Last year I chose the word “Release” for my Word of the Year. There were things I’d held on to far too long and needed to let them go. I was not successful in all the areas I had in mind when I chose the word but for the one situation which had nearly destroyed my peace of mind for several years, I can honestly say I finally found the release I sought. Nothing about the situation actually changed, just my acceptance of it. And truly, that’s all I have control over.
I hadn’t given much serious thought to my word for 2018 until I listened to a Productive Woman podcast early in December:
And then I immediately knew what my word would be – Simplicity.
I looked at several definitions for “Simplicity”.
Merriam-Webster defines it as: the state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded.
Some other resources define it as the quality of “plainness”, “clearness”, “not fancy”, “natural”, “easy to understand”, “freedom from affectation” or “freedom from pretentious style”… among other synonyms.
For my purposes, “simple” and “uncomplicated” come closest to what I have in mind.
When I think of simplicity and simple living, my grandmother immediately comes to mind. I’ve talked about her here on the blog before:
Grandma lived a simple life of daily routines and quiet contentment. While I’m not prepared to give up all my interests beyond home-keeping, and I have no intentions of giving up my car (Grandma didn’t drive), I do want to emulate her calm, unhurried, simple approach to daily life. Or at least make some definite strides in that direction.
For some, simplicity may bring up thoughts of minimalism. I’ve shared here before that I’m in no way a minimalist and really don’t have any desire for that lifestyle. However, I certainly have much I could delete from our home and that’s definitely on my to-do list for the year.
I know that Marie Kondo, the author of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, recommends asking whether each item in our home “sparks joy” but that doesn’t really resonate with me. I can’t say that my vacuum cleaner sparks joy but that doesn’t mean getting rid of it makes sense. Instead, I plan to evaluate each area of my home in terms of whether it fits my lifestyle comfortably or makes it more complicated. For instance, the cupboard where I store lidded plastic containers and mixing bowls is too full. Removing a large mixing bowl from the back of the cabinet often results in other items falling on the floor. This is not “simplicity”; this is annoyance. So I will be getting rid of enough that I can easily remove the item I want without causing a plastic avalanche.
My daily routines and our family calendar are additional areas I’ll be addressing with a goal of simplifying. By the end of the year I hope to have banished the phrase “too busy” from my vocabulary. Okay, that may be a bit unrealistic but I can certainly scale back considerably.
I want…no, I NEED…some margin in my life. I want time to play the piano, learn to crochet, do some oil painting on the new easel David bought me for Christmas, and read. I did read more in 2017 than I had in the previous couple of years but I’d like to increase my reading time even more. I also want to bake bread regularly, plant a garden and get chickens this spring.
Perhaps that list sounds like the very opposite of simplifying my life but those are things I enjoy and can totally lose myself in.
Obviously I’ll need to give up or at least reduce the time spent on other things. I’ve been taking a hard look at the time I spend on social media. This is a challenging area for me because I use social media for our non-profit, as well as this blog. It’s not like I can just give it up entirely. So this year will be time of learning to manage my use of social media wisely.
Now, it’s all well and good to choose a word for the year but without a plan, it’s likely to be forgotten by the end of January. Ask me how I know this. So here are some of the actions I will be taking in order to live out my intention to focus on simplicity this year:
Little by little I will sort through my house, getting rid of the excess. I have a large, lidded plastic container and my goal is to fill it at least once a week and then drop off the items at our local Re-Use Center.
2. Say “no” to some activities and events
Our schedule has been WAY too busy the past few years. We run a nonprofit foundation which supports music and the arts in our community, as well as serving on various local boards and committees with similar missions. We love what we are doing and are proud of what we’ve accomplished in our small community. However, it’s time to start delegating a bit. David and I are also going to take time this winter while things are slower to go ahead and schedule bands and musicians for our events during spring, summer and fall.
3. Simplify meals
I do love to cook and wouldn’t want to give up this expression of creativity. However there are several things I can do to simplify things in the kitchen. For one thing, I’m standardizing my weekday breakfasts and lunches. My cold-weather breakfast will consist of oatmeal, fruit or orange juice, and hot tea. I can make a large batch of oatmeal on Monday mornings and just reheat the rest of the week. I don’t want the exact same lunch every day but I can simplify the decision making process by choosing a protein, fruit and/or vegetable, and some type of whole grain or legume.
I do already plan my menu for the week and will, of course, continue to do so. If this is something you could use help with, be sure to check out the time-sensitive offer at the bottom of this post.
4. Create simpler morning, afternoon and evening routines
I’ve written about routines here on the blog several times. My own routines have changed many times. I’m forever trying to fine-tune them and get the most out of them. But that’s part of the problem. I tend to make them too long and too complicated. Then I feel discouraged when I can’t maintain them. I’m going to start from scratch and choose just three things for each of my daily routines – morning, afternoon and evening. Then I’m going to practice them faithfully for a month before adding more.
If you need help creating daily routines, be sure to join my Facebook group – Make Over Your Life With Dee. It’s a private group where, together, we can figure this all out and hold one another accountable.
5. Evaluate my blog and nonprofit-related work
It’s all too easy to simply continue to do things a certain way (or even do them at all) because it’s become a habit. I’m going to do some careful evaluation of all the work tasks I do and decide whether or not each of them is necessary and if so, if there’s a simpler or more efficient way to accomplish them.
6. Schedule time off
When you work from home it’s all too easy to find yourself working at all hours. Now that I have a dedicated home office I’m trying to keep somewhat regular hours. I still have room for improvement in this area, however. I also want to set aside one afternoon a week just for myself. There are so many things I want to do – brush up on my French, read, watch movies, paint, learn to crochet, play the piano – but if I don’t create time for those pursuits they just don’t happen. In addition to an afternoon a week I’m also going to schedule a full day off once a month. I think I might purchase an annual pass to the museum in the city like I did last year and make a point of going once a month.
I’m pretty excited about my word choice this year and look forward to the changes it will bring to my life.
Do you select a word of the year? If so, I would love to hear what you’ve chosen for 2018 and why.
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