Tag Archives: minimalism

Your Clutter Just Wants You to Be Happy

7 Dec

“Never miss an opportunity to make others happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it.”—Unknown

Could some of your clothes make you happy by leaving your closet? Would the disappearance of that pile of papers put a spring in your step?

If the glass hummingbird figurine your grandmother gave you when you were in grade school suddenly took flight through an open window, would you breathe a sigh of relief?

Imagine that your clutter wants what is best for you.

If only the expired coupons had hands, they would toss themselves right into the waste basket. If the shoes that hurt your feet could walk on their own, they would have shuffled off to the thrift store ages ago.

Those old VHS tapes regret taking up your shelf space. They don’t want to stand in your way. They want you to be fulfilled, to live the life you have always dreamed of.

Make it an amicable parting of ways.

Letting Go

30 Nov

Let go of your past (what was and what wasn’t)

Let go of those years of clutter

Let your fears fly away

Live your life as if it were new

Be free

Bruce Lee: Minimalist

7 Sep

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease; hack away at the unessential.” — Bruce Lee

Lee was speaking in the context of martial arts, but I believe the principle may be applied to very nearly everything.

The next time you feel overwhelmed, try hacking away at the unessential.

Wanting Less, Being Happy, Living Now

16 Jun

I was thinking about writing a post on the topic of being happy with less, and losing the urge to accumulate things.

While researching quotes, I came across a blog post from Lori Deschene of Tiny Buddha about just that topic, which saves me some trouble.

To absorb the wisdom of Tiny Buddha, click on the link below.

How to Want Less and Be Happy About It | Tiny Buddha: Wisdom Quotes, Letting Go, Letting Happiness In.

To absorb the wisdom of A Clean Surface, keep reading.

There have been times in my life when I have had more, and times when I have had less.  During my early adulthood, I worked long hours and had no family, thus I had income to spare. Sometimes, I had so much cash flow I would forget to cash my paychecks.

These days, everything is reversed.  I work fewer hours, I have a family, and I don’t have a penny to spare.  I never forget a paycheck.

Was I happier when I had money?  No, not really.

Was I more relaxed when I had money?  Oh my, yes.

I would not trade my family for all the money in the world, eternal youth, or pure relaxation.

I am living now — not in some theoretical future life or idealized fantasy of perfection.

I choose now.  I choose love.

Skipping Through Life (quick potato soup)

4 May

I have set a new goal for myself.

Each week, I want to find at least one way to simplify my life — by skipping something.

I might skip an entire task, or just one step from a complicated one.  I might skip an ingredient in a recipe, if I don’t have it and I don’t feel like driving to the store.  Frankly, sometimes I find that a recipe is better without the missing ingredient!

I already thought of something to skip this week, but I promptly forgot it again.  Forgetfulness doesn’t count as simplification, in case you were wondering.  Now I need to think of something else to skip…

In the meantime, I will share an example from the past.

I love potato soup; my mother made some great soups, and that was one of her specialties.

Please note:  My mother is alive and well, but she doesn’t cook as much these days, which is why I am speaking of her in the past tense in this particular context.

My mother used a fairly long process to make her potato soup, including using an old hand cranked food mill to break down the potato pieces.  This food mill was some kind of antique; as an adult I combed antique stores until I found one like hers.  I believed that this device was somehow key to the potato soup making process.

In recent years, it occurred to me that my food mill took too long to use, and far too long to clean.  I got rid of the food mill.  First, I switched to my modern electric food processor… now I use only a spoon! 

What could be easier to clean than a spoon?

I skip a step in the potato soup making process, thus making a spoon as useful as a food processor.  I cook the potatoes directly in the chicken stock, instead of combining the two after cooking the potatoes, as my mother did.

I slice the potatoes, chop some onions, and dump them all into a pot with some chicken broth, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasoning I may be craving on that day.  Then I boil until the potatoes are just soft enough to crush and crumble with a wooden stirring spoon.  I add a little bit of half-and-half  for creaminess (if this ingredient is not handy, I might skip it!  Who needs the fat?) and serve the soup with a topping of cut chives.  Sometimes, I substitute green onions for chives, but chives are really the best for potato soup.

