Five Ways to Let Go During the Holidays

Making Christmas, SCARY!

Welcome to another holiday season, where even the most faithful minimalists and simple living enthusiasts find that keeping the holidays about anything other than stuff can be a real kick in the jingle balls.

We are just so used to decking our halls with everything and anything shiny and glittery, filling our calendars with every ho ho-hum holly party and stuffing our gizzards with everything pumpkin, cranberry or peppermint we see (because it’s only here once a year, in limited supplies, right?) Any other month of the year we would never behave this way. It’s like Christmas gives us a hall pass to do “all the things” in excess that we know deep in our hearts can be the root of what actually makes us unhappy. (over-spending, over-eating, over-committing… STRESSING!)  This holiday behavior can also cause us to pull out of our own self-loving behavior by not having time to work on our goals, complete our missions and be good to ourselves.  I mean, January is right around the corner, we can start again then, right? Being on a path of living a simple meaningful life with less stuff just does not seem to jive during the months of November and December.

So, knowing what we know about how living a life with less gives us so much more, why do we continue to allow the holiday season to take over our mind, body and spirit each and every year AND how does one participate in the most wonderful time of the year without having to go through a complete holiday hangover come January?

Now that we have evolved and know that happiness and joy is not found in over-spending, over -eating and being over-busy, we can certainly continue to honor a simple and meaningful lifestyle, even when Macy’s is having a One Day Sale.  Here are ten ways to continue to let go during the holidays but still have a holly jolly time.


5 Ways to Let Go During the Holidays

  1. Let go of debt – One of the first things to let go of when beginning a new lifestyle of freedom, meaning and happiness is debt. Using the holidays as an excuse to spend money that you do not have (charging is creating debt unless you pay it off right away) is a surefire way to begin your new year in arears. If you enjoy spending extra money during the holidays then start a savings account in Jan for next year and this year find other ways to show you care. Presence is much more important than presents. That sounds hokey, but ask anyone if they would prefer to have you there, hanging out with them, or working an extra part-time job to pay off all of the gifts you bought them. I guess this depends on how much they like you.
  2. Let go of busyness- These days whomever is the busiest wins. It is worn as a badge of honor. Being too busy can creates havoc in our lives and anxiety in our heart. Life can go by like a blur and you can end up just going through the motions instead of savoring the flavor of the season. Slowing down and taking time to enjoy a cup of cocoa with a friend, or to catch a movie allows that holiday feeling to really sink in. The holidays can create a bunch of super-busy people running around frantically trying to get everything done. Learn how to say no to the things that do not bring you the peace comfort and joy that everybody keeps singing about. Fa la freakin’ La.
  3. Let go of grudges– Some people in our lives are toxic and the best thing for us and our own happiness is to let them go. Sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently. This is one of the hardest parts of letting go. There are also some people that have just pissed you off or you just can’t see eye to eye. Use the holidays as an excuse to put old grudges behind you and see the good in the people in your life. Make amends for your mistakes and invite love into your heart. Letting go of these hard feelings allows more Hallmark warm and fuzzy moments enter our hearts. This is the goodwill toward man part. Unless they suck.
  4. Let go of old traditions– If Making Christmas, making Christmas making Chrisssstmas feels more like dread than delight then it’s time to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Check in and think about what is important to you about the holidays. If spending too much money on gifts and too much time wrapping them with homemade wrapping paper is not in alignment with your values then you have every right to do something else. If it is important to you impress the in-laws with a perfect and elegant Christmas Eve dinner and you really enjoy the challenge, beautiful! But if all the fuss is making you a scrooge then change things up! Create new traditions around what is important to you. Looking at your values can really help. If your top values are Wellness, Peace and Freedom maybe you could go on a retreat for the holidays, or take your family on a stay-cation. If contribution and collaboration are your top values, consider getting your friends together to help a local charity instead of doing your regular gift exchange. Doing can be much more meaningful than over-doing. If you need help discovering your values, consider hiring a Life Coach!
  5. Let go of guilt-Do you feel  like you have to please everybody and if you don’t then you are a less-than (Mother, Husband, friend, person…)? Not doing what (you feel) is expected of you can create a lot of stress and guilt. Feeling guilty for not doing what everyone else wants you to do can make the holidays less than cheerful. When you get that feeling in your stomach when you say YES to going to another Ugly Sweater Party and instantly wondering how you will get out of it and already feeling guilty about it, then you suffer and people are disappointed. Learning the art of saying no is essential for letting go of anything – but especially guilt. Be clear in your communication and let them know that you have decided to keep your calendar clear this season for spontaneous, impromptu cheer. Or you are giving experiences this year instead of stuff. Don’t make excuses or even give reasons for your no. You have nothing to feel bad about. The people you love will begin to appreciate you being so impeccable with your word. No guilt required!


Pip’s Tip:  Resist the last-minute urge to splurge. One year I’ve decided to not buy a lot of gifts and I communicated that clearly. When I got to the house, there were tons of presents for me under the tree. Cut to: Christmas Eve at midnight with a full cart maxing out my Target Card. The feelings surrounding this kind of experience reminds me of who I do not want to be. Rushed, spending money that I do not have on meaningless things and feeling inadequate because I did not buy enough. Instead I was up all-night wrapping presents and I was tired and grumpy for Christmas morning. Now that’s a Bah Humbug!


