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Posts from the ‘Live Life Minimalistically’ Category

Great joy, Happy November!

Well it’s officially November, so I guess I can FINALLY say this without someone breaking their neck from whipping their head around at me: Happy Fall (and Happy Holidays!) That’s right, I’m calling it and all of you guys can finally leave me alone in my excitement because as of September 22nd IT IS FALL! CAN I PUT UP MY CHRISTMAS TREE NOW?! You guys all know, it’s not a secret, I suffer from severe PDHE. I’ve had it since I was little–Public Display of Holiday Enthusiasm–and a common side effect is launching into seasonal festivities before they’re actually due. Forget this “Official First Day of Season” crap. The calendar I measure all things in life by is the one that Hobby Lobby sends out to their set-up crew employees for those specialty front aisles erected three months before the holiday they’re promoting. In fact, I got so excited for the Christmas aisles going up the day after Halloween last year, that I was with the set-up employees as they put them up: “Um, ma’am, we’re not quite ready yet. You might want to come back tomorrow when we’re finished.” NO, I WANT TO GET MY TINSEL NOW!

“What’s your name tag say? Mary? Yeah thanks, Mary, but no. Let me help! Pass me that box of tinsel. OH MY GOD, Mary! THESE REINDEER PILLOWS MAKE MY HEART SING! What other colors do you have them in?!” 

The fact is, one day is simply not enough to celebrate my enthusiasm for holidays. Remember, I’m a self-developing minimalist. Just kidding – sort of, I mean I’m still trying! Minimalist genes don’t run in my family so it’s taking SERIOUS EFFORT (and arm-twisting persuasion by my better half,) and PDHE certainly doesn’t jive well with KonMari’s “does it spark joy?”  approach because, in case you haven’t noticed, ALL of the holiday things bring me great joy. Every single last one. My life motto: MORE TINSEL PLEASE!!!! (Marie Kondo can whittle down my collection of holiday knick-knacks when she pries them from my cold, dead hands.)

I find this time of year gets a little tricky though with PDHE. There’s a split crowd, and the ones fighting for the preservation of “the season it still is” (also known as Grinches, Witches, etc.) aren’t always so understanding of premature ejaculation of the holiday spirit. Listen, we can’t help it – it’s a DISEASE, a true mental condition. I once knew a girl (who shall not be named to protect her identity) who posted a photo of a Christmas tree on November 1st with the caption “Yay! It’s that time of year!,” and her social media community paid to have her killed. Okay, I made that up. But I thought I should be transparent here and tell you and that late August, when I post a picture of me on the back porch barefoot with my glass of wine on my Instagram to appease the “Too Early!” crowd, just know that my caption “Still loving summer!” is code for “I’ve already put in 6 hours of research on ways to decorate my front porch with autumn leaves and pumpkins, and there’s a fall wreath already on my front door… and I more than likely already have scarf on AT THIS VERY SECOND.” Okay? Good, glad we’ve got that settled here and now.

Another problem with PDHE is that we’re not really into the subtle decorating thing – by we, I mean I… I AM NOT into subtle decorating. I want our Christmas tree placed in the front window so I (and everyone else) can see it from the road. I want my front door to have a Christmas wreath along with my snowmen on the porch showing how many Christmas adoring people we have in our family! I see your simple white-pumpkin-against-white-walls scene that subtly whispers “faaaaaaallll” (Does it really though?) and I raise you some decorating vomit of a giant “I love fall most of all” sign next to my cornucopia of glittered pumpkins and brand new fall wreath that I just redid and placed on my front door for this very occasion. Why whisper “Fall” when you can scream it? Listen, I don’t do surface relationships well. I want intimacy, and this year will be my 24th year with Fall. “Subtly” isn’t how I want to celebrate; we’re past that. Go ahead, November. You can touch my boobs. (No, Kathryn. I haven’t had a single ounce of tequila.) 

Here’s my excuse, are you ready? Brace yourself, this may come to a shock to some of you… Georgia weather is super disheveled. The only thing we really have to launch us into festive displays of enthusiasm are store aisles and the release of merchandise that leaves no room for questioning the calendar. Seriously, last Christmas the weather was nearly in the 80’s but just the week before it was in the low 40’s so can you REALLY blame me? Who needs the sight of the ground hog’s shadow to mark the beginning of spring when there are 200 packages of pink sugar-coated Peeps that told me so in Target three weeks ago? Our hay rides, our pumpkin patches, our beloved Christmas tree farms? Why, we find them in the aisles of Hobby Lobby, in the end caps of Target.. 

These establishments are holiday churches in a way, and walking through the garland-strung aisles of fall splendor in any of these stores sets off a rush that puts me in a full-flung pleasurable state – at last I am completeThese places are Messengers of God to a PDHE living in the mess of Georgia weather, and because he’s a gracious giver, he grants us access early–pine cone turkeys in September and snow-dusted wreaths in November. Christmas tree little debbie cakes? They leave me with great joy. Football season and colorful falling leaves? Great joy. Heck, even those tacky decorations you put on your vehicle to make it look like Rudolph? Great joy, great joy, great joy.

 

So, forgive me now as I prematurely break forth into Seasonal Festivities Mode. From here to forth, you may see me in a scarf with my boots on hot days, throwing around the word “cozy” far more times than is deemed necessary and throwing candy corn at my dog because THOSE THINGS ARE JUST PLAIN DISGUSTING (but still in great joy.) “Tone it down” isn’t a phrase you’ll hear around here until the last of Hobby Lobby and Target’s Christmas aisles are picked over and cleared out. It’s time to dial it up–because, after all, it’s Fall.

