5 Benefits of Mandala Dot Painting

When my normal techniques for quieting my mind failed to work on the repetitive sad memories that kept replaying, I decided to try something new.

I stumbled upon Mandala Dot Painting by accident but I was intrigued as soon as I saw the beautiful, symmetrical art. 

I would not say I am an artistic or creative person but working on Mandala dot paintings has been an enjoyable process with many rewards. 

Benefits of Mandala Dot Painting

  1. Be Present – Working on a Dot Mandala requires focus and allows you to be completely present in the moment.
  2. Clear Mind – Counting dots and focusing on placement keeps your mind clear from all other thoughts.
  3. Relax – Most likely due to being present and a clear mind, creating Dot Mandalas is very relaxing and calming. I like to listen to a CD of nature sounds while I work to increase this feeling.
  4. Express Yourself – Many times in stressful situations we aren’t given the opportunity to express our feelings. Working on Dot Mandalas is a creative outlet to express yourself and release some emotions.
  5. Control – The lack of control in many situations is what causes stress and fills our minds with unwanted thoughts. Creating a Dot Mandala allows you to create something and gain a sense of control.

My creations aren’t perfect but I love them for the experience they provided. I look forward to experimenting with different techniques and improving my skills but mostly I look forward to the process of working on my Dot Mandalas and the amazing benefits.

My Mandala Dot Paintings I have created so far.

Have you tried Mandala Dot Painting? Do you have a hobby that allows you to experience mindfulness?

5 Habits to Keep your Car Clutter-Free

Spring is in the air here in central Pennsylvania! One of the first things I like to do when the weather gets nice is to clean out my car. 

For me, this consists of vacuuming out the crumbs or bits of leaves and wiping down the dash and windows with my Norwex EnviroCloth and Window Cloth. Freshening up my car this way is a Springtime ritual I enjoy. It is a fairly easy project because I don’t keep stuff in my car. 

I keep a reusable grocery bag filled with my other reusable grocery bags, about five or six books for my kids to look at, my pickleball paddle and a car emergency kit. There is nothing else that lives in my car. 

This year after completing the spring cleaning of my vehicle, I decided I would do the same for my husband’s car. 

Here is what I found:

  1. An 80-pound bag of concrete
  2. A pair of old cleats
  3. An old car seat
  4. A pair of winter gloves
  5. A Nerf gun
  6. Two masks
  7. Two old magazines
  8. Two clipboards
  9. Two notepads
  10. An ice Scraper
  11. An empty gallon jug
  12. Keurig filters
  13. An empty cardboard box
  14. Two sleds
  15. A whiteboard
  16. A mouse pad
  17. A whistle
  18. A partial container of creamer
  19. A coaster
  20. Two boxes of 80 K cups
  21. A random USB cord
  22. Two books
  23. A new hire packet (he has been at his new job for over a year)

After looking over the pile of stuff we pulled out of his car, he just smiled at me and tried to provide some excuses. The fact is he just doesn’t have good habits to keep his car clutter-free.

Habits to keep your car clutter-free

  1. Keep emergency or car-related items in one place. I like to keep mine all together in a box in the trunk.
  2. Be selective about what lives in your car and make sure it has an assigned place. What lives in your car can change with the seasons or as your activities change. 
  3. Every time you get out of your car take any trash with you to throw away.
  4. If an item is being transferred make sure to get it to its final destination. I like to put these items on the passenger seat so that I remember to get them where they need to go.
  5. Every time you get home do a quick spot check and bring inside (and put away) anything that does not live in your car.

Have you decluttered your car recently? Did you find anything crazier than what I found in my husband’s car?

Blogging Love

About 4 months ago, I started blogging pretty much out of the blue. I didn’t have any expectations since I had never followed a blog. Everything from building my site to writing my posts to interacting with the blogging community was new to me.

Over the past 4 months, I have learned a lot about blogging and I have enjoyed the exchanges with other bloggers. What started as a way for me to get my decluttering ideas out of my head turned into a fun hobby! Blogging has added an unexpected value in my life and I’m so thankful I discovered it.

My favorite bloggers I have discovered:

Michael Powell

If you like birds you’ll love Mike’s photography.

Boomer Eco Crusader

Want to reduce waste, declutter, and save money, check out Michelle’s blog!

Cognition and Crochet

Kellie’s posts will inspire you to practice mindfulness.

Micro of the Macro

If you love to travel and spend time in nature, you will love Lisa’s posts and amazing pictures!

Check them out and let me know what you think!

Why do you blog and what has it done for you?

Alternatives to Retail Therapy

Do you find yourself shopping to make yourself feel better? If you use retail therapy to lift your mood, it won’t be long before you accumulate clutter in your home (hidden or not). 

It is a vicious cycle because your clutter will lead you to feel poorly again. 

