Tag Archives: Alternative Spirituality

“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.

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

Meditation isn’t hard. So why does it sometimes 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.

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

Meditation isn’t hard. So why does it sometimes 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.

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

Meditation isn’t hard. So why does it sometimes 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.

New Cover, New Publisher and Lots of Additional Material: Get “The Naked House” Free on Amazon Today

Meet a minimalist who quit her corporate job to become a professional housesitter, a designer who uses negative space to create meaningful features and a woman whose grief led her to start fresh.

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

Get your copy here.

New Cover, New Publisher and Lots of Additional Material: Get “The Naked House” Free on Amazon Today

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 free on Amazon today.

Get your copy here.

New Cover, New Publisher and Lots of Additional Material: Get “The Naked House” Free on Amazon Today

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 free on Amazon today.

Get your copy here.

New Cover, New Publisher and Lots of Additional Material: Get “The Naked House” Free on Amazon Today

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 free on Amazon today.

Get your copy here.

New Cover, New Publisher and Lots of Additional Material: Get “The Naked House” Free on Amazon Today

Meet a minimalist who quit her corporate job to become a professional housesitter, a designer who uses negative space to create meaningful features and a woman whose grief led her to start fresh.

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

Get your copy here.

Got Self-Improvement Goals? Now Providing Low-Cost Counseling Services in Washington State

For the past two years, I’ve been attending graduate school earning my Master’s of Science in Counseling. After the massive amount of practice hours and essays I’ve completed, it’s a huge joy–and relief–to finally be practicing as a student counselor at a Seattle counseling practice. I’m helping real people! Finally!

As a new counselor, I offer low-cost counseling services to Washington residents. Currently I am only taking remote clients using a secure video platform. If you or anyone you know has immediate plans to work on their self-improvement goals, call myself or my supervisor, Brittany Steffans, at 206-535-1787.

You can also read more about Brittany’s practice at BrittanySteffenLMFT.com.

If you don’t live in Washington, I urge you to list your goals and get started, one step at a time. You only get one life. Live it well!

The Naked House: New Publisher, New Cover, New Material (That’s Awesome)

So don’t know if I mentioned this, but my book, The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home has now been republished by my new publisher, Next Chapter. The cover is AWESOME and what I love best is the ELEVEN interviews I conducted with minimalists of all varieties: financial minimalists, career travelers, parenting minimalists and of course, people who just stripped their houses down to make room for life to happen more beautifully! Their stories have inspired me to live even more minimally. (More on that to come.)

Author Interview: “What’s the Right Way to Change My Partner?”; and, Get “Fights” for Free Today on Amazon

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

Author Interview, Part Three

Some of the advice in Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby is pretty standard stuff. Some of it, however, is not. Here, a short Q and A that follows the lessons in the book that might help clarify a few of the more nuanced suggestions.

Lesson: Change Your Partner the Right Way

What about when there’s a behavior in my partner that really does need to change? In the book you show how Matthew slowly learned how to take on more responsibility for his child. In my case, I’d like to change the way my husband disciplines our kids. I want him to be more firm. Is this something that I can change about him? Are some qualities changeable, and others not?

Yes. But we don’t know which is which until we give our partner the chance to show us.

The way I see it, there are three ways to change your partner for the better. The first, and most important, is just believing the best of them and treating them well. This is the one we should always be doing.

When this isn’t enough, we have two other options. One is the major argument or discussion, which involves detailed negotiation. The other is what I call “the slow nag.” This is when you make little hints and suggestions—maybe even good-natured jokes—about the issue without ever forcing it. When done right, it’s surprisingly effective.

Are you sure this will work?

No.

Okay, fair enough. But are you sure it’s okay to try to change your partner? Everyone tells us this is a terrible idea, that we need to accept them as they come or not at all.

