cat-saving, magic, cornbread and teal stuff

India and my teal nails.

A while ago, while visiting Isa Chandra’s Post Punk Kitchen (PPK) for some yummy vegan recipes, I stumbled upon a link to her not-for-profit site, Teal Cat Project, which raises money for cat rescue. The site was rockin’.  I loved it’s mission, and I thought to myself, “Wow, this is really cool!” But then, I got busy, and I forgot about it.

eat vegan cornbread, save cats

Last week, again at PPK, looking for a cornbread recipe (which I found and made, and it turned out delish, by the way), Isa’s October Newslettery Type Thing took me back to TCP, and I was once again struck by its awesomeness. I also learned that National Feral Cat Day was only two days away, there was a Teal Nail Project to raise awareness, and there I was with ugly nails and not a teal nail polish to my name.

cat action with flair

Like I said, I love TCP’s mission, so I decided now was the time to take action. I called my daughters into my office, showed them the site, and we decided we were going to do what we could to support the Teal Cat cause, and we were definitely painting our nails teal.

wtf is a tchotchke?

So what does the TCP do? They raise money to help rescue kitties all over the country, and one way they do that is by selling painted and numbered (collectible) teal cat tchotchkes. In order to do this, they need lots and lots of cat tchotchkes, and they are always accepting donations.

knickknack, kitty-cat

To begin doing our part, my kids and I decided to start a mission to find as many little knick-knacky kitty-cats as we can. Then we’ll bundle them up and send them to TCP, so they can start doing their teal thing. We started our kitty search at one of our favorite little antique shops, Lamb’s Gate. They were fresh out of cats, but we told the owner about TCP, and she said she would keep an eye out for cats at auctions and estate sales. Yay! Cat power! (Click here to listen to Cat Power, she rocks.)

a teal-magical, charmed day

Next, we needed cruelty-free nail polish, so we purchased a bottle of No Miss Cosmetics Tampa Teal from our local Foods for Living, and then spent the afternoon giving ourselves manicures, drinking tea, watching Charmed on Netflix. The power of three will set you free. It was a magical day.

cat crazy

I’ve mentioned before that we have three felines in our family, and we love them like mad. We’re just cat crazy here, and if it weren’t for the fact that we don’t want to end up on an episode of Animal Hoarders (and cuz we know it’s bad), we would bring home every little kitty that needed some lovein’ and a place to crash. We’re also a little artsy, and we love combing resale shops, Goodwill and the like for fun finds, so the Teal Cat Project speaks to us on many levels.

our feral friends

It’s hard to nail down any numbers, but it is estimated that there are tens of millions of feral cats in the U.S. and trapping and killing them by the millions has become common place; but this method is costly, cruel and ineffective, and a number of organizations and concerned citizens are mobilizing for change. Cats need our help. So check out TCP to see what you can do.

better late than never

Just because National Feral Cat Day has passed, doesn’t mean you can’t spread the word. Get some teal nail polish, paint those nails, and when people ask, tell them about feral cats and the Teal Cat Project.

Are you a cat lover? Animal lover? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Want a Teal Cat Project banner for your site? Click on mine!

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entering smalltopia: why I keep re-reading tammy strobel’s lovely little book

photo caption:Working for yourself is similar to creating your own utopia. By producing your own stellar work environment, filled with rewarding challenges, you have the freedom to choose how to spend and prioritize your time. It’s the perfect balance between freedom and hard work.

–Tammy Strobel, Smalltopia

I am currently on a mission to learn all that I can about everything that interests me! I love researching and reading about things that I’m passionate about, but the truth is, I have just the tiniest bit of trouble focusing, so when I get in a rush-to-know-it-all mode, I have to pull myself back and take a chill pill.

deep breath

So what do I really care about, right now— for quite some time I’ve been wanting to start a small business that allows me to share my passions, love my work, have more time to focus on who and what I care about and help make the world a better place. It’s a little scary, but I know I want to give more and live more, so I’m open.

super mini mama

Who better to turn to than Rowdy Kittens mini-living mama, Tammy Strobel? I have been following Tammy for about six months (give or take a few), and I love her approach to life, her philosophies on tiny living, her open and honest writing style and most of all her kind heart and generous spirit. It flows out of her videos, her tweets, everything she writes, and I love that!

