My next guest writer sends greetings from MAURITIUS!
I am very excited about today's blog post - my niece Anna, whom I have grown to love and respect very much is my guest writer today. Enjoy today's post and I hope you, as I did, will read it and grab the wisdom that is given and apply any that is applicable to your life.
My name is Anna Cunningham and I am married to John and Kathy's nephew Stephen and we have 2 sons, Erik 4 years and 9 months and Isak 2 years and 7 months. We live overseas, my husband is employed by Department of State, Foreign service and works at American embassies around the world so we move to a new post and new country every couple of years. We started this career with 5 months in Virginia, then 2 years in Bogota, Colombia but I spent 5 months in Sweden during this time because I was home to give birth to our son Isak. Last summer we moved to a tropical island in the Indian ocean called Mauritius. When transitioning from one post to another, we spend about a month in the USA, most often we invade the in laws in Tampa. The embassy will ship our household things, but this is normally not the fastest process so it usually takes a couple of months until we get our things. During our transition time, we live with what ever we can bring in our suitcases (imagine us at the airport with 8 suitcases, one stroller and two car seats) and once at our new home we get a welcome kit from the embassy containing the essentials like, 4 sets of dinner ware, silverware, sheets etc. Once at post we take on the next challenge, trying to acclimate ourselves to a new country, new culture, new language, finding ourselves around (not having a car yet most of the time), finding a good grocery store, finding the right groceries since the labels are in a foreign language, enrolling kids in school, setting up therapy for our oldest with special needs... the list goes on and on. But most importantly, since we don't have our families close, trying to building a social network for ourselves and for our kids. So who am I to talk about simplifying life, I don't know anyone that has a more complicated life than me and my family and other families in the Foreign service.
My motto is: DECLUTTER! Declutter your home, your relationships, yourself.
- I start with how to declutter your home: Well, for me it is easy, I have to stay under 7000 lbs of weight, anything over is out of pocket expenses for us and it is expensive to pay for shipping around the world. So every time we transition, I go through closets, ornaments, kitchen and all the knickknacks. If I have not used it since I unpacked it in this country, which means 2 years... well then it usually goes. Sometimes when it is hard to throw away something I usually try to think "Do I want to save this, pay for the shipping or use that money to buy new things instead". I love shopping so that usually does it for me. I throw it away so I can buy something new. And also I don't just buy things for fun, when buying things I usually have to think that if I add this item to our material belongings... then something else has got to go. That sometimes stops me from buying things that is "something that would come in handy someday". Also, essential in to staying decluttered at home is to stay organized. Organize your papers in a system that works for you, organize your clothes, you office, your kitchen etc.
- Decluttering your relationships can be trickier: But I found, when still living in Sweden, that I invested a lot of time and energy in friends that was not important to me and gave me nothing or little in return. Nowadays it is easier not to do that, I mean why waste time and energy on those kind of friends when I am only in country for 2 years. I barely have time to develop the relations that I DO want, and at the same time keeping up with family and old friends in the US, Colombia and Sweden. So I have stopped investing in relations that gives me nothing. It might sound cynical, but it is making life more simple. I am not saying that we need to have a perfect time together always. But instead of spending my time and energy on relationships that leaves me feeling sad, empty, or gives me a bad feeling in my stomach, I think we should invest in people we like or love, with people that makes us feel good, people that challenges us, people that makes us grow and develop into better human beings. I am not saying to give up husbands, parents or family... but when it comes to friends, it is OK to let the bad relations go.
- So finally, the hardest one, to declutter yourself: But knowing what to do is quite simple.
- Deal with your past, let it go and move on.
- Reflect on yourself and your behavior, how you affect other people and how your behavior affects the psychological dynamics in people around you.
- Learn about yourself and continue learning, as you learn, you change and grow.
- Personal development takes a lot of self-reflection and critical analysis but, even though you might experience a few unpleasant wake-up calls, it is a fun journey finding out who you really are.
- Prioritize what you want to spend your time on in life.
- Don't sweat the bad stuff, embrace the good things and as my dad always says: "You are never older than you make yourself and you never have more fun than you make it".
As I said, knowing what to do is quite simple, the hard part is living it. But if we can keep things real within ourselves, then life becomes more simple.