The holidays are here and it’s up to you to enjoy them your way. Finding your joy is the best way for you to share that joy with others. Living a value based life all year long will keep you in alignment with what’s important to you and help you have the Hap Hap Happiest Christmas this side of the Mississip.

Merry Kiss-My-Ass

Ten Ways You Can Become A Hero

Did you ever know that you’re my hero? No? Well, I should have told you.

Do you know those special people in your life that you might call something like, “My cheerleader”, “My support system” or “My biggest fan?” or even “My hero?” That special person (or people) who show up to everything you are involved in, “likes” what you post online and tells or shows you how proud they are of you on a consistent basis?  ( I am not talking stalkers here). In the span of a year and a half, five of my Heroes have left this world.

I lost five people who were always there waiting for me to do my next great thing. It was always great because that’s what they thought. As time goes by and I do my next thing (whether it’s great or not) there is an empty place where their support used to live. There is a hole in my universe where someone used to sit or a comment used to live. I did not realize or put my finger on the fact that the people I was losing were the people who supported me so much in my life, until I lost my friend two months ago. She would never miss one of my music gigs. She was so proud of my blog and loved Bongo as much as I did. She was one of the most loving people I had ever met. What was I going to do without my friend? Without any of them to cheer me on?

Don’t fall short on support

Besides being torn apart by all of this loss, I have a feeling of being more on my own and a little more grown up. And I carry around some faith that they can still be proud of me and still support me. Somehow…

I sit here and ask myself what the feeling is that I am missing so much? What is this “support” that I felt. The first thing I think of is love. How much they loved me to think that everything I did was so awesome. It was blind sometimes for sure- but it was honest and true and from such a place of patience and wanting the best for me. They really believed in me. To them I was the cat’s meow. They loved me and  also supported the things that I did. This is a real key.

Having support for what we do can mean the difference between doing stuff and not doing any more stuff. Without our best fans, support systems, or the wind beneath our dang wings and all that jazz, (Heroes) how would we get the confidence to get up there and try something? Because we know when we fail our Heroes will cheer us on and encourage us anyways. They are like a safety net. Or a trampoline!

After losing some of my personal Heroes I want to honor their legacy by becoming a Hero too! I believe we all have heroes inside of us, it’s just up to us to put it out there. Kind of like my Take 5 Idea (more on that later if you don’t know about it- that’s another post) You cannot be everyone’s best friend, or everyone’s hero, there just isn’t enough time. I suggest you choose a few people that could use a Hero in their lives right now and start your Hero training on them.


10 Ways to Be Someone’s Hero

  • Like People’s Stuff- We are all on our own journeys and doing stuff, and making stuff and wanting people to like our stuff. So, take a moment out of your busy day and like someone’s stuff! It can be as easy as a FB like button, or even go further with a comment, GIF, or any words of delight, pride or interest.
  • Show up- Rally and go to their show, book signing, exercise class, party, race, art exhibition. Whatever it is, just being there will make you look like a Hero to them.
  • Be “No-Kidding” Curious- Ask tons of questions about what they are doing and remember the details. Be interested in their processes and their ideas. Encourage them to talk about themselves.
  • Listen- Really listening without waiting to talk about yourself or your own next endeavor will let them know that they are important to you and you care about them. Listening is Hero 101, plus, as a bonus this practice will make everybody else  like to be around you more.
  • Spend Time with Them- Literally just being there can go a very long way. Sometimes that’s all someone needs.
  • Acknowledge Them- Let them know that you really see them and tell them the specific qualities in them that make them, or the  things they do, so great. Point out specifics about why something went so well. Make it personal.
  • Champion Them- Be their cheerleader! Let them know that they can do it!! Make it better by telling them why you believe in them so much.  Celebrate with them! When things fail, be there to pick them up and cheer them onto their next thing.
  • Challenge Them- This can be used when they are feeling like they can’t get through a hurdle or something is blocking them. Help them to become their best selves by pushing them past their comfort zones or to do the right thing.
  • Be a Good Example-If you are going to be someone’s Hero, you better be awesome. Do your best, live with honor, be impeccable with your word and don’t forget to love yourself. You can be a Hero to many people without even knowing it if you are living your best life, giving back and spreading your good messages to the world. Just be your awesome self!
  • Offer Help- There is no better way to support someone than to actually support them! I am not talking about paying their rent, but lending them a helping hand when they are trying to get a project done is extra-credit Hero behavior.

And here is an Inquiry I would like to put out there for anyone to answer in the comments. What does it take to be a SUPERHERO?

I know that I will probably fall apart the next time I have a gig and my friend is not there. I know that I will have a heavy heart from the missing comments that I would usually see at the end of this blog post, as soon as it is published. It’s gut wrenching for sure. But there is some light. I can learn some of  their Hero behavior and bestow it upon other people. People out there doing stuff that could use the support and love. Yeah, I’m gonna go out and do some Heroing.

The other good news is I still have lotsa Hero’s out there! I don’t know how I am so lucky, but I have not forgotten about them and I am so grateful that they are in my life. Besides going out there and being Hero-like, I also intend to make sure that my current Heroes know how important and special their support is for me. Perhaps I will sing that Beaches song in there ear the next time I see them…

The Meta-View is Great From Up Here

At the International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico

Wow, I am here. I have made it. My 50th Birthday celebration has come to a close. It was as epic as I could have imagined it to be! I had almost two weeks of Birthday festivities including a wonderful birthday party, riding in a hot air balloon at dawn (on Friday the 13th)  being in awe at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, immersing myself in the trippiest art instillation/fun house ever, Meow Wolf and being taken to the top of the world to Diablo Canyon to see the spectacular stars.


