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Eight Things You Can Discard to Downsize Your Life

Eight Things You Can Discard to Downsize Your Life
How much stuff do we really need to lead a normal life? Not as much as you might think. In 2009 I moved into a 200-square-foot cottage. The rent and location were awesome, but there was one problem: Half my stuff didn't fit in the place. So I got rid of it. I got rid of a lot. Furniture, old clothes, books, shoes, art. And you know what? I haven't missed any of it since. In fact, I wonder now why I had so much stuff in the first place.
This post originally appeared on Medium.

Eight Things You Can Discard to Downsize Your Life
This is my house. Ten feet wide, twenty feet long.
I'm not a hardcore minimalist, but this small space I've lived in for 4 years has kept my life pretty simple. And this simpler life is much more aligned with my environmental values — small living means a smaller carbon footprint. You end up thinking carefully about what you buy or bring into your life when, for instance, acquiring a new pair of shoes means you have to get rid of a pair you already own in order to fit them in the closet.

If you feel like simplifying your own life, here's a quick list of a few things I've learned to live without. Simplify starting here. But beware, it's addictive. Pretty soon you'll want to downsize to one of those tiny cabins. At least that's where I'm headed.

1. Memorabilia

That cheap medal you got for completing the half marathon two years ago, the eiffel tower shot glass someone brought you from Paris, that copy of your college graduation announcement that you've saved. You don't need any of these things. Because guess what? Without them you'll still remember what it felt like to train for that half marathon or to have graduated from college. None of those memories are going anywhere. Donate or recycle this stuff — you won't miss it.

2. T-Shirts (and Other Clothing You Don't Wear)

I'm not talking about those soft, perfectly fitted T-shirts you love and wear all the time. I'm talking about what's down there in the bottom third of your dresser drawer. Those logo-boasting shirts from events or places, which were likely all given to you for free. You don't need a T-shirt in order to prove you went to that conference, worked at that tech company, or volunteered at said event. Donate these or turn them into a craft project. Your dresser drawer is happiest when it contains only the clothes you wear on at least a monthly basis. The rest is clutter (or memorabilia, see above).

3. CDs and DVDs

This one's a no-brainer. You don't need these anymore. All the music and movies you want are on the internet now or can be stored on a hard drive. So rip them and make some space on your shelves. Bonus: most urban recycling centers accept CDs and DVDs in your blue bin.

4. Books

Eight Things You Can Discard to Downsize Your Life
I'm personally anti-Kindle because I believe real books have a longer life-span and most Kindles will end up in the trash. But if you own one, then this part might be even easier for you.

There are three types of books worth keeping around longer than it takes you to get through the last page. First, books that have strong sentimental value (is there an inscription on the title page, does the book have a history?). Second, books that are signed by the author or are otherwise valuable to you (like my signed copy of The Virgin Suicides!). And lastly, books you plan to read soon or that you reread regularly (I reread Gary Snyder's The Backcountry every year). That's it guys. I suggest you sell the rest to your local used bookstore. Get store credit for them and go there or the library next time you need a book to devour.

5. Sporting Equipment

Eight Things You Can Discard to Downsize Your Life
If you haven't gone camping in the last two years, get rid of the old tent in your garage. If you haven't skied since 2002, sell your skis. I'm amazed at the range of sporting equipment people keep around, yet never use. Guess what guys? You can rent this stuff! And the models you will rent are likely newer and better than the old stuff you've kept around simply because you think you might go camping or skiing next year, or the year after, or maybe the year after that. Sell these things and put the money into a jar for the day you actually go to the slopes.

6. Bags and Baggage

You only need one suitcase, one bag, and possibly a purse (or two). Even if you're fashion-conscious. Spend some dough on these few things so you get quality stuff that will last you a while and look good. All those other bags and duffels you have crammed into each other under your bed will be happier at Goodwill. Nice bags that you just never use anymore can be sold to thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange. Done and done.

7. Kitchen Gadgets

Eight Things You Can Discard to Downsize Your Life
Okay, let's head to the kitchen. First off, let me say that I love to cook. And my 50-square-foot kitchen doesn't stop me. But it does stop me from owning a wedding-registry worth of gadgets and ice cream makers. Here's what I've learned. First, you don't need a microwave. It'll make you a healthier person and force you to re-heat your leftovers on the stove, which tastes better anyway. Second, you can get by fine with just one great knife. Get a medium-sized quality one that costs way more than you ever imagined spending on a knife. It'll last you forever and cut everything you need it to. Lastly, you don't need any of those gadgets you haven't used in the past two months. If you never use your food-processor because it's too hard to set up and clean up, get rid of it. The best food is fresh and only requires your two hands and a few simple tools.

8. Things That Are Neither Useful, nor Beautiful

Eight Things You Can Discard to Downsize Your Life
William Morris once said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." So after getting rid of the things listed above, take a look around. Sit in your reading chair and observe your home. Do all the things hanging on your walls make you smile or think? Do the pieces of art you own make your heart sing?
I have a few strange items taking up space in my tiny apartment, like an old window hanging on my wall that I found in the Presidio, its white paint chipping to reveal a layer of blue underneath; on my desk there's a piece of driftwood from a beach in Canada and a large chunk of obsidian from the Eastern Sierras. All of these things are beautiful and unique, and they remind me of what I love in the world.
Do not get rid of those things. If anything, make more space for them. Those are the objects that inspire. And without all that clutter, they get to shine for us that much more.


