5 Post-Facebook Surprises

Good afternoon (or morning, or evening) all!

It has now been over three weeks since I deleted my Facebook account, and I have definitely observed some interesting things that I had not experienced the last two times I deleted my account. There have been some positives, as well as some things that made me turn my head sideways.

I thought I would share my observations with y’all…

1. Facebook is not inherently bad.

What struck me right away, was that people were very eager to give advice for staying on Facebook. “Unfollow people,” was the advice that I heard the most. Nobody seemed to understand that when I unfollowed every person who wrote something that was not beneficial for me to engage with, I would end up mainly interacting with people I see everyday. And that I had never succeeded in making Facebook a joy in my life. At the most, it was a manageable cesspit, with a few bright spots from my yoga friends (whom I see 5 days a week), and my co-workers (whom I spent most of my day with, 5 days a week).

Then I realized that I was being equally as pushy. Facebook is not a cesspit for everyone. That was my experience. I share it, because maybe it was somebody else’s as well. There are people who honestly enjoy keeping in touch with distant relatives and old friends that way. There is a lot of opportunity for sharing ideas over social media. It’s not inherently bad. It was just a bad experience for me, and I am choosing not to use it anymore.

2. It has led me to rethink my other technology-using habits.

The first time that I quit Facebook, I moved quickly to fill in the void it left. I became e-mail penpals with a large number of former Facebook friends, as well as with other bloggers. This was fun, and I have kept in touch with a few of the people I corresponded with during that time.

However, back then I was writing everyone back daily, in lengthy emails rather than quick Facebook comments. I actually spent more time on my computer than I did, back when I had Facebook. I also noticed similar patterns happening in some of my correspondences. I was getting obsessed with getting a reply and seeking approval.

The second time I quit, I was already texting people like crazy. I would have long chats with friends, and a few of them were actually people I didn’t see everyday. When I went shopping and fit into a new pants size, I took a picture of the tag. Instead of posting it to Facebook, I texted it to all of my friends. Mercifully, they humored me.

My texting habits continued as I rejoined Facebook, and soon I was constantly having Messenger chats as well. I had kind of backed off before the pandemic, but during isolation I was checking my phone every 5 minutes. I was impatient if people didn’t reply and often assumed they were mad at me.

Some of the incidents that led to me choosing to leave Facebook this third time, were related to Messenger and message conversations. I did a lot of texting when I was getting my Messenger friends set up as phone contacts, but after that, I was really not feeling it.

After all of the negative text interactions I had at the end of my Facebook days, I have become much more mindful about my texting habits. Before I send something, I ask myself if it is necessary. Minute daily observations can wait until I see the person in real life.

3. Life off of Facebook is a lot less political

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances in “real life,” and I have no idea how most of them voted in the last election. We discuss ideas and values, but we really don’t care who voted for whom.

I have one friend who voted differently than I did in the last election, and we agree 100% on every issue we have discussed. Our only disagreement was in which candidate would fit the best with our thoughts on the issues.

On Facebook, it is almost of gang war. People choose one camp, and then are ruthless with those who disagree with every opinion of the camp. I faced more ridicule from people who voted the same way I did in the last election, because I didn’t tow the line 100%.

On Facebook, I said that I had a hard time with the shutdown back in March. People kept their distance, saying that it was okay if I had a different opinion. This was not a political discussion. This was my own personal experience and my own emotions. I mentioned this at my last Weight Watcher’s meeting, and the girl next to me said, “Well, of course it was hard! It was hard for everyone!” And everyone else agreed. Politics didn’t even come up.

There is a reason we have secret ballots. Let’s forget about WHO is right, and keep the discussion focused on WHAT is right.

4. The focus is on similarities, not differences.

Not only do politics come up a lot less, but interactions away from Facebook focus more on similarities. At work, we are all working toward the common goal of helping our students learn, grow, and navigate through a crazy time. We are all trying to figure out the best way to reach everyone, and our focus is on what we do.

Sure, current events might come up in passing, but they are not the main focus of anything.

It is the same at yoga and at Weight Watchers. We are focused on the path that we are on, even if we have different ideas and life experiences. We aren’t there to judge one another or to argue.

5. I listen to my inner voice more.

With Facebook–and social media in general–we all have a panel of experts to consult about every minor decision we have to make. Not sure whether to cook burgers or spaghetti? Make a Facebook poll. Can’t decide between the green dress or the pink one? Ask your Facebook friends.

The problem is that I began to ignore my gut instinct and present every dilemma to my friends online. Not sure how to apologize (or whether I needed to)? Ask an online friend. Having a misunderstanding with a friend? Ask the strangers in my Facebook group.

This led to a lot of bad advice. Which should not come as a surprise, since these people were not living in the situation. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that majority rules, or even that other people just know better because they are other people.

Since leaving Facebook, I have been making my own decisions. I have solved interpersonal problems on my own. I have chosen my own outfits! I have made decisions about my job and my career. I have reclaimed my place as the expert on my own life.

