Living among my omnivorous family can get tricky, especially when it comes to dinner time. And truthfully, it can be super frustrating either cooking separate plant-based meals for myself or adding meat and cheese to them for the rest of the fam. Sometimes we are in a good rhythm of getting dinner on the table and other times it can be downright draining. I've never been out to convert anyone. But when it comes to cooking for my family, I feel I'm wrestling this moral dilemma. That despite the personal choices I make for myself, I am still part of that machine.
It's said we vote on our food selection with our dollar and even though I’m not consuming meat, dairy or eggs, personally, I’m still voting in favor of them because occasionally I’m purchasing for my household.
I don't think I've made it a secret that my reasons for going plant-based were rooted in vanity. I wanted to be slim and look my best. But, I think there are countless reasons I have stayed plant-based for a number of years now: disease prevention, faster workout recovery time, water conservation, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, land conservation, the slowing of deforestation and species extinction, reducing marine life destruction and waste pollution, helping to alleviate world hunger, and disengaging in animal cruelty. I recently heard Rich Roll say on a podcast that he just can't think of another diet where you can check all those boxes.
That said, I’m really trying to work out a solution here, but I fear I’ll have to just wait until they all move out! When I first began transitioning to a plant-based diet I removed all animal products from our home and declared it “Plant Strong and Cruelty Free”, a home where only healthy food is served and nobody gets hurt. My kids just ended up mad at me...a hangry mob. #firstworldprobs
So I'm leaving this decision up to them. There is something to be said about putting on your own oxygen mask first.
On a positive note, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve...some recipes that work for all of us, and lucky for me this one, especially, is versatile, delicious and leaves me feeling as though I haven’t just poisoned them all. A girl’s gotta sleep at night.
This recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo is adapted from Chloe Coscarelli's first cookbook Chloe’s Kitchen. Not only does it make a rich, delicious Alfredo sauce but also a wonderful white cream sauce to toss with your vegetables or top your baked potato. I’ve tweaked it to be more healthful.. sans the oil and added vegg. I hope it brings your family to the table in a healthful and decadent way, herbies and omnivores alike!
Fettuccine Alfredo, serves 4 to 6
1 pound fettuccine
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup raw cashews or blanched almonds
1 ½ cups water
2 teaspoons white miso paste, optional
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish
Red pepper flakes, optional
Bonus points- 12-16 oz frozen broccoli or vegetable medley, optional
Note: If you are not using a high speed blender, such as Vitamix or Blendtec, soak cashews or almonds overnight or boil 10 minutes and drain. This will soften them and ensure a silky smooth cream.
So, with impending life changes ahead and much of my life excess I wanted to leave behind, in January of this year I made the decision to get rid of half my belongings. Like....I really, really, really wanted to. But I was really, really, really afraid I just... wouldn't.
I mean, if history is any indication, there have been several attempts to reduce my consumption, to shop less and let go of much I was holding onto simply because I felt guilty for buying it in the first place. To hold on to it meant I hadn't wasted my time and money. And I SHOULD hold on to it all just in case of that unforeseeable , come-to-the-rescue need in the future when I'd be so glad I had it on hand.
But, my #wonderwomangoals are behind me, and I now want to DO things, rather than accumulate things. I want to explore other places and start moving into the next chapter of my life with less to manage.
My goal was to reduce my possessions by half by June of this year. That meant going through every room, every space, every closet, every drawer and eliminate by half. That did not include my daughters' rooms and possessions or my husbands clothing and personal items. I laid out a 6 month schedule, allowing for planned vacations and time away and assigned each space a date. I pretty much stuck to the schedule, sometimes switching the order, but in the end, I did it.
It is finished.
I want to thank you all for your encouraging words and feedback as I've trucked on through this journey of letting go. If any of you are wanting to have less in order to live more, I hope this gives you some bit of inspiration. There are those of you who have given me TREMENDOUS inspiration and the motivation to
Finish. It. With heartfelt thanks and gratitude...