The Art of Discarding

If there is one word people consistently use to describe me it’s “organized.” So when my lovely sister Carolyn mentioned a library book with a 300+ person waiting list called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, I was intrigued. I wondered what would make a book on “tidying” so popular, and also whether there was anything more I could learn on the subject. Turns out, the answer to the second question was a lot. Organized is not the same as tidy. In many ways I was just as much a hoarder as the next American influenced, however indirectly and going back multiple generations, by the Great Depression. The only difference between me and the hoarders who get on TV shows was my gratuitous belongings were sorted, labeled, and stuffed somewhat neatly and out of sight in a drawer, box, shed, attic or closet. This post outlines my journey to a more clutter-free life.
To paraphrase an idea gleaned from an interview with Tom Chi (Google): If you decide to form a new habit, rather than just using limited willpower to battle the deeply entrenched neurons relating to your old habit; help the new habit along by finding a way to also move time, space, or matter to support it. Marie’s tidying method, the KonMari method, is a perfect way to move matter in a way that supports a new habit of thought.
So what new habits of thought could truly tidying your space support? Well, how about thoughts of love, joy, purpose, abundance, authenticity, inner peace, intuition, courage, generosity and clarity to name a few. The only other technique I know of to improve these things is meditation.
I titled this post The Art of Discarding because that’s how I would rename Marie’s book to target a more empirical American audience. Many of us would like to have less clutter, but don’t know where to start. The mere idea can throw us into paralyzing overwhelm. The KonMari method is simple, inspiring, step by step, and deals with not only the physical sources of clutter, but the mental and emotional as well. The mental/emotional aspect is what makes de-cluttering more of an art. It may seem like a lot of work initially, but the payoff is once you dig in and get it done, you will never regress to clutter and chaos again. It is a one-time only project and well worth the effort, because many of her students also find the lessons carry over into other areas of their life as well. I found that once I got some momentum going, it was also, dare I say it, sort of fun.
The system can be distilled into two basic steps. Tackle one category of belongings at a time, and physically touch and consider (i.e., be present with) each item as you work through a given category and ask yourself the question; “Does it bring me joy?” The categories move from easiest to hardest to build both momentum and allow practice with the method. The tidying project is intended to be completed all at once, but as I never have a full day home to myself I compromised by moving though at least one category every night until it was complete. The point is to just get it done once and for all and not procrastinate and painfully drag it on.
Other de-cluttering advice I had previously followed was to look around a room and ask if I loved the stuff in it. If yes keep it, if no let it go. This fell short of the KonMari method for two reasons. First, this didn’t require that I physically pull out and touch all items of a given category, even if that category was Room A,  so clutter got missed. Either because it stayed hidden and forgotten in a closet, or because it just blended in as part the room and was overlooked. Second, though there were things that I didn’t love, I knew I had to keep them for some other utilitarian reason. I needed a better question.
Day 1: Clothes
Clothes are the first and easiest category because most of us are used to replacing them on a fairly regular basis so there’s not a lot of emotional turmoil and uncertainty in discarding. I dutifully collected every article of clothing I owned from closets, drawers, laundry etc., until I had a somewhat daunting mountain on the bed. I first picked up a pair of socks and immediately knew why the best question had to be, “Does it bring me joy?”
If I had asked, “Do I love the socks?” the answer would have been “No, they’re just socks.” There’s still uncertainty as to whether or not to keep them. However, when I asked, “Do they bring me joy?” the answer in this case was a resounding “YES!” This particular pair was one of my favorite pairs of wool hiking socks to take on adventures. The keep pile had begun.
Discard Pile
Discard Pile
I moved through my mountain rather quickly and easily, and when it was finished I surveyed the massive discard pile. This is where the connection begins to build with positive habits of thought. It takes intuition to discern the yes or no response. In a nutshell, yes is light and expansive, no is heavy, constricting, or even wishy-washy. It takes authenticity to be willing to listen to the yes or no and not dismiss it because of what someone else might think. It takes courage to face past mistakes in clothing purchases, and generosity to donate them where they may do the most good.
On looking at the keep pile, I could see more clarity and purpose in my life choices physically represented in the clothes that brought me joy, both in terms of career direction as well as leisure. I could see where the gaps were in how I needed to better care for myself and my own needs where joyful clothes in that area were sparse or worn out.
Simplified Closet
Happy Socks
Once I put only things that brought joy back in the closet, the energy that came back when I opened the door was (and still is) fantastic. Actually, now I usually just leave the door open. I had a brief experience working in big box clothing retail store and shudder at the memory of the go-back rack in the busy fitting room. It’s so lovely not to have that nightmare staring back at me from my own closet, and to instead look at something that more resembles a high end clothing boutique.
Another bonus is it is now super easy now to pack for my frequent travel. The bags of discarded clothes (and extra hangers) to donate was like a huge weight being lifted out of my life. This energy built a ton of momentum to push me happily into the next category. I looked forward to Day 2.
Day 2: Books
Bye bye books.
Bye-bye books.
So long awkward corner shelf with no corner.
Adios awkward corner shelf with no corner to live in.
The keepers.
The book “hall of fame.”
Don’t forget the cookbooks stashed in the kitchen when collecting and consolidating this category. The book category is where people often uncover their life purpose once they survey the books that remain. I did not have any revelations in this area, but was able to merrily discard a piece of furniture that never fit well in my current house, but I had been keeping anyway as a place to store books.  I also combined this category with CDs and DVDs since most of my collection had long since been sold as technology shifted to streaming and was already sparse. Besides being a few grocery bags full of books lighter, my reward was a more open living room without unwanted and now unnecessary furniture. Embrace the Kindle app and additional momentum and bring on Day 3.
Day 3: Kitchen
The next category in the book is technically paper, but as it was personally my second hardest category, I saved it for second to last in following the spirit of the process.
See ya kitchen crap!
Ciao kitchen crap!
I had previously de-cluttered my kitchen by banning all unnecessary plastic. I was on a mission at the time to be more healthy and more authentic and to me plastic was neither of those things. So out went a trunk load of cups, mixing bowls, cheap storage containers, utensils, etc. to be donated. I replaced anything that was necessary with glass and bamboo items, just as inexpensive but so much more attractive, by shopping at places like Ross, and slowly building up a collection of glass Pyrex storage containers as they went on sale.
Even so, by using the KonMari method and actually touching every kitchen item I owned, I was able to discard two more bags and also rediscovered items that brought me joy, in the form of delicious meals, that had been hiding in a kitchen cabinet.
Day 4: Komono (Doodads)
Toodle-loo, doodads!
Toodle-oo, doodads! I’m becoming a regular at the thrift shop donation center by now.
My other lovely sister Cindy and I got a good laugh when I told her I culled a mountain of towels and blankets out of my hall closet. She remembered, but I had forgotten that I was repeating our mother’s pattern of keeping so many old blankets that it was nearly impossible to pry one in and out of the closet. Our childhood blanket closet, once the blankets were pried out, was big enough for a 7 year old kid to stand in and pretend they were on a rocket to the moon.
How many blankets does one really need? Best donate the rest so one of your human brothers or sisters might be able to keep themselves, a child, or a pet, warm. As a bonus, this year once the weather turned cold, it was a pleasure, whereas it used to be a total pain, to locate and remove the blankets I actually use from the closet.
Tip: Do not sort and discard art/office supplies by dumping your collection on your newly shampooed carpet or you will be sorry.
So long shed stuff!
The other stash of household items worth mentioning is cleaning supplies, paint, and household chemicals. These tend to hide under the sink or in a garage because if you don’t end up using them and are also conscious of the effects on the environment so won’t throw them away (thank you), they pile up. I hunted these items down, found paint I had been carrying with me for 19 years, and took a box to the local hazmat station.
Day 5: Papers
Discard all papers.
Wait, what?
The rule was simple enough to understand, but the mere suggestion cued the proverbial screeching record in my head. I make my living as an accountant which means I have “historian” as part of my personality. Papers were definitely my biggest hoard and I was as apprehensive at getting rid of them as the lawyers in Marie’s book.
You want the warranty and manual to every device I’ve ever owned? Check. Paystubs from every job I’ve ever had? Check. Bank and credit card statements going back 7 years? Check. Every rock chart and field show I ever played in college? Check. Every school newspaper from high school? Check. File folder overflowing with recipes? Check. Every greeting card I’ve ever received in my life, even if from my childhood orthodontist? Check. Every note I’d ever been passed in Jr. High, still in its fancy fold? Check. Report cards? Check. Receipts from 20 years ago? Check. The list went on.