Our new room

I found a part-time job in one day (yay!) at the exact place that I wanted to work. (The world has been saying a lot of YES to me lately!)   I am designing my life to be exactly what I want it to be and coach my clients to do the same. I help them to understand who they are and what they truly want so that they can create a clear path towards a fulfilling and meaningful life- designed by them! I have also helped several clients successfully become non-smokers and I have a huge passion to help as many people as I can let go of habits that stand in the way of them and their most magnificent versions of themselves. My program’s aim is to help people become non-smokers verses ex-smokers. Now that I am a CPCC (Certified Professional Co-Active Coach) I plan on getting my ICF credential next (International Coaching Federation) and then continue my study of the effects of Positive Phycology to bring more of that to my coaching. After all, letting go is only the first part. I want to replace what has been lost with positivity. Continued education is now a must for me- I want to be the best person, and best coach that I can be for the benefit of all! Plus, I just find it fascinating!

I am in a physical and mental place where I can heal from my broken marriage, mend (some) of the relationships that I pulled away from and deepen the relationships with the people I love. Letting go is NOT EASY, but I needed to do it, and now I am feeling free, strong and ready to be a little bit vulnerable again and take some chances. I needed to create the space in my heart, and for me, that meant having to carry it around empty for a little while. How much it hurt! How much it was worth it! Because the love I had for myself had a real chance to grow, and I realize that I love myself too much to let anybody or anything toxic into my life again.

I am also NOT saying that everyone should get rid of all of their stuff, end their relationships and clear their calendars. I am saying that designing a life, YOUR life, is up to you- and just like designing a room, you have to eliminate what you don’t want before you can add in anything new. Sometimes you have to sit in an empty room to decide how you would like it decorated instead of just putting the first thing you find back in there. I AM saying to create the empty space, enjoy the boredom, emptiness and possibilities of that empty space and take your time and choose carefully before putting anything back in. Out of the quiet, stillness and boredom- the best ideas arrive!  And when you do fill the room up again, only putting in things that you completely love will give you the loveliest room of all. (see what I did there?)

I am planning to continue sharing my journey, being enthusiastic about letting go of things that do not serve me and continue to live an even more simple and more meaningful life. I will coach my clients and write in my blog from this perspective. After all of these years, my passion for simplicity has not changed. I have found joy, peace and even times of bliss, and it all started with that first garage sale. My longing for you is that you have the space in your heart, your home and your schedule to fill it up with only what you love. This is my life’s work and helping people even experience a glimpse of it  it brings me more meaning than anything ever has.

Being up in a hot air balloon amongst the clouds as I turned 50 gave me a unique perspective on the world and my life. I could see it  all laid out before me. Everything sure looked small down there, but my life had never felt so BIG!

Up in the hot air balloon on my 50th Birthday!

So, Tell me What you Want, What you Really Really Want


Do you “wannabe” famous like the Spice Girls? Or just have cool shoes?

You want something so, so bad. You visualize it, take action steps to get it,  you talk about it –  live it and breathe it. But the thing you want never seems to come. Or there’s this scenario: You want something for so, so  long and once you have it, you don’t want it anymore – now you want something else.

Do either of these sound familiar?

In my coaching practice we do a lot of work on living a life based on your own personal value system. Discovering what you value most and living a value based life creates meaning, purpose and happiness every single day! I have come up with a quick exercise to break down the things that we want into the value hidden underneath. This can give you the clarity to know if it’s something you still really want (then keep on trucking!) or if there is something else that can assist you in honoring the value and give you the feelings that you are looking for.

Think of one thing that you really want in your life right now. Maybe it’s to be in shape, have your own flourishing business or to find your soul mate. After you have brought this desire to the forefront of your mind ask yourself  “Why is this important?” After you ask that question, ask that same question again in response to your answer until you come up with the hidden value underneath that want.


Here are two examples of what I mean:


I really want to lose 20 pounds.

Why is this important? I want to knock ’em dead at my high school reunion.

Why is this important? I want everyone to see how happy I am.

Why is this important? Everyone made fun of me in high school.

Why is this important? I never fit in.

Hidden Value: Acceptance


Another Example:

I want to be a world traveler.

Why is that important? I have been stuck in this town my whole life.

Why is that important? My job only gives me three weeks off a year and I usually spend that time doing what my wife wants to do.

Why is that important? I am a grown person and I should get to do what I want to do sometimes.

Hidden Value: Freedom


Once you have broken down your wants into values, you don’t have to wait until you have lost the weight or have the resources to travel the world to feel the feelings that you are longing for. You now can find alternative ways to have the feelings of acceptance and freedom. You may still want the original things, however,  you may also realize that you can start enjoying the feelings behind them right away. The next thing you can ask yourself once you know what value you want to honor is:


How can I honor my value of _______ right now

How can I add this feeling of _______ into my every day life?

In order to feel this way and honor this value, what things in my life do I have to say no to?

What do I have to say yes to?


You may realize that if you are looking for a feeling of acceptance, you may need to say “No” to comparing yourself to others on Social Media. You may have to say “Yes” to spending time doing self-love activities or with people that love you unconditionally.  You can also ask yourself who you need to be in order to get the value and feelings of acceptance in your life. More accepting towards others? More patient?


