Category Archives: Book Promos

Naked House Interview: “Take a Hard Look at Your Calendar”

writings in a planner
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Kelly Rupiper is Content Director at Upparent, a recommendation-sharing website for parents. She is also the mother of two elementary school-aged kids. See Upparent.com. Here is the interview we did for my book, The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home.

Mollie: Have you ever significantly reorganized and decluttered your home? What led to the decision and what did you change?

Kelly: Parenthood brings with it a lot of stuff. When my kids were a newborn and a toddler, we moved from a small condo into a larger home and it felt like the floodgates for accumulating toys, clothes, and gear were opened. It was easy to add more and more stuff now that we had the room, and though I don’t think we had gone overboard by common standards, eventually I started feeling like we were spending too much time putting away toys, sorting through piles of clothes, and generally cleaning up. The effort that we were putting into taking care of all of these things was more than the happiness we were getting out of having them. This was around the time that people started talking more about a minimalist lifestyle, and the idea of letting go of the clutter seemed freeing to me. I spent the better part of a year combing through our home and putting together donations, selling items on Facebook, and handing things down to family members. A few years later we embarked on a cross-country move, and this was a great opportunity to think critically about what really needed to come with us and pare down some more.

Mollie: What are your most prized beliefs regarding minimalist lifestyle—the ideas you most want to spread?

Kelly: A minimalist lifestyle isn’t just about owning as little as possible or going without. It’s about limiting yourself to the things that are important, special, and useful to you, and getting to enjoy these things every day because you’re not weighed down by needing to weed through and maintain all of the fluff.

It’s also not just about physical belongings. Think about taking a more minimal approach to the way you schedule your family’s time and attention, too. Take a hard look at all of the after-school activities and obligations on your calendar, and think about how it would feel to spend less time driving around and more time at home as a family.

Mollie: Tell me more about the benefits of minimizing one’s schedule.

Kelly: Aside from keeping more money in the bank and enjoying more family time together, I have found that minimizing the number of activities that kids have on their plates helps to keep them from getting burned out. My kids tend to get overwhelmed when the schedule gets to the point where we’re running from one activity to the next, and lessening their load means they can actually look forward to the things they’ve signed up for.

Mollie: Why do you think people have a hard time being at home with no planned activity?

Kelly: There’s an instinct to feel like we have to entertain our kids, and the choruses of “I’m bored!” don’t help. But when kids aren’t overwhelmed by a playroom stuffed with endless choices and instead have a small collection of toys that inspire open-ended play, it’s pretty amazing to see how well they can entertain themselves and each other without parental intervention.

Mollie: How can people learn to embrace unplanned family time?

Kelly: Simple, low-key family traditions can be a great way to give some structure to your family time without introducing outside obligations. My family does a weekly Friday night family movie night and we rotate the person who gets to pick what we watch. The kids look forward to it all week. We are also reading the Harry Potter series together, and we sit down to read a chapter most evenings after the kids are showered and ready for bed. Introducing fun (and often free!) activities like these gives the family something easy to do together that they look forward to and creates memories that you’ll be able to enjoy for years.

Mollie: Can you share a few specific tips for simplifying a home?

Kelly: Do what you can to keep excess things from coming into your house in the first place. Getting your family on board with this will make it much easier. It’s hard to deny well-meaning relatives who love to buy gifts for your kids, so give them ideas that mesh well with minimalism: a museum membership, a kids cooking class, or one larger-ticket holiday gift (like a basketball hoop or a streaming service membership) for the whole family to enjoy together. My kids will often choose a special family experience like an amusement park trip or theater tickets instead of a large birthday party with friends and gifts.

Mollie: Any final thoughts?

Kelly: Minimalism isn’t just about clearing out your house. It’s about changing your mindset, so you’re better-equipped to maintain your new way of life moving forward. Once you discover and embrace how freeing it is to be living without the clutter in your house and on your calendar, it’s easier to be able to say “no” to the pressure we all feel to take on more.

A place for everything and everything in its place. Get The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home.

Naked House Interview: “Living in an Off-grid Tiny Home Is Extremely Important to Me”

snow covered wooden house inside forest
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Tara Skubella teaches tantra and conducts tantra ceremonies. See nakedearthtantra.com.

Mollie: Tell me about your minimalist lifestyle.

Tara: My partner and I are minimalists who live in a tiny home (a converted fifth-wheel) nearly off-grid on the side of a mountain. We’ve been here for three years and love it. We’ve condensed so much of our lives to make this our truth. Not only are we tiny house minimalists, but we don’t have running potable water and heat with wood.

Mollie: What was your decluttering and simplifying process like?

Tara: My first decluttering process happened while I was living in a 1400 square foot house. I donated, gifted or threw away 365 things in my home that I no longer needed. These items ranged from old cleaning products and makeup to pairs of earrings to clothing to a piece of furniture to kitchen supplies and books. It’s amazing how fast you can rid of items no longer used.

This became a ritual I continue to do about every other year, even while living in a tiny home. Most of the items I release these days are small things like pens or pencils, makeup, notebooks, accessories, old food and clothing items. It feels good to have a fresh start every now and then. Releasing 365 things clears the mind and gives us one less object to worry or think about each day for a year.

Mollie: What are your most prized beliefs regarding minimalist lifestyle? What ideas you want to spread?

