Category Archives: Simple

The Slow Road

The Slow Road - A Simple Living Workshop

I don’t normally post here on a Tuesday, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to tell you tickets to the first of our Slow Living Workshops are now available and I couldn’t be more excited!

The Slow Road is a half-day workshop designed to help you create a slower, simpler life.

Co-hosted by myself and Bele Masterman of Blah Blah Magazine, we’ll be sharing gentle and practical ways to slow down and simplify in a world that values speed, consumption and constant connection.

You’ll walk away feeling refreshed, motivated and inspired, but just as importantly, you’ll also leave with a range of tools to use in your everyday life. You’ll learn how to uncover your priorities, live mindfully, create rhythms and escape the burden of your clutter.

What’s more, you’ll learn about these things in the company of others who want the same for their own lives and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions of Bele and myself as we share our own (very different) journeys towards a slower, simpler life.

Lewers Gallery

Workshop Details:

Date: Sunday 26th July, 11am – 3pm.

Venue: The gorgeous (and somewhat unexpected) Lewers Gallery in Emu Plains.

One of my favourite places in the Sydney area, Lewers is close to where I grew up and somewhere I take my kids on the regular. It has amazing gardens, three beautiful exhibition spaces and a cafe that serves exceptionally good local food, coffee and cocktails.

We chose the gallery because it exemplifies slow living and offers you an amazing chance to reset, refresh and reflect on the life you want to live, plus it’s just so ridiculously pretty.

Inclusions: Light refreshments will be provided throughout the day, and you are more than welcome to bring your own lunch or buy something from the cafe on-site. (I can highly recommend the grilled haloumi burger!)

Tickets:  We want to keep the workshop small and intimate so places are limited.  Tickets are available here.

We can’t wait to see you there!

Also, we’ve already had a lot of questions about workshops in other cities.

  • Gold Coast and Brisbane folk – we’re thinking about a couple of events in mid-August and will keep you posted.
  • Melbourne people – we’ve had a lot of requests so please know we’re working on it and will update you when we have details.
  • International readers – thank you so much for taking the survey last week! Portland, Chicago, Atlanta, London and Berlin all represented super strong. I’m working on plans for workshops and will let you know details as soon as I can.

Sydney friends, grab your tickets to The Slow Road here – we look forward to seeing you there. 

A Manifesto for a Simple Life (and Giveaway!)

A Manifesto for a Simple Life - Kelly Exeter

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from my friend and fellow simplicity-seeker, Kelly Exeter of A Life Less Frantic. Kelly has five copies of her new book, ‘Your Best Year Ever’ to give away – see the end of this post for details.

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Four years ago, feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I sat down and wrote myself what was effectively a wish list. I called it A Manifesto for a Simple Life, and it helped clarify a (clearly) deep-seated craving I had: the need to distil my complicated life down to only what was necessary.

Four years on, those words still stand up (always nice when that happens!). I return to them whenever life threatens to overwhelm me. They’re an ongoing reminder that while we may live in a complicated world, life itself can be simple if we let it.

And it seems I’m not alone in finding relief in simplicity. That manifesto has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media, and I’ve received countless emails thanking me for breaking it down. People often ask me about what it all means. Why did I choose these particular aims to help me with my goal of simplicity?

This is the story behind my Manifesto for a Simple Life.

Eat less, move more

There is so much angst and self-loathing around food and body image these days. How do I know this (beyond what my eyes can see)? Well the number one article that Google sends people to on my site is this one about ‘how to stop thinking about food all the time.’

Given I wrote that post, I clearly know what it feels like to obsess about food and the effect it was having on my weight. And happily, since I’ve been able to overcome it, I can assure you that not doing that anymore has made life a LOT simpler.

What’s been the biggest game-changer for me in this regard? Mindfulness.

For example: would you like a piece of cake? Then eat the damn cake! But, instead of cutting yourself a tiny sliver (because then it doesn’t ‘count’ right?), and then another, and then another (and getting to the end of the day to find you’ve eaten half a cake), cut yourself a God-honest piece of cake.

Now sit down with it and savour every single mouthful. Eat ALL your food this way. Mindfully. When you’re mindful (as opposed to obsessive), you just naturally ‘eat less’ and you also find yourself eating ‘better’.

