6 Things I've Let Go (and Haven't Missed!)

"Life is chaotic. But we can choose to live it differently.  It doesn't always feel like it, but we do have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions." - Tsh Oxenreider

I've been working my way through Tsh Oxenreider's new book, Notes From a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, and it's been helping me to take a serious inventory of how I want to spend my time, energy and money.  Tsh is a blogger and founder of The Art of Simple (formerly Simple Mom) and anyone who has read her work for any amount of time will tell you that she has a fantastic way of writing about her own life in a way that acts invitingly as encouragement to her readers to examine their own lives and create the lives they want to live, rather than just living the life you assume must happen.  

As I was reading, I started making myself 2 lists, one of things I want more of in my life and one of things I want less of in my life.  Not surprisingly, the list of things I want in my life more doesn't include much in the way of costly endeavors: writing, flowers, cooking, quiet time, gardening, wearing comfy clothes, reading, going to the library, messes, going to bed early and waking up early, swimming, being outside, moving my body.  Things I want to do less: school commitments, meeting, running around, shopping, tv, organizing, cleaning.  It was interesting when I started to actually write things on the lists that I had a very clear preference for things I can do at home versus obligations away from home.  It's startling sometimes to see such a clear division right in front of you on paper. 

Taking a deep breath and truly accepting that we can make the choices that are way down deep in our hearts and guts, even if it feels like we're going against the grain, feels huge.  But that's the things about this book: Tsh has an incredible talent for making it feel possible without feeling completely overwhelming.  So I pushed on with my list-making and, as I made a list of what I want to have more and less in my life, I added a third list.  It's a list to share with all of you of the things I've already chosen that have served me well (sometimes surprisingly) so far in the journey to live intentionally. 

1. Traditional Cable: This one was the best decision ever and one that probably seems less extreme to you now than it would have even a year or two ago.  I begged my husband for years to agree to cancel our cable and he was always hesitant.  He basically agreed one day last summer and I called the cable company as fast as I could dial to turn it off.  Believe me, we still watch tv.  We got an AppleTV because we got it for free and we still have Netflix and Hulu, so we have plenty of options, but it has been SO awesome to not just pop the tv on all of the time.  I realize that it's easy for me to say because I watch the least tv of all of us, but the kids don't know the difference and John has told me more than once that he thinks it's great to not have it. 

2. Toys:  Feel free to call me Scrooge, but if I'm being honest my preference would be to take all of the toys away. Our house is small, I hate bins full of "stuff" and teaching my kids where things belong feels like a constant exercise in futility. Until about a year ago, I practiced the whole "I'm going to rotate their toys so that there aren't as many" idea. What didn't work was the sea of toys that wound up in the basement because my "method" involved me hitting my breaking point with messes and going in with a big container in the dark of night and filling it and taking it to the basement. So we wound up with tons of boxes and containers of toys in the basement that I never actually got around to sorting.  Last summer I couldn't take it for a second longer and instead of sorting them, I got rid of almost everything. The craziest part was that the kids helped me without any protest! We hauled the boxes up from the basement and we all made a deal: They could each choose 5 things they couldn't possibly live without and I could go through and choose the other things I thought we should keep and the rest of it would get donated. They were surprisingly completely fine with it all. We've, of course, accumulated more since then, but it still feels good to just immediately get rid of things when it all feels like too much rather than throwing it in the basement.

3. Books: I read a de-cluttering post about books one day a few years ago and went completely nuts and got rid of 90% of our adult books. I realize that this may have made you gasp and that it is blasphemy to so many, but it's been about 2 (maybe even 3?) years now and I can say with conviction that it was one of the best de-cluttering decisions I've ever made. It goes hand-in-hand with the decisions in my life that make it better because having less stuff is always, always a better answer for me than trying to organize all of the stuff I have. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE books and have at least 5 going at any given time. I used to firmly plant myself in the category of saving all of my books and needing them for a home to feel cozy and comfortable...until I got rid of mine. I started going through the titles and sorted out anything that I had never read or had read only once. Anything that I had read more than once and/or referenced more than a few times got to stay and it has resulted in a small cabinet of books that we really love rather than two full bookshelves. It's visually less chaos and less to take care of in our home and that always makes me happy.

