10 Steps to Simpler Living

10 Steps to Simpler Living

  • Chaya, selected from Networx

By Kevin Stevens, Networx

When chatting with some friends or clients, it’s not uncommon to hear them say that they are envious of my “simpler life.” My response is generally that what is perceived as “simple” has a lot to do with my attitude; while some days are simple, others are not. Being a small business owner and trying to coordinate multiple clients, projects and schedules can be pretty draining and hectic. I have made some great steps to make my life simpler but there are still days when it can be a bit overwhelming.

I recently completed some custom bookcases for a client. During that project, a typical day might involve making the 30 second walking commute to my basement workshop for the “work” portion of my day. I must admit that building custom furniture is pretty much an ideal gig and I’m often in the best state of mind. But like many folks, this portion of my life is just a slice of what a week or month may bring. On a less than ideal day, I might have to commute 4 hours between 3 or 4 job sites, finish up a punch list, spec out some new project and fit in a few materials runs to the lumber yard or home center.

Given the fact that my life can actually get quite hectic, I have found these practices to be very helpful. They work for me; they could work for you.

1. Work is work and home is home. For most folks this is one of the first steps to simpler living. Being able to punch out at the end of the day and leave the work baggage behind is one way to make your life feel less stressful. Granted some jobs and career choices can influence this ability to disconnect your work life from “living,” the sooner you can remove this overlap, change can start.

2. Less is more. I feel that one of the biggest burdens to happiness comes from too much stuff in your life, whether these are material things or activities. Having more is not always better. Consumerism is contagious and a hard habit to break. People often equate “things” with happiness, but a life-long pursuit of more and more only leads to less happiness. Working 60 hours a week to pay for a too-big house filled with stuff you don’t need or use is a trap.

3. Time never sleeps. People often say their lives are too busy because they “don’t have enough time.” Time is a fixed thing. Each day only has 24 hours. It’s not the day that is too short, but the list of things stuffed into the day that is too big. Here priorities will allow you to thin the list to what will fit or needs to fit. Some things can wait ’til tomorrow, or even go away completely.

4. Bye-bye TV. Some numbers to think about: The New York Times reported, “Americans watched more television than ever in 2010, according to the Nielsen Company. Total viewing of broadcast networks and basic cable channels rose about 1 percent for the year, to an average of 34 hours per person per week.” 34 hours per week is like having a second job. If you’re having trouble with the “time” issue above there is a pretty easy fix. Push the “off” button on the TV remote.

I terminated my satellite TV service back in January, and I have not missed it a bit. The 3 shows I have grown to love are viewed on demand via my internet connection. Saving the $60 to $100 a month is a bonus, too. Some people like to watch the morning news, but I listen to NPR’s Morning Edition, and for weather reports I look out the window.

5. Don’t swap one time waster for another. As I mentioned above, my TV service is gone. The trick was to not fill that space with other equally distracting events. I still watch a DVD now and then, but dropping your TV service and replacing it with endless streaming content or stacks of DVDs is not an improvement.

6. Limit online social time. This can be emails, Facebook, Twitter or simply texting (a new thing for my 12-year-old daughter). Fitting in a set time for this, and limiting that time, will do wonders. Twenty years ago people got by just fine with out any of these “conveniences.” Just because you can, does not mean you must.

 

7. De-clutter. Distractions can make your brain work harder than it needs to. An active working brain can keep the Alzheimer’s away, but the difference between “thought” and “noise” is key. Physical clutter can add visual stress and frustration to your day. Most people will agree that walking into a tidy room (whether it is the kitchen, living room, office or bedroom) puts their minds into a more peaceful state. When the space is clean maintaining it, in its clean state, is much simpler. (I’m pretty good in the kitchen, living room and bedroom on this; it’s just my desk that can get a little troublesome).

A few years ago I realized that letting go of stuff is very enlightening. I have seen more stuff leave the house lately than come in. I have been collecting stuff for 20 years in this house. I’m now working my way down the other side of this mountain by getting rid of things. If I have not used it in a year or more it gains a spot on the “out list.”

8. Have some hobbies and personal time. A good example of someone who uses this practice to keep life sane and simple is my fiance. She has a hectic work schedule and occasionally has to work at home. When she does finally get to punch out, she heads to her crafting/studio space and works on her “fairies and miniatures” or kicks back to listen to an audio book. This is a cleansing and Zen-like practice for her. A good portion of my work is in a field I enjoy so my hobby/work boundary is a little more fuzzy than hers is. If you can spend your time doing things you love, your life will feel simpler and more fulfilling.

9. Foods for thought. Just as a hobby can provide a retreat, many also find solace in the kitchen. The body’s basic need for nutrition and sustenance could be met with basic beans and rice and some tossed greens, or it can be meet with a 7 course meal of escargot, stuffed mushrooms, carbonnades flamandes, cognac shrimp with Beurre Blanc — well you get the picture. Spending a few minutes Sunday night with dinner ideas for the rest of the week may have you streamlining your evenings. One of my tricks is to make a large batch of something on the weekend that can be munched on during the week, like a large pot of stew or gallon of homemade pasta sauce. A little reheat and dinner is served. Clearing out the fridge at the end of each week keeps things from getting buried and allows for less clutter.

