Simple Living // When is complexity good?

This is one of those blog posts that probably won’t have a nice, tidy resolution. These thoughts are simply that — thoughts I am currently muddling over.

I admire people who appear to be absolutely singular in their focus. I see the Olympic athlete who has her eye on the gold medal, and everything about her days and nights are pointed toward that one goal. I admire the professional artist or writer who spends his days deep in his craft. I have wonderful friends in the homeschool community who seem to be completely immersed in curriculum and child development and incredible adventures with their kids. I crave that sense of individual purpose, and I imagine that when one is devoted to a goal or lifestyle, that person feels incredible satisfaction and contentment. I, on the other hand, seem to jump from interest to interest, task to task, like a honey bee in a flower garden. I frustrate myself with my ever-changing enthusiasm.

In reality, many Olympic athletes have publicly shared the terrible blow to their mental health that resulted from years of having only one mission, one purpose, one source of personal worth. They talk about the deep exhaustion, the burn-out, and the sense of being trapped, many of them at a very young age. Similarly, parents often talk about the feeling that they have lost themselves in their devotion to their children. As a doula, I talk to parents about maintaining some of their interests, activities, and hobbies throughout parenting as a way to maintain creativity and joy, and a parent who pursues personal interests models perseverance and self-care to the children. That’s good!

I know it is healthy and normal to be a complex human being with many interests. Yet…I beat myself up for having many interests and a variety of goals. Since I was very young–probably around 10–I have felt upset with myself for not being singularly focused. Don’t get me wrong. I was a good student; however, I would still yell at myself internally, convinced that if I would just stop being interested in other things, I would be the BEST student. Thirty years later, I battle the feeling that if I would stop my other interests (and businesses), I could be the BEST mom. And of course, I believe my children deserve the very best I can be.

I am taking the week of March 8th (today) as a time for reflection and planning (with a good dose of organizing and decluttering). I need to think about what activities are an expression of my individuality and my gifts, while taking a good, hard look at the ones that are distracting me from my purpose and my priorities. Ugh…that sounds hard. I’ll let you know how it goes!

It’s like fruit. Stick with me here. A perfectly ripe piece of fruit tastes like heaven. It’s perfect. The texture is just right. The flavor is incredible. It’s simplicity is part of the pleasure it brings. But sometimes, we intentionally complicate fruit. To apples, we might add a delicate dough, sugar, cinnamon, and butter, and we have a delicious pie. You could say the elements of the pie distract from the perfect apple. Or you could say they enhance the apple. I’m trying to puzzle through what pieces of my current life enhance who I am as a mother, wife, and human being and which ones distract me from the life I could possibly build.

Simple Living // Starting Again

A few years ago, I shared my journey back toward simple living. I thought I had finally found the motivation, the resources, and the overall wisdom to declutter FOR GOOD. I was excited and relieved to finally be on the right path. You can read those posts here:

Part 1: Edit Post ‹ Warm as Pie —

Part 2: Edit Post ‹ Warm as Pie —

Part 3: Edit Post ‹ Warm as Pie —


Here I am five and half years later, and I am still struggling with this area of my life. I love simple spaces. I love the idea of living more fully with less stuff. At the moment, I have one decluttered space in my home — the master bedroom. It is my favorite place. It is my refuge, and the thought of having other rooms where I can rest and enjoy my family is pure bliss.

I certainly have moments where I wallow in discouragement (it was tough seeing that those posts were written in 2015!), but I am never one to stay there long. Instead of moaning about the fact that over five years have passed and I am still struggling with clutter, I am ready to dig in! My first blog post of each month will be about my pursuit of a simpler life with fewer belongings and less stress. I believe these steps are necessary for my family’s mental, physical, and spiritual health.

I know I can’t do this alone. I have a few tools in place to help me make progress.

  1. I turn to YouTube for BIG motivation. My favorites are The Minimal Mom and Natalie Bennett. The videos themselves get me all excited! The comment sections on these two channels are full of positivity and great tips.
  2. I joined a community on Instagram. At the beginning of 2021, I decided it was time to get serious. I joined a lovely group of women called the Minimalist Mom Community, and I have been turning to those gals for support and encouragement. You don’t have to have “made it” to minimalism to join, and I am certainly not there! Yet I feel a sense of belonging that has been incredibly helpful and reassuring.
  3. My dear friend Karen runs a “Clutter Club” within our sorority chapter. She sends an email each day with a task to conquer. These daily reminders of the ever-present work of decluttering drive home the fact that this process isn’t about the big finale–it’s about the little steps forward.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your belongings or maybe an overfilled schedule, join me!

Simple Living// Three: Fall Matters

Spring cleaning is great, but fall decluttering is truly valuable.  Fall matters, and here’s why.


A long time ago–no idea where or when really–I read something that compared autumn to the “letting go” process that we need to go through in order to grow.  I grabbed on to that idea, and I’ve thought about it often over the years.

