I’ve been wrestling with some gut-wrenching career and life decisions. Robert Frost’s poem about the road not taken has never resonated so powerfully with me.
I’ve been wrestling with some gut-wrenching career and life decisions. Robert Frost’s poem about the road not taken has never resonated so powerfully with me.
Words are everywhere. We are constantly bombarded with messages, promotions, updates, advertisements and campaigns, and the majority of it will add very little value to our lives. Despite my efforts to subscribe only to useful newsletters, I can easily receive over 50 automated emails a day. The value of the word– written and spoken– is decreasing. I call it verbal inflation.
And as those voices clamor for our attention, we wrestle with our own need to be heard. Words gush out of us when we’re tired, frustrated, passionate, contemplative or even confused.
So how do we reconcile our need for verbal expression with the fact that everyone– including ourselves– experiences a verbal overload on a regular basis? How do we become powerful speakers (or writers) whose words actually matter?
Did I miss the the Happy New Year gravy train? Despite being barely a week into 2016, I feel like I did. How quickly we move along these days– and what’s the rush, really? It seems as though it will be January for a while.
So let me indulge in a little reflection. As I type this, the rain is falling heavily for the first time in a long time here in Southern California. The looming gray has kept the day dim and further clouded my sense of adjustment back to our regular routine. It feels as though we were only just wandering through the alleys of Morocco’s medinas moments ago, and yet those visions and sounds seem so far away. Indeed, a blur.
What a year. We traveled in 5 continents in 2015 (Utah, Japan, Ecuador, Spain, and Morocco), moved house, and settled into Pasadena life. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Aaron sank his teeth into year 2 of Ph.D. work, began seeing a handful of clients, and did lots of research (mindfulness, anyone?). I saw my tutoring business take off, my blog grew by a power of 10, and I ended the year feeling a desperate need for change. More on that later.
On the blog, I further explored minimalism and its implications on my daily life. To be honest, I feel as though I’ve exhausted the topic (perhaps the topic has exhausted me), but the movement seems to be roaring in its upward trend. Should I write more about it, I wonder. For simple living advocates, the most important aspect of simple living is actually choosing to live simply. We can discuss it, share it, teach it and preach it, but in the end it must be a vehicle towards something else. And that’s the thing only we ourselves can define (e.g., the life-changing magic of finding your purpose).
Don’t see in this the looming shadow of despair however. Simplicity Relished will go on as my little blog, only I hope to grow in the topics that I explore this year. When I pulled together my ebook on courage (7 Days of Courage: Finding Brave In Your Everyday Life), I realized that what I desperately needed was the strength, focus, fortitude and fearlessness to pursue what I believed mattered. Call it intentionality, call it courage– I needed more than simplicity in order to face my fears, send the lies back to hell and press on.
There is something to be said about perseverance when it comes to blogging. All the blogging tips in all the world can’t give a blog what it needs to survive: a purpose that inspires the blogger and serves an audience. That purpose has to be big enough to stay relevant through different seasons of life. Even if we make little adjustments here and there, a core that is strong enough will remain the same.
So here’s a little bit of real life truth. I’m expecting some changes this year. Despite my love of my students, I might be ending my foray into self-employment. I won’t go into the reasons here, but wrestling with my next professional steps has consumed me the past couple of months. Along with the shift includes a small possibility that Aaron and I will spend some time overseas. As options materialize, I will share them here.
What I do know is that, in the midst of this rocky, exhilarating and unpredictable decade we call our 20s, I need this blog. I need you as my reader, keeping me in this space where I can center myself again on what I truly care about. Thank you for being here.
I like the idea of having a word for the year. Despite it seeming more like a word of the moment, we can dedicate ourselves to an ideal or commitment for as long as it’s something we truly need. So my word is fortitude. I want the strength, perseverance, bravery, vision, and focus to move forward this year. Fortitude makes me think of a large ship crashing through the most threatening waves. It may rise and teeter and dip, but it continues forward, wave by wave. I want to be fearless that closing doors is okay. I want to step into something, step into it deeply, and say yes at crucial moments in the journey.
