Monthly Archives: May 2013

Choose Positivity. Opt For Happiness.

Promote Optimism. Choose Positivity. Opt for Happiness.

 

Today’s assignment: Take the coin that is your mindset and flip it.

Choose positivity. Opt for happiness. Promote optimism.

My go-to response in times of stress or indecision is to choose tails – to opt for negativity, frustration, resentment, anger, fear, jealousy or comparison. And lately, I’ve been more tails than heads. But as part of my challenge to shake the world with beauty I’m asking more of myself. Will you join me?

Let’s call heads.

Choose positivity.

Opt for happiness.

Promote optimism.

Just one time today – let’s STOP – and instead of choosing tails:

Choose to say “I love you” when you really want to scream.

Choose to be thankful for your beautiful body instead of scathing of its perceived flaws.

Choose to congratulate yourself when you play with the kids instead of clean the toilet.

Choose to be content when you clean the toilet instead of playing with the kids. (Because sometimes – it’s just gotta get done.)

Choose to see the positive side of an ambivalent comment.

Choose to accept that the rude woman at the supermarket may be going through a rough patch.

Choose to smile at strangers.

Choose to dance it out when your frustration rises.

Choose to breathe deeply and say, “I am awesome” when you feel invisible.

Choose to see the good in people rather than the bad.

Choose to believe that positivity attracts more positivity and your world will feel infinitely brighter each time you do.

 

Tell me, do you believe in the power of mind over matter? Will you flip it today – just once?

Can We Shake the World With Beauty?

 

Sometimes we simply need to appreciate beauty. There may be no logical reason for the beauty. No end to its means. No summation.

It just is.

And that is enough.

Sometimes we need reminding to look for it. Because we’re too caught up in the crappy week, the busy days, the exhausted nights. The day-to-day and the need-to-dos. The life stuff.

But can I tell you what else is part of the life stuff?

  • Bird song early in the morning
  • A spider’s web
  • A rainbow
  • Your kids’ laughter
  • Your loved one’s smile
  • The smell of rain on the earth
  • You, alone, running on the road
  • Play

Lately, I've been ignoring the beauty – and it shows.

I'm disengaged. I'm focusing on the busy-ness, the unimportant, the minor details. Where I should be looking for the shiny, the unexpected, the delightful and the awe-inspiring, I find myself focused on the negatives, the failings, the comparisons.

So this is a reminder for me, as much as anyone else, to rediscover the beauty.

And the beauty I'm talking about isn't the Mona Lisa, Grand Canyon, Ryan Gosling kind. You don't need these things to know beauty.

What about the golden mist as you water the garden? The warmth in your chest from a beating heart? A sky filled with fluffy clouds? Holding hands?

This week, I'm challenging you (and myself) to find beauty every day. Write it down, tweet it out, Facebook status it. Let's spread a little beauty this week, and see if we can't shake the world.

At the end of the week, come back and share with us the beauty you discovered (or rediscovered).

5 Simple Living Blogs that Deserve Our Attention

5 Blogs That Deserve Our Attentionq
{ via schongeist }

 

Last year, Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist was kind enough to list Slow Your Home as a simple living blog of note. He sent thousands of new visitors my way, and our delightful community has continued to grow significantly ever since.

Traffic numbers aren’t the reason I write about simple living. I write here because I want to help people – partly by sharing my story, errors and misjudgements – and partly by introducing a different way of living. But a larger audience does mean I can help a larger group of people, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

So in the spirit of paying it forward here is a list of my favourite (some new, some not so new) simple living blogs.

Zen Presence

Dan has a gift for simplifying complex ideas down into a few brief paragraphs, and every time I read his blog I come away inspired.

The Simple Year

Kerry Reifel recently completed her family’s simple year and has passed the torch on to Kandice, Stephen and their two kids. The blog will follow their progress through the decluttering, prioritising, decision-making and simplifying of a 12-month journey into simplicity. To see such a journey from beginning to end is a really helpful and insightful experience and I highly recommend the read.

The Fearse Family

I was incredibly excited to discover this family’s blog for two reasons. One, they’re Australian and I feel there is a lack of simple living blogs from my fellow Antipodeans, and two, they’ve just embarked on a Buy Nothing New for a Year project. The writing is funny, realistic and engaging. Definitely check it out – but be prepared to lose yourself in their archives. I know I did.

Money is Not Important

A personal finance blog for people who don’t read personal finance blogs, Money is Not Important (Until There’s Not Enough) is straight-shooting, funny, challenging and inspiring.

The Other Side of Complexity

I’m relatively new to Mike Burns’ blog, but have been blown away with the quality posts he’s producing. His writing is a beautiful combination of practical and theoretical and always introduces me to a fresh perspective. One of my must-reads each week.

Little Eco Footprints

Another fellow Australian, Tricia writes about simplifying, raising a mindful and balanced family and establishing a permaculture smallholding in a beautiful part of the country. Her writing makes me equally determined and inspired to continue down this path to simplicity and sustainability.

 

Tell me in the comments – do you have any favourites I’ve missed? Share with us below! 

