The speed you’re not used to

With all the holiday rush and the hundreds of things we think we need to check off our to-do lists, take a minute to read this quote from Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist:

paul coelhoSome people go through life like they’re in slow motion. For others, everything is a rushed blur. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, but have days that lean to either extreme.

The holidays are the perfect time to slow down and savor every moment with family and friends, but usually the opposite gets prioritized, resulting in stress and fatigue. (tweet that)

This time of year more than ever, try and find pleasure in the speed you’re not used to. If you’re rushing more than usual, try and find joy in the experience. See if you can keep up your pace but lose the stress and the hectic state of mind. Embrace that this is your speed this time of year.

Or, if you can, slow down a bit. Go completely counter to what everyone else is doing and really be present this December. You might feel pulled to “do more” or be in ten places at once. But is that what will make you happy? Go slow despite the social pressures. Do what feels right for you. As Coelho says, allow a new person to grow inside of you.

On a related note, check out Sage On Earth, a travel blog I recently found about a family of four who combines simple living with family adventure, “discovering our beautiful world at a different pace.” P.S. They have a beautiful instagram, too.

I need to get my husband on board with minimalism | Ask LFB

“This morning my husband hung his shirts outside his closet — because he couldn’t find a place to squeeze them in. He has a very, very small closet. I went in and pulled out all the sweatshirts I could find, and he has more or as many as I do! (Not a very good use of space.) This then led me to look in the drawers which seem to hold things like old swimsuits and sweaters he’s never worn, and all kinds of things I didn’t know he owns!!

I’ve been asking him to go through his closet and get rid of things, which he’s done a bit but boy do we have a long way to go! I don’t know that he’s inspired or cares. There’s got to be a better way that I can sell him to get him on board getting rid of things he doesn’t need.”


Hi, Nicole! Welcome to the LFB fam!

I think you mentioned a couple key points:

1. He has a very small closet. Depending on your outlook, this is an advantage or a disadvantage. For those with a ton of stuff, it’s an obvious disadvantage. But I’d encourage you both to try and frame this as a positive thing. Embrace the small size and what it offers. A smaller space lends itself more easily to maintaining tidiness. And fewer clothes in a closet means less time standing in front of it deciding. So once he does get rid of some more things, his closet will be a quick stop along the way and not the burden it currently is.

2. Sweatshirts in a closet are not a good use of space. Everyone differs on how they like to organize things but it sounds like for you it is clear his current system isn’t working. Ask him if he feels the same. He might have more space than he thinks if only it was better used.

3. He’s holding on to things he doesn’t need. Maybe the best place to focus for now is on the more obviously unnecessary items. Rather than go for the abundance of sweatshirts in the closet that he sees every day, have him look through those drawers and get rid of the items that aren’t in his every day radar. He might not know he has some of those things either! This exercise will more quickly free up some great drawer space, which you can then use for sweatshirts.

4. You both have a lot of sweatshirts. I’d suggest you take a half hour together to each go through your sweatshirts at the same time. This is an area where you have common ground, and something you can do together so the hard work doesn’t all fall on him. Show him that you are ruthless with getting rid of the ones you know aren’t your favorites, and set an example for him to do the same.

5. He might not be inspired, but that’s okay. As frustrating as it is when someone we are close to isn’t happily aboard the minimalism train, it’s ultimately each person’s choice. You can encourage him and set an example, but it’s up to him to follow it or not. If he doesn’t, or not up to your standard anyway, don’t lose hope, but don’t put too much pressure on him either. Keep chipping away at the small, easy things to get rid of, which will set into motion a flow of decluttering and decreasing that overtime can make a big difference. I always like to get rid of the easiest things first, because it gives momentum and also makes the other non-essentials that much more apparent — now that you can see them!

I hope this helps, Nicole. Check back in with me on how it turns out!



A minimalist meditation for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on what we have and to understand that we have enough. (tweet that)

Here’s a simple meditation exercise you can do today to celebrate gratitude.

Find a spot in your home to sit and just spend a few moments taking in all that’s around you. Look at your home. Look at what’s in it. Allow your mind to recall memories sparked by the different items. Equally allow your mind to recognize when items don’t bring up any feelings in particular, and could easily be removed from your space without any loss to you.

Enjoy the feeling of comfort that gratitude often brings, as we feel safe in our surroundings. This is your home. Whatever it is, you have made it yourself. Whether you brought in the items one by one, or whether you are living in a home that was furnished by someone else. It is your home.

Take note of how you feel as you sit in this part of the house. Are you calm? Stressed? Is your mind racing or at peace? What made you choose this spot in the first place?

Often we become so used to our home, we glaze over the items in it without ever really looking at them since the day we placed them on the shelf. Take this time of Thanksgiving to really look. Look at each item and feel gratitude for it.

If you find with some items that it’s difficult to feel genuine gratitude, take that as a sign you can live without it. Remove it from your home. This time before the holidays is a perfect time to donate items (especially in good condition) to second hand stores and charities.

