Live Simply in 2019, July Mantra: Release Expectations

Monday, July 1, 2019

Live Simply in 2019, July mantra: Release Expectations

We’re a demanding group of people; have you noticed? We want precisely what we want at the moment we desire it, hold strongly preconceived notions about how long getting what we want should take, how much it will cost, and how much effort it will require.

These expectations are so often fulfilled according to our exact wishes (hello, Prime shipping, GPS, et al.), causing us to treat expectations as guarantees.

But the world doesn’t run on Prime. The timelines for projects can–and usually do–shift. Unforeseen obstacles arise. Traffic happens. And if we have not consciously cultivated an ability to cope with things not panning out as we initially expected, we are doomed to be brought down by those changes.

It isn’t that we shouldn’t be allowed to hold reasonable expectations for the people in our lives. In fact, being able to rely on those we work or live with, in some capacity or other, is essential to healthy relationships.

Nor is it unreasonable to figure that our daily commutes will take as long as they normally do, that mailing a letter across the country will take as long as the USPS prescribes that it will, that hitting a career groove will tend to happen in one’s 20’s and 30’s, or that the watermelon, so carefully chosen at optimal ripeness, won’t be full of crumbly, mealy bits.

The key is to hold all of those, first and foremost, as desired outcomes. We can look forward to a given result occurring in a preferred amount of time. But we would be wise to consider such wishes as best-case-scenario, most favorable possibilities that the world may generously provide to us, but does not owe us.

Everything beyond that, hard as it may seem to a society of fortunate, spoiled, hopeful, humans, we leave to the universe to control. We acknowledge, even through gritted teeth, that life is unfolding at a perfectly synced pace, and that every moment is ripe with opportunity from which we can learn and grow.

Live Simply in 2019, June Mantra: Simplify Schedules

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Embracing a freer schedule is natural, but it isn’t normal in this part of the world. Here, we hurry. We shlep. We carpool, and schedule, and reschedule, and sign up, and register and pre-register. We keep busy.

Busyness is the way in which we distract ourselves from having to examine who we might really be and what we might really want. Being busy keeps fear at bay. Fear that children might not turn out successful enough, fear that we aren’t successful enough, fear of what other people think of us and our families, fear of failure, fear of being found out.

“Keep the schedule full,” is the collective mantra. Keep the kids stimulated and educated. For heaven’s sake, don’t let them have a chance to get bored! Boredom, uninterrupted by adult suggestions may lead to imaginative, independent play, and lord knows we don’t need any of that to clean up! Keep everyone on the advanced track. Keep signing up. Keep networking.

But the seasons are our truest guides.

In winter, nature leads us to draw inwards and reflect.

In Springtime, we feel the pep of renewal. We hold hope as more than a mere possibility. We see signs of growth all around us.

Summer instructs us to unbend our kinks. It tells us to relax our rules, and to be wise in the expenditure of our energy. Running frantically under the hot, June sun in the middle of the day just doesn’t make sense. It’s far too sweaty.

Summer arrives like a trumpet blast to overpower all of that noise. June begins the season in which nature calls us not to keep pace and move at break-neck, but to Simplify our schedules. To embrace the chance to have big, fat, watermelon chunks of unscheduled time to daydream, run through sprinklers, read a book (Imagine, doing that!), shoo flies from the meals cooked and eaten outside.

Summer invites us to delineate between the hours when it’s advantageous to work, and the hours when it’s only sensible to luxuriate in stillness. To worship the sun and the water, and to linger as the days do.

This time around, don’t rush through it with such flustered anxiety. Enjoy. Relax. Bask.

It’ll be gone in an instant, like a firefly that even as it glows, has already begun to disappear into the darkness once again.

Live Simply In 2019, May Mantra: Revel In The Routine

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Routines are magic. 

Tasked with making an endless slew of new, additional decisions daily, our overloaded minds thrive when they’re able to rely on pre-established rhythms and choices.

But when we aren’t present to our daily lives, when we’re just going through the motions, routines can turn into the stale traps a person dreams of escaping.

The way to avoid routine-burnout is to derive exceeding pleasure in the facets of your daily life. And the way to do that is to be very, very picky with every detail of it. To design your daily life.

If you’re just getting up, sloshing water and some cleanser or other on your face, chugging a smoothie, lacing up your crumby old shoes, showering, rushing to work, toiling away, coming home, heating up leftovers, staring at your phone, before going to bed to wake up and do it all over again, you’re getting it done. But getting it done and enjoying the doing are two different things.

Fall in love with your daily routine by filling it with your favorite things. Ensure that what you can control about it sufficiently serves and delights you.

Find the facial cleanser that you love to use. The one that smells or feels so good on your skin that you can, for that instant, enjoy the act of washing your face.

Compose an artful smoothie. Pack it full of your favorite flavors and nutrients. Savor it.

Give yourself the gift of an exercise method you love–or loathe the least–and then, when you’re done, soak up every ounce of those feelings of accomplishment.

Make your laundry room the happiest corner of your house.

And then–and this is key–stop rushing around and staring at your screen long enough to actually enjoy, and feel gratitude for, the nuances of your life.

Allow yourself the freedom to shift your routine as new curiosities and inclinations arise in you. When your deeper values are clarified, the small, daily choices you make to uphold them are easily tweaked. Usually, reviving a routine can be as Simple as re-ordering the clothes in your closet or putting a different fruit in your breakfast bowl. 

Your day has to unfold, and as a human, you’re duty bound to attend to such things as hunger, hygiene, and (I would add) housekeeping. Might as well be selective about those rhythms. The choice to view the unfolding of the day and the attending to needs as an annoyance or as an art is just that–a choice.

Will there be days when, even after you’ve designed your life, you’re dashing around the house like a mad person, swearing at the Nespresso and stubbing your toe on the coffee table? Mama said there’d be.

But when all else fails and you’re at a loss for how to get excited about your routine, there’s always the old faithful acknowledgment: How lucky I am to live another day! Thank you.