I think I've pretty much established the fact that January represents serenity and simplicity for me, so I thought this book would be a great one to read this month. I also love how pretty this book is, which is a huge bonus for me.
What it's about and how I feel about it -
Lightly, by Francine Jay
How to Live a Simple, Serene, and Stress-Free Life
In the introduction it reads, " As we go about our days, life can get heavy. We don't set out to burden ourselves, but we're naturally inclined to accumulate things - possessions, responsibilities, emotions - rather than release them. And when we're trying to keep up with work, family, and other commitments, we don't even notice the inflow. Before we know it, our closets are overstuffed, our calendars are overbooked, and our spirits are overwhelmed.
But here's the good news: It doesn't have to be that way. If we want, we can shake off many of those burdens and live more lightly."
Francine then divides the book up into the following four sections:
Lighten Your Stuff
Lighten Your Step
Lighten Your Stress
Lighten Your Spirit
Each section reads much like a magazine, in that there is a lot of good information, but not a lot of personal connection through stories and lived experiences. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing if you don't mind reference type books. You just probably won't feel very connected to the author, that's all.
In the first section, Lighten Your Stuff, she gives some good, practical tips on clearing and curating the things you own. This is something I've been intentionally working on for quite a while, so I didn't really find anything new here. There were a few points that I really did like, though. Here are a few:
"Sometimes you need to make a mess on your way to a more serene space." Isn't that the truth? I so often find myself avoiding the process of decluttering because I know it's going to get messier first. But it's also nice to be reminded that it's worth it in the end! I find that I have to just push through the initial first few minutes of a decluttering session and then it starts to lighten up.
She mentions the idea of having an Out Box to store things that you no longer want. I have to say that I've been doing this for a few years and it has changed my life. We keep a big laundry basket in the laundry room and anytime I realize I no longer need or use something, it goes in that basket. Once the basket is full, we take it to the thrift shop to donate. It has saved us! I agree that getting into a good habit of getting rid of things is what keeps my home from getting cluttered again. It's basically a lifestyle mindset that has been a game-changer at our house.
She then goes item-by-item and gives you tips on how to manage each item. Some of her tips just wouldn't work for me at all, but some were a little more applicable. I'm not really a fan of the concept of recommending a certain number of things as the ideal number. Everyone is different.
I only own 5 pairs of pants, but my closet is full of a variety of blouses that I enjoy rotating.
I'm willing to cut back on kitchen tools, but would get painfully bored if I only had three decor items in each of my rooms. Each of us has to decide what works for us.
But I do like the overall concept of being mindful of which things we can let go of. I always feel like the best thing is to enhance my life in the few areas that matter most to me, then simplify everywhere else.
I am going to point out one thing that she mentioned that has turned out to be the exact opposite for me. In her section about towels, she said "Don't feel the need to buy matching sets - that's how you end up with too many towels and sizes you don't use." The reason I wanted to bring this one up is because when we were going through one of our big purges and simplifying processes a few years ago, we decided to get rid of all of our mismatched towels and just buy 10 matching charcoal towels. This was another game-changer for me. Not only did it simplify our laundry day, but it drastically reduced the visual clutter in our bathrooms. I LOVE having matching towels and I never feel tempted to buy new ones because we have just what we need.
In the next section, Lighten Your Step, Francine gives several ideas on how we can be more eco-friendly. I do respect this concept, but tend to get overwhelmed easily. I find that it's best for me to stay aware of ways that I can do better, but not allow myself to get overly stressed about it. I try to move in gentle baby steps toward a more mindful approach. I like to take one concept at a time and improve in that one area, then move to the next when I feel ready.
This section gives a lot of good ideas, so when I feel ready to move on to a new thing, I will go back and re-read some of what she has to say.
Francine gives several more good ideas in the next two sections, Lighten Your Stress, and Lighten Your Spirit. Since I was diagnosed with chronic illness several years ago, I have become a huge fan of lightening stress. It's been essential for me.
Overall, I'd say that this book is a great resource for the concept of simplifying. I'm not sure if I will ever get to a totally stress-free state, but I do think that the concept of living lighter can be beneficial to all of us in one way or another. The trick for me has been to get to know myself as much as possible so I can know what works best for me.