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Decluttering My Vanity…and My Life

Decluttering My Vanity…and My Life

So I thought I would kick off the new year by getting rid of things I have lying around that are seldom used and gathering dust. Makeup, clothes, home decor, and toys were making their way into the “donate” pile. This quickly became an exercise in self reflection.

At first I felt the urge to justify keeping things, thinking, “Oh I’m sure I’ll use this soon.”  But as my stack began to grow, the buzz of having more space and simplifying my home began to kick in.  Before I knew it, I was happily tossing things in. I began to feel more energized, and it occurred to me just how long it had been since I felt that way.

I realized that not only did I need to declutter my house, I needed to declutter my life.  It wasn’t just about “things” zapping my energy.  Unhealthy habits, relationships, and priorities can throw everything off kilter. They steal our time, energy, and quality of life. And just like justifying the keeping of unnecessary things, we legitimize those habits by saying, “It’s not that big of a deal.” We defend unhealthy relationships with family, friends, and partners, thinking, “It will get better.” We excuse skewed priorities with, “I’ll get to it later.” But later never comes.  Not that way.

Later is now. This moment is what we have to work with.  Maybe “it” is that big of a deal.  And how can things get better without correction?  Ask yourself honestly what (or who) needs to go, needs to change. Even if the one who needs to change is you. Change is scary, but what scares you more? Changing…or staying the same?

What will you “declutter?” Leave a comment below.  Thanks for reading.


Water in the Basement

We’ve had some pretty nasty thunderstorms here lately, leaving many people with water in their basements.  Fortunately, our house had very, very little so it was more annoying than catastrophic.  Due to this water, we were going through boxes and things that have been stored down there and I came across a box I have not touched in years.  It contained memories from college.

Inside the box were many things I had both treasured and mindlessly thrown in to accelerate the moving process.  Class schedules, pictures, funny notes my roommate and I had taped to our door, flash cards, and e-mails I had printed.  Even notebooks I would doodle and journal in if I was bored at work at the mall (yes I was a total mall rat).  The nostalgia hit me so hard it was almost painful.  College was a very interesting time for me, simultaneously fun, challenging, chaotic, and amazing somehow.

Perhaps it was being an adult without 100% of the responsibility that would eventually come.  Maybe it was that my whole life was before me, full of promise and possibility.  I used to daydream about what the future would hold: what will my career be?  Who will I marry?  Where will I live?  How many children will I have?  What adventures will we create?  What will all of that look like put together?  My imagination would run wild with these things, picturing both the exciting and mundane.  I loved to dream.

Sitting there it occurred to me how, at this point, it seems so much of my life has been decided.  I know the answers to most of those questions now.   As a child in school I remember how much I looked forward to the weekend.  In time, I realized it was more the promise the weekend held than anything else.  But I miss dreaming a little, and I’m not entirely sure why.  Perhaps I feel a little trapped, like I can’t make any major change without disrupting the kids or job security.  Not in an immature, bored kind of way.  I have been very content with my life since undergrad, full of so many wonderful people and experiences I would never trade in.  And I certainly wouldn’t want to repeat college all over again.  Yet in the background there’s always that nostalgia that won’t be completely quiet.  And sometimes, times like now when I find an old photo or hear an old song, it becomes a guttural scream; a cry of restlessness.

Perhaps I need to remind myself that life is never fully decided.  That, in many ways, my proverbial “whole life” is always ahead of me; be it 80 years or mere moments.  Maybe the cure for the common life is to do something spontaneous.  To keep dreaming big.  To believe that God still has something special up His sleeve.  This can be a bit scary.  After all, not all change is pleasant.  And as I sit in the mildly musty basement lost in thought and memories, my little boy runs up to me and gives me a craft he made for me.  My heart warms, and I pack up the past and head back upstairs to my gifts of the present; reassured that I still have the right to dream.  For a romantic like me, I’m glad to have something to dream about.  And glad for a little water in the basement.

Preparing for Baby: What’s in My Hospital Bag?

As pregnancy winds closer to an end in expectation for birth, one of the to-do list items to check off my list is packing the hospital bag.  Whether you are packing your bag months in advance in anticipation, or if you are a procrastinator packing at the last minute, below is what I consider my hospital essentials when having a baby.

For Me

  • Slippers for doing laps around the birth center to get dilated
  • Warm, fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm
  • Reusable feminine pads to manage bleeding (for vaginal childbirth).  Reusable pads are better both for mom (no harmful chemicals like dioxin) and the environment.  I use Lunapads which you can find at
  • Reusable nursing pads.  These are important for both breastfeeding and bottle feeding moms as your milk will come in regardless.  I like the brand Skoon which can be found at
  • Massage items so your spouse or coach can rub your back during labor (I prefer LUSH massage bars to lotions or creams-less messy).  You can find them at,en_US,sc.html
  • Nipple cream for breastfeeding mothers.  This is essential.  When nursing my daughter, I somehow missed the memo about nipple cream and they were so sore it made nursing almost unbearable.  A few days later my friend asked me if I had been using any cream and mercifully filled me in on it.  What a difference it made!  I may have given up on breastfeeding without it.  An alternative that I’ve heard works well is using breast milk.  After your child has finished nursing, rub a small amount of breast milk on the nipple and let it air dry.  The nipple cream I like is Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter, a 100% natural product.  This can be found at
  • Headphones and MP3/iPod for music to help relax or distract you through contractions
  • Camera for taking pictures/video
  • Lip balm for hydrating lips that get dry from all of that deep breathing
  • Toiletries
  • Book or magazines