That’s why a few months ago, I purchased Tammy’s e-book Smalltopia, and if you see your own small business on the horizon, I highly recommend you purchase a copy for yourself. As soon as I opened the cover, I was hooked. It isn’t “business as usual.” Instead Tammy offers a more personal approach, talking about freeing up your life, keeping your possession count low and your finances simple, so you can live the life you want to lead.

honest, fun

Her little 153-page book is packed full of good, honest information on preparing for the transformation from cube life to something more aligned with who you are—your passions and dreams. Tammy adds lots of fun and helpful “micro-action” activities that help readers explore a little and provide guidance in choosing the right direction. She also gives lots of tips and resources to help you on your way.

it’s a story; it’s a party

Smalltopia tells a great story that’s exciting to follow because you know you have the power to make it your own. Tammy chronicles her journey, adding plenty of links to more details, including worksheets and reading lists.

And to mix it up, she’s invited her tribe of passion-living entrepreneurs to share their own experiences and advice; so readers get tips and tales from other rockin’ smallies such as Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, Jessica ReederKarol Gajda, Chloe Adeline, Jules Clancy and many more.

dream big, walk small

Tammy’s Smalltopia paints a picture, one where work and life are about creating communities that walk lightly on the earth. She urges us to find our tribe of like minds and support one another in building our dreams and pursuing our passions. She leads us toward downsizing our finances, our belongings, our clutter—in our heads and in our rooms—so we can make a better world and live life as we choose.

Tammy’s book is inspiring and such a great resource; I return to it all the time. It reminds me to get grounded and focused and keeps my ideas flowing.

To order Smalltopia or one of Tammy’s other e-books, check her out at Rowdy Kittens.

Through the words of Tammy and other amazing bloggers that I regularly stumble and twitter upon, I find more and more opportunities to learn and grow. If you’d like to share your favorite finds from the blogosphere and beyond, I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve read Tammy’s book, share your thoughts or ask a question. Please leave a comment below, and if you liked this post, please spread the love!

If you dig what you found here, groove with me on twitter!

death cab, greedy thoughts and wtf moments


I started my morning with a few cups of coffee and Death Cab for Cutie. I listened to Where Soul Meets Body, I don’t know, maybe 10 times. Every now and then, this song calls to me, and I can’t stop listening. You know what I am talking about, that thing where you are compelled to listen to the same song over and over. That’s me today, and I will probably listen to it another gazillion times before I am satisfied. I love the melody, the rolling hook, and the lyrics. These in particular, today:

Because in my head there’s a Greyhound station,

Where I send my thoughts to far-off destinations,

So they may have a chance of finding a place

Where they’re far more suited than here.

greedy little thoughts

Our thoughts, they can be such persistent little suckers, and sometimes it’s so hard to turn them off and find the silence we need to just be, to land where “soul meets body,” bathed in light and awash in peace and joy.

We try to focus, be mindful, present, but it doesn’t work.  Our thoughts take over. They’re greedy. They want all of our attention—“Listen to me!” “No, listen to me!” And we just want them to shut up. We want to send them elsewhere. Make them disappear, especially when they are negative, self-destructive or overwhelming.

forget it. I want wine

Being mindful and present isn’t easy . It takes practice, and, so often, we resist this. If there is anything I have been practicing lately, it is resistance. I’m the frickin’ royal highness of resistance, which just creates more thoughts, more feelings of failure, more insecurities and worries, until finally, I feel like crap and just want  to have some wine, watch mindless TV, go to bed, repeat.

practicing fear

So why do we resist what we actually want? This question recently came up on Amy Oscar’s Soul Caller, and for most, fear seemed to be the head culprit—fear of success, failure, change, ourselves. But here’s the crazy thing; when we resist fear, we are actually practicing fear.

If we don’t allow ourselves to push through the resistance, move through the discomfort, the dis-ease of whatever is holding us back, we just perpetuate fear.  We feed it—give it permission to take us over, which causes us to act in ways that are unproductive and hurtful to ourselves.