Yes, I am absolutely sure that over the course of your marriage, you can and will change your partner in a wide variety of significant and not-so-significant ways. It’s not only possible but nearly unavoidable; we do it every single day. Whenever we look at someone, whenever we speak to them, whenever we have any kind of interaction, we affect the way they think and feel. Think about it: How would your partner affect your behavior towards him if he did what is recommended in this book, and treated you with utmost respect and love all the time? You’d change a heck of a lot. And the changes you didn’t make in spite of his caring suggestions would probably be the ones that meant too much to you to give up. Well, it’s the same for him. There are things about himself he won’t change for you or for anyone, ever. The question is: Can you live with those things? Are they deal breakers or not? Incidentally, there’s a great book about accepting our partners for who they are called Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb. I highly recommend it, even to long-time partners.

Lesson: Brush Up on Your Endocrinology

My husband is such a taker. He just takes and takes and takes, until I can’t give anymore, and I explode. Why are men like this? How can I get him to give more?

Don’t concern yourself with why. Men are simply better at getting their own needs and wants met than women are. When you can’t or don’t want to give anymore, simply don’t. Tell your husband that you need some “me” time, and take it—even if he doesn’t love the idea. The trick is to do this gently, without anger and with grace. For me, this has been one of the hardest marriage skills to learn, but now I get a nap every day. It was worth the work.

Here, it’s worth mentioning that personality differences, too—not just gender differences—affect the way your partner meets his needs. My favorite personality typing book is the (misleadingly titled) Dressing Your Truth: Discover Your Personal Beauty Profile by Carol Tuttle. The book only discusses female personality types, but in other books of hers, males fall into the same four categories. Understanding not just your unique behavior but the basic internal beliefs that give rise to that behavior is incredibly therapeutic and healing.

The bottom line: There are four main personality types: wind, water, fire and rock. Wind people are bright and animated. Their driving purpose in life is to enjoy it. Water people are subtle, caring and soft. Their driving purpose is to love and care about people. Fire people are dynamic and passionate. Their driving purpose is to accomplish their goals and change the world. Rock people are bold and striking. Their driving purpose is to seek and disseminate truth. If you want to better understand the motivations behind your partner’s quirks, read this book.

Lesson: Don’t Defend Yourself

Okay, so not defending myself. I get how doing so can be unhelpful and even counterproductive, escalating the fight even further. But self-defense is one of our primary human drives; we all want other people to acknowledge when we’re in the right, or to at least to basically understand our intentions. How can I avoid getting defensive?

Try this: Look forward with great anticipation to your next opportunity to be criticized by your partner in some way. Then, when it happens, in the moment in which it is happening, ask yourself, “What would it feel like to just not defend myself right now—to smile and say nothing committal, maybe even to agree with what my partner is saying? Would it make me proud?”

Then—just as an experiment, mind you—say something kind in response. Not necessarily an apology, if an apology feels insincere to you, but something sweet and understanding. Something like, “Okay. You might be right about this. I promise to give it some real thought.”

Now, observe how you feel about yourself in this moment and compare it to how you might have felt had you defended yourself. Do you feel more self-respect? And what about your partner’s response? Did their anger begin to dissolve?

It sounds like what you’re saying is that you should just accept whatever criticism comes your way, no matter how wrong it is. That’s not self-respectful, is it?

Yes, that’s what I’m saying, and yes, it is. You don’t have to accept the criticism as true, but you can listen to it in silence without agreeing with it in any way.

But doesn’t this just come across as a big “I don’t care what you think” attitude?

Preferably, no. At times, in an effort to be less defensive, I’ve used a superior tone of voice, responding with something like, “Okay, Honey. You have your opinion.” I’ve since come to the belief that this sort of attitude isn’t nondefensiveness—it’s ego, disguised as nondefensiveness. And it really, really doesn’t work. It doesn’t make me feel good, and it doesn’t dissolve his anger; in fact, it fuels it even more.

If you’re going to choose between being condescending and not explaining your side and being kind and asking to be given the chance to explain your side, choose the latter every time. At least you’ve shown that you are willing to truly listen, and by asking for permission first before defending yourself, you’ve put the other person in a much more receptive mode.

