Simplicity: How Less Becomes More

One of the greatest freedoms I’ve come to experience is trading off the complicated for the simplistic. I’ve read that to the one who is given much, there will be much required. Living a life of simplicity became a pursuit for me to embrace that “less is more”.

My reasoning on this is that I can adopt the philosophy of Chickfila Restaurants. They do one thing, chicken, and they do it well! Sure they’ve added condiments and two ways to cook it and great lemonade and tea, and don’t forget the brownies. But they have focused on one task and have mastered it. It’s simple and delicious!

I’ve realized through this and other models that the times in my life when I get away or take a walk or escape in a great book, I am enjoying the beauty of simplicity.

By simplicity, I am not implying that everyone should downsize to a two room cabin and live off the land, although some of you would probably find that to be a cool idea.

For me, simplicity is managing my life. There is lots of freedom in: Letting people handle their business. Inviting and including family and friends and not holding the proverbial gun to their head if their plans aren’t an extension of mine.It’s packing light, in luggage and baggage. It’s having enough fluff in my schedule to be spontaneous if I choose to be. It’s having less for me to dust and more time to enjoy the things I love.

In my life personally as well as others, I have found a common link between having cluttered lives, disordered hearts and higher maintenance lives to be the enemy of creativity and motivation. I have also observed that it is a primary instigator in creating more stress.

I value time for fireside chats, walks, catching sunsets, reading, and a host of other activities that require no carry on bags, except maybe a cup of tea or coffee. While every moment and every day cannot be filled with leisure, simple and often pleasures keep me balanced and having the ability to manage my routine.

Simple living has afforded me the extravagant pleasure of being intentional in the moment with the people I choose to invest my life in. I feel that I can afford the time to really listen and learn. I can sincerely rejoice or weep in the moments that are defining in the lives of others.

I have learned through my experience that the best time I spend each day is praying that God directs each decision and encounter I will face today. I feel better equipped to show up and get into the game. I am alerted to little moments of cool happenings that I may have otherwise overlooked.

What are the little whispers you hear as you allow quiet times to refresh you?

Sheri

What Steps Can I Take to Live More Simply?

This journey isn’t so much about eliminating the number of shoes or books we own, the square footage of our house or giving away every non-essential item we own.

Simplicity, for me, has become the removal of the unnecessary things that tend to distract me from discovering and enjoying what I value most in my world.

5 Steps to consider if you want to live more simply.

1. Simplify your wardrobe. Adopting a minimal wardrobe has afforded me less stress when choosing what to wear each day. Eliminating items I rarely wear and only purchasing clothing, shoes and accessories that I feel most like myself in, has given me more time each morning and the ability to eliminate chaos.

2. Eliminate digital distractions. When meeting with someone, I intentionally allow my phone to take a coffee break. For me, multi-tasking simply means I am able to screw up two things at once! I work when I’m at work. I am intentional when I am in a meeting. I continually strive to remember that I own the phone, it does not own me!

3. Learn to be vacationally-minded in your work. Changing the mindset in how we view our work can transform the way we work. God designed us to create! Realizing that creating is our work makes getting to it a lot easier. If the goal is only for a promotion, prestigious title, or a larger paycheck, it will not be enough to fulfill us in the long run. On vacation, we are intentional in getting the most out of the moments we have and creating special memories. Focusing on seeing ourselves as ‘creative’ beings helps us to view our work as our gift or contribution to something bigger. We develop pure intentions and ultimately greater joy in doing it.

4. Learn to say no to things. It’s tempting to believe that saying yes to everything is the path to success. However, if we treat everything as a priority, we will not reach a high level of success. Unnecessary commitments and obligations can cause stress and friction in our relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. The ability to say no provides space to focus on the things we value most. It’s not about being involved in everything, but rather learning not to trade off “best” and settle for “good”.

5. Embrace the mundane. Life is truly lived in the morning coffee chats on the porch, car rides to school or work, standing in the grocery line talking to a neighbor, reading to your kids before bed time, caring for a loved one, walking the dog, and clearing off the dinner table as a family. It is these moments that we often hurry past. Yet it is these simple memories that last a lifetime. These are the experiences that write our story and shape our lives.

I invite you to consider what ‘keeping it simple’ could mean for you…

Sheri

What is the Value of Living Simply?

I don’t know exactly when I fully realized that what I really enjoy is a small, slow, simple life!

It’s here where I recognize that truly special days can be a rainy afternoon and a good book, or a lingering lunch with a friend or loved one where we reminisce about the goodness of God or share the ups and downs of life.

Enjoying simple things allows me to manage my stress and reserve my energy for the unplanned and unexpected times and be prepared to respond in a manner that will not bring regret.

If I allow it, life can be a noisy place with loud voices pushing or driving for me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete, and grasp for more. All the striving can leave me drained of joy and wondering if I am simply not enough.