Happy November, you guys. You’re welcome. 

I will not say yes when my heart says no.

"When you live or work outside of your heart, there will always be a break-up, break-down, or both."

This is for the introverts, the extroverts, the ambiverts, and "all the verts in between" who crave a little alone time.

It wasn’t until I began to simplify my life and create more time for reading on the back porch, long writing sessions, and other quiet, thoughtful things that I realized I was an introvert. I've always said, "oh, I'm such a hermit" and "I'm more about my solitude than anything else." And although I love connecting with other humans, I need them all to go away for a little while every day, too. Some of you aren't like me, I know that. Some of you enjoy being around crowds of people, you need to be in groups of friends to feel complete but although introverts may need more alone time or room to create a happy heart, extroverts need some heart soothing, too.

Instead of working to the point of burn-out, take time each day to be still, quiet and thoughtful.

Yesterday after I posted the image above with the caption, "I adore spending time with people I love but the only way I can really show up for them, engage, and connect is by spending time alone. You too?" I got way more feedback on this than I could've ever imagined. My inbox FLOODED with things like.. "This is definitely me, but I have such a hard time taking time for myself! I usually feel guilty." "Long walks and patio sitting are so rejuvenating for me, I wish I had more time to do things like this!" "It's nice to be able to do things like this at the end of the day to unwind."

Guilt-free Introverting: a roadmap to alone time

Explore the guilt.

When I feel bad or guilty about something I write it down. I write all my thoughts and feelings on paper so I can really examine what's going on instead of letting my mind get carried away. That's why you guys get a lot of these "I've been thinking a lot about THIS lately" posts.

Write it down and ask the following questions, "How can I feel guilty for taking care of myself?" "Why don't I trust people enough to let them know what I truly need rather than just using the one liner, 'it's fine.' when truly IT'S NOT FINE." "If a friend needed alone time, would I fault them for it or support them?"

Leave your guilt on paper and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Remember that you aren't just serving yourself, but everyone around you.

Tell people what you need.

"I need some time to be alone." doesn't mean "I don’t want to spend time with you." It means, "I want to take care of myself so I can enjoy the time we spend together." Don't apologize for asking for what you need. Let people know if you need some time to yourself or would rather stay home while they go out. Ask what fuels them too. Let's support each other in living our best lives even if we don't always understand or take care in the same way.

Simplify.

Simplicity soothes the heart of an introvert in the following ways:

• Simplicity creates time for long walks into solitude.

• Simplicity gives you permission to create boundaries.

• Simplicity provides more clarity which results in less distraction.

• Simplicity invites you to pay attention to what matters most, and let the rest go.

• Simplicity contributes to a good night of sleep.

• Simplicity allows you to be present and connect with loved ones.

• Simplicity gives you the awareness to listen to what your body, heart, and soul need to thrive.

• Simplicity reminds you that you don’t need to prove anything anymore. You are enough.

Simplicity is the way back to love. By simplifying your life, and eliminating things that don’t matter, you will find your way back to people you love, a life you love, and work you love.

Be alone together.

Even though my partner is an extrovert (with a few introvert/hermitish tendencies,) when we spend time together, I have space to process thoughts and we can be alone together. You can hang out with someone you love and read or do other things alone together. If you have young children, think about activities that will keep them engaged while you take a little time for yourself even if you are all in the same room.

Identify your sanctuaries.

Choose a few places where you love to be alone and recharge and identify a few emergency getaway spots, too. For instance, you may love to sit on the back porch in the same ways that I do and read the afternoon away but if you only have a few minutes, a closet or bathroom may be the perfect place for a few deep breaths. Your sanctuary may not be a location, but an activity like knitting, writing, or running. These are sacred places to go and fill your heart, even if it's not an actual place.

"I will not say yes when my heart says no."

Don’t wait until you are completely peopled out to take time to refuel. Take a little time each day to walk, write, read or whatever you need to build a reserve of calm and comfort. Then you can show all the way up for the people you love. There's no time for guilt about who we are and what we need to best love up our people.

Say no. Find support. Build a reserve.

 

A Craving For Fall

Living in the desert summer with all of the humidity it brings makes me so grateful that fall weather is coming. Fall is my favorite season because it feels like a breath of fresh air after being in the 100-degree heat. I love pulling out my scarves and jackets and getting ready for the changing colors of the leaves and all things pumpkin.

Stockpiling and freezing homemade chili and soups, pumpkin patches, my fall wardrobe, campfires, and football. Sitting inside all bundled up watching the leaves blowing from the trees in the front yard, the smell of raking dry leaves – even the smell of leaves burning as the neighbors all work hard to clear their yards. Morning air and walks on the trail in the morning or runs at the park in the evening… I’m craving fall.

Around this time of year gratitude is a no-brainer. After all, this is the season of “thankfulness.” We see it on our throw pillows on our couches and on the decorations upon decorations that flood the stores and have since the 4th of July. It’s on wreaths, and flags, and all of the AD campaigns between now and Christmas. But what is gratefulness REALLY about? Is it a season? Is it a holiday? OR is it meant to be found in our everyday lives?

“The power of thankfulness is found in perspective… everyday tasks and to-do’s are reminders of how blessed we truly are.”