Tara: Living a minimalist, off-grid, tiny-home life is extremely important to me. I enjoy being immersed in Mother Nature. I depend on snow for water to do my dishes and to boil water for tea. I depend on dead standing wood to heat our tiny home during the harsh 9,000-foot winter months. Living with Mother Earth instead of carving space into her creates a wealth of gratitude each day. Even living the primitive way I do is still very abundant, as I’ve experienced harsh survival situations in the past. Coming home to a cozy, safe space warms my heart.

I also believe living with less helps me with my ADHD. Since my mind is cluttered most of the time, living in a space with less to clean and to worry about simplifies my life even more. Living with less is also a mindful life choice and practice. Consciously choosing what we can live without opens the spirit to reconnect with intuitive choices about what we truly need in order to survive. Otherwise, instead of being more mindful of tasks we look for an easy way out. Thinking this way sometimes isn’t a big deal; however, the more we develop an attachment to objects for meeting our needs, the more we look for answers outside instead of within.

Mollie: Can you share a few very specific tips for cleaning, organizing and simplifying a home?

Tara: Yes. First, if you haven’t used something in a little over a year, you really don’t need it so get rid of it.

  1. Second, if you bring a non-perishable item into the house, release something else as an exchange. For example, if you buy a new pair of socks, donate or gift a pair that has never really fit right. If you receive a fancy new air-vacuumed mug for your birthday, donate the plastic one that doesn’t keep coffee warm as long as your new one.
  2. Also, remember that linens and towels can add up quickly. We only need one to two sets of sheets per bed and one to two bath towels per person. Depending on the family size, three or four kitchen towels is plenty. People often accumulate too many linens because we don’t like to do the laundry. This accumulation also happens with clothing. The more we are able to be mindful with laundry, the less we actually need on hand.
  3. My final tip is to rent a storage unit. Seriously. If you are uncertain about releasing a number of items, rent a storage unit and place those items in it, then see how often you return to use them. For the items you truly need, you’ll be willing to drive to the unit, use it and drive it back. If items stay unused for several months or they aren’t worth the rental fee, then you’ll learn that those unused items aren’t worth the money and effort to keep around.

The solution is almost always fewer things. Get The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home.

Naked Interviews: “I Brought Two Suitcases with Me and Two Suitcases Back”

suitcases placed on edge of bed
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Haley Gallerani runs The Vegan Abroad, a website about traveling sustainably and as a vegan. Visit it at theveganabroadblog.com.

Mollie: Have you ever significantly minimized your possessions? What led to the decision and what did you change?

Haley: I would say that I officially became a minimalist in 2018 when I moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I brought two suitcases with me and two suitcases back. I knew that I wouldn’t be living in Thailand forever so I didn’t want to purchase too many things while I was there. I did have to purchase a few things for my apartment, but it came furnished so my purchases were minimal.

The biggest way that I minimized my possessions was with my clothing. I used to own so many clothing pieces that I hardly ever wore. I now rotate among around ten different outfits. My biggest tip for simplifying your wardrobe is to only purchase neutral colors. This will allow you to mix and match more than if you own clothing with different colors and patterns.

Mollie: What is your life like now? How often do you travel and for how long? Do you still take only two suitcases?

Haley: I have been in the United States for the past few months, but I will be moving to Europe in January 2020. I am a big believer in slow travel. That means that I spend a long time in one location before moving onto the next. Europe is a bit more complicated than Thailand because of visa issues. I will start in Italy where I will stay for three months: one month in Rome, one month in Florence, and one month in Sicily. Then I will be going to Croatia for three months before finally settling in the Czech Republic where I will get a visa.

I am planning on only bringing one suitcase and a backpack with me to Europe because I will be moving around so much. I know that this is going to be even more challenging since Europe has four different seasons that I need to pack clothes for whereas it was almost always summer temperatures in Thailand. I am excited about the challenge, though, and I think that I will grow even more minimalist.

Mollie: What are your most prized beliefs regarding minimalist lifestyle—the ideas you most want to spread?

Haley: My most prized belief regarding a minimalist lifestyle is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for minimalism. I think that you have to find what brings you joy in life and focus on that. Clothing doesn’t bring me joy, so that is a very easy area for me to be a minimalist in. I do love cooking, though, so someone could look at my kitchen and think that I am not a minimalist, but then look at my closet and think that I am. Ultimately, I think that minimalism is about focusing on the things that matter to you, and spending less time (and money) on the things that don’t. When you find the things that don’t bring you joy, get rid of them.

Also, try to find ways to simplify the things that do bring you joy. For example, I am an avid reader. I only purchased physical books prior to moving to Thailand. I decided to purchase a Kindle before moving to Thailand so I could easily purchase books in English while I was abroad. It ended up being one of the best purchases that I have ever made because I no longer have the clutter of books anymore, and I can fit hundreds of books on a very small device.

Mollie: Any final thoughts?

Haley: Becoming a minimalist can be scary at first as you are getting rid of a bunch of your possessions. The thought of “What if I need this in the future?” may show up. My advice would be to keep the item that you are questioning for six months to a year depending on what the item is. If you haven’t used it in that time then you should probably get rid of it.

The solution is almost always fewer things. Get The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home.

Naked House Interview: “Voids Can Give Meaning and Emphasis to Chosen Elements”

worms eyeview of well
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Pablo and Beverly Solomon have been minimalist designers for over forty years. Their work has been featured in over forty books as well as numerous magazines and newspapers; on TV and film; and on the radio. You can see examples of their fashion and home designs at PabloSolomon.com and BeverlySolomon.com.

