I Have An Obsession With Minimalism

“Can these DVD’s go? I’m pretty sure the last time we watched them Mr. Rogers was still asking me to be his neighbor.”

I make this plea + ask questions like this a lot. If you want to see me smiling from ear to ear with euphoria and shouting “hell yes!” around the house like a crazed ’80s aerobic instructor — just give me things to donate. (Ok, there might be some other things that make me shout happy expletives).

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The Hubs usually sneers my way, “You just can’t stop, can you?” He eventually tries to find humor in my obsession with throwing everything out that we don’t use on a regular basis.

He’s right though. It’s hard for me to stop.

But not stop tossing things into a box for donation.

It’s hard for me to stop questioning the “things” we think we need in our life.

Now, maybe – just maybe – I was born with some gene that can’t stand clutter (is there a clutter gene?).

And, maybe – just maybe – my childhood was so chaotic the only “control” I thought I had was in my own little bedroom where I plastered pictures of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and kept my room as clean as a military inspection (yeah, I’m talking hospital corners, y’all + The Vic was a marine, so there’s that).

Or, maybe – just maybe – as I grew up I saw the importance and ease that can go along with lack of clutter.

Couple that with my wanderlust weakness and a penchant to give into my Gypsy-soul on a whim – I’m usually move or travel-ready with short notice.

Let’s not get anything twisted here though – in no way am I saying that minimalism is the life for you.

Hell, some people thrive in chaos (or, so I’ve been told).

But this is where people can get minimalism all jumbled up.  

It’s not about becoming best friends with your local donation drop-off because you’re constantly giving stuff away.

It’s not about reading Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and overhauling your entire life. Or maybe it is if that’s your style.

It’s not about giving away your dead grandma’s broach because you don’t technically use it all the time.

And it’s definitely not about living in a space with only little to no furniture while one lonely book hangs out on your bare shelf.

My view of minimalism is about QUESTIONING the “things” you think you need in your life.

The areas where you couldn’t cram another thing in, but you just bought something to stuff in there. 

And that doesn’t just go for shoe boxes and your 10th black t-shirt.

That goes for emotional stuffing, too.

So, if you’re staring at a heap of clothes in your closet with tags still on them…

Or a tower full of DVD’s collecting dust…

Start questioning them.

Start questioning everything in your house and in your life.

Because questions usually lead to answers (although we might not like the answer that bubbles up).

Ready for some contemplation? Here are some simple tips to get the mental motor runnin’ + movin’:

•  If you’re a get-stuff-done-right-now type of person then start questioning everything in your house. Start when the sun comes up and don’t stop questioning every little damn thing you have until you’re done. Take action on the things that you think you don’t need anymore/aren’t serving you/don’t feel all that inspired by.

•  If you’re an easy-does-it type then start in your smallest closet and question the ever-living shit out of every towel, washcloth, and pillowcase you have in there. And work your way through your entire house over time. (Dedicate one day a week if you need to start small and not be overwhelmed by the process).

Leave nothing un-questioned.  

Just the act of questioning will kick the dust up – in your home and in your mind.

Because as Alice Hoffman drops some uncomfortable truth, “Once you know some things, you can’t unknow them. It’s a burden that can never be given away.”

And I’ll add, some of those burdens you can totally donate the hell out of!

Love + Minimalism,

Keli

PS – Here are a couple resources I LOVE for decluttering, organization and all-around minimalism lifestyle inspiration –

Marie Kondo: her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” as well as her Netflix show “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” is pure gold. And watching Marie (I’m using her first name like I actually know her) on her Netflix show will warm your heart + see how much she truly cares for a life that’s more organized + sparked with joy.

The Minimalists: these two dudes (Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus) are packin’ when it comes to all things minimalist lifestyle. From their podcast to their books there’s something in there for anyone looking to question the clutter and go super deep on this subject.

Say It Scared

“I’m not sure how much longer I can do this…”

My very soul-worn Hubs uttered these words to me with his voice trembling + lips quivering.

I stood in our concrete basement transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer, then slowly trying to fold shirts, pants + my thong underwear (we know that’s not possible) as I took in his unsteady words.

I knew exactly what he was saying.

You could see it on his exhausted face.

My Hub’s nightly routine of getting up with my dad (not even his own flesh and blood) as he made sure this spry old guy made it to the bathroom without incident, hoping dad didn’t piss all over the floor or shit himself (because dad likes to use my Hubs favorite t-shirt to wipe down what looks like a giant chocolate bar exploded on him).

The daily stress of me – his wife – who was torn between wanting to escape a preschooler who rivals any ounce of rebel I thought I was and my favorite person in the whole world (The Vic/my dad) and all that entailed of dad’s raging dementia.

