5 things from 1989 to better my life

80sPhone

Is it a bad thing to constantly want to turn the clock back to 1989?

It’s not the cool high bangs look or the colored leather that brings such longing. Nor is it a yearning for synthesizer-heavy tunes, a livin’ large attitude or step aerobics craze. For me, it was the beginning of my “adult years” (ahem, the big 1-8 that year) when I was ready to take on the world and the world at that time was filled with face-to-face conversations, the beauty of being unavailable by phone (no email yet!), written correspondence, rerun city on the boob tube in summer and a general sense that a solid resume and a winning attitude could get you far in a possible career.

What has happened to us?

Yes, I’m a user of the internet. Heck yes, I’m a believer that it makes marketing and making a living easier (especially fabulous when done in PJ’s from your kitchen table). This is a very exciting time to be an entrepreneur in the making. Yet, there’s a flip side too….Who needs Christmas holiday letters when we can keep up with our friends’ dinner plate photos and party plans on Facebook all year round? Why mess with sending thank you cards when a short email will suffice? Teenage breakups are even easier when one can text a jilted lover that it’s over.

I’m beginning to feel that it’s all too much.

My heart is caught between a vice of the digital keep-up and a wedge of comparison to others’ lives. Lives I didn’t even know much about (which turns out was a good thing) before social media parachuted violently into our laptops and smart phones. I feel sheepish for yearning for the days when my home phone would ring and no one was there to answer it—I simply was not reachable. I hate to admit it, but I really, really like being unreachable sometimes. What does it take now for folks to render us legally unavailable? Balancing atop Mt. Everest? Gawking at penguins in the Artic? Somehow I’m thinking these two places might even be candidates for emergency cell service and it makes my head hurt.

I’m also keenly aware that I am part of the problem. I haven’t holed up in a cabin J.D. Salinger-style. I haven’t shunned social media with peacock-like pomposity and a drive to communicate with every person I know over coffee instead of Skype. I’m sitting directly in the center of this lovely glass house, arm raised, stone in hand. Yet there are days when my 80’s nostalgia rears it’s ugly heavily made-up eyes and wants it be different. I know I’m not alone because my spouse and I lament about this like two old ladies regularly over our morning coffee. My teen daughter was overheard saying to her sister, “It was so great that our summer camp outlawed phones. We were all happier for it. There was no FOMO going on while playing Capture the Flag or hanging in the lodge.” Ah, that one made me open my eyes wide, wide, wide. What have we done to our kids?

It got me thinking.

 

80snostalgia

 

1) Communicate clearly that I’m unavailable.

Hello vacay email and voicemail message. I’m not reachable when I say I’m not reachable, right? Of course, easier said than done for folks who have their superiors breathing down their necks all the time. For a teacher, I admit this one is a little bit easier. But this is my time capsule, yes?

2) Call a cease fire on social media

I’ve gone round and round with myself on this one and finally landed on a happy place of tweeting and FB’ing blog posts only. I don’t lurk or dwell, yet I do want people to read (like you!) about this message, because I think it’s important.

3) Adhere to at-home digital sabbaticals

We’re still working on this, but I’m loving it when we are committed. All phones go in a basket by the door when we have company, too—love that one.

4) Stop the hustle of trying to be heard

As a past photographer who did all marketing through social media and blog posts, I have had to wean myself of the proverbial tap-dance of self promotion. I think this hustle was a huge reason I left my entrepreneurial life for my teaching job. Frankly, I’m was done with trying to get my squeaky voice to rise above the din in the noisy lunchroom that is online networking. I just want to write and then hope that my words are read by and matter to someone. I’m officially subscribing to the JUST DO REALLY GOOD WORK mantra in this cyber world of horn-tooting and me-glorification and hope that it will be what it’s supposed to be. On this topic, I loved this article about more doing, less promoting.

5) Two words: Down time

I love the Italians for their phrase, l’arte di non fare niente, the art of doing nothing. I used to suck at this. I always had to have baskets and baskets filled with the fruits of my labor. And for what? Burn-out and anxiety. No longer is this something I feel guilty doing—it’s my weekend currency and I’m trying to spread this hang-out-in-a-hammock pixie dust to everyone in my clan. It’s important and I want my girls to know what it feels like.

Will they long for 2018 when they’re older? I wonder.

blogsimplicitySignature5

~Don’t miss a post! Subscribe to my feed. Follow along no Twitter. Join the party on Facebook.~

Advertisements

The top 10 tips I’ve learned from minimalists

tiny-house-2

I’m not going to covet other minimalists’ lives anymore.

I don’t travel the world with a single backpack.

I haven’t packed up my family to travel across the country in an RV for a year.

I am not a single woman with a futon, a suitcase and a laptop.

