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Minimalism Essentials

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

In the wise words of Helen Keller:

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

Although we live in an era when consumerism and all things fast and instant have taken over the world, there are still those who want to be more with less. It may sound depressing, but let’s look at it as an opportunity, instead!

This is our chance to overcome all the trendy cravings and enjoy true diversity of life without the need to possess. So, in an effort to make things simpler, the following list can be your own little to-do on your journey to becoming a minimalist!

 Photo by  Yoann Siloine  on  Unsplash


A Decluttering Mindset

Yes, spring is your go-to time to empty those drawers, donate those shoes and jeans, but in order to enjoy a simpler life, decluttering should be more of a permanent mindset. A way of being, if you will. Instead of constant hoarding, which is yet another consequence of consumerism, do your best to give and share. What may be just another pair of socks to you can be someone’s lifesaver during a cold winter day!

Do your best not to constantly postpone decisions for later. That’s how we end up keeping an excess of things which we don’t need and we don’t use at all. If it has a purpose, or even several of them, preferably, keep it! If it sits idly in your home, ditch it!

 Photo by  Alex Loup  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alex Loup on Unsplash

Decorate with Meaning

There’s a common misconception that a minimalist home is void of all personal things, and contains very few furniture pieces. Of course that you should pick your furniture according to purpose, but it’s no reason to keep character and charisma out of the process! In fact, in a minimalist home, those items that have the most emotional and personal value truly get to stand out, as there will be no clutter to suffocate their meaning.

If it was a gift from someone you cherish, or an item with a deep spiritual meaning for you, by all means, keep it, make it the focal point of your home! Add color and texture, play with styles, but don’t stuff your room just because.

 Photo by  Chua Bing Quan  on  Unsplash


Slow Down Your Style

Fast fashion is one of the cornerstones of consumerism, and as such, it deserves to be banished from our look-books for good. It’s great if you want to refresh your wardrobe with an occasional new item that is a reflection of your personal preferences, but we still haven’t seen anything defeat the little black dress in the quest of elegance.

The same goes for other multifunctional pieces such as the Birkenstock Arizona sandals, which are considered a staple of comfort-wear, and a timeless classic among footwear. Go for durable, long-lasting items, not just in terms of trends, but also in terms of quality, so that you can wear your stylish clothes for years on end!

 Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


Simplify Your Menu

Another common item on the list we tend to complicate is our eating regime. We buy so many products that are disguised as quick and easy, such as pre-prepared meals, and a whole slew of processed snacks. They might be fine as an occasional indulgence, but in order to lead a healthy, simple life, we should nourish our bodies with whole foods with minimal processing.

Fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds in their natural form are the best possible sources of vitamins and minerals that sustain our immune system and protect us from diseases. Add to that lean sources of protein, and you can easily mix and match a versatile menu without resorting to overly-processed foods laden with chemicals.



Invest in Sustainable Self-Growth

Curiosity and learning are the basis of progress, however, the means to an end should matter as much as the end itself. If you’re an avid reader, which is an exceptional quality you should nurture within yourself, you can still continue to expand your library without actually buying physical books. Instead, you can get an e-reader such as Kindle that uses e-ink, it stores around two thousand books, and it’s an excellent choice for reducing eye strain.

You’ll be able to help save the environment, as this is a far more sustainable way to expand your library than to support deforestation for the purpose of printing.

 Photo by  Leo Manjarrez  on  Unsplash


Finally, it’s vital to remember that there is no minimalist template that fits us all. You should strive to find your own, keep your mind open, and find the best possible ways to simplify your life, help preserve our planet, and enjoy your existence to the fullest!

 

Claire is a blogger and a Bachelor of Design from Brisbane, Australia. She is an aesthetic lover focused on meaningful living. She writes about fashion, art and consumers' habits in order to encourage her readers to live sustainably.


 
Minimalism Essentials | www.maplealps.com

 








Fun and Creative Ways to Learn New Things (Without Going Back to School!)

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

My mom is the best (hey mom!). She texted me the other day and asked if I liked my Audible subscription. Of course, I LOVE my audible subscription and asked her why she was even asking. She told me that she decided that she needed to learn more and that audiobooks was the way she was going to be starting.

Her initiative got me thinking: what are some ways to learn without going back to school? I’ve spent my whole life in school, and now that I’m a teacher, I’m still really there! As a teacher though, I believe in lifelong learning and inspiring others to do the same. So, with that in mind, I decided to come up with a list of creative ways to learn without going back to school. The world is full of things to learn and all sorts of opportunities! Take them!

This post contains affiliate links.

Fun and Creative Ways to Learn New Things (Without Going Back to School!) | www.maplealps.com

Listen to a podcast - there are so many podcasts out there on all different things! Explore to find one you love!