For Baby

  • Cloth diapers-I am packing some Bum Genius 4.0 one size diapers.  These may not work for babies that weigh less than 8 lbs, so just in case I am also packing some Kissa’s newborn prefolds and Thirsties extra-small diaper covers.  My favorite website for cloth diaper essentials is or even craigslist/on-line yard sales for gently used ones for very cheap
  • Baby lotion-I use California Baby natural lotion which can be found online or at Target
  • Clothes-onesies, bodysuits or pajamas, and an outfit for newborn pictures
  • Small amount of olive oil (I use cold pressed extra virgin olive oil)-put this on baby when changing their diaper.  This will help the ever-so-sticky meconium clean off like a dream.
  • Receiving blankets or swaddlers

Some women like to bring pajamas or robes from home that are more comfortable than hospital gowns.  If you do this make sure you are okay with them getting stained by the plethora of fluid that accompanies childbirth.  My list may seem very modest.  I remember with my first child I completely over-packed as I was not sure what I would need.   You may have additional items that are essential for your comfort.  Pack whatever you feel you need.  I recommend keeping it simple so that packing to go home will be a simpler process.

Thanks for reading.  Please leave me your hospital bag essentials in the comments below.

My YouTube video on these items:

Can Your Calling Change?

A year ago, I was content in my phase of life.  I spent most of my time raising our young children.  I worked part-time as a counselor in a very

Two Paths Diverged in a wood

Two Paths Diverged in a wood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

fulfilling job.  Life was good; I was living out my calling.  Little did I expect the rug was about to get pulled out from under me.

It began very subtly.  I had a small but nagging sense that it was time to leave my job.  Whenever this would occur to me, I quickly shrugged it off for many reasons.  The hours were flexible, I saw a diverse client base which kept work interesting, I was making decent money, I loved what I did, and it felt very meaningful.  Yet I still sensed that I needed to move on.  Shoving that notion to the back of my mind soon got costly.

The environment at work quickly and unexpectedly began to change.  My caseload was growing exponentially to nearly that of a full-time therapist.  Pressure was building to work more hours.  While my sessions with clients were still challenging and fulfilling, the office culture was rapidly becoming a toxic breeding ground for burnout.  I finally accepted that I needed to leave.  Then I had to figure out what I would do next.

This decision consumed me.  There were myriad options; however, none of them felt right.  I had offers to interview for other positions, but they were full-time.  I was committed to only working part-time while raising my kids so this was not a route I was willing to take.  Other part-time positions that were available were very limited, unchallenging, farther away, or worked with a population I was not as passionate about.  I considered going into private practice.  This seemed like the “right” answer.  I had plenty of referral sources and contact with other therapists in private practice who explained in depth the process of starting and maintaining a practice.  But all I could think about was the stress of owning my own business: getting paneled for insurances, finding an affordable place to practice, paying rent, buying accounting software to manage expenses and taxes, and so on ad infinitum.  Plus there was the guilt I felt over leaving my current clients.  At the end of every day, I felt fried with anxiety over making the right decision.  But none of the options before me brought me any sense of peace.  I started praying about the situation, hoping to gain some guidance.   God answered in a way I never expected.

I felt exceptionally impressed that I needed to stay home with my kids.  This possibility had not once occurred to me.  Never did I see myself as a fully stay at home mom.  I had felt called to become a counselor since I was a teenager; a calling that was undeniable for many years which God confirmed time and time again.  I had obtained three different licenses that needed to be maintained.  I loved counseling and had not entertained another future for myself in years.  I was (hopefully) helping people.  How could leaving this be the right answer?

I continued praying about this, convinced that I had misheard God.  I kept coming back to the notion that I needed to spend more time raising my children.  Plus my husband and I had begun the process of becoming foster parents, hoping it would result in adoption.  I struggled with and fought this choice for months.  Over time the path before me became clear: even though I did not want to hear it, this was the only option that gave me peace.

While I did not fully understand it, I decided to trust God in His leading.  I left my job and now hold a small pro bono caseload.  This transition was not easy, but over time I began to see God’s plan unfolding before me (including a surprise pregnancy, but that’s a story for another day).  Initially I was like Samuel mourning over Saul in 1 Samuel 16; God was calling me to something new, but first I had to let go of the old.  Letting go of a calling can be painful and difficult.  I did not realize how much of my identity had gotten wrapped up in my career.  And I was learning that just because something is “good” and right for one season does not mean it’s suited for me forever.  As I walked in obedience and adjusted my attitude, I was opening myself up to the blessings God had in store for me that I never could have conceived.  If we trust Him we can trust that He is leading us to something just as meaningful and fulfilling.  God is calling you.  He is a God of new things and wants you to join in the adventure.

Have you had a similar experience?  Leave a comment below!  Looking for resources on the subject of calling?  Below are a couple of books I highly recommend.  Thanks for reading.

The Call by Os Guiness

The Missional Mom by Helen Lee