Since tomorrow is my birthday, I thought I’d give YOU a gift, and share a little backstory of how all this came to be…
Some of you may have stumbled on my blog without necessarily meaning to. Others who know me may have looked it up and followed along on purpose. Either way, I wanted to share a little more about where this website came from and what has been on my heart for years.
It started with a mission trip I took back in 2011 to Honduras. I am including journal entries and an older blog post that I wrote back then, to try and package that life changing trip into a bright red bow:
Have you ever experienced something that, no matter how much time passed,
how many new people or experiences have entered your life,
that ONE moment,
I have been immensely blessed, my entire life.
I was my parent’s third pregnancy, third attempt at beginning a family, and in some ways, maybe, I was their last hope. The whole “3 strikes and you’re out” mentality.
When I was born, and, after being tested for everything under the sun, pronounced healthy, my parents were elated.
At the time, my dad was Principal of a local, private school, and, according to my mom, he carried me around, interrupting all the classes, and proudly showed me off to any and everyone who would look. I grew up traveling all over the place, in our conversion van (Don’t laugh! At the same, SUV’s weren’t even an idea, and everyone loved riding in our van, because we had a VCR and could watch movies!) and thought it was perfectly normal to go to Disney World every couple of years.
I don’t share this to brag, in ANY way, but just to paint a picture of how
I was, to thinking everyone lived like I did.
Everything changed, for me, in the summer of 2011.
I took my FIRST mission trip,
with my sister’s church, to Honduras.
My mom, sister and I all went, along with about 15 others.
What I experienced sticks with me, to this day.
After flying out of Charlotte, NC while it was still dark outside,
we flew to San Pedro Sula, and landed on a tiny piece of grass.
(I am NOT kidding)
After getting our bags, we walked outside and climbed aboard an orange school bus.
We then set out on a 2 hour plus bus ride
(Might I mention, it was the MIDDLE OF SUMMER, and we had NO AIR)
to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where our driver promptly dropped us off on a dirt road that led to nowhere.
We walked to the edge and looked down a large cliff-like drop off.
Standing around, in the heat, with all our luggage and supplies for the week,
Suddenly an old, very old, (did I mention old?) truck that kind of worked,
pulled up, and a man hopped out.
He walked over, introduced himself, and said he’d be driving us “as far as he could”.
Comforting words, let me tell ya.
He loaded us all up into the back of his truck.
I said the back.
As in, we are all STANDING,
along with our bags,
in the back of this pick up truck.
We are standing up, in the back of a truck, like a herd of cattle.
He proceed to take off, and we all bounced around
for another 30 minutes, or so.
Then, he stopped.
We looked around, and saw nothing.
Well, except trees.
Our kind driver emptied us all out from the back,
left us, and our luggage, and waved goodbye,
like he was in on some awful secret that we knew nothing about.
Well, he was.
What he knew, and we didn’t, was that we had an approximately 3 hour hike ahead of us.
All 20 of us proceeded to literally scale down a mountainside, all while pulling (or carrying) our luggage, coolers with water (we couldn’t drink the water, there), and other supplies for the week.
Glamorous? Um, no.
Exciting? Ummmmm, scary, maybe!
Humbling? The most.
After what seemed like forever, we reached the bottom of the mountain, and walked into this tiny village.
My sweet mom swore she was going to die there because she was sure she’d never be able to climb back UP that mountain!
What I saw next continues to break my heart,
even all these years later.
We saw people, some of whom were barefoot, running up the mountain,
to meet those of us who lagged behind.
(pretty much every one of us!)
They grabbed bags, coolers, whatever they could get,
and ran ahead of us,
down the mountain, and were ready to welcome us,
as soon as we made it.
We spent the next 4 days meeting precious children
who walked for several miles, barefoot, to hear about Jesus.
We played soccer with the local school kids, taking brand new soccer balls to them, as gifts.
We slept on makeshift “beds” , under tarp “roofs” that leaked when it rained,
made coffee filter flowers with pipe cleaners for the stems, and let the kids take them home.
We had VBS and told the kids about a God who loves them more than they could ever imagine.
We decorated t-shirts that the kids proceeded to wear everyday we were there.
We ate more eggs, beans, rice and plantains than I ever care to eat, again.
We tried not to watch as different women nursed whichever kid ran up to her, hungry.
We gave hundreds of hugs, held hands, carried around more kids than I could ever count.
We bathed once, in a little stream that was ICE cold.
We spent much of the time there, building a chapel for them to have a place of their own, to worship.
What made the chapel even more meaningful to my family, specifically,
is that it was built in my dad’s memory.