When I stop spinning, I can listen for God’s still, small voice whispering for me to know that He is in control.

What if I never really achieve accolades beyond the people who are my primary circle of impact? What if life as I have chosen it is good, even amazing, in light of the fact that my heart is fully engaged?

Since leaving the frantic pace of life and learning to not keep up, I have found that I truly enjoy solitude and calm, an abundance of rest, and swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy.

I have found great delight in sharing my deeply rooted faith, doubts and insecurities, in quiet ways and through genuine relationship with some very special women in my life who have invested in me.

We haven’t had a fairy tale romance and I follow hard after God to be the wife that will always be for Jeff’s best. This keeps me humble and I need it!

I am a mom who delights in her girls and in knowing they are free to choose their appointments with life. I consider it a special privilege to affirm and support them in their passions!

I seek the Lord often to learn to embrace my limitations and stop railing against them. I am at peace with who I am and what I need and believe it to be an amazing gift of God to walk in this knowledge.

I enjoy a simplified life. A beautiful, quiet, gentle life. And for me, it is enough!

Sheri

How Can I Live a Life of Passion?

How Would You Describe the Speed in which YOU Do Life?  Life balance isn’t about having it all or how many plates you can juggle, but more about relinquishing what doesn’t work for you so that you can be rightly aligned and fully intentional with what does.

Resisting the Hindrance of Resistance…Growth requires becoming an expert at navigating inevitable life change by learning to accept what you cannot change and eliminating excuses for not changing the things you can. Reflecting on where you and how you are impacted by things outside of your control is an excellent exercise for some super new habits!

You Are What’s Eating You… How much sleep are you losing, or how many ways are you indulging yourself over unresolved issues, relationships or projects? The more baggage we carry, the sooner we show signs of aging. So travel light to find the fountain of youth.

Live Free… Give of your resources generously. The level of your ability to freely give is directly proportionate to how ‘free’ you truly are. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Avoid the temptation to clutter your life or schedule with unnecessary weight. To the one who has much, much will be required.

Live Out Your Passion… Find ways to do what you love and share it with others. Express love as often as you are able. Do all that you do as if God were your employer.

Be intentional… All work and no play dulls our senses to the beauty all around us in the people love and the things we enjoy. Learn to adjust your speed of life to take time to smell the roses, experience the beauty of a sunset or the warm hug of a dear friend. The day may come, that you will be very glad that you made the effort!

Sheri

In Simplifying My Life, How Can I Learn Contentment?

Contentment is the fundamental pursuit in each area of life. We want to get the house painted or our certification completed or the kids grown or something that we are convinced will enable us to finally be content. However, it is really a condition of our inner person. Sort of an at-peace-with-me feeling. It is also a foundation to enjoying life and being intentional in the moment. Can it be done? If so, how?

1 – Practice delaying gratification. When you consider making a purchase, use patience and consider postponing the ones that are simply for convenience. If you end up purchasing the item later, it will be well thought out. If not, you’ll be happier to have saved the time and money.

2 – Evaluate the important areas of your life: spirituality, mate, family, work, friends, finances, health, personal development, rest / recreation, etc., and determine what defines your values in each of these categories. Such as, “for R & R, I need to be out in the fresh air and sunshine and I need unstructured blocks of time…”. This will enable you to establish a thought pattern around the way you make decisions in the important issues of life. The process for making better choices is made simpler because your values are defined and explain why you do things the way you do them.

3 – Make a focused effort to remain inspired and to be inspiring. Spend 10+ minutes each day reading something that inspires you. Journal what you glean from what you read, personal encounters, a movie you watch or just what comes to mind while you are in the shower. You will be amazed at how you can gain such positive perspective from your quiet times. Invest in others by offering an encouraging word in the way of a note, text or call to them when they are working on a particular endeavor or are facing a personal trial.

4 – Unplug from the technology of life and plug in to the simpler paths. Change gears for half an hour each day by taking a walk or a bubble bath. Find a neat little hobby such as painting or woodworking that you can enjoy and de-stress from the working hours in your day. Write a blog — oh, I resemble that! — on something that you have learned in an effort to enlighten others.

5 – Get a mentor – be a mentor. Spend time with people you admire and learn about their lives and interests. They can offer guidance in learning how to do things in a different, possibly more efficient way. Find ways that you can share things or teach a class around what you have learned with others who will benefit from your time. Show appreciation for what you learn and for the opportunity to share.

6 – Reach out and get to know a neighbor at home or work. Don’t worry, if you’re the new-bee you can still take the initiative. Every friend we have was once a stranger. Be observant in watching for common interests. Maybe you both have kids the same age or at work it may be someone who goes to lunch at the same time as you.