Over the past several years I have taken a few courses in online business marketing and was introduced to the relatively new organizational strategy for time management, batching. The idea is to perform similar tasks using similar resources all at once during a designated block of concentrated time, increasing and optimizing productivity and decreasing distraction, fatigue, stress and procrastination.
So what does that have to do with anything?
Well, I’ve found this to be a viable tool when it comes to getting dinner on the table. The truth is, I’ve never been particularly good at doing the family dinner thing. I mean, I was a stay-at-home mom for many years, so I don’t have any real excuses. It’s just that, in our family, like many of yours, we often find ourselves eating on the fly, going to this game or that lesson, or one kid doesn’t like what we’re having while the other isn’t eating carbs this week. Sometimes there are only 2 of us home at dinner time and other times we have a full house. The struggle is real.
But I am determined to eat well. No matter who’s coming for dinner.
In order to eat well every day I had to develop a method to this meal madness. Contain the chaos. Come up with shortcuts to getting dinner on the table rather than succumb to pre-packaged meals to reheat in the microwave, ordering out or eating out of a bag.
So I implemented batch cooking. I didn’t invent it or anything. I actually learned it from my meal mentor Lindsay Nixon, The Happy Herbivore. One strategy is to batch cook all your staples to freeze or refrigerate in single portions for later use. And it works beautifully, saving time, money and more importantly food waste. I hate throwing food away. Batch cooking staples ensures that I always have something I can throw together to create a meal that is plant-based and oil free. It's just a matter of reheating.
beans + rice + salsa + corn pasta + marinara + frozen veg quinoa + beans + frozen veg + soy sauce
Batch cooking also gives me back time out of the kitchen, because let’s face it, summer’s coming and I don’t want to have to be in the kitchen all day. I want to be by the pool with the rest of the fam.
Sipping margaritas. Listening to my jams.
What is more telling is what happens when I don’t batch cook my staples.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. No matter what diet it is you're following.
I have a few other batching shortcuts in my repertoire you can read about next week.. In the meantime, here are some staples I batch cook mindlessly while listening to the latest podcast or while streaming one of my favorite shows. I hear the new season of Orange is the New Black debuting June 9 (praise hands emoji):
Beans: Chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, and brown or green lentils are what I use most for soups, salads, hummus, dips, bowls, wraps, tacos. I use the pressure cooker which eliminates having to soak legumes before cooking or having to stand watch over the stove. You can certainly cook your beans in a large pot. I like to make the whole bag and freeze in single serving portions.
Marinara Sauce: I prefer an oil-free marinara sauce, reducing my fat intake and keeping ingredients simple where I can. I use a Crockpot to batch a triple recipe and freeze in 1 cup portions. You can use a family favorite recipe for traditional spaghetti sauce and eliminate using oil quite easily by sautéing any vegetables in ¼ cup water rather than oil, adding more water to prevent sticking as needed.
Whole Grains: Cook entire bags of whole grains such as rice or quinoa to use for bowls, side dishes, soups or salads and freeze in 1 cup portions.
Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes: I cook a bunch of these for the week and store in the fridge. Potatoes can be easily reheated for soups, loaded potatoes, dry-fried potatoes or snacks with your favorite condiment. Don’t forget the many reasons why you should be eating plenty o’ potatoes!
Vegetable Broth: Check out our video on getting a second life out of your veggies by turning your scraps into vegetable broth. This makes a great base for soups and can also be used for sautéing.
Pasta: Pasta can be cooked al dente at the beginning of the week, stored in ziplock bags and reheated in 30 seconds in boiling water on the stove. Sometimes even boiling pasta can seem like too much after you’ve worked all day. This method works great for weekday meals.