My first impulse was to rebel against the advice in this category, but as I had momentum built already, I remembered again that I work as an accountant. In a 21st century office. At work my authentic self actually loathes and despises all paper. I’m able to get away with this attitude because we have access to top-of-the line scanning equipment and PDF software and I am a “paperless office” champion where I work. Why not bring this authentic self home with me as well? I really do hate paper!!!! It’s heavy, slow, messy, and vulnerable to fire. What I am attached to is the information on it.
Night 1 scan and shred. Yes, this was just one night.
Night 1 scan and shred. Yes, this was just one night.
So I’m modifying this rule to say, do everything you can to go paperless. Understandably not everyone has easy access to fast scanners and expensive PDF software, but do what you can. Most people don’t have an aversion to simply tossing old pay stubs like I do, but we all should keep things like tax returns. Scan them if possible.
I’d love to say that this category took one night, but as it was my biggest hoard, it took days, even weeks, because I kept stumbling across new hiding places. I would bring a mountain of paper to the office and scan for hours after hours, sometimes staying in until midnight.
  1. Financial Records. Most of these were scanned and then shredded. Items to consider:
    1. Tax returns and support (W-2s, 1099s, etc). These should be kept forever in the US, but there’s no rule they can’t be scanned. Make sure to keep a backup.
    2. Bank and credit card statements. These should be kept for 7 years. Old paper statements were scanned, most of my current statements are set up to be “paperless” anyway and I just save them directly from the bank.
    3. Pay stubs. No need to keep more than a year, I scanned and kept all of them just for historical interest.
    4. Receipts. Unless they were related to something medical, those 20 year old receipts were discarded. I do have a small accordion file to keep recent receipts for items that might need to be returned, but this is purged regularly.
    5. Insurance policies and estate plan. This is currently my one exception, besides temporary recent receipts, to my paperless policy. I have a 3 ring “legacy binder” based on an excellent article from Dave Ramsey for my next of kin in case the inevitable happens sooner than expected. I keep it in paper form so it’s easy for someone else to find and use if needed. This may eventually change as more people in my life embrace the cloud.
  2. School stuff and articles. I kept a few sentimental items in books, but most of this category was scanned and shredded. Bonus, I was able to easily share the high school newspapers on my class reunion Facebook page via DropBox. Being able to share them someday was most likely my youthful motivation for keeping them in the first place. Win.
  3. Warranties and manuals. These were just trashed. Yay internet, all that sort of info can be found online these days.
  4. Recipes. I input all these into an app called Pepperplate, but there are other apps to consider. The fantastic thing about this being done is now my recipes are with me wherever I go, most effectively, at the grocery store. They’re also tons easier to instantly share.
  5. School notes. Most of these were trashed since I could barely read/remember who they were from. However I put the ones from my childhood BFF into a book that will someday go to her kids.
  6. Collecting greeting cards to sort.
    Collecting greeting cards to sort.
    Greeting Cards. The longest part of this subcategory was collecting and consolidating the cards from their various storage locations. Once I finally had them all on the table, I sorted them by giver, and then discarded ones from people I will likely never interact with again (i.e., the childhood orthodontist). The others I hole-punched and made into little books using binder rings, to be returned to the giver or child/grandchild of the giver someday. For now, since they bring me joy, they live on the shelf next to photo albums to be flipped through at leisure.
  7. Ticket stubs. I had various collections of these from every movie, concert, event, etc. I’ve ever gone to, dating at least as far back as high school. I discarded large items like old playbills, but took an idea from Pinterest and put all of my ticket stubs into a large mason jar that now lives with the photo albums. It brinks me joy to see and think of all those life experiences and makes a great conversation piece.
Boom! Not overnight, but what a relief to have the mountains of annoying, stressful paper gone, and the information easily accessible and appropriately backed up on a computer.
Day 6: Sentimental Items
Sentimental items.
See ya sentimental items!
This is the category all the other categories build up to, because it can take some serious chutzpah to discard it. Since the sentimental items were so closely tied with paper I worked on them somewhat concurrently. The hardest part was locating and consolidating all of my various boxes of sentimental items collected over the years. I had heavy trunks full of doodads from primary school and college, as well as accordion files and boxes of items I had saved, stored, and moved without much thought since then. It was a total pain getting a lot of this type of boxes out of the attic (no boxes will ever return there). Once all the boxes, trunks, and suitcases were in a pile on the living room floor, I summoned the courage to open them and face the past.
Sentimental items displayed where they can be enjoyed, as intended.
Sentimental items displayed where they can be enjoyed, as intended.
Other than a few emotional land mines, such as remnant photos involving unpleasant old relationships that had somehow survived the previous bonfires, or having to read notes betraying painful evidence of those immature teenage years, most of it was fun. One box full of elementary school treasures brought those carefree days back. The sea of greeting cards to be sorted reminded me that I am loved and have been blessed with many friends over the years.
Like Marie’s clients, I too was guilty of hoarding photo envelopes with every blurry photo ever printed (thank goodness for digital) and all their negatives. Most of these were trashed since the good photos were already in albums and/or scanned. I did keep a few loose ones that still brought joy in a pretty box with the other albums, at least until they can be scanned.
I boxed up old VHS tapes and audio cassettes and sent them to a service to be digitized before discarding. A few items such as yearbooks, a binder ring of student IDs and old driver licenses, and the old letterman jacket I still wear to homecoming went back in the trunk, just not in the attic. Most sentimental items I kept were worked in to my current life. What’s the point of keeping things that bring joy if I never see them?
Two interesting things happened once the de-cluttering was done. First, people often ask Marie whether they regret discarding anything. The answer she gave was rarely, and if it happens, it is hardly catastrophic and usually something easily laughed off. My one regret is no exception. While I was throwing away most of my household “spare hardware” collection, I picked up and considered a box of old light bulbs. Figuring if a light bulb ever went out again I would replace it instead with an LED, I chucked them. The second, and I am not exaggerating, the second I walked back in the house from taking those bulbs along with a trunk load of other stuff to the donation center, I flipped on a light and *plink* it went out. Really, universe?? I knew I said I would replace it with an LED, but I would have kept at least one old bulb if it meant saving me a trip back into town to buy a new one so soon.
The other interesting thing was, I had kept some pairs of work pants I wore to work all the time but didn’t particularly like, more because it was being able to keep my job that brought me joy than the pants. Mere weeks later we received an email from the boss that they had relaxed the archaic dress code and jeans would be allowed on all regular work days where important meetings weren’t involved. Apparently they had received the etheric download. The ugly work pants were donated not long after. Win.
Epilogue: Time Clutter
This category is not part of the KonMari method, but I used the momentum from successfully de-cluttering and simplifying my stuff to tackle my most challenging category of all: time clutter. Time, or lack thereof, has been a challenge for me since I began my career as a CPA. It mostly takes the form of unfinished projects; many abandoned at the start of tax season and procrastinated for as long as four years. Over the course of just one month, I managed to complete them ALL, and then some. This has done amazing things to lower stress, increase inner peace, improve my energy levels, gain more clarity as to my life purpose, and improve my intuition. I’ve become more effective at work by “clearing the clutter” and getting right down to what it will take to simply get a project done. I feel like I have more time, or at least less guilt, to begin NEW projects and move forward with my life in a more authentic fashion.
Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you? Whether you choose to be aware of it or not, your energy supports your stuff. Does it support you back? Do you love yourself enough to surround yourself only with things that bring you joy? Do you trust in the abundance of the universe enough to let go of the things that don’t? Are you willing to practice generosity by donating? Are you willing to be aware and clear about what brings you joy (and what doesn’t)? Are you willing to be clear and purposeful as to what you choose to create and surround yourself with? Are you willing to deal with it NOW instead of potentially leaving an unpleasant legacy to your next of kin?
Marie addresses many other issues that I didn’t touch on here, such as what to do if you don’t live alone and your mate is a hoarder, how to address emotional objections to discarding things like gifts, and how to properly organize and put away what’s left after discarding so your stuff never gets chaotic again. It’s a very worthwhile book and I hope it helps you as much as it helped me.