 

Take an online course or certificate - There are tons of courses and certificates you can take online. You could go the informal route and pick a creative online course from a place like Skill Share (try it for two months free using this link!), or even get your first aid/CPR training from Red Cross.

 

Sign up for a webinar - There are so many webinars on so many different topics! I’ve taken webinars on a wide variety of subjects. It’s fun to sit in front of the computer with a notebook to take notes on the new things you’re learning!

 

Embrace Audible - I love audible. It’s helped me “read” more since I have a long daily commute. If you're not sure about it, you can try it for 30 days free! (Use this link to try Audible for free and get TWO free audiobooks!

 

Learn a new language - Must I say any more? There are tons of free podcasts and apps (like duolingo) to brush up on or learn a new language. If you want to pull out the big bucks, I hear Rosetta Stone is pretty amazing!

 

Volunteer - find a new place to volunteer and learn new skills while at it! Think soup kitchens or animal shelters, or anywhere, really!

 

Take a class - many local spots offer classes for the community. Check the community college for a list! Try out your community centres and churches for classes as well - sometimes they will offer them for free!

 

Read the news - make an effort to read the news! A great resource I use is theSkimm - it’s a short daily email (it comes every morning) that gives you the days headlines in an easy-to-understand way! It has seriously helped me keep up with what is going on and people are impressed when you are informed ;-)

 

Travel the World - and don’t just stick to tourist areas. Do your research about the customs and language and history of the places you are going to! Connect with locals, try their food, and learn some phrases! You will love it.

 

Watch documentaries - skip the mind-numbing entertainment and watch a documentary. I like to watch a wide variety of topics. A few of my favourites are: Tapped, Minimalism, What the Health, Planet Earth, and Blackfish. 

 

Follow NASA on Instagram - Seriously, go do it. You’ll learn something new when you scroll through your feed! While you're at it, follow me too ;-)

 

Watch National Geographic on Snapchat - I’ll be the first to admit that I am horrible at Snapchat. I’m too old for it I think. But if you are on there, National Geographic has an awesome snap story each day! You can learn about unique animals and such!

 

Talk to People You Meet - I meet fun people all of the time! And listening to their stories teaches me a lot! I usually have the best conversations in coffee shops and hear the best life stories.

 

Join Facebook Groups - there are a ton of Facebook groups out there that act as a fun forum. Pick a topic you are interested in learning more about and learn from a ton of people!

 

Watch a Ted Talk - Skip Netflix. Watch a Ted Talk instead. Be inspired to do something new and learn something new as well.

 

Read Something You Wouldn’t Naturally go to - I’ve branched out and read books on all different topics in the last few years. From the keto diet to theology books, I’ve been consuming books on topics I wouldn’t naturally choose to read. And I’ve been loving it. It expands your brain and opens the world to you! Here's a list of my favourites!

 

Take up a new hobby - We started painting recently. Nothing fancy, since we aren’t artists, but watching tutorials and learning new techniques has been really fun. I’d love to try pottery next!

 

Listen to NPR - Switch on NPR in the car from time to time and learn some new facts!

 

Start a new exercise program - shake up your exercise program by trying something new! Add a spin class to your weight training, or amp up your strength training by adding a pilates class! Meet new people and learn new ways of moving!

 

Subscribe to an Educational Magazine - National Geographic or Time are good ones to start with. I subscribe to The Magnolia Journal and learn something new and inspiring every quarter.

 

Look Up the Back Stories to Songs - Look up some background info on certain songs or songwriters and blow your friends minds with the trivia. Fun fact: on some Spotify songs, you automatically see the lyrics and back stories!

 

Spend time with someone who knows something you don’t - Take a friend out and over lunch, listen all about their expertise. Or, just talk to a random person and listen to their stories. You’d be amazed at what you learn!

 

Try a new recipe - or two or three. Buy some exotic ingredients and experience your world widen through your tastebuds!

 

 

What are some ways and resources you use to keep learning?


 

Finding the Time

Lifestyle, Ask Amanda, BlogAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments
Ask Amanda: Finding the Time and Balance to Blog, Teach, and Have a Life | www.maplealps.com
 

Question: How do you find time to be a wife, teacher and blogger? Is that even possible? Can we have a glimpse into a day in the life of Amanda?

 

 

Honestly, I ask myself this question all of the time, so it is no wonder that it is the most common question I get! I wish I could say that I teach during the day and blog at night, but it really is not that simple. Teaching and blogging both require so much behind-the-scenes work and sometimes I wonder if I can manage it all! 

 

Learning how to say no has been the one thing that has helped me accomplish so much in these areas of my life. Choosing my priorities carefully has been important, as has to accept that both teaching and blogging are passions of mine.

