Posted in focus on faith, minimal moments, need a laugh?

How was 2017?

Perhaps Hobbits live in northern Greece? This door is waist high.

Happy New Year gentle reader! Have you had a chance to look back over the last 12 months and reflect on all that was? Or wasn’t?

Nah? Me neither. I’m more of a doer than a contemplator; I seldom take time for deep reflection. Of course, because we all admire what we’re not, I wish I were that type of person so I would have deep insights to share. But I’m not. And I don’t.

For the rest of you who are just like me and you don’t set aside time for all that hard thinking, let’s take a mo right now and look back over 2017.

How is your health? Go ahead and take your pulse, in case there’s any doubt you survived the dawning of another year. Did you get through the year with all your parts intact? Nothing removed that you think you still need? Or something removed in the nick of time so you can hang around this planet a while longer? I had my first root canal and I truly don’t know why people use that as a measure of how BAD something can be…”I’d rather have a ROOT CANAL than host my relatives for Christmas!” In fact, the specialist who did my root canal hummed through the 20-minute procedure while earning enough to pay off his Porsche! It was fast, painless (except for the wallet), and simple. If your health is good, then 2017 was good to you.

How is your relationship with God? Did you move closer to Him or further away? Did you hear from Him…about anything? In my first time through Freedom Session with a group of my peers, I dealt with some issues, made some apologies, came out of denial about a couple things (Yikes! I found out why they call it “denial.” It should be called blindness), and enjoyed the love and acceptance of God in a wonderful way. I am now facilitating another Freedom Session group in my home and dealing with my fear in practical ways. If you moved God-ward too then 2017 was good to you.

How is your primary relationship going? In my case, that’s my husband. In yours, it might be a spouse, parent, partner, child, best friend, or…? How are you getting on? Friendly? With kindness? Mutually enjoying time together? Helping each other? Sharing some laughs? Supporting one another through tough times? Committed? Contented? Challenged by the relationship to be the best YOU you can be? If your “first” relationship is still your best then 2017 has been good to you.

How is your family? Is everyone still speaking to everyone? Don’t laugh (or cry). You know as well as I do that the people we love the most can become the ones we most resent. A chilling silence can fall over a relationship so quickly it’s shocking. And once you stop talking, neither person wants to be the one to break the silence. This happened to me with one of my beloved family when I allowed resentment to build up and a gulf formed between us. Thankfully, we both made an effort to bridge the gap, make our apologies, and renew the relationship. I have too many friends who come from fractured families where people have stopped talking and they no longer see one another. If your family is intact and people are still attempting to communicate then 2017 has been a good year.

And finally, because I am a minimalist, I must ask, how is your junk? I am pretty sure no teen boys read this blog so there won’t be any insane laughter… By junk I mean the stuff that goes into landfills. Do you have more or less junk than last year? if you are in the first half of your life you are still in the accumulative phase; you are still acquiring. Building up your kingdom. Padding your castle. If you are on the downward slope, like moi, you are merging and purging, slashing and burning, tossing and recycling. Just yesterday I hauled 10 boxes, yes TEN, out of my tiny office! All of the magazines, newspapers, scrapbooks, book drafts, speaking notes, completed bible studies and never-to-be-read-again books are now gone! I am going through my junk and asking myself, “Who will have to deal with this once I’m gone and will they appreciate it?” The answer is, my kids, and they will NOT want to read my old journals, look through my scrapbooks, or peruse the first draft and multiple edits of my published books. So I finish with this, if you have less junk than last year, then 2017 was a good year.

If you want a deeper reflection on the New Year visit my friend who pastors two small churches in Watrous SK and be blessed. It was that post that inspired me to connect with you today. I pray that 2018 will truly be a good year for you. Focus on the things that matter most — your relationship with God and your besties. Enjoy your health while you have it; nurture your body with real food and moderate exercise. But keep your junk to a minimum!

Posted in minimal moments

Three Ways I’m Minimising in January

As you’ve undoubtedly noticed I am on a minimalist jag. In fact, I have been a minimalist most of my life but it was never in fashion before. I used to be pitied for my insignificant hoard but now I’m considered clever for my sparseness.
Initially my minimalism was forced upon me. I married a preacher. Not the fast track to amassing wealth. But eventually I discovered that owning less was actually my natural rhythm. I abhor clutter and found myself constantly decluttering my own home and the homes of others who turned their back for a minute!
I am reposting a blog by a fellow minimalist I’ve just discovered because she says what I want to say with fewer words–minimalism at its best!
I like her ideas but must confess I still use a laundry hamper but mainly because my husband generates more laundry than a newborn and it needs to be contained somewhere. If, like the blogger, you live alone (she has a cat) you may be able to toss your hamper.
Also, I use homemade laundry soap my daughter makes so instead of paying $20 for a large jug of liquid, we pay about $1 for the ingredients (I will share the recipe in a later blog). I have used this detergent for a few years and I see no difference in the cleanliness or brightness of my laundry.
And finally, I always wear my clothes at least twice or three times before washing them. I live in a cold climate, do not sweat easily, wear loose fitting clothes and always hang things up after wearing them so they can air out. You might want to ask my family if you want the “whole story” but I do not think I pollute the room and my clothes do not wear out as fast. In fact, only children wear out their clothing. Adults “wash out” their wardrobe.
Here is what asmallwardrobe has to say:

