The Year of Living Minimally – Week Twenty-one

How are you holding up? ‘Tis the season for stressing out. Well, not me. I’m not going to do it.

Not this year.

Here’s our ‘tree.’ My Christmas cactus didn’t bloom this year (it’s fickle that way), but I adorned it with little fairy lights and nestled one ornament in it – a sweet ceramic dove inscribed with Jim’s dad’s name. Jim received it from the funeral home that held a lovely memorial service for all the family members who’d lost loved ones this year. It seems fitting to keep things simple this year. We’d scaled way back on our decorations before this year, but the little tree and the strands of lights will sleep in their bins for a bit longer.

I’ve minimized my shopping, too. Give experiences, time, things that can be consumed. How about taking a friend to the movies? Lunch? Coffee? If you’re a couple, decide on a getaway, or home improvement. I know some parents work with their children to donate gently used toys and games before Santa brings more – what a great idea!

Jim did mention a couple of books, and he’ll get them. Remember I donated a few boxes of books earlier this year? That was to make room for more books (haha). My sisters and brother-in-law will be able to eat and/or drink their gifts.

Honestly, we have everything we need. Do you?

For more insights about gift-giving, check out The Minimalists’ post on gift-giving


The Year of Living Minimally – Week Twenty

I cannot post a photo of the garage. It looks pretty much the same as it did two weeks ago, only with a few more items (yes, I’m screaming inside my head). But on the plus side, it looks like we have a buyer for Jim’s father’s house, which is good (and a relief as we head towards winter). Jim brought home the ladder, step stool, wet/dry vac, and hand truck that were in his dad’s garage. So, I’ll get to the garage at a later date.

This week, in the midst of holiday parties and social events, I got to thinking about how this minimalist endeavor should pertain to eating. Yes, if you know me, you know about my lifetime struggle.

Joshua Fields Millburn writes all about the minimalist’s approach to food here. Now, some of his practices might work for you, and some may not, but I like the idea of food as fuel rather than food as entertainment. I like the idea of ridding myself of as much junky food as possible (yes, even the beloved Swiss chocolate).

Given all the stress of the past two months, I’m surprised my weight isn’t higher, because I am a stress eater. And thankfully, my lab results were good – cholesterol, sugar, blood pressure all normal. But I can do better with what goes into my body.

And we all know that portion sizes in the US are outrageous. Giant cups of soda and coffee, a slice of cake served on a dinner plate and enough for the table to share. Even our plates have changed. Check it out:

The plate on top is from my husband’s mother’s good china (what do we do with this service for eight???) The plate measures 10 1/2″ across, but the actual food part measures only 7″ across. The plate on the bottom is from our everyday dishes (Crate and Barrel, 1994). The plate still measures 10 1/2″ across, but the food part is practically the entire plate.

Anyway, you know this already, right? I do, too. I just forget sometimes. I’m going to try and be more mindful – and minimal – about my eating.

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Nineteen


Or not. I choose not to. Come on – isn’t it enough already? Haven’t you had enough of the pressure?

Part of my quest to living more minimally means having less, buying less, using less. For the past 19 weeks, I’ve purged, recycled, donated, and tossed out a lot of things that others can use but we do not need.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers say they will spend an average $967.13 this Christmas (season), according to the annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. I bet most of it will be charged. And some of that will not be paid off in full when the bill comes in. And you know what I say – DEBT is a four-letter word.

We’ve all been taught that gift-giving means love. The bigger the gift, the more we love that person. Wrong! Our obsession with giving material things is simply a “requirement” created by the retail industry.

Try giving your time to someone this year. Make a memory. Live an experience.


The Year of Living Minimally – Week Eighteen

As I type this, it’s very early on Thursday morning. I schedule these weekly posts to publish at 3:00 Friday morning. Less than 24 hours from now, and I’m sitting here thinking, what have I accomplished this week?


I still haven’t tackled the garage. By posting this very embarrassing photo of what it looks like, I’m hoping it’ll force me to deal with it in the coming two weeks. The garage, along with the spare bedroom and my writing area, comprise the “Big Three” worst areas in my house. I’ve been procrastinating. I dread dealing with them. At the same time, I haven’t added stuff – not much, anyway. Sure, my husband brought a few things from his father’s house, and I’m okay with it. He needed to hold on to some memories.