Simple Living in Real Life

Simple Living in Real Life - Francesca's Story

Could you imagine owning 200 pairs of jeans?

Francesca Tulk actually did own over 200 pairs of jeans at one point. She also shopped compulsively, buying up to 40 items at a time, many of them not even in her size.

But over the past few months she has been slowly regaining control over her spending, clothing clutter and credit card debt. Francesca is undertaking the mother of all wardrobe cleanouts, and removing at least one thing (but up to as many as 50) per day.  And as yet, she has barely scratched the surface.

This Simple Living in Real Life interview is packed with some great insights and tips – from someone who has seen what happens when things do get out of hand.  I hope you’re as inspired by Francesca’s story as I was.

Inside Francesca's wardrobe before she began...
Inside Francesca’s wardrobe before she began…

 

You’re currently undergoing a huge wardrobe decluttering project, removing at least one thing every day. What motivated you to begin?

I have a walk-in wardrobe the size of a small bedroom. It has been fitted out with a good storage system, but it got to the point where not only were all the shelves, drawers and hanging spaces crammed to capacity, all the floorspace was also filled. The roof of the walk-in is nine feet high and piles of clothes reached the ceiling, to the point where I couldn’t even open the door. My nine year old likes playing a game in there called ‘trapped’. Need I say more?

I had 200 pairs of jeans and wore two. I owned swimming costumes in double figures, yet I don’t swim, and bras in sizes well above and below my own. Most of my clothing was pointless!

Each time I looked at the clothes I would feel a great weight and depression come over me. Nothing seemed to fit right and I wore maybe ten items in total. YET I still bought more. I believed if I kept buying, eventually the miraculous outfit that would turn me into Carrie Bradshaw might emerge. Of course it never did.

The tipping point however was a more real problem, and that was I had been continually buying on credit, and as a result had run up huge debts on my cards.

Something had to give.

 

How do you go about the task of decluttering?

I initially freaked out because the task was too overwhelming, so I just started one item at a time. However, I was getting very frustrated as nothing seemed to be making any difference, so I began getting rid of bags and bags of things at a time, up to 50 items in one fell swoop. The charity shop thought it was Christmas as I kept coming in with more and more.

 

What about the project is proving harder than you thought it would be?

I am finding it hard to forgive myself for wasting so much money. It bothers me that I will be paying for items on my credit card for some time yet – items I have already donated and long forgotten. It is a good lesson though and has made me more determined to get my life sorted once and for all.

 

What about the project is proving easier than you expected?

It’s surprisingly easy so far. I keep remembering something my mum said about how clothes were ‘just rags’. The more I look at my clothing the more pointless and rag-like it looks to me.

I had good stuff – well, stuff I liked. I never bought designer, just thrift store items in tremendous bulk. (Sometimes 30 items at a time.) It then continued with buying clothes for my daughter. She and I have decluttered her clothing too and I hope I passed on a good message to her by doing that.

 

As you work through your sizeable wardrobe, have you discovered anything about yourself?

Phew, this is a big one.

I have realised I like a rock star/biker chick type style, so the abundance of girly dresses and frilly things is ridiculous. I prefer skinny jeans and don’t like any other style. I realise I am a size 12, not an 8 or 10 or 14. I realise fewer items can make amazing outfits. I now understand that real style has nothing to do with owning a tonne of clothes.

But most of all I realise my purchases were done to make me feel more unique. My self-esteem was so low that I thought I could improve it by throwing money at clothing to tart me up. It has taken years for me to realise this, but I finally think the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train. As my wardrobe becomes less in clothing, my heart feels so much lighter.

 

What are some of the benefits you’ve already seen as a result of simplifying your wardrobe?

I can find items to wear a little more easily. I feel confident my debts will be paid off since I have made a huge effort to pour money into my credit cards and not waste money on clothes.

I have always been fairly minimalist in all other areas of my life, just not when it came to spending on clothes. The rest of our home isn’t cluttered and I’ve consistently cleared out anything superfluous to our needs and do so even now. (With the exception of the wardrobe, which was my blind spot.) Generally, I abhor excess and waste. In fact, I even rifle through bins at my workplace for leftover food for my chickens! But now I am now able to apply my beliefs about excess to my wardrobe and it is a big relief.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for those struggling with similar wardrobe issues?

  • Ask yourself: If this item had a K-mart label, would I still want it? (It might be the label you’re attached to.)
  • Try to live with thirty items for three months and see how much easier it is to get dressed each morning.
  • Ask a trusted person if they think you have a problem. My husband is brutally honest and whilst he never told me what to do, he made some suggestions that basically suggested that less is more.
  • Blog your worries and concerns. By blogging I was able to really focus and take stock on what I was doing. The picture it painted was so bleak and my credit card slips so abysmal that I knew I had a problem.
  • For each new item you think you have to have, you must commit to getting rid of two. That way, at least the clothing/clutter population has a chance of becoming smaller.
  • Just start. Start somewhere. Don’t put it off. Understand that if you have an excess of something, and you still think it isn’t enough, one more isn’t going to make it better.
  • Expect to feel angry at yourself. Whilst this isn’t the best feeling to have, it sure is impetus to get things started.

