My Favorite Things: How to Let Go of the Things You Don't Need (but think you do!)

In every minimalist’s life, there is an area where they are vulnerable to denial; an area where minimizing a specific object isn’t just hard, but horrifying.

I am a victim of this. Or rather, maybe I am not so much a victim as I am a participant in my justification.

A rack of shoes
Minimalists may be organized, decluttered, and thoroughly downsized, but there’s always one area that is heartbreaking to maintain.

For me, it’s shoes. Shoes are my kryptonite. And if I’m being extra transparent, it’s also jackets and belts. But, my biggest love (when it comes to my closet) is shoes.

I counted my shoes once (several years ago) and I think it was 65. Which to some, may be a lot. To others, it may be just a drop in the bucket. Regardless, I had all of these amazing shoes; shoes I swore I loved – all of them. 

But here’s the kicker about my kicks: I only wore a handful of them, probably a dozen or less,  every year. Out of 60, I wore 12 regularly. (There were a few that I wore once or twice a year and the rest were worn on an average of once a year). That’s a 20% wear rate. This tends to be the hard rule when it comes to our closets: we only wear 20% of our things 80% of the time.

Boots, sandals, flats, heels, you name it: it was (and still is) a huge love in my life. While my closet is pared down to bare bones these days (meaning, I love to wear and do wear everything in my closet), shoes are the one thing on which I pull the minimalism brakes hard. 

It’s not that I didn’t want to pare down, it’s that I loved having so many choices. 

But once I came clean with myself and admitted my sin of omission (that shoes didn’t count in my minimalism journey)  I began to slowly - that is the key word when it came to my weakness, slowly – donate, sell, or toss the ones that got little to no wear.

Here are a few pointers on how I was able to pare down (but still maintain) my love affair with shoes. 

Take it slow - As I mentioned before, getting rid of my shoes was a prolonged process. I’d go into my closet and omit a few, then let it be. Another season would pass, and I’d get rid of a few more. It took me years to get down to what mattered in my shoe stash. I’m still paring down. This is the last item in my closet to be decluttered. As I said, it’s my favorite thing, and letting go is a slow process… and that’s okay!

Get rid of duplicates - This is an easy one to implement. I had several pairs of black flats, several pairs of brown flats, several boots of the same color, etc. Duplicates were all over my shoe piles. And when I looked at the duplicates in more depth, I realized I wore one pair far more than the other duplicates. I put the copies into the donation pile that can now go to someone who will wear them.

Try them on - This one makes me laugh, but I have had numerous pairs of shoes and sandals, heels, and boots that do not fit me. At the time I bought them, I figured I’d “work” them in and then they’d fit right. Nope. They never did. I learned to make sure shoes fit right first so that I wasn’t just throwing money down the drain. If you have shoes in your closet that don’t fit, stop torturing yourself (and your feet) and toss them! Time won’t change the size of your feet.

Focus on the now (not the what-if) - I think many women are guilty of this one: we buy beautiful shoes in the hopes we will get to wear them in the future! Can I just tell you how many shoes I’ve owned that fit this category? Tons! Either the opportunity never came, or the event did, and I wore the shoes once. Then they sat abandoned in my closet. I was focused on the “what if” future event rather than living in the now, with shoes I could be wearing (not hoping to wear). I’ve adjusted my delusions of grandeur and only buy shoes when I know I’ll need them.

Be realistic - This goes with the above category. Be realistic. You’ve got two feet, with only so many places to visit. The odds are good you’ll favor one pair over many others, and regret purchasing the others that never get worn. I can attest to this. I went on a tropical vacation a few months ago. I brought six pairs of sandals. Guess how many I wore regularly that week? One! (and a pair of flip-flops) Yes, just one. I was angry at myself for overpacking. Less is so much more. Not to mention, it’s less expensive.

While I don’t have 65 pairs of shoes anymore, I have lessened my shoe load to about 25 which is still a lot – and yes, I’m working on lessening it to the main 12 or so I wear regularly. I am a full-fledged minimalist and I still can’t pair down to the 12 I know I wear! Change takes time.

Author Courtney Carver goes into deep detail about minimalizing the clothing closet in her book Project 333. I’d highly recommend this book to any minimalist lover needing a little help with their closet (and shoes). While I'm not that extreme of a minimalist in my closet, (I enjoy fashion too much for that), she speaks relevant truth about how to truly keep what we love and how we wear it.

The process of minimalism on items we love is a journey. It took me decades of accumulating shoes, so it’s going to take me time to pare down to what I love. The same may be true for you. Your "weakness" could be something totally different from what someone else's is. It could be cookbooks, plastic containers, rubber bands, or t-shirts. Remember to take things slowly, be kind to yourself, eliminate duplicates, try on what you have -or find out if you use what you have, - focus on where you are today, and be realistic: good changes take time. 

With a little time and the goal of being someone who uses what they have (even if your family isn't a part of this process), you too will be able to let go of some of your favorite things you don’t need, wear, or use - even if you think you do.


What if All I Want is a Simple Life?

