The Privilege Of Minimalism

This month I, along with friends, have culled through excess belongings and started the process of decluttering. Having watched the new documentary from The Minimalists: Less Is Now, we all embarked on the game during January. Some of us want to continue through February, and I say, “Go for it.” I do this kind of thing regularly, so I’ve got a couple of stops to make before I’m in a place where I feel free of the clutter:

  • Another round through my son’s bedroom
  • Another trip through my closet
  • The ever-present crap in the garage

And while I know this was a needed task, something was nagging at me from day one.

I’ll dive right in and ask: Is Minimalism classist? Right now, the buzzword is privileged – rightly so – and it struck me, during a conversation at work (I serve on the DE&I Council), that one of the ways my privilege as an educated white female manifests is in the choices I have. I don’t have to keep that coffee cup because I can simply go buy another one if the one I did keep breaks. I can get rid of those clothes that don’t fit or are outdated because I have the money to buy a dress should I need one.

Stephanie Ladd, a writer, and social justice advocate writes about the documentary on her blog. 

In one scene, Joshua Fields Millburn reads a poem he wrote, talking about the things he needed to buy when he moved. He listed off things that I would never have dreamed of affording. Things that seemed ridiculous, as a poor person, to even consider purchasing. I’d never stepped foot into an IKEA. I’d never known rugs for decoration. Rugs were to keep feet warm if I was lucky enough to find someone who could give me one they no longer used. But there he stood, complaining about the ability, the privilege, to buy these things.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re confused by my sudden turn on minimalism. Rest assured, my life is less about minimalism and more about simplicity. I get that I’m not always frugal, and I spend money on completely unnecessary things. But these things (my Freshly subscription, my express delivery membership on Instacart, my access to Amazon Prime two day shipping) are not about frugality – they are about freeing up something more valuable to me than money: Time.

Wow. As I re-read that last sentence I’m ashamed. What a fucking elitist thing to say. Right? I’m not proud of this revelation. I am, however, more cognisant of it.

I know. I’m struggling with this because there was a time – not so long ago – that I was on food stamps. Here I sat with two graduate degrees in a situation where I couldn’t find a job in my hometown that paid a living wage. There were just more candidates than positions available. When I finally landed a full-time job with a local non-profit, it was still less than half what I was making when I moved from Michigan. I was grateful for the job I had, but I also needed a second job to make ends meet. I had separated from my husband and was juggling childcare expenses and basic needs while he decided when, and if, he’d provide any support. To say I was living paycheck to paycheck was generous. I was usually behind on some bill. It was a tough time mentally and emotionally for me. I was a single mom with most of the responsibility (my ex sees his son four days a month), and while I would not trade that for anything, the stress was overwhelming.

I say this because, yes, I agree with Ladd. Minimalism is classist. Consumerism preys on the poor (in spirit and in the pocketbook sense), and while none of my friends are hoarders by any stretch, I think we could all agree that we buy shit we don’t need, but want, all the time. And I’m not sure that’s bad – I buy things I want, too – I just wonder if it could be considerably different. 

I think it can be considerably different. And I want to share my thoughts on this:

1) Buy stuff you want. Seriously. I just ask you to consider this: How much is enough? I have petty discussions with my guy all the time because he takes in pyrex dishes like an old lady takes in stray cats. I simply do not understand it (because I don’t like to cook), and I don’t have to understand it. I have an affinity for glass storage containers and colored pencils. What can I say? But, I am more mindful of this now since January is coming to a close, and I plan to make better choices. For example, my employer loves their brand (and I do, too!), but there are just so many ‘free t-shirts’ I want the responsibility of washing. I have declined ‘swag’ before, and I have the choice to do it again.

2) Consider the ‘energy-exchange’ ratio for items you want. Every purchase you make – whether on Fakebook Marketplace, thrift stores, or brand-spankin’ new from Amazon equates to TIME. When you see that new television with all the bells and whistles, do the math. How many hours of your life will you have to work to pay for that tv? I did this recently and decided that energy was better spent taking a much-needed vacation. In fact, the television costs more than the lodging for the week. And I hardly ever watch tv, so why do I need a bigger one? I don’t. No one ever needs a bigger television, in my opinion.

