8 Reasons Why Authenticity is Vital for Bloggers

When people read a blog, they want to know that they are connecting with a real person. By showing your heart and being genuine, you open up a space where others can relate. I have a question for you.

How much do other's opinions affect your understanding of ‘who you are’ or ‘where you should be’ in life?

Usually the answer is: more than we can imagine.

I know this to be true because I used to struggle with it. Throughout high school and my first year of college, I just simply wanted to fit in with the crowd. 'Who I was' was usually an image of what was popular at the time. But it never felt right; it never felt like, me. I always felt like something was missing.

Over the course of the last year, I discovered a lot about who I am and what type of person I'd like to grow and become. It was the death of a girl I never knew that caused me to re-evaluate how I was living my life. She inspired me spread happiness wherever I go and live life to the fullest.

I want to be open, honest, and real; genuine. I want to be who I am, not someone I have to pretend to be for the approval of others. I desire a life of authenticity, simplicity, love, and grace.

I have also learned that the same applies to blogging. When people read a blog, they want to know that they are connecting with a real person. By showing your heart and being genuine, you open up a space where others can relate.

But there's something you need to know.

Being authentic isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult. We are often swayed by the desire for others’ approval or to fit in. Vulnerability can be scary and uncomfortable, especially if we've been conditioned to only show the beautiful bits of our lives.

But it's worth it.

When we come across as being genuine, we're giving others the freedom and courage to be genuine also.

And although being authentic is important for every aspect of life, today I want to specifically share with you 8 reasons why authenticity is important for bloggers.

When people read a blog, they want to know that they are connecting with a real person. By showing your heart and being genuine, you open up a space where others can relate.

8 Reasons Why Authenticity is Vital for Bloggers

It Produces Consistency and a Clear Purpose

When a blogger determines to be authentic in their writing, all of their articles reflect the true heart of the blogger.

It Encourages Personal Growth

The more you live an authentic life, the more it's reflected to the words on your blog. By opening your heart and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you're exposing yourself to new thoughts and ideas that cultivate self-growth.

It Provides a Safe Place

Readers love to know they can trust any site they are following. By preparing every post with the intention of being authentic, you'll win your readers hearts and support and show them that your blog is a place where they can be open and real as well.

Being You is What Sets You Apart from Everyone Else

The world is a big place, including the blogging one. Sometimes you might wonder how it's possible to stand out in a crowd of thousands of bloggers who seem to share the same content as you. It's simple really. By being YOU and sharing YOUR story. No one else can copy that. You have something unique to share with the world.

We Crave the Truth

This is a big one. Authenticity is something that society is lacking, but truly craving. We are constantly being lied to and being taken advantage of. By being authentic, you're satisfying your readers need for truth.

It Establishes Trust

By being honest, you're also building trust with your readers. Blogging friendships are some of the best, but they rely on the exchange of trustworthiness to know the person they believe they're friends with online is the same type of person in real life.

You Become Relatable 

Nobody's life is perfect, but sometimes we may want to appear that way online. Becoming vulnerable is what allows us to truly connect with others, because we can say, "Hey, I've been there before."

It Inspires Others

This may be my favorite reason of all! :) Your actions, your honesty, and your transparency will give your readers the courage to embrace true authenticity in their life as well, because they have seen it exemplified, through you!

If we aren't authentic and express who we are, we will never be able to create the life that we truly want. And we can’t create a life that’s truly fulfilling to us if we're not true to ourselves and to others.

Does being authentic in blogging reap benefits for you? How do you live your life authentically?


More Life, Less Rush

More life, less rush. #simplicity Today's post is a quickie but it's something I really wanted to share with you guys. This past Saturday was my birthday (yay!!!!) and I turned 20 :) One of the items on my 101 in 1001 list is to write a letter to myself to open when I turn 30. As I was contemplating what to write to 30-year-old Brittany, I realized a funny thing about birthdays.

Growing up, I was always wanting to be older. I couldn't wait to be 14, then 16, then 18, then 20. Now I find myself longing for the day I'm 22 and out of college. But looking back, I realize how fast my teenage years seemed to go by. Even now, I feel like I'm rushing through life, trying to get things done so I can move on to the next part. Where did enjoying the simple moments of life go? Do they only belong on Tumblr photos?

