What it’s like to Attend the Masters (for someone who never watches golf)

Dreaming Big


As more of a football/baseball girl, tickets to the SuperBowl or World Series would’ve been more exciting for me. But I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Mon-Sun of last year and this year at the Masters. After Day One, I was hooked.


My Top 10 Things about the Masters

  • It’s really well run. Even though there are long lines, they move quickly whether it’s at the golf shop, concessions, or the bathrooms. If you want to learn how to host a large event, learn from the Masters! Even their parking is free and organized (just don’t forget to actually look at the letter & number of the section you park in).
  • Uhh, the bathrooms! They have helpful staff everywhere including the restrooms. They are constantly greeting you, mopping, wiping off counters, and answering any questions you have. Who knew public restrooms could be so pleasant at a sporting event?
  • It’s outside. I work as an outdoor educator, so I love nature. Where I imagine the SuperBowl would be a lot of sitting in a loud place, the Masters involves walking beside beautiful ponds. And it’s so big that you can find an empty patch of grass to read away from the crowds if you so desire. Even though the azaleas bloomed before tournament both years, it’s still beautiful to see all the grass, dogwoods, and old magnolias.
  • Photography. Patrons aren’t allowed to bring cameras on tournament day, but we can during the practice rounds. However, the Masters provides a photographer to take your picture at the clubhouse while you get a chance to look down Magnolia Lane. I did take my own pictures this year, but I’ll have to post them later since I need to upload them to a computer first. The picture they provide is free. They give you a card with a code and tell you it will be online the next day, but mine was up the day I took it.
  • No cell phones. This is probably my favorite thing of all. In all the time I’ve spent at the Masters, I saw one phone, and it was a golfer’s. While it is slightly inconvenient (if, for example, you’re trying to meet up with someone), it’s a great experience. I don’t know of anywhere else that has so many people who aren’t on their cell phones. I look forward to spending the day with my mom there because I know we won’t be distracted by our phones. It helps you really enjoy the game and connect with all the cool strangers around you.
  • I learned so much about golf! I gained a new appreciation for how much walking golfers do (as well as their caddies who are carrying so much). Before I went to the Masters, I didn’t even know what a green was. It was only about a year before I attended that I learned that they move the cups every day. Doesn’t that make golf sound way more interesting?
  • Food prices. They just have regular sandwich bread, but the sandwiches are only $1.50-2.50, I think. The point is, it isn’t outrageous like a theme park. Drinks are 1 or 2 dollars and come in a cup that says Masters that a lot of people keep as souvenirs. They also have fruit and baby carrots as some healthy options.
  • Skipping golf balls over the pond. Hole 16 is my favorite because during the practice rounds, the golfers skip the golf balls. It’s just really cool and fun. I didn’t know about this until I attended. Plus, if you watched Sunday’s game last year, there were three hole-in-ones. It was crazy! The downside is that if you aren’t where the excitement is happening, you can hear the crowds go wild. You know you missed something good, but you can’t check your phone to find out what it is. Also, there are turtles in the pond that sometimes pop up to watch the golfers.
  • The crowds. For the most part, the patrons are polite and fun and friendly. On Sunday last year, there was one person getting a little obnoxious, but people know they can get kicked out and never be allowed back. So it doesn’t get too out of hand.
  • Seating. Chairs can’t have arms on them. There may be other reasons for this, but I think it also just lets more people fit into a row. They have a few grand stands, but patrons can bring their chairs to whichever hole they want and then leave. While a chair is empty, anyone can sit in them. They have a card on the back where the owner can write their name. When that person comes back, if someone’s in their chair then they have to get out. It’s great for both people. When I don’t feel like bringing my chair, it’s nice to be able to use someone else’s. When I do bring mine, it’s nice not to have to worry about someone moving it or taking it while I go to the bathroom or to get snacks.



Advice if You get to Attend

First of all, if you get the chance to go and have never been, don’t pass it up! 


