December’s Challenge: Decluttering

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It’s almost insane how fast this year of 30-day challenges is flying by. Let’s recap so far.

  • In August, I wrote 1000 words a day.
  • In September, I read 12 books, and started a 13th. (The goal was to read ten or more.)
  • In October, I hand-copied the book of Acts (28 chapters) in 28 days.
  • In November, I wrote a grand total of 52,126 words for NaNoWriMo.

I'm up to December's challenge, which is all about decluttering, downsizing, embracing our version of minimalism--and making each morning a miracle morning.

Biggest Lesson Learned?

Noveling is both insanely hard, and ridiculously easy—for me. I’ve known for years that I have books inside of me. In fact, the book I started for NaNoWriMo is the mash-up of two books I wrote when I was in junior high and high school.

I took it in a completely different direction, fleshed out characters that were previously flatter than my old pillow, and finally got to explore a collection of people that have, in some way or another, been living inside my head for more than a decade.

And there are no multiple personalities involved.

My favorite part about this process was how fast and vast are the ideas that arose. One of my wordiest days had me close to 2,500 words in an hour, sitting on the couch in front of the fire and pounding out scenes in Cold Turkey Writer.

I hit 50,000, yes, and “won” NaNo, but my story still has a ways to go. I changed my personal target in Scrivener (the program I’m using to write) to 75,000 words, just to give myself breathing room for scenes that don’t make the editing cut or get pushed off to one of the sequels.

Wait, Sequels?

Yep. The Seventh Sorceress (still a working title, by the way) is book numero uno in what I’ve always known will be a series. Even when I wrote the original inspiration a decade ago I knew it would have sequels.

But that’s a conversation for another time.

Suffice to say that November’s 30-day challenge was a rousing success, and now it’s time to take a look at what’s on the plate for December.

The Miracle Morning 30-Day Transformation Challenge

I’ll be honest and admit that I actually started this particular mini-30-day challenge on November 27th, right after reading Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning for the first time. (I immediately read it again after finishing.)

The basis of a “miracle morning” is incorporating all six of what Elrod calls the “Life S.A.V.E.R.S.” which is an acronym for Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing.

I highly, highly recommend you go read this book for yourself, and then read it again, because the lessons Elrod has to teach you are life-changing.

His podcast is also pretty cool.

The Benefits So Far

As of this posting, I’ve had nine of these “miracle mornings” and, to go down the list:

  • My sleep quality is better (A.K.A. I feel awake and refreshed in the morning despite what my Fitbit sleep analysis tells me)
  • I feel more productive
  • My days are less of a roller-coaster of emotion
  • I’ve gotten clear on some things that live in my affirmations and visualizations

This next change is probably the most profound.

  • I’m doing a very short amount of exercise in the morning (about 5 minutes’ worth)—things like squats, planks, bicycle crunches, lunges, and girl push-ups (since I’m hella weak). The first three or four days my legs were 100% sore and walking/sitting/standing were all slightly painful. But now I’m seriously thinking about rock climbing again, and maybe taking up jujitsu, and planning to hike and bike all next summer. I even got inspired to start using my work building’s gym three days a week before going home!
  • I’m reading the Bible more—specifically the Book of Luke right now; one chapter a morning will have me finishing it on Christmas Eve, just in time to celebrate the reason for the season!

The idea is to keep doing this for at least 30 days, to give it a chance to become a habit over my previous morning routine, which I outlined in this post. Obviously, I’m going to have to do a follow-up post to highlight the changes it’s gone through!

Now, the Miracle Morning transformation challenge is just that—in the mornings. The rest of the month, besides my other business and personal growth goals, is to finally get rid of the extra things in my life.

I'm up to December's challenge, which is all about decluttering, downsizing, embracing our version of minimalism--and making each morning a miracle morning.

Decluttering. Minimizing. Downsizing.

Whatever you want to call it, I have too much stuff.

I’ve felt like this for a long time, actually. Let me give you a short history why.

