Simple Living Resources

Resources for Simple Living

Today, I'm happy to introduce you to a few people that have inspired me along my journey in simple living. The minimalist / simple-living community is a whole lot bigger than this short list. And they're all encouraging in their own way. These, however, are the people that have had a little greater influence in how I got to where I am today and in deciding where I want to be.

I hope you'll check them out through their online spaces and their books. They have a lot of wisdom, encouragement and experience to share on the simplifying journey.

Fancine Jay //

blog | Miss Minimalist
book | The Joy of Less

thoughts | Fancine's book is an excellent resource in the how-to of simplifying. She gives very practical steps to decluttering and living with less throughout the home with applicable principles like the "one in, one out" rule. She doesn't blog as regularly, but her archive of posts is an inspiration in true minimalism--something I don't necessarily hope to accomplish, but is an inspiration nonetheless.

Maxwell Gingham-Ryan //

blog | Apartment Therapy
books | Apartment Therapy: The 8-Step Home Cure, Small Cool

thoughts | Max's first book got me started in a yearly "Home Cure" habit. It is also a big inspiration behind my Simplifying Home series. He covers all areas of fixing home from using an outbox to declutter, setting up a landing strip to filter what comes into the home, and even aspects of decorating like how to hang art, creating good flow in a room, and balancing color and texture. He shares from his designer expertise, but in terms that make sense for a beginner like me. His blog is always running new content featuring lots of inspiring spaces, focusing less on simple or minimalist homes and more on living well in small homes.

Joshua Becker //

blog | Becoming Minimalist

books | Clutterfree with Kids, Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life, Inside-Out Simplicity

thoughts | Josh's evangelism for simple living--on social media and his blog and in his books--is so encouraging for any phase of the simplifying journey. He offers lots of practical tips and how-to and inspiration along the way. Also, a little tiny snippet of our process in reducing photographs is in his newest book Clutterfree with Kids. So that's fun.

Rachel Meeks //
blog | Small Notebook

thoughts | Rachel is (maybe temporarily?) no longer adding new posts. Her archive of past posts however is full of great inspiration and practical tips on simplifying throughout home and life.

Myquillyn Smith //
blog | Nesting Place
book | The Nesting Place

thoughts | I love Myquillin's motto for setting up home: It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Those words are music to a beginner's ears. And that belief shows up in all of her posts. Plus, her "not perfect" home is incredibly inspiring. Her book is brand new so I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet, but I know it'll be good.

Bea Johnson //
blog | Zero Waste Home
book | Zero Waste Home

thoughts | The Johnson's zero waste lifestyle is incredibly inspiring, and at times seems a little impossible for us. Still, I love Bea's insight to reducing our consumption and refusing what we don't need. Just those two things can tremendously cut down our waste and simplify our homes. Her blog shares a little in how they live zero waste, and her book offers lots of specifics on cutting down waste (and thus simplifying) in every area of our homes.

Jen //

blog | i heart organizing

thoughts | Jen takes a not-so minimalist approach to the home and is instead a really good organizer. I personally would rather get rid of the excess and not have to organize it at all. But when I am ready to put away my remaining belongings, her amazing organization is a great inspiration.

Who inspires you in simple living?


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Simplicity, Simplified
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Simplifying Home Week 5 // Bedrooms + Closets

Simplifying Home // Week 5: Bedrooms + Closets

Go here >> to learn more about Simplifying Home and download your free 8-week checklist.

If you've been keeping up with the Simplifying Home checklist--Yay! You're over halfway!
If, like me, life is delaying your progress--That's okay. The lists and posts and resources aren't going anywhere--pin 'em or print 'em or do whatever you need to find them in the future. Then, address life, and whenever you have even a moment of time or energy (you only need one), jump in and check something off the list.

All of those moments add up to make progress in our homes. And it's so worth it to create a simple yet inspiring space to call our own.

Let's move on to bedrooms and closets.