Yet simultaneously knowing this time period we’re in is temporary and it would literally kill me softly (or swiftly depending on the day) to see dad in a nursing home.

They call caregiving for Alzheimer’s the longest day.

And let me tell ‘ya those were some long-ass days.

I felt like I was floating between where I was and where I wanted to be.  


So when the Hubs utters, “I’m not sure how much longer I can do this…”

I knew it took every cell + atom in him to spew those words to me.

I only recall two other times in our marriage where we had a come-to-sweet-baby-Jesus talk like that and this one would make the third time.

But that’s what we do in our marriage –

We talk.

We communicate.

We say the brutal things that need to be said.

We don’t shirk the truth – we lay it all out like a toddler with toys; scattered everywhere and it’ll take some time for everything to find its way back home.

Because it eventually does.

My response to him letting me know he didn’t know how much longer he could do this caregiving thing, this stressful life thing, this holy-shit-I-had-no-idea-this-could-be-so-fucking-difficult thing was my equally heart-tearing yet filled to the brim, truth…

I let him off the hook – the “hook” of our marriage.

The “hook” of staying in this craziness of caregiving right now that had no foreseeable end in sight.

Because I couldn’t see beyond what was right in front of me.

He spoke his truth + I spoke mine.

Neither were easy to hear.

Neither made sense to the other.

Neither had euphoric solutions.

Speaking our truth – out loud + with purpose – allowed us to know the page each of us were on at that moment.

It also allowed us to choose what page we wanted to turn, what story we wanted to write or not write or what chapter of a book we wanted to open or close.

Truth gave us a blank slate.

We both stood there with figurative quill’s in our hand and began scribbling out what we each were willing to accept – or not accept – individually and together.

In true Hubs fashion – he bent…a lot.

He chose flexibility because he was able to hover above all the mirk and clouds I was flailing in with caregiving and being a mom to a tiny tyrant and trying to think about what I wanted from my life.

He saw glimpses of the future I couldn’t see because I was IN THE THICK OF LIFE RIGHT NOW (all caps for intensity, please).  

“Like I’ve said before, I’d rather be in hell with you than be in heaven without you and if this is our hell right now, I want to be in it with you.”

(Yes, cue the watery eyeballs and all the feels).


I don’t know if we could’ve come to that point if we didn’t speak our scary truth.

…If we didn’t say the hard thing.

…If we didn’t accept that the scattered toys may go back to different homes.

But I like playing hard and fast Truth Ball…

Because I’d much rather step up to the plate and know where the Truth Ball is going to land (is it a pop-fly? Grounder? Swing + miss? Outfielder? Or is this baby a home run?)…

Than playing some T-Ball with the hope I actually get one ball off the ground.

What kind of ball do you want to play?

Love + Stepping Up To The Plate,

Keli

Stop Doing List

“I don’t know what to call myself…I’m not sure there’s a word for it…,” Paul Jarvis implored on the Being Boss podcast.

I was intently listening to these words through my SUV speakers as I swerved around corners and pulled up to my daughter’s school – blaring what people only presumed was music, but no, just three people talking about life and business on a podcast.

No, moms, dads, and teaching faculty, I wasn’t listening to the ‘90s Salt ‘N Pepa song, “Shoop”.

I was just adding some morning brain food to, oh, whomever was standing at the curb to drop their kiddos off at 7:45 in the morning.

After the Little Babe and I gave our morning smooches (which literally shocks our lips every morning, but we keep on keeping on with them) + she scurried out of the car with a, “Be kind, but take no shit” morning mantra – I was back to rocking out to my podcast…

Paul Jarvis went on to describe himself as a writer, author, web developer and someone who “does things on the Internet”, but for an actual label to stick on all of those “things” – there wasn’t one (or at least yet, not one that was mentioned on the podcast).

When Paul didn’t know exactly how to tie a pretty-ass red bow on a box of all the skills he has, and how he shows up in this online world I instantly felt where he was coming from.

It’s boxy and I can’t stand boxes.

That whole “put me in a box” thing has always plagued me.

Plagued me as in I changed the tagline of Keli Conci more times than I’ve changed my mind about the food I like to eat (I love you rice. You hurt my tummy rice. Beans are life! Beans are the devil! Smoothies make me feel like I’m flying. I’m fucking over smoothies.).

And yet, even with no cute label to place on anything, people like Mr. Jarvis still show up – daily – and do the thing they love, or the skill they want to hone, or the business they want to build – even if there isn’t a catchall name for it.

When I thought about being more than okay with not having a label or tagline for my writer/freelancer/marketing/Internet-thinger ass – it’s as if my body stopped holding its breath.

You see, my body was holding a long, deep breath for the “perfect” tagline to sum up the many things I love to do in this world, but there just isn’t a word for it…yet. However, my name, Keli Conci, that should sum it up real good.