I know social media is different for everyone, but I also know that I have had a lot of positive experiences leaving it this time! I don’t see myself creating a new account anytime in the near future.

Minimalism, Philosophy

Why I Love Facebook

Clearly, I love Facebook.

I have deleted my account three times now, and two of those times I ended up creating a new one within two years. I have deactivated numerous times, never for more than a month. Most times, I only made it a few days.

On Wednesday, January 13, I deleted my account for the third time.

I don’t need to tell you why I deleted it. You might not know my specifics, but you know what kind of environment exists on social media, and you know how much time can be wasted on something that causes stress rather than joy. I deleted my account for the same reasons that I deleted it the other two times.

So the question is, why do I keep going back? I know how much stress and unhappiness Facebook causes in my life, so why do I love it?

I actually had to do some research, as well as introspection, to get to the bottom of that question.

So here are the reasons I love Facebook:

1. It makes photo sharing very easy.

Face it. There is nothing easier than uploading a picture from my phone, so that I can show my adventures in real time. Sifting through and posting them on my blog takes more time. (And never mind that I actually have to make the post interesting!). I could probably share albums from my Google Photos or Photobucket accounts, but that requires having email addresses.

Now that I have left Facebook, I will not be able to share our adventures in the same way. Not as many people will read my weekly posts, and the pictures will not be posted in real time. I think the solution here lies in finding other fun ways to connect with pictures, such as sending photos as post cards. Also, I can remind myself that this inconvenience is a small trade-off, considering how much I did not enjoy facebook.

2. It makes me feel like I am doing something.

First there was the pandemic. People were getting sick, losing relatives, and staying inside to try to avoid getting sick. Then there were the BLM protests. Then businesses were struggling during the lockdown and families were having trouble making rent. There was the election, with the hateful, polarized sides. And finally, the attack on the Capitol and the increase in division that seemed to bring.

It is easy to feel helpless. Facebook gave me a place to try and do something. When I could do nothing else, I urged people to work together and to support one another. I couldn’t save the world, but maybe my uplifting words would help. In this way, Facebook was therapeutic.

The problem with slacktivism is that it diverts us from what we actually can do. Maybe I was a refreshing voice in a negative cesspit. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is still a negative cesspit.

In real life, there is a lot I can do. I can teach my students to read. I can teach my students to discuss issues respectfully, listening to both sides. I can seek to understand my friends who have ideas that are different from mine. I can write positive notes and hide them where friends and co-workers will find them. At my yoga studio, I created a gratitude tree, where I hang heart ornaments with reminders of the things we all can be grateful for.

Yes, in real life, there is downtime. There are times when I am at home, just itching to do something that matters. But turning to Facebook eventually becomes draining and all-consuming. It is so easy to get sucked into debates, and it can become disheartening when my message is not received. It can get to the point where, after Facebook, I have no energy left to do the things that actually make a difference.

The solution, I believe, lies in redefining downtime. The times when there is nothing to do, when there is nothing that I can do, are times for rest and renewal. Because there will come a time when I can do things. The tiny things that we all can do, the tiny things that matter so much, require us to take care of ourselves.

3. With Facebook, I never need to let go.

I quit Facebook for a sizable amount of time, the first time around. Then I moved from Michigan to Texas and started a new account so that I could stay in touch with my friends and relatives from Michigan.

By the time I deactivated, I had friends from high school, friends I had grown apart from but kept on my newsfeed, friends from middle school, and even friends I had not seen since the days when I attended Chippewassee Elementary School! I met up with friends I had long since lost touch with. We would usually have a chat on Messenger after we found each other, then fell into the rhythm of liking and commenting on each other’s posts.

While this is definitely a fun plus, the reality is that I live in Texas now. My attention belongs here, in the new life I have created with my family. Sure, I will keep in touch with some of my friends and relatives. We will exchange the occasional text and read everyone’s Christmas letters. But there will be people I never hear from again. And there will be people who drift away and then drift back. That is how relationships and friendships work, and being less focused on the details of everyone’s life and thoughts on Facebook, opens up my time and energy to my actual life.

4. Facebook is a relaxing boredom buster

This is the tough one for me. When I am bored or need to relax, I like to have something relatively mindless, that does not require my full attention or a long chunk of time. Facebook easily fits the bill. I have peeked at my newsfeed while waiting in line, unwound while catching up on Facebook when I have 10 minutes until I have to go somewhere, and rewarded myself with a little Facebook break on a stressful day.

The thing is, Facebook works better than anything else I have found, in this respect. This is probably the biggest reason I have kept going back to it.

However, the boredom-busting quality of Facebook does not outweigh my reasons for leaving. Therefore, I need to find a replacement. I am still working on this, to be honest. I think magazines and possibly simple games life Solitaire might work well. I enjoy loom knitting too, but that requires a little more concentration.

5. Facebook helps me to feel less lonely

Sometimes, especially during the shutdown, I feel lonely, and Facebook provides that connection that I have been seeking. My friends don’t feel like texting all day (and neither do I , really), and Facetime conversations can only go so far. Facebook is something we can all use at our leisure, to stay connected during times when we feel anything but.

