Tag Archives: simplicity

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 (my neglected blog)

5 Jun

I am continuing my quest to skip unnecessary activities in favor of simplicity.

On a temporary basis, I have been skipping my writing.  This is not an ideal activity for skipping, because writing is an activity I enjoy.  However, it is fairly time consuming, so when I am pressed for time, the writing is often pushed aside.

On a more positive note, I have begun a few posts, which I plan to continue when life has settled down.

One of the topics I am interested in now is the many unnecessary household items that people collect.

If you would like to nominate an unnecessary household item, please leave your comment below.

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.


First Graders Can’t Handle Tetherball

27 Nov

Did you ever turn something simple into something complicated?

Sounds like a bad idea, doesn’t it?

I am all about keeping things Simple, so to me it sounds like the worst idea ever.  Who would DO that?

Well, first graders seem to do it quite often.  They love artificial complications.  They also get into fierce debates with their friends over the artificial complications.  Sometimes they come to blows.

I’ve been helping at my son’s school during lunch recess.  He’s in fifth grade this year, but I spend more time on the other side of the playground, with the smaller students.  The ones incapable of logic.

One of the things first graders like to complicate is tetherball.  It’s actually a pretty simple game.  You stay on one side and hit the ball without touching the rope, until the rope is wrapped entirely around the pole.

To make it even simpler, my son’s school has many of the tetherball poles divided by grade, eliminating the height and skill discrepancy between different age groups.

Still, the first grade game turns to chaos on a daily basis.  One of the major causes of chaos: new “rules” the kids make up.  I have overheard things like, “He’s OUT, because he did a bubbly!”

Now, I’m no expert.  I didn’t play tetherball as a child, because I was sure it would lead to head trauma — but even I know that bubbly is a word that shouldn’t naturally come up in the game.  I asked a first grader to show me what the term bubbly is supposed to mean.  His demonstration left me more confused than ever.

Later on, I was hit in the head with the tetherball.  My fault, of course.  I should have known better than to turn my back on a bunch of first graders.  Good news: my head is harder than I thought it was!

Kids have the idea that they can change anything they think is boring, and they will take the initiative to do so.  One of my kids used to change the rules of Monopoly when he got bored during a game.  He liked to give out money to the other players if they were short of cash.  Normally, I applaud the idea of helping those in need, but this is a Capitalist’s game.  The whole point is to bankrupt the other players.  If you play Socialist Monopoly, the game will never end.  Ever.

And it’s already a long game — especially when someone, who also served as banker, was hoarding all of the one dollar bills.  He’d give you a big bill for your rent, and want you to make change, so he could get more ones.  But he wouldn’t make change for YOU, because that would require him to give up some singles.  Don’t have exact change?  That’s fine, just skip the rent payment.  Skip ALL the rent payments.  After all, this is Socialist Monopoly where the goal of the game is… to have no goal at all!  (Except to collect every single dollar bill in the game, and then keep playing.)

At least Socialist Monopoly doesn’t involve bubblies.

As it turns out, I can’t handle Monopoly.  I can’t handle tetherball, either.

What Remains Shall Be Beautiful

20 Nov

The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed – it is a process of elimination.

~Elbert Hubbard

Likewise, when our lives and homes are simplifiedwhen the unnecessary clutter and pointless tasks have all been chipped awaywe are left with the essential beauty of life and of ourselves.

Be the sculptor of your own life, chip away the parts not needed.

What remains shall be beautiful.

The above photograph, and those that follow, were taken during my trip to Prague, where I was fascinated by the unique surfaces on some of the buildings.

The designs on these walls were made using the technique of sgraffito, a method of etching away plaster to reveal another color under the surface.

Amazing isn’t it?


To learn more about sgraffito click here… and to see more sgraffito examples from the Czech Republic and other countries, click here.

Autumn Bliss, Rediscovered

3 Nov

Today, I noticed–for the first time–a red-orange tinge on the leaves of my neighbor’s Snowball Hydrangea tree, its branches spilling over the back fence, just within reach of my garden shears.

I often notice, and have sometimes cut, the round, greenish “snowballs”, slowly whitening, delicate, but thick in flower, weighing down the ends of the branches.  I have often seen the soft, bright green of the new leaves in their season, crowning the sharp edge of the fence, bringing much-needed shade to the yard.

The Autumn switch remained completely overlooked, somehow.

Leaves reddening like the juice of a blood orange–how did I miss it?

I cut some leaves from the lower branches and set them in small jars to brighten the kitchen.

They are a simple reminder of Autumn, and also of one of my boldest and most precious memories.

When I was young, sitting in our backyard tree swing, I once looked up over the roof to see a great mass of leaves in the sunlight, illuminated, glowing in a shade of yellow-gold I didn’t fully recognize, so impossibly bright I imagined at first that the tree might be on fire!

I realized it was our front yard tree, which had always been there, sturdy, tall, unremarkable, perhaps a little bit scruffy–even so, in that late afternoon light, the burning glow of it held me, motionless and weeping, unable to look away until the light shifted with the sunset, and all at once the fire was quenched…then the tree was simply a tree, as it had always been.

At no time in my life, before or since, have I been so stunned by color.

I did not catch another glimpse of it.  The tree, a large one, had to be cut down some years later, its heavy trunk splitting apart, a danger to the house and passers-by.   The fire of those golden leaves remains etched in my mind, as unforgettable as if I had seen the face of God.

Now I look at these “blood-orange” leaves, cut from my yard, and I wonder how they escaped my notice for four consecutive Autumns.  I wonder what else I may have missed…

My So-Called Clean Surface

30 Oct

Guess what?  I’m not perfect.  Hopefully, this is not a surprise to you.

I like to write about Simplicity–some of the ways I try to make life smoother, more efficient, and more relaxed.

Sometimes I also write about Chaos–which is often closer to reality.  I aim for more simplicity than chaos, but life doesn’t always work out that way.

Today is October 30th, and there are some things I had committed to do this month that have not happened yet, and I can forget about doing them on Halloween.  The commitments were only to myself, so no one else will be disappointed.  This month started out with Simplicity, but it has been full of sick children, visiting relatives, business obligations, the death of a family friend…and let’s not forget my November 2nd mail-in ballot, that isn’t completed and will need to be hand delivered in a few days.  Chaos!

So, I’m not as ahead of the holidays as I would like to be (see \”Getting Ahead of The Holidays\” post), but that is exactly why I like to start so early;  I want to make sure everything gets done.  I had planned to address some holiday card envelopes this month, but I only got as far as placing the boxes of cards on the mantle. 

And while I am on the topic of Chaos, my zen closet (see \”My Zen Closet\” post) is getting cleaned this week, because it is not-so-zen right now.  Not to mention the fact that my bed is not made today (see \”Why Making The Bed Makes a Difference\” post) and, I have even started writing a draft on how to prevent paper clutter—while my coffee table is covered in election booklets and ballots, and there are few pieces of mail on the floor.

The simple truth is that my own struggles with Chaos are the very reason I feel qualified to write about Simplicity.  I do often triumph over the Chaos, and I have figured out what works and what doesn’t.  I battle clutter, I get behind in my tasks at times, I sometimes change my mind, and I even measure wrong (see \”A Tale of Two Measurements\” post), but I don’t give up.

I am being honest in every post, about the Simplicity I strive for–and very often achieve!  It’s an ongoing process, however.  No surface is ever clean for long, and I am constantly working at it.  This was a messy month, and there will be others, for me… and for all of you, I am sure.