Having this level of self-discovery and awareness can help you clearly see why you want the things you want and what lies underneath your desires. After doing this exercise with each of the things that you want, you may find yourself tweaking your goals a little bit, or creating some new goals to really honor the values you have hidden underneath all of your longings.


My challenge for you is to come up with your top three goals or desires and try this for yourself. You may find that you are happier and more fulfilled on your journey towards your destiny if you start honoring these values – and yourself – RIGHT NOW!!

What were Veruca Salt’s values behind what she wanted?





I’ve Been Doing Small, Now it’s Time to do Some Big!

I have been slowing down on my blog posts, not because of my lack of Passion. I have given myself permission to only do things that I believe are essential. As much as I love this blog, I need time to dedicate to something even more meaningful right now. My Mission.

My Logo thanks to my friend Meghan Lucas-Maguire

My Logo thanks to my friend Meghan Lucas-Maguire 

The definition of Mission I am using here is calling, something even bigger than Passion. After many years of trying to create meaningful work, I finally have the confidence to turn my Passion for Living Big and Small into something really Big –

Live Big and Small Coaching and Consulting!

I am enrolled in a Professional Coaching Institute, working towards becoming certified as a Professional Coach. During my training, I have been going through extensive transformation in my own life. In the courses I am taking in Ft. Lauderdale we coach each other. It is intense and enlightening. I am uncovering my true values and how to honor them in everything that I do. I am discovering what is most important to me. I am learning how be and what to do to create and maintain the life of my dreams. I am finding out that perception can be changed into a positive outlook in just a moment. Most importantly, I have certainty that I will be able to help my clients become the most magnificent versions of themselves. I have never enjoyed learning anything so much. It’s exceptional. I am giddy, excited, dedicated, and focused. I believe that the simple task of decluttering my home has transcended into finding my Mission. I am eternally grateful for finding this path, and for being able to share what I learn with others.

I have many things brewing and I have tons of work to do. This means you may hear from infrequently over the next several months. I am committed to this blog because I love it, and you so much. I intend to intertwine all of it, but for now I have to learn, plan, practice, strategize, and market. I also have to learn some new technical skills to get my virtual office set up. I have to say “no” to lots of things right now so I can say “yes” for some Big things to come. I am also making it a priority not to become “crazy busy.” I intend to work hard on my actions while still taking care of my other values. (I will post about my condensed version of self-care I call my “wee-treats” soon)!

I am currently creating the services I am going to offer and working with several people. I will let you know when I am officially taking on new clients! And a special thanks to those who have allowed me to practice on you! I will not forget your openness and vulnerability.

I hope you stay tuned as I continue to provide my insight, experiments and opinions when I feel compelled to share. Thank you for being here for me. You have given me more than you will ever know. My true desire is for everyone to find their Mission, and I will do whatever I can to help make it as true for you as it is for me.


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Letting Go With Flames and Grace

Several months ago my husband and I drove four hours south to beautiful Virginia Key Beach to attend an art and music festival. Upon arrival, I found myself connecting with someone new. We quickly began discussing our passions and she told me that she was a Live Big and Small reader and it was making a difference in her life. She was moved by my story and inspired by my message. I was beaming with pride. We spent a long time talking and sharing our stories and I found her fascinating. She had taken her simplifying much further than I had and loved the results. I went to sleep that night knowing that I had met a new forever friend.

The next day I heard that there was an accident and my new friend’s camper caught on fire and everything was lost. I found out that it was filled with almost everything she owned, comfortably decorated for living and travel. As I approached to see how she was doing I did not see what I expected to see at all. Nobody was  running around frantically angrily cursing. Nobody was even sad! What I found was  my friend and her boyfriend smiling and celebrating that the break light on the trailer was fixed so that they could get the camper home safely. I was unexpectedly met with a huge hug and a thank-you for helping her deal with this experience. We held each other and I cried and she said amazing things into my ear. She told me that people are much more important than things. She told me how this experience has brought her closer to her partner and to her community as they all came together to offer support, camping gear and love. She was so calm, kind and together. She was so grateful that nobody was hurt. She had lost so many of her belongings – she had already done her downsizing and all of her favorite things were there in her camper and it was all gone. They managed to save their camera, which is great because her boyfriend is a photographer. I told her that I was so impressed with her attitude. I can’t imagine having no negativity through something so difficult. Then her boyfriend came over and they told me their plans. They were going to buy a boat. They were taking something that could have been a tragedy and turned it into an opportunity.

As much as my new friend said that I had helped her, she is the one who has helped me more than she could ever know. I am  going to remember to think of her demeanor the next time I face something unpleasant. I am never going to forget her grace in her time of loss. I have always chosen what I was going to give away. I can’t imagine watching it all go up in a burst of flames.
My journey so far has been incredible. Realizing that simplicity is a stepping stone to a happy, meaningful, stress(less) and carefree life full of love and experience has been an incredible discovery.  The more that goes, the better it gets. And my friend is right. People are far more important than all the things!

Core Value Living Series – Relationships

What are core values?

I have decided that I want to make sure that the activities and tasks that I choose to do align with my beliefs and values. I had been getting off-track a lot lately and finding that I was doing things that were not really important to me. Basically, I was doing the wrong things. I learned about these five core values during my work with Tony Robbins. Having a clear sense of what I truly value has helped me to stop wasting time on things that do not really matter and to manage my time so that I can do what I really want to do. I have adopted these values as my own as everything that is important to me falls under one of these values. I intend to write a post about my experiences in each of these areas over time and I am calling it my Core Value Living Series.

