Category Archives: Random Boxes

Listfluenza (or “5 Ways to Drive Me Crazy”)



ListFluenza  (or “5 Ways to Drive Me Crazy”)

No More Lists

6 Things You Should Throw Away Right Now”  “12 Things You Should Never Throw Away” – “10 Ways to Clean Up Your Diet” “7 DESSERTS WORTH BREAKING YOUR DIET FOR” …. Ach!

If my love affair with Pinterest ever starts to wane I can point directly to the Pins Recommended for Me today.  I already have enough chaos and second-guessing happening in my life. If the Pin Princesses can’t agree then I’m doomed.

Don’t let me give you the impression that I am anything less than addicted to Pinterest or that I don’t get a lot of pleasure out of trolling through other people’s passions. I LOVE Pinterest. Hell, I have 100 boards populated with 9.7K pins (I checked).  If all of those other bloggers didn’t create the content that I want to read, I wouldn’t be still awake at 2 AM checking out Pinterest from the bubbles in my bathtub while slowly pickling in the cooling water. (Not like that ever happens. Except for last night. And Tuesday.  And maybe Sunday…)

But enough with the lists already!

Being a bit OCD, lists are my joy and my terror. My joy because there is someone out there Telling. Me. What. To. Do.   And even better? Telling me in what order to do them.  No decisions to be made, reconsidered, acted on and then second-guessed. The arbiters of What is Good have clearly laid it out for me and all I have to is follow The List.  But this pillow has a fuzzy side and a nasty, scratchy side, sort of like a cheap throw cushion.  What if I don’t do everything in order?  What if I don’t finish the list? What I I never start?! The escalating anxiety can give me the twitches just writing about it.

And contradictory lists? That’s like putting a dog in a round room and telling him to go pee in the corner.  Mean and inhuman, I say.

Then there’s a faintly rebellious side that age doesn’t seem to be doing much about. Who are you to tell me what I SHOULD do?  Why should I? Just make me!

This side of my personality is, as you can easily guess, on the outs with my  goodie-girl “just tell me what to do” side.  (I should have been born a Gemini. ) A surfeit of  lists can set me to war with myself faster than deciding if I can get away with eating a DQ dipped cone while driving.

And the numbers! Suddenly we can’t count beyond 10 (12 if we’re  willing to test the gnat-like attentiveness of anyone stumbling through the interwebz). Oh sure, there’s a couple of good “20 ways …” and “50 Things …” lists but they’re outliers really.  A good blog post limits the numbers in the list to no more than the average person can read before getting called away by another shiny idea. I’ll guesstimate four minutes, max.

I’ve fallen prey to this kind of list-making madness. Some of my posts have one title here on Gift of Less but show up as a list on Pinterest.  What can I say? It seemed like a good idea at the time. Then there is the freelance writing that I do. Lists sell; clever titles with esoteric references, not so much.

Maybe it is easier for our PacMan brains to mindlessly munch through good, mediocre and really not-so-good information when it’s packaged up in a neat list. I don’t know, because I haven’t figured out how to analyze this stuff, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that I’ve had more Pinterest readers or Twitter followers pick up on “5 Minimalist Blogs I Follow”  than if I’d only published the same article with its original title, “Sometimes it Endures Because it’s True”.

Is this just another example of the great dumbing-down of our culture? Or, like David Letterman and his original Top 10 lists, eventually destined to be retired to a question on Trivia Night at the pub?

What’s your take on lists? Tell me your top three reasons why you love or hate lists. Go on, I dare ya!


How to Avoid Analysis Paralysis and Get It Done


Every day I receive an email with a Pāli Word a Day. This email has become a lovely reminder to stop for just a few seconds to consider an idea. It’s a little freaky how often the word directly relates to something I need to hear.

Today the Pāli word is akampita — that which does not tremble.

Some days I just get overwhelmed. There are so many things I want to accomplish. What freezes me in my tracks are the things I need to accomplish.

Continue reading How to Avoid Analysis Paralysis and Get It Done

Sometimes it endures because it’s true.

5 Minimalist Blogs I follow (1)Less is More is such a cliché. As clichés go, it’s been around for years.  One hundred and sixty of them, in fact. Robert Browning first said it in a poem in 1855.  (Browning was always such a trendsetter!)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe used it in the 1960’s to define minimalist design in architecture. It’s been used countless times since to describe everything from design to dinner.

