Lifestyles Unlimited – Which One Is For You?

Life Lessons From The Newspaper

Growing up reading the daily newspaper was a vital part of daily life. I have so many fond memories connected with this daily ritual. Whether it was The Valley Morning Star in Harlingen, Texas, the Orange County Register in Anaheim, California or the Houston Post and Houston Chronicle, newspapers helped shape my life. It was a rite of passage – a very grown up thing to do.

Small town newspapers are the best. On road trips, I still stop in each small town to buy a paper to read that evening at the hotel. Often these are just a weekly editions, full of the latest comings and goings. All the news that is fit to print including social events to arrest records, editorials, school activities, a comic or two, and sometimes still, a Bible verse. These papers are the very essence of small town life; a treasure worth clinging to.

During my middle school years we lived in Harlingen, so the Valley Morning Star had the biggest impact on my life. Because I was in the band and school activities were published weekly, I got a real taste for seeing my picture and name in print. It is most likely the time and place writing really took hold of my heart.

My favorite columns at that time were Ann Landers, Hints From Heloise, and Erma Bombeck. One person dispensing common sense life advice, one teaching me how to become a homemaker, and the other providing humorous commentary on life. In many ways, the columns these women wrote were the precursor to the blogs of today. We all owe them a debt of gratitude, not only for paving the way, but also for all the practical life education that came from the pages of the newspaper each and every day.

Modern Day Advice

Somewhere along the way we went from Ann Landers to Maury Povich and our local newspapers to The National Enquirer and Entertainment tonight. But even those are old school today. Sadly, today’s youngsters get the vast majority of their information from various internet sites. Remind me to tell you the story of my granddaughter arguing the world is flat because she read it on a website…me rolling my eyes.

Women have always had plenty of advice on how to be a wife, mother, cook, homemaker, career woman, etc thanks to the above women and magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, and Redbook – all part of my early education as well.

Today newspapers and to a certain degree, magazines, may have taken a back seat to other forms of media, but there is no shortage of lifestyle advice out there just tempting us to try something new that will certainly make our lives perfect. Or so they say.

Which Lifestyle Trend Will You Embrace?

I know I am not alone noticing all the new and interesting life philosophies vying for our attention and dollars. First was minimalism, then a couple with names I couldn’t pronounce, but all with their devotees. Self help books line the isles of the book stores and the magazines…oh the magazines…are filled with the promise of a better or more peaceful life. It is so easy to fall victim to the lure of new, pretty and perfect. I speak from experience.

I am a magazine junky. It is a hard habit to control much less break. One would think in the era of Pinterest, magazines would be obsolete, and maybe they are to some, but to me they are paper treasures just waiting to be savored. Decorating and lifestyle magazines are my favorites and I have such a difficult time parting with them. And that is precisely the message of minimalism, which is where we are going to begin.

Minimalism Doesn’t Mean Barren

Mention minimalism to the average person and I bet this is what rolls through their mind.

There is an amazing documentary that can be found on Netflix called Minimalism. It is the story of a couple of guys who applied this philosophy to their lives, and became convinced of its value they wrote a book and traveled around the country preaching their gospel just like an old fashioned tent revival meeting. They would talk to as many people as showed up. Or as few. Today they have the book, film and a Ted Talk all on the subject of minimalism as a lifestyle.

Minimalism, like anything, can be taken to extremes and what works for one person may not work for another. The goal, as I understand it, is to minimize the extraneous “stuff” in ones life and home to a point of comfort and the ability to focus on what is important to the individual and their family unit. So rather than a rallying cry to get rid of everything and live with one chair per person, a simple examination of your life might be in order.

Intentional Decluttering

For me, the wake up call was reading the article “No One Wants Your S _ _ _.” I looked around at the furniture and things inherited from my in-laws, which made my home no longer look as much like mine as it did theirs, and decided I needed to take action. It is a work in progress but I now know that my daughter doesn’t want nor need her grandparents things much less all of our stuff. Because my husband has sentimental attachment to his parents belongings and he is a saver, I am limited on the action I can take. But what I can do is firmly evaluate my belongings, donating or discarding what is no longer useable or of personal value. It is a sobering experience but one that is well worth the effort.

This book makes more sense to me than most anything else I have read on the subject of minimizing and decluttering. Dana K. White shares her first hand experience, successes and failures with humor making this a very relatable and valuable tool in your arsenal.

My Minimal Mantel

Real life application looks somewhat like this. But don’t be fooled, I have carefully blocked the room on the other side of this fireplace for now.

I love to redress my mantel on a regular basis. Prior to this I had a collection of items, all in a theme, but yet cluttered in appearance. When I chose these simple pieces, each one shines on its own. I love these old aqua Ball canning jars. The one on the hearth with the fairy lights was my grandmother’s, the little metal art bicycle was made by my father, and the pillows in the basket are from the hands of my mom. The jars on the mantel have shells in them which connects to my photographs on the wall. And then a little Goebel bird statue, a piece of wood, hand felted “nest” and bobbin from a spinning wheel complete the vignette with such personal significance.

This little collection tells part of the story of me, providing a glimpse into my soul. Everything about this makes my heart happy, and isn’t that what our homes should really be all about?

Next up will be hygge and lagom – some wisdom from far away places. Until then, be sure to have fun today as it will never come around again.