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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another Simplicity Guideline- Do What Makes You Excited About Your Life Again

After I became unemployed a little over a year again, which was not by choice, it was a huge blow to my ego.  I wasn't sure who I was without my job anymore.  It defined me, filled my hours, automatically let people know where I was on the totem pole of life & was my escape when things at home were unpleasant.  But then I lost all of that & had to re-define myself all over again from scratch.  This time, however, I was smart (and lucky) enough to do so on my own terms & in my own timing.  And thank God, I had a lot of help from those who came before me.  But despite losing a job in 2011 & not finding another one, I've never had a more fulfilling, adventurous & wonderful year overall than I did in 2012.

When I lost my job I got to know my own strengths much more intimately.  I understood for the first time that I had some knowledge outside the scope of that job to share & a real desire to pass it on.  It took losing a job to see this.  No, I couldn't use all or even most of that knowledge to make me look impressive to a new employer.  It wasn't going to pay me a dime- let alone make me a millionaire or even just a living.  I knew that writing a blog could open myself up to public criticism.  I had no idea if anyone would ever care to read it or if I possessed the talent to pursue it for any length of time.  I had to take that on faith that I could translate my thoughts to a page.  But I was absolutely certain that I had to start a blog to help others through what my hard-earned knowledge.  I also knew that I could start college full-time & gain a degree in English Literature, despite fears that I will be too old to begin all over again in the work world once I finally finish getting my formal education.  I went in knowing that I might not be able to retain all of the stuff I was supposed to ace my classes.  But it was another thing I was sure about pursuing.  I could use my new free time to speak up & write about political issues that concerned me.  I could read new books & hone my knowledge even further.  My flaws are what they've always been.  I'd always been naturally pretty good at writing & speaking, but I had to learn organizing skills the hard way.  According to my mother, I'm a little too good at the speaking sometimes, often vehemently trying to make my point amongst my close compadres.  I can come off as someone who has a real lack of concern for others' feelings because I'm quite blunt about certain topics.  I admit it, I'm a debater at heart.  I like speaking or writing about details.  Confrontation doesn't make me cower in fear- I rather enjoy using my sharpened tongue, keyboard or pen to let people know precisely what I think on a topic.  While I'm usually rather shy around people I first meet, that quickly evaporates once I know someone & they quickly realize I have a lot to say!  I tell them it's the German heritage in me that makes me so decisive in my opinions (about topics I've researched a lot anyway), analytical & strong-willed.  Maybe it is the Teutonic genes flowing through me, maybe it isn't.  Amazingly, I have more blogs still in draft form than actually published here.  The only reason I don't have have more put out there for you guys is because I run out of time to finish them all.  I don't know why I was given this gift, but I'm eternally glad for it.

To understand just how far I've come- and so that you can relate to my journey, then apply it to your own life- you have to know my mindset while I was still employed at my last job.  I had given up on my dreams.  It took a couple of Valium a day to deal with the ever-present discontent, disconnect & displeasure I felt about my work.  (It wasn't entirely my job's fault- I wasn't the easiest employee to deal with, either, I'm sure.)  Regardless of the downsides, I figured I'd be working there until I retired.  After all, it would've been foolish (by worldly standards) to give up a job in the midst of a struggling economy, especially work that gave me fringe benefits & didn't require a whole lot from me beyond fixing customers' problems.  I did my job well, the populace I worked with over the phone was generally quite kind & I'd done the work so long that it was pretty easy to accomplish.  I never minded the customers too much- but the interior politics of the company were enough to make anyone crazy.  I tried to feel grateful for my job even when I just despised corporate demons, like most of us have to do.  But I was tired from dealing with the micromanaging nonsense at work all day, then coming home to cook dinner, do laundry & clean house the rest of my time, to think about creating a blog, going to college or developing much of a relationship with God.  Or much of a relationship with anyone, for that matter.  My work consumed me.  With fibromyalgia an ever-present & unpredictable pain in the neck, I had plenty of hassles at my job whenever I took time off for feeling unwell.  I lost a few people close to me that last year I was working at my old job, which was painful & unexpected.  I'd been in a car accident caused by another driver, had a head injury & got a permanent scar on my face over it. I also got a lot of emotional baggage with accident (though thankfully no brain damage or broken bones), some psychological stuff nobody understands completely until they've experienced a similar event themselves.  There's a certain amount of derealization & depersonalization that goes along with being in a violent accident or anything involving an element of tragedy/chaos/pain, and my employer wasn't especially sympathetic. I tried to maintain normalcy for myself, the customers I had to work with & my home life, but I no longer even realized what "normal" meant exactly.  And then, after all the haggling, all the drama, all the arguments with my bosses about various issues, all of my attempts to put the customers first on the phone, my job was over just like that. I found myself in a position millions of people around the world are going through right now.  This only added to my anger & despair, but I have to be honest- I've never grieved over losing that job.  It wasn't worth mourning in the least.  I certainly miss the health insurance I had & a few of the people I worked with, but I sure don't miss the job or the company itself.  While I didn't know it at the time, there was a very real reason for me feeling not one iota of grief.  Something better- and far more magical to live through- was waiting for me in the world.  While I cannot predict the future, I can tell you that right now is the first time in many years where I'm really excited to talk to people about how my life is going.  After years of almost being ashamed at the stagnant nature of my existence, this is like being born again.

