Category Archives: Relationships

Celebrate the No’s in Your Life

by Kelvin Belfon

celebrate-the-no's-in-your-life

Over the weekend, I completed a coaching training with leading Life and Business Coach Jevonnah “Lady J” Ellison. The sessions were challenging, inspiring, and creative. The biggest win was to experience a major clarifying breakthrough in my vision for my business.

The training was intense. It demanded six hours, spread across two days. The other participants and I collaborated, sharing details of each other’s enterprises and encouraging each other as we opened up space to dream big.

In the closing session, there was one concept that held my attention and now serves as the impetus for this article. It was when Lady J would emphasize several times this idea, “Celebrate the no’s in your life”

My first reaction to this idea was something like this Jamaican Patois phrase: “Wheel and come again, kaaz wah yuh a seh nuh mek nuh sense.”

English Translation: “Please repeat…because what have just said makes no sense.”

“Celebrate the no’s in your life?” Excuse me? Many of the no’s I’ve heard are tied to painful histories that I’ve gladly put out of my mind. Why would I want to round them up for some comeback celebration?

But Lady J went on to clarify her position. In the end, she had me convinced. It’s like this, we all desire to be loved and accepted. We crave being included, approved, and affirmed by others. Let’s be honest, some of us very much live for approval.

“Yes, you passed the exam!”

“Yes, you are getting a bigger contract!”

“Yes, your home loan was approved!”

“Yes, I’ll marry you!”

Yes, Yes, Yes! I’ve got to admit it—yes is a pretty comforting sound to hear.

But think about it—is it realistic to only receive yes…every time? Is that something we can really thrive on exclusively? If there were zero no’s, wouldn’t yes lose its significance over time?

After I graduated from community college back in Grenada, I applied to several banking institutions I knew of for a teller position. That kind of professional working environment was attractive to me. Several of my colleagues were hired…but not me. In fact, I received five no’s.

Next, I tried applying for different positions at the airport. Since I spoke Spanish fluently, I figured I would be an easy sell in the travel industry. But each airlines said the same thing: No, no, no, no! I guess Kelvin as a flight attendant wasn’t an appealing prospect for them as I had imagined after all.

Rejection is never easy to digest in the moment. But those no’s would in fact change the course of my life.

Eventually, I became an elementary school teacher; and the next eight months became the highlight of my post-college life. I had fun, felt alive and enjoyed the opportunity to educate and mentor students. In retrospect, I was actually happy for the no’s. The pain of the initial rejection ultimately had no lasting effect.

The no’s in our lives sometimes allow us to discover our gifts and purposes.

The no’s help us codify our standards. They reveal to us what we will accept and what we will not. There is ever so much a thing as, “This is a no for my life” as there is a “This is a yes for my life.”

The no’s can be a blessing in disguise. Do you remember that breakup? It was painful but a few years later it was the best decision for you because life handed you someone else whom you now enjoy. How about your business? It was started only after your ex-boss said no and let you go. Rejection does have its benefits.

The no’s mean that you are making progress. Things are happening! As Lady J says, “People are noticing you.” They are reading your email, your application, your proposal, whatever you’ve sent them. The pushback is a good thing. So, that grant agency rejected you. That only means that you’ll have to come back harder with an even more compelling and concise argument for why you need those startup funds. Tighten up your idea even more and celebrate that no!” It’s a sign that you are drawing closer to your goal.

The no’s protect us from an unhealthy scenario. They mean a better alternative is in our future.

The no’s build character, patience, tenacity, grit, creativity and determination. We learn. We grow and we become better individuals as a result of it. So don’t give up!

What’s your initial reaction when you hear the word no? Do you need to change your perspective or attitude? Breathe. Slow down and reflect. You’ve just been given a valuable opportunity to change the course of your future.

As you move forward, give yourself permission to celebrate your no’s. It might be the 99th no…that’s ok. It’s a win. Smile! The law of numbers will kick in. It’s only a matter of time before your next yes. And when that happens, it will be sweet and well deserved.

 

Before you go

  • Congratulations to Michele S! You are the winner of The More of Less by Joshua Becker.
  • Check out “Lady J” blog http://ladyjevonnahellison.com/ or follow on Facebook

 

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The More of Less by Joshua Becker

by Kelvin Belfon

joshua-becker-becomingminimalist

 

I just finished reading The More of Less. It’s by far Joshua Becker’s best book yet! The pages are filled with inspirational stories, biblical analogies, thought-provoking principles on consumerism and lots of practical decluttering tips.

The More of Less became a National Bestseller, with 15,000 copies in sales in the first two weeks on the market! This goes to show that the benefit of owning less continues to hit a deep chord in society.

The book goes beyond physical clutter and penetrates into visions of a life of purpose as the main payoff of minimalism. This idea may sound trite to some. Even so, as one with firsthand experience of the benefits of a minimalist mindset, having a sense of clarity in one’s life makes a profound difference in your day-to-day activities, not to mention your perspective on life challenges when they come.

Three and a half years ago, our family relocated to Colorado in order to pursue our dreams. We were excited about the possibilities that lie in our mountain Shangri-la. But after the initial walkthrough of our newly rented townhouse, we quickly realized the harsh reality of what it meant to move from an almost 2800 sq. ft. house in the suburbs to a 1600 sq. ft. townhouse in the city with no backyard.

I thought about renting a storage unit; but not wanting the extra monthly payments, dumped the excess in the basement. Over the next few days, I regularly cleaned and organized the boxes, bins, bags, toys, books, office supplies, furniture, and lawn equipment in our small home to keep the clutter at bay.

Then one night I discovered Becker’s Becoming Minimalist while perusing the Internet for ways to declutter. Becker’s articles helped me reduce excess possessions, which in turn had a positive effect on our family. With that, we became minimalists.

A year later, we discovered that by reducing, we in fact had made room in our lives for more. We learned that truth rather quickly when boy/girl surprise twins came along. We’ve also benefited in our relationships, home life and personal health. Minimalism isn’t a cool idea. It’s a game changer!

Below is my review of The More of Less by Joshua Becker.

 

The More of Less by Joshua Becker – Book Review

In The More of Less Becker makes a conscious decision to share the stories of other minimalists and not just his own. “To be clear, this book is not a memoir about my own journey in minimalism…the book isn’t about me. It’s about you,” he writes with a marked sense of humility in the first chapter. I love the diverse sampling of individuals and couples from various careers and cultures he gathers from all over the world.

The book offers a systematic approach to finding the life most people desire. The first section, chapters 1-5, deals with a philosophy of minimalism, to include definitions and popular misconceptions. Becker moreover outlines the impact of consumerism and how to curtail its negatives effects. This section is priceless (no pun intended).

For Becker, minimalism is all about living a life of purpose. “The ultimate benefit of minimalism is that it enables you to fulfill your greatest passion.” And the removal of obvious obstacles in our domestic, social and emotional atmosphere is one of the most time tested ways we can accomplish this.

One of the most challenging quotations in the book for me was, “Sometimes, parting with our possessions means giving up an image that we have created in our mind of the person we would like to become. Sometimes, minimizing possessions means a dream must die.”

I think we can all attest to the fact that at some point in our lives, how we’ve conceived of ourselves lacks direct correlation to the person that looks backs at us in the mirror. This myth of identity is better off confronted and smashed if we’re ever to end cycles of disillusionment and dissatisfaction about life.

