Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Farewell

After two and a half years, the time has come for me to transition out of blogging. In the beginning, my goal was to simplify my life to pave the way for graduate school. Now that I've completed the first year of graduate school, I'm so glad I started the journey! Not only have I decluttered, cut back on things, and simplified my life, I have enjoyed sharing my adventures, lessons, and fails.

So why quit now? I am quite busy with graduate school. Due to work, studying, and everything else in life, I haven't had time to focus on writing. This was probably evident from the lack of frequency and, yes I'll admit it, in a decrease in quality over the last 6-12 months. Thus, it's time to move forward! I'm leaving the blog online, but won't be adding any new entries. If I decide to blog again, it will probably be about a different topic, thus I'll start something anew.

So thank you for reading! I hope you've at least been entertained, if not inspired to simplify some part of life. If you're interested in reading more about minimalism, decluttering, and simplifying, here are some of the blogs I enjoy:

Links to Uncomplication Project Articles:

Most Popular Posts:
  1. Happy Mother's Day! Please pass the Mr. Collins
  2. Homemade Granola
  3. Lumberjack Heroines? (skewed result because I talked about The Hunger Games, whatever)
  4. Simple Things to Simplify: Clothing
  5. FAIL: Attempted Purse Minimalism

My Favorite Recipes:

My Favorite Posts:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mini Minimalist Interview: Denise

Today's mini-minimalist interview is with Denise. Denise blogs over at Musings and Ponderings from the Blunderosa. I met Denise through cardio-kickboxing.

So… I have a tendency towards random ponders.  Kristen flattered me in asking for my ponders on minimalism, Thanks, Kristen!  

My name is Denise.  I am a Social Worker, wife, mother, outdoor adventurer, volunteer and several other adjectives.  I have been married for almost 25 years this year.  We live in the “wilderness” of Northeast Kansas.  It is gorgeous country to me and I love living here.  My wonderful husband, Marcus, designed our home.  We live here with our awesome son, Marek, who is 13 years old.  I love the outdoors and enjoy gardening, hiking, wogging, kayaking, camping, motorcycling and a few indoor things as well!  I also love listening to Marcus and Marek play music and talk baseball.  

I think minimalism applies to all of life – possessions, habits, scheduling, goal setting etc.  I love the idea of minimizing possessions and would happily minimize several gajillion as well as a few habits, however, when you are in a family you must compromise!!  The idea of minimalism is likely implemented more effectively when you are single, newly married or have talked minimalism over thoroughly to determine how you each stand on the issue.  The desire to minimize also appears to suddenly kick in when you are planning to move or retire!  

Our family has succeeded in compromising on possessions for the most part.  I am less sentimental than the guys.  They each have long memories and tend towards the nostalgic.  Sometimes this is frustrating to me and my heartlessness towards nostalgia is frustrating to them!  It is an active process to compromise for the good of our living space.  

 We are a very active family.   Marek participates in a wide variety of activities and so do we.  We balance our individual activities and our family activities.  For Marcus and me, much of our time is spent on Marek’s activities.  From academics at school to 4H meetings and church activities, we support, encourage, sponsor, coach, lead, transport and hang out with Marek and his friends.  We enjoy all of these activities with him and for him.  We work to minimize and manage the schedule so that we have family time and so that we each have time for our individual interests and hobbies.  We also try to fit in some couple time.  

The thing is, I love being busy with things that I love doing.  Usually the guys feel the same.  The big trick for me is not necessarily to minimize, but to manage our interests and activities.  It’s hard because even doing things you love can become a serious drag without down time or “free choice” time, time to go with the flow.  THIS randomly brings me to my other random thoughts about life!