I didn’t choose 600 square feet of dwelling space with a hobby farm ‘round back.

YET, I adore reading about these amazing people and their even more intriguing journeys toward transformation. In perusing books and blogposts, these characters seem like old friends. We’re all rooting for them. Their triumphs and courageous leaps of faith provide the inspiration for our own stories. However, through all this story following, I have found there is not one formula for choosing a simple life…it is not a one-size-fits all t-shirt. No matter what our life looks like, I do believe each and every one of these intentional & devoted people can teach a lesson worth learning.

A kind of minimalism for the rest of us sort of thing.

 

toptips

 

1) Clear surfaces and uncluttered spaces create calm in the soul.

Disorganization in my environment used to create brain chaos for me. I learned the how-to’s of de-cluttering from almost all of these experienced minimalists and formulated a day-by-day plan to clear out. What a huge difference this had made!

2) Unplug and partake in digital sabbaticals regularly.

I’ve blogged about this before, but I can’t say enough about what this practice has done for my sanity, my kids and my marriage. Here’s a great podcast about what it can do for you.

3) The habit of saying NO can vastly improve your life.

With each and every post I read on this topic from various bloggers, I gain courage and inspiration to say it loud (yet, politely) and often. No to commitments that aren’t passions…no to stuff from family members and friends…no to social situations that make me feel stressed or uncomfortable. This allows the yes’s in that bring mindfulness and happiness.

4) Be realistic about how much entertaining you do in your home.

I got rid of all of the doubles in my closets and cabinets. I found that my army-sized set of champagne glasses all had dust, except two. Party themed decorations are only items taking up real estate in needed cabinet space. I also found that if there happens to be a need for party gear, people are more than happy to lend it to friends.

5) Choose work that you love and your life will improve overall.

At the moment I am not self-employed like many of these simple living experts. I owned my own photography business for 13 years and found it wasn’t fitting my personality. I didn’t have the gift of separating the hustle of entrepreneurship from family life. I’m in awe of people who live on both of those planets successfully—-and even more impressed with people who can do it on the road! After making this realization that I didn’t like working for myself,  I decided to go back to teaching. ‘Turns out I adore inspiring 3rd graders—I’ve never been happier in a job. This change alone inspired a lot of my paring down (goodbye closets of equipment!) and simplifying (hello, weekends spent with family). I think the act of simplifying can help you be honest with what is and isn’t working in a career and give you the courage to take the leap required to make it right.

6) Put limits on spending when it comes to offspring.

Although the whine-o-saur-us is alive and well in my house, I do believe my girls will thank me later. They are responsible for the “extras” with their own allowance. I communicate a price I’m comfortable with when it comes to clothes shopping. If my teens want the Cadillac of jeans, they must pay the difference. We show them what our bills are and talk about how important a budget is and have managed to squelch “the gimmees” with service oriented experiences. Somehow the new Nike Free Runs don’t seem as alluring when there are visions of the destitute and neglected in one’s head.

7) A closet with 33 items really can make your morning (& your life) more efficient.

Who knew? Thank you, Courtney, for informing the masses of this little gem. When I first read about Project 333, I hemmed and hawed as I visually took in my overstuffed closet. I whittled it down in the course of a month. I just got real about what was actually being worn and I made up a fantasy 3 month Airstream itinerary and pulled out all the items I thought I could fit in our Twinkie’s small closet. With the items laid on the bed, I had to laugh because it consisted of all my favorites…my 20%-worn-80%-of-the-time clothes. Then I gave myself a “have courage” speech–it’s all going in a box, not the Goodwill pile, for crying out loud—and I stood back to admire the extra space.

8) Choose quality over quantity.

The juicer, cutting knife, running shoes, winter coat, purse and lipstick (among many other things) were condensed down to one quality purchase per category. Less stuff, but stuff that will last. Joshua Becker’s The Simple Joy of One  is a great post that I took to heart.

9) Food and exercise can be simplified for maximum health.

I let go of the the gym membership in lieu of my nifty efficient work-out space in the garage. All expensive “healthy snacks” (which are really just pre-packaged fare camouflaged in a Whole Food setting) were banished. We eat raw food–nuts, dried fruit, jerky, tons of veges & fruit–and it has really kept us well this year. As an elementary school teacher who’s been back in the classroom for one year, I’ve gotten one cold. I believe in green juice and I’m doing my best to help everyone in our home believe it too. Love The Minimalists take on diet and exercise.

10) Invest in experiences instead of things.

As a family we have made a decision to travel as much as we can. Whether it’s in our Airstream or by plane, I believe it’s important enough to require a separate travel savings account. Luxury cars and second homes were never going to enter the picture with our family—it has always been going places and doing things (that and good Thai food eating experiences). I like this Huffington Post article on the subject.