7 – Practice learning to be a great listener. By doing so, you will learn the true art of emotional intelligence and the high quality of “likeability”. When you work to listen to others at deeper levels, you communicate to them that you place high value on them and the time they spend with you. You will also learn how to take the focus off of your own personal challenges and you may very well find that you have a great friend and listening ear in place when you are in need of encouragement.

By putting these steps into routine practice for 30 days, you will be able to determine if your life can be defined as being more content. And, in turn, you can inspire others to do the same!

Sheri

What Would A Vacation-Mindset Look Like as a Lifestyle?

Consider the mindset that you enjoy on vacation. You are free to set your own schedule, not worrying about what you have to do today, not worrying about the time — just being — minus the anxiety. Now imagine the mindset of being busy at work: doing one task while being anxious about many others, worrying that you may not be doing the right task, interrupted by others, distracted and stressed.

These are two different mindsets, and yet, what if we could enjoy the vacation mind while working? Well, we would need to forego the lazing around, but the mindset could be the same. This has the potential to result in a more sane lifestyle, not just living for the weekend or the little vacation time we have, but the ability to navigate life so that we are truly happier every day.

How can this be done? We would need to practice and develop a few small habits that will make more sense as we go along.

What would the vacation mind look like at work?

Often just thinking about work tasks can alter our mindset from relaxation to anxiety: worry for what we need to do, deadlines, dealing with difficult people, information overload, being on the right task, even concerns as to whether we may be missing out on something important. (A life, perhaps :)!)

A vacation mindset lets that anxiety go and is simply present in the current moment. Time is less important, enjoying yourself is the priority. You let go of the anxiety. You aren’t worried about getting it all done, or doing the right thing right now, or all the things you have to do later. You are immersed in enjoying whatever you’ve chosen to do at the present moment.

So how would this look? You choose to work on a particular task, perhaps writing something. You, obviously, have quite a list of things to do but this is the thing you decide to work on at the moment. Could there be other things you should be doing instead? Of course, there always are and will continue to be. As for the best thing to do right now, the moment of perfect certainty never comes, so just pick something and do it.

Practice being able to enjoy the task at hand. Let other tasks take their rightful place, the time to do them will come. Immerse yourself in the current task. Focus on enjoying yourself as you do it. At times, you may mentally step back, come up for air and take a look at the bigger picture, and then return back to the project. This is what I like to call “laser-focus”.

And you can do this when you talk with a co-worker or client. You can do this with an important email, or processing paperwork/small tasks, designing something, programming, creating art, helping a patient or student. This is a learned strategy / discipline and it is doable.

We can’t just flip a switch and be good at these things today … they take practice, like any other skill. I can say that they’re worth practicing, even if you never master them, because they can transform your relationship with work.

Here are the practices that you can consider working on a little every day:

  1. Pick something, get immersed in the act of being creative. Focus on the enjoyment of creating something that is uniquely your idea. Being able to work from this relaxing mindset affords you the time to think with a higher level of energy. This will play out in everything you endeavor to do.
  2. Let go of anxieties. This takes practice. Learn to recognize when you begin to feel anxious and notice the source of the anxiety. This is typically focusing on an outcome you want to happen, such as, looking good in front of others, being highly productive, controlling a situation, etc. Realize the desired outcome is merely a fantasy, and other outcomes can work out just as well. Realize that holding on to this fantasy of how it should turn out causes stress. Let go and restore your creative energy mindset.
  3. Come up for air and see the big picture. Diving in is great, but it is also helpful to step back at times, and assess what is going on around you. Notice people who are nearby and if anyone needs your attention, how you’re sitting (and whether you’re sitting too long), etc. Is there an appointment you should get to? See the big picture, then go back into immersion.
  4. Be less worried about time. Time is important but we can be mindful of it while not being “lorded over” by it. It matters that we show up on time for appointments we have, paying attention to completion deadlines, billing clients etc. There are times when we can waste time worrying about the time we need to do or not be doing something. Practice a balance of being aware of when time matters and when there can be some leeway.

You may be considering if this is truly doable. The answer depends on you. You’ll be surprised what you can do — if you have the “want to”. 

Choose to Enjoy Each Day…….. Sheri

DownSize It, Please!

Wow! Don’t you just love those times in your life when it feels like you hit one out of the park?  Things just seem to fall into place like a well-greased gear and it is euphoria with sugar on the top!

I have longed to lose some weight in my life — off my hips (smile) and in the amount of items I own. It’s not that having stuff is bad or even undesirable. It’s just that there comes a point in life when it is just stuff and it doesn’t improve the quality of life. It does however, increase the responsibility in life.

Sometimes even things we buy for convenience can turn out to be less-convenient. Especially if we have to clean it, repair it, maintain it, remember to charge it up, or at the very least, walk or work around it.