3) Ask yourself how your money can be better invested. What else can I afford if I don’t buy that thing? Turns out when you stop spending money on stuff that will eventually end up at Goodwill or in an estate sale you have money to support a local school, provide food for those facing food insecurity, taking a short vacation, learning a new skill, or building an emergency fund. I’m not telling you to stop your latte habit. No one ever stops their latte habit. I’m asking you to stop your mindless spending. There’s a difference.

So, essentially, I agree with Ladd. Minimalism is elitist. The movement assumes people have choices. And yet, I support it. I support it because I want quality over quantity. I want to help my neighbors. I want to support my kid’s school. I want to spend my weekends blogging and figuring out Jake and Delany’s fate as my novel unfolds instead of organizing and cleaning. I want to take vacations that include sun and sand with my child instead of planting my ass on a sofa in front of a 60-inch smart tv. I’m a contradiction – I get it. I never claimed to have all the answers.

I guess, in closing, I never really considered (sadly, until I was throwing food away) I support a movement that may be a tad bit snooty. I promise you…people on food stamps don’t throw food away. I know because I was one of them. My brief three-month dive into the world of public assistance was enough for me to understand the lack of choices many face in our country. I don’t want to embrace minimalism to save money for a higher quality rug for my floor. I want to embrace minimalism to build my emergency fund without having to get a second job to do so and to help my community when I feel led to do it.

I wish I had the answers. I don’t. All I can do is live by example. I am not responsible for how many pyrex dishes someone owns or the collection of craft supplies owned by another. I am only accountable for myself and the choices I make. And I make bad choices sometimes, as does everyone. Whisky, anyone?

So – what do you think? If you accepted my challenge back on January 1st, did you learn anything along the journey? As you were discarding stuff without lids and expired OTC medicines and paperwork and broken toys and…and…and…(fill in the blanks)…did you ask yourself why you had been holding on to all of this? I did, and I realized my brief stint in poverty was enough to get me there. It wasn’t pretty to come to this conclusion, but I arrived. And I’m better for it.

As always, here’s your song. I’m a huge fan of Jason Isbell and this is one of many I listen to over and over again. Have a great week, dear reader, and consider yourself hugged.

Clean Up Your Act – Five Easy Ways To Get Started

Missouri’s winter usually comes in January and February, so we’ve been experiencing a bit of colder weather here. I don’t mind it, though. These are perfect months for home and self-improvements. January has been no exception.

After watching The Minimalists’ newest documentary (Less Is Now) on Netflix, I decided to accept the challenge offered at the end to jump start my way back into regaining a life of simplicity. The challenge was to give away 465 things over one month. You start on day one, getting rid of one item. On day two, you get rid of two items. Day three, three items. You see where I’m going with this. I challenged many of my friends to do the same thing: Watch the documentary. Do the challenge.

Here’s what one friend said halfway through:

Thirty days is definitely not enough time to get rid of everything I need to, but I do feel less intimidated by the idea of tackling some of the most cluttered areas such as my boy’s closet, the garage, and my craft cabinet. Normally I would get so overwhelmed with going through stuff that I felt defeated and gave up. Forcing myself to ditch stuff has been liberating and it gets easier each day. I’ve started asking myself if it’s worth packing if I moved… that has helped.

Amanda M. – Springfield, MO

But some of us are overwhelmed by the idea of getting rid of nearly 500 items. Except, I don’t think we realize that an old filing cabinet offers thousands of single sheets to meet our decluttering win ratio. As did many of my friends, I found that the overwhelming urge to chuck it all was almost impossible to shake by the fifteenth day. Starting with one item, then two, then three, and so on propelled us into this beautiful world of letting go of what we don’t need.

I’ve written about letting go of emotional baggage, but it’s been a long time since I’ve discussed letting go of actual physical clutter. I guess because I started thinking, “There are just so many ways you can tell people to throw shit away.” But, clearly, from those taking on this challenge there’s still a need to advise and help.

I have LOVED this process and even more that my husband got on board too!