The reason I say all of this is not to brag, but to encourage you to dream again.  I've got virtually no clue as to why I got so fortunate in life, but I feel I must pay it forward by writing to my readers about this topic.  I would like you to look towards your future & see if the current path you're really on is the one which will pay the most dividends at the end of the day.  I feel that I also must mention a potential landmine you may end up experiencing.  An interesting thing happens to many people when they de-clutter their possessions, one not often discussed by professional organizers or psychologists.  When the clutter's gone, the house is clean, the laundry's done & every space has been organized, you're left with much less to do.  When you downsize & get your owned items down to a minimum, there's far less to watch over & perform maintenance on.  Some people love this feeling, but others actually find it quite disturbing because they like to stay hyper-busy in both mind & body at all times.  Unless it was thought out very well, they may go a little berserk when their possessions go away.  They'll jump up to find anything new to do all the time in order to avoid the reality that they hate their job, are having marital problems, don't like themselves or one of any other million problems that are far easier to ignore when "stuff has to get done".  That wall of clutter, a dirty house, undone laundry or spaces gone unorganized is often what we use to unconsciously fill up our days.  While we complain about it in many cases, the endless cycle of de-cluttering, organizing & cleaning occasionally becomes a convenient excuse not to really act on future dreams.  Workaholics & anyone with an addiction to something does the exact same thing, for the exact same reason.  After all, when we're so busy with our house, our stuff, our car, our desk, our purse, etc.- who has time to take a hard look at your life with all this to maintain?  Introspection is often difficult if one is not brought up to engage in it on a regular basis nor possesses an innate desire for such analysis.  If you want to know why people get addictions then look no further.  Happy, supported-by-society, fulfilled people don't generally fall prey to addictions.  And organizing or simplifying, just like any other activity, can & does become an addiction.  Am I saying that creating routines, prepping for emergencies, housecleaning, organizing or minimalism are bad?  Of course not.  They're all great things to put time into.  But it must be kept in balance.  You have to be brave enough to face life as it is. If your house suddenly got perfectly organized & clean as a whistle, meditate on how you'd feel under those circumstances.  Visualize it.  What would you do if that were the reality & you also had the opportunity & money to pursue whatever you want to?  Don't be surprised if you actually find yourself feeling a bit antsy, even downright panicked when visualizing this.  Many, many people hide behind their housework, yard work, doing the laundry, cooking, baking, craft-making, etc.  These are all fruitful activities.  If there's nothing else you want from life than to do that stuff, please don't feel I'm belittling you. It's perfectly all right to be a content person without taking up new hobbies.  But don't use your house, your simplifying quest or your organizing ambitions to mask deeper goals.

