Monthly Archives: February 2013

Say No for a Change.

[via fotogail on Flickr}
[via fotogail on Flickr}

How do you feel when you need to say no to someone?

  • Guilty?
  • Mean?
  • Offensive?
  • Lazy?

I am very bad at saying no. I won’t even list the ways here, because that wouldn’t be a post – that would be a report. A long one.

Suffice to say I have had several awkward conversations recently all because I struggle to say no.

But I came to a realisation recently, that is helping me reframe what no means. Or rather, what my frequent yeses mean.

Our time, resources and energy is finite, so by saying yes to one thing, we are saying no to another.

Saying yes to one thing means saying no to another.

  • Saying yes to that skirt means saying no to dinner out with friends. (Money is finite.)
  • Saying yes to that committee means saying no to watching your son play soccer. (Time is finite.)
  • Saying yes to another hour of TV at night means saying no to early morning yoga. (Energy is finite.)
  • Saying yes to the door-to-door salesman means saying no to the charity collector. (Money.)
  • Saying yes to another sporting committment means saying no to time with your partner. (Time.)
  • Saying yes to becoming a mentor means saying no to another opportunity. (Energy.)

I’m not saying that these yeses are wrong. It’s wonderful to help people, to be involved, to bond and be active.

We just need to remember that there are two sides to this coin. One yes equals one no.

Thinking about it this way helps me feel OK saying no when I usually would have caved in and said yes.  If you have the same internal struggle when it comes to saying no, when you’re next faced with the prospect of saying no, ask yourself:

Is this an important yes? Or am I saying yes simply because I don’t want to face saying no?

 

Tell me, do you struggle saying no? How do you overcome it?

 

 

We Live How We Live

 

Live and let live
{via JustinMarantz}

 

Last week, I was thoroughly, entirely, heartily called out for being a “smug” minimalist. According to this person, I was a judgemental, condescending jerk. I was disdainful and presumptuous. I was a childless asshat.

Clearly the author of said rant got at least one part of her story wrong. I may be an asshat, but I am certainly not childless.

Which brings me to my point.

We live how we live. 

People will have opinions about how we live our lives. Some will have judgement. Some will think I am a terrible mother who withholds things from her kids. Some will think I am boring, drab or dull. And that is so fine.

For the first time in my life, that really is so fine.

Finding a way of life that feels so right for me and my family means I’m now able to say, “No worries. Your life your way. My life my way.” Now I can be faced with personal judgements and know that I am comfortable with my choices and those of my family. In fact, I’m pretty damn thrilled with them.

Obviously, I’m going to keep writing about simplicity, because I am passionate about it and it’s helping a lot of people in very real ways. And if you don’t want to know about it, that really is so fine.

 

A Sneak Peek into our Slow Home

Warm minimalist bedroom

 

I recently gave an interview and a mini-tour of our home over on The Minimalist Mom.

Rachel asked some fabulous questions, some which really terrified me. You can check out the entire post here.

 

Simplicity in Action: My Story

Over the weekend I was able to share a little of my story on Courtney Carver’s gorgeous blog, Be More With Less.

“Sometimes in the journey towards simplicity, time is the missing ingredient.

I discovered minimalism when I was at an incredibly dark point in my life. I was scared, angry and so unsure of my next step. Then I stumbled upon Zen Habits and discovered minimalism. And I clung to it like a life-preserver.

I instinctively knew that living with less stuff, less debt, less clutter and more presence, more joy, more mindfulness was right for me and my young family. I just knew.”

You can read the entire post here

 

Destination: Simple is Free Today!

Destination: Simple is Free Today!

If you haven’t yet bought your copy of my new book, ‘Destination: Simple’ then this is your lucky day. If you head over to Amazon right now, you can grab a copy for free!

(You don’t need a Kindle device in order to buy via Amazon. You can simply download one of the free Kindle Reader apps from here, and read the book on your smartphone, tablet or desktop.)

And if you have already bought a copy – as so many of you beautiful folk have – you’re also free to gift copies to your friends, family, colleagues or kids. Share the love and spread the message!

Brooke xx

 

 

10 Things I’m Afraid to Tell You

{via Design for Mankind}
{via Design for Mankind}

 

Some of these things are small matters, some are large. Some significant, others…not so much. All are things I’m afraid to tell you.

I’m afraid to tell you because you may laugh at me, you may judge me, you may think that I am not walking the simplicity talk. I may seem like a dullard, someone with bad taste or questionable values.

But I’m telling you because I want you to know that I am a real person who struggles with things daily, who has quirks and weirdness, someone with a unique worldview. And that’s OK. I’m owning mine because I want you to own yours – you weirdness, your failings, your quirks.

