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Holiday Simplicity December 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Life Balance, Special Events.
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After reading Simplify Your Life in 1997, we stopped stressing over the holidays.  We do what we enjoy doing, and don’t do stuff that feels like a chore.  We’ve decided Less is More.

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We do not spend hours putting up a BIG tree or untangling lights.

We have a tabletop tree that we store decorated with favorite ornaments ~ many handmade. It’s good to go in about 15 minutes.

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Other decorations collected over the years (Santas, Reindeer, Elves) go from boxes to shelves in about 60 minutes.

When our nieces and nephews were tiny toddlers, I gifted Santas to them (which helped keep our decorations in check).

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Instead of shopping ’til we’re dropping, we send cheery cards and college checks to nieces and nephews, and consumables (food, wine, snacks, books) to family and friends.

BFF and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts with each other. Instead, we spend time creating experiential memories together.

Ignoring the call of the mall leaves us with time and energy to enjoy local Holiday Offerings . . . like the Candy Cane Crawl, Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, and PIZZA on Pine Avenue.

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We stopped sending Christmas Cards to everyone we’ve ever known in every place we’ve ever lived or worked (NJ, VA, SC, NC, MD, and here).

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Culling the list from 250+ people we barely remember to those we genuinely care about and want to see again is a HUGE time saver each December.

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Which gives us a chance to enjoy Choirs of Angels in Santa Hats.

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Once they get situated with their hats on straight.

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A new tradition this year ~> collecting and gathering spare change to toss into the big red buckets manned by ubiquitous bell ringers.

Together with our cheery HO~HO~HO!

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Aah . . . that’s better!

What are your favorite traditions? Which ones could you do without?

A Cluster of Chaotic Threads March 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Simplify Your Life.
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Finding inner calm on calm days is beginner’s work . . . finding inner calm in the midst of chaos and confusion, amid a cluster of chaotic threads, lets us see how much progress we’ve made on the tangled tapestry of our life.


A few threads, recently unraveled:

Those who want adventure often must choose between safety and freedom.

“Boats are safe in harbor, but that’s not what boats are for.”

Of course, I’m not a boat.
Or a kite.

(Thanks for that, Don!)

Some people must “test the ice.”  Others, like me, are content sipping a Hot Toddy or Umbrella Drink on shore.

I suspect my sense of humor exceeds my sense of adventure, especially in colder climates.

When we are content as and where we are, we need not choose between freedom and (relative) safety.  There is no universal mandate requiring us to “lose sight of the shore” or leave our comfort zone in order to feel free.

Perhaps freedom lies in wanting to be who, what, and where we already are.


I agree with the Dalai Lama . . . we are here to be happy.   If we are happy where we are, pushing, stretching, pulling, tugging, and reaching for the next “brass ring” seems to be both a counter-productive and counter-intuitive practice.

Eat when hungry.  Sleep when tired.  Move when restless.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  A Tangled Mess (Water Witch’s Daughter) * Do You Want Safety or Freedom? (My Light Bag) * Comfort Zones (Awakening to Awareness) * Haiku ~ State of Mind (Janna T. Writes)

Brainstorming Our Elephants January 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Simplify Your Life.
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James-the-CatQ.  What’s the best way to eat an elephant?

A. One Bite At A Time.

Let’s say your “elephant” is a need for better organization and greater efficiency.

When you’re already stretched for time, where are you going to find the time to tackle such a weighty issue?


Even 10 minutes a day will make a huge difference in your time over time.

* Time mastery is life mastery.

* A bucket is filled drop by drop.

If you waste 10 minutes a day spinning your wheels . . . that’s 3650 minutes (60 hours) a year that you could spend nibbling away at your elephant.

Here are a few Time Management Skills to consider:

1.  Be mindful of how you invest your time and whether you are getting a good return on your investment.

If you enjoyed yourself, maybe it wasn’t wasted time.

2.  Identify and eliminate time wasters ~ unnecessary interruptions, waiting for appointments, procrastination, trying to do too much, indecision and not saying “no,” failure to set priorities, surfing the web, e-mails, meetings.

Work to minimize or eliminate wasted time one time waster at a time.

3.  Eliminate clutter from your work surface.  Messy desks and work spaces slow us down.  Use a filing system ~ be decisive about whether to file an item, act on it, or recycle it.