These thoughts caused me some lack of sleep last night because I long to live a simple and authentic life full of meaning, as do many of you. So what can we do to change this?

One, realize that you aren't required to hustle.

[Tweet "You are not required to hustle 24/7."]

While hustling can be a good thing (get that dream business started!), many times it can cause us to feel overwhelmed and overworked. Don't let hustling cause the quality of your work to decline or cause you to not be present in everyday moments.

Thriving and being successful isn't just tied to how hard we work, it's tied to our own definition of those words. Don't let others tell you what you need to do to be successful. You're doing just fine at your own pace. There's no need to rush through life.

Two, sometimes we get so focused on 'what could be', that we forget what is right in front of us.

We're constantly looking forward to what's next, always dreaming of the future. While I do believe that having big dreams is important and that we should work really hard to make them come true, sometimes we let those dreams cause us to believe that our current life is boring in comparison when it really isn't. The idea of the perfect life overshadows the beautiful life we're living right now.

So this is what I want to encourage you to do today, and every day to come:

Be content with where you are in this moment.

Whether you're still in school, moving across the country, getting married, starting a business, or welcoming a new baby, take 5 minutes each day to simply pause and thank God for the life He's blessed you with.

Life will always be messy. But it's your beautiful mess.


20 Ideas for a Digital Detox

We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

The internet brings a strange paradox. At the same speed it connects us around the world, it often seems to isolate us from real-life relationships. We can Google answers, have an app direct us around town, and talk to multiple people at one time.

We are strangely captivated by our smartphones and other devices. It's increasingly hard to simply sit and wait and focus on one thing. To us, waiting has become wasting.

There are many things to unlearn in order to develop a new appreciation for real-life experiences. We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

My hope is that you'll join me in intentionally cutting back on technology and focus on the simple things in life that are often overlooked.

20 Ideas for a Digital Detox

1. Take advantage of the opportunity to experience something new. If you're not used to going without technology, it can be very difficult to start because you don't know what to do with your time. So try this. Before you attempt a digital detox, make a list of activities you can do/want to try that don't require the internet or your phone. Keep that list handy for when your "bored".

2. Download an app that tracks how much you use your phone and force you off your device once you've reached a limit. Moment is a great iPhone and iPad app, while QualityTime is perfect for Android.

3. If you have a Mac, download SelfControl. It lets you block distracting websites and anything else on the Internet you choose. Just set a period of time to block and click "Start." Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites – even if you restart your computer or delete the application.

4. Step away from your phone – and give clean water to children in need. The UNICEF Tap Project encourages you to stop texting, emailing, calling, and using social media on your phone to help provide clean, safe water for children around the world. The longer you go without touching your phone, the more clean water will be given to children in need.

5. Set aside half a day, or even a whole day, once or twice a month where you deliberately disconnect in order to focus on what is important to you.

6. Can't do a whole day without just yet? Try it for an hour or two each day then. Put your phone in flight mode and turn your internet connection off. You will be amazed at how productive you'll be!

7. In the morning, go online only after you have had devotions and only after you've taken time to decide what you need to do for the day. This way God and you determine your agenda, not incoming urgent emails.

We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

8. When you're on the train, bus, or passenger seat, keep your phone in your pocket or bag.

9. Delete the app you're most addicted to for a week. After the week is up, re-evaluate if you really need it. Who knows? Maybe you'll have even forgotten you deleted it!

10. Take the weekend off from replying to emails! Chances are you don't actually need to respond until "normal" business hours on Monday morning. So if you run your own business (or even if your blog is your business) give yourself a work break and reply to emails later. It's the weekend after all!

11. Check your emails only during restricted periods during the day, such as once in the morning, once at lunchtime, and once in the afternoon.

12. Charge your phone at night so that it's full in the morning. Once your phone runs out of battery during the day, don't recharge it until 2 hours before bedtime. (This way you have an hour to check any messages or calls before putting it away for the evening.)

13. In the hour before you go to sleep, put away your computer and phone and read a book or talk with your spouse instead!

