Project Simplify

Thursday, July 3, 2014

   It started out innocently enough a few months ago. Late one night, Steve and I created what we affectionately called our Simplify List. It's nothing more than a Word document that we occasionally open and add projects or ideas to when they come to us. At first it was easy, silly things (like 'if you put on a piece of clothing and it doesn't fit just right- put it in the Goodwill bin!') but it has since grown into much more meaningful pursuits. Last week, for instance, we got rid of cable television.

   I grew up without cable; we lived so far out in the boonies that it simply wasn't an option and we never felt we were missing out on anything. The television meant family movie time and most nights we all would pick a movie and watch it together as a family. Commercial free.

   I recently read an article in which it was observed that people who watch television often have higher levels of anxiety regarding their health. Perhaps even worse than that, their overall sense of well being and happiness is decreased. I can totally understand how a constant barrage of shows and commercials could slowly corrode your sense of identity and the compass we inherently possess to determine what is worthy of our time, effort and money and what is not.

    So I asked Steve to cut to cord. That's what he did and so far it's been pretty fantastic. We still have Netflix and our collection of favorite DVDs but the release from all things commercial television related has been pretty awesome. We've been reading more, taking more evening walks after dinner and I've started crocheting a gorgeous, off white afghan- a hobby I haven't indulged in since college! Of course, the cable bill savings is nothing to sneer at either.

   Then we noticed that every time we look at our monthly budget we feel demoralized and stressed to see how much money we spend on restaurants for food and booze that cost a fraction of what we pay in the restaurant to prepare at home. So we decided to take the project even further: No Eating Out July was born!

   Even though some of my fondest memories with Steve have been at various restaurant tables, I'm really excited to abandon restaurants completely, save some money, and challenge myself in the kitchen. Example: instead of going out for Pad Thai tonight, I'm making grilled Asian marinated chicken thighs over a bed of rice noodles, fresh herbs and bean sprouts (recipe forthcoming if it's a success).

   That is the power of a project like this: you start to notice the little things that cause stress or anxiety in your life and suddenly ideas for major life improvement come out of thin air.

   What would a project simplify look like for you? I encourage you to take a moment and think of the places in your life that could use less clutter- it could be your closet, your kitchen, your entertainment purchases, or even your mental and spiritual space. Ask yourself: what is draining my time, energy and money that I may not actually need to feel happy and fulfilled? Then just write a few ideas down and get your simplify on!

   I'll be back soon with a recipe. I've been craving a major treat and I suspect it will take the form of a cupcake. 


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