You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.  ~ Vernon Howard

Is there anything in nature more simple than moss or fungus.  And yet there is such complex beauty in these.  The picture above is of my beloved tree stump at the back of the garden on January 1st still not snow covered.  It used to be a white ash tree, but I think I like it better as this stump giving back to nature.  Now losing its bark, decaying further, but utterly covered in green moss on its north facing side and these lovely steps of fungus.  I am not schooled in fungus so I have no clue what it is, just that it is exquisite.

In my last post I wrote about making choices on how I want to live my life this year.  One of these was to Simplify My Life.  I have found simplification can take hard work and can get complicated if we let it.  But it is worth it.  This year is a year of completion for me.  One in which I am compelled to clean out the debris in my life (and house including the dust-yuck), finish what I started and get ready for a new cycle of things to come.  I am not sure how I know this, I just do.  Call it intuition or that little voice, but whatever it may be it has been sending signals that I know not to ignore.

It was timely that I recently ran across a great definition for simplifying your life.  Leo Babauta@Zen Habits focuses you on 2 steps:

1. Identify what’s most important to you.

2.  Eliminate everything else.

Of course Leo’s post references many other steps you can take and he has a great book to read if you need more help.  I think I will make a focused start with the 2 steps, but I am sure I will be investigating this more as the year progresses.  I am focusing on a few important things….

– I am getting rid of clutter.  I have stuff that is in the basement and packed in closets that has not been used since we moved here 7 years ago.  So I am purging those things…or at least many.  We tend to have emotional attachments to some things that we can never give up or throw away.  And that is OK because they are serving a purpose for now.  It is a slow, room by room process but I am up for it.

Simple meadow in early spring

-Once I purge I will be surrounding myself with those things that are easily managed.  Without a lot of stuff, the dusting, cleaning and management of my space and life should feel more relaxed.  It has felt this way when I have purged stuff.

-And then I am making buying decisions based on what is simple.  Do I really need this or that?  Will I use it and for what purpose?  Can I find it locally?   I have come to realize that I buy things because I want them.  Maybe they make me feel better, but I rarely sustain their use if the reason behind the purchase is emotional.  I don’t want to clean out so I can buy more stuff and pack it in those closets again.

attracting more of these beauties with native shrubs

-I will be looking to simply the garden as well.  I have decided the best way for me to start is to finish removing invasives from the garden particularly some  invasive shrubs.  Once I have the plan, I will share it.  The simplification of the garden will take a lot longer, but so far I have found that the addition of natives has substantially cut my costs and maintenance of the garden.




The main challenge for me with simplifying will be to not buy more stuff.  This will hopefully lead to my spending less.  A good habit to get into, and as I look toward retirement in the near future a habit I MUST acquire.  I would rather not buy stuff, and instead use the money saved for an occasional trip to a place that I have always wanted to visit.  For me that experience will far outweigh the stuff.


There are many benefits from simplifying your life even a little. Here are just a few of the benefits I hope to derive from simplifying my life…

*Having more energy.  Without the clutter my living space feels free, less complicated and easily maintained thereby leaving my energy to pursue other hobbies and activities.

*Having more time.  I tend to procrastinate more when I am surrounded by stuff.  I look at the task of cleaning and clearing and I put it off and other tasks that should be done.  Once the spaces are cleaned and cleared, I find I want to take on the other things I have been putting off.

*More critters in the garden.   Simplifying the garden by using natives has had the added benefit of more critters in the garden like the oriole that visits the pond.

Native Americans believe that without the clutter we actually bring the flow of abundance to us.  I do believe this because I have seen this happen for myself other times I have clutter-cleared.  I hope to keep you updated on how it is going especially in the garden.


Other Things and The Great Seed and Herb Experiment

Every year I try to find one special donation that can contribute to the betterment of the world or environment; one cause that I take on especially around the holidays.  This year it has been the Cape Leopard Trust spot adoption.  I found out about this wonderful program from Diana@Elephant’s Eye.  I have a special place in my heart for certain animals:  whales, dolphins, wolves, wild cats, polar bears…..well you get the picture.  Diana’s story about this program touched my heart and I gladly wanted to sponsor a leopard.  The cost in dollars is small.  I believe it was around $60 US dollars.  A small price to pay.  The Trust keeps me updated and sent me a lovely picture of one of the leopards.

As far as the herb and seed growing goes–the herbs are doing well, but the seeds were just started this past weekend.  I needed some time to recuperate from my recent illness so I am behind.  I promise all the details on the herb and seed growing for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (GBBD) next week.


