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?


  1. I am following your blog because my 16 year old son just got diagnosed with Chrohn's Disease after having a severe bowel obstruction and Sepsys. The kid is soooo lucky to be here after that horrific event. We're lucky too. Your blog has brought me comfort. Although he knows he has it, he doesn't want to learn about it. I guess that's partly because of his age, but I think it's bringing him a lot of stress. Thank you for sharing your story. I know that as I read, I'll be able to share ideas and experiences with him when he's ready to listen.

  2. Wow Kristi,

    I am so touched by your comment. Thank you so much! It means a lot to me to hear from readers. I know that your son will want to focus on his life and he might feel like learning about it will make it 'real' and bring him down. He'll deal with it at his own pace just like you said. He sounds like a kid with a lot on his shoulders. You're a really good Mom for learning for him and being there. :)
    Thank you for reading.
    ~Bright Side

  3. I totally agree with this post, but how do you avoid social obligations? Even family obligations? I know that stress is a huge trigger for me, but I can't seem to avoid it no matter how hard I try!

  4. Sometimes it helps to ask someone else to host a family event. Ask guests to bring a dish and make it a pot-luck instead of cooking all day. Consolidate birthdays into one event or politely bow out of optional events.

    For social engagements, you only have to be as social as you want to be. If something would be more exhausting than fun, don't go! Many of us get caught up with volunteer activities, helping out with kids' school, church, etc. It really is ok to say no to all of them except the ones you can truly handle or enjoy the most. Or perhaps help out with every-other event. Start with dropping just _one_ obligation, and go from there. A polite explanation to the person in charge or to your friends will usually do the trick. People won't be as upset as we think they'll be.

  5. Check out this great article about saying 'No'.

  6. I just started reading your blog I am also a women in my yearly thirties with crohn's disease. And I am also from Canada. I had a bowel resection 6 months ago and in the last couple of weeks have been having symptoms again.(I mean it is not as bad as it was before the surgery but noticeable none the less). I was wondering if you have gotten you results back from your colonoscopy? Because my GI keeps saying that there is no way that I am having pains again but I know my body. Do you know if it is possible for a person to not even go into remission after having this surgery? I also have hasimoto's disease and don't know if I am mistaking symptoms because the doctor's are just not being very helpful. Any input would be greatly apprechiated!

  7. Hi, My doctor told me he has seen people with active Crohn's again anywhere from 6 months to 5 years after surgery. So it's certainly possible. Any doctor that says there's "no way" you're feeling the way you say you're feeling is not giving you the best care. He should be sending you for tests asap.
    I have not received my results yet, my appt is in the beginning of April.

    Good luck, and thanks for reading!