Thursday, February 24, 2011

Simplification Changes Everything

I received a comment from a new reader and as I sometimes do I followed her profile to her own blog. There I read a familiar story. Someone struggling to take care of kids, family, social obligations, a relationship, pets, errands, chores and more, all while dealing with the pain and fatigue of Crohn's Disease.

As I wrestle with the emotions brought on by my own resurgence of faint Crohns-y pains (it's been one year since my surgery and I had a follow up colonoscopy last week; I should get results in a few weeks) and remember how drained I felt during my flare up a year ago, I ask myself what the solution is to lives that need us to be active and busy, but bodies that need extra rest and care. I've struggled with this question for a while.

I haven't found The Solution, but I have found a solution. Taking the first steps on this path has already started changing my life.

I don't normally endorse products, services or programs on this blog, so when I do, I take it seriously. Today, I am talking about a book, even better, a free book, a blog by the author and a philosophy about a way of life.

I started by stumbling upon this blog: which contains posts about Minimalism. I then found the author - Leo Babauta's other blog: and then his book: Focus, which you can read and download for free without restrictions here:

I have read the whole book and am making my way through his blog posts. The man has a point. A good one.

While I'm not saying we should all get rid of all of our belongings and live in empty rooms, I am saying that we pile way too much 'stuff' onto ourselves. Too many junk belongings, too many obligations, too much work, too much TV, too much stuff on our plates. What happened to saying 'no'? What happened to actual living?

What if you didn't have so much junk to clean and organize? What if you didn't have obligations every evening? What if you said 'no' to working on the weekend? One step at a time.

I've started on this path already. I am gathering bags of belongings to donate or sell. I'm starting by setting the bar very low. If something has not been touched, used, or looked at in over a year AND if it does not evoke any memories or actual emotional connections then I want to get rid of it. This is very hard but I'm starting with one step at a time. I'm also simplifying my projects and learning to say no to things I know I won't enjoy. It's a process but it's making a difference.

What if you had less to worry about, less to do, less debt, and less to clean? What would you do instead? Have fun? Rest? Spend time with family? More is crushing us, less is better. Simple is good.

Interested in reading the Zen Habits book?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Washroom Access Laws and Resources

When 1,400 people were asked to answer the CCFC's bathroom access survey, the results revealed that about three-quarters of IBD sufferers avoid leaving their homes during a flare up due to unpredictable access to washroom facilities. (Source: These numbers throw a spotlight on the number of lives being restricted or limited due to something which seems so fixable - washroom access.

In both Canada and the USA this issue is being addressed and people are finding solutions. The CCFC has released a new web and mobile phone application called Can't Wait ( which helps people to find and report on public washroom available across Canada. In Washington, bill HB1138 has passed which mandates that businesses provide emergency washroom access to people with bowel disorders. That's a start!

While I have never been denied washroom access when I needed it, I've also never had to explain my condition or state that it's "an emergency" in order to get access to a washroom that's not otherwise available to the public. I'm not sure if I could really get past the shyness enough to do so. Could you? I find it alarming that people are staying home and missing out on life due to fears around washroom access. Let's encourage each other to get out there, be brave, and insist on using the washroom if necessary. After all, in many places the law is on our side, and in others, society is moving in that direction.