The tree naturally drops the leaves that once served it well.  Those leaves sprouted from buds last spring, and since their beginning, they have been a source of nourishment for the whole tree.  They spread their green selves toward the sun and got to work creating chlorophyll to feed the tree.  It’s an amazing system.  But as cold weather approaches, the leaves end their food-making role.  They stop creating chlorophyll, stop nourishing the tree.  The tree drops them to the ground, leaving empty space where each leaf had been.  The braches are bare, ready for the new buds that spring will bring.  If the tree held on to all the old leaves, there would not be room for new leaves–the tree’s only source of food.  There would not be room for growth.

Okay…the analogy isn’t too hard.  I’m sure you are getting the picture.  We have to drop stuff if we want to have room for the things that really matter.  Want to grow in knowledge?  Drop the “noise” that clutters up your mind and wastes your time.  Want to grow in your faith?  Drop the voices that aren’t feeding your soul.  Want to grow in the way you organize or manage your time?  (Imagine me raising my hand enthusiastically and shouting “Me, me!”) DROP THE CLUTTER.

But here is the best part.  Trees do not mourn the loss of their leaves.  They aren’t out there in our backyards thinking, “I can’t lose these leaves.  I worked so hard to create them last spring.  I can’t get rid of that one.  It’s such a beautiful shade of red.  Oh no!  Not that one!  It’s the biggest leaf I’ve ever seen.  No, I’m keeping that one.  I don’t want to waste it!”  That doesn’t happen.  The leaves simply do not serve the tree any longer.  They must go.  Why do we analyze each item and place value on it that is far higher than its practical worth?

I have a closet full of things that served me once-upon-a-time.  They don’t serve me any longer, so I’m passing them to someone who will enjoy them, value them, and be blessed by them.

This is why fall matters to me.  It is an opportunity to drop the old and settle in for a beautiful season, free from the STUFF that holds me back.  I have many wonderful memories of fall, and the emotions of those happy times come flooding back and motivate me to make new autumn memories with my husband and children.  I can’t do those things freely if I’m held back by old thoughts, old regrets, and physical clutter.

What will you drop this fall?

Simple Living // Two: Inspiration

I received a great response from my first Simple Living post.  Thank you, dear readers!  It seems that the desire to simplify is strong among my friends and family.  I feel encouraged by your messages here and on Facebook.

As I said in “My Story”  (linked in case you missed it), my love of simple things and a simple lifestyle has been present my whole life.  I have many inspirations all around me, and I’m pleased to be able to share them with you.  Some of these sources are new to me while others are not new at all!

  1. YouTube Minimalists:  I love YouTube!  For a long time, I thought it was about silly cat videos and wild teenagers, but I was wrong.  Sure, you can look up singing kittens, but you also can learn many new things.  I’ve been learning plenty from some inspiring and interesting content creators such as Melissa Alexandria, Samantha Lindsey, and Coco.  Their videos make me excited and hopeful!  Melissa promotes a positive, can-do attitude.  She discusses a wide range of topics including minimalism, food, and sustainability, and I simply love her channel.  Samantha is a fairly new YouTuber, but I won’t be surprised to see her audience grow and grow!  She is a favorite of mine because we share the Christian faith, and that isn’t a common trait in the minimalist movement.  She speaks in a gentle, pleasant way that makes you feel like you are chatting with a friend.  Coco’s channel is called “Light by Coco,” and I love the whole atmosphere of her beautifully edited videos.  Everything about “Light by Coco” is simple, graceful, and elegant.  YouTube is loaded with videos on living simply, and I enjoy many of them.  One final favorite is Sprout and Blossom by a woman named Mary.  It’s a great channel, and you can also visit the accompanying blog;
  2. A Visit to My Sister:  I’m sure that Kristy would not call herself a minimalist, but she has some of the habits and characteristics of one.  When I visited with my sister and her little family this summer, I was struck (again) by the simplicity of how they live and the simplicity of what they enjoy.  We are alike in many ways, and pleasure in the small things of life is something we’ve always shared.  We do have a big difference though.  Kristy is inherently, naturally NEAT.  I am…not.  When we were kids, I envied her perfectly tidy room.  Now, I feel inspired rather than jealous.  I have trouble with paper clutter and little bits and pieces of things being kept for no real reason.  My sister doesn’t seem to struggle with those things, and it shows in her home.  I may be the Big Sister, but I know when I can learn something from my little sister!
  3. My Children:  While my children are definitely a big reason for our clutter, they also play a big part in inspiring me to minimize our belongings.  They don’t need stuff.  They need me–not Mommy cleaning all the time or trying to distract them so that I can take care of messes.  I know that a simple life will allow them to thrive and truly enjoy this magical time called childhood.
  4. Jesus Christ:  This is my last and most important inspiration.  Among other things, Jesus teaches simplicity.  He teaches that the only “things” that matter are the things of the heart.  Modern Christianity might seem like a culture filled with stuff, but Jesus actually  lived a life of few possessions, and He showed others that the physical elements of their lives pale in the light of eternity.  He called His disciples to leave behind their homes and belongings in order to follow Him.  They couldn’t be weighed down by the stuff of life if they were going to accept Christ’s mission to travel around the known world healing people and teaching the message of new life.  Sure, it’s probably pretty easy to not worry about your sandals when you are the Son of God.  I get that. Even so, Jesus is the perfect model of simplicity.  Something to think about…

