How to declutter your car in five simple steps

declutter your car
Photo by Oli Woodman on Unsplash

We talk a lot about home organization and decluttering our living spaces. But have you ignored the mess inside your vehicle and the need to declutter your car?

If you Marie Kondo your home but drive around with donation bags in your trunk for weeks, is that success?

If you Marie Kondo your home but drive around with donation bags in your trunk for weeks, is that success? Click To Tweet

I’m guilty of using my car as a storage facility. Before I learned how to declutter my car properly I had all sorts of things in there I neither needed nor used.

So do yourself a favor and declutter your car at the same time as you organize your home. Here are five steps to help you through.

1. Clear out the garbage

Toss all the wrappers, take-out bags, and anything else that belongs in a garbage can rather than the inside of your car.

Remember to check the trunk, glove compartment, door pockets, and under seats. My kids used to be experts at hiding gum wrappers in the slots inside the rear door armrests.

2. Take house items inside

Now that you’ve tossed the garbage, it’s time to take what belongs in the house inside the house. Remember, the first rule of car decluttering is that your vehicle is not a storage facility.

3. Organize

Now that everything in the car belongs there, it’s time to organize the items in a way that makes sense to you.

There should be few if any items not secured in the glove compartment or trunk. This reserves space for passengers. And ensures those items don’t endanger you when they fly through the air during an accident.

There should be few if any items not secured in the glove compartment or trunk. This reserves space for passengers. And ensures those items don't endanger you when they fly through the air during an accident. Click To Tweet

You may keep jumper cables and a first aid kit in the trunk. You’d keep a pen and notepad in the glove compartment.

4. Clean

Now that your car is organized with only necessary items, it’s time to give it a good clean.

Most gas stations have a coin or card-operated vacuum and it will take you only five minute or so. After that, wipe down the interior surfaces.

5. Maintain

Much like when you clean out your closet, maintenance is key when you declutter your car. Avoid letting clutter accumulate by toting your items inside after every trip.

Rather than drive around with donation bags that take up space in your car and your mind, drop them off right away.

Pick a day of the week to wipe down your car interior and make sure everything is where it belongs.

Never again feel embarrassed and apologetic when someone enters your vehicle. Enjoy the pride and confidence that comes with driving a clean and orderly vehicle.

7 Hallmark Christmas movies that will warm your heart

Hallmark Christmas
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

My favorite part of the season is settling in front of the fireplace for some Hallmark Christmas movie cheer.

If you like to binge-watch these wonderful confections, too, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites for your viewing pleasure.

So grab the popcorn and your favorite cozy blanket.

Picture a Perfect Christmas

Sophie is a jet-setting photographer who travels the world for her job.

But when her aunt fractures her ankle, she plans to spend Christmas at home in the small town of Bainbridge.

Her new neighbor, David, is a widower with a young son. When he can’t find a nanny, Sophie steps in to help take care of the boy over Christmas.

There are several challenges to the burgeoning romance between the worldly photographer and her small-town love interest. Will they overcome them and find love?

Christmas in Rome

The best part of this film is its location! Treat yourself to the sights of Rome as you follow the story of ex-pat tour guide Amanda (Lacey Chabert) and New York executive Oliver.

The day they meet, Oliver is on his way to land a new deal for his company. While Amanda has lost her job for being too good at it.

She likes to give visitors the real Rome experience, but her company wants her to stick to the book.

Amanda helps Sam find his way around Rome, both physically and culturally, which helps him connect with his Italian client.

In return, he gives her a sample business plan and connections for a solo tour guide venture.

But what happens when he has to go back to New York? Will they make a long distance romance work?

Christmas Town

What’s a Hallmark Christmas movie list without Candace Cameron Bure? In true Hallmark fashion, Bure plays a big-city girl who plans a move to a small town to enjoy a simpler life.

But Lauren’s train is delayed in the small town of Grandon Falls. A place nicknamed “Christmas Town” for its festive spirit.

Immediately, she encounters a handsome man named Travis. Of course, they don’t hit it off at first.

While there, Lauren realizes this is the place her late father bought her most cherished Christmas ornament, a tree-topper angel.

And where he returned it to be repaired before he died. Left with only the angel’s broken wing, she decides to stay and see if she can locate the heirloom.

In the meantime, she befriends the townsfolk and becomes increasingly conflicted about whether to make her home here or keep moving toward her teaching job in Springfield.

The return of her old boyfriend puts a hurdle between her and a romance with Travis. What will she choose?

Two Turtle Doves

Dr. Sharon Harper is returning home to settle her recently deceased grandmother’s estate.