“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”  ~Steve Jobs


Coming this winter to the blog:  Lots of color.  Posts during GBBD and Wildflower Wednesday will focus on one color, its meaning and highlights of that color in my garden over the past year.  I decided I needed some color this winter.  We waver between white, brown and some green when the snow melts.  The first color to be highlighted will be the color of the year-orange.  Just in time for GBBD next Monday.

Two new monthly posts: I will be joining Diana@Elephants Eye who challenged bloggers to pick our top 12 plants. These post will be called, “Simply The Best” and focus on native plants I love and need more of in the garden.  The first one will be this Friday.  I will also be joining Holley@Roses and Other Gardening Joys and her new meme, Garden Book Review on the 20th of every month.  I have lots of garden books I want to read and this is a great way to share.

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All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.


42 Replies to “Simplify”

  1. I hope you get to simplify and meet all your goals. I have been ‘weeding out’ and paring down for years now. It is a process and has been going pretty well. Our block had a garage sale a few years back and that made a huge dent in stuff I wanted to get rid of. They are planning another one this year. Simplifying the garden never seems to happen. I am always getting new plants and giving away others. Your posts are always like a post within a post for how much varied information you include. Always a good morning read.

    1. Thx Donna. I am so glad you enjoy the posts. I hate garage sales but I know we will have to participate in the block sale this year to make a dent. I hope we can keep the stuff at bay. I think my simplification of the garden will be more in ease of care than in number of plants. I am too much of a plant addict to ever reduce the numbers.

  2. I, too, am trying to simplify. It feels essential, spiritually, and is freeing. I agree, so many purchases fill an emotional need and then get put on a shelf or in a closet and are forgotten. The biggest simplification for us will be selling our house and moving into a smaller one. I am sad at the thought of leaving the garden I have spent 8 years creating and tending, and I’m sure I will be posting on this subject in the coming months. But it also is an opportunity to create anew.

    1. Sheila, moving is a great time to simplify but it is an emotional roller coaster. I wish you luck. Here’s hoping that new start will be wonderful!

  3. I am with you Donna, simplify and get rid of clutter. We are having a new heating system installed tomorrow and I had to clear the attic of junk, I may have over did it but don’t tell Myra. As for buying stuff my latest thing is the kindle, well actually this was a gift from my daughter, its amazing, no more eye strain although my visit to the optician this morning brought news that wasn’t exactly brilliant but we wont over fuss about that at the moment.

    1. Alistair your secret is safe with me. I am wanting to get rid of much more than my husband. I have not given up my paper books yet but if someone were to give me a Kindle I wouldn’t resist it. It may be the way I have to go soon as my eyes are getting much worse and my arms are just too short anymore…

      1. Donna, err! you want to get rid of much more than your husband, like maybe, the cat! Oh no silly me, I see what you mean now. Your out of kilter adding a new post today.

        1. I knew I would throw you off schedule but I will have a new post Monday too…just found some extra time with no garden to do a few different posts…so there may be 2 posts a week for awhile…we shall see how my stamina is….

  4. Wow. You can be really inspiring with your projects. I’ve never been so ‘organized’ when I’ve planned changes about myself or my life. I should be, though. I like the way you link changes to things outside ourselves to things more deep inside, like feelings or habits. I must try it.

    1. Alberto how sweet of you to say I am inspiring…I have found if I am not focused or organized a bit, then my life will not change…I wish you luck…

  5. I love throwing away stuff, it feels so cleansing. I think that if I haven’t used something in the past year, I’m not likely to use it again. (Probably shouldn’t have bought it in the first place.)

    1. I am 100% with you. I am in a think before you buy mode now. So much has been a waste…can’t wait to get to that basement and purge.

  6. I’m thrilled that you’ll be joining in on the Garden Book Reviews, and appreciate that you mentioned it here. I started cleaning out some clutter before Christmas, but I should do more. It seems most of us have too much! You stated that your inner voice was telling you to do this. I agree that that little inner voice needs to be listened to – it’s very wise, if we take the time to hear it. I’m glad you’re starting your colors with orange – it’s one of my very favorite colors!

    1. Oh I am so glad that my first post is ORANGE. it seems a favorite for many…I am excited about the garden book review. I needed this little kick to get the books off the pile and into my hands 🙂

  7. Donna, I did the simplify thing in the fall of 2010 and felt wonderful about it. However, several major trouble spots remain: the attic, old financial records, which I intend to tackle this winter. My major problem is not getting rid of stuff (I hate to shop and hardly ever buy anything) but the family things that have been passed down through the generations. I am the only one who didn’t get the gene, but they all gave me the stuff. For example, how do you get rid of your favorite uncle’s scrapbooks?