A rocking chair, and bookshelf by a fireplace
There's a viral minimal lifestyle post I've read a couple of times that I keep seeing reposted among the simple living community and it's called
"What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life?" 

Read it if you have a chance. It is well-written and full of validating words that, for me, explained exactly what I was feeling about my lifestyle. What if I'm not the best of the best? What if I love living my simple life? Am I a bad person for not wanting to look like I'm perfect or the way this “perfection” is portrayed on social media?

My biggest hangup in this article though is the word mediocre. According to, mediocre means "of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate" and the second meaning is "not satisfactory; poor; inferior." 

Hold on a second... barely adequate? Poor and inferior? Since when have I ever wanted to write something that was barely adequate? Never. Since when was I interested in living my daily life as one that is poor and inferior? Not a once. Mediocre is not a comforting word, which is why this title rubs me the wrong way.

I understand her context though. It’s the question, “Am I good enough just the way I am?” Most people question themselves about this aspect. Am I good enough and do I have to do more to feel like I am truly good enough? 

Mediocre isn’t the word I'm driving for. It’s simplicity. I'm not into only giving of myself partially in all that I do, or how I keep my house, or how I dress or live, or raise my kids. I'm not into living halfway, or only partially well done. 

But, I am into living a simple life that doesn't need to be the best or have the best. I don’t need to be number one. I’m not interested in appearing like I’m put together with the nicest home and most well-behaved children when I’m actually in debt to my eyeballs and my children are disasters.

(I’m happy to report we aren’t in debt up to our eyeballs. I have the goal to pay off our mortgage in close to four years, and my full-grown sons are the opposite of disasters. I couldn’t be more proud of them.)

If I had to write an article about a mediocre life, and I suppose that's what I'm doing, I'd ask myself: What if I'm happiest living a simple life? What does it look like, for people like me, who strive to live a simple life? The kind of life whose primary ambition is to lead a quiet life?

It's not flashy or fancy. But, it's not of moderate quality either. It’s one filled with joy, peace, and extreme satisfaction. This is what my simple life looks like; the one I’m aiming for when I ask myself “What if all I want is a simple life?”

1. I don't need a blog with the highest following. Of course, I'd love to have a small, honest following, but I'm happy with that. If I can help one person destress their life, then my work is done. Just getting to write, and having my voice heard, is like winning a writing lottery for me. I’m not accepting I own a mediocre blog. I am accepting that I am happy with a simple and informative blog that tells people what they want to know.

2. I don't need social media with the hugest following. For a small time in my life, having a following was important. It isn't now. It just seems horrifically painful to keep that up. I'd rather have a group of quality friends who I follow and follow me than a profile with gobs of unknown followers whom I don’t need to try to impress. Less is so much more.

3. I don't need to work a job outside of what I love. I'd rather make little money doing what I love than make a lot doing something I dread or despise. I’ve been on the other side, working and doing things that drained me. I’m back to doing what I love, no matter the income. I understand not everyone has this privilege - I’m blessed to get to do this, and we’ve also rearranged our spending and lifestyle habits to accommodate this.

4. I don't need to keep up with my neighbors. No need for the biggest home, or the flashiest new car. That seems like an insurmountable stress that will stay with me until my dying day if I engage in that futile effort. I love my simple but beautiful home, car, clothing, and lifestyle. And at this point in my life, no one can tell me otherwise. I didn’t use to feel this way but now that I’ve embraced the minimal, simple, slow life, it’s flipped my thinking. It’s the best way to live. There is no pressure to live beyond my means or for someone else’s visual stimulation.

5. I don't need to buy new (thrift instead). This isn’t always the case, but it sure is often in my house. Did the can opener break? Check the thrift store first. Did my luggage fall apart? Check the thrift store first. Many times, I don’t find what I’m looking for. But many times, because I’m willing to be thrifty, I find what I need for a fraction of the price. Being a good steward of my money is more important to me than having a name-brand item. Besides, that’s money I can use to pay off the mortgage sooner.

6. I don't always need to eat out. This one is hard. Everyone loves a good meal out. But we have a refrigerator and a small freezer in the garage filled to the brim with food. While there’s a time to go out and enjoy spending money at a restaurant, there is also the joy of simply using what we have. A simple eating plan means I’m not mediocre about my meals, but happy to have a simple taco Tuesday night. It also means rib eye steaks when I find a good deal. Simple not mediocre.

Owning and enjoying a simple life doesn’t mean I don't want nice things, but it means my goal to enjoy the life I have is more important than trying to obtain the goal of living a life that was never intended for me. And that is a simple life worth choosing and fighting to keep. 

For me, it means peace. It means not spending money I don’t have, living beyond my limits, or wanting to have the biggest, and best of everything that surrounds me. My children are wonderful without doing all the things, my house is perfect despite needing new flooring and updated bathrooms.

I have what I need, more than I need, and I don’t feel the pull of the consumeristic, ostensible culture telling me I’m less than them because I don’t subscribe to what they offer.