Salad Dressings: I also like to prepare a big batch of salad dressing at the beginning of the week as I don’t really like pre-packaged bottled dressings. My friend, Trisha, introduced me to this delicious salad dressing created by Dara Dubinet for the fastest salad in the west. You could also check out this Sweet & Tangy Salad Dressing from My Plant-Based Family!
BBQ Sauce: While there are plenty of tasty barbeque sauces out there, I enjoy making my own oil-free version. It’s just so simple and gives me a little more quality control over the amount of fat and sugar I’m consuming. It all adds up, and sauces and condiments are sneaky culprits for causing us to consume more than we think.
So maybe you’re thinking of giving this plant-based thing a go? Summer parties and gatherings have already begun and sometimes before we know it, the scale starts creeping back to where it was on January 1st when we pledged we would lose those last 10-15 pounds for The. Last. Time. Here in the northeast we go all-in, celebrating the warmer weather with Happy Hour all day, every day. But, Summer is actually THE perfect time to go plant-based; to eat more seasonal veggies and fruits and crowd out all that stuff that’s threatening to sneak back into your diet and cause the slippery slope of sabotage….again.
Stay tuned for more practical and doable solutions for getting your next health-giving plant-based meal on the table quicker and with ease. Let's do this!
Anyone out there still purging their house? I’m still trucking along. In case you missed it, I am on a journey to minimalism and began to seriously purge every corner of my home January 1st of this year in an effort to eliminate half my belongings.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record every couple of weeks, I like to pass on some insight as I come across it; plus, writing about this helps me process what it is I'm doing here and enables me to continue moving forward.
Along the way, I’ve researched a few methods to this madness, with varying strategies for letting-go. The idea alone that there is more than one strategy for discarding our things is peculiar in and of itself. Discarding seemed pretty simple to me: throw away, recycle, sell, donate. But once I got started I found out quickly why people tend to stall out along the way. We are attached to our things...most of our things, on many levels. And it’s helpful to have some guidelines or rules of engagement to help us let go.
As I’ve written before, I started with the Kon-Mari Method. In a nutshell, Marie Kondo’s method is to discard and tidy by categories rather than by location in the following order: Clothing, Books & Magazines, Papers, Kimono (Miscellaneous items), and Sentimental Items. So, I’m doing that. I’ve even tackled the Papers category that had me feeling weary a couple months ago. But let me point out that Kimono is no easier and is a helluva big category!
I’ve also been following The Minimalists for guidance. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are The Minimalists. They have a podcast by the same name and have written several books offering insightful solutions and simple strategies for letting go of those possessions we tend to hold on to “just in case”.
Those miscellaneous objects we've been storing and carrying around for that unseen, hypothetical, far-off chance that we just might need them.
Following a weekly schedule I made at the beginning of the year to ensure I complete my mission by June, I cleaned out my linen closet this weekend. Among the necessary items belonging in a linen closet, I came across an assortment of mismatched sheets, in varying sizes, mountains of extra blankets and comforters I’d been holding onto for those impromptu sleepovers, a stack of board games, a king size mattress cover (I think that’s what it was), and a bazillion hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles I’ve held on to in the event I might need them.
I consider what the Minimalists call the 90/90 Rule. I like implementing this rule because it’s easy to remember: If you haven’t used the item is the last 90 days and you won’t use it in the next 90 days then it’s ok to get rid of it, with one exception: our just-for-when items. Those items that you WILL use maybe once a year or seasonally, such as the Christmas tree stand, skis or patio furniture.
With this in mind I discard all of those "save for a rainy day" items from my linen closet. All of them. It hurts a little. What about the monopoly game?? We had such fun playing that together with the kids at the beach during a series of legitimate rainy days. Or even the shampoo and conditioner bottles that come in handy when traveling or you've just discovered you’re completely out, saving you one more day from having to run to the store.
I'm remembering this isn’t the exact monopoly game we played at the beach. I bought it with the hope that we could recreate that memory when we got home, which I think happened...never. The truth is I don’t need to hold on to the game in order to hold on to the memory. And I think there is this lesson to be learned here. Our things are not our memories. And while I am at it in getting super real with myself, seeing it in the closet makes me feel sad that we didn’t do what we set out to do with the game.
