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Showing posts from June, 2022

Remake Your Habits (Minimalist Challenges Part 11)

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I'm confronting the reality that I have a sugar addiction.  Without thinking, I add sugar and cream to my morning coffee and jam on my toast.  After lunch, I have a piece of chocolate or a cookie.  (I relieve my guilt by choosing small chocolates or cookies.)  Then a large mug of sweet and milky tea.  After dinner, perhaps a cup of sweetened Greek yogurt.  (Again the justification – it has live cultures and plenty of protein.) Do I eat and drink these things because I'm truly hungry or thirsty?  And if I am, wouldn't black coffee, unsweetened tea, and water with lemon be better choices?  How about an apple or a banana?  Or plain yogurt with some berries?  (There's a large strawberry patch currently selling sun-ripened fruit just minutes from my house.) My bad habits – like anyone's – are mindless.  I don't decide on them – I just do them.  Which is, of course, what makes them habits and hard to break.  I'm not sure I even enjoy the sweetness, because I'

Return to Real Life (Minimalist Challenges Part 10)

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Congratulations!  If you've been following along, you've made some amazing strides toward decluttering your home, calendar, phone, and email.  You've thought about your spending, your blessings, and your highest priorities.  You've started saving for emergencies and designed intentional rituals for the beginning and end of each day.  I applaud each step you've taken on your journey toward a simpler, more fulfilling life! If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that I'm in the middle of a Buy Nothing Year (check out the details and a previous update here ).  I've been learning that my impulses to shop are rarely inspired by actual need, since I plainly have enough already. Of course, we are alive, so we must consume.  We need shelter, food, clothing, medical care, and transportation.  We need opportunities to learn and to work.  And we need rest and recreation.  In fact, a huge part of human culture through the ages has grown out

How to Win at Hide and Seek (Minimalist Challenges Part 9)

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  Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.  Christina Scalise  Do you play hide and seek? When I was a kid my brother, sister, and I usually spent a summer week or two at my grandparents' house.  Two of my uncles lived nearby, so we were able to visit with my eight cousins as well. One of our favorite games was hide and seek.  My grandparents' place had several outbuildings (one of which held two defunct autos we were allowed to play in), a large garden, a small orchard, and some huge old trees bordering the neighbor's cotton field. Imagine ten kids scurrying to hide while one of them – "It" – counts to 100.  There were tons of hiding places and a lot of old stuff to hide in and behind and underneath.  As "It" located each kid, they joined together in searching for the rest, so eventually ten children were looking for the last one.  It was exciting, dirty, sweaty, and so much fun. You know what's not fun? 

Improve Your Health with Minimalism (Challenges Part 8)

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Earlier this year I was the victim of identity theft, and it was a sickening experience.  I felt so angry and so vulnerable .  But I'm also thankful for the kindness and competence of the people who helped me sort things out and begin to recover. Identity theft is only one possible source of stress in our world today.  Work, relationships, parenting, and general over-busyness can also be part of the mix.  But many studies, including the American Psychological Association's 2022 Stress in America survey, indicate that a large majority of Americans feel stressed about finances. Chronic stress is really bad for our health.  It lowers our immune response and can leave us vulnerable to digestive problems, headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. A minimalist mindset can reduce stress by helping us remove the things that bog us down and steal our money, time, and attention.  We may own and do less, but we gain the space and energy to focus on what we truly care about

Keep Looking Ahead (Challenges Part 7)

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I would love it if you would link to any of the posts in this series on your preferred social media platform.  Simply click on the dotted arrow symbol above and to the right of the photo.  Thanks! * * * As I was decluttering a few duplicates the other day, my husband noticed I had put some of his "teacher" mugs in the discard box.  He receives a few mugs of this sort every year at Christmas and at the end of the school year.  There are many clever variations on the "teacher" mug, but if we kept all that he was given we'd own well over 100 by now. Jon likes and enjoys his students and appreciates the thoughtfulness behind the gifts and cards they give him.  He can get a little nostalgic about his 35+ years as a teacher, but each successive group of children is unique, surprising, and fun.  Interacting with them today is what keeps him interested and energized. If we keep items long enough, they sometimes become a focus for memory and sentiment, even if they were

How to Be Happier (Minimalist Challenges Part 6)

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  Hey there!  If you're not yet a subscriber, why are you putting it off?  This would be a good time to do it so that each post in the Minimalist Challenge series simply shows up in your email inbox.  Welcome! * * * "If a little is good, more must be better!"    Isn't that the mantra of our culture?  It goes with "Buy one, get one" (whether you need it or not), "Supersize it!" and "Why settle for less?" My parents never had much money to spare, but I have never experienced real poverty.  I imagine it's the same for most of you.  And today, we have everything we need and then some.  But our hyper-consumerist culture has convinced us that we need even more.   After all, it's not enough to have a house – we need to continually update and upsize our housing.  It's not enough to have clothing – we need to follow trends that change every few months.  It's not enough to have a car – we need to trade it in every couple of years fo

A Better Use of Time (Minimalist Challenges Part 5)

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Thank you for all of your emails – I really enjoy reading your comments about these minimalist challenges.  I'm available at karen@maximumgratitudeminimalstuff.com. * * * Don't you think it's interesting that we can spend an afternoon and evening binge-watching an entire season of The Big Bang Theory , but we "don't have time" to make something just for the fun of it?  We can lose an hour scrolling on social media, but we "don't have time" to write our closest friends and loved ones more than a few texts. Maybe we need to think more carefully about how we use the precious gift of our time. One of my favorite possessions is a letter my grandmother wrote to me when she was in her 80's about how she became a Christian and what her faith meant to her.  This lovely passage is in the middle of a four-page missive in which she also discusses what she took to a potluck dinner at her church and how her garden was progressing that season.  This letter

Improve Your Day-to-Day (Minimalist Challenges Part 4)

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My two young grandsons recently came for an overnight visit.  I love the fact that they're excited to come.  I love the fact that they consider my guest bedroom "their" room.  And I love their energy and imagination.  But within minutes my small apartment was covered in toys.  And I don't even have that many!  The blocks, Legos, wooden train set, vehicles, and even the books spread throughout the bedroom, down the hall, and into the living room.  Crayons and paper took over the dining table, and then Elliot (age 6) wanted to play Catan Junior (paid link), a wonderful game with about 200 small pieces. There's nothing wrong with a little creative chaos.  And at bedtime, it doesn't take long to put a few toys where they belong.  My home is usually clutter-free, so the toys (or my scrapbooking, or my husband's school work) are only temporary messes. But in a home with tens of thousands of belongings (studies say that the average American home contains 300,000