I think that the MOST important thing is attitude!  A positive attitude that is!  It seems so simplistic but seriously, staying positive about pretty much everything makes it all better!  Minimize doing things that you don’t like to do if possible.  Everything else deserves a positive attitude.  After all, we have all chosen to do the things we do and to have the things we have.  If you don’t like it, you can change it!  If you don’t like it and can’t change it then change your attitude about it!  If the change involves compromise then be willing!  Cultivate a positive attitude about it and all those involved.  This sounds simple, but of course, it is difficult to stay positive when things get tough.  It is hard work but it’s worth it.  I refuse to go through life disgruntled, dissatisfied or unhappy with my usual fare.  If at all possible, stay focused on the good things in your life and minimize those things that aren’t working.  Having a positive attitude about things in your life will make a difference and will impact the others in your life.   Perhaps this is my form of minimalism, I am working to minimize negativism and to embrace the positive.  And you know what?  It really works!! 

Caveat:  Negativism is not the same as sadness.  It doesn’t minimize the standard range of emotions. You still feel negative emotions but you choose a positive response to these feelings instead of allowing yourself to go down the path of negativity.  Just say no to malicious gossip, selfishness, anger and revenge!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mini Minimalist Interview: Kristine

Today's Mini Minimalist Interview features Kristine from Utah.
  1. What is your current living situation?
    Family house

  2. What do you think of when you think of "minimalism"?
    I think of simplicity and outdoor living.  Reducing clutter. Donating unused belongings. Cutting back on purchases. Setting priorities. Borrowing books at the library. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes. Taking a walk in the springtime. Visiting the local farm. Participating in a trail running race, the kind without expos.

  3. What about daily life can be stressful? What do you like about daily life?
    Commuting. Enough said. 
    I enjoy spending time with family and friends, running, and teaching students.

  4. What are some of your hobbies? Do you collect anything?
    My favorite hobbies are hiking, trail running, spending time with family, reading, listening to music, and photography. I enjoy organizing photos and collecting postcards, as reminders of fun trips!

  5. What are some of your most prized possessions?
    Family photos and race medals. The photos are memories of special family times while the medals are reminders to keep working hard when the going gets tough.

  6. What are one or two things about life you'd like to "minimize"?
    I’d like to minimize and organize emails. I cannot keep up with all the work and personal emails in my inbox! Also, I’d like to donate extra clothes, limit media (web surfing, television), and cancel catalog mail.

  7. Any other thoughts?
    I highly recommend the Four-Hour Work Week book by Timothy Ferriss. This book provides helpful tips on the journey toward minimalism, since I have not arrived at the destination yet! Just note the disclaimer that not all the principles may apply to service professions!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mini Minimalist Interview: Joyce

Today's Mini Minimalist Interview features Joyce from Lawrence, Kansas. Joyce is.......... my mother!

I really wouldn’t say that I am a full blown minimalist (stark home, only ten hangers in the closet),
however, I feel like I am increasingly becoming a person who wants to be surrounded by less. I don’t
want a museum, I don’t need to be stocked and ready for every situation, and I like the mental and
physical breathing room of open space. I don’t want my “stuff” to ultimately limit my portability, my
time, my resources and my availability either to God or to people.

When we had a house full of children, it was easy to “blame” excess and acquisition on our kids. As
empty nesters, we find ourselves as being the point where the buck stops. Each of our children DOES
seem to have an ample stash left in our home that they supposedly will claim “someday”, but this is
reasonably well contained. My husband and I have felt the liberty, however, to divest ourselves of many
items that were more useful in a different season of life. (Yes, we have kept the Barbies, the Legos and
the other classic toys that our grandkids will enjoy!)

I have tried over the last few years to make various changes to reduce and simplify the excess baggage
that has piled up. I’m not a Feng Shui person, but one time a friend who is a practitioner told me that
her cardinal rule is to surround yourself with things you love and that make you happy, and to not feel
the least bit bad about parting with the rest. Good advice. Example: Knitting sets off my tendinitis –
why keep a giant box of yarn and a full array of needles and patterns?

The benefits have been clear to me. When I clean out the excess, it becomes easier to access what I
need. There’s less to maintain. I no longer feel guilt pangs about not eating/using/wearing items that
I never liked. Time for them to go into the trash, or into the hands of someone who would like them. I
find myself desiring less, because I am happy with what I currently have.