I think that growing up in a small space is a contributing factor to the longing in my life to live with less. The two places I lived as a child, my house and my Grandma’s house. were small and cozy.  I’ve always been one that wanted to have all my favorite things nearby and to carry them with me when I travel. (I still enjoy a favorite blanket!)

I thought it was cool when I got an iPad because I could carry so many books with me everywhere and it was so easy. I’m not opposed to having the things I like. I’m just on a perpetual quest to be as efficient and effective in my life as possible, and to relinquish any excess that requires more responsibility without necessarily adding to the enjoyment of life.

So recently one of my dreams came true.

We sold our town home (3 stories which included 3.5 bathrooms) and transitioned to a small rental house for about 8 months and finally to an amazing one-bedroom apartment with a view that is incredible from our sunroom-office.

My hubby is Executive Director of The Fuller Center for Housing of Greater Atlanta (FullerCenterofAtlanta.org) an Atlanta partner of the non-profit Christian housing ministry founded by Millard and Linda Fuller, also founders of Habitat for Humanity.  The objective is to partner with families who are willing to put in sweat equity and demonstrate an ability to payback a no-interest mortgage to improve their lives. (A hand up, not a handout).  Our belief is that everyone deserves a “simple, decent place to live”.

This process brought us face-to-face with the reality that we neither needed nor wanted all of the “stuff” we had accumulated over 50+ years of life. We like the freedom of living simply and having more time to do more things that we love. We wanted to position ourselves to be more purposeful in where we invest our lives going forward.

It began in 2011, when Jeff and I got on the same page to pay off all of our debt and get rid of our credit card. It has been fun, challenging and so worth the effort. And we did it! (The best part is getting to encourage others who are recognizing similar desires).

Amazingly enough, 10 months after we paid off our last debt, Jeff’s company made some changes and his job was eliminated. God is amazing to have given us a desire (and we were in agreement!) and then when the challenge came, we were better prepared.

So we sold our town home and now, even as I write, we sit together in our office in our new apartment both working on our computers and enjoying simply being.  It is liberating to feel so unencumbered.

We still have life challenges. They are just much different than before. Since we just moved, our new apartment did not come with a microwave. So we are on an experiment to see if we really need one. It’s been 3 weeks and we haven’t really missed it — well, unless you call not having to clean it as something I might miss (smile).

Downsizing has often been considered an unpleasant thing to happen. Typically, because, as in Jeff’s job situation, it means losing something or having something taken from you without you having any say in the matter. But, when making a conscious choice to live with less, realizing that less of some things actually means more of other things, you can leverage the way you navigate your life in your favor and it is very empowering.

Opening up your life so that you become aware of the many options you have provides numerous opportunities to live intentionally and on purpose. That, my friend, is freedom in it’s truest sense!

Sheri Geyer is a Christian Life Coach, Writer, Speaker, Wife & Mom

Customize Your Life: More of What You Want ~ Less Stress

Often, when we eat at really nice restaurants we get an excellent quality of food as well as a smaller portion. We often feel very satisfied because it is adequate in portion and calories.
Cultivating simple joys in life was the major motivation for intentionally downsizing my schedule commitments and possessions. I wanted something more in life, more meaningful and more fulfilling. By eliminating the unnecessary clutter and bustle from life, there is time and space for small joys to arise and be fully appreciated for the richness they bring.

Understanding what is important in our lives allows us to rid ourselves of the meaningless things or activities that do not serve us well, without remorse.

Allow some cushion in your schedule. When we rush, we barely acknowledge what is happening around us and are more prone to elevated stress hormones and anxiety.

Be intentional in the moment.
Instead of always thinking of the next thing on our to-do list or schedule, being present allows us to recognize and enjoy the moments of joy as they arise. It gives us the opportunity to pay attention to details.

Go deeper. Greater joy can be derived in our experiences when we do not allow them to be simply superficial. Go deep with it, relish it, and store that moment away in your memory banks. These small joys are the moments that make life meaningful and fulfilling, therefore the difference in living versus living well.

Record special moments.
Journal about the moments that are treasured as a means of refreshing your memory of the beauty and contentment you have experienced around a particular event.

Do things you love.
Take time to ponder what you value and what you are passionate about. If we always do the “what has to be done” list, we rarely get to the “love to do” list. Reassess priorities to provide for productive fun.

Share moments with loved ones near and far.
A note or picture or phone call to connect can be one of life’s special times. Enjoy the beauty of simplicity in important relationships. This can make our worlds seem closer and more intimate.

List the must-dos, need-to-dos, and would-love-to-dos, and make something from each list a daily priority.

Just because a slice of something is smaller doesn’t necessarily mean it’s inadequate. Less is more in more ways than you may think.

Consider what life can look like, if you actually take the time to look at it =)

Sheri Geyer is a Christian Life Coach, Mentor, Writer, Wife & Mom