Sometimes this was a great thing, but there were also many pitfalls. I encountered well-meaning strangers in Facebook groups, who misinterpreted a simple lonely mood and overreacted. This often resulted in me receiving bad advice, or in me overthinking and causing my mood to feel worse.

Sharing ideas is a fun way to connect, but Facebook tends to become an echo chamber where dissenting ideas are not welcome. There is not always a lot of effort to find common ground or to learn from each other.

Instead, the blogging community is a much better way for me to socialize and connect. Different ideas are welcome, the discussions are thoughtful, and everyone is warm and respectful.

And after I have read all of the blogs I care to? Then it really is time to enjoy my own company and learn to be alone without getting stuck in my head.

So here I am, living life without Facebook once again. I have felt much better since deleting my account, and I am confident that this time will be the last time I leave the site. I am addressing the strings that kept pulling me back, while remembering the reasons why I left.

What are your thoughts on social media? If you no longer use it, how do you meet the needs that your newsfeed once filled?

Health, Minimalism, Philosophy


Good morning, friends, and happy black Friday.

I know that I have taken a break from blogging, but I have most certainly not been idle.  It has been a time of change and re-invention.

As of yesterday, I am now 8 months sober.  It’s not even a big deal anymore, in my daily life.  I have learned that diet Coke is often free at bars, but Pellegrino is not.  And that the best bars put lots of cherries in their diet Cokes.

shirley temple

This fall, I started a new job doing behavior intervention at a small charter school.  Working full time again has taken some adjustment, and I have had some triggers from the past that I have had to confront.  But I love what I do, and I love my co-workers and students.

A surprising change in this arena, has been that Iliana is also attending the school where I work!  The program she had been in, in the traditional public school she had been attending, was only available at a junior high that was 30 minutes away by car.  The bus ride got to be too much, and I did not like the difficulty I had being involved and communicating with her teachers, due to the distance.  So after two weeks, we transferred her to the school where I work!


Charter schools are simply independently run public schools, that are not part of an ISD or school district.  They are 100% school of choice, so they tend to be smaller.  Iliana has thrived with the individual attention she is getting!  She is in pre-AP math and has tested out of speech (which is HUGE, because the language delay/disorder was the most significant part of her disability).  She works with a special ed teacher and counselor on her social-emotonal issues and is doing very well.  (And what could be better for a minimalist wardrobe, than adorable school uniforms!)


The biggest change for me is not I am not as big as I used to be!  On Tuesday, I will most likely reach my weight goal at Weight Watchers.  But that is just a formality.  The hard work is finished!

I have read from multiple sources that only .8% of obese women ever reach a healthy weight.  Most people would consider a probability like that to be impossible.  And yet here I am.  I have lost 60 pounds and plan to never need to lose 60 pounds again!

So I have done the impossible.  Now what?  While I will be focusing on maintenance and still attending Weight Watcher meetings and using their tools, I know it is time to move forward and work on new goals.  (Here are before and after pictures!)


And thinking of those goals, brings me to my one-word theme for 2020.  Do people still do one word themes?  I am not sure, but I definitely will be!  And my one-word theme for 2020 is, “Create.”


I have already survived.  I have already faced my inner demons and completely changed my life.  All that remains now is to work on the, “so what?”  It is time to create the reality that I want to experience.

I know a one-word theme is open-ended, but I do have some specific goals I would like to start with.  Maybe these will be my goals for the year, or maybe they will grow and change.  My immediate goals are:

  1.  Reconnect with the blogging community and write a blog post at least once a week.  I will set aside a specific time to write, when no one is allowed to interrupt me.  Not being firm on this has led to my lapses in blogging in the past.
  2. Work on my stretching and flexibility on a regular basis.  Do stretching exercises at least 5 days a week.
  3. Run a half marathon.  Run at least 3 days a week for now, because the stretching will help more than anything.
  4. Declutter and fix up the boat to the point where it is everything I want it to be.  Do the budgeting to make this happen and make it a priority.
  5. Connect with positive people, rather than letting negativity suck me in.  Be kind, but stop personalizing people’s bad moods.

So this is what I will be working on in the next year!  I look forward to sharing it with all of you!



Health, Minimalism, Philosophy

How I Became a Mockstar

See the source image

I have to be honest.  I have gone back and forth in my mind over whether I should write a post on this topic.

I am a minimalist.  Or at least I try my best to live intentionally.  For nearly a decade, I have blogged, on and off, about my efforts to keep only the things that add meaning to my life and increase my happiness and ability to contribute to the world.  I have gotten rid of many things that have not added value to my life.

I enjoyed telling people that we had no television.  Their shock and questions were absolutely hilarious, and I enjoyed answering them.

We have no microwave.  I don’t even think about that, but I have no problem mentioning it.

There have been times when I have given up meat, and I always eat a relatively low-carb diet.  I don’t feel self-conscious bringing my own salad dressing to a restaurant.