4.  Tackle high priority items when your energy level is high and low priority items when your energy is flagging.

5.  If you sit at a desk all day, take breaks to clear your head and stretch your muscles.  If you’re going, going, going all day, take a break to kick back and put up your feet.

We are more efficient when we allocate time for well being as well as doing.

6.  Take daily action to nibble away at your elephants.  Track your progress and adjust your approach as necessary.

7.  Breathe.  Relax.  Repeat.  

Aah . . . that’s better!  

Resources:  Productivity Institute * Higher Awareness

Ziggy’s Problem . . . Too Much Stuff! March 4, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Simplify Your Life.
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Ziggy . . . Artwork by Jan Philpot

Ziggy zig-zagged across the floor of his room . . . by necessity, not choice.

He had Too Much Stuff.

His drawers overflowed with Stuff and would no longer close.  Shelves sagged from being crammed full of Stuff.  The closet bulged with Stuff that spilled into the room.

The floor was covered with so much Stuff that Ziggy could barely reach his bed.

He had Too Much Stuff.

Ziggy galloped to the kitchen and whinnied (using his indoor whinny, of course):

“I  have . . . TOO . . . MUCH . . . STUFF!”

Ziggy’s mom, Zelda, looked up from the spinach, carrot, and pea salad she was making and nodded, “Ziggy, I think you are starting to realize that sometimes less is more.”

Now, you might ask, “How can less ever be more?”  And your best friend might say, “Less is less, and more is more.”  And your next best friend might say, “I’m confused.  Saying that less is more doesn’t make any sense.”

Well, let me try to explain.

When we have fewer things, we can appreciate what we have more easily because we don’t always have something else competing for our attention.  We can focus on what we have without getting distracted by something else.

Does that make sense?

If it doesn’t make sense yet, maybe it will by the time you finish this book.  So, let’s get back to the story . . .

“Well, Ziggy, what should you do about all that Stuff?”

Ziggy looked thoughtful as he pondered his mother’s question.

His forehead got all scrunchy looking, and his ears flared out to the side.

He thought about having Too Much Stuff, and wondered what his mother meant when she said, “sometimes, less is more.”

Zelda waited, giving Ziggy time to think.

After a few minutes, Ziggy’s ears relaxed into their normal upright and locked position.  “Maybe I can sell some Stuff and use the money to buy something I really want.”

He cocked his head to the side to see what his mother thought of the idea.

Zelda smiled, “That’s a zebra-tastic idea, Ziggy!  Where will you sell it?”

Ziggy thought a moment more, then his face lit up with a huge grin.  “I know, I’ll have a yard sale and sell all the Stuff I don’t play with any more.”

Zelda beamed with pride at her son’s solution to his problem of Too Much Stuff.

“That sounds like an excellent solution to your problem, Ziggy.  And you thought of it all by yourself.  Good for you.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Focus on Rewards . . . not Risks May 30, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, Simplify Your Life.
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When I was younger, I was “braver” . . . I didn’t envision potential pitfalls as easily.  I saw sunny skies waiting for me wherever I chose to roam.

Now, there is a weighing of risk vs. reward with even simple actions.  

I talk myself out of doing things I want to do because “it probably won’t be that great anyway.” 

I am far too focused on what I don’t want . . . with only cursory consideration given to what I do want.

Here’s to changing that habitual pattern!

Aah . . . that’s better! 

Related post:  How to become aroused by yourself in 20 minutes or less (Raptitude).

Advice From The Ocean May 22, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Nature, People, Simplify Your Life, Word Play.
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Be shore of yourself * Come out of your shell * Relax and coast * Avoid pier pressure * Sea life’s beauty * Don’t get tide down * Make waves!

Aah . . . that’s better!

When People Ask Me What I “Do” May 7, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Life Lessons, Mindfulness, People, Simplify Your Life.
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Woodstock-&-Snoopy3When people ask me what I do . . . it’s often because  they want to put me in a box, with a label affixed to my forehead for ready classification.

It’s convenient for them to know whether I am (or have been)  Doctor,  Lawyer, or Indian Chief.

Occupation gives them a frame of reference.

Since I’m not one thing . . . or another . . . I tend to sidestep their attempts to categorize me . . . to pin me down . . . as if I were a Monarch Butterfly destined to be netted and caged by their expectations.

People have so many roles in life, associating oneself (or others) with any one label, while ignoring the rest, makes little sense.