So what do we do? How do we stop the fear and direct our thoughts to “places where they’re far more suited?”  We have to pay attention—listen. Really listen to our thoughts and our bodies.  We have to be mindful. Ugh! It’s feels like a fricken’ crazy wheel—or more positively put—a virtuous circle.

The best way to anything is through practice, through resistance, through practice, and soon, we get better at the practice, and lessen our resistance.  The more we pay attention, the quicker we can dive in, find our peace and grow.

from the secret to the dark side

Here’s what it looks like: whenever we are challenged (resisting), and we know we want to move beyond it, we seek answers. We talk to others, read books, research, and we find what we need; help comes to us seemingly out of know where, and we are moved and feel like the universe has responded to our prayers. “This book, movie, conversation (or whatever it is), has changed my life,” we say with glee. And usually it has on some level, so we love it and practice it (for awhile). We think we are living it. We’ve got it down, and it’s gonna be smooth sailing from here. We know the secret to happiness and success. Phew!

Then, we get sidetracked and let our guard down; a few thoughts slip in that drag us back to an old place in our heads—an old recording plays. Our lizard brain sends us subliminal messages that we “suck.” We don’t notice right away. We’re busy—paying bills, working, grocery shopping, doing the laundry, and before we know it, we’re back in the dark place saying, “Oh, fuck. How did I get here again?”

pay attention to the wtf

The good news? This cycle is the practice of practicing. Yep, the crazy circle, again, but if we’ve been paying attention, every time we find ourselves in the “wtf” place, we can see it as a sign that it’s time to grab another book, return to an old one, watch Eat, Pray, Love—again, listen to a meaningful song all day, and when we do, we’ll move a little further down the road toward joy. We will send our bad thoughts to the Greyhound station with tickets to the Conga where they will be eaten by snakes, and we will feel the light and love we are meant to feel.

grab the goodness

Fear and discontent are our signals that something needs to change—to be let go of. They are calling us to listen, take action and find a few more rays of sunlight to add to our living-life-bold kit. It’s when we ignore the signs—turn away from what’s calling us—that we head down the road toward suffering.

Where soul meets body is the space where we let ourselves be comfortable with our uncomfortableness. We settle in, we listen to what our body and our thoughts are telling us and make the connections so we can move beyond the fear and grab the goodness.

Does this sound familiar? What practices do you want to bring into your life? What has helped you move out of fear?  What are some of the biggest things that hold you back? Share your comments below. Let’s chat it up.

are you a crappy minimalist?

Lately, I’ve been feeling like a bad example as a minimalist—crappy, to be exact. Ok, I’m not totally crappy, but I have been really disappointed with the rather stalled state of my minimalist journey. I started out all kind of “Charge! This stuff is outta here!” And then nothing was really happening. A few weeks ago I wrote that all my stuff was breaking and that I saw it as a wake-up call to get back on my minimalist path, and I had good intentions, but I’m still not cranking stuff out of my life at high-speed.

taking steps

Things are still making their way into the “outbox,” and last week, thanks to some of my daughter’s friends, all the junk e.g. broken washer and dryer, old T.V. sets and some other electronics are finally out of the basement.  All that’s left is one shelf with a few items on it, and the Jenny Lind bed my grandma gave me. This is a huge relief, but I still feel frustrated. I want to be making major hauls out the door. I’m taking baby steps when I want to take leaps and bounds.

toss the spatula, push through

Here’s the thing. This minimalist living thing, while it is awesome, isn’t easy in the beginning. It takes a while. And this is being said in no way to discourage you. It is to encourage you and to let you know that you are not alone. It sounds easy at first, and then before you know it, you’re standing in the kitchen all torn over which spatula to keep and wondering if you really need a tea kettle. Minimalism requires you to rethink your stuff and figure out what role it plays in your life.  It also insists that you ask yourself some serious questions about how you want to live—what’s important to you—and while that’s a little scary, it’s so exciting!

your baggage has baggage

Once you do get started, you start to realize that you have a lot of emotional baggage attached to a good portion of your stuff. There are things that were gifts or that were handed down from family members—even family heirlooms like the antique Jenny Lind bed I mentioned earlier—and we have to struggle with ourselves a bit to let some things go. But this struggle is good, letting go is good—it makes you feel light and open and ready for new things. Don’t fear it.

