Monday, November 11, 2019

Three Sentences

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

When I was a young mother, if you had asked what was most dear to me, what were my absolute highest priorities, I wouldn't have hesitated to say my husband and kids.  There would have been no question in my mind that they were the center of my life.

I wouldn't have said my greatest concern was my house or its decor or the list of things I wanted to buy to "improve" it.  I wouldn't have said it was food, or my next diet.  I wouldn't even have said it was singing, or pursuing my next role.  After all, I had chosen to home school my kids, and opera singing was now a hobby.

I wouldn't have said so, but that's where my thoughts, efforts, and money went.

Friday, November 8, 2019

A Recipe for Mindless Living

Photo by John Tuesday on Unsplash

Looking for a foolproof method to wreck your ability to be present for your own life?  Just follow The American Plan, a twelve step program for mindlessness, guaranteed to leave you numb and disengaged:

1.  As soon as you're awake, pick up your phone and flick through social media feeds and email.

Monday, November 4, 2019

When a Loved One Won't Stop Shopping

Photo by on Unsplash

I used to use gift-giving as an excuse to shop.

I had a little shopping addiction, and craved that rush of pleasure you get when you acquire something new.  But when I didn't really need anything, I had to find a way to manage the guilt of buying for no reason.

So I'd buy a gift.  I could always come up with a gift-giving occasion -- maybe Mother's Day was only a month away, or a colleague had a birthday on the horizon, or I thought I'd save an item for Christmas.  (I had a closet full of potential gifts.)

Friday, November 1, 2019

Live Like Every Day Matters

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

It's November 1, and you can't go into any store without seeing evidence that as far as marketers are concerned, the Christmas season is here.  There might be a little corner devoted to Thanksgiving, but since that holiday has been celebrated by retailers since Labor Day, it's already getting old, even though, by the calendar, it's still nearly four weeks away.

I don't know about you, but the continued pushing forward of every season (bikinis on sale in January, for example) and every holiday kills the anticipation for me.  Change is a natural part of life, and it's good to plan and prepare for it, but it's also good to pay attention to what's happening right now, and to find ways to savor what today has to offer.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Experiments in Living With Less

Photo by Coen Van Den Broek on Unsplash

Many of us long for a simpler life free from the burden of our stuff, but we don't know how to achieve it.  We are overwhelmed, and we feel trapped in our current way of life.  But deep down, we believe that change could bring a huge payoff:  more time and energy, more money, more freedom, more generosity, less stress, less debt, and less distraction.  But how do we go about making that change?

Why not creatively experiment with a more minimalist approach to life to see whether the benefits are worth the effort?

Friday, October 25, 2019

I'm Dreaming of a Simpler Christmas

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

I know it's early, and I dislike rushing Christmas, but... if you want to simplify your holidays this year, now is the time to be thinking and planning for that!  And just in time, I've created a fantastic resource for you.  My newest book, Minimalism for the Holidays is available now on Amazon Kindle (which can be read on any device, even your computer, with their free app) and in a beautiful paperback edition!  Look for the link in the sidebar.

Meanwhile, here's a sneak peak:


I don't want to do it this year.  Just thinking about it is depressing.

I'm talking about the Christmas that starts now, before Halloween.  I'm talking about the canned music, the packed parking lots, the over-heated stores, the ads, and the wish lists.  The jam-packed schedules, plastic reindeer, and way too much food.

Some people thrive on the noise and the hype and the busyness.  I too used to believe I loved all of that.  But when I think about what really makes me happy, it doesn't look anything like the Modern American Christmas.  In fact, almost everything about the MAC makes me think I'm missing something that should be wonderful.

Would you like to join me?

Monday, October 21, 2019

You Can Make A Difference

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

There are billions of people in the world who wish their biggest problems were a cluttered house, an over-busy schedule, picky kids, and that extra 20 pounds.

Billions of people don't worry if they have the latest phone, the trendiest clothes, nail art, or a luxury car.  They worry about food, water, and shelter.  They worry that a mosquito bite will make them sick, or that their child will have to leave school to work in a factory for pennies like they do.

We didn't choose to be born with all the blessings we have.  We didn't steal anything.  But if we keep it all for ourselves, and indulge in cheap products made by the poor and exploited, then we're doing wrong.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Rich Minimalists in a Needy World

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Minimalism isn't a numbers game.  It's not about

  • owning only 100 things
  • living in a tiny 300-square-foot house
  • keeping only 10 books
  • wearing only black, white, and gray clothing
  • eating only beans, rice, fruit, and vegetables and drinking only water and green tea

Sure, you might experiment by doing any or all of these things in order to learn more about yourself or to help you change your consumer habits, but you can be a minimalist without setting these limits.