Posted in minimal moments

Sharing: the minimalist’s secret weapon

When Polonius counselled his son Laertes, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”(Hamlet, Act I, Sc iii), he was talking about money, not stuff.

When it comes to stuff, borrowing and lending, a.k.a. sharing, is the minimalist’s miter_saw secret weapon. It can also be a way to bless others and share Christ’s love along with our tools.

If people shared, then everyone wouldn’t have to own everything. My neighbour has been borrowing our extension ladder for 25 years. And our wheelbarrow. We borrow their mitre saw. We borrow another neighbour’s pressure washer and since he has everything and never needs to borrow anything from us, we often share our garden/greenhouse produce in return. We often loan out our truck and we have borrowed others’ vans.

Lending and borrowing can save time, storage space and money. To ensure continued good relations a few simple rules might help.

Greg Seaman outlines The 8 Simple Rules of Sharing: (edited for length)
1. Balance the ‘take’ with the ‘give’
Ideally, everyone in a community has something to contribute to the pool of goods available to share. But in reality, some people have more resources to share while others borrow more often. If you are among the latter group, look for ways to contribute with a service or skill so that the give and take relationship is more balanced. Sharing is a two-way street. Borrowing is a one-way street; stay on it long enough and you’ll drive yourself right out of the neighborhood.

2. Inspect the item before lending it out
There’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs when someone returns a borrowed item – you see it in a new light. The saw blade you thought of as brand new when loaned out now has a chipped tooth that you never noticed before. The pressure canner, upon return, looks stained on the inside but you vaguely remember it as still clean and new looking.

3. Always ask before borrowing
Relations with neighbors may be friendly and casual, and you may have borrowed items from the same person before with no problems. But assuming you can borrow without asking is a prescription for souring relations. The way things go, the one day you borrow your neighbor’s pruning ladder without asking turns out to be the same day he promised it to someone else. Even if the ‘lend-borrow’ balance is in your favor with a neighbor, always ask before borrowing. If the person is not home and you must borrow an item, leave a note which includes when you will be returning it.

4. Return items in better condition than when borrowed
The best way to develop a healthy borrowing relationship with anyone is to spruce up the borrowed item before returning it. A borrowed saw blade can be cleaned with steel wool and lightly oiled before being returned. A loaner truck is returned with more gas then when borrowed. If you return a cookie sheet with a small bag of fresh baked cookies, the lender will welcome your next loan request with open arms.

5. Set a date/time for return
After a task is done, our minds leap forward to the next thing. If the borrowed item is not returned right away, it quickly fades from thought and easily becomes forgotten. It is the responsibility of the lender to establish an ‘end date’ for the transaction. A clear, specific timetable, such as “I need this juicer back by Saturday morning” does a service to the borrower because the loan is not open-ended, making it easier to ensure a timely return.

6. Keep a list of outgoing/incoming shares
It may seem overly formal and structured, but it will make things simpler and prevent misunderstandings if you keep a list of the items you have loaned or borrowed, with corresponding dates for their return. Even smaller items like books, DVDs and cookware which may seem inconsequential when loaned out can suddenly seem more important when you need them and can’t remember who you lent them to. By keeping a list, your mind is freed from having to remember the details of every small loan.

7. Keep money out of the equation
When it comes to borrowing and lending, transactions involving money are best left to banks. Unlike other items being shared, money disappears when used. It does not sit around, like a borrowed pipe wrench, as a visual reminder that it needs to be returned.

I’ve seen otherwise sensible people go absolutely snarky over an overdue cash loan, so it’s best not to put people in this position. 

8. Accept the deviations from the rules
Sharing embodies a culture of trust within the community, and the value of this culture exceeds the value of any loaned item. Some people may not follow the rules or will fall short of expectations. It’s usually best to view any problems in this perspective, and not let the sharing process be tarnished by anyone who plays by their own rules. If you follow the advice “Don’t lend out anything that you aren’t prepared to lose”, it’s less likely that the process of sharing will result in disappointment.

What about you? Do you like to share? Could you share more? What’s keeping you from sharing? Feel free to share your views on borrowing and lending!