When I post something of my own on social media or repost/retweet about living more simply, inevitably a few people will comment on why they like having all of their stuff.
If you're in that camp, I say, "Awesome! You keep doing you."
In fact, I used to be in that camp. I loved my stuff.
And then I got tired of all the stuff I had to dust around each week. I got tired of all the clothes, so many that I rotated between summer and winter with each season having its own tote. I got tired of so much stuff in drawers that it was easier to shove more in rather than go through it.
I simply got tired of all of it but wasn't sure what to do.
And then I started listening to this cool podcast and watched a documentary by the same name, The Minimalists. I've referred to these two friends who make up the dynamic duo, Jonathan Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, in previous posts. You can check out their story here.
I listened to their message, read about their journeys, watched their documentary, and read all three of their books. I consumed everything I could and branched out upon learning about other minimalists who are doing their thing living their lives in the way that best suits them.
And then I jumped to action. Sure, there were times when my husband worried I would purge him (he made the cut!) but minimalism isn't just about getting rid of stuff (but it is a solid starting point).
"Minimalism is not about deprivation; minimalism is about aligning your short-term actions with your long-term values." --The Minimalists
It's about getting real with yourself about what you want your life to be and then pursuing it with ridiculous and consistent passion. This is precisely why I started Everyday Life Uncluttered.
It's was about realizing that life is not a destination but a continuous journey. It's getting rid of the physical clutter that no longer serves a purpose. It's paying down debt to the point of living a life with more freedom. It's having more experiences over obtaining more possessions. It's enriching my life with more mindfulness in who I spend my time with and how I choose to spend my money.
I appreciate that my life is more about going for walks, finding the best pizza in town, reading books, writing, and spending time with my family. It's less about cleaning (we now live in a space of 835 square feet), searching for stuff, and not knowing what I do or don't have.
But as I said, it's a continuous journey. I still have too many books. I'm getting better at gifting some as I finish them (Side note: subscribe to my FREE newsletter on the home page, because I periodically give away books). I have a Kindle, but I still enjoy the feel of a book in my hands most of the time. My husband often tells me that I shouldn't buy another book until I have read the ones I currently have...and then I buy another one anyway.
I do like clothes, but I subscribe to one new item in, two existing items go out.
I need to do a better job of making sure we consume the food we have before purchasing more.
I want to be more mindful of the purchases I make. As much as possible, I buy from small independent businesses.
What often keeps me moving in the direction of keeping the stuff at bay is playing the 30-day minimalism game periodically. It's even better when friends and family join in to hold each other accountable.
So, you keep doing you, and I will keep doing me...with a lot less stuff.
"One day or day one. You decide." --Joshua Fields Millburn
I write because I'm a writer.
It has taken me so long to say that. I always felt like I couldn't call myself a writer, because I didn't have a book gracing the shelves of Barnes & Noble (or some other bookstore). I didn't have articles published in magazines. I wasn't a columnist for some large newspaper.
That's what I envisioned a writer being. Untouchable. Like there's no way I could ever call myself one.
The switch started to flip when I started putting myself out there, started taking risks. I submitted some drafts to Elephant Journal and was rejected. I approached our local newspaper and pitched an idea for a column twice a month and was accepted. I wrote for that paper for two years and took another risk. I asked to be paid but was rejected. So, I stopped writing for it.
And then I discovered Medium. It was as if the door had been thrown wide open and I was being welcomed into the world of writing with open arms. I've been writing on this platform for two years. Sometimes I publish my own pieces and other times I submit them to publications. I've pitched a couple of articles and have been paid for them. I've been rejected by other publications. I've submitted articles to be paid on the Medium Partner Program. One month I made almost $8.00. Not much, but it was cool and I might do it again in the future.
I write, because it's what I have to offer to the world. It's the way I best communicate. It allows me the chance to get my thoughts and feelings out into the open. Sometimes just for me and sometimes to share with others.
I'm a firm believer that if what I write reaches one person, then who knows how many more it can potentially reach? All it takes it that one person who shares my message with someone else and then it continues to multiply.
I write, because my message is about positivity and simplicity. I write about everyday experiences. I write about what inspires me and who inspires me. I write about what motivates me, makes me laugh, and moves me to tears. I write because I feel. I write because it's who I am. It's a part of me that I no longer ignore.
There are days when I'm not sure I have anything to share, and then there are days when the ideas won't stop flowing. I write, because I like to learn. I pick up ideas from others, because I can then translate them into my perspective, my unique voice.
My writing isn't for everyone and that's the intent. If my audience was everyone, then it wouldn't really be for anyone. I write for the person who thrives on positive energy, who enjoys the simple things life has to offer. Experiences over stuff. Simplicity over excess.
This is why I write.
***Note: On August 28, 2017, I wrote a piece that was published in The Ascent called Why I write: it's all about the connections. All writers evolve and this most recent piece shows my continued growth as a writer.
Do you ever have those days where you get really zoned in for the day, and you get a ton done?
Yep, I had one of those days today and it was fabulous!
I didn't make a to-do list, and yet I knew what I wanted to accomplish. I went from one item to the next and it was as if I built on the momentum of the previous thing that propelled me on to the next one.
I get to the evening hours and wonder how I can harness that kind of energy on a daily basis, and I came to the conclusion that I have to stop overthinking it.
For example, I've been putting off the editing, revising, and rewriting parts of my book. My editor got the draft to me, and I've had it for almost a month. I told her today I kind of felt paralyzed. By what I'm not sure. Maybe it's the fear of failure or the potential fear of success that scared me. I also felt like I needed to have a big chunk of time set aside to work on it.
