Nov 30, 2009

The Simplicity of Unplugging...

I've been largely "unplugged" from the computer and my cell phone for almost a week now. And it's been nice. I'm enjoying the vacation and the simplicity that I've found in exercise, in engaging in long, face-t0-face conversations with family and good friends, and in floating through the days lazily without much concern for what time it is or what I'm doing next. I have another week of vacation, so you might see a post or two if I feel like it. I will be resuming more regular posting next week.

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Nov 27, 2009

The Day after Thanksgiving

Instead of going shopping, why don't you participate in the National Day of Listening? Take the time. Listen to a story. Learn something new. Brighten someone's day. Preserve a memory. Make a difference.

Nov 25, 2009

Join this Challenge. Do it now...

Here is an excellent way to pay it forward! Join this challenge. Do it now. Share the information with those you know... I'm joining the Zen Habits team. Join on up. Or start your own team.

And have a happy holiday weekend with those you love.

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Nov 20, 2009

Here's a Cause I Believe In

I'm working on becoming a vegan. And I am proud to say I'm getting close, thanks to my brother's inspiration and one of my new favorite websites and blogs, Speaking of, Susan wrote about a great cause sometime back. This is something I believe in. Check it out if you are so inclined.

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Nov 18, 2009

A Great Link to a Post on Experiential Gift Giving

... And yet another great article on non-consumer gift giving. Check it out here.

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Nov 16, 2009

The Anti-Stuff Holiday Gift Guide

Get Rich Slowly wrote a great bog on alternatives to traditional holiday gifts. Check it out here.

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Personal Challenge #2: Yoga and Quiet Contemplation (Week 4 of 4)

This personal challenge will focus on inward simplicity. I am committing to ten minutes of yoga and/or quiet contemplation every day for the next four weeks.

As this challenge comes to a close, I'm struggling with how to measure how successful I was. I think I spent more time THINKING about the act of quietly thinking than I did actually engaging in the quiet contemplation activity. I did do some more yoga and am working to make that a weekly, if not daily, habit. I have also become far more mindful of the value of quiet space - both physically and mentally - in my life.

That being said, I'll leave this challenge with the following musings...
Every week I look forward to Rowdy Kittens' Simple Living News Update. On Mondays, without fail, Tammy compiles some great resources and articles on different aspects of simple living. The link that really struck me this week was a post at Far Beyond the Stars entitled "How Creating Space Can Lead to a Healthy Creative Habit." Reading this article made me think about how my first two personal challenges have both been efforts to create more space in my life. I know I have a long way to go, but I feel like most of the time I am walking along a healthy path.

As an aside, I have remained committed to donating 10 items a week. I am going to continue the challenge, along with this yoga/quiet contemplation one, indefinitely. I'll post about my progress from time to time.

Next week I will start a new challenge that focuses on giving back. Stay tuned for more details.

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Nov 13, 2009

Saving Money on Organic Food

I just read this article on 12 ways to save on buying organic food. I thought it was worth passing along. Happy reading.

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This Week...

I guess this week I have been in a "less writing, more doing" frame of mind - which, when I think about it, is pretty ironic because I haven't even done that much. Maybe I've been in a "less writing, more thinking" frame of mind. Either way, here's what I have been up to this week:

1. I have been reading up a lot on the voluntary simplicity movement and have been especially intrigued by the way different blogs about simplicity and minimalism have approached the subject. I was going to link to a bunch of those blogs here, but I think in the effort of simplicity I'll save those links for a later post. Frankly, I have a new book that I want to start and I'd rather devote some time this morning to that activity.

2. I've also been doing some background research for the book I am co-authoring. What I've learned is that I am about to enter an entirely new realm of writing. It's exciting, but it's also scary and a bit overwhelming. My focus right now is to learn enough to be able to streamline the process. I keep reminding myself that if I want a life of simplicity, I have to infuse my life with simple patterns and simple actions.

3. I failed miserably at my trash-free challenge for the week. It was WAY harder than I thought it would be to buy groceries without any packaging. Among other things, it has given me a newfound respect for Colin and his No Impact Man project. I also learned that if you approach grocery shopping with intention, you will realize the inverse relationship between packaging and food health and quality. I already try to stick to the perimeter of the store as much as possible, but I found that focusing on products with less packaging automatically increases the amount of healthy fruits and veggies that end up in my cart.

That's all for now. I'll be back later with a post on exercise and nutrition, since it is Friday.

Nov 9, 2009

Personal Challenge #2: Yoga and Quiet Contemplation (Week 3 of 4)

This personal challenge will focus on inward simplicity. I am committing to ten minutes of yoga and/or quiet contemplation every day for the next four weeks.

My inspiration this week comes from Rowdy Kitten's post entitled Lessons In Simplicity: Practicing Yoga. The four things she's learned since she started practicing yoga really speak to me. She's learned that slowing down is okay, falling down is not a bad thing, meditation and simplicity go hand in hand, and yoga is a fantastic workout and a great substitute for running. There we go... no need for me to go on and on about what I've learned so far, as I think Tammy said it pretty well.