it’s the paper that kills me

I am the worst at organizing paper. I never know what to keep, and I have a great deal of resentment about it. I hate it. I don’t want any of it. I just want to put it all in the “mixed paper” bin in the recycling center. But I can’t, so I break one of minimalist Leo Babauta’s cardinal rules, which is to “keep flat surfaces clear.” My office, which is supposed to be my creative sanctuary, presently looks like ass. There are stacks of papers everywhere. Flat surfaces? What are those? I can’t see mine. It will be my next project! It will! It will!

The good news, if you share this same paper ailment, the more stuff you get rid of, the less paper you will have to deal with, because everything you buy, every agreement you enter into comes with paper. Go minimalist, and the paper will back down.

oh the teenagers

I have two teenage daughters and while they’re getting into the minimalist thing a little bit, they roll their eyes at me a lot, especially when it comes to clothes. They love to buy their clothes, and today when I told them the “one thing comes in, one thing goes out” concept, they both laughed at me and said, “what ever, Mom.” You see the whole point of buying more clothes is to “Duh” have more clothes! They have, however, started taking a great deal of their gently used goods to area second-hand stores and make a lot of their purchases at these establishments as well, so I am pretty proud of them. They are heading in the right direction.

a project a week?

We are trying this concept, and it’s turning into more like a project every two weeks. They are kind of overlapping, but at least it has us on track a little bit. I got rid of a bag of clothes last week and gave a bunch of stuff to my sister that I didn’t wear anymore. Kids got rid of a few things too. Closet space is getting bigger.

read and have a plan

The best advice I can give any of you wanting to head in this direction is to read, read, read (I’ll provide resources at the end), and check out my blogroll; it has lots of links to great minimalists. And then have a plan. Here are a few tips that have worked for us.

  • Have a garage sale. This was our first big step, and it really got the ball rolling. We unloaded tons of stuff and made about $500 to boot.
  • Keep in mind that it takes about 30 days to start a new habit, so keep going and eventually minimalist principles start coming pretty easily.
  • Even though I’ve strayed from it, the “keep flat surfaces clear” rule helps a ton. You just have to keep at it.
  • Establish a weekly “throw away day.” We do ours the day before the trash goes out. I shout out a reminder, and we all do a quick sweep, either throwing things out or into recycling.
  • Take before and after pictures. It gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Maintenance is key! (We are still working on this.)
  • It’s always ok to start over. And once you do, the ball starts rolling really fast again.

nothing new

I personally haven’t purchased much of anything new for nearly a year. I bought three shirts off the sale rack as my summer wardrobe was seriously lacking—especially since I got rid of a lot of stuff last summer. And last week I spent $7 on a box of 12 Ball jelly canning jars to keep spices and teas in! They are so cute, and I was really excited! It’s okay to treat yourself to something once in a while. Just don’t purchase randomly.

not so craptastic after all

As I said, minimalism is not an easy process. It takes time, planning, perseverance, time, time, time. And as one who is still a newbie in plenty of ways, I am giving you permission to go easy on yourself. Don’t worry about being perfect. Get rid of what you can. Learn what you can. Have fun. And lessen your belongings at the rate that feels comfortable to you.

It is an incredible feeling, letting go. You will find that it is totally worth the effort. If you’ve already started, and things are going slowly or stalled a little, give yourself a pat for all that you’ve accomplished so far, and repeat after me, “I am not a crappy minimalist.”

Have you started a minimalist journey? Are you thinking about it but not sure where to begin? I’d love to hear how it’s going for you. Share your comments below to help others, and me as we journey together to get rid of stuff and leave a lighter footprint as we live.

blogs to help you

The Minimalists  offer great information and resources for entering minimalism, and check the links to all their important posts on taking the journey.

Zen habits’ Leo Babuata has a great post on getting started . Make sure to take a good tour of Leo’s blog. It has so much great information, and his story is great.

Miss Minimalist has a fantastic blog! If you are unsure how to begin with your wardrobe,  she has great tips. Also, her Joy of Less is a great read.