Mollie: What is the essence of your minimalist design philosophy?

Pablo: You have so often heard it said that the core of minimalism is the concept of “less is more”. We would modify that a bit and say that putting quality over quantity is also minimalism. Minimalism is also the recognition that simplifying your life and achieving a harmonious balance between things and experiences, between your comfort and respecting nature, between activity and rest, etc. are also goals. Minimalism strives to be a physical representation of a serene, uncluttered mind that lives in harmony with nature.

Mollie: That’s an interesting idea. What does minimalism have in common with living in harmony with nature?

Pablo: Beverly is part Native American. One of her core beliefs that we try to follow is that we are just passing through this life and should leave the smallest negative marks behind—that we respect nature by using only what we need and protecting the rest. Minimalism design not only tries to blend the architecture into the setting, but to do the least amount of damage in the process. The concept of your home blending into the setting is representative of your being part of nature, not at odds with nature.

Mollie: Can you share a few specific tips for living a successful minimalist lifestyle?

Pablo: It really begins with choosing to live in harmony with nature and to create a setting for yourself that puts you at peace. Keep the things that you cherish, that bring you happy memories, that make your life more pleasant. Eliminate those elements that just fill space for the sake of filling space. Learn to embrace the concept that voids can give meaning and emphasis to chosen elements. And it is okay to be as minimal or non-minimal as makes you comfortable.

Mollie: How do voids help give meaning? Can you give me an example of how you would use a void in an interior or exterior home design?

Pablo: The most simple example would be a wall. Having one valued painting is emphasized by the blank space around it. Were the wall to have as many paintings as you can cram on that wall, no one painting would have much impact.

Mollie: Any other thoughts?

Pablo: Like so many truths in life, the journey is often more important than the destination. Just considering the mindset of minimalism and taking the first steps in simplifying your life and calming your mind are worth it. Just let go of one thing today. Tomorrow is another day.

The solution is almost always fewer things. Get The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home.

Naked House Interview: “Respect the Space as a Defined Perimeter for How Much You Can Keep”

close up photo of yellow tape measure
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Amanda Clark is the owner or Ever So Organized®️, a full-service home organizing company based out of Orange County, California. They specialize in decluttering and creating beautiful, functional and organized systems for homeowners. See eversoorganized.com for more information.

Mollie: Have you ever significantly reorganized and decluttered your home? What led to the decision and what did you change?

Amanda: A few years ago I moved into a new home, more than doubling the square footage of the previous home. I did not declutter before the move because I was pregnant with my third baby and fairly immobile. A month into the move my third baby was born and I decluttered my entire house during my maternity leave. I no longer wanted to organize and re-organized the amount of stuff I knew I didn’t even need. I wanted to enjoy the expanded space without adding more stuff in it.

Mollie: So now you actually have a large home that is spacious, too? What is that like?

Amanda: With more space in my home comes more space in my head; a weight has been lifted. I’m extremely proud of my house and it has been featured in a local publication. That never would’ve happened if it was filled with stuff.

Mollie: Can you share your process for decluttering?

Amanda: Look at one area at a time. For example, a pantry, closet, or even a drawer.

Step one: Remove everything from the space. That means everything!

Step two: Wipe down and clean the surfaces while they are empty.

Step three: Sort like items together. You may be surprised at how many black socks, tubes of toothpaste (you can never find) or cans of beans you own.

Step four: Declutter. Be ruthless. Do you love it? Does it improve your life? Can you purchase it in twenty minutes for under $20 if you need it later?

Step five: You are now allowed to shop for those pretty containers only after you know what you have left. Can risers, plastic dividers for drawers and matching slim velvet hangers really can make a big difference organizing your space. Go wild on Pinterest for ideas or check out my Instagram @eversoorganized.

Step six: Use containers to separate items and label everything.

And finally: Respect the space as a defined perimeter for how much you can keep. Don’t cram more stuff in the space later on. Use the one-in, one-out rule to keep it under control.

Mollie: Any more tips?

Amanda: Yes!

  • Turn all of your hangers backward in your closet. As you wear something replace the hanger with the cleaned item as you normally would. At the end of the season you can clearly see which clothes you have worn and which you haven’t. Consider decluttering those never-worn items.
  • Have a pretty bin, basket or container in a handy area. Put your mail, to-do items and even broken items you’ve been meaning to fix inside the container. Set aside time every single week to work on those actionable items. If you are consistent, very few things will fall through the cracks.
  • File fold your clothes in your drawers. This will change your life.

Mollie: What is file folding?

Amanda: File folding is a simple way of folding your clothes in a square or rectangle shape and then placing them in the drawer on their sides instead of flat. It looks similar to folders in a file cabinet. No more forgetting about what’s on the bottom of your pile: now there is no bottom.

Mollie: Any final thoughts?

Amanda: Less stuff truly means more time, more money and more freedom: less time maintaining the stuff, more money in the bank account because you are buying less and more freedom from consumerism.

The solution is almost always fewer things. Get The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home.

Naked House Interview: “Minimalism Is About Personal Growth”

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Kelly Kandra Hughes has been a professional housesitter since 2016. She is also a minimalism coach. Visit her website at KellyKandraHughes.com.

