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This winter, I’m all about simplicity. I have this urge to strip everything down to the studs and focus on the heart and soul of my life. Perhaps it’s because motherhood demands I get clear about my priorities, or maybe it’s because I’m getting older and have less patience for nonsense, but whatever it is, one thing’s for sure: I don’t have time for complicated.
This means I’m doing a major edit in all areas of my life, including my closet, my relationships, my habits, and, most importantly, my thinking. It has become clear to me that a lot of my thinking is outdated. And so I’ve taken on a kind of Marie Kondo-inspired practice where I simply notice how I feel, trace that feeling back to a thought, and ask myself, “Does this thought contribute to my suffering, or elevate my experience?” So far it has been very effective in helping me 1) identify my patterns; 2) see clearly what I’m dealing with; and 3) rewire my thinking.
For example, I struggle with anxiety. When I feel anxious, it’s all just a big mess of worry in my mind. What’s more, I have very clear ideas about the sources of my anxiety, and I believe that if I could somehow change or control my circumstances, I would feel better. This pattern traps me in a victim / blame cycle that gets me nowhere fast.
Lately, I’ve tried the following approach: First I make space for myself by taking a walk, or doing something that brightens my mood. Then, when I feel more settled, I sit with my anxiety and follow the breadcrumbs back to the source. More often than not, the cause of my anxiety is not what I think. Rather than a specific circumstance—something I can blame for my suffering—it’s the story I tell myself about my circumstance and the beliefs I hold about my worth that trigger my anxious thoughts.
This work has inspired me to examine and simplify other aspects of my life. I’ve revamped some of my work flow systems to fix time and energy leaks I’ve tolerated for far too long. I’ve simplified some of my daily routines by being honest with myself about what I really need. I donated a lot of my clothes and now somehow feel like I have more to wear. I’ve created some strict boundaries around my bedtime routine. All of it has helped me feel clearer, and, frankly, better.
My winter mood board captures the spirit of my practice: simple, clear, uncomplicated. The contrast of black and white—light and shadow—reflects the “as above so below” relationship between my thinking and the way it makes me feel. The color white, as well as the use of white space, has always been essential to my sense of design, because it gives me the space to think clearly.
Life is complicated. We can’t always control our external circumstances, but we can minimize our suffering by examining the ways in which we contribute to the mess. As we step into a new year, my hope for us is that we prioritize practices that simplify our lives. The work starts from within.