    On another topic, how did you get your blog to keep snowing? Mine went off 1/4 and I want it back.

    1. Carolyn the family mementos are harder. There is a lot of conversation in the blogger world about how to tackle this. As far as the snow on the blog, I use the Let It Snow app for WordPress. Is that the one you used? It seems to link right in and stay active. Once it is downloaded you can configure it from your admin sidebar. Let me know if you need more info.

  8. Dear Donna, I love your thinking! I started simplifying my garden last year, and now i am turning my attention on the house. It is an overwhelming task, but I plan on de-junking at least one drawer, cupboard or closet each week. Best wishes for the achievement of your very worthy goals! P. x

    1. Pam that is the best way to start. i did some of that last year, but now need to return to a few key spots and especially tackle the basement. Here’s to a simpler 2012!

  9. Good luck on simplifying! I have been doing just this for years and each time I think I am making progress the cycle starts all over again. I think I am moving stuff from one room to another then of course it overwhelms me and life things get in the way. lol Next up is my bedroom and lots of old clothes. That will be cathartic for me as clutter sure adds up. I think you are on the right track and with your garden and house. Happy New Year to you!

    1. Happy New Year Tina. I have had to put 2 boxes down when I clear a room. One labeled, “To Go OUT” and the other “This Stays”. Then I find I am not moving or keeping as much as I did before. But then I have to stop buying. I am getting better except with books and plants.

  10. I read a book over Thanksgiving called, Simplify. It seems to be a recurring theme recently. I’ve been trying to get rid of clutter also. I even joined a listserv that sends me daily reminders. Good luck with this goal.

    1. It does seem to be the theme this year. Good luck with your clearing and cleaning…here’s to the simple life in 2012….

  11. …and i always had difficulty finding here the comments section, another possible simplification? hahaha! You are very right Donna, in what you posted here. A foremost tip from Chinese feng shui masters is also ‘avoid clutter’, also my fault! But in my case it is not really hoarding clutter but being lazy, procrastinating, etc! So i guess one fault, begets another, and probably more! But as life goes on, and hopefully wisdom comes in, i realized that life gets simpler if we have less finances to spare. The wisdom comes in if we get contented with what we have, instead of clamoring for more, which otherwise begets more and more faults! I just overheard from the radio of a neighboring desk, when one of the top financial and business consultant in the country was interviewed. He said “the richest person on earth is someone who has the least needs”! Does that mean he has everything? Is there wisdom there?

    1. Wow Andrea you are so correct…simplicity in all aspects of our lives makes us richer indeed…Feng Shui is a hobby and it is so wonderful when you clear the flow by getting rid of the stuff….I hope to do some theme changing on the blog this year which will help the comments part…thx for hanging in there with me!!

  12. I love the concept of simplicity! It is a lifestyle we should all aspire to. I just cleaned out my closet yesterday and took two boxes to Goodwill. It felt great! I am looking forward to your color series…you are kicking it off with one of my favorite colors, Orange!

    1. I am so glad you are excited about the color posts….it will be an Orange Monday coming up…I need the color after the snow we are getting finally!!

  13. I can’t tell you how tough it was to make the choice for my word this year as simplify was battling hard with stretch/expand! I’m still feeling the strong need to simplify and it may simply be that in order to stretch I’ll need to simplify first! Love your ideas for your blog this year…they sound interesting and I look forward to stopping by.

    1. Thx Cat…I love your one word theme for the year….I will be keeping it in mind for the future…such a great way to look at things!!

  14. Nature, it is said abhors a vacuum…but loves space and has decorated your old tree beautifully Donna. Hoping that you find lots of room in your simplicity in place of emptiness. Your post reminded me of this quote:
    “We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?”
    – Wendell Berry

  15. Simplify should be the word for 2012. It applies to everything I think, even the garden. Various losses have made me come to that conclusion so I wish you well for 2012 and hope that your kindness which is so evident in your writing comes back to you tenfold…but not with any clutter!

    1. You are so sweet and thank you for your kind words. It does seem to be the word many people are thinking about…I wish you a peaceful and healthy New Year!

  16. Yes, this is inspirational. I am such a clutterbug and this year I’m clearing out and bringing change to my life too. Thanks for the supportive ideas and sharing your thoughts about it all.

  17. I think simplicity, especially where stuff is concerned, kind of comes and goes in waves–you simplify and then just by living accrue new things as new needs appear, and then you simplify again. Like trees shedding their leaves every year so they can grow a batch of new ones… 🙂 Hope it goes well for you, especially in the garden. I’m looking forward to your post on ORANGE!

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