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Showing posts from May, 2021

Weird is Good

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It starts in grade school, that desire to fit in and be "normal."  We want to do what our friends are doing, and our parents say, "If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow?" Unfortunately, many of our peers are jumping – into a pit of debt.  The average American carried over $6,000 of credit card debt at the end of 2019, and according to CNBC, 51% of people with credit card debt have increased their balances since March 2020.  Auto and student loans are up too, and Experian reports that mortgage debt has seen record growth. A 2017 Pew Research study found that 54% of Americans spend more than they earn every month .  While the personal savings rate increased in 2020 as people were forced to stay at home, a surge in spending is expected once people are vaccinated and COVID-related restrictions are lifted. These aren't the people you want to follow. When the Joneses spend more than they earn and save less than they need, keeping up with them is a terr

Cherished Collections

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  Can a minimalist be a collector? I love a home decorated with family antiques.  I also like looking at photos or other family art, such as the painting of my husband's great-great-grandmother which hangs in his mother's living room.  My daughter and son-in-law prize the caricature portrait drawn by a San Francisco street artist when they were on their honeymoon, and a friend of mine displays plaster of Paris handprints of each of her three children, made in school for Mother's Day decades ago. I also appreciate collections of natural elements.  My husband, son of a geologist, has several beautiful geodes, those vaguely spherical rocks which contain a hollow cavity lined with crystals.  Another friend has several prized orchids. I have a small collection of vintage English blue and white transferware.  My first piece was a Sadler Blue Willow teapot given to my mother as a wedding gift in 1959.  She never used it, but I was fascinated by it for many years before she finally

6 Simple Tips for a Relaxed and Tidy Home

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Updated July 2022 - A tidy home makes every task easier. My two young grandsons had an overnight visit last weekend, and my husband Jon has report cards due this week.  I'm just trying to keep up with it all while continuing to write every day. Sometimes, life is extra busy, and we just have to muddle through each day as well as we can.  Work, school, kids, pets, and more may conspire to keep our homes in a jumble.  Everyday activities like cooking and crafting can add to the chaos. Read on for some guidance on how to keep the mess at bay to create a calmer, more relaxing and efficient home. 6 Tidyness Tips 1.  First, declutter. If you haven't done it already, a quick declutter can really help, since fewer possessions means less time spent cleaning and tidying.  Take the Declutter Dare , or focus on one area like the living room, play room, or kitchen .  Ask yourself "How often do I use this?" and "Do I really need so many of these?"  2.  Create a place for

Choose a Brighter Outlook

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Here's something I keep noticing:  It doesn't take long for the conversation of any group of people to turn negative. Whether the complaints are about pandemic protocols, politics, gas prices, traffic, the weather, or something else, negativity seems to be the default mode of many of us. In spite of morning news shows that try to insert upbeat "special interest" stories, those are rare, and always seem contrived to add a bit of lightness to the "real" business of the day.  Most news sources, from TV and radio to podcasts and social media, thrive on crisis and mayhem.  There's evidence that this actually warps our perceptions of reality . Disconcertingly, when someone tries to add a positive remark to conversations that seem dominated by complaints, the comment is often challenged or dismissed as "wishful thinking."  Those Pollyanna viewpoints don't fit the prevailing theme. My mother used to tell me I was too idealistic.  "It doesn'

Find More Life Satisfaction with the Freedom of No

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Updated July 2022 - How saying no leads to greater success. Here's a glimpse of my to-do list 18 years ago: Work 25 hours per week as a bookkeeper.   Choose curriculum and oversee my 13- and 15-year-old children's homeschooling; also get them to catechism, drama class, chess team, and youth chorus rehearsal.   Find time for my own vocalizing, music study, and sessions with my voice coach.  Monday evening: drive the 140-mile round trip to visit my parents (Dad was recovering from a stroke).  Tuesday and Thursday evenings: rehearsals.   Wednesday evening: church meeting.  Friday evening: maybe visit parents again.  All day Saturday: clean house, grocery shop, wash clothes, run errands.   Sunday: teach Sunday school, direct the choir.  Crash. When I had concerts and other performances they were somehow added into the mix.  I can honestly say I don't know how I did all of that.   I was a lot younger – does that explain it? We search for organizing systems and productivity hacks

12 Practical Tips for a Wardrobe that Lets You Dress with Ease and Confidence

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Updated July 2022 - How a minimalist wardrobe can reflect your personal style while reducing stress. Mornings are crazy at your house, with the kids to feed, backpacks to ready, and a load of laundry to start before you can get out the door and make it to two different schools on time.  You want to look good, but you need to dress with a minimum of fuss. Enter the capsule wardrobe – a relatively small number of classic, attractive pieces that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits. We often think that to project a successful image we need a room-size closet full of the latest designer clothes, shoes, handbags, and jewelry.  But some of the most famous people in the world have turned their backs on fashion trends.  You might even argue that their success is at least partly the result of ignoring fashion in favor of focus and productivity. The capsule wardrobe movement is growing. It's not just tech businessmen like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg who do this either.   W

The Difference Between Minimalism and Decluttering

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Even though we tend to use the terms "decluttering" and "minimalism" interchangeably, they aren't the same thing.  What's the difference?  Here's the short answer:  All minimalists live without clutter, but not all who declutter become minimalists. Most people who are motivated to declutter have no intention of becoming minimalist. Perhaps they're preparing to move, and don't want to pack up and haul everything. They might be getting married and need to streamline in order to combine households. Maybe they're ready to retire and move to a smaller home.  Possibly they have sorted through the accumulated belongings of a deceased parent, and decided that they don't want to leave such a burden for their own children. Or they might be like I was, and one day they simply reach a point where it's all too much – too expensive, too crowded, too overwhelming. Regardless of the reason, decluttering is the result. Maybe you have decluttered a ce

5 Reasons Your Life Will Be Better if You Simplify

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You have a choice: Spend your life in a  cycle of dissatisfaction  ➜ shopping ➜ accumulating ➜ organizing ➜ decluttering ➜ more shopping ➜ overwhelm ➜ spring cleaning ➜ repeat . . . OR . . . you can break the cycle, simplify, and find not only contentment but  something better  to do with your time, money, and energy. Sometimes figuring out how to get to less is the easy part.  You can get rid of clutter in many ways, including these: declutter one specific area in five minutes or less . create a minimalist wardrobe radically downsize in five steps (instructions continue here ) undecorate No matter which approach you choose, if you want the results to be long-lasting, you need to understand why you want to simplify your life.  This will be your anchor when things get tough, when you're tempted by sales and advertising, when the job of decluttering seems too hard, and when you're bored or sad and think buying something will make you feel better.  Your why may change over tim