulting thing.
  10. When she makes the final decision, your heart will break a little bit because it wasn't supposed to be like this. But hers will soar because she's doing the right thing, and that counts more than your disappointment. Passing the baton people. This is what we want.
  11. When you acknowledge that you can't prevent him from experiencing life's disappointments, that really all you can to do is listen, advise and then provide the soft landing, you will be growing too.
  12. And finally, when you let go of the worries and the sorrow, the should've's and the how's, you may just realize how blessed you are that she didn't settle, that she listened to her heart, and that she had the self-respect and confidence to get herself out of a bad situation. This will make you the proudest of all because the shifting of responsibility and oversight from parent to mature young-adult-child is what you've both been training for.

So Bella's coming home today and she is thrilled. She has charted a new path that will combine community college (which is free, by the way), hopefully some international travel, and transferring to a university that will fit her ever-growing self a bit better.

If your freshman has experienced any ups and downs this semester, here's a great article on what they might be experiencing emotionally and how you can be prepared. And if she/he has said those heart-sinking words, "I don't want to go back," here's an article that can help you both figure out if a new path could be better.

Merry Christmas and happy everything, friends. Enjoy every minute with your loved ones. We truly are so blessed.

{J}

Photo cred: Resi Kling, Unsplash
Holly and Jenn

Happy Christ...er...Thanksgiving!



It's almost Christmas!! I mean...Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is great. What is better than getting together with family and friends and eating allthefood and spending time NOT working or doing the regular schedule. That is ALL great stuff. I am so grateful. But Christmas...is my JAM.

So, when I start listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween it's not because I drank the Kool-aid. I want the feeling of the Spirit of Christmas to start as soon as possible! This does not include the commercial Christmas. The one that encourages the spending of all the money and making of all the lists of all the things. I don't want to get an Amazon toy catalog in the mail in August. That gives me anxiety. No one appreciates an anxious me. My husband will attest to that.

I firmly believe that each holiday deserves to have its own time to be recognized for the fun and goodness that it brings. I would like to enjoy the spookiness of Halloween until the 31st of October. And like I mentioned, Thanksgiving = goodfoodandgoodfriends. But for me, the Spirit of Christmas is something I wish to practice all year long. Nat King Cole helps me get in the mood.

When I can tune in my car radio (thank you SiriusXM) and hear O Holy Night by Andy Williams or Frank Sinatra belting out White Christmas it warms my heart.

So, I haven't forgotten about Thanksgiving and taking the time to be grateful for all of the amazing things God is doing for me and my people. I will be enjoying my turkey and stuffing and waiting for pecan pie (because no other pie is better) whilst listening to Silent Night and wishing that it would snow in this little part of Southern California (a girl can dream).

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers out there. We wish you a season of counting your blessings, being a blessing to others, and carrying the Spirit of Christmas with you all year long! Lord knows the world could use a little more joy.

{H}

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash



Holly and Jenn

The Tie That Binds Us...


This is not a political post. I will not tell you that your viewpoint is wrong, flawed, or less worthy of consideration than my own. I will not unfriend you if your passionate opinion is not mine. We are more than our affiliations or parties or platforms. We just are.

Instead, this post is a call to action. For ALL of us, no matter what side of the spectrum we find ourselves on. Despite how we feel when we watch the news, regardless of the division and ugliness that bogs us down, and resisting the "well, they started it!" accusations, this is a call for a renaissance of some of these most basic and essential ingredients of humanity:

--Respect: due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others
--Kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate
--Patience: quiet, steady perseverance, even-tempered care
--Understanding: sympathetic awareness of other people's feelings, tolerance and forgiveness
--Peace: freedom from disturbance, or the cessation of violence
--Love: feeling of warm personal affection for someone or something

I believe that if we focus on all that connects us rather than that which separates us, it makes it easier to treat others well. Like the love we feel for our families and friends, the care we show in our communities, the hope we have for future generations. We can choose understanding and patience even when our opinions differ. And if we do that, we may be able to live alongside one another with respect, kindness and peace within differences.

In no way does this mean we shouldn't stand up for what we believe in, and work with our voices and votes to propel those causes forward. But don't you think we can do all of those things with respect, kindness, patience, understanding, peace and love? I do. (Resist the "well, they don't" here too. Like I tell my kids, you are the only one responsible for your behavior. Don't let someone else bring out the worst in you.)

So if we all did that, if we tried not to let the world change how we treat others, wouldn't it be a nicer world to live in? Just a thought.

Love you all...truly I do.

Peace be with you.