Mollie: Have you ever significantly changed your life to become more minimalist? What led to the decision and what did you change?

Kelly: Yes. I got rid of approximately 95 percent of my belongings by donating, giving away, selling, recycling, or trashing them. Essentially, I wasn’t happy in my current life and I wanted to make radical changes. I followed a career trajectory of which some people only dream: college, a PhD program (for which I had a full-ride scholarship), tenure track position, and tenure. Yet it wasn’t the life I really wanted to live. I had all sorts of health issues related to stress and sleep. My weight dropped to 97 pounds. I developed severe adult acne. I used to hope that I would get in a nonfatal car crash, just so I could take a break from my life for a while.

It wasn’t until I was granted a paid sabbatical for the 2014-2015 academic year that I finally got time to myself. I didn’t miss my job for one second of one minute of one day. That was a wake-up call to me that I needed to make some changes.

While on sabbatical, and after I realized I needed to quit my job, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, housesitting. I had already been pet-sitting and housesitting for friends while I was on a sabbatical. I wrote down my idea and went back to bed.

The next morning a Google search informed me that, yes, pet-sitting and housesitting is a viable way to live these days. That became my plan: to no longer have a place of my own, but to live in other people’s houses. I didn’t want the burden of storing of my belongings, so I made the choice to get rid of them. My husband and I have been on a long-term housesit in the northwest corner of Connecticut since September 2016. At the time we began, everything we owned fit into our car.

Mollie: What are your most prized beliefs regarding minimalist lifestyle—the ideas you want most to spread?

Kelly: The idea I most want to spread is that minimalism is not just about tidying up and reducing clutter. It’s about personal growth, and most importantly, the understanding that there is no one way to best accomplish this growth. Being a minimalist means you have a good understanding of who you are and how you want to live your own best life … and then acting accordingly. This understanding can be accomplished through self-reflection (e.g., journaling, creating vision boards, praying, meditating, etc.) or with the help of professionals (e.g., therapists, life coaches, pastors, career counselors, etc.).

I also want people to know that the first thing I recommend people get rid of is mental clutter. By knowing who you are and how you want to live your best life, you can say no to things that don’t serve you. Of course, it’s not easy and it takes a certain amount of courage to start saying no. But this freedom then brings benefits in other areas of your life, including increased time, energy, and financial resources to pursue the things that are most important to you.

Start by identifying your core life values. These are the five to seven values that are fundamental to who you are as person. Ask yourself questions such as, “When have I experienced the most joy in my life? When did I experience my lowest points? What happens on the days when I can’t wait to get out of bed? What happens on the days where I dread getting out of bed? Who inspires me? If I could have any job in the world, what would it be and why? What did I dream of being when I was a child? If I could live a perfect day every day, what would that day look like? What are some times in my life I thought I was doing the right thing, but it turned out to be wrong for me?” Look for common themes and patterns, then name those ideas using a single word, such as achievement, service, fairness, creativity, or spirituality.

The second thing I recommend is to identify specific interests in your life related to those values. Values and interests go hand-in-hand. For example, you may value creativity, but you may have no interest in Renaissance art. If that’s the case, next time you visit an art museum, give yourself the freedom to skip over entire floors and head to the impressionists who you find whimsical and inspiring. The good news is, you’ve probably already uncovered most of your interests if you’ve spent time reflecting on your core life values. Review your answers to the above questions and notice what specific activities and events are associated with your more joyful times. Keep those in mind for making your day-to-day and long-term decisions on how you’re going to spend your time, effort, and money.

Mollie: I love everything you said so much. Any final thoughts, Kelly?

Kelly: Here’s something that I don’t think gets mentioned too often: it’s important to stay open-minded and empathetic to others while living a minimalist life. I’ve found that people who experience the kind of personal growth that comes with minimalism are so excited about their journeys, they think their way is not only the best way, but the only way. We may end up self-righteous and judgmental of others who are still struggling on their own paths. I know I certainly did!

We need to remember where we started from and extend empathy to others who may not be there yet. When you live a life of joy and one that lines up with your core life values and interests, people become interested in what you’re doing. When they ask, be happy to give advice on what worked best for you. Otherwise, it’s not our place to judge. Stay focused on your own life and lead by example. I know it’s cliché, but Gandhi was on to something when he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

A place for everything and everything in its place. Get The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home.

Naked House Interview: “I Lost Almost Everything in a Fire”

fire wallpaper
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Kurt Niziak is a software trainer and data analyst from Massachusetts.

Mollie: Have you ever significantly reorganized and decluttered your home? What led to the decision and what did you change?

Kurt: Yes, but not consciously. Instead, it somehow chose me!

Over a decade ago, my career and financial situation was vastly different. In fact, my own “personal paper route” (as I call it) was surprisingly easy. Financially, I was preparing myself for a life of moderate wealth. The bottom fell out, however, and I was forced to abide by a lifestyle which would be the antitheses of what I once thought I had.

In July of 2018, I had a major fire in my once well-furnished condo. I had stepped out of my home for a mere thirty-five minutes only to return and witness that almost all of what I had acquired over the years had vanished. I say the word almost because, my most important possession (my dog) was miraculously spared. (Thank God).