I haven’t lived in a house in nearly 6 years.  I have given up Facebook on and off, and I even used a flip phone for awhile.

I don’t worry about being judged if I share any of these things.  In fact, I find other people’s reactions to be funny when I share these.  I don’t worry that the listener will think something is “wrong” with me, or that my choice to live simply is due to traumatic experiences.

My name is Bethany, and I am a recovering house-aholic.

So why is it so different with alcohol?

I don’t drink.  I quit drinking 16 days ago, and don’t plan on starting again anytime in the foreseeable future.

And somehow, this requires more explanation than giving up my house?

No, I am not an alcoholic.  Nor was I a “house-aholic.”  No, I didn’t hit rock bottom.  Nor did I hit rock bottom with my microwave.

I stopped drinking, because drinking does not add value to my life.

Oh, I thought it added value.  But when I took a long, hard look at it, I could see that it did not.  Here are some examples:

“Wine helps relieve stress.”

When I was at my old job, I saw my nightly wine as “portable ‘me’ time.”  I was too busy to take care of myself during the day, so I would “enjoy” a glass and unwind.

But did it really relieve stress?  It temporarily numbed my emotions, or at least made me forget about them.  But it did not solve the larger issue, that I was stressed and unhappy. And numbing the emotions only made them bubble up after I had too much wine.  I would often become “crabby” and negative.  The joy I experienced was also very limited.

In the end, learning to sit with difficult emotions and process them, and gaining the courage to change my situation, made the portable pseudo-stress relief unnecessary.  I don’t need to relieve stress.  I need to take care of myself on daily basis, sit with difficult emotions, and allow myself to process it all.  In fact, I have found that my emotions are much more stable (and I experience peace and joy much more frequently) since I have stopped drinking.  Self-care, such as eating a healthy diet, setting boundaries and staying away from alcohol, does a lot to stop the fight-or-flight response of stress.

See the source image

“Parties are no fun without alcohol.”

At first, I wanted to moderate for this reason.  Who could imagine a party without alcohol?  It would be…boring!

But then I tried it.

Yes, there were some odd looks and, “Oh, come on!  Just one shot!” type comments.  But then the music started, and I was dancing along with everyone else.  I found that I did not need a glass in my hand, to act goofy and let loose.  In fact, my mood was better, and I actually made it past midnight without falling asleep!

And then, I grabbed my keys and DROVE home!  I slept well and woke up without a hangover.  And I didn’t wonder if I had made a fool of myself the night before.  It was so much less stressful.

At my next party, I split a bottle of sparkling grape juice with Iliana, and only one person noticed that I wasn’t drinking.

See the source image

“My friends will think I’m weird.”

Remember DARE in sixth grade (in the US)?  What they didn’t tell you was that the real peer pressure would happen when you were an adult.

When I first quit drinking, I was so sure my friends would judge me.  I kind of had a reputation for loving my wine, so my change in behavior did not go unnoticed.  I was certain that my friends would decide that I was an alcoholic and had hit rock bottom.  In fact, I told them that I was laying off the booze in order to lose weight, because I thought I would be judged if I told the truth.

So one morning, I was early for yoga class, and I explained all of this to my yoga teacher.

“I hate telling people,” I told her.  “Everyone just assumes that I am an alcoholic and that I have hit rock bottom.”

My teacher just gave me a skeptical sideways look that said, “Oh, really?”

“Fine,” I said.  “Maybe nobody has actually said that, but I’m afraid that is what they are thinking!”

Of course, it is not what they were thinking.  And what they are thinking is none of my business.  If a friendship is only as strong as a commitment to booze, then it really isn’t much of a friendship.  So far, I have lost zero friends after deciding not to drink.

See the source image

“Wine won’t make me gain weight!”

I remember reading once, that wine was the most commonly tracked food on the Weight Watchers app.  And sure enough, when I first joined, I always made sure that I saved enough points for alcohol.

I tried having a half ounce of vodka in soda.  I counted one bottle of wine as three servings–12 points!  (It is actually much more than that).  I kept my meals small, so that I had room in my points budget for alcohol.  Sure, I usually ended the week with -50 weekly points, but I was losing weight.

At least I was for awhile.

Then, the wine started increasing and I stopped tracking.  Then PBJ sandwiches started happening when I was drinking.  If I woke up in the morning and the peanut butter jar was out, I knew I was in trouble!

What surprised me, when I cut out the booze, was how much I could EAT!  I’ve had full meals, snacks and treats. And I am losing weight faster than ever.  I have more energy, and my moods are much better.

Today, I went shopping and found out that I wear a single-digit size now!  Can’t beat that!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sky, bicycle, ocean, outdoor and water

I am not telling you not to drink.

My aim is not to be preachy.  But as minimalists, we know to question so much of what we are told by consumer culture.  Alcohol is a product too.  It is being strongly marketed toward women, especially, right now.  And it is so engrained in our culture.

Drink it or don’t.  But make sure that you are making a thoughtful decision, rather than just doing it because it is what we do.


