Minimal Monday

I’ve been collecting blurbs for my upcoming memoir. In addition, one writer pulled out some lines from my book that he liked a lot. I am sharing these lines below.


• I’ve become the best-behaved little girl, but my hair is still unruly.

• She will tuck our mother back into the past, not worthy of any more effort, and I will do the same.

• Once Catholics, we had stopped going to church several years ago, jumped right off the moving sidewalk of sacraments before her Confirmation.

• I can feel her regret that is so vast it could swallow her; I think her grief might turn her to particles, to the dust in the desert she lives in.

• In this moment, the art is everything.

Happy Monday and Happy Creating!

Minimal Monday

Each year I reread one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s books, and this year I’ve chosen The Four Agreements Companion Book.

Ruiz’s books are full of great wisdom and insight, but I want to share part of a passage that I think is pure gold in its simplicity.

In Chapter Seven, Ruiz writes about seeing through our old beliefs that we adopted from others in order to get to our authentic truth. He acknowledges that this can be very difficult because the belief system that breaks our integrity has our loyalty. So how do we know what is true?

“Go inside and listen to your body because your body will never lie to you. Your mind will play tricks, but the way you feel in your heart, in your gut, is the truth.”

(Ruiz, 2000, p.152)

Isn’t this reason enough to live in our bodies? To take great care of our vessels? To get out of our heads, and to experience the richness of life, including truths that are beautiful and those that are painful, is truly living.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

With each new year comes the rewarding and fun task of choosing a fresh planner. As I’ve already written about, I love using Cal Newport’s Time-Block Planner to schedule chunks of time to work on writing projects https://danalaquidara.com/2022/08/08/minimal-monday-25/ . But I use a separate tool, an agenda, for my weekly and monthly calendar and to-do list, and I think I think I’ve outdone myself with my choice for 2023. I purchased the Dreambook + Planner which includes far more prompts for hashing out your life dreams, goals and values than any planner should. It also costs as much as a fancy lunch for two, but hey, it lasts all year. https://dreambook.vision/

I ordered this Dreambook + Planner just before life got so “lifey” for me, and then I hesitated to crack it open on January 1st. What was I thinking when I chose such an in-depth planner? Who has time to reflect and journal on things like Am I trustworthy to myself and Am I focusing on the right things? I could feel my eyes rolling at How do I feel in my body when I wake up in the morning and Three Questions for Healing and Evolution. I began to have some buyer’s remorse.

I’ve got a lot on my plate this year and perhaps I should’ve gone with my typical, good ole simple planner. But here’s the thing – When I did finally get myself to sit down with this spiral bound beauty, I felt optimistic, and peaceful, like I might actually benefit from it. When stressful life events come knocking, reminders like How can I reframe something stressful and What does it feel like to take a deep breath and Rituals to thrive are not at all bad. What are you procrastinating? What are you wasting energy on? And a built in Habit Tracker– who can’t benefit from that? My healthy habits keep me grounded and calm. Anything that helps me to stick to them is a good thing.

Sometimes we need simplicity, like a basic calendar. Other times, life calls for a deeper dive, and a lot more thoughtfulness. Perhaps this is my year for the planner that is like a calendar, journal, guide and motivator all in one. I’m taking a deep breath and diving in.

Happy New Year!

Minimal Monday

I am having a bit of trouble with deciding how to end my book and I think I know why. Life is fluid, always changing, and I believe it is good to allow ourselves to change too. Limiting a story- and in the case of a memoir, half a lifetime – to the finite, physical containment of a book feels a bit confining. Today’s ending may not be tomorrow’s ending; there is always more to come.

I have never been a particularly nostalgic person and I think it is because I want to believe the best is yet to come. I want to feel like I am growing, changing for the better, and open to what is ahead. I don’t ever want to feel stuck or like I am clinging too tightly to what is or what was.

My memoir will have its ending like all books do. My story, on the other hand, will never be bound to the pages. The true ending will always be unwritten.

Happy Monday evening!

Minimal Monday

I must admit, in light of Elon Musk’s recent shenanigans, I was happy to have the perfect excuse to ditch Twitter. It’s not as though I really needed an excuse, but until the quit-twitter bandwagon, I had been letting inertia keep me there. I was an inactive user (wait, is that an oximoron?) I had created the account long ago, back when I thought I had to do All the Things, and then I felt inadequate because I was too overwhelmed and inconsistent to actually partake in any meaningful way. I do appreciate that many people will miss the old Twitter; I am just not one of them.

I don’t want to do All the Things. I want to do a couple things well. I want to be happy with how my memoir is turning out, and once it’s published I want to do my part to get it in the right readers’ hands, those who will benefit from my story. I want to do this mindfully.

At a time when writers and other artists and entrepreneurs are being told to be heard, play big, and be seen, be everywhere, all I want to do is the opposite of that. More and more, I just want to be quiet. I want to keep writing and sharing my writing, but beyond that I want to be still. I crave to be in nature, and cook creative and healthy meals, and, borrowing from James Taylor, to shower the people I love with love.

It must be the act of writing memoir, the calling forth of my memories, regrets, and truth that is causing me to feel, I don’t know, reverent? Humble? I am at peace with the process but I require a lot of reflection, presence, and solitude to nurture this process and to allow the right words to come through me. And I am beginning to trust that this is enough for now, and that things are going to unfold as they should. I believe that my story will shed light, educate, and offer hope. I believe it so much that I don’t want to shout it. I want to whisper with my whole heart.

Or maybe I’m just lazy. But I don’t think so.