There is a plaque that hangs inside the church that says “Paul Mayfield Memorial Chapel”.
Almost every week, I think of those precious children of God, gathering in their church to worship, having no idea who Paul Mayfield was, but still knowing their church is in memory of someone who meant so much, to so many.
After completing the chapel, we had a service of dedication, and my Mom, sister and I all were able to share memories of my sweet dad, and how nothing would have made him prouder, than to know we were building a place of worship, in his memory.
On the day we left, we gave the local people who hosted us for the week, our pillows,
air mattresses, dirty clothes, and watched their faces light up, as though we had just given them bars of solid gold. We literally gave them almost everything we had taken with us.
Selfishly, it was at least in PART because, we didn’t want to haul everything BACK up the enormous mountain!!
While in the little market, on our last day, we shopped for souvenirs, reminders of our time there.
As I walked into a local bakery, something happened to me that I will never get over, never forget,
as long as I live.
A lady who was working in the bakery, asked our interpreter, and coordinator for the week, who we were.
He answered that we were Americans, there for a mission trip.
She was holding a baby, who I immediately started playing peek a boo with.
Upon seeing me playing with the baby girl, she handed her to me, patted the child’s back,
and said something I did not understand.
I asked our leader what she said.
With tears in his eyes, he said to me, “She told her baby goodbye.
She is hoping you will take the baby.
She knows you can give her a better life, in America”.
I was wrecked.
I carried that little baby all over the market for the next hour, loving on her,
kissing her, whispering prayers of provision for that little girl.
When the time came for us to load back up on the school bus for the 2 hour drive back to the airport, I walked back to the bakery, and gave the woman back her baby. She had never once come looking for her child, or for me.
I told her, as best as I could, through our language barrier, that I had prayed over her child.
I told her I asked God to protect them, and provide what they needed and I then purchased several of the little handmade bracelets she had made by hand and was selling to help provide for her family. I wore that bracelet for years, everywhere I went, until it literally fell off my arm.
I then walked back to the bus, with tears falling off my face,
sat down in the very back of the bus, and pretty much cried for the next 2 hours.
Over these years, I have seen many beautiful places, I have met many new people.
I have continued living a blessed life.
But…. nothing is the same.
I began living more minimally.
I realized that, even if I lost my job, lost my home, my car, all the materialistic things that we all think are important, I would still have more than those sweet people I spent a week with.
The thing is, they never stopped smiling.
They were some of the HAPPIEST people I have ever come across, in my entire life.
Even though, in the eyes of most of us,
they would appear to have next to nothing.
That whole experience changed me in so many ways.
I continue to pray, hope that I never again get so wrapped in
materialistic things that really have no impact on my life,
that I forget how incredibly blessed we are.
We truly are…
So, so, so
**Below are some pictures from our trip to Honduras**Flying into Honduras…
Our bus overheated, so we walked several miles…
Hand mixing the cement, for the floor of the chapel…
Loving on some of the sweet kids of the village…
Doing VBS crafts with the local kids…
Visiting the local school, and giving soccer balls to the kids…
A few of the local men who helped carry our things…
Our group on the last day, when we reached the top of the mountain!
After we got to use REAL showers! We felt so clean!!
The precious baby handed to me in the market on our last day.
Giving out free hugs and love….
I have started living differently, ever since that mission trip all those years ago. I am desperately trying to leave a smaller footprint on the world, and have become passionate about reusing/recycling and shopping small. I, personally love shopping at consignment stores, thrift shops, and getting hand me downs from friends. Especially after last year when Covid came and I saw so many small businesses suffering, and many were forced to close (including my favorite, beloved consignment store in Nashville!) I made it my mission to conserve/preserve and give others better and more opportunities.
I also learned WE DON’T NEED MORE OF ANYTHING. We, as Americans live in a world of super size, extras and more equals more.
I started this website, and an Instagram page called Neatly Balanced as I partnered with several charities and missions around Nashville and started doing closet organization and clean outs at night and on weekends, where my goal is to throw away zero items, and help fill the needs SO many have, all over Nashville.
I’m reminded of the story of the little boy who was walking along the waters edge at the beach, picking up starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. A grumpy old man saw him and said “There’s no way you’ll be able to save all of them!” The little boy quietly picked up another starfish, threw it in the ocean and simply said “I saved that one!”
This is exactly how I feel. I may not be able to change the minds of every single American. I may not be able to fix ALL the problems, and help ALL the people in this country, but if I can make even one of you stop and think before you buy another pair of shoes, or another toy for your kids, or shop at another huge corporation instead of the small business that is barely making ends meet (Hello Amazon?!) then I feel I have made a difference.
