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Showing posts from November, 2019

We Need Grace

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What is "grace," and what makes it essential to a good life? "Grace" has the same root as "gracias." When we say grace , we're thankful.    We pause, notice, and appreciate.  By focusing on all that is good in our lives, we crowd out more negative thoughts.  So by practicing gratitude, our blessings seem to multiply. When we're gratified , we experience satisfaction.    Our needs and wishes have been met, and we are content with what we have. When we're gracious , we give.  We're generous, not envious.  We're forgiving, not petty.  We experience bounty, potential, and optimism rather than deprivation, lack, or defeatism.  We see and celebrate all that we have, instead of focusing on and lamenting what we don't have.  We experience contentment, and we look for ways to share our blessings. When we congratulate , we overflow with happiness for another person.  We rejoice because of another person's accomplishment or

Your Personal Minimalist Holiday

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I guarantee that a minimalist mindset will make your holidays more joyful.  And no, I'm not envisioning a Little House on the Prairie Christmas with candy canes and handkerchiefs for gifts. Simply put, managing your money, time, and energy during the holidays will bring more peace and comfort to your days, now and into the new year.  When you find out what matters most to you, and focus your attention and resources on those things, the return is far greater than what you'll get from trying to buy and do it all. Your money Even if you've already begun (or finished) your holiday shopping, it's not too late to create a budget for your money.  If you're anything like me, you tend to hope you'll have enough money, and if you feel like you've overspent, there's always the credit card.  Problem?  Holiday shopping isn't an emergency (which really should be the only reason you whip out the plastic), and you have to pay eventually.  January always comes

Ten First Steps to a Simpler Life

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There are many ways to start down a minimalist path – it's not a one-size-fits-all blueprint.  One of these ideas might be just right for you. 10 ways to begin with minimalism 1.  Visualize your pared-down life. Take a break with pen and paper and make a list of three to five things that would change if you embraced minimalism.  Would you have a living room that's ready for relaxing and socializing? a kitchen with clear counters ready for cooking and baking? a polished table ready for dinner or a family board game? a bedroom that's private and restful? a bathroom that's spa-like? fewer but better toys that your kids can put away on their own? fewer but better clothes that fit and flatter and make getting dressed a pleasure? a calendar with some empty slots for down time or spur-of-the-moment creativity? a balanced budget, with a plan for getting out of debt? or some other improvement in your day-to-day life? Discover your minimalist priorities. 2.

A Minimalist Black Friday

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Happy first anniversary! Yes, it was exactly one year ago today that I published my first post... and today I'll share a revision of that post. "Are you ready for Black Friday?" It was just friendly chitchat from a store clerk, but it caught me by surprise.  The aisles were packed with people shopping for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients, just as I was.  But in our consumerist culture, Thanksgiving Day has become Black Friday Eve.  The real event is a long weekend of shopping. I'm not the first to notice the irony.  Thanksgiving, which is supposed to be a day about being grateful for all you have, has become a time to make a shopping list and plan your retail strategy, because everyone you know (yourself included) wants even more . Apparently, the true meaning of the holidays in America isn't family, or peace on earth, or the light of goodness and joy shining in spite of the darkness of human woes. It's about a bunch of new stuff .  Even children are e

Just Start - Become Who You Want to Be With New Habits

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Many of us have good habits that were taught to us (okay – nagged into us ) when we were small, such as "wash your hands" and "brush your teeth" and "turn off the lights when you leave a room."  (My dad was a stickler for that last one!) And there are  habits  that every minimalist should practice to help keep clutter at bay.  Maybe you also learned some of these habits when you were young.   "Don't just put it down, put it away"  is something my mom often said, and it started with toys and clothes and wet towels and went on from there.  If that's not a habit for you, you might want to learn it now. Practice new, beneficial habits to replace old, harmful habits. "It's a lot easier to keep up than to catch up"  is a catchy way of saying that procrastination is not your friend.  When you have routines for household chores and maintain regular cleaning and tidying, your home will be beautiful, spacious, and inviting.  If y

Put Your Blinders On So You Can Run Your Own Race

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Clutter and overwhelm may strongly impact your life today, but clutter doesn't need to define or limit you.  It doesn't need to have a say in your life going forward. You can change that picture. Here's what we're up against. Watch TV for just two hours, or read one lifestyle magazine, and you'll understand the messages our culture throws at you all day, every day, from so many directions.  These messages say you need to: look a certain way dress a certain way drive a certain kind of car live in a certain kind of house have a partner who looks a certain way travel exotically buy your kids all they want so they're popular and cool eat out all the time (a lot of it crappy food) drink with the beautiful people work out like an Olympian...  so you can look a certain way ! It seems that the Instagram life is what everyone has.  The fashion and home design bloggers, the fitness gurus, the remarkable home chefs, and all of our friends' amazing vac

Three Sentences to Describe Your Wonderful Life

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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 d├ęcor 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. A spiritual problem I was constantly shopping or planning what to buy next.  I ate junk to fill some sort of lack, but I was still dissatisfied.  How could I be otherwise?  My time and energy were spent on things that didn't really matter. My problem was really a spiritual problem.  I was constan

My Foolproof Recipe for Mindless Living

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Looking for a  foolproof method to wreck your ability to be present for your own life ?  Just follow my Twelve Step Program for Mindlessness, guaranteed to leave you numb and disengaged. The 12 steps to mindlessness 1.  As soon as you're awake, pick up your phone and flick through social media feeds and email. 2.  Continue to do this as you eat.  Pay absolutely no attention to the calories you're inhaling. 3.  Make sure to ignore roommates, spouse, and kids in favor of your phone! 4.  Determine to fit two hours' worth of tasks into 45 minutes, and do everything while thinking of something else.  Let your anxiety and impatience continually simmer. 5.  Eat lunch in front of a screen, once again failing to notice what you eat or how it makes you feel. 6.  Continue to rush while trying to fit in more tasks than you have time for, letting your temper boil over when anyone gets in your way.  Drive around town like a bat out of hell. 7.  Eat plenty of snacks and

When a Loved One Won't Stop Shopping

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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.) What exactly was I buying?    According to surveys, millions of unwanted gifts are received every Christmas.  Well over half of the stuff we purchase isn't actually brightening anyone's holiday.  And since we all feel a certain amount of guilt when we get rid of gifts, they add to the clutter in our homes, and increase our feelings of stress and overwhelm. I was wasting money to buy things people didn't want, filling their homes with clutter. So

Live Like Every Day Matters

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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. We like to focus on the big stuff. Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, promotions, and trips – the big events and accomplishments command our attention.  As we finish one big project, we're immediately planning for the