I used to dread planning meals, grocery shopping, and then cooking just to have to clean up the mess immediately following. The prep took forever and then the meal was over in a flash with the subsequent work to still be done. Over time, I have changed my mind a bit on that. There’s something to be said about a sink filled with soapy water – everyone laughs when I say that I wash dishes by hand simply because it’s therapeutic for me. I’ve grown to love cooking and the one I do it with, not just merely tolerate it. That simple shift in my life opened the door for me to view cooking as a creative opportunity to feed myself and the ones I love while also being able to explore something I ended up enjoying. Meals started to provide a real sense of accomplishment, and the better I have gotten, the more I have discovered that I enjoy it. I enjoy it to the point that I turn up some music, open the door and let the dogs come and go as they please from the kitchen. That little ritual has set this time apart, and I’ve begun to look forward to it even more.

To say that I have embraced driving would be an understatement (especially now that I never get to drive unless I’m the only one in my vehicle or maybe just whenever Kate isn’t.) I now love to drive – it helps me clear my head. It’s my own little personal joy – it’s truly the best time to catch up with others in my life, as well. Downloading our days to one another driving down the road is my favorite past time – not only that but telling different stories of our childhoods, too. Some of the most meaningful conversations.. and I swear that I have learned more about my partner during a conversation on 4-wheels than I’ve learned anywhere else. I will start asking questions and the conversation goes somewhere beautiful or important, and we never would have gotten there another way. The car is often where we connect, process, and catch one another up to speed on our days. Or we roll down the windows and let the music play, and that’s just as good.

I have officially accepted my writing as a fact of my life – when I write my nerves begin to settle, my mind eases, and I often leave with answers to questions that I didn’t know my mind was asking. Often times in the beginning, it feels like more of a burden than a blessing – that is until I get started and it gives back things I didn’t know that I needed. My sanctuary, my place of calm in the storm. To the point that when I get all caught up in my head (like I was earlier this week) – I’m overloaded and shutting down, Kate will say, “just write it all down and if you need some insight, I’ll read it.” I can’t tell you how many time’s I’ve pulled over in my truck to jot a quick thought down – to save it for something that I wanted to write about later… What I gain from writing is exponentially more than what I put into it. Some swear by therapy. Me? I’ll stick to this.

Laundry has and always will be a hard one for me. It seems as though I am washing enough clothing for a small nation most of the time… when only 2 people live in our home. And yet in the mounds is a clear blessing. The fact that we have such an abundance is enough to stop any griping. Beyond that, there’s something about the smell of fresh laundry, the feeling of accomplishment I get at the sight of an empty laundry basket, and the warmth of sheets fresh from the dryer. These are small things, but the daily recognition makes them less small. They become a way of seeing the world, a way of acknowledging all of life with thanks and eyes to see the positive, often overlooked things. It’s always there. It just sometimes gets a bit buried under the sand and powder covered blue jeans and t-shirts, or the sheets that I insist on washing once a week, every week.

I bet you have your own internal list of little daily grievances. Instead, maybe find the blessing hidden in the chore. Or try looking at a current trial with fresh eyes. Sometimes a change of perspective is all that it takes to let gratitude run free in every area of our already existing lives. Once that happens, nothing ever looks the same again: Everything starts looking like a thank-you.

Sip & Share: Recommended Books

So.. I finished my 2017 Book Bucket List (Whoops!) But now I have something new to share..

These are my recommended books, and I could not be more excited to finally have an entire page devoted to this list.

I have read and continue to read countless books on all the topics which are near and dear to this blog: minimalist, relationships, wellness, motherhood, and adoption/fostering.

Here is the list, broken down by categories (as listed above)

 

Minimalist:

Packing Light

100 Simple Secrets of Happy People

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

 

Relationships: (Including Failing Ones!)

Wifey 101: Everything I Got Wrong

The Life I Live

 

Wellness: (Recipes, too!)

 A New Model

Fat Girl Walking

The Red Book

Strong Looks Better Naked

The Blender Girl (Yay Recipes!)

A Million Little Pieces 

 

Motherhood: (Also Foster/Adopt)

Bloom

With an Open Heart

Present Over Perfect (Yes, this has a faith angle with it)

The Lucky Few (Yes, this has a faith angle with it) (I even got Kate on board to read this one!)

 

I’m about to also start the Cathy Glass series – which I recently found on Amazon. It’s a foster mom who gives her REAL LIFE encounters through different children who’ve been through her home. They all look super good so I’ll let you know how that goes… here’s a couple of those if you want to check those out, too!

I Miss Mummy

Mummy Told Me Not To Tell

Can I Let You Go?

Another Forgotten Child

Like everything else in life, the more you take away the better it becomes.

We have been programmed since birth to say, “less is more,” and we’ve said those same three words for our entire lives to the point that their impact is nearly meaningless. But in the beautiful, simple setting that I’m desperately trying to make of my everyday life with words that have accompanied it so perfectly, it has all started to make sense.

Our lives are filled with clutter. And by clutter, I don’t just mean all of the junk that fills our homes and desks at work, but also the junk that fills our minds. We are consumed by things, thoughts and excess clutter.

And lately, I have felt so much peace and there is something so beautiful, so magical and so freeing about simplicity and lack of things, lack of clutter. When it’s our time to leave this Earth, we will take nothing physical with us to the grave (wait, except maybe my favorite sweater, can we make sure that goes with me?!) Every physical possession will be left behind, ultimately making these things meaningless.

It’s been about 6 months since I first began purging my life and I am getting rid of physical things, reducing all things and learning to silence the mind clutter.