by Tiffany Shacklett

LIFESTYLE AND WELLBEING: Drowing in Commitments?

Drowning in commitments? It's time to stop giving a damn

The key to beating stress is to care less – and if that means wearing your pyjamas to the corner shop, so be it
Sarah Knight Sarah Knight: ‘I stopped getting dressed up just to go to the local shop. Pyjamas are the new black.’ Photograph: Chris Buck for the Guardian
If you’re like me, you’ve been caring too much about too many things for too long. You’re overextended and overburdened by life. Stressed out, anxious, maybe even panic-stricken about your commitments. I was almost 30 years old when I began to realise it was possible to stop caring so much, but I was nearly 40 before I figured out how to make it happen. As a self-described overachieving perfectionist, I was anxious throughout my childhood and adolescence. I tackled numerous projects, tasks and tests to prove myself worthy of respect and admiration from my family, friends and even casual acquaintances. I socialised with people I did not like in order to appear benevolent; I did jobs that were beneath me in order to appear helpful; I ate things that disgusted me in order to appear gracious. This was no way to live.
The first time I met someone who just didn’t give a you-know-what was in my early 20s. We’ll call him Jeff. A successful business owner with a large circle of friends, Jeff simply could not be bothered to do things he didn’t want to do – and yet, he was widely liked and respected. He didn’t show up to a friend’s toddler’s dance recital or to watch you cross the finish line at your 17th 5K, but it was OK, because that was just him. He was a perfectly nice, sociable and well-thought-of guy, but he clearly reserved his time and energy for things that were especially important to him: having a close relationship with his kids, playing golf, catching Deal Or No Deal every night. The rest of it? Not. Bothered. He always seemed so positively contented and, well, happy. Huh, I often thought to myself after spending time with him. I wish I could be more like Jeff.
Later, in my mid-20s, I had a downstairs neighbour who was an absolute nightmare, but for some reason I cared enough about his opinion of me to submit to his insane requests (such as the time he corralled a friend to stomp around my apartment in high-heeled boots while I listened with him from his living room below, hearing nothing, but gamely agreeing that it was a little noisy).
Then, nearing 30, I got engaged and started planning a wedding, an act that brings with it a veritable cornucopia of demands: the budget, the venue, the catering, the dress, the photographs, the flowers, the band, the guest list, the invitations (wording and thickness thereof), the vows, the cake – the list goes on.
Many of these things I truly cared about, but some of them I didn’t; and yet I gave each and every one of them attention, because I didn’t know any better. I became so stressed that I was about as far from contented and happy as it gets. Looking back, was arguing with my husband over playing Brown Eyed Girl at the reception really worth my time (or his)? Had minute attention to detail over the selection of hors d’oeuvres really been necessary when I didn’t get to eat any of them because they were passed round during our photographs? Nope.
But – and here’s where the tide turned ever so slightly – I had won one small victory: I may have had to think about the guest list (because I definitely cared about the budget), but you know what I never worried about? Seating charts. And in that small act, of deciding my guests were grown up enough to choose their own seat, I had eliminated hours of poring over the event-space schematics and moving aunts, uncles and plus-ones around like beads on an abacus. After the wedding, I was exhausted. I’d been pushed to my breaking point, yet I’d also seen a silver lining. Instead of putting that feeling of obligation ahead of my own personal preference, I’d just decided to let people land where they may. And did anyone complain? They did not.
Then, when I was 31, I had my very first panic attack. Have you ever had a panic attack? It feels not unlike drowning in a sea of hot lava while attempting to swim away from a lava-impervious shark with ninja-throwing stars for teeth. I had been taking on too much work, too many activities and too much debt, and it had all caught up with me. This wasn’t just a panic attack, it was a wake-up call. I was forced to start budgeting my time, energy and money in a more thoughtful way, unless I wanted to be visited weekly by Lava Shark.
Little by little over the next few years, I stopped caring about small things that annoyed me. I unfriended some truly irritating people on Facebook. I refused to suffer through another reading of friends’ plays. And I stopped getting dressed up just to go to the grocery store behind my house (pyjamas are the new black). Little by little, I started feeling better. Less burdened. More peaceful. I hung up on people calling from call centres to sell me things; I said no to a weekend trip with toddlers; I stopped watching season two of True Detective after only one episode. I was becoming my true self, able to focus more on people and things that actually made me happy.
In the summer of 2015, aged 36 and living in New York, I quit my job at a major publishing house, a career that had been 15 years in the making, to start my own business as a freelance editor and writer. The day I walked out of my high-rise office building – sliding down that corporate ladder faster than a stripper down the last pole of the night – I eliminated a whole category of things on which I had previously wasted time and energy: supervisors, co-workers, my commute, my wardrobe, my alarm clock.
I stopped caring about sales conferences. I stopped thinking about business-casual and town-hall meetings (in fact, I no longer know what these are). I stopped keeping track of my remaining holiday days like a prisoner tallying her sentence in hash marks on the cell-block wall.
Once I was released from the yoke of corporate ennui, I naturally had a bit of time on my hands and the freedom to spend it as I wished. I ate lunch with my husband, worked on a freelance gig or two (or went to the beach), and avoided the subway as much as humanly possible.
Soon, I realised I had my own insights to share with regard to life-changing magic. Brings you joy? Then by all means keep caring. But perhaps the more pertinent question is: does it annoy? If so, you need to stop caring, post-haste.
You know what, I told my friends: I really don’t like pub quizzes. I felt liberated with a capital L. Photograph: Chris Buck for the Guardian
Since leaving my job, I have developed a programme for decluttering and reorganising your mental space. You will no longer spend time, energy and/or money on things that neither make you happy nor improve your life, so that you have more time, energy and/or money to devote to the things that do. I call it the NotSorry Method. It has two steps:
1 Decide what you don’t give a fuck about
2 Don’t give a fuck about those things
Not Sorry is how you should feel when you’ve accomplished this.