Second, check the weather before you go. (Remember you have to leave your phone in your car.) Wear or take sunscreen. I got sunburnt Tuesday this year because I didn’t put sunscreen on my arms. And as I said, I work outside. I’m used to being in the sun, and I don’t normally burn easily. If you wear sunscreen at the beach, wear it to the Masters.


Third, it can be really disappointing if you’re only attending one day and that’s the day there’s a thunderstorm. They will have you leave the golf course. There are lots of great things to do in Augusta, so maybe make a backup plan with that in mind so it doesn’t seem like a complete waste. If you don’t get to buy stuff in the golf shop, check out some consignment shops like Uptown Cheapskate. They only sell used items that are still fairly new and in really good shape.


Fourth, since you don’t have your phone to keep up with the time, it’s good to bring a watch if you have one. That makes meeting up with people easier. Plus, you can keep track of which hours to stay out of the sun!


Places to Visit while in Augusta

I may need to do another blog post on this, but I’ll give a brief list here.

The New Moon cafe on Broad St. The hot chai tea is delicious, and their grits bowl is a favorite (it comes with avocado!). It’s also located right next door to the Book Tavern which sells new and used book. And I’m sure they have some about the Masters. The Riverwalk is also nearby. All of that is downtown.

A few things I love about the Evans area are the Lady Antebellum amphitheater and park (located near a nice library and not too far from a post office if you’re wanting to mail postcards or something) especially nice if you have kids with you (and there’s free wifi) and Uptown Cheapskate as I mentioned before (which also has a location in Augusta).

Those are just some of my favorite places since I live in the area, but there’s tons more stuff. I’m just not much of a mall person or anything.


If you have questions, I’d like to answer them if I can. I’d love to help you have a better time during your trip to the Masters! (Or so you can kinda live vicariously through me.) You can email me at mcstarbuck{at}gmail{dot}com.


Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to learn simple ways to make dreams come true, whether it’s attending the Masters, traveling, or overcoming fear.

Being Afraid of Marriage is like being Afraid of Swimming Pools


Some of my best memories have happened in and around a pool with family and friends. I think of laughter and fun and relaxation when I see a swimming pool.

And it blows my mind that people could see a marriage and think of those same things. Laughter? Fun? Relaxing?

More like terrifying, overwhelming, and disastrous. And yet the possibility is looming in my not-so-distant future.

I recently contemplated that I could someday actually enjoy marriage enough to say to my husband, “I’m sorry I was so afraid of this.” It was strange to imagine that one day I’d feel silly for being so frightened over something so good and fun.


Then I realized his reply could be something like this:

“If a child had seen his father drown his mother in a pool and try to drown him, too, you wouldn’t tell him he was being completely silly for being afraid of swimming pools.

You might show him how much fun it could be and coax him in when he’s ready. But as he finally laughs and plays in the pool and then turns to you and says, ‘I’m sorry I was so scared of this. I can’t believe I was so stupid,’ you wouldn’t say, ‘Yeah, I tried to tell you a long time ago to stop worrying about it.’

No, you’d feel sorry that anyone has had to go through something so horrible that it would make them afraid of something that brings so much joy. You’d tell him it’s not his fault and that you’re proud of him for overcoming his fear.

So that’s what I’m telling you. I’m sorry you had to go through so much pain growing up that you weren’t able to comprehend how great marriage could be until now. I’m just glad you decided to give it a chance anyway.”


If you’re like me, I hope that sinks in as much as it did for me.

Just like it’s crazy for me to think that anyone could not love a swimming pool as much as I do, I guess there are people out there who can’t imagine someone so scared of marriage that they won’t even give it a try.

And just like I would want that little boy to move past his traumatic experience enough to be able to enjoy swimming, I want myself to take those steps to see how amazing marriage can be.

In the past, I’ve allowed the negative relationships I’ve seen to outweigh all the positive ones. Because it hit closer to home, the negative stories seemed more real, more believable. But I’m realizing that the damage done doesn’t have to be permanent. Good marriages are real, too.


It’s easy for me to have hope for a child I’ve never met who had such strong negative images about a swimming pool that it canceled out any good memories he had.

