Faith, Lifestyle

Saying Goodbye to Throw Pillows

Time and time again as I would sit on our couch, my sinuses would completely shutdown…leaving me struggling for oxygen. This was a brand new problem for me and left me scratching my head for answers. We finally put two and two together. The down decorative pillows on the couch had turned into allergy provoking pests, an unexpected development of pregnancy.  Naturally, I proceeded to go on a cleaning rampage throughout the entire house, stripping pillow cases off every pillow we owned until all the feathered ones rested in a pile out in the garage. I walked back in to access the damage. By damage, I mean accessing just how many pillows I had left without feathers. I knew I didn’t want to spend money on new decorative pillows with our baby on the way.

In true Marie Kondo* fashion, I decided to evaluate my need for the countless pillows. We had pillows all over the couch, the bed (which typically means on the floor), and backup pillows stuffed in closets. Who told me I needed to fill every flat surface in our home with pillows? Did I see it in a magazine? Are the pillows functional/necessary?

As I looked around our newly de-feathered home, everything felt more spacious and open. So, I decided not to replace them. My nightly question of where to pile the throw pillows while we slept had been solved. Making the bed the next day was easy and less dreadful than before. The couch now felt inviting rather than off limits. I could actually sit on it without having to move pillows to the floor. It was a nice, unexpected change.

Now, let me explain before I lose you. I am in no way saying that it’s wrong or unacceptable to have throw pillows. They do add color, style, and functionality (sometimes) to our homes. You best believe I kept the ones I love the most!

Unnecessary complications and expectations.

My throw pillow incident brought this idea back to the forefront of my life. Yes, they were just throw pillows, but by eliminating a large portion of them I was able to simplify a few aspects of our life. On a broader scale, I realized that there were several areas in my life still filled with unnecessary complications and striving to meet unnecessary expectations. It often comes in the form of social media, well-meaning advice, or even self-imposed habits.

So, here are my questions for you. What areas of your life are filled with unnecessary complications and expectations? How can you simplify those areas and give your mind and heart more room to breathe? What are the “throw pillows” in your life?

As I simplify my life more and more, I am finding more time for my faith to grow, less distractions invading my time, and the ability to focus on what is truly important. I invite you to do the same and pick just one area to simplify. I promise it will make a huge difference!

*Side Note: If you’re not sure who Marie Kondo is then you should click here and read about her book. We went through her method of decluttering over a year ago, and it changed our life. 

Faith, Pretty Well

Finding Simplicity

Around this time last year, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Well, in all honesty I read it aloud to my husband within the course of a day. I was instantly hooked as a lifelong organizer of stuff and seeker of simplicity. As a kid, I would regularly clean-out and organize my mom’s entire kitchen over a Saturday or Sunday. Seeing a space clean and organized brings me much joy and a feeling of accomplishment. We took Marie Kondo’s words to heart and started cleaning out our belongings little by little. I must admit that we did not follow the book perfectly, but we did take away the larger concepts and put them into practice. We hauled probably 30 trash bags out of our home over the course of a weekend, and we didn’t even have that much stuff to begin with! We were left feeling refreshed and energized. It was truly a wonderful feeling.

I think everyone should read the book. If for nothing else, it will make you more aware of your relationship with stuff and personal belongings. It’s something I struggle with on a daily basis. I see shiny new things, and I want them! And, everything around me is telling me I have to have them, too. On the other hand, I like simplicity. I like having just enough of what I need instead of filling my home with excess. I constantly find myself in this battle and, as time has passed, I am finding that simplicity is beginning to win out over new stuff again and again.

I keep a laundry basket in the back of my car. As I find things in the house no longer of use or value, I take them out to that laundry. Eventually, when the basket is full, I stop by the local Goodwill and donate those items. This past weekend was a major clean out session of our home decor items to make room for our baby, and I currently have a new stack of unused and unneeded items to drop off. I looked at the pile and thought, “Why did I even buy that? I don’t like it! It doesn’t even fit my style.” And, yet again, I remind myself to do better. To shop less. To give myself some grace while undoing the desire for new stuff.

