I Was Like This As A Kid

08.22.2017

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My search for minimalism started at a very young age. I didn’t understand what I was searching for or what it looked like, but I knew I always wanted to donate my toys and I always felt relieved afterwards. I genuinely loved how I felt after letting go of a possession, so that someone else might enjoy it. Granted, I still held onto my favorite toys, but I always wanted to give away the rest. When I was younger, between my brother and I, we had one cardboard box that held all of our toys. It was approximately 15″(W) x 21″(L) x 18″(H), but with no lid. We each had about 2-3 toys outside of that box that stayed near our beds, but the rest were stored in that box. The box consisted of Legos, small figurines, small games and other items. Clean up was easy because we just tossed all of our toys into the box and slid it into the closet, underneath an existing built-in shelf.

When we each got separate rooms, that’s when the amount of toys increased for the both of us. A lot of the toys were passed down from friends and relatives. And although we greatly appreciated them, over time we grew out of them too. Keeping track of the toys became more time consuming and even keeping the rooms clean seemed like more work. I even became overwhelmed with the amount of toys I received from friends and family at one point.

When I look back on it now, I really did like the fact that all of our toys fit into that cardboard box. During that time, since my brother and I shared a room, we had to keep our separate spaces clean because there wasn’t much space in the bedroom.

When I entered middle school, I lost a lot of interest in toys even though my Hello Kitty collection started growing. I became interested in journals and just writing down my thoughts. I turned my journal into a sketchbook/journal/sticker record. This is where I subsequently stuck all of the stickers I had collected over the years. The journal was an Ampad Gold Fibre Personal Compact Notebooks – 130 Sheets – Printed – Double Wire Spiral 5″ x 7″ – Green Cover – Micro Perforated, Pocket.

AsAKid- Ampad Gold Fibre Personal Compact NotebooksA childhood friend of mine, Juliana, had a bible cover for her bible (which I thought was a regular book carrier at the time) and I thought was the coolest thing ever. I saw this cover as a perfect carrier for my journal, so I went out and bought one. It completed my journal into a perfect package. I would also keep letters I received from family members on the inside pockets. I didn’t need a library of pens or pencils, I only needed my favorite pen for this journal.

This is how my journal became my most prized possession.

 

AsAKid- Green Bible Cover

It didn’t take me long to realize how much I valued words and writing. I didn’t care to buy new clothes or accessories. I still enjoyed playing sports, which came with equipment that I needed, but within the confines of my bedroom, my journal meant the world to me. As long as I had that journal, and I could write down my thoughts and draw my sketches, I was a happy kid.

Fast forward almost two decades later, and I’m still writing, but for a slightly different reason now.  I like the act of writing for the pure fact that it marks a moment in time. It expresses my age, my thoughts, the events surrounding that moment and even the people in my life at that time. It also reveals how my past self changed into my future self.

I still enjoy owning a minimal amount of possessions, and I value my time with family and friends much, much more. I still write, but it’s either stored on the internet or in an external hard drive.

I didn’t know what minimalism was as a child. I only knew that I didn’t want to own a lot of stuff and I loved to write and draw. I was a child who set out to own less and now as an adult, I really understood what I had been looking for all along.

 

Happy Independence Day 2017

07.04.2017

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Independence Day, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire.

Independence day was always a special holiday for me. It marked the existence of summer and it came with barbecued food, swimming and fun with friends and family. The days were longer and the nights were warm. As a kid, July was a particularly a fond month for me to remember, the smell of summer in the air and the empty school playgrounds allowed us to use the basketball courts and soccer fields freely. School life had come to a halt for a few months and you knew you would run into your classmates outside of school. It was a chance to interact with them in a different environment. It was a welcomed break for a daily school routine.

Although now that I’m an adult, the smell of summer still brings back great memories, but there is no break in the daily work routine. I still love the smell of summer but it passes by quickly. I still go and watch fireworks, and I reflect on how lucky I am.

This holiday also marks that the year is halfway over. Time passes by so fast when you’re busy, although being unproductive is also not a good habit. Finding that balance as an adult is critical. We work our entire lives to go to school so that we can be successful in our careers, so we can have enough income that would support a comfortable life, and before we know it were inching towards retirement.