The same applies to ‘move more’. Be mindful of the opportunities in your day to move your body, and then take them! Get off the bus one stop early. Park in the far corner of the shopping centre car park. Walk with your kids to school rather than driving.

The human body is designed to move. It’s been shown that regular exercise is the world’s greatest wonder drug. Let’s get more of that good stuff in our day!

Being in good health makes life unimaginably simpler! If you’ve ever had good health snatched away you’ll know this as truth.

Buy less, make more

The rampant consumerism in our world right now is a concern, don’t you think? If you’ve ever had the pleasure of moving house, you’ll have a good idea of just how much ‘stuff’ you’ve managed to accumulate. Mostly stuff you just don’t need.

All that stuff is complicating your life by cluttering not just your physical space, but your mental space, too.

So if handcrafting gifts or growing your own food is your thing, please, do more of that.

If spending money and keeping the economy alive is your thing, why not buy experiences instead?

That way you get the opportunity to make memories as opposed to buying more “stuff”.

Stress less, laugh more

One recurring piece of feedback I get from people reading A Manifesto for a Simple Life is: “Stress less? I’d love to, but I don’t even know where to begin.”

Well the perfect place to start is by surrounding yourself with people who make you laugh (or at the very least put a smile on your face.)

We’ve all got people in our lives for whom everything is a drama. We’ve all got people who send our cortisol levels through the roof. Do we need these people in our lives? Probably not. Can we spend less time with these people? Almost certainly.

Life becomes a lot simpler when we choose to focus on the relationships that are good for our souls. If someone makes us laugh, makes us feel lighter, then that relationship is good for the soul.

Feel blessed, love more

Every one of us has goals, dreams and desires for the future.

And every one of us (no matter our situation) has something abundant in our life worthy of celebration right now.

One of life’s simplest truths is this: if we’re not happy with the abundance in our lives right now, we’re not going to be happy with any abundance the future may hold. 

If you’re really struggling to feel blessed, the quickest way to overcome this is to put more love out into the world. It’s a simple truth of the universe that we get back what we put out, and love conquers all.

Another technique you can try is this one:

Sit down and run through all the things you have to do in your day. Ie “I have to get out of bed in the morning …” and so on.

Now run through the exact same list but precede everything you have to do with “I choose to …” In other words: “I choose to get out of bed in the morning.” That’s a nice shift huh?

Now try the same line with “I am blessed …” at the start. “I am blessed to get out of bed in the morning.”

Game-changer. I can’t think of a better way to practice gratitude and feel blessed every day than this.

Find a quiet spot every day and breathe

When all else fails; when everything going on in our lives threatens to overwhelm and crash down on us, it’s time to carve out some quiet moments in the day for ourselves.

It could be five minutes in the shower. It might be two minutes in the toilet (with the door locked so the kids can’t get in!) It might be that one minute a night between putting down the book you’re reading … and falling asleep.

These moments are so precious. And crucial!

They bring us firmly back into the present and allow us to re-calibrate.

It’s these moments that give us the truest taste of what life can feel like when we keep things simple.

And if you’re anything like me, those moments are more delicious than cake! 

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Kelly Exeter is a mother of two, wife of one, writer, designer, blogger, runner, business owner … the list does go on. After many years on the hamster wheel she’s finally figured out how to live A Life Less Frantic®. She shares the 7 simple shifts in thinking that got her there in her book Your Best Year Ever (which is currently 99c on Amazon so … get on it!).

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GIVEAWAY TIME: Kelly has FIVE copies of her new book Your Best Year Yet to give away to readers of Slow Your Home. To enter, simply leave a comment (be sure to include your email address when filling out your details) and let me know your favourite part of the manifesto. 

This competition is open to everyone and entries close Thursday 2nd July 2015 11:59pm AEST, with winners notified within 24 hours.

The Bridge

The Bridge

There is a bridge about a kilometre from my house and every time I go for a run, I cross it.

It’s not until I reach the bridge that I find my rhythm. Before then, I’m short of breath, I feel heavy and awkward and much like Jack Donaghy, I never quite know what to do with my arms. I struggle through those first minutes and I really want to turn around and go home.

But then I hit the bridge and things become easier. I feel lighter. I start to remember why I wanted to go for a run in the first place. I find my stride, my breathing eases up and I can relax and pay attention to what’s happening around me.