As far as setting goals, perhaps I don’t have any big ones yet. However this year shakes out, though, I want to find myself choosing to thrive. I want to inspire and to be inspired; to discover new corners of God’s word in which I can rest; and to increase my generosity to my community. Aaron and I are going to find ways to take better care of our bodies, hopefully together. We’ll be developing new recipes for home cooking, committing to more exercise and hopefully continuing to get enough sleep.
I hope this year will bring nothing less than amazing content that you find helpful, interesting and encouraging. At the very least, I’ll be working on the following:
Merry Christmas, sweet friends. It’s funny how travel can take you far away– and then closer than ever– to the heart and soul of the season. From the moment we stepped foot in Sevilla to this very moment in Barcelona, I’ve encountered strange new reminders of the glorious moment in history that we celebrate on Christmas Day.
Perhaps the best phrase the captures this, for me at the moment comes from “O Holy Night”:
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
In our postmodern age, we don’t really like the word “sin.” I won’t go into its theological definition here, but I will say this: our world is pining. We are pining for more peace. We are pining for more freedom, more hope, more joy. And as much as we desire these things, we are constantly robbed by the errors– the evil– of others and of ourselves.
So when Christ appears, the soul feels its worth. A thrill of hope and a weary world comes to life again. A new and glorious morn has come and is coming again.
And no matter how we express this longing, no matter where we come from or where we are going, we know to cherish this time of year as a time to renew our trust that something– perhaps someone– is coming for us. That this world is to be made new. We can only hope in this. Merry Christmas. Feliz Navidad. Bon Nadal.
Come in, sir, for you are weary
And the night is cold out there
Though our lives are very humble
What we have, we have to share…
These simple yet remarkable words are sung by the bishop in the musical Les Miserables (kudos if you recognized it!). I experience a jolt of conviction each time I see this show– and am reminded of the high call on our lives to open our homes to strangers, wanderers, and the needy around us.
What kind of story would Les Miz be without Valjean’s redemptive meal at the bishop’s humble table? There would be no story at all– no rebirth of his identity, no adoption of Cosette, no peace for Fantine, no rescuing of Marius– the dramatic difference an act of kindness has is at the crux of Hugo’s story. Valjean’s personal transformation is the only argument against Javert’s unyielding legalism. And it all started with the opening of a single door when all other doors were closed.…Continue Reading
It’s no secret that we Americans spend billions of dollars every holiday season purchasing gifts for each other. It’s also no secret that many products we purchase are made in industries that have been neglectful (at best) when it comes to the lives of factory workers.
Most of the time, we shop for the best deals: what’s in it for me? Can I get this any cheaper? Can I finish this any faster? We often forget that we’re usually the last person in the story behind the item. Someone else gathered the materials, assembled them, packed them, shipped them, and put them out for display.
We’re all aware of the social problems associated with fast fashion and cheap food– but we can also feel powerless to change any of these systems of injustice. I have good news for you today: your purchases can make a positive impact on the lives of needy people around the world.
I’m passionate about this issue because I love gift giving. In recent years I’ve reined in my spending and given humbler gifts, but the process of selecting something special for someone special still makes my heart happy. So if you’re like me– and you’re not sitting out on gift giving this year– check out these amazing companies that are doing good things around the world!
Friends might already be mourning the passing of another year and setting hopes and expectations for 2016, but this year isn’t over yet! 2015 still has a good 30 days, and a lot can happen in 30 days.
If you’ve come to the end of this year anxious, tired, and with a little regret, you’re not alone. Time flies and time crawls, but we can feel especially nostalgic in December. Most of us struggled to keep our New Year’s resolutions– and many of us were surprised by unexpected ups and downs this year. For whatever reason, 2015 might not have been all that you hoped it would be.
Somehow we think that January is a good month to change all the bad habits we regret indulging in December. But the truth is, change happens whenever we make it happen— and change is difficult no matter what month we’re in. The reason why years go by and we still haven’t created new habits is perhaps that we’re trying to do it all at once.
There is too much pressure on January, and what we really need to do is to see value in the moments we have right now. I’ve compiled a list of goals I have for the rest of this year (and going into next year). Let’s not lay 2015 to rest just yet!