This might sound selfish, and it is, but it also creates a better world for everyone around you. You’ll stop worrying about all the things you have to do and start focusing on the things you want to do. You’ll be happier and more genial at work; your colleagues and clients will benefit. You’ll be better rested and more fun around friends. You might spend more time with your family – or you might spend less, making those moments you do share all the more precious. And you’ll have more time, energy and/or money to devote to living your best life.
In my experience, people who live this way fall into one of three categories: Children, Dickheads and The Enlightened. Children don’t care because they don’t have to. Generally, their basic needs are being met by the adults in their lives. Dickheads are genetically predisposed to get what they want no matter who they have to offend, step on or jerk around along the way. (Note: some children are also dickheads, but for our purposes that does not matter.) Unlike my pal Jeff, these people are not generally respected or liked. Feared, maybe, but not liked. If being liked is important to you, then you don’t want to turn into an dickheads. Sure, you might free up a few nights on your calendar every week, but that’ll be because the invitations stopped coming.
But the enlightened among us know that it’s possible to revert to that childlike state with maturity and self-awareness. There’s a long list of things I still care about (being on time, getting eight hours of sleep, artisanal pizza), and near the top of that list is being polite. Honest, but polite.
For example, if you’re the kind of person who sends a handwritten thank-you note to friends after you spend a weekend at their lake house, those same friends are unlikely to be offended when you decline their next invitation to join them at their favourite historical reenactment day. It’s just common sense. You like lake houses and hate historical reenactments? Send a thank-you note; don’t be an arsehole. It’s a win-win.
To be fair, my own journey to an enlightened life was not devoid of stumbling blocks. When I was just starting out, I stopped caring in a haphazard way. I attempted some really high-level NotSorry with regard to my friends and family, such as pre-emptively declining an invitation to a baby’s circumcision ceremony before it had been issued; the boy’s mother was still in labour. I was so eager not to care about religious pageantry that I forgot I do care about my friend’s feelings.
I refined my approach. At the heart of the NotSorry Method is not being rude. After all, I didn’t want to lose friends; I just wanted to manage my time more effectively so I could get greater enjoyment (and less annoyance) out of being with friends. And I found that a combination of honesty and politeness, exercised in tandem and to varying degrees, gets the best results.
I executed this beautifully on what I like to call The Pub Quiz Problem. I have a group of friends who just love pub quizzes. They kept asking me to join them, and I kept making lame excuses not to go. Then I would have to remember what my excuse was lest I get caught out on Facebook during pub quiz night.
But once I embraced NotSorry, instead of racking my brain to come up with yet another lame excuse, the next time they asked, I just said, “You know what? I really don’t like pub quizzes, so my answer to this is always going to be no. I should probably just tell you that now and save us all the Kabuki theatre of invitation and regrets.” It worked like a charm.
Now that my friends know the truth, I feel liberated with a capital L. I was honest and polite, and nobody’s feelings got hurt, so I didn’t have to apologise. I was quite literally not sorry. Plus – major win – I didn’t have to go to the pub quiz in Williamsburg.
The difference between my quality of life five years ago and now is extraordinary, and I owe it all to caring less. Quitting my job was a watershed moment, but one I’d been building up to for quite some time. I identified what things annoyed me – such as commuting and conference calls and corporate bullshit – and rearranged my life accordingly. I didn’t magically snap my fingers and work it all out in an instant, but I gave myself permission to be honest about what I wanted (and didn’t want) out of life. That’s the first step. I wanted more time for pleasure reading (in short supply when reading is your day job); I wanted more time with my husband, who is also a freelancer; and I wanted to be able to work when and how I pleased, including at 2pm in pyjamas with one arm cradling a bag of Doritos.
In fact, one of the first books I read for pleasure after quitting my job was The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. If you have managed to get this far without hearing about this bestselling ode to decluttering, let me enlighten you. Marie Kondo is a Japanese tidying up obsessive. She has a method that involves keeping only those things that “spark joy” in your life. What remains is then organised in a specific way, under what is called the “KonMari” method.
First I did my sock drawer, which involves getting rid of socks you don’t like and never wear, then refolding the rest to look like little soldiers standing to attention, so when you next open the drawer, you can see all of them in one glance. Within hours, I had also KonMari’d my husband’s sock drawer. After viewing the results, my husband – who’d initially thought I was insane to spend my time organising his sock drawer – was a convert. He did the rest of his drawers and his closet all by himself the very next day.
Allow me to explain why we were so motivated to do this work. Beyond discarding items of clothing we no longer need or enjoy (and therefore being excited about all of our remaining options), we’ve decreased the time spent figuring out what to wear (because we can see everything in a single drawer with one look), nothing gets lost in a drawer any more (because we follow Ms Kondo’s method of standup folding), and we do a lot less laundry (because we haven’t tricked ourselves into thinking we’re “out” of clothes when in fact the good stuff was just crumpled up in the back under the pants that don’t fit). In other words, life is significantly better now that we can see all of our socks. I ran around for weeks evangelising to anybody who would listen (and many who would not).
Suddenly I found myself in a life-changing kind of mood. As I contemplated my exceptionally tidy home, I felt more peaceful, sure. But it was the freedom I felt from leaving a job I wasn’t happy in – and being able to add back into my life people and things and events and hobbies that made me happy – that truly brought happiness. These were things that had been displaced, not by 22 pairs of balled-up socks, but by too many obligations and too much mental clutter. That’s when I realised – it’s not really about the socks, is it?
I had battled anxiety and wedding planning and annoying neighbours, and what brought me to the other side wasn’t a tidy home, but a tidy mind. Now I have a clearer calendar (and conscience), and more energy for the things I truly enjoy doing and the people with whom I enjoy doing them. And such activities no longer include corporate holiday parties, potluck dinners or baby showers.
I’m not sorry.

