What is living “Intentionally”?

To live ‘Intentionally’.  What does that mean exactly?

There are so many buzz words in our culture these days.

Intentional living.



Conscious living.

We have all heard them and maybe even used them on occasion. But what are we saying.

About this time last year, I was turned onto The Minimalists and their pod casts and documentary, Minimalism.  It came to me a perfect time in our lives as our kids are in various stages and some have left the house and some have come back!  I wrote about this in a blog post, Abundance.  We have come a long way since sorting through things that we had collected along the way and have scaled our ‘things’ back substantially.

To live with Intention isn’t about depriving ourselves of things we enjoy or not buying anything.  I think it is easy to get into an almost manic state if we believe that if still have ‘stuff’ that we are living frivolously or not minimally or not intentionally.  

After all, what do we do with the things we want to keep?

There will be inevitably things we just plain want.  They may not seem important to someone else, but they hold value to us.  They may be things we use on a sporadic basis or just hold some sentimental purpose that we can’t imagine our life being without.  I think that rooting through the sentimental items is by far the hardest test to date for me. I have things that were my parents’ as well as things connected to the kids from over the years.  Minimalism and the Sentimental Mind post outlines my struggle with this exercise and how I made/making peace with letting go of some things.

Intentional Living to me means that I will choose what comes into my life while being fully conscious of what that item means to me or its usefulness.

To live intentionally is NOT about deprivation; it is consciously choosing what you bring into your life. 

The world we live in and have for many decades now has prided itself on a ‘winner takes all’ attitude.  We hold those up on pedestals who can buy whatever they want and have all the latest toys we wish we could have.  We spend our lives paying for things to fill our lives and think this is bringing us ‘happiness’.  This illusion of happiness is short lived when the next ‘thing’ we need is shown to us.  The cycle of buying, paying, and working for these things soon becomes what our life is about.

By purchasing things consciously and with the intention and the thought that we should be giving to them, more often than not we find that there were things we thought we needed but realize we don’t.

I have always been a fan of Yvon Chouinard , founder of Patagonia.  He brings the idea of “The more you know, the less you need” to his own life and to his corporate culture.  He stresses, not only in his personal life, but within his company, that we need not have the newest and latest and greatest of things as our culture leads us to believe.  We think these things bring us joy, but in reality, they demand payment, not only with currency but with our time.  Time is the one thing that equalizes us with everyone else.  No one person has more than 24 hours in a day.  How much is your time worth?  Time that is for friends, family, adventure, living, and yourself.

So as we set off at the beginning of another summer, we do so with purpose of filling our lives with memories and experiences rather than things that will be forgotten.  That to me, is intentional living.

What does Living Intentionally mean to you?




The More you Know, The Less you Need


Your Value isn’t in the Things you own, it is in the Things you do.

We all do it.  We place value in our things.  To be fair, there is value in things, of course,  We may value some thing we own because of the amount of money we spent on it or it may hold sentimental value for us or we use this thing regularly and it brings us happiness.

But are these things used to assess our value as a person?

A while back we had a blog post called, Declutter or Rearrange – The Grey Zone.  I highlighted my own struggle with the grey zone between decluttering and rearranging (or reorganizing).  I think that we choose to rearrange in order to keep the things we think give our lives value and struggle with getting rid of them because we think our personal value will be lost if we do.

Our society puts so much emphasis on what we have.  The quote by Yvon Chouinard, “He who dies with the least toys wins, because the more you know, the less you need” says something that I think I have always felt but recently have put into more practice.  I read his book, Let my People Go Surfing,  about 10 years ago and his thoughts really resonated with me and what I had thought was important.  To put this into practice isn’t always easy, especially in our society where value and things are held as proportional.

I suppose if I were to be honest here, I am probably considered frugal when it comes to purchasing items like clothing or other personal items.  In fact, at the moment, I take a weekly trek to the laundromat, and have for the last 4 weeks since our washing machine died.  I honestly don’t mind the hour it takes me to do it there and it gives me the time to read, catch up on emails or do a blog post.  I am sure the novelty will wear off but for now, I prefer not to buy a new one.