Simplifying Home Week 5 // Bedrooms + Closets

// simple

Clean Bedroom

When was the last time you vacuumed underneath your bed? What about behind your dresser? If it's be a while, or you can't remember, there's no need to feel guilty. But it's time. All those dust bunnies are not only irritants (especially if you're allergic), they're also a sign of stagnation in your life. This is true throughout your home. And I don't mean this in a weird energy-from-the-universe sort of way. I mean it literally. When we let dust collect under our furniture, clutter gather on our shelves, and grime linger on our appliances, it's often a hint of an unhealthy habit of neglect. Take a little time to clean deep and get rid of these growing areas of neglect. You just might stir up some much-needed energy in other areas of your life too.

Update/Rotate Bedding

While you have the bed/mattress moved so you can vacuum under it, you may as well go ahead and flip the mattress and change all of the bedding while you're at it. This is a great time to take inventory of your bedding--pillows, sheets, mattress covers, comforters, duvet covers, blankets etc. Does any of it need replaced? At least wash it all it--especially items not routinely washed.

Declutter Closets

There are a variety of ways to go through the clothes in your closets and dressers. As with most things, my preferred method involves pulling everything out, cleaning the empty, then carefully considering each piece that goes back in. I evaluate clothing with the basic questions: Do I love it, does it fit, is it versatile (worn in a few different outfits, dressed up/dressed down, worn in warm/cool weather), is it in good, wearable condition? Anything that doesn't get a strong yes to each of those questions is considered for the outbox. Some items might be kept in the closet, but added to a "needs replaced" list so that I know what to shop for next time I have some money for clothing.

Declutter Surfaces

Dressers and bedroom shelves are a magnet for lots of extra clutter, from the leftovers of our pockets/purses to the loose ends from the living room that we need to clear out before company arrives. Now is a good time to clear of these surfaces, clean them, then carefully consider what is essential. Do you really need a stack of reading material, lotions, sick supplies (from that cold you had last month) on your nightstand? Put items away where they belong. And enjoy a cleared space.

Make Room Inspire

A reader recently asked how making a room inspiring fits in with simple-living. Especially if we already have a bedroom set up with the basics (bed, bedding, etc.), then how do we justify adding or changing items that aren't really necessary?
My answer: I'm not opposed to buying or updating, as long as I do so intentionally with careful consideration and don't do so on a whim. While it's important to be content when needs are met, I also believe in having an inspiring, calming home. So, with careful planning and some time to be sure my choices will be long lasting, I am not opposed to making updates/changes throughout my home.
       As I have done this throughout the last few years, I have created a home that I am very proud of. And changes and updates have slowed considerably as I've gotten each space closer to what I long for it to be. It's a good feeling to no longer feel uneasy or discontent in our space. And I've found letting go of belongings has helped the most--once you clear out the excess, it becomes clear those one or two items that truly will help complete the space and make it something that's useful AND beautiful.
If you haven't started already, now is a good time to start thinking and dreaming of how you can make your home inspire you. Starting in the bedroom--because that serves as the launching point for starting each day and our retreat at the end of the day. Don't necessarily go on a shopping spree or get overzealous in your dreaming. Just think about what elements might improve your space. This is especially great to approach after your decluttering has been completed. Then, you should have some freed space to think about completing it intentionally.

// intentional

Clean Home

Are you getting tired of being reminded weekly to clean your home? It's all too easy to forget that even when we're overwhelmed, busy or just plain tired, it really doesn't take much to keep up the basics of maintaining our homes. By now you might also realize a preference--when you're tired or short on time, is it easier for you to set the timer for twenty minutes or to go throughout the home cleaning floors and surfaces? Which one brings about the best results? These are good things to consider in preparation for next week's task of implementing your own weekly cleaning routine.

Repair List

How's that repair list coming? I hope you're keeping it handy and accessible. Feel free to keep adding items to the list as you notice them. This is a running tally of the upkeep of your home--a list that may never be fully completed, and that's okay. Just keep doing an item, or more, for the next couple weeks and see what all you can get done.