Ten things about which I, personally, no longer care

1 What Other People Think. This one is non-negotiable. All anxiety stems from here.
2 Having a bikini body. The day I stopped caring about how I looked in a bathing suit, it was like a litter of kittens in black leotards had tumbled down from heaven to perform Single Ladies for the sole enjoyment of my thighs and belly.
3 Basketball. I have never enjoyed or understood basketball. I don’t watch it and, when invited, I don’t go to games. My life is no worse for it. You can apply this to any sport or sports team, except the Boston Red Sox, because I said so.
4 Being a morning person. For most of my life I was ashamed of being useless in the early hours, of not wanting to schedule anything before noon, and of frequently arriving just in the nick of time to morning meetings. Society really seems to value morning people and look down on those of us who don’t (or can’t) fall in line. Once I embraced the freelance life, I stopped caring about being a morning person once and for all.
5 Taylor Swift. Nope.
6 Iceland. I’m sure Iceland is a beautiful country, but every time someone starts telling me about plans for their once in a lifetime trip to Iceland, or about how much fun they had in Iceland, or that “the majority of Icelanders believe in elves!” my eyes start glazing over.
7 Going to the gym. I often feel pressure to go to the gym, and then guilt that I never do. By deciding not to care about gym-going, I’m liberating myself from those moments of feeling guilty and inadequate (and fat), and instead joyfully indulging in an extra hour of sleep. I’m reallocating time and reserving energy, and, if you factor in membership fees, I’m saving money, too.
8 Feigning sincerity. I am the embodiment of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I just don’t fake it.
9 Passwords. I used to feel so much anxiety about personal security, but then I read a number of articles by experts that suggest we’re all one pimply Slavic teenager away from getting hacked anyway, so I thought, maybe I could just use the same password for everything. Would it really matter? I realised I could probably stop worrying about devising a different Alan Turing–approved crypto phrase for my Gap, Asos and Victoria’s Secret accounts.
10 Calculus. This may have been my earliest recorded instance of not giving a fuck. My high-school guidance counsellor said I had to take this class to have any hope of getting into a good college. I thought long and hard, but ultimately determined that I did not care about calculus and could not be bothered. I did not take the class, and I did get into Harvard. You can’t argue with those results.

