The Simple Bundle: 17 Minimalist ebooks available this weekend only!

I write more about social issues, trauma recovery, and self care these days than my original days of decluttering and minimizing my space, but I’m still a minimalist at heart and in practice so I am thrilled to share with you an absolute steal of a deal if you’re an aspiring minimalist!

The Simple Bundle is available this Labor Day weekend only, August 31 – September 2, 2019. And it’s only $37 for a $225 total value of 17 ebooks and online courses! Check out the offerings below:

  1. Joshua Becker — Clutterfree with Kids eBook

  2. The Minimalists — Essential eBook

  3. Patrick Rhone — Enough eBook

  4. Francine Jay — Miss Minimalist eBook

  5. No Sidebar — 30 Days to a Simpler Life Email Course

  6. Courtney Carver — Microbusiness Email Course

  7. Erica Layne — 9 Hard Truths about Clutter You Need to Hear eBook

  8. Tsh Oxenreider — One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler

  9. Pia Edberg — The Cozy Life eBook

  10. Anthony Ongaro — Break The Twitch eBook

  11. Sandy Kreps — Fresh Start eBook

  12. Colin Wright — Considerations eBook

  13. Simplify Magazine — The Declutter Issue

  14. Kathy Gottberg — RightSizing: Reinventing Retirement eBook

  15. Courtney Livingston — The Smart Girl’s Guide To Surviving Her Twenties eBook

  16. Allie Casazza — The Ultimate Guide to An Uncluttered Life

  17. Minimalism Co. — The Minimalism Challenge eBook

Simplify your life and your space by building consistent habits around a minimalist mindset. While there’s no single how-to that’s perfect for everyone, I am sure there’s at least one resource in this bundle that’s just what you need!

Here’s the link again if you want to buy: The Simple Bundle 

Read more from me!

Interested in supporting Born Again Minimalist? You can sign up as a supporter on my Patreon page for $1 per month, follow me on Medium and clap for my stories, follow and engage with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and buy my book!

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Book Review: The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

minimalist home

Photo from becomingminimalist.com 

Everybody has the aha! moment that starts their journey to minimalism. For me, it was a basement full of stuff at my mom’s house after my first divorce. For some, it’s knowing there’s a pizza cutter somewhere in the kitchen but being absolutely unable to find it in all the chaos. For Joshua Becker, it was when a neighbor mentioned that people don’t actually have to have so much stuff when Joshua was mid-garage-cleanout.

Joshua is the mind behind the Becoming Minimalist blog and the author of Clutterfree with Kids; Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life; The More of Less; and the freshly published as of December 18 The Minimalist Home. I received an advance copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. So here we go, my honest review of The Minimalist Home.

First, it’s similar to other minimalism and decluttering books. But everyone has their own spin on the approach. Where Marie Kondo suggests touching everything to check for joy, category by category, and Dana K. White outlines the way you can declutter whether you have five minutes or five hours, Joshua Becker has a blended approach. His decluttering method goes room by room and follows the same basic steps each time, but what I really found differentiating in his book was the checklist for each room that was based on questions to ask yourself that focus more on how the space feels vs. how it looks.

Here’s an example from the chapter on kitchens and dining areas:

  • Is my kitchen easy to maintain and keep clean? Does it promote safety?
  • Is this a space I enjoy cooking in?
  • Are the tools I use most frequently easy to access?
  • Have I removed visual clutter from counters and surfaces?
  • Does my kitchen promote healthy eating habits?
  • Does this space encourage optimistic attitudes in the morning?
  • Does my dining room offer freedom to move about, rather than being cramped and cumbersome?
  • Does my dining area offer opportunity for meals together as a family – a place where we can recap the day?
  • Does my dining area encourage me to show hospitality to others?

Some of these questions are predictable and common sense (clean counters and surfaces, tools easy to access, etc.), but I was opened up to a new way of thinking about clutter when the questions became “is this a space I enjoy?” and “does the space promote optimistic attitudes?” and “does my dining area encourage hospitality?”