Dedee C. – Republic, MO

Let me be clear about one thing, though. I have little to no emotional attachment to material items. In my home, I can list about ten things I would grab should my house ever catch on fire and three of those are handmade quilts given to me by one person. So that narrows it down to seven items, and as I sat here trying to list them for my satisfaction, I couldn’t even come up with ten. So – my point – I don’t know if I can offer you much to address the psychological issues of holding on to things. I’m just not wired like that. Clutter gives me even more anxiety than I already have daily.

So, how do I do it? How do I easily get rid of clutter? Well, settle in. I’m about to tell you. But first, let me say I’m not perfect. I’m surprised that I quickly found items to discard or donate, but I, too, have been holding on to things. I journaled about why last night, and that’s another blog for another time, but I think I worked through some of the emotional reasons why I had gotten to the point where I was holding on to things I no longer needed.

My advice? Take baby steps. Small actions, taken every day, end up being the way to success. You don’t lose thirty pounds by fasting one day and running ten miles. This requires a series of small steps taken every day consistently to meet that goal. Living a life of simplicity is just like that: small steps, every day.

So here are some ways to get started:

  1. Do the challenge. If I told you to get 500 things to discard today, you’d say to me you don’t even know where to start or that you don’t have time. I’d believe either of those excuses. But, start at the beginning of one month and for each day, get rid of that number of items. And do it in February. It’s a short month.
  2. Pretend you are moving. Seriously. This really does work. People ask me how I can stay on top of this. Well, I’ve moved 18 times in 15 years. It’s hard to get emotional about stuff when you know you have to carry a box containing it. Plus, this Ted Talk always helps me focus, too. I love Graham Hill and Life Edited. He says “Edit ruthlessly.” I agree. Cut. The. Cord.
  3. Start with the easy stuff. My closet is always the first place I start. There’s even a fancy free printable calendar for you. The summary: Discard anything torn, has holes, or in need of repair you can’t do yourself. And by discard, I don’t mean “donate”. No one wants this stuff. Then decide what you will sell, donate, or give away to people you know. This includes things that are dated, no longer fit, or just haven’t been worn in over a year. We wear twenty percent of our clothing eighty percent of the time. So, if you still have stuff left, turn your hangers around so that the hook faces the wall. When you wear the item, rehang it correctly. You can discard whatever is still hanging with the hook facing the wall at the end of six months. You aren’t wearing it for some reason. And you won’t. So bite the bullet and let it go. I wrote about this way back in 2013 and it’s a good reminder.
  4. Move to the kitchen. My kitchen used to be a colossal cave of clutter, which I wrote about here. But not anymore. If you have more than two items of the same thing, you can declutter the extra items. My guy has four rubber spatulas (that I know about). He tells me he needs all of them. This is not true. The truth is, he doesn’t do his dishes every day, and he’s too unfocused to wash a spatula in the middle of preparing his meals. How do I know this? Because I have one. I’ve only had one since 2010, when I got rid of the other six. Is it convenient? Not always. (Love you, baby. Really.) But no one needs six rubber spatulas. No one.
  5. Move to the bathroom. I get that this is a tough one. Makeup and designer face creams are expensive. But I know I don’t need six daily moisturizers. And, well, you don’t either. So start discarding here. I repurposed a half bottle of shampoo by using it to shave my legs, but other than this, I was able to get rid of nearly thirty items.
  6. Check your meds. Expired medications and expired over the counter products can go. Just don’t toss them or flush them. Check with your local pharmacy on the best way to get rid of these items. Sometimes local fire departments will take them, as well as Wal-Greens.

These are quick ways to get started. You have to stay on top of this, and admittedly, I haven’t. So I will do the challenge for two months. I’ve already donated and thrown away over 1000 items since January 1st. And folks, I’m pretty organized. So, if I have this many items…um…so do you. (I get this is a very privileged statement. I will write about that later, too.)

As always, here’s your song for the day. It has absolutely nothing to do with letting go, but if you are cleaning you need a song to get yourself motivated.

Five Ways To Clear Distractions

True to form, months ago, I bookmarked the ‘upcoming’ documentary from The Minialmists on Netflix, anxiously awaiting its arrival. The DAY it was released, I watched it and was again inspired to get back to simplifying life. I’ll be honest, though: There was NOTHING in this documentary that was ‘new’ to me. Living a clutter-free life has been an ongoing process for over a decade now. But, I was reminded

And so, we continue – you and me – toward a simple life and so on. A significant part of being ‘clutter-free’ includes keeping your internal environment free of distractions. I’m not talking about your living room or that junk drawer. I’m talking about your Self. 

