Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!

Location, location, location! That’s the catch phrase for running a business these days, but there is a new one out there:

Simplify, simplify, simplify!

It seems that everywhere you go people are talking about simplifying, downsizing, minimalizing and having more with less. It’s everywhere you look these days: on Facebook, in people’s personal blogs, and in magazines and newspapers.

I had often thought that I couldn’t part with many of my possessions and that I needed all I had to live a comfortable life. If the house is reasonably tidy on any given day, why all the fuss about simplifying?

I am learning that having a simple life is more than just tidying up the house and bringing used clothing and books to the local donation centers.

Since I’ve been into decluttering forever, I thought I had this thing down pat, but it wasn’t until I lived out of a carry on suitcase for ten days and then out of a larger suitcase for three months that I understood just how little we need to live and be comfortable. Last year we rented a condo in Hilton Head for three months. I wondered what to bring; warm clothing, beach things, going out things and all the other articles I thought I couldn’t live without for three months. Needless to say, much of what I brought was never worn or used. I found that I wore the same three or four things every day.

Having lived with much less for that period of time, when we came home, I looked differently at all my possessions and their place in the house. So I started to get rid of what I thought was a lot of ‘stuff’. I kept getting the feeling there was more to this than just ‘stuff’. What about the clutter in my mind? What about the state of my finances? What about the things I eat? How about the people in my life? The time I spend on the phone or the computer?

These are questions I couldn’t really answer a few months ago, but it is becoming clearer now. I actually signed up for a 30 day challenge to be on track and get the things out of my life that don’t bring me joy. I’m 13 days into it now and I’ve been making changes; little ones that don’t upset life too much.

Probably the most important change I’ve made so far is to get off the phone, iPad and computer at 8PM, rather than bringing it to bed with me. And now I don’t keep my iPad beside the bed. I used to wake up in the middle of the night and check my mail, Facebook, Etsy and Fitbit. Can you imagine? Do you do that as well? I’ve found that since I instituted that new habit, I am sleeping much better.

And there’s more.

Over the next while I will share here what I have been doing to simplify my life and home. I am not becoming a minimalist, but I am trying to do my part to have a better life. If you have anything to add to what I’ve been doing, please share in the comments.

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Did you ever Google yourself?

Every now and then I Google myself, just to see what’s ‘out there’ about me. Not that I am so special that Google would make a fuss over me, but I do have a blog and I did write a book. I guess that gives me a very small amount of notoriety, at least in some peoples’ eyes.

I used to wonder what my exes would see if they googled my name. So a few years ago I tried it. It was a little distressing, to say the least. You know, everything you do online can be found by just about anyone. I had been on Transformation.com website in 2011. It was a site run by Bill Phillips where you could transform your body, mind and outlook. It was sort of like Facebook, but for people looking to get fit. A part of the process was to post ‘before’ pics, which I did. I thought they were just for the people on the site. Imagine my horror when I Google imaged myself and saw my bathing suit / underwear ‘before’ pics, right there for the entire world to see. As a consolation, my ‘after’ pics were there as well, along with my Facebook pic, my book, my LinkedIn pic, some of my Pinterest items and everything and anything connected to my name. There were also pics of people connected with me, like some of my family members, friends and acquaintances.

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And then when I googled my name, up came every blog entry I had ever written, Twitter entries, some comments I had made on Facebook and just about everything that was connected with my name on sites that are not completely private.

There was an entry I had written in 2008 on a site called Runaway Husbands that the entire world could see. In it I had outlined coping strategies for sanity when my husband left in 2004. It took me two years to get my comment removed from the site; however the reply to my comment is still there.

What’s the solution for all this madness? I guess I know now why some people don’t use their real names on these social media sites. Smart move, but too late for me.

At one time I thought of writing a blog with everything I really wanted to say and using a pseudonym so that I could blast away about personal things, family things, and everything that bugged me. Truth be told, I did start that blog, a few years ago when things were getting ugly in my life. It was a great place for me to vent safely in cyberspace anonymously. I was Marie Soleil; however I was NOT a ray of sunshine in any sense of the word. When I had done all my venting I took the blog down and with one click it was no more.

Marie Soleil’s blog had served its purpose and no one was the wiser.

Oh and by the way, my ‘before’ pics can no longer be found in cyberspace. (Just in case you were thinking of having a look).