Archives for May 2015

Ten Signs You’re An Inherent Minimalist

Lego HouseI know that minimalism does not come naturally for the majority of people; however, there are some of us that seem drawn to this lifestyle as if it were encoded in our DNA. For me, it has always been there, even when I tried to fit into materialist settings. I don’t feel that I am a hardcore minimalist, although I think my husband would disagree. He once told me that I wouldn’t be happy until there were five things left in our house…and that was us and our three kids!

Here are some signs that you might have the genetic predisposition for living with less:

1.  You are mesmerized by Tiny House living

You know you could rise to the challenge of living in a 300-square-foot (or less) home. There would be so much less to clean and manage. Sure, you might have to go to the bathroom two feet from your kitchen, but is that really such a big deal? It’s also worth mentioning that you can hoist your house on a trailer, drag it around the country and park it almost anywhere. On top of those benefits, there is the cost to build and maintain it, which are both a fraction of a traditional home’s expense. Check out:

2.  You avoid shopping like most people avoid the dentist

You refrigerator is empty. Instead of running out to the supermarket, you seriously consider whether eating is a necessity. When you do make it to the store, you are a chronic under-buyer. Even though you know you might need something next week, you can’t seem to make the commitment to buy it today.

3.  Your wardrobe is extremely limited

You pretty much wear the same thing every week. You are aware that some people are judging you, especially if you are a woman, but that does not motivate you to put forth more effort in this area. You marvel at people who you never see wearing the same thing twice. Where do all their clothes go? You comfort yourself with the fact that Steve Jobs wore the same thing everyday to avoid decision fatigue. So, it’s not that you aren’t fashionable; you’re just a genius.   It’s the sacrifice you have to make for your superior intellect. Check out: and

4.  You travel light

You travel assuming best-case scenario. You are not going to pack for any disaster that may happen because that just requires too much stuff. When possible, you travel with only a backpack since it’s boss to walk through the airport with your hands free. Free to do what? Anything you want.   They will be free to high-five someone, wave, pick your nose, play patty cake, the options are limitless! When the plane lands you head straight for the Taxi stand and are sitting by the hotel pool with a drink in each free hand while the other suckers are still waiting for their luggage at the carousel. Check out:

5.  You don’t cry when things break

That’s just decluttering done for you, pure and simple.

6.  You have learned not to voice your opinions about stuff around others

When someone hears you say you like something, many times they hear, “I want that!” That often is not true for the inherent minimalist. You can like something, but freak out if it comes into your possession. You love having empty shelves in your home, since it makes you feel as if you still have room in your life and you are not yet full. Check out:

7.  You are not a good gift giver

You like to give, but you find it extremely difficult to give anything that might be useless or clutter someone else’s home. You are good at gift cards and donations, but if someone is wanting some sentimental tchotchke from you, it ain’t gonna happen.

8.  You are not a good party planner

Obviously you are fun at parties, but you are not going to create a deluge of unique party decorations from ideas you garnered off Pinterest (even though those ideas are adorable). If you do get a few festive flourishes for the party, they will be disposed of immediately afterwards. Your life does not need to be weighed down by holding onto an “Over the Hill” centerpiece waiting for your next friend to reach middle age.

9.  You prefer not to participate in prize drawings

The thought of someone calling your name for a towel, a bag or some other random crap, makes you squirm. The elation of winning doesn’t outweigh the responsibility that comes with properly disposing of said crap.

10.  Your family always blames you for missing things

Your son can’t find his favorite stuffed animal, so he accuses you of throwing it away during your last junk-sweep of the house. Your spouse is missing his most comfy t-shirt, so you must have donated it. When your family members do find the missing item, they never apologize to you. It’s annoying, but then you remember those rare occasions when you have actually disposed of something you shouldn’t have and find that you are equally guilty of not apologizing. After all, they just need to take better care of their stuff.

I hope that you are able to take away something from this list. If you see yourself in these signs, make sure you fly your minimalist flag high, which probably doubles as your sock so when you are done waving it you can put it back on your foot and not have to carry it around. If you don’t identify with this list, tuck it away as a tool to help you be more understanding when someone gives you a gift card at the generic birthday party they threw for you.