* * *

What tips have brought you joy in your journey to simple? Which ones made the most difference?

blogsimplicitySignature5

~Don’t miss a post! Subscribe to my feed. Follow along no Twitter. Join the party on Facebook.~

3 Ways for your family to Zag while the world Zigs

via Be Happy

It’s not that the 70′s were this picture-perfect time frame. Goodness knows we ate enough cheese doodles and watched enough horrible syndicated Brady Bunch to cloud our judgement and arteries (it was all so great, wasn’t it?). Yet, lately I seem to be old enough to reminisce about the “good old days” when we road our banana seat bikes until dark in the summer without fear of abduction (even though there probably was some risk), and ran through fields and climbed trees because we were shooed out of the house by our moms.

When someone called your house and you weren’t there, the phone rang and rang. The caller couldn’t find you anywhere in the world…you simply were unavailable and you didn’t have to have an excuse about why.

I miss those days.

Yet, the random reality is that I, just like so many of the we’re-so-connected-we’re-not-really-connecting generation, have a permanent crick in my neck from looking down at my devices, texting to everyone and their dog, checking the weather and pulling up the blog to see who’s commenting on my commentating.

Something is askew.

I’d like to make the crooked straight. I know that it will happen in phases, but I’m anxious to implement changes so that in my own little way I can put some of that memorable childhood back into my 21st century children. Three things need to be dealt with head on:

1) Digital Sabbaticals-

The hub and I have been talking about committing to an UnPlug Sunday plan where we avoid TV, cell phone games (the kids), blogging and pinning (me) and laptop work (him). There are a couple of really good books on this subject that can help in this process: This one is perfect for our upcoming Summer of Fun (yes, it has a title). 

Airstream Adventures will also require some unplugging en masse for maximum enjoyment. There’s too much fun to be had and too much sun to soak up that we’ve been missing for 9 months of rain here in the NW! To even forfeit one second of this fun to a glowing screen is a crime. Not to mention the fact that an absence of digital distraction can kickstart some great family conversations and memories. It’s amazing to read the expressions of your children when you’re conversing…we’ve decided to refuse to look at the tops of heads and we are all feeling the benefits.

2) Reduce team sports commitments-

Ah…The “parent of an athlete” thing.Those of you who are close to me know that I have some serious opinions about involving a child in every sport known to man, driving all over creation for every tournament with the intent that they will some day be the all-star who scores the giant scholarship. Do I sound jaded? Okay, to be fair, I really understand wanting to give a kid every advantage in succeeding, be it sports/academics/the arts/etc. and that there will be plenty of activities in their lives to accomplish this. What I have trouble with is lining up the daily/weekly schedule with multiple practices for multiple sports, choosing club sports over school sports to win the political game that is getting a child on a team. By setting limits in our home regarding sports, we’ve created margin for our weekends and evenings and my girls have invested more into the one they’ve chosen.

We have decided to heavily promote kids being kids in our house. 

3) Permanent changes in diet-

I’ve been stuffing my brain with documentaries and books about this and have been inspired to show my kids what I’ve learned. They are amazingly receptive and willingly join me on the couch for movies like Food, Inc. and Hungry for Change. They seemed to get it, which thrilled me to no end. My offspring will now suck down some green juice before school as long as it’s heavily laced with strawberries, of course. I was guilty of some spinach chunks last week and it’s been a battle getting them back in the saddle! There are more trips to grocery stores for organic produce and we put our heads together to decide what would be good choices for meals that would please everybody. The airpopper is always going here—replacing the array of salty crap-ola we used to have in the cabinet. They’ve always been fruit lovers, but the vege thing is creeping in as I use every culinary creative bone in my body (sadly, there aren’t many) to make squash and peppers more appealing. It has taken awhile, but my girls truly understand the danger in trans fat, fast food and a processed food-heavy diet. They do love their treats—I’m not a parent to deny them a doughnut or piece of cake, but it won’t be a Twinkie (another fun memory from my childhood!), if you get my drift.

The food thing, I’m finding, comes down to modeling. If I diligently fire up the smoothie blender each day, choose produce over chips on a weekend afternoons and avoid sugar, they are seeing me win the battle over poor food choices. It’s not a special thing mom’s doing to fit into her tankini on spring break (although that would be lovely). It’s habit and normal and hopefully they’ll want a piece of that.

* * *

On child-rearing in this century:

I love this essay (originally found it in Downtown Chic by the my favorite design family, the Novogratz). It’s worth reading.

* * *

Friends, what are you doing to Zag while the world Zigs? What is making your family life more simple and wonderful?

blogsimplicitySignature5