Minimalism, Philosophy

25 Day Countdown to a Happy 2019

I have always loved Advent calendars!  In the past, I have collaborated with other bloggers, to write a series of posts to countdown through the holidays (our “calendar” always counted down until New Year’s).  Maybe next year, I will bring back Simplify the Season.

In the meantime, I was very excited this year to see that Sue from Sizzling Toward 60 & Beyond  is doing her own advent calendar, a “25 Day Countdown to a Happy Christmas.”  Every day she will post a writing prompt from her own advent calendar.

I do realize that I am over a week behind, but I have never been one to do things on their exact dates.  My last Christmas in Michigan, Santa came to our house on the 27th, so we would have more time to prepare.  And so it will be with my advent calendar!  I am calling mine a “Countdown to a Happy 2019,” and it will take us somewhere into January.

I will post a prompt everyday, interrupting occasionally for posts about our family and other such things.

So let us begin with Day 1…

“Re-assess to Reduce the Stress”

This prompt is about reducing committments, so that the holidays (and the rest of the year) are less stressful.  This is a practice that I have been doing continually, so I thought that I would share some of the ways that I have pared down my committments.

 1.  Working Part-Time

I have written about my choice to quit my full-time teaching job and switch to substitute teaching.  This has allowed me to spend more time with my family, spend more time on my home, and even spend more time getting ready for the holidays!  I rarely have to drive in rush hour anymore, so my stress level is significantly reduced.

2.  Working Four Days a Week

I immediately realized that working five days a week was more stressful than I wanted it to be.  I did not have the time to keep our home, and I felt like my self-care was suffering.  I realize that a four day work week is not an option for everyone, but since it is for me, why not do it?  Our budget can handle it, and we are able to be self-sufficient, now that I am receiving regular paychecks.

3.  Paring Down on Close Friendships

Over the summer, I made the difficult realization that I had grown apart from my closest friends, with whom I was spending most of my time.  It was hard and painful for us to go in our separate directions, but doing so did allow me to focus on self-care and nurturing some of my other relationships.

4.  Being Mindful about Where I Work

When I first began substitute teaching, I worked in two school districts and at a two-campus charter school.  I absolutely loved the charter school and felt very energized when I worked there.  I loved one of the school districts as well, except for one campus.

I went to that campus one time, and immediately felt a negative vibe.  It looked…tired.  And so did the staff members.  I decided to keep an open mind and set forth to teach my math classes.  My last period of the day, I had a very challenging group of students, with a ringleader who was using inappropriate language and being very disrespectful.  I knew he needed to be removed from the room, so I called the number that the office had given me for disciplinary issues.

The students watched as I called, received no answer, and left a voice mail message.  I tried calling the principal and was also directed to voice mail.  At that point, I had lost the students.  They knew there would be no follow-through with their behavior.

I mulled it over and thought, “I could learn to be successful here.”  And then I wondered why I would want to, when I have the choice to work somewhere else.  So I stopped accepting assignments at that campus.

When I started working at the other school district, I immediately noticed the tired look at many of their schools.  And again, working on those campuses was always a battle.  Even when I worked at nice schools, the drive home had road construction, and I always got home later than I wanted.  I came home in a negative mood.  Eventually, I decided to stop working in that district.

5.  I Don’t Do Everything I Want to Do

This has been the hardest one for me.  It’s become easy for me to say “no” to things I don’t want to do, but what about the things I do want to do?  There are so many opportunities for fun, especially during the holidays, but doing them all will simply become too stressful.

So I don’t meet up with my friends as much as I would like to, but when we do get together, it is very special.

Yoga is a priority for me, but I do miss class if I already have something going on that afternoon or evening.

Sometimes we decline an invitation to get together with friends, if we would rather spend a night at home.

And while I sometimes feel guilty for saying “no” to something I would like to do, I have found that my saying “no,” has allowed my friends to do the same, without worrying that I will judge them.

Now It’s Your Turn

What ways have you found, to re-assess and reduce the stress?  Are there some things you would like to say “no” to?

Minimalism, Philosophy

Thoughts on Minimalism

I identify as a minimalist.

I recently had my third post published on Miss Minimalist.  I wrote a minimalist blog for four years and developed a small but tight-knit community.  I have before and after pictures of our house when we completed the first Great Purge of possessions.  At one point my entire family of 3 owned 75 possessions.

Early in my journey, a well-natured relative joked that we sucked as minimalists.  This led to more manic purging of items.  “Minimalist” was a label I wanted.  It was a clique I wanted to join.  In those early days, I worried about whether various things I did were “minimalist” enough.

As I became minimalist, I also became more “crunchy.”  I became obsessed with my daughter owning a few, non-plastic toys.  And absolutely no electronics or cartoon characters!   (Except for her v-tech piano toy, which magically kept her occupied for hours!)

I had a capsule wardrobe.  But mine consisted of 14 items.  When I started working out, I bought 3 tank tops and 3 pair of shorts.  For the two years at the gym and my first year at Moonlight, I refused to buy separate clothing for yoga.   All of my books were electronic.