That reality is why I make it a routine to enjoy my evenings each night. Even if it’s only an hour, I work at shaping my daily routine around a simplistic schedule. This leaves time for me to just sit back and relax for the evening. Even on the weekends I have routines that help me enjoy each morning. During these mornings I usually reflect on what I’ve accomplished during the year and what I still want to accomplish.
Even though July marks the halfway point of the year, it also means that we can all take advantage of the rest of the year.

I think about what goals I’d still like to accomplish and set up a plan to follow though. Goals are like meetings, prepare for the meeting, be on time and be ready to interact and engage. You can’t postpone these meetings, set up those goals and get them done- no more excuses.

So my questions to you are:

What goals did you set out for yourself that you haven’t started or finished?
What projects do you have left to do?

What have you been “meaning to get done, but haven’t had the time”?

 

Returning To The Beach

06.06.2017

0700

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On my journey to a more minimalistic life, I donated items and slowly learned to not live without others. I didn’t donate everything to donation stations, but I also tried to donate to organizations that I knew, could use my items. For my college textbooks, I donated some of them back to the school libraries so perhaps other students could use them. For my alumni collegiate programs, I donated my scanner and other art materials to the materials library for future students.

When it came to items that I had collected from camping trips or even small rocks I collected throughout my childhood, I knew I had to return those items back to their rightful spots.

The beach was always a place where I still have fond memories of, along with my family. The smell of the air and the sand between our toes, and watching the ebb and flow of the tide coming in, all form a significant part of my childhood memories. We never lived by the beach, but it certainly impacted me enough to this day.

Among my “items to donate,” I found a bag of sea shells that my brother and I collected when we were young. I knew I had to return them to the beach, because that’s where they belonged. As a kid, I was so fond of the beach, I always wanted to take it home with me. I remember being excited to create a small sea shell collection and that all of these smaller items were mine. I wanted to know why I felt this way, and why I approached collecting items the way I did.

Our sense of ownership emerges at a very early age. Growing up, we learn to become attached to items, and the feelings of ownership over our possessions is a part of our culture. In psychology and behavioral economics, the endowment effect (also known as divestiture aversion and related to the mere ownership effect in social psychology), is the hypothesis that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them. This means, that we value items more more highly as soon as we own them. Part of this reason is tied to how quickly we form connections between our sense of self and the items we consider ours. Even as children, we believe that our objects have a unique essence and prefer to not have a duplicate of the same item.

Looking back on my collection of sea shells, I never separated the idea of owning an object, and keeping the memories that the object produced. It seemed that having an object from that event, could and would bring forth the memory of that event. Even so, if I had to attach an object to the event, I think I would only choose to attach a photo to it now. But with all of the social media and everyone seemingly documenting their lives, even photographing events wears on me.

So I’m returning the sea shells. I’m returning them to their rightful home and where they belong. I return a lot of items that I know have homes other than my own. I’ve returned dry cleaner hangers to my local dry cleaners, I’ve donated my books to the library,  and I’ve donated my old records to Rasputin Music & Movies. (Most of the records were not in good condition, but I knew the store would dispose of them properly). This list could go on and on, but I really do try to return items to appropriate locations and organizations.

There is a home for every object in our lives. If we take a little time out, and do a little bit of research on your own, perhaps you can find the best home for it.

Simplify Your Life With These Product Tips

12.08.2016

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Part of the reason why I know my day to day life has a simplistic routine, is that I’ve set it up that way due to my investments in specific products. I keep my rooms simple and clean and the one rule I follow, is that items must be off of the floor, including any storage bins. I thought I’d list a few tips of how I organize the living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Living Room

  1. Invest in a thermostat – Thermostats are components of which sense the temperature of a system so that the system’s temperature is maintained near a desired setpoint. They are useful in that they will sense the temperature of the space and turn on or turn off when the desired temperature is met.  
  2. Purchase multi-functional furniture – Try an ottoman that doubles as storage, etc. Be sure to check out our post for 10 Items You Need to Organize Your Home Like a RockStar with more multi-functional furniture ideas.
  3. Less items to display – If you have more items to display out in the open, the likelihood is that you have to dust them more often or  worry about those items falling over or being damaged somehow. I’m not telling you to get rid of everything out in the open, but the amount of items will correlate with the level of maintenance of them.
  4. Keep items off of the floor– The less items you have on the floor, when you vacuum or sweep,  you won’t have to stop to pick up all of your items first. Vacuuming or sweeping will be a quick visit to each room and you’ll be done before you know it.