Yes, you must have a relatively clean & functional home to achieve your greatest dreams.  A functional home just means that when you need something, you know where it is & it's relatively easy to retrieve.  You have what you need to exist & your home supports the lifestyle you need to live.  People come over and you don't feel embarassed about where you live.  That's really all there is to it.  Housecleaning is a skill some people learn and/or do better than others, but it is something that can be learned in a methodical manner to achieve consistently good results.  The same is true with organizing, disaster prepping or de-cluttering.  These skills are only impossible to learn if you believe them to be, quite frankly. It's your choice what you decide to spend time learning about.  And you will also have to develop time management skills if for whatever reason you didn't learn them (just as I hadn't).  This is the first time in my life that I'm starting school & actually know how to set up & maintain an organized school binder, for example. I had to read books & articles galore on time management, going back to school as an adult & studying smart in order to feel this way.  The skills didn't come through some mystical gift of the gods- it took study, practice, trial-and-error, & even a few downright failures.  There were times when I wasn't sure if what I needed financially would come through for me. I worried, just as most people do, that I was about to walk into something I couldn't be great at.  You can expect all of this to happen to yourself, too.  Is following a dream easy? No. Is living a life not borne of your true desires even harder, though?  Yes. I promise you this much.  You know when you're not fulfilled & when you're on the wrong path in life.  Your existence can look right to all the world, all your friends, all your family- but you will know when you're in the wrong lane of life!!!  I can't express this enough.  If you go back to school, it must be over something you really want to learn & have a passion for.  It'll only be drudgery if you don't.  We are each given the desires of our heart for a reason, even if we can't see the reason when we feel the passion for a particular subject.  Not that you don't have boring classes here or there which must be taken, struggles with learning or exhaustion to deal with occasionally- but you'll always know your ultimate goal is still the right choice even in the midst of these difficulties.  Thank goodness, we are built with that internal mechanism that says where we should go next.  It's not always easy to see what to do next, but you sure can help clear the fog by not giving in to doing things you know aren't right for yourself!  Living out your dreams won't make the laundry, the housework, the cooking or anything else you're responsible for doing disappear.  But you'll actually enjoy your life even when you have to do chores, so long as you're on the right path.  In actuality, you will become more inclined to do these things because a life which is fulfilling is also a life that's motivating!  Sometimes, paradoxically, you'll get motivation from doing more in life, not less.  And you'll have cycles in your life where you need to pare down activities & goals, but you'll also have other times when you need to add in more to do.

This is not about that elusive desire of becoming the perfect version of yourself.  Such a goal is guaranteed to fail, because none of us are perfect, including myself. I am constantly having to work on myself.  But don't let the fact that you're not always what you wish you'd be hold yourself back.  That magical day when you finally have it all going for you perfectly is unlikely to happen & it definitely can't happen by you just sitting back & hoping for it.  Keep in mind that neither you nor your circumstances need to be just right when you start dipping your toes into that ocean of opportunities out there.  I certainly don't have everything going right for even a day, let alone all the time.  But I keep marching on towards the promise of dreams getting fulfilled & becoming my reality.  Many of them already have become my reality.  And another thing- you can't really earn many of these opportunities or blessings.  Often they'll just come to you because it's the right time.  Stop feeling like you don't deserve things that are good to happen to you yet.  That's a waste of time & a complication in the mind that NO ONE needs to think of.  Who cares if you "deserve" it?  As long as you didn't lie, hurt someone or do anything unethical to get what comes your way, then what's the problem?  The worst thing that I hear people doing is that they replay over & over in their minds what someone said to them about their own self-worth, when the comment(s) were very negative.  I know many beautiful, intelligent, wonderful people who deny themselves fresh starts, blessings & help because they were once told that they were losers.  That they were lazy.  That they were failures. Lies, all of it!  If you're reading this, you already possess a drive to succeed!  Whatever happened in the past, tomorrow doesn't have to be like yesterday.  You can go from hating yourself to loving yourself.  You can change jobs even when people say that the economy is doomed. You can learn new skills even when someone told you along the way that you were "slow" or stupid (which I know already is false, by the way).  You have to throw off shackles continually when you want a simplified life, and no bondage is harder to break out of than the self-imposed kind.  You cannot have a minimalist life with a broken heart & a boggled-down mind. It's impossible to live in true simplicity when you won't ever cut yourself- or others- some slack.

Here's my practical list of things to do in order to get back to being excited about your life & to have fun once more. They're going to be in a bit of a random order, but I think we can all live with that. :)

1) Are any medications you're taking, foods you're eating or beverages you drink affecting your brain & body in a bad way?  Study all the known side effects of what you're taking into your body, both the good and the bad.  Conversely, are there things that you know should be doing for your health that you're not regularly taking in?