The-More-of-Less

In the second section, chapters 6-9, Becker addresses the nuts and bolt of the decluttering process. If you are a beginner or feel overwhelmed, Becker has these comforting words, “You don’t have to start with the hard stuff. Start easy. Start small. Just start somewhere.” Those words, I hope will come to readers as a gentle encouragement that it’s okay to go easy and leave tough sentimental assets for the end.

Here the book deviates from KonMari method in some areas. What separates Marie Kondo from Becker is that he advocates decluttering room by room instead of by category. Within this thinking, the slogan “Keep only the best” cues the declutterer to perform a different set of mental analyses than what happens when Kondo followers hear her question, “Does it spark joy?”

In this regard, both Becker and Kondo’s methods are probing us to make decision based on the qualitative merits of our possession. Yet I found Becker’s approach to be slightly less cutthroat. Section two concludes with 6 helpful, yet fun decluttering activities.

The third section, chapters 9-13, is about preventative care. In other words, he answers the question, “How can I avoid relapsing into my old ways?” This section is so good! You won’t put the book down here. What especially became attractive to me was where Becker addresses the dilemma of practicing minimalism in a family or sharing space with someone who may not be onboard with minimalism.

The book is not just an instructional for seekers of a minimalist way. It is also a voyage along the watercourse of Becker’s own development. It opens with the remarkable story of Becker’s Memorial Day epiphany while cleaning his garage. But in chapter 13, the book concludes in Honduras and discusses Hope Effect, a non-profit organization founded by Becker to care for orphans.

One of the biggest lessons of the book for me is found in the diversity Becker brings. The truth I hear him illustrate is that although one may start the journey with just a simple need to declutter, minimalism is bigger than that and can have payoffs outside of our immediate reach.

Minimalism is about silencing the noise of excess in order to find your voice. It holds the possibility of opening up opportunities for generosity, displayed in our concern for others and the environment.

I certainly enjoyed my copy of The More of Less. Pick up a copy. It will be money well spent. If you have a copy of Becker’s new book and have worked your way through its pages, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line and let’s keep the conversation going.

 

Before you go

  • The More of Less GIVEAWAY! To enter to win a free copy of the book, leave a comment below. You can enter until midnight MST on Tuesday, June 21st.

 

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Surround Yourself With The Right People

by Kelvin Belfon

Surround-Yourself-Right-People

 

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

The people in our lives matter. They either help us reach our destiny or hinder our growth.

I was reminded of this truth in a recent conversation with my wife Camilla. She’s currently working on a PhD degree in Religious Studies. With an 8-year old, 5-year old, 2-year olds twins, me and a house to care for, how she accomplishes all she does is a mystery to me.

Camilla’s academic workload includes attending classes, writing multiple papers, and sometimes grading and delivering lectures as a teacher assistant. What she’s got going on is more than two full-time jobs. She oftentimes turns nights into days; and even that is sometimes not enough.

I have no doubts in my wife’s abilities. She’s smart and industrious. But as she’s stated along the way, the big key to progressing through this PhD is that she surrounds herself with a supportive network.

An even bigger key for her is that she is mindful of “trimming the fat.” What I mean is that she often de-clutters relationships that are bad news for her so as to maintain a minimalist community based on mutual respect and faithfulness. Camilla has assembled a diverse team of professors, colleagues and friends to serve as confidants as she pursues her academic goals.

The doctoral attrition rate is 50% (or even higher in some cases) according to the Ph.D. Completion Project. Besides lack of financial aid, students sighted the most critical factors to success in a PhD program is the lack of an encouraging “program environment.” In other words, feelings of being isolated and abandoned are overriding causes for at least 50% of PhD candidates dropping out.

What this suggests to me is that education, skills, economic force and family history are all good essential determinators in a person’s ability to flourish. But even more essential is getting the right people orbiting your sphere. So, if you want to be successful, you must take this age-old advice seriously– choose your friends wisely.

surrounding-yourself-right-people-

The people on your power team will serve distinct roles. Some will inspire, motivate and highlight your best. Some make great conversation partners for mutual exchanges of strategies, insights and challenges.

Others will not be so easily impressed with where you are. They’ll push you and provide constructive criticism that won’t always feel comfortable. You’ll have to develop a thick skin and not take yourself so seriously around these folks. You’ll have to resist taking offense and judging them when they’re being honest. There’s a difference between a committed mentor and a toxic relationship.

The right people in your life may only surface during a season of crisis. They may be available infrequently, as a quick lifeline. But because of who they are, you may err if you approach them as your best bud. Keeping a respectful distance and not taking up too much of their time communicates maturity and understanding to these kinds of partners.

They might be older, younger, or reside in another zip code. They may not even be a specialist in your field of interest. What makes them golden is that they have a vital perspective because of their emotional distance from your pursuits.

Analyze your social environment. The people in your world are important. Ask the tough questions, “Is this individual interested in my well-being?” “Does she love me genuinely, without strings attached?” “Is he a liability because of the chaos that seems to be a pattern in his life?”

Troubled and drama prone people are everywhere. They encourage underachievement complacency, imbalance, and unhealthy habits. Some can add unnecessary burden to your already busy life, which can end up hijacking your goals and jeopardizes your personal wholeness.

We need people in our lives. They help us achieve more.

But remember…

Surround yourself with smart and encouraging people. Spend time with people who believe in your dreams. Find people who celebrate your accomplishments but are also honest to lovingly push you to your greatest potential.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

How to Respond to Rejection

by Kelvin Belfon

How-Respond-Rejection-Job

Thank you for your interest… After reviewing your application, we regret to inform you…

Have you ever received a letter containing those dreadful words?

Well, I have, multiple times. They don’t ever seem to go away and last week after I retrieved my mail, I was reminded of the empty feeling those words leave. It cuts like a dagger to know that something you so anticipated would be a reality, something you had already began to mentally arrange life to accommodate, would not be after all.

There’s a certain natural progression that takes place within the first paragraph of these kinds of letters. First, emotionlessness, then disappointment, then discouragement, and sometimes even depression. Somehow, I’m even programmed to stop reading once my eyes glances those awful trigger words.

Do you know what I mean?

We regret to inform you….

Really?

Over the years I’ve discovered that my response to these letters and rejection in general has changed. I no longer feel inferior or emotional after reading those words.

You see, we all desire acceptance. It’s a basic human need. So rejection is never easy to concede no matter how many times we’ve been declined. Some gut reaction to rejection is to be expected. The secret lies in controlling that response. It’s the only way to help make swallowing the pill much more bearable.

 

How to Respond to Rejection

The first rejection isn’t the final answer. A denial doesn’t mean a closed door. Try again. Write another letter. Make an appeal. Make a phone call. Try somewhere else. Speak with another person, if necessary to a manager. Be persistent, creative, and tenacious. Ask questions and find another way to make things happen. Elbert Hubbard said, “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”

Use the rejection as an opportunity to improve. When someone says no, if possible, find out the specifics of why. Then use the feedback to learn, grow and become better. When I was 21, an online professor said he couldn’t read my handwriting for an assignment. The note was a blow to my ego. But after my pity-party, I did something about it. You see, as I went through school in my country, typing classes weren’t offered. So, I bought a “Learn to Type” program at the local office supply store and got to work on it. I learned and the rest is history.

