I feel like I talk about simplicity fairly often, but it's usually in a passing comment or as a bullet point in a post. Well today, I am going to break down all the things I've been loving about simplicity and simplifying my life. In my Decisions. Gift giving. Organizing my home. Clothing. Cooking. Everything. Let's go.
For contrast, I used to live quite a busy life. I remember one summer when I literally only had 2 whole days off, apart from summer camps, swim team, family vacations and other activities. My life was packed to the brim, and it's how I thought everyone was supposed to live. Don't get me wrong; I am so so grateful for those opportunities because I know not everyone gets to do things like that. But man, it left me exhausted and I didn't even know there was another way to live. It wasn't until I got sick as a college student- I mean really really sick- that I realized I couldn't keep living such a fast-paced life. It was then that I realized I had to ssllllooowww ddoowwwwnnn. And I am all the better for it.
If you are one of those people who has already developed a great "work life balance" or have always been good at resting and balancing play, rest, and work- then take this post as a refresher, or message me and I would love to hear your ideas and learn from you! Regardless of our upbringings, I think it's safe to say that we all know there is benefit to keeping things simple in every area of life.
What Simplicity looks like...
In my mind.
I think we've all noticed there's a lot of noise. Even if you live alone, there is so much information that we have to sort through every day. Between my own thoughts and emotions, the daily news, and the people in our lives, I've found that simplifying my mind has brought so much peace and allowed me to feel like I can breathe. In reading Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by Elder Thaddeus, I've seen how much turmoil is created just because my mind is undisciplined. I often hold onto unnecessary thoughts and emotions and give them way more airtime than they need. Instead, my goal recently has been to keep my mind at peace by choosing to shut down areas in life that bring me stress. This will look different for you because you are uniquely you!
To give you some ideas, here are some ways I've been de-cluttering my mind.
Delete facebook and unnecessary social media I don't use. For me, I do use my food/nutrition account on instagram to post creative things. But I don't need it to live my life well here and now. Find out more about deleting social media on this blog post.
Not looking at instagram right when I wake up in the morning. While temporarily enjoyable, it ends up making me more anxious and comparing of myself to others throughout the day. Instead, read, pray, or sing in the morning before picking up the phone.
Listen to music without words. Classical, jazz, instrumental. So magical and still all the feels.
Read books I actually like. Right now I'm really digging some fiction books that are bringing all the fall feels I could ask for.
Establish routine. Contrary to summer, fall is a great time to breathe and start some new habits and structured times for work, play, and rest.
Deliberately choose to identify and silence harmful thoughts. Calling out the negativity in myself and not giving into the temptation to dance with them. Choosing a healthy thought life over drama.
In my home.
I am one of "those" people who really and truly, love organizing. There, I said it! Thanks to a new book I’ve been reading, Welcome Home by Myquillin Smith, I’m learning how much I love doing without all the extra clutter. She talks often about “MORE STYLE, LESS STUFF” and I am seriously all about it. You should go read it. It has made my trips to the thrift store to drop off my extra clutter a true joy because I am learning to be smarter about how I decorate and use the space in my home. Also, watching Get Organized by The Home Edit has also brought some fantastic inspiration to de-clutter and organize my house! Ideas for getting organized and applying Myquillin's principles:
At the start of each new season, walk around your home and remove any decor from the previous season. Look at the stuff you already own- platters, throw pillows, rugs, blankets- and take note of other places you might be able to utilize them to freshen up the space.
Go outside to collect season-appropriate items from your yard (or a neighbor's with permission), because they're unique and they are free! This can range from gorgeous flowers in the spring to pine cones in the fall.
Then, go out out shopping for any gaps you may have in your decor.
Myquillin's rule of thumb: don't buy anything smaller than a PINEAPPLE. This will give your stuff more style and be more of a "statement piece" rather than a bunch of small little trinkets to have to fill space.
Hosting. When hosting people, think about a special drink to be the signature of the night. That way, you keep it simple with something the guests can interact with and will love, but also give you the freedom to not have to stress about making a bunch of extra "entertainment" moments. Examples of this are a hot cocoa bar in the winter, a lemonade bar in the summer, and Iced Tea or Italian sodas for fun at other times of the year.
In my closet.
Maybe it was just me, but did you have this weird complex growing up that made you feel bad/guilty when you put out an outfit that is perfectly gorgeous, but you sabotage yourself with the thought of feeling good because you think you'll be "too much" or "too ___[fill in your blank]___"? This is where I think I've finally started to break free from unhelpful thinking and instead embrace who I am in this season. This is what's been working for me, so take or leave whatever may work for you.
For clothes, wear things that actually make you feel good. Every day. Not just sometimes. It's okay to feel like you actually like yourself and what you're wearing!
Decide once how you want to feel every morning when you walk out the door in the morning. [For me, it's a minimalist chic, edgy Meghan Markle from Suits. Strong neutrals and simple accessible (and usually thrifted) style ;) ]
For the tough dress days, find your signature outfit that will always make you feel good. Steve Jobs did this really well because he intentionally wore the same outfits every day so that he could leave space for other major/more important decisions.