The more we take away, the better it becomes….

I have recently started thinking about all of the ways that more is not better; not in the past, not now, and probably not ever.

We live in a world that says more is always better. The bigger house. The more expensive vehicle. Larger portions at restaurants. More work for more money. Longer workouts. More “stuff.” Everything. All of it. More, more, and more will yield better, faster, happier, stronger, accomplished. But after more always comes the “now what?” And then sure enough, the cycle repeats itself.

And I think this is what life is really about. It’s not about glitz, glam or things. It’s about a random smile, a heart that melts and a general happy feeling.

I have never found such joy, peace, and happiness in my life like the joy, peace, and happiness found from the most basic and simple things..

Like the way my dog is still in his clumsy puppy stage and stumbles throughout the yard every afternoon when I get in from work. Or a home cooked meal and the way it leaves you satisfied, more satisfied that I could ever find in a restaurant – completion. Or sitting on our porch at sunset or even sunrise when the whole world seems calm.

By nature, I’m fairly basic (and yes, I’ve been this way long before “basic” was a cool and trendy word), but I do get wrapped up in more, more, more like everyone else. I’m so ready for a quieter, calmer, and more basic life vs. everything these past several years have felt like.

So wherever you are, please just be there.

Sometimes it’s okay to “just say no.”

Sometimes it’s okay to “just say no.” PSA: No, this isn’t about drug and alcohol abuse.

It’s important to say no so we can create more time to engage in what matters most. Even though we may feel bad or worried about saying no, it’s still important, because we need more time than we think.

Kate and I have found ourselves being faced with this more and more here lately. The same conversations conisting of, “can we just stay home?” “I would really like to just hermit tonight, if that’s okay with you.” “Is it okay if tonight we just stay in, watch a good movie on Netflix and be still?”

“When EVERYTHING is important, nothing is.”

Not only do we need time to do the usual and necessary things, but we also need time to notice things and to process thoughts and emotions. We need time to move through the world, present and undistracted. We need time to just be still. We need time to remember who we are with all of the other changes taking place in our lives. There’s always going to be something changing – that’s inevitable, it’s all about how you choose to respond to it and we can better serve the world when we have time to respond thoughtfully instead of reacting mindlessly.

We need time to take care of our bodies, and time to listen to our hearts. We need time to do a brain dump, time to exhale on all of life’s musts, and we deserve time to engage in the things that are on our heart lists, not only the things on our to-do lists. Things like taking a long walk, calling someone who makes you laugh, laying around and putting your feet up, and doing mindless things you actually enjoy. It takes time to take care of our bodies, brains, hearts and souls, and if we don’t take that time, we can’t take care of anyone else, at least not for very long. Continuing to serve everyone but ourselves will leave us completely depleted and there will be consequences.

“I will not say yes when my heart says no.”

When all of your free time and space is dedicated to keeping up, catching up, regrouping and making ends meet, it’s not free time. If you want free time – real free time, or if you crave 8 whole hours of sleep, a proper lunch break, or at least 24 hours away from your email, you are going to have to say no. A lot.

Saying no is not an easy trade to make, especially for kind generous souls, for people pleasers, and for people who are used to saying yes to everything.
Yes, I’ll be at the baseball game.
Yes, I’ll respond to that e-mail right this very second.
Yes, I’ll meet you for coffee.
Yes, you can pick my brain.
Yes, I’ll meet you for dinner and drinks after work.
Yes, I’ll make that thing for that party.
Yes, I’ll respond to every notification on my phone.

The list goes on, and on and on.

We’ve all said yes, when we wanted to say no. Whether we say it out of guilt, for fear of missing out, or out of habit, it’s important to note that saying yes, when your heart says no is a disservice not only to you, but to everyone you say yes to. If your heart says no, it will fight the yes all the way through. If you’re not in something whole-heartedly, it’s not a committment. You won’t be excited to contribute, you won’t give your best, and you may end up resenting the commitment or the person who asked you to commit in the first place.

(I know there are exceptions to the never say yes when your heart says no rule. My heart doesn’t want to go to work every morning when my alarm goes off at 5AM, but I do go.)

“I don’t say no because I’m so busy, I say no because I don’t want to be so busy.”

If you struggle to protect your time, use one or more of these 5 simple ways to help you say no.

1. Figure out what matters to you by asking questions. It helps to ask the questions out loud to yourself.

“Does this really matter to me?”

“What all is this going to effect tomorrow?”

“Is this contributing to the life I want, to my health, or to the way I want to treat people?”

“Am I holding on for the right reasons?”

Ask it about your stuff, about how you feel, about your work, about a grudge, about invitations, requests, everything. ASK. Your heart knows things and it will help you make room for what matters most. Missing drinks tonight will not effect my status with my friends just because I just need a night alone. Taking a night to just eat dinner at home and read my book on the porch while drinking wine and worrying about the laundry in the morning WILL NOT cause my whole world to shutdown – I will still function in the same light

2. Keep it short.
Author Anne Lamott says, “No is a complete sentence.” Expand when you need to, but still keep it short. In just a few sentences, you can say no with gratitude. “No thank you. I appreciate you thinking of me, but I have another commitment” is better than a long explanation about how busy and sorry you are. Saying things like, “let me think about it” is often a delay tactic. When you know it’s a no, say no. If you want to say yes, but the timing is bad, suggest another time and be specific. Be grateful for the invitation, respectful of the time and courage it may have taken someone to ask, and graceful and loving when you decline.