The fact of my frugality may make it a little easier for me to part with things or not to purchase them in the first place but nevertheless, our family has accumulated a lot of stuff over the years.  There were many years where we had to have the latest gadget, the best sports equipment, or the coolest clothing.  We have spent our share of money shopping (although I never did enjoy this outing) in the quest to have things to make us happy or to give our lives value.  After the shiny newness of the object or clothing wears off, we are just left with more stuff and we set off on the quest to feed the need for us to feel valuable once again.

We equate the value of these items to our value as people.

If I have the newest phone….

If I have the coolest shoes…

If I have the nicest car….

If I have the best wardrobe….

We admire those who do have the newest, coolest, nicest and the best of things in life.  We watch their lives on social media with varying levels of envy.  We assume they must be really happy, because they sure look happy in the photos with all their new stuff. We give them a value as people because of their stuff, not because of what they do.

The quote by Yvon Chouinard really makes a statement to the contrary of what we are told throughout our lives.  Chouinard is a visionary and has run his business, Patagonia,  while weaving his ethical fibre throughout it.   Although he is monetarily successful, he hasn’t waivered from his ethics and what he sees as valuable in his life, or the lives of his employees.

So here is the question I have for you.  What makes you valuable?  Is it the new car, the big house, the new cell phone or the impressive job title?  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of these things.  But where people inevitably find stress in their lives is when they assume they more valuable because of these things and when they can’t be achieved, we feel like we have failed.

Value of one self is not because of the things we have.  What are the things you do that makes you valuable?  Not your job title, but your actions.  Are you a good friend?  Are you an honest person? Are you willing to help out when needed?  Are you happy to propel others and support them when they need a boost?

There are so many ways to find value in the things you do.  The more you put value on your actions, the less you put value on things.  So as I circle back to that Grey Zone of decluttering or rearranging, the easier it is to release myself from some of the things I felt gave me value, when in fact, my value was there regardless of these things.

Our value as humans cannot be quantified.  We can only strive to be of value to others, to the world and to ourselves.  The things we own do not add to the value we hold as human beings.

As we go along this trek through Minimalism, we realize this fact more and more.  Now, that doesn’t mean there is an all or nothing rule inforced.  Just because you choose to keep things in your life, doesn’t mean you hold no value.  There are plenty of things we have chosen to keep that bring us joy or are just plain functional in our lives.  But, by asking the questions, we can be assured (at least for the time being) that the things we choose to keep are important to us.  We also know that if they were not there, our lives would go on and we would still see our lives as valuable.



Everything has a Cost



I’m listening to more of The Minimalists podcasts lately after a bit of a break over the holidays and this keeps coming back to me.

To be honest, I have never been a chaser.  I may have been seen as lazy or not motivated to push myself.  I am not saying anything is wrong with having ambitions.  I have ambitions, but they have never driven my life because I always had this knawing feeling that there is something that has to be exchanged in order to be an ‘achiever’.

We tend to focus on and are told to focus on the grabbing after our goals at work, looking for the next pay hike, buying the nicer car, getting that bigger house and purchasing the latest and greatest of gadgets. The more money we make, the more money we tend to spend as we justify it since we are making more money.  We feel like we ‘deserve’ those items.

We say to ourselves “I worked for it, I should be able to buy it.”

I suppose at the surface, this statement is true, but there is an inherant illusion that comes with this statement.  The illusion is that you only pay once.  You actually pay at least twice.  Once, with during your work, and then with your time, your relationships, your health and your life.

Now, again, I am not saying that if your dream is to become an VP of a company, or the best at whatever you chose to be,that there is something wrong with that but there have been far too many people who live for that carrot and never taste it.  The chase never ends.  They reach a certain level and then that level isn’t enough.  Most times, people tend to over extend themselves once they start to make a bit more money and then end up on the treadmill of needing to make more money.  The cycle of the chase continues and the goal is never met.

Our lives are finite.