Feel like you can’t possibly get rid of your clothes? Then turn to Kristy Powell at One Dress Protest. She has been wearing one dress for almost a year now. Her story is so inspiring and really gets you thinking about how much importance we give to our clothes.

Tammy Strobel at Rowdy Kittens   is an amazing woman with so much insight on living with less and why it’s important. She is walking the walk and taking it all down for everyone to share. Oh, and her e-book, Smalltopia is great for anyone wanting to start their own really small business.

Did you like what you found here?

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food that hums, one bowl, weirdness and other food explorations

“You are the primary source; your body is the living experience. Trust it, go with it.” ~Don Gerrard

photo credit:

Who would have thought that a one-week detox would get me thinking so much about my relationship to food, but WOW! Did it ever! I was so excited to eat a meal after I finished my detox, I could hardly wait, but I new I wanted to take things rather slowly.  Then I had one night of eating a huge bowl of my favorite vegan popcorn concoction;  it tasted awesome, but I was kind of grossed out afterwards. Part of the reason I did the detox was to start fresh with my eating habits go back to the good stuff I was eating when I first went vegan–it was time.

discipline and the bowl

To stay on a healthy path, I returned to Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Diet to find fresh easy recipes. I started eating greens, brown rice and veggies again—all together in one bowl. This got me thinking about Don Gerrard’s book One Bowl: A Guide to Eating for Body and Spirit. I read this book several months ago when I first started delving into minimalism. I loved its message, and I had every intention of following Gerrard’s One Bowl method.

But it required a ton of discipline, and at the time, I wasn’t committed. It was one more practice, like meditation, yoga etc. that I was denying myself because it seemed too hard. I resisted the opportunity, once again, to try something that could bring me some kind of enlightenment.

that’s just weird

One Bowl takes mimimalism and mindful eating to a new level, one that now, after experiencing a week of eating only raw fruits and vegetables, sounds very intriguing to me. The practice, to extremely simplify, involves putting your food in one bowl (even if it’s a sandwich), and then going off somewhere in solitude to eat and think about every bite, reaction and sensation. After originally reading the book, I did this one time. The result: my daughter Olivia said, “Mom, why are you sitting on your bed eating?” I explained. She said, “That’s just weird.”

Admittedly, it was weird. But I really did pay attention to the experience of eating in a way that was completely foreign to me—and I could see the benefit that could come from it. I just wasn’t ready to devote the time.

being mindful

It’s so funny to me that I have to be mindful of being mindful, but it is a concept that is easily lost when I don’t actually “practice.” It’s baffling how easily we can forget our humanness and function like robots, barely noticing all of the beauty and wonder that is around us. Even more confounding is that we forget how amazing we are—that we can breathe, walk, think, smell, laugh, cry, eat—we are amazing. We need to be mindful of this, and we need to honor it.

When one first starts venturing into mindfulness practice, mindful eating is typically one of the first steps, and since many of the practices I wish to embrace need deepening (or  a complete restart), I think the One Bowl method is a good place to begin, again.

listening to our bodies

Gerrard’s book provides some really great insight into our habit of eating and our food relationships, showing how the “food events” we experience growing up shape how we regard food as adults. His method requires us to do some serious inquiry into our personal eating experience. Gerrard invites us to listen to our bodies, to pay attention to chewing, swallowing and feeling full. He also says that when we we’re deciding what to eat, we should choose food that “hums.”

a bowl challenge

Gerrard’s approach to eating makes perfect sense to me, so I’ve decided to actually commit to trying this peaceful, spiritual, non-distracted way of eating. I’m going to start on September 1, and follow it for the entire month to see where it leads, and I invite you to join me.

What you will need:

  • the book— you can order it from Amazon or at your local book store (it’s an easy read, only 173 pages, and there’s a Kindle version).
  • a food journal— choose one that you really like so you will use it, as this is a big part of the process.
  • a bowl— one that holds a cup and half of food, has a round bottom, and fits comfortably in your hand. You should love your bowl!

I look forward to embarking on this journey and watching what happens to my feelings about food. I hope to gain a greater understanding of my relationship to eating and to turn eating into more of a spiritual practice, one that feeds my body and my soul, not just my hunger.