14. Cut down on the number of times a day you check Facebook and other social media. Most of the time, we check it because we're bored. Go outside, work on a project, read, or call one of those Facebook friends instead.

15. Another way to cut down on the social media checking is to leave your notifications be. Once you post something, leave it at that. No need to double and then triple check your "like" count on your Instagram photo or obsessing over how many times your post on Twitter was retweeted or favorited. Just check it later that day.

16. Or just simply turn off notifications and alerts!

We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

17. Be present. Make a rule that you won't check your phone at restaurants or when in the presence of others. Learn to put the smartphone down and give people your full attention.

18. Even better. No phones at the dinner table.

19. Stop walking and checking your phone! There are so many things you miss by constantly looking down, not to mention it's the easiest way to drop and shatter your phone. Looking up every once in a while is a great way to experience the world – and keep your phone in one piece.

20. Leave your phone in your pocket during even the most awe-inspiring experiences. We all know that sunsets and sunrises are beautiful, so enjoy it instead of taking a picture. There will be many more of them to come.

I hope you'll be inspired to try some of these ideas! The one I'm most excited to try is the no walking and phone checking. Hopefully I'll be able to enjoy what's around me more this way!

How do you plan to digitally detox? Have you tried it before? Was it easy or hard for you?


Simplify Your Routine

Simplify your routine by trying these simple things to set you up for a successful week. Tired of waking up to busy and frazzled mornings? Or just wishing your life was a little more streamlined? Sometimes all we need is to change one aspect of our very busy lives to make things easier. Try these easy and quick ways to simplify your routine and make life more manageable.

Let sunshine brighten up your day.

Even if it's a beautiful sunny morning, closed blinds or shades can make you never want to leave your bed. Get a head start on the day! Open the blinds and let natural light stream inside your home to awaken and brighten your spirits.

Find a regular, simplified beauty routine.

Creating a simplified beauty routine can make getting ready less of a hassle. Instead of having 3 lotions to choose from and a drawer full of makeup you hardly use, find your core pieces and keep those only. Your skin will thank you for the simplicity and you'll be looking and feeling your best!

For example: moisturize entire body, wash face with a gentle cleanser, apply SPF moisturizer, concealer, light foundation, blush, a dash of eyebrow color, a simple neutral base to your eyelids, eye-liner, and mascara. Finish with some deodorant and your favorite perfume, and voila!

Pack your lunch at dinnertime.

An easy way to get lunch packed and ready to go in a flash is to use dinner leftovers. As you’re cleaning up dinner the night before, pack or make your lunch. Your morning just got a little more free.

Lay out your outfit in advance.

Get rid of the whole "I don't know what to wear" dilemma and pick out what you're going to wear the night before. Pull out everything you’ll need for your outfit: tops, bottoms, undergarments, accessories, shoes and socks.You can even hang it on a special hook to hold your outfit, stylist-style. This way, you’ll be able to get dressed without having to worry about what to wear.

Plan a menu for the week.

Not only does this save you money, but it helps you use your evening time efficiently. Begin by making an ongoing list of grocery items you've run out of and need to purchase. Then sit down once a week and decide what meal to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day. Maybe saturdays are pancake days and Friday is pizza night. Great! Schedule that in. Maybe your lunches are last night's leftovers. Perfect! One less meal to make. Add any ingredients you need to your shopping list and get cooking! And don't forget dessert ;)

Give your purse a makeover.

Stop frantically searching the dark depths of your purse just to find your phone, keys, or wallet. Instead, create a system of organization that works for you.

Use bags within your bag and assign each one a category: makeup, snacks/gum, pencils/pens, receipts, chargers, etc.

Dedicate an interior pocket to just your glasses or sunglasses. That way they'll be easily accessible.

Charge electronic devices at night or at the same time each day.

Hate realizing that your phone is going dead, right when you need it? Get into the habit of charging your phone and any other electronic devices at night so that everything is charged and ready to go.

How are you going to use the above tips to simplify your routine?