She’s an expert on loss and grief and has even been nominated for a prestigious award for her work. Now she’s dealing with grief of her own.

She immediately encounters a handsome man from her past, who also happens to be her grandmother’s estate lawyer.

He’s a widower, so grief is no stranger to him. But he covers it up for the sake of his young daughter. A decision we find out later is not the healthiest one.

At the center of the story is Sharon’s search for her grandmother’s Christmas ornament. And overcoming all the obstacles to romance between the two main characters.

Christmas Joy

Joy is a workaholic market researcher in DC who is up for a promotion just before Christmas.

Then she gets a phone call from back home that her aunt has fallen and fractured her ankle.

Joy rushes home to help and quickly encounters her former love interest, Ben. He works at the hospital where her aunt is healing.

Joy offers to take Aunt Ruby’s place as organizer of the town’s epic Christmas baking competition. But she doesn’t know what she’s in for and Ben offers to help.

At first, she refuses, but eventually lets him in and the chemistry grows between them.

But what about her job back home?

The Christmas Train

The Christmas Train is the most epic Hallmark Christmas movie you’ll likely ever see. Even though the location is basically in one place – the inside of a train!

Hallmark pulled out all the stops on this one, with a star-studded cast that includes Joan Cusack and Danny Glover.

Dermot Mulroney plays a journalist with dashed dreams. He takes the 4-day Christmas train journey from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles to surprise his girlfriend…. with a break-up.

On the train he meets an old flame, a script writer on board with her director boss played by Danny Glover.

On this epic journey, we meet a rich cast of characters. There’s also a mystery element with a thief on board and some passengers who aren’t what they seem.

Christmas at Dollywood

This one made me pine for the Smoky Mountains, one of my dream destinations.

Hallmark favorite, Danica McKellar, plays a New-York based event planner who returns home to Tennessee to organize the annual Christmas party at Dollywood.

She’s joined by the park’s manager who’s used to doing things on his own. The two clash at first but eventually warm up to each other.

In an interesting twist, they both realize the power of following their dreams. So it’s more than a straight up romance.

Of course, Dolly makes an appearance or two, and we get to share the unparalleled magic of Christmas in the Smokies.

How to slow down: 3 ways to be a tortoise in a hare’s world

Have you ever felt like a tortoise in a hare’s world? Maybe you’re a little slow at making decisions or processing your thoughts.

You don’t think quickly on your feet so get overlooked at meetings where fast talkers rule.

Have you ever felt like a tortoise in a hare's world? Maybe you're a little slower at making decisions or processing your thoughts. Click To Tweet

We live in a society that celebrates the fast and quick. It promotes the straight line from A to B.

I’m a proponent of staying on course and saying no to things that don’t serve you. But, I’m also willing to slow down and listen to God’s leading for my life.

Here are 3 ways to slow down and go at tortoise rather than hare speed. To ease up from relentless doing to live a life you love.

1. Create white space in your life

slow down, self care, simple living, simplicity
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Resist the urge to fill your calendar. Money experts tell us to pay ourselves first. Do the same with your time.

Reserve space for solitude and reflection in your schedule. How often is up to your individual needs.

Set aside time to simply sit and think. I like to set a timer for 16 minutes and let my thoughts roam. I get some of my best ideas and solutions to problems during this time.

You might find tears come when you simply sit and linger. These are emotions you’ve repressed while running around doing life at a hectic pace.

What a blessing to give them space to breathe.

You don’t need to judge any emotions that stir. Or do anything about them right now. Let them be and allow them to run through you.

I’ve been using the Pause app by John Eldredge which walks you through guided meditations in 1, 3, 5, and 10-minute increments.

You unlock the next pause session only after you’ve completed three of the previous shorter sessions.

So, you’re rewarded for achieving the goal of slowing down for longer stretches of time. The tortoise would approve!

2. Be flexible with your goals

Goals are a wonderful way to grow and chart progress. But don’t get so stuck on one that you fail to see when God has something else for you.

It’s like forcing a key into a stuck lock. The more you push, the worse it gets, until finally the key breaks and you’re locked out for good.

But you know how sometimes if you loosen your grip on the key or position it differently in the lock, you gain entry? That’s what I mean by holding loosely to your goals.

Sometimes if you loosen your grip on the key or position it differently in the lock, you gain entry. Click To Tweet

You might have to take a less direct route to get where you’re going. Some people call it a pivot.

You’re not giving up on your goal, but approaching it in a new way. And that might take more time.

To know when and whether to pivot in a new direction, you have to be flexible and humble. Less focused on winning and more on learning what’s best for you and the people you serve.

