Five Unexpected Ways Simplicity Provides Freedom

Good morning, Dear Reader! For all my complaining about the hot weather in the later months assigned to what we call ‘autumn’, I’m getting what I’m owed. Really. Freakin’. Cold. Weather. We went from summer to freezing our asses off in record time. Again – where is that one place that is between 50-70 degrees all year long?

Recently, I’ve been pondering the holidays. I’m faced with the challenge of coming up with something I ‘want’ because people ask. Truthfully, I don’t want anything that I couldn’t buy myself. And I haven’t bought it because I don’t want to clean it. Really. It’s true.

Some wait their entire lives for the feeling of contentment, and – I hope I don’t jinx it – I finally have it. I moved into a tiny home (not a tiny, tiny home…mine is 950 sq. ft) last August, and I could not be happier with the amount of space I have. I currently rent, and I realize the payments are steep, but it’s a good fit for us. At the same time, my kiddo finishes elementary school, where he started five years ago. He flourishes there, and I don’t want to be the person who yanks him out. So I’m doing my best to live in the “now”, which isn’t easy when others keep asking what’s next for us. 

I don’t fucking know, Karen. Mind your own business.

That said, about a week ago, some friends and I talked about getting together soon. One said, “We haven’t seen your new place! We should get together there!” and I don’t know what happened but…

A little bit of panic set in.

What if they think I’m poor because of how little I have? What if they feel they need to buy me stuff because I only have four glasses and two coffee mugs? What if they look in my bedroom, see my sparsely decorated room, and judge me for that? 

Wow. Right? I mean, I choose to live this way. So why am I so terrified of what others think? Because, y’all, despite all the memes about not giving a shit about what others think, not one of us is immune to society’s programming one hundred percent of the time. All of us, from time to time, feel vulnerable.

I asked a friend’s son a few weeks ago why he felt he needed such a fancy truck. Of course, he’s strapped for cash now that he bought a newer vehicle, and his reply was, “Chicks dig trucks. And good chicks dig nicer trucks.” I remember thinking, “Why would you want a snobby ‘chick’ like that?” But…didn’t I do the same thing when my closest friends asked to come over? Insecurity comes in all forms, I suppose.

Anyway, I’ve gotten over it and decided to invite people over. I told them to determine who has the best spine because that is who will be sitting on the floor. I don’t have room to seat more than five people. My dining table seats two. I have no room for overnight guests. And if you plan to shower, come on Mondays. I have four towels. Monday, they will all be clean.

Despite this, I told another friend that I’m maxed out on space I can physically and mentally handle. I work full-time, I’m a single parent, and I volunteer in my community. I have hobbies. I don’t want more rooms to clean and floor space to mop. 

Simplicity grounds me. I feel calm and peaceful when everything is in its place, yet still has a splash of that ‘lived in’ feel.

To me, simplicity offers five benefits I’ve desired for many years. I will always try to convince folks to live a simple lifestyle – and I have since 2011, when this blog first started. Of course, life gets messy sometimes with all it throws our way, so shouldn’t we rely on something ‘constant’ in those cases? Simplicity is my constant. 

So. Grab that drink. Settle in. I’m going to tell you about five ways simplicity benefits me – and you, should you accept this mission.

1. Less stress.

As I mentioned, I’m a busy gal. I don’t want to think about cleaning my house on my days off from work. My brain is often overloaded with my anxiety, so the less I have to look at, the calmer I am. I cannot function when things are messy. When I was a professional grant writer, my colleagues always knew when a deadline was approaching because I’d spend hours cleaning and reorganizing my office. I called it ‘pre-writing planning’. I had to do that before I could write. 

2. I save money.

I never set out to be a cheapskate, and I’m not one. Simplicity and rational minimalism are not really about frugality, although saving money seems to be a by-product of the lifestyle. Often, too, I can find things I need at thrift stores. I don’t buy other people’s junk for the sake of having more trash in my home. But when I can find a perfectly good Caphlone skillet for six bucks, and I need a skillet…I’m going to buy THAT skillet. I rarely go shopping as a pastime. Admittedly, during the COVID lockdown, I got pretty well-acquainted with my Amazon cart – a habit I’m still attempting to break. 

3. I’m pretty organized.

As I mentioned, I don’t function well in a messy space. The messiest area of my home is my desk. It always is, for which there is no excuse. But other than that, I pretty much know where everything I own is located. That’s not to say that I don’t have a junk drawer. I do. (And a few junk baskets, if I’m honest.) But ask me where that one little item is…and I most likely know where it resides. My car keys go in one place. My purse is in another. Backpacks, bandaids, extra bottles of Gatorade…all have a home. 

4. Less toys means more creativity.

Some people criticize the amount of time I let my kiddo spend on his tablet. But, it isn’t as though he’s just gaming all day. He’s creating games for other people. That’s different. In fact, that’s a skill set that can – and does – earn him a little bit of dough. I, too, have very few toys. This allows me to have more time to write. I enrolled in a 24 week front-end developer to gain marketable skills. After that, photography lessons. 