Bathroom

  1. Use dry shampoo – Try dry shampoo (for your entire family) and spend less time getting ready. Try this version or a homemade version here.
  2. Stop using shaving cream – Organic soap bars works for both men and women as a replacement.
  3. Use multipurpose beauty products – Try a lip stain that doubles as blush and eye-shadow.
  4. Stop coloring your hair – Coloring at a salon is pricey and time consuming. Your natural color is probably gorgeous. Embrace it!

Bedroom

  1. Start a wardrobe capsule – Creating a wardrobe capsule will change your life. Check out this post to download the template to start yours Capsule Wardrobe Planner by Un-fancy.
  2. Keep items off of the floor– The less items you have on the floor, when you vacuum or sweep,  you won’t have to stop to pick up all of your items first. Vacuuming or sweeping will be a quick visit to each room and you’ll be done before you know it.

Kitchen

  1. Invest in and use a crockpot – Use your crockpot as often as possible to cook ready-made meals.
  2. Invest in and use a pressure cooker – Use your pressure cooker as often as possible to cut down on cooking time.
  3. Make your breakfast the night before – Try overnight oats with fresh fruit for a grab-and-run healthy breakfast.
  4. Make your lunches for the week at the beginning of the week- I think most of the working class has a busy schedule no matter what job  you hold. Making your lunches at the beginning of the week saves time and energy during the week so you can spend that time doing something you prefer.
  5. Keep healthy snacks at your desk – Keeping healthy snacks at arm’s length will ensure that you reach for them rather than the vending machine goodies.
  6. Stop using kitchen paper products – Try using cloth towels to dry hands, dishes, or wipe up spills/spots. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. Stop using paper plates. You will simplify the items in your home and reduce waste and costs.
  7. Invest in a coffee/tea French Press – A basic coffee maker with a timer (like this one) will ensure your pot is brewed before you wake up. Try this one to reduce waste if you rarely drink coffee/tea.

Keep Life Simple

11.29.2016

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So we’ve officially moved into the season between ‘fighting over products while shopping’ and ‘opening said products in one swift move’. I usually don’t go buy physical objects for this season, I tend to buy gifts in the form of experiences, however, I do understand that not everyone approaches this season the same way. 

The holiday season tends to bring on another level of stress, with the year rounding out and the pressures from the holidays added to the pressures from work and family, it can be an overall anxiety driven few months. With these additional stresses, I wanted to post some tips to help everyone to remind them to take care of themselves first and foremost. and perhaps to help keep the home front a little more simplified.

Life will always get more chaotic and complicated, but as long as we recognize it, we can counter it with with a well thought out defense.  I practice a lot of these tips, so even if you can try just one tip and simplify your life, you might be pleasantly surprised. So here it goes, I hope you guys enjoy it!

For Your Mental Health:

  1. Stop multitasking – Give your attention and focus to one thing at a time to complete a long list of to-do items.
  2. Stop driving aggressively – Take the steps to stop aggressive driving habits by getting enough sleep, planning ahead and using etiquette and kindness to other drivers. Remember that if children are in the car, they learn from watching you.
  3. Stop going crazy for holidays – Stop stressing to bake/cook a huge holiday meal. If you host during the holidays, ask everyone to bring a dish for a potluck style dinner and there will be less work for you. Stop over-shopping for the holidays. Try the 4-gift rule for Christmas: something you want, something you need, something to play with, something to read.
  4. Accept that change is in order – Acceptance is the first step to changing bad habits. Once you have accepted that you need to change your life, take the next step toward a simplified life.
  5. Program your mobile photos/videos to auto-upload to a cloud account – Never worry about uploading photos again – Try Google, Amazon, Picasa, YouTube.
  6. Use a combined social media app (Instagram)– Try Hootsuite – it combines your social media accounts and shares a post on all sites at the same time.