3. Embrace your gifts

slow down

You don’t have to do things the way everyone else does. The gurus say to wake up at 5 am and get productive.

But productivity is not the most important thing in life.

Embracing your gifts means saying no to events and activities that make you feel less like yourself.

You know the ones, where you have to wear a suit of armor to get through them and count the minutes until you can leave?

Do more of what you love instead. What is the thing you lose yourself in, that fulfills you, and makes you feel most like you?

When we don’t do enough of what fulfills us, we find other unhealthy ways to fill the void.

Too much wine, food, shopping, act as counterfeit substitutes. They attempt to soothe our souls but never succeed.

When we don't do enough of what fulfills us, we find other unhealthy ways to fill the void. Click To Tweet

Slow down and take time to understand your gifts. Maybe you’ve lost sight of them amidst all the caregiving and working for money.

Think back to your childhood and what you liked to do when time posed no object. It’s likely those things will still bring joy and meaning into your life.

Boundaries: 4 truths I’ve learned that may surprise you

setting boundaries

There once was a woman who found it hard to say no. If someone asked her to do something, she felt obligated to do it.

As a result, she would do all kinds of things she didn’t want to do. Things other people might have enjoyed, but which made her unhappy.

She had never learned to set boundaries. Never heard of them, actually.

She didn’t know it was her responsibility to teach people how to treat her. As a result she felt misused putting everybody’s needs ahead of her own.

The burden of pretending to be happy while doing mostly things that made her unhappy took a toll.

It's hard to pursue your heart's desire when you have no idea what that is. Click To Tweet

She lost sight of what she liked and didn’t like. It’s hard to pursue your heart’s desire when you have no idea what that is.

So she let other people design her life with their demands. And she slowly disappeared.

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

If you haven’t guessed already, that woman was me.

Maybe you can relate to having trouble setting boundaries. Even though your plate is full, you pile on more just because someone asked you to. Or maybe they don’t even have to ask.

You take on more than is comfortable because you want to be seen as helpful or uncomplaining. Or you know you need help, but don’t know how to ask for it.

I’ve spent more than a decade now consciously setting boundaries. It’s taken a long time, but I’ve finally become fairly good at it. As with anything, practice makes perfect.

Here are 4 major truths I’ve gathered during my ten-year journey of learning to stop giving myself away:

1. Setting boundaries takes courage.

It takes courage to do things differently than the way everyone else is doing them. All the other parents throw huge birthday parties with expensive loot bags.

But you don’t have the energy or money for that. Even if you do, you may not think it’s the best use of resources.

Maybe you’re an introvert and volunteering at large gatherings provokes anxiety. It takes courage to honor your need to give back in a quieter way.

By letting the outgoing types marshall the big events, you let them use their gifts. You use yours when you do something more behind the scenes or with a small group.

But when you stray from the accepted way of doing things, the culture has ways to keep you in check. These include shame to stop you veering too far off the approved path.

It takes courage to overcome raised eyebrows and your own internal critic.

You may never get used to saying ‘no’ after a lifetime of saying ‘yes’. The answer is to push through your discomfort. Growth only happens outside your comfort zone.

The amazing upside of saying ‘no’ more often? Your ‘yes’ becomes so much more meaningful and enjoyable. You feel great about helping others instead of obligated and burdened.

2. Boundaries require clear communication.

Setting boundaries is a matter of authenticity. It means being clear about what you want and don’t want. It’s honoring to both yourself and the people around you.

Setting boundaries means being clear about what you want and don’t want, Click To Tweet

People aren’t mind readers. And some of them are all too happy to take advantage of your unwillingness to stand up for yourself.

They say you teach people how to treat you. You do that by being clear and saying no in an unequivocal way. No explanation needed.

As you practice saying no it will become easier to do so without hedging. In the meantime, give yourself grace when you don’t do it perfectly.

3. Some people won’t like them.

Change is hard and many people do anything to avoid it. When you start protecting yourself through boundaries, you may be surprised at the reactions you get.

You’ve done this wonderful thing to improve your life, but others might not see it that way.

Some will act disappointed because they can’t depend on you to fulfill their unreasonable demands.

They might even get angry and try to bully or persuade you to continue in your old patterns.

These people are the very reason you need boundaries. Their negative reaction is proof you are on the right path. Keep going.

When you are a people pleaser, it is incredibly difficult to feel like you’re letting people down. But you have to do it anyway!

Your life is more important than someone else’s feelings. Click To Tweet

Take it from me, your life is more important than someone else’s feelings.

