Simplify to Heal: Why Simplify First

I’ve noticed a trend in advice columns that I find both interesting, and a little unsettling. Until recently, however, I was unclear about what exactly it was that bothered me about these particular types of questions and responses.

The format goes something like this: a reader or subscriber writes in, explaining to the column expert that they are overwhelmed in a particular area of their life (it could be as a mother, in their job, with their eating plan, in household maintenance, in their relationships or marriage, in their sex life, or all of the above). The expert then responds with what is very obviously well-thought out, sound professional advice. Usually that advice is to add certain practices, habits or behaviors to the individual’s life – things that we have probably all heard before and that, when properly applied, can make a huge difference in a person’s quality of life.

Even though the response is good advice, I have often found myself sitting with a feeling of frustration at the reply. In the past I’ve simply  moved on and read something else without bringing any curiosity to why I am left feeling unsatisfied.

The other day I read another one of these columns, where the working mother described her feelings of utter overwhelm and struggle, along with the reply that she needed to add to her self-care routine to help her to cope with her level of stress.

Well, I recently read Tara Brach’s latest book True Refuge,and I have been trying to apply the practices that she recommends, so I applied a little gentle curiosity to the powerful feelings of irritation that washed over me as I read the reply. What I uncovered was this: many years of my life were spent trying to follow the best self-care advice so that I could heal myself and move forward with my life. Many of those years yielded very little, if any, positive results.

Until I started to simplify.

I am a huge advocate of adding things into your life that will bring it richness and joy, but when your life is full to bursting with all manner of clutter – whether it’s physical clutter, unchecked demands on your time or unresolved mental struggles – where is the space to add those positive things?

This is the reason why I am so passionate in my feeling that every person, as they are starting to craft the exact life that they desire, first take the time to simplify.

There are so many wonderful books, blogs, ideas and projects out there to help you simplify. Over the next several weeks I will be posting a Monday series that I’m calling “Simplify to Heal” that will point you in the direction of some of my favorites.

If you spend much time reading comments on different blogs and forums within the celiac community, you probably already know that many of us have a very difficult time achieving an ongoing state of health and wellness. There are so many different issues that people with celiac disease struggle with as we are trying to repair the damage that was done to our gut and other bodily systems before we knew what was causing our illness. All of my suggestions and the resources that I will reference throughout this series are aimed at addressing the different areas of our lives that eat up our time and energy in ways that may not be contributing to our wellness. Please use what resonates with you and leave the rest; it’s an individual journey and as you start simplifying, you will find that you intuitively know what needs to go to make room for the things that are most important.

My husband and I started very simply with a book: Throw Out 50 Things by Gail Blanke. This book was our introduction to the idea of living with less – a concept which, for us, has since snowballed! Once we started to clear away the physical clutter in our lives, we were able to shift our vision and priorities for our life, realize how much less we could live with and what a better quality of life that offered to us. The year that our family began our great downsizing journey was the year that I was really able to progress in my physical healing and conceive, carry and birth our third child with a strength I didn’t know I had. I also really began the slower but even more important journey of mental and emotional self-healing.

Without that first step of simplifying, I would never have been able to heal my body the way that I have, and I wouldn’t even be able to envision a future in which I am thriving. There simply wouldn’t be room for the healthy and sustaining habits that I’ve been able to adopt that have furthered my healing and increased my quality of life.

I hope that you will find much of value to you throughout this series, and that you will comment freely and respectfully about your experiences, challenges and successes. If there is anything I have learned as I’ve begun to participate in both the minimalist and celiac communities, it’s that support and community matters a great deal in making lifestyle changes. I also hope that you will share with your friends and family the posts that work for you or that you feel may be of benefit to them.

(Please note – I am not an amazon affiliate at this time; so the links that I have placed are simply recommendations based on products that have brought value to my life and helped me along my way. If that changes I will immediately disclose that, but rest assured that I will never recommend a product, book or blog unless I feel that it may be of value to you.)

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