And there is nothing mediocre about that.

Being a Reliable Narrator: Three Pathways to the Road of Honest Minimalism

Book on a table

Have you ever read a book that completely enthralled you? You immediately liked the characters, (even the bad guys) and the storyline hooked you from the start. You felt like you were one with the author, seeing all the told action and even the untold action, as you deftly read between the lines. But once the story is over, you find out that the narrator was lying to you; telling you one thing, while a different thing was the truth. 

When this happens, I feel both disappointed and challenged.

This type of story - when we think the story's details are one thing but are something else entirely - has an untrustworthy narrator. This narrator is called an unreliable narrator. An unreliable narrator is a deliberately deceptive storyteller who cannot be trusted; someone who says untruthful things with the intent to lie and entrap (in this case, me, the gullible reader.) 

I mostly feel bamboozled when I've discovered an author did this. 

On the one hand, it makes me rethink the entire story and how well they deceived me. I’m in awe of their ability to lie to me so well. On the other hand, I’m angry they intentionally misled me. I want to believe what I read! I want to be so immersed in the story believing the actions, the words, and the characters all coordinating as it unfolds.

I love truth because I can anchor myself to it. Who doesn’t love that?

Living in a cluttered home is reminiscent of being an unreliable narrator. This was me years ago.  I thought I was telling myself the truth daily as I lived and navigated my way through my home and everything in it. Like when I’m in the kitchen, “Of course, I need six spatulas!”  Then later, as I perused my closet, “Yes, I wear all twenty pairs of  jeans.” Then when I’m looking at my vintage mug collection, “Sure I have 40 mugs, but I use all of them.” 

Nope. Nope. And nope. I began to catch my self-told lies. And I finally understood why I was doing it: I was tricking myself into thinking I was speaking truthfully so I didn’t feel bad about my consumerism. Buying and collecting and holding onto more than I need is filling a void that has nothing to do with needing anything. It had to do with insecurity. 

I was my own worst enemy.

Here’s how I turned my unreliable narrator heart into a reliable narrator and it began with uncovering my insecurities and facing them head-on. Here are three pathways I took that led me back to being a reliable narrator to control the chaos and clutter in my home.

Change my focus - I had to stop and ask questions of myself during my assessment, and the most important questions I needed to ask before I bought something were: Why am I buying this? And am I buying this item (for my home or closet or the kids) because they need it or because I’m trying to fill a void? Buying - and the constant consumer cycle - is exhausting. 

But I bought stuff because it gave me a temporary high. It gave a false sense of security. But that high never lasted and only left me longing for more. I’ve had to re-circuit my brain to find a different way to feel that temporary high, something called neuroplasticity. Without going into copious detail, neuroplasticity is how we wire (or rewire) our minds. I’ve switched my high from buying things to not buying things. So when I buy something I actually need and will use, I feel pretty good about myself. 

Eliminate my Poverty Mentality - I don’t know if it’s because I’m thrifty or because in the first few years of our marriage, we were extremely frugal (because we had to be), but when I find a good deal, I feel like I have to have it—having more made me feel rich. And yet the stuff I owned was making me poorer, overwhelmed me, and only made me emptier inside. That was the unreliable narrator talking.  I didn’t need to worry that I wouldn’t have enough. There are plenty of resources everywhere I turn–like in my own home! So, my goal is to stop doing God’s job and let the things I’m supposed to have come to me without spending much (or anything at all). Just because it's on sale or a good deal, does not mean I need it.

Be Thankful for Everything - Another light bulb moment for me, one that also took me out of my poverty mindset, was learning to be grateful for what I already had. We’re talking about being grateful for everything from finding a penny on the ground to being gifted a cup of coffee. There is a way to be thankful for what I have without having to buy anything else. When I looked at my closet and eliminated all the clothing I didn’t wear, it allowed me to be thankful for the pieces I did wear. It was impossible to be thankful for it when my closet was stuffed with things I wasn’t grateful for. 
Having less made me more grateful.

I have one favorite spatula that I use all the time, the rest never get used. I wear seven pairs of jeans all the time, not the other 13. And of those 40 vintage mugs (yes 40!) I use up to ten regularly. I eliminated the excess. 

I’m lying to myself to feel better, to justify my expenses, and because let's face it, I want what I want. And acquiring something for the sake of acquiring sometimes just feels good. But, it doesn’t make it right. 

As a minimalist and a reliable narrator, I feel like my credibility has been restored. I only have what I love and use and only buy what I love and need. I don’t need to own more to feel better about myself. I don’t have to accumulate things I’ll never use because I’m afraid I won’t have enough. I can trust good things will come to me. I’m more thankful for everything I have and can’t wait to share what I own with others. I trust myself with what I have (and don’t have). 

I can be the real version of myself no matter my circumstances, regardless of what’s happening around me, or what everyone else is doing.

These truthful aspects bring peace and freedom into every area of my home. And that means the story of my life finally has a reliable narrator whom I can trust and believe in… me.