I’ve written so much about Busy’s Glorification and how ‘Busy’ is the new ‘Fine’ I’m not sure it is worth repeating. Except…it is. It absolutely is worth repeating because I asked six people last week how they were, and each of them stated, “Busy. So busy.”

You know how this goes, right? “How are you?” they ask. “Busy,” you reply, rolling your eyes with a tone of exaggeration. “Busy” has become a badge of honor, as if being busier than the next person wins you some kind of prize or something.

Honestly? How can you be so busy? The fucking world is shut down because of Covid-19. So much has changed to reduce time constraints. You can have someone else shop for and deliver your groceries. There are people at the ready to arrive on your doorstep with prepared meals. If you’re lucky enough (yes…lucky enough.) to work from home you can wash, dry, and fold that laundry (dishes, etc.) on your breaks. (Ahem. Yes. Breaks. WFH doesn’t require 9 hours of desk time.)

There are a lot of reasons why people get so busy. We take too much on, refuse to set boundaries, can’t accept failure as an option, blah, blah, blah. But what if one of the real reasons we are all so damn busy is that we let too many distractions into our life? I guess, if you think about it, it is a bit like not setting boundaries, but here are five of the ways I find myself getting distracted from the things that really matter.

1. My Smart Phone Made Me Do It. Yes, I really did just compare my smartphone to Satan. (Remember the old Saturday Night Live skit?) That darn thing is nothing more than a constant feed of information, noise, and entertainment. I finally had to set up a Do Not Disturb auto-turn on at 9 pm because I’m so darn undisciplined with that gadget.

“Our phones live not just in our pockets, but in front of our eyes. The influence of the Internet and its constant stream of information is accessible from nearly every corner of our world. Breaking news breaks into our day at breakneck speed. And we are fed messages relentlessly from advertisements on nearly every flat surface. Each distraction enters our mind with one goal: Gain control of our attention and resources.” – Josh Becker.

2. Getting bogged down by the “C” List.  I keep a running “Priority C” list (‘C’ stands for Crap That Bugs Me). C-list items are the tasks that take 5 minutes or less to complete. I designate a time each day to knock out as many as I can in a half-hour. If I don’t do this, I get distracted by those items and forget to do the essential things. Also, my Priority C list includes personal stuff, too, not just something at work. I find it hard to focus if I have too many “C’s” buzzing around. Because, folks, I don’t believe in a work/life balance. It’s just life…and it has to work. David Allen writes about this practice in his best-seller “Getting Things Done.” Here is a summary.

3. Kill the clutter. My desk usually looks like a tornado blew over it. At least once a day, I take two-three minutes to reduce unnecessary clutter from my desk and my office. On one of my breaks, I take a loop around the house and straighten up any thing that is quick to fix or clean. I battle Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have learned that unnecessary clutter creates anxiety for me. If things are messy, I get anxious. When I’m anxious, I cannot focus. 

4. Get rid of digital clutter. I recently revealed my ‘email inbox’ while conducting a remote desktop share with a client. They gasped and I felt like an email master. I had something crazy, like, five emails in the ‘inbox.’ The key is that I have rules set up so all the ‘unimportant’ stuff filters into folders. (I get to determine what the difference between unimportant and important. They don’t.) I designate a time each hour, day, or week to read what needs to be read and either delete it or file it immediately. I don’t have a lot of unnecessary communication distracting me from what really needs to happen that day. Also, I am not a significant “IM” participant (Is it IM, PM, DM? I get so confused.)  “Instant Messenging” of any sort is simply the Evil Satan-Spawn Child of the Smart Phone. I. Loathe. It.

And my favorite? First, a disclaimer. I can’t take credit for this. I stole this one word-for-word from Josh Becker because, well, I owe my minimalist lifestyle to him. So, he wrote this, I didn’t. I just try to implement it daily:

5. Care less about what other people think. “The value of your life is not measured by the number of likes your Facebook post receives or the number of positive comments on your blog post. Please understand: There is much value in humbly seeking opinion and appreciating the wise counsel of those who loves you. But there is no value in wasting mental energy over the negative criticism of those who only value their own self-interests. Learn to recognize the difference. And stop living distracted over the opinion of people who don’t matter.”