Example of a signature outfit: Monday uniform or Friday casual. For me, it's Black and Denim + any accessories I feel like = win. Every time.
Focus more on a capsule wardrobe based on your desired aesthetic rather than fast fashion. Stay true to Y.O.U.
When shopping, only search for gaps in your wardrobe rather than buying what is "in fashion."
Buy high-quality, sustainable pieces (like a good sweater blazer from J. Crew. That's been my fave recently) rather than one that you'll only like for a season.
Once again, less is more.
In gift giving.
Sometimes, giving gifts can be the dread of us all. If you love gift giving, then no worries. But I know we've all felt the struggle- you want to go to the party, but you delay and feel so much pressure to find the "right" gift.
Get one type of gift bag or one type of wrapping paper you like! For me, I love the brown butcher paper look tied with a ribbon and fresh sprigs of lavender or rosemary from my garden. Keep it simple and make that decision about how you want to wrap gifts NOW so that you don't have to do it later.
Decide once the types of gift you want to give a person or type of person.
What I mean: Kids birthday parties- decide once on giving a puzzle for certain ages and gift cards to teenagers. Whatever makes it easier to categorize for you.
For your loved ones, choose categories of gifts and consistently get them something within that category (i.e. Dad = books, Sister = Beauty Product, Husband = cool experience or vacation since he doesn't like gifts).
Cooking and baking are probably the most intimidating necessities of our modern age. We know we should be able to cook meals for our families, and we want to! But then time and busyness get the best of us, and we end up eating the frozen stuff. Again. To keep it simple, here are some principles I like to live by.
Decide and name your season. If it's summer and you have little kids, the menu and meal planning will be vastly different than cooking for two during the wintertime. Know what you can and can't tolerate in this season, and how much time you can give to making dinner or baking new recipes in your free time.
Buy a journal and actually take some time to sit down and think through things you can make and are good at making. I have a dedicated food journal and take 15 minutes each week to write out the meals I plan on preparing that week and then go grocery shopping accordingly. It doesn't all have to be homemade, but the biggest hindrance I've found to cooking great food is not having the actual ingredients you want/need to make it a home run dish.
Get inspiration and learn foundational principles about how to cook beyond a recipe from people who break it down well. For me, the indispensable guides are Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat, and The Lazy Genius podcast episodes on cooking. There's even a Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat Netflix show that I think EVERYONE should watch. It's both aesthetically satisfying and extremely helpful.
Focus on QUALITY and when foods are IN SEASON and RIPE. It will revolutionize how you cook and how you eat because you'll be spending a lot less time trying to cover up bitter tastes or unripe foods.
Sea salt, pepper and fresh herbs are your best friend. Most Americans put way too little salt in their dishes when they cook. Adding high quality sea salts and fresh herbs to literally any dish will only help you.
Trust your instincts. Go with your gut, literally. If you taste things along the way that seem like they need more salt or a little lemon, add it! Even if it's not "in the recipe," the goal of the recipe is only to be a guide anyways, not the iron fist. Varieties of produce and the time the produce is picked are just two of the reasons why foods can taste entirely different depending on how and when they are prepared.
This extensive list of ideas and re-thinking how we live life would not be here in its full form if it wasn't for the books I've been reading lately (thank you, The Lazy Genius Way and Cozy Minimalist Home). Simplicity gives permission to not have to make everything so complicated, because life has a way of already making itself complicated and unexpected. Of course, if you like to have a lot of choice and options, then by all means, go for it! But for those of us who are tired of having to make so. many. stinking. decisions. every. day., this can be so freeing for us.
Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives
by Elder Thaddeus
Welcome Home (and her other book Cozy Minimalist Home)
By Myquillin Smith
The Lazy Genius Way- literally the best. Please, just go read.
by Kendra Adachi
Fun to Join in on: Simple Joy Sundays
Every Sunday on my instagram @you.and.me.and.tea, I post a stories series called "Simple Joy Sundays." My dear friend and photographer Marissa Wu started this trend and I thoroughly enjoy it. It's where I get to display the beauty, art and joy that I see in little moments captured in photos. Sometimes I post a lot of food, sometimes it's more related to art and colors, sometimes it's beautiful people who have soul and character. Most of the time it's all of the above. This is my personal invitation to you to join in on the fun and view these little Simple Joys, or start your own by posting your own thread of Simple Joys each week! If so, make sure to tag me in it!
I'll end with a quote by Elder Thaddeus.
"'Love little things,' he taught, 'and strive for that which is modest and simple. When the soul is mature, God will give it inner peace. The Lord watches over us and is pleased that you long for His peace.' Until the soul is ready, He will only sometimes allow us to see that He is present everywhere and fills all things. At these moments the soul feels such joy! It feels as though it has everything! But then the Lord conceals Himself from us again, in order that we might long for Him and seek Him with our whole hearts!"