Don’t take the rejection personal. There are multiple reasons why a position is not offered to you. Some companies have their “man” already lined up before the job posting. There could be too many qualified applicants in the pool for the same position. Whatever the reason, the decision may have nothing to do with your personality, intellect or skills. Everyone is not out to sabotage you. Be kind to yourself and avoid an unhealthy self-judgment or criticism. Clear your mind from feelings of unworthiness and move on.

The rejection is their loss, not yours. Resumes, applications and even interviews don’t always capture a person’s true potentials. Even more, committees sometimes have so many applications to comb through that they end up streamlining their review to a few keywords that they’ve decided tells them whether the candidate they are looking for is you or not. This process is loaded with all kinds of opportunities for error because great applicants are sometimes ruled out without their awareness of it. You live with yourself and know the benefits you can bring an organization or relationship. If you are qualified but have recently received the “we regret to inform you” letter…it’s ok. It’s their loss, not yours.

Use the rejection as motivation to start your own. A “no” might be the exact word you need to hear. If you are passionate about your idea, maybe it’s time to launch your own business. You may need to have a few conversations with key people who know of important connections you need to make or critical facts you need in order to get going. Many people have used “rejection” as an opportunity to build their dreams. Why not you? Why not now?

 

little-more-persistence-Elbert-Hubbard

 

Rejection could mean not now but later. There were times when I thought, “ Kelvin, you’re ready.” But I was young and naïve. In hindsight the rejection letters only protected me. The right timing is everything. In my last semester of college, I applied to continue my education in Israel. The request wasn’t approved and I concluded that the door to Israel was forever closed. It’s been a 13-year wait till now. In just a few days, a work colleague and I will be leading a group close to 100 people on a Holy Land Tour. As I ponder what has transpired over the years since that first rejection, going to Israel is so much more meaningful now.

Be grateful for the rejection. Yes, I know it sounds crazy but a rejection might be a blessing in disguise. Some relationships, work environments or ventures are toxic and hold the potential of sucking you dry. A month ago, I was coaching a young man who was miserable in his job. The turn over in his department was outrageous. When I got off the phone, I remembered how the same position was offered to me 3 years ago. All I could think to myself was, “Yes, I’ve dodged another bullet.” Oh, if we all had a crystal ball we would be writing more thank you notes to those people or committees that reject us instead of questioning our self-worth!

It would be great to hear similar stories from you. Have you experienced rejection that ended up being a blessing in disguise?

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Minimalist Marriage Advice for Newlyweds

by Kelvin Belfon

Minimalist-Newlyweds-Marriage

“Love is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other, and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals, they are even better together.” – Barbara Cage

 

Recently I had the privilege of reuniting with a good friend. I drove 12 hours to the destination, stopping only once for 10 minutes. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to see him and his fiancée.

I met my friend when he was only 16 years old in our youth group. He had a timid and reserved disposition. Over the years, I’ve witnessed him blossomed into a leader and thinker.

About year ago, Camilla and I had a surprise visit from him. We met for lunch and he talked about life, being almost done with his bachelor’s degree, and a girlfriend. He dreamed about his future with this girlfriend by his side, as his wife.

Within the year, he broke the news to me. They were engaged…and happy about the prospect of building a life together.

On Saturday, July 18th, Kevin and I stood at the altar side by side. Oh, I felt so old. It had been 8 years since we first met; he had become a man, and would soon be Savannah’s husband. It was a proud and emotional moment for anyone who knew him well.

During the ceremony, I was consumed with thoughts that lasted the duration of my 12-hour drive back home, “What might minimalist marriage advice for newlyweds be someone like Kevin?”

In my car, driving across the country, thoughts about my own marriage and so many others held my attention. I thought about the destination of some I knew back home who were seriously dating and a few friends who are newlyweds.

I thought about my own children. I know, they are so young but I couldn’t help wonder what their ideals might be when the time comes for them to start a family.

Camilla and I had our share of ups and downs since our “I do” moment about 16 years ago. But we’ve grown and continue to be best friends. The idea of trimming the fat in our lives and separating wants from needs is an ongoing exercise in precision. I’m no expert yet, but I thought it to be appropriate to share a few thoughts to newlyweds out there like Kevin and Savannah.

 

Minimalist Marriage Advice

Value your spouse more than your possessions. Relationships are more important than things. However, our actions tend to reveal the opposite when we spend long hours working and caring for excessive material possessions. In a report on the Psychology of Materialism, research finds a connection between struggling marriages and high levels of materialism among couples. Materialism can lead one to become less focused on nurturing his/her relationship with the opposite sex. Your spouse should never play second fiddle to the things in your closet, living room, garage or wealth. Value and love your spouse more than any of your possessions.

Take control of your finances. Couples bring unnecessary strain in the relationship when they start off their marriage living beyond their means. Bad financial problems continue to be one of the leading causes of divorce today. It addition, it can lead to distrust, constant conflict, depression, stress, and even bankruptcy. The obvious but not so fun solution – live on a budget, set aside an emergency fund, and start paying off debt. Another time-tested bit of advice – avoid credit cards, get-rich schemes, other forms of debt (gambling, opening lines of credit, etc), and learn to pay yourself first from every paycheck. That is, save at least 10% of your income. A great read is Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.

Consolidate but stay true to who you are. It is conceivable that both partners could potentially bring together enough stuff to crowd out a home from the start. As such, you need to be even more ruthless in taking inventory, consolidating and pitching duplicate. Ask yourselves, “What do we really need?” Then minimize, keeping the things you absolutely love and can’t live without. Giveaway or donate those that will only junk up the new life you’re trying to build.

Broken, outdated, and personal items from past relationships should be purged. It’s a new season, be willing to let go and make room for the new person in your life. You are now one, a unit, and a team. Yet don’t feel threatened about losing your individuality.

Chose quality over quantity. Better quality items will last longer and save you time and money. If you received similar wedding gifts, pick the better quality item and exchange the rest for something you need. Better still, if you can, get the cash and pay off debt or save the money. When purchasing new furniture, appliances and other home items, select those that can serve multiple functions as they can sometimes conserve on space. Unless absolutely necessary, don’t rush the process. Exercise patience in accumulating good quality items instead of buying things you’ll need to replace frequently.

Do NOT compare your marriage with others. It’s a common mistake for newlyweds to compare themselves with other couples. Judging your marriage based on the examples of your parents, friends, mentors and even fictional characters in a book or movie is a distraction from discovering the potentials that lie within the walls of your own home. Don’t try to live up to the Joneses either! Some people have accumulated what they have through inheritance, gifts, or years of handwork. What they have may even be an avatar of the level of their indebtedness.

Another thing, don’t embrace negative marriage stereotypes. “When the honeymoon wears off, you’ll experience reality.” “When you start having kids things will get harder.” “When you…. [fill in the blank]. Sure you’ll encounter difficult seasons in life but every marriage is unique. You don’t have to live up to traditional expectations. Expect the best, be positive, patient and forge your own path! When you encounter a pothole, deal with it as a team and move on.

 

couples-wedding-simplicity

 

Spend your time making memories, not accumulating things. There is nothing wrong with material possessions. Newlyweds need certain basics possessions. But along the marriage journey, treasure moments with your spouse. Be intentional about seeking to create memories. These are more significant and long lasting. Avoid trying to impress each other with things tied to their monetary value during anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. Invest in things with value tied to what your spouse means to you.