That may be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you’re young.  I’m not saying, sell everything and live off the land, but be aware.  Be aware of the fact that there is so much more to life then the chase.  You already have the carrot.  Take a bite and enjoy it.

Get ready for…Buy Nothing Day!!

First…Happy US Thanksgiving to our friends south of the border!

It has been a tension filled year for you and we understand that you may feel like your country is divided.  Your Thanksgiving is upon you and it is time that is meant for celebration of love and family and friends. We hope this is a time of healing for all.

Thanksgiving also kicks off the Christmas shopping season for you (and for us, here in Canada to some extent).  The temptation to shop til you drop tomorrow on Black Friday can be great.  The retailers bank on the public flooding to their websites and locations to grab up any deal they put out there.  The problem is, are we just filling our lives with more stuff because it is perecieved that we need it or that we are getting a good deal?

There is an alternate to Black Friday…

Buy Nothing Day. 

Yup.  Nothing. Think of it as a challenge.  You’ve done the 30 day Ab challenge, 30 day Plank challenge, maybe even the 30 day squat challenge, so this should be easy!  One day.  Don’t buy anything.  When the retailers are waiting for you to click or tap your card, don’t do it!  The feeling will be so completely liberating.

You make think that you’ll be missing out on deals.  


It isn’t a deal if you didn’t need it.

If you have to buy something or you want to start your Christmas shopping, take this day to be more mindful of what you are purchasing.  Shop locally and support local small businesses.  If you are able, make some of your gifts or give an experience as a gift instead of more stuff.

The idea of Buy Nothing Day is to become more aware that the price tag is just one part of the purchase.  You still are spending the money.  You still are accumulating more stuff that you may only use for a short time, or sometimes not at all.  Maybe less stuff will make room for more time. 🙂

So from Us at Crave Life, to our friends celebrating Thanksgiving, we hope you have a safe and happy holiday!  


Minimalism and Food-Blending the Two

As I read more about minimalism and try to put some practices in my own life, I realize that there are many different facets to it.  We look at minimalism traditionally as sparse surroundings and very few objects and belongings.  We may even think it to mean living simply, meaning to not indulge in things that we feel are not necessary.  We could feel that it means that instead of spending our hard earned money on objects that fill our spaces, we chose our spending to be on experiences that fill our lives and those around us.

As I try to include more minimalism in my own life, I thought that we could caste a net pretty large here and include how we eat.  I certainly don’t mean minimal eating as in little or no food, I simply mean to eat food that nourishes us, gives us more than just a fleeting moment of joy, and also enhances the lives of others.

So how do I eat by enhancing the lives of others?  I would argue that eating food that is locally produced is absolutely one of the first ways to do that.  Shopping at your local farmers’ markets, food co-ops, or even going to your supermarket and buying locally produced food is a place to start.  Supporting locally grown food not only enhances your life as nourishment and knowing where it came from, but you also are giving the farmer or person making the food an opportunity to enhance their lives by supporting their passion.  Knowing where your food comes from can make you feel like you have some say, in not only what you eat, but also how it is made or grown.

Taking this thought on food one step further, without sounding like I am preaching, I wondered if minimalism is captured in eating as a vegetarian or vegan?  I have never been a big meat eater.  Even as a kid, we didn’t eat a lot of meat once I became a teenager.  My Dad was always battling with his weight and for a long time the only meat in our house was chicken and the occasional turkey on holidays.  I stopped eating red meat more years ago than I can remember and for the last 3 or 4 years, I have been vegetarian.  I eat extremely little dairy as we buy almond milk (with some lactose issues in our family, this was easy), and I eat the occasional egg (from free run local farms).  I tell you this not to shame anyone or to sound like I am doing something everyone should be, but to give you background.  For me, eating this way has been my normal.  When I started thinking about minimalism with regards to eating and food choices, I think that eating a vegetarian or vegan diet (and I hate that term-diet) just goes so well together.