Here are my core values based on the teachings of Tony Robbins:

  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Growth
  • Passion
  • Contribution



Nature vs. nurture

One of the core values in my life are my relationships. I tend to spend more time on other values like my health and personal growth and run out of time for the people I have chosen to be a part of my life. Neglecting my relationships or taking for granted that they will take care of themselves has made it difficult for me to become intimate with anyone. Deciding to be intentional with my activities gives me the opportunity to allot time for nurturing my relationships. I used to look at time with friends and family as frivolous and non-productive. I came to realize that this is out of line with my belief system and changes needed to be made. I am slowly starting to do things like scheduling a walk with a dear friend, a date with my husband or an outing with a group of friends. I put these activities on my to-do list and make sure I allot the time for these activities.  I also intend to continue to create balance between my core values so that I may lead a well-rounded life including all of the things I value.

You can’t buy relationships

Sometimes, purchasing a material possession as a gift for someone is appropriate and brings them joy or value. The problem can be that sometimes that’s all we do and gifts are given in lieu of spending time together. Creating memories and having experiences with the people you care about is what it’s all about. Making space for people and feeling that they have made the space in their lives for you is the best present money cannot buy. In this hectic world it’s a downright precious commodity.

Don’t let anyone take your sparkle

I started this process slow, first figuring out who was the most important to me, who I wanted to be closer with and who I needed to move out of my life. I know it sounds harsh, but this is my life and my time and I intend to spend it with people who add value to it.  I want my relationships to be a two way street. I want to be around people who have similar values. I want to spend time with people who want to grow. I want to be around people who uplift me and want to be uplifted. After I figured out who I wanted to be closer with, I simply made visits, dates, phone calls, cards and text messages a priority and started slowly scheduling them into my days. I even have a pen pal!

Getting to know me, getting to know all about me

There was one more relationship that needed attention, my relationship with myself! I know that I told you that I spend a lot of time on my personal development, however my relationship with myself is not the same thing. So I decided to take myself on a date! Many years ago I did a process called “The Artist’s Way” and I took myself on several “Artist Dates”. The dates were so much fun and I remember exactly what I did and how I felt on the date… and that was over ten years ago! These dates served to nurture my relationship with myself. They allowed me to create memories and have experiences. They even allowed me to get to know myself better! Giving myself permission to take myself out gave me a lighter feeling about everything else I had to do that day. Even that week! Even now! It was hard to block out the time. I felt guilty at first, but now I feel refreshed and happy and light. I intend to schedule more dates with myself as often as I can. The relationship I have with myself needs to be nurtured too. It will help me be more grounded and ready to nurture the other relationships in my life. I also get to pick all of my favorite things to do without compromising. Bonus!

Make room for what matters to you

Sometimes we can get caught up in our lives doing things that do not align with the values we have created for ourselves. Some of us have not even identified our core values, but know in our hearts what we are really passionate about. I feel safe to say that as humans we all need to make our relationships a core value in our lives. Giving the gift of our time, being fully present when we do spend that time (my advice – turn off your device) and being grateful for having that person in your life should align with everybody’s priorities.

Exercise in prioritizing your priorities

Make a list of your core values. Use Tony’s five if you like. Now take your daily or weekly to-do list and compare the list to your core values. How many of the things on your list align with your values? How can you stop adding so many things to your list and your life that do not match up with who you want to be? What kinds of things can you begin to take away so that you can add what matters most to you? Remember, if you don’t know what your priorities are, just look at what you did this week. There is your list of priorities. If you said “yikes” it’s time to start being true to yourself and doing what matters most to you.


You have read “Core Value Living Series – Relationships” here first on Live Big and Small. Please leave your comments, suggestions or ideas about your core values in the comments. Thank you so much for being a part of this amazing community of like-minded people who want to live a more meaningful life with less.



Needing Less Instead of Making More

Instead of focusing on your income, why not focus on your outcome?

Me, stuck working on Cinco de Mayo.

Me, stuck working on Cinco de Mayo.

Working as hard as we can to make as much money as possible to buy the nicest things we can is the way that most people live. I have lived most of my life above my means. I have worked too long at a job that I did not like because of the money I made there, not because it was meaningful work. I worked paycheck to paycheck just to pay off debt that I had accrued because I wanted more things than I could afford to pay for. I have desired material belongings only to find that once I owned them they still did not make me happy. I have run in the rat race and lived a life that revolved around making and spending money, only to feel a false sense of fulfillment. I also worked so hard that I did not have time to enjoy my family and friends or take care of myself properly. I had a very unhealthy relationship with money. My goals and dreams consisted of wealth. To me money equaled happiness. When I decided to become less materialistic and put people and experiences over possessions, I had a great revelation. Instead of making more, I thought I would try to need less. Needing less money gave me the opportunity to leave the job that I did not like, to work part time at a meaningful job that I did like and focus on my writing. Don’t get me wrong, I would not have been able to work part time if I did not have a supportive husband. We are still trying to work out the kinks and I will be flexible to working more to make money for things like travel and savings. My ultimate goal is to run my own business helping people and being paid for doing meaningful work that I love. Working is a part of life. Being able to have meaningful work can make life so much more fulfilling. Everyone has a different situation. I am not suggesting for everyone to quit your jobs without being prepared. What I am suggesting is to take this information and try a new way of thinking to see if needing less money instead of working so hard to make more money could add value to your lives. The benefits can range from taking an extra vacation a year to accepting a dream job that you love that pays less money than you used to need.