20 Small Things to Make Time for Again

A list of 20 Things we should start making time for in our everyday lives. As I look around the world we live in, I find a lot of beauty in the simple things. There are certain things though that I think we should make more time for. Things like spending time with others and taking things slower can change your outlook on life. Here's a list of 20 small things to make time for again:

  1. Smiling at strangers. I've noticed how in most places, people walk by each other on sidewalks without ever acknowledging the other person. Let's change that! It's not hard and it might make someone's day. Give a smile and you just might get one back.
  2. Doing random act of kindness that are greater than holding the door open. Holding the door is a great act of service, but let's make the world a nicer place to live in by doing even more acts of kindness that bring smiles to people's faces.
  3. Spending more time outdoors. With longer days of daylight, nothing invigorates a day like the feeling of sunlight on your face.
  4. Taking the opportunity to be creative. Creativity isn't just for artists and those good at drawing. Everyone can be creative, and the world needs more of it. Start a journal or a scrapbook, or find a new creative routine.
  5. Stretching. Loosening your muscles can help you relax and destress.
  6. Watching the sunset or sunrise. Nothing is more inspirational than nature's canvas. Grab some blankets and pillows and take a drive to a nice lookout to watch the colors blend together.
  7. Writing letters by hand. I'm talking thank you cards, get better soon cards, letters to distant friends and family and even random notes to strangers. Digital communication in this technology driven world is easy and convenient but there’s a huge difference between texting someone you love them and writing a note and leaving it next to their bed.
  8. Genuinely asking people how they are and taking the time to talk to them. We've all fallen into the routine of walking by someone and having a conversation such as "Hey! How are you?" "I'm good, how are you?" "I'm good" "That's great" "See ya!" "Yep, see ya". Really take the time to interact and hold a conversation with someone. You might learn something new!
  9. Turning our phones off. We're so connected these days. While it's great to be able to keep up with distant friends, when you're hanging out with other people in real life, let's learn to not spend all our time documenting whatever we’re doing for social media. It often takes away from the experience itself and decreases personal interaction.
  10. Reading actual books. Nothing can beat the feeling of opening a physical book and getting lost in it's contents. Physical books hold memories and meaning. That coffee stain in the top corner, the scribbled note on the front of the back cover, the worn edges from many years of use. E-books just don't hold the same meaning or carry the same feel.
  11. Spending more time with kids. Children remind you to be joyful and live in simplicity. You can learn a lot of spending time and talking with them. Plus they're cute :)
  12. Getting more sleep. While waking up before your alarm and being able to go back to sleep feels great, going to bed earlier can leave you feeling even more refreshed in the morning. With long summer days, the sun rises before 6 at times. If you sleep in until 11am, you've slept through a lot of the day already. More time = more productivity.
  13. Getting really dressed up for no other reason than just wanting to.
  14. Living with less. Get rid of things you don't need! Physical clutter can clutter up the mind.
  15. Thinking before speaking. We’ve love getting things immediately. Whether it's a response, a text, a call, or a material item we've been wanting, we want it right that second. Let's take time to consider things in more depth and then offer a response.
  16. Exploring your world. Even if you can't make it out of the country, or state even, chances are that there are a bunch of hidden gems around the town you live in. On a sunny afternoon, pack some snacks, hop in your car, and just drive! Make stops along the way to create an adventure you won't forget.
  17. Savoring time to do nothing. Take time for yourself. Go on a walk, sit on the porch, buy yourself flowers. Taking time to simply enjoy life will help you appreciate it more.
  18. Making your health and well-being a priority. Stress is real. Life gets busy. I know. But that doesn't mean that you can put your health on the back burner. Make an effort to eat healthier foods and find little ways to increase the amount of exercise you get each day. You'll enjoy life a lot more when you're healthy enough to do everything you want.
  19. Calling home, just because. Those with a close relationship with their parents know how special it is to spend time talking to those you love. Even if you aren't that close to your parents/siblings/grandparents, take time to call and say hello.
  20. Not caring what others think of you. Be yourself. You don't have to follow the crowd. Life would be boring if we always did what everyone else does. Don't be afraid to be different.

What else do you think we should spend more time doing?


Capsule Wardrobe // The Beginning

Wondering about how to start a capsule wardrobe? Here are the answers to your questions and a look into how I'm starting my capsule wardrobe.