We all think very differently about food and have different ways of eating. For example I love social eating and big meals with family and friends, so hopefully the One Bowl method will teach me to be more present in these situations. Please share your eating stories and thoughts on the One Bowl method with me. I would love to hear them.

eat your fruits and veggies: a detox story

fresh from the market

As I write this, it’s early morning, and I am enjoying a delicious cup of steaming coffee, my first in five days. I just finished a five-day detox. I have wanted to do this for a long time, but whenever I thought about it, I changed my mind; it just sounded too intense. Plus, I’d convinced myself I wouldn’t be able to stick with it. Then last week I said to myself, “Self, we’re gonna do this thing!” So I went to the farmer’s market and my local organics store and bought all the provisions I needed with the plan to start on Monday. I fought my resistance, set my mind to it, and felt confident that I was going to accomplish my goal.

Here it is a week later, and I made it! It was hard. But I stuck with it. What results did I expect? Mostly a health boost and a kick-start on weight loss, as over the last few months, I had gained a few extra pounds that made my clothes a little tight. I actually got a lot more than I bargained for! Bonus!

food and understanding

What happened was it turned into a short journey of understanding myself a little better.

I learned that:

  • Resistance is a beast that stops us from getting to the good places in life. It keeps us from realizing our true potential.
  • If I set the stage, I’m a lot stronger and more determined than I thought I was when it comes to being able to stick to something. This made me rethink what I needed to do to form some other good habits in my life.
  • Fear of failure is a waste of time. You fail, you learn, you pick yourself up. You don’t try you never get to win.
  • Even though I eat pretty healthy, I need to constantly think about what I put in my mouth in order to maintain my truly healthy lifestyle, e.g., easy on the French fries, hippie!
  • I love coffee, and I’ve decided this is a good thing. Yes, good.
  • When hungry enough, a pepperoni pizza looks like the best food in the world.
  • Plain raw food is delicious.

feeling lighter

It’s great when an experience is so fulfilling. I really needed something like this to get me focused again. And I really felt great afterwards. It was a little rough going at first. I felt a bit off for a couple of days, but now that it’s all done, I feel great. I ate tons of fresh food, lost eight pounds and feel light, healthy and balanced.

cup of joe, slice of pizza

While I missed eating regular food, I was surprised to find that what I missed most was my morning cup of coffee. I had headaches for a few days. Now this may suggest that I am addicted, but I learned that I get a lot of focus from my coffee. Two much, and I am shaking, but one or two cups, and I am golden. I won’t be giving up coffee.

About the pizza: My kids and their friends ordered a big pepperoni pizza on my all water day, and I eyed it and smelled it and licked my chops like a lion ready for the kill. Of course, I would NEVER eat pepperoni pizza, but it looked and smelled fabulous.

give it a squeeze and some zest

I learned about this detox from raw foodist Danielle Anwar over at Eat Fresh Food. The complete details about her amazing experience with going raw can be found here.  It’s simple and involves eating a lot of raw, fresh organic fruits and veggies and drinking tons of distilled water. I took the instructions quite literally and just ate whole berries, cucumbers, avocados, carrots, parsley, radishes, diacon, arugula, water melon, you get the picture. Next time (Danielle recommends once a month), I plan to make delicious salads. There are so many ways to get more creative with it then I did. I really recommend it to anyone who wants a health boost.

Some tips:

  • Make sure you have a good variety of fruits and veggies. Shoot for all the really dark colored ones. They have the most nutritional value.
  • Get lots of organic lemons, that way you can make all sorts of salad type dishes tossed with fresh squeezed lemon.
  • Try sliced avocado, red onion, tomato on arugula with lemon.
  • Mix a variety of fruits to create a fruit salad with lemon juice dressing.
  • Add lots of extras: cilantro, parsley, different basil varieties, scallions, even garlic.
  • Use a food processor and combine beets, green apples, carrots and red cabbage for a yummy slaw. (Do each veggie separately so you don’t end up with a red mess.) Add lemon juice.
  • Do a little research on nutritional values so you get a good mix of all you need.
  • Plan ahead so you have lots of good food to eat.
  • Distilled water is key. Drink lots and lots. I had a gallon or more a day with a lemon wedge. I drank two on the all water day.

really live, really learn

While I was happy with the physical results of this detox, it was the other things I learned that were the best part. Becoming aware of resistance and the role it plays in my life was really eye-opening for me. I now have an index card hanging above my desk that reads: “Push through the Resistance” it reminds me to fight this beast rather than giving in. When you fight it and win, it’s truly liberating.

