Anyone else feel anxiety at the mall?

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Limiting one’s desires actually helps to cure one of fear.

~ Seneca “Letters from a Stoic”

Having teens I’m coming to the conclusion that they naturally gravitate to the mall like a fly to stink. I would be a happy camper if I never went into one again and I’ve come up with a list that supports this I’m-the-mom-I’m-taking-a-stand decision.

 

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1) Safety

If you’ve been anywhere near a TV in the last ten years, you know that you might be safer driving through the streets of Watts than trolling the floors of your local shopping center. Such a sad state of affairs. Watching the news with my mouth on the floor (our local mall had a major shooting two years ago) and tears in my eyes has become too common. I don’t know the answer to my daughters’ questions of, “Why would someone hurt innocent people?” Call me paranoid, but if I can avoid being out in the open (with my children no less) when a loon opens fire, I will make that choice.

2) Avoiding the Teen Gimmees

Funny how they don’t surface quite as much when we’re hanging around the house. It’s that whole “out of sight, out of mind” thing. While I was working on this post, Joshua Becker came up with a brilliant list about raising consumer conscious teens. Good, good advice.

3) Fending off my own Gimmees

Funny how I don’t need anything when it’s not in front of my face.

4) The excess makes me anxious and sad.

Simply put, the place makes my heart heavy.

True blog confession here: I had a total freak-out the other day when I was shopping with my kids for much needed summer shorts. Our local mall was crowded and bustling and I was (as only I can do) equating my current view with the sad, materialistic state of our whole country. I was thinking about the broken people who fill the holes in their lives/hearts with buying stuff. I was thinking about women and our totally skewed view of our bodies due to advertisements telling us we need to feel okay. I was even thinking about the many poverty stricken folks in our midst who need us to help, rather than throw our money at things that just don’t matter. I’m not one for anxiety attacks or panic episodes, but in this instance my heart beat faster and I felt more agitation than usual. It was a “what have we become?” moment and I was sad to be a part of it. I had that let’s-move-to-a-cabin-in-backwoods-Montana feeling and it created a darkness for me that’s unusual. What the heck is going on here? Still trying to figure it out.

Does anyone else feel this way?

 

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**Our Twinkie trips are revving up for the summer, so posts may not be as frequent…trying to keep it simple, friends. 🙂 **

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Three tools to help you realize goals & find contentment

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I believe in writing big goals down and reading them each week, if not every day. I believe that if we want something bad enough,we will work to make it happen.

 

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1) LISTEN

Listen to others who are realizing their dreams and listen to folks who you might want to do the opposite of. Then, most importantly, be still so that you can listen to the small voice within who knows you completely.

This voice is always right and is so teeny tiny quiet, that we may not ever hear it’s “rightness”. Meditation, prayer, quiet time..whatever works for you. 5 to 10 to 30 minutes investing in listening can produce some really amazing things. If only we all would take the time to take it seriously enough to give it the time it deserves. My ability to set aside quiet time is improving. I’m realizing that it is a detriment to avoid it and I’m committing to do it even when I don’t feel like it (frequently at 5 am.).

Do you have 2 minutes a day you can sit in the quiet to just listen?

What if it meant the difference between a pretty good life to one filled with amazing happenings and incredible circumstance? 

I’ve been clutching this compass so hard it’s making an indentation in my hand as I bustle about my life in the name of getting things done. There’s really a better alternative…I realize that now.

2) Look straight ahead and own your story

Tap into your own brilliance, even if it doesn’t look remotely like anything you’ve seen out there.

There is so much dreaming other people’s dreams going on in blogland as well as the creative world. First off, I think a lot of folks see something happening for an artist, writer, entrepreneur, etc. and they want what they think is that person’s experience. We have NO IDEA what kind of sacrifices occurred for that person’s success. We have no clue what their day to day is in juggling a career and family life. We just don’t know.  I’ve found it best to not assume anything about anyone’s success, as well as not covet it for my own life.