My methods can alter the texture of the soup, leaving it a little starchier, but it tastes just as good.

By skipping steps, I can make a quick batch of soup for one or two people, in only one small pot, using only a vegetable peeler, a knife, a cutting board, and a wooden spoon.  The clean up is a breeze.

The cold, hard truth is that if I had to make the soup the way my mother made it, I probably would not make it at all. 

I would skip it.

No wonder my mother doesn’t cook as much as she once did…she’s skipping it, too.

Prevent Paper Clutter in Your Home

30 Mar

Do you ever feel like you are surrounded by paper?  You can prevent paper from accumulating in your home by changing some of your habits.

  • Bills, Catalogs, Other Mail — Consider online statements or automatic payments to avoid paper billing altogether.  If you prefer paper statements, pay them when you get them, if possible.  This not only avoids clutter, but helps keeps your finances on track because you are less likely to lose or forget about a bill.    Be sure to shred any paper bills with personal information on them.  Try not to set mail down until you have decided which items you actually need.  Be realistic.  Recycle the rest immediately.  If you must put it down without sorting through, always put it in the same spot, and keep a recycling bin very close.  If you never buy from catalogs, get your name removed from the companies’ mailing lists so you won’t receive any.  It’s better for you, better for the companies, and better for the environment.
  • Coupons — Some people save hundreds of dollars with coupons.  If you are never going to be one of those people, then be honest with yourself about it.  Don’t save every coupon you see.  Are you really going to use it by the expiration date?  Do you even want that item?  Save coupons you know that you will use, for businesses you visit often, or for products you actually want or need.  Also, find out which of your favorite businesses or products have coupons available online so you can print them as you need them and they won’t clutter your home.  A word of warning:  do not use your personal email account if you sign up to receive coupons by email, because you will probably be spammed.
  • School papers — If your child earned a great score on a test, make a big deal out of it and then put it on the refrigerator or recycle it.  If an art project is special, frame it.  You can’t keep ALL your child’s work, so let your child know how impressed you are by the really special ones, and let the rest go.
  • Receipts — You don’t need that three-year old receipt for french fries, trust me.  Save your receipts for anything expensive, tax-deductible, or otherwise important.  File them according to date and review the file periodically.
  • Manuals — Most product information can be found online, so most paper manuals aren’t needed.  If in doubt, look it up.
  • Loose Papers Saved for Reference — If you want to save some papers for later reference don’t just put them in a stack.  Stacks get bigger; you don’t want that.  Consider scanning individual pages for digital storage.  If you need them in paper form, try folders in magazine holders, binders with plastic sheet protectors, and expanding or hanging files.  Be sure to label and date everything and review it once a year.  Be realistic about what you file.  Most people file things they will never need.

If you make some simple changes in your lifestyle to prevent paper accumulation, you will soon see a change in the amount of paper in your home.

Organization vs. Uncluttering

26 Jan

SIMPLICITY IS NOT about making things perfectly straight, or perfectly matched, or perfectly beautiful.

You can make your home (or your life) look like that.  Sure, you can buy a lot of pretty boxes and cabinets, and you can color code and label everything and people might be impressed… Hey, even YOU might be impressed!

But, let’s be honest:  if your tidy, beautiful, color coded, labeled home is full of things you don’t need, don’t want, and don’t like, will your life feel simple?  Will you be free?  Will you be happy? 

I don’t think so.

Simplicity is about feeling relaxed and free, and having Space For Your Life, and time to live it.

Only things we actually USE are allowed on the kitchen shelf.

It’s not about perfection.  You can have a little chaos!  It’s normal. 

If you remove the unnecessary clutter, the organization will take care of itself.

This kitchen shelf (mine) looks nice and neat, but only because there is nothing unnecessary on it.  If it were more full, it could be just as “organized” –all the bowls together, all the cookbooks together — but it would also be cluttered, and I would have more difficulty getting the materials I need.

If you don’t use it and you don’t love it, don’t let it get in your way!

The idea is to keep only the things that Fit your life, have a Function in your life, and/or give you a Feeling of joy.  You can read more about my “Three Fs” decluttering method in my post “Should it Stay or Should it Go?”.