Suddenly the kitchen is no longer just another room to pass through on my way into the house after a long day, but the place I start a productive day with a healthy breakfast and the place that my partner and I feed each other and our friends. We actually enjoy hosting friends for dinner, and we’ve benefited from organizing our kitchen and the rest of our home in a way that makes the entire place feel more hospitable and welcoming.

Also throughout the book, Joshua includes stories from his readers and followers about the real-life ways minimalism has given them freedom. Freedom is a big theme of the book, whether it’s the freedom to travel, freedom of income when you stop spending so much on random stuff, freedom to whip up an impromptu scone because you know exactly where all the baking equipment is in your well organized kitchen. The combination of real life experience helps drive home the points that Joshua makes, because you can clearly see the tangible and intangible benefits of simplifying your space.

The chapter that made the biggest impact on me was about the home office. Having a simple and pleasant work space makes all the difference, whether you work from home or just need a place to pay the bills. I moved in with a partner about three months ago, and the whole house feels optimized… except the office. My desk has become a repository of stuff I haven’t dealt with yet. But I am an author and I work from home part-time for my day job, so I kind of NEED TO DEAL WITH IT. Joshua’s questions (“Does this space encourage me to focus on my work?” “Does this space invite me to enjoy the work I do?” “Is this space easy to maintain?”) forced me to acknowledge that I want to create a safe haven for my work so that I can feel better and more excited about sitting down to be creative. Thanks, Joshua.

After a room by room guide to minimizing, the book also includes a Minimalism Maintenance Guide, with tips on staying minimalist once you’ve pared down to a new baseline of simple living. This is often one of the hardest parts of minimalism, especially when you live with someone and must contend with other people’s possessions too.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading The Minimalist Home. It’s an easy read and very skimmable if you already know the basics and just need a refresher, but reading it closely will provide more context and a better feel for the why behind simplifying and de-owning possessions. The book is full of shareable bite-sized wisdom you can tweet or write down for later, such as “Just because you have the space doesn’t mean you have to fill it with stuff,” and it comes from a wonderfully approachable perspective. Anybody can start minimizing and creating their own minimalist home!

Keep up on where you can buy The Minimalist Home on Joshua Becker’s website. Many sellers are already out of stock!

 

 

 

Book Review: Decluttering at the Speed of Life

It’s been a while since I did a post on decluttering and minimalism, and I am so excited to give a rave review of Dana K. White’s book Decluttering at the Speed of Life. I downloaded it using the Hoopla app (which lets you use your library card to borrow six titles per month for FREE) and listened on my commute.

I’ve been through some stuff lately, y’all. I am moving for the second time in seven months. When I packed up and moved out of my ex-husband’s house, I realized that I was barely taking up space in that house. I’d pack my items up in each room and look at what was left behind, bewildered that it looked essentially the same. I had been trying to take up space for four years and though I’d hung art on the walls and organized the Pyrex containers the way I liked them, it never really felt like home.

With this move, I was determined to take up space and make my apartment a true home for myself filled with joy. I made a reading nook corner that I never used, I found the perfect chair at the Habitat for Humanity Store that I never sat in, and I used an air mattress as a couch because screw giant furniture. And I was happy there. Until I decided to move again ahead of schedule as part of Operation De-Stress.

Turns out, I still had stuff I didn’t use, need, or even want. Like the two sets of towels I received as wedding gifts that are still in their packaging. We got married over two years ago. Plus, some of the cute towels I bought when I moved in aren’t all that absorbent despite the fact that they match my bathroom theme. They’re in the donate box now. LuLaRoe clothing that I held onto for their resale value are just in the donate box. The white linen skirt I wore at my wedding, which I had planned to use in some piece of inspired transformative artwork, is in the donate box.

Because, hold up, this book has changed my life.

First of all, Dana K. White is the author of the blog A Slob Comes Clean, which started as an anonymous “practice blog” where she could confess her dirty house secrets. But then it turned out that a ton of other people related to her clutter woes and she ended up building a huge following and brand and I’ve consumed her books Decluttering at the Speed of Life and How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind.

You should read these books if you have a messy home that you feel like you can never get out from under. Right now. Find them.