There are quite a few blogs on minimalism. One of my favourites and perhaps most well-known is The Minimalists. “Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers.” Heady stuff. Four million (million?!) readers are interested in simplifying their lives. Minimalism, according to Joshua and Ryan, According to The Minimalists, “minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favour of focusing on what’s important, so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom.”

Here are five blogs on simplified living that I’m following right now.

Blonde on a Budget
Cait Flanders was 29 when she realized she was $28,000 in debt with not a lot to show for it. Her award winning blog (Plutus award winner 2014 for Best Canadian Personal Finance Blog) chronicles not only what she did to retire her debt in two years (which included a full year of buying nothing) but also how she reduced her belongings by 70%. Not only is Cait witty and wise beyond her years, she’s Canadian. This woman’s my hero!

Joshua Becker is married with two kids and lives in Arizona. About six years ago he had an epiphany while cleaning out the garage. I usually just get frustrated and snarly when I clean out my garage. Where did all this stuff come from and how can I rearrange it to make it look a little less… stuffed?! Joshua and his wife took a different tack and in May 2008 his blog Becoming Minimalist was born. There is a wealth of information, philosophical discussion and very practical advice. Joshua has written four very popular books that are all worth checking out (of the library!) and reading.

To round out the New World theme, the third blog is by Antipodean Brooke McAlary. (Antipodean = someone from Australia or New Zealand. There. The one thing you needed to learn today. You’re welcome.) Brooke lives in Australia with her hubs and two kids. Her blog Slow your Home is her story of consciously shifting the way she and her family lives after experiencing some pretty big smackdowns. “So I need to slow down. I need to simplify. I need to re-evaluate our priorities. I need to have less and be more,” Brooke said. “I need to look at our home and all it entails – family, relationships, health, house, garden, kitchen – and slow it all down. Leave space for life to happen.”

The fourth isn’t really a blog. It’s a vlog on YouTube called The Daily Connoisseur. Jennifer L. Scott is a charmingly elegant woman who came to minimalism after spending six months living with a family in Paris while going to school. I would describe Jennifer’s approach as the minimalism of quality. She is less “buy your clothes at the thrift shop” and more “buy the highest quality you can afford and treat it well”. One of her more popular themes is her 10-item wardrobe (although that’s a bit misleading since she doesn’t count inner wear, workout wear, outerwear, evening wear or cleaning-out-the-basement wear). She is also the author of three books based on her time with her Parisian host, Madame Chic.

Finally, I’m going to leave you with Mike Burns. Take one look at his blog The Other Side of Complexity and you’ll see right away why this guy makes me smile. His posts on what minimalism is and isn’t and why minimalism doesn’t mean that you have to throw out everything you love really dovetails with my own philosophy.

Do you believe that Less is More? Will you share your favourite blogs on minimalism, aggressive debt-busting or simpler living? Thanks in advance!

Photo Credit: n.white1 via Compfight cc


Tiny Houses

This morning I came across a YouTube of a Tiny House in progress. (I’m supposed to be painting a wall in my office our den but everyone knows that a little YouTubing is an excellent motivator and a highly productive use of time, right? Not.)

My son has been obsessed with tiny houses for a while and more and more I share his obsession. Mine is turning into an obsession for RV’s because The Hubs is far more interested in living in an RV and I’m smart enough to know that unless the whole team is on board it ain’t gonna happen. Not without tears, anyway.

I followed the tiny house YouTube to the blog and (you know how this story goes, right?) I ended up reading the entire blog. Chelsea, the pen behind has only posted eight entries so it didn’t take long. But the pictures! I’m crushing on this blog and I hope she posts more soon!

Chelsea and Adam’s tiny house is parked in Portland, OR on ½ an acre and right next to a park. How much better could it get? And their tiny house is beautiful. It looks like a house I could be comfortable in, complete with a real shower, a washer/dryer, a full fridge and outstanding cabinets that Adam built.

Too many of the tiny houses we’ve looked at look like a collection of dumpster-dived cast-offs. I have fewer objections to reusing stuff than a lot of people but a coat of paint goes a long way. There’s being authentic to the source and then there’s just plain dingy.

Chelsea and Adam’s house has none of that vibe. Their house is a beautiful blend of new and re-newed.

Chlesea jokes that they could probably sleep eight or more in their tiny house.

I wonder if I can put dibs on a bed now.

What about you? Does the idea of living in a tiny house make you want to call up the chuck all that stuff and move into 150 square feet  of perfect simplicity?