A friend/client of mine (I’ve mentioned her before) is gaining momentum in her quest to simplify her life.  It’s all starting to click for her, and she has been writing about it here: The Difference Between Being Organized And Uncluttered | The Music Within Us.

In the spirit of simplicity, I will let her blog post speak for itself.


Minimalist Monday: Office (via Short girl, Long name)

17 Jan

Here are some great office clearing tips from “Short girl, Long name”.

Minimalist Monday: Office Every Monday I will post about de-cluttering and minimalizing different areas and aspects of my life. Since my "office" at home is a couch, this only applies to my work office. It's the largest desk I've ever had, and it can quickly get taken hostage by lots of papers. I do a TON of projects for people that involve 11×17 paper and Excel. Enough said. I recently read a couple articles about office minimalizing and started to feel like I wanted nee … Read More

via Short girl, Long name

My 100 Items

8 Nov

In a previous post (Could You Live With Only 100 items?) I committed to coming up a list of only 100 things I would own if I were to attempt this method of minimalism.

An arbitrary number presents a challenge, and some have handled the challenge with semantics, counting hundreds of books as “one library”, or by not counting things also used by others (like furniture).

I admit to having a hard time with this list.  Rationalization did occur.

Some of my belongings are contingent upon my living space or financial situation.  For example, I did not count my lamps, or storage bins, because if I lived in a house with more overhead lighting, closet space or built-in shelves I would not need them.  I did not count appliances because they often come with the house.

Some of my belongings are necessary for health or hygiene.  For example, I elected not to count my toothbrush, shampoo, eye drops, or sunscreen.  Also, some belongings are very small, like my library card, and I did not count them for that reason.

I ultimately decided to count items that I choose to own based on my values, lifestyle, and individual needs.  I also counted sets as one item, within reason, for example “bed” refers to the bed with the pillows, sheets and blankets included.

My list:


#(1)  Car with GPS

#(2)  Laptop

#(3)  Digital camera

#(4-5)  Music systems for bedroom and living room

#(6-8)  Houseplants

#(9)  Cellphone

#(10-19)  Art hanging from the walls and ceiling

#(20)  Photos

#(21)  Pine needle basket made by my late grandmother

#(22-26)  Purses and wallet

#(27)  Leatherman tool

#(28-30)  Vases

#(31-34)  Art supplies

#(35-38)  Board games and deck of cards

#(39)  Drawer of jewelry

#(40)  Calendar

#(41-44)  Cookbooks

#(45-51)  Pots, pans, dishes, flatware

#(52)  Towels and bathmats

#(53-57)  Organizational file binders

#(58)  Bookends

#(59-63)  Bed, chair, table, shelves, dresser

#(64-100)  Clothes and shoes


I think you can tell a lot about me from this list.  Some might question why I used up three numbers on houseplants but didn’t include a television…but I stand by that choice.

If I actually had to put this into practice, I am sure I would have to change some numbers, or even sacrifice some things, but I tried to be as realistic as possible and I am happy with my list.

Could You Live With Only 100 Items?

27 Oct

Are you familiar with the minimalist trend of paring life down to only 100 possessions, or even fewer?  There are some other less specific and less arbitrary downsizing movements, but this one fascinates me precisely because it is so specific and arbitrary.

In case you haven’t heard about this trend, here is a short video about it:  100 Items or Less (CBS News)  Also read more about the challenge on Dave Bruno’s  100 Thing Challenge page.

100 items…  Could you do it?  The truth is:  You could do it, although you probably don’t want to, or need to.   Anyone could do it.

I find the idea inspiring.  Okay, not inspiring enough to actually do–I’m not that hard-core about clean surfaces, but…it does makes me wonder!

If I had to choose 100 items to keep, which items would I choose? It reminds me of the old question: “What would you save from your home if it were in fire?”  Hmmm.  If you could safely save 100 things, that would be a pretty weak fire, wouldn’t it?  But you get the idea.  What do you need?  What do you use?  What do you love?

I am going to think about my 100 items, and come up with a list, which I will publish in a later post.

Feel free to share your own list!  I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this.