Here are some ways that I have found to need less money

Cancel the cable: This not only saves on your monthly bill, but it will give you much more time to do other things. You will get over missing your favorite shows within weeks and you will never have to watch an unwanted commercial again. When I cancelled my cable I signed up for Netflix. The cost is only $8.00 a month and I can watch documentaries or an occasional movie on the weekend.

Work out, outside: Cancel your gym membership and walk, jog or bike outside. Spending time in nature (even if your nature is a city street, pigeons count!) instead of a smelly gym is great for your well-being and your physique. When the weather is kind of frightful I find jumping on my mini trampoline is delightful. It’s a fun way to do cardio indoors. My trampoline was only $25.00 brand new at a thrift store. You can also find used exercise equipment like a treadmill or stair climber for a one-time investment and save those monthly gym fees.

Stop comfort shopping: In the past I used shopping to feel better about myself. A new dress and strappy sandals would boost my self-esteem and lift my spirits. But this was only a temporary fix. As soon as the new digs came off I was deeper in debt, my closet was even more unmanageable and I would soon be looking for my next score. This cycle was unhealthy and expensive. Since I have been a “mad minimizer” I no longer feel a buzz from shopping. I know that shopping leads to debt and eventually having to get rid of the things anyway. Nowadays I buy things that I really need. I have also learned other ways to feel better about myself and keep my spirits high, without the crash.

Buy quality: When shopping for things that you need, buy things that you will not have to replace. Investing more money on quality items when you need them will help you need less money in the future because they will not wear out. This popular website sells things that are supposed to last a lifetime.

Do the chores: When I was working very hard at a draining job, my husband and I decided to hire people to do things that we did not have time to do. We had someone to run errands, do housework and mow the lawn so that we would have more quality time together. When I decided to quit the job that made me unhappy we were back to doing all of our chores SAM_0155ourselves. The strange thing that happened is I now actually enjoy the chores that I used to dread. I find cleaning and taking care of the house brings me pleasure. Part of the reason is that I am not rushing through the tasks like I used to do when I was in such a time crunch. I am taking my time, taking pride in my work and using cleaning as a meditation. I even enjoy washing the dishes! I recommend this great book about being mindful while doing chores. I have also read about people making their chores into games. By making my chores enjoyable I am able to move through my day doing things I enjoy instead of things that I dislike. I am taking this practice into other areas as well such as running errands and packing for a trip. Doing these things myself instead of paying someone to do them can be a great way to need less money.

Try a trade: Trading a service is another way to keep your money in your pocket. Find things that you spend money on but could trade something for. How about offering to color your friend’s roots for a massage or exchanging pedicures with a friend? Let your little sister do laundry at your house in exchange for pet sitting. Make a list of things that you can do and a list of things you pay money for. Get creative! Some people hate to cook and would love a pot of soup in exchange for taking you out for Happy Hour. These all sound like win-win’s to me!


Here are some other tips for lifelong success to need less money

Pay off all debt: Pay off all of your credit cards. Pay off your car, or better yet, live without a car Learn why Dave Ramsey believes that buying a new car is a bad investment.  Take good care of the one you have and plan on keeping it.


Pay premiums in full: Most companies give you a size-able discount if you pay your full premiums instead of making monthly payments. We save almost $300 per year on our auto insurance if we make a big payment bi-annually instead of making smaller payments monthly.

Figure out how much money is needed: Studies about happiness say again and again that money can bring you closer to happiness if you are poor and do not have your basic needs met. The same studies also say that after a certain dollar amount, more money does not mean happier people. People who run in the rat race seem to spend more time at work, have more stress and live above their means by buying things that they believe will bring them happiness. This article offers suggestions on how much money per household people need to be happy. I like this article because it goes by state. I only need half the money that I needed in California to be happy here in Florida! Figure out your magic number. Do your budget and include things like saving for retirement and vacations. Also keep in mind that if you are on a path of needing less, this number should drop.

You have read “Needing Less Instead of Making More” here first on Live Big and Small. Please leave your comments, suggestions or ideas on how you need less money in the comments. Thank you so much for being a part of this amazing community of like-minded people who want to live a more meaningful life.

Simply Yours,


My Big and Small One Year Minimalist Message


Happy Birthday Live Big and Small! 

It’s the first anniversary of Live Big and Small so I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my experiences of this past year with you. When I started my minimalism journey about two years ago I had my eye on the prize. I wanted to be a minimalist! At the time, to me, minimalism meant getting rid of most of our belongings and moving into a tiny place. My husband Smiley was not keen on that idea per se, however he did get into getting rid of our stuff pretty quickly. He was a rock star at starting an eBay business and clearing out our cluttered shed, garage and outside areas as well as doing at least three passes through each room, getting rid of anything he thought he would not use. As we started unloading truckloads of stuff and our home was becoming less and less cluttered I got more and more into it. Getting rid of stuff was as addictive to me as shopping ever was! I had a new zest for life and I really believe that I was the last person anyone would have ever pegged as a minimalist in the making!

