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.