5. Simplicity provides space for what I truly value.

The most important person on the planet to me is my son. With less space and clutter to consume me, we can spend evenings together and take mini-roadtrips to see friends on the weekends. I can work on my own hobbies and I’m currently working through a 28-day challenge to keep my cleaning schedule intact. I am a bit stingy with my free time, but I do make time for those who are important.

So, my near-panic attack when my friend suggested coming over reinforced to me that my simple little life is okay. Of course, I’ve been living this lifestyle for a over a decade (with a few bumps in the road here and there). But, it is always good to reflect on the importance of it from time to time.

How about you, Dear Reader? What changes do you want to make to find simplicity in your little corner of the world? What do you already embrace as a practice? 

As always, here’s your song. I had no idea who Casey Abrams was until I found this little gem, but you can bet your bottom I’m going to be looking him up on Spotify this weekend. Enjoy your weekend, and try not to freeze to death.

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Four Annoying Phrases To Use When You Finally Give Up

Good morning, Dear Reader. As has been my MO lately, I’m late in posting. I try to have something delivered to you by Friday mornings, but here’s the nugget I cling to: It’s Friday morning somewhere. That’s the silver lining.

The weather has indeed turned here in the Ozarks. At least for a few days. It’s a comfy 33-degree, mostly cloudy day. You know…my favorite. 

But today is a bit different. Usually, I find a nice little nook and read or knit when it gets this chilly, but I’m feeling a bit blah. I don’t usually feel a bit blah on days like this. I’m convinced my soul arrived on Earth somewhere north, like Seattle or Norway. I just like gloomy days, most of the time. But this last week – even when it was in the seventies – felt weird. I even saged my house because there was a ‘funk’ I couldn’t shake, and I hardly ever do that. I wonder if the act did anything more than make my son complain about the smell. The saving grace of the week was the full moon lunar eclipse. The week was both magical and intense.

I’ve always been a bit transparent in these posts – at least transparent enough for you to ask yourself, “Did she just say that? Is this for real?” Honestly? Most of my writing is rooted in non-fiction, but some posts are just for kicks. For example, (confession time), I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seriously told anyone – to their face – to go fuck themselves. Although, admittedly, on many occasions – sometimes daily – I have muttered it under my breath. I talk a big game, though, right? Anyway. Fooled you.

Here’s what I regularly say, despite how much some of you may hate some of these. Ready?

Well…grab that drink. Settle in. Let’s dive into my favorite colloquialisms today.

1) It is what it is. At least one of you just shuddered at that. Yes, this one is a bit overused in the Universe, but here’s what I think about that particular phrase. First, if a person is using it as a placeholder to excuse bad behavior, that’s not the point. I use it – and so do many of us – when we’ve finally reached a conclusion about something and have leaned into accepting something we have no control over. For example, today is my father’s birthday. I’d love to buy him a lemon bundt cake from Supreme Bakery like I always did and celebrate with him. But I can’t. Why? Because he’s dead. It is what it is.

2) Fuck it. This short little phase is the saltier, more ghetto version of “It is what it is.” I embraced this phrase last Tuesday under the full moon while writing my list of things to release. I was thinking about a never-ending battle I have with a certain someone and how I’ve spent nearly six years trying to control the situation and the person. At some point during the week, I realized this situation was never-fucking-ever going to change, and under the super big full moon…I finally accepted it. Then, I wrote a brief little statement about it, lit a match, dropped it into a bucket, and whispered, “I release this”. I watched it burn to ash, stood up, and said (not whispering) “Fuck it, ” which will now be my theme for 2023. It may be flawed logic, but here’s my favorite scene from Yellowstone and how Fuck It plays out appropriately.

3) Not my problem. This one takes on a few different forms depending on how much I’ve had to drink. I’ve used “Not my cross to bear”, “Can’t blame a clown for acting like a clown,” or “A snake will never be a bunny rabbit, so stop petting it”. However, my favorite and most quoted to-date version of ‘Not my problem is: “Not my circus, not my monkey”. While those all sound a bit different, the true meaning of each of those is: This is not my issue.

4) You do you, Boo. This one is relatively new on the vernacular scene, but I’ve been using it a lot lately. It started as a replacement for “Whatever” when I couldn’t understand why a person was behaving in a manner I believed odd or batshit crazy. I ain’t gonna lie. This one has been hard to embrace as a mantra. I’m a professional problem-solver by day, and systematically controlling a project while coming in within budget and under the deadline does not lend itself to ‘willy-nilly’ behavior. But here are a few revelations: People aren’t projects, and not everyone thinks or behaves like I do. I know, right? Shocker. But, one more thing about “You do you, Boo” I feel begs to be explained is that the phrase reassures the other person that you aren’t judging them. “Whatever” (most likely accompanied by an eye-roll) can be a bit snarky with a side of self-righteousness, don’t you agree? Additionally, saying “You do you, Boo” also helps me remember that I don’t need to fix anyone or control them or even understand them to love them.