Instead of going shopping and buying things to boost your mood, try a different way to treat yourself and feel better at the same time.

Feel better without retail therapy by trying one or more of these ideas:

  • Get some fresh air and spend some time in nature. 
  • Go for a walk.
  • Curl up in a cozy spot and read a book.
  • Get creative. Work on a craft, doodle, take pictures or write.
  • Spend time doing a hobby.
  • Visit a museum or zoo.
  • Volunteer.
  • Have a spa day. Take a bubble bath or do your nails.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Spend time with close family and friends.
  • Have a game night with popcorn or other fun snacks.
  • Give yourself a 5-minute, 10-minute, or even 15-minute break and just do nothing.
  • Meditate, practice yoga, or exercise.
  • Bake your favorite dessert.
  • Buy a plant or some flowers to decorate your home.
  • Reorganize the furniture in a room for a fresh look.

What did I miss? How do you help yourself feel better?

See the Good in Everything: Happiness Highlights

If I had to rate the seasons from my favorite to my least favorite, Winter would come in last place. February is the coldest month where I live, therefore making February my least favorite month. 

Despite that, there is a lot I love about February. I love watching the snowfall, I love cozy evenings at home with my family, and I love drinking a ridiculous amount of hot chocolate. 

As the month comes to an end, I’d like to look back and reflect on some of my happiness highlights from February.

I hope you’ll take a moment with me and reflect on your past month and see the good.

“Be happy, not because everything is good, but because you can see the good in everything.”

– Unknown

February Happiness Highlights:

  • Listening to the sound of crunching leaves while taking a quiet walk in the woods.
  • Painting Valentine’s Day rocks with my girls and then hiding them at local parks.
  • Sledding!
  • Watching my girls play in the snow.
  • My weekly Vinyasa yoga class. 
  • Baking a batch of peanut butter blossom cookies and sharing them with my family.
  • Finding some time to work on my Mandala dot paintings.
  • Taking advantage of an unusually warm afternoon to go on a scooter ride with my oldest daughter.
  • Counting the birds in my yard with my girls and trying to identify as many as we can. In one sitting we spotted a Red-Bellied Woodpecker and 4 Cardinals, among the Sparrows, Finches, and Juncos.

Do you have a happiness highlight from February that you would like to share? I would love to hear something that made your month great!

Clutter Trap: “I’ll do that… later”

How many times have you noticed something that needs to be done and you tell yourself “I’ll do that…later.”

  • A bill that needs to be paid
  • A broken toy that needs to be fixed
  • An appointment that needs to be made
  • An email that needs a response
  • Laundry that needs put away 
  • A room that needs to be straightened 
  • A bed that needs to be made
  • A mess that needs to be cleaned up

When is “later”? When things just sit around they become clutter, both physically and mentally. Do yourself a favor and set aside time to go through all of your clutter that has been waiting for “later”. 

Moving forward, avoid this clutter trap by taking care of these things as soon as you notice them or schedule a time to do so. Telling yourself you will do it “later” is just an excuse and a quick way for clutter to accumulate.

What “later” clutter are you going to take care of today?

Decluttering Digital Distractions (Part 3 of 3)

Did you miss part one or two? If you’re interested in an overview about digital distractions and how they add clutter to our minds, read part 1. To read more about the importance of evaluating and monitoring your time online, read part 2.

For tips and suggestions about different ways you can remove some distractions and decrease your screen time, continue reading below.

Ways you can remove digital distractions and reduce screen time:

Turn off notifications for your Apps and emails.

Every ping from your device takes you away from the present and distracts you. Check your notifications and turn off any that don’t require immediate attention.

Unsubscribe from emails that are no longer relevant.

As you check your email over the next couple of days take a couple of minutes and unsubscribe from anything that you regularly skip over. These could be emails from stores that you don’t shop at often or places you donated to in the past. I do this about 4 times a year and it helps to limit my incoming mail to useful content.

Use your inbox as a to-do list and delete completed items or move them to a folder.

Having a cluttered inbox can make checking your email feel overwhelming. If there are emails you want to keep, simply move them to a “keep” folder. There is no reason to have an elaborate folder system since you can use the search feature to find what you are looking for. 

Keep your phone on silent and only check it throughout the day when you are available to respond to texts and calls.

You may not be able to do this every day or all day but silencing everything and just being present where you are as much as possible is always beneficial. I especially enjoy this when I’m spending time with my family.

Limit your time on social media.

Set times throughout the day to check your social media accounts instead of just browsing randomly. It will be easier to control how much time you spend there.

Unfriend or unfollow groups you no longer have an interest in.

Eliminate anything that makes you feel bad or annoys you. Life is too short.

Set expectations and a purpose for each device.