Between this morning and tonight, I feel that I must do something. So….I’ll finish this post tonight. And with the garage disaster posted, I am determined to tackle it. Onward!

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Seventeen


I recently binge-watched the newest season of “Transparent” on Amazon – and “Jesus Christ Superstar” figures heavily into the episodes. The early-70s musical was a backdrop for my teenage years, and I’ve been singing around the house this past week:

“Try not to get worried, try not to turn on to

Problems that upset you, oh

Don’t you know

Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s fine…”


This quote has been around for a long time. The first time I read it was in Cynthia Cooper’s courageous book, Extraordinary Circumstances. The quote has stayed with me over the years as obstacles and unexpected difficulties have appeared in my life. Worrying can have a negative effect on your health (making you tired, stressed, leading to weight gain and depression). Before you let worry consume you, hit the pause button.

Part of my journey toward living minimally is freeing up the mental clutter. Worry is part of that clutter, and while I’m the one in our marriage who tends not to worry (balancing out my better half), I understand the “why” behind worry. The more we tidy up that clutter, the more at peace we can be.  “Try not to get worried….” 🎶🎶🎶

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Sixteen

Two of everything. That’s how I felt this week. And I need to reflect on why I need to have a backup.

laundry basket

There was never a time that we (meaning my husband and me, because it’s always been just the two of us) needed two laundry baskets. But for some reason, when I bought a second one, I kept the first one. When the clothes are done drying in the dryer, the buzzer sounds, and I pull them out, dump them in the basket, and fold them. Then I put them away. One basket. Sufficient. By the way, the older one is actually broken – torn, if plastic can tear. GOOD NEWS: it can be recycled!

Similarly, why do we have two laundry hampers? I do laundry often enough that we only need one. So, we use the one that looks like this


and the old one, that’s also plastic but too big for the recycle bin, can be dropped off locally. It had been in the back of a closet for years, empty.

We bought a new vacuum but never got rid of the old one. The old one doesn’t work! It sits in a closet, waiting. Well, until today.


I used to fall victim at the supermarket – perhaps I only needed one bag of carrots, but they were “2 for $5.00” – so, of course I had to buy two bags. Advertisers figure we’re stupid that way. I’ve learned. Buy what you need. There’s always more food.

So this week, I managed to rid myself of a few unnecessary extras. And, at sixteen weeks in, I realize I still have a lot to do.


The Year of Living Minimally – Week Fifteen


But what about all the mental clutter???

This week, I took a break from hauling stuff out of our house. After a month of doing just that at my father-in-law’s, I needed a respite from dealing with what now seems like not-so-much here. Still, I have places to tackle in the upcoming weeks (the garage, my office area, the extra room upstairs that has become a repository for everything).

But this week I also needed to clear up and organize all the mental stuff that’s accumulated on my virtual plate. I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to requests. I enjoy editing and proofreading, especially now that my book is finished and going through its own proofing – plus it pays well. I’ve offered to host Rhode Island authors on this blog during the month of November, as I have for the past couple of years. The dates are filled, and I’ve asked the authors to write their own posts – all I have to do is upload the post (after proofing!) and add links and photos. But each blog post takes time to get it right. And the authors, well, some of them submit early, and some of them don’t realize how much it helps me. I’ve decided that, after two notifications, I will not chase anyone down. I’m happy to feature them, but I’m not going to stress out if they don’t submit a blog post to me. Then there’s all the paperwork involved with the death of someone. I handle this stuff better than my husband, so I’m making calls, writing letters, filling out forms, following up. There’s money involved (getting and paying), so it’s important to follow through.

I’ve unsubscribed to countless mailing lists (sorry if you were one of the ones I chopped) – I don’t have time for all of them, and/or I was never reading them anyway. For the blogs I follow, I’ve set delivery of the posts to Saturday morning, when I have an hour in the morning to peruse them.  I’ve stopped following many of the news channel posts on social media – it’s depressing, even if I agree with the writer! I skim the headlines and read what I want, but if I feel that bad news is intruding into my life, it’s time to rethink those subscriptions. The nightly news? First 5-10 minutes only, then my husband and I watch a movie or a documentary on Netflix, usually about food or travel. Then there are the people who thrive on negativity, are heartless in their opinions, or just enjoy stirring the pot. They’re not for me.

I’m walking toward simplicity. Cleaning up the other clutter is a big step in that direction.