Fantastic Minimalism Books:

The More of Less, by Joshua Becker

Minimalism: Live A Meaningful Life, by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay

Doing Nothing is Something: The Art of Taking One Day off A Week

A person sitting down with a book and coffee
Yesterday, I did nothing but go to church, read, watch a little TV, walk with my youngest son, and relax.

Yesterday was Sunday, which means it's the one day a week I don't work, think about work (that's a hard one), or stress over work.

But, it wasn't always this way for me, which is why I still feel a little restless - and guilty - when Sundays roll around.

I work from home. Everything I do is done from my home office. From writing to selling vintage online, my work surrounds me, every day. And while a huge chunk of America works from home these days, the difference is my work is self-created; these businesses are my own. I don't work for someone else. Which means I'm never not thinking about work. It's with me continually, even when I don't want to think about it.

For years, I would sort of pretend Sunday was my day off, but then I'd fire up the computer to fill an order or do some writing that I thought couldn't be put off. Those "small" Sunday events began to eat away at my love for my work; I didn't want to have to constantly be on call. Anger seeped into my heart. 

But guess what, that was all on me! I finally realized that for me to work seven days a week, I was draining my emotional and mental reserves - not to mention, my physical energy was sapped because my emotional and mental faculties were rebelling. I was a prisoner in my own mind and body and it was by my own doing.

Taking one day off a week isn't just an empty action; there's a reason behind it. It's for our health and sanity. The word Sabbath is one you might have heard of. Sabbath literally means rest and is deeply ingrained in the Jewish culture. Choosing to do this, to take one day off, is hard. The world will come against you; call for you; demand you're there and present for them.  But, as I found out, taking one day off a week was the best thing I could've done for myself. 

Here's why taking one day off a week to do nothing (which is very much something) may be the best thing for your mind, body, and soul.

A break from routine: Sunday in my home is chill. Sometimes, my two boys and husband have to work that day, but they usually find a day in the week to rest. For me, Sunday means I do what I love, like reading or resting, watching a movie, taking a walk, or sitting in the sun for some Vitamin D. This means no work. Sure, I think about it a little, but I don't sit down to write a post, I don't fill orders for my vintage shop, I don't do laundry (unless there's an emergency) and I don't cook dinner. While I cook all the time, this is a day off for me. Getting out of a routine does wonders for the mind. It feels freeing; I'm not shackled to my daily rituals.

Do More with Less: It sounds counterintuitive to work fewer days to get more done, but that's exactly what's happened. And it's probably because my mind and body get to rest. When I give myself a break it gives me the ability to be extremely productive the other six days. 

A few years ago, I was working four part-time jobs. I had my two jobs and added a social media marketing writing job as well as work as an editor/ writer for a local magazine. I worked these jobs all from home. It was convenient. But, it was a mistake. I was overworked, and couldn't give my best to any one job.  I was overstressed, burnout was a day away, and inevitably, something had to give. I put my vintage shop on the back burner and really missed it! There was no day off. At all.

So, I got rid of two jobs, am now focused on what I really love, and my stress load decreased significantly. Was it my choice to add the jobs? Yes. Did I have to? No. While I learned much from those two jobs (things I'm using in my writing today) doing less has made me far more productive. Not to mention, doing less means better quality work. Working six days a week - but giving yourself the seventh off - will increase your productivity as well as your love for your work. Win/win.

Busyness wreaks havoc: Living a more minimalistic life, in all areas, has shown me how much stress I put on myself. It also shows how much this busyness has to do with keeping up appearances. Of course, we need to work to make money to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. But, is that what most Americans are doing? Is that what I have done over the last few decades? I bought to keep up with the Joneses; I worked to buy the things I didn't need to look put together; I kept busy with work because that's what I'm supposed to do. I had kids in sports and school and life was chaotic and stressful. This busyness is the norm, but it shouldn't be. Anger and resentment at having to live this way was all I got out of that mess. Instead, I've opted out of working too much, opted out of too many commitments, lessened my purchases, and focused on paying down debt. Busyness wreaks havoc, but intentional time off is sweet to the body.

Peace comes with letting Go: Letting go is the name of the game here. Let go of feeling like I need to be productive; letting go of always having to stay on top of things: letting go of thinking I need to work every day just to make it. Of course, I will make it! Letting go is an act of faith, really. When we trust the process and allow ourselves to take one day to renew, peace is an overwhelming result of that action. Maya Angelou gives us an eloquent quote from one of her books that supports this. "Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us... Each person deserves a day in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us." Agreed.

Living a minimalist lifestyle prioritized my goals and the way I want to live, and that includes minimizing my work. It's the essence of slow living: slowing down to truly live. Taking a single day per week is a way to not just put work to the side, but rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul. It takes us out of the tumultuous never-ending work cycle and gives us a reason to live a freeing life; a life fulfilled outside the routine, learning how to do more with less time, decreasing busyness, and drawing in peace.

My work will always be there. But, it's up to me to choose the way of rest. When I do, I see the difference in my physical health and emotions, and peace settles in everything I do. A day of rest is a day to contemplate our future, live in the present, ignore the past...  and live the lives we were called to live.


