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Monday, July 15, 2019

Una Bella Vita *

Does the home you've created support the life you want to live?


"Tuscany" photo by Ky0n Cheng on Flickr


Tell me where you would rather be.  At the beach?  In a ski cabin near Lake Tahoe?  In Paris?



Friday, July 12, 2019

House Beautiful

Does the home you've created support the life you want to live?


Photo by Jorge Garcia on Unsplash


You don't need to add on a master suite or put in a swimming pool to make your home more supportive of the lifestyle you want.  Instead, figure out what bothers you, and use your creativity to improve it.



Monday, July 8, 2019

Home Improvement


Photo by Pablo Merchan Montes on Unsplash


Does the home you've created support the life you want to live?

You don't need to remodel the bathroom, install granite countertops, or buy new furniture.  Instead, figure out which details have the most impact on your daily life, and approach them like a minimalist.



Friday, July 5, 2019

Re-Decluttering


Our rooms shape our thoughts... our moods.  By improving the state of our surroundings, we can improve our state of mind....  It's clear that for most people, outer order does indeed contribute to inner calm.
Gretchen Rubin 


Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash


Monday, July 1, 2019

A Real Home Makeover



photo courtesy of Magnolia Home


Imagine your dream home.

Walk up to the front door.  Open it, step inside, and look around.  What do you see?

Maybe you picture one of those HGTV makeovers.  The "after" reveals are beautiful, but notice what's missing:  no piles of magazines on the coffee table, no unfinished quilting projects taking over the guest room since last November, no unmade beds, no toys scattered dangerously over the floor.  The refrigerator door is clear of magnets and the dining table is set for a beautiful meal, not covered with a backpack, keys, sunglasses, a jar of peanut butter, cat toys, and the TV remote.



Friday, June 28, 2019

40 Proven Stress Busters

For many of us, the end of the school year equals the beginning of summer vacation.  Even if you don't have kids or grandkids, the longer hours of daylight mean that you have more leisurely evenings to spend with friends, go to a barbecue or picnic, attend an outdoor concert, or enjoy a long after-dinner walk.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash


Yet on a day-to-day basis, we still have work and errands and other responsibilities, and the stresses of those things can still get us down.

Relaxation and stress relief are what we hope to gain from leisure, and the following ideas can also be helpful.  And since minimalism is about making space and time for what is necessary and valuable, and removing what isn't, it too is a proven antidote to a stressful life.



Monday, June 24, 2019

Lighten Your Load

I'm very pleased to feature this guest post by my husband Jon.


John Muir Trail
by Chris LeBlanc for Austin American-Statesman



Friday, June 21, 2019

Keep Free Time Free


Photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash


My friend makes amazing costumes for a small theater troupe in Chicago.  It's a non-profit, church-based group, and she donates her time and skills.  She's incredibly talented, and finds the most exquisite fabrics and trims at clearance prices.  I've seen photos of the finished creations, and having worn many costumes for plays and operas, I can see that the ones she makes are of better-than-average quality.

I once suggested that she should have an Etsy shop geared toward cosplayers.  My son and daughter both enjoy cosplay, and usually make their own costumes, which are good but not as detailed and professional as what my friend produces.  My friend could definitely make some money with her work.

She's justifiably proud of her creations, and loves doing the work, but when I suggested an Etsy shop, all the light went out of her expression.  She apologized and said, "Yeah, everyone keeps telling me I should do that, but it would mean a lot more time, and I don't think I could make it work."  I recognized the look of a woman burdened by people's expectations of her.



Monday, June 17, 2019

6 Reasons to Make Something This Summer


Photo by Nadya Spetnitskaya on Unsplash

Mass production makes everything transitional and disposable, but the handmade object is personal.  It takes times to craft, which gives it a permanence that factory-made objects do not have....  The handmade object, created with care and detail, embodying a history and tradition, is enormously powerful.                                                                                 
          Eric Gorges
          A Craftsman's Legacy: Why Working With Our Hands Gives Us Meaning



When we only buy mass-produced items, or only buy with a click on the internet, we become merely passive consumers.  We're removed from the process of how things are made, how they work, the people who make them, and the raw materials and energy that go into their production.

