Minimal Monday

Last night I had the great pleasure of attending a James Taylor concert at the beautiful Tanglewood outdoor music venue in Lenox, Massachusetts. He put on a great show, and so did my adorable four-year-old twin granddaughters who got to stay up way past their bedtime. By the time the concert began, we had already enjoyed more than two hours of food, drinks, conversation, eventful potty trips and exploring the grounds. When darkness fell, the twins thought it was great fun to hold their little lanterns and adorn themselves with glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces their parents had packed.

I got a kick out of their quiet but silly commentary as James Taylor sang “Carolina In My Mind”.

“Can’t you see the sunshine?”

“No, no I can’t”, one of them exclaimed. “It’s dark!”

Last night was a late night for all of us, and I had no particular plans to celebrate the 4th of July today, on the actual holiday. But I did the urge to make a special dessert of acai bowls, so off I went to a nearby grocery store for granola and fresh raspberries and blueberries for the bowls. But once I arrived at the store, I realized I had left my credit card in last night’s purse.

I considered going back to the store after driving back home, but instead that thing happened when I am just still and peaceful enough to let a better idea enter my mind. The idea was a very simple one: to make do with what I had; to relax instead of returning to the store; to get creative, to simplify, to embrace the idea of less.

So that is what I did. I pulled some frozen blueberries out of my freezer, gathered a few chia seeds, walnuts and hemp hearts from my pantry and we had some simple fixings for the acai bowls to enjoy on this beautiful day.

Happy 4th of July!

Can’t you see the sunshine?

Acai bowls

Minimal Monday

Linda Cliatt-Wayman is a successful leader in education and is powered by her belief in the potential of all children. Her love, passion and unwavering focus on improving the future of children living in poverty is admirable and inspiring. I am not sure how I missed her acclaimed Ted Talk in 2015, but I am glad that I came across it this year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe2nlti47kA.

She invoked powerful methods to transform a Philadelphia school and there were no tasks too big or too trivial on her watch. First and foremost, she made the school a safer place. Everyone knows children cannot learn while they are scared, uncared for and unloved. In addition, she upgraded the aesthetics of the school by recycling or discarding unused furniture and materials. The school went from chaotic and filthy to organized, orderly and colorful.

Doesn’t everyone deserve an environment that is safe and pleasing? How wise to recognize the importance of the physical environment in showing students – or anyone- that they are worthy human beings.

What a remarkable leader. If you have not yet seen her Ted Talk, I invite you to watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe2nlti47kA

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

I want to pivot back to the kitchen today and express my love for a clean and organized refrigerator. I know it may sound trivial to some, but if it is true that “how we do one thing is how we do everything”, then I declare our kitchen habits are important.

A simple way to stay on top of refrigerator hygiene is to get in the habit of checking it before every grocery day. The thought of adding more food to a fridge that may have expired items, sticky shelves, or condiment chaos, is unappealing. On the other hand, emptying groceries into a clean and well organized fridge is a pleasure.

If we have tidy fridge habits, we will likely also have tidy pantry habits and organized shopping lists, and sensible meal planning patterns. One small area can have ripple effects in other areas, on peace of mind, time, energy, and health.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

I invite you to try on this belief: Your best, most authentic life and Self are lurking just beneath the clutter and baggage.

If that is true, what is one thing you could do today to excavate what is buried? It could be something big or small; give something away, delegate a task, clear out a closet, throw out the junk food, face the old wound, have the conversation.

What would you do tomorrow and the next day to keep the momentum going? It’s okay if you don’t know what you might find. Sometimes we have to get through some sludge before we feel lighter. Just stay curious and allow the treasure to reveal itself.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

It is amazing to me how our attitude about time can actually change our experience of time.

In his book The Big Leap, psychologist and author Gay Hendricks writes that “Time feels like an ever-present entity, hovering in the background of our lives.”  But to expand time, he explains, we simply need to bring our full consciousness into the present moment.  In this way, we can make time.

Part of what I love about simplifying life is that it leaves more time for what matters most to me. But I had never fully grasped what Hendricks describes as “Einstein time” until I consciously set my mind to it.  One day, while starting to fret about the seeming lack of time for everything that I wanted to get done, I stopped.  I shifted to a belief that I had all the time that I needed.  Then I set about doing one thing, then the next and the next, mindfully.