Books for further research on taking one day off a week: 

Subversive Sabbath by A. J. Swoboda

Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller

The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan

Take the Day Off: Receiving God's Gift of Rest by Robert Morris and Max Lucado

How to Bring Slow Fashion into Your Wardrobe in 10 Easy Ways

Ten years ago, I didn’t know what fast fashion or slow fashion was. Though I’ve been wearing vintage clothing for decades, and selling it for more than thirteen years, I didn’t know slow fashion was a thing. I had no clue there was even a movement behind the idea: I just knew I liked slow fashion - vintage and handmade items - and over the last decade, shifted my entire mindset (and closet) to become a slow fashion lover for good.

What is slow fashion? Well, it’s the opposite of fast fashion. The last thirty years have given rise to fast fashion: cheaper materials, faster made, quickly sold, trendy designs – and this cycle repeats itself to infinity. Think Zara, Shein, and Forever 21 with the intent of pieces to be worn a few times, tossed, and the wearer (aka the consumer) buys more. Slow fashion is better materials, slower made, slowly sold, with classic designs. Think vintage made, quality made, or hand made with the intent for clothing pieces to last decades… and the wearer keeps these pieces for as long as possible.

Slow fashion was initially a phrase given by Kate Fletcher, a professor of Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion. There was a movement for slow food and slow living, but a slow fashion movement was in dire need of forging. Consumerism was at an all-time high, landfills were brimming with unworn discarded new clothing… something was wrong. While many unsold new clothes are sent overseas, two-thirds of unsold new clothing are sent to landfills.

Until we learn to be satisfied with what we have, to ditch trendy for classic, and to want to take care of the items we wear and truly love, slow fashion will never take root. But, if you’re like many folks who are finally waking up to the reality of our consumeristic culture, there’s an easy way to combat fash fashion: begin a new fashion life with a new way of looking at your closet and the items in it: a life amidst slow fashion.

Here are ten ways to bring slow fashion into your life.

1. Shop secondhand - This is probably the biggest action you can do that will not only help your style and your pocketbook but also the environment. Also, you don’t have to worry you’ll be wearing the same thing as somebody else! So many items can be reused, re-worn, and enjoyed.

2. Wear vintage clothing - If you want to give vintage a try, shop thrift shops and consignment stores. It’s a great way to buy for less and get a feel for what you like. Incorporating vintage into your wardrobe is easy once you know what you want to wear. I sell vintage clothing in my Etsy shop and wear it daily.

3. Wear handmade - Back in the day, everybody sewed. Today, it’s a lost art. Try supporting brands that do handmade or bespoke clothing. You’re supporting true artists with clothing that is no doubt quality-made that will last for decades, not a singular season. 

4. Wear real clothing (i.e. linen, wool, silk, cotton) - Polyester had its day back in the early 70s. But it’s back… and it’s back because it’s cheap to manufacture. Instead, wear real materials and your clothes will not only last a long time (and maintain sustainability)  but your skin will be thankful too. Fake fabrics (and their chemicals on your skin) are not good for your body! 

5. Buy quality new clothing (plan on repairing) - Buy less but buy better. That’s the slow fashion mantra. Clothing will inevitably wear out. Plan on finding a great tailor who can fit your clothes to your body, and make repairs as you go through life enjoying these quality pieces.

6. Shop small/ shop local - Again, find local artisans who make clothing, crafts, shoes, or homemade goods. Shop your neighbors; shop your local social media app marketplace; go to your community events. There’s always a gift fair or farmer’s market filled with people who would love your patronage.

7. Wear a vintage accessory - If you’re not ready to jump into vintage full throttle, that’s okay. Start small. Start with a vintage accessory like a hat, belt, jewelry, or bandana. They’re small but pack a punch. I wrote a blog post about this and these small items can make you stand out in all the right ways.

8. Buy less - so much less - If you want to keep things simple, slow fashion is about buying less. A whole lot less. Don’t need to buy any new clothes right now? Perfect. Because slow fashion is about appreciating what you already have for as long as possible.

9. Buy better - This is a given, being that slow fashion is better- vintage or handmade clothing is made better. No question there. But, you also need to get into the mindset that most of your future clothing (if you want to go slow fashion) will be a few yet amazing pieces. Plan on spending a little more to have years with your favorite pieces rather than just one season. 

10. Buy with a purpose - Remember, slow fashion goes with slow living. You’re buying with a purpose, whether it’s to support a local designer (or vintage seller) or create the minimalist quality wardrobe you dream of. Vintage fashion is recycling and reusing in its highest form. The bonus is that the clothing is almost always much better made than most modern clothing.

Being a part of the slow fashion movement doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable. I tend to find that those who wear vintage - or pieces that transcend trend - have some of the best wardrobes. 

If you’re like me, I don’t want to look like everyone else. I don’t want to wear a shirt from Target that I will see on every other woman when I’m out. I want to be unique; I want to stand out. Wearing the same thing as your grandma or best friend doesn’t quite live up to the hype of being unique when you see the item everywhere. 