We're distant from all of these things and people, and in a sense from the real world.

We may not realize it, but we're surrounded by the hard work and innovation of people who came before us.  The chair and desk at which you sit, the lightbulb in your lamp, the glass in your window, the book on  your shelf, your pen, your eyeglasses, the qwerty keyboard on your computer.  The coffee in your cup, and the cup itself.  You're surrounded by history.



Friday, June 14, 2019

Summer Reading




It's time to plan summer reading!  Beach reads.  Or maybe for you they're porch reads, or (my favorite) charming-little-café reads.  Wherever you love to curl up with a good book when it's blazing hot (or if you live in the southern hemisphere, cold and stormy) outside.



Monday, June 10, 2019

My Favorite Way to Travel

You can travel like the Crawleys from Downton Abbey** with piles of leather trunks, suitcases, hat boxes, and your maid to hold your jewelry box.  You can travel first class, with no expense spared.  You can let yourself be pampered and waited upon, and that may, perhaps, add immeasurably to your experience.

photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash


Or you can travel light, with a backpack or a carryon, prepared to experience your destination as authentically as possible.  As you walk the streets, or ride on public transport, you can interact with real people not as someone they should be ready to serve, but as someone they can simply be friendly with.

You can be weighed down, or you can enjoy the agility of minimalism.

I love the minimal completeness of packing for travel.  You have to consider carefully which clothes you'll need, which toiletries and accessories.  You might bring a book or a journal; you'll surely bring your phone.  You have only what you've chosen to take with you.  It's the ultimate in decluttering.



Friday, June 7, 2019

The No Money Weekend -- Part 3


Photo by Gary Sandoz on Unsplash


The No Money Weekend is a challenge suggested by Trent Hamm of thesimpledollar.com.  Today I'm posting a final 20 ideas for this challenge.  By this time you've probably thought of your own no-cost ideas, so please share them in the comments below.



Monday, June 3, 2019

The No Money Weekend -- Continued


Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash


The No Money Weekend is a challenge suggested by Trent Hamm at thesimpledollar.com.  Spend no money at all:  use food from your pantry, items you already own, free events and services, the company of other people, and your own ingenuity.

Today I'm posting another 20 ideas for this challenge.  Not all of these activities will be interesting or available to you, but I hope that some of them will inspire you.



Friday, May 31, 2019

The No Money Weekend "Family Edition"

It's the time of year when families are anticipating the summer break with no school and long, hot hours of free time.


Photo by Myles Tan on Unsplash


We all know that a vacation can be very expensive, but perhaps you've saved and have a plan to pay for that special trip.  However, weekend activities are often not so carefully planned, even though it's possible to spend several hundred dollars in a couple of days.  Families eat out more on the weekend than during the week.  Add a visit to the movie theater, amusement park, or the mall, and weekend spending goes even higher.



Monday, May 27, 2019

Second Generation Minimalism




An anonymous reader had several questions after reading an earlier post about toys:

… I have two rather small children myself and my story resembles yours in so many ways....  How [do] your kids feel about this change today?  Do they remember?  Do they hold any grudge against you for introducing them to minimalism or are they thankful?  Are they minimalist themselves today?
I left a quick reply to this reader from Norway:

My kids are not minimalists themselves, but their homes are clean and tidy (though I find them crowded).  They do remember, and they've never expressed any grudges about having fewer toys.  I think I became better at choosing toys they really wanted, rather than buying stuff that caught my eye that they didn't really care about.  They had fewer things, but more cherished things....
Since then, I've continued to think about these questions.  Thank you, friend, for your thoughtful inquiries!

I needed to remind myself that minimalism is not a one-size-fits all concept.  It looks different for everyone.