3. Turn FOMO to JOMO. (Fear of Missing out to Joy of Missing out)
Instead of feeling like you are missing out on something else, honor the commitments you make to yourself. When you decline an invitation, find joy in how you decide to spend your time instead of wondering what you missed out on. Feel joy that you have a choice, and joy because you are protecting what matters most.

4. Say “Hell yeah!”
Derek Sivers’ approach to feeling like you are doing too much is this: “Those of you who often over-commit or feel too scattered may appreciate a new philosophy I’m trying: If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say no. If you’re not looking forward to something, QUESTION YOURSELF, “is it absolutely necessary?”

Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely!” – then my answer is no. When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!” We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.

5. Do your work first.
If the first thing you do in the morning is check email, you may never have a chance to decide what’s most important to you. Put your oxygen mask on first or take a run around the block. Take a shower, do your makeup, eat your breakfast, THEN CHECK YOUR E-MAIL.

“If you don’t have time to do the things that matter, stop doing the things that don’t.”

Simplicity Update: 30 Day Challenge

I find it funny how I originally said, “we will check in weekly” with our follow up posts for “how the 30 Day Simplicity Challenge is going” and here we are on the 22nd and I’m just now beginning this….. I could repeatedly tell you that, “I’m sorry” and give you excuse after excuse until I am blue in the face but truth be told… THIS is what I am about to talk about so read further for my “post of excuse” or not so much.

When I think about the weekends that I spend at the office or behind the computer catching up on things, it makes me cringe. I have used every excuse in the book. I did it to make the following week easier. I did it to make more money with my makeup business that I strive so hard to make succeed. I did it to prove what a hard worker I was. I did it so I could play catch up on my blog posts of unfinished thoughts that I created throughout the week. I did it because I felt guilty for falling behind and I did it because I had way too much to do. All legitimate reasons, but none of my catching up ever got me caught up.

But guess what? There was ALWAYS more.

The illusion of catching up goes something like this: “If I take a full day/weekend/week and abandon all the things I enjoy doing, then I can get everything done that I feel guilty about not doing before. Then I will feel better, everyone will love me and all will be right with the world. And, everything will be complete.”

The reality is that catching up never ends. There will always be more. No matter how much you “put off or don’t” it will never end – the world continues to spin in circles, even if your head doesn’t. The madness will continue – it will get done (or it won’t) but guess what? Regardless, YOU will be okay.

Lucky for you and I, we can begin stopping the madness by calling a “catch up truce” with the following:

*Email. THIS is a huge one for me. I have my work email, my personal email, the email account that holds all of our utility bills and expenses for the house all linked directly to my phone…. at any second it’s at my finger tips and believe me when I tell you, often times I’m checking it. The more you send, the more you receive (otherwise known as vicious circle.) Instead of saving it for later, or checking email on your phone 10 times a day, but never responding, do one solid email triage a day (I suggest either in the morning or at night.. Nights just before bed works best for me so that I can catch up on the work emails that were sent throughout the day and respond to them so the person will have them upon returning to work the following morning.) Don’t respond to anything that doesn’t require a response. Be brief when responding to the email that does or if it can wait or requires a more in depth response that doesn’t need to be tended to at that very moment then save it for when you can sit down and respond in a proper form. If you have trouble with brevity, set a timer and challenge yourself to answer any email in 5 sentences or less.

*Sleep. Staying up late to catch up on things works against you. You can’t sleep an extra 3 hours on Saturday, to make up for the sleep you lost on Wednesday… and even if it did work that way, what good would THAT do? Just to allow yourself to fall behind on things that need to be done on Saturday? If you routinely go to sleep and wake up at a similar time, you will be more alert, focused and effective. (Seeing the pattern? Quality VS Quantity!) After a week of jet lag, I understand how sleep loss can affect your day-to-day activities. Sacrificing sleep and compromising other health habits to catch up will put you further behind when you don’t have the energy you need for your work and life.

*Blog reading. If your blog reader is full and you have hundreds or thousands of posts waiting for your attention, start over. Declare blog reading bankruptcy and hit “clear all”. This might be a good time to assess what’s in your blog reader too. Did you add a new up-to-date fashion blog last year and now you are more interested in updates from a simpler life with de-cluttering your closet as well as your life? LOOK INTO THAT CHANGE. Were you following a blogger that changed focus and lost your interest? It’s okay to remove blogs from your feed. There is more goodness to come. Make room for what means most to you right now and don’t just continue to read about those things because it’s what you once showed so much interest in. If you don’t have the will power to read each blog post that sparks your interest and you often times find yourself skimming through the article or even hitting the “save it for later button,” (GUILTY!) then maybe it’s time to look for something you show genuine interest in.

*Social media. If you haven’t checked Twitter or Facebook in days, you are not obligated to read everything that was posted while you were gone. You didn’t miss a thing and chances are, whatever you missed will be repeated.

*Entertainment. You don’t need the latest TV, books, movies, games, music to be completely fulfilled. It will all be available if and when you are ready and if you are never ready, that’s okay too. Letting it go feels so much better than keeping up with it all. Find that Pandora station you LOVE or that book series you CANNOT put down and roll with it.

Here’s what I took from the 30 Day Simplicity Challenge (if you haven’t started yours yet there’s always July!) although we still have 8 days left.