Ladies and gentlemen, I was booked every weekend from September through December and have been booked most every night after I leave my full time job. As of now, I’m scheduling clients 3-4 weeks out.
But I. love. every. minute.
I love minimizing, getting rid of, cleaning out spaces but most of all, I absolutely LOVE seeing smiles on the faces of people as I hand over clothes, towels, sheets/blankets, coats, all necessary items that we have tons of, that others have none of at all the various organizations I help.
I encourage my clients to begin buying second hand instead of paying into the huge, corporate entities. It helps others clean out their closets/attics/garages while making a little extra money, saves money (not buying brand new) and lowers your footprint on our world. I am always looking for more people and places to help so PLEASE send info if you know of someone who can benefit.
As of now, I have partnered with:
Shower Up, which is a mobile shower unit for the homeless community. I take towels, sheets, blankets, pillows, toiletry items, but they also accept clothes, shoes, and there are even kids in the homeless community so books and toys are great, as well.
Ten Thirsty Five: a Faith based non profit that ministers to young girls through mentorship, education and fashion.
Nashville Rescue Mission, which helps men get off the street, gives them 3 meals a day, a place to sleep and they accept everything listed above but also home goods, decor and basically anything extra you have.
Cumberland Crisis Pregnancy Center: a center that provides resources to young women and families facing challenges of an unplanned pregnancy.
Dress for Success and Mother to Mother: two resources I have just recently come across and hope to begin donating to in the next year!
Hope Clinic for Women which helps pregnant women who have chosen to give their babies life instead of abortion for the entire pregnancy and first year of the child’s birth. They accept all maternity items, formula, bottles, bibs, basically all things pregnancy and baby.
I would appreciate your support and again, any suggestions you have for other places I can partner with would be greatly appreciated!
A couple months ago I was helping my mom organize her house. Cleaning and organizing was truly a “hobby” of mine long before I ever began my business. I truly enjoy sitting amidst a pile of clutter and putting everything in it’s place. It’s cleaning and rewarding and very calming for me. I don’t have to think about everything else going on in my life – even if for just a few moments. Well, scratch that. WE ALL know cleaning and organizing NEVER takes only a few moments. But..I digress.
I spent a weekend with my mom and almost every moment was filled with cleaning/organizing the house. It’s a full time project that will never be completed. It feels SO good to have closets clean and organized and to have a little SPARE room. It makes me giddy!! It makes me think of how often (or if I have, ever!?) “cleaned out” my emotional closet, friends “closet”, bad habits “Closet” and so forth. Are there people in your life you need to “Clean out”? Are there bad habits you could stand to get rid of? Are there emotions you need to come to terms with and dispose of? We ALL have work to do, and as hard as it is to get started, once you finish the job, it’s SO fulfilling. I challenge each of you today to “Clean out your closets” – whatever they may be. You’ll feel so much better. =)
If you want to start minimizing but it feels overwhelming and you don’t know WHERE to start, start with your home and family!! Kids are smart, and they know how to push buttons. However, they are impressionable. Let them get in on giving back – it’s a lesson they should be learning anyway and there’s no better time than now to start! They don’t need 1,001 toys. The 1,000 they have is more than enough, I swear. Regarding their clothes, have enough for 1 week (This means 7 pants, 7 shirts, 7 pj’s, 7 underwear, socks, and so on). Let them keep a few favorite stuffed animals but also have them choose however many they are in age (If they are 7, tell them to choose 7 toys/stuffed animals to give away, and so on) to give to the kids who don’t have ANY toys, etc! If you can’t do laundry once a week, and feel you need ALLLLLL the extra clothes, call me and I’ll come make sure it’s done! For real! I have helped multiple families who were overwhelmed in the laundry category. I would go in 1-2 times a week and they would pay me to help get laundry caught up. It helped them and I absolutely LOVE doing laundry anyway! It’s my happy space. 😃
The point is, start teaching your kids NOW to give back. It will stick with them. I remember, after my trip to Honduras, I told the kids I nannied at the time about the kids I met who didn’t have shoes, toys, etc. Even two and three YEARS after that, those sweet kids would clean their toys, and clothes out and tell me to please give their things they no longer wanted to “the kids who didn’t have anything”. It came from such a sincere and innocent place it melted my heart, every time. Never underestimate the impact you are having on your children. Make sure it’s a GOOD impact.
Whatever YOUR happy thing is, get started giving back, reducing consumerism and helping others live a better life. And let me know if I can help! I would LOVE to! =)