Simplicity

Slow Living Series (Part 2)

How slow living has helped my family.

Slow Living with kids

Moments. 

Our whole life is compiled of moments.

And, the most precious moments are made with the ones we love. 

But, what if we aren't present during those important moments. What if we were distracted? Stressed? What if our life passed by and it's too late before we realized that we don't get a do-over. What if we blinked and our children were adults and we missed the extra snuggles and light lisp of their toddler voice? What if our significant others felt unloved or unimportant because we didn't take the time to just sit and listen and BE?

Most of my favorite memories are simple moments. The ones where I felt truly connected to another human being.  And my favorite human beings are my family.

When I embraced Simplicity and slow living I found myself savoring these moments so much more. I made my family a priority and I vowed to honor them by being present. What do our children want most out of life? To feel loved. What do our children need the most? Time with us. How do we strengthen our relationships with the person we love? By showing them we care by being present.

Yes, life has demands such as jobs and errands. That said, how much of what we do can be eliminated? Saying yes to too much, trying to please others can inadvertently dishonor our priorities. 

My mindset shift evolved slowly. I started doing LESS. Saying no more. Stopped the frenzy to keep up with the Joneses. I was driven to pursue my books but no longer desperate to out earn or out succeed the competition. I did things on my own time.

Instead I sat and watched. I put down my phone. I let the dishes sit in the sink and enjoyed my kids. I had long, leisurely dinners with my husband. I have days where we have absolutely no commitments and we do what we want. And sometimes that's nothing! What has it done for my family? Well, my kids are HAPPY, truly happy and tell me all the time. My husband and I have been together for 10 years and are stronger than ever. We aren't perfect of course, but our relationship is solid. 

At the beginning, living in the moment can be stressful. You may want to check your phone, you may worry about missing out (FOMO), you may worry if you are doing "enough". You are. Honoring your family priority.

I get that the idea sounds good in theory but may seem impossible. Start slow like I did! Take a few things off your calendar. Politely decline. Cancel if you have to. Put an alarm on your phone that says family time each evening. Pretend your on vacation and have no worries in the world and sit and look at your significant other and listen to their day. The laundry can wait. Better yet, delegate work if you can. 

Unhurried time with family is the BEST time. 

I strive to be an available member of this family. Here with them, present in the moment. I never want the people I love to think the phone, computer, self imposed deadlines, activities, or housework is more important than them. Nothing else matters.

Happy Slow Living!
Gretchen

Read more about slow living here: Slow Living Series Part 1

To delve deeper into embracing a Simple lifestyle and WHY, order my book Simplicity

Slow Living Series (Part 1)

How slow living has helped my relationships

Gretchen Stewart

We are hyper-connected but yet feel disconnected. We are in a hurry, rushing from one obligation to another.  Information bombards us constantly. We eat on the go. We "schedule" time with our friends. We are Pinterest Moms all while running our side hustles. Debt, stress, insomnia, caffeine cycled with alcohol in order to deal.

A few years ago I felt that pressure too.

But I gave it up.

For good.

Before I wrote my book Simplicity I started to embrace a slower, more intentional lifestyle. I decided it was time to take control of my life or I was going to completely burn out or.....end up on my death bed asking "What was it all for??".

Slow Living can mean different things to different people but to me it's about being present in the moment. Not keeping up with the Joneses. Being mindful about what I do and who I do it with. Caring less about a little mess but instead savoring the moment. Deepening relationships. Letting go of excess. Being flexible and spontaneous. Saying yes! And saying No thanks!

The benefit I want to highlight today in this Slow Living Series is strengthening relationships. When I embraced simple, slow living I weeded out negative people from my life (or at least decreased my interaction with them as much as possible). Instead, now I invest my time with people I like, respect and trust and vice versa. Quality over quantity. 

I'd much prefer a relaxed afternoon of conversation than rushing to different events and making small talk.

My effort goes to people that I enjoy spending time with, that challenge me and accept me. We are the sum of the people around us so it behooves us to choose wisely. Life is too precious to squander away our time with people that do not value or appreciate it.
 

Tell me, do you wish your life was slower? How has your busy lifestyle affected your relationships? Or, how has a slower lifestyle helped your relationships? I'd love to hear!
 