The more progress we made, the more progress I wanted to make. I started to become frustrated because things were not moving fast enough for me. Because I decided to quit my good paying sales job and take a lower paying but more meaningful job, it was important to Smiley that we tried to sell as much as we could to help with the missing income. He also had a good point that it was an opportunity to learn how to do an online business in hopes that we could find a mobile source of income. He was right about both of these things, so I worked hard to maintain patience throughout our minimizing process. Meanwhile, I was working on my blog with the hopes of making it into a business and relentlessly working on myself to create a new lifestyle that meant less attention on material things and more attention on simple joys. The problem was that I could not be satisfied with how far we had come. Instead of celebrating how much space we had in our cupboards I would sigh and think to myself, “I will never be a minimalist”.

Suddenly life happened to us. We were served with a No Fault eviction notice! We were renting a wonderful house that we loved for the past five years and did not want to move until we had scaled down enough to be able to fit into a small place and decided whether we wanted to buy or continue to rent. We also wanted to have the time to choose a neighborhood that was right for us with either nature nearby or the benefits of “city” life. Still obsessed with being a minimalist, I tried to see the bright side and suggested that we look for a small apartment or little house. I also thought this was a great opportunity to find a place with lower rent. That would put us right in line with “needing less money” which was my newest and biggest belief. We had to consider Bongo, our aging Jack Russell Terrier, and the fact that we still had tons of things we were trying to sell. We could not settle on a new home within the six weeks that they gave us, so we desperately put most of our belongings in storage and moved into a furnished beach cottage. With the options being (A) living in a hotel or (B) being homeless, I was very proud of finding such an adorable temporary place to live (and did I mention the part that it was on the beach?). I learned so much living in that beach cottage. I learned that 500 square feet was not enough for us at the time. I also learned that having a tiny kitchen cramped our style as we both have hobbies that revolve around the kitchen. I learned that Bongo really appreciates having her own private fenced in yard. I also learned that I loved living on the beach and being surrounded by all of that beautiful nature every day! I enjoyed not having to do so much cleaning and not having any projects to do, living with a minimal wardrobe and not much space for a lot of food choices. There were far less chores and more time to enjoy life. I called it my “Salt Life” and I even got one of those stickers for my car (I know, it’s a brand name, but I really like the saying!). During this beach-loving time there was always something over our heads. This was only temporary and we still needed to find a permanent home for ourselves. The cottage was only available until December 22nd so that gave us about four months to test out Small living and find a new home that we would hopefully have Big love for.



We looked at many beach cottages that were so charming but did not have a yard for Bongo, or had too many stairs for her, or had no room for us to have all of the stuff that we still owned and were still trying to unload from our lives. We considered all sorts of things like keeping a storage unit (yuck!), buying a storage shed or building a fence at a rental for Bongo. None of these things were going to work and we ended up, at the last minute (whew!), finding a place to call home. The home was a two-bedroom house with a garage and a pool with a serene and beautiful back yard. The neighborhood was quirky, gorgeous and right near the water. This was not a large house but it was almost as big as our old house. This was not the home my minimalist-self wanted. But when I walked inside my heart sang. Smiley and I looked at each other, held hands and smiled. We could feel it in our hearts. This was our new home.

I went back and forth between having feelings of joy, excitement and relief (we really had no place to go!), and feelings of defeat, disappointment, hypocrisy, guilt and shame. I was no kind of minimalist! I felt so torn up that I did not even feel like writing for my blog anymore. I felt like an outright fraud. I really wanted to take that life impediment and magically, through my wondrous talents, turn it into a gift. Then I wanted to turn that gift into a story that would end happily ever after. A minimalist tale that would inspire thousands! The story ends with Pippy, Smiley and Bongo living in a tiny beach shack with nothing but love keeping them happy. I wanted to tell the story of how I took an eviction notice and turned it into a dream come true. I was trying to live my life so that I could tell a good story. These desires to become this master minimalist were not coming from my heart. I had a timeline. I wanted my story to be perfect. I wanted to be the one who was able to go down to 100 items or to be able to live off of “no money“. I was trying to make life happen for us without considering my marriage, my lifestyle or reality.


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I had made the decision to move into the “Harmony House” and my only choice was to make the best of it. This was not hard considering we had moved into the prettiest house ever in a magical forest-like neighborhood. We started unpacking and we put more and more into the “get rid of” pile in the garage. We hung our favorite things on the walls. We put in the furniture that we had but we left out several pieces. We filled up our garage with everything that we did not want in the house for now. Our house started looking like home (we still need curtains) and I did not stop writing blogs. I was so happy in our new home and having so much fun exploring the new neighborhood that I did not feel like a fraud anymore! I gave it a lot of thought and realized that being a minimalist is not a badge of honor. There is no clear description of what it actually means and I would rather be happy than call myself a minimalist. I also realized that I could do both.







What I have learned this year while trying to become a minimalist

  • To be able to wait without doing anything and not be bored
  • To live with a wardrobe of 50 pieces (including shoes!)
  • To slow down and enjoy simple tasks (even housework!)
  • To practice more patience
  • To say no to things I don’t want to do
  • To shop So. Much. Less.
  • To travel with less
  • To need less money
  • I do not need a membership card to be a minimalist
  • That being a minimalist is so much more than just getting rid of stuff
  • It’s not the size of your house, it’s the size of your heart that matters
  • To stop being so hard on myself and enjoy the process
  • That minimalism is not a means to an end. Minimalism is just the beginning!
  • That surrounding myself with things, people and activities that I love is all I 
  • That the more I let go of, the more room there is in my heart for what really 


“Love people, use things.” ~ Joshua Fields Millburn


Where I will go?