Simple Living // One : My Story

Hello, friends,

Today I am starting a series that I’m calling Simple Living.  Simplicity has been a core value in my life and on this blog for many years, but I’ve been distracted from that theme for awhile.  Here is the story of how the journey began and where I am now:


I grew up in a family that values simple things.  We were never into “keeping up with the Joneses.”  We’ve always been a DIY kind of family, and my kids love to talk about how “old fashioned” Papa is because he heats his home with a pot belly stove and uses wonderful spring water from the hill out back.

In 2001, I married my college sweetheart.  As brand new college graduates, we didn’t own much, made very little money as graduate student teaching associates, and had an absolute blast!  We were very careful at budgeting and even saved enough money to take a two week vacation to Florida (including Disney World) when we had been married about a year and a half.  We got our first credit card that year, and we did so only because it was required for the hotel reservation.  We used only cash for every aspect of the trip.  We needed few things, and we were so busy with school and enjoying married life that we did not accumulate much.  Except books.  I can make no good excuse for our book collection!  Anyway, we moved out of our tiny (but adorable) attic apartment in 2004 after finishing our masters degrees and bought our first house.  We continued our graduate work at a new university and added two children to the mix by 2008.  Our house was small, and we were rapidly filling it with THINGS.  We continued to keep our schedule fairly simple (if you consider school, work, church, and family simple), and in general, my preferred aesthetic then and now is simple, clear, and fresh.  I don’t have extravagant taste, and I would choose a single daisy over a dozen roses any day.  YET the sense that we had too much was creeping in.

In the summer of 2011, we welcomed our third child and moved to Florida.  It was a huge move.  A thousand miles.  My husband had received a new job at a small university, and the kind people there helped us find a rental house until we could buy a home.  Our time ran out at the first house, and we moved into a second rental.  All of that moving around taught me an important lesson.  We had moved to Florida with only a small fraction of our belongings.  We packed only a small collection of clothes for ourselves and our children.  Our two boys packed one small box of toys and books.  The houses were furnished and had kitchen supplies, so we only took sheets and a few bath towels.  You know what?  It was wonderful.  I only missed  a few things–my vegetable peeler and some of my books.  When we successfully purchased our new house, I truly did not want the bulk of our stuff to come into it.  But the stuff came.  We were moving from 1100 square feet into more than 2000 square feet.  It was easy to stash away a lot of things that we really did not need, and the clear lesson was RIGHT THERE.  We only needed a fraction of what we owned, and after four month with only a small amount of our things, I only desperately wished for my lovely vegetable peeler.  (And after this blog post, my mom sent me a great peeler in the mail.  Thanks, Mom!)  This was a golden opportunity!  We should have been very, very discerning about what to keep, but instead, we loaded everything into our new house.  Many of those boxes hadn’t even been opened when we moved again (those same 1000 miles) less than two years later.  A lot of those boxes are still in our basement!

That brings me to this spring.  I started making some important changes in my life that I wrote about here.  I needed to clear my head and my heart.  Around the same time, I read a blog post by my friend, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth is many things, but two of her most important roles are homeschooling mom and entrepreneur.  She blogs at, and I think you’ll enjoy her thoughts.  Anyway, she wrote about going from hoarder to minimalist.  Somewhere along the line, Elizabeth recommended the website Becoming Minimalist and specifically, the post called “How to Stage Your Home for Living.”  Big things were happening inside me.  I needed to return to simplicity, and I finally felt ready to make it happen.  I realized that I was one of many people who are looking for ways to reduce STUFF and enjoy a life of simplicity.

On my birthday in June, I wrote this in my journal:  “I’m on a minimalist journey.”  I realize that it sounds totally melodramatic!  (I even cringed a little while typing it.)  But here is how I see it.  A journey can take you anywhere. I set off on this journey with both feet, and I have to keep moving forward to see where the road takes me.  I’m pretty sure this journey isn’t going to bring me to the place of only owning what I can fit in a backpack.  That might be great for some people, but I’m aiming for something far less extreme.  I just want to feel content, spend more time with my kids, and less time cleaning.  I want to see clear, open spaces around me.  I want to own things that I love.  I don’t want my things to own me.

I have had success with birthday resolutions in the past, and I’m particularly excited about this one.  I dove into decluttering immediately after my birthday.  THIS is what sat in front of my house on July 4th weekend:


And that was just the beginning.  In addition, we’ve donated three enormous bags of clothing to charity.  I have a big box of books that is headed to our local library.  I’ve thrown away about 20 bags of junk since June.  (Note: I deeply regret that I did not recycle more things.  I’m making a commitment to do better at recycling now that my belongings are more manageable.)

So that’s my story so far.  In my next installment, I’ll write about some of the people and resources that inspire my desire to live simply.

Thanks for reading!