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Showing posts from August, 2021

Plenty of Style and a Lot Less Stuff

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Angular.  Abstract.  Colorless.  Empty.  Finicky.  Functional.  Not for families. Lifeless. That's how many people view minimalism, and it's not how they want to live. It's not how I want to live either, but I love the idea of clean lines and intentionally chosen details.  I want a spacious, streamlined home, but I also want it to be comfortable and welcoming to my family and friends, including two grandsons under the age of six. If warming and softening a minimalist space seems impossible, relax.  Having less stuff doesn't mean owning nothing.  You can have ease and cheer without sterility. 10 Ingredients of a Relaxing Minimalist Home 1.  Warm whites. Start with your largest canvases:  the walls and ceiling.  Choose a white paint that isn't stark, but creamy and with some depth.  In my house I used Sherwin Williams' Alabaster (a favorite of Joanna Gaines). 2.  Lots of light. Bring in as much natural light as you can with translucent curtains or none at all, or

Just in Case

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"Just in case" might be the most tempting phrase when it comes to keeping things we don't need. But it's a little like an alcoholic's "Just one more" or an unfaithful partner's "Just this once."  It's the top of a slippery slope. Remember the portkeys in the Harry Potter series?  A portkey is a magical object that transports the person who touches it to another place.  That's why some of us feel the need to hang on to material items.  The touch of your grown child's old Teddy bear or your high school sports uniform can immediately take you to the past – to a rosy place of comfort and good memories.  The physical item seems to make the memory closer and more tangible. A cherished photo, a letter, a piece of jewelry, some furniture, or something else might be useful, beautiful, and provide a connection to a loved one or to the past.  But when do all of those physical items become something other than a portal to good memories?  W

Self Actualization Isn't About Stuff

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Did you study Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs in high school or college?  You might remember that Maslow's theory suggests that human beings are naturally inclined to learn and improve, to strive and discover.  If you're able to read this blog, you're probably fortunate enough to be in a position to do this. Meeting Basic Needs Self actualization (the highest section of Maslow's hierarchy) requires first that basic needs be met. 1.  Air, water, food, clothing, shelter Humans need these things to survive, let alone to thrive.  Some of us seem to have much more of these than we need, while others in our world struggle for them.  Some live without clean air and water, or where it's hard to get access to either.  They may worry about how to meet their needs for food, clothing, and shelter every single day. 2.  Loving relationships, family and friends, nurture and care These needs are at least as important as the basics above.  We know that young children that ar

Magic in Your Mailbox

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My mother had a pen pal when she was growing up.  They wrote to each other for over a decade. My cousin and I wrote letters to each other from when we were about six years old until our late teens.  My letters always began, "Dear Patricia, how are you?  I'm fine." I got a long, newsy letter from my grandmother once a month until she passed away.  I wrote long letters home to my family when I studied in England in 1980, to my fiancĂ© when he took a job in Colorado six months before our wedding (we've now been married for 37 years), and to my high school best friend when she moved to Oregon (we're still friends, more than 40 years later). Back then, there was no such thing as email or texting, and long distance phone calls were charged by the minute, an expensive way to keep in touch. But today, handwritten letters are rare. While I still occasionally write letters to a few elderly aunts and uncles, most of the time I don't do much more than sign a birthday card.

How to Recover from Winning

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Did you watch any of the recent Olympic coverage?  I don't care whether it's gymnastics, rugby, swimming, or table tennis, there's something about seeing the incredible performances, the feats of strength, agility, endurance, and mental fortitude.  No matter who wins, it's moving to realize what that athlete has accomplished, and what every athlete who has participated in the Games has achieved.  How often do you get to witness such joy and fulfillment? But once you've reached the top of your game, what happens?  How does anyone, world class athlete or not, deal with the loss of identity that comes with achieving an all-consuming goal?  Striving toward a goal is often not just part of our identity, it is our identity.  Working toward that goal becomes what we are all about.  And once the task is accomplished, it can be a little terrifying, because now what? I suppose we think that once an Olympic athlete wins a gold medal, everything in her life will be perfect fro

The Choice is Yours

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My husband is going to his parents' house again this weekend. That doesn't sound strange, does it?  Unless I tell you that his parents no longer live there. My father-in-law passed away last fall, at the age of 95.  My 93-year-old mother-in-law has moved to Arizona, and now lives in a small house across the street from her oldest son. Yet the home they lived in for 58 years is still a responsibility. My husband and his brothers have spent a lot of time over the past several months clearing out their parents' home.  Recently, they discovered ticket receipts from their family's 1968 ocean voyage to Europe on the Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth .  They were in a box that had been in their parents' basement for over 50 years.  They've told so many stories about that trip.  Jon has many vivid memories, even though he was only 8 years old at the time.  The receipts don't add anything to those memories, nor does the unopened junk mail that was thrown into the box

Why and How to Limit Screen Time

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I watched a 3-hour DVD on Saturday, as well as some of the special features.  Then we turned on Olympic coverage and watched that for almost another 3 hours, including plenty of advertisements.  Before bed, I checked my email and wound up scrolling on Facebook for about 40 minutes. That's not a typical day for me, though for many people nearly 7 hours of non-work screen time isn't unusual.  According to the most recent studies , Americans spend an average of 4.5 hours watching TV every day, plus over 5 hours on their smart phones (sometimes both at once).  This is time spent texting, emailing, shopping, watching videos, using social media, playing games, etc. – not making phone calls.  Some people spend up to 12 hours on their devices every day. I don't know when they work or sleep or anything else. Not surprisingly, even though plenty of tech entrepreneurs are excited about the ongoing growth in this area, some experts are becoming concerned.  Obesity, anxiety, and depress

Clutter and Obesity - There IS a Connection

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There is scientific evidence that clutter and obesity have a relationship.  Jonathan Bailor, author of The Setpoint Diet , explains it pretty succinctly. Stress hormones are involved in weight and hunger signals.  One of the most influential on weight is cortisol. Among cortisol's many functions is to trigger the release of insulin, which then delivers glucose to cells for the energy to deal with short-term stress.  This is part of your body's survival response to stress.  If a predator starts chasing you (the typical type of short-term stress faced by humans for the majority of our history), you need fuel fast.  Then the crisis ends, the glucose is burned off, and a relaxation response gradually returns the body's systems to normal. The trouble is that your body responds to all stresses in the same way.  If you experience marital problems, financial difficulties, job stress, an argument, worry, or guilt and shame over your weight or your clutter, it's all "a saber

Bring the Mountain Closer

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Most overweight people feel a lot of shame.  Feeling proud of myself for something to do with food is definitely not typical. I suppose that pride aspect is part of the reason I like to start a new diet.  I feel virtuous about all I'm giving up.  Shedding those first few pounds feels like a reward for how "good" I've been on the diet.  Have you ever had that feeling? But once the water weight is gone, and weight loss slows, or maybe even stalls, I stop feeling like there's anything I can be proud of.  I haven't lost the dress size I vowed to lose; I haven't even lost 10% of my body weight . I know I'm not alone in this.  So how does anyone keep from giving up? The sad truth is that every big goal has a point at which we feel that we're making no progress.  It feels like the goal isn't getting any closer.  It's like walking toward a mountain on the horizon that seems as if it's receding into the distance.  Trent Hamm, who blogs at The S