Fast forward to today.  I am now an “old” minimalist.  I have no idea how many items I own, although I do know that it is time to get better about decluttering 15 minutes everyday.  I own lots of yoga pants, because sometimes I go twice a day and don’t want to be stinky.  (And I work out in yoga pants too).  I have a weird 1970’s chips and salsa tray, because it’s weird and someone gave it to me.

Image result for 1970's chips and salsa tray avocado

And speaking of the 1970’s, I have a collection of vintage cookbooks from all decades, as well as the Good Housekeeping Housekeeping book from 1947!

Image result for the good housekeeping housekeeping book 1947

I have a full bookshelf and enjoy exchanging books with my friends.

So what does minimalism mean to me, after 8-9 years of practicing it?  And what lessons have I learned through those years?

Here are a few random thoughts about my minimalist experience:

1.  Question everything.

When you embrace minimalism, you question the amount of possessions we should own and the pursuit of the “American Dream.”  When you continue in this lifestyle, the questioning continues.  I have questioned and redefined my identity, my assumptions about myself, my living arrangement, my career, etc.  There is no reason to do ANYTHING, just because everyone else does it.

Image result for question mark


2.  Minimalism is a mindset, not a doctrine.

Minimalism is not a religion. I don’t do or not do something, just because it is “more minimalist.”  If I want to own a gazillion old cookbooks, I will!  It is not about counting possessions.  It’s not a clique that you need to get into.  Minimalism is about simplifying, so that your possessions, your home, your committments, and your relationships are all in alignment with what YOU want out of life.  It is about having the minimum that you need, of all of these things, in order to live a life that best suits you.


3.  There is no “graduation.”

I’ve been done decluttering before.  That “done” lasted until we needed to get rid of most of our possessions in order to move to Texas.  I never decluttered our apartment, because we didn’t live there long enough to accumulate clutter.  This boat, however, is in dire need to decluttering.  Because decluttering is a process you keep coming back to.  Examining your possessions, as well as your home, committments, and relationships, is a lifelong process.

Image result for graduation clip art

4.  Minimalism leads to other changes.

Ya gotta put something where the stuff used to be!  I have found that making one major life change eventually leads to more changes.  We decluttered our house, and in doing so, we questioned a lot of what society was telling us we needed to have and do.  Which led to me leaving my job and moving to Houston.  Which led to us moving onto a boat.  Which led to me quitting another job.  And so on.  Once you get brave enough to go against the grain, you become brave enough to take it a step further.  And another step further.

5.  Eventually people stop giving unsolicited advice.

Because eventually you stop behaving in a way that communicates that you are asking for permission.  Living counter-culturally becomes routine, and you no longer feel like you need to make a big deal out of it or defend it.  It has been years since anyone has given us advice or voiced disapproval.

Image result for unsolicited advice clip art

6.  You meet like-minded people.

Every lifestyle change we have made, has brought us closer to our tribe.  Our marina is full of live-aboard, who also own few possessions, out of necessity.  In my yoga class, I have also met a large number of friends who choose voluntary simplicity as a lifestyle.  At my Weight Watchers meeting, we talked about decluttering our homes, and I said that I spend 15 minutes a day decluttering.  The lady next to me said, “Yup!  That’s what Fly Lady recommends!”  Your journey will inevitably lead you to other people who are on the same journey.

7.  Possessions become less of a focus.

When we first embraced minimalism, our live was very focused on possessions: counting them and, more importantly, getting rid of them!  Even though decluttering is an ongoing process, we don’t think about being minimalists much anymore.  We just live it.  Our life is more centered around experiences and doing the things that we enjoy.  Minimalism is just more of a guiding idea that has become a habit.

So now it is your turn!  What surprising lessons and observations have you discovered on your minimalist journey?

Image result for rose clip art



Health, Minimalism

The Great Facebook Divorce


In my last post, I told you about how getting rid of my Smartphone changed my life, in a positive way.  And one of the largest positives was that it led me to spend less time on Facebook.

My relationship with Facebook was already complicated.  In November 2012, I deleted my account, and did not have another account for a year.  I found that my life was less stressful and I wasted less time online, in pointless arguments, once I deleted Facebook.

I kept in touch with many people in the minimalist blogging community through email.  I did spend way too much time writing emails, as I used email as my substitute for social networking.  It was enjoyable and addictive at first, but eventually the emails fizzled.

A year later, many of the bloggers I had connected with were either ending their blogs or moving forward and trying to expand and monetize.  I had moved to Texas, and my blog was more of a photo-sharing site for my family at that time.  I communicated with my relatives across the country through mass e-mails and pictures on my blog.  I found that Facebook was a much simpler way to do this, so I created a new account.

Facebook was incredibly helpful as I settled into my new community when we moved into the marina.  I connected with a Moms’ group and two special needs parenting groups.  I connected with friends from yoga.  Through Facebook I arranged play dates, found out about local events, and participated in a “Freecycle” type group.  It really helped me to get settled in here.