 

To learn more about Francesca’s project, you can visit her blog Closet Blitz, where she’s documenting many of her wardrobe exorcisms.

 

4 Rituals to Simplify Your Life – Without Decluttering a Thing

4 Rituals to Simplify Your Days - Without Decluttering a Thing
{via Mario Kolaric / Design*Sponge }

Somewhere along the way, pursuing a simple life became synonymous with decluttering. That to live a simple life simply meant living with less possessions.

And that is certainly part of it. It’s where many of us began our journey towards simplicity. But it’s certainly not the destination.

I know many people who have uncluttered homes. Yet they are unhappy, leading complicated lives, with cluttered minds and cluttered calendars. Their homes are simple, their wardrobes are simple, but their lives are not.

We spend so much time removing and editing, that we lose sight of why we are doing this in the first place.

You want a simpler life

That is, you want to be able to live. To enjoy life. To experience what it has to offer. And if you’re too busy culling your belongings to actually do that, well, then you’ve lost sight of your why.

Find your why by adopting the following four rituals into your day.

They will help you refocus on what’s important and remind you that this life of simplicity is about so much more than decluttering.

They take less than 15 minutes and will set you up for a calmer, simpler day. Every day.

Ritual One – Quiet (5 mins)

Even the most extroverted of us needs a few moments of quiet in their day. Quiet to reflect, to just be.

You can do this any time of day, but first thing in the morning is ideal as you start your day from a place of peace and calm.

TIP: Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier in the morning and use the first five minutes of your day to sit still and quiet, just focusing on your breath.

The following three rituals work particularly well together, and all you need is one piece of paper or a page in your journal/notebook. Whether you do them immediately after your Quiet ritual, or just before bed (my favourite) you will really benefit from clearing your mind of unnecessary stress, anxieties and overwhelm.

Ritual Two – Brain Dump (5 mins)

Brain dumping is a mind-mapping/journaling exercise where you simply, well… dump the contents of your brain on to paper.

The idea being you release yourself from the pent-up frustrations, problems, worries and to-dos. Getting it all on paper means it no longer occupies space in your mind, releasing you to think more clearly.

Simply grab a pen and paper and start writing. If you really are hesitant set a timer for five minutes.

Without thinking too much, write down any thoughts floating around. Things you need to remember, tasks you need to do, problems, solutions, schedules, grocery items.

TIP: If you find yourself with nothing to write, simply write “I have nothing to write. I have nothing to write…” I guarantee your brain will spew forth soon enough. Don’t censor it, just let it flow. Neatness, spelling and grammar are not your concern.

Once you’re finished, hold on to the paper, as you will use it in your final ritual.

Ritual Three – Gratitude (2 min)

Recent studies have shown that those of us who are regularly grateful for the good in our lives are likely to be more physically active, feel more content in our day-to-day lives and suffer fewer health problems.

The key is to regularly spend time being aware of, and grateful for, the positives in our lives.

On a scrap of paper, in a fancy book, on a chalkboard in the kitchen – wherever – make a list of five things you are grateful for today. Keep it brief with just a few words for each item.

Ritual Four – Three Things List (5 min)

We overcommit ourselves when we write lengthy to-do lists. We know there is no possible way we can complete 39 tasks on any given day, yet we still write them down with the expectation they will be done. In doing so, we effectively set ourselves up to fail before we even begin.

However, a to-do list with only three items on it simplifies life. It is achievable, actionable and simple. You gain a victory and a huge sense of achievement when you regularly complete your to-dos.

“But there are more than three things I need to do daily…” I hear you say.

Absolutely. But the things that are a daily occurrence – making the bed, doing a load of laundry, cooking dinner, dropping kids to school – do not generally make it on to your three things list. They are a given.

The three things come from the tasks that are floating around in your head (which is why I recommend combining it with your Brain Dump). The phone calls you need to make, the appointments, the errands.

Each morning you nominate the three most important or time-sensitive of these tasks and you work to get those done.

Everything else you do for the day is gravy.

So once you’ve finished your Brain Dump, take a minute to look over what you’ve written, what’s a recurring issue or a pressing problem? Are there specific tasks that need doing? Is anything on the page time-sensitive? Circle those items.

Then list the three most pressing items. These are your top three. Do these before any other tasks.

You can list other, less-urgent tasks – but no more than five or six. And only if you’ve completed your top three should you move on to the secondary tasks.

Four Simple Rituals For Your Day

If you spend 15 minutes a day focusing on these four rituals, you will find your days are freer, calmer, simpler and happier. You will have regained your why and won’t have decluttered a thing!

ALSO: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by daily life right now, there’s a lot more information on these and other daily rituals in my ebook, ‘Destination: Simple’.  If you’re struggling, it might prove helpful to you. It’s available in the Amazon store for just $2.99.

Do you have a favourite daily ritual? Let me know what it is in the comments below. 

 

{ This post originally appeared on Midway Simplicity in February 2013 }