2) If you work outside the home, are you working in a job that satisfies you in at least one major way?  We all have hassles to deal with, but life is short & therefore the aggravations better be offset by good stuff, as far as I'm concerned.  When I worked, I didn't like my company much, but I did love it when customers finally got an issue resolved through my skills & knowledge.  When I could fix something for a provider that had gone wrong, decipher a complicated issue quickly or brighten someone's day just by listening when they needed an ear bent their way, then it was all worth it.  The low pay, the looking over my shoulder by bosses, the absurdities of certain policies or procedures- if I made a positive contribution to someone's day, I could keep going.  No matter where you are, make a decision that you are going to be pleasant to others every day.  Decide to bless at least one person you come in contact with every day.  Don't do this to get noticed.  Do it because it's a great thing for others & because it'll make you feel more fulfilled than any paycheck ever could.  Be ethical even when it's hard, no one's looking & you won't get any recognition for it.  Choose the high road every time.  Gossiping, being cranky with others & taking shortcuts in work won't simplify your life.  I'm not telling you to be a Stepford wife- just remember that every day could be your last, or the last day of the person you're dealing with right now.  If your co-workers need help, give it to them.  When there's an injustice & you know in your heart you should speak up, do so.  Silence is golden in certain circumstances, but we can't make it a perpetual policy.  Maybe you won't win the battle or get an unfair policy changed.  Maybe a boss will resent you for telling the truth, but do it anyway.  Not all rewards come in this lifetime & there are no real rewards when you've failed your conscience, anyway.  If you know in your heart that the job is wrong for you AND you know that it's time to leave, look for something else to do.

3) Do your research.  Whatever your passion is, read everything about it that you can get your hands on.  We are immensely privileged to live in a time where massive amounts of knowledge exist on every subject under the sun. S tudy whatever you want to improve with gusto.  Set aside fifteen minutes a day just to focus entirely on that topic, for example.  Talk to or read of others who've accomplished already what you'd like to do for yourself.  Sign up for day trips, classes, guided tours, etc.  Google the topic.  Look for blogs or magazines about it.

4) Whatever you choose to do, live in the present & experience it fully. Don't spend time with friends or family while continually thinking of where you wish you were instead or obsessing about some problem you're facing. Problems will never stop coming at you, at least not as long as you're in human form. Don't let problems steal your joy. It's not worth it. You'll never get today back.

5) Develop routines & stick to them. Be flexible about changing them, but don't blow them off repeatedly when you know they have to get done.

6) No matter what your passion is, just follow it. You have no clue what diving in could bring forth. I had no clue when I started this blog that I get close to 10,000 reads on it or have over a hundred pages published in less than a year. I had to be willing to hear, "You can't write worth a crap", or something similar if I failed. I might have just flat-out not been successful at gaining any readers. But I followed a passion & a sense of inner knowing that starting this blog was going to be a good thing. I didn't have a clue just how good it's been to me! I love writing & find it incredibly hard to stop. I've developed such a fresh love for people & a desire to help them succeed. Giving my knowledge & trying to build people up to believe in themselves has been nothing but incredible to me. It's worth every bit of work & leaves me feeling so happy. I had no idea this would happen, that it would be so utterly fulfilling to me. I had no idea people would read this blog who are from every corner of the world. By following a hunch that I might be good at something that could potentially provide a real service to the world, I got into one of the most emotionally-fruitful ventures I've ever been involved in. I know that something similar waits for you! If the passion leaves you & it's time to move on, do so. Finish out any obligations but accept that some of what we're in love with today may just be part of a phase we're going through. There's nothing wrong with this letting go when your work or joy is done in one area- it's really a natural life cycle in many cases.

6) Leap & the net will appear. The resources that you need to get something done won't necessarily magically show up the second you choose to accomplish it. You may feel sheer terror that you simply can't achieve a particular dream when you're out trying & the things you need are taking their sweet time to reach you. There's a lot of faith that you must have in both yourself, others & the universe (and God, if you're a believer) to keep going. Not every day will feel magical. But be single-minded when you know you're doing what you're supposed to do in life. Vacillating rarely produces much of anything that has real value. You've got to be willing to fall on your tush & then pull yourself back up repeatedly. Nobody gets out of this truth, by the way. Even the biggest movie stars on Earth suffer setbacks when films fail at the box office, when marriages end or greedy hangers-on grope for their money. They have to deal with petty lawsuits, losing their anonymity & sometimes have to work on projects they really don't enjoy but are contractually bound to be in. No one gets a free ride, but that doesn't mean you should give up. I've had to sweat it out nearly every time that I started something big because I frankly had no means of achieving whatever the particular goal was on my own. But God has always come through for me. It may be at the last minute & I may have to depend on someone else for help instead of being able to do it all alone (there's my pride acting out right there), but the help always comes. It'll always come to you, too.