To keep me from getting sucked into the digital world throughout the day I have set expectations and a purpose for my devices. 

My phone is only used for calling and texting and I keep it on a shelf in my kitchen. I keep it on silent as much as possible but make a point to check it at least 3 times a day.  When I do check it, I make sure it is at a time that I can respond to calls and texts. 

My iPad is used for blogging, checking the news, online shopping, checking email, paying bills, and general searching. I keep my iPad on my desk with my planner. The frequency I use my iPad depends on the day. I try to have 2-3 days a week that I don’t pick it up at all. I normally save all of my bills and scheduling for Fridays. 

My TV is my device for entertainment and we keep ours in our finished basement. I love that we only have one and that it isn’t upstairs in our main living area so we aren’t ever tempted to watch it during the day. I enjoy watching a few shows with my husband after we put the kids to bed.

Use a tech-free alternative if available.

Nowadays there is an app for everything! To avoid adding additional screen time you can choose a tech-free alternative for simple issues. Here are some ideas to use paper and pencil instead of technology.

  • Grocery list
  • To-do list
  • Calendar
  • Journal
  • Goal tracker

Establish tech-free areas.

Keep some areas in your home tech-free. Examples:

  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen table
  • Patio
  • Front porch

What do you do to avoid digital distractions or reduce your screen time?

Top Decluttering Questions Answered by a Fellow Declutterer (Guest Post)

Today I am collaborating with Michelle over at Boomer Eco Crusader to share our answers to some top decluttering questions that we often get.

Michelle has a lot of amazing ideas about decluttering, being eco friendly, and much more! After you check out her answers here, you can pop over to her blog to read my answers.

Michelle’s Answers to Your Top Decluttering Questions


What was the moment that started you on your decluttering journey?

I don’t recall a single a-ha moment that got me started. In many ways, my desire to declutter grew out of my focus on eco-friendly and sustainable living. As I started to look for ways to reduce waste, I found myself buying less and wanting to live a simpler life. Decluttering was a logical next step on that journey for me.

What’s your decluttering philosophy?

My philosophy on decluttering is similar to the way I approach most things in life. For me, it’s about progress not perfection.

I don’t have the time, or even the interest, to set aside two or three full days for a big decluttering event. I tackle decluttering one small task at a time. Over time, those small changes make a difference and you start to feel the benefits of less clutter.

I also believe it’s important to find ways to repurpose the items I declutter and not just fill garbage bags destined for the landfill.

What is the hardest thing for you to declutter?

For me, it’s hard to let go of things I spent a lot of money on if I think I may use them again one day. A great example is the scrapbooking tools and supplies that I accumulated over the years.

When my daughters were small, I was an avid scrapbooker. I carefully documented every event and milestone in their lives. Now that my girls are older, it has been years since I did any scrapbooking but I still have all the supplies sitting in my basement.

I do plan to tackle that clutter this year as part of my 52-Week Decluttering Challenge. We’ll see how it goes.

Do you have tips on how to get family members on board with decluttering?

Getting family members on board is definitely a challenge when you start to declutter. I do have a couple of tips.

• Although it might be tempting, never get rid of their belongings behind their back. One day they might go looking for something and then you’ll find yourself in a tricky situation.

• Don’t force the issue. Start with your own stuff and let them come around to decluttering in their own time. Once they start to see the benefits of less clutter, they will get on board.

If someone is just getting started with decluttering, what is the first thing they should do?

The first thing I’d suggest is to think about why you want to declutter. Keep asking why until you get to the heart of what you’re trying to achieve, and the benefits you think you’ll see from decluttering. Knowing your why will make it easier to motivate yourself to do the work. It will also take some of the stress out of those difficult decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.

What are some decluttering benefits you enjoy most?

For me, there are three decluttering benefits that make the effort worthwhile.

First, decluttering saves time. Think about how much time you spend looking for things you’ve misplaced or digging around in overstuffed drawers and cupboards. As things get less cluttered and more organized, I waste less time searching through clutter looking for things I need. Cleaning is also faster because I don’t have to move a ton of stuff to get to the surface I want to clean.

Second, decluttering saves money. It has made me a much more mindful shopper. These days, I question everything I’m tempted to buy. More often than not, I realize I don’t need the item. Buying less saves me a lot of money.

Finally, decluttering also makes me feel calmer and less stressed. There’s something about being in an uncluttered, organized space that frees the mind. A decluttering mindset also helps me focus on more important things instead of just accumulating stuff.

Did you make any decluttering mistakes that you learned something from?

I think my biggest mistake was not taking the time to think about my “why” and my motivation up front. I knew the clutter bugged me and I wanted less mess but I really didn’t think about why. This made it too easy to procrastinate and not get it done.


Don’t forget to visit Michelle’s blog to see my answers to the same questions. Also, make sure to check out all of her great content while you are there!