Be you, be unique, and save your closet from the constant influx of trendy clothing. And the best part? Your pocketbook will thank you. You may spend a little more to get a quality item, but that item will last for years. And you will look as good in it now as you will in 15 years from now because it’s a classic piece. 

With slow fashion, less is more. Whether handmade or vintage, slow fashion almost always correlates with quality. After all, don’t we all just want the best? With slow fashion, you can have the best, have the minimalist wardrobe you desire, and look like a million dollars.

Reading for Health and Happiness: 6 Reasons to Read More

A bookshelf full of books
Reading is like breathing to me. I can't live without it and I certainly wouldn't want to go without it. Reading has the power to transform, transport, enlighten, and educate.  

The Washington Post came out with a little article last week about reading and how little of it we Americans partake. As if it was something we were trying to avoid. Why is this?

The article noted that 46% of most Americans don't read even a single book a year (This is either an actual book or an ebook like on a Kindle.) And that only 5% read one book a year. 

A year.

And if you've read two, then you're doing better than half of us. (This includes audiobooks which I wouldn't have included, but so many people do this while commuting.)

What in the world has happened to us?

I suppose the influx of these little gadgets in our hands (smartphones) has made a difference. We "read" a lot of social media posts (which isn't reading, it's entertainment) and bits and bobbles of 'blurbs" that count as news. But, overall, this isn't reading as in "reading a book."

Reading is a luxury. I'm aware of that. I read a minimum of an hour a day and on weekends, if I'm lucky, I try to read two or three hours a day. But, finding the time to read is an issue we all scramble to work with. And yet, time has been there all along.

We have an hour a day to play on our phones. Why not read instead? 

Actually, according to PC Magazine, we spend something like 4 hours and 25 minutes a day on our phones. That is astounding.

So time isn't the issue here. Priorities are. And obviously, most people don't think reading is important. This means a lot of people are expecting the world (media) to educate us and all topics we are interested in rather than us doing our own reading, research, and discussion.

Reading is also a skill. A honed skill that takes time to achieve. Quieting the brain, forcing ourselves to focus on a book, and ignoring everything else around us - a world clamoring for our attention 24/7- is a worthy but seemingly insurmountable task.

While there are scads of scientific data that supports how reading is good for us (studies say that both reading and audiobooks work similar parts of the brain - I don't think so, but what do I know), after being an avid reader for the last 40 years, here's why I value reading and why you may want to add reading to your daily activities.

To be educated - There is no better way to learn anything than by reading. I suppose Google has upped this challenge. We can search for anything and learn how to do it. But reading about it will give you a depth of education YouTube videos can't possibly give. To learn more about any subject, we must read more. Plain and simple.

To escape - Television is escapism, but did you know that part of our brain turns off when we watch TV? Our brain begins to rot. That's frightening. Reading does the opposite. We can still escape to our preferred places - from a cozy mystery to science fiction, an autobiography, or historical fiction - and keep our brains active and growing. This is a good way to minimize aging. Use it or lose it, folks.

To relax - Numerous studies have shown reading relaxes us and destresses us. Even if you're in the middle of edge-of-your-seat action in your book, you're still relaxed because as you read, you're lowering your heart rate, steadying your breathing, and relaxing your muscles. Reading helps us to decompress, and let our bodies sink into comfort while our brains whirl with activity. 

To understand how others view life - Want to learn how Benjamin Franklin lived? Interested in how C.S. Lewis transformed his life? What about Jane Austen... did ladies really behave this way back then? There is no better way to learn about others' lives than seeing what has been written. Read varied authors. Don't just stick to one genre. Read about people who have the opposite political view of yours. Learn, read, self-educate, and find commonalities among us.

To be a better writer - There is no better way to be a great writer than to be a great reader. The two go hand in hand. To write is to read. So if you're a writer, or want to be a writer, or love the idea of writing, reading is essential. As Stephen King said, "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." I strive to live up to this twin goal.

To live a slow life - Reading is the ultimate slow-living activity. Not just colloquially but literally. To read, you have to slow down, grab the drink, find the perfect spot to sit or recline, open the book (put the glasses on), and settle into comfort. To live a slower life, to bring in parts of peace and intentional living you want back into your life, reading is quite possibly the best way to start. I wrote a blog about bringing peace into our daily lives and reading is a huge way to usher in peace.

I rank reading up there with exercise and sleep. Reading should be a part of our lives not just to keep our brains active, but for educational purposes in all areas. Reading used to be part of our lives a hundred years ago, but that was before the invention of movies and then the proliferation of television sets.

I read 77 books last year, which is an average of about 6.5 books a month, which is roughly 1.75 books a week. Two books a week is average for me, it's what I'm doing right now, and I find it an easy goal to keep.

But, we're all different. A few years ago, a book a month was my goal - any more than that and I felt overwhelmed. If two books a week are too much for you, try one book a week. Or better yet, a book a month. An average book takes about 4-5 hours worth of a reading commitment. This means you can read for a minimum of 10 minutes a day and finish one book a month. That is doable!

