Dare to Simplify

I’ve been working hard to simplify my life lately, but not too hard because that could complicate things, but just hard enough. I’ve taken some smart steps like saying no to things I didn’t want to do and getting rid of clutter and then some not-so-smart steps like ignoring my email box, ceasing any kind of quality blogging for days at a time and letting the house get super messy while I take the time to “enjoy life” by spending all day reading.

There’s just too much going on. I have my hand in too many pies. But they all taste SO GOOD! I am over-stimulated most of the time. I don’t like at least 1/3 of the things I’m doing and there are several things I want to do but don’t have time for. For a long time I tried so hard to go overboard with the little details of holidays, birthdays, and celebrations that I got burnt out and now I sometimes forget to do anything at all to mark special days. My to-do list has gotten so long that I’m afraid to look at it. I get a sickish feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see my planner laying on the counter so I just ignore it. At least 4 million trees gave their lives to create the massive piles of paperwork that are stacked all over my house waiting to be attended to.


I’ve been thinking “ENOUGH” for a while now but didn’t get up the gumption to actually do anything about it until I was talking to my brain doctor this summer and he suggested that I really focus on trying to say no unless I have a compelling reason to say yes to the various things that are asked of me. He’s a pretty smart guy and has gotten to know me fairly well in the past 3 and a half years since Magoo was born. (If you read the cover story in the NW Living section of the Seattle Times this weekend, you well know that I went a little loopy a few years ago and blog on the advice of my special doctor friend. No matter how open I am about my postpartum experiences, it will always be a bit jarring to see my mental health history in print like that.)

So for the next little while, until I’m as simple as Lenny from Of Mice and Men but far less violent, I am going to set a goal for simplification each week and I’d love some friends to join me. In the spirit of simplification, I don’t have a graphic or a Mr. Linky for this endeavor and the goals will be really small tiny embryonic steps to Lenny-ness.

I’ll post them on Sunday nights and we can all report back the following Sunday. You can leave your thoughts in my comments section or if you post on your blog, let me know.

Dare to Simplify Week 1 — Audio Input
For the week of October 5th I will play only classical music or none at all(besides when I’m working out — I’m just not sure Vivaldi will get my heart rate up enough.). The music will be calming and have no vocals. This includes all music played in my car, house or on my MP3 player.

This may seem like a strange way to start the experiment but I am over-stimulated and overwhelmed by the noise all around me, song lyrics, crazy beats, loud radio DJs and obnoxious political ads. It shouldn’t be that hard to calm down my audio input or even turn it off. I’m curious to see if this helps me feel more peaceful overall.

Care to join me?

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32 Responses to Dare to Simplify

  1. Janel says:

    No wonder you have to simplify–you’re famous. Not only do you publish, but people publish things about you!

  2. Natalie says:

    I will join you. I tend to get a bit overwhelmed by all the noise of radio stations and like to listen to podcasts (of people talking – not music). It’s much easier on my brain. But even that can get to be too much sometimes.

    Hope your week of classical music goes well! 🙂

  3. Jen says:

    Count me in! This is a good push for me.

    I am going to try to take nursing sessions for what they are and not try to multi-task with a book or my cell phone or PDA or what have you. I’m going to try enjoying the moment, (if I don’t drop asleep in the middle of the night) 😉

    • I once found myself at the gym working out while listening to music and checking email on my phone. The TV was blasting and then a call came in on my phone/music player. Yeah. I need help.

  4. Angela says:

    I often feel the same way about noise all around me. I tend to turn everything off when the family lets me. Before I go to work at 4:30 am is about the only quiet sometimes I get.

  5. jennifer says:

    I have been thinking so much on this very topic. So many things I want to do but cannot get to. How to prioritize and how to recognize what is important and what is not. And how to embrace being less than what we think we should be 🙂 And how to give up the “fluff” AKA things of no consequence 🙂

    Just classical music? Tough but count me in.

    • Thanks for doing this week with me. I put it out there and though, “I bet nobody will join in but at least I’ll be having a good time.” It’s so much more fun now that I know someone else is attempting it too.

  6. Michelle says:

    I’m totally in. This is crunch week for me in school, and I could really use some calm and focus as well.

    • When I was in college we had one room at the testing center that played calm instrumental music while you took your test and I got better scores in there I’m sure of it.

  7. Sure, I’m in; can I modify to only instrumental music? I’m just scared you’re going to have a week coming up called “now catch up on all your laundry.” I’ll do my best to not be the freak who gets stressed out by the simplification plan. 🙂

  8. Rebecca says:

    How about going one step better? NO music in the car ….