It’s that week again… when I’m wandering down the aisles of our local grocery store like a child in a candy shop. I just can’t wait for our family gathering on Thursday where we get to feast on delicious, seasonal dishes that I’m creating this week.
For the past month, I’ve been gearing up for our festivities with a Pinterest board focused on fall and Thanksgiving recipes. If you’ve taken a look at it, you’ll know that I have the hardest time deciding what to do about dessert. There are just too many delicious autumn-inspired treats!
Since I’ll be doing some shopping today, I thought I would share some recipe inspiration– especially for anyone who’s still looking to round out their menu. Here goes!
We are now a culture obsessed with authenticity.
We’ve donned a peevish perspective on social media, on networking, on new friendships– basically on anything that might not feel “real” enough to us. We expect everyone to divulge everything.
Authenticity is a good thing (at least, it used to be). The notion that I can be honest about my emotions, my progress, my struggles, and my opinions is a freedom I’ll continue to cherish.
But this trend of being authentic– of chasing some imaginary level of authenticity– is a tiresome game. I’m wary of its pushy nature, because it’s starting to look a lot like any other attention-mongering scheme.
Authenticity has become what we expect; and what we expect is to be shocked. We love confessions. We love peering behind the curtain to see the “real deal.”
In other words, authenticity is no longer pure. It’s fraught with expectations, pressures, and a strangely insecure self-confidence that seems to be throwing wisdom to the winds.
In the wake of tragedy– whether personal or global– we find ourselves asking questions that often lie dormant when things are going “just fine.”
The challenge of living in this tension we call the human experience, where we fluctuate between exceeding joy and exceeding despair, is choosing to make meaningful the small slice of agency we have, the domain that is ours alone.
One of the reasons why I’ve become such a champion of courage (I even wrote a short ebook on it here) is that I believe it gives us the ability to live with conviction. We can proclaim anything we want, but courage makes those convictions concrete.
The day after Halloween, I walked into a crafts store. According to their displays, Halloween was so yesterday and Christmas season had officially begun.
There were plastic trees on display, cheap ornaments in boxes, and ribbons of every color. Somehow they even transitioned the scent of the whole store from autumn spice to winter wonderland.
Someone remarked to me recently that Thanksgiving “gets no love”– and that November is just that awkward transitional season after Halloween when we start anticipating the biggest purchasing month of the year.
I’ve been championing simplicity on this blog for about a year now. It started last fall when I came across Courtney Carver’s Project 333— a capsule wardrobe challenge that has now become a near-mainstream trend– and I took it upon myself to find additional ways to simplify my life.
I’ll be honest. I did it in part because I was intrigued by the subject, and there was already a vibrant tribe of writers I could jump right into. It also helped me focus my blog on a specific topic while in the midst of moving across the country, getting married, and becoming (more) in charge of my resources.
Simple living has become a trend in this past year– the more I wrote about it, the more I realized that others were doing the same. And now that Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is a national bestseller, it seems everyone is on the simple living boat.
I didn’t grow up in a family that watched much American television. In fact, my family didn’t watch any television– we owned a TV for years without actually knowing how to turn it on.
As far as I know, there were no truly strong moral objections to television. There was just always something better to do. My dad was a bookworm and my mom was always busy with something, so I rarely saw anyone watching a show or reading a magazine.
More importantly, my lack of exposure to TV– and all its nightly wonders–became a point of embarrassment. In middle school, I didn’t watch the shows that all my classmates were watching and talking about. I didn’t follow sports. I didn’t know who was in, who was out, who was hot, who was not, and who was the next best thing.
As I gained some independence and some Internet savvy, I decided it was time to learn all these names. Whether or not I had seen their movies or shows, I wanted to recognize these public icons that everyone seemed obsessed with. It was as though our lives would not be complete if we weren’t up-to-date on theirs.
I am so thrilled to have Sheryl from How To Make A Life on the blog today with some tips for self care. The holidays are a busy time, and we need to develop rhythms to practice peace, relaxation, and true enjoyment during this season.