But seeing it as something similar to what I do with marriage helps me believe I can soon have good memories about marriage. So many good memories, in fact, that I realize that my view from the beginning (of marriage being bad) was the view that was skewed, rather than the other way around.


By the way, this is not an invitation for you to tell me that marriage actually is the worst thing ever. As I mentioned, I’ve seen the ugly side of it and fixated on that enough. It’s time for a different perspective. I look forward to the day when I say, “Why was I afraid of this!?!!!”


I think part of the problem is that people seem fine with sharing all the horrible things about marriage, but they don’t say, “Marriage is mostly horrible, but also there are some really good things about it.”

On the flip side, maybe I just overlook the positive things people say about marriage because I don’t believe it. But also when people actually talk about how great marriage can be, they usually add, “But it is really hard and there’s a lot of bad that can happen, too.”

And as my boyfriend pointed out, people probably aren’t as vocal when they’re happy with their marriage because they don’t want to come across as bragging about something other people don’t have. Plus, they know there’s always the chance something horrible could happen later in their marriage.


Even though there are real dangers in swimming, I don’t let that stop me from enjoying a day at the pool. And I don’t intend to let fear of potential hardships keep me from enjoying marriage and dealing with any problem as it arises.


And actually, when I was a baby, I did very nearly drown. My face turned purple and blue, and I eventually threw up a bunch of water. I don’t remember it, but still my parents could’ve used it as an excuse to keep me from ever going swimming. They could’ve frightened me away from it by telling me all the bad things that could happen.

Instead, I learned to swim at the age of two or three. Instead of avoiding the possibility of another tragedy, I was taught a healthy way to deal with water. I learned some things that gave me an advantage.

And so instead of avoiding relationships altogether, I’ve continued to learn how to have stronger ones.


I’ve talked before about how being single is awesome, but it comes with its own set of struggles. Staying away from swimming pools wouldn’t keep that child out of danger. He could get hurt any number of ways. Avoiding pools just ensures that he misses out on the fun he could be having.

6 Ideas to Motivate You to Declutter This Thanksgiving

I love decluttering at this time of year. At least for me, it begins a long stretch of time off. So I’m able to be around my clutter and focus on getting rid of and organizing it.

30 Day Challenge


Even if you just have a few extra days off, here are some comments from everyday people about what helps them declutter:


“Visiting someone’s house who is extremely over decorated or overcluttered and realizing I don’t want my home to be that way. Or looking around and realizing I don’t need xyz because I haven’t used those items in months (or years). Also moving to a (much!) smaller apartment helped me declutter at a fairly breakneck speed.” -Candace B.


“Keeping myself accountable motivates me – for any new ‘thing’ we donate 3 items, as an example. Also motivated by knowing cleaning and organizing becomes easier with less stuff.” -Jen A.


“All the money we’ve earned from selling stuff on eBay and Craigslist. Two 5-year-old laptops went for $450+ each. Collectibles, toys, baby gear…even $5 for something that’s taking up space is awesome. smile emoticon I also send clothes to ThredUP which gives me store credit to shop. Of course having a clean, uncluttered home is a good benefit too.” -Amber M.


“When I think about cleaning out my aunt’s house after her death. She was a hoarder. It was a very emotional time since we had no idea how advanced the hoarding was. Now the smallest sign of clutter makes me nuts.” -Sharon D.


“We got new floors installe in half of our house. I had to move everything in the bedrooms and most of the closets. I made a rule for myself that nothing went back into those rooms unless it was being put in its place. (A lot of things had been place haphazardly into closets before this.) I purged and sorted as I went. Once I was done with that half of the house, I just kept going. It felt so great to have things organized. Decluttering was a huge part of the process.” -Heather H.


“My wife and I are in process of getting certified to foster. We’ve decided it would be good if the kid had room to put their stuff.” -Dennis W.


I love hearing why people declutter. It reminds me how important it is and how it can affect so many areas of our lives.


Maybe you’re not planning a move, but you could plan to get new flooring in a room you’d like to have decluttered.

So many of these ideas aren’t big projects. They simply have to do with our thoughts. Imagine or remember a cluttered place you’ve seen, and use that to help you change your clutter before it gets that bad.