After the complete shock of losing almost everything had slowly worn off, I was surprised to feel an incredible sense of gratitude. I realized that as terrible as things were, at least my dog was okay. This horrific event proved to be the genesis of a priceless awakening. I began to understand that I really didn’t need many possessions in order to keep on living on a day-to-day basis. Material things somehow revealed themselves in their most generic form, serving as nothing more than distractions.

Mollie: What is your lifestyle like now?

Kurt: I suppose that I am a bit more grounded. I am cognizant about how we are all such insatiable consumers. I try instead to take better care of the things that I do have, rather than fantasizing about what I don’t have. Furthermore, before purchasing or storing anything, I think about whether I really need it.

We all are conditioned to believe that our lives can only improve via addition—as if we were painting a picture, adding more and more layers. Unfortunately, this approach seldom gets us the results we are looking for. Perhaps it’s a sculpture that we should be creating instead, our goal only arrived at via subtraction. We discard the pieces that are not necessary.

Mollie: Can you share a few specific tips for cleaning, organizing and simplifying a home?

Kurt: In his wonderful book 12 Rules of Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Jordan Peterson is quick to point out an approach towards minimalism which (at first look) appears rather benign. However, this simple concept has saved me, time and time again, from the shackles of a personal two- or three-day funk. Peterson states that one risks feeling depressed, anxious and powerless should they fail to keep their bedroom clean, or surroundings in order. Whenever I motivate myself to use this simple tactic, it has never failed to make me feel more balanced—more in control.

Cleaning, organizing, etc. are extremely powerful minimalist tools. They help combat feelings of chaos. If things are clean and in order, I have a better chance at having a more positive experience in the outside world. Physical clutter seems to muddle my brain and often prevents me from having any semblance of harmony. It is so simple, yet it seems to always have positive results.

Minimalism (to me) is not merely the act of owning less. It also leads to appreciating things more. It proves itself, time and time again, as a powerful life approach. All I know is that when I fail to encompass minimalism, I am at risk of feeling like nothing more than the proverbial hole of a doughnut.

I will say however, that my own personal happiness has neither significantly decreased nor increased over the years. It is just less complicated. One doesn’t end up wasting time fooling themselves into thinking that acquiring more will improve one’s life.

I do what I need to do in order to survive. I often (jokingly) say that I am just as miserable now, as I’ve always been. A bigger house, better car or more stuff will not enhance my life very much. These things might be nice to have but it becomes a fool’s errand to obsessively pursue. It’s just an example of victory through surrender.

A place for everything and everything in its place. Get The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home.

Naked Interview: “My Car Is My Home and the World is My Bedroom”

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Nick D’Urso is a freewheeling AirBnB rental owner. He teaches people how to make their money work for them (rather than the other way around) at NickDurso.com.

Read my full interview with Nick and many others. Today is the last day to get the Kindle version of The Naked House for 99 cents on Amazon.

Mollie: Have you ever significantly minimized your possessions and simplified your life? Tell me the story.

Nick: In July 2019 I left my corporate job back home in Brooklyn, New York. I bought a car in Phoenix, Arizona to drive to Argentina. I pretty much left everything I owned except a few clothes, my laptop, a camera, and a drone. I built a bed in the back of the car and I have been living on the road ever since, camping at some of the most beautiful places in Mexico. I’m about to enter Belize.

My car is my home and the world is my bedroom.

Mollie: What did you buy along the way? Do you have good camping equipment?

Nick: I haven’t bought much. I bought a new suspension for the car and two front lower control arms. The car is old and I was worried about the rust and being stuck in a country with no parts if something happened. Other than that, I bought a cooler, folding chairs, and a BBQ. At some point I’ll have to buy winter clothes when I reach Argentina but I’ll tackle that when I get there. I also bought a new phone using Google Fi because it works in over 200 countries on their unlimited plan.

Mollie: How long do you plan to travel and what will you do after that?

Nick: Everyone asks me this question. Truthfully I’m planning this trip to find a place where I can build another AirBNB property close to the water so I can run scuba diving excursions. I don’t have a time limit. My goal is to travel around the entire world and it’s taken me 6 months to do all of Mexico. I promised my mom and dad I would spend Christmas with them in 2020. But other than that I don’t have a time limit.

Mollie: What led to this drastic change?

Nick: The thing that led me to this decision was being caught up in the humdrum of everyday corporate life living in New York City. I personally couldn’t take going to work every day to make money to spend at a bar on the weekends with friends, over and over again. I wanted to get more out of life.

Mollie: What do you want to get out of life?

Nick: I would like to teach people that money isn’t everything. It’s a vehicle to get you to where you want to be. We’re all taught that we need to go to school and get a job that pays well. Everyone wants a raise and to earn more money. But the truth is that you most likely make enough money and that money can actually make you more money but your habits prevent that. People look at my Instagram and ask me how I do this. I tell them I drive a ‘98 Chevy Blazer with a bed in it. You don’t need a lot of money to do what I’m doing; you just need to change your habits. And that’s the mark I want to leave. Money is great, but you don’t need to exchange time to earn more. Other than that I would say I just want to be happy and meet amazing people all around the world.

Mollie: What are your most prized beliefs regarding minimalist lifestyle—the ideas you most want to spread?

Nick: My most prized beliefs behind my minimalist lifestyle change is that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about you. I want to spread that to everyone around. With social media nowadays, most people seem to be in competition with people they don’t even know.

Naked Interview: “I Shed Tears Through the Process”

Mary Potter Kenyon is a grief counselor and the author of seven books, including Called to Be Creative and Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief. She lives in Dubuque, Iowa. For more information, see MaryPotterKenyon.com.