Last night, instead of wandering around the outdoor mall while my husband played around in Guitar Center, I decided to sit in the car instead. I felt exhausted by all of the stuff for sale. All of the shiny items that I could take home in exchange for my money. I felt even more exhausted as I scrolled through Instagram. Feeling overwhelmed and struggling with some larger philosophical questions, I went and sat there and just waited for him to come out. I thought about the impact that social media has on us as consumers. I thought about how we are being urged to purchase. I thought about my own blog and intentions. I thought about other blogs I follow and the constant advertisements and beautiful pictures. I thought about integrity and honesty when it comes to the items we promote, and the seemingly lack of accountability. I thought about the difference between reality and fiction.

I don’t have answers on this topic. Just thoughts.

Simplicity. I am still trying to find the balance. I am still carrying items out of my home, decluttering my physical space, and taking the time to sift through what is most important. I think it’s just as important for me to do this with my digital life as well. Declutter, simplify, remove any pressure to be a certain person or have certain things.

I want to connect you to awesome and safe beauty products. Why? Because it’s something I believe in. If I never make a dime for this mission, that is okay. I never want to promote a product I have not tired myself, and I always want you to feel a sense of peace and simplicity when you come to Pretty + Well. I only want to direct you to companies I believe in and who are doing great work.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has definitely altered my life perspective, and I am grateful to Marie Kondo and her mission to help us simplify life. I’m still trying to find a balance. I am still trying to understand where we draw the line. And I am still trying to make sense of the blogging world and eCommerce and affiliate marketing. To be honest, I am not sure how I feel about it. To be honest, sometimes it discourages me. And, I am learning that sometimes it’s best to just sit in the car. No phone. No noise. Just alone with my heart doing some soul searching.

Faith, Health

The Autoimmune Journey

I’ve gone back and forth on sharing my health struggles since being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder a few years ago. It was one of the darkest seasons I have walked through to date and it changed my life in so many ways. There are a lot of people suffering, often silently, with autoimmune conditions like Lupus and too many others to name. As I have opened up about my own struggle to individuals, I have learned about others walking down a similar path. Still, I find myself trying to sweep it all under the rug…continuing on with life as normal. Continuing on is fine (because you truly have to), but I think the sweeping creates an issue. It makes us feel isolated and alone in the diagnosis and the life changes that come with it. I hope to offer a story of hope as I share various aspects of life with an autoimmune disorder. So, I am making the decision to start sharing more.

I am technically diagnosed with Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease. I have antibodies for Sjogrens but it symptomatically acts more like Lupus. The two are often closely related. I had not felt well for a large portion of my life, especially after getting ill multiple times in high school. I made it through college and a few years after college with a few symptoms. A lot started to change as I got older, and my husband (who I was dating at the time) encouraged me to go to the doctor. The story gets a little complex from that point, but I was finally able to get connected to great doctors and explore treatment options after about a year. I’m terribly stubborn and refused to take the medicine I needed for the longest time (thanks to my curiosity and the terrible stories online). I’ve battled the fear that accompanies this sort of thing. I’ve spent morning in tears because my joints ached so bad. I’ve gone from someone who loved a good tan to embracing paleness in the name of being well. I’ve felt guilty and lazy when clean eating plans have failed to make a difference. I’ve wondered if it would ever get better. And, guess what?

You adjust and life does get better. I have gotten better. I had to learn to let go of the past, of what used to be, of who I used to be. Things like this have the ability to change you. You either get better or you get bitter.

I’ve had to learn a new way of life, but that life is perhaps better than before. As I sat with my Rheumatologist for the first time, big tears in my eyes, she assured me that there would be a time of adjustment and transition. Honestly, I think knowing that was the most important part…giving myself and continuing to give myself the grace to navigate life differently. And, through it all, I’ve had to trust in the Lord’s plan for my life and his promises to protect me and watch over me. He has done just that.

-Jess