Here’s to the New Year

And just like that, another year has past. 2016, wow. I was sure we’d be living like the Jetsons by now! Space cars, moving walkways throughout the house, Roses cleaning up after all of us and feeding our dogs. Alas, we have a little more waiting ahead for those days.

With a new year approaching, I wanted to look back and give thanks for everything the past year has brought my life. In addition to my beautiful and irreplaceable family and friends, I’ve experienced a level of personal growth this year that I’m particularly proud of. With my first year of motherhood and our family’s move to another state, this year tested my character beyond what I thought I’d be able to handle. I didn’t feel particularly resilient and at times I was sure I would break at the hands of the imminent stress that comes along with huge life changes. But with each adventure came growth, strength, and broadened perspectives. The following things are things I learned this past year to some extent (meaning I may still have a ways to go in certain areas, but I’ve gotten better, and that’s a start!)

In 2015…

I learned the importance of prayer and meditation.

I learned about sacrifice and the love of a mother.

I learned how to give both myself and others grace (I hope I did at least. I guess Mitch would be one to ask about the “grace to others” part.)

I learned to live authentically to who I am and not fear judgment of other people.

I learned to trust my instincts.

I learned about the freedom and vulnerability in chopping off my long hair, gradually reaching the fun (and scary!) length of a traditional pixie cut. This one goes beyond the change in physical appearance. I learned how to live with nothing to hide behind, how to accept my flaws.

I learned to take pressure off myself.

I learned to say no.

I learned to say yes.

I learned to ask for help.

I learned silly songs to entertain my son.

I learned to take time for creative projects that fuel me.

And of course, through my 20mugs journey, I learned about owning and wanting less, and about the abundant “more” that life has to offer.

As we come upon the impending new year, we are faced with a myriad of opportunities…

Opportunities to spread love, promote peace, create art, make music, grow plants, and help others…

Opportunities to laugh, forgive, challenge our minds, feed our souls, and experience the deepest kind of beauty…

Opportunities to want less, and to be more.

Consider taking some time this week to set a few goals for 2016. Ask yourself not what you want to DO this year, but rather who you want to BE? What steps should you take to help you become that person? What commitments will you make to bring more joy and peace to your life, and to the lives of others? What do you want to learn?

I wish you all a truly happy New Year, one full of all the best things that money can’t buy.

XO.

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Thoughtful Christmas Gifts

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We’re coming up on Christmas quickly, and life is pretty busy as I imagine it is for most of you, so let’s cut to the chase.

I never realized how thoughtless I’ve been in past years, shopping for people on my list.  I’d go to the mall, Target, wherever, typically thinking of one of these thoughts:

“Ooh!  That’s cool.  Who could I get that for?”  

OR:
“Oh, that reminds me so much of so-and-so! I have to get it.”

OR the worst of them all:
“Oh my gosh, I still don’t have anything for so-and-so… I need to find something – ANYTHING! I’m running out of tiiiiime! AHHH!!”

Sure, maybe the person will appreciate the notion.  Maybe they’ll even LOVE the gift!  BUT in the end, physical gifts are still just STUFF.  I think a lot of stress can be avoided by simplifying, and a lot of joy can be experienced by thinking things through a little more.

Here’s what I propose:  LET’S BE MORE THOUGHTFUL WITH OUR GIFTS.

  • Think about what your loved ones are passionate about.
  • Think beyond the tangible.
  • Think about memories.
  • Think about WHAT TRULY MATTERS.
  • Think about other people’s lives… the less fortunate.
  • Think about the earth.

Do yourself and everyone else a favor and think about these things BEFORE you head out to the store… And definitely BEFORE you start mindlessly piling stuff into your Target carts (novelty gifts and needless stocking stuffers – they’ll getcha!) As you stroll the mall, or surf the internet, resist impulsiveness and buying just to buy.

I’m not saying you always have to give something practical.  I’m just saying we should put a little more heart into the process.  This is the only way we will be able to give each other gifts that truly mean something.

Here are some practical ways you can be more thoughtful this Christmas:

Give gifts that support good causes:

Give a handmade gift  (Even if you don’t consider yourself ‘crafty’, just look and see if there’s something you might be able to do! You might be surprised!)

Give an experience (tickets to a show, museum membership, hot air balloon ride, massage, cooking class, etc.)

Give something consumable (beer, wine, chocolate, coffee!)

There are tons of options out there.  NEED MORE IDEAS???

–> Click HERE for the Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide!  <–

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embrace a Minimalist Christmas Spirit

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and researching what other minimalists do about Christmas, and I stumbled across several great articles and blogs.  (Thank you, Internet!!)

Laura of SimplyClearly.com posted an article that I found really helpful, which I want to share with you below…

I hope this inspires you!  

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While I truly enjoy giving people gifts and I appreciate the idea behind gift giving, our culture has certainly gotten out of hand with the excessiveness at Christmas, not to mention just in general.

In 2013, over the four-day span of Thanksgiving Day through Black Friday weekend, consumers in the U.S. spent 57.4 billion dollars. That averaged out to $407 per person according to Bloomberg. Compare that with the fact that the average household credit card debt in America is already at$7,274, and we can see why Christmas can be a stressful time, leading to even more debt for many already financially stressed households. One of the many things I love about minimalism is the focus on people, not things, and this mindset is especially wonderful around the holidays when most people feel pressured to buy more ‘stuff’ as an indicator of their love for their family and friends. If you are feeling this pressure, perhaps you can relieve yourself of it by embracing the idea of less is more this holiday season, and the idea that the holidays are about people, not things.

Enter…the Minimalist Christmas Spirit…

-Enjoying time with family and friends

-Helping those in need through coat and food drives

-Singing Christmas carols

-Baking sugar cookies and orange cranberry loaves and taking them to neighbors and friends

-Driving around looking at all the beautiful Christmas lights

-Homemade gifts and well thought out experiences to share

-Simpler holiday meals that won’t leave you feeling over stuffed

-Putting up a Christmas tree and stockings

-Watching the Santa tracker on Christmas Eve with the children

-Enjoying a warm fire and hot cocoa

-Watching Polar Express ,Elf and How the Grinch Stole Christmas

-A few carefully selected gifts that will bring great benefit and use

If you are here reading this, you probably already agree with the minimalist lifestyle and mindset, at least a little. If this is new to you, welcome, and I truly hope you get into the Minimalist Christmas Spirit. For me, it is focusing on my loved ones and those in need, filling the time we spend together with wonderful memories.

With all that being said, there is still the gift-giving side of Christmas to consider. I LOVE giving gifts to people. Especially gifts that I know they will appreciate, use and will make life a richer experience for them. Below is a list I have compiled that I hope will help you have a more minimalistic, less cluttered, and less financially stressful Christmas, but still fulfill your desires to give gifts to those you love.

Click HERE to read Laura’s list… Great gift ideas for kids and adults!