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Monday, March 23, 2015

The Less is more Project: Week 12 - Building the life you want

Storebukkebruse, Flickr

Spring cleaning time!

As you gradually become aware and get rid of superfluous possessions, activities and even relationships, you will probably want to replace them with things, pursuits and people that really matter to you. But instilling revised priorities in your life is rarely an easy task. Making new habits, just like making new connections, takes time and dedication (and some amount of trial and error).

Get running

Allowing ourselves to be defeated, however, is not an option. Obstacles are in your way? Just tackle them one by one. For as long as I can remember, for example, I wanted to be a runner. Slight problem: I suffer from asthma. As I was to discover once I started covering miles, I also have a tendency for various running injuries. It took a long time for me to finally achieve my goal of running a half-marathon. If I had focused on the difficulties, I would have abandoned early. But instead I decided to 1) get the help I needed (which could be, depending on your issues, a mentor, a trainer, a physio, a doctor, etc.) and 2) be consistent about my training (and cross training). A little bit almost every day, with a gradual increase in time, distance and intensity, eventually showed results. Spring is a great time to start running. I encourage you to give it a try!

Get writing

There is something else I have wanted to be ever since I was aware of the possibility: a writer. I have always written. Between a personal diary, a collection of pen-pals, the writing contests I participated in, my Master's degree in creative writing and this blog, I have always spent a lot of time writing, and felt great about it. When it came to publishing for money, however, I was not so confident. According to pretty much everyone who has tried, publishing is hard: no matter how good a writer you are, you need to master the art of the "pitch", which implies a very specific writing style. On top of that, your stories have to be a good fit (in contents and in timing) for the publisher... otherwise they will likely end up in the recycling bin. Rejection is common and a thick skin is a requirement. Thanks to the lessons learned from running, I knew I needed both accountability and sustained effort in order to reach my writing goals. I asked a writing friend to be my "coach" (in exchange, I would train her for a race). And I wrote. Daily. When inspiration was not there, I focused on my web presence instead - it was a form of cross training. Just like running, writing does not always go well. Some days you wonder why you even bother at all. But if you keep at it, the results are sure to show. Here is a recent published article of mine - click here (warning: it's about sex).

Now that you are eliminating what should not be part of your life, what are you replacing it with? What changes are you making? What challenges do you face, and what strategies are helpful? Please share in the comments.



Call me masochistic: I went to the shopping mall. That's where my hairdresser is located, and I needed a cut. It was hard to walk by all the stores knowing that I would not purchase anything, even if I saw something nice (which I did). Spring is here, and it's all the more tempting to "refresh" your wardrobe. I had to remind myself that I don't need anything. (This should become my new mantra.)

Donations (good riddance)

In the past week, we received over a meter (more than 40 inches) of snow. Dealing with that (shoveling) and the ensuing cancellations (school, March Break camps, etc.) means I have been running behind, work wise. This is also income tax and report cards time. Consequently, I have been very busy, and I did not donate anything this week. I will make up for it next week.


I bought a new pair of weightlifting gloves. The previous ones were disintegrating and pretty much useless. The dead lifts, the chin ups and the monkey bars (I am training for a Spartan) were very unpleasant without gloves (as if they were not challenging enough as it is). I am aware that for many people, weightlifting gloves are not a priority. This is an individual matter. There are many things I can live without that most people consider essential, but I don't want my training to be affected by a simple lack of gloves.

Limiting your purchases to real needs is a great way to discover where your priorities are.


One of the main reasons I embarked on this Less is More project was to become more mindful of my consumption habits. I felt like I was not fully appreciating the things I owned and acquired anymore. 

If life has been reasonably good to you from a material point of view, you have the ability, even if it is occasional, to splurge. Whether you splurge on inexpensive things (like filling your shopping cart at the dollar store), on moderately priced items (such as clothes/accessories when you buy for no other reason than "feeling like it") or on high-end items (e.g. regularly adding to a sports car collection), whenever you go on a shopping frenzy you experience mindless consumption. You are giving yourself a high, but you are also robbing yourself of the real appreciation of acquiring one new item that you have dreamed about for a long time. By shopping less, you will make the act special again.

Or... maybe, after refraining from buying anything for an extended period, you will feel less tempted to go shopping altogether? This might be happening to me. 

What did you resist this week? Did you donate or get rid of anything? Did you face any challenge? Please comment below! And...

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  1. My health continues to be my biggest challenge. My health and my partner's health.
    Small victories though. I managed to convince him that he didn't need to retain a tired t-shirt with holes in it (and he is an incredible pack rat). More weeding done.
    And this evening I am again donating time to the crisis line.
    I do admire your running...

    1. Health is really the basis of everything. I hope it gets better! Take care.

  2. Weightlifting gloves?? Oh the slippery slope, the kingdom is lost for a bit of leather, lol

    Going to the mall was a good idea. A counselor friend of mine, after I told him my parents were frustrating me, said to move in with them and face the battle full on!

    On your writing accomplishment, you've gone where no medical school anatomy class has gone before, bravo!!

  3. Loved your story about obstacles and running. Not to long ago, a friend told me a saying, “Obstacles are the fear you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” Your story brought that to light for me.

  4. I like that room you have pictured. I almost forgot to read the post as I was mentally arranging furniture and lighting, adding a cosy mat to the floor....

    1. I like it too! Keeping everything light is a good way to feel relaxed in a room.

  5. A good week here and it will be next week as well. We are switching rooms around and taking the opportunity to get rid of things. I have been casting glances at my computer and wondering if my life would be better without it??????

    1. Great! Moving (rooms or houses altogether) is a great "excuse" to get rid of things. Computer wise, I cannot get rid of it since I use it for work, but maybe it's different for you?

  6. On the subject of your published writing: hear hear! I've been irritated for years by people talking or writing about their vagina when they mean vulva or the more generic term, genitals.
    when reading such posts, I've never bothered to mention it but maybe I should start.

  7. "As you gradually become aware and get rid of superfluous possessions, activities and even relationships, you will probably want to replace them with things, pursuits and people that really matter to you."

    Not sure I agree. If the idea is downsizing, then replacing things, people or institutions has the potential to bring on more baggage. *potential*

    I threw away my career this week and dropped a few friends in the process. I guess replacing my career with a job is also a substitution, but I won't pursue another career; just seeking a mindless labor job where I can be alone with my only true friends -- my thoughts.

    By the way; as a former exert in the field, I will always argue against gloves in the gym -- especially for pulling exercises such as deadlifts and lat Pulldowns. Gloves make the hand smaller, and fatigues the forearms sooner, thus minimizing the potential of the lift.

    You don't have to believe me though, since I'm no longer an expert ;-)

    1. Hi Roy! Well, I certainly agree that replacing things, activities or people has the potential of bringing on more baggage. Hence the necessity to do it very mindfully.

      As for gloves, that is an interesting point. How do you deal with your palms folding and pinching then? Or maybe I just need to grow more calluses, LOL

    and that is so so so huge here for me.


  9. I do like the picture you've used at the start of your post. It is good to see the way the sunlight comes through. That's why I like Spring the light improves and almost imperceptibly we start to feel lifted ..... and I'm sure you will like it when all your snow disappears.

    Hope your week is going well

    All the best Jan

    1. Yes! The sun is good right now. We still have 6-foot tall snow banks though.

    2. Can't say I've ever experienced 6-foot tall snow banks !

      Hope you have a good weekend, weather in the UK is still a bit mixed but I'm planning a good walk ........

      All the best Jan