Friday, May 24, 2019

The Family Read-Aloud

When our children were 9 and 12, we embarked on a very ambitious read-aloud project.  My husband and I had been fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings since we each read the epic in our teens.  In anticipation of the release of Peter Jackson's film, The Fellowship of the Ring, we wanted to reread the entire work, and also give our kids the chance to experience the novel as Tolkien created it, before their imaginations were influenced by the film interpretation.  Thus we committed to spend approximately one hour each evening, all through the summer and fall of 2001, reading aloud that massive and beautiful saga.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


I did the bulk of the performance, since I am the more dramatic reader and can do "voices."  And it was a performance - a demanding test of my fluency, expressiveness, and stamina.  My husband kept me supplied with soothing Earl Grey tea, and our family quickly became immersed in the tale of Frodo and his companions.  The kids clamored for more every night, and this became the high point of our family life at that time.  Our kids even taught themselves the runes that Tolkien had created, and would write notes to each other in that script.  When the movie premiered in December, they were legitimate Tolkien fans.

If we had not read to them from birth onward, we could never have attempted or finished this journey together.


Monday, May 20, 2019

The Joy of Cooking?


Photo courtesy of cravinghomecooked.com




With childhood obesity on the rise, modern-day food gurus encourage home cooking.  Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, and New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman both urge parents to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients.  Magazines such as Good Housekeeping and television personalities like Rachael Ray offer practical cooking advice, publishing recipes for slow cooker meals and 30 minute meals.  Michelle Obama emphasizes the role that mothers play in helping children make healthy choices.

The message is that good parents, particularly good mothers, cook for their families.



Friday, May 17, 2019

7 Secrets of a Clutter-Free Family Home

My husband and I live in an 800 square foot (about 74 square meter) apartment.  When people come over, they always remark that it is so clean.  I actually think they mean tidy and clutter-free.  But having things put away makes it seem clean.  Honestly, if you stopped by my house unannounced, most of the time I could invite you in and not be at all embarrassed.  That is liberating.


"Eli's Room" courtesy of Farmhouse 5540


When our children were young, we lived in a house that was about 1200 square feet (about 111 square meters).  Compared to the average American home, that is small, but my house was usually fairly tidy then too.  Even if the kids were in the middle of playing one of their epic pretend games, with dolls, stuffed animals, play dishes, dress-up clothes, Lego creations, and lots of homemade props, we could make the house "company ready" in a pretty short time.

Does that sound like an impossible dream?



Monday, May 13, 2019

11 Simple Needs of the Minimalist Baby



Photo courtesy of Steve H.



A young couple I know went into debt preparing a designer nursery for their first child.  At a baby shower for this young mama-to-be, gifts included dozens of cute and complicated newborn-size outfits, miniature patent leather shoes, two baby monitors, a white noise machine, a light-up musical mobile, and an elegant pram-style stroller that was very heavy to lift and probably too large to fit into the trunk of a car.

Family and friends were eager to welcome the new baby, and wanted to show their love by giving gifts.  But the cute gadgets and clothes, though fun to shop for and to give, weren't really going to meet the baby's needs.  Expensive clutter had been given in place of useful necessities, which would still need to be purchased.

Giving birth and caring for a newborn are wonderful but stressful activities.  Why add debt and clutter to sleep deprivation and first-time-parent anxiety?


Friday, May 10, 2019

The Busy Child

Just as more and more adults today are proudly wearing the badge "BUSY," so too are more and more children.  Too busy to stop, to engage with others, to listen, to observe, to pay attention, to reflect, to imagine, to properly rest.

Photo by Wayne Lee-Sing on Unsplash


The conventional wisdom is that we must multi-task, we must be on the go, we must push to have a valuable life.  We teach our children that they must do the same: reach for the proverbial stars, or be doomed to a second-rate existence.  We use social media to advertise our successes, making sure our activities, achievements, vacations, and celebrations will be envy-worthy.  What a false and dangerous pursuit.  As a result we are all anxious, acquisitive, insecure, and unsatisfied.



Monday, May 6, 2019

The Joy of Creative Deprivation


"Lazy Morning (275/366)" by Tim Sackton on Flickr


One of the big traps of lifestyle inflation is what blogger Trent Hamm calls the "repeated splurge".

Let's say there's a particular treat you enjoy.  Maybe you like buying books.  Maybe you like going to the coffee shop.  Maybe you like going to the movies, or eating out.  Whatever it is, when your income is low, you can't do it very often.  It's a splurge and so you look forward to it.  It feels special.