Read my full interview with Mary and many others. Get the Kindle version of The Naked House for 99 cents for the next three days on Amazon.

Mollie: Have you ever significantly reorganized and decluttered your home? What led to the decision and what did you change?

Mary: In April 2018, I was offered my dream job an hour from where I lived. I made the decision to sell the four-bedroom, two-story house where my husband David and I had raised the last four of our eight children. David had died in 2012 and my seventh child was poised to leave the nest, leaving me with one daughter and a huge house. Not only did I need to declutter in order to sell my house, the house I purchased in my new town was 760 square feet. I had to do some serious purging, with less than two months to do it.

I began by deciding which furniture could come with me, and my heart sank when I realized my four bookshelves, my huge solid oak desk and my mother’s kitchen table would not fit. The owner of the house I was buying agreed to leave a folding IKEA table in the kitchen, the only kind of table that worked. Two living room chairs would need to be sold. A beautiful closed cabinet that was filled with office supplies and photo albums. A kitchen shelf. The one thing I knew had to come with me was a shaker-style cabinet I’d inherited from my mother, but it would need to be emptied of some of her things to make room for the single shelf of books I would keep.

I went through closets of clothing. As I pulled things off hangers, I priced those I thought would sell. I even had a box of my husband’s shirts stashed away, which my sister Joan agreed to take off my hands and make into Christmas stockings for my children. I wasn’t just dealing with stuff, I was dealing with memories, and I shed tears through the process. I went through thousands of books. The first two boxes sold for $150 at a bookstore, alleviating the distress a little. By the time I held my first garage sale, I’d whittled down my possessions drastically. The most daunting task, though, was the paper: a file cabinet and a trunk filled with letters, college papers, photos, and even scrapbooks from high school. I handed my son a bag filled with twenty daybooks (daily diaries) to burn because I couldn’t bear to dispose of them myself.

After two garage sales, several trips to a thrift store, and even filling my front lawn with items I advertised for free on a local online giveaway board, I ended up with less than half my original possessions. By then, it felt freeing to have dealt with years of accumulated clutter—to have made decisions about which things meant the most and gave me pleasure and joy when I looked at them. I would come to regret only the loss of the desk and the daybooks.

While I no longer have a separate office, I do have my own space, a back room that spans the entire width of the house and serves as both bedroom and office. Everything in it was consciously chosen to survive the Great Purge of 2018. The bedroom portion is sparse: an end table and a twin bed topped with a mockingbird quilt that matches the curtains. Outside of a washer and dryer in the opposite far corner, the rest of the large room is designed around the comfy brown recliner my children gave me for Christmas. When I sit in it to write or read, I’m surrounded by things that bring a smile to my face.

There is the Shaker-style cabinet I inherited from my mother, filled with things I treasure: my collection of autographed books, a hand-blown glass turtle my son Michael made, a toy sheep from my childhood, and bricks my daughter Rachel painted to look like the covers of my books. My grandmother’s trunk is topped by one of Mom’s quilts and her hand-carved Saint Michael statue, his sword upraised in regal glory.

Walls are adorned with paintings by my mother and daughter Emily, along with photographs taken by my son Dan, one framed and another on canvas. A rustic wooden rack is attached to one wall, the wire baskets holding stationery and greeting cards. Wooden letters with the cover designs of my six books on another wall spell the word “writer,” handmade by my daughter Elizabeth. Finally, there’s a book-themed lamp atop an end table Katie painted to look like book spines. I love my smaller space.

Read my full interview with Mary and many more. Get the Kindle version of The Naked House for 99 cents for the next three days on Amazon.

“We Have Two Big Rules in Our House”; and, “Fights” Is Free Today on Amazon

It’s the last day to get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby for free on Amazon.

Here, an excerpt from the interviews section of the book.

ZURIE: “We Have Two Big Rules in Our House”

Zurie is 40 years old and has been with her partner for eight years.

Mollie: What have some of your biggest disagreements as couple been about?

Zurie: We don’t have children, just cats, which might be why our biggest fight so far was about cats (except not really). Before that, our biggest struggle was learning to grocery shop together without murderous thoughts.

Mollie: Tell me more about that.

Zurie: It was a thing when we first moved in together. He works from home and I was working in an office. We both dislike the task, so we do it together (unless circumstances prevent it.)

I made a comment a while back about two types of people (on a spectrum): basically, planners and non-planners. My husband is squarely a planner. Lists, schedules, plan of attack. I can (and do) plan, but can also can make a quick decision just to get something done.

So basically, we had several things going wrong.

  • I’m an introvert and being at the office all day exhausts me. He works from home, so he’s excited to go out.
  • We weren’t functioning off a list, so we were buying random things that we did/didn’t need and still having to figure out dinners after.
  • We both wanted to shop how we were used to shopping.

I got mad at him for staring at stacks of American cheese for entirely too long trying to determine the best price on something that I felt didn’t matter. He challenged me when I just grabbed a gallon of milk. “Why that milk? Do you like it better? This one’s cheaper.”