Throughout that time, however, I was learned and changing, rapidly.  I was developing a new view of myself and of life in general.  I was learning to value myself.  There were popularily-held ideas that I was beginning to question.

Strike One

mental health
I get nervous in social situations and have antique rifles. Not much of a threat here.

The first sign that my Facebook days were limited came after the Santa Fe school shooting.  This was practically in my back yard, and I know people who were personally affected.

I found out about the tragedy on Facebook, from my friends marking themselves and their children “safe.”  I got no housework done that morning, and spent hours on Facebook, learning what was known about what happened, and making sure the people I knew were all right.

Then, as I binged on blueberries and plain Greek yogurt (I got a gold star for that at my next Weight Watchers meeting!), I realized with dread, where the conversation was going to go next.  It was going to turn into a heated political debate, and then a subgroup of people would be scapegoated.

I remembered that in past school shootings, people with autism were blamed.  And after Parkland, it was people with mental health diagnoses.  That seemed to be the most popular group to turn into “others”.  Because we can’t believe that a “normal” person like us, could ever do such a thing.

Unfortunately, we all have issues, and if you are actually working on yours, you are probably going to have a mental health diagnosis, or many, in your lifetime.  And I am no exception.  I have been told that I have no mental health diagnosis now, but at various points in my journey I have been placed in many different categories within the DSM.  It’s just how it is.  Like everyone else, I had a lot of crap to work through.  But if you know me at all, you know that there has never been a point in my life where I was at any risk of becoming a mass-murderer.

But you can also imagine that seeing people who have received a diagnosis, being marginalized and scapegoated, is a wee bit upsetting for me.

At first I asked questions and even argued with people.  Then I saw that, without commenting on anything, one of my friends turned her profile picture to, “Closed for spiritual maintenance” as soon as she heard about the shooting.

A lightbulb went off in my head, and I refrained from logging in for a few days.  I decided that people were just talking nonsense, because they would never say any of those thing to me in person.  And if they did want to talk about how incredibly dangerous I was when I was having social anxiety, they could be my guest, in person.

This break was lovely, and my mind settled rather quickly.  I started going out and seeing friends more.  But Facebook was still right there, and it pulled me in after a couple days.

Strike Two

Yes, but with work you can recover.

The second sign that it was time to leave Facebook happened a little less close to home.  It was when Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain died.

Now, I can’t afford designer accessories, and I don’t have cable television.  So I had absolutely no idea who either of these people were, or what struggles they faced in their journies.

But I did see everybody’s response on my newsfeed.

Just like the school shooting, we don’t want to believe that a “normal” person like us could die by suicide.  So of course, we have to establish that they are “others.”

And you guessed it.  They were “others” because they had mental health diagnoses.  Depression, specifically.  I lost interest in knowing what labels I had and when, since it has just been a continuous journey for me, but I do know that it was “depression” at least once.

I had learned that depression–or whatever emotional struggle was a part of my journey at any given time–had physical and cognitive components, and for that reason, there was a lot I could do.  In yoga I learned breathing exercises and stretches to calm my central nervous system.  With my dietician, I learned which foods would help settle my mind.  I knew that walking and listening to uplifting music would do a lot for my mood.  I knew that I needed daily exercise and eight hours of sleep.  I had an entire toolbox of cognitive strategies that I could use when my thoughts were spiralling.

I knew that if all of these tools weren’t enough, I could see a doctor and get medication to help.  And I knew that if, God forbid, I had persistant suicidal thoughts, I could seek help through crisis resources.  I never needed to pursue either of these avenues, but they were there in my toolbox nonetheless.

But this is not how “depression” was portrayed on Facebook.

First, there were “awareness” posts about how people struggle with depression everyday, and it is a physical illness just like diabetes.  Then, there were people who had a diagnosis of depression, who posted that this purely physical illness could flare up anytime, and they could be the next to die.

My thought was that if they are actually getting proper treatment, they should know they do not have to be the next to die.  Drugs alone are rarely enough.

I felt horrible reading these posts, and I talked to one of my friends about how negative Facebook had become.  She recommended some positive pages to follow.  I did, and I put them at the top of my newsfeed.  But then one of these pages joined the “it’s going to be me next” conversation.

I tried joining the conversation, sharing my experience.  But my voice was just one of many in a very destructive echo chamber.  People believed they were ill, that they had no hope or control, and they would only hear other voices confirming that.  I did my best to leave the conversation.

At the same time, I noticed a number of my relationships were changing, as I was changing and growing.  A lot of my friendships were based on the notion that we were both ill, “broken,” or “crazy.”  The difference in our paths became obvious in the prevailing conversations on Facebook.  It became clear that we had very little in common, other than our diagnoses.

They could not understand or support my new direction and achievements, and I could no longer give them the validation or co-misseration that they needed.  I realized I needed some distance, and that I needed to spend more time interacting with people who were supportive of the course my life was now taking.

As I agonized over this, one of my friends urged me to deactivate my account for 48 hours, to give myself some breathing room.  I did, without telling anyone I was going to do it, and my mind immediately calmed down.  I gained some clarity about what I needed to do next.