When your income goes up, it's very tempting to indulge in that treat more often.  The problem is that as soon as a splurge becomes a regular event, it stops being special and becomes completely ordinary.  You adapt.  Something you used to think was a great treat is now just an everyday routine… except now the everyday routine is far more expensive than it used to be.  You're not any happier, you're just spending a lot more and you no longer savor something that used to be a treat.



Friday, May 3, 2019

The 20 Toy Rule

Minimalism is not just for nomadic bachelors and downsizing seniors.  It's for everyone, including families with children.  Dealing with issues of clutter, debt, competition, dissatisfaction, busyness, and stress, while discovering true value, peace, gratitude, mindfulness, community, and abundance benefits everyone.  So in honor of Mother's Day (Sunday May 12th in the U.S.), I'm going to devote several posts to issues involving minimalism and parenting.


ds302 "Trail of Tears" by Sharon Drummond on Flickr


In 1995, I was a typical American mom.  My kids got toys on their birthdays, on their half-birthdays, at Christmas, on Valentine's Day, in their Easter baskets, on the first day of summer.  I didn't think I was spoiling them, since we knew several families whose kids got a toy every time they went to McDonald's or Target.  The fact that my kids' toys covered the floors of their bedrooms and half the living room as well seemed a normal part of family life.  And me yelling at them to put their toys away?  That was a normal part of life too.



Monday, April 29, 2019

Don't Drown in Paper

Decades ago, everyone talked about a "paperless future."  Now we have many digital options, yet paper still flows ceaselessly into our lives.  It enters our homes daily in the mail, inside packages, from school, as business cards and takeout menus, concert fliers and free community newspapers.

If you don't deal with it, you'll drown in it.

"Drowning Under a Mountain of Paper" by allispossible.org.uk on Flickr



Friday, April 26, 2019

25 Ways to Waste Less

Don't you hate to walk through a park, or even a parking lot, or drive along the highway and see the garbage that people have tossed from their cars?  Is there anything uglier?

Well, actually, yes there is:

"Plastic Ocean" by Kevin Krejci on Flickr


Monday, April 22, 2019

Go Green With Minimalism

Happy Earth Day.


Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash


Reduce, reuse, recycle.  It's the mantra of eco-conscious people everywhere.

Great idea, except that most of us approach the concept backwards.


Monday, April 15, 2019

7 Steps to a Simple Easter


Courtesy of Bobby Haven, Brunswick (GA) News


People don't spend as much for Easter as they do for Christmas/Hanukkah, Valentine's Day, or even Halloween, but it is still definitely seen by retailers as a time to push candy, flowers, stuffed animals, spring fashions, and spring décor (especially tableware).  Wallethub.com estimated that $18.2 billion would be spent on Easter in the United States in 2018.

Like Christmas, Easter is supposed to be a religious observance, but in America our faith often seems to be placed in money and possessions, rather than in God.  We are devout consumers.  Many of the 71% of Americans who identify themselves as Christians will give more thought to new church clothes, Easter table centerpieces, and full Easter baskets (even if they include a chocolate cross) than they do to the reason for the celebration.



Friday, April 12, 2019

3 Signs You Should Stop Decluttering

We're human beings.  That means we're capable of doing anything to an extreme.


Photo courtesy of Tatiana Lapina on Unsplash


Want to be healthier?  Never eat bread or pasta or rice or potatoes again, let alone pancakes or cookies.  Alternatively, eat 100% sprouted whole grain pasta and bread, along with brown rice, yams, quinoa, and lots of beans, but don't touch beef, pork, lamb, poultry, venison, or seafood ever again.  Even eggs and cottage cheese should be considered suspect!

This isn't a comment on what anyone chooses to eat, whether for health, religious, or ethical reasons.  There can be good reasons for removing or consuming any number of foods.  I'm just trying to make the point that we're pretty good at taking extreme positions on just about anything.

And that includes decluttering.  There are hoarders, and there are people who can fit everything they own into a backpack.  I imagine most of us belong somewhere between those two extremes.



Monday, April 8, 2019

Clean As You Go

"Spring Cleaning" by Nosha 
(https://www.flickr.com/photos/nosha/3360044232/in/photostream/)


Want to keep your house neat and clean in a simple, stress-free way?