My best success at moving forward is with setting small attainable goals. I can sift through a closet, a
shelf, or an area. Results are quickly visible, and the task doesn’t take an overwhelming amount of time.

I read somewhere that typical Blog readers are looking for voyeuristic intimate secrets. And now for a
few deep dark revelations regarding my “no guilt” kitchen purge -
  • You know those cookbooks that only have one go-to recipe? I’ve copied off those single recipes to file in a notebook and donated the cookbooks to the library book sale.
  • Since doing Weight Watchers, our eating habits have radically changed and I’ve eliminated cookbooks that are simply vehicles for consuming cheese, cream soups, and various forms of fat.
  • Time to revisit the stack of recipes I’d clipped from a magazine or printed from the internet. Save or toss? Most got tossed.
  • I cleaned out my cupboards, pantry and freezer of anything that was expired, overlooked or had been around for more than a year. I got rid of all the spices that were more than 18 months old. I was embarrassed and horrified by how much I tossed. I’m now shopping smarter, utilizing what I have, and wasting less. Fresh is so much better.
No, I’m not ready to get down to nothing but the bare bones, as I love creature comforts and items that
bring pleasant memories. However, it has been good to learn that I can enjoy those things even MORE
when I’m actually surrounded by LESS.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mini Minimalist Interview: Alicia

Today's Mini Minimalist Interview is with Alicia from Kansas City. Alicia and I were born in the same hospital three days apart, met five years later and have been friends ever since! We were roommates for several years recently until she got married:
  1. What is your current living situation?
    Married in an apartment

  2. What do you think of when you think of "minimalism"?
    Getting rid of crap you don't need/want

  3. What about daily life can be stressful? What do you like about daily life?
    Cleaning up clutter around the house/having a lot of things to do making my day really busy to the point of no breathing. Getting a good night's rest the night before and feeling like I have some important tasks to achieve and then feeling good at the end of the day that I achieved all or most of them.

  4. What are some of your hobbies? Do you collect anything?
    Teaching fitness classes/reading/hanging out with friends. And I don't collect anything.

  5. What are some of your most prized possessions?
    My downtime, free time, my husband ;)

  6. What are one or two things about life you'd like to "minimize"?
    I would like to be not so busy but currently I like the things I'm doing and feel like life is for the most part balanced.

  7. Any other thoughts?
    I definitely like the idea of minimizing stuff and living a more simple life. Jeff and I don't have cable or even bunny ears right now. We do have Netflix and I just like not having to HAVE to watch a show at a certain time. It's very freeing. Plus I just think that there isn't much that I want to watch on TV.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mini Minimalist Interview: Britt

Today's Mini Minimalist Interview features Britt from Lawrence, Kansas. I met Britt through Cassy (April 2nd's interviewee). Britt blogs over at Snapurly:
  1. What is your current living situation?
    I currently live in a house. Having lived in a dorm, three apartments, a townhouse, and two houses during my adult life, the house is by far my favorite residence. It is bigger than the rest (always helpful for those nights you have friends over for game/movie night or want to be home but not around your roommate and their significant other during their date night); you can enjoy the pleasure of having your own yard; and you do not have to use the cable and utility providers that are forced upon you in a more communal setting. However, a house is also the worst for a minimalist. There are more spaces (basement, garage, extra closets, cabinets, possibly sheds) to hide your stuff and mask the fact that you are a maximumist.

  2. What do you think of when you think of "minimalism"?
    Before a couple of years ago, the first thing that I would think of when I heard minimalist was someone who was either a nomad or had nomad-like tendencies. They didn't have a lot because they 1) didn't have a lot of money and 2) were constantly moving for one reason or another. However, I have altered my definition in recent years. Now, I consider a minimalist someone who is not materialistic. They are disciplined enough to only purchase what they need and nothing else.

