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2014: DO MORE WITH LESS.

It’s getting real. REALLY real. 2014 was always the number. It marked the end of residency. THE goal. The moment we could breathe. The year we could look forward to. I’m going to pretend (for just a moment) that there aren’t several even harder fellowship years right around the corner, and celebrate. Somehow, we made it. This six year Texas chapter is very close to being over. We MADE it. We grew roots. I grew two babies. I grew into my very own shoes. I am not the same person who set foot on this brand new foundation in 2008. & I never want to go back. These four walls we’ve loved in have brought the highest highs and lowest lows. Emotionally. Physically. Looking back, it seems like a volatile chapter, but somehow what I remember clearest, is the sunshine. Through the infertility & career struggles & challenges of being married to someone who just isn’t physically present & sleep deprivation beyond my most awful imagination…I still see the sunshine. The dark days have made me who I am, and the sunshine got brighter. & there was plenty of it. Literally and figuratively.

As I took down the Christmas decorations, I started the process of taking down everything personal in my home. Staging is right around the corner and that means that it’s time to purge & pack away. I am holding & lingering upon frames full of images that mean so much to me. They take me right back to the quiet of the first baby I brought home. The chaos of the second. The crazy that has been our lives in between.

With each passing year my outlook seems to shift just a little bit. When I built this house, I was in a dark place. The cabinets are dark. The paint colors were dark. The furnishings were/are dark. It’s lightened up over time, but I’m ready to move on to something different. I used to be a collector. I liked stuff. I still like a cozy & decorated space but at this point, where the overwhelming-ness of two small children and all the stuff that goes with them rears its very messy head, all I am looking for is negative space. I want less. Can we get by with just ONE plate for each? & just wash them often? ONE water bottle? Can we just please have an EMPTY room to play? The former me would have wanted rooms filled. Stat. Oh, how kids change you at your core.

As we prepare to move & downsize, my motto is very clear:

do more with less_styleberry

LESS furniture? MORE space to play. LESS stuff to clean? MORE time to do something fun. LESS toys? MORE imagination. LESS time on a screen? MORE time to engage face to face. LESS home? MORE intentional space planning. It seems like all my goals come down to having less right now. Pretty much the opposite mindset I’ve ever had before.

So that is the goal for the start of 2014. I recently read this article & the thing that stuck with me most (as it relates to paring stuff down) is asking yourself one simple question: “Would I buy this today?” If the answer is no, donate it! :) So I am on my fourth car full of stuff out the door. It’s so easy to purge using that mindset. SOOOO easy.

& at the strong urging of my read-a-holic husband, we’re starting a book club. Just the two of us. We’re reading a book together and using it to help each other grow & find stuff to talk about in our fairly narrowly focused lives. Our first book, which is absolutely fascinating, is The Power of Habit. I have several new habits that I am implementing (habits being the behaviors that we consistently do over time to achieve goals). I believe in them & they have already brought about a positive mental change. The simplest, but possibly most impactful so far, is making my bed. I’ve never been a bed maker, but it really seems to boost my productivity. (The book claims it does). So a small win for Shawna. I need all of them I can possibly get.

& the super fun part I’m dying to share…before I started transforming my home back into a house that someone else wants to buy, I insisted on having a very special kind of photo shoot. I begged Gina Zeidler to take a trip down here and do a “live in” session with me. I wanted to have her photograph every bit of this home where we became a family–& us living in it. & I was so blessed by her. She spent a few days with me and gave me the most incredible gift anyone could right now. You know all those little moments with your children that you have burned in your memory, but you just never have a picture of? THOSE moments. The little stubborn chin to shoulder move, that you’ll never catch on camera. That sweet nose nuzzle after a bath, that just never lives as anything but a memory? THAT. Sweet Gina. She just hung out while I did my regular ‘ol routine. & she had her camera. & every time I look at these precious images, I cry. Some of these include the tiniest important detail that only I notice. Facial expressions that I can hear loud and clear the moment I see them. The moments so intimate, the ones I never thought I’d ever be able to show my children, don’t just live in my memory anymore. These are such a gift. The epitome of real. So perfectly & casually, US. Gina, thank you. I could not share even half of them here, but these are some of my favorites. What treasures. :)

styleberry by Gina Zeidler_630 For more information about Gina’s incredible Live-In sessions, check out her website: Gina Zeidler. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful our experience with her was. & then the pictures. Oh, the pictures. This was a splurge for me, and one I know I will never regret. Priceless!! :)

Happy 2014!