It’s taken me 43 years to get this, but I believe I really only want what’s best for this vida loca of mine—what’s best for my simplicity quest right now in this moment in my life. It’s forever evolving and changing, but I am honoring the process by not wishing for what is not mine. I’m looking inside for what is yelling out for my attention. 

I know myself well enough by now to be able to release, release, release looking at others’ success for my own growth to happen.

3) Pay attention

I am guilty of getting lost in my own list of to-do’s and errands and hustle & bustle. My children have taught me how to slow down. My youngest, especially, with her “naturalist” ways outside and love of animals has helped me to stop and marvel at the little things. I’m always glad when I do. There is a ton to be seen if you widen those peepers!

This is my favorite recent story about paying attention. I think it says a lot about what’s missing in our lives.


Joshua Bell plays in subway No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition. No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

(text via Pinterest)

How ’bout you? Do you listen to your longings & pay attention to the world around you? What are they telling you?

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On my SIMPLICITY radar

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Lara, meet your local libary. Library, meet Lara.

How awesome is not paying for books?! I’m realizing I’m late to this party, but I didn’t realize how many titles are available. I used to buy so many books used on Amazon and this was not helping my clutter problem. I put the library search catalog on my phone home screen and when I come across a book I want to read, I plunk in the title. Most of them are available in our county system and I can place a hold on a book. It will be sent to my local branch to be picked up and I will get an email alerting its arrival. I love this! This process also forces me to actually finish a book in a timely manner because there’s a due date. How convenient is it for you to stake a claim in your own local library?

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Speaking of books, I had a skyscraper-ish stack next to my lawn chair when we had some downtime in the Twinkie a few weekends ago. Here are some of my current favorites:

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1) Great advice from Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel. We are smack in the middle of teaching our kids about budgeting and this book helped.  

2) Love Jon Acuff’s humor and love his outlook about just beginning already. Great words from someone who’s been there.

3) Tsh is a favorite blogger and now a writer I admire. Her story is exciting & amazing, but the practicality of her wise words is applicable to any life.

4) This is an oldie, but goodie. Pierce chronicles the stories of people on their simplicity quest, with lots of little tidbits helpful for the rest of us.

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If this video doesn’t make you want to jump in your portable house and just GO, I don’t know what will. Trying really hard not to covet this fellow Airstream-loving family on their adventure:

Tomorrow Somewhere New from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

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SimpleREV is happening October 3-4 for “simple living enthusiasts and advocates”. ‘Wish I could go. Next best thing, though, is reading the blog and listening to Dan and Joel on their SimpleRev podcast. They’re just so darn likable.

 

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vitamix

This thing is rocking my smoothie-loving world. I simplified my diet by eating mostly raw foods–some of which are blended each day. I am in LOVE with this thing. I didn’t realize how much I was missing with my blender. Ahhh…the bliss of completely pulverized spinach (no chunks!).

I’ve also been stocking what I call the Food Pharmacy Drawer in my kitchen. These foods are tasty and have helped my tummy and energy level. I”m a believer in being healed with good food.

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This is a great site for green smoothie info. Good new recipes too!

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Also enjoying having these bars for my emergency paleo snacks when I’m out and about. A little spendy, so I hoard them for special occasions–but nice to have at the ready nonetheless.

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I hope you’re having a lovely spring, friends. The sun has arrived in the Northwest and I am one happy camper!

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How I overcame obstacles on the road to simplicity

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When you go to the optometrist for a checkup, you are told to look through lenses at the eye chart (This one…or this one?). At the beginning you will see double, everything a bit fuzzy. Then she tweaks something magical and the image comes into crystal clear focus as one image.

This is the perfect metaphor for what has happened to my life in the past three years.

There were obstacles in the road on this quest to simplify. I didn’t see them before, but now with a new pair of eyes, I hit myself in the head cartoon style and laugh that I didn’t see them before. Looking at this list, it’s no wonder a simpler life eluded me for so long.