Monday, October 14, 2019

An Exciting Announcement

Photo by Michael Wagner/Unsplash

Dear Reader,

Minimalism is about living consciously and with only the things that add value to your life.  It focuses less on material possessions and more on relationships and experiences.  As Joshua Becker, creator of, has wisely said, "Excess possessions do not increase happiness -- they distract us from the things that do!"

Friday, October 11, 2019

Zero Waste Challenge

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Don't you hate walking through a park and seeing garbage on the ground?  Or garbage tossed along the highway?  Is there anything uglier?

Well actually, yes there is.  The plastic soup that infiltrates gigantic areas of our oceans, chokes marine life, and allows toxins to enter the food chain is a problem on par with global warming.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

You Are Enough

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

One of the ways that advertisers keep us buying is by creating the feeling that we could be the people we want to be if only we had a new car, a better phone, more stylish clothing, a sexier perfume, or an exotic vacation.  We are constantly encouraged to look for change and improvement outside ourselves.

We want to believe that our next purchase will solve our problems.  And it's so much easier to swipe a card or click-to-ship than it is to do the hard work of changing ourselves.  I know this first hand, because I keep losing the same 30 pounds over and over again.

But you can't buy change.

Monday, October 7, 2019

X-Ray Vision Helps Clear Hidden Clutter

Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash

We're finite creatures.  We have only so much time, money, space, and energy.

But our modern consumer society offers a dizzying array of merchandise.  This can have several possible effects:

  • The constant influx of new products catches our attention and makes us greedy, and so we buy more than we need.
  • Endless sales and clearances make everything look like a "bargain," and so we buy more than we need.
  • The difficulty of making the "perfect" choice can be overwhelming, even paralyzing.  We're unsure, and so we buy more than we need.
  • We can't locate something essential among the clutter of past purchases, so even though we own three such items, we buy more than we need.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Wear a Capsule Wardrobe

Photo by James Hollingsworth on Unsplash

I'm sure you've seen Pinterest photos of beautifully curated closets and capsule wardrobes.  Maybe you long for one yourself, but think it's impossible or too restrictive.

It's a modern consumer belief that we need a huge wardrobe to be "interesting."  Of course you want to be appropriately dressed, and why not wear attractive clothes that flatter your body type and coloring?  But none of that demands a huge quantity of clothing.  Limits encourage creativity, and a smaller closet isn't necessarily boring.

Monday, September 30, 2019


Photo by Zach Betten on Unsplash

I love the internet.  I wouldn't have this blog without it.  We wouldn't connect via Facebook, Instagram, or email without the internet.  The internet makes extensive research easier and opens up tons of news and entertainment options.

But we need to get away from the internet sometimes.  It's open 24/7/365, and we're not.  We can't be.  It's too much.  We need to take breaks from our phones and computers so we can enjoy real life.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Travel Light

Photo by Dawid Zawila on Unsplash

When we travel, we have the perfect opportunity to try a different lifestyle.

Packing for travel is a bit like decluttering.  You have to consider carefully which clothes you'll need, which toiletries and accessories.  Maybe you make a list.  As you pack, you might think of a few additional items it would be nice to have, just in case.  But you're still limiting your choices -- you're only going to take a fraction of your possessions, after all.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Photo by Josh Newton on Unsplash

Many of us have (or had) jobs that require juggling two or three tasks at a time while continuing to be available to bosses or clients.  Or we meet the needs of two or three young children while managing household tasks and honoring volunteer commitments.

It can be crazy.  Rushed and overwhelmed, you repeatedly lose focus and have to backtrack, trying to remember where you left off.  You can't give your attention to one thing at a time, so everything takes longer, and any minor holdup can become a major meltdown.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Rethink Leisure

Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash

Lately, news headlines have been proclaiming that "Sitting is the New Smoking."  In the sense that they're both linked to a lot of health threats, then yes, sitting and smoking do have a lot in common.

Here's where they aren't alike:  Smoking is much less widespread.  A growing number of cities, states, and countries have enacted laws that ban smoking in all work and public places, including restaurants and bars.  The Centers for Disease control reports that the number of smokers in the US has fallen to a record low.

But sitting is far more acceptable.  In fact, we all do more of it than ever.  Most of us have jobs that require little or no physical exertion.  We might do a little standing, lifting, and walking around, but mostly we sit.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Quality, not Quantity

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

We took our 3-year-old grandson to the park a few days ago.  He had one toy truck with him -- a very sturdy plastic dump truck.  That little truck was his constant companion for two hours, and when his mama put him in the car seat to go home, he was still cradling it.

