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When our close friend, Courtney, first started to simplify her life, she expected organized book shelves, a tidy closet and more space in her home. “I decluttered my cabinets, donated coats, shoes, and books, began to leave some white space on my calendar by saying No more often and became more intentional about how I spent my time, money, energy and emotion,” she recently told me.

But then something else happened. Something unexpected. She found her way back to love. “By getting rid of all the stuff that didn’t matter, I began to recognize what did,” she said. She became less distracted and more present, which strengthened her relationships. She became debt-free, which allowed her to start making decisions about her career that weren’t based only on a paycheck. And that was just the beginning.

Through her journey of simplicity, Courtney found her way back to the people she loves, the work she loves, and she found her way back to her own heart and happiness. “It took me many years, but there are a few little ways that brought me back almost immediately,” she said. And right now, before we get to the Summer book recommendations, I want to briefly cover some key practices for simplifying our lives that she and I recently discussed over tea…

Key Practices for Simplifying Our Lives

Reclaim your mornings. Start a morning ritual that gives you space to take care of yourself before you have to take care of the world. Start with just a few minutes of one of the following activities:

  • Make a list of what you are grateful for or jot down what’s filling your mind.
  • Sit quietly and pay attention to your breath, or use a guided meditation app like Headspace.
  • Drink your tea or coffee slowly.
  • Reach for sky. Reach for toes. Twist and move around.
  • Choose a book over email or the internet.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels, Simplify your life, unitycenterinmilwaukee.comChoose other activities that fuel your body, brain, heart and soul and slowly build your morning routine.

Edit your to-do list. We can’t put off what we love in the name of our never-ending to-do lists. Ruthlessly cull your to-do list. Take a good hard look at what’s on it. What can wait? What can you delegate? What’s never going to happen? Edit your list until only the things that really need to happen or really will happen remain. Only leave what’s important on your list so you can get back to love and peace of mind.

Make some space (just a little). You don’t have to declutter your entire home to create a sense of calm. Create a small minimalist sanctuary by decluttering one small space in your home. Start with a kitchen counter or your nightstand. Creating a minimalistic sanctuary in your home will inspire you to transform more of your space.

The state of the space will also be a good reflection of how calm or crazy your life is. When papers start to pile up, it might be time to address what is piling up in other areas of your life.

Make some time (just a little). If you are trying to figure out what’s best for you or what the next best step to take is, here is the most meaningful gift you can give to yourself right now: carve out five minutes each day to sit quietly and ask yourself the following questions (perhaps add this to your morning ritual).

  • What matters most today?
  • How do I really want to spend my time?
  • What do I need to do to take really good care of myself and the people I love today?

Calculate your debt. Getting out of debt will change your life in ways you may not be able to imagine. It’s not a little change but every big change is the result of hundreds of little ones.

Get started by simply calculating your debt. Create a clear picture of your finances. Don’t use that information to feel scared, guilty, or worried. Instead, use it to help you decide what the next step is. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself for taking the first little step. You stopped hiding from the truth. That’s a really big deal.

Show up for the people you love. This may seem hard sometimes, but it isn’t. It’s probably the easiest little thing you can do to find your way back to love and peace. Showing up is different than being in the same room When you are with people you love, put your phone and other digital devices away. Look your loves in the eyes. Listen to their words. Be present. That’s it, show all the way up for the people you love.

Rev. Mari Gabrielson