1) Time wasting and mindless habits

With each minute I wasted trolling social media or needlessly checking email there was a completely missed opportunity to do the things I love. Read, write, walk, dream, read, converse, de-clutter…did I mention read? That’s the thing about habit (especially the digital kind)—they won’t change unless you mindfully remove the distraction. This is where digital sabbaticals and the release of Facebook came into play for me.

I also noticed that I have a tendency to do things the way I’ve always done them simply because I haven’t taken the time to look at what it blocks from my life. I do not need to spend an entire Saturday running errands and cleaning the house. It’s become a day for family fun, reading, hammock time (weather permitting) and slow cooking.

2) Excessive focus on what others think

It’s a beautiful thing to fully let go of the opinion and approval of others. We’ve always done things a little differently with our family, but I finally realized (wonders of all wonders) that this same principle applies to me. Out of this way of thinking has come a simplified wardrobe, changing my job back to working for someone else, taking note that my interior design style has completely changed and that I don’t want to drive the typical over-scheduled mom taxi. There has been a tremendous amount of freedom that’s come from being brave to just be me, however much I’ve changed over the years.

3) To-do lists that become cement blocks attached to my ankles

There will always be 101 things to do. I never get through the list and for awhile this used to send me into a hand-wringing state of tizzy-fitting. No more. I see now that more than half of the stuff just doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Do I really need to wash the bead board in the powder bathroom today? No one dies if things don’t get purchased, cleaned or organized. Phew. As a teacher there is the list for the day, but I love doing that list. It means wonderful things for little people who depend on me. But even with my constant state of flux in my colorful classroom, I know the difference between right now and in a few weeks.

4) Anxiety about What-ifs and JustInCases

I used to have an ability to turn borrowing trouble into an Olympic event. The good news is that constantly fretting about potential inconveniences and catastrophes really doesn’t change the outcome. If they appear, they appear and as adaptive humans, we learn to deal. I’ve had my share of dealing, believe me. Yet, the fussing and anxiety? ‘Tis best to let go of that rope. Now, for the JustInCases (I love this post!), those are a bit more challenging to release. I’m getting better, but I practice it monthly. This week there is a massive garage sale transpiring at the abode. I’m hoping it will spring forth much needed momentum!

5) A firm grasp on a career I wasn’t loving

If you had told me two years ago that I would be back teaching 3rd grade at this point in the game, I would’ve had a good belly laugh. My photography studio and book were front and center and I was hustling on that marketing Disco floor like nobody’s business. It is so great to let that piece go. It wasn’t me, but I was forcing it because of all the work I had done up to that point. So, so much time and effort went into building a successful business. The news flash was: Just because it’s successful financially, doesn’t mean I have to love it and stay with it. It took some letting go of pride and ego squelching to walk away and return to an old profession. The big surprise was that I didn’t even know how much I missed working with kids. To me, it’s the most important job there is. I go to bed every night knowing that I made a difference (even on my worst day). Invested time and money do not require a person to stay the course.

My friend Cecilia met a man in Texas who let go of his dentistry practice to become a craftsman of saddles. He told her he was not a happy dentist and was brave enough to make the change. His saddles were works of art and he lived more simply in order to something he loved every day. It completely overhauled his happiness. I love stories like that!

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Removing simplicity obstacles is not a go-to-a-workshop-have-a-good-cry-and-reinvent-my-life territory. This has been a incredibly long baby-stepping journey where each obstacle was noted and conquered gradually. A control craving person does not have an epiphany over coffee. She documents the need for it and then intentionally releases it with each (almost) fearless step toward the Land of Letting Go and Changing Circumstance.

I’m also clear on the fact that this boulder removing process isn’t even close to being done. I will forever be sitting in the optometrist’s chair with adjustable lenses…and that’s a good thing.

How ’bout you? What obstacles have you uncovered in your quest for a simpler life?

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