Many bloggers have shared their journey with a capsule wardrobe, each with their own story and style. The capsule wardrobe lifestyle is one that speaks to my heart, as I've been attempting to minimize and cut down my closet ever since I was 16. The many failed attempts and slight spending problems during my high school years has left me with a big closet of unnecessary and only once worn items. Over the past few weeks, after reading a lot about the benefits of a capsule wardrobe, I've decided to start one of my own and share the beginning process with you today.

First, I'll answer a few common questions. Then I'll share how I'm planning on implementing my capsule wardrobe. Third, I'll share my breakdown of how many pieces of each clothing item I plan to have for each season. Lastly, I'll leave you with a few tips to get you started on your very own capsule wardrobe.

Questions, Answered

What exactly is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a minimalist approach to your closet that takes the stress out of picking outfits and lets you feel 100% confident about yourself. It's more than just getting rid of things you don’t need; it’s about crafting a wardrobe that will fit your lifestyle. Typically, it consists of only wearing 30-40 clothing items per season/3 months. There are different types of capsule wardrobes, but the one I'm doing is 40 items per 3 months. You can read more about it below.

Who is it for?

Anyone who seeks to have a simplified wardrobe that perfectly fits their body and lifestyle, anyone who wishes to cut down on their clothing spending, and anyone who desires to love each and every piece of clothing that they own. That being said, it's important to know that this type of wardrobe may not be right for everyone. Do some research and really understand what it entails before stepping into the whole journey.

How can I benefit from it?

There are a lot of benefits, and many are unique to each individual. A capsule wardrobe can help take the stress out of getting dressed, help you declutter your closet, and help you feel more confident about yourself because you'll be wearing pieces that you absolutely love.

Where do I shop for these clothes so I don't fall into the same wardrobe trap as before?

The best practice for a capsule wardrobe is to purchase high quality clothing items that will last longer than their price. When purchasing a more costly item, divide the price by how many months or years you expect it to last. The lower the result, the better the investment (as long as it holds up to that standard!). Budgeting is also a great habit to start. Every season, set a budget for items you'd like to replace and stick to it.

What is the best way to start?

Do your research. Figure out the best way to make a capsule wardrobe work for your lifestyle. Start gradually. There's no need to throw away all your clothes and buy new ones all at one time. Enjoy it! The best way to start is by being excited to start the journey to a simplified wardrobe!

How I'm starting my capsule wardrobe

Because I'm staying here in Lincoln for three weeks of summer school, I'll be going home on May 31 and returning mid-August. So essentially, I'll only be packing clothes that fit into my summer capsule wardrobe. Perfect right?! :) I'll store the rest of my clothes in storage for the summer.

Since I'm just beginning my capsule wardrobe, I have a lot of clothes that I like, but don't love. Being on a college budget, I can't afford to get rid of a bunch of items and buy new ones. So here's my plan:

1. Work through Caroline's Capsule Wardrobe Planner

Throughout this next month, I'll be filling this planner out to figure out what my true style really is and what clothing items make me feel 100% confident in my own body.

2. Adopt the in-one/out-one rule

I'll be beginning the summer capsule with clothing items I already have. As the summer progresses, I'll research and purchase items that really fit my style and body. Once I purchase that item, I'll get rid of another item that doesn't fit my new capsule style in order to create the perfect summer wardrobe!

3. Shop for my Fall Capsule Wardrobe during Labor Day Sales

I love shopping sales! Since my fall capsule wardrobe begins right around Labor Day Weekend, I'll use the opportunity to get my fall wardrobe for 50-70% off!

Capsule Wardrobe Breakdown

Below you'll find a list of how many of each clothing item I'm planning on including in my seasonal capsules based on my lifestyle. By no means is this list going to fit everyone's lifestyle, but feel free to use it as a starting point for your own capsule wardrobe.