Among other things, I am (or have been):  writer, musician, painter, blogger, published author, yoga enthusiast, artist, grant writer, guitar player, songwriter, vegetarian, environmentalist, poet, actress, attorney, editor, movie goer, baby boomer, pet owner,  activist, consumer . . . and the list goes on. 

I am also an  a-social, a-political, spiritual introvert, who is occasionally the life of the party.  I have been both student and teacher, leader and follower, director and directed.  

I have never been an Olympic gold medalist. 

The roles I have “played” have little to do with  the totality of who I am at this moment.

They are just labels, which do not define the essence of ”me,” nor are they written on my forehead with indelible ink. 

I don’t have to wear labels just because it’s  “convenient” for them.

I can just be ME . . . with all that entails.
And so can you.

We are not the labels we wear.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Linger Longer April 16, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Mindfulness, Simplify Your Life.
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What if everything we claim to possess possesses a part of us in return . . . splintering our energy into fragments?

When we claim to possess something (MY house, MY car,  MY workplace), we invest energy into “owning IT” and caring for IT.

We infuse part of ourselves with each person, place, or thing we “grow attached to.”

What if, as a result of our investment, the person, place, or thing comes to possess a bit of us in exchange?  

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

We give . . . IT takes.

What happens when we leave IT behind (or IT leaves us behind)? 

Does our energy linger longer?

What say you?

I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.  ~ Blaise Pascal

39 Tips For Living A BETTER Life February 27, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Health & Wellness, Mindfulness.
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I want to share two posts with you this morning that contain a total of 39 Tips for Living a BETTER Life . . . starting NOW!

The first, written by Courtney Carver, a woman surviving and thriving after being diagnosed with MS in 2006, outlines 10 areas to focus on when seeking to improve your health and happiness ~ Diet, Health Care, Water, Colors not Calories, Assess Stress, Debt, Do Good Work, Simplify, Exercise, and Live:

Permission to be Healthy ~ 10 Steps to a Healthier (and Happier) Life 

The second article, written by Cat Li Stevenson, contains 29 tips for making the most of life . . . as and where you are:  29 Life Lessons in 29 Years 

A few favorites from Cat’s article which tie in to recent posts here on SLTW:

8. No matter what we achieve – whatever our measuring stick of success may be – until our minds and hearts are at peace, there will always be the next chase. To expand on this thought: our understanding of ‘security’ can be less safe than it appears. It is valuable to question and examine our definition of safe.

9. Breathe. Practicing sitting comfortably in silence. A sanctuary awaits us in being able to be still, contemplate and reflect. We discover the most about ourselves when we dissolve our inner barriers, quiet the mind, and hear our inner voice.

18. There is no one-way to live. There is no box, no one-way to happiness, no how-to manual for your unique being. We shouldn’t be influenced by movies, stories, and fantasy. We don’t have to conform to societal ideals, norms, or our portrayal of ‘perfect’. Find your truth, your path, your heart and follow it.

22. Saying no is an important skill. It is one that allows us to protect our most precious resource: our time and energy. In my 20s, there was a period of time where I adopted a mantra of “Yes!”—yes to social gatherings, yes to busyness, yes to happy hours, yes to commitments that didn’t serve me. By saying no, I was able to gain back pieces of my day and my energy.

Breathe. Relax. Repeat.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Patience and Impermanence November 20, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, Simplify Your Life.
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IMGP1216bPatience and impermanence go hand in hand.

Once we realize that we can only LIVE in the present moment . . . our impatience to get somewhere else disappears.

We are content to Be Here Now.  In THIS moment.

We no longer WAIT in lines or GET STUCK in traffic.  We enjoy each moment as it unfolds before us.

The grass no longer seems greener on the other side of the fence.   We are fully present in everything that is offered HERE and NOW.

We see that self-created suffering is rooted in the frantic desire to attain something other than what we already have . . .

But nothing lasts.
So what’s the rush?
Enjoy THIS moment.

Instead of striving to reach some distant shore, we become fully engaged HERE and NOW.  We enjoy the journey as each moment unfolds into the next.

Donald-DirectorBe patient.  Life is stirred with a slow spoon.

All things must pass.

We are HERE and it is NOW.
What else is there?

Aah . . . that’s better.

Related post:  Connecting with the Here and Now


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