My entire life until college, I lived in one house. One room, one closet, and yet so much stuff. Stuffed animals, boxes piled on top of each other on the closet shelf, bookshelves stuffed with books, hampers of things tucked away, and a captain’s style bed that had a deep cupboard in the middle and four drawers on either side in which to hide things.

Thinking back on it now, it’s interesting to compare that amount of stuff with what I own now—it was probably a lot less back then.

I went to and from college with all of my things stuffed into the back of my Ford Explorer, and even then it felt like both too much—and not enough once I unpacked it all in Pullman.

And then—and then I moved to Richland, Washington, for my first “big girl” job and my first apartment that was all my own, rent, utilities, and coin-operated laundry.

Yay Things!

I took the unique opportunity to buy a bed frame. And a mattress. Oh, don’t forget the dresser and the nightstand, either. I needed a couch, as well, and bookshelves on which to house my collections of books and movies.

As my apartment began filling with things, the apartment felt smaller. Looking back, it felt dark and dreary. There were only two windows, really. One in the bedroom, and the sliding glass door onto the deck.

I stayed there a year.

And then my husband (then-boyfriend) and I moved in together, into a bigger, airier, and brighter apartment.

It seems impossible, but our stuff seemed to multiply. A bigger kitchen needed more things to put in it, and so on. The closets were stuffed with things in boxes and bags, and when we finally left Richland a year later I couldn’t justify taking a lot of things with us, and got rid of a lot of things that we just…didn’t need—mostly furniture that wouldn’t fit into the cars and U-Haul we used to move.

Yet Here We Are Again.

In another apartment, this time our longest-lived one, and I feel the press of things yet again.

By far, we don’t have nearly as much as we did living in Eastern Washington. But the time has come to declutter and pursue our version of minimalism for real, starting with a pile of clothes and some stacks of books.

I invite you to join me in this challenge!

Who knows? Maybe you’ll unearth a trinket that you can give as a gift this coming holiday season. You may find something that you borrowed a long time ago, and forgot to return. There might be a veritable mountain of old clothes in your closet that no longer fit, or an entryway with shoes that are too old to wear anymore.

Whatever it is, take this month to embrace the purging of things just in time to welcome a new year and a new leaf.

Are you ready?

Let’s get started.

14 thoughts on “December’s Challenge: Decluttering”

  1. You have accomplished so much this year. Decluttering seems to be the next logical step. I am in the process of doing the same.

  2. Every December I get a serious urge to purge. It’s something about all the excess after Black Friday and suddenly realizing we have everything we need already. It feels amazing to pare down and appreciate what we already own.

  3. I want to de-clutter. I really do. But I hate throwing things away, it takes so much time to take pics and list things for sale and then coordinate with people to pick up, yard sale season seems far away, and some things have value but don’t seem great to donate- like does Goodwill want half-skeins of yarn? I think I get stuck at this part of the process. What are you doing with what you are getting rid of?
    Glad you morning routine seems so beneficial so far!

    1. Jennifer, I totally understand the resistance! I’m donating clothes to our local Value Village, listing books and movies I no longer need or want on eBay/Amazon or just donating them, throwing things out (trash), and recycling. I know many churches also take donations, and I’ll probably ask my church what kinds of things they’re in need of that I might have and not want anymore. I’m using the book Unstuff Your Life as my basis and so far it looks like a very good resource that would probably help you too!

  4. I have been trying to purge this month, but December is so busy! I like the idea of decluttering before more comes into the house. Will see how far I can get these next few weeks! Props to you on the exercise! I try to make it my number one priority for the day and get it done early in the morning. Take baby steps and you will reach your goals!

  5. Great idea! I’ve been purging since I moved in August – I so wish I had done the purge BEFORE I moved!! sheesh! Have you hear the Minimalists podcast. so good!
    Congratulations on Nano. I barely scraped by the 50K. I was struggling with a back problem but I am so glad I did it.
    I checked out the Hal Elrod podcast you mentioned. Thanks so much. It’s fantastic.

  6. I’ve heard great things about that book! I’m a morning person and I usually wake up at 4:00 to get started. Decluttering seems to be an ongoing task for me, so I really need to get a handle on that! Congrats on your NaNoWriMo achievement!

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