Lesson: Appreciate the Gift

Logically, I know that marriage is a gift—even the hard parts, the arguments. But how do I go from knowing it to really knowing it, to feeling really grateful for my partner on a day-in-day-out basis?

I have two ideas. The first is to dote on your partner—to do loving acts regularly. The second is to relentlessly question your negative thoughts about him or her.

A lot of people try to describe why it is that parenting, one of the toughest jobs on the planet, is also one of the most well-regarded and most sought-after. Here is my attempt: The beauty of parenting is that here is this perfect new person, and you have the privilege of loving them the most.

Teaching children is great. Watching them grow and admiring them and laughing with them is wonderful. But just loving someone this much, giving this much of yourself for another person every day—that is the part that really gets you.

Well, it’s the same marriage: the practice of loving another person just feels good. Making dinner for your partner, speaking gently with them when they’re in a bad mood, holding them when they’re sad—these are the things that give our lives real meaning, and the things that truly bond us.

Compliment your partner. Every single day. Say nice things, particularly when it’s unexpected. Be specific, too: something like, “I am feeling very tender and affectionate towards you today.” Genuine compliments are far too rare and far more valuable than most of us realize; whenever we get one, we really treasure it, don’t we? We remember some of them for a very long time.

My second idea is to relentlessly question your negative thoughts about your partner. In “Change Your Story” I describe the process of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and I cannot recommend it more highly. The theory among some psychologists and certainly many spiritual guru-types on its effectiveness is that when you remove the negative thoughts, love simply fills the gap, since love is who we really are underneath. Sometimes I’m skeptical that this is the case with me, but the more I journal my negative thoughts and replace them with the truth, the more cheerfulness and lightheartedness I feel, which naturally flows into my attitudes about other people. Particularly people I really, really like anyway, like my husband.

There was a time when I would have paid anything for a magic wand that could, with a wave, turn off all my husband’s worst traits. The other day, though, when I was talking to my sister on the phone about relationships, it hit me: At some point, I stopped wanting my partner to be perfect. What would it look like if he had no flaws? Would he do everything I ever wanted or asked him to do? And how long would it take before I started seeing him as a robot, an automaton: “Honey, will you wash the dishes?” “Sure, my dear.” “Then go wash the car and pack the car for our trip?” “Of course.” That’s not even a relationship, is it?

Marriage is one of the biggest challenges I’ll get in this life. I’m milking it for all the self-improvement it’s worth.

Final Question

Some of your advice is strange. Are you sure it’ll work?

In my life there are very few certainties, and for the most part I like to keep it that way. One thing I do feel sure of, though, is that self-improvement efforts—no matter how small, no matter how flailing, and no matter how many times they seem to fail—are worth it almost every time. Because often, even when they seem to fail, they don’t fail all the way; somewhere inside you, something has changed. Maybe it takes a year or two for you to see the difference, but eventually you do.

Eventually, you’re glad that you tried.

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

Author Interview: “How Do I Learn to Not Sweat the Small Stuff?”; and, Get “Fights” for free today on Amazon

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

Author Interview, Part Two

Some of the advice in Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby is pretty standard stuff. Some of it, however, is not. Here, a short Q and A that follows the lessons in the book that might help clarify a few of the more nuanced suggestions.

Lesson: Don’t Make It Into a Big Deal

Can you give me another example of how to pretend something isn’t a big deal? Is it just about ignoring the little stuff, or what?

No. It’s partly that, but it’s also about having a bit of fun with the process.

When something is bugging my husband and I know that it’s a temporary thing—a bad mood, tiredness or whatever—I use the opportunity to practice what I preach in this book: being nice, not getting angry, keeping my perspective. Here is sort of what that looks like: First, I don’t take hold of the rudeness he’s offering me. If he continues to offer it, I say something like, “Hon, are you okay?” Usually, that diffuses the situation pretty quickly. On the rare occasion on which it doesn’t, though, and he’s actually mad at me, he might explain what’s bothering him. That’s my chance to either talk it through or tell him that I love him but I’m choosing not to do what he wants me to do.