And, in the event that we did want to play Monopoly in the future, I could consider another minimalist guideline, the 20/20 Rule. The idea that any item that was truly needed after discarding could easily be replaced for around $20 within 20 minutes from my current location. It wouldn't be the end of the world or anything if we ended up repurchasing it. But, I can't see doing that. I’m pretty sure I could just as easily borrow the game from our neighbors down the street.
How many just-in-case items are you housing? My house is full of them. Still. It's felt comfortable having all the right things on hand for myself or to lend others. Just in case. The thing is, most, if not all of these items do not bring any real value to my life. They weigh me down and stand right in the way of my vision of how I want to live my life going forward. Letting go of these items frees up my mind, the space in my home and quite honestly takes some of the weight off my shoulders.
And, this is what keeps me going.
Keeping it real. No special folding, matching baskets or pre-photo staging.
And most of the towels were in the laundry rotation.
So where were we?
Last week I was bringing you up to speed on my progress of minimizing my belongings. But, I must share something I simply could not overlook. I realized I needed to take a look at our expenses, or where our money has been going.
At least, it seems to me I will not be successful in reaching my goal of getting rid of half our belongings (and keeping it that way) without examining our level of consumerism.
And I’m going to take a healthy measure of responsibility here because, while my husband handles our bigger picture finances, I’ve always managed our day-to-day budget and done most of the shopping.
Overtime, we’ve taken our hard-earned money (I haven't really earned that much but...)and bought all this stuff that I’m discarding. That hurts a little. A lot, actually. To tell the truth it makes me feel a bit sick when you look at what is by the door ready to go.
So, in order to not repeat the cycle of mindless spending and retail therapy, I’ve got to get real here.
One spending category of significance is the number of subscriptions we’ve signed up for over the years. To date, we have been subscribers to the following services:
SiriusXM Radio, Rhapsody, Audible, Sam’s Club, TruGreen, Terminix, AOL, our local cable t.v. provider, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Showtime/Amazon, Meaningful Beauty and Dollar Shave Club.
Having easily nixed 5 of these services right away, I take another look and notice we are subscribing to 5 different services that require us to be sitting in front of a television.
I don’t know about you, but most of my mindless eating happens in front of the television...or any type of screen for that matter. I love grabbing a package of Twizzlers to snack on at the movies or some chips and salsa while indulging in some juicy bit of Vanderpump Rules, Masterpiece Theatre or Keeping Up With the Kardashians
(sorry not sorry).
Three years ago, we hosted an exchange student from Germany. A sweet natured girl, polite, quiet, just how I like all visiting teenagers to be in my house. A few days after her arrival, the girls were settling down after school in front of the t.v., their regular decompression practice, and I heard one of my daughters offer, we’ll call her Edda (in case she’s tuning in), a snack.
Out of the mouth of this normally subdued, carefully measured girl came this barely contained exclamation, “You Americans are ALWAYS EATING!”
I was like... b*tch what?
After careful consideration and some peanut butter crackers, I’d come to the conclusion that, for our family, I think this gross generalization might be true. The t.v. is always on and someone is usually eating in front of it.
This isn't a new habit or anything. But is it cultural?
I remember, having been a stay-at-home mom for many years, sitting my little girls down in front of back-to-back episodes of Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer with their little sippy cup and bowl of Cheezits. They loved it. And I really needed them to, cuz honey, momma needed a break. (we were living in the south then and we all got accents.) And I wasn't the only one...all my girlfriends set it up this way. It's the only way we ever got anything done!