He has many toy cars and trucks of all sizes at home, and several at our house too.  But when there's only one to play with, that one is cherished.  It almost takes on a personality as he tells stories about what that toy can do.  Go to the beach, play in the sand, play in the bathtub, hold water, dump rocks, roll down the slide to be caught at the bottom....  It's Super Truck!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Preserve Public Works

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Some of our greatest treasures are things we don't own... 

... and never can:  The beauties of nature, music, and art.  The comfort of good relationships.  The incredible riches of good health and an active mind.

Think of the value in public works:  Libraries, public parks, the Golden Gate Bridge, highways and road maintenance crews, law enforcement, fire protection, water treatment and garbage removal, public schools and colleges, government-supported scientific and medical research, health departments.

These good things can be available to everyone.  Yes, they're supported by property taxes, gasoline taxes, and sales taxes, but those are paid by everyone proportionally.  The rich pay more because they buy and travel more, and their property is more valuable.  The poor pay less for all the same reasons.  But everybody contributes, so that everybody can benefit.

Monday, September 16, 2019

One In, One Out

Photo by Teddy Kwok on Flickr

In decluttering, you identify the belongings you use the most and like the best, the items of the highest quality.  You release things you don't like or use, and all of those multiples you've accumulated.  Next, you find a home for each of the possessions you've chosen to keep.

Using containers such as boxes, bins, drawers, shelves, and closets, you put everything away.  Your items will no longer pile up or drift around homeless; each has a place to belong.  As you gain a clear idea of how much each container will hold, you are able to place limits on what you keep:  how many shirts will hang in your closet, how many pairs of socks will go in their designated drawer, how many books will fit on your shelves, how many bins of holiday decorations will fit in the cupboard in the garage.

By respecting the physical limits of your space, the things you own can stay organized and uncluttered.

Friday, September 13, 2019


Photo by Rupert Britton on Unsplash

As a teenager, I often argued with my mother, usually ending with a comment like, "You just don't get me, Mom.  I have to be myself!"  Which is funny in retrospect, because I was always desperately trying to conform to what my peers were doing.

Even as adults, we continue to try to fit in.  Look at a typical group of friends, and you'll often see similar hair styles and colors, similar clothes, similar manicures, similar phone cases, even similar gestures and vocal inflections.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Memories, Not Mementos

Does that box of souvenirs really have sentimental value, or are you just caught in inertia or guilt?

When we have boxes full of stuff we never actually look at, it seems silly to claim we keep those things because of the wonderful memories they evoke.  If that's the case, why aren't all of those things on display in our homes?  Perhaps we need to consider whether the items truly mean as much as we think they do.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Love Limits

Photo by Marivi Pazos on Unsplash

His hair is sweaty and his face looks hot, but he doesn't slow down.

Up, across, down, run back, up, across, and down again.  The sweat slips down his cheek, but his eyes are alight with eagerness and fun.

He's my three-year-old grandson, and if I didn't call him over for a sip of lemonade now and again, he'd climb and slide and run around the play structure until he dropped from exhaustion.  He has no idea of limits.

Friday, September 6, 2019


Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Doing good makes you feel good.

Studies show that when we are kind to others we become happier, but self-indulgence doesn't increase our feelings of well-being.  Researchers found that the more generous and helpful people were, the more purposeful their lives felt.  Knowing they were useful and needed made them happy.

This finding demonstrates the opposite of what advertisers want us to believe.  As long as your basic needs are met, acquiring more won't make you happier.  Your life won't improve if you buy the next hot item or luxury upgrade.  But removing the excess and the busyness so you can pursue your life purpose has major benefits, for you and for others.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Journal Your Gratitude

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I can stand in the middle of certain stores and pick up plenty of items that might "spark joy."  I'll bet you can too.  But there's a ripple effect to retail therapy.  When I look for joy in belongings, I always need the thrill of something new.  Contentment is short-lived, because the next acquisition beckons.  Then I need more space to store stuff, more time to take care of stuff, and more stuff to keep me interested once I've tired of the "old stuff."

If you've ever turned to shopping as a source of comfort and pleasure, I'd like to suggest a powerful replacement.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Identity -- It's Not What You Own

We all need love, acceptance, community, and a sense of accomplishment.  These factors contribute to our mental health and self esteem.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

Psychologists such as Abraham Maslow have demonstrated that once our basic physical needs are met, we embark on a path to self-improvement.  Whether that leads us to seek out new experiences, new skills, new possessions, or a new look, we always want something more and different.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Habits That Keep Life Simple

Photo by Jarek Ceborski 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 don't change the way we deal with it, clutter will reappear.  So part of the minimalist lifestyle includes learning new habits that keep stuff from once again overwhelming our lives.

Here are four habits that will prevent the reappearance of clutter.  Use them as minimalist mantras!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Give Gifts That Matter

Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

I used to use gift-giving as an excuse to shop.

