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Showing posts from May, 2022

3 Easy Decluttering Successes (Challenges Part 3)

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Lying on the floor in front of me were three pairs of black summer sandals. Each pair had its good and bad features.  There were the extremely comfortable but rather clunky-looking ones, the super-cute but very uncomfortable strappy ones, and the ones that were rather cute and adequately comfortable, but took a bit more effort to wear since each shoe had three adjustment points. I knew I really only needed one pair of black sandals, but which one? Maybe I should just keep them all... Have you ever been in this situation?  You know your life will be better with less stuff, but you're struggling to decide what to keep and what to remove.  Paring down becomes slow and difficult, and sometimes (like I did in this situation), you get frustrated and wind up keeping everything. Simplifying your life can seem impossible when you're staring at a house full of stuff, a packed calendar, and maybe debt or other obstacles in the way.  So focus on baby steps rather than the big, scary pictur

3 Ways to Get Life Under Control (Challenges Part 2)

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Ten years ago, partly because of the economic downturn that affected people worldwide, my husband and I faced what felt like a mountain of credit card debt.  We were managing to pay our bills every month, but after I wrote the checks we had barely enough for food and gas.  As much as we hated it, we had to use credit cards for new glasses, a wedding gift, and auto maintenance.  Our debt wasn't shrinking.  We felt trapped. Finally, we became determined to cut up our credit cards.  We created a small emergency fund by cutting cable, cancelling our phone landline, and making do with the clothes we already owned.  We simplified our diet to save on groceries.  We held a yard sale.  We banked a small stipend Jon earned for coaching the school chess team.  And when our air conditioner needed servicing, we paid cash.  The emergency fund made it possible to stop relying on credit cards. No matter what we do with it, today will pass.  A week will go by.  A month, a year, a lifetime.  We can

36 Fun Minimalist Challenges Part 1

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Experiments are all about discovery and growth.  When we experiment, we become willing to do something we might not otherwise do.  And there's no real failure in an experiment because all results are data.  If something doesn't work the way you hoped, that's simply data that lets you try another behavior to see if it works better. It can be fun to experiment with simplifying your life.  You can find out what's hard, what's easier, what works or doesn't work for you, and what you might like to make permanent in six life areas: physical clutter digital clutter your mindset your schedule your finances your personal well-being Starting today I will share three minimalist challenges in each post published here on the blog.  I hope you'll join me in giving them a try!  Since there are a few days between each post, you have the opportunity to complete all three tasks before the next set is presented.  Most of the tasks should take about 30 minutes or less to accomp

Why Minimalism Might Make You Happy Even If You're Skeptical

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Updated July 2022 - Minimalism offers much more than you imagine. Have you heard, said, or thought any of these sentiments? "I could never be a minimalist because I hate modern art and furniture." "I could never be a minimalist because I have kids , and they need a ton of stuff." "I could never be a minimalist because I need all my equipment for [name of hobby]." "I could never be a minimalist because our economy will die if we all stop shopping."  These (and other) myths might be preventing you from finding the clarity, peace, time, energy, and joy of minimalism. Related post: What Minimalism Is, What It Isn't, and Why It Can Benefit Your Life Even if you adore decadently decorated cakes, you can still be a minimalist. What's the truth? 1.  It's true that the minimalist aesthetic emerged in the 1960's and featured extreme simplicity, a lot of geometric shapes, and a disdain for emotional expression.  Artist Frank Stella's

5 Ways to Stop Merely Escaping and Add Value to Daily Life

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I used to trudge through the day.  I'd get up, go to work, take care of the chores, pay the bills, and go to bed, waking up to do it all over again. I was getting by, going through the motions.  Life worked – sort of.  But I wasn't really happy.  I didn't feel any sense of freedom or control, and I certainly wasn't energized or excited by much. Sadly, this mechanical existence is so common that we think it's normal.  Some people seem to feel a sense of purpose, but our own early years of achievement and goal setting seem far behind. If we have any goals left, they involve making more money, buying a new car or a bigger house, taking an Instagram-worthy vacation, or prepping our kids for a top university so they can get a good career, make good money – and end up just like us . We're using the wrong kind of therapy. This is a soul-deadening reality to face, so we don't face it.  Our way of dealing with it is not to deal with it .  How do we make it through an

And Now for Something Completely Different

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A blog bundle with FREE resources to make life better. My friend Karen Cadera who works and blogs at teachyourchildpiano.com has created a blog bundle with five authors, including me.  Karen is a musician, teacher, and aspiring minimalist who has been subscribing to Maximum Gratitude Minimal Stuff for quite a while now.  She reached out and asked me to join the blog bundle, and I was pleased to do so.  This bundle includes several resources which are easily worth at least $100, but are available to all of you for  FREE . Don't be fooled by the blog titles.  You don't have to be part of a homeschooling family to receive benefits from these posts and resources.  Any parent or grandparent can use ideas for improving family life or enriching their child's learning experiences, and every one of us can use reminders and ideas about living in the moment, practicing good habits, and making intelligent decisions about money and belongings. I hope you enjoy the work of these creati

Accepting Change

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Change is in the air. This week in the Sacramento Valley temperatures are expected to be 90° F. (32° C.) or higher.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you already know I dread summer heat and dryness.  And here in Northern California it is upon us, although I realize that some of you are barely recovered from winter and still reveling in the fresh beauties of spring. This is only the beginning, and we may still have some time before everything that isn't irrigated turns brown and the sky gets that hot glare (or worse, the brown pall that signals fire).  There may be some time before my enthusiasm and energy levels sink as the thermometer soars. Change.  It's inevitable.  Most of us dislike it, but I've heard more than once that the pain of change doesn't come from the change itself, but from resisting it.  And as far as the impending arrival of summer, that's what I'm doing – I'm resisting. It's silly, I know, because I have no control ov

Five Minute Minimalism

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Have you read about minimizing, thought about it, dreamed about it, but just haven't gotten started yet? Or maybe you did get a start – last year some time.  You did a first pass through your wardrobe, pared down the kids' toys, got rid of your chipped dishes and glassware, and donated a few dusty knickknacks to the Goodwill.  But then you stalled.  Decluttering can be a huge job, and you just lost steam. You can start again – it only takes five minutes. I know you have five minutes.  Five minutes is a commercial break.  You can scramble eggs or make a cup of tea in five minutes.  Forget scrolling through social media and take five minutes to get back into decluttering. 31 Five Minute Decluttering Tasks 1.  Declutter the contents of your purse. 2.  Clear off your dresser or nightstand. 3.  Declutter your underwear or sock drawer. 4.  Remove five items from your wardrobe. 5.  Clear off the bathroom counter. 6.  Declutter the contents of the medicine cabinet. 7.  Clear the area u

Welcome Little One!

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I'm so happy to introduce my third grandson, Liam!  After a difficult pregnancy, he was safely delivered a few weeks early late last month.  My daughter is well, my son-in-law continues to be a supportive husband and hands-on Dad, and big brothers Elliot and Damien think their baby sibling is "the cutest ever." You may not be a parent or a grandparent, but babies have something to teach us about minimalism.  They are the essence of maximum gratitude and minimal stuff.  They come to us needing only love, warmth, cleanliness, and mama's milk.  Sure, they don't sleep, eat, or poop on any kind of schedule, but we are thrilled to welcome them even so. Modern consumer culture has made babies Big Business, and the number of products sold as "necessities" grows every year.  Yet Liam is satisfied with so little:  his food, a clean diaper, a warm blanket, enfolding arms.  Along with his car seat, crib, a few clothes, and a short list of other essentials , his need