{J}

Photo credit: Will O.-Unsplash
Holly and Jenn

Parents, I Stand With You.


Friends, many of us have recently taken our kids to college and LEFT THEM THERE! I've read lots of blogs and taken the advice of some very wise women who've charted this path before my time, but I still wasn't fully prepared for what it would feel like.

For those of you still reeling a bit, I'm with you. For those of you yet to experience this normal, healthy progression in life, here are some things you should know:

  1. When you pack up your child's room, you will discover that there is way too much crap. This is not the best time to go through every cubby and drawer and keepsake box. You do not have the emotional stamina to endure a walk down memory lane as you are sending a piece of your heart away. Resist the urge. You'll be wrecked soon enough.
  2. When you unpack them in their dorm or apartment on campus, there are two main objectives. First, you want them to feel as comfortable as possible, so you wash everything in your family detergent, you fill their mini-fridge with favorites from home, you help them set up their room for function and familiarity, because that will all help with the transition. Second, you want to make sure they survive the night so you take the campus map and highlight the health center and emergency numbers and all the various places where they can find food and water. And maybe you have a little refresher course on the buddy-system and stranger-danger.
  3. When you tour the campus, every corner, every hedge, every narrow passageway feels like it could be a potential crime scene where your child is the victim. Then you're really glad you got the two-pack of pepper spray, and you might suggest she looks for a self-defense class, just in case. (Maybe this is just with girls??)
  4. When you see your college student interact with her RA, his roommates, her fellow students, the dining-hall-check-in-lady, you are impressed and proud and a little baffled that you had something to do with that. The confidence, the friendliness, the spirit they possess...WOW! Then you feel a tad bit better about them managing things on their own.
  5. When you say good-bye and hug her for the last time, it's gut-wrenching, soul-crushing, heart-breakingly sad.
  6. When you walk through the airport with big fat tears running down your face, most people will avoid eye contact. But some will inquire kindly and listen to your story and say they understand because they've been there. Maybe you'll feel momentarily better - part of a tribe of parents who have survived this unnatural, awful parting. But when you leave the nice, strong, reassuring strangers to board your plane, you'll find that the tears were not done with you.
  7. When you get home, even though their room is still cluttered and messy and you can sense their presence and know they'll be back soon, the house feels weird. Off. Empty. Lonely. And oh-so-wrong.
  8. When you settle into bed that first night, you may request a proof-of-life photo. At first she won't know what that is. But then she'll think you're funny. You weren't being funny.
  9. When you see your other kids miss their sibling, your heart breaks a little more.
  10. When you see your spouse pause at the door to her empty room, that just about takes you down.
  11. When you talk to other moms, you realize that everyone's experience is a little different. None is more right or wrong, weak or strong. Just different. And there's comfort in those conversations with your sisters-in-life.
  12. When you talk to other dads, you realize that men are really good at compartmentalizing. And maybe, for like a second, you wish you were a man. 
  13. When you get that first text, you are totally cool and love how fun texting your grown-up-child-friend is. And then you transfer some money just because you're so happy.
  14. When you get that first call, you take it more seriously. It feels like every word has to be perfect because for the first time in their life, they can control the frequency of contact and the conversation. And more than anything, you really want them to WANT to call home.
  15. When you get the first FaceTime call, you notice your adult-child looks different. Like they grew a little overnight. And you realize how much you missed seeing them and how much their expressions reveal about their time away. The way her eyes light up when she's excited. The way his smile stretches all the way to his eyes. The way her laugh crosses miles to warm your soul. The way his voice tells you exactly how he's feeling. You also realize that they really are fine, even if they're not quite sure yet.
  16. When you hang up, you wonder if she knows how much you miss her. Did you tell her? Then you wonder if you'll make her sad if you say it too much, either because she feels the exact same way. Or worse (better maybe?), she doesn't. 
  17. When you talk the next time, you'll listen more, you'll take her lead, you'll let him share. It's the job now: ADAPTING. And you'll re-engineer your role as parent, until like Goldilocks, her favorite bedtime story when she was five, you get it just right.  
  18. When you adjust to the new rhythm in the house, in your day, in your week; when you sleep through the night without waking up in a panic at 3 a.m.; when you can finally do the laundry she left behind, you feel a little bit like a superhero who truly can endure anything. Because you just did probably one of the hardest things that parents are tasked to do in life: love them good and let them fly. 
Stay strong parents-of-college-kids. We're all going to be fine.

{J} 

Photo cred: Tim Gouw, Unsplash
Holly and Jenn