By passing things on to someone who can better use them, we allow ourselves the chance to feel genuine gratitude toward the things we truly enjoy. Without the unnecessary clutter, we can really see those items which spark fond memories and loving thoughts. Aren’t those feelings what Thanksgiving is all about? Give yourself and your family the chance enjoy them. You might find it becomes one more thing you can be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends,



Only a few things really matter

I started re-reading Essentialism this week. Essentialism is a book by Greg McKeown about simplifying your life in all areas and prioritizing “the vital few” over “the trivial many”. It’s been recommended by The Minimalists and many others, and was given to me by a close friend.

About a third of the way through is the Essentialist principle “Only a few things really matter.” When I read that again last night, I right away thought about something I’m currently going through. I’m debating keeping one of my multiple jobs, because it’s turned out to not be an ideal fit. My hesitancy to leave comes, I think, from the idea that quitting would be wrong or somehow taking the easy way out. I know the right choice is for me to leave so I can pursue something that’s a better fit, but I haven’t been listening to myself. Instead, I’ve been making it a big deal in my mind and going back and forth.

Reading that only a few things really matter, I instantly realized that neither this job nor the stress I’m feeling about leaving this job are things that really matter. I like to look at the big scheme of things and think, “a year from now, will this even matter?” Usually when I ask myself that, the answer is no. That makes my decision a lot easier. (tweet that)

What are you making into a big deal in your life that doesn’t really matter?

Fast fashion is quickly destroying your life

Fast fashion – a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly to capture current fashion trends. Emphasis is on optimizing certain aspects of the supply chain for these trends to be designed and manufactured quickly and inexpensively to allow the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price. (Wikipedia)

I only recently learned the term fast fashion, but now I have a term for the clothing in stores like Forever21 and its competitors. It’s ultra-trendy and current, and chances are you’ll love it for the first 3 months but then feel so outdated wearing it after that. But, at such a low price, you can (almost) afford to cycle through your clothes at a seasonal rate.

But just because these clothes don’t add up to much on your credit card statement, doesn’t mean they don’t add up in other areas.

Your closet, for one. You keep the “BAE” sweatshirt in your closet because you only just bought it. Yet you feel like you can now only wear it ironically. It gets shoved further and further into the depths of your closet.

Meanwhile, your closet gets fuller. It becomes more difficult to fit new things in there. You’re running out of space. It doesn’t look nearly as tidy as it did after your last round of KonMari-ing.

The messier your closet gets, the more clothes start creeping down onto the floor. And now you feel just a little stressed out every time you enter your bedroom.

Let’s look at a different approach to buying clothes:

Instead of buying the mega-popular fast fashion, you opt for more classic pieces. You keep a strict standard to only buy what is flattering on your figure and your skin tone. Now everything in your closet looks amazing on you, and you can wear it for years to come. You have a minimal, capsule wardrobe that is easy to maintain in a tidy space. You enter your room feeling light and you always find something to wear.

This is how I’ve been doing things for the last year or so. Before that, I was all about fast fashion. The two things that finally got through to me were 1) reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and 2) watching this video by Mimi Ikonn, where she explains that everyone has a set of hues they are best suited to wear, and she basically gives you a sure-fire method to always look radiant. Both of these resources were absolutely life-changing (not to mention style-changing) and now I can never go back.

There’s another way fast fashion adds up, and that’s on the impact on the environment. Fast fashion is mass produced and poorly done, using cheap materials and cheap labor. The quality is terrible, which almost doesn’t matter because you throw it out before it has a chance to really fall apart. This leads to an excess of materials and, ultimately, waste.

Whether your desire to drop fast fashion is due to ethics, minimalism, or simply wanting to look and feel your best, it’s something I’m really glad I’ve done, and I hope it brings you as much peace as it’s brought me.


spankee with a hand-me-down toy

How to tell your dog he has too many toys

This is my dog. His name is Spankee.

When I first got him, he came with a blanket, a stuffed teddy bear, and a stuffed dragon. Also a few tennis balls but he never liked those.

Over the short time I’ve had him, we’ve celebrated a few Christmases and birthdays. So he’s gotten more toys. We’ve found that at first he’s really excited about a new toy, but the interest quickly fades. So, again we buy him new things, to keep his interest.

Yet as we buy him new things, we keep his old things. Afterall, they’re his — not mine to get rid of. But they sit there in the corner behind the big chair and remain unused. Also he’s a bit older now and just isn’t very playful these days.

What can we do with these unused toys?

Donate them to an animal shelter, for one. Or especially with new toys that he just didn’t like, pass them along to a friend’s dog. We’ve gotten a few hand-me-downs that way and have loved them!

The thing is, unless it’s your dog’s favorite toy, she probably wont even notice that you cleared out the stash. So the title of this article is misleading, because you really don’t need to tell her anything.

If you’re still hesitant, try putting the unused toys away and out of sight. Then after a few weeks or months, bring one out and see if there’s any novelty. If not, pass it along. A dog at your local shelter might love it, and you and your dog will enjoy a less-cluttered home.