My most humbling experience this past week was a 90-minute yoga video workout I did (or tried to do) in my living room. I am in awe of the strength and balance needed to complete some of the poses that look so simple. Although the workout was hard and I couldn't hold all of the poses, I did finish it feeling much calmer and more in control than when the video started. It's a good reminder of how strength comes in many different forms.

My most calming experience was the ten minutes I spent lying around in the grass at the park. I had just finished a hard run and was about to rush off to do some errands, when I stopped myself and just plopped down in the grass. I enjoyed hearing the leaves rustle in the wind and listening to the sound of the creek behind me. I enjoyed watching the squirrels play and the kids run around and the adults walk, talk, and laugh. I enjoyed being with myself. Just being present.

I'm still working on my first personal challenge of getting rid of/donating ten items a week. I cleaned out my office again on Friday and found about 12 books that were ready to go to new homes. This morning, I'm tackling the closet again and am committing to finding at least five items that I haven't worn in the past year. They are going out with the other donations.

I'm also committing to going trash-free with my diet this week, meaning that I will buy nothing from the grocery store that comes in packaging of any kind. Stay tuned for future posts about this progress.

Feel free to comment below by clicking on the COMMENTS tab. I'd love to hear from you.

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Nov 6, 2009

The Trash-Free Diet

I was thinking about what I wanted to write about nutrition and/or exercise this week, and then I read this article. Colin, also known as the "No Impact Man," wrote a great article about how if we ate a "trash-free" diet, we would become healthier because fresh, healthy foods are usually free of all packaging. What a simple, yet profound idea.

I heard on NPR today the statistic that today 1 in 4 young people are obese, which is up from 1 in 20 only a generation ago. When are we, as a society, going to do something about this epidemic that makes a difference on a large scale?

I think it starts with awareness, education, and individual choices. Next week I will try going trash-free, meaning that I will not purchase anything from the grocery store that comes in a package. Anyone care to join me? Share your comments below.

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Nov 5, 2009

A Book in the Works

My cousin and I are co-authoring a book about education. It is slated to be finished by the end of 2010. Stay posted for updates on our progress as the project unfolds. We are both very excited to be moving forward with this idea!

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Nov 2, 2009

"Simple Living is Not the Path of Least Resistance"

I stumbled across this post yesterday. The author's observation that "simple living is not the path of least resistance" really struck a chord with me and got me thinking about how sometimes the most difficult choices we make end of being some of the best ones.

One personal example that comes to mind is my decision to quit my full-time teaching job two years ago. I loved my work and I loved the students I worked with, but I did not love the constant stress of having to juggle a full-time teaching job with multiple coaching positions and other campus obligations, a full-time school schedule, and my personal life. It wasn't working, my health was suffering, and something had to give.

It was not an easy decision to make, but three years later I would not have changed that decision for the world. It allowed me the opportunity to focus on my coursework and complete my last degree in three years. It allowed me the space to breathe, to spend more time with family and friends, and to refocus on what is most important to me in this world.

Care to share about a time when you made a difficult decision in an effort to simplify your life? What motivated you to make the decision and what has been the result? If you could go back and do it differently, would you? Please comment below.

Personal Challenge #2: Yoga and Quiet Contemplation (Week 2 of 4)

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This personal challenge will focus on inward simplicity. I am committing to ten minutes of yoga and/or quiet contemplation every day for the next four weeks.

O.K. I'll admit it. This challenge is HARD for me. Ten minutes a day? I know. I know. But it is. It's easier for me to write twenty pages, run six miles, or climb a mountain than it is for me to just sit still for ten minutes and think... or do ten minutes of yoga. That being said, I did manage to do yoga breaths one day and quiet contemplation four days. Five out of seven isn't bad for my first week, I guess. And I've been seeing a lot on the internet lately about how yoga and meditation fit well into a minimalist, simple lifestyle. My favorite thing I happened upon what this creed, from Yoga to the People's website. How simple. How just.

There will be no correct clothes
There will be no proper payment
There will be no right answers
No glorified teachers
No ego no script no pedestals
No you're not good enough or rich enough
This yoga is for everyone
This sweating and breathing and becoming
This knowing glowing feeling
Is for the big small weak and strong
Able and crazy
Brothers sisters grandmothers
The mighty and meek
Bones that creak
Those who seek
This power is for everyone
Yoga to the people
All bodies rise

I've been very inspired by the comments, feedback, and advice I received in response to my Paring Down the Stuff Challenge. I will continue to donate or give away 10 items a week until I am down to a place where I feel comfortable and at peace with my stuff. Stay tuned for future posts related to my progress. Another ten items - including some highly processed and sodium-filled canned food items from my kitchen cabinet - gone, donated, given away to a better home.