I was present and relaxed that whole day and everything that I wanted done got done.  My shift in attitude had made a remarkable difference.

Minimal Monday

My husband and I are helping to move our youngest daughter out of one apartment and into another. Due to the nature of medical school, and now residency, this will be her fourth move in four years. Moving is a lot of work and the more stuff there is to move, the harder it is. She has learned how to make do with the essentials and not accumulate – and therefore move- more than is necessary.

It got me thinking, doesn’t it behoove us all to live like we are moving? I don’t mean that we should never get attached to a place, or that we ought to deprive ourselves of things we really enjoy. I just mean that if we thought about what we’d really want and need to bring with us if we moved, what would we choose to leave behind? Can we let go of those things now?

It’s a lot of work to move. Packing and unpacking forces us to face every single thing we’ve accumulated. How much freer would we be with less?

Minimal Monday

I think that as humans we are more willing to change something when it becomes too uncomfortable not to. This could be a habit, a relationship, an occupation; anything we have accepted as ‘good enough’ in the past.

Signs will have been there, perhaps for a long time, that something is amiss, inauthentic, or just plain not right for us. But it seems to me that it will often require reaching a painful threshold before we take action, speak up, change, set new goals or let go.

Life is so much simpler if we pay attention to the signs. We act sooner, waste less time and feel more in alignment to our true selves. Yet is takes courage too.

Minimal Monday

I have been very fortunate in motherhood with three wonderful, grown daughters whom I adore. Mother’s Day is a happy, celebratory occasion for me.

But last night as I was going to bed, I was thinking of all the moms who have been alienated from their children after a contentious divorce, as my mother had been when I was just four years old (the topic of my memoir-in-progress). I personally know a few of these mothers, and occasionally hear from others whom I’ve never met. They are loving, kind, deeply saddened mothers who desperately want to reconnect with the stolen hearts of their children.

I will not go into detail about ‘attachment-based parental-alienation’ because it is beyond the scope of this blog post (*It happens to dads too). But what I do want to tell you is that last night, without overthinking it or even pre-planning it, I reached out to a large number of these parents on a private online group, and shared my heartfelt thoughts with them. I just couldn’t let Mother’s Day go by without offering my understanding, empathy, and love. And they deeply, sincerely appreciated it.

What does this have to do with decluttering or minimalism? When we are doing our best to get rid of all that does not serve our best lives, including old beliefs, fear, and overthinking our heart’s desires and impulses, often what comes through are the most natural, aligned and effortless words and deeds.

Love isn’t hard.

Minimal Monday

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about creating structure in my life around certain goals and habits. If you missed that post, you can read it here: https://danalaquidara.com/2022/04/18/minimal-monday-10/

As of yesterday, I added some much-needed structure around finishing up my memoir. I am in the editing stages of my memoir, but have gotten stuck there for so long, I had to do something different.

I suspect the only one to take longer than me to finish writing a book is Joy Imboden Overstreet. I learned through the #amwriting podcast that she ended forty years of procrastination when she finally published her book, The Cherry Pie Paradox last year.   Yes, you read that right; forty years! Joy is in her eighties and described the great sense of relief she felt once she did it. Can you imagine? I can.

So to try and end my own procrastination, I joined a May Day Facebook group in which we authors will check in with each other every Monday for the month of May. It won’t be as motivating as hiring a book coach like Joy did, but it will help.

So, with the loose but added structure of my May Day accountability group, my task at hand for the month of May is to make progress every single weekday, whether I feel like it or not.  Clear and simple, day by day, I am committed to moving forward. I just know I meant to have my memoir out into the world before I am eighty.

Minimal Monday

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the lovely Peggie Kirkland of Momma’s Motivational Messages podcast. You can learn a bit about Peggie’s podcast here: https://www.mommasmotivationalmessages.com/about/

And here is a link to listen to the episode I was part of, in which we discussed spring cleaning our environment and our lives: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1411078/10462466-how-clutter-is-preventing-you-from-living-your-best-life-with-dana-laquidara.mp3?download=true

Happy Monday!