Not Included:

  • Church clothes
  • Business clothes
  • Undergarments
  • Athletic clothes
  • Accessories such as scarves, hats, bags, glasses, etc.
  • Vacation clothing for climates different from where you live
  • Anything that can’t be worn on its own (such as a slip worn underneath a sheer piece)

Summer (June, July, August) - 40 Pieces Total

  • Sandals (3)
  • Flats (2)
  • Sneakers (2)
  • Leggings (2)
  • Jeans (2)
  • Shorts (5)
  • Pants (2)
  • Blouses (5)
  • Button ups (1)
  • T-shirts (5)
  • Tank tops (5)
  • Dresses (3)
  • Skirts (3)

Fall (September, October, November) - 40 Pieces Total

  • Sandals (1)
  • Flats (2)
  • Boots (4)
  • Sneakers (2)
  • Jackets (3)
  • Vest (1)
  • Leggings (3)
  • Jeans (3)
  • Sweaters (3)
  • Cardigans (2)
  • Blouses (4)
  • Button ups (3)
  • T-shirts (3)
  • Long sleeved (2)
  • Dresses (2)
  • Skirts (2)

Winter (December, January, February) - 40 Pieces Total

  • Boots (5)
  • Sneakers (2)
  • Jackets/Coats (5)
  • Vest (1)
  • Leggings (4)
  • Jeans (4)
  • Sweaters (5)
  • Cardigans (2)
  • Blouses (3)
  • Button ups (3)
  • T-shirts (3)
  • Long sleeved (3)

Spring (March, April, May) - 40 Pieces Total

  • Sandals (2)
  • Flats (1)
  • Sneakers (2)
  • Jackets (2)
  • Vest (1)
  • Boots (1)
  • Leggings (3)
  • Jeans (3)
  • Shorts (3)
  • Pants (1)
  • Blouses (4)
  • Button ups (3)
  • T-shirts (4)
  • Tank tops (2)
  • Long sleeved (2)
  • Dresses (3)
  • Skirts (2)

 My Three Tips for You

As you begin on your own capsule wardrobe and journey towards simplicity, you'll likely find challenges and have a lot of questions. Take it slow and move at your own pace. Here are three tips that I've found useful as I've begun my journey:

  1. Read about other people's capsule wardrobes to get ideas.
  2. When you're ready, do a deep clean of your closet (and donate as much of it as you can instead of throwing it away!)
  3. Keep a positive spirit. You'll feel better about yourself and enjoy the process a whole lot more!

What about you? Have you considered starting a capsule wardrobe?


7 Ways to Give Back while Simplifying Your Life

What if you could live a simpler life–while giving back at the same time? I challenge you to make the best of every situation and strive to live an eco-friendly, simple lifestyle.There's a lot of talk about simplicity and living a minimalistic lifestyle. There are numerous lists on the internet of ways to simplify your life. But, what if you could live a simpler life–while giving back at the same time? I challenge you to make the best of every situation and strive to live an eco-friendly, simple lifestyle. [Tweet "What if you could live a simpler life–while giving back at the same time? Here are 7 ways to do so."]

Step away from your phone – and give clean water to children in need.

The UNICEF Tap Project encourages you to stop texting, emailing, calling, and using social media on your phone to help provide clean, safe water for children around the world. The longer you go without touching your phone, the more clean water will be given to children in need. Just think, you'll be simplifying your life by being less dependent on technology all while providing clean water for children. It's a win-win!

UNICEF Tap Project

Donate your clothes – and help kids rise up with education.

thredUp* is an online consignment shop that sells popular brands at discounts of up to 90%! Even better, they provide you with a Clean Out bag to send your gently used clothing items in exchange for cash, for FREE. They'll pay you up to 80% of the resale value, and items that aren't accepted go to charitable partners or textile recycling companies. It doesn't end there. thredUP* will also donate a portion of proceeds from every thredUP bag to support the development of high-quality teachers in schools through Teach For America.

*signing up through this referral link will give you (and me) $10 to spend on thredUp!

Get rid of junk mail (easily) – and cut down on paper waste.

PaperKarma is the easiest way to eliminate junk mail. Simply snap a photo of the piece of mail and they'll figure out what it is and instantly submit a request to stop the mailing on your behalf. By doing so, you'll be saving trees and simplifying your mailbox.

Be creative – and plant a tree.

Baron Fig has created the ultimate creative notebook. 192 acid-free pages open completely flat for effective use. The dimensions are wider than traditional notebooks, making it more useful for drawings. And, for every Confidant notebook purchased, they will donate seeds to plant a tree. Even the smallest thing can make positive change within the creative lifestyle.

