Transitions & Hope – A Field Trip to Ruth’s House

I have a soft heart.  And I always feel I could be doing more.  Combine these qualities & it’s hard to shake the feeling that I want to do whatever I can to make a difference in the world.  Yet I understand that there are so many things that I can not do – things that are better left to those with a more talent, more skill, more knowledge, more strength.

So to find out what all these amazing people are up to, I have made it a priority to take myself on field trips.

I truly want to understand how our communities work – where the support is, where the need is, who the gatekeepers are, where we find the comforters, the leaders, the change-makers – and a little field trip can offer some insight into those things.

I also want to be a resource of information for you.  You have shown that you care deeply about our world & where your donations are going.  I hear of your desire to find good homes for the things that you no longer want or need – sometimes holding on to things because you want them to be passed on well.

And that’s where I come in.

The more we all know about our community & the needs that are out there, the easier it is to let go & trust that all those items can find their place in the circle of abundance.

This past week I took a field trip to Faribault, MN to Ruth’s House, a non-profit organization which provides transitional and permanent supportive housing to women & children.  I made a call to inquire if they would be another resource for donated items & they graciously invited me in for a tour to answer that question & let me take a peak at how things operate inside the house.

Suzanne, the Development & Operations Manager, took me around the grand white house that was built in the 1890s.  This old house has been set up to provide a safe, stable transition for women & families who face homelessness due to domestic violence, poverty, addiction, health challenges or other issues.

The house is able to accommodate 9  families (women & children) & just like any house, they have lots of systems in place to keep the days running smoothly.  The house offers it’s residents their own bedroom/living space plus community rooms  where they can cook, eat, do their laundry, watch movies & play games, or enjoy time in the backyard.  Not only do the residents have a  comfortable place to stay, they receive support & education during their time at the house from a dedicated staff & wonderful volunteers that share of their talents.

The basement at Ruth’s House has been turned into an efficient little warehouse to store all of the donations & supplies that are used to support the residents.  Volunteers were hard at work sorting through the items that had come in that week.  I was impressed by their ability to keep the space organized & ready to serve the family’s needs – another great system!

It was a great field trip & I left with the image of the artwork that is hanging in the community dining room.  Large, brightly decorated letters that spell out the word HOPE.  Perfect for a space that brings that very thing to our community.

Your Turn…

I left with a short list of items that I will be watching for as we work together & pack up your donation items.  If I notice those items, I will check in with you to see if I can share them with Ruth’s House.

The ongoing donation needs are the typical basics of a family home: toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, laundry soap, dish soap, body wash, lotion, shampoo & conditioner.  They also share a  list of needs in local papers each week and post more info. about drop off times & collection sites on their website.

Because of their limited storage space, it’s best to use the donation list or inquire at their office if you have items that you believe could be useful.

Next Steps…

To find out more about Ruth’s House, learn how you could volunteer, or make a monetary donation, go to their website.  ruthshousemn.org

Have a place you think would make a good field trip?  Let me know with your comments below.

TiP for Your TUESDAY!

Take it to THE BOX

Need a quick decluttering boost?  Clear out the medications that you either no longer use or that have expired.   And then dispose of them safely by making a quick trip to the police department to TAKE IT TO THE BOX.  This is a great program that aims to prevent medication misuse/abuse and ensure environmentally safe disposal of medication.

Find out if your community has a collection program here.  Learn more about Take It to THE BOX in Rice County here.

TiP for Your TUESDAY!

Capture the Memories, leave the souvenirs

Hunting for souvenirs can be a fun part of travel, but gather too many and you are faced with creating lots of space once you get home.  If your summer involves exploring new places, look for ways to capture the memories without bringing home a suitcase full of trinkets.

A few ideas to get you started:  Keep a travel journal where you can jot a few highlights from each day or a note about each place you visit.  Create a Top Ten List of your favorites memories from the trip.  Take a moment to snap a pic that captures one or two events each day & create a digital slideshow to enjoy.  Or find a trinket that can be put to good use when you get home- something to wear or use.  Happy traveling!

Profiles in Letting Go- Downsizing a Teenager!

Last winter my husband and I sat down to figure out how our 4 bedroom, 1950s rambler could continue to function well for our family. 

While we love our home, it’s missing many of the luxuries of newer homes.  The bedrooms are tight and there is no master bath, which meant that the four of us, plus guests, had to share the main-level bath.  And we were dealing with two growing kids that were ready for more space. 

So, instead of scrapping the home we love, we decided to rethink our spaces to see if we could solve some immediate problems & determine if this house would be able to support us in the years ahead.

The first step in the room shuffle was getting my daughter’s bedroom moved to the lower level (aka-basement).  The switch meant downsizing her from a fairly spacious room (considering all the bedrooms are small) to a tiny, narrow space that had been functioning as my husband’s office.  The move would give her more privacy and offer her a bathroom in the basement.  Plus and plus!