Perhaps it is partly due to the stage of writing that I am in, or my age, but I think it’s more than that, and I am curious to find out where this feeling takes me.

I know I am not the only one tired of all that steals our attention when we just need to be still. We are all finding our way to our balance, our sweet spot, the outer reflection of our inner worlds. It looks different for each person and it is never a linear path, is it?

Minimal Monday

One of my favorite and most challenging areas to simplify is my writing life. My memoir coach, the talented and magnificent Marion Roach Smith, has told me that every scene should move the story forward. (You can find Marion here: https://marionroach.com/)

The writing advice that we should kill our darlings, a phrase coined by William Faulkner, is ever-present in my mind these days. It means that writers “must ruthlessly eliminate any words, characters, side plots or turns of phrase that we personally love but that do nothing for the story.” Memoir should not be a recounting of everything we remember. It needs a theme, and the particular scenes that support that theme. Everything else needs to go.

Rather than calling it killing my darlings though, I prefer to say clearing out my writing clutter. It suits me better. And a major part of my revision process has been to do just that. Chapter by chapter, I am applying my love for decluttering, clarity and simplicity, so that every scene is poignant and nearly every word is necessary. Who would’ve thought my passion for decluttering and organizing would serve me so well in writing? I think Marion will be proud.

Minimal Monday

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how a minimalist philosophy is one of subtraction. If you missed that post, you can read it here: https://danalaquidara.com/2022/08/22/minimal-monday-27/ .

I am revisiting the topic because I keep bumping up against the truth of it in my every day life, and especially lately in my writing life. Being on deadline to complete my memoir, I cannot afford to waste time, indulge in distractions or vices, or be anywhere but here in the present moment, doing what needs to be done. The only “extras”, if you can even call them that, are staying connected to my loved ones and taking care of myself in ways that preserve my energy and my health; but I prefer to think of these as non-negotiables.

Even though writing typically makes me feel fulfilled and whole, sometimes it can leave me feeling raw, and vulnerable. The very act of working on my memoir can leave me with the desire to waste time, indulge in distractions, and escape to anywhere-but-here. After all, memoirs contain some tough topics and mine is no exception. But when I resist the urge to escape, I start to feel the most me I’ve ever felt. I feel liberated.

What is your craft, or your passion? What is the deepest you can go with it?

Is anything preventing you from going there? Is it fear?

I hope you let everything else fall away as you go into the wild places of your heart. I bet you’ll meet your Self there, and what a reunion it will be!

Minimal Monday

Here are four things that having a deadline for finishing my book is teaching me:

#1 I should have stopped procrastinating long ago, and taken my creative work more seriously. Now that I have a guarantee of publication, I have to acknowledge all of the time that I could have been working on my book but didn’t. Then I have to let that go.

#2 Doing my craft consistently and for reasonably large blocks of time makes me present, fulfilled, and at peace. I am pretty sure no one promises this more completely than Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art. I read his book at least twice, and I knew he got it right, but now I am living it.

#3 FOCUSING my ATTENTION is the most important factor in getting something done and it is also the action most likely to be sabotaged and stolen in modern times. Focused attention needs to be planned for and protected. Without it, I am rendered useless, at the whim of every distraction.

#4 I need breaks, and when I’ve written for a good chunk of time, the simplest things feel like the most satisfying indulgences: Basking in the sun for a few minutes, playing with my granddaughters, cooking a meal, taking a walk.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

Summer can be a fun season with all the events, activities, mini-vacations and days in the sun. But for someone like me who lives a healthier, more productive and creative life when I follow a routine, summer can easily throw me off my game. It’s not that I want every single day to be the same, but as a writer, I’ve got plenty of adventure going on inside my head, thank you very much.

So here are a few things I like to do to try to keep the words flowing, and the good habits going, even in mid-July:

#1 Before I go on vacation, I put everything I can in order at home first. This makes for a swifter transition back to home and to the projects I may have left behind. It also enables me to “let go” more completely, and enjoy the time away.

#2 If I am going away, even if I know I won’t do a lot of writing, I at least bring a notebook and pen to catch the inspiration when it strikes. I also bring my walking/running sneakers and my yoga mat.

#3 Even during lazy summer weeks, I keep up with my agenda. I know where I am at with my writing, and where to pick up next time, even if several days go by before I get back to it.

#4 If you read last week’s post, you know I am trying to give up eating sweet, sugary things. If you missed it, you can read it here: https://danalaquidara.com/2022/07/11/minimal-monday-21/ . So I do my best to focus on summer treats like healthy smoothies, fresh fruit, and a refreshing swim; and I look the other way when I see something like, say, double scoop mint chocolate- chip ice cream.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

Recently, I had the opportunity to be interviewed for a podcast about healing. This particular episode was about the ways in which decluttering can be a tool for healing. I can easily talk about simplifying as a means to free up your space, mind, calendar and creativity. I am a fervent proponent of the many benefits; the freedom, the momentum, the lightness….

But when asked to speak of decluttering as a practice for healing, I have to take a deep breath. The topic goes straight to my heart and conjures up the experience of navigating my own core wound. Indeed, I do believe that decluttering is a tool for allowing and uncovering what needs our attention. Freed from distractions and clutter, we are left to face ourselves, to come home to ourselves.

The conversation took that deeper dive, and if I had to summarize it in one passage, it would be this:

If there is too much inner and outer extraneous matter, we will avoid – or never find – the way to healing. On the contrary, it is hard to be uncluttered and remain lost, because the way forward is revealed in the open spaces. Clarity will lead you home every time.

THE UNCLUTTERED MOTHER: Free Up Your Space, Mind & Heart