So. Let’s bring this back around. Because I’m making a pretty useful connection here with two things I’m working on:
mindless eating and minimalism...M&M's
Which brings up the subject of a book I’m currently reading, for the second time, called Mindless Eating, no surprise there, by Brian Wansink, PH.D. Wansink is the director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and has conducted numerous food studies, finding that no matter how many strategies we put in place to eat less, we are sabotaged by endless and constant cueing from our environment, encouraging us to eat more, often without realizing it.
In his book Wansink writes a chapter called “The Hidden Persuaders Around Us”, where he discusses the curse of the warehouse club. Most of these are familiar to us: Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and Costco, where for around $40 you can buy a membership and shop exclusively in their store.
He says after doing so, “The natural inclination is to run through the store like Julie Andrews running through the fields in The Sound of Music, buying enough stuff so you can recoup the price of the membership. If you can save $5 by buying the 48-pack of flavored water, all you have to do is load 7 of these 48-packs on the pushcart flatbed to break even on the membership deal.”
So while the first curse is to overspend, even on things we don’t need, the second curse happens after the purchase when we’ve schlepped it all home and stored it in every available crevice in the house from the garage to the basement...to the windooows to the wall....
So. You know bulk foods come in either these massive single open containers or in these huge multi-pack bundles. Wansink says we are munching down these large containers for around the first 7 days, then we start slowing down because we’ve grown tired of the food, causing them to become “cabinet castaways”, being pushed to the back and eventually thrown out to make space. So that $5 we saved at the time of purchase isn’t really much of a savings at all if we’ve thrown part of it away in the end.
In the book, he suggests taking a look at these oversized multi-packs, such as the 48 count package of instant oatmeal. Wansink says that having a 48 package of anything negatively affects us in two ways. The first is what he calls “the salience principle”.
“These 48 packages tend to get in the way. You seem to see them everywhere, they fall out of the cupboard when you open it, they pile up on the counter, and they hide other foods. As a result of their salience, you end up eating them much more frequently than you normally would, particularly if the food is convenient to eat. They are there...every time you want a snack.”
The second problem that comes from having bulk quantities of food around relates to the idea of “norms”. Suppose you “normally” have 2-3 boxes of cereal in your pantry at a time. Wansink says, “If you find yourself with only one box, it’s a signal you need to buy more. But if one day you find yourself with 12 boxes, you will tend to eat them up so the right number will be in your cupboard, and so you’ll have room for other foods.”
In his book, Wansink suggests a few tricks to warehouse club members, such as repackaging the big single open containers into smaller containers, hiding the extras in storage spaces, such as your garage or extra freezer, and resealing big packages with tape which makes them less convenient to open on impulse.
But for me, I’m really resonating with these scientific studies, they satisfy what I already know intuitively...that, personally, Sam’s Club isn’t saving me anything.
There are two things I hate running out of: coffee K-cups and razors (there are 4 females living in this house). These are the only reasons I signed up for membership to begin with. And with the nearest club being 1 hour and 40 minutes away, not only has it caused me to overspend and overeat, it has COST me valuable time. Good-by Sam’s Club.
Good-bye cable television. Good-bye Ladies of London, Real Housewives of Orange County, Matt and Savannah...and I’ll probably be the last to know who ends up sitting next to Kelly Rippa in the mornings.
I feel lighter already...
It’s been just a little over a month now since I announced I am eliminating half my belongings in 2017. I’ve set this plan in motion to finish within a 6 month time frame. I can already say this is having a profound effect on me. Not only in wonderful ways, but in sort of painful ways.
I wasn’t sure exactly where or how to begin. I made a list of rooms, spaces and closets, then assigned each to a weekend from January through June, accounting for blocks of time when I will be out of town. I gave closets their own day because purging closets seem to require their own status; plus, when I consider cleaning out the master bedroom, for example, it feels easier when I don’t have to consider the closet.
Next, I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, also known as the Konmari Method. I read this book in two days, discovering that Kondo has the unique system of decluttering by categories rather than by location.