Stay healthy together. Do you remember the Freshman 15 syndrome? It’s when students would gain an extra 15 lbs in their first year of college as a result their unhealthy diet and more sedentary lifestyles.  Well, the same can be true for young married couples. Studies find that newlyweds are more likely to gain weight after the “I do” moment.  As such, newlywed should stay active by exercising or walking regularly. They should also eat a healthy diet that focuses on fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. Avoid eating box meals loaded with processed and GMO ingredients. In general, limit dining out on fast foods.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. I saved this one for last for a reason. It’s probably the most indispensable advice that you want to chew on after you’re done reading this article. The more newlyweds can share with each other, the more likely they’ll stay together for the long haul. Avoid keeping each other in the dark when it comes to your fears, career expectations, children, finances, frustrations and dreams. Keep the lines of communication open, constructive and honest. Be specific, not even the most talented spouse can read minds. Lastly, communication involves actively listening to your partner, even when you already know the answer to their question. It’s more about honor and respect than being right or having the last word in every verbal exchange.

What minimalist marriage advice would you like to share?

 

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The Art of Meaningful Conversation

by Kelvin Belfon

art-meaninful-conversation

“Clutter isn’t just the stuff in your closet. It’s anything that gets between you and the life that you want to be living.” – Peter Walsh

 

Mastering the art of meaningful conversations is a key to advancing your life goals.

Two weeks ago, I was offered an amazing opportunity. I shared the good news with my wife Camilla and a few close friends. Then I called my mother and did the same. She was excited and happy for me.

Five minutes into our conversation, I began to doubt. I started to explain to mom why the opportunity wouldn’t work. She listened then interjected in a stern motherly tone. She encouraged me to stop the negative thinking and, “clean up your vocabulary!”

I was offended at first but she was right…again!

It was also confirmation of a certain aspect of minimalism that I have been subconsciously brewing.

In my opinion, it’s a mistake to limit minimalism to just the physical.

Clutter comes in various forms. And oftentimes, if we don’t get mental clutter in check, everything else we try to accomplish in our physical space becomes burdensome and unsuccessful. In my case, it was through a conversation with my mother that I was reminded of excessive verbal clutter resident in my own speech.

Words are powerful. They can create doubt and fear or inspiration and greatness. We might even say that words shape reality. Yet, all too often the conversations we have with ourselves are that part of life we consider last on the list of things needing tidying up.

What we say to ourselves, I believe, is the most important conversation we’ll have.

Negative self-talk only leads to us spinning our wheels rather than soaring ahead in life. We limit our potential. We invoke hopelessness into an otherwise promising future. We also reduce the probability of accomplishing challenging goals when we engage in pessimistic self talk.

There is an art to meaningful conversation and the key lies in the dialog that goes on inside of us.

The conversations we have with others can either be meaningful or superficial. They can engage our challenges and provide new and stimulating directions for the future.  Or they can reinforce negative self talk that stunts growth. They can even digress into empty gossip or a judgmental spirit. This is superficial and a waste of time.

Less is more and this also applies to conversations we have with others.

Let your conversations count. Let them be meaningful.  Be truthful. Say what you mean. By doing so, you’ll reflect a more accurate picture of who you are; and, as such, relationships are less complicated. We avoid potential toxic conversations with this focus.

If we are to make progress in our minimalist journey, we must master meaningful conversations.

These few suggestion I’ve since found useful in keeping my conversations meaningful. Use brevity and get to the point. It’s okay to keep your conversations short. Avoid empty redundant dialogue and exclamations that only amount to over-exaggerating your reality.

 Respect the value of other people’s time. Listen and ask questions. Be positive, helpful and build others up, even when correcting others. Finally, let love be your motivation for sharing your thoughts with others.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Healthy Habits to Cultivate…Slowly

by Kelvin Belfon

healthy-habits-cultivate-grow

 

The older I get, the faster time seems to just fly away. It was only 10 weeks ago when I began to make plans for the upcoming year. I could not wait! Now it’s the middle of February with only 10 months in the year left. Ouch!

The same is true of my New Years resolutions. These commitments seem to just fly away. Each year I make my typical list…again: Spend more time with the family, pray more, gain weight (yeah, I know, but it’s true), become debt free, and so on.

Then the struggle to stay consistent usually begins around this time of year – February. The enthusiasm starts to slow down and eventually the well-intended promises never make it to the finish line.

The reality is that only 8% of people are successful at achieving their resolutions. Despite this fact, I keep making them, each year. Any accomplishment is better than a life without aspirations, I reasoned.

But over the last 2 years, I’ve made small changes. Instead of resolutions, I’ve decided to focus on cultivating healthy habits to change my lifestyle. The following are 7 habits I’ve been working on slowly.

7 Healthy Habits

Becoming an early riser. I’ve always been a nighthawk, consistently staying up past midnight. And that worked for most of my life. But now, the combination of longer workdays and caring for my little ones have left me exhausted at nights. The switch to rising early was a tough shift. I love sleeping in. But morning is the time when I can be most productive.

Embracing minimalism. In the last 13 years, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of material possessions. The majority has been gifted from my wedding; but later I acquired more on my own every time we relocated. It seems like there has always been a need to customize the new space with new things.

My decision to embrace a minimalist lifestyle has helped create more space, reduced time spent cleaning and caring for things, made our home eco-friendly, and minimized potential debt. But creating room for family and other valuable relationships has been the biggest benefit. In this area, I continue to grow.

Improving my health. I’ve become careless with my diet since moving to America. It’s been more processed foods instead of the normal raw fruits and vegetables. Junk food was cheaper and more convenient. In addition, my exercising routine was non-existent. Returning to a healthy habit of caring for my body was and continues to be a challenge. But I’m taking baby steps like walking more, jogging, and eating raw foods.

Fostering a lifelong learning passion. I had a library with over 5,000 books! But since graduate school, I began to read less, sometimes spending more precious time in front of that rectangular box – the television – than I ought to. Personal development doesn’t just happen by osmosis. So I’ve regained my commitment to reading regularly, exposing myself to new thoughts and ideas.

Establishing relationship boundaries. In the past, I lacked boundaries in my relationships. Because I love to please, I used to have a hard time saying no and letting people know how I really felt. As a result, this was perceived as weakness. I allowed people to control and manipulate my life. It was toxic.

Ending certain relationships, although necessary, was pretty painful. Even so, establishing boundaries by saying no was extremely liberating. I even saw other benefits, such as the improvement of my physical health.

Confronting fears. I’ve never really mastered the English language. So I’ve really feared the idea of starting a blog and going public with my writing. The same was true about other major decisions like relocating, starting a new job slightly outside of the career I’d been used to, and, of course, ending toxic relationships. Fear is paralyzing! But I’m stepping out little by little to confront the unknown.

Practicing Contentment. I must admit, I keep wanting just a little more each week, each month and each year. My wants are typical like a house, car, clothing, electronics, etc. The problem is that no one’s ever truly satisfied once we start going past the basics. We want the best, biggest and the latest.

The habit of contentment is learning that more doesn’t equate happiness. It’s accepting yourself, avoiding meaningless comparisons with others, and living a life of gratitude that brings fulfillment. Sounds good, but I struggle to practice everyday.

Cultivate with the right motivation

The above habits are not exhaustive.

They are strategies you take along your journey, not the final destination. Becoming an early riser is not the goal. On the contrary, the goal is to give the most productive hours of the day to achieving those things in life that are musts.

