Simplify life to the essential

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” — Hans Hofmann


Can you imagine going from feeling utterly disappointed with your life and with yourself — to the point of feeling worthless — to finally feeling good in your own skin?

It sounds almost too good to be true...yet I've lived it.

Per aspera ad astra loosely means: "To the stars through difficulties”. Or put another way, in the words of Napoleon Hill: "Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

Hitting rock bottom was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me. My priorities in life became crystal clear. What also became obvious were the changes I needed to make: to simplify everything in my life!

I committed to making those changes, no matter how long they might take. The list was long and daunting, so I began with the easy ones — creating beautiful moments for myself each day and taking time out to nurture myself. Each of the changes felt good. Essential.

Armand and I began going out on dates to rejuvenate our relationship.
I started eating properly again.
I rejoined the gym.
And I started teaching and sharing what life has taught me.

Before getting out of bed each morning I asked myself what one thing I could do that day to move me in the right direction. Some days the answer that popped into my mind was to focus on my body and health. On others, it was to focus on my relationship. And for many months the answer was to focus on changing my home.

Transforming my home has provided the biggest positive effect on me, as my home is my sanctuary and the place where I re-energize. For many years I had wanted to move but couldn’t due to circumstances, and I felt stuck.

Making small changes, such as buying the orchids I’d never allowed myself to have, gave me instant relief. With each change I made — no matter how small — I paused to savor and to celebrate my progress.

Essentially, I transformed myself from the inside-out by making “feeling good” about myself my top priority, and I did that by nurturing myself each day.

Over the course of the past few years, all those baby steps have added up. Sure, there have been some set-backs, but I’ve made great strides in creating the life I want. I also created a new home without moving!

Transforming my home

In 2006 I had wanted to move to a house and to start a family, but neither panned out. So Armand and I decided to make the best of things while we continued looking. We decided to re-style our home by painting the walls white and removed the out-dated wallpaper that had come with the apartment. Imagine my surprise when we found lots of holes in the concrete walls! Long story short, we decided to roll with the "industrial look" and just painted over it because the cost of hiring someone to plaster every wall was astronomical. We figured we would only have to put up with it for a year, because surely we were moving…

Fast forward to 2012. I had cried many tears over those holes and was no closer to moving. I dreamed of smooth, plastered walls instead of rough, concrete ones.

Then I hit rock bottom and broke. And picked myself back up again.

First, I envisioned how I wanted my new home to look. Then I got rid of the things that didn't match that vision. Next, I began with small purchases that I call "easy wins" — those inexpensive items that would change the appearance of my home and give me great pleasure, such as the orchids I already mentioned.

Before I bought anything, I got clear on what I really, truly wanted and made sure it tied into the big picture of how I wanted my home to look. I did a lot of research before making any purchases.

Everything I bought were things that could move with us. Over the course of a year, I slowly worked my way through my wish list of small items. Then one day we got a letter from the owner of our apartment building saying our kitchen, bathroom, and powder room would be updated. With that, we decided to stay, and I committed to renovating the rest of the apartment, from floor to ceiling, myself.

I plastered every inch of wall in my home. I painted every door and door frame. I painted the entire ceiling.

It was a huge undertaking and moved forward in fits and starts, with many months of inactivity.

An old friend, who has known me since high school, beautifully summed up what I went through when he wrote, “[I'm] not sure one could recognize the emotional and psychological changes that you have gone through in this process. The home renovation is your metaphor. You didn't just paint over and cover up the flawed and damaged areas. You renovated the entire home. You tore it down to the bare bones and reconstructed it to your own vision. You knew what was wrong on the surface and underneath and you are working on all of it.”

Damn, was he ever right!

I have poured my love into this home and can feel it when I walk in the front door. While I might not be finished, I'm pleased that I began the journey because now I feel good about myself.

And the day came when I was ready to look myself in the eye...and I bought a full-length mirror!

“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn

“Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth.” – Unknown

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – A.A. Milne

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Never, never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill

“As soon as anyone starts telling you to be 'realistic', cross that person off your invitation list.” – John Eliot

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” – Unknown