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Showing posts from December, 2020

Make the New Year Merry and Bright

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Even in 2020, the holidays have so much potential to be about real things that last – hope, renewal, love, peace, inspiration.   But advertisers want us to focus on other things.  They want us to think that love is expressed through jewelry, merriment requires booze, and joy is found in a mountain of toys.  They work hard to convince us that a gorgeously decorated tree, a Martha Stewart-worthy feast, and a new car with a big red bow will insure a perfect holiday. Advertisers are wrong. Unfortunately, I still get caught up in the promises of consumerism, even though I know they are empty.  I still rush out to buy all the things.  At times, I have maxed out my credit cards and spent all of my energy.  I've gone crazy chasing the perfect holiday. And then it's all over. The presents are opened, the food is eaten, the special events are in the past.  You'd think I'd be happy and fulfilled by all of it, but instead I feel exhaustion and letdown. As a kid, I remember wailing,

A Fresh Start

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Dear Readers, I think we're all ready to start a new year, with the hope that the issues of 2020 that have plagued us (pun intended) will be resolved in 2021. But I'm sure we have hopes in other areas of life as well.  If you're reading this blog, I'm guessing you want a life of clarity and purpose, a lifestyle that isn't bogged down by inessentials.  You want inspiration and know-how to simplify your home, your schedule, your family life, your wardrobe, your diet, your online life, or something else.  And you want to do it with positivity and gratitude every day. Please tell me, either in a comment below or by contacting me (use the Contact Form at the bottom of this page) how or if Maximum Gratitude Minimal Stuff is helpful to you.  What am I doing well?  And more importantly, what do you struggle with?  Which of your problems have I not helped you solve? How can I add more value to your life, and make it worthwhile for you to read and subscribe to this blog? I&#

The Other Question to Ask This Holiday

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Most of us have asked our kids, or grandkids, or spouses, or siblings, or parents, or coworkers: "What do you want for Christmas?" We encourage them to wish for things during the holiday season.  And the answers are usually material items:  toys, or things for the home, or some other tangible or experiential gift they've been wanting.  Or maybe the answer is, "Nothing!  I already have everything I need."  Maybe the desires are intangible:  "I just want us to get together this season."  Or even, "I wish the vaccine for COVID could be developed and perfected and available ASAP." But there's another question we should ask ourselves and others this holiday: "What can you give this Christmas?" We all have abilities and resources that we can share with others.  Even children can come up with good answers to this question – gifts they can give to friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers.  When we make it a habit to ask a differe

A Non-Consumer Christmas, Part 2

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As much as simple activities make happy times and wonderful memories, most people still love giving and receiving gifts during the holidays.  I love it too, and I don't want to stop doing it just to prove how minimalist I am.  Yet I agree with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits .  He says, I don't love Christmas shopping, or the overconsumption, frenzied malls, consumer debt, environmental waste... and over-accumulation of needless stuff that goes with it.  Bah humbug!  I love Christmas, but the shopping has got to go.  We shop like mad for a month or more, rip open the gifts in a few minutes' time, and then forget about them, break them, or exchange them the next day.  Shopping monopolizes our time, attention, and money.  But we don't have to buy in order to give. "We seem to think that buying is the solution to any problem, but that has led to a society that is deeply in debt and piled high with needless stuff," says Babauta.  "We can find other ways to give.&qu

A Non-Consumer Christmas, Part 1

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Are you tired of the shopping orgy that passes for Christmas in America, the U.K., Australia, and other parts of the world?  Are you convinced that the push to buy, buy, buy is not only ruining your budget but destroying your soul?  Are you ready for a change, but worry that a simpler Christmas will be too bleak and miserly for your family? Maybe you've been unable to work at your usual job for all or part of this year because of quarantine and other COVID-19 protocols.  Maybe you've struggled to find part-time jobs that would let you pay your basic living expenses, but have almost nothing to spend for the holidays. What if I told you that most of what you really love about the holidays requires very little shopping, or even none at all? Don't believe me?  Make a list of your favorite Christmas activities and think about ways to accomplish them for little to no money.   10 Minimal-Cost Holiday Activities 1.  Savor the season. One benefit of COVID is that we have reason to s

Should You Stop Shopping?

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According to the National Retail Federation , consumers are expected to spend more on Christmas this year than ever before.  "After all they've been through [in 2020]," says NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, "we think there's going to be a psychological factor that they owe it to themselves and their families to have a better-than-normal holiday." But take a look around your home.  Honestly, don't you already have everything you need?  And if there was something you needed or wanted, haven't you already purchased it yourself?  You certainly aren't waiting for someone to buy it and wrap it up for you this holiday. In other words, you don't need someone to buy something for you.  And likely they don't need you to buy anything for them.  So the stuff we're shopping for this holiday season isn't necessary.  It might be fun, but it's probably going to add to our clutter rather than our joy. Have you reached the point where enough

Where Are You, Christmas?

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I'm having a hard time finding the Christmas spirit right now.  Is it simply because of all we've gone through this year?  Quarantines, restrictions, shortages, joblessness, acrid politics, and this constantly-spreading disease are enough to bring anyone down.  It seems this situation has dragged on forever, yet it also seems like 2020 is speeding past.  December is here already, and it feels like it's come too soon. Frankly, I'm tired of my house.  I don't feel excited about putting up Christmas lights or other d├ęcor.  The thought of going shopping holds absolutely no joy at all.  Even with the bit of economizing we've had to do this year, I have everything I need, and so do most of the people I know.  My grandsons already have an abundance of toys.  And for the first time in nearly 50 years as a singer, I have no concerts to prepare for or attend.  My calendar feels empty, and I'm someone who likes to keep a bit of white space in my schedule.  Minimalism t