Baron Fig Plants Trees

Reuse shopping bags – and reduce emissions and waste.

Did you know that more than one billion single-use plastic bags are handed to consumers each day in the U.S. and it takes a 15-year-old tree to produce just 700 paper grocery bags? Paper or plastic is no longer the question. Reusing shopping bags significantly reduces both emissions and waste. Purchase one for a few cents or up to a dollar at participating retailers (they usually donate the proceeds of the bags to charities as well).

Donate your jewelry – and help homeless pets.

Unwanted jewelry? Donate it to Indigo Rescue and receive a tax receipt and the satisfaction of knowing that your your jewelry donation is helping save homeless animals.

Learn more on how to live a purposeful life – and end sex trafficking.

One of the best publications ever, Darling Magazine's mission is to encourage us, as women, to embody virtue, wit, modesty, wisdom, and love. The articles in each issue (published every four months) show how to practically live a life of purpose and intention. Even better, Darling is partnering with International Justice Mission and will donate a portion of proceeds from magazine sales specifically for the work being done to end sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic.

What other ways can you give back while simplifying your life?


100 Things to Throw Away

The first step to minimalism is reducing clutter in your home! Many people dismiss the idea of simplifying or minimizing their life because they don't know where to begin. Truth is, the concept of minimalism isn't to own a certain number of items or get rid of all your favorite belongings; it's living with enough to be content and getting rid of unnecessary clutter.

Taking the first step to owning less isn't difficult. Begin by simply reducing the excess things in your home. For example, you need towels so you will never remove them completely—but you could simplify your life by reducing the number of towels you own.

You can even go a step further and recycle, donate, or trash items. I'm working on doing this in my own life (I have wayyyy to much junk!) and have come up with a list of 100 items you can most likely do without. Try getting rid of 10 items a week and before you know it, you will have made significant progress in your journey towards a more simplified life.

100 Things to Throw Away

  1. Old makeup/ones that you don't use much
  2. Old nail polish
  3. Movies you don't watch anymore
  4. Old coupons/flyers
  5. Old manuals to electronics
  6. Ticket stubs
  7. Takeout menus
  8. Cards given to you with no sentimental value
  9. Socks with holes
  10. Old t-shirts/ones you were given for free that you don't wear
  11. Dried flowers/dead leaves from house plants
  12. Old planners
  13. Old notebooks
  14. Unsubscribe from email subscriptions you don't absolutely love
  15. Expired food
  16. Old/broken phone cases
  17. Ripped denim
  18. Travel brochures
  19. Old shopping catalogs
  20. Old magazines
  21. Boxes that you aren't using to store anything in
  22. Purses you don't use
  23. Old shoes
  24. Empty bottles of
  25. Broken necklaces
  26. The other half of a missing earring
  27. Clothes that don't fit you right now
  28. Old/unused/broken hangers
  29. CD's
  30. Receipts you don't need
  31. Old bills
  32. Empty perfume bottles
  33. One of anything you duplicates of
  34. Old invitations
  35. Outdated electronics
  36. Piles of plastic grocery bags
  37. Old paint
  38. Neglected projects you won't get around to finishing
  39. Rarely used kitchen gadgets
  40. Extra buttons
  41. Soap/shampoo/conditioner from hotel rooms
  42. Tissue paper/gift bags/bows that you're going to "reuse"
  43. Hair accessories you don't use
  44. Old bras
  45. Ripped up pet toys
  46. Stockings with runs
  47. Unused vases
  48. Extra tupperware containers (they're reusable!)
  49. Unused stationery, stickers, sticky notes
  50. Last year's calendar
  51. Business cards from places you don't need
  52. Books you have already read
  53. Chopsticks from restaurants (if you use them a lot, buy a reusable pair!)
  54. Pencils where the eraser doesn't work
  55. Dried out pens
  56. Extra shoelaces
  57. Last years Christmas cards (both yours and ones you received)
  58. Cardboard food boxes
  59. Old dish sponge
  60. Hair products you don't use (you don't need 3 different types of shampoo)
  61. Board games with missing pieces
  62. Old homework
  63. Textbooks from classes you're finished with
  64. Extra sets of headphones
  65. That bag of gems/rocks you got from a tourist spot
  66. Old prescription glasses
  67. Broken sunglasses
  68. Worn out flip-flops
  69. Loyalty cards you don't use
  70. Free samples
  71. Posters you don't display
  72. Excess decks of cards
  73. Phone books
  74. Magnets
  75. Extra decorative pillows
  76. Paper plates
  77. Plastic forks/knives/spoons
  78. Empty shoeboxes
  79. Lanyards/keychains you don't use
  80. Puzzle books
  81. Broken Christmas lights
  82. Ornaments that have no sentimental meaning
  83. Old contact lens cases
  84. Extra bubble wrap
  85. Crafting supplies you bought for a project but don't use anymore
  86. Plastic water bottles (buy a reusable one!)
  87. Belts you don't like
  88. Hats you don't wear
  89. Puzzles with missing pieces
  90. Old medication
  91. The other half of a missing mitten/sock
  92. Used/ripped envelopes
  93. Random containers/jars
  94. Extra matchbooks
  95. Chip clips
  96. Old, raggy towels
  97. Old school projects
  98. Small pieces of scrap paper/ribbon/string
  99. Notes from your middle school lover
  100. Chapstick