We are all on our own journey. Trying to push us (and all of our crap) into a tiny space when we were just not ready was not realistic, not fair to my husband or to my dog. Some people can do it really quickly and have awesome stories to inspire others. They are the ones who continue to inspire me! Pushing hard to be a minimalist is not going to be my way to a meaningful life anymore. Instead of feeling bad about how far I have to go I have decided that I am already there! I do not dream of being a minimalist anymore. I dream to be a person who lives for people and experiences instead of material belongings. I strive to think hard before I spend my money 
because I know how much power there is in money. I will continue to see where this journey takes me and to keep my eye on the prize. The prize is a life full of meaning and love. And knowing that I have been a minimalist the whole time is icing on the cake.

You have read: “My Big and Small One Year Minimalist Message” here first on Live Big and Small. I appreciate your continued support as we go through this journey of simplicity and love together. I value your comments and questions. You can also sign up to receive my posts via email. Cheers to a great Big and Small year!

Living a Creative Life, Simply


Living a Creative Life

Everyone is a creative being. Living a creative life simply means expressing yourself by doing things that you love to do. You do not have to be an artist or a writer to live a creative life. Creativity can be expressed in many forms. Finding ways to be creative every day can lead to a more fun, colorful and enriched life. You will notice that people are drawn to you for more than just your intelligence or your sense of humor. Being creative in your life makes the world more beautiful and interesting for everyone around you.

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Benefits of Creativity

  • Improves health
  • Reduces stress
  • Boosts self-confidence
  • Stimulates the brain
  • Makes life more enjoyable


Creative Confidence

Being a perfectionist when it comes to your creativity can be stifling. Being afraid or unwilling to create because you are worrying about what someone will think or you just don’t think you are good enough can stunt creative growth. Even though you are not a natural at the creative endeavor that interests you does not mean that you cannot enjoy the activity. Finding ways to be creative in your everyday life can also help build creative confidence. Allowing yourself to try new things, even though you are not the best, gives you the opportunity to do more in your life. Just sticking with what you excel at limits your creative possibilities. Going out of the box with your creativity, without the expectation that you will be good, can be fun if taken with a sense of humor. When you remove the expectations you may even surprise yourself at how good you are at those things.


All the Things

I’ve always been a “Jack of all Trades” type of person trying a little of this and a little of that. I have never had any problems with being interested in things. To me, there is so much to learn and do that I want to do all the things! The problem with doing all the things is you need all the things. Creative supplies take up a lot of space in my home. I have had many whims and each time a whole slew of supplies to go along with them. During my downsizing journey I had a lot of trouble letting go of anything that I considered a hobby. Eventually I decided to start choosing what my favorite hobbies were. I let go of the supplies that I had never used and the ones I decided that it was time to move on from. There were a few crafts that did not serve my purposes (like candy making) so I got rid of that stuff to make room for my beauty product making supplies. I also chose two new creative endeavors to try in 2016. By streamlining my creative activities I was able to make space in my home and in my life to focus on the things that I really love. By no means am I going to be any less creative. I am just going to focus more on the things I love most and make space for those things. The best part about this is that I can always change my mind. Creativity is supposed to be fun! I now feel less bogged down by all the stuff, less guilty for housing it all and not using it and less responsibility for having to do projects or crafts.


Squeeze It In

It is a constant struggle for me to become un-busy. That is a subject for another post because being too busy for creativity can really zap the zest out of life. For those of us who have not been able to wash the busy out of our lives just yet, there are still ways to squeeze in a creative life. You just have to be creative about it!


Creative Ways to be Creative

  • Cooking
  • Dressing with flair
  • Bling your things
  • Singing while you drive
  • Doodle while you are on hold on the phone
  • Taking pictures
  • Giftwrap
  • Nail art
  • Cut flowers for your home
  • Adult coloring books
  • Journaling


Go For It

No one can do it exactly like you. No one has the same perspective as you. No one has your voice or creates exactly the way you do. We are all unique, creative creatures and the world deserves to see what we’ve got! We all have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to creativity. Getting to know your creative self is key in getting the most enjoyment out of your creative life. It has taken me a long while to be ok with my strengths and weaknesses and not let my weaknesses stand in the way of things that I love to do. I have always loved to draw and make signs, but never felt confident that they were good enough. Instead of not doing it I decided to enroll in a 40-day online doodle school. I am doing this for me and I am really enjoying my little improvements. I am even using my own doodles for my blog now. IMG_1242


Taking Creativity to a New Level

Being able to do your passion for work is the dream of many people. Some people make a living with their passions. Some people are passionate about what they do for a living. The key is keeping the fun and spark alive in the creative things you do so that it does not become mundane. I’ve always loved being an entertainer. I followed my heart to Hollywood only to find out that I was much happier playing drums and percussion instruments than being an actor. You never know where your passions will take you. The important thing to remember is that your creative life is there for you to enjoy. If you do not enjoy it then it’s probably time to find another way to express yourself. Currently, playing music and writing are my favorite ways to express myself. If I end up making a living from these things and still love doing them – I will take that as a bonus! I know I am going to enjoy doing whatever it is that makes me feel fulfilled creatively because being creative is simply what I love to do.









Thanks for reading “Living a Creative Life, Simply” here first on Live Big and Small. As always I welcome your comments and encourage you to contact me with your questions or ideas. Love ~ Pippy