Tag: simplify

Would You Turn Back Time?

On a mature dating site commercial, a giddy woman said, “It’s just like being back in high school.” YIKES! I liked high school. It turned out okay. In my yearbook, I’m listed as “The most typical girl”. But I wouldn’t want to go back!

When I got married, I was happy. Our children were born; we loved them and learned a lot of things. Some of it was great and some was hard, but all in all, it evened out and we had fun. I was happy. But I wouldn’t go back!

There isn’t a single point in my past life that I would willingly return to. You know why? Because today I’m a better person. I know more. I’ve learned to value now what I couldn’t value when I was younger. This is the natural course of life; with experience comes wisdom.

Relationships are valuable

Last week I mentioned one of the pivotal moments in my life, playing Emily Gibbs in the play Our Town, when I was sixteen. It was pivotal because Emily learned the hard way that going back isn’t always good. Going back showed her that often we can’t “see” one another because we’re too busy doing all the things that we think matter – laundry, cooking, education, church duties, work, making money, changing the world. Emily understands for the first time that all that matters are the relationships we have.

When I’m making a big decision, I ask myself, “How will this affect my ability to nurture my current relationships?” I recently asked that question as I considered some important life choices, and I ultimately made different decisions than I might otherwise have made.

That’s the great perk of aging. We have a clearer perspective on what really matters. That’s why grandparents can be so great. That’s why they have so much fun with grandchildren. It isn’t really because we don’t have to discipline or manage our grandchildren. It’s because we truly want a relationship with them. We like them. We “see” them.

Maybe it’s because the sand is running out of our hourglass faster and faster. We’re aware that we don’t have all the time in the world. We just have now, today. That’s all. It’s all anyone has. We can fill it with “busy” or we can simplify and make room for relationships. It’s a choice!

Tips to Make Room for Relationships

  • Simplify your calendar.
  • Simplify your activities.
  • Stay home more.
  • Read as a family.
  • Turn off all the electronics and play a game.
  • Fold laundry together.
  • Eat together.
  • Talk and listen.
  • Laugh more.
  • Let stress go.

Ask yourself, “What could I let go of today to have more room for what matters most?”

One day you’ll be older. Your kids will be older. You won’t care how clean your house was, how spectacular your yard, if you homeschooled or public schooled. You won’t value the amount of money you made, how often you went to Disneyland, if your kids got a new bike every year or what college they got in to. You won’t care if they were carpenters or lawyers. You won’t care if you impacted thousands of people. What you will think about more than anything else is the condition of your relationships. That, my friends, is what you’re going to treasure most. Take time now to make them sweet.

I appreciate your shares. Thank you!

A Home Management Tip for Autumn

Stuff! Stuff! Stuff!

I lived in Montana in the same house for over twenty-one years with a husband and seven children. I bet you can imagine the amount of stuff we accumulated!

We frequently had to reorganize the garage. One whole end of the garage was a special room dedicated to storing stuff. In the house hours of time went into cleaning out closets, drawers, and toy boxes. I can recall the time required to sort, launder, store, and fold all of the clothes and bedding we managed to accumulate.

Eventually, we decided to move to Utah. I was ready! I began cleaning out the house. I held numerous garage sales. I wanted to let it all go. My husband felt stressed when he left for work because he wasn’t there to monitor what was being sold. He was worried about what we were going to have to replace.

Here’s what happened. After over thirty years of living together and raising seven children, we pared it all down to one small U-haul and a van. Would you be surprised to know that in all the years since we haven’t replaced a single item?

More Stuff!

“ …We invest a great deal in the acquisition of stuff. Companies bombard us with slick, relentless propaganda as to why we must have their stuff, and we judge an individual’s success by their stuff’s sheer quantity and supposed quality… Stuff beyond our basic needs does not liberate. Consider the overall investment of your time. You have to shop for stuff. You have to clean, maintain, and organize stuff. You lose stuff. You look for stuff. You polish stuff, secure it against theft, trip over it, recharge it, upgrade it, accessorize it, pack it, move it, unpack it, insure it, fix it, and eventually sell, trash, or bequeath it. Stuff has no use beyond this life, and it takes a lot from us.” -Shawn Miller

If you’re having a hard time keeping your home clean you probably have too much stuff. If your dishes are always piled up you probably have too many dishes. If your kid’s rooms are a disaster they probably have too many toys, too many gadgets, and too many clothes.

Stuff is Energy Draining!

Each item we own requires some of our energy. The more belongings we have, the more emotional energy, as well as physical energy, is needed to maintain it. I want you to visualize something.

Close your eyes and imagine you have threads of energy attached to your shoulders and these threads connect to every item you have in your possession. Every item—each dish, cup, and pan; pictures in the photo album, CDs, and hammer; each nail, sock, book, pile of papers, sweater, car, guitar pick, and even your computer files. It’s one energy thread per item.

Now envision wherever you go you energetically drag all your possessions with you. You drag them via the connecting threads of emotional energy. How much are you dragging?

What if you eliminated a quarter of your belongings? How much lighter would you feel? Would you even miss any of the things you discarded or gave away? Through my experience, the answer is surprising: not really.

I have a very wealthy friend; she could buy just about anything. Her home is lovely, not cluttered or crowded. There isn’t a plethora of stuff. She gave me a perfectly beautiful blouse one day and I asked her why she was giving it away. She replied, “I have a rule. If I buy something new I have to give something away.” Wow, really wise woman!

In last weeks article, I talked about a principle which allows us a great deal of freedom – keep things simple. Getting rid of stuff is a way to simplify your life, to free yourself and Autumn is a perfect time.

