Monday, December 31, 2018

3 Ways to Start the New Year With Optimism

Happy New Year's Eve Day!

I want to take a short break from writing about all of the healthy, minimalist, unprocessed foods that the Standard American Diet (SAD) has neglected for far too long to tell you that I appreciate you, dear readers.  I hope that we can all make 2019 a year of positive change, full of gratitude, joy, and purpose.

Here are three ideas that might inspire you:

Friday, December 28, 2018

It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle

Skip the diet.  Just eat healthy.

If you're like me, you've tried lots of diets.  Some work better than others.  But even when I've had the most success, I've found the weight loss impossible to maintain.  When "diet" means "give up entire food groups forever," I eventually, inevitably fail.  And I gain back every bit of weight.


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

15 Things To Do Before You Try To Lose Weight

Did you step on a scale this morning and panic?

I did.  The month of December undid most of what I accomplished in October and November.

However, I've been doing some research, and I think I have some smarter strategies for attempting to normalize my weight.  I'll be sharing those over the next several posts, just in time for the new year.

Monday, December 24, 2018

A Favorite Carol

Happy Christmas Eve!

I'd like to share a favorite Christmas carol which I've loved since I was about four years old.  I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of my parents' hi-fi, listening to Julie Andrews' glorious voice.

The Wexford Carol

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending His beloved Son.

With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas day;
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.

With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the Babe to find,
And as God's angel had foretold,
They did our Savior Christ behold.

With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas day;
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.

You can listen here, if you like.

Enjoy this special day and night, leading into the Christmas celebration tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2018

This Holiday, Dispense Spiritual WD-40

It's the time of year for family togetherness.

And while that can be wonderful, as we share memories, inside jokes, and that comfortable sense of belonging with our loved ones, it can also be stressful.  Not all memories are good, and no relationship is without its bumps.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Celebrate the Solstice

This Friday, December 21 is the winter solstice this year.  This is the day the northern hemisphere is pointed at its farthest distance from the sun.  This occurrence is also known as "midwinter," even though in modern meteorology the December solstice marks the beginning of winter.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Christmas Ghosts

How do you celebrate the holidays when you're haunted by sadness and regret?

The former residents of Paradise, California (about 50 miles from where I live) must dream about the Camp Fire inferno that destroyed their town.  They're mourning the loss of homes and businesses, safety and security.  Some have lost livestock, pets, and family members.  They might be wondering, "How can we celebrate Christmas now?  What is there to celebrate?"

Like the victims of this devastating fire, many of us are haunted by ghosts as Christmas draws near.  Not apparitions, but memories and feelings of hurt, heartbreak, disappointment, and hopelessness.  We've lost family, friends, marriages, dreams.  I can't help but think of my dad, whose birthday is the day after Christmas.  He died as a result of the cruel degenerative neuromuscular disease ALS more than twelve years ago.  I recently got news about another loved one that makes me anxious and sad, and I cannot resign myself to it.  I'm haunted by the wish that things could be different.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

100 Ingredients for a Simple, Cozy Christmas

What makes Christmas cozy?

I sat down with a pen and paper to answer this question.  Here are my answers.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Give Without Buying

You don't have to shop in order to give.

Giving is an act of generosity and thoughtfulness, and those qualities aren't sold in stores.  Here are thirteen non-consumer gift ideas, large and small.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Pre-Christmas Clear Out

December is a great time to declutter.

Not only can you make room for the tree and for gifts, but you can help the whole family feel less overwhelmed by holiday bustle and stress.  A Pre-Christmas Clear Out benefits everyone in so many ways:
  • You're free to enjoy the fun of the season.
  • You're prepared for guests.
  • You're aware of how much you already have, causing gratitude and contentment.
  • You're aware of what your family needs, so you can suggest suitable gift ideas to those who ask.
  • You begin the new year feeling more in control of your home, already started on the road to less clutter and more freedom.
You're extra busy, so this clear out is not an intense purge.  It's a quick, refreshing chance to set the stage for all that the holiday will bring.  None of these projects should bog you down or take more than an hour or so; in fact, several can be done in about fifteen minutes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Less Stuff, More Satisfaction

There are dozens of free and low-cost ways to celebrate the holidays.  Plenty of time-saving strategies.  A lot of discussion about giving experiences rather than stuff.  But spending less, saving time, and giving fewer tangible gifts won't necessarily lead to a happy minimalist holiday.

Minimalism is about keeping only what you need and love, making space for things and activities you care about by discarding things and activities you don't.  Simply cutting costs and clutter may leave you feeling stingy and unsatisfied.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Silent Night

The modern celebration of Christmas is anything but silent, isn't it?  We seem to do more, go more, buy more, eat more, drive more...and it all adds up to noise!  I know it seems Grinch-like to complain about noise at Christmas, but I think we all crave a bit of calm this time of year.  Just consider our response to the song "Silent Night."

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Handmade Christmas

There's still time to hand make gifts for Christmas!

Several of the following projects can be finished in a couple of hours while you're watching a holiday movie.  Some can be done by your kids or with their help.  All are useful or will be used up, so they won't contribute to anyone's clutter.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

7 Ways to Be a Minimalist Parent During the Holidays

By late November, toys have been relentlessly advertised for months.  Long lines of children wait to meet the mall Santa, encouraged to ask for whatever they want.  Letters to Santa, some asking for dozens of toys, are mailed.  At school, the dominant conversation is about who wants what and whether their Christmas wish will come true.  Grandparents, aunts and uncles, even kindly strangers on the street greet kids with the question, "What do you want for Christmas?"

In this atmosphere, the minimalist parent can feel like a Grinch and his kids can feel cheated if the holiday haul seems inadequate.

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Gift List For People Who Actually Need Gifts

'Tis the season for "Best Gift Ideas" lists in every magazine.  These tend to be trendy, expensive, and full of soon-to-be clutter.  They also seem to be for people who have everything they need and most of what they want.

Here in northern California, devastating fires have destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.  While insurance will eventually help most people recover, many are currently homeless, jobless, and needing to move elsewhere to start over.  I haven't seen any "Best Gift Ideas" that would have value for them.

You may have friends or family who are seeking work, others who are in "starter" or other low-wage jobs, some who are paying off student loans or consumer debt, who are living on a fixed income, or who are living frugally in order to save toward a goal (a car, a house, their kids' college, etc.).  You don't want to insult someone or come across like a financial know-it-all, but you don't want to ignore the situation either.

A recent poll shows that young adults with student debt overwhelmingly prefer money to pay the debt, rather than a typical holiday gift.  That's probably true for anyone under the burden of debt, unemployment, or dependence on Social Security.  Haven't we all been in situations where just a little help would go a long way toward making life simpler and less stressful?

Why not give a gift that can make a difference?

Friday, November 23, 2018

Receiving Gifts

How does a minimalist deal with receiving gifts?  

Perhaps you think minimalism requires an offensive "reverse Scrooge" attitude that shouts, "Don't you dare give me anything that will clutter up my life!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

This Holiday, Just Say No

Every year I have to remind myself again that the most memorable events of the holiday season are the simplest.

Why do I need to complicate it, or get so busy that I don't have time or energy to savor the things that make me happy?

For a more satisfying holiday season, don't forget to say NO.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Ready for Black Friday

"Are you ready for Black Friday?"

It was just friendly chitchat from a grocery store clerk, but it caught me by surprise.  The aisles were packed with people shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, just as I was.  But in our consumerist culture, Thanksgiving Day has become Black Friday Eve.  In fact, if you count Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving is just the prelude to a very long weekend of shopping.