After several months and lots of sit-downs and me being mad, then him being frustrated (not huge fights but intense talks), we’ve figured out and refined our system:

  • I frequently save recipes that I think we’ll enjoy that are healthy enough for me and easy enough for him. We pick two for the week and build a list off of that.
  • We grocery shop on Sundays so I’m not tired and we have a date night once a weekish so he gets out of the house. He has also finally, just this summer, gotten a laptop to give himself the ability to leave the house once in a while.
  • There are brands I’m loyal to. When it’s time to pick up those, I tell him to kick rocks off to the toilet paper aisle to find us the best deal. I give in to him on the generic canned beans because I don’t care and he lets me buy the expensive canned tomatoes without argument.

It works so much better now. We usually have as good a time as you can at the grocery store. And I even stay quiet when he asks the clerk to put the milk in bags (which is silly because the gallons have handles!).

Mollie: You seem like a pretty good problem solver. Do you use these same negotiating skills in other areas of your relationship?

Zurie: We don’t have to formally negotiate too often. We try and function as a team so if one person is doing something, the other dives in to help. We’ve got two big rules in our house:

  • Everyone gets what they need.
  • You have to ask for what you need.

Spats are usually due to me not being able to sort out what I’m feeling before I get crabby.

Mollie: I love those rules! The needs of one person can be dramatically different from the needs of another. Beautiful way to phrase this concept.

So what was the cat thing about?

Zurie: We fought about when to get a new cat after our last two girls died in the spring. I wanted to get a new one and he wasn’t ready.

Honestly, it was 100 percent me not slowing down to figure out what I was feeling so I could verbalize it. Eventually I just realized that I was in an enormous amount of pain and just wanted something to help. I was deeply disappointed that he wasn’t ready even though it was valid.

Once I worked through all that emotion, I was able to explain what was going on. I apologized and he listened and we compromised. We got new kitties sooner than he was ready for and later than I wanted, but they’re perfect.

Mollie: Is there something about your partner you have tried to change? What was your strategy? How well did it work?

Zurie: Sure, there are things we’ve tried to change about each other. He’s organized, but holy cow was his apartment filthy when he moved out. I’m clean, but completely disorganized. Before we moved in together, we talked a lot about chores and values. He sees the value in having things clean, though he just doesn’t notice it. I see the value in having things organized (being able to find my keys is amazing) but I’m not always as good about it as him.

I think we’ve both really tried to be patient with each other. There are times when I have to remind him that it’s okay if I haven’t put something back where it belongs because there’s a reason I didn’t or whatever. And I have 100 percent complained to myself after he does the dishes that he didn’t scrub down the stove. But I also know that criticizing will just make a person shut down, so I think a lot about “how much does this matter?” I’ve had to teach him how to clean the bathroom and the floors and the kitchen and the reasons behind it. He really gives it a good-faith effort, so I let go of the fact that he doesn’t see the dirt and is always surprised that it’s time to clean. It just doesn’t matter.

Mollie: Can you think of a time you became overly defensive in an argument? Tell me the story.

Zurie: When we first met, he used to tell a joke, then say, “Get it? It’s funny because …” and I used to feel like he thought I was so stupid or not funny if he felt he had to explain every joke to me. My dad was really hard on my brother and me and would ask us if we were stupid whenever we did something wrong, so he was really stepping on a land mine he didn’t know was there. I finally told him one night how much it hurt my feelings. I was angry and asked flat-out if he thought I was an idiot. He was horrified. Apparently, this was just something he had always said as part of a joke. He thought it was funny and had no idea that I took it personally.

While I was relieved that I was misinterpreting, I also made it clear that I was never going to be okay with it. He’d done it for so long that he wasn’t sure he could just stop. So we decided that he would make an honest attempt to say it less and I would make an honest attempt to let it roll off my back if he did say it. And honestly, I haven’t heard it in years.

Mollie: Do you think it’s important to apologize even when you weren’t exactly in the wrong, or do you save your apologies for the important stuff?

Zurie: We tend to apologize to each other when we feel it’s warranted. Honestly, we don’t fight dirty or often so I don’t feel that I’ve had to apologize when I wasn’t exactly wrong.

Mollie: Generally speaking, how much do you enjoy partnership? What do you like about it?

Zurie: I love being married. We haven’t reached a point yet where I’ve considered it difficult or a hardship. I really enjoy being on a team with him. I can be exactly who I am at any given moment with him. I can be ridiculous and silly or sad or a big baby and he understands and loves it. I love doing the same for him. I love hearing him sing songs to the cats or laugh at his podcasts while he works. I am so delighted and thankful to be with him and he seems to feel the same way. We married late-ish—I was thirty-seven and he was forty—so we’d gone through those mid-twenties struggles already and had started establishing our own values when we met. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Mollie: Do you have any ongoing arguments that can’t seem to be resolved, even with your great communication skills?

Zurie: Not that I can think of, so definitely nothing major. Things are tough right now for us, but not between us. I’m lucky: he’s funny, responsible, hard working, compassionate and loyal. We make a good team.

It’s the last day to get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby for free on Amazon.


			

“Finally, Our House Feels Like a Home”; and, “Fights” Is Free Today on Amazon

Right now, get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby for free on Amazon.

Here, an excerpt from the interviews section of the book.

CAL: “Finally, Our House Feels Like a Home”

Cal, age forty-four, has four children with his wife of twenty years.

Mollie: Is there an argument that just keeps coming up between you and your wife?

