Tag Archives: minimalism

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

How to Set Your Book Collection Free

5 Ways to Shrink Your Book CollectionYou read my post about deconstructing my book collection, you felt motivated to clean out your book case and now you’re ready to set all of those books you’ll never read again (or never read at all) free.

Good on ya! When you separate the wheat from the chaff and only keep what you truly love you’ll feel lighter, have more space to breathe and will actually see the things that give you joy.

But what to do with those books that no longer have a place in your life? Continue reading How to Set Your Book Collection Free

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


Tackling the Walk-In

The Walk-InHow many clothes do you own? Do you wear them all? Half? One-third? One-quarter? Less?

My besties and I spent some time (okay, almost four hours, don’t judge me) purging my closet. It’s safe to say we were all a little shocked at how much came out of that closet. Why did I have so many clothes? I’d have to change four times a day, every day, to need that many clothes.

Armful after armful came out of that walk-in and I tried on just about every single piece.

We probably share these little gems of reality. I bought some pieces because they were on sale and too good to pass up. I bought some because I was feeling low that day and used retail therapy to cheer myself up. I bought some to go with something else. Some were gifts. Some came from who-knows-where-because-I-don’t-remember-EVER-bringing-THAT-home.

Some pieces were worn to death and had that shabby look. Not the shabby chic look that can look so cute on furniture. Just shabby. Pilling, limp, stretched out shabby.  Why did I still keep them? Because they felt comfortable, fit my idea of who I am, and looked pretty good, even if just from a  distance.

There were more than a few things with tags still on them. Clearly not the wisest purchases.

And then there were the pieces that came out of the closet, got the big uh-uh from my friends and went straight into the discard pile without me even trying them on.

In the end I set out three and a half large garbage bags of clothes for the Clothesline project for the Canadian Diabetes Association. (You call, they pick up, they sell = fundraising. Win win win.) My friends each left with a couple of things (yay for sharing!) and there is still a small pile to go to the consignment store.

And what’s left?

Taking a cue from Project 333 I chose 33 pieces for this spring and summer. I didn’t include my golf or gym clothes, messy garden/painting/cleaning clothes or just hanging out at home stuff.  I also didn’t include shoes or accessories. Project 333 rules include these things but I didn’t. Baby steps.

I hung the keepers on a rolling rack and the fall/winter gear went back into the closet.  I’m going to sew a few simple cotton covers for the out of season stuff to reduce the visual clutter. When the covers are on and the temptation to pull things out to join the chosen 33 is gone reduced I’m going to retire the rolling rack and move this season’s clothes back into the walk-in.

I built a workable wardrobe for any public occasion.  All the pieces go together, are in good shape and flatter me.  I can pull anything off that rack and be good to go.

Or so I thought.

First I found out that no, I can’t live without at least one little black dress. No problem. I pulled out my most favourite LBD. I’ve worn that dress twice in the last week so it makes the cut permanently and another dress that looked more fall-ish to me anyway went back into the closet.

Then I tried on the black shorts and realized that while they technically fit they were just too tight to be comfortable.  Uh oh. Weren’t there a couple of other things that would look better once I have five fewer pounds on my bones? I tried on everything once again and ended up with some clothes that just didn’t make the cut. I tagged the hangers and returned them to the closet. If they don’t fit by July 1 out they go. Just call me Ruthless Ruth.

And the weather turned cold, again. I pulled a couple more long-sleeved tops and a fleece vest out and put a couple of lighter tops back into the closet.  The count is still at 33 but I’m pretty sure that there will be a few more changes before July 1.


1. I have to be honest with myself. I’ve gained 25 pounds in the last five years. Either I lose the weight (1st choice, natch) or I start shopping in the Big Girls aisle. Trying to squeeze into clothes I bought when I was two sizes smaller is just dumb and dishonest.

2. The weather changes radically in three months in Ottawa. Keeping a core of fewer items and adding and subtracting weather-appropriate clothing as needed makes more sense. I need an A-List of core pieces for six months, a B-List of pieces that might be needed, and a C-List of things that I definitely can cover and forget about until it’s time for a full switch-over in the fall.

3. There’s a fine balance between minimizing for simplicity’s sake and trying to meet an arbitrary number just to say I can.  The point of downsizing is to reduce the clutter so the loved, valued and useful has space to shine.

I had intended to post my 33 items to help out anyone who wanted to try this approach. I still plan to do that but I think I need to spend some time communing with my rack of favs first.  It’s a pretty safe bet to say that there just might be another change or two in the wind.

What about you? When was the last time you tackled a purge of your closet? Do you have a wardrobe plan?