Today I didn't worry about it. I simply sat down and got to work. Before I knew it, I had 10 pages revised. I didn't worry about putting in a certain amount of time or making sure I rewrote a certain number of pages. Instead, I put my butt in the chair. I did, however, give myself a deadline to getting the second draft to her by the end of September, and I think it helped me buckle down and focus.
Sometimes we are paralyzed with inaction, because we think we need everything to be absolutely perfect. The thing is, 99.9 percent of the time it isn't. If we keep waiting, we'll never do it.
What's stopping you from accomplishing something or making it become a reality? Are you paralyzed by inaction? Do you think the circumstances need to be perfect? If you don't have a set amount of time, do you tell yourself you can't start working on it now?
I discovered today I've been getting in my own way from getting my book to completion. And you know what I did?
I removed the obstacle, and that obstacle was me.
There have been some events the last few days that have tested my thoughts and feelings. While the specifics aren't especially relevant and could quite possibly result in a rant, one word comes to mind:
We live in a negative and angry world.
I went to the Green Day concert in Omaha (NE) recently, and frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said it best: "Look on your phone and what you're going to see is a mad, mad world. But not tonight. We're leaving it at the door. Tonight we're gonna have a good time together. We're gonna sing together. We're gonna dance together. We're gonna cry together. Because we're in this together."
And I choose not to engage in the mad and angry world. While some people might look at me and say I'm burying my head in the sand, these are the choices I make instead:
I choose to be kind, and I work to spread kindness. One of my passions is elementary school counseling, and we have a lot of angry little ones coming through our doors. Kids who have seen way too much tragedy in their young lives. And yet we expect them to walk into classrooms ready to learn.
My desire is to teach them to be kind to themselves first and then to spread that kindness to others. I often show this video to the third and fourth graders to get them to see how random acts of kindness often come back to them when they least expect it.
The best part of this video is it wasn't something I found. One of my former 4th grade students (who is about to start 7th grade this year) happened to come across it on YouTube and thought it would be good to show other kids. I now show it every year.
I choose to be positive, because it's so much easier and healthier than the alternative of being negative. Being negative is exhausting. On the rare occasions I get in a funk and am rather snarky, I end up being alone. I basically put myself in a self-imposed timeout. Who wants to be around someone who is being such a downer?
By choosing a positive attitude, I'm happier, I'm more content, and I have so much more energy. Plus, others feed off a positive person.
Rather than engaging in what's wrong in the world, I focus on what's right in it and am grateful for it. Each morning I write down three gratitudes using my Five Minute Journal App. It helps keep me centered and I'm in a great frame of mind to begin the day.
Sometimes I think people are reluctant to write down what they are grateful for, because they feel as if their gratitudes need to be earth-shattering. Some days I'm grateful for a bowl of ice cream. Other days I'm grateful for a friend being in remission from cancer.
It doesn't matter what you write down as long as it has meaning to you. It's so incredibly powerful.
So, there you have it. My alternatives to engaging in a mad world: be kind, be positive, and be grateful. Going to a Green Day concert doesn't hurt either.
No one likes being sick.
You feel awful. You might be throwing up, having diarrhea, or both. It could be accompanied by a headache, fever, or both.
However, there are some benefits when you’re down for the count.
You’re forced to slow down.
When you’re on the go constantly, being sick forces you to slow down. You don’t have a choice. And that’s a good thing. We all need to do a better job of slowing down, so when we’re sick we’re reminded of that.
Instead of feeling rushed and overwhelmed, we need to stop and take a break. That break can have different looks, but it needs to center around not going in a bunch of directions at once.
"You can move one step in 20 directions or 20 steps in one direction."
I like the above saying, because it’s a great reminder that when we have too much going on at once we don’t get anywhere. We’re lucky if we’re able to tread water.
When we’re sick, we are forced to go in one direction and that’s staying in bed.
Your body does a natural cleanse.
When you’re sick, your body does a cleanse all on its own. Think about it. You usually get rid of everything that was in your body one way or another, you don’t feel like eating, and you only drink water so you don’t dehydrate.
It’s great, because you don’t spend money on the newest cleanse fad out there. Being sick does it for you.
Then you get a fresh start on changing your eating habits. You start to slowly add back what you can handle and it’s a good time to add in only what is beneficial for you.
You get much needed sleep.
Many times when you’re sick you sleep. A lot. And that’s exactly what your body needs. Often being sick is our body’s way of telling you that you’ve run out of steam. You’re done. Finished.
Again, this is a positive, because when you’re run down you can’t function effectively. Getting more sleep gives you a chance to get caught back up and you can then work on being more consistent. Your body needs 7–8 hours of sleep each night. Start adhering to it.
You appreciate being healthy.
You have a deeper appreciation for being healthy. It makes you want to make changes for the better, because you feel pretty much handcuffed when you’re sick. You can’t do anything, because you don’t feel like it.
It’s time to stop taking health for granted. Sure, there are times when you’re going to get sick. It’s inevitable. But, there are steps everyone can take to lessen the duration, intensity, and length of illness.
It’s basic common sense: eat whole foods, drink water, get the proper amount of sleep, exercise, and engage in healthy relationships.
Being sick sucks.
Yes, being sick sucks big time. We all hate it, but we can choose to take a different approach to it. We can choose to see the benefits.
(And yes, I wrote this on the heels of being sick.)
**This article first appeared on Medium.
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.