Here are the things Dana has taught me:

  1. The Visibility Rule: Start your decluttering project in the most visible places in your home. Where do you enter your home (and where do guests enter)? Look at your home as if you are a visitor and start decluttering the most obvious spaces. Clear your “slob vision” by looking at your home through new eyes.
  2. Don’t Pull Everything Out: I used to postpone decluttering because I wanted to go in KonMari style and do whole categories at a time. But I have other stuff to do, and I don’t always have the time or energy or wherewithal to pile every piece of clothing I own on the bed, touch it, and ask if it brings me joy. Dana helped me understand that I can declutter effectively without this en masse approach.
  3. The Container Concept and One In One Out: This is something I actually had done before, in my earliest days on the blog. I had a small bookshelf and decided I’d only keep the books that fit. The bookshelf was my container. But this method died a quick and painful death when I moved in with my “collector” ex, who had shelves upon shelves upon totes upon totes of books, technology, toys, hobby equipment, and clothes. And he was a shover. I cannot stand shoving. If a drawer is too full to close and needs shoved, there is a problem. Dana’s book reminded me that if there’s shoving, it’s time to remove something until the container is actually containing things.
  4. Start with Trash and Easy Stuff: Dana’s decluttering steps are so simple and obvious, I feel ridiculous that I never did it her way before. When you’re in your most visible space, start by throwing away or recycling the trash. Then look for Easy Stuff, things that obviously don’t belong in this space. Then…
  5. Take It There Right Now: Get rid of your Easy Stuff by putting it in its proper place as soon as you pick it up. Also, as you’re decluttering, ask yourself “Where would I look for this first?” and take it there RIGHT NOW. (MIND BLOWING – No “Keep” Boxes allowed).
  6. Donate the “Almost Perfect:” This one hit me so hard. If there’s something you keep around but don’t tend to use because you don’t like one thing about it, it’s time to say goodbye. This is what helped me let go of a super cute dress that didn’t fit right in the bust, as well as the aforementioned not-super-absorbent-but-really-cute towels. But now all my towels fit on one shelf in the linen closet with no more shoving!

There’s plenty more, but I really seriously want you to read her book. Also, she has a podcast. I am gonna die of excitement.

Book review: Eat, Pray, Love

My “just in case” items turned out to be unnecessary, as I did not lose power or any other utilities when Hurricane Sandy reached a rainy, stormy arm over Ohio – except for my internet.  The power was out in the town where I work, so I had an unexpected day off.  How great, I thought, I can clean the kitchen and start my Reverse 100 Things Challenge today!

And then I slept until 11am, had lunch with my partner in downtown Cleveland, and spent the entire afternoon and evening eating spaghetti, sleeping, and reading Eat, Pray, Love.

This is a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it on my “Minimalist Reading List,” which thus far includes just one other book (Scratch Beginnings).  I’ll read Walden soon, though, and then I will have three.  Please recommend some!

According to the dust jacket, “By the time she turned thirty, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern, educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want – a husband, a house in the country, a successful career.  But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief and confusion.  She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love and the complete eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.

To recover from all of this, Gilbert took a radical step.  In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, left her loved ones behind and undertook a year-long journey around the world, all alone…

Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment.  It is also about the adventures that can happen when a woman stops trying to live in imitation of society’s ideals.  This is a story certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.”

I adore this book.  Easily one of my top five. 

By page eleven, I loved this woman and I was so excited to join her on her journey around the world.  Her adventure.  I wanted to learn from her and take wisdom from her experiences that I could not replicate (I do not possess the mental fortitude to just pack up and leave for a year).  And I did.  Her story is so wonderful, so full of growth and inspiration.

Having recently gone through my own divorce, I connected with her immediately, because I knew very well all of the feelings she was describing.  The guilt, the anger, the loss, the GUILT, the phantom thoughts, and let’s not forget the guilt.  I took solace in her spiritual journey and silently cheered when she found a place where she could let go of her ex-husband in the knowledge that her worldly part of their relationship was over and that their souls would take it from there.  I felt like her story could be my story.  You know, if I were a successful author with the means and willingness to leave everything behind and take a transcendent journey to peace, love, and self-knowledge.

