I’ve Moved

I’ve brought most of my blogs together under one umbrella. I’d love for you to visit me at my new site. I look forward to seeing you there.


I’ve Moved…my blog

Thanks for stopping by.

I invite you to join me at my new blog http://stephseclecticinterests.wordpress.com

I created Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests as a home for most of my blogging. Check out Steps to Simplicity…and any of the others that catch your interest.

You are also invited to http://casualtheology.wordpress.com (Who is God and who are we according to the Scriptures?) and Monday Motivation at http://www.christianeditingservices.com (tips and prompts for writers and those who want to be).

Hope to see you there soon…and often.


Thanks to Amy Lee Bell for today’s guest post. (Check out her blog at http://amyleebell.wordpress.com)

I love taking vacations. I love getting in the car and driving for hours. I love getting away from duty and obligation for a few days. I love taking in the tastes and sights of a new place. I love the long, uninterrupted conversations with my spouse. But my favorite part of the vacation is walking into a nice, clean, uncluttered hotel room. Why? Because I hate junk. We are surrounded by our junk. We are burdened by our junk. We have to store it, dust it, maintain it, feel guilty for not using it. It takes up space in our homes and minds.

For years now, my husband and I have been talking about downsizing. And for years, that’s all we did: talk But a month ago, we decided to get completely out of debt. We stopped using our credit cards and decided that we would do whatever it takes, from making our own laundry soap to eating beans for supper. It felt as though someone had flipped a switch. All of a sudden, nothing we owned was more important than getting out of debt.

I went through the whole house, and decided to get rid of more than half of my books and clothes, along with some other things. It was really hard at first, because I had just bought several of these items. And I had paid full price for over half of my books. I had to restrain myself from adding up just how many hundreds of dollars worth of books I’d bought and never used. (You know it’s getting bad when you purchase a book, bring it home to place it on your shelf, and file it right next to an identical book that you had bought and forgotten.) So, I tried to get rid of any book that I figured I would never actually make time to use, or anything that I could find in a library. By the time I finished, I had dwindled seven bookshelves full of books down to two.

Next, we wanted to get rid of most of our furniture. So we had a three-room indoor moving sale. It was very interesting! We met interesting people, we had interesting conversations, and we sold most of our large furniture, including a baby grand, our couch, our entire bedroom set, most of our instruments, and five of our bookshelves. We’re down to our coffee table, our big desk, an entertainment center, our son’s bunk bed, and his desk. I think we will probably sell the bunk bed and small desk before we actually move, but we’re going to wait a while because our son currently uses those things (plus, my husband and I are now sleeping on the bottom bunk. It’s a full-size futon.) Now if I could only get rid of the stuff that didn’t sell! I know I could donate or give it away, but we’re working on paying off all of our debt. Amazon’s trade-in program was a great help, however, but they don’t take just anything.

When we move, we’d like to buy a less expensive home, one that we will pay for from the equity in this house. And then we’ll be debt-free! For practice, we’re only living in three rooms of our house this winter plus the bathrooms. The other benefit: we won’t have to heat one half of the house. I’m super excited; it’s kind of like an adventure in simpler living. We have fold-up chairs for now, but maybe we should get some pillows and sit in the floor instead. It would probably be more comfortable 🙂

Any suggestions out there for unstuffing or living a simpler lifestyle?

A New Schedule

For a while, I’ve been contemplating creating a new schedule. Last week, I gave it a whirl. For the most part it’s helping me stay on track.

Here are the changes I’ve made and ideas how they could help you as well…

1. I listed those things I want to accomplish. (It’s always great to start with a list so we resist the temptation to be swept away by the Urgent rather than the Important.)

2. I decided what things I would like to do each day, things like reading the Bible and writing in my prayer journal. (Some things are best done daily.)

3. I assigned topics to each day. Monday to work on the book I’m co-authoring, Tuesday and Wednesday to work on the two manuscripts I’m editing (one of which I completed – Hooray!), etc. I had been trying to do a little of everything every day, and that wasn’t working. (If you’re like me, you will get more accomplished if you stick to one project for a significant amount of time. Some things take a while to get into.)

4. I left my weekends blank. Sundays are pretty busy, what with church and all. Plus, if I schedule things for Saturday and don’t get them done, I start the new week already behind. Not good. (Remember, down time isn’t a bad thing.)

5. I confess I’ve spent several hours in cyberspace that I should have spent otherwise. By limiting time on Facebook, Twitter, etc., I’m still networking and keeping in touch with friends and family, but the hours are no longer slipping away. (This may not be an issue for you, but it may be something else. TV, for example.)

6. And speaking of TV…I’ve restricted my time there too. There are a few shows I really enjoy and others I watch just to put in time. Much better to pick up a book I’ve been wanting to read. (Again, this may not be an area in which you struggle. If it is, set yourself some guidelines. “I’ll only watch an hour a day.” “I’ll only watch with someone else, so at least we’re spending time together.” “I won’t get hooked on any new shows.”)