1. Be present

If you are paying attention to what didn’t get done yesterday or what needs to get done tomorrow, your full attention can’t be on what’s going on right now. I find myself often times looking ahead and then in turn getting overwhelmed thinking about my to-do list. How can you be your most creative, most interested, and do your best work, when you have anxiety about the undone? Choosing to be present sounds easy, but it’s not. To practice, set a timer for 15 minutes and agree to set your worry aside for that short amount of time while you engage in the here and now or try to live a few hours each day “unplugged.”

2. Forget about the F.O.M.O.

The reason you want to keep your hands in everything and be completely up to date is F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) You want to read every email, news article, blog post, tweet, and Facebook update so you don’t miss anything. Maybe F.O.M.O. is why you watch the news, catch up on gossip and have TV marathons. The problem with F.O.M.O. is that the more you know, have, do … the more you know, have, do. Then it’s not enough to see all the tweets and Facebook updates, but you have to click on all the links and watch all the YouTube videos and then comment or respond so everyone knows you are all caught up and that you’re “in the loop.” After catching up on Facebook, you might notice that you are way behind on everything else. STOP! You won’t miss a thing and you will enjoy what you know, have, and do even more.

3. Less

All of these strategies may help you curb the catching up, but none of it will matter if you don’t recognize why you have to spend so much time catching up and why you always feel like you are falling behind. The answer is simple. It’s too much. The remedy? Less. Own less. Do less. The road from too much to much less is not always easy, but necessary for your health, relationships and happiness.

If you don’t have time keep up, you definitely don’t have time to catch up. Instead, let go and start fresh. That might mean declaring email or blog reader bankruptcy, being wildly uninformed for a while, addressing your fear of missing out, and will most certainly mean letting go.

Above all, by ending the game of catching up, you may discover that you already have everything you need. The secret to having it all is recognizing that you already do.

Simplify Your Life: The 3O Day Challenge

There’s something special in simplicity. It brings feelings of balance and freedom. Living as a minimalist is a guarantee that you will have a simpler life. You’ll not only have more time and space, you’ll also have a “decluttered mind” free of all stressful thinking. Big change usually comes with some slipping and sliding, a few steps forward and then even more steps backward. Don’t beat yourself up or let guilt hold you back from trying again. Be good to yourself. Take care of your body, heart, mind, and soul. Good things take time. You’ve got this.
 
 
Some of you guys at this point have been following this for awhile so you’re familiar with some of the “lifestyle changes” I’ve been talking about making for the past few months. Some of you have messaged me and made comments in passing about the “minimalist lifestyle changes” I was talking about making and how that’s been going and have also made comments about doing the same. I now have a challenge for you guys to participate in with me (us!)
 
 
 
 
Day 1 (AKA TODAY!) Go through your email and unsubscribe to 5 email blasts! Those annoying emails that clutter your inbox that you usually don’t even look at, you know the ones you usually just hit “delete.” How about removing those all together?
 
​Day 2​ Keep a mason jar (or other kind of jar) in a common place within your home whether it be when you come in the front door or next to your hamper where you take off your clothes every night and fill it with excess change. When it fills up, take it to the bank and deposit it into your savings.
 
Day 3 Go through your cabinets and get rid of random coffee mugs. Keep a few that you’ll use and bring the rest to Goodwill.
 
Day 4 Dump out your purse and only fill it with the essentials: Wallet, keys, chap-stick, tissues, gum, etc. Maybe we can also spare our backs some pain in the process! (HA!) While you’re at it go through your wallet and toss out all of those store rewards cards that you just had to sign up for that you never use! 
 
Day 5 Seasonal clothing articles that you have not worn in the last month or two can be donated. Don’t stop and think – 2 second decision and “toss or keep.” 
 
Day 6 Deep clean your fridge. Check expiration dates and throw things away. Reorganize and combine things if you can! 
 
Day 7 Browse through your “friends list” on social media and unfollow those you no longer have contact with. 
 
​Day 8 Go through all of the photos that live on your phone, back them up to your computer or to a thumb drive ​and delete them from your phone. Stop holding onto pictures of your ex or that crappy friend you need to make up with, let’s have a FRESH START!
 
Day 9 Clean out your medicine cabinet. Toss any duplicates and expired items. Only keep the essentials. 
 
Day 10 High end handbags that you have but never use are taking up space. Sell them online or in a designer resale store. Lower end bags can be donated to Goodwill. 
 
Day 11 Take inventory of your pantry and kitchen cabinets – consider the things that you need and try to get rid of the things that you don’t use. 
Day 12 Get rid of the candles with little to no wax left. They’re collecting dust and you’re not using them!
 
Day 13 Go through your phone and delete unused apps that take up space – organize the others into folders. Change your background while you’re at it, it’s crazy what a little change will do for you!
 
Day 14 Old magazines should be recycled or brought to an art teacher. You are never going to read them!
 
Day 15 Greeting cards that do not hold any sentimental value do not need to be taking up space in your home. 
 
Day 16 Gather all of the manuals and warranties for the appliances throughout your home and place them in a binder together (you can even use tabs to separate them kitchen from the bathroom to outdoor appliances if you’d like!) Compile them all together and put them in a safe place like the kitchen or your “in home office.” 
 
Day 17 Earrings, shoes, and socks who have sadly lost their partner no longer need to live in your home. Toss them!
 
Day 18 Clean off your computer desktop and change the background. Organize items into folders and back them up!
 
Day 19 Carefully go through your library of books – sell or donate ones that you have already read. 
 
Day 20 If you have a plethora of pens, collect them all and bring them to a local restaurant. Servers always need pens.
 