What else would you add to the list?


A Call for Simplicity

A Call for Simplicity Simplicity and minimalism are becoming hot topics in today's society. People feel the need to downsize in order to feel less frazzled. That's a good thing! Personally, I'm beginning the journey to minimalism–using baby steps. I find it difficult to jump headfirst into a new lifestyle. If you're like me, here are a few small steps you can take to begin to simplify your life.

1. Possessions

If you feel the need to begin simplifying your life, eliminating the amount of things you own is a great place to start. Choose a finite number of items to get rid of (perhaps 20, 50, or 100—it’s easier than you may think), or choose to purge 10 items from each room in your house. A few places to consider:

  • Your closet (creating a capsule wardrobe is a great idea!)
  • Your desk (do you really need another set of pens?)
  • Your beauty items (find a hair and makeup routine and keep only items that you use, no extras)
  • Your "collections" (throw away old nail polish and consider donating any movies of books you don't need to watch anymore)
  • Paper items (trash any old coupons/flyers and cut out the pages you want to keep from magazines)

2. Time

Sometimes we give priority to less important tasks and people over those we really should care about. Try this exercise:

First, make a list of everything you need to do in one day. My list looks something like: school, homework, work, blogging, time with Caleb, time with friends, cooking, cleaning, relaxation.

Second, prioritize that list. For me, spending time with Caleb is number one, then important things like school, homework, and work come next.

Next, honestly decide if you can fit all those events into a normal day. I realized at the beginning of this year that I tried to fit too much into my days. How did I fix that? I began to say no to things.

Then, schedule out your ideal day, giving more time to things more important and less time to tasks that aren't.

3. Attention

In a world where multi-tasking is considered normal, even admired, people still aren’t getting stuff done as efficiently as they could. Simplify your to-do list by learning to single-task.

  • Focus on having only one tab open at a time so you can truly engage with what you’re reading and learning. (This is hard for me. I currently have 22 tabs open…)
  • Keep your desktop clean, clear, and organized so that you aren’t distracted or stressed out throughout the day.
  • Avoid distractions by turning off the TV, putting your phone away from sight, and closing the door.
  • Prioritize by focusing on what is most important first and moving to the next task as you complete them.

3. Nature

Nature naturally makes you feel good :) If you feel overwhelmed, spend some time outdoors. Take a walk, ride on a bike trail, eat dinner on the deck/patio, let nature inspire you!

4. Technology

Sometimes it feels like technology complicates our lives rather than simplifying it. But it doesn't have to be that way! Monitor the amount of time per day that you're on your phone, tablet, or computer (not counting work) and decide how much you can reduce your usage and still be satisfied. Even simple tasks like deleting emails can take up a lot of useful time. Take the time to unenroll yourself from campaigns or sign up for a service such as to clear out any unnessary email clutter.

What about you? Have you considered living a more minimalistic lifestyle?


P.S. 8 Ways to Simplify Your Life!