Strike Three


By the end of 48 hours, my next course of action was obvious.

Facebook was convenient, but the cons far outweighed the pros.

  • It was sucking up hours of my day.
  • It was an echo chamber for negativity.
  • People said things on Facebook that they would never say in real life, not in a good way.
  • I was never happier after spending time reading my newsfeed, no matter how many people I unfollowed.
  • The negativity on Facebook spread, while the positive messages just seemed to fizzle away.
  • On Facebook I felt pulled toward slactivism.  I wasn’t going to change any lives by posting about my positive experience in overcoming my challenges.  In real life, I at least stand a chance of making someone’s day brighter.

So I pulled the plug.  I messaged the friends I wanted to stay in contact with, and gave them my information.  I downloaded all of my photos and videos (as well as the recipes that my friends had posted!).

Someone recently asked me if I missed it.  The answer is easy: not at all.  I am more present in my daily life.  I am more mindful about the people I choose to spend my time with.  And I am finding my voice.

At first glance, it can be easy to assume that the echo chamber of social media would help me to find my voice and articulate my thoughts.  But it always led me to seek validation, and, as was the case with the mental health issues, it led me to feel crushed and intimidated by the echo chamber.  Just having the space to think clearly and begin to speak my truth, has been amazing.  It’s increased my confidence significantly.

The first time, I left Facebook, my reasons were more universal, almost political.  This time, they are all personal.  Someday, I might create an account again, and be very careful about the people I connect with.

But for now, I’m just enjoying real life.


Frugal Living, Minimalism

Lovin’ the Flip Phone Lifestyle!

rotary phone

When cell phones first started to become a thing early in our marriage, Rob and I weren’t too sure about it.  It was bad enough having a land line that could ring at any time when we were home (unless we were online!), and we couldn’t afford caller ID.  Why on earth would we want people to be able to bother us when we were away from home?

All of that changed when Rob’s parents had the opportunity to add us to their contract for $10 a month.  That was much less expensive than the $80 we were paying for our landline!  We inherited a hand-me-down Razr and were in business.


But that didn’t mean we actually took it with us anywhere.

Nope.  We velcroed our cell phone to the wall, right where the land line had been.  It was a perfect place for it, and much less bulky.  And did I mention it was cheaper?

Eventually, the price went up and we had to get our own contract.  And even more eventually, we heeded the siren call of Smartphones.  First it was just one between the two of us.  Then my car left me stranded on the way to work, with no phone, so we acquired a second one.

We continued this way, chatting on Messenger while in line and checking Facebook and Reddit obsessively.  And it was okay.  We went on this way for a couple years.


Then it happened.  As I was walking down the dock at night, my phone slipped out of my hand.  I heard that haunting ker-plop! in the water below.  In the morning we saw it washed up on the beach, but it was too late.  The damage was done.

This event excited Rob a little too much.  Sick of constantly breaking Smartphones at work, he had already bought himself a heavy-duty flip phone.  He decided it was time for my conversion.

For a week, I had no phone.  No Facebook on the go, no Messenger, nada.  Then my Alcatel Go Flip arrived!  I now enjoy music, texting, and the occasional phone call.  And I actually do like it–a lot.


Here are some of the reasons I love my flip phone:

1.  It’s cheaper.

Any phones on Sprint’s network that don’t require data, are eligible for Sister Mobile, which is $5 a month for unlimited calling and 200 texts.

2.  I am not distracted by chats.

I had a love/hate relationship with Messenger.  I preferred chatting to calling, but being distracted by non-urgent, idle chit-chat took my attention from other things.  I spent a lot of time out in the world, not seeing the world, due to my Messenger conversation.

3.  I am overall more present.

Yes, checking Facebook is a choice.  And Messenger can be turned off.  But I do better not having those there at all.  It was strange not being able to reach for my phone the instant something became slightly boring.  But now I’ve found that downtime has become time to rest my mind and observe the world around me.

4.  I am happier.

Be honest.  Social media is filled with negativity.  Having less exposure to it had the surprising effect of improving my mood.  I had spent so much time glued to Facebook on my phone, and my mood was never improved after doing this.  I thought it was relaxing and stress-relieving, but it really was not.

5.  I don’t write texts that should be emails.

Like Messenger, it’s easy to get sucked into texting.  However, when you have to text using a number pad, it is much more time consuming to write long texts.  If I can’t get to the point quickly, I will ask the recipient for their email and write them back at my convenience.  And my convenience is not when I am out, doing some thing with someone else.

6.  I live less of my life through a filter.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still take pictures.  My flip phone has a nice little camera app.  But I have found that I experience more events without worrying about constantly taking and uploading pictures.  When there is no option to instantly upload, I am more mindful about what I do put online.  Because of this, I am living my life, rather than constructing it as some sort of reality show.

Getting rid of my Smartphone was a nice, small step that ultimately led to me deleting my Facebook account.  I will tell you about that in my next post.

What pieces of technology have you found that you are happier without?