A month of mini fresh starts

[NOTE: keep scrolling to see the full list of mini fresh start articles below]

I think it was the cadre of sketchy leftovers in my fridge, plus the sticky dark slurry pooling beneath the vegetable crisper, that officially triggered the “oh man, I’ve really got to get myself back together,” sentiments that I’m feeling today.

In other words, it’s time for a fresh start. Or, in my case, it’s time for a month of mini fresh starts. Here’s a list of 30 things I’d like to try in the next 30 days to give this upcoming new year a simple living, fresh-start feeling.

Join me! Follow along on Instagram as I share more details about these simple living fresh start ideas, plus share your own experiences with January, dealing with long winter days, and how you’re keeping things simple as you start off a new year.

a month of mini fresh starts

1. Clean the fridge
2. Give your skin a break and go bare-faced
3. Try hot salad
4. Find a south-facing window and soak up the sunshine
5. Get outside
6. Take a 60-second clutter-busting pass through the room
7. Try a convertible garment
8. Update a corner in your home
9. Replace a disposable with something reuseable
10. Clean an overlooked space
11. Light a candle
12. Eat a fancy dinner at home
13. Get a plant
14. Drink a new hot drink
15. Bake a cake
16. Try/learn something new
17. Unsweeten something you normally sweeten
18. Remove a chemical from your beauty or cleaning routine
19. Replace a synthetic with something natural
20. Play a game
21. Give a gift for no reason
22. Write a note to someone
23. Power down your screens
24. Take a spending break
25. Go to bed early
26. Make bedtime luxurious
27. Leave something undone
28. Leave something empty
29. Have a “nowhere to go” day
30. Make something smell good

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I’m pursuing a simpler life, but not for the reasons you think

I’m standing over my thirty-year old blender (a hand-me-down from my husband’s parents) watching two cups of peanuts slowly blend. The sight is mesmerizing. I watch as the chunky pieces get smoother and creamier as they spin.

This process of me stalking my blender lasts for four minutes, which is about how long it takes my old blender to churn the mix from chunky to creamy. It’s time I could be spending doing a long list of other far more reasonable things. But for that moment it’s just me and the peanuts as they transform into a creamy spread.

“Um, what are you doing?”

I turn to see my husband entering the kitchen to refill his water glass. We’ve been married for over a decade, so by now he’s used to finding me doing weird things on a Saturday afternoon.

“Making peanut butter,” I answer matter-of-factly.

“Of course you are,” he says with a slight shake of his head. Likely fearing that I’ll drag him into a talk about the process (he’d just endured one about Castile soap and hadn’t fully recovered), he quickly ducks out of the room, heading back to his dark TV den to watch Netflix. I know what he’s thinking: Why doesn’t she just buy peanut butter like a normal person? In fact, we already have a jar of Jif in the pantry. It’s in perfectly good condition, and still halfway full.

But what fun is that?

And that is the answer that sets the foundation for this simple living project. Fun.

The movement toward voluntary simplicity (and it’s more recent offspring, minimalism and zero waste) has been around a long time (monks, for instance, have always embodied simple living), and there are many reasons people are motivated to join in. Two of the most popular reasons are a concern for the environment and a rejection of excessive consumerism. Additionally, people are looking for ways to reduce the stress, debt and distraction of busy, technology-saturated modern living. And while I share many of the same sentiments, here’s the real reason I love simplicity:

Because I think it’s fun.

I wanted to address this motivation right from the beginning because I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about me. I don’t have an agenda. I’m not trying to convert people. I’m not on a soapbox (well, maybe a small one, but it’s built on pleasure, not preaching). Yes I’ll share my opinions, and I can’t help it if I’m persuasive (I am—you’ve been warned). But for me, no level of earnest conviction and reasoned principle is enough to make someone stand over a blender for four minutes on a Saturday afternoon creating something from scratch that can easily be purchased for the same price. I just doesn’t make sense.

Reader, there are A LOT of things about living a more simple life that don’t make sense. These choices are inconvenient. They require sacrifice. They sometimes cost more money, not less. And in the face of true problems in the world, they frequently seem meager and impotent. And yet in the midst of this reality, I still blend peanuts into creamy paste because I find the process irrationally pleasing.

This irrational and irrepressible delight in small, simple actions is what motivates me, and what I hope to share here.

So welcome to the site. Here’s what you can expect:

  • my simple life “lab” experiments where I showcase homegrown challenges, initiatives, and projects I’m conducting to move my life from complicated to simple
  • journalistic-style updates about the movements of minimalism, zero waste, and volunteer simplicity, including people who are doing inspiring and innovative things
  • reports on the environmental and economic impact of our increasingly complex lifestyle choices, including the toll of consumption on us and on the planet

All of these, God willing, will be delivered with cheer and fun. Life’s too short! Simplicity is about moving toward more meaning, passion, freedom, and peace. I aim to make the journey irrepressibly delightful. Join me!

–Steph