As minimalists carefully chose what they include in their lives as far as objects and experiences go, why not include food?  Typically a vegetarian or vegan way of eating falls in line with minimalism as the food you are eating provides what is necessary for your body to grow and remain healthy.  A vegetarian and vegan way of eating also goes further to include the health of  the animals that are brought up to be food or produce food for us.  A vegetarian and vegan diet also enhances the life of the planet.  It is proven that the agricultural sector of our society is costing the planet huge in environmental damage. Without getting into a big debate on global warming and animal activism, even avid meat eaters have to admit that factory farming is not farming as it once was.

I hesitated on posting this as I don’t want to come off as preachy or that what I am doing is better or something you should consider in your own life.  I am merely sharing my experience as we try to become more minimalist.  The way I see it, to include the way we buy food and eat food, can be incorporated into a minimalist way of life.  We are left with buying food that is nourishing us and the lives of those producing it.  We are also left with the knowledge that how we are eating is enhancing the lives of animals and the Earth.


One word Inspiration

Writing on a blog I find that I am often torn between writing anything and everything and writing nothing.  You feel that you have so much to say one day and absolutely nothing the next.  You feel that whatever you are writing will be of absolutely no interest to anyone else on the planet that may end up reading your post or you have just written the most intriguing piece ever written.  There doesn’t seem to be an in between…at least not for me.

Some days, I just need inspiration.  I create something in the kitchen and think I should post it, and then that part of your brain says ‘Who would care?’  However, the times I have just thrown caution to the wind and posted it, we have had some pretty good response.

I was in need of some inspiration lately and came across a WordPress course offered.  I had done a couple in the past and thoroughly enjoyed them so when I saw a course on daily writing inspiration, I jumped at it.  So today’s inspiration comes in the form of a one word inspiration.  Out of the words listed, I chose ‘abundance’

Abundance is often paralleled with excess.  We equate abundance with the idea of more; in particular more stuff.  More things. More money. We recently went to a viewing of Minimalism, The Documentary.  This documents the journey of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists through their recent book and speaking tour.  They are well known for their pod casts and although their following started small, they are now selling out speaking events and the movie is getting more and more screenings all over the world.

Without giving too much away, the journey into minimalism for them was very much evolutionary as life changes occurred for both of them.  Coupling life changes with discontent in their professional lives, they found themselves searching for an easier, yet more fulfilling way to live. Simplifying may seem counter intuitive at first when we think of abundance.  Yet somehow one does result in the other.  We just have rethink what we want to have an abundance of; stuff or time…money or people…work or life.

Most of us would find the idea of turfing our possessions to the extent that some people did in the movie a little unnerving.  After all, we have worked hard to get those things, and they may hold some emotional meaning.  With minimalism, we alter what we tag this emotional meaning on to.  Abundance can begin to mean more time; more fun; more life.

Now, we may not all decide to hire a bin and throw out all of our stuff, but if we begin to shift our thinking when we do purchase things to ‘what is the cost? and do I need it?’ we can begin to see that the accumulation slows down.  The cost may not just come monetarily.  Time at work or time taken away from friends and family may be the cost.  Time taken away from things we enjoy may be the cost.  The need of this item may be easily justified in the beginning but after contemplation, we realize it is a want and not a need.

As we begin our journey for more abundance, and by abundance I mean more life, less work, we will start to pare down some of the things we have been holding on to and accumulating less.  There will be things that are obviously meaningful or have a nostalgic attachment to them and you may feel that you are not ready to get rid of them.  The thing is, there are no rules and regulations to this process.  The idea is that we become more present in our choices.

So in my home, we are currently undergoing a gradual shift.  We have a three kids in various stages of their lives and in various stages of where they are living.  In a few years, we can see that they will be on their own, living their lives.  As we search for a life with less stuff and an abundance of time and life, we will share our journey with you.

If you get a chance to view a screening of this Minimalism documentary, I would recommend it.  Take the pieces of it that speak to you and leave the rest.  Some things may seem drastic to you, some may make perfect sense.  One thing to take away is that this life is the only one we have; remember to live it.