Cal: Many of the long-running arguments that we have seen to be centered around the lack of defined roles in our relationship. We are both products of the feminist movement—women aren’t going to be forced to be at home taking care of children and cooking dinner! So the systems of our household are perpetually left leaderless as both adults strive for success and validation outside our home.

This lack of definition has plagued us since the days we just started living together and couldn’t agree on who did what chores and who was responsible for what. It’s rather embarrassing to say that we still run across these problems twenty years later. At least a few generations ago they had one person who gathered resources and one person who saw that those resources were well managed in producing a family. Now we are both responsible for everything, and that leads to chaos and frustration for us.

Mollie: Can you give me more specifics? Which chores are still up for grabs? Which chores have you come to an agreement on?

Cal: We have written out three sheets of information for the family. One sheet gives our vision, values, expectations and measures of success. It’s funny that after being married over twenty years we are still working out what our vision for our home is. We’ve had other vision statements in the past, but they seem to have a finite life span. The vision needs to be renewed and revived periodically; for us, it seems like we can agree on one for about two years.

The next sheet shows the systems we are working on to make the household run more smoothly. We started with agreeing on twenty minutes of cleaning and that’s going really well thus far (maybe for the past two months). We’re still working on figuring out the rest.

Finally, we have a chores sheet. This is laminated (yes, we have a laminator and every family needs one!). We assign and check off the chores using a dry erase marker. There are six of us, and six people cleaning a single area isn’t going to work, so we have two or three areas separated out into five days (our goal is to clean five days per week). We schedule the cleaning via group text message at least two hours ahead of time. Then we assemble at the table, pick a day, assign the jobs, start the timer, start some music, and clean for twenty minutes. If someone finishes early, they get re-assigned to another job until we have all worked for twenty minutes. We clean with whoever is home at the time, even if it’s only a couple of us.

This cleaning system has finally gotten our house to feel like a home. We all now have clean, paired socks and vacuumed hallways.

Bedroom cleaning is handled by a different system of weekly room inspections.

Mollie: Any other ongoing arguments?

Cal: Nothing is jumping to mind. My wife and I are pretty low-key people, but we have still managed to have some pretty turbulent times in our marriage. This point isn’t one of them. Our kids are now 18, 16, 14 and 11. They are old enough that they are becoming self-sufficient, but young enough not to realize how clueless they are in the real world. It’s a frustrating time. I think we’ve been handling it well, overall, but have been far from perfect.

Mollie: Finally, how much do you enjoy your marriage? Is it worth the hardship?

Cal: I do enjoy my marriage. The sex is amazing, and that’s a large part of male happiness. Consistent access to a female is success in an evolutionary sense. Beyond just meeting physical needs, my wife is a wonderful friend who I still enjoy having dinner with or accompanying to one of our children’s events. I made a really good decision before we started dating: I had just had a mediocre dating experience with a pretty red-haired girl, who treated me like a distraction. Based on that experience, I decided that the next person I was going to spend my time with would be one who I enjoyed being with. My wife is remarkable in that I was always sorry when the evening came to an end; there never seemed to be enough time.

Twenty-three years later, I still think that was a wise decision. I haven’t had the most exciting life from the outside, but I’ve enjoyed most minutes because I made a really good choice. I married an honest friend who I really enjoyed being around. Fights come and go, but we still like having dinner, watching a movie or doing a project together. Even when we are at our worst, there has always been that underlying layer of friendship and enjoyment that we fell back on. It’s a pretty amazing connection.

Today, Just 99 Cents: The Naked House

Meet a man who rents out his apartment to fund his world travels, a woman who got out from under a huge debt by selling her belongings, and several experienced home organizers.

Featuring ten additional interviews with experienced minimalists, the updated version of The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home is 99 cents on Amazon today.

Get your copy here.

Free Audiobooks Now Available: The Naked House

Meet a man who rents out his apartment to fund his world travels, a woman who got out from under a huge debt by selling her belongings, and several experienced home organizers.

Featuring ten additional interviews with experienced minimalists, The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home is available on Amazon today. Get your copy here.

In addition, currently I have several Audible Audiobook versions to give away. Email me at mollie at mollieplayer.com if interested and I will try to get one of them to you.

Today, Just 99 Cents: The Naked House

Meet a man who rents out his apartment to fund his world travels, a woman who got out from under a huge debt by selling her belongings, and several experienced home organizers.

Featuring ten additional interviews with experienced minimalists, the updated version of The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home is 99 cents on Amazon today.

Get your copy here.

Today, Just 99 Cents: The Naked House

Meet a man who rents out his apartment to fund his world travels, a woman who got out from under a huge debt by selling her belongings, and several experienced home organizers.

Featuring ten additional interviews with experienced minimalists, the updated version of The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home is 99 cents on Amazon today.

Get your copy here.

Audible Audiobook Giveway: The Naked House

Meet a man who rents out his apartment to fund his world travels, a woman who got out from under a huge debt by selling her belongings, and several experienced home organizers.

Featuring ten additional interviews with experienced minimalists, The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home is available on Amazon today. Get your copy here.

In addition, currently I have several Audible Audiobook versions to give away. Email mollie at mollieplayer.com if interested and I will try to get one of them to you.

“The Power of Acceptance” Is 99 cents on Amazon Today

Meditation isn’t hard. So why does it often feel like it is?

Today, get the revised version of The Power of Acceptance: One Year of Mindfulness and Meditation, featuring new interviews with experienced meditators, for 99 cents on Amazon.