7) No matter how bruised & battered you've gotten by life, an internal compass remains which will always lead you in the right direction if you just abide by it. No amount of abuse can destroy this blessed ability, though people can certainly lose practice with using it by the time they reach adulthood. Kids always know just what they want to do, they're willful & are often bracingly honest about what they're going after! Some of us get the wind taken out of our sails pretty early on in life & sometimes in very cruel ways. If this is true for you, make it your mission to monitor that little voice which says, "Go here, do this, say that", even if you're afraid. If the thought of doing something exhilarates you, reach for it. Tell the naysayers where they can go. To those who've been broken in spirit by abuse- don't let the voices of the dead or of some current bully ring in your head more loudly than the sweet internal dialogue that'll tell you of your immense gifts. Bullies lie- but your intuition won't. It may take years to retrain yourself to trust the confident, loving voice over the mean one, but it can be done. I know because I did it. Don't think for a second that I got my self-confidence through osmosis or something. I was a fat kid, getting teased meanly & incessantly for years on end. I was rejected by my father, had a mother who worked constantly & went to a babysitter that despised me for years, deeply cutting me off from a natural self-love babies are born with. But late in high school, something saved me & helped me to soar later on. I told myself over & over again that I was great even when others tried to say otherwise. I gradually thought more about my strengths than I did about my weaknesses. I counted up my strengths, added to them & stopped even paying attention to the imperfections, let alone counting them. Eventually the names people called me became totally unimportant & my own internal speech became the predominant one running through my mind. At some point, I'd not only convinced myself of my worth, but I was so confident in that belief that other people just sort of went along with it, too. So don't tell me you just can't learn to feel good about yourself. I'm laying down the law in a spirit of tough love here because this subject is so important. There is nothing minimalist in thinking poorly of yourself! If you believe the best about yourself long enough, it'll become your reality.

8) Delegate what you can, but in balance keep de-cluttering, organizing & cleaning your home, purse, car, etc. on a regular basis. Learn how to work with your natural style (visual, auditory or kinesthetic) & focus on setting up your personal spaces to aid you in successfully achieving your goals. Don't be afraid to think or decorate outside the box. If you want a showplace of a home, great. But make sure it's functional first. If the dumbbells & workout step are in front of the TV in the living room because that works for you (just as an example), then don't be ashamed for people to see that. If having a rolling file cart out works better for you than a closed file cabinet, even if the cabinet looks better, go with the cart. A space that's functional will always have it's own sometimes-quirky beauty. Unless "Better Homes & Gardens" is coming over, stop worrying about having a home that looks a little odd here & there. There are many beautiful, subtle options for organizing, but work with what you already have whenever possible. Seeking out help from others is often key here, because a different set of eyes may solve a problem you haven't been able to.

9) Writing can be immensely helpful when trying to clear out old mental garbage. Guided journals can be helpful in this regard, too. Making works of art can also serve the same purpose. I used to have a rule that I wrote three pages in my journal per day as soon as I got up in the morning. It's a suggestion I picked up from Julia Cameron's book, "The Artist's Way". I no longer feel the need to do that, but it helped me navigate through the treacherous waters of my late teens & early adulthood well. Getting the pain out on paper always helped. I turned to writing songs, poems & eventually screenplays for the same reason- it helps plug in something from my inner being that needs an outlet.

10) Have a defined reason for learning new skills, such as getting a new degree or obtaining a certification which will help you get a higher-paying job. You must have some idea of the end result you're looking to achieve when the work is done. A competitive figure skater, as an example, will train hard, avoid unhealthy activities & eat right because they have a desire to someday win a medal at the Olympics. Don't be fooled- even a life lived following your bliss isn't without it's share of sacrifices. There is almost always a cost for going after something new. While we should trust that we'll be able to pay that price when it's for a good cause, you must know that's just reality. Virtually anything you'll choose to experience is a double-edged sword. And you'll never be able to get it all done. There's simply too many books written, too much music produced, too many films made to ever take in it all. Your informal education will never be complete, so give up the idea that it someday will be. It doesn't mean you give up learning because it's a journey- it just means you accept that cutting out some activities in order to get others done is the way of life.