Just clean as you go.


Friday, April 5, 2019

4 Simple Maintenance Tips

Decluttering is an event, or a process.  Minimalism is a lifestyle.


Photo by Tracey Hocking on Unsplash


We're real people.  We work, we socialize, we have hobbies and husbands and kids.  Stuff enters our homes every day, and if we have no system for dealing with it, clutter can reappear.  So part of the minimalist lifestyle is learning to be a gatekeeper, to keep stuff from once again overwhelming our lives.

How can we do this?


Monday, April 1, 2019

Welcome to Minimalism

You've done it!  You've decluttered, or you've made a lot of headway on that task.  But decluttering is an event, while minimalism is a lifestyle.


Courtesy of summitornothing.co.uk


Decluttering is the tool, not the purpose.


Friday, March 29, 2019

Declutter Your Fantasy Self

You are not what you own.


Photo by Kirk Thornton on Unsplash

"Imagination will take you everywhere," said Albert Einstein, and he was right.  As humans, we're limited in what we know and understand, but imagination transcends all of that.

Unfortunately, we tend to bolster our fantasies by buying the props that go with them.  Francine Jay, author of The Joy of Less and Lightly, calls this "aspirational stuff."  These are the things we buy to project a certain image, to impress others, or to help ourselves believe we're a certain type of person.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Spring Cleaning

The days are longer, the birds are busy, the first buds and leaves have appeared.  Everything is energized and ready to begin, and you notice how heavy, tired, and even grubby your home is.


Courtesy of Jon Trefzger


Now, you can do deep cleaning and reorganization like your mother and grandmother did, or you can use this opportunity to do several other great things by decluttering.


Friday, March 22, 2019

7 Questions to Ask When Decluttering

Decluttering is a process, one step on the path toward a simpler, more intentional life.


Courtesy of boomercafe.com


Less stuff means less maintenance, less cleaning, and less stress.  Removing excess brings you more space, more time, and more energy.

Brooke McAlary, author of Slow: Simple Living For a Frantic World, calls clutter "deferred decisions" and "the physical manifestation of procrastination."  But the process of decluttering builds your decision-making ability as you choose what to hold on to and what to remove.  Over time you gain more clarity and confidence about what is important to you.


Monday, March 18, 2019

6 Ways to Start Decluttering



Don't panic!  There is no one "right way" to declutter.  Try one of these six entry points:



Friday, March 15, 2019

Declutter Fearlessly

When someone lives with large amounts of clutter it is often the result of fear.




My mother's clutter was organized.  It was neatly packed away in storage containers, all clearly labeled and precisely arranged in every drawer, cupboard, closet, garage rafter area, and shed.  She could always find what she was looking for, even if piles and bins had to be shifted in order to get to it.

Monday, March 11, 2019

9 Ways to Stop Buying So Much

Want to reduce clutter and gain financial freedom?  Stop buying so much.


Copyright CORBIS


Spend less than you earn.

That's it.  The most important financial advice you'll ever receive.

If you cut back on spending, you'll be able to pay off debt, build an emergency fund, start saving for college or retirement, give more generously.  Spending less could reduce your stress levels and improve your sleep.  It might even improve your marriage.


Friday, March 8, 2019

Don't Kondo Your Home

License CC0 public domain


Earlier this week, I wrote that Marie Kondo had a brilliant insight when she realized that if we declutter by category, rather than by location, we're able to grasp the overall volume of our belongings.  I wrote that, generally speaking, we'd be astounded by how much we own, a realization that would make it far easier for us to declutter what is no longer useful or appropriate.  I agreed with her that recognizing what truly adds value to our lives is an essential perception.

But I think that Kondo's method has a flaw.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has sold millions of copies, yet it seems many people are just as engulfed by clutter as ever.  People are still buying tons of stuff they don't need, and lots of "storage solutions" to try and organize all of it.  People talk about decluttering, but how many are getting decluttered and staying that way?

Maybe the problem is the question she suggests you ask of each possession.

Asking "Does it spark joy?" may not help you solve your clutter problem.