It took some creative thinking to not only revamp the office into a teen retreat, but the move would take her from a 10 x 14′ room to a 6.6 x 14’ room-  just enough space for a twin bed & a small chair if we planned it well.

We had to begin with her old room.  This room had been redecorated a few years ago and hadn’t been given a whole lot of thought since.  Her bookshelf, desk and dresser had become stuffed with books, school projects, collections of mini erasers, art supplies, photos, medals, nicknacks… the list went on.  She would need to pare it all down since none of this furniture would be making the move to the new room.

Lydia’s old room pre-purge

To avoid the overwhelm, we sorted by categories and area.  One day we focused on the books from the bookshelf.  Another session involved the clothes from the dresser.  Then shoes from the closet. 

Nicknacks came last.  Lydia pulled out her favorites in a first sweep and from there she took time to decide which of those items she would display and which ones would be stored in a memory box.

In between sorting & purging, we started to map out the layout for that tiny new room.  The storage would be limited to a small closet and a platform bed with open shelving.  Lydia and her dad designed & built the bed so that it could house baskets for bags, books & art supplies.

Her new closet was given a complete overhaul.  The doors were taken off & it was redesigned to enable her to walk into the space.  Open shelves with baskets absorbed the pared down clothes from her old dresser, and hooks & hanging space were added.  In the process, she donated 3 bags of clothes, hats & shoes that she didn’t love or that didn’t fit anymore!

When all the dust settled and the paint dried in the new room, we moved her in & crossed our fingers that the move would feel good for the whole family.  

And so far, so good!  We joke that Lydia is getting a preview to dorm-living at the age of 13!

Creating a plan, taking our time, and keeping Lydia involved in the whole process has been really rewarding.  It took some creativity and a lot of decisions, but this new bedroom has become a a cool, peaceful retreat for a girl that needs her own space to recharge.

Read her thoughts on her downsizing experiment in this interview.

What happens when your mantra is “let go to make room for more?”

Most of my work is around letting go of physical clutter.  The stuff in closets that hasn’t been touched in years, the piles of papers lining surfaces & the dusty boxes stacked in the basement. 

It’s a physical job & I can literally feel the weight of all of that letting go as we haul out the bags & boxes.  The clearing that we do is motivation for me to keep moving forward with the mantra that letting go opens room for more

And when I say “more,” I don’t mean more stuff, even though that can happen, what I mean is more of life, more opportunities, more of what you need & want. 

And I have been testing this theory out in my own life.  Letting go of physical clutter has opened room for creativity, efficiency, & calm- all good things, but I know that physical clutter is only one area where my life can get stagnant & stuck.  I have realized that it’s time to push forward and do some purging in other areas.  So these past months I have been taking steps to let go of the voice that says “I NEED TO DO IT ALL MYSELF.” 

Gasp!  Did I really say that???

Yes, it’s true.  I like to count on ME to make things happen.  And running my own business has caused, or I could say offered me the perfect opportunity to find out how well this idea serves me.

Being my own boss gives me a chance to try doing everything there is to do.  But I am finding that many things aren’t so easy.  Lots of things require additional learning- hours looking things up, trial & error, headaches & time spent griping or backtracking. 

The need to do it all myself has become a heavy weight.  I’m stuck in another type of clutter.  The clutter of stuck thinking patterns.

And the result of being stuck is less time & energy for the stuff that I really enjoy and are the best use of my talents & skills in this work.   I have funneled lots of energy, attention & brain-power into things that could easily be done by someone with more expertise & in much less time.

It has been a slow recognition, but now I am pushing myself to really look at taking some steps forward in a different way. 

I started with “the sort” – just as we do when we have physical clutter to let go of.  I began sifting through my daily work to find the things that bog me down & keep me stuck in place vs. the things that feel easy & don’t require massive time & learning in order to implement.  I had to look back at how many times I continued to hit a brick wall & recognize that those are the places that aren’t working on my own.

And then I began to look for people to take some of the work of doing it all off of my shoulders.  It has felt a little scary to be turn over control, to ask for help & show some vulnerability with my work, but the relief feels even better. 

And just days after I let go & released the grip of doing it all on my own, more fell in my lap!  New clients were in touch, new ideas came and new doors opened in areas that make sense with the trajectory of my business.  Letting go can offer so much more.  And slowly I am interjecting that mantra into more areas of life. 

Your Turn…

Do you suffer from a case of needing to do it all yourself?  Are you ready to lighten that heavy burden? 

Next Steps…

Asking for help & support can feel hard, but if you tiptoe in with people you trust & respect, it can feel a lot less scary.  Ask for referrals or look to a friend or family member so that you can practice with people who make you feel comfortable and understood.

I like to imagine that after we let go of physical clutter, the space gets to take a big exhale –  A deep breath of gratitude for the attention & release of that stagnant energy.  The same is true with deeply held patterns of thinking.  Release a little and lighter energy will be your reward.

If you have been stuck in an old pattern & are ready to let go, but want support then push submit  below & we can create a plan to make it happen.