To read more about Slow Living, check out part 2 of my Slow Living Series here

Happy Simple Living!
Gretchen


 

You can order a digital copy of my book Simplicity below:

 


 

 

It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.
— Mother Teresa

Letter Contest

Simplicity Letter Contest

Simplicity Letter Contest

I am writing a book titled "Simplicity" (brief summary below) and am offering a contest to have a short letter you write featured in my book. If your submission is chosen, you also receive a free signed copy of Simplicity once it is published! I will be picking up to 10 letters to be included in the book.

Simplicity is for people who want to eliminate overwhelm and learn to cultivate a life of freedom, focus and joy.

In this revolutionary and refreshing personal growth book, author and philanthropist, Gretchen Stewart, simplifies how to take an intentional and intellectual approach to this increasingly complex world. Using personal anecdotes, real life letters, and a common sense perspective, she tackles the complicated struggles of the modern era. Each chapter is designed to help you:

-Decrease the stress of daily demands and increase focus
-Learn to live unapologetically with intention and authenticity
-Create a life of freedom that you love

Simplicity will bring clarity as you deconstruct the stress-inducing complexity that keeps you from being your best you! You’ll learn how to rewrite your life; it’s time to stop task-list living, and become an authentic work of art. Simplicity isn’t just a philosophy, it’s a way of existing. Eliminate the overwhelm and start cultivating your life of freedom, focus, and joy. 

Contest Guidelines:

  1. Submit a short letter (2-4 paragraphs) on your feelings regarding subjects listed below. What your thoughts, concerns, difficulties and perspectives are in your words.
  2. If your submission is accepted, your short letter will be in my published book either without a name or first name only.
  3. Once the book is published, you will received a free signed copy from me
  4. Submissions must be your own words
  5. Once your submission is accepted, I own the copyright and can print and publish the words. You will sign a consent that I can use your submission in my book Simplicity.

Details:

Subjects and letters you can submit:

  1. Do you feel comfortable being creative? Why or why not?
  2. How much time a day do you spend consuming media such as TV shows, movies, social media? Do you find it hard to focus on tasks or are you easily distracted?
  3. Do you own more stuff than you need? Do you feel you have many things but always want more?
  4. Do you feel at peace with your life (calm) or do you generally feel stressed and chaotic? Why?
  5. Do your kids have activities each night and on the weekend? Is your calendar full of tasks and to-do lists? 
  6. Do you feel free to be your authentic best self? Do you show the world the real you? If not, why?
  7. Do you say yes to everything you are invited to do even if you don't want to? Why?
  8. Is  the impact of consumerism and global warming a concern of yours? Why or why not?
  9. Do you feel your daily activities and action are done with intention?  Or without much thought, just autopilot? 
  10. Are you happy? Why or why not?

When:

I will select winners on July 15, 2017. You will be notified by email. If for some reason, your letter is taken out during the editing process, you will still receive a signed copy of my book as a thank you for your time and acknowledgement that you won.

Thank you so much for participating! Feel free to reach out to me with any questions regarding this contest and good luck! The more honest, real and raw you are in the letters, the higher probability you will be chosen!

With love,
Gretchen

How to Submit:

Please fill out the form below or feel free to email your submission to howdy@sunshinepress.co
Thank you, Gretchen

Name *
Name
Gretchen Stewart

Gretchen Stewart uplifts the world with her writing and speaking sharing unique insights that have brought her joy, purpose and peace. She is the founder of Sunshine Press and the author of multiple bestselling books and founder of the philanthropic Joy of Living Project.. Hosting Joy Of Living Masterminds and Retreats in exotic locations worldwide, she is able to help transform others with her indomitable spirit.  From the innovative philosophy of her “Joy Manifesto,” to her published books on overcoming challenges and finding joy, to inspirational speaking; Gretchen is an unstoppable dervish of positivity. She lives in sunny Florida with her amazing husband and two beautiful children. Find her on gretchen.bio and sign up for her VIP Insider for upcoming books, exotic retreats, online classes and more.