Moreover, becoming health conscious is more than loosing weight. The greater motivation is to avoid preventable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks. This enables us to be around a little longer for our loved ones.

…Slowly 

When making resolutions, I used to give myself timetables. But the reality is, to make a habit become a lifestyle requires lots of time. I may need even a few years to get there.

We need time to cultivate new habits, and even more, to unlearn old ones. So lets give ourselves permission to go slow, fail, and restart again…all without condemnation, until we achieve what we desire to be.

What healthy habits are you cultivating in your life?

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When Sentimental is no longer sentimental

by Kelvin Belfon

When Sentimental is no longer Sentimental_image

 

When I became a minimalist over a year ago, I was zealous.  Aggressively clearing counter tops, emptying overcrowded cabinets and storage areas and discontinuing unwanted junk mailed, I wanted to quickly rid myself of all the clutter in sight.

Fulfilled by the big payoff of what we were actually able to accomplish in a short time, my wife and I determined to continue minimizing for one year. Our approach was to fill 2 boxes of stuff each week while reducing the inflow of unnecessary items.

Less clutter meant more living space! The need for more space is something we had not anticipated, but were very grateful when we first got news that we were unexpectedly having twin babies back in March. Our decluttering endeavor was perfect timing.

With the birth of our twins and our family suddenly growing to 6, certain adjustments needed to be made. With the added responsibility of caring for preterm twins, the momentum that had driven our initial eagerness to reduce the extras in our home did lessen.

In this new approach we’ve begun to tackle the Big S in our home. That is, the sentimental stuff. I call sentimental things the Big because these things are our most prized possessions: wedding china, ornaments, clothing, jewelry, books, and such. Yes, they are our untouchable attachments.

Where this issue concerns such commodities I own, I have rationalized keeping them with the argument that I worked long hours to accumulate some of these things. They are dear to my heart because of the lovely memories and emotions they invoke. Some of these items go back 15 years when we were first married. Hence the term “sentimental.”

Such sentimental possessions are just as meaningful to my wife as they are to me. Twelve months ago, we wasn’t ready to part with them. We needed time…lots of it. But now, lots have changed. We’ve come to the place where we can both say, “Its time.”

You’ll Know When Sentimental is no longer Sentimental

You’ll know when it’s time to let go of things that carry deep memories. You don’t have to copy anyone’s timing. Make minimalism your own. There’s no need for extremes. Minimalism is not living without possessions. You will still own sentimental things. But because your perspective will change, because your attachment to things diminish, over time, it becomes easier and easier to let go.

Here are a few reasons why:

Sentimental things add clutter to our home. I had certain possessions that got in my way…literally. They made cleaning a pain, took up storage space and required extra time and care. The worst part, these items added no value to my life. So I had enough. They had to go.

If you can’t display or use it, let it go. This principle helped my wife and me evaluate whether an item would stay or go. “Let’s use the china or let’s get rid of it,” we said to each other. My wife is a good cook and we love entertaining, so having dishware that is slightly more special is important to us to keep. There was a trade off, however. As we made cherished items more accessible for our enjoyment and to share with others, we gave away less meaningful items.

Remember the past but embrace the future. Sentimental possessions are like soul ties that keep us married to what has been. They help us remember the good times with euphoric longing. The problem is that when things go wrong in our present, we tend to want to reach back to times past, and, comparing it with our present, try to replicate what is now crystallized in history. For many, going into the future without the crutch of our past is a scary process. But by idolizing old memories, we never really allow our future to speak for itself.

On the other hand, the things we keep can unduly bond us to negative and painful events such as dating relationships gone bad, divorce, bankruptcy, and extended periods of unemployment, to name a few. Let go! The future is brighter when it doesn’t have to bring with it the shadows of yesterday.

When possible, go digital. Storing stuff in boxes makes them inaccessible, especially when the occasion requires that you quickly have them at arms reach when you’re working on a project or away from my home. Also, scanning pictures of memorable events, such as your children’s school project, clears the clutter while preserving meaningful memories.

It’s better to give than to keep. There are people in need around us who can use our valuables…right now. I was recently the answer to someone’s prayer when they received some books that I finally let go of. But if no one comes to mind donation is an alternative. Keeping things boxed up, knowing that the chances of them ever being used again is quite slim, is a waste of valuable resource. For me, it just doesn’t feel right. But giving is always rewarding!

We are not our possessions. Our sentimental things are just that – things. They do not define who we are as individuals. People remember people, the memories shared together.  It’s people who are the most sentimental possession one can ever have.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to end a toxic relationship

by Kelvin Belfon

How to End A Toxic Relationship_Image1

All failed relationships hurt, but letting go of a toxic relationship is actually a gain, not a loss.  ~ Marc and Angel Chernoff

A few weeks ago one of my readers commented on a post I’d written, “I’m pretty good with de-cluttering the physical stuff from my home. What weighs me down are my relationships. How can I deal with them?” And another reader confessed, “Ending toxic relationships is the hardest thing to do.”

We all can identify with these observations.

Saying no to toxic relationships can be challenging for several reasons. First, when a person is raised in an abusive environment, he/she easily accept such harmful behavior as normal. And if you don’t know a problem exist, you are least likely to desire change.

Second, a needy or low self-esteem can create an unhealthy dependency on others. And this dependency has the potential of eroding our better judgment in dealing with abusive people.

Third, toxic people can come off nice, warm and charming. Or, at least, they appear to be so in the beginning. They are people we’ve come to trust such as parents, siblings, friends, dating partners, mentors, spiritual authorities, co-workers and such. So the thought of separation seems impossible. Moreover, most of us tend to be pretty hopeful that people will change despite their controlling inclinations.

My Journey

One of the most difficult things I’ve had to do is to dissolve longstanding relationships that had become counterproductive. Over the years, I knew things had gone wrong and others saw it too. But I couldn’t let go. The truth is, I didn’t want to because I craved acceptance. I also feared exclusion and conflict.

Then one day a friend said, “What you are experiencing is not normal.” I felt offended at first; but it was truth that I just couldn’t contradict. So I started reading and researching these kinds of negative relationships. It was as though blinders had been taken off my eyes. I felt liberated.

It was hard to put into words what I was experiencing. But several months after I had ended the relationship, another friend helped me verbalize what I had been feeling all along. Sometimes we do need that outside person to help identify these complicated association.

Ending the relationship was a long painful process. But it was one of the most important steps I have taken in regaining control of my own life. Freedom is a beautiful thing!

The following are some of the steps I’ve learned in ending toxic relationships.

How to End a Toxic Relationship

Be honest with yourself. Acknowledge that you are in an unhealthy relationship. Admit that you can’t change the toxic person.

Become aware. Learn the signs of toxic relationships. Read, observe and ask lots of questions.

Avoid damning yourself. It is important to examine yourself, to acknowledge your shortcomings. But it is not helpful to be excessively self-deprecating at this point. Toxic people specialize in making their victims feel horrible about themselves. Don’t cave into their attempts to make you feel as if you are any less than you are.

Establish healthy boundaries. Boundaries exist for our protection. Take baby steps in clearly articulating your feelings. For example, “When you _____, you make me feel _________. I would like you to stop it.”

Keep the conversation short. Plan what you’ll say. Toxic people are manipulative and persistent. A simple, “This relationship is not working out” might be all you need to say to avoid opening up Pandora’s Box.

Learn to say “No” Without Blowing Up, Wimping Out or Running Away.