 

We actually have more time than we think. A lot can be accomplished in 24 hours (including getting 7-8 hours of sleep!) when the time is used carefully and intentionally without distractions.

 

Blogging tasks are usually done over the weekend, and sometimes in the evening if I have some spare time. Long weekends and breaks are also used productively for those tasks (for example, this last summer, I queued 4 months worth of content). During periods that I have less time for blogging, I like to repurpose or update content so that I’m still keeping things fresh and up-to-date. Sometimes I’ll perfect a recipe. All of that being said, my teaching tasks always come first. Thankfully, I’ve got a knack for being productive and motivated most of the time. We all have days.

 

As for being a wife, it is sometimes hard to be intentional about that. Last year, my husband and I struggled to find enough time to even just sit down and talk (both for fun and for important things like the budget). The pastor/teacher duo is not always the best since his work starts getting even busier once I get home. There are always constantly meetings in the evenings between the two of us, and I try to go to bed early most nights to ensure I have enough energy for the next day. Also to ensure my immune system stays functioning.

 

We have started setting aside one evening a week for a “date night,” which really just means we spend the evening together. It could be playing board games, cooking together, or going out to eat, but we make sure to connect deeper than just a passing “hey!” We used to joke every Sunday, “see you next week!” We would literally not see each other for more than a few minutes a day depending on the week, so I hope to not have that as a reality this next year. I should also mention that my husband is fantastic at sharing chores around the house, which makes keeping things tidy much easier!

 

Finding time for personal and spiritual and professional growth is most important for me on top of all of the other things I do. One way I make sure to meet all of these needs is getting up extra early by 4:30 am to ensure I have time to pray and read my Bible. Another thing I like to do is to use my 40-minute driving commute to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. Sometimes on my way home, I'll call friends or family.

 

Exercising is another thing I try to find time for. Since exercising at ridiculous times in the morning is not for me, I have in the past chosen  to do it after I come home. There has never been a time where it hasn't perked me up and made me feel good - even if it's a short 30-minute walk around the neighbourhood, even if the motivation is hard to find after a long day sometimes.

 

It's all about using time wisely. I take one day per week to rest and recuperate and to focus on my relationship with God and others - one day where I do not do any work at all! It sounds counterproductive, but it truly is our original design and is a blessing!

 

If you struggle with making time for the things that matter for you, I highly recommend printing off or buying a weekly timetable and marking off all of the things you have to be at or do - including sleeping and eating! You may be surprised at the time you have left off, and the things you can fill those slots in with! Or with what you can shift to make a manageable timetable!

 

 


What are some of the ways you manage your time with tasks?


 

If you have a question, feel free to leave one below for a future segment of "Ask Amanda!"

 

So You Want to be More Minimalistic

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

Minimalism is something I’ve been working at for a few years now. I feel that I’ve always had some kind of craving to have less and to be surrounded and burdened by less. Even when I was much younger, I enjoyed throwing things out and organizing things, but it got to the point where I would get rid of things, but then accumulate more. It got harder and harder to let go of things. As I’ve mentioned in other posts before, it took going abroad for me to realize that I really don’t need stuff. I was perfectly content and well cared for with only 2 suitcases worth of things, and even then I didn’t use every item. Just over a year ago, I finished reading the life-changing magic of tidying up - and it was truly life-changing (I talked about it here). It got me re-energized to declutter and reclaim a full life - which was ironically not full of things!

It came down to choosing what brought me joy. I’ve had several requests to talk about some minimalist living tips, and so I’m sharing the steps that helped me!

So You Want to be More Minimalistic | www.maplealps.com

 

Envision Your Minimalist Life

Why do you want to live a more minimalistic life? What does your minimalist lifestyle look for you? What do you want to do in your everyday life? Write it down and consider it your “why.” Here are some ideas:

  • I will come home to a tidy home so that I have time to relax after work and pursue creative hobbies.
  • I will enjoy a bubble bath in the middle of the week just because.
  • I won't trip over things on the floor anymore.
  • I won't spend hours each weekend cleaning.
  • I will have a clear mind that is a result of a clear living space.
  • I will not be tied to materialistic things.

Write your list. Remember these things as you go through your next steps:

 

Say Goodbye to Your Unnecessary Things

My ultimate decluttering guide will help you best with this. I will direct you there rather than write it all out again. It’s important to let go of stuff that is just stuff. Keep what really brings you joy. The guide goes through all the areas of your house and just helps you get an idea of what you really should simplify. Find it here.

