Make Every Moment Count In December With 4 Mantras

Make Every Moment Count In December With 4 Mantras

Making moments count in December can be hard, yes?

You know you want to savor this special time with people you care about. You might also have traditions and beliefs you celebrate, like participating in Christmas church activities or charity volunteering.

But the real December is often a whirlwind of gift-shopping-secret-santas-Christmas-baking-crazy-traffic-parties-potlucks-more-parties-and-family-visits. The weeks go by so quick; sometimes, you look back and what you remember clearly is being stressed and exhausted.

I've been guilty of this too. Two years ago, I fell asleep at a family do after a very-last-minute Christmas shopping marathon. I only remember snatches of that get-together now, and it's all a blur.

BUT! I've learned to do better since then, and I want to share exactly how with you, friends.

Here are four mantras that help me make moments meaningful during the holidays.

Travel Simply: My All-Season Packing List

Travel Simply: My All-Season Packing List

Traveling with just one bag was my first step to living simply.

Living with so little on the road was freeing; being surrounded by what I'd hoarded back home was draining. The desire to feel just as free at home eventually led to tackling the stuff I'd stockpiled over the years.

And since bringing you all along for the ride helped keep me accountable, I started No Mess Mondays every last Monday of the month: a real honest "No, I do not tidy before I snap these photos." walkthrough as I go from hoarding to minimal living in my home.

It's been ugly. It's been funny. And ultimately, it's been all-around awesome.

Today happens to be the last Monday of November, friends!

But since today finds me in the middle of a 2-week trip down in New Zealand and Australia, let's do something different.

Let's look over what I've packed for this trip, how it's been so far with only these things, plus what I regret bringing/not bringing from home.

The shots below might not be befores and afters of my home, but seeing how little I bring with me without feeling deprived shows us the same thing my home in progress does...

You Only Think You Need It (Really!)

You Only Think You Need It (Really!)

It all started with my two-ish-year-old earphones.

I found them a dollar store on a business trip to make some video calls. The sound was so-so, but I was in a hurry and they did the job.

"$1 earphones? Really?" a friend chimed in when I got home. "Does it even have a microphone?"

"No, but it's fine," I answered while putting an earbud on.

My friend raised her eyebrow.

"They're blue." I added. "My favorite color!"

She rolled her eyes.

A Practical Guide To Simple Shopping

A Practical Guide To Simple Shopping

Last Tuesday, a beautiful beautiful duffel bag caught my eye at the mall.

I actually had to pick up a work package from a shop over my lunch break --- which explains the unplanned mall trip --- but I was mighty tempted.

And as often happens, I started convincing myself to buy it.

I can use it for my weekend trips, and I bet with those zippers, it'll be at least water-resistant, and ooh, it feels so smooth and look at that handy pocket in the corner for my shoes! I know I wasn't planning to buy anything today but when am I going to find a not-ugly duffel bag that matches my Jedi-ish style so well? It's perfect AND I NEED IT!!!

I took a deep breath and admired how awesome it was.

Then I put it back on the shelf and left.

Because I didn't need it.

I just thought I did for a while.

Life's Tough... But Minimalism Helps

Life's Tough... But Minimalism Helps

Emergency. Critical. Crisis.

Life is an adventure but we all have to hear words like those whether we like it or not.

Because sometimes life isn't pretty. It can get pretty ugly, in fact.

And when that happens, it feels like we're drowning. Easy things like getting out of bed become hard.

Minimalism's the last thing on our minds during a time like that.

It was definitely the last thing on my mind when I went through a tough time a few months back.

4 Reasons Why You're Failing Your New Year's Resolutions

4 Reasons Why You're Failing Your New Year's Resolutions

We're more than halfway into January, friend.

It's a new year, and it feels like the right time to become a better version of yourself.

New year, new you so to speak.

So you scribble down some ways you want to change. This WILL be the year you finally travel/learn to cook/become a morning person/insert resolution here.

It's the start of my year, you think to yourself.

Until you find yourself failing at these changes.

12 Last-Minute Christmas Gifts They'll Actually Love (It's Easy!)

12 Last-Minute Christmas Gifts They'll Actually Love (It's Easy!)

Sometimes, we spend so much time figuring out what to give that we forget why we're giving it in the first place. Our presents become meaningless, as we rush to find something, anything to give just because.

This was definitely true for me last year.

I gave last year's Christmas presents on New Year's Eve. *shifty eyes*

That last sentence just made me feel like a terrible human being. Or at least a terribly disorganized one.

So how'd I end up leaving things so late?

Part of it was getting food poisoning last December. Being practically chained to the toilet was a memorable Christmas gift! I found it hilarious --- a story to tell when I'm out of this situation, I thought at that time --- but it sapped my energy and meant I had no desire to prep presents.

And a secret part of it?

I was tired of buying presents.

Stressing over what to get people (especially the difficult ones who never seemed to need anything) and calculating how to keep things in my budget over and over and scoring what seems like every store in the city for a unicorn of a present and braving the traffic to the shoping malls and wrapping 30-ish presents and---

Buying gifts that delighted the people I gave them to used to excite me. Last year, it just felt like a chore.

There wasn't any Christmas cheer in my gift giving. Instead, it was all about superficial obligations like following tradition ("Everyone gives gifts at Christmas!") and returning favors ("He gave me a present; I should probably give one back...").

That felt shallow. And stressful besides.

This year, I tried something simpler.

I decided to focus on the why behind my presents: thanking people for being in my life.

My gifts didn't need to be expensive but they had to show I appreciated each person.

If that sounds like a tall order, it's actually much easier than you think!

You can even do it last-minute (like, ehem, this week).

Let me share twelve quick ideas that have been a hit for me this season.

How To Enjoy A Simple Christmas

How To Enjoy A Simple Christmas

You're in the middle of the holiday season, friend.

Your social calendar's packed with parties and get-togethers.

You still have to buy a few more presents (including a friend who's super-difficult to shop for).

There's a Pinterest project you wanted to try to brighten up your living room for the season. Oh, and a new Christmas cookie recipe to bake up during the weekend.

And wasn't there an office Kris Kringle you have to prep for?

'Tis the season to stress out.

Or is it?

How Minimalism For Real Life Simplified My Beauty Routine

How Minimalism For Real Life Simplified My Beauty Routine

Google minimalism and look at the images that come up, friend.

Seriously, I'll wait while you do.

*hums the Star Wars Imperial March and twiddles thumbs while waiting*

OK, so what did you notice about the photos you scrolled through?

A lot of white, neutrals, and wide open space, right?

And if that's your thing, there's nothing wrong with that. I salute people who've managed to live with less than 100 things; it's a difficult thing to achieve.

But what if you looked at those shots and thought they weren't doable?

Even getting rid of half of your stuff wouldn't get your living room looking like that!

If that's what minimalism's all about, you think. it's way too hard.

It's just not practical to live like that everyday.

And you know what? You're right.

Behind-The-Scenes Thoughts On Creating Simple Not Stressful

Behind-The-Scenes Thoughts On Creating Simple Not Stressful

Simple Not Stressful's officially live, friend, and I've never been more excited!

*party hat and dancing lady emojis*

Working on this new site for the last two months has been crazy-fun and super-scary. Fun because of how right this project felt to me as it slowly came together. And scary because putting in the work without knowing what the outcome will be means taking a step of faith.

So before we start, let's pull back the curtain on Simple Not Stressful and see how it came to be. Creating it taught me lessons that made my life simpler during the launch, and I'd like to share these gems with you.