I once heard a someone say “The Devil has three main ways of getting to you. He’ll distract you, disappoint you, and disorganize you.” I’ve experienced all three lately, so I’m thankful for good counsel (like Josh) and others who have their priorities straight. So, what about you? What is your biggest distraction? (If you say “Pinterest,” I’ll give you a big AMEN and possibly a sticker!!!)

As always, I leave you with a song. This one is by The Weepies. Who doesn’t love The Weepies, right??

Self-Love: Take Your Power Back

As many of you know, I’ve been on quite a little journey of self-discovery over the past twelve months. I worked hard to forget past hurts and discover what makes me happy. In fact, at the moment, my heart is so filled with joy that I may burst.

Our journey through the Rules of Self-Love ends today with a great piece of advice: Take Back Your Power. If anything, this was the best piece of advice I received during this year-long journey. I have often wondered why it wasn’t the first rule, because frankly, it was the one step that empowered me the most. As I realized, I had to work on the other rules first before coming to this one. All the different rules helped me gain footing and empowered me along the way. Each rule I employed gave me back some power until now; in the end, I can say that I have learned not to give away my strength again.

So, I’ll share some of the ways I learned to take back my power over this journey, and I’m sure that you may have some of your own to add.

  • I forgave past hurts. I forgave my ex-husband for behavior that I don’t think he is capable of changing. I forgave my now-relationship=guy (what do we say at almost 50? Boyfriend? That seems so adolescent-ish-y) for things that happened nearly 30 years ago. I excused myself from making decisions out of fear. I just decided that I would start all over with everyone in my life with a clean slate on October 1st last year.
  • I cut people out of my life. Since I decided to give everyone a clean slate and forgive past hurts, I also permitted myself to use tools at my disposal to protect my life from energy vampires. If I wouldn’t sit down with them to have a cup of coffee face to face, they didn’t deserve to be on my friends’ list on Fakebook. I permanently blocked numbers on my phone and Messenger. I even went so far as to write “Return to sender” on a letter I received – never opening it or giving one fuck what it said.
  • I got my financial house in order. I’m fortunate to have a job now that pays me more than I really need. But that was not always the case. The last three years, I’ve scraped by wondering why I was stupid enough to leave a job that paid me very, very well. But I realized now that I had to live like that for a while to learn how to budget, save, say “no” to things I didn’t need. Once I got my new job nearly one year ago, I knew I couldn’t spend money the way I had in the past. I set up my 401(K). I set up another fund for emergencies. I worked with my attorney to develop an estate plan to protect my son and provide for him should I die.
  • I saved for, and took, a vacation all alone. I used to travel with my job as a consultant a lot so traveling alone wasn’t the issue. Traveling alone with no plans at all was strange – and exciting. Google maps told me it would take me ten hours-ish to get to Perdido Keys. It took me 16. I meandered my way through Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. If I hadn’t, I might have missed meeting the person who has inspired my novel because ‘Jake” was a stranger I met while eating fried catfish in Bay Springs, MS. I slept a lot, soaked up the sun, listened to the waves, ate a shit-ton of shrimp and watermelon (to the point that I haven’t eaten shrimp since), and did it all by myself. I can’t wait for my next adventure.

  • I scheduled a photo shoot with Cory Powell. And I am so glad I did this. I dropped a bit of cash on myself to see if I could see myself through the lens of someone else (Pun, much?) instead of my own distorted view. I asked him to not jack with the proofs much. I wanted to see each wrinkle, the pooch of my tummy, the color of my eyes. It was probably the single-most empowering thing I did for myself.
  • I focused on my mental health. I’ve mentioned before that I battle generalized anxiety disorder, which, if left to its own devices, can spiral into depression. Last year, I hit rock bottom during COVID, and somewhere around mid-October a good friend implored of me to see my doctor. I also looked into some complementary medicine and techniques, including meditation, breathwork, Yin yoga, and regular massage therapy. When I start getting anxious, instead of plowing through, I stop what I’m doing, go sit outside, start my breathing exercises and scan my body for what’s really going on. As with most things that invoke an anxiety attack, I know it’s most likely something I can’t control or something that won’t happen (the basis of GAD is irrational fears), so I can usually find the root cause. Once I find the root cause, I can work through the feeling. Oh. And Xanax. That helps, too.