Seek help. Invite family members, trusted friends or a professional to give their honest assessment of this relationship. Never be afraid to ask for help. Others can see things overlooked by our emotions.

Consider physical separation. If necessary, a temporary separation can provide a time of reflection and healing. In other cases, permanent physical separation might be the only viable alternative.

Decide how you want the relationship to end. You can confront the person directly and gradually reduce the communication until the relationship dies on it’s own. You may also choose to go cold turkey and terminate the relationship abruptly with no further contact.

In some cases, writing a letter and sending it may be the way to go. If the letter you choose to write gets really deep into reciting histories of abusive events within the relationship, you may want to reconsider whether you need to mail it after all. Recounting the past to an abusive person often does little to help if that person is in denial.

Seek inward wholeness and healing. Why are we attracted to toxic individuals? One professional counsellor has said that it is because unhealthy people attract other unhealthy people. I have found that the best antidote for dealing with the habit of attracting unhealthy soul ties is to become active in building up one’s own self-esteem. The more wholeness we possess, the less dependent we are on controlling people.

Ending a toxic relationship is tough. The process is like going through the death cycle — denial, anger, grief and recovery. This is why repairing a broken relationship early on is always a good alternative when possible. But if reconciliation is not possible, it is in your best interest to end this relationship decisively. Draw a clear line and don’t’ turn back in weakness or fear.

Remember, you deserve to be treated with dignity. You are a person of worth. No other person should be allowed to control your life.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Signs of Toxic Relationships

by Kelvin Belfon

Signs of Toxic Relationships_Image1

 

Taking inventory of one’s possessions and minimizing excess is no small task. Yet, when it comes to managing relationships, this area of life can be a bit more unwieldy. People can require a pretty significant amount of emotional and time commitment. And while people relationships can be complicated, they are also potentially our most valuable possession. So let’s admit from the start–letting people go is never an easy task.

Still we need to be intentional with the people we allow in our personal circle. Our relationships can either make us or break us. And our quality of life is dependent on it. Positive relationships add value; but toxic relationships can be harmful to our health.

We’ve all come across these sorts of people within our family, among friends or in the workplace. Toxic relationships don’t only involve physical abuse, either. Some of the most life debilitating forms come in very discreet packaging, through both verbal and nonverbal interactions.

These interactions are nevertheless toxic because they bring on feelings of guilt, unhappiness, condemnation, and unworthiness. They can leave us emotionally drained. Toxic people cause unnecessary stress, anxiety, depression and serious medical problems such as high blood pressure and even heart issues.

In my experience with toxic people, they’ve left me feeling trapped and controlled on account of me suppressing my true feelings over time. I’ve even blamed myself in the past for issues that arise as a result of their boundary crossing.  Like most of us, I knew something was wrong in the relationship; but I didn’t know how to read the signs of toxic relationships. I ignored my own intuition and allowed the dysfunction to continue for too long.

Learning the Signs of Toxic Relationships

Learning from the lived trials and pain caused by these types of people, I’ve become much better over the years at identifying the signs that tell when a relationship has reached its expiration. Here are a few:

You are not allowed to grow. Toxic people love to bring up your past and enjoy talking about your mistakes and failures. They are often judgmental and will make feeble attempts at fixing you. You can’t do anything right around them. And even when you take steps to improve yourself, toxic individuals get uncomfortable with the new you. They may even laugh at the thought of your positive intentions.

Your physical appearance is belittled. These unhealthy individuals will make you self-conscious about your looks. Physical features such as your weight, height, skin color, or even certain cultural distinctions are a constant subject of conversation. Toxic people will even banter about your physical disabilities, such as in the way you walk or speak. After being around them, you may leave feeling small, deflated, lonely or unsatisfied with yourself.

You’ll hear more trigger words. I’m sure you’ve heard them, “If you love me, then you’ll…” “Forgive me, I’ll do better next time…” “I didn’t mean those words…” Toxic people are liars and deceptive. They may even use tears for an emotional pity party. But there is no change. The truth is, there will never be. They break promises to continue their manipulative abusive behavior.

You are abused by their position. We are taught as children to honor and respect authority; and we should. But toxic people don’t play fair. They use their roles and titles to control and often get away with it. Because of their status, they are able to cowardly hide their shortcomings and make themselves unaccountable. And they play that game very well. They also tend to demand recognition and dependency on them.

Serving their agenda is priority. Toxic people are narcissistic and tend to use others for their aggrandizement. They use people’s emotions, time, skills and financial resources for their gain. Their agenda must be your goal. There is no mutual positive exchange in this relationship. Only the toxic partner benefits while your feelings and opinions are ignored.

You lack energy instead of feeling motivated. Toxic people are needy, weak individuals. They drain your energy with their constant complaints, frustrations, ongoing drama, and need for attention. So you retreat, become non-communicative and even hesitate to spend time with this person. The relationship grows to be superficial and you only meet out of obligation.

You feel isolated from other relationships. This is the “divide and conquer” strategy where toxic people try to alienate you from others important people in your life. Over time, you become suspicious of them. Later you find yourself fighting or disagreeing with these friends or loved ones for no apparent reason. This is because your manipulator has craftily succeeded in sowing his/her seed of distrust in you already.

You defend your abuser. This follows the previous point. The toxic individual demands loyalty and you willingly play that role. Yet they may betray your trust to others without any feeling of remorse. And because you are so emotionally attached to this person, you justify their unhealthy behaviors. When outsiders point out any abuse or inconsistency in this relationship, the toxic individual expects that you, the victim, will fully defend their cause. This is one of the most sinister strategies, sometimes called Stockholm Syndrome.

Toxic relationships are NOT normal or healthy. They demand too much energy and deplete from your sense of well-being. Life is too short to allow others to control you. Learn to read the signs or take a profile test to determine the health of your relationships. If you are in a toxic relationship, seek help and get out now.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Identifying Mental Clutter

by Kelvin Belfon

Identifying Mental Clutter2

I love music. Calypso, soca, salsa, dance hall, reggae, and country were all in my upbringing. Reggae is one of my favorites.

The influence of Bob Marley in the Caribbean is so strong that it’s felt all throughout the world. Redemption Song is one of the most popular Marley songs known internationally. In certain life situations I find myself repeating parts of it over and over: Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.

You’ve heard it! Though the original context of the song is slavery, there is so much more here. First, this song is a cry for freedom from the entanglements that clutter our thoughts and weigh us down. Intentional action and personal responsibility is key to change in its message; none but ourselves can free our minds.

When I first set out to simplify my life, I knew the area between my ears had to be addressed, not just the tangible stuff I own. The brain is a beautiful organ; yet, it can absorb quite a bit of clutter. It’s the storage for everything, the good, bad, and the ugly.

Moreover, unlike physical junk, de-cluttering the mind is not a simple task. Our thoughts are not something we can collect, box and drop off at the local thrift store. Oh, how I wish we could! The good news is that it’s not impossible to get rid of emotional baggage. We can find clarity in our thoughts. The key is identifying mental clutter or junky thinking that’s going on. The following are the ones that have at least plagued my mind.

.

Things that Clutter the Mind

Self-Sabotaging Tendencies – It’s true, sometimes we are our worst enemy, criticizing and doubting our own abilities. We self-destruct by either coming up with reasons why we can’t do something or by predicting a negative outcome. The truth: We are enough; we are competent and capable of doing anything.

