Closing Your Year with Presence

Let the closing of your year be like the setting of the sun!

How will you close your year? Will you stay busy, distracted and unconscious? Or will you choose this precious time to slow down, to reflect, to soften and to heal? Let the closing of your year be like the setting of the sun. It is a time to slowly surrender into the nighttime energy of stillness.

Get our GIFT to you here – the simple guide to close your year

Each day, each year and even a life follow a cycle set by nature. This cycle contains an opening, working and closing. The opening is the natural time to awaken and get present. The working piece is about engaging and movement. Last, the closing time is to slow down and reflect.

Our nature guide for this cycle is the sun, our source. Each day the sun shows the way to align with our natural rhythm by rising, shining and setting. And isn’t it sweetly perfect that our bodies are attuned to follow the sun’s lead?

The rising sun slowly works her way over the horizon, taking her time to lighten the night sky. The invitation to your body is to slowly wake up by opening your eyes, stretching and changing from soft nighttime clothing to daytime.

The shining sun offers warmth and light. She gives you the energy to move into action and creation. This is the time to engage with the changes presented by life.

After a full day the sun sets and surrenders back to the earth and darkness. When the outside world gets dark it is time to stop! You know how your body feels at the end of the day. Just imagine sitting by a fire, in your most comfortable chair, and letting your whole body and being relax. You slowly close your eyes and your mind drifts through the day. You let your body be the setting sun.

To deepen this gift, set aside a day to let yourself wander back through the year and reflect on the following:

  • What did I accomplish?
  • What were my disappointments?
  • How did I heal?
  • What did I learn?
  • How did I grow?
  • Who have I become?

Then take your insights and create a simple theme for the next year. It can be a word, a phrase or a picture that inspires you to create what you long for next.

Such as… I open and close each day with sacred stillness.Yearly Close Catalyst

We will be here to support and witness you,
Marla, Kate & Team

The article “Life Matters: Closing Your Year with Presence” first appeared in the Catalyst Magazine.

Celebrate Life Instead of Stuff

Magic happens when you choose presence over presents!

We want to celebrate this Christmas by sharing our family stories…

Marla’s Story

The older I get (I am now 55) the more I am drawn back to my childhood Christmas. Just imagine 10 kids – the noise, the chaos, the hugs, and yes – the presents! But with ten children, there wasn’t much money, time or energy. So we got creative about sharing experiences rather than stuff.


My daughter Jessica & her sweet kitty Izzy! We are honoring their sacred connection right now as Izzy’s life came to a close on 12/16. We love and miss her.

My parents led the way. My mom kept her eyes and heart open all year long for precious little things to give her children.  I was always amazed at the treasures she found. It was her “knowing” of each of us that felt magical. My dad often made gifts for us – like the super cool hobby horse that my son played with and I just passed on to my sweet nephew. My parents showed us how to celebrate simply and deeply. It was all we knew and it felt rich! Here are some fun memories that still live in me today –

    • My favorite memory was coloring together. We could do it for hours. My daughter Jessica and I just spent an evening coloring by candle light!
    • Then there was singing around the piano and caroling for friends. Music was the glue that kept us connected.
    • I will never forget sledding for hours until we were frozen and then warming up with yummy hot chocolate.
    • Our favorite part of gifts was getting creative with the wrapping. We would spend hours joyfully with paper, ribbons, bows and other things.
    • We turned big refrigerator boxes (that my dad dragged home) to little elf homes that we could sleep in to catch Santa Claus. We always stayed up as late as we could but never caught him.

So this year I feel like I have gone full circle. I care most about getting precious time with my family. This is my first Christmas without my kids in my home. And we lost my daughter’s two kitties last week that she had grown up with. So my heart is heavy and also sweetly full. I am now with my wonderful man, our dog and kitty. My son David, daughter Jessica, daughter-in-law Isabel and family will come visit us on Christmas Day to play games, sing songs, color, and just be together.

We are not doing stuff. We are taking in the very sweetest of all gifts – each other.
Kate’s Story

In Clutter Clear Out Celebration I shared that my little family has spent the last 2+ years clearing our possessions and ultimately becoming minimalists. This way of living with less stuff has given us more time, energy and money to experience day-to-day life in ways we had not even imagined possible.

Clear & SIMPLE

My 12-year-old son, Trace, is one of the most kind, patient and compassionate people I know. Here he is with his 3-year-old cousin.

This has also shifted the way we approach Christmas. Last year we decided that instead of GETTING we wanted to focus on DOING. We would continue to set aside our monthly “Christmas Savings”, but if something came up that we wanted to experience, like meeting friends at Disneyland or in San Diego; doing extra fun things when loved ones visit; or going out on an extra family date night, we would spend some of our Christmas Savings to do them. Throughout 2015 that is exactly what we have done and it has been awesome!