I hope these ideas help you get started because, once you do, then it just gets easier and better. So choose one idea to help you with whatever task you’re working on this week.


Wishing you a focused and productive decluttering season!

Inspiration for a Clutter-Free Thanksgiving

This week, I’ve asked what helps people in their decluttering endeavors. Here are some of their ideas that might inspire you this week.

  • “A new tequnique, gadget, storage container, etc.” -Tiffany S.
  • “I like to listen to a podcast or an audiobook whenever I do some deep cleaning/room rearranging. It keeps my mind occupied and makes me feel like I can work longer because it’s long-form content.” -Rachel R.
  • “I spend an hour decluttering/cleaning, then 20-30 minutes of a Netflix episode or reading a book.” -Charyse H.


I hope you can use one of these as inspiration to motivate you. Just don’t let any of these things get you sidetracked from the main thing of actually decluttering!

This post is part of a 30 Day Challenge, so the instructions for week 2 are below. If you’d like to get the email for week 3 in your inbox, be sure to sign up for the newsletter. I try to keep it simple and make it where you don’t have to be working on the same thing as everyone else in the challenge.

Week 2

This week I only have one suggestion, but it involves a couple of steps.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. So it’s time to try something new!

  1. Find an article about getting rid of clutter. Since there are some not-so-helpful tips out there, I’ll suggest a few sites that are great! Becoming Minimalist, Zen Habits, and A Slob Comes Clean.
  2. Choose one of their methods to try this week. Or try a capsule wardrobe. It’s amazing what a big different decluttering makes on your entire life! (Here’s another comment I got when I asked what inspires others to declutter: “Since I’ve been losing weight, each season I donate my loose clothes. I don’t want to see them again!” -Deborah S.)
  3. Actually give it a try! Aim to spend about 10 minutes a day on it this week. If you find that it isn’t working for you after a few days, try another one. It’s so easy to give up because one thing doesn’t work, but just keeping all the benefits in mind is a huge help in keeping me from giving up.

Until next week,

Happy Decluttering!

Clutter-Free by Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge

30 Day Challenge

It’s that time of year again, and I’ve gotten requests for help with getting rid of clutter.

I do realize there are less than 30 days until Thanksgiving, but I thought you might also appreciate some motivation in the cleanup process afterwards in order to stay clutter-free for all the celebrations following Thanksgiving.


So here’s a quick overview of the plan for this week to give you some concrete steps to follow.


Week 1

1. Download the free KonMari App & use it as a guide for getting rid of clutter. (Only available on iPhones as of right now.) If you don’t have an iPhone, the KonMari Adventures FaceBook group is also inspiring.

2. Set up a storage bin of some sort with a trash bag to put all the stuff you’ll be getting rid of this month.

3. Try to spend at least 5 minutes a day getting rid of clutter (no more than 45 minutes a day unless you have someone helping you) and not just hiding or organizing it.

4. Start a chart to mark off each day that you get rid of something.

5. Find a friend or FaceBook group to share your progress with at the end of each week.

6. Join this newsletter to get next week’s challenge sent straight to your inbox.

7. Most of all, have fun! Decluttering doesn’t have to be dreadful. You can be creative, or you can keep it really simple. Whatever works for you, but just do something. As you work on it little by little, it will become less overwhelming.


I’d love to know if you’re taking the challenge! Shoot me an email to let me know you’re giving it a try this year. You can also tell me why it’s so important to you.

mcstarbuck {at} gmail {dot} com

I look forward to hearing from you!


Wishing you a clutter-free Thanksgiving,




How much is a Clutter-Free Home Worth?

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” -Unknown


If you knew I’d give you a million dollars if you spent 30 minutes a day getting rid of stuff for 250 days out of the year, you’d do it, right?


A huge part of the problem is that we don’t see the value of getting rid of clutter. I’m not giving you a million dollars, but I honestly believe that what you’d gain from decluttering is worth even more than that.