If you have any other questions you would like either of us to answer, leave a comment!

Decluttering Digital Distractions (Part 2 of 3)

Welcome to part 2 of Decluttering Digital Distractions. If you missed part one, you can find it here

In part one, I discussed how technology use added to our mental clutter. In part two, the focus is on taking a step back and beginning to evaluate and monitor your technology use.

How much of your screen time is unproductive?

Have you recently checked your screen time usage? Like really checked it and not just swiped away the notification? If you haven’t, it is worth looking into. You may be surprised how much time you spend immersed in the digital world. With a quick peek into your screen time stats you can see how your time is spent online.

You most likely spend some time checking the weather, reading the news, or ordering your groceries. However, chances are high that most of your time online is wasted being unproductive. If your stats allow, you might even be able to see how many times you picked up your device that day. Your life isn’t in your device, it’s right in front of you. Are you okay with the statistics that you are seeing?

Evaluate

I wish there was a list of distractions that I could provide so we could all remove them but it’s not that simple. We are all so different and we all use our devices in different ways. 

For me, Facebook was a huge waste of time and caused me to be annoyed about things that I didn’t even need to know. For you, Facebook might be the main way you stay connected with your family. 

After you take a minute to look at your screen time breakdown, you should analyze what you’re seeing. If social networking is taking up a huge chunk of your time, stop and think about what you are doing when you are spending your time there and if you feel like it is productive. If you are just mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed or posting every detail of your life, you may want to pause and rethink your choices.

Everyone’s circumstances are different. It is up to you to evaluate your technology use and to determine what is a distraction and what is helpful and productive. 

Monitor

First and foremost you need to recognize how you are spending your time on your device. Pay close attention anywhere from a day to a week and keep track of why you picked up your device and then what you actually did while you were on it. 

Are you spending too much time on your device?

Ask yourself the following questions to see if you are spending too much time on your device.

  • Is your device always in your hand?
  • Do you check your device when you hear a notification no matter what you are doing?
  • Do you stay on your device even if family members are trying to interact with you?
  • Do you bring your device with you everywhere you go? 
  • Do you notice that even when you are with other people, you don’t interact and instead everyone is on their own devices?
  • Do you immediately reach for your device when you want to sit down for a minute to relax?
  • Do you check your device as soon as you wake up?

Quick Tip

If you catch yourself doing something online that is unproductive stop yourself. Pick a phrase that you can tell yourself each time you notice you are wasting time online. The phrase could be as simple as “this is unproductive” or “this is a distraction”. Just say the phrase once to yourself and then put down your device. 

Looking ahead

Stay tuned for part three for some tips and suggestions for different ways you can declutter some distractions and decrease your screen time.

Tips for Decluttering with Young Kids

Are you trying to declutter your house but you have young kids and it feels like their stuff is taking over? It doesn’t have to be that way. You can guide your kids to declutter their belongings and teach them skills to maintain a simplified lifestyle.

Have your kids join you in the process of decluttering as early as possible

As soon as you can hold a short conversation with your child, you can start talking about decluttering. Before my oldest was 2 she would sit with me while I was going through our home and I would talk with her about what I was doing. 

I would explain that we were looking for things that we didn’t use or need. She would help me sort items and I made sure she understood that we were giving things to people that needed them. 

Now, over three years later, she will bring me things on her own that she is ready to pass on.

Keep decluttering projects short and simple

Whenever you declutter your kids’ belongings have them help. To keep your kids from getting bored or overwhelmed keep the sessions short and simple. 

At my home, our toys are stationed around our house in center-like areas. This makes it easy to see when a specific category is getting too full. When that happens, I’ll clean the area and sort the toys on the floor. Then I’ll have my kids come in and return the items that they like best and that are in good condition.

In the beginning, I would prompt my girls by pointing out items that were broken, things they didn’t use, or show them multiples. Now my kids can easily spot this clutter on their own.

Explain to your kids where their stuff is going

I feel like kids are much more receptive to letting something go when they know where it is going. Luckily, I have friends with kids smaller than my girls so we have a place to pass the belongings they have outgrown. When my kids outgrow their clothes, they are always happy to pass them along to our family friends. 

We also sell some items at consignment sales or donate them. I have always explained to my kids that this is a nice way we can pass our unused belongings on to a new kid who may need them.

Emphasize experiences instead of material possessions 

Teach your kids early on that material possessions don’t lead to happiness. Instead of treating or rewarding your kids with toys or gifts, use experiences instead. 

  • Spend extra time at a playground
  • Eat at their favorite place for lunch
  • Go out for ice cream
  • Read books together
  • Have a family game night

Are you trying to declutter with young kids? Leave a comment and tell me how it is going or ask a question!