Turns out I don’t love the discomfort of running. But I absolutely love the feeling and I love the results.

I love the feeling of elation when I make it to the top of the big hill near my house. I love the Rocky fist pump I give myself every time I do it. I love the burst of energy I get after running. I love how my fitness continues to improve. I love that I’m feeling stronger.

And in that nugget of realisation is my reason for writing today.

You don’t have to love the sometimes difficult process of simplifying or slowing down. Spending time decluttering, saying no, working on your rhythms, figuring out what’s important to you – these aren’t particularly fun. Sometimes they’re bearable, sometimes they’re uncomfortable and sometimes they’re completely unpleasant.

But the feeling and the results are what makes it worthwhile.

Having a home free of clutter, not spending all weekend cleaning, fewer stresses, extra space and energy and money, the unmistakable lightness of living with less, the freedom that comes with it – these things are what makes the work worthwhile.

The Why is the key. Not the How. Not the How Much. Not even the How Long.

It’s simply a matter of starting, even when you don’t want to. It’s about tying up your shoes, walking out the front door and putting one foot in front of the other until you find your bridge.

It will get easier. You’ll start to find your stride and before long you’ll be paying attention to other things. Living slowly will just be part of who you are. But until then, you need to do the work.

On those days I really don’t want to run, I make myself a deal. I don’t have to actually go running if I don’t want to. But I do need to put on my running shoes, walk out the front door and close it behind me. After that, I’m free to turn around and go back inside.

But here’s the thing: I’ve never gone back inside.

I make starting so easy that I’d feel ridiculous not doing it.

So instead of trying to force yourself to make enormous sweeping changes, make it so easy you’ll feel ridiculous not doing it.

  • You don’t have to declutter your entire wardrobe. Just remove one thing you no longer wear.
  • You don’t have to say no to every social invitation that comes your way. Just promise yourself that this Saturday afternoon, from 4:00-6:00pm, will be free.
  • You don’t have to eat supremely healthy meals 3 times a day every day, forever. Just add some carrot sticks to your plate.

And almost every single time, that one small act will propel you to doing more. You might pull out 10 items from the wardrobe. You could keep the entire day free. You might make a salad for dinner.

But even if you don’t, even if you put your shoes on, walk out the front door and walk back in again, you’ve still shifted your mindset and you’ve proven to yourself that you can do it. And over time, that’s going to help you a lot more than beating yourself up over what you didn’t do.

So just have faith that there will be a bridge. There will be a time when you realise, “Hey, this is getting easier.” And until then, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how slowly.

Slow Living Workshops – Are You Interested?

Slow Living Workshops

I’m quite introverted. I enjoy my own company, I’m a big fan of quiet and often find social gatherings (particularly large groups of people I don’t know well) incredibly intimidating.

This year, however, I’ve come to realise the importance of connection – the kind that happens in the real-world, face to face, in person.

It started when I met up with blog readers in a coffee shop in Calgary and has continued with my weekly video calls for The Bloom. And since I launched the podcast it’s become increasingly obvious to me that we, as humans, benefit massively from connection. We learn from interacting with others. We gain so much from hearing their stories and listening to their experiences.

There is a great deal to be gained from reading about and even listening to someone else’s experiences. I do it all the time. But it’s not the same as sitting in a room and learning from them, asking questions, getting a sense of who they are and what’s important to them.

That’s one of the reasons I’m launching a series of Slow Living Workshops. The events will give people the opportunity to do just that – connect with myself and like-minded folks and learn what it is to create a slower, simpler life.

In late July, I’ll be teaming up with Cybele from BlahBlah Magazine to hold a half-day slow living workshop in Sydney (more details to come soon).

And in late September I’m hoping to hold a workshop somewhere in the United States. Due to travel and time restrictions there is only time for one event on Sunday 27th September, but I would love your help choosing which city to hold it in.

I’ve put together a very brief (three questions only) survey which you can find at the bottom of the post and would be so grateful if you could take one minute to complete it.

As I mentioned above, I’m only able to hold one event due to travel and time restrictions, but if there’s enough interest I would be very keen to return for a longer trip next year. So even if you’re unable to make the September event I would be grateful if you could complete the survey and nominate your closest city, so I can try to include it in an extended visit in 2016.