Buy or Re-pot Plant

Remember when we looked into air-cleansing plants for our homes? Now is a great time to do that. Go ahead and buy the pot, the plant and the soil. Give it a nice home with the necessary amount of light. Or, if you already have a plant or a few throughout your home, then consider doing some re-potting and fertilizing to bring those leaves back to life.

Color + Texture

Balancing color and texture in a home is something I first started to understand when reading the book Apartment Therapy. For this challenge, we won't get too deep into it. It's helpful to follow a basic 80/20 rule for colors in the home--that is, each room should have about 80% neutrals and 20% colors. This helps be sure there is enough color to add interest, but not so much that it becomes too chaotic. If you haven't thought too much about color in your home, then perhaps start with identifying the neutrals and the colors in each room. Could you throw in something with color (i.e., a vase) or take out something with color to help the balance?

Texture is more about seeing that there is variety in the materials of items in each room--cloth, metal, wood, cork, etc. No need to add all textures. But if a room has too many hard items or too many soft items, then it can come across as too plain, cold, or uninspiring. Adding something hard or soft (a wicker basket or soft blanket) can make a difference in the feel of the room.

For us beginners, these ideas might seem a little vague and intimidating. In the beginning, start with observing the colors and textures in your home. Consider if each room is too hard/soft or too neutral/color-full. No need to jump into these changes--just start with observing.

// content

Eat at Home

Some of you might already eat out home throughout the week. Great! If not, why not challenge yourself to it. No need to go all out with preparing hour-long meals if that's not your thing. Think Meals, Simplified. The main point is to stay in, use your newly cleaned kitchen, and get in a meal-time flower in your own home.

Read Before Bed

Most of us know that screen time before bed can inhibit our sleep, yet how many of us actually intentionally shut down plenty of time before bed? At least one night, set your bed time a little earlier. Shut down the computer and tablet, and plug your phone in for the night (out of reach). Get ready for bed, then simply settle in with a book. Read a page or a few or a chapter. Then, turn the light off and go to sleep whenever you recognize your body feeling sleepy. Maybe choose a book that isn't too engrossing--you don't want to blow past your bedtime ;)

Improve Sleep

Creating a clean, inspiring space to start and end your days is a great start to getting a better night's sleep. And shutting down to replace before-bed screen time with reading is also a good move. What else could you be doing to improve (or increase) your nightly Zs? Do a search on Google or Pinterest and you'll find some great ideas. You might even find one or two you can start doing today. Tomorrow's rested self thanks you.

And if you're waking every night with a baby or in another life season that inhibits sleep, then try spending a few minutes in the day laying on your back with your legs propped up against a wall. Breath deep and relax. These few minutes are supposedly enough to increase your circulation and energize like a chunk of sleep would. I tried it periodically for the first year our son was waking 2-3 times a night, and it helped a lot.


More on Simplifying

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Christian Meditation

5 Ideas for Christian Meditation

Last year I shared a post on Why I Quit My Yoga Class. Since then I've had to shut off the comments and have started receiving e-mails about it. This might seem naive, but I really didn't realize it was such a hot topic.

I had simply felt God leading me in a journey of growth that, at that time in my life, meant quitting my traditional yoga class. And I wanted to share on that, on the chance that God would use my story and my experience to help spur other's journeys of growth even unrelated to yoga.

Well, it turns out some are stuck on the yoga issue. Is it really all Hindu worship? Am I worshiping other gods if I do yoga in my home? What stretches can I do that aren't considered yoga? What else can I do to get the same stress-relieving benefits of yoga?

The best I can do at an answer: Read up on it. Pray about it. And decide for yourself. Then, don't judge others who might come up with a different conclusion than you. God is likely working on a different area of growth with them, and that's okay. And whatever you decide, don't get hung up on it. I am sure there are bigger things God wants to work out in your life.

