Our simple summer.

This summer was one of the greatest testimonies of how living with less gives us the opportunity to LIVE more.  Kate Fehr

Nothing calls me back to the most joyous times of being a child like summertime. Vivid memories of waking up without alarm clocks, spending days in the pool with friends, and traveling through the mountain states are always front and center come May. Since I first became a mom, my desire has been to have lots of summer adventures with my son and let work simmer on the back burner. This, of course, is easier said than done.

When our minimalist journey began over 4 years ago, I had no idea just how powerfully it would support my deep desire of keeping our summers about play and connection. During those 2 years, and 25 layers, of releasing of stuff (we moved through lots of emotion too), I had no idea how this would set us free to really experience life!

This summer was one of the greatest testimonies of how owning less and doing less gives us the opportunity to LIVE more.

  1. We spent four of the last five weekends in a row out of town, with the fifth weekend fully engaged in a 40th birthday celebration and a wedding. We were essentially not home for FIVE weekends in a row.
  2. We spent 5 days in Idaho to experience the totality of the solar eclipse. My son even missed the first 2 days of school, which he was not excited about at first, but it was one of the more moving experiences of our lives and we are most grateful to have been there.
  3. While we were away from home, whether traveling or just doing regular old things, we were able to be fully present with the people and activities we were experiencing.

 

Clear & SIMPLE

My son and me goofing around in anticipation of the eclipse.

 

Because we live simply with less stuff and all of our stuff has easily-accessible homes:

  • Packing and unpacking is quick and easy. This makes preparing for trips stress-free and getting back into the swing of things a breeze.
  • We usually don’t have vacation hangovers from the stress of vacations.
  • Upon returning home one weekend much earlier than expected, I wanted more playtime. We got home, unpacked, started laundry, put everything away, and then had plenty of time to go to Snowbird for Oktoberfest and a hike.

 

There was a time when I spent SO much time, energy and money organizing, and re-organizing closets, drawers and our garage. Once I no longer had as much stuff, I was able to spend time on what matters most to me. None of it is worth all of the beautiful memories I have as a result of letting go.

Minimalism simply is about living with the things you truly use and that truly add value to your life. It’s a very personal experience and journey, one that I invite you to try out for yourself.

All my best,
Kate

Time for Slow. Time for Simple.

This blog was written by Kate Fehr of the Clear & Simple family. It’s well worth a read as the summer flies by too quickly.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. It also bring me to reflect on what has become my focus and to step back a little and slow down. We all get caught in the hustle and bustle of life and demands of work. A little reminder to slow down is always a good thing. So sit back, slow down a few minutes and read this lovely blog.

We could all use a little big dose of slow and simple.

I was sitting outside my son’s basketball practice reading and enjoying a new book. I overheard two parents reconnecting after being away for the summer. “How was your summer?” The woman asked politely. “It was great, but went by so fast! How was yours?” The man inquired. “Oh my gosh, so fast. I think it was the fastest summer ever and I was not ready for school to start.” She replied.

I sighed deeply in empathy for I have also experienced just how fast life goes by. On the other hand I also felt grateful for Our Simple Summer that rolled by at a sweet pace; something I know was very intentional on my part.

As I lamented over the “too fast” culture we live in, I continued to notice scenarios before me as parents zipped in and out of the parking lot, some dropping kids off and some picking kids up.

  • One mom talked aggressively on her phone as her son climbed in the car and they drove away. Been there.
  • A father was urging his son to hurry up and tie his shoes to get into practice. Been there.
  • Another woman pulled into a spot, tapped her fingers impatiently while watching the school door. After about 15 seconds she jumped out and ran into the school to retrieve her son. Been there too.

After many layers of simplifying our stuff, our time and our lives, my family’s approach looks very different than what I witnessed. We leave the house with more than enough time to get there. Our phones are put away so that we can be present with each other to talk, sing and laugh all the way. We arrive early giving us a bit more time to connect. As my son hops joyfully out of the car and saunters into the gym, I push the driver’s seat back, kick my feet out the window and dive into a book.

This particular day I was reading a fantastic book called In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed and was on chapter 8, Work: The Benefits of Working Less Hard. Over the last 6 months my soul has been begging me to bring my work life into alignment with our minimalist energy. The combination of this book, a couple of months of summer sweetness and experiencing the fast-paced madness of my fellow humans, has created a great urgency in me to make this happen right away.

Barely making it through the day over-stressed, overly disconnected, under-nourished and under-inspired is certainly NOT the kind of life I want to live. How about you?

With lots of love,
Kate

Favorite Summer Blogs

I want you to have a memorable summer! Enjoy some of my favorite blogs for a fabulous summer. Whether you are playing hard, slowing down or just wanting to simplify, please take in the wise words of the guides below… Marla Dee Find Your Joy this Summer, by Jinny...