Also, for those of us not in North America, there is room to nominate your closest major city as well. I’d love to hear from readers in Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia too!

September Event Details:

Date: Sunday 27th September

Time: TBC (Approx 4 hours in length)

Venue: TBC

Cost: TBC (Looking at around $50, including light refreshments)

Please complete the very brief survey below:

For those of you who already answered on Twitter and Facebook – thank you! I’ve taken your suggestions into account and will add your votes to the totals I receive here.

 

Powered by Typeform

 

As for the Sydney event:

Cybele and I are working out the final details this week and will be posting ticket information next week, but we will be holding a half-day slow living workshop in late July. I’m so excited at how it’s coming together and can’t wait to share it with you.

Tickets will be limited and available for purchase online next week.

In the meantime, thank you for completing the survey, feel free to leave comments or suggestions for the workshops below and enjoy your week!

 

Your Minimalist Wardrobe Questions Answered

Your Minimalist Wardrobe Questions Answered

Yesterday I showed you inside my small (but well-formed!) wardrobe and while I’m sure that was interesting to some of you, there are many more who have questions about the process rather than the contents of my personal cupboard.

So I’ve compiled a list of the most common minimalist wardrobe questions in the hopes that it will help inspire you to try it yourself.

How do I get started?

Yesterday’s post is a good place to begin, but if you’re feeling completely overwhelmed I would suggest:

  1. Reading the 2015 Simple Living Handbook. It has a whole chapter devoted to simplifying your wardrobe, starting on page 25. Download a free copy here and use it to work through the contents of your wardrobe piece by piece. It doesn’t matter if this takes you a day, a week or even more, simply commit to removing everything that no longer fits, is never worn, is beyond repair or that you simply don’t like.
  2. Understand your requirements. If you work in a corporate environment, you need smart officewear. (It’s been a long time since I’ve worked in a corporate environment, so I won’t pretend to have the answers for this. Check out Light by Coco or Project333 for starters.) If you’re at home with young kids, you’re looking at a more casual wardrobe. You need to establish your requirements and balance the ratio of work/casual clothes based on this. In many cases (though not all) you can make items work for both work and casualwear.
  3. Understand your personal style. If you don’t think you have one, simply look at the styles you’ve been drawn to consistently, and find what it is about them you like. Spend some time on Pinterest, pinning the looks you like to a personal board, and ask yourself whether these work based on your requirements (see above). There’s no right and wrong here, but having a good understanding of what you like, what suits you and what works for your lifestyle means it will be easier to create a small, effective wardrobe.

Honestly, it’s been a gradual process for me to discover what I need, what I like, what I already had and what I wanted to add to my wardrobe. I didn’t have the time, money, headspace or energy to do this process quickly and I’m actually really glad. Don’t worry if the process feels slow. Sometimes that might mean you need to live with clothes you don’t love, or have fewer clothes than is strictly comfortable for a little while, but doing that helps clarify what you do and don’t want and, importantly, what you do and don’t need.

What about fancy events?

Like I said in yesterday’s post, my wardrobe has me covered for virtually all events, so I’d suggest a few separates that work well together, plus some good heels, a nice clutch, an interesting necklace and a jacket that works with a wide range of items (my black trench is a gem).

But for a proper cocktail event or a black tie function I typically hire a dress from a service like Glam Corner (Australia) or Rent The Runway (US). It’s a fun way to wear clothes I wouldn’t normally buy and most of the good companies offer a “try before you rent” deal.

How often do you need to do laundry?

I wash a load of clothes every day. This keeps it simple and I never (well, rarely) have to conquer Mt. Washmore. I find keeping on top of regular tasks like laundry makes it much simpler to maintain. While it might be a pain in the butt to do it daily (or every second day if you don’t have kids) I find it’s preferable to spending half my Saturday washing clothes.

I also don’t wash clothes unless they’re dirty. My almost year-old raw denim jeans have never been washed, I will happily wear a jumper or hoodie for more than one day, and an outfit worn for a few hours rarely needs laundering.

That being said, I wash gym gear, school uniforms, work clothes etc daily.

How do you account for seasonal changes?