She says cleaning out by location is actually a fatal mistake, arguing, for example, when we go to purge our closet, we’re not taking all our garments into account because we have the same type of items stored in various places in our home (e.g., the coat closet, summer storage, hanging on a line in your laundry room, accessory drawers, ect). She says we all have such excess and storing it in multiple places in the home hinders us from grasping the sheer volume of what we really have, therefore we are not dealing with it all at once, causing us to repeat the same work over and over again, locking us into the vicious cycle of purging, or as she refers to it...tidying.
Hmmm...this hits a nerve. As I’m purging my kitchen cupboards this morning, I realize I just did this 6 months ago.
To ensure we tidy once and for all, she recommends first imagining your ideal lifestyle, allowing every step you take after to be in the direction of your vision. The process is pretty straight forward, starting with the easiest categories (clothing) and progressing to the more challenging.
Kondo’s approach suggests pulling all items from each category out of their containers and onto the floor in one communal spot, holding each item and keeping only those that “spark joy”, setting aside the rest for giving away, selling, recycling or discarding. So, in essence, we are deciding what to keep versus deciding what to get rid of.
As soon as I finished the book I got to work. I actually started with my Christmas decorations, a deviation from the system right off the bat. In my house, Christmas decorations had seemingly grown into its own category and with the timing of the season, it just made sense to start there.
I worked through my clothing in record time, and building some momentum, tackled the books and magazines. The books tugged at my heart a bit, many of them were purchased when I was going through a challenging time or struggle. At once, you could look at all my books and come to the conclusion the owner of the collection had been searching her entire life for something. I thanked them all (another aspect of the Konmari method) for encouraging and facilitating my growth and packed them up to discard.
Papers. Yeah... this is where I stalled out.
I’m actually preparing myself to re-read this chapter because I haven’t retained the information, really. When I think of my massive filing cabinet, binders of bank statements, report cards and school schedules, bill statements, manuals, receipts, legal documents... I start to feel woozy inside and the walls seems to close in. Ugg.
Bookmarking that category, I revisit my calendar and start going room by room. Now this feels easier because I’ve already tackled clothing and books, both of which showed up in many areas of my home, for whatever reason.
So far I’ve purged my dining room, sunroom, living room, den and am currently halfway through the kitchen, which I’m sailing through because ...er...I just did it 6 months ago.
Side bar. I keep bumping up against those sentimental items that threaten the success of what I’m trying to accomplish here. Some of them I’m placing in a pile to sort out last, as the Konmari method suggests. Scribbled notes of love or apology with backward letters and misspelled words our little girls have written...Ugh! I can’t bare the thought of parting with them! My great-grandmother’s antique teapot and sugar bowl, given to me by my mother when Tom and I were first married and hadn’t yet acquired those special items. They're beautiful, and I love them and have felt honored all these years she entrusted them to my care...and I do drink tea regularly, but I have never once used them.
With love, I return them to my mother, who does have this incredible apt and talent for using her various assortment of intricately patterned china and heirloom pieces regularly for her own pleasure or while entertaining guests.
So here’s what I’m noticing in these checked-off spaces of my home. There is a sense of peace and calm (zen?) when entering. Kind of like when you cross the threshold of your hotel room after checking in. Nothing out of place, horizontal spaces are clear of clutter, neutral… a sense of order and ease, I guess. Like the hotel room, my living room sort of beckons me to come in, put my feet up and relax, rather than cueing me to get to work.
I might have to fluff a pillow or refold a blanket, satisfying my OCD twinge; I still need to vacuum and dust from time to time, but generally I’m starting to experience the freedom that comes with having less...asking myself now what? As in, what should I do now...this afternoon? Which begs the question...what do I want to do now...this afternoon?
I’d like to take a nap, that’s what.
My dining room and living room have been purged. I plan to sell my dining room furniture, piano and will have the television hauled away soon!