Maybe I will, yet.  For now, this book is enough.  It’s got me thinking big-picture things.

I strongly encourage you to read it.  Let me know what you think!

Book review: Scratch Beginnings

While I was decluttering myself of half my possessions in the depths of my mother’s basement, my sister was doing likewise to prepare for our upcoming yardsale.  Ironically, my decluttering and newfound minimalism resulted in me picking up some of the things she was going through, including a couple of books that caught my eye.

One book, Scratch Beginnings, has a cover featuring a young man wearing an undershirt and cargo shorts next to an empty duffel bag, and the subtitle “Me, $25, and a search for the American Dream.” I was intrigued.

The book is a reflection on a one-year experiment done by Adam Shepard, who outlines his project in the introduction of the book:

Here is my premise:

I am going to start almost literally from scratch with one 8′ x 10′ tarp, a sleeping bag, an empty gym bag, $25, and the clothes on my back.  Via train, I will be dropped at a random place somewhere in the southeastern United States outside my home state of North Carolina.  I have 365 days to become free of the realities of homelessness and become a “regular” member of society.  After one year, for my project to be successful, I have to possess an operable automobile, live in a furnished apartment (alone or with a roommate), have $2,500 in cash, and, most importantly, I have to be in a position in which I can continue to improve my circumstances by either going to school or starting my own business (Shepard, p. xiv).

This is not a book that is, on its surface, about minimalism.  It’s about a guy overcoming his circumstances to get ahead and succeed.  However, right away, minimalist ideas were popping right off the page at me.

I am really, really frustrated with the poor attitudes that seem to have swept over my peer group.  Frustrated with hearing “I don’t have” rather than “Let’s see what I can do with what I do have” (Shepard, p. xiii).

Making the most of what you have is a great way to look at your life and your situation.  While Adam Shepard was working toward having more, it wasn’t for the sake of more, or the sake of stuff.  He was basically resetting his life and seeing if he could work to get the things he needed.  I think a side effect of this reboot was actually cherishing the things he had, having honestly worked to get them, and having suffered for them.  He did not work his way up from nothing to having a collection of sports memorabilia, or a wardrobe of clothes, or a library of books.  He worked his way up from nothing to have just what he needed to get by — a place to live, a car to drive to work, and enough savings to support him in case of emergency.

Lots of his observations struck a chord with me, including:

Who did I have to impress? As long as my pants could remain free from stains and odors, I didn’t care if I got caught wearing the same outfit every other day.  That’s what all of my new friends were doing (Shepard, p. 74).

A lot of us spend our lives living beyond our means.  We rack up credit card debt and spend money on material items and vacations that we can’t quite afford. … And we live in luxury homes and condos that we can’t even enjoy, because we have to work overtime to cover the mortgage payment. Why? (Shepard, p. 90).

So I would head to the bottom of the downtown peninsula and search for things to do.  Simple things.  Anything that didn’t cost money.  I was easy to please, and that alone alleviated the distress of what others might consider a disgraceful social life… (Shepard, p. 111).

Cheap?  Definitely.  But that’s how I had to be.  Every $5 and $10 I could save might not matter so much for that one day, but it would be so valuable in the long run (Shepard, p. 126).

While Scratch Beginnings is really a book about poverty and hard work and making positive changes, it definitely resonated with me as a minimalist.  The idea that it is possible to have a functional wardrobe, living situation, and social life without having to spend excessive amounts of  money on those things is a great lesson that can benefit everyone.

When you don’t have much, and everything you do have is a product of your own hard work and priorities and commitment, your possessions are that much more important.  Plus, you can avoid debt and break free of the overbearing consumerist culture we live in today.  This book made me think about my possessions and my life in a broader context.  I have so much, and some people have nothing (or close to it).  Why do I need all this stuff?  What is it doing for me?

I do recommend the book — it’s a quick read, and it really offers some food for thought about hard work, starting over, and whether or not we really need all this stuff to be happy and successful in life.

Have you read a book that spoke to you as a minimalist?