I know I’ve already talked about how my experience living in Florida inspired my decision to start this lagom quest, but there have been several other influences as well. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been reading and watching that have taken the idea of trying to simplify my life from an interesting thought to actual get-off-your-butt-and-do-it action.
A couple of years ago, someone posted this video on Facebook, and I was mesmerized by it. A lot of you may have seen it already (this posting of it alone has over two millions views, so odds are good you have), but if you haven’t, it’s worth a watch:
Also about two years ago, I read Peter Walsh‘s book, It’s All Too Much. Mr. Walsh used to be on the show Clean Sweep, and he has seen and learned a lot in his career as a professional organizer, and has a ton of really smart, insightful things to say. People will sometimes tell you about a book and say, “It changed my life” and you’ll think “Hmm…really?” Well, I say that about this book, because it truly did change my life. Really. One of the biggest shifts I made after reading this was thinking about what I wanted in my life, and if my home reflected it (spoiler: It totally didn’t). The process of moving from thinking about whether my space reflected what I wanted, to actually doing things to make it that way has been sloooooww. But I find myself picking it up on a pretty regular basis, re-reading it, and getting re-motivated. He has a workbook too to make the process very easy and step by step.
Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston has been another influential read – she is definitely a little more woo-woo than the very practical Mr. Walsh, but I still like her book. In fact, I think I REALLY must have liked it when I first read it because I’m pretty sure I permanently borrowed (okay, stole) it from my sister (Thanks Lisa. I’m a bad sister. I know). While I am fascinated with the idea of feng shui, do I actually practice it? Well, kind of. Okay, not really. Okay…no. The biggest feng shui commitment I’ve made in my home is to not keep anything under the bed, which let me tell you, was a hard habit to break. You can shove a lot of stuff under the bed, especially if your bed is against a wall so the crap won’t spill out on the other side. I did read an organizing book once (maybe it was even Peter Walsh’s book) where the author said he continually found copies of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui lost in the piles of stuff when he was helping to organize peoples homes. Hee. I do still re-read this book often, and it still re-inspires me – and it is not lost in my clutter, for the record.
Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less is a great read – he not only talks about doing with less in terms of your home and possessions, but also how to spend less time grinding away at your job, managing the flow of electronic media like email, and a host of other areas in your life. He’s very smart, has great suggestions about how to start and carry through the process, and I even love that the book itself is super thin and a quick read. Well done, Leo. While I really admire what he’s managed to do in his life, I do think he’s at a level of minimalism I don’t aspire to myself. I always imagine him padding around barefoot in an all-white living room in organic yoga pants sipping green tea, which to me sounds a little depressing. I don’t think I’m ever going to be the type of girl to give up cappucinos and The Real Housewives. But each to his own.
While the books and video listed above serve as bibles/guides for a simplified life, I’m the type of person who works well with a cautionary tale as well. Enter the book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, by Gail Steketee:
FASCINATING read. Interesting, horrifying, and made me want to clean my house. Mission accomplished.
And then, there is my obsession with A&E’s Hoarders. You would think watching this show would depress me, but it never does. Sometimes, depending on what is being hoarded, I can’t watch it while I’m eating, but other than that, I have a train wreck fascination with this show. Do I judge while I watch it? Yeah, in some cases. But more than anything, I am just riveted. It’s kind of a “There before the grace of God go I” feeling I have when I watch it. As someone who has often had no trouble acquiring things, and has used the process of acquiring things for emotional comfort, part of me gets it. I feel some empathy, some horror, and definitely fear when I watch it. I especially love Matt Paxton on the show, who runs a junk removal company – if I could invite a few celebrities to a dinner party, Matt would be on my list. You know he has some great stories.
What are you inspired by/reading/watching right now, that is causing you to want to make changes in your life? (It doesn’t have to be about lagom, btw – I’m curious in general). Leave a comment and let me know!