And when I thought deeper about what I wanted to STOP doing – like continuously trying to figure out a tagline that “sums” me up – I had to think about all the other things I want to stop doing as well.

Then I got real Jim Carrey Grinch status and made a list of all the things I loathe and should probably stop doing…like now.

There’s a twist for you – instead of a New Year’s Resolution list, how about a Stop Doing List for the new year?  

Some of The Items on My Stop Doing List

•  Quit trying to place myself in a box that explains how “Keli Conci” shows up online. Just keep showing up, Woman.

•  Stop trying to talk myself into using social media again (professionally and/or personally). I keep whimsically thinking, “Oh, one day soon I’ll get the urge to get back on the ole ‘Gram.”  I’m not sure if that day will ever come, but in the meantime, I love keeping in contact with the online world via newsletter (yes, I said, newsletter and yes I’m in my mid-30’s. I love me some email, ok?).

•  Enough already with seeking perfection in your work. Perfectionism isn’t the life goal, Kel. Keep in mind how diligent + detail oriented you are in your work and your life…and allow that to be enough. There’s no such thing as perfect, yo!

These are but a few of things I want to Stop Doing; I’m absolutely sure there’s more and I’ll add them as I go.

Sometimes we need reminders for what doesn’t work for us anymore.

What doesn’t fill us up.

What doesn’t “give us life” (as the kids say these days).

There are stop signs and red lights in this world for a reason – it gives us time to literally stop, reflect, and choose which direction we want to turn in – the way that it’s always been done, or a new way that’s hella better for our life.

Now, we just need to stop, collaborate and listen (there I go again with ‘90s lyrics – thanks, Vanilla Ice) to what it is we really want to STOP DOING.

Love + ‘90s Lyrics + Listening to Red Lights,

Keli 

What My Paperboy Taught Me About Connection

I crushed hard on our paperboy.

You know, back in the day, the cute as hell paperboy would come around every month and collect money for the newspaper.

The newspaper you actually held in your hand and didn’t consume from a computer screen.

I was in love with my blue-eyed, blonde-haired paperboy.

He had this shit-eatin’ grin and was the precise amount of rebel I was into as a pre-teen.

(Hell, who am I kidding. I’m still into the blue-eyed, blonde-haired rebel…and married one. Ha!)

Ok, don’t tell anyone, but I eventually made out with that paperboy a few times. 

We actually became pretty good friends.

Kissing friends. Making out friends. Getting into late-night trouble friends.

And because we were tight as hell over the summer’s, I even went on some paper runs with him.

(Can you even picture me throwing a paper into a yard? I can barely swat a fly without laughing my ass off?)

Anyway.

On some of his paper runs, I would notice paperboy placing some newspapers in mailboxes, then I’d see him chuck some right on the porch (never missed) and every once in a while, I’d see him throw it in a sprinkler-laden lawn.

I was curious – why wasn’t everyone’s paper delivered the same way?

He basically said something to this effect:

“Because I know their preferences. When I collect every month, people tell me how they like their paper delivered and I try to accommodate. But, some can be assholes and those are the ones that get wet papers every now and again.”

Think about that for a minute: a paperboy would come to your door, collect money for the newspaper that’s delivered daily and that’s how it went.

There was no digital payment collection.

Nothing was behind a paywall.

And the ability to read a newspaper “online” was unheard of at that time.

Recently, I’ve started craving connection beyond a digital touchscreen.

I want to hug people when I greet them instead of commenting on social media, “How cute! Adorable picture.”

I want to go down the rabbit hole and peel back the layers instead of commenting on Facebook, “I agree. 100%. Yes!”

I want to hear about your life, not just a snippet or a photo on Instagram.

How did that salad really taste?

Tell me how you felt after you read that book?

I want to hear your story about why you chose this new path?

I want to experience connection with all my senses…not just a tap of my thumb, or how fast my fingers can type.

The online world is so powerful with connection.

So, what if we took those online connections and infused more offline connections?

(And trust me, this is coming from someone who’s a raging outgoing introvert – I need major space, people, to fuel up. I get the allure and convenience of online connection.)

But I also need tangible connection to feel not so isolated.

What if we decided to meet in real life and take a girls trip with our Skype Bestie and laugh and talk until the wee hours of the morning?

What if we opted for that in-person workshop or seminar versus the newest online course?  

What if we chose just one palpable connection over the strongest Wi-Fi and a fully charged MacBook?

Who knows, you might just meet your version of paperboy (or papergirl) and fill your summer with wild adventures together…

Who knows until you step away from the computer/television/phone screen and look someone in the eye and say, “Hello!”

Because I’m learning that even an hour spent with another human – connecting and sharing – can do wonders for giving your scrolling thumb a break.

Love + Paperboy Adventures,

Keli