I’m a pretty serious person. I tend to be a little more like Rachel the list-maker than Genevieve the intuitive. How can I learn to not sweat the small stuff?

Control freaks do well to find other outlets for their passion. Do you have at least a few other close friendships? Do you have at least one hobby you really love? Your partner shouldn’t be your only source of endorphins.

Also remember that the whole letting go thing feels weird at first; when you’re emotional, your instinct is to directly deal with the situation. After a while, though, as talking about your relationship issues becomes less the norm than the exception, you begin to settle into a habit of ignoring stuff that starts you both spinning.

You become more at peace with peace.

What if we never get there? What if we never figure out how to be “comfortably in love” again?

Relationships aren’t always fun and easy. But they should be a lot of the time. If yours isn’t, you’re either not a good match—water and oil—or you’re really seeking out problems. Stop the problem-making habit and start a fun-making habit. If you do lots of enjoyable stuff together, little problems tend not to grow.

And definitely don’t get too much into his emotional business unless he shares it with you. Remember that your partner’s happiness is his job—not yours. Be the best partner you can be, and let him figure out everything else. Give him a bit of advice, then let him make his own choices.

Lesson: Be Uncomfortably Nice

What is the best way to show my partner that I love him on a daily basis?

Use a pleasant tone of voice. Always, always, always, unless you truly, in that moment, cannot. If you follow only one piece of advice in this book, follow this one. Use a (sincerely) pleasant tone of voice at all times, particularly during the mundane activities of life. This is where your relationship really lives. If you’ve fallen into that common but horrible habit of speaking with slight condescension to your partner on a regular basis, know that in order to make things work, this will have to change.

So, what about when your partner says something that’s not just rude, but super mean? The other day I told my husband I was really stressed out and he said, point blank, “I don’t care.” I couldn’t believe it. It hurt so much.

That does hurt. Have you asked him why he said it?

He said it because he didn’t care. In that moment, he didn’t care about how I felt.

Not necessarily. People say this stuff. He probably cares but at the time was upset about something else. My best advice is to ask him if he meant what he said. Ask him sweetly, at a time when he’s not mad. He’ll be impressed by your mature way of handling the situation. He’ll remember it, and if you handle rude comments this way regularly, he’ll eventually learn to be more careful with his words.

Countering not-nice with nice is the best way to get an apology.

So, how do you do this? I mean, we all snap at our partners and kids sometimes, right? We can’t be nice all the time.

Make it your number one priority for a week. A nice tone of voice, all day long. It’s a habit.

Lesson: Shamelessly Bargain (And Always Have a Bottom Line)

One of the things my husband struggles a lot with is getting time to exercise. He likes it, and it’s important to him, but there’s only a certain window of opportunity—in the hour after work—when he can get to the gym or take a jog. Lately, though, he’s been skipping this window and coming home early to crash on the couch. Then when it’s his turn to take the baby, he says he really needs to get his exercise done. It’s not fair, and the other day it caused a huge fight. What should I do?

It sounds like you have a schedule in place that you’re generally both happy with. If that’s the case, it’s just a matter of sticking to it—even if he doesn’t like it. Tell him that it’s his baby time, offer to discuss it, then walk away. If you need to, leave the house to force him to do his duty.

Oh, that’ll go over well.

Risk the argument. See it as an investment you make for your future happiness; if he sees you’re going to enforce your agreement, he’ll take future agreements more seriously. See it as practice for when you have to do the same kind of enforcement with your kids.

If you don’t take this advice, don’t blame him for taking advantage of your fear of confrontation.

Oh, and as always, when you leave, leave with a smile, or at least without undue emotion. He may not be smiling back. But that’s okay.

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