Let’s face it, we could have a million bucks and still be stressed. We might be able to afford a bigger house, but without changing our habits, that big house could become just as cluttered as our current home.


After decluttering for about six months, though, you will have developed skills that can help you establish habits and overcome obstacles in other areas of your life. All that stuff you got rid of? You’ll won’t have to deal with it ever again, unlike when you try to just organize everything.


There’s a shift that needs to take place in the way you think about clutter as well as the process of getting rid of it.


A precious lady in her 70s that I know from my mom’s church told me recently that she declutters when she’s mad. She used to go shopping instead. What a great way to use decluttering to your benefit!


Just like with decluttering, plenty of people don’t think working out is fun. I’m one of them. But I can see the benefit of it, so I do it anyway, knowing the effort is worth it. But I also try to make being active a part of my lifestyle as well as something fun.


For example, I work outdoors where I take students on hikes. I get paid to exercise. Or I go swimming. It doesn’t feel like a workout because it’s fun, but I’m getting those same benefits.


That’s what we can do with decluttering. It isn’t very fun when we don’t see progress, when our decluttering isn’t effective. It’s key, therefore, to make a lasting and noticeable difference especially early in the decluttering process.


Sometimes it will feel very much like work. But other times it will be a stress-reliever. Sometimes you’ll be decluttering alone. Other times it can be a family competition.


Speaking of competitions, we like to reward ourselves, right? It’s important to make sure our rewards encourage our habit rather than destroy it. So with decluttering, we might not want to make “Take a week off decluttering” our reward after decluttering for 30 days.


According to Gretchen Rubin, an expert on habits and happiness, that wouldn’t necessarily be a good reward because it makes decluttering seem like something negative that you need a break from. Then it also gets you out of the routine and causes you to lose momentum.


That’s not to say that there won’t naturally be weeks where less decluttering gets done, but let’s not schedule an extra one in there just for fun.


As Rubin also explains, a better reward would be one that encourages your habit. For example, your reward could be that you invite people over. It’s fun, but it also will motivate you to do more last-minute decluttering.

Or your reward could be that you hire someone to haul stuff off for you after a certain amount of time. In addition to making you want to get rid of more before help arrives to take it away, this reward also makes the process of decluttering easier on you.


If you don’t value decluttering and its results, though, these rewards won’t make much of a difference. You’ve got to also remember how the process itself is benefiting you by teaching you things such as self-discipline and how to prioritize and make better decisions.


The packrat mindset is that decluttering is a poor use of time. Aren’t there so many better things we could be doing? Things that are more meaningful and fun?


But the clutter-free mindset is that decluttering helps every other area of your life: relationships, mental health, physical health, spiritual health, and finances. With that in mind, how much is a clutter-free home worth to you?



This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, From Packrat to Clutter-Free.


Since I’m still working on the book, I’d love to hear about your biggest clutter problems so I can be sure to address them in my book and make it a work that you get the most out of. Please contact me with any feedback or ideas at mcstarbuck {at} gmail {dot} com.

Or simply leave a comment on this post.


Simplifying Mother’s Day

Mom’s do so much to help make our lives simpler. (Yes, they can complicate it, too, but at this time of year, we’ll focus on how they make things easier on us.) Mother’s Day is a great way to repay them at least a little by simplifying their day.

simplifying mother's day

You may know a lot of ways to do this already:

  • Take over some household chores like cooking or cleaning
  • Manage her phone calls/texts for the day, so she isn’t on the phone all day but can also still receive any messages that can’t wait til Monday or that would be fun to get (I might have to try this one this year!)
  • Babysit a younger sibling
  • Help her declutter or organize a part of her life that’s been chaotic lately
  • Teach her a simple skill or habit that will save her time


The main thing is to think about them and what they have going on in their lives right now rather than giving a gift based on yourself and what’s happening in your world. What stresses them out that you could take care of for them for a day or two? What dreams or goals do they have that you could help them get closer to reaching?

When our own lives are hectic, it’s easy for us to put little time, effort, or sacrifice into our Mother’s Day gift. Try to simplify your life enough this year to be able to put some more thought than usual into your gift this year. Think of all the ways your mom has simplified your life. You don’t have to go over the top or be super creative. Just be thoughtful.

