Charmed by Simplicity

I have been stressed out by a good many things in these past couple of years; including by job, my husband’s health, the poor economy and the state of the world. As some of you readers know I had been giving meditation a try; but not faithfully or successfully or I wouldn’t be so freakin stressed-out. Right? I have also been working on being less negative and “snarky,” again with the best intentions but not my usual follow-through, as demonstrated by the last two sentences. Oh well, I’m a work in progress.

Simplicity articles and stories fill me with envy and a desire to sell everything and find my simplicity path, but which path there are so many, it’s not very simple.

This story by David Wallis, Increasingly, Retirees Dump their Possessions and Hit the Road, in the New York Times talks to several retirees about how they sold everything and are now permanently traveling. One couple has been spending the last two years living in a tent in different parts of the world, another couple stays in short-term vacation rentals in different countries every few months and yet another woman lives on something like $150 per month by working on organic farms for room and board or couch surfing around the country.

A comment from one of the traveling couples;

““We simply traded the money we were spending for overhead on a house and garden in California for a life in much smaller but comfortable HomeAway rentals in more interesting places,” Ms. Martin said by email from Paris.”

Sell everything the house, the cars and the possessions that weigh us down and travel the world with just the necessities of life seems like a pretty awesome way to spend your golden years.

A Sandy Keenan article in the New York Times, “Freedom in 704 Square Feet” featured this quote from a neighbor of the featured couple who, to have more time to live rather than maintain a home, live in a small house in Portland, Oregon;

None of this has gone unnoticed by the neighbors. Kim Conrow, 65, who lives next door, marveled: “On weekends, they actually go places and do things. They’re not tied to the projects most of us are tied to. I’m so charmed by the simplicity of it.

A smaller house with less overhead, less to clean, less to worry about and maintain. We purchased our townhome during the market dive, but of course we were not close enough to the bottom when we did buy and are still underwater, even if not quite as bad as some of our neighbors. This adds to the stress, because if we did want to sell it, it’s going to cost us even more money to truly get out from underneath the obligation. And we may need to sell because living in a house with two sets of stairs doesn’t work all that well for a guy that is on oxygen. But he does climb the stairs several time a day like a trouper.

I purchased a book, Secrets of Simplicity – Learn to Live Better with Less by Mary Carlomagno about 6 or 7 years ago. It has lots of helpful lessons about how to curb your wants and focus on your needs, help you realize how much you have already in the way of family, friends and things and how to appreciate them now, and how to change a habit like “shopping” and start a new one like “exercising”. One particularly funny passages in the section on “Focus” she is telling the reader about being in a yoga class and her teacher was talking about Prana, which means breath.

“One day my teacher, Laurie Goldstein, was talking about Prana, which means “breath” or the “life force,” arguably the most essential part of yoga. In my distracted state, I heard “Prada.” Suddenly, instead of taking deep cleansing breaths, I found myself mentally wandering through Saks purchasing high-end designer goods. Though I cannot liken my shopping addiction to a chemical need like that of nicotine, alcohol, or even caffeine, the battle to avoid shopping is one I fight every day! As evidenced in my yoga class, sometimes the temptation creeps up even when I have the best intentions.” 

For me this was funny, but also, sadly a little too close to home; because I do find my mind wandering to a beautiful new coat from Barneys or some pretty bauble from Nordstrom or just some random shopping for something at Target. And I need nothing right now, absolutely nothing, yet my brain still starts thinking about when I will have the next opportunity to shop. When the urge starts to get too strong or I have fallen off the wagon I pull out this book and it helps me re-focus on what’s important.

Do you ever long for a simpler life? Or are you living one? What is your secret?

Oh Wine ~ The Wine Loft

The Wine Loft

The Wine Loft at Percival Landing was a recent discovery in downtown Olympia. A tiny little brick building not too far from the Olympia Farmers Market that was once a bank. I have walked or driven by this place dozens of times and always wanted to stop in, but just had not. Now it will be a regular on my downtown circuit.

They offer wine tastings on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of every month, a 10% discount on cases or mixed case purchases, the tiny store has an impressive variety of wines, ports, sherry’s and more in every price range.

I scored a lovely split of Sancerre and am trying a new wine from Italy, Scarzello, I will let you know if I liked it as I have all the cooking magazines out today and am going to whip up something new for dinner tonight!

Any favorite wine recommendations?



Walk for Wishes Day

What a wonderfully fun day in the sun with friends walking for a great cause! I wrote a while back that I was going to participate in a Walk for Wishes event with my buddy Logan and as promise some pictures from the day!

The team of Logan's Hero's at the Walk for Wishes - Make a Wish Walk!

The team of Logan’s Hero’s at the Walk for Wishes – Make a Wish Walk!

I didn’t realize my “fisheye” effect was on my camera at first, so the first dozen or so pictures have the funky effect on them! Such a fun time walking with all my Ninja Turtle team.

Blitz the Seahawks mascot was hanging out with the Wish team today!

Blitz the Seahawks mascot was hanging out with the Wish team today!

There was so much going on at this event; balloon animals, face painting, snacks and prizes, Blitz from the Seahawks, a huge guy from Halo, bouncy houses and lots of sunshine!

Brandy and Logan listening to an inspirational Wish Kid!

Brandy and Logan listening to an inspirational Wish Kid!