Day 21 There is no need for mismatching Tupperware or Tupperware that’s missing the lid.. TOSS THEM OUT!
 
Day 22 If you still have VHS tapes, but no VHS player then it is time to donate those tapes. Have the important ones burned digitally.
 
Day 23 Hair, body, and beauty products that don’t fit into your daily regimen anymore can be thrown out. That bottle of detangler you tried but didn’t like the way it made your hair feel, that mask you bought but never used… use it or lose it! 
 
Day 24 Excess alcohol that you will not drink can be thrown out! Stick to the beverages that you favor the most.
 
Day 25 Decorative pillows that no longer match your style should be donated or replaced. You could even try buying a different cover or up-cycling with new fabric!
 
Day 26 Dead batteries are well…dead. They will not work elsewhere. Toss them and stock up on new ones that work!
 
Day 27 Flower vases…. favorite 2 or 3 and donate the other 8! These are HUGE and gawky in your cabinet taking up way too much space!
 
Day 28 Technology ages very quickly. Keep what you need, scrap the rest! You could even take your old cell phones (working or not) to a cell phone repair store and donate (or possibly sell them!)  
 
Day 29 Purge your closet of mismatched hangers for an organized and a cohesive look. NO WIRE HANGERS! (HA!)
 
Day 30  Now I know this is last one is going to be tough for some of you…. my t-shirt hoarders! Let’s throw out those ragged, torn t shirts and tank tops! Have you worn it in the past month? Toss it out! (I don’t hoard t-shirts like that so I will be purging my scarves!)
 
 
 
Have I used this in the past year? If I was out shopping right now, would I buy this? Am I holding on to this item for sentimental value? Does it fit me or my living space? Is this something I use regularly? Do I have multiples of the same thing? Could I use this space for something more beneficial?
 
The thing about simplicity is that it isn’t always easy, especially in the beginning. In most cases, it doesn’t happen overnight either so figuring out ways to maintain motivation is essential.The good news is that with each thing you release, you feel a little lighter. The new space and time you create will serve as motivation and inspiration to keep going. You don’t have to wait until you are debt free, clutter free, or living as simply as possible to enjoy your life. Find little ways to enjoy the simpler life you are creating each day. Take a long walk. Cook a simple meal. Spend a phone free evening with people you love.
 
Let’s hold one another accountable – once a week I’m going to post pictures within my blog about 3-4 days of purging I did for that week AND I WANT TO SEE YOURS, TOO! I’d love to know how you maintain motivation while simplifying your life. Is there one thing that’s made the biggest difference? Share them on Facebook or Instagram and tag me! Let’s cheer one another on and do this together! 

Out of Clutter, Find Simplicity.

Wanting less is a better blessing than having more.

I like to keep a clean house – I constantly organize and reorganize everything in our home while doing my very best to keep both my OCD and my anxiety at bay. When my house is orderly, I feel better and as if I can think clearer. I even breathe more easily in a clean space – somehow it’s calming. If you were to drop by unannounced, most of the time the place would look pretty good.. most of the time, but I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’ll be in a frenzy in my head trying to ensure everything is in place an hour before you arrive.

Lately I have been on this “living with a sense of simplicity” kick – a minimalistic lifestyle change, really, which makes my partner giggle because her and I both know that this isn’t much like me at all.

Throughout the last 6 months or so, with all of my other life changes, I have decided to take on some extra changes, as well – beginning with my closet. I had a serious “come to Jesus moment,” a consummation, if you must call it either of those things. I cleaned out and donated over half of my wardrobe to include my vast collection of scarves, shoes, and other things.. but this hasn’t been as easy for me as I have made it seem over these last few months.

I never thought I had a problem with stuff. I loved to shop and spend time at the mall. I had a closet full of clothes and boxes of clothing for different seasons. I thought that was normal. When I read the article and decided I wanted to start dressing with 33 items or less, I realized how much time and money I had actually spent on my stuff. I enjoyed the freedom of dressing with less so much that I began to live with less in every area of my home and life.

When I simplified my diet, debt and clutter of stuff, I had time and space to look at the bigger picture. I realized that some of the relationships I had weren’t healthy, so I fixed or ended them, as well. I also noticed that I wasn’t paying attention to the good relationships I did have because I had been so distracted or I wasn’t allowing them to grow and thrive in the ways they needed to in order to be fully functioning and healthy. I was distracted by life, by work, by a cell phone, by work emails, and by my own stress. The more free I found myself becoming, the more engaged I could be with the people I love. Loving relationships and time spent with people who lift you up contributes to better health.

I initially thought it was selfish to spend so much time and energy to make myself whole and healthy, until I realized that the better I was, the more time and energy I could give to everyone around me.

But isn’t living with simplicity supposed to be…simple? Hardly. Very few things in my life require more intentionality than living what is considered to be an “edited life.” Whether it’s our hectic schedules with both of our super high drives for overtime and multiple projects at once, or the unchecked thoughts that can run through my mind; I need to be aggressive in my pursuit of simplicity if there’s any hope of it being a reality for our family. Left to their own devices, these seemingly small things have a way of spiraling out of control. And time and time again I learn that this is the very kind of work that is worth it. As painful as paring down can sometimes feel, there’s nothing in the world quite like the feeling of a lighter load, particularly when you can see in hindsight that you were never meant to carry all of that stuff anyways.

And all of those mountains you’ve been trying to carry, you were only supposed to climb.