A Sweet Summer

My entire adult life I have fantasized about having a summer off. I have dreamed of open time to play, to be in nature, to be a kid again. This year my dream is coming true. At the age of 58, I have lots of open space on my calendar. And I know how fast the summer will fly by. So I am taking today to go through the See It and Map It steps for my summer. I invite you to do the same.

Marla Dee


I recently read the blog The single most important thing you can do to simplify your summer  and I was deeply inspired to get clear on what I wanted most. Here is a short excerpt:

What did you long for most from your childhood summers?

For me, it was freedom. Delicious freedom from predictable schooldays. Freedom to lay in the sun, devour ice cream, and float for hours in a turquoise pool.

My summer longings have not changed much. A sun-drenched break from the routine sounds too good to be true, honestly. As a working mom, however, I know poolside paradise will elude me. Instead, the season will welcome busyness. 

From where I sit, summer’s two major opponents are sky-high expectations and the pressure to “do it all.” Corporate socials and family get-togethers. Planning a picture-perfect getaway or entertaining kids from dawn ‘til dusk (and then some). Then there’s laundry and groceries and shouts of “who left the screen door open again?!”

The tension is palpable. Often times, our knee-jerk reaction is to purely survive. Sanity, money, rest—these are common sacrifices on the altar called Summer.

But believe it or not, a simpler more satisfying summer is within reach, regardless of our individual situations. The pursuit is straightforward and anyone can start today.

It boils down to pausing before the chaos and tuning into your desires.

Time for the SEE IT. MAP IT. & DO IT. Steps!

 

SEE IT:

 

If you could choose a word or theme for this summer, what would it be? My summer theme is Summer Sabbatical.

 

MAP IT:

 

Sit down with your loved ones and ask what do you most want to do for –

 

  • fun & play
  • travel & exploration
  • project time
  • relaxation & healing

 

My choice for fun is 2 motorcycle trips with my man Bob, for travel I am taking a road trip to my home town of Bozeman Montana for my 40 year high school reunion, for projects I am creating a family picture wall in our new home, and for relaxation I am sitting on our deck in the evenings to wind down and breathe in the sweet country air.

 

DO IT:

 

Now take your map it list and put those things on the calendar. Make them happen by putting them first. 

Get more on the Clear & SIMPLE Systems here
Get our Top 10 Tips for Summer here

 

Your Guide Marla Dee. I love teaching the Clear & Simple Way to live free of clutter and get organized at last.

Top Ten Tips for Summer

Top Ten Tips for Summer

SEE IT – get in touch with what is most important to you

MAP IT – make it happen by writing it down on your calendar

DO IT – then enjoy each event to its fullest!


  1. Put FUN First – Choose the most important fun activity and fill up on the juicy energy it offers.
  2. Before you leave on vacation – make two copies of each document in your wallet. Keep one in a safe place at home and take one with you to put in the hotel safe. Then you are prepared if anything should happen.
  3. Connect with the Earth – Choose one morning or evening each week to be your time to connect with the earth – a long walk, sitting outside under a tree, a bike ride, or soaking up the sun. Let this be a time that fills you!
  4. Garden – If you want to garden but just never have the time, plant a container with a favorite flower or vegetable. You will still enjoy gardening but on a more manageable scale.
  5. Family Passes – Buy a family pass to your favorite summer place, then as a family review the schedule of events and mark your calendar with those you don’t want to miss!
  6. Three Most Important Things – Every morning, when you are planning your day, write down the three things that truly matter most that day. The sense of accomplishment that you will feel when you complete these three things will free you to do other things.
  7. Organize Last Years School Papers – Make a date with your child to spend an afternoon to go through all of the papers you saved from the last school year.Lay them all out on the dining room table or the floor. Enjoy reliving the last year. Then choose the keepers and treasures. Next simply three hole punch them and put in a fun binder so your child can look at it whenever he/she wants too.
  8. Birthdays, Graduations, Weddings – Take one hour and make a master list of all the birthdays, graduations, and weddings, which are coming up this summer. Keep a copy with you so you can jot down gift ideas and have it handy when you are shopping
  9. Weekend Project – Take one weekend, pick one project, (i.e. a closet, pantry or storage) and using the Clear & Simple Systems (see download below) organize the space. Then mentally let go of the rest and enjoy your summer.
  10. Keep it simple, take a deep breath. Our favorite app for simple breathing and meditation is headspace.com

We would love to hear from you – what are your favorite Summer Tips?

Marla Dee & Team

Download a pdf copy of our TOP TEN TIPS for Summer.

Get more guidance with SEE IT. MAP IT. DO IT. © and S.T.A.C.K.S. © by downloading our Systems Card.

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