I’m not saying don’t try to improve. I’m all for self-improvement (obviously). But when it comes to quirks and mistakes and errors in judgement, it’s OK. We learn, we grow, we own them.

10 Things I’m Afraid to Tell You…

Essentially, my mistakes and quirks and errors in judgement make me human. They don’t undermine the work I’ve done to live a simpler, happier life. I simply don’t ever want you to think I’m miles ahead. Because I’m not.

1. Sometimes I am gripped with such a deep melancholy and hopelessness at the challenges our world faces. I pride myself on being encouraging and positive and a good influence on the world. But, man, sometimes I just feel the weight of our issues too much. I fear that to change the world in the way it needs to change means losing jobs, making entire industries redundant, and shifting priorities and perspectives at a national and global level. In essence, it means we need to change society. And I seriously wonder whether that will happen.

2. I laugh at fart jokes.

3. I used to drink wine almost every night as a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety. Now I exercise most days and drink far less.

4. I used disposable nappies on Toby – and I hold an enormous amount of green guilt for it.

5. I pride myself on being well-read and think I have pretty good taste in literature. But I have read (and thoroughly enjoyed) the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. Hunger Games too.

6. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by guilt and shame. For anything. For everything. I think it’s the reformed perfectionist in me rearing her snarling head. Making me feel like I am somehow responsible for all the shitty things that happen around me. (It’s funny, there’s not a peep to be heard from her when good things abound.)

7. Some days I don’t feel qualified to write about slow and simple living. Because some days my life feels frantic and complicated.

8. I have a little box full of expensive jewellery that I don’t know what to do with. I never wear it but can’t bring myself to sell it. And I don’t even know why. I don’t even like it.

9. When I was a teenager I had a crush on Kevin Spacey. Yes, Kevin Spacey, not Kevin Bacon. Spacey.

10. Despite all my efforts related to healthy living, good sleep, simplifying and exercise, I am still taking medication for depression. It’s been more than two years, it saved my sanity and I am eternally grateful for the positive changes in my life since beginning the treatment. But I still feel like it’s a weakness on my part. That I’m a failure because I couldn’t “beat this thing” on my own.

 

Well, that was terrifying. And liberating.

I guess there’s a lot to be said for looking fear in the eye…

 

Now, tell me, what fills you with fear?

{Shout out to Jess Lively for her post last year that lit a fuse for truth and transparency. It inspired this post.}

13 Simplicity Lessons Learnt on Holiday

Pay Attention

Have you ever counted down the days, weeks and months to a much-needed holiday?

Me too.

In fact, I had it worked out to hours for one particular break. That’s how much I was looking forward to it.

And while the rest, relaxation, fun in the sun or time on the snow is awesome, there is so much more we can learn from our getaway, if only we pay attention.

We’ve just returned from a wonderfully relaxing holiday on the beach. And while the beach was gorgeous, the seafood fresh, the sauvignon blanc crisp and the vibe chilled, the greatest value was in the lessons we learnt.

Aside from discovering where the best fish tacos are sold or what time of day the beach is most stunning, we learnt a great deal about living a simpler, slower life.

And the best thing? You don’t need to be on holidays to benefit!

13 Simple Living Lessons Learnt at the Beach

1. Give yourself completely over to play:

Play is something I struggle with. I often find my mind wandering, thinking of what other ‘important’ things I could be doing. But the joy and physicality of making a sandcastle or a shoreline pool is a wonderful reminder that single-tasking, particularly in play, is so wonderful. It’s restorative and takes you back to your own childhood. And I think all of us would benefit from more of that.

2. It’s OK to be purposeless:

Wander aimlessly. Sit on a park bench and do nothing. Take yourself off to a nice, quiet coffee shop or bar and enjoy your own company. People-watch. Leave your phone at home. Give yourself no agenda. Learn to be OK with aimlessness. Life is crammed full, we need to learn to just be sometimes.

3. Take time to read:

So many of us don’t read. Read for joy. Read to learn. Read to escape. Read to relax. Read to broaden your horizons. Give yourself the gift of reading good books.

4. Take time to rest:

Lie down and be still. Sleep if you want to. Take turns with your partner to look after the kids. Restore yourself and feel good about doing it.

5. Take time to stroll:

A life spent at strolling pace is a life that teaches you. You will discover things. About yourself. About your kids. About your life. About your surroundings. Strolling gives you the space and time to wander and to wonder. You notice the gorgeous blossoms, the bird-song, the way your daughter can ride her bike properly now.

