KonMari: A Simple Way to Organize with Shoeboxes

Organizing my home is not often my strong suit.

I can organize thoughts and information like a boss, but I’d rather spend my energy writing or spending time with my husband and friends than reconfiguring my small space. Like most creatives, I work most efficiently under deadline, so that means my home is at its cleanest when the pressure is on: my weekly Dinner Group is coming over or company is coming to stay.

After a recent social media onslaught of praise for the book, I started reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. At first, I was skeptical. I have read plenty of articles about how to pare down my wardrobe and create systems to clean my apartment. But even though I have consumed a ton of information on the subject, I just have not found a way to consistently keep my apartment clean for more than a few days. I have tried to embrace the idea that creative life is just messy. But then I find myself procrastinating the thing I want to do most (write) in favor of putting my space back in order.

The KonMari¬†method developed by Kondo operates under the assumption that you have to start with eliminating excess first. While this is common sense, it can be a significant challenge for more sentimental people (like me) to do. What counts as excess? Kondo tells us to make our decision by trusting our gut. Pick up each object and ask the question, “Does this spark joy?”

Continue reading KonMari: A Simple Way to Organize with Shoeboxes

A New Adventure

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Today marks the start of the next life adventure.¬†I am excited to announce that…

I’m returning to the world of the unemployed! Apologies to those who were hoping for another kind of announcement. Nope, still no babies yet!

After much discussion and deliberation, my current employer and I decided to go our separate ways. When I started with my current company over two years ago, Nick and I were in a very different place financially and I really needed a full time job to set us up for financial freedom. It was a definite blessing that the opportunity came when it did, and enabled us to meet many of our goals, including becoming debt free!

However, for months now I’ve been wavering between experiencing total fear and utter relief about considering what is next. I am an ENFP to the core, for better or for worse, and some time ago I began to feel that in the 9-5 portion of my day, I was functioning as a different version of myself. Most days I was operating out of my secondary, survival administrative skill set rather than the creative one that energizes me.

I was already fighting this internal battle before heading to Uganda with Bob Goff and Restore International, but coming back home from Uganda after seeing so many gifted people using their skills to make tangible change in others’ lives, I couldn’t shake the conviction that I wanted to be living a different kind of day to day.

I’m sure some of you have wondered if I am ok considering how much I’ve seemed to fall off the face of the earth since I returned from Africa in November! I’ve been busy soul searching, fervently reexamining my priorities and determining how to live a life more in line with my strengths and values.

So what’s next? I don’t entirely know. I’ll be spending my “free” time in a structured way (shoutout to my life coach for introducing me to the idea of budgeting my time!), split between writing on a more regular basis (yay!), hunting for the right full time opportunity that utilizes my strengths and allows me to embrace my passions, as well as finding a healthier balance in my personal relationships and home front.

Here’s to the scary, unknown, but exhilarating new chapter in the life of the Lenzis. Bring it on!

(Please forgive the simplicity of this post and lack of links, I’m writing from the road!)

Lip-Smackin’ Matrimony (or How Marriage Made Me Fat)

Left: August 2010, Right: August 2012

I came back from a fantastic vacation at the beach with my family two weeks ago, stepped on a scale, and came to the realization that I have gained approximately TWENTY FIVE pounds since I moved to New Jersey just over two years ago. I did the calculations and found that I was officially outside my healthy BMI, and therefore “overweight.” It shocked me because I have never packed on this many pounds before. For most of my life, I have been an “average” size 8 (depending upon designer of course), and therefore have recognized this as my normative state. I gained the freshman 15 in college, but managed to work about half of that off fairly quickly and felt reasonably comfortable in my own skin again.

During my nine month engagement, I did try to be intentional about my eating habits, and even worked out here and there. I did not want to become a hyper-obsessed bride, pushing myself to achieve a “perfect” version of myself, guaranteed to fade as soon as the vows were said. I didn’t maintain a certain goal weight or exercise regime in order to snag a man while I was single, so why would that drastically change after marriage? But I also told myself that after the wedding, I refused to be the girl that “let herself go.” So how did I not realize that slowly but surely, I was gaining about one pound per month?

We moved to the Heights from Hoboken last June, and I can probably count on one hand the times I exercised from June 2011 until April 2012. In January, I resolved to become more active, but the cold weather in combination with my lack of gym membership kept me sluggish. But this spring I realized I was having trouble fitting into far too many of my clothes. I noticed the dreaded belly paunch was returning in a serious way. My hips widened by at least two inches. I started to dread getting dressed in the morning, looking in the mirror, and shopping for new additions to my wardrobe. In May I decided I had had enough. I was finally getting fit, dang it.

Every month since then, I have slowly but surely been increasing my level of exercise. I was feeling really good about the progress I made even while on vacation, feeling that I ate well but not over ate, as well as having biked, run, and swam. But then I got on the scale and saw I had broken into the next ten-digit ceiling and I was furious. I finally hit a breaking point. I got off the scale and vehemently told my husband I was finally trying an official diet plan.

Today marks the start of my third week on a diet, and it has been both harder and easier than I expected. I shared with my dinner group the night I joined that I thought I could adjust my weight on my own, because I had done it in the past with minimal effort. But after three months of attempting to eat intentionally and exercise more regularly, it turns out I could not. Sometimes discipline is necessary and good, even though I HATE IT. I don’t like being told how much or not to eat and when. But the choices I was making on my own were apparently not good ones. Joining a formalized diet plan for the first time in my twenty seven years is an admission that I don’t have it all together. Sometimes you have to admit you need help and accountability.

Over the past two years, I have heard the phrase “eat like a New Yorker” countless times. Twenty-five months after moving here and consistently eating out and partaking of NYC’s consistently delicious fare, I finally get it first hand. So many people here have expensive gym memberships because you pretty much have to join a gym if you want to live the city life and maintain a healthy weight. It’s frustrating, but it is also reality. Eating out in New York is deeply ingrained in the lifestyle here – it is not just eating for fuel, but a memorable aesthetic experience to enjoy.

There is also the reality that I should not eat equal portions with my husband. This is hard, especially when we are cooking together and I am not necessarily dishing out my own portions. I am a female, and six inches shorter than Nick. It should be common sense that I need to eat less, and yet there is a selfish, warped part of my brain that says it’s not “fair” that I should have to eat less. I also somewhat blame my increased appetite on the blasted hormones in birth control. (Ugh!!)

Now, I am not about to give up eating out or treat foods altogether. I recognize that ultimately what is important is balance, and I have let the pendulum swing too far towards eating food for pure enjoyment. I want to eat delicious foods, but in moderation. I want to eat more of what fuels my body for energy, and less what my brain and tastebuds are craving. My husband still tells me I’m beautiful (bless him), but I want to feel confident and comfortable in my own skin and in my clothes. Although I can not deny that I want to look good, being “skinny” is not nearly as important as pursuing a healthy lifestyle and habits that will stick long-term.

I would really love to hear from other women/wives/brides on this topic. Did you gain weight when you got married or got serious with your significant other? How did you deal with it? What is the hardest thing to say no to when you are sharing food with your husband? What works to keep yourself motivated to live a healthy lifestyle?