What challenges have you faced that taught you more than expected? What role does resistance play in your life? I’d love to hear about changes you’ve made and the significant outcomes you received.

good reads

the kind diet-Alicia Silverstone

the no refrigerator challenge-Tammy Strobel, Rowdy kittens

good listen

try again-Aaliyah (thanks to Satya Colombo)

my things are talking to me

Perhaps I shouldn’t say this out loud because I don’t want to manifest anything negative, but seriously, “Everything keeps breaking!” Some weird thing is happening, hopefully preparing me for some great thing that’s coming, but I’m not kidding, all my shit is going wonky. A laundry list: washing machine and dryer, curling iron, the car’s driver’s side window and the moon roof, various household items…it goes on and on. There are also a lot of electronic things making weird noises. Then two days ago, the car just up and died while I was driving it.

ownership is heavy

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “I hate owning things!” That is not to say that I am not grateful for the things I have—the ones that I love or that make life a little easier, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that ownership has its downside. It really can be a burden. It weighs us down, holds us back, keeps us from living a really full life.

rite of passage

As Tyler Durden says in the film Fight Club, “The things we own end up owning us.” My teenage daughters, who love this movie, haven’t the experience to grasp the message. They think ownership is where it’s at. They can’t wait to purchase their own cars, have their own apartments, buy things. They see it as their right of passage. Grow up, own things. I can remember thinking the same thing. I want to spare them. They roll their eyes as I say, “See? When you own things, they break.”

getting on without our things

It goes without saying; they haven’t been taking all of this breakage real well, especially since I currently don’t have the financial resources to replace things. “It’s not fair,” they say. “It’s embarrassing. None of our friends have to go to the Laundromat.” I say if they didn’t buy so many clothes there’d be less laundry. They look at me like I have a horn growing out of my forehead. Oh well.  To the Laundromat we go, or we do laundry at a friend’s. The curling iron—when it broke it was a tragedy. Curiously, no one seems to miss it now. Once in a while someone says, “We need to buy a new curling iron,” but then it’s forgotten again. The car—that has us all a little freaked (it will make doing laundry a bigger challenge), but for now, we are walking or getting rides. Everyone seems to be managing. Is it convenient? No. But the sky hasn’t fallen. No one has died.

dinner and a walk

Last night, my daughter Olivia and I walked to a restaurant up the street to have dinner. It took us about 15 minutes to get there. Normally we would have hopped in the car. Instead we used our feet. We talked and laughed. Commented on the places we passed. Noticed things we hadn’t noticed before. We had a nice dinner and headed home at dusk, one of my favorite times during the summer. It was a beautiful evening. The sky was a water color of purple and pink, and neon lights glowed across cityscape. We detoured and stopped at the coffee shop for iced chai and espresso. We had a great time. Had we driven, the experience would have been entirely different. It made me want to not fix the car.

back on my path

A short while ago my friend Stella asked, “How is your minimalist journey going?” I replied “Slow and steady.” That isn’t really the truth. (I need to clarify this with her.)The reality is, I’ve stalled. Last week I talked about signs and paying attention, about being off balance. It has occurred to me now that maybe all the breakage is my call to action. My things are saying, “Get on with it Dawn. Get moving with your minimalism. Get rid of us before we collapse on you.” I am listening. It is a great thing.

The more that things break, the easier it is for me to imagine my life without them. Simplifying—minimizing—takes time, but I know it will be worth it in the end. I want to downsize the ‘things” side of my life, so that I can grow the “moments” side. Moments are what real stuff is made of—they’re where the magic happens. I want the magic. What things do you own that take up your time? Are they worth it? What do you feel you could part with? What could you do with the time you use caring for your things?