4. Commitments: I'm working really hard on this one and I've made so big strides over the past year or two to consciously say no to things that don't enrich our lives in some way. I still fail at this regularly, but I try to make a conscious decision every so often to clear the heck out of my calendar to make up for that and it always, without fail, forever and ever makes me breathe more easily and makes me a happier person. It's HARD. But I hate the feeling of obligation that comes from adding a commitment to my calendar and dreading it because we have 50 other things going on. I want to prioritize and have time for family and saying no to other stuff is the best way to be able to do this. 

5. Email Lists: It's a seemingly small thing, but the list of ways we're sucked in online in a day in endless, so I decided one day to stop spending time on email sales/newsletters/info unless they were from someone or something that I truly want in my life. One of my favorite tips ever? If you want to get less email in your inbox, search your email for the word "Unsubscribe." Anything that you're on a list for will have an unsubscribe option in the text of the email and show up in the search and you can unsubscribe to tons of junk email in a matter of minutes! If I plan to be shopping and want coupons, I search retailmenot or couponcabin before I shop to check for coupons and in the interim I'm not wasting time daily falling down the rabbit hole of clicking links to sale emails I get and dream shopping for things I can't afford. (Tell me you do this, too?? Dream shopping is when you fill up your virtual basket pretending that you can buy anything you want...only to realize 20 minutes later that it would cost you $2,785 to buy that "wardrobe" you'd love for spring and that you just wasted 20 minutes! I'm trying really hard to stop this habit.) 

6. Working at Night: Seriously, I'm the WORST at night. For so long, I tried to write/edit photos/send emails at night because it felt like the logical time when kids were in bed and everything is quiet. Except that I'm the worst night person ever and trying to do things at night makes me cranky and makes everything I do take 3 times longer because I can't focus. So I started scheduling time to get this stuff done. An evening each week away from the house for a few hours and the time when Nick is at preschool is usually enough and, when it isn't, it means that I spend one or two timed hours in the afternoon during the week while he watches a movie or reads or plays. It makes me feel so much better to not be working long into the night when I know I'm only marginally productive anyway.

How about you? What have you cut out of your life to make room for the things that matter to you?   

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of! To learn more and join the fun, head hereNotes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple.  Grab your copy here.

Note: I received a free copy of this book.  Absolutely all opinions are mine and I was so excited to share them for this book! 


  1. I did the book thing in November. It pained me, and I kept a small box (about 10 books) of my absolute dog-eared favorites. Anddddddd...I donate the rest. And it first it hurt my heart so badly that I thought I might cry, but our house was just not big enough to hold my book collection. I read A LOT. And quickly. So I accumulate books so quickly. The other thing is I asked people to stop giving me Barnes and Noble gift cards because I should be checking out from the library or downloading to my Kindle to stop the accumulation. I miss books and someday hope to have a house with a library - this house is NOT it.

    ~ Angelika

  2. The cleansing of books, did in fact make me gasp. But now I'm thinking... It would be hard, but maybe, I can declutter some of my book shelves. I do not believe in switching to Kindle, especially when I one day hope to see my own book in print, but I could probably pass along some of my favorites.

  3. I've got rid of my mind, because I'm in love and keep acting weirdly, so i got rid of regret, for an example. we have so many roads in our everyday life, but when it comes to love, it feels to me alright to hit the side walk. i got rid of my productivity and this better change. You see these great men write books and it all seems fine, but when you come to apply it: working with people with many limits, suffering from the lack of understanding to your goal orientated and, actually, pretty brilliant ideas... so, only love saves at the end of the day. love and be loved, no regrets on that


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