FITNESS. Ponte en forma: 32 pequeños CAMBIOS en tu VIDA que afectan increiblemente a tu SALUD

Ponte en forma: 32 pequeños cambios en tu vida que afectan increíblemente a tu salud

Cada año nuevo nos pasa lo mismo. O cada lunes.  Hacemos una lista de resoluciones que harán que tengamos una vida mejor. Queremos dejar los malos hábitos y reemplazarlo por cosas que nos harán sentir bien por dentro, más que por fuera.
Pues hoy da igual que no cambie el mes, ni la semana. No existe el momento perfecto, solo debes hacerlo. Si hoy es tu momento para replantear tus rutinas, tenemos varios consejos para ti, que puedes ir incorporando poco a poco a tu vida. ¡Ya verás como te sientes mejor! Pero debes ser constante.

1. Prioriza

Nunca está de más recordar esto. No existe una receta mágica para lograr tu peso ideal, o ser una persona saludable, ni estar en forma. Tu salud y bienestar deberían ser lo primero. Si aún no lo es, pero deseas ir tomando nuevas decisiones, debes ponerlas como prioridad. No más dudas o inseguridades, es hora de comprometerse.

2. Establece horarios

Esto servirá para ordenarte y poder estar más tranquila en tu día. No se trata de apegarse 100%, sino de tener una pauta que te ayudará si eres una persona más dispersa. Organiza bien tus horarios si deseas incorporar una rutina de ejercicio, o la hora de tus comidas. Además de cuando de dedicarte un tiempo de descanso entre todas tus actividades. Cada domingo, observa la nueva semana que viene y haz un calendario que no te de excusas para saltarte alguna tarea.

3. Incluye ejercicios en intervalos

Si parte de tu plan es ejercitar más seguido, este es un gran tip. Hacer deporte por etapas e intervalos ayuda a quemar calorías de manera más efectiva y es más intenso. La idea es integrarlo con ejercicios cardiovasculares que vayan aumentando en su velocidad y duración, con pequeñas pausas entre medio.
Si nunca has ejercitado, comienza con cinco minutos de ejercicios intensivos cardiovasculares en intervalos en la máquina de tu preferencia. Idealmente, debes aumentar tu entrenamiento a 30 minutos.

4. Consume solamente alimentos “reales”

Sí, todo lo podemos tocar y ver, pero nos referimos a que si tu comida viene en caja, ya no es “real” y lo más probable es que contenga químicos que tu cuerpo no sabe cómo digerir.
Estas toxinas se acumulan en tu cuerpo y se transforman en grasa o distensión abdominal. Por lo tanto, alimenta tu cuerpo con productos lo más frescos posible.

5. No sigas dietas milagrosas

Casi todas las dietas rápidas que son tan populares, generan un efecto rebote, volviendo a recuperar el peso que perdiste. Esta fluctuación no es saludable para ti ni tu cuerpo.
Hacer dieta es tu alimentación diaria, y si es saludable, implica tener hábitos que sean beneficiosos para tu organismo y digestión. Algunos de ellos estarán en este artículo, pero ¡investiga! Hoy hay miles de estudios que puedes encontrar sin salir de tu casa. Compara y comprueba cuáles son los datos que te ayudarán en tu cambio de rutinas.

6. Comienza tu mañana con una taza de agua caliente y limón

El limón tiene propiedades anti-bacteriales. Por lo tanto, beber agua caliente con limón al comenzar el día, te ayudará a eliminar cualquier toxina que haya entrado a tu cuerpo el día anterior.
También le puedes agregar una pizca de pimienta cayena y te ayudará a estimular tu metabolismo durante el día.

7. Nunca te pierdas el desayuno

Comer a primera hora de la mañana enciende tu metabolismo. Nunca pases un día sin desayunar. ¡Realmente es la comida más importante del día! Ya que te da la energía para seguir activa.

8. Toma batidos para el desayuno

Piensa en un típico alimento que comas al desayuno. ¿Son panqueques, huevos y tostadas? ¿Qué nutrientes en esas comidas verdaderamente alimentan tu cuerpo? Probablemente no muchos. En cambio, un batido que sea rico en frutas y vegetales será una bomba de energía, buenos elementos para tu cuerpo y ¡sabor!

9. Elimina los productos lácteos

Somos la única especie que se bebe la leche de otras especies. La leche y sus derivados están compuestos de muchas más cosas que las que sabemos, como hormonas, sangre e incluso pus de vaca. En consecuencia, la próxima vez que vayas al supermercado, recuerda esto y compra una jarra de leche de almendras en vez.

10. Reduce tu ingesta de alcohol

Las bebidas alcohólicas contienen una gran cantidad de calorías, sin mencionar los espantosos efectos que el etanol, el compuesto químico del alcohol, tiene sobre tu cuerpo. Puedes buscar alternativas, como tragos sin alcohol o cócteles de frutas. Si disfrutas compartir una copa de vez en cuando, controla cuántas veces a la semana y en qué cantidad bebes. Te hará sentir mucho mejor.

11. Intenta no comer carne un día a la semana

Incluso las carnes más magras contienen grasa del animal. Esta contiene todos los químicos y hormonas de crecimiento que los agricultores le ponen al alimento del animal. El ser vegetariano un día a la semana puede hacer una gran diferencia en tu cuerpo.

12. Siéntate a la mesa a comer

Cuando comemos frente al televisor o en la cama, no nos damos cuenta de cuánto alimento consumimos ya que estamos distraídos. Sentarse unos minutos en la mesa para comer, te dará una mejor postura corporal al comer y estarás más atenta a las cantidades que consumes.

13. Busca una motivación como meta

Crea algún tipo de motivación que te dé una razón para no rendirte. Una idea original, en el caso de que estés buscando llegar a un peso saludable, es tomar la cantidad de palitos que representen los kilos a bajar, y un frasco. Cada vez que bajes un kilo, saca un palito. Puedes probar con muchas ideas, ¡la idea es no alejarte de tu objetivo! Aunque sea un experimento social para compartir. ¡Las posibilidades son muchas!