For Your Home:

  1. Create a command center in your home – a command center is the ultimate hub to keep your family organized. For tips to create your own, see this post.  My favorite command center item is this dry erase calendar.
  2. Create a cleaning routine and schedule it on your calendar – Schedule laundry day’s, trash days, housecleaning days, etc.
  3. Downsize – Get rid of items you don’t need or move into a smaller home.
  4. Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions – Read articles for free online instead.
  5. Stop buying trending clothes – Purchase classic, high-quality items in neutral colors and you will rarely need to update your wardrobe.
  6. Eat simple meals – Less thinking means faster, easier meals. Keep it simple with simple ingredients and meals that are fail-proof. Be sure to check out our post Clean Eating for Less Than $70 a Week for a family of 4 (Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks included with a shopping list!).
  7. Make freezer meals – Double your dinner recipe and freeze the rest for later. If you do this every night, then you will have 7 additional dinners in the freezer for next month.  Here are 365 days of freezer meals for more ideas.
  8. Use your leftovers – Pack them for lunch the next day or use them to make another meal – many leftovers can easily be made into a soup.
  9. Use simple recipe ingredients – Stop buying spices/ingredients for one meal. Purchase basic spices and ingredients to minimize items in your pantry.
  10. Make one-pot meals – Reduce clean up by making an entire meal in one pot.  Here are 120 one pot meals for some ideas.
  11. Unsubscribe from junk emails – Try unroll.me for bulk removal.  I did this and was able to unsubscribe from 110 subscriptions in just a few minutes!
  12. Cancel cable – Try on-demand options like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Video.
  13. Print as little as possible – Read documents, books and recipes online. Save these items online or as a document to your computer. Less paper lying around means less to organize later.

For Your Organization:

  1. Consider signing up for an Elfster account or create an Amazon Wish List feature or giving Groupon experience gifts  
  2. Keep reusable bags in your car – These bags always come in handy for stores that give you money back for bringing your own bag (like Target) or those that charge for their plastic bags (like Aldi).
  3. Telecommute, carpool, bike, jog or walk to work instead of driving – take the stress of commuting with one of these options.
  4. Stop using credit cards and pay cash for everything – Get rid of the stress of paying interest for that T-shirt. Freeze your credit cards, pay them off and start using cash only – unless you are able to pay off credit cards in full every month.
  5. If you need a credit card, consider one with rewards benefits – If you absolutely need a credit card, choose one with big rewards. Pay the balance in full every month to reap the full reward benefits – otherwise the reward is not beneficial if you are paying interest.
  6. Upload/Download DVDs/digital copies to the cloud – Try Vudo/Ultraviolet to upload DVDs, digital copies to access movies on-the-go. Download/purchase movies online and store them in your cloud account, try Amazon Video.
  7. Share cloud files with family – Share your budget spreadsheet or contact list with your spouse.
  8. Write canned emails – Try the canned email feature in Gmail and save emails that you regularly send out with the same verbiage.

Take Time For Yourself

11.24.2016

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As the holidays have come upon us here in the United States of America, this time of the year can be quite stressful. I thought I would make a list of ways I think everyone can or should try to take care of themselves, this includes physical and mental health. 

Since I already posted this as you are reading it now, I plan on spending the day in my stretchy pants. Stretchy pants are great for all occasions, today just happen to be a day where I eat when I’m starving and end up too full.

Have a great holiday everyone! Happy Thanksgiving! You should do the first seven items on the Physical Health list, except for #4, today may not be the best day to start on #4. (Unless you like food burps while working out) And if you do #1, you can knock off #3- see… multitasking—> Boom.

Physical Health:

  1. Take a nap – Schedule a power nap (or longer) when you can. A 15-minute nap will provide you with increased alertness and energy. Longer napping provides the same benefits but can make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
  2. Plan a R & R day at least once a month – Try to schedule at least 1 day every month for rest and relaxation. Try a Saturday all-day movie day at home or take off work on a Monday or Friday and have an extra-long weekend.
  3. Watch less TV – The average American watches 34 hours of TV a week – almost the same amount of time as a full time job! Try reading a book, going outside for a walk or playing a card/board game.
  4. Schedule your workouts – If you don’t add fitness to your daily routine, then you won’t be inclined to workout. Add working out to your calendar and set a reminder. Check out our post with 5 Easy Ways to Schedule Fitness into your Daily Routine for more help.
  5. Meditate – Meditating reduces aging, helps you feel more connected, improves brain function, increases immunity and metabolism and helps you sleep better.
  6. Do yoga or stretch throughout the day – Yoga provides increased flexibility, improved energy and vitality while assisting with cardio and circulatory health.
  7. Go for a walk – walking prevents high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes while improving your mood.
  8. Watch the sunset or sunrise – Watching the sun rise or set will slow down time. It gets you away from digital devices, helps you appreciate life’s gifts and will inspire you.
  9. Carry a water bottle everywhere – Drinking plenty of water has many benefits including keeping you alert and energetic. Try these bottles and never worry about going thirsty again.
  10. Turn off your phone – Sometimes a break from the blinking light on your phone will serve well. If you want to focus on an important task, turn your phone off for less distraction.
  11. Unplug all devices – Unplug your TV, radio, computer, phones, etc. for a while to minimize distractions.
  12. Breathe – Remember to breathe.

Mental Health:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal – Writing in a gratitude journal lowers stress, gives you new perspectives and opens your eyes to what is most important in your life. Try this gratitude journal to get started.
  2. Try adult coloring books/pages – Print adult coloring pages for free online and take a break to color. You will be brought back to childhood memories and the activity is stress relieving. Don’t worry about staying in the lines.
  3. Learn to say “no” to events, get-togethers, hand-me-downs, etc. – It’s okay to say no in our already over-scheduled and busy lives.
  4. Set monthly goals – Start a monthly/yearly goal planning worksheet and refer back to it often.
  5. Listen to audio-books – Try Audible for Free for 30-days and refer to this post for how audible books can simplify your life.
  6. Turn off notifications from social media – Ever post a comment to a friend and then get notified with every comment thereafter? Remove notification on social media.
  7. Take a social media vacation – Unplugging from the Internet overload will simplify your life. Try a 1-week or longer social media vacation.
  8. Stop trying to impress people that you don’t like – Stop buying unnecessary items to show off and stop trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”
  9. Stop holding grudges – You will feel happier if you just let things go.
  10. Determine your definition of success – Success is defined in many different ways – how do you define success? Is it your “stuff” or is it your happiness?
  11. Stop trying to do it all – Don’t try to do everything on this list right away and stop trying to get everything done all at once. Take baby steps and you will reach your goals.
  12. Stop over-scheduling your life – Make sure you schedule time for yourself every day – whether it’s a relaxing activity like massage, bath, watching a movie or a fun activity like working out or hanging out with friends – stop over scheduling your life with a long to-do list.

Healthy Life

01.24.2016

0900

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To live a healthy life means you must make healthy decisions, take healthy actions and utilizing those decisions each day. This means, leaving toxic relationships behind, accepting what you cannot change and what you can change, and really figuring out what makes you happy. There’s a lot of “noise” in this world that can get in the way of happiness. Sometimes it flies under the radar, from negative comments you may receive or negative friends or just being unhappy in the current state.

I like plans and lists. Yep, I’m THAT type. Whenever I need to create a better situation for myself- I break it out into a list. From the list of items I need to do, and the next steps of utilizing those actions, I usually find my way out of the situation. I also like to cross items off of my checklist, there’s a level of satisfaction that moment brings. My priorities and obligations come first on my lists, so I never stray away from those. There’s also a line between what I want verses what I need, and the time it takes for those items to come to fruition. For those who are impatient, we like/want that immediate  gratification, but that rarely happens. We hang our happiness level on that gratification as well- which can make us suspended in limbo for awhile, that uncomfortable limbo.

Be happy and comfortable with the unknown, it makes life easier to deal with. Life is an adventure. I am the type who is more comfortable to know what lies ahead, but in the past 6 years, I’ve accepted that knowledge of the future is best left unknown. I control what I can, and leave the rest up to time and destiny. Mentally, this puts me at ease. I can control how healthy I decide I want to be, who I want to interact with in my life and where I want my life to go. This life includes everything I do under my roof and outside in the existing world. My definition of a healthy life is just that.

Everyone’s’ definition of “Healthy life” will be different, and I think that’s great. Healthy is relative to a certain degree. As long as you are happy, nothing else else really matters- except your priorities. So limit the noise, accept what you can change and let go of what you cannot, take time to examine yourself and who you want to be in this life- and then just do it.