Living With Intention

LIVING WITH INTENTION: PART 2 OF THE FREEDOM SERIES

freedom series

My lifelong journey to joy has had potholes, roadkill and dead ends. Thankfully, between the tribulations came the epiphanies and 17,000 watt light bulb moments exploding shards of wisdom inside my head.

One of the biggest fragments that joyously stabbed me in the brain recently was deciding to cultivate an attitude of intention (in everything I do). I chose to simplify and adopt a more minimalist mentality where purpose is everything.  Viewing things in this new way has made me increasingly AWARE of what I do and why I do it. Minimizing the “stuff” in my life has made room for self reflection. I internalize my actions and my purchases which causes me to pause and ask myself things like:

“Do I really love this? Does it bring joy to me?”

“Will doing or saying this offer value to others?”

“Am I doing this for fulfillment or achievement?”

“What is my intention for doing this or buying this?”

I’m still in this ever evolving process and learning more about the mindset and myself daily. I started by reading books, watching documentaries (Like “Minimalism”) and culled the overabundance of “things” I had. Curating what I allow in my life brings me joy….I’ll only be keeping and doing what I love.

This was something I was drawn to when I first moved to Costa Rica in 2009 with just a few suitcases and a pocket full of Fight Club quotes like “The things you own, end up owning you” & “Reject the basic assumptions of civilization-especially the importance of material possessions”. Yet at the time I still had a $145 a month storage unit in Albany, NY as my security blanket.  I had the right idea but a few missing pieces to the puzzle. Although I did embrace a simpler life while living there; when I moved back to the U.S. I found myself filling my closets and house yet again. I’d constantly “get rid of stuff” to simplify (as I loved the aesthetic and it felt good to get rid of things) but I’d go back the next week to buy subpar clothes and stuff I didn’t need at the nearest Marshalls and TJ MAXX.

I was drawn to minimalism but the exploding light bulb didn’t happen until I sought out mentors and found a plethora of information and insights in books and online. It was then I was able to connect the dots and thus truly and fully embark on this leg of my joy journey.

There is something that happens to when you learn to let go. You realize you don’t need as much as you think you did to be “happy”. You start to live life on your own terms instead of what the marketers “trends” are that month.

Minimalism isn’t just about the aesthetics and having a clean and simple home….although I truly feel like I can think better without chaos around me. Minimalism also isn’t just about digital declutter (damn that feels good too though!). Yes, it’s about keeping only what we love as far as material things. It’s also creating the exact life we want by our own rules. I am now intentionally shaping my life of meaning and substance without the distractions of other people’s agendas.  

 

Here are some intentional things I’ve done so far:

  • Cleaned out my home- closets, junk and spice drawers, pantry, kids toys, clothes and “decorations”. We are only keeping what we love!

  • Computer- cleaned up my desktop, got rid of unneeded documents and photos

  • Iphone- erased all unused apps. Turned off all notifications and erased some social media

  • Limited my scrolling on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to just a few minutes a couple times a day. I love connecting but do not want to spend my day on other people’s terms

  • Cleaned out my inbox on gmail. I deleted ALL unnecessary emails and put what I did want to keep in specific folders. I also unsubscribed from newsletters I did not love

  • Gave away, sold and gifted things that we only “liked”

  • Stopped making page long to-do lists. I have 3 goals for each day and that’s it. My day mostly comprises of honoring my top three priorities in life: my health, my family, my creativity.



What this has done for me already:

  • I have WAY more free time than I ever imagined I could have with 2 young children

  • The simpler, cleaner environment relaxes me and boosts my creative spurts

  • The kids play by themselves even longer. It’s crazy, but with less toys they are more inventive and never bored.

  • I don’t have to clean as much as it’s already pretty clean!

  • Living with intention gave me more time to create instead of consuming other people’s creations.

  • Saved MONEY! No more binge shopping. Everything is intentional and essential. I literally only buy what I love now.


What I'm not:

  • Done: I have a long way to go!
  • Perfect: we are all a work in progress. Also, there is no right and wrong way to be a minimalist. We set our own rules and do and keep what WE love

It is my intention that this article inspires you.  This is not a “right or wrong” way essay on how to live. This is just one leg of my personal road to happiness and joy that may help you too. The more I curate my life, the more I fulfill my purpose of serving others. If this serves you, please feel free to share!