    Like all SAHMs, it seems I spend more time in the car than in the H. When that home-away-from-home is perfectly silent (except for sibling squabbles … but I’m pretty good at tuning those out …), it is a fabulous opportunity for reflection. I have my best conversations with Heavenly Father in the car at stoplights. I get my whole week planned. I compose overdue emails. I just SIT. It’s cleansing.

    (Of course, the REASON my car is always quiet is because my husband removed the radio last time we took the car to the shop so it wouldn’t get stolen – a standard procedure in Brazil. And then the love of my life proceeded to LOSE my radio. Can’t find it anywhere. It’s been ten months. And frankly, it’s at the bottom of an ever-increasing to-do list. I shouldn’t lecture about simplicity.)

  9. Margaret says:

    I’m in! I think for me it will mean no music at all this week. My new-again-to-fulltime-student brain needs those moments of silence. 🙂

    (Overstimulation comes in many different forms – too many articles and textbooks to readh – TOTALLY overstimulation!)

  10. Heffalump says:

    I don’t know about a week of only classical. I have been listening to all Christmas music (NOT rocking around the Christmas tree-think more like Josh Groban). I don’t know if I can give up Christmas music for a whole week…so I will try to do this listening to mellow Christmas music all week instead.

  11. I can totally relate. I’ve been wanting to simplify too, but just didn’t know where to start. So, of course, I’ve spent my time doing a bazillion other things instead of simplifying. ;o) Count me in! I need all the help I can get!

  12. Nicole says:

    I’ve been trying to blog only when I want to. I was feeling all this pressure to blog daily because if I didn’t I might lose readers because I didn’t keep them interested. But it started to feel like a job instead of something I did for enjoyment, and I started to not enjoy it anymore. Plus I only have 2 readers anyway. So, now I blog only when I want to. So there.

  13. Fawndear says:

    I am so IN!!! I NEED to to SIMPLIFY! NEED is a strong word.
    I too am cramming for Halloween, Christmas, a tot birthday and a women’s retreat all in the next three weeks. How about if I listen to Instramental Christmas Music.
    I also need to step away from the computer more often.
    Thanks for the simple reminder.

  14. All Adither says:

    I agree about using peaceful music to calm yourself. I particularly dig old time jazz. Though it does have vocals, I find it SO relaxing.

  15. Nancy says:

    Love the idea! I am even willing to join you for this week because it seems fairly easy too! Thanks for the idear!

  16. KYouell says:

    How about all Ella so that I can belt it out with her? That would get some stress outta me. I rarely listen to music so it is quite a treat for me, not something that blares at me all the time. I even prefer to read the TV lately instead of having the volume up too loud.

    I hate to bring this up, but just.can’t.help.myself. Is not replying to every single commenter on the simplification to-do list? We love you and will come back and read everything you write even if you don’t add that personal touch. Honest. 🙂

  17. michal says:

    i’m in on the simpler life thing. unfortunately, i think that my auditory overstimulation at the moment comes purely from kids. i’ve got at least two who always always always want to tell me something and one who can’t walk past the piano without banging something out on it. throw in a baby who has decided that shrieking is the best way to get my attention in the midst of all the other racket, and my ears are bleeding!:)

  18. Lynette says:

    This is great timing for me – I just last week decided to close my office door and listen to classical music streaming on the internet while doing work, since I have a lot of journal reading and manuscript writing to do these days, and it’s been great! I get more work done and feel calmer about it. I’ll try to incorporate it into the rest of my day, especially since most of my radio listening is to NPR and as much as I love it, I’m getting burnt out (and stressed!) with all the financial and political coverage.

    Looking forward to next week’s simplification step!

  19. TJ Hirst says:

    Love your idea. Can I jump in, even if it is midweek? I do this kind of thing, too, but on Tuesday’s and I felt the same urge to Simplify when I was cleaning my closets last week. That is a huge post with a lot of very personal answers, but let’s just say, I’m starting by reading Walden by Thoreau.

  20. Kim says:

    I’m a bit emotionally limited. The hubby’s deployed and I have my own 3 yr old and 9 month old. And I add my two neices 6 & 9 yrs three-four times a week while their parents work. So when my sister asked me to start a Girl Scout Troop with her, I had to say No. And I feel guilty, because there aren’t enough troop leaders for all the girls interested, so my 9 yr old niece won’t get to do Girl Scouts. Because I said no.
    I only have so much time, patience and guidance to give right now and I can’t add 8 giggling 4th graders to my full plate. Perhaps some Beethoven would help?

  21. Kork says:

    OK, so I’m a few weeks behind, but I’m jumping in with Week 3, and can’t wait to see what comes of it.

    I’ll be posting on my blog at http://suburbanprincessspeaks.blogspot.com/ if you care to read along…although if we’re simplifying, perhaps you should just take my word for it, and not try to read another blog? Hmmmm…

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