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Showing posts from September, 2021

How to Live Well

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There's a difference between living and living well. Too often we equate living well with "having it all."  The big house, the fancy car(s), the designer clothes, the extravagant vacations.  Our Facebook feed looks amazing, but what's the real truth? Maybe we're drowning in debt.  Or we're working ourselves to death.  We might feel inadequate, anxious, and stressed.  We may be ignoring our closest relationships and weakening those bonds.  If we have children, they may be learning to become ever more competitive and covetous.  And in spite of it all, we may still be jealous of those who have what we don't, and still looking for the next purchase to fill us up and make us feel whole, satisfied, and at peace. Why do so many of us choose to live this way, in debt and a hostage to purchases from the past, with a future that looks like trying to dig out of a hole that just gets deeper? I know that some will say that prices keep going up and it's impossible t

Mid-Century Minimalism

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What does minimalism look like to a Baby Boomer?  It looks nostalgic. I remember a neighbor's clutter-free home, minimally furnished in what is now called Mid-century Modern.  Wood floors, white walls, sleek yet comfortable furniture in neutral colors, a few large bright paintings, and a bit more color added with throw pillows and a burnt orange armchair.  This was very different to my home, which had a lot of dark Early American furniture, patterned upholstery, drapes, and wallpaper, and many knickknacks. Housework must have been simple across the street because of the lack of clutter.  Their kitchen was also simple with open shelving instead of closed cabinets.  I think there might have been a dozen glasses, plates, and bowls for the family, and just a few pots and pans – also unlike the overly full cupboards of my childhood home. But my family was more minimalist when it came to clothing.  I remember having three pairs of shoes – for church, school, and playtime.  I also had may

New Season, New Habits

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For many of us, lovely autumn is finally here.  For those who live in the southern hemisphere, it is the beginning of another spring. Either way, it's a fresh start. You might already know that I get tired of heat and summer sun, month after month.  Here in northern California, it's almost a miracle to have temperatures lower than 90℉ or to receive any rain at all between May and October.  I think it is almost as difficult as a long, cold, snowy winter, and my husband and I lived in Denver for a while, so I have experienced that type of climate as well and have some basis for comparison. I am quite ready for cooler temps, cloudy skies, and the variety of color and change that autumn provides (it's just like spring in that respect).  I always feel a surge of energy at this time of year, and I'm ready for a new project or challenge. Does the change of seasons make you feel the same?  Are you itching for change and a challenge?  Rather than focusing on a new fall wardrobe,

Look to the End

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Everyone knows that their life will end someday, but no one likes to think about it.  Which is unfortunate, because as soon as you start thinking about the end of your life, you start to live differently. I believed I was thinking about the end of my life when I considered retirement.  I planned how to save in order to make my final years as comfortable and worry-free as possible.  I made a plan for how to distribute my possessions once I'm gone.  But all of it was still theoretical.  I figured my final days were far in the future, and even as I planned for them I didn't take them seriously. Of course it's normal to put a lot of energy and focus on a career.  No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end job with no challenge and no future – we want to climb a corporate ladder, or become a success in our own business.  We want tenure, and publication in peer-reviewed journals.  We want starring roles, medals, and awards.  Or we want to be social media influencers and the subject o

Upgrade Your Closet From Sad to Satisfying

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What am I going to wear? It's the most common question women ask themselves when they open up their closets, and it stirs up two very different emotions:  excitement or frustration. Based on my own experience, and the experiences of other women I've talked to, the feeling of excitement isn't very common.  Sometimes we get it when we've purchased a new outfit, but even then there's no guarantee.  How often have you brought new clothes home only to find that they don't fit, feel, or look as good as you thought they did in the store?  They end up in the back of the closet, tags still on, a reminder of fashion failure. And even if a new outfit is a success, the novelty fades, and our consumer society steps in with ads and promotions that promise even more pleasure if you make another purchase.   The results of buying new clothes every week aren't great.  That fast fashion fix leads to: a closet that's even more packed and hard to keep in order a bunch of cre

You Add the Color

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Comfortable Minimalism is not confined to one particular design.  I hope I've made it clear that your rooms don't need to be ultra-modern stark white boxes with chrome, glass, and abstract art in order to be comfortably minimalist. And you don't need to buy anything to make your home fit some minimalist ideal.  If your beige overstuffed sectional is still usable, and especially if you and your family love to cuddle up or spread out on it, keep it and enjoy! As you become more minimalist, maybe you'll no longer clutter that sectional with a dozen throw pillows, and you'll keep your large coffee table from becoming permanently covered with homework, magazines, remotes, and tchotchkes.  Then it can be ready for a board game or a movie night pizza. Similarly, if you adore your carefully curated gallery wall , especially if it regularly inspires conversations or reminiscences, keep it and enjoy!  There's no need to undo your heartfelt creation simply because it's

Comfortable Minimalism

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Beauty is important.  It makes you feel good.  It makes you happier.  It brings you peace.  This is true in the world around you and in your home environment too. We need the shelter that our homes provide.  But think about how you feel when you walk into your home.  What happens to your energy and your mood?  Does your home make you feel as good as it could?  Does it support the quality of life you need and want?  If not, why not?  What should you do to make a change? These are important questions, because the answers affect you and your family every day. With inspiration from my new book, Comfortable Minimalism: Create a Home with Plenty of Style and a Lot Less Stuff (paid link), you can start making your home more beautiful and welcoming right now, even if you have no money to spend.  Experience more open space, more natural light, and easier home care.  Choose and display the items that bring you most joy.  Make small changes for a big impact. Learn how to do a home tune-up, how t

Making the Most of Minimalism

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Okay, I'll say it again.  In spite of what some may think when they hear or see the word, minimalism does not necessarily mean that you are able to store everything you own in a backpack; you live in a white cubicle with one chair, one lamp, and a mattress on the floor; you cultivate a loner existence with no family, no friends, and no commitments. I suppose there are some who choose to live this way, but I don't know anyone like that.  It certainly doesn't describe me or others I know who have chosen a minimalist lifestyle. So what do I mean when I say I'm a minimalist? As a minimalist, I try to determine what I need in my life so that I can discover and fulfill my calling, while removing the things that distract or prevent me from doing that. For example: I want a beautiful, comfortable, tidy home, but I don't want to spend all my time cleaning or caring for things.  I don't want clutter to put up obstacles that keep me from dressing, cooking, or relaxing when

Ask One Question

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I have a friend who was recently inspired to start down the minimalist path.  She has two young children, and has lately been feeling overwhelmed by all of their toys, clothes, and equipment (you know... car seats, strollers, waterproof mattress protectors, high chairs, sippy cups, pacifiers, etc.), as well as by her own wardrobe, kitchen, and many possessions in a large house. She's a busy lady, so she's been trying to find time to declutter during her children's naps.  But she admitted she's bogged down by the sheer number of things in every nook and cranny of her house and garage, and by the constant decisions about what to keep and what to remove.  I suggested that she start asking herself just one question:  "What do we need?" It's easy to dismiss the possibility of minimalism because you don't want to live like a monk, or like a college student backpacking through Asia, or like an ultra-cool hipster in a mostly-empty all-white loft. But minimali