11) Live your life at the pace & in the style that you prefer. It is possible to live a fairly slow existence in today's world, if that's what you desire. You simply have to make the choice as to how you want to live in that regard. You probably don't have to have cable TV, a cell phone, video games, a computer, a stereo system or many of the other things people pay a lot of money to own these days. People can usually still pay their bills by mail. Some may just buy or rent DVDs for their viewing pleasure instead of having a cable or satellite service, while other people get the TV out of the house entirely in the name of minimalism. People sometimes give up the Internet, TV & cell phone entertainment completely in order to take more long walks, play a musical instrument to get their fill of song, save themselves a lot of money, read more books and/or live a life which isn't perpetually "plugged in". You have a choice to live with electricity or not (though I know certain people cannot turn that off, but others give it up), for example. A lot of people complicate their lives unconsciously & resent the complexity deeply. They may have learned to live a complex life from their parents & peers. There's often a lot to unlearn when you change your lifestyle. Very little is actually needed for survival. Your life will only be as complicated as you let it be. You may have mental roadblocks up against living a simple life & materialism is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome on that quest. I say this not in admonition but because I must constantly, consciously choose complexity or simplicity every day. I may choose what's not minimalist at times, but at least now I do it with my eyes wide open. I don't act on impulse or an unconscious need to get enjoyable attention from others. My great-grandfather spent a good deal of time sitting out in his carport, enjoying the beautiful garden he created, each & every lovely summer evening. Granddad could sit for hours talking with someone outside during these times, intently listening to what the other person had to say. But he also just loved sitting out there alone with God in his little version of the Garden of Eden before the fall. Granddad was a content but accomplished man because he paced himself on purpose, believed the principle of all things in moderation to be true & was never too busy to be there for others. Read Elaine St. James' book, "Simplify Your Life", if you're interested in getting much more of a minimalist than you are today.

12) Diversity has become a bad word in some circles, but it's usually hated the most by people who are unfulfilled in their own life. I say this because I was once one of those bitter people, and it was not so very long ago, either. Recognize & just accept what your personal needs are while remembering to avoid extremes. Some people need lots of solitude to reach their highest goals- as a writer, I can certainly attest to that. Others want people around them at almost all times. Neither is right or wrong. We're all made differently for a reason & so you shouldn't envy someone else's energy level, body, house, bank account or anything else. Jealousy & comparing yourself to others constantly is a waste of time. Anything that feeds ugliness in spirit, drop it. We're not all meant to have the same skill set, intellect, desires, work or looks. Appreciate, even celebrate, the differences between us. Your gifts to the world will be unique & special, but you can't bring forth those gifts when you're caught up in a rat race which you despise. Allow others to get what they need to thrive, too- be it solitude, company, money or anything else.

13) Look very carefully at your purchasing habits. Everything you buy that lasts at all must be cleaned, cared for, insured or used. If you buy something & you know the joy of it will only be temporary, I would suggest that you don't purchase it. If it'll add complications you'd rather not deal with down the road, let go of the desire to have the item. Know what you're willing to spend time cleaning or maintaining & what you won't. Many of us are brought up with parents who buy things on impulse & seemingly just live to keep up with the Joneses. We then may continue the cycle unknowingly, often until we realize we're just getting buried by the stuff we own. The burial ground can literally be our home, but we can often get buried in debt with this behavior. No one intentionally takes on a bunch of debt that's meaningless & will destroy their life, but sometimes that's just what happens. There is a great deal of societal pressure (at least in America) to be a consumer. Capitalism as it currently is practiced thrives on it, for one thing. Even for those who know the value of a dollar well, advertisers know exactly what our Achilles heel is & it's their job to sell you that kind of product which makes your heart race a bit with pleasure. I'll be quite honest- I love to shop. I love having new jewelry, clothing, shoes, perfume & more that gets me compliments. My decisive brain always weeds out very quickly what I definitely don't want to have, but in this day & age, there is still so much I really want for myself that I could never afford or store it all. We have so many products available to us. Again, I'm not telling you stop shopping. Just buy whatever you do consciously, realizing the full weight & responsibility of what you put your money into. Possessions bought only for the short-term may leave less money available for something really important & that you'll truly want for the long-term.

Here's to being an excited organized minimalist,
Liz

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