  3. What are some of your hobbies? Do you collect anything?
    One of the primary ways I display my maximumist ways is my DVD and book collections. I love a good story and because of this accumulated a nice bunch of each over the years. Instead of going to the library to borrow a book I desired to read, I bought it from the store. Instead of renting from the video store, I purchased the movie from a retail store. Even after several trips to Hastings to sell some books and DVD's, I still have an above average collection of both mediums in my possession.

  4. What are one or two things about life you'd like to "minimize"?
    I would like to minimize two things in my life: the amount of stuff I own and the amount of time I spend on things that are not value-added. I come from two parents who I love but skew towards the "packrat" end of the spectrum. It is no surprise, then, that I have a similar habit myself. It always amazes me, and will amaze me in a few months once more, that whenever I move, I have a lot of stuff? I don't recall getting all of it, but yet there it is in front of me. What's worse, I don't recall using over half of it in the past month or two! If I don't need it, then what's the point of having it? I also desire to cut out the time I spend on things that are frankly, time wasters. There is nothing wrong with sitting down and watching a TV show or reading a book. But if I am watching 2-4 hours of TV a night, or spending all evening reading only fiction novels, that is taking away from things that could help me grow as a person: exercising, reading my Bible, getting tasks done around the house, developing relationships with friends and family, etc. This is not always the case with me, but let's say it occurs more frequently than I would like.

  5. Any other thoughts?
    One last thought on maximumism. In my opinion there is a direct correlation between being a maximumist and debt. As I look around and take an inventory of my stuff, all I see are dollar signs. I have wasted so much money buying things that I wanted but didn't need. Now, those things just sit around gathering dust and even if I sell them, will make back only a small percentage of what I paid for it. I have learned my lesson and am in the midst of paying off the debt currently on my books but what really irks me is that it did not have to be that way. I have a couple of friends who would most certainly qualify as minimialists and guess what? They are both debt free. There is no greater motivation to working towards becoming a minimalist than to be in the same position they are right now.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mini Minimalist Inteview: Laura

Today's Mini Minimalist Interview features my friend Laura from Lawrence, Kansas. I've known Laura as long as I can remember!
  1. What is your current living situation?
    Single, living in my parent's house

  2. What do you think of when you think of "minimalism"?
    Reducing the amount of items (physical possessions or events or activities) in at least one area of your life.

  3. What about daily life can be stressful? What do you like about daily life?
    Meeting deadlines because I failed to plan ahead enough, or leave on time. I like how flexible and different my schedule is each day.  I have a different class schedule each day, some days I get to sleep in, take a nap in the afternoon, or lately I have been able to spend the day outside when it is nice (rather than having to be inside an office building all day).

  4. What are some of your hobbies? Do you collect anything?
    My biggest hobby is traveling. My flexible schedule allows me to take long weekends trips to visit friends and family around the country.  I get to travel more extensively and internationally during my long summer breaks.

    I would say that Facebook is another one of my hobbies.  If I am on my computer (which is very often) I will almost always have Facebook pulled up.  I like being up to date on what is going on in my friends' lives.

    I don't think I collect anything....I used to collect a lot of cow stuff and interesting looking glass bottles but those both resulted in me having so many little things around my room that I stopped that years ago :)

  5. What are some of your most prized possessions?
    I love the pictures that I have on my computer and in hard copy. I also love to have hard copies of books that I really like.

  6. What are one or two things about life you'd like to "minimize"?
    I should minimize my Tshirt collection. I have multiple drawers of Tshirts, most of which I collected throughout high school and college.  I do not wear a ton of Tshirts anymore but every time I go to clean out the drawers, each shirt is associated with an event or memory and I can't make myself give it away.

  7. Any other thoughts?
    Over the last three years I have been successful in consciously minimizing one area of my life - my activities.  I am proud that I have learned how to "say no" and not pack an over amount into my weekly schedule.  When I am tempted to fill an open time slot in my week, I try to remember how wonderful it is to have that extra time to do my work or just take a moment to relax.  I hope that I will never go back to being one of those people who choose to fill up their schedule so that they are living in a constantly frazzled state of mind.