Another thing that’s tricky about simplicity (and the toughest for me) is that you don’t just make a one-time decision. “I want to lead a simple life,” and then there you have it – you’re good to go! It requires day-by-day, moment-by-moment decision making. Each time that you run to the store, “just for shampoo” or anytime you see that “awesome sale going on online,” my choices present themselves to challenge this call to simplicity. Don’t get me wrong, I love abundance in many forms, but not at the cost of a sound mind or a peaceful, happy home. But when I do choose simplicity and keep choosing it in whatever ways matter to me, I am different, I am allowing myself to have room to breathe with space to see clearly. My insticts are sharper and (to be really vulnerable for just a second here) my words and thoughts are kinder.

Living simply is a personal thing. It’s a personal choice that I made to better my life, my relationship(s) and my home. There is no “one-size-fits-all formula” that’s going to solve all of your problems. Still, it takes only a couple of minutes of looking inward to have a pretty good sense of what areas in our life could use a little pruning. Somehow we all know where our own personal excesses lie. Listen to that knowing and throw off the dead weight! There really is something exilarating to living life unencumbered.

So… over the next week I plan to finish going through my closet and hopefully tackle my very large jewelry case to downsize to a smaller one (we’ll see.) When I think about the freedom I have now, I am convinced that simplicity saved me. Without the stress of poor health, exhaustion, debt, and stuff, I have a chance to really live. Give simplicity a chance to soften your heart, open your mind, and save your life.

Love Grows Best in Little Houses: The Guide to being Healthy, Happy, and Whole.

 

Sim·plic·i·ty noun – (1) the quality or condition of being easy to understand or do. (2) the quality or condition of being plain or natural. (3) a thing that is plain, natural, or easy to understand.

 

I want to slightly delve into my past for just a second without going into super raw details on it. I’m not looking to “re-hash” my past, nor am I looking to “reopen old wounds” but this is needed to get my thoughts out, to get my point across, to get everything down on paper. In my previous life, I lived in a 1500 square foot home, I drowned my issues in alcohol and on spending money on unnecessary things. We would literally spend each day accumulating as much stuff as our income and credit cards would allow. I literally avoided my issues, including my spouse at all costs. I allowed her to do countless things that I considered to be “okay” because I didn’t have a standard for her, because I could “avoid her,” because we could live in the same house and I didn’t have to confront the truth or really even live with her. I could sit in a separate space from her and it would feel like I lived alone and after a while, that is what I considered myself to be… alone. I poured myself into school work… at one point I even heard myself say, “full time student, full time dispatcher, full time mom.” Want to know what I never said? “Full time wife.” Because that isn’t what I was at all, because I didn’t have to be. I’m an honest believer now that if we had lived in smaller proximities, I would’ve seen that life with my spouse wasn’t a life for me and things would’ve ended a lot sooner than they did.

 

Modern culture has bought into the lie that the good life is found in accumulating things—in possessing as much as possible. They believe that more is better and have inadvertently subscribed to the idea that happiness can be purchased at a department store. But they are wrong. Minimalism brings freedom from the all-consuming passion to possess. It steps off the treadmill of consumerism and dares to seek happiness elsewhere. It values relationships, experiences, and soul-care. And in doing so, it finds life.

 

Let’s work to enjoy rather than work to live – you were not put here to just pay bills and die. Nor were you put here to live in debt. Travel, Enjoy. Jobs fill your pockets but adventures fill your soul. We travel not to escape life, but for life to escape us.

 

Let me not for a single second pretend that this was a choice. I fell for a girl who showed me the importance of a simple life, who showed me a sense of simplicity that would finally put my mind at ease. With her, I learned the importance of minimalism and downsizing. With her, I learned the true meaning of the important things in life. I am intentionally trying to live with only the things I really need.

 

Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art. (Richard Holloway)

 

In my current life, I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m whole. I live in a 940-square foot house with my partner and a dog. We live a simple life – we cook dinners, we plan out little projects to improve our home, we have good, genuine conversation. We bounce countless ideas off one another and we actually talk, rather than sitting next to one another filling dead air with the click of a keyboard or the background noise of a television. No, I’m not saying we don’t sit on our phones and I’m also not saying that we don’t watch television but there’s a sense of “togetherness” that I didn’t have beforehand. I have learned minimalism is always a matter of the heart. After the external clutter has been removed, minimalism has the space to address the deepest heart issues that impact our relationships and life.

 

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It is a life that forces intentionality. And as a result, it forces improvements in almost all aspects of your life.

 

With this life, I have found a sense of simplicity I didn’t have before. I have also found a sense of togetherness I didn’t see necessary beforehand. Words like “us,” “we,” and “ours” roll off the tongue a whole lot easier now. My partner and I often reference the terms, “healthy, happy, whole” to the point that one day I’m going to have to frame those words for our kitchen because it is our home’s motto. Another word I didn’t reference nearly as often beforehand, “home.” There’s a fine line between making a house into a home and that’s who you share it with, who you invest in it and what you both are willing to bring to the table.

 

Although nobody intentionally chooses it, most people live in duplicity. They live one life around their family, one life around their co-workers, and another life around their neighbors. The lifestyle they have chosen requires them to portray a certain external image dependent upon their circumstances. They are tossed and turned by the most recent advertising campaign or the demands of their employer. On the other hand, a simple life is united and consistent. It has learned a lifestyle that is completely transferable no matter the situation. It is the same life on Friday evening as it is on Sunday morning… as it is on Monday morning. It is reliable, dependable, and unfluctuating. It works in all circumstances.