Most of my wardrobe is transitional and much of it stays out year-round. Summer has shorts, singlets, dresses and sandals, where winter sees me bring out the boots, scarves and jackets. Aside from that, the shirts, tshirts, jeans, most dresses and shoes stay put.

I keep my out of season clothes in a plastic tub in the linen cupboard and once every six months (when the weather tells me it’s time) will pull it out and swap items over. If ever there is something I’m not quite sure about keeping, I will leave it in the box for six months and if I haven’t needed it in that time it gets donated at the next change-over.

Even though I live in an area with mild winters, my wardrobe also worked in the Canadian Rockies over winter. With the addition of our snowboarding gear and the following, there was plenty of options for a much colder winter:

  • down jacket
  • 2 pairs thermal pants
  • 2 thermal undershirts
  • 2 long tanks
  • 2 woollen hats
  • mittens
  • heavy duty snow boots
  • 4 pairs woollen socks

It really was a matter of layering, rather than having an entirely different wardrobe. And, as I said yesterday, I realise that holidaying for one month is different to living and working in that climate. I just want to show that even when you live in an area with four very distinct seasons, much of what you wear can work across a wide range of temperatures.

What if you love patterns and colours?

This is one I’m asked a lot, as I think people see minimalist wardrobes as needing to have a minimalist aesthetic. But I think there is plenty of room for pattern and colour in a small wardrobe.

I would suggest choosing one or two neutrals (these don’t need to be a traditional neutral either, it might be black, denim, white, tan, yellow or blue, for example) and having patterns and colours that work with those. Then you can wear neutral/plain bottoms with a patterned top, or a plain jacket with a brightly coloured dress.

I would suggest keeping your basics plain or neutral (jeans, pants, jackets, tshirts, shorts etc) as you can then pair those with brighter items. Particularly if you like changing it up often, it’s better to have good, solid foundation pieces and change your patterns with a new top or scarf.

Also? There’s no rules here. It’s just about dressing with fewer items of clothing so we can minimise stress, waste, clutter and the decision of what to wear when faced with an overflowing wardrobe.

What if I’m on a tight budget?

Even more reason to make sure you don’t buy cheap items that only last one or two washes! That being said, there are ways to make your money/clothes stretch further:

  • eBay for higher-priced items: One pair of jeans, my riding boots and a vintage skirt are all eBay specials in my wardrobe, and these cost well under retail. I had tried the jeans on in store so I knew the size and style were right, but keeping an eye on eBay when you need something specific is a good way to save money on good quality basics.
  • Thrift shops/op shops: I don’t go op-shopping or thrifting because I was born without the gene that helps me recognise a good buy from a frumpy acrylic option, and it can be difficult to remain minimalist when thrift shopping simply because items can be too cheap to pass up. Just keep in mind that unless they’re what you need and they fit well, even cheap second-hand items are a waste of space and money.
  • Reduce, re-use, repair: Look after what you have, get holes repaired, resole your shoes, follow the washing instructions, wash only when required, use laundry bags for your delicates. Taking care of the things you own is the best way to reduce the amount spent on clothes.
  • Buy quality where possible: While it might seem counter-intuitive to spend more when you’re on a budget, I suggest buying the best you can afford. I couldn’t tell you the number of cheap jeans I went through before discovering that a quality pair will last 3-4 years as opposed to 2-3 months.

Do you get bored with your clothes?

In a word, yes.

But no more (and, in fact, significantly less) than when I had an overflowing wardrobe full of things I never wore.

With a good, small wardrobe, I have the option of wearing things every day that I really like. It makes it easier to dress, easier to walk out the door without second-guessing my choices and easier to not think about it any more.

The key thing to remember?

I do this in order to spend time and energy thinking about other things. It’s nice to have clothes that fit, that work well for my lifestyle, that I enjoy wearing. But it’s really, really, really not that important.

A small wardrobe is a means to an end, and that end is living life and doing other things with my brain, my time, my energy, my passion. It’s a great change to make and one I’d recommend you try for yourself.

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Tomorrow, to round out Unofficial Wardrobe Week, I’m bringing you a podcast interview with Courtney Carver of Project333 and Be More With Less.

Be sure to come back and listen to our conversation about small wardrobes, where I store my unwashed jeans, how she shifted from a hectic, overwhelmed life to one of simplicity, and what her family thought of the changes she’s made.

 

 

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