Thursday, April 14

My new favorite word: SIMPLIFY

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. Sometimes life throws several at the same time. Over the last six months, I've been through several major life changes including, most recently, the loss of my mom and turning 40 within a two-week period. For those of you who've read The Cinderella Society, you may recall that the book is dedicated to her. The dedication reads:

For my mom,

my role model, my friend, and the world's first Honorary Cindy

I love you, Mom.

My mom battled cancer for 10 years. When she was first diagnosed back in 2001, she had advanced cancer and the long-term survival prognosis was dim. Little did we imagine back then that we would get to spend 10 more years with her. It was a blessing I'm incredibly grateful for.

In the weeks since her passing, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the last 10 years. Things I've accomplished, and things I haven't. Times we spent together, and times we could have but didn't. And it turns out the only thing I really regret is that I let the unimportant "tasks" of life take precedence over my true priorities.

So often the little things - the imagined crises stemming from being a writer, the home maintenance issues, the nagging weight of things like social media or blogging - got addressed long before I made sure that the important things in my life were running smoothly.

My new favorite word for this next stage of my life is SIMPLIFY. To that end, I'm cutting out a lot of the riff-raff of my life. That sounds like a gang of bandits I'm banishing from the homestead and, in a way, maybe it is. It's about nixing all of those seemingly urgent but actually unimportant "things" that constantly bubble up in our lives. What does SIMPLIFY look like for me? Well, for starters:

** First and foremost, I'm making sure I'm focusing on the five most important priorities in my life by doing my own happiness project. If you haven't read Gretchen Rubin's fabulous The Happiness Project, you're missing out on a lovely opportunity to rethink how you approach life. (A special thanks to my wonderful agent Holly Root for recommending this book to me after my mom passed away. I appreciate you, H.) In the book, Gretchen focuses on a different theme each month but I chose to focus on my five major life priorities - well-being, relationships, career, home, and peace of mind - and establish one new positive habit in each area each month. Those become the top priorities of my everyday life and ensure that all of the unnecessaries take a back seat to what's really important.

** Restructuring the national Great Scavenger Hunt Contest(TM) reading program for kids and teens that I run for more than 800 libraries across the country. There will still be winners every month, but everything else will be updated quarterly rather than monthly to streamline the process of managing such a massive program all by myself.

** Clearing the clutter of my home, my to do lists, and my life. I've purged my office, cleared out closets and under sinks (an ongoing project), and tackled nagging projects like calling the plumber to replace the faucets in the master bath. (He's here right now. Hooray for more water efficient plumbing!)

The more I reflect on SIMPLIFY the more ways I find to streamline the chaos of my life and get back to what really matters. Because in the end, no one will care how many times I tweeted or washed the windows. What they will remember is who I was as a person and what truly mattered to me. (And possibly that I was a cupcake fanatic. I do talk about them rather obsessively.)

In this year of so much upheaval across the globe, I think it's a good time for us each to take a step back and rethink what it is that's important to us. And then to ask the simple but powerful question, "Does the life I'm living now reflect that?"

If we can't answer a resounding YES, maybe it's time to think about simplifying our lives so that our true priorities are front and center.

So what about you? Can you think of one way you would like to SIMPLIFY your life?


Katie Alender said...

I love this! At the end of the day, it comes down to a few very important things. Everything else is just the sprinkles on the cupcake.

Besides, I get more Twitter followers when I stop tweeting.

Trish Doller said...

Kay, it's interesting that you've posted this now because I've has this restless feeling lately that my life needs to be more healthy, efficient, and simple.

Good luck to you!

Kim Harrington said...

Wow. This post really resonated with me. I've read it three times. It's giving me a lot to think about.

Steph Burgis said...

What a lovely, important entry. *HUGS* Thank you for sharing this! I'm going to be thinking about it a lot in the next few days.

Courtney Milan said...


I really agree with this. I have a lot of clutter in my life, and it's amazing that some of the clutter I have creates more clutter which in turn creates more clutter.

If I just get rid of the one root cause, things get so much easier.

This is a really important post, and thank you for making it both real and personal.

cmobrien said...

You and H. D. Thoreau, Kay. Good stuff. We each have to embrace it in our own way.
All best,

Wendy Toliver said...

Lovely post, Kay. I was so sorry to hear of your mother's passing and all I can say is she raised one hell of a daughter.

Jenn Stark said...

Kay, this post hits home even more because of all the chaos of recent events in my work life. It's time to get back to what matters, eh? The dreams that brought us here.

Hugs and thank you.

Melina said...

Hi Kay,

I am sorry that you lost your mom - the original Cindy. You must really miss her. Your words have me thinking about what I could simplify too.

TinaFerraro said...

Kay, I loved what Wendy just said about how your mom raised one hell of a daughter! I lost my mother just as I turned 30...admittedly not as earth-shattering as 40, but a double whammy nonetheless. I send you my best and offer up the experience that all this really does get better. And taking control of your life by simplifying is that first step. Hugs to you.

Keri Mikulski said...

What a beautiful post, Kay. Hugs and prayers go out to you and your family regarding the loss of your mom. Thanks so much for the book recommendation. I can't wait to check it out.

Amanda Ashby said...

Kay - again I'm so sorry that you've lost your mom but I love that somehow she is on this new journey with her since it's been triggered by her passing.

I'm always trying to simplify my life and my current twin obsessions are home baking and growing vegetables. I also love reading books that contain what I call 'Nana recipes', like how to clean the bathroom with vinegar and bicard of soda (and yes, I have accidentally mixed them both into a bottle and put a lid on, which any self-respecting 9 year old boy can tell you actually makes it explode!!!!)

Nancy said...

A lovely post, Kay, and blessings again on your mother's death.

I try to simplify my life in some way each day. De-cluttering, doing only the most important "chores" - and then balancing that with writing to or talking with at least two friends.

The best on your simplification journey!

Nancy Haddock

Beth Andrews said...

Wonderful post, Kay. This year I'm focusing on Balance which is leading me to simplify and prioritize my life.

Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

Sara Hantz said...

What a fabulous post, Kay. I'm so sorry about your mom, and echo Wendy's sentiments. I agree with what you're saying about making things more simple and figuring out the really important stuff.

Kay Cassidy said...

Thank you so much to everyone for your lovely comments. I posted this just before family arrived from out of town (they're here until tomorrow), so this is the first chance I've had to get back to the blog. Your comments and thoughtful notes made me smile.

Here's to simplicity! :-)