Hello everyone! I’m Sheryl from How to Make A Life. I regularly blog about practicing self care and finding inspiration in your daily life. Today I am thankful Daisy is letting me spend some time with her readers.
For many people, Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season and one of the busiest times of the year. This time of year is always so much fun but it takes no time at all for our schedules to become full. Sadly, practicing self care becomes an after thought. Today I wanted to share with you a few suggestions for taking care of yourself during the Holiday season.
First, I hope that you have some form of self care routine in your life, if not, I encourage you to check out my suggestions. I thought I would approach self care from three different perspectives throughout the coming months.. The season can be overwhelming but can also be manageable and enjoyed.
This seems like a logical idea. However, we often receive so many invitations and have various deadlines that we often neglect putting everything down on the calendar. Thus, we find ourselves stressed out and double booked.
If you haven’t already, sit down with your calendar and block off the dates of family events, parties, work events, and concerts. Additionally, it is a good idea to plan when you would like to go shopping (for groceries if you are having a dinner party and Christmas shopping). I also encourage you to schedule on self care event per week. This can be scheduling a haircut or mani/pedi or coffee/girls night out with friends.
Putting things down on a calendar will enable you to have a better view of your time. This will also help you with knowing if there are events you need to say no to.
Have things changed? Do you need to reschedule events? What needs to be done this week? Acknowledge that life can change quickly and activities and events may need to be triaged as needed on a weekly basis.
Prioritize what needs to be done first. Do you grocery shop once per week? How many nights will you be having dinner at home? It helps to have an idea of what need to be done. I have found that writing the activities down in my calendar helps me more than keeping a mental list.
Make this the first thing you do each morning after getting out of bed. When we become stressed and overbooked, our bodies hold tension. Rather than hitting the alarm clock and rushing out of bed, practice simple stretches such as neck and shoulder rolls, side and back bends. Continue to do this throughout the day when you feel tight. If you need some suggestions for simple stretches throughout the day, visit my pinterest board Stretch.
When life becomes hectic, it is not unusual to find yourself holding your breath or breathing shallow. If you find yourself sighing, you are likely holding your breath. Throughout the day, practice slowing inhaling and exhaling. This can be something you practice while waiting in that long line or sitting at a stop light.
Rushing through the day does not make you accomplish things faster and often creates more havoc. Each day make sure you are taking at least 5 – 10 minutes to just be. Look through a magazine or watch a TV show. Call a friend just to check in.
Research shows that daily acknowledging three items you are thankful for helps to improve your mood and overall health. This time of year can become extremely stressful to the point that slowing down to think about three times each day can be difficult. This is a great time of year to begin the practice of a gratitude journal. Before bed each night think of what has happened that day. There have been days where for me it was someone held the door open or the car in front of me purchased my coffee. Try to look at the day differently but it’s also ok to use some of the same items (like your husband and kids).
These suggestions are not new but when practiced on a regular basis can truly make a difference. If you are looking for additional thoughts on self care, I encourage you to read How to Create a Self Care Box.
I hope by implementing a few of these suggestions you will have a less stressed and more enjoyable holiday season.
We’ve all heard the adage that hindsight is 20/20, but that’s no consolation for poor decisions made. We can easily become so wrapped up in self-punishment for the past that we experience very little life in the present.
While all of us have regrets– large and small– we also have the agency to choose what to do with them. And specifically, there are lifestyle choices we can make to minimize the likelihood to regret our present decisions in the future.
After I wrote 5 Minimalist Secrets to Saving Money, I quickly realized that I did not intend for it to be a catch-all solution to better financial management. There are just a few philosophical aspects of the minimalism movement that are particularly helpful for those trying to spend responsibly.
It’s the same, in my opinion, with regret. If we consider ourselves minimalists (in one or many areas of our lives), then we are forced to approach our decisions with useful principles.
Ultimately, I don’t think that minimalism– or simple living of any variety– should be about the financial bottom line. It should help our daily lives reflect more what our deepest desires and core values are. And when that happens, it’s very likely that our list of regrets will shorten, if not disappear altogether.