7. This may sound crazy to you, but I have to remind myself to eat. I can sit at the computer and do just-one-more-thing until I’m agitated and ornery. Most often, I feel that way because I haven’t eaten or I’ve had caffeine and sugar (bad combo for me – and most people). So, before I begin my next task, I’m off to get some breakfast. Eating regularly has many, many benefits. I’ve learned this as a personal trainer – and from real life experience. (So, go grab yourself something to eat in prep for the rest of your day.)

The Little Things Count

To some of you, it might sound crazy, but these lessons have taken years for me to put into practice. I won’t say “learn” because I’ve know them, in principle, for a very long time.

The little things that have helped me simplify my life…

1. I’ve arranged my closet, not only hanging pants together, blouses together, etc, but also making the clothes I wear often most easily accessible.

2. I toss a load of laundry in before bed and dry it in the morning. (Now that we have Smart Metres, I’ll do my best to do my laundry between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.)

3. To be honest, clothes often stay in the laundry basket a  l-o-n-g  time. Even there, items are grouped with those that are similar to make it easy to find what we’re looking for.

4. Instead of passing an item – or a pile of items – I take it with me when I go to the room where it belongs. I hear a collective sigh of relief from people who have known me for years. This hasn’t been my strong suit.

5. Even when I don’t have time to do them all, I try to wash a sink-load of dishes when I have a few minutes. It’s less overwhelming later. (The truth is, I usually end up doing them all anyway. It rarely takes more than half an hour.)

6. I try to do something constructive while watching TV. Tonight I organized some papers while the show was on and read during commercials.

7. I don’t only organize my closet. I also organize my bookshelves, designating shelves specifically for Christian fiction, others for books about writing, a couple for health and fitness books, etc.

8. I’ve begun to remove our DVDs from their cases and group them by genre in binders designed for that purpose. It saves a lot of space.

9. The labels on my paperwork files have such titles as To Do – Sometime, To Do, To Do – NOW!

10. I’ve had only minor success on what someone has defined as barnacling, decorating flat surfaces with something you like so they can’t become catch-alls. I have a long way to go with this, but it’s better than it used to be.

11.  Instead of doing a little bit of several different things each day, I’m going to try to devote a day each week to a single type of project, one day for writing and editing, another for reading, a third for fulfilling the requirements of a course I’m taking, etc. I’m sure I’ll get a lot more done if I focus and don’t allow my mind to flit from thing to thing.

12. I haven’t implemented the following suggestion. I may never do so. However, you might find it helpful. A lady I heard speak said she never took on a new responsibility without relinquishing one she already had. There is much wisdom in this.

These really are small things, but they do – or they will – make a big difference.

Pace Yourself

I honestly love being 50, but it has taught me some things. There are still many things I’d like to accomplish, but it’s unlikely I will get them all done, AND THAT’S OK. (I have to keep reminding myself of that last part.)

Today’s post was going to be about lists – and that’s definitely part of pacing oneself, but it’s so much more than that.

When it comes to social networking, I’m like a little kid. I try to keep my eye on everything at once because, if I don’t, I might miss something. That’s the little kid part of my brain. However, the adult part says, “So?” My flight through cyberspace should resemble a well laid out travel itinerary, not the path of the ball in a pinball machine.

I will forever be eclectically-interested. That being said, I do know the difference between “the urgent” and “the important.” Well, I know it in my head. It’s simply a matter of translating that into real life.

Today’s To Do list reflects a balance – I hope.

Reading – God’s Word (the Book of Greatest Importance); Dug Down Deep by Josh Harris (the e-book I’m reading to review for Blogging for Books; I get free books in exchange for my review; I can live with that); The Labor Book (for my doula studies); Our Witchdoctors are Too Weak (I’m almost done, only 10 short chapters to go)…(There are a number of others, but we’ll have to see if I get time.)

Editing – I am currently working on two projects. I need to set deadlines for myself or those that aren’t time-sensitive keep getting pushed back. Small, bite-sized chunks, that’s what it’s all about.

Writing – The completion of the book I’m co-authoring is in sight. I need to push through and get it done. (“Done” is a relative term in the writing business. It depends on what kind of changes the publisher will want. That could take a while.) I also have three blog posts to write today, this being one of them.

Housework – There’s a reason this is at the bottom of the list. I do, after all, have a blog titled “Confessions of a Horrible Housekeeper.” Trust me it is more than loosely based on my reality. That doesn’t mean I don’t like a clean house. I actually don’t even mind cleaning it. It’s just the other things clambering for my attention are just so much more interesting. On today’s list is 1) wash the dishes, 2) make supper, and 3) tidy the main floor (which, surprisingly, isn’t all that bad).

Oh, yes, and one more thing…

VOTE! – I’ll take a walk with my hubby tonight, and we’ll head to the polling station.

So, while I have a diverse list of things to do, I try to be reasonable and rejoice with each task accomplished.


There is another side. I must make my list prayerfully. I believe there are things I am meant to accomplish, and I don’t want to miss out on those because I was “just too busy.”