You can buy that print here from sdesignsprints on Etsy

As we end today’s post together, Dear Reader, I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite songs by Ashley McBryde. Saying that Ashley McBryde is a badass is an understatement. She’s voluptuous, brave, tenacious, talented, and just a downright good human. (Yes. It’s true. I may have a girl crush.) Anyway, as I interpret it, this song is all of my well-worn phrases wrapped up in one little package. So, sing along tonight with your drink raised and make the best of the worst day. 

PS…Speaking of worst days and raising a glass: It’s eggnog season, and I think it’s important to mention that a shot of Skrewball PB whiskey over ice topped with a splash of eggnog is perfect for a night like tonight. You’re welcome.

Oh, and please share this post with all your peeps on all your social thingamajigs. 

Five Life Changing Truths To Inspire The New Year

Good evening, Dear Reader! November is upon us, and while I love cooler weather, I can’t shake the feeling that the end of the year is looming, and I still have a few goals to accomplish. However, making a list of small goals helped me get a bit out of my comfort zone. I got to experience a few really cool things that I would not, most likely, have branched out to do if it had not been for the personal accountability you provided. So, um, thanks. Check out all I accomplished in 2022 and take a peek at my 2023 Bucket List, which is still a work in progress.

I have so many topics swirling around in my brain tonight, and I’m not sure what I really want to share. I thought about a theme centered on No-vember, but so many other writers have done an excellent job explaining what to say “No” to this month that I feel like my message would really not do the idea any justice. I mean, “No Spend November” seems kinda like a no-brainer. Plus, do any of you really need to consider the benefits of owning fewer possessions after reading my posts over the past ten years? Less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress. 

So what to write about today when, frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m facing a few things personally, and I’m so drained mentally and physically; I’ll stick with what I do best: Plan ahead and think about the coming year. 

That said, I have some ideas for the new year as we stare it right square in the face for you. So…

Grab that drink. Settle in. 

Let us go over here in our comfy chairs to discuss the five truths to live by in the upcoming year.

1) Settle for the fact that sometimes there isn’t any closure. For about a year after my divorce, I behaved like a private investigator. I dug deep into every text message and email I had received from my ex, dissecting each one like a cadaver worm in an eighth grade biology class. I tried to piece together dates to form a timeline where all the lies made sense. I questioned and requestioned people. Then finally, I realized, who the fuck cares anymore? The facts were: He left. I was financially broke. And I was angry. The sooner we accept that we will not receive closure in every situation, the sooner we can create our own closure. Create my own closure? By how? Hmmm. Like this: Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Now exhale and softly whisper…“Fuck it”. And there you have it.  

2) Everyone on the planet is self-centered. Yes. You read that correctly. Most of what other people do is about them, not you. As it is written in The Four Agreements, stop taking things so personally. If they wanted to, they would, right? There’s this thing called the 51% Rule. The 51% Rule states, “You are always doing what you want to do.” For example…I want to lose weight. But I wanted to eat that cookie 51% more than I wanted to go for a walk (49%). See? Basic math. In most cases, we’ve all lost the ability to think beyond our own amygdala, and eveyone is operating by the 51% Rule. This leads me to…

3) You cannot change anyone. And if you are changing someone by wearing them down…that’s not “change”; that’s manipulation bordering on bullying. Shame on you. I’ve heard it said that people will not change until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of changing. Read that again: (Insert His/Her Name Here) will not change until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of changing. 

4) Be realistic about the big things. I am wary of anyone who doesn’t have a Plan B in most cases. Here’s the thing about ‘big things’: They always take longer to accomplish than you ever thought they would. It always costs more money than you expect. Personal growth is always more painful and terrifying than ever imagined. Be realistic and always have a Plan B. Repeat after me: “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” 

5) Some people won’t apologize because they can’t. They either don’t accept they are wrong or can’t cognitively grasp that their actions hurt you. It’s up to you to decide whether to admit if you are okay with their inability to say “I’m sorry” or walk away. Because, as we’ve already covered, they aren’t going to change. Plus, there’s an art to apologizing correctly, and most people need to learn how to do it. I encourage you to learn how to say “sorry” correctly and then, once mastered, listen carefully to so-called apologies. Then, when you start tuning in, you’ll know where you stand – and how to better gauge how emotionally mature someone is. 

I’ve done my best to sum up what I plan to do and accept as truth over the next twelve months enough to leave you as I always do. Funny story: I had talked to someone about taking my blog to the ‘next level’ and the feedback was that I’d need to clean up my language a bit to move through the blog-o-sphere successfully. So. Um. I’m going to just let this thing grow organically, and with that, I’m going to leave you with this song.

If you liked these tips, share away. Apparently that’s the only way I’m going to get famous 🙂 Smooch!