6. Eat good food, joyously:

When you’re active and physically engaged with the world around you, your appetite kicks up a notch. Satisfy it and fuel your body with good food. Calories, additives and lo-fat fake foods have no place in a simple life. If your focus is on good food, well prepared, then you aren’t going to pig out on deep-fried fast food anyway.

7. Come together as a family at the end of each day:

When we were on holiday, we had daily happy hours on the verandah. Post-beach, post-showers, pre-dinner. Just us and the kids and a drink each. We spoke about the day, had a laugh, enjoyed each other. Taking a moment to come together at the end of the day is a wonderful anchor to the important things.

8. Be active every day:

When on holidays you are unintentionally active. We played at the beach, walked to the coffee shop, surfed, stretched on the sand, chased the kids, went to the park, kicked the ball, made sandcastles, swam, body-surfed. None of it felt like exercise, because we were engaged. It was all just a part of our day. Try and include incidental exercise in your day – every day. You don’t need a gym membership to lead an active life.

9. We need so much less than we have:

One small bag of clothes each. Some toiletries, linen, pram, surfboard, toys and books. That’s what we needed to fill two weeks. We have so much, but we need so little. Is it time to declutter your life?

10. There is joy in simplicity:

Fresh air, time to rest, good food, great company and solitude. These are the things we need in life. And when reality resumes, and you need to work, pay the bills, go to school and clean the bathroom, try to remember just how little you need to be happy.

11. Find a rhythm that works for your family and stick with it:

On holiday, it only took a few days to find our groove. In daily life, you instinctively know what your family needs, and having a rhythm in place that allows those things makes each day so much simpler.

12. Be flexible:

Anyone who has travelled with kids will tell you that things never go as planned. Much like life, really. So be prepared to be flexible. Allow your plans to be elastic and let them flex and stretch with the day.

13. The happiness of return:

The kids were beyond excited to head home after a week away. It’s a sure sign that life at home is going in the right direction when your thoughts turn happily to home. To be surrounded by your support network and to return to your community is a wonderful thing, so ensure you cultivate them when you can and be grateful for all you have. (It’s probably more than you realise).

Tell me, what was your favourite holiday? 

 

February is the Month of the Office, Bathrooms and Laundry

2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge - January

Are you participating in the 2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge? How did you go over January with your decluttering efforts?

If you haven’t started yet, it’s never too late to join. Head over here to find the January checklist, as well as the Slow Your Home forums, where all kinds of fabulous folk are keeping track of the clutter leaving their homes. It’s inspiring to see what improvements people are making to their lives!

As for me, I joyfully simplified my way through the month and decluttered:

Donated:

  • Kids clothes x 63
  • Maternity clothes x 47
  • Craft items x 10
  • Side table
  • Christmas tree
  • Toys x 36
  • Storage boxes x 7
  • Shelving unit
  • Christmas decorations/decor x 12
  • Books x 6
  • Baby bowls/plates x 4
  • Jewellery supplies x 500-plus (but I’m only counting it as one)

Give Away (to friends/family):

  • Kids clothes x 45
  • Toys x 15
  • Jewellery x 31

Throw Away:

  • Broken toys x 31
  • Misc. x 12

Progress to Date: 323 unwanted items are gone!

(And damn it feels good.)

 

February is the Month of…

Now thoughts turn to February’s projects.

February is the month of Bathrooms, Laundry and the Office/Study.

Which means that February is also the month of paperwork – a clutter trap in many homes that strikes fear in the heart of many.

You can dive straight in to the February checklist, which can be found right here. (Just click the link and the list will start downloading automatically.)

We will be decluttering the following areas over the next few weeks:

Bathroom:

  •     Cosmetics
  •     Candles/Gift packs
  •     Bath toys
  •     Out-of-date lotions etc

Laundry:

  •     Cleaning supplies
  •     Mismatched socks, etc
  •     Clothes waiting for ‘repair’
  •     Storage – food, outdoor toys, rain gear, etc

Office/Study:

  •     Filing cabinet
  •     Drawers
  •     Desk surface
  •     Computer desktop and hard-drive
  •     Email inboxes

Papers:

  •     Old bills, paperwork, tax information, etc
  •     Magazines
  •     Papers requiring action
  •     Papers waiting to be filed

Again, the February Checklist can be found here, and it includes links to some helpful articles both here on Slow Your Home and other sites, that may make the projects easier to tackle.

Last year I put togther a huge guide to dealing with paper clutter around the home, and to this day it’s still one of the most searched-for topics on the blog. So if you need some guidance on how best to start, let alone finish such a big job, check out the three-part series right here.

 

How are you finding the Challenge so far? Any areas you are itching to get into? Let me know in the comments below…