I would feel the urge to buy something, anything really, just because it's "fun" to buy.  (Oh yes, I understand the idea of a shopping addiction, that little rush of pleasure when you acquire something new.)

Monday, August 26, 2019

Financial Freedom

Courtesy of Comstock/Getty Images

Here it is -- the most important financial advice you'll ever receive.

Spend less than you earn.

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

Embrace Empty Space

Many people think they can't be minimalists because they don't want to live in an all-white room with a chair, a lamp, and a mattress on the floor, or with only enough possessions to fill a backpack.

You know what?  The majority of aspiring minimalists don't choose that lifestyle.  I live with my husband in a small apartment, but we have a couch and a coffee table and bookshelves and a queen-size bed and a dresser and a dining table with several chairs.  My kitchen has a dishwasher and a microwave.  I have art on my walls, houseplants, and hobby supplies.

But I also have something I didn't have when my home was more cluttered, and that's empty space.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Do Less

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

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

And while that is one minimalist design aesthetic, and minimalists do talk a lot about decluttering, it would be a mistake to think that purging physical items (along with all color and personality) from your home is the ultimate goal.

Decluttering is a valuable tool that brings many benefits, but minimalism is a complete lifestyle that impacts much more than your physical space.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Clear the Clutter

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Home

Imagine your dream home.

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

You probably don't see stacks of movies on the coffee table or toys scattered over the floor.  You don't see a kitchen counter too crowded for meal prep, or a dining table so cluttered that no one can eat there.  You don't see piles of mail, laundry, dirty dishes, unfinished repairs, or things that need to be cleared away before you can sit down.

You see the beautiful home you'd love to have.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Buy Less

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Want to reduce clutter permanently?  Stop buying so much.

Well, duh.

We all know that, right?  So why is it so hard to do?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Photo by David Mao on Unsplash

Mindlessness wastes your life with busyness and distraction.  Find gratitude, purpose, and joy with this Twelve Step Program to increase attention:

Monday, August 12, 2019

The ABCs of Minimalism

Photo by element5 Digital on Unsplash

In our stressful world, full of messages that tell us more is always better and that we can buy our way to happiness, our true needs are often ignored, buried under a pile of excess things and relentless busyness.  Minimalism can reduce the background noise of clutter in your home and schedule so you can gain clarity about what really matters to you.

Friday, August 9, 2019

52 Ways to Clear Clutter in Five Minutes

Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

Think you have no time to declutter?  Do you have five minutes?

Five minutes is a commercial break.  You can scramble eggs in five minutes.  Forget those cat videos -- you have five minutes!

Monday, August 5, 2019

11 Decluttering Jump Starts

Photo by Lubomirkin on Unsplash

When you're ready to launch into decluttering, but don't know where to start, try one of these ideas.

Friday, August 2, 2019

5 Things To Do When You Get Stuck Decluttering

Photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash

1.  Don't give up just because you're low on motivation.

So you ran out of steam.  Lots of things are like that -- writing this blog can be like that.  Sometimes I write for hours and lose track of time.  Sometimes I'm tweaking three or four posts at a time for future publication.  Other times I'm stuck for ideas, or nothing I write seems valuable.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Simple Food

Photo by Johnny Martinez on Unsplash

The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.                                                                                           
Ann Wigmore

A friend sent me a chicken soup recipe that calls for 16 ingredients.  Sixteen.  Including ditalini pasta, whatever that is.  (Okay, I Googled it.  It's the pasta I've seen in macaroni salads.)

Friday, July 26, 2019

A Simplified Kitchen

Does the kitchen you've created support the healthy body you want to have?

Photo by Dinh Ng on Unsplash

Small daily choices lead to a cluttered or an uncluttered home, just as they lead to a thriving, active body or its opposite.  It's hard to change, but we really can choose freedom and vitality!

Since better eating habits are hampered by a cluttered kitchen, let's start there.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Does This Clutter Make Me Fat?

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

If your house is out of control, it's possible your eating habits are too.

Clutter guru Peter Walsh wrote Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight because so many of his clients struggled with obesity.  "What you weigh isn't just about calorie counting or doing stomach crunches," he writes.  "What you weigh is about how you live."

Friday, July 19, 2019

We All Want the Same Thing

"Kathryn Blowing Bubbles"
by April Moore-Harris on Flickr

I spend a fair amount of time on this blog pointing out differences between minimalists and the majority of people in our consumerist society.  Sometimes the easiest way to understand something new is to contrast it with something familiar.

But minimalists and materialists have a lot in common.  We're generally seeking the same things:

Happiness.  Fulfillment.  Freedom.  A good life.

It's just that our philosophies and methods for getting there are different.

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


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