Monday, March 4, 2019

One Way to Tidy Up

Storage experts are hoarders.




Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is intended to help people do more than clean and organize.  Declaring that "storage experts are hoarders," she advocates a one-time process of mindful decluttering.  Her clients end up surrounded entirely by things that enhance their lives, unburdened by stuff that is unwanted or unused.  Even her book, she says, should be passed along when it's no longer needed.

Instead of decluttering room by room, Kondo tackles belongings by category, beginning with what she believes is easiest to part with.  Clothes, then books, documents, miscellany (including kitchen items, linens, and décor), and last and most difficult, photos and mementos.  The process of making a decision about each item gets easier with all this practice.

Your mindset during this process is important.  Kondo explains:

Focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness.  Why?  Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of....  After all what is the point in tidying?  If it's not so that our space and the things in it can bring us happiness, then I think there is no point at all....  Keep only those things that speak to your heart.  Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.
Tidying must start with discarding. 


Friday, March 1, 2019

The Truth About Clutter

Clutter isn't cute.




Clutter is something we laugh about, like our coffee or sugar addictions, our over-use of social media, or our binge-watching habits.  But none of those are actually funny, and for many of us clutter is much more serious than a couple of piles on the kitchen counter.

Clutter lies to you.  Clutter tells you "It's not that big a deal" and "You'll get to it later."  But the piles grow.  And so many people just accept defeat in their homes and in how they live and enjoy life.

We make excuses like "I'm just so busy" or "I'm just not organized."  But excuses aren't solutions.  Trying to make it cute, saying "I'm such a clutterbug," just lets you live with defeat.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Self-Love Isn't Selfish

Are you constantly trying to improve yourself?


Courtesy of National Geographic Kids


Do most of your thoughts revolve around how you can become the ideal person you long to be?
  • You want to be thinner, more fit, more healthy.
  • You want to be prettier, with better skin, better hair, better nails, better boobs.
  • You want your clothes to not only fit and flatter, but also tell the world how stylish you are.
  • You want to be more successful in your career, respected and better paid.
  • At home, you want to be a great cook, a talented decorator, a fun hostess, perfectly organized.
  • You want a better relationship with your partner, full of intimate communication, great sex, and complete equality when it comes to money and chores.
  • You want to be the wisest, most loved and trusted parent, and you want your children to be smart, confident, kind, and successful in every way.

I could go on, but I think you're already nodding in agreement.  In every facet of your life, you want to improve, do more, have more, achieve more.

A desire for self-improvement is both a blessing and a curse.  Many people accomplish great things because of their desire to be better, to be more.  It is a natural human desire to grow, evolve, and thrive.

But this quest can also make you very unhappy.

Monday, February 18, 2019

One Simple Piece of Relationship Advice

I met my husband 36 years ago this week, and we've been married for nearly 35 years.


Courtesy of Dane Wilson


People are so funny when I share that information.  Sometimes they say, "You don't look old enough to have been married 35 years!"  Haha.  What a very kind lie.  Other times they say, "Wow!  How do you do it?"  I guess they believe we've been perfectly fulfilled and blissful for all of that time.

Here's the truth...no marriage is perfectly fulfilling and blissful all of the time.  Every marriage has rough patches, and some of those patches are pretty big.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Love Every Day

Valentine's Day is yet another American holiday taken over by shopping.  How many diamond ads have you seen in the last few weeks?  How about perfume ads?  Flowers?  Chocolate?  Ads for special couples' deals at restaurants and boutique hotels?




Valentine's Day is the third largest shopping occasion of the year (topped by Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays, and Mother's Day).  This amounts to nearly $20 billion in spending for the holiday, including gifts for pets, which account for almost $700 million.  One article I read said that Valentine's Day is too huge for marketers to ignore, and that it's like Black Friday for florists, chocolatiers, and jewelers.

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Limits of Friendship

Genuine Relationships Always Make You Happier.




The 21st century is an amazing era of communication.  I remember my grandmother's party line, and having to wait for someone else to finish their phone conversation before you could make your call.  I remember when my boyfriend and I ran up a bill of over $200 one month calling each other long distance (this was more than 35 years ago, when $200 paid my car payment AND gas for the month).  I remember lots of snail mail letters, which were nice to receive then and are practically miraculous today.