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  • Sara - The images are absolutely priceless. Authentic. Life itself. As a Minnesotan-I may just have to commission Gina. Can’t wait to see what 2014 brings you and yours.ReplyCancel

  • Veronica Midgley - Ohhhh, I was crying myself looking at these. These moments SO familiar, SO close to my own heart. I would love to have someone capture these moments for me. What an amazing gift! <3 to your sweet family, Shawna.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Humphries - After having lost our rental & all our belongings in a terrible housefire in late June 2013, we are finally getting ready to move into our new home. That we’re buying. And it is muuuuuch smaller than we ever imagined buying. BUT…it is a heck of a deal, esecially for California, and we can’t pass up this opportunity to own our own home. So, instead of a 3bed/2bath like we had planned on, we’re moving into a 2bed/1bath that has great potential for future add-ons. But for now, we’re going to nestle into our small home and be thankful that we have a roof over our head and new/used belongings that we so generously donated by our friends, family, and community. Less house means less cleaning, which means MORE time for play!!

    Plus, I am really looking forward to welcoming our 2nd babe in our new home sometime late June :) Fresh starts are fun!ReplyCancel

  • Joanna - Your post today really hit home with me. My husband just graduated from a 28 month Nurse Anesthesia program. In the last three years, we had a baby, moved 700 miles, lost two immediate family members, almost lost our minds, celebrated (finally), and moved 700 miles back to where we began. It was definitely the best of times and the worst of times. I have been through so much that I have been having a hard time finding the words to describe it. So I appreciate what you wrote today, as it really reasonates with me. Best wishes as you move on. As always, I look forward to reading about your journey.ReplyCancel

  • Nikki - Love, love, LOVE this and all the pictures. Can I ask you how you managed to get so many great “everyday” photos captured with YOU in them?? I can get these of my kids, but never any of me with them…. perhaps a blog post/tutorial?ReplyCancel

  • Janalin - Your post had me saying, “amen, amen, amen.” I too have transformed from the dark and rich interior phase to the light and airy. (Although the hubby has yet to embrace the idea.) I have been paring down and purging over the past year but still feel as if there is a LONG way to go to get to my simple ‘happy place.’

    Love, love, love your photos!!! What a treasure. I have found a transformation also in my style of photography… coming from a person that loved styled sets, lifestyle is now where I am at. And I have a hard time believing that I will ever leave this place. The raw truths of photojournalism are what life is all about.

    Best wishes to you in 2014! xo JanalinReplyCancel

  • Julie - Loved this blog! Your feelings and life remind me so much of ours……40 years ago. I am still buying/fixing/selling houses but my newest disaster zone has made me think about finally putting roots down in this nest on the mountain overlooking the lights of the Las Vegas Strip and the glorious sunrises over the mountains to the east. Time is slowing me down and maybe I finally can relax a bit and savor the last chapter of our glorious lives. Have a great adventure kid! Julie aka Mauigirl :)ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay Meister - Have you read “simplicity parenting”…based on all your blogs I’ve read I really think you would enjoy it. “Simply” the best parenting book I’ve read about how simplifying (and in ways you might not have originally thought) can do wonders for our children.ReplyCancel

  • Amber at Love, Laugh, Live Well - Oh,I love the live in photoshoot idea. Such precious, real photos of everyday life that often get lost in the chaos. I hope one day to have someone capture those moments for us too.ReplyCancel

  • Angie - I love these photographs! What a precious way to capture your everyday life! Hoping you’ll return to blogging soon.. You’ve been my inspiration :)ReplyCancel

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