I believe there is nothing more important in the journey of Self-Love than taking back your power. It will look different for everyone, but I hope my five examples can be a stepping stone for you. I’d love to hear from you about how you plan to take back your power, or if you’ve already done so, then how you did it.

As always, I’m leaving you with a song. I couldn’t decide so here’s the first one and here’s the second one. May you be blessed abundantly this week. Consider yourself hugged.

Self-Love: Surround Yourself With Good

Egads. It never fails. I plan to post every Sunday and Wednesday, and yet, here we are: Thursday. Forgive my lack of social boundaries and utter disregard for organization. I try. I really do try.

As I was thinking of things to share with you this week, I remembered – vaguely – that we aren’t quite finished with our journey through the Rules of Self-Love. It seems appropriate, though, since I’ve been beating myself up for not staying the course with my writing.

I vowed to get back to my novel. Delaney and Jake need me to figure out their future. But with an imbecile still in public office (take your pick…I’m not speaking of just one…) and goofy-ass ‘Mericans doing the thing they do best (cause dissent), I just can’t focus on a torrid love story between a young man and a woman old enough to be his mother. Nonetheless…stay tuned. I’ll get revved up at some point and start rewriting the smut that makes me who I am.

So. Self-Love. Where were we?

Ah. Yes. Surround yourself with good. Hmmm. How appropriate. Let me take a swig of the goodness in this glass and enlighten you on this.

“Surround yourself with the dreams and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” – Edmund Lee

In my journey, I realized I had been consumed by non-stop long term commitments. Even then, I was lonely, closed off, anxious, and never quite sure when the other shoe was going to drop. Some of my hippie friends would say that I was the cause of my own relationships ending because of these feelings and emotions. I agree, but picking the wrong partners in the first place might have had a significant bearing on the outcome.

So, in August, I took a break for a while. I’m not really sure when I mustered the strength to say ‘Fuck it,’ but I did. I spent 90 days with no relationship, and I spent those days finding out what good things brought my heart joy. It turns out I’m not really that complicated, and I’m easily amused, so there is that.

I’ll share today with you, dear reader, six ‘things’ I did to surround myself with good during that time.

  1. I spent as much time around water as I possibly could. It started with a 9-day trip alone, landing on the beaches of the Gulf Coast. I got sunburned as hell but managed to make time every day to get near the waves. Once back home, I was at a lake, beside a creek, or seeking out waterfalls any chance I got. For me, large bodies of water are as close to Heaven as I can imagine.
  2. I chucked the past. I can’t do much about all those memories in my brain except ‘pivot’ when I start thinking about the past. But, I did spend some time learning to build a fire, and with that new skill…well…I emptied boxes of memories dating back to 1989, including two wedding albums and a shit ton of crap I shouldn’t have been carrying around anymore anyway.
  3. I made new friends. You know, it’s a hard thing to face – but sometimes, the people you hang around with are people that don’t always have your best interests in mind. Some of them aren’t even really all that nice. And me, doing nothing half-assed, I just cut, cut, cut. And it was glorious.
  4. I kept my best old friends. I made a list of the ten people who always raise my vibration levels when I’m in their presence, and I vowed to spend more time with them. If they lived too far to see regularly, I scheduled Face Time / Zoom sessions with them. My life is so much richer because of these people, and I love seeing their faces.
  5. I lowered my expectations. Please note…I did not lower my standards. Standards and expectations are completely different. I lowered my expectations and allowed myself to go to bed sometimes with dirty dishes in the sink. I don’t expect everyone I work with to give 100% all the time; I’m only responsible for my work ethic and standards. I stopped coloring my hair and decided to see what I looked like with naturally greyish hair (still not sold on this, by the way). I decided to cut myself some slack in so many ways. And I am so much more relaxed and content.
  6. I stopped attending church. I can conveniently thank COVID for this, but in reality, I realized that the only ‘good’ I was getting out of church was the message – and we’ve proven as a nation that sermons can be effectively delivered via the internet. As an introvert, I don’t really enjoy the ‘seen and be seen’ aspect of attending services in person anyway. Additionally, I can’t explain it, but every time I would leave the church building, I felt like there was this ‘ick’ I needed to wash off. I started to hate the bigotry (How ironic, huh?), the subtle forms of manipulation, and dare I say: the outright disregard for human life (“Hey…save the babies…but don’t adhere to the mask-wearing mandates.”) Anyway, my pastor and I meet each week while I listen to his sermon as I’m working my ticket queue. He may not know that, but then again, it’s not really about him, is it?

