Mar 19, 2012

Organized Simplicity-A Book Review

     As soon as I unwrapped this book on my 25th birthday just days after my wedding, I just knew I should have been offended! Was the gift giver {my older sister} assuming that I was some disorganized wreck?! Incapable of keeping my new home?! Well, if anybody could assume that..I suppose my older sister would have the rights to. We did share a room for a good ten years after all. But while I’ve been known to leave my chewed up gum in random places, I’m actually a pretty neat person. Except please don’t look in my cupboards or my dresser drawers.  Truly though, I wasn’t offended at all… I was drooling over the fresh graphic design and couldn’t wait to organize my new home. It was neat & picked up, but organized? I had a long way to go, especially when Marcus would be moving in after the wedding bringing all sorts of clothes, tools, guitars, golf clubs, whey protein, and other such Renaissance Man items. march photo of the day 062
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     Even though I was ready to dive head first into the organizing-the-home business, the author had a slightly different agenda. The book kicks off with the idea of simple, intentional living. The idea of simple living is kind of trendy word/idea these days and I was interested to see if she would have any new enlightenment in that area. I was only about two paragraphs into the first section when I realized what an absolute gem this book was just for this message alone.  It wasn’t long before I was hollering for Marcus to come read the book with me. We were pleasantly surprised at the genius behind Tsh Oxenreider’s view on simplicity. She addresses so many of the factors in our society that keep us from living simply. The first being STUFF! And not just things, but homes! She points out the fact that today’s families are smaller & smaller yet homes are bigger & bigger. With the bigger homes comes more stuff, more to clean, more furniture to buy, etc. The other huge simplicity-suck is our nobody-just-works-40-hours-anymore work schedule along with the plethora of overbooking extracurricular activities & social engagements. And since we can’t just all go and quit our jobs or not see our friends to achieve simplicity, I was curious to hear her solution.
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     Here is how Tsh Oxenreider defines simple living: “Living holistically with your life’s purpose”
     Well, that’s an awful broad definition, but I realized it has to be. Because living simply means different things to different people. We all have different purposes & goals. And living holistically? Oxenreider explains it as “meaning that your spiritual, relational, emotional, intellectual, physical & financial lives are working together” Recognizing that these aspects of your home and family life are interdependent and therefore must be balanced and focused on accomplishing/living your family’s purpose.march photo of the day 065
    The next section of the book is dedicated to help you come up with a Family Purpose Statement. The chapter helped you look at where your family is now, where you want to be, list priorities, identify hobbies, and goals. The purpose of actually taking the time to make a statement is that as a family, you could hold yourselves accountable to your family statement. Are the choices you are making financially, or with your time lining up with your statement? You don’t have to pull your statement out of thin air, either! There are so many examples, prompts, and reflective questions for you to pinpoint what your families purpose is.
     This chapter also encourages you to make practical goals for your families future. These goals give you even more ammunition in decision making and life for your family. You become willing to sacrifice now & live in a way that these goals can come to fruition sooner rather than later.
     I’ll come back tomorrow & share the Croft Family Statement as well as some of our goals :) Doing this as newlyweds was so helpful! It immediately put Marcus & I on the same page about what we wanted and where we were headed. It keeps communication lines open about priorities, schedules, day to day decisions. We use our family purpose statement often when trying to make decisions.
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      My favorite chapter was on Time. Tsh Oxenreider attributed the following reasons for why families are too busy to simplify
~Too Much Screen Time {social media instead of working/running home-I’m SO guilty, excessive television, gaming, etc}
~Too much structured time for kids {extracurricular overload, affects time together as an entire family, can turn parent into constant taxi, affects nutrition/meal time}
~Work {commuting, two income families, needing professional clothes, job prep or working after hours}
     While all these things are not inherently bad, of course the computer is a useful tool, we need income and kids enjoy playing on sports team or music lessons-they definitely can inhibit or ability to prioritize things we’d like to enjoy. Simple things. Dates with your spouse, family/friend dinners, enjoy a particular hobby, full night’s sleep, read books, exercise, entertain, fellowship, church/worship. In order see where you time is going, Oxenreider suggests making three lists. One a list of things you would like to do regularly, next a list of things of daily necessities and finally a list of realistically the things you do in an average month-the the things you have to do AND enjoy doing. The next step is to get from where you are to where you want to be by looking at things you can drop vs. things you can take on. Being mindful of how free time is spent {something we don’t value but need!} and re-allotting time. She encourages you to use your family purpose statement to tackle your calendar. When considering your schedule/events/opportunities she offers the following guidelines..
~Does it match up with you Family Purpost Statement?
~Are you doing it to make others happy? {I’m very guilty here}
~Does it work with your current season of life?
~Is it really necessary?
~Do we really have the time?
     This chapter was eye opening to me since I often feel I have so little control of time and my schedule and all things I need to do vs. all the things I want to do. And I only work 30 hours a week max! True, we can’t control the amount of hours during the day, but we can change habits and identify things that don’t align with our family purpose statement and make time for the priorities and goals we’ve identified.
march photo of the day 066      There is an excellent chapter on finances-which is very Dave Ramsey-esque and will help you make budgets or a plan to eliminate debt. Since Marcus & I had done Dave Ramsey programs & workbooks, this section was not new to us but still so vital to simplifying and organizing your life and household.
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     The final chapters in the book take you step-by-step, room-by-room to help you tackle & organize. They are all incredibly helpful, practical and thorough! It honestly feels like you have a cheerleader to help you through what can be a painful, overwhelming and exhausting process.
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     There are so many resources included in the back of the book. How to make nearly any household product {cleaning, toothpaste, detergent, deodorant} as well as many lists and forms for household management, budgets, meal planning, and to do lists.
   As you can tell from this lengthy blog post- I loved everything about this book! I can’t swear that my house is perfectly organized or that I get my priorities right all the time, but I’m trying and I’m so encouraged. Go get this book!


Anonymous said...

I didn't know she had a book, but I follow her blog and love it. Mat and I recently sold a whole bunch of our stuff on Craigslist, stuff that was just taking up space, or time sucking in our time.

Laura Michele said...

Her book is so amazing. You can borrow it :)

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