14. Prepara tus comidas

Preparar comidas es fundamental para comer alimentos saludables cuando solo quieres algo rápido. Cada domingo, planifica tus porciones y alimentos semanales, repartiendo los nutrientes y propiedades de estos para cada día. Además, asegúrate de trozar frutas y verduras para así tener disponible cuando desees un bocadillo saludable en cualquier momento.

15. Visita un doctor periódicamente

Asegúrate de no tener deficiencia vitamínica, alergia a la comida o desorden de la tiroides que pudiesen causar fluctuación en tu peso. Esto es importante también para ver qué alimentos debes integrar a tu dieta, y cuáles evitar.

16. Pasa tiempo en actividades relajantes

El estrés causa un aumento en la cantidad de cortisol, la hormona del estrés, que puede acentuar el apetito. Dedica un tiempo a escribir, leer, hacer ejercicio u otras actividades que despejen tu mente y te quiten ese peso de encima.

17. Ejercita con un compañero o toma una clase en el gimnasio

Si no estás segura de poder lograr por ti misma la voluntad de hacer tu rutina, busca un compañero de ejercicios, puede ser una amiga, familiar o tu pareja. Elijan un día y una actividad que les guste a ambos, ¡y mantengan el hábito! Háganse responsables el uno al otro por continuar el plan de ponerse en forma.

18. Control de porciones

Coloca una buena cantidad de verduras en tu plato y no te repitas el plato. Es realmente así de simple. Pon atención a las cantidades que ingieres, y cómo te sientes después de comer. Este es un buen indicador en caso de que estés comiendo demás.

19. Come alimentos por su auténtica finalidad

La próxima vez que te sientes a comer, asegúrate de que te alimentes con comidas que nutran tu cuerpo. Después de todo, ¿no es eso para lo que existe la comida?
En nuestra cultura, comer se ha convertido en un gran evento social, especialmente cerca de la temporada de vacaciones. Ponte de acuerdo con algunos amigos para hacer una comida abundante pero saludable para las vacaciones.

20. Té desintoxicante

Tomar un saludable té desintoxicante de vez en cuando es una gran manera de asegurar que tu hígado y riñones estén saludables, y sean capaces de eliminar las toxinas que entran a nuestro sistema a través de productos comunes, como plásticos, perfumes e incluso nuestros alimentos convencionales.

21. Proteína saludable

La proteína no solo tiene que provenir de la carne. Intenta utilizar mantequilla de almendras, barras proteicas, legumbres y quínoa para obtener tu dosis diaria de proteínas. También hay verduras que tienen, aunque en menor medida, cierta cantidad de proteína.

22. Elimina las carnes rojas

Consumir carnes rojas no es bueno para tu sistema cardiovascular. También pueden causar diabetes tipo 2, cáncer de colon y de mamas, debido a las hormonas que le agregan, entre otras cosas. Elige mejor pescado, que tiene mejores propiedades y ácidos grasos como el Omega 3, u otras opciones proteicas como las mencionadas arriba.

23. ¡Más comidas!

Intenta comer porciones más pequeñas durante el día en vez de comer tres grandes comidas, y divídelas en más comidas. Esto permite que tu cuerpo sea constantemente nutrido y tu metabolismo esté activo. No perderás energía entre comidas. Ah, y asegura que esto sea hasta cierto horario: comer hasta dos horas antes de dormir, hace muy mal a tu organismo y tu cuerpo no descansa como debiese.

24. Elige productos integrales

Por ejemplo, el arroz es naturalmente café. El arroz blanco es comúnmente despojado de sus ingredientes naturales para así obtener el color blanco. Es mejor consumir los alimentos en su versión integral. Tanto para tu digestión, como por los elementos que ingresas a tu organismo.

25. Come jengibre

Intenta hacer un aderezo de jengibre para ensaladas. El jengibre ayuda a aliviar el estómago si estás sufriendo alguna molestia abdominal. Es eficaz contra la gripe, mejora el flujo sanguíneo, elimina mareos y disminuye migrañas, ¡entre muchas otras cosas! Intégralo a tu lista de compras y verás como tu organismo sale beneficiado.

26. Diferencia cuando estás con hambre de cuando estás aburrida

Algunas veces, comemos por aburrimiento y no porque tengamos realmente hambre. Si te das cuenta de que solo quieres matar el tiempo, asegúrate de hacer algo productivo y que te distraiga de la tentación. Termina la última tarea que tienes que entregar o ejercita un poco en tu hogar.

27. Dormir más y mejor

Asegúrate de dormir al menos siete a ocho horas durante la noche para que tu metabolismo esté preparado. Dormir plácidamente tiene muchos puntos buenos, ¡pero es porque tu cuerpo lo necesita! No te exijas demás e incluye en tu horario las horas dedicadas a dormir.

28. Deja las bebidas de soda

Este es el consejo que más deberías tomar en cuenta. Las bebidas de este tipo dañan a tu cuerpo de maneras inimaginables. Primero, deshidratan tu cuerpo y te dan una enorme dosis de azúcar, la cual se transforma en grasa. Genera celulitis en tu cuerpo y el aspartamo que contienen puede llevar a sufrir “convulsiones, tumores cerebrales y trastornos emocionales”. Mejor, trata de tomar infusión de agua.

30. Utiliza endulzantes naturales

Existen muchos endulzantes naturales, como stevia, que tiene un sabor más fuerte incluso que las marcas tradicionales.

31. Encuentra algo que te apasione y perfecciona tu oficio

Es muy difícil vivir un estilo de vida saludable si no has encontrado un ejercicio que realmente te apasione. Si esto despierta tu interés, no temas a salir e intentar algo nuevo. Intenta un baile, kickboxing, pilates o incluso clases de aero yoga. Cuando encuentres un ejercicio que realmente ames, vivir un estilo de vida saludable será natural para ti.

32. ¡No te rindas!

Cualesquiera que sean los consejos que decidas incorporar a tu rutina, prométete a ti mismo que no te rendirás. Muchas veces, el primer paso para lograr una vida saludable es darte cuenta de que tú te lo mereces y de que es posible