I hope these six things can help you. One I didn’t mention is: I put on my favorite playlist to begin feeling better. No sad songs allowed. If you have other suggestions for surrounding yourself with good, please do share them. In light of the shitshow America faced yesterday at our Capitol building, I could use some good ideas.

As always, here’s your song. I wish you peace, happiness, and above all else…I wish you joy. Until next time: Go out. Do good.

9 Ways To Usher In 2021

I love the end of a year.  I know, I know. I should be excited about Christmas and all that joyful stuff but what gets me excited is the opportunity to let go of something and begin anew.

I do this a lot. I purge in various ways all year long – a closet here, a hard drive there, my so-called friends list on Fakebook. I simply like to clean.  So, the beginning of a new year is like getting a new car or moving into a new office.  I feel a sense of empowerment when January 1st rolls around.  I CAN DO ANYTHING I WANT THIS YEAR!  I love January 1st.  It’s my favorite day of the year.

Let’s do something this year to make a difference. I invite you to block four continuous hours on your schedule sometime during January to accomplish the following tasks.  

  1. Spend at least one of those hours with someone you love.  Trust me: It is easy to take people for granted. One hour is a quiet lunch, a short walk, one episode of Yellowstone. Could you do it?
  2. Take a look at your credit report.  Seriously.  It’s most likely free, and this is something you don’t want to be jacked up.
  3. Review your security settings on social networking sites.  Yes, they are ‘social’ networking sites, but does everyone need 100% access to you all the time? Nope.
  4. Make a list of the five people who made 2020 better.  This could have been the suckiest year – or the best year – of your life…but I guess that the reason you are still here breathing in the air is that there was someone who made a difference in your life.  Now that you’ve identified them tell them.  Sit down with a pen and write a handwritten note. It could be ten words: “You made a difference in my life this year.  Thanks.”  No need to get dramatic. 
  5. Vow to learn to make something better than anyone else.  I’m not talking about building a house or crafting a specialized violin in your garage.  It could be something small but learn to be the best at it.  I’ve declared Sundays a day to try a new recipe. I’ve yet to perfect anything, but I’ve had fun.
  6. Let go of your quest to earn more and instead embrace a lifestyle that spends less.  Seriously.  I know you love those thrift shops and think that if you don’t use that coupon, your life will be OVER…but you really have all you need because you are reading this blog…which means you have access to a computer and the internet…so most likely you have access to food, water, and shelter.  I’d say you are set for a while.
  7. Make a list of the ten things you can do without in 2021.  Make a plan to do without ten things/tasks/commitments/beliefs. I’ve already axed Hulu and creamer in my coffee. I’ve also given up on looking like I’m 30. I’ve earned these grey hairs and these laugh lines.
  8. Finish something.  Last Christmas (2019, not this past Christmas), I painted my living room but ran out of paint. Now, a full year later, I still need to finish this room.  I’m the worst at finishing things.  But, there is a nice release of energy into the world when the project is completed, and nothing is left ‘undone’.
  9. Set ONE goal for 2021.  No New Year’s Resolutions, no lists of goals to accomplish in seven different categories (Sorry Stephen Covey!)  One goal.  Now, work out an easy to follow a plan to achieve it.

So, there.  Join me in the joyous celebration of finishing up 2020 and looking forward to 2021. Virgos of the world will try to accomplish all nine in one day (Yup. And by Virgos I mean me). Others will wait and do one a day.  It’s no big deal… try them all.