Should I buy a Halloween costume I’ll only wear once? | Ask LFB

Hey Brianna,

With Halloween coming up, I was just thinking about the different parties and events, and it seems like you have to buy all this stuff to really have fun. Costumes and all the accessories it might need, plus sometimes face paint or other special hair/makeup stuff. How does an aspiring minimalist handle this holiday when I know I’ll never use this stuff after October 31?


Welcome to the LFB fam, Amber!

Halloween can be so much fun once you find (or make) the perfect costume! But, you’re right – what about after Halloween? Do you shove the costume in your closet, knowing full well you wont wear it again? Do you keep the special makeup in with your daily makeup, as a constant reminder of its uselessness in your life now?

Let me ask you this: are you looking forward to this costume party? Do you see yourself having fun? If you could take it or leave it, then I’d say either skip dressing up, or skip the event all together. But, if you know it will be a blast, then go for it! Go all out! And donate the costume and whatever else you acquire to your local thrift store on November 1st.

There’s nothing wrong with buying something that serves a purpose. Even if it’s a short-lived purpose. (tweet that)

If money is an issue, see if you can DIY something together using what you already have, or buy something for the costume that you can see yourself also using afterwards. Or, ask a friend if you can borrow a costumes from a few years ago (chances are they still have some in their closet!)

Remember that the definition of minimalism (that LFB likes to use) is “everything you need and nothing more”. So, if you need something for a special event, be it Halloween or a wedding, or accompanying your friend to a religious service, or a vacation in a different climate, go ahead and buy what you need.

Hope this helped, Amber. Happy Halloween!


Your messy wallet, your frazzled mind

I work as a barista in a coffee shop. I see a lot of people come in daily to spend upwards of $4 for a cup full of fat, sugar, and a little bit of caffeine. As they get out their credit card, I notice their pristine manicure. I hear their keys as they set them down on the counter, because they need two hands to dig through their wallet. They’re looking for their customer loyalty card amongst dozens of credit cards, other loyalty cards, and receipts. Shudder.

“Maybe I put it in another side pocket,” they might say, unzipping a part of their handbag and revealing a second wallet.

“I remember you had it the other day,” I offer in support. I’m holding my latte art stamp at-the-ready.

More digging. Some exasperated sighs.

I watch and wait patiently, as this isn’t new for me. “Would you like to start a new card?” I suggest after a few moments, seeing a line form behind them.

“Yeah,” they say. “I swear I have like three other ones at home, I just can’t find them.”

“We can consolidate them if you find them,” I reassure them. And they seem to like that idea.

With a fluid motion I’ve done hundreds of times, I open the cash register, whip out a fresh loyalty card, stamp a leaf, and slide it over to them. “Thank you,” I smile, glad to get them and their stress-inducing handbag away from me.

Do you ever see someone rifling through a wallet, or drawer, or closet, and just feel like you’re in a bathtub of stress that you need to crawl your way out of?

The one thing I feel (aside from relief) as that customer walks away and the next one steps forward, is gratitude. Gratitude for the simplicity I have created in my life, and for the clarity of my mind and the orderliness of my possessions. I see these customers frazzled and can tell that their purses are a glimpse into their life. What chaos to be living with. What extra weight on their shoulders.

I feel sadness as I remember how stressed I was living in a cluttered space. I remember so clearly how it kept me up at night and gave me this sense of urgency even when I was just at home relaxing. I can’t imagine living that way now.

I sure hope those customers climb out of the bathtub and feel the relief soon. It’s so much better out here.

You don’t have to finish that book that sucks

Have you ever found yourself reading a book that you really aren’t into, but you feel like it would be wrong to stop reading it? You give it chapter after chapter of “it might improve” but it still sucks. And it’s sucking away your time.

I’ve had books that I’ve started, hated, put down, but kept in the chance that “maybe when I’m older I’ll appreciate it more”. Then years later I’ve opened them with renewed patience, only to nearly bore myself to sleep with it a second time. It’s laughable but true that I’ve even done this a third time with some books.

Why should we continue doing something — anything — that does not bring us joy? (tweet that)

If a book sucks, donate it. If a movie is awful, turn it off. Don’t waste any more time on it.

If the IT person you’re on the phone with is in a bad mood, hang up right now and call again to get a different person. (Real-life advice I was given just this week! Bye, Felicia.) Your time is precious and limited. Those minutes or hours are ones you won’t get back.

I think we have been conditioned from being in school, where we had to finish a book for an assignment, that no matter how much we dislike something, the point isn’t to like it, it’s to finish it. What backwards thinking.

If you buy something and change your mind, return it. If the tags are already off, give it to a friend or donate it. But don’t let it sit in your home taking up your precious space and your precious mental energy to look at it every day.

It’s only when we start valuing our time and our energy that we will see how much of it we’ve wasted in the past. (tweet that)

And on that note, I’ll let you get on with your day. How do you want to spend it?