Past Hurts/Failures – Human tendency is to monumentalize our past mistakes, pains and failures. We rehearse them till they have become larger than life, till we are discouraged or depressed by the very thought of them. The truth: Our best days are still to come. The past doesn’t have to determine our tomorrow.

Other People’s Expectations – We ask, “What will they think?”  The opinions of our parents, spouses, siblings, friends, teachers, or mentors can easily haunt and debilitate some of us to no end. Even as adults, those early childhood influencers are still so strong in our minds. The truth: You’ll never be able to please everyone. So live your life!

Perfectionism – Like the above tendency, perfectionism is rooted in pleasing others. It stunts our creativity, consumes our thoughts in the minutia and creates an unhealthy obsession to do everything right all the time. Truth: Give yourself the freedom to fail and make mistakes; and punch perfectionism in the face.

Unforgiveness – We can’t just “forget about it” like some of our friends would like to encourage us to do. But left unchecked, unforgiveness leads to bitterness and bondage. It too is an invisible enemy that slowly erodes us. Truth: “When we forgive, we free ourselves from the tie that binds us to the one who hurt us. We become liberated.” – Claire Franzier-Yzaguirre

Regretful Feeling – Have you ever said, “If only I had gone to that school, taken that job, married that person or done whatever…”? All of this line of questioning steals our joy and robs us from our present. There’s no point to dwelling on the past. Truth: You have more power to influence the unwritten future than your past, which is now history. Life is constantly changing. Staying flexible opens us up to new opportunities.

Fear of the Unknown – Fear is not always a bad thing. It’s helped me avoid lots of dangerous situations. But there is an unhealthy fear that creates indecisiveness, procrastination, avoidance of trying new things, and accomplishing bold dreams. The “What If” syndrome is a crippling decision making tactic. Truth: Inform yourself with the facts. Then expose yourself to others knowledgeable in the area you are considering. Finally, take action! You’ll find in most cases that your fears are not as bad as what you made them out to be.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Simple Things to Add to Your Life

by Kelvin Belfon

6 Simple Things to Add to Your Life

I recently took a trip to our local Goodwill store. It was after my wife de-cluttered our kid’s bedroom, again. This has become the most challenging room thus far. I tackled a much easier project, the basement. The back car seats and trunk were filled with boxes, all containing clothes, toys, books, backpacks, and electronics. The pay off is that we’ve now reclaimed a good amount of space in both locations.

Since the whole family has been on board from the beginning, downsizing our living space and being more particular about the things we accumulate has been a collective effort. Our trips to the store have been reduced significantly. We are constantly learning how to live without excess.

But I’ve been asking myself what is the essence of a simplicity lifestyle. We tend to associate this simple living movement with ideas like, less is more, reducing, emotional detachment from things and recycling? Yet, I believe the simple lifestyle requires a more comprehensive description.

It’s also about embracing habits that promote wholeness, health, and fulfillment. It’s about adding the things that enrich our lives and make us better individuals. So, instead of focusing exclusively on eliminating or removing things, consider adding a few things.

.

6 Simple Things to Add to Your Life

1. Me Time – This sounds narcissistic but we need more time to ourselves. We need time to think, meditate, decompress, and dream. Extra time is needed for the body to rest, heal and rejuvenate from the busyness of life. In some cases, our bodies need to catch up on much needed sleep. I’m often refreshed, empowered, and creative after my times of solitude.

2. Relationships – People are our most prized possession. Spending more time with our loved ones: spouses, children, family members, and friends is important. This is never automatic; it’s something we prioritize. My wife recently told me about the death of an old high school friend’s husband. The whole thing was so sad. The husband lost the battle to cancer. Events like these remind me of the brevity of life on this earth.  Let’s value the time spent with loved ones.

3. Memorable Experiences – Let’s be honest. We remember the memorable experiences shared with people far more than we do most purchasing events. The “good feeling” we get from buying things is really a temporary high. And it doesn’t take that long for consumables to become annoying clutter in our homes. Experiences, on the other hand, build stronger and longer lasting relationships. Instead of things, give people the gift of experiences. Spend some quality time spent with your children this weekend. Go hiking with a good friend. These are very simple ways of showing the people in your life that you value them with little to no money involved.

4. Financial Freedom – We need money but obsessing over it can lead to enslavement, frustration and regrets. Financial freedom is living unencumbered by debt. It’s having options, the power to choose. Financial freedom is knowing what’s enough and avoiding our culture’s need to accumulate. It’s no wonder that some the benefits of financial freedom are restful sleep patterns, low stress, and all around healthy mindset.

5. Healthier Diet and Exercise – Eating healthy and maintaining a regular exercise regimen can add longevity to our lives. Increasing our consumption of fresh, green vegetables and fruits in our diet is a better choice than opting for the processed, refined foods. The American Heart Associate says an extra 30 minutes of exercise per day can boost mental wellness, build immunity, reduce risk factors and prolong optimal health.

6. Spontaneity – This was much easier earlier in my married life. My wife and I took numerous unplanned, last minute, and exploratory trips. We are now a family of 6 with routines and schedules to keep us sane. Yet adding spontaneity to our lives is freeing. It gives us a sense of adventure and provides an opportunity to relax, smile, laugh, and create the memorable experiences mentioned above. So we have to be creative in this area. For example, take an unplanned trip to the mountains or go on a date with that special someone.

How about you, what would you add to your life?

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twins And Minimalism

by Kelvin Belfon

Preparing for the Twins3

The twins are here!

Yes, we are excited to announce that our baby boy and girl were born March 8th. Words cannot convey our joy to finally see and hold our little ones.

When we moved to Denver last year our plans were simple: find stable employments, establish our home, and for my wife, begin PhD studies. We became even more focused on our priorities as we embraced the simplicity lifestyle.

We started de-cluttering all unnecessary possessions from our home. Among the things we discarded were maternity and baby items in storage for over 3 years. In our minds, we were done with having more children. Or, at least, so we thought.

Just one month after giving away all the maternity paraphernalia, we were both taken by surprise to find that Camilla was pregnant. Yet we continued with our minimalist commitment, resolving that one additional child would be easy to manage.

But my wife sensed something different about this particular pregnancy. She was much bigger than normal and had never experienced morning sickness with our previous children.

Then came the big news. During our monthly midwifery visit in January, we heard what sounded like 2 heartbeats. “How could this be?” I thought. An ultrasound was immediately requested and waiting for the appointment seemed like eternity. I reasoned even more, “We don’t have twins in our family!” But the doctor confirmed, “Yes, you are having twins and it looks like a boy and a girl…Congrats!”

I was speechless.

I waited a few days before going public. I was still in denial. When I finally did tell my family and a few friends, some replied in jest, “Thought you were a minimalist.” “Aren’t you guys going uncomplicated?” And, “You may need to change the name of your blog.”

Staying Focused

I’m told having twins can be a challenge with more sleepless nights, messy cleanups and overall expenses. It’s natural to justify more gadgets and gears around the house with this shift. We’re a family of 6 now! The game plan has to change now, right?

We do plan to purchase what’s necessary to accommodate our family growth; but even more so, we don’t want to go beyond and overextend ourselves. The concept of twins and minimalism will be challenging. But we’ve learned over the course of months to appreciate what we have and where we are in life.

Should we throw it all out now that we’re considered a big family? No, our plan is to embrace the challenge of discovering what it means to be a big family that remains faithful to a “less is more” ideal.