And if you’re a mom, try to simplify your own Mother’s Day weekend so that you can fully enjoy whatever gifts your children have for you this year.


“She deserves an armful of roses, but she’s satisfied with a

handful of weeds.” -Sheri Easter

3 Things Caregivers Need to Hear

No matter what type of care you’re giving, there are a few things most caregivers face: exhaustion, feelings of inadequacy, and questioning one’s purpose.

Having been a caregiver myself throughout my twenties as a nanny, at a special needs camp, and with my grandmother and now my dad, I still have those struggles. I never feel completely prepared or qualified for all of the responsibility as well as physical and mental demands. Hopefully what I’ve learned will help you overcome these feelings if you ever struggle with them, too.

Simple life of caregiving

Here are 3 things that I’ve needed to remind myself in order to stay somewhat sane:

  1. This is just a season. It may be a long season or even a very long season, but it’s only part of my life. It’s a difficult balance because caregiving can be all-consuming. It’s been important for me to maintain hobbies and work outside of my role as a caregiver while also giving up other hobbies and jobs that no longer fit my schedule. I love being a caregiver, but I also love other things. I still have a life outside of taking care of others.
  2. What you’re doing matters. This helps me because some days it seems I’m doing more harm than good. I mess up so many times and think someone else would be better at it. Other days I don’t feel like doing anything. It just seems unimportant, and I feel like I’m trapped and ungrateful. When I remember that I’m helping my family as well as the person I’m caring for, it helps me have a better attitude (although I still have lazy days).
  3. Your life has purpose outside of being a caregiver. Even though being a caregiver is huge, sometimes it doesn’t seem like it in the grand scheme of things. It’s great to be able to get away when possible to help in the community or even to write a letter or blog post to encourage others and let them know they aren’t alone.


I’m so blessed to have people in my life who are encouraging me with these same messages. Sometimes I feel like I’m the most selfish caregiver and that no one else has these struggles. But as I think about friends and family members who are taking care of others, I remember some of the things they’ve said about it and realize that maybe I’m not the only one.

If you know a caregiver, I hope this helps you see how you can affirm what they’re doing and allow them the space to take care of themselves as they take care of others.

If you are a caregiver, I hope this helps you know that someone else understands. Try not to be so hard on yourself. You can make it through another day.


If you’re a caregiver, I’d love to connect with you and share support and resources as this has become a big part of my life again.

Day 30! Decluttering Blankets

30 Day Decluttering Challenge

You guys have done so much this month! Look how far you’ve come!

For blankets, I suggest having a heavy one for each bed in winter, a light blanket for each bed in summer, and maybe one extra blanket per person. (I confess that I actually have four, although since I don’t have kids or anyone to make my total number of household blankets higher, it’s good to have extra for guests.)

That doesn’t count sleeping bags and other camping blankets.

One of my students in Clutter-Free by Thanksgiving shared this idea of what she does with blankets she isn’t using (instead of putting them in a closet):

Store blankets spread out under the mattress.

I love this because I only have to take them out and put them back twice a year, and I save so much space!

Today’s Task: Take some time to look back at where you were at the beginning of January. How has your closet changed? Go through your blankets and choose 2-4 that spark the most joy per person. Try storing the ones you aren’t using under a mattress.

Day 28: 30 Day Decluttering Challenge

30 Day Decluttering Challenge

I’ve counted towels in clothing because they take up a lot of space and affect laundry.

For those of you with kids, this may be especially helpful.

My sister was tired of seeing towels on the bathroom floor, so she got one towel for each kid of a different color. She got a hook for each one, and if she ever saw one on the floor then she’d know whose it was.

I haven’t seen a towel on the floor in some time now!

You really can do with just one towel per person and maybe two extras for guests and big cleanups, like if the bathtub were to overflow.

Today’s Task: Go through towels and have everyone choose a favorite. Keep a couple of extras if you want and get rid of the rest! You can also go through hand towels and dish towels.