As we neared this holiday season we talked about taking the “Doing” to a deeper level, “Serving”. This lead my son to serving Thanksgiving Dinner to people in need with the Youth Group he belongs to. During the evening he had a personal and powerful interaction with a woman in which he felt a deep sympathy for her scenario and a strong gratitude for his own. He came home and told me that he was planning on donating half of all of the money he received for his December birthday and Christmas. My heart burst with pride for his kindness and selflessness.

In addition we decided that we would spend half (give or take) of our remaining Christmas Savings on a family struggling to make ends meet. As we purchased things they NEED, like towels, sheets, a first aid kit, we all felt most grateful for all that we have and for all that we can do for others.

Although it is still a daily practice, we are deeply in love with simple living and are ecstatic to see what we get to DO and how we get to SERVE in 2016.

Our wish for you is a simple & sweet holiday!

Marla, Kate & Team

Gift Wrap Deserves a Home Too

Containers make everything better!

Where are our container-lovin’ peeps? You all know how much we love The Container Store for all of their savvy solutions, but do you feel the same? Perhaps these holiday gift wrap storage options will sway you. We were in The Container Store just the other day and were checking out the options…pretty great stuff right here!

We chose 3 different options at 3 different price points. No surprise that they have something for everyone and every budget!


This handy-dandy organizer has pockets for greeting cards, ribbon, bows, wrapping paper, bags, supplies and accessories. Smartly-designed pouches make retrieving supplies super simple. Rolled paper is held upright by velcro straps to keep it from being crushed when it is hanging, but easily release in order to fold the bag in half.

TCS Hanging Gift Wrap Organizer

This nifty a-frame stand holds up to 12 rolls of wrap plus ribbons, bows, gift bags, accessories and supplies. It is light-weight which makes it nice and mobile. A hook at the top makes storing it in a closet a cinch.

TCS Gift Wrap Work Station

The primo in gift-wrapping solutions, this cart can hold wrapping paper, bags, tissue, ribbon, supplies and more. It includes 3 small drawers and 2 large drawers and has a Melamine top. The fine mesh weave prevents small items from falling through. (more…)

Top Ten TIPS for a Sweet & Simple Holiday!

The best gifts are sometimes the simplest!

The holiday season is in full swing and as much as we wish that everyone could move through this time joyfully and easily, we know it will be a challenge. We are here to help simplify this time with practical & meaningful tips. See below for our GIFT to you – all our top tips for home & holidays!!

Tip for your home: Restore Time.

Give yourself the GIFT of a simple restore for your space.  Take just 5-10 minutes each day and 30 at the end of the week.  Set a timer and go around gathering the homeless items that have been dropped on the tables, chairs and floor.  Then take them to their proper homes. Yes, we know you get busy but we want your space to feel good and support you. Even the youngest can put their toys away. You can always put on Christmas music and make it FUN!

Tip for your holidays: Make your own traditions.

It’s your life and your choice. Create your own meaningful traditions based on your family’s current values and desires, not just what has “always been done.” Why not set aside an evening in front of the christmas tree – go around and ask each person in the family what would mean the most to them? Then consciously choose and deepen your traditions.

Here are a few ideas from our lives –Clear & SIMPLE, Family Sledding

  •  a sledding day
  •  reading before bed
  •  giving to a needy family
  •  a game night each week
  •  a theme for the year
  •  making home made ornaments
  •  caroling with a group of loved ones
Wishing you a magical and soulful holiday season,
Marla, Kate & Team

Get all of our TOP TEN TIPS for Home & Holidays in this eBook.

This is our GIFTClear & SIMPLE, TOP TEN Tips for Home & Holidays to you during the holidays!

Feel free to share this with others in your life.


What matters most?

Only YOU can say what matters most in your life!

December can be a time to slow down (rather than speed up).  As the sun sets earlier we now have long evenings to sit, read, write and share with loved ones. Before technology came, we sat around a roaring fire or the big, wood dining room table and we talked. Wouldn’t it be sweet to give yourself this softer way of being?

So before you get too busy with the holidays and start bringing more stuff in, we invite you to take an honest, deep look at your life. By simply getting still and reflecting back over the year, we can open to what matters most!

We invite you to set aside an evening or a morning to ask and answer the following queries. Then share with your loved ones and ask what matters to them.

What means the most to me right now…

  • in relationship with myself?
  • in my intimate relationship?
  • in my family?
  • in my home?
  • In my friendships?
  • in my work or creations?
  • in the next steps of my path?


** Get a printable version here.

Joyfully surrendering to the slowdown,
Marla, Kate & Team