The young boy who spoke has suffered from kidney decease all his life and was lucky enough to receive a transplant last year. His wish was to meet the band Macklemore and he said the excitement of the wish and the wish itself truly helped him get through some very sad and scary times in his life. For a very young man he did a wonderful job!

Team Logan walking the course!

Team Logan walking the course!

I'm a Frenchie fan and so I had to capture one of the cute little canine walkers!

I’m a Frenchie fan and so I had to capture one of the cute little canine walkers!

I had such a fun day!


I made some new friends, was inspired by so many brave kids and selfless volunteers, got to spend the day with Logan who is such a cool, sweet and wonderful guy and to top it all off got in a nice workout! Absolutely no better way to spend a lovely Sunday!

How did you spend your Sunday?



Where Did I Come From?


I had every intention of writing and publishing a couple of new stories this week, but when I started researching a question for a story some how I ended up looking something up on and I have been completely sucked into it, spending most of last Sunday just looking around.

Wow, so much interesting information. And, one of my grandmother’s relatives has done a huge amount of work on that part of the family tree. She had posted pictures of family, places they lived or had gotten married and filled in several generations of family  – it was so cool!

  • My Great, Great Grandfather George came through Ellis Island in 1907
  • My Great Grandmother Kate had like 10 brothers and sisters
  • My fathers mother was married once before she married my grandfather
  • My Grandma Jean’s father passes away in Texas and never had any other children with his second wife.

Now I have to check in with one of my great aunts that is still with us and get some more details on my Dad’s side of the family.

Sorry for my distraction, but it can really capture your attention.



Too Much S#%T!

A past poem I wrote contains the line: “my possessions own me” and that is feeling more true than ever this week. I am being drug down by all my stuff. Why do I need 12 plates when I rarely feed more than my husband and me? Why do I have 4 sets of salt and pepper shakers, why do I have 4 containers of kitchen utensils on my counter, why do I have all this space for two of us and two dogs? It’s just more time spent cleaning than having fun and enjoying life. I don’t enjoy housework, why have such a big house? (and my place really isn’t that big) And these are just the things I see from my kitchen, let’s not even look in my bathroom or my closet.

Several New York Times articles on money, retirement and family life touch on the nature of “stuff” and “possessions”. In this one, “The Way We Live: Downing in Stuff” by Penelope Green she interviews a researcher on a UCLA study of 32 typical middle class families and all their stuff. One quote really got me thinking…..

Finally, there was a direct relationship between the amount of magnets on refrigerators and the amount of stuff in a household.”    uh oh!


That is a lot of magnets on my fridge!

This article on retirement and happiness, “For Some, Tis a Gift to be Simple” by Ron Lieber talks about a study by two researchers that are looking into the field of happiness;

“….they were trying to help answer one of the next big questions in the emerging field of happiness studies. Already, scholars in the field have established that experiences tend to make people happier than possessions. What we do, it seems, has more potential for lasting satisfaction and memory-making than what we have.”

Experiences tend to make people happier than possessions” and I am sure they are not taking about the experience of acquiring those possessions. Vacations, time spent with family, time spent in pursuit of learning something new or time spent with friends are the things that make people happy. Shit, no wonder I feel weighed down.

And this piece from the same article also intrigued me because shopping and acquiring has become a solitary, computer driven endeavor for me; focused on finding the best deal, using that coupon code and getting cash back for stuff, if I am truly honest, I know I don’t need.

“Once upon a time, with roots that go back to medieval marketplaces featuring stalls that functioned as stores, shopping offered a way to connect socially, as Ms. Liebmann and others have pointed out. But over the last decade, retailing came to be about one thing: unbridled acquisition, epitomized by big-box stores where the mantra was “stack ’em high and let ’em fly” and online transactions that required no social interaction at all — you didn’t even have to leave your home.

And this recent New York Times article by David Wallis looks at retirees that dump their possessions and hit the road;

SOME call themselves “senior gypsies.” Others prefer “international nomad.” David Law, 74, a retired executive recruiter who has primarily slept in tents in several countries in the last two years, likes the ring of “American Bedouin.”

They are American retirees who have downsized to the extreme, choosing a life of travel over a life of tending to possessions. And their numbers are rising.

A life of travel over a life of tending to possessions” there it is again possessions and what it does to weigh down and anchor your life. Shedding a bunch of my possessions and removing that burden from my life seems like it is just the answer I am looking for to feel better, worry less and live a happier life.

Now I don’t think I could ever go to the extreme simplicity route and pick a number of items, most articles seem to pick 100 and live with only those. But being much more mindful of the need, verse want, verse acquiring for entertainment would, I think, be a big step in the right direction.

What about you – do you have more possessions than you really need? Do you ever feel weighed down by all of it?

Back on the Wagon

Writing Books  I have not written much nor published anything new in the last couple of weeks. I have been consumed by work and worry. I should instead be happy, enjoying my life and of course writing. I have “fallen off the wagon” of writing daily. How do I get back on that wagon?

A writer friend of mine, that I also work with, stopped by my office the other day and gave me a nudge. Thank you Todd!!

My dad called the other day and also gave me a poke! Thank you Dad!

I have gotten some of my favorite writers advise books out and am getting inspired.

I am swinging my leg back up on that wagon tonight, look for something new this weekend!

How do you reignite your passion when the flame has flickered?