Now we can call anywhere, anytime, for a fairly reasonable monthly fee.  We can email or text or post pictures and comments on social media and get nearly instant responses.  Communication is easier, faster, and cheaper than ever.  But what if we're actually becoming more disconnected by connecting with hundreds, even thousands of others?

Friday, February 1, 2019

A New Love

Introducing my newest grandson, Damien!


Courtesy of Elizabeth H.


Babies epitomize maximum gratitude and minimal stuff.  They come to us with nothing but themselves, yet we are thrilled to welcome them.

My daughter is well, despite some last minute complications.  My son-in-law continues to be a kind and supportive husband and father, and my favorite little boy, my grandson Elliot, is excited to be Damien's big brother.  Love seems to fill all our hearts and overflow with thanksgiving for the new member of our family.

And Damien himself is satisfied with so little.  Mama's milk, a clean diaper, a warm blanket, enfolding arms.

Along with his car seat, a cradle, onesies, swaddling cloths, booties, a cap for his head, and maybe a baby tub and some diaper cream, his basic needs will be met for the first few months.  Just add smiling faces, quiet words and songs, cuddling and kisses, and you've covered the essentials!



Monday, January 28, 2019

Friday, January 25, 2019

A Body In Motion Stays In Motion





It's a law...Newton's First Law.  Maybe you learned it in high school science.

A body at rest stays at rest.  A body in motion stays in motion.

So decide to be the body in motion.  Don't stayed mired in situations that don't fulfill you.  Take one step, any step, to start moving in the direction you want to go.  Starting is the hard part, but once you do it, you'll have momentum to keep going.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Why Minimalism?

A lot of people think of "minimalism" as a huge white room with a white couch, a glass table, and some modern art.




That is one minimalist style or design aesthetic, and it might be appropriate in the expensive penthouse apartment of someone who has a trust fund but no family, no pets, and whose hobbies are travel and yoga.  However, most of us don't (and don't want to) live like that.

So what do I mean by "minimalism"?

To me, minimalism means living with less clutter, busyness, debt, and stress so I have room for what really matters to me.  I want to enjoy, appreciate, and savor the people, activities, and things that bring value to my life, while minimizing everything else.

There are many reasons to explore minimalism, and the "why" will be slightly different for everyone.  Figuring out your "why" is key to finding motivation and endurance when you encounter obstacles in your minimalist path.  So settle in with a cup of tea and a notebook and pen, and think about what has brought you to this place in your life.

Monday, January 14, 2019

14 Ways to Cheer Up, Minimalist Style

The holidays are over, the weather is cold and gray, and maybe you could use a bit of cheer.  Many people eat or drink or shop when they're a bit down.  What would a minimalist do?


by Ginny at Small Things (www.gsheller.com)


Friday, January 11, 2019

The Beauties of Sleep

Shakespeare had it right.  Sleep not only "knits up the raveled sleeve of care," it is as necessary to life as food, water, and exercise.

Courtesy of Elizabeth H.

The final ingredient for our minimalist, whole, and healthy lifestyle is one we too often overlook, especially in our modern over-busy, over-stressed lives.  Yet a deficiency in this area is linked to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

Sleep is not the enemy of productivity; it is not what you do when there's nothing good on TV.  It's essential.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Simply Move More

Food and drink are absolute necessities, but our minimalist, whole, real lifestyle for health is missing a couple of important ingredients.  Diets don't work without exercise, do they?




A truly healthy body is flexible, strong, full of energy and stamina.

I watch my three-year-old grandson.  He's constantly bending, squatting, getting down on the floor, then up on his toes, climbing, skipping, reaching.  He often gets sweaty, but he's never out of breath.  He has a good appetite and he sleeps like a log.  And he's cheerful, curious, inventive.  The picture of health!

Now, I'm 55 years older than he is.  Obviously my stamina and agility are no match for his.  I'm also unfortunately quite overweight, which means my joints are somewhat stressed and I do occasionally get out of breath.

But improvement through baby steps and consistency is the name of the game.