10. Downsize everything. I’ve worked with clients who have begun the process of downsizing their lives. Many are doing it for green reasons; others are transitioning as empty nesters. A smaller home = a simpler home. When we take trips to our cabin (it is a small 200 sq foot, off-grid retreat) our basic needs are met in a simple way. We have a small PV system that provides some lights, we cook on a camp stove or over the wood stove, water comes with us in 5 gallon jugs, a cooler keeps the food fresh and a sawdust composting toilet handles the other end of business. A week will pass with reading, music, hiking and playing with the dogs. Sometimes a little more work gets done on the cabin itself, or to the surrounding landscape. The cabin provides even more relaxation and simpler living than car camping. Life at the cabin can exist without TV, cell-phones, a giant mortgage, utility bills and a closet full of shoes.

If you have ever traveled much, you have probably seen countless small cabin “Vacation Resorts” that cater to those looking for a little down time, or to take a break from their overstimulated lives. Think about it: people pay money (and in some cases a lot) to do what most can do with some basic lifestyle changes. Why is it that people feel so relaxed after one of these vacations? I’ll tell you a secret — it’s the simple and uncomplicated lifestyle that recharges our spirits.

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Calendar of the Sun for Thursday, Feb. 16th

Calendar of the Sun
16 Solmonath

Victoria- Day of Nike

Color: Red
Element: Fire
Altar: On a red cloth sewn with outstretched wings lay a naked sword and a helmet, and one large red candle.
Offerings: Victories, personal or for the world.
Daily Meal: Red-colored food.

Invocation to Nike

Failure is a part of life.
It is an inevitability
That we shall fail
More often than we shall succeed.
Yet if this truth stops us in our tracks,
We will never triumph
And we will never break through.
It is these failures,
These errors and defeats,
That make the touch of Nike’s wings
Even more valuable to us.
Lady of Victory,
Winged one who flies high
In the throes of ecstasy,
Do not allow us to fall
Into discouragement,
For only through perseverance
Can we come to know you
And your most precious gift.

(The ritual ends in a loud drum circle.)

Does Your Pet Know When You’re Sick?

Does Your Pet Know When You’re Sick?

  • Melissa Breyer

An acquaintance of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of his son, suffering from strep throat, and Happy the cat curled luxuriously around the boy’s neck. I could practically feel the warmth, weight, and goodness of Happy’s body as we joked about the Happy cat cure.

It was an exceedingly cute picture, for sure, but it got me thinking about my old kitty, Serena, and what seemed an infallible instinct for illness or general blues. The minute anyone plopped on the bed with pain or malaise, Serena would be there, hop upon the chest, and assume ‘the position’…a long straight-out stretch punctuated with her legs and paws wrapped around said sufferer’s neck. I’m not sure if she ever cured my strep throat, but she certainly melted away sorrow like there was no tomorrow. I really can’t say for certain whether or not she had some instinctual sense, or if this was a usual cuddling configuration that I only noticed when I was not 100 percent.

I have heard of dogs being able to detect cancer, but what do you think? Are our pets so in tune with us that they can tell when we are not well? And if so, do they act on it? I think there’s something to it. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Did you know…

Did you know…

From Wikipedia’s newest articles:

A primate with yellow eyeshine and white underparts hanging from a tree by its right limbs

  • … that the false potto may be a true potto (pictured)?
  • … that Ethiopia, Great Britain, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Rhodesia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United States were among the 28 nations that competed in the 1968 Summer Paralympics?
  • … that adivasi activist Kartam Joga has been accused of joining the deadliest Naxalite attack in India’s history?
  • … that Rhodes Twenty Four and Rhodes W1 are both London-based Michelin star restaurants of chef Gary Rhodes?
  • … that the extinct giant ant genus Formicium is known only from forewings found in Dorset, England and Tennessee, US?
  • … that mezzo-soprano opera singer Olivia Ward won season 11 of US television show The Biggest Loser?
  • … that Kegasus, the centaur mascot of the infield party at the 2011 Preakness Stakes, has a nipple ring, body hair and a beer gut?

The 5 Factor Personality Test

One of our dear readers dropped off a link to a Personality Test. I don’t know about you but I am crazy about test that tell you things about yourself. I like to see if the test gets my info right or wrong. Well, so much for that. I would like to thank Johanna at
johannasdailymusings.blogspot.com/  for dropping off this quiz. I hope you enjoy it. If you want, post your results here. At least that way we will know if we have anything in common, lol!

Thank you, Johanna!

Here’s the link:
http://www.3smartcubes.com/pages/tests/fivefactor/fivefactor_instructions.asp

An Amazing Day…Create A Masterpiece!

An Amazing Day…Create A Masterpiece!

Welcome to Today!

If you choose, you will find that today is an amazing day.

It is filled with countless blessings and opportunities.

You’ll find plenty of reasons to smile and even more to laugh.

You will be given the chance to say “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “Thank you”, and anything else you want.

In all truth, today welcomes you with no rules.

The only requirement to see all it has to offer is that you live it.

Will you live today?

I don’t mean exist, I mean LIVE!

Will you truly LIVE today?

So many people will awaken to this beautiful day and embrace all its blessings.

Why not you?

Today is a new day! It’s your day.

Today, you awaken to a day in which you have the power to make and inspire change.

In fact, it is the ONLY day in which you have any power. You have no control over yesterday. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is a day you haven’t even met, it is beyond our reach. Tomorrow is waiting to reveal itself depending on the actions of just one day… TODAY!

What will you do with today?

Will you finally break free from the victim mentality and take control of your life?

You have been blessed with immeasurable power to make positive changes in your life.

Change things up today!

You will never convince me that we go through everything we go through just to end up where we were when we started. We are here to evolve… to refine and improve ourselves… to inspire and help others do the same.

Today is a new day!

It’s yours to shape. Create a masterpiece!

Copyright © 2009 Steve Maraboli