Did I miss any signs? Have a great, simple, clutter-free day!


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My Path to Creativity

At forty-one, I discovered that I genuinely love to write.   Between my hearty appetite for reading and my wild imagination, stories have been flowing through my head since childhood, but I never summoned the determination or discipline to extract them into a permanent form. Feeble attempts to write always ended up as fragmentary stories because my dream to write was a soft and yielding goal instead of a purpose.

My first attempt was representative of this:

First Book

I forget my exact age at the time of this exercise, but I do remember feeling confident that I could write a book of my own. I gathered a few sheets of paper and pruned them to roughly the size of playing cards.   After deciding upon staples to be my binding of choice, I sat at the table prepared to create a masterpiece. Instead of keeping the tale short and simple, as the novice canvas would suggest, I began a saga that muddled on until I reached the end of the prefabricated pages. I must have sensed that the story was going nowhere because I didn’t think twice about tossing it aside, knowing that procuring more pages would just prolong the torture.

High school stomped through my life with all its hormone-raging glory. Throughout the four years I attended, I was bombarded with messages that I could not write from frustrated teachers who tried unsuccessfully to garner my attention. A minimal amount of encouragement was my reward for the minimal amount effort I put forth. Casting blame accomplishes nothing when the problem was simply a matter of mismatched goals. Teacher’s priorities were teaching and mine were boys, having fun, boys, friends and boys.

In college, one professor claimed to enjoy my writing. Perhaps writing about more interesting subjects, such as current events, allowed me to flourish in previously unexplored ways. It also could be attributed to the natural maturing that comes with age and a focus on learning that developed upon escaping the smothering years of living at home.   This professor suggested I submit one of my poems in a poetry contest. Somehow I advanced as a semi-finalist and even though I didn’t win, my poem was published! When I received The Coming of Dawn (copyright 1993 by The National Library of Poetry) where my poem resided, I found it was over six hundred pages thick, with up to six poems per page. Suddenly, I didn’t feel special anymore, much like the kids of today who get a trophy just for participating. I felt discouraged and gave up once again on believing that I could write.

After college I halfheartedly attempted to put pen to paper. Sometimes it would just be in a diary or some short story. Following a particularly debilitating heartbreak, I got the closest I have ever come to finishing a book and typed out fifty pages in an outpouring of emotion.   Unfortunately it was fruitless, since I still lacked the knowledge on how to plan a story.  I would start with a seed of an idea and a couple of characters, expecting the story to flow freely with no thought of plot or structure.   Like many falsehoods I believed in my youth, I thought that if you were a natural writer you would just know how to do it.

Fast-forward one decade and half of another; I am at home for almost six hours every day, totally alone. My third and final child now goes to preschool along with the older two in elementary. A formerly elusive moment is finally the present one. I love my kids, but my brain has been craving full use for years. I am referring to complete usage, not the decision-fatigued, sleep-deprived amount used when trying to figure out how to get your babies to go back to sleep in the middle of the night or the twenty-minutes during your kids’ beloved show when you try to cram in doing the bills or investments. I could finally commit to something big…but what?

Enter writing…again. I was committed this time and did my research. I read books on how to write, how to create a plot and how to make the story flow. I fell in love with writing as soon as I began my first project. Even when my new planning skills failed and necessitated a total rewrite of the first draft, it didn’t discourage me because I knew I was still learning and would only get better. Having finished three drafts, I am now on my final edits and polishing.  I enjoy editing my finished work, but at the same time I am anxious to begin my next. Writing is a true test of patience.

I’ll conclude with a piece of advice: If you have ever had the inclination to be creative in some way, start now. Fear of failure, or success, will fade the more you do it. Lack of knowledge and experience can be solved with a mixture of studying and doing, while remembering that the most important part is the doing.   Learn a little, do a little, learn a little more, and do a little more. Start somewhere and start soon. Start even if it is total and complete crap. Don’t think about selling it or about how it will make you appear to others. Create it because there is no better feeling than expressing yourself through your art.

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