 

 

Quality over Quantity

Even though we are finished (for now) with school, my husband and I still have this poor student mentality. At the beginning, we would always choose what we perceived to be more affordable, just to find that later it would fall apart, or we just really didn’t like it. Seriously, never buy a bookshelf from Walmart. Haha. In the end, it was cheaper to choose the quality items we enjoyed right off the bat. It eliminated buying multiples as well. Quality will last and is worth the initial higher cost.

 

Choose to keep items that bring you joy!

 

Realize the fragility of Life

I know this sounds extremely morbid, but you will probably die someday. Do you really want to spend your days unhappy and surrounded by things that bring your life no joy? I sure don’t. I also don’t want to leave my junk for my children to clean up. I would rather leave a legacy of time they spent with me rather than the things I had.

 

 

Don’t Try to Do it All At Once

Step-by-step, friends! The decluttering process alone can take up to 6 months. You’ll get there if you keep at your convictions and chip away bit by bit.

 

Be Mindful

Think about the value that each of your curated items brings to you. This goes for everything from the physical things you can touch, to the apps on your phone and the emails you sscribe to. Everything should have a purpose and add to your experience. in some capacity. Of course, there will be things you have to keep that aren't necessarily too exciting, but reduce what you can.

 

Some Other Things to Consider Simplifying:

 

What are some of the ways you embrace a more minimalistic lifestyle?


 

Gathering with Intention and Simplicity

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps9 Comments

Growing up, our family had an open door policy. This means that anybody could come and be with us in our home whenever they wanted - and they would be treated like family. Nothing was off limits. Thanksgiving, Christmas, any and every long weekend holiday - anyone could come. This hasn’t changed. Now that I’ve moved away, I still hear about who came to what dinner or spent the night and it always is fun and surprising to hear about.

A year ago or so, we really tried to be intentional about having more people over to our home, but life gets so busy. This is true for anyone. There’s an increasing trend of being so busy with what we do in life, that we tend to neglect those we do life with. It seems that the art of hospitality is getting lost.

 

Related: The Myths and the Calling of True Hospitality

 

Relationships are so important. A few weeks ago on Instagram, I asked you to share some topics you would like to see on the blog. A few people mentioned the theme of hospitality and hosting others. Today I wanted to share with you how to host with intention and simplicity. These are some easy steps we took that worked for us when we decided to be intentional about sharing our home and showing hospitality to others.  I think it’s a very important thing to gather together to encourage one another, so I hope these tips help you as much as they helped us!

Gathering with Intention and Simplicity | Hosting Made Easy | www.maplealps.com

 

 

Write down some names

Write down the names of some people you would like to reach out to. Those you would like to get to know more, those who are going through a hard time and need ministering to, those who come to mind when you sit down to write down names. Pray about and over your list. I want to encourage you not to just think of your friends or those who can invite you back over. This should not be the purpose of your visits.

 

Find a reoccurring day in your schedule that always works for having some company over and start making phone calls.

For us, weekends are almost impossible to have people over, so we chose one day (sometimes two) during the week to have people over. Maybe the weekends work best for your schedule - that’s great. Block that time off and start calling the people on your list. Fill in the slots, week by week (or month by month depending on how often the schedule you set allotted for). We aim for twice a month. 

 

Don’t focus on a fancy meal

Make sure you have asked about food allergies or sensitivities before planning your meal. People will feel most at ease with an easy, light, healthy meal. There is no need to be formal when you are wanting to focus on relationships. The point of this practice is to touch hearts with warmness, not impress them with your cooking skills (though I’m sure yours are great too).

 

Make your home inviting

While every surface does not have to sparkle, your home should be tidy and neat. No one truly likes a dirty place. Light a candle or pick up some fresh blooms from the grocery store (or from your garden). Make sure any table linens you use are clean. You can even use cloth napkins (We do, but that’s because we don’t have any paper ones)! Serve your simple meal in pretty dishes rather than straight from the pot. Little touches like these will make your home even more inviting. Fun tip: if it's warm enough and if you have outdoor furniture and sufficient shade, sitting outside is a great idea!

 

Related: True Hospitality Made Practical: Three Easy Tips

Gathering with Intention and Simplicity | Hosting Made Easy | www.maplealps.com

 

Worry about souls, not table spreads

Make sure your conversation also has a purpose. Be encouraging, not critical. Be kind about everyone you speak of. Listen carefully and be interested in what your guests say. Help them feel at ease during their stay and offer a prayer for them before they leave.

 

Remember that they are there to visit with you, not your house

There is no need to be stuck in the kitchen all day. There is no reason to slave over polishing every corner of your house (or every piece of silverware) for their arrival. Your guests love you and they love your authenticity. They will appreciate the simpleness and ease in which you present your hospitality.

 
Relationships are so important! Gather with intention!
 

Do you gather with intention? Tell me about it below!