Precious Autumn-Graceful Change

Fall is in the air- I love it! Although it still seems a bit like summer here in the west where I live, I know fall is just around the corner. There’s a slight chill to the air and the suns rays seem a bit thinner. The flowers are brilliant and blooming like mad in the final days of warm weather.

Why do I love autumn so much? Well, things begin to gear down. It feels somehow, restful. It feels peaceful. I have a desire to sit on the porch and soak up the sun. I want to bake bread! These autumn days make me feel cozy. I have a desire to be home puttering and preparing for winter.

Mostly, I love this season because the falling leaves remind me that to everything there is a season. There is a time for gathering and a time for letting go. This is a time when I feel the need to simplify, to let go.

Just as the leaves of fall must let go so the tree can rest we too need to occasionally take stock of what we have and ask ourselves, “Is this serving a purpose or is it just clutter?” Are there commitments or obligations that I have taken on that are not serving my family or me? Is my calendar cluttered? Is there too much ‘stuff’ in my home? Are the cupboards of my mind too full? What about my emotions? Are there any old wounds and hurts that I need to release to the wind?” Fall is a time for taking stock and cleaning house.

When we think of this type of cleaning many of us think of spring. But for me, fall is the time. I don’t want to be closed up for winter with too many obligations, too much stuff, too few hours for home and family or feelings that burden my days and nights. Winter is for rest and I want to be free to rest.

This is a principle which allows us to have a great deal of freedom: Keep it simple. When you put something in, take something out. This principle, when observed, can help us have more time for family, relationships, and learning.

As my darling daughter, Jenny, so elegantly said, “Precious Autumn demonstrated graceful change to me today, to change and release with grace.”

Sometimes Less is More!

Times change!

I know because I have witnessed almost seven decades of life and I can tell you that times change.

I can remember being four years old, living in sunny CA. I had two sisters younger than me and we were all a year apart. I can see us playing on the front stoop of our home. We were pulling dead pine needles off of the Christmas tree to put in our mud pie cakes.

When I was between the age of eight and fourteen we lived in ID. Summer days are clearly etched into my mind. We ran in a large pack of kids all summer. We played soldiers and nurses (a sign of our time), we swam in the canal and played in the gravel pit. We walked the few blocks to the local grocery store for penny candy (it really cost a penny). I remember finding large rocks in the field, painting them with mud and decorating them with flowers and leaves (a forerunner to almost 50 years of professional cake decorating).

I can remember times that my siblings and I laid out under the stars looking for the milky way or doing the same on a hot summer afternoon searching the clouds as they changed shape from a dinosaur to a huge fish, to a funny long nosed clown or a slow moving turtle.

Those summer days were filled with simple pleasures. We spent our time doing what kids did back then, playing together outdoors, using our imaginations and warding off the sometimes summer boredom. We didn’t dare take that complaint indoors to a parent because it meant work.

But times change. The world is a bit less safe. What kids do for fun has changed. But most of all we have lost the freedom of long, lazy, empty summer days.

Today there is far less down time for kids and families

Here is what I notice when I am mentoring mothers and fathers. There is a feeling that somehow they are just not measuring up. There is the feeling that they need to give their kids more – more lessons, more opportunity to see the world, more trips to the water park, more organized activities. There is the desire to fill their days with things that will give them a leg up in the world.

I want to remind parents that it is valuable to step back and remember that often less is more! That simplicity opens space in a family for Presence, for the opportunity to really create and cement relationships. There is great value in simplifying your calendar in the summer so that there is time to just be together as a family.

What really makes kids happy?

In a study of thirteen to twenty-four-year-olds conducted by the Associated Press and MTV, more than 100 questions were asked of 1,280 young people. The questions were all centered on determining what made these youth happy. Can you guess the number one answer? Spending time with family! Yup, that’s right, spending time with family. These kids and young adults were ages thirteen to twenty-four. (Associated Press, “Youth Happiness Study”). Does this surprise you?

Relationships are built when we learn to be Present with another human being. It requires that we hear and see our children and youth. We can do that best when we are less stressed, less overwhelmed, less busy. We accomplish this as we simplify our calendars, especially in the summer.

Recently I asked my children, their spouses, my cousins and friends what were the best memories they had from when they were kids. Here is a small sampling –

-I remember our family on the fourth of July at the park having a picnic.
-I loved … sitting in the dark with the Christmas lights on in the living room.
-I loved New Year’s Eve and the cheese and meat tray that we ate while sitting on the floor watching a movie.
-I remember our walks together…
-I remember and me sitting under the table reading a chapter of Katie John together.
-I remember mom reading us a chapter each night from Old Yeller. I loved the inflections in her voice, that undivided time with her and the comfort of our warm bed.
-My mom used to sell Avon, and she would keep all the big boxes her orders came in. We used the boxes to makes houses to play in. It was so fun!

What a simple summer day looks like.

Do you notice how simple these things are? They all involve being home with family. They all required down time. They required very little money and no car time. Children need time to be with their siblings and parents. They need and want time to play with other kids un-managed by adults. It helps develop important skills. They want to lay in the grass and ‘waste a bit of time’ staring at the stars.

We are almost finished with July and will be moving into August. Some families return to school in mid August. Wow, the summer is almost gone. Why not take a look at your family’s calendar. Take a hiatus from some of your classes, organized activities, planned trips or events. Make room to see, hear, and respond to your family members by simplifying how much time you spend away from home.

It is valuable to remember that sometimes less is more! What can you do to find more at-home family time this summer?

P.S. You can learn more about the power of simplifying in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less, there is an entire chapter on this one topic.

I invite you to visit becomingapresentparent.com and get a FREE chapter of the book. It’s called Utilizing Touchpoints and it can be life changing for your family. I promise!

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