I kept 1/8 of my book collection
Here we are at the New Year. I’ve been preparing for this for a few months now. I LOVE new beginnings..a clean slate...a re-do...a blank canvas. I mean, the New Year just has opportunity written all over it! I’ve been implementing a new strategy- planning ahead- a successful resolution from New Years passed.
Typically I get so busy in December-resurrecting Santa Claus, turning my home into a Martha Stewart inspiration, sprinkling pixie dust and Christmas spirit throughout, squeezing into my elfin costume while wrapping presents in every spare moment of having an empty house. It’s exhausting! Then December 31st rolls around and everyone’s announcing or posting their New Year goals and resolutions- their plan to add in a new exercise regimen, start a new nutrition plan (holla!), spend more quality time, read more books….and I got nothin’. By the 11th hour I manage to come up with a few ideas of what I want to accomplish for the coming year (see previously listed examples).
But as I’ve been looking toward 2017, with an impending move to New England and managing my family both near and far, co-creating and launching a new passion project and working more-than-part-time, I just really don’t want to add anything else to my life right now. Actually, I want to SUBTRACT from it. And quite honestly I feel pretty balanced with what I’m doing from day to day- it's just that I feel like I'm drowning in
I have this dream of living simply. Becoming a minimalist Or to live as minimally as I possibly can...which has just seemed sort of an impossible dream to realize with a big house full of stuff, a backyard pool that requires stuff and a family of 5, all of whom have a bunch of stuff. I want to be free to do and go without worrying about managing my (and everyone else’s) STUFF. I want to be able to travel or pick up and move across the globe if I want to without being weighed down by all my things.
I’m figuring if I’m able to part with HALF my possessions, I should be able to live in half the home, paying half the rent or mortgage (maybe... this is Connecticut after all). And theoretically, I should have that much more valuable time and money to do the things I love with the people I love.
In Feng Shui, the Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing people with their surrounding environment, it is said our things are always speaking to us, “Dust me…”, “Remember when…?”, “I need replaced, fixed, painted, re-done or I don’t belong here”, whether we are conscious of it or not.
I find myself at a place in life where I want to wake up and, as my friend Karen says, decide what I want to do rather than what I have to do. I mean there are some things I will HAVE to do. And in a family of 5 it isn’t entirely my place to throw away other people’s stuff. Fine!
But at the New Year I find myself contemplating these questions: What can go? What no longer serves me or brings me joy? What will letting go of this item afford me the ability to have or do in terms of quality time and money? Or dream? Or work towards?
I’ve been getting ready to BE ready to do this for some time now...years, really. And NOW is my chance. This year I’ll be moving to New England and we will be going with half our possessions- including the sentimental stuff...all reduced by half. I think I’ll need some help with this last one because I’m incredibly sentimental, but what good is it doing anyone if these mementos are in boxes, shlepped from house to house... hidden away for years?... a lifetime?
I’m not real sure what my life- our lives- will look like on the other side. You know, after it’s all gone. What will be in the void? What opportunities? What friendships? What conversations or adventures? I’m thinking everything will be at least more meaningful, on my end anyway. I’ll be less preoccupied, less tired from toiling, and more engaged maybe? I really can’t imagine it... I do wish I could picture it because I think it might be good motivation to get from here to there.
I guess we shall see….
I'm experiencing a paradigm shift of sorts seeing the words "minimalism" and "decluttering" everywhere. Books, conversations, podcasts, articles and emails to my inbox. 'Energy flows where attention goes', as it's said. Have we as a society just accumulated too much and reduction becomes the natural order? Keeping up with the Jones's, the Kardashians... chasing the money and prestige, spending long hours...days even, at work...a slave to our things. And for what? Is this really living? I ask myself.
What do you hope to clean out and purge this year? A room you’d like to re-purpose if you could just get it cleaned out? An overstuffed drawer? Your finances? Your garage? Your friends list? Do you find yourself just closing the door and ignoring that “noise”? Share your clearing-out intentions below and your favorite methods or books for decluttering your home, finances, office space, and your life!
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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