Phew. I just needed to get that off of my chest before getting into today's post. I have been meaning to write some follow-ups to last year's story--mainly what has replaced my traditional yoga class--but didn't know where to start.

So, I figured I'd start at the heart of why I had an issue with my traditional yoga class: The meditation.

The yoga poses (stretches) themselves generally didn't stir anything inside me. They were challenging or relaxing and simply good for my body. It was the meditation, especially the guided meditation at the end of each class, that caused me to question yoga's role in my life as a Christian.
meditate : to think deeply or focus one's mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.

I believe in the power of meditation for Christians--specifically meditating on God's law (Josh. 1:8) and His ways (Ps. 119:15). However, most traditional yoga classes take this necessary meditation and throw on a traditional Hindu twist. Giving imagery for our spirits and the universe and how it all plays together in a rather non-Christian-friendly way.

This was a challenge for me because I believe in Christ. I believe in one singular God as the Creator of the universe. And I believe my involvement in it is only to bring Him glory. And I believe it is my life's purpose--in work, in rest, in sickness and in health--to worship Him.

So... by quitting my traditional yoga class that led in a rather non-Christian meditation, I now try to practice Christian meditation at home. Which, let's face it, there is huge value to even if you're not into yoga or stretching.

5 Ways for Christians to Meditate

First, the question might come up: What should I be doing when I meditate?

Besides the obvious setting minds and hearts on God, what you do with your body is up to you. You can sit upright with legs crossed, lay flat on your back, kneel or bow forward, or do any combination of stretches changing positions as needed.

You can be on your bed, in your living room, or outdoors. You could have a journal and pen or a hymnal/song book open in front of you. And your Bible opened to a text you're reading through. You can even be on a park bench when the kids are playing, or at your desk when you return from lunch.

Eyes closed, hands opened with palms up and body relaxed are a good posture for relaxation. But feel free to focus gaze on a piece of nature, fold hands in prayer or lift them toward the heavens. Whatever you decide, try to settle into a deep breathing pattern--taking healing oxygen all the way through your body to your toes and exhaling it all back out. Slow and steady and consistent.

Isn't this life God breathed into humanity incredible?!

This is all about meditating on God and His Word--bringing Him actively into our lives. Setting our minds on Him as He transforms our hearts and directs our actions. Here are five ideas for doing just that...

1 // Surrender All

As you settle in and relax, there is likely to be some mental distractions going on. Past conversations, to-do lists, and so on. Mentally picture bringing these like heavy rocks and placing them one-by-one in Jesus' open, capable hands. Feeling lighter yet? Along with this, don't fight away or neglect the bad that comes to mind. Guilt, regrets, weaknesses, problems, struggles, stresses. Name them and visualize handing them over to Him. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:1-12)

2 // Count Blessings

Dwell on the good, even especially if it's hiding behind something bad. Those challenges mentioned above? Those are where we can often find our deepest blessings. (Matthew 5:5-12) Be thankful. And receive God's weightless Truth replacing each of those burdens we once carried. Healing, isn't it?

3 // Hum a Hymn

Or hum a worship song, if you prefer. Traditional hymns tend to have a little more substance for our souls, and the tune might be easier to hum. No need to know all the words. If certain stanzas come to mind, they might be a good focus point. But it's especially the out-loud, low-tone humming vibrations that can offer physical benefits through your chest and body. It's kind of like saying "ommm" but with a deeper, spiritual benefit. (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16)

4 // Memorize Scripture

Put God's Word and truth on your mind. Do some repetitive rote memorization, focusing on the good and truth found in God's Word. (Philippians 4:8) Almost like a "chanting" that can actually transform our lives. Pause on certain words or phrases as their meaning and relevance sink in to your mind and eventually to your heart. Work on etching the whole text into your memory, until you can't help but do what it says.

5 // Go in Worship

Conclude the time acknowledging the Creator as you take this moment to be still in His presence and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) Then, slowly put your body back into motion and get your mind back to whatever needs your attention next, taking with you this newfound peace for your journey. Living worship in action.


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