4. Boundaries build your confidence.

Your confidence will grow as you find your choices align more with who you are. As a result, you’ll be living a more authentic life.

Your opinion about yourself changes when you stop putting yourself last. When you overcome the subtle and not-so subtle rejection that comes from living life on your own terms, you grow. 

You’re like the proverbial eagle chick breaking her way out of the shell. All that lonely pecking helps the chick come out stronger.

You begin to believe that your needs matter. And you have a responsibility to nurture those needs. Because God gave you those desires to help you know how to serve the world.

Living authentically

Setting boundaries helps you align with your values (and perhaps discover them for the first time). When you get more intentional about how you spend your precious resources of time and energy, you discover who you really are.

You ask questions about what pleases or serves you, and what doesn’t. In the process you gain clarity over what matters most to you. And soon you begin to steer your life in that direction.

You may begin to question the value of relationships that ignore those boundaries. You might make the difficult decision to detach from people who prefer you kept quiet about your needs and serve theirs instead.

Solo travel: 3 simple ways to improve your experience

solo travel personal growth self care

For my first experience with solo travel, I booked an organized tour. I wanted to stave off loneliness and have someone take care of the details for me.

Although it’s nice to have everything taken care of, you have to adhere to someone else’s schedule. And you can’t choose your companions on a tour.

Mine comprised a group of heavy drinkers and partyers. We had to stop the bus in the morning so they could throw up from their hangovers. As a teetotaler, I felt a little out of place.

After that initial foray into solo travel, I decided to venture out on my own. I stuffed my itinerary full, leaving me too busy to ever feel alone.

As a result, I missed a lot of the magic of international travel. Seeing sights had became a chore, checking things off my list like daily tasks at a job.

Next time, I decided to do things differently and improved my experience tenfold. Here are the 3 tips for a better solo travel venture.

1. Change the meaning of GPS

First, stop using the GPS on your phone to find your way around. Not only does the app drain your battery, it keeps your eyes on a screen rather than your surroundings.

Try a new kind of GPS: “God’s positioning system.”

Step out each day with a general idea of what you want to see. Then let God take you where He wants.

It sounds crazy but He knows the way better than your phone’s GPS and will take you to all the places you want to see and more.

I wound up in a public library in Dublin where the desk clerk invited me to look at the historic reading room.

The grandiosity of the space took my breath away and I found out later it is a major tourist attraction. One I would have missed had God not been in charge of my day.

2. Resist the urge to overbook

solo travel boundaries
Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

The second thing is to resist the urge to pack your day full of activities.

You may want to plan every detail out of a need for control. But that takes the fun out of a vacation.

You’ve simply created another job for yourself. That’s why people say they need a vacation after their vacation.

When you overbook and fail to check everything off your list (which is common) you feel let down. As though you missed out on something essential.

However, if you go light on expectations, you’ll feel more successful. And come home rested and renewed rather than frazzled.

Instead of running around catching all the sights, stop and breathe in your surroundings. Sit in a cafe and journal your experience. Or take time to chat with a local.

Instead of running around to all the sights, stop and breathe in your surroundings. Click To Tweet

There are even organizations that will set you up to have dinner in a resident’s home. Take all the necessary precautions, of course.

Create a theme for your trip

The third tip is to have a theme in mind. A trip to Nashville, for example, would focus on music because it’s known as Music City.

In Dublin, a theme based on literature makes sense because the city is known for it’s great literary tradition.

Creating a theme gives you an easy way to avoid overwhelm on vacation. Click To Tweet

You don’t have to stick to a theme religiously. But it gives you an easy way to avoid overwhelm.

When you narrow down your options, you let yourself off the hook if you miss a popular attraction. Most of all, you can relax.

solo travel personal growth
Photo by Katy Anne on Unsplash

3 ways to improve your solo travel experience

To recap, here are three things you can do to improve your experience as a solo traveler:

1. Use God’s positioning system instead of your phone’s GPS. Have a general plan in mind and then go where the Spirit leads. Keep safe, of course.

2. Leave room for surprises. Resist the urge to pack each day full of activities. Take time to journal or breathe in your surroundings. Spend time with a local.

3. Have a theme in mind. This narrows your options to avoid overwhelm.

Sure, you might miss a few things. But you will enjoy those sights you do see so much more.

And you won’t be rushing off to the next item on your list. This allows you to relax – the main purpose of a vacation – and feel more successful.

Solo travel when done right gives you more than a view of the world. It helps you grow as a person and increases your confidence.

Solo travel when done right gives you more than a view of the world. It helps you grow. Click To Tweet