Reading shouldn't be a perfunctory action but a choice because you want to. And you should want to if you want to better yourself. Reading adds value to your life; it slows you down and gives you wisdom, education, and insight. As I said before, because reading is a luxury and a discipline, it takes time to "find" your time and exercise the habit. But, once you've acquired this skill, you'll want it in your life forever.

Happy reading.

Simple Ways to bring Peace into Your Daily Life

A book on a table with a cup of coffee
Living a slow life is my daily goal.  But wow, is that a hard thing to do.

The biggest factor preventing me from living this way is... me. I am my own worst enemy. While I desire to slow down, and do things that bring value to my world (and not what the world says is valuable), actually doing this is like fighting a fight I never wanted to be a part of. 

We live in a "fast" world, where what we buy is delivered to us within hours if we want (Amazon), or we can find answers to questions in seconds (Google), or where news and social media dominate our lives because it's in our faces, on our phones and everywhere we turn. Our world doesn't cater to a slower pace of life. It's a fast, now-now-now, fast fashion, buy more, do more, and say more place. We're all living in a 24-hour casino, calling it "normal," and wondering why we suffer. 

To carve out the slow life I want - a life that centers more on only doing what I love, being with people I love, and doing things that matter in a more meaningful time pattern - I have to daily remind myself what that looks like. And it doesn't look like anything the world wants for me. This slower life invites peace in our minds and hearts. Slow living is a return to living the life-giving way that nurtures our soul. I believe it's how we were made to live. 

Here are a few simple things you can do today - things I try to do every day - to root yourself back to your original design.

1. Read - Sit down and read. It may only be for twenty minutes, but just that can lower your heart rate and relax your muscles. A study done in 2009 by the University of Sussex claims that reading can lower your stress levels by 68%. I can use that! Read something that can take you away; something that is fun and engaging. Just a little goes a long way. I can feel my blood pressure going down just writing this.

2. Exercise - I do yoga twice a week and am so relaxed afterward. It is one of the best things I've done for myself over the last ten years. If yoga isn't your thing, then take a walk, or go to the gym and work out your stress. It doesn't have to be high-intensity though. Slow and steady exercise is just as beneficial. If you want to go for a run, if that feels good to you, then do it! But any exercise will help bring back your peace.

3. Write - This is obviously something I do daily. I try to write daily, whether a single sentence or two thousand words. And I've written many blog posts on this topic. While it's a part of my career, it's also something that brings peace. Even writing out my to-do list for the day is therapeutic. Write a letter to a friend, send that text you've been meaning to send, or write a love note to your partner.

4. Cut the list- Speaking of to-do lists, this is something that needs to go. Or at least, severely limit it. I love crossing out things I need to do (and did!) but when the list is 15 deep, that's absurd. Triage your list. Put down the most important five things you need to do for the day - and no more - and work on that. If you find you have time to do other things you didn't write down, great. But, don't increase your stress load on a piece of paper. Let that list go (way down). If your list is too long, you're doing too much. Period. Find ways to opt out of activities and lessen your load. 

5. Sit for 15 minutes/ Meditate - And do nothing. I mean, just sit down, get a hot beverage, and don't read, watch TV, or scroll on your phone... or anything. Just sit and meditate or let your mind wander. It's not so easy. There's something about not doing anything that is very difficult; our society has taught us that multitasking is better than doing one thing at a time. But once accomplished, doing nothing is not just relaxing but rejuvenating. You're not wasting your time, you're recharging. Let yourself be by yourself and do nothing.

6. Get Rid of Something - Whether it's donating it, throwing it away, or finding a family member or friend to give it to, find one thing in your house that you can get rid of. It's not hard to do. I'm sure you could find more than one thing. But getting rid of just one thing a day brings back a type of control to your life. The bonus is it cleans your home, allows you to give something, and keeps you mindful of what you bring into your home.

Since reducing my stress load and bringing in peaceful actions throughout my day, I feel like a different person. In my opinion,  I believe the current frenetic pace of our world is unsustainable - something in each of our lives will suffer if we don't start to say "no" to activities that push us over the threshold of sanity. We weren't made to live with a constant desire for more or for the constant desire to do more activities without rest. It's a striving for... what? To keep up with the Joneses? Self-accomplishment?

And at what expense? Our health, finances, or our children? There is a causation to every choice and it affects us - and those around - us regardless of its positives or negatives.

Sure, life happens - kids, jobs, houses, spouses. But we can slow down enough to cobble together a life we want to live and not have to live. We were meant to give to others, we were meant to read slowly and move our bodies, we were meant to write out our thoughts and feelings, ideas and goals; we were meant to have a smaller to-do list. We were meant to enjoy our lives! Not race through them. 

We can accomplish things, do things we love and still live peaceful lives that are fruitful and abundant at a slower, more meaningful, and restful pace. By slowing down, we can bring peace back into the equation. But it comes down to choice. We must choose a slower life to reap the benefits a fast life can't give us. If you're looking for health, happiness, and peace, a slower pace might just be what you're looking for.