How this works for us is based on the following decisions we’ve come up with so far.

Housing – Remain in our 2 bedrooms, finished basement townhouse. We’ll need a larger space in the future but this will work in the interim.

Baby Room – Our first two children had specially decorated nurseries, but the twins will share space in the beginning with us in bassinets. Later on, all 4 children will bunk together.

Furniture – We purchased a couch to help my wife sleep during her pregnancy. Recently we’ve added 2 cribs and a comfortable chair for nursing.

Vehicle – This is not optional. We need a bigger vehicle, so we plan to sell or trade our 5-seat car for one that seats 7.

Minimalism Without Extreme

We had no idea that minimalism was preparation for our twins. We’ve been creating more space throughout our home for the last 12 months. What we didn’t know is that the space we created was so that we could accommodate more, not just more tangibles, but two more precious lives – our twins. It’s true. Sometimes our ability to receive more depends on our ability to reduce.

We understand the need to remain flexible and make necessary changes along the way. We are experiencing this already since our babies were born 2 months early. The daily visits to the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) for 6-8 weeks is an adjustment. We’ve placed a few de-cluttering projects on hold…even this blog. This is why knowing what really matters is important. And for us it’s our little ones and never our stuff.

Finally, I’m thankful for the loving support of our family and friends. The right relationships make all the difference in the world. They’ve helped in the middle of the night, cooking, giving, or just offering their love.

So, as it turns out, the going uncomplicated journey continues with more challenges, but even more wisdom and insight gained along the way.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Letting People Go

by Kelvin Belfon

Letting People Go

Relationships are one of the deepest human needs. This is because we are gregarious beings, sociable, fond of companionship and having a deep need to share our lives with others. Some of us are less or more cordial than others. But at the core, we all crave relationships.

Relationships are key to our happiness, quality of life and success. The right people can help propel us in the fulfillment of our goals, while the wrong associations can bring pain. No relationship is neutral; the company we keep affects us all either positively or negatively.

Recently, we’ve become purposeful in taking inventory of the kinds of relationships we have and the quality of our human interactions. We realize that it is possible to maintain a clutter-free home and work area while never truly experiencing wholeness. De-cluttering material possessions alone is not enough.

Letting people go has been one of the most challenging tasks of our simplicity journey by far. Things can be sold, donated, or thrown away if deemed useless. This is not to overlook the fact that we can be sentimental when it comes to certain memorabilia that have intrinsic value.

Things can be symbolic of the people we care so deeply for, but they are not the people themselves. Emotional bonds we have with things are nowhere as profound as the depth of relationships we have with people.

How do we let people go when a relationship has run its course?

Despite the handful of times we’ve had to deal with letting people go, dealing with problematic relationships still gives us heartache. It’s not an area we’ve mastered. Bad relationships will never cease to exist as long as we are in this life. However, we can minimize the pain of letting people go if we know a few keys about relationships.

  • To begin, when possible, it’s important to make every effort to repair broken relationships. We should be courageous enough to admit wrong, give others the benefit of the doubt, and most of all, forgive. No one is perfect. Sometimes people deserve a “do over.” But if you are dealing with a chronic or dysfunctional relationship, the signs that you’re in a bad relationship might already be obvious to you. It’s time to let the person go and move on.
  • Some relationships are toxic. Although certain people can seem nice or well intentioned, they may have relational habits that are pernicious, that they may or may not be aware of. They bring unnecessary stress, regret, drama, and abuse. They use, manipulate and control others. They may even do really nice things for you; yet with the wrong motive, their actions bring pain.

If you’ve determined that the relationship is truly going in the wrong direction, take action quickly. Don’t allow toxic relationships to drag on. Remove yourself from it and give yourself permission to love people from a distance. You deserve better!

  • One of the hardest lessons we’ve had to learn is that not every relationship is meant to be permanent. Naturally, most healthy people evolve in their outlook and sense of self. Despite the fact that you’ve grown, their perception of you may never change. Some people are just not going to be comfortable with the new you. Their static view of you will make your life miserable and zap your energy and spirit. Be grateful for the good memories. But there comes a time when you must cut the strings and let go.

We all need people in our lives. But we must use wisdom with each relationship commitment. Consider quality over quantity. A few good friends are far more meaningful than having hundreds of casual friends who merely “like” you.

And most importantly, cultivate positive friendships for health and wholeness. Start off by not giving too much, too soon of yourself. Take baby steps in a relationship. Trust is earned over time.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

 

I’m My Kid’s Dad

by Kelvin Belfon

Im-my-kids-dad

 

My children are my world! They are one of the relationships that matter in my life.

As a child, I grew up in a single parent home. My mother, Diana, did her best to provide for my younger brother and me. She made many sacrifices and worked long 12-hour days, sometimes in 3 different jobs.

My mom didn’t graduated from High School because she had me at such a young age. Yet, she always encouraged me to excel academically. She wasn’t perfect but loved me. Today, she remains a very close friend and one of my biggest heroes.

Now that it’s my turn to parent, I understand the challenges she faced from a whole new perspective.

Parenting is not easy; and I’m quickly realizing how much I need to learn. The temptation to bail out emotionally is definitely there. It’s easy to say, “I’m busy,” or “Go ask your mom.” But I must resist these excuses.

It really doesn’t matter if your father was there or not. We still need to step up and take an active roll in our children’s lives. The risk of being an absentee father (physically or emotionally) is too high for us to ignore.

There are many influential people in my children’s lives. Grandparents, teachers, spiritual leaders, coaches and mentor, but a father’s influence has the greatest impact. It’s my job to invest my time, values, wisdom, passions, and love into them.

I want to be DAD.

This is not about being a perfect father because no one can achieve it. What’s required is to be present and do our best. Living the simple lifestyle helps me avoid distractions and stay focused on what matters most, my children. They are one of the important relationships in my life.

I’m my kid’s dad!

Thank you for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated or comment below. 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

What Matters Most

by Kelvin Belfon

What Matters Most

Many people dream about vacationing or honeymooning in some beautiful tropical paradise. Yet because Camilla and I are islanders, 14 years ago we picked Colorado as our honeymoon destination. It was an opportunity to experience a new culture and to see the Rocky Mountains for the first time. The whole idea was romantic and exciting!

Last year, life for us shifted and we had the opportunity to relocate anywhere we wanted. We picked Denver. It was like a dream come true. But even in the most idyllic place, life can still become complicated. I was unemployed and my savings were dwindling. I had an abundance of free time but free time in this case was stressful.

Even after I found a “buffer” job, I worried about the bills and the things we might needed in the future. I was hard on myself and began to wallow in thoughts of failure. But my family gave me much needed perspective. Each evening when I came home, they would greet me with the biggest smiles. My children would run to meet me at the door chanting, “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!”

It felt good to be admired despite what I thought of myself during that difficult period of transition. The constant affirmation led me to start asking, “What matters most in life?” I thought I knew, having drafted quick lists in my past. But regardless of what I thought I wanted, I often failed to give them the highest value in my life.

I’m getting closer to answering the what matters most in life question.

To start, an outlook of gratitude and healthy relationships are most important to me. These are easy to express, but probably not so easy to master. They require living with minimal clutter and distraction. They require consistency. And because I love myself and the people closest to me, the effort is worth it.

So, what are the things that matter most to you?

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,