3 Ways to Wear Vintage with Modern Fashion

I sell a lot of vintage clothing, and because of that - and because this "vintage selling" has taken place over the last thirteen years - I own a lot of various vintage pieces, for various parts of my wardrobe as well.

This means I've learned how to wear vintage, what vintage to wear, without these key pieces making you look like you're in a costume.

Trust me, that's one of the biggest issues folks fear when they buy vintage. There are a few who can get away with it - they can do the entire 1940s outfit because that's the persona they want to emit - but most people who buy vintage from me, and most of the vintage I wear, go with modern pieces I already have, or pieces my customers already have in their closet.

So, where do you begin? How do you add a small but amazing punch to your wardrobe without knowing where to start? How do you wear vintage with a modern wardrobe?

Slow fashion is about buying quality clothing that transcends trends. Vintage clothing fits deeply into the slow fashion movement. Buy less, but buy quality and vintage is quality. Here are three ways to liven up your wardrobe with key vintage pieces that will give your outfit that pizzazz and "wow factor" you've been looking for.

Belts - I have a thing for vintage belts. No, I'm serious. For the last decade or so, I've amassed a collection of many belts (I’ve pared down to 20 or so in my minimalist years. Yes, I really do wear them regularly. It's easy to add a belt to your outfit every day!) and of those belts, when I tire of a few, I sell them in my vintage shop. I also love belts so much that a huge chunk of the items in my shop are belts. I sell men's and women's belts because they are such a fun piece to perk up a look. People love to take them off my hands, too. I sell belts almost every day. 

Belts have been worn since the Bronze Age and have really been a part of the person's outfit from the beginning of time. I'm not sure when it was decided that belts didn't serve a purpose anymore -- particularly for women -- but every size and every shape should wear belts. From an old 1940s leather novelty belt to a more modern 1990s black studded belt, nothing says "wow!" more than a belt that is thrown on with your jeans, a dress, shorts, or even a skirt.

And let me rant a moment, since I have you here... have you seen belts today? Most aren't close to the quality that standard, everyday belts, were once made. Back in the day, most belts were only made with real leather, not bonded leather or now, even worse, (thank you, Target) plastic. Though a few companies still use real leather and make quality belts, you will pay a premium for them. Which is fine. Buy quality, buy less, and have it for a lifetime. And with vintage belts, you get that quality at a price that's affordable which at times, can surpass the modern competition's price point.

Bandanas - Bandanas had a surge in popularity when the dreaded COVID hit, and many folks, never stopped wearing them. Bandanas have a way of sharpening up your look. You can wear them around your neck, and even this decision has variety. Some people wear the bandana to show the tied ends in front, others want to show the bandana instead, and some folks wear bandanas in their hair or around their wrists. Heck, even a bandana in the pocket gives you an edge to your outfit that others don't have. Bandanas are quintessentially American and everyone should have at least one.

I've been wearing bandanas for a good decade now and unlike jewelry, they give a unique look that is very different than a necklace statement piece. Bandanas, like scarves, can accent an outfit and if you've watched any modern-day western, (think Yellowstone) they sure come in handy on your ranch. Or at least, for me, my proverbial one.

Hats - This is one element that I've shied away from. Not because I don't like hats,  but because hats are absolute statement pieces and I'm not one for attracting attention to myself. Baseball hats, not so much, but any other kind of hat, and I can guarantee people will stand up and take notice. We've got cowboy hats, berets, Greek fisherman's caps, fascinators... all of these pieces are incredible and with the right outfit, will take your look up a notch. Vintage hats are easy to find. I'm in thrift stores regularly and old hats are there. They're everywhere, in fact; wide-brimmed "racehorse hats" (the kind the ladies wear to the races), to trapper hats with flaps over the ears. Hats are magical.

While I own a few hats (a couple of beanies, and a couple of ball caps), I've sold a plethora to the happy masses and there's a reason for it: hats make the outfit. If you're hesitant like me, start small... maybe a newspaper boy hat, or a beanie, and if the wide-brimmed cowboy hats are something you've wanted to try, then do it! And how about this: you don't even have to buy vintage for any of these. The point is, new or vintage, these things can make you look your best. But, if you want to add vintage to your wardrobe, this is one of the easiest to incorporate.

These are three simple ways to add vintage to your modern outfits -- belts, bandanas, and hats -- and are generally inexpensive, even if they're new (Okay, cowboy hats can fetch and demand a pretty penny, particularly name-brand ones like Stetson, etc).

Vintage clothing has been a part of my life for so long that I don’t know how not to wear it. Half of my closet is vintage, and that's not changing anytime soon. I love the blend of modern and vintage styles and they work seamlessly together if you know what pieces you want and the style you're going for.

These vintage pieces may be small and simple, but they make a statement. I've gotten compliments for years on these three items and it never surprises me because these three forgotten accessories can make anyone look like they have it all together... even if they don't.


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