Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Minimalist Home



The reality is I will never be the poster child for minimalism. My house is full of stuff and most days is generally messy. Yet, I do try to keep our lives relatively simple. I try not to buy for the sake of buying. I value experiences much more than things. The rest of my family refers to me as "anti-stuffist" and every year I try to get 40 bags of stuff out of our house (some years I get closer than others - this year so far I am at 12).

Every once in a while, I pick up a book on minimalism. I really admire people that live that life and I get inspired reading these books. I enjoyed The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker. There isn't anything earth-shatteringly new in this book. If you've read about minimalism, you've heard this all before. Although, like I said, it is always useful to read and be inspired to take even small steps to having less stuff. Thankfully, there is nothing in these pages about only keeping items that "spark joy". There is a lot of stuff a family needs that does not spark joy!

What I really liked about this book, however, was that it wasn't just about getting rid of the stuff. Becker writes from a Christian perspective and emphasizes how getting rid of the stuff helps us to be more generous with both our money and our time. When we aren't spending so much to buy things or to maintain the things we have, we have more money to use to help others. When we aren't spending so much time caring for stuff, we have more time to spend with others and care for others. There is where the true gift lies.

Friday, June 07, 2019

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As some of you are aware, I am an Amazon Affiliate which means that if you click on an Amazon link through my site and purchase an item, I get a small commission. Right now, Amazon is running a great deal. You can get a 30 day Free Trial of Audible and help support this site!

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Thursday, June 06, 2019

The Art of Dying Well


The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life by Katy Butler is designed for those age 50 or older and those who care for them. It is also useful reading for younger people facing a terminal illness. Butler maintains that we are “more terrified of death, and more unequipped for it, than we need be.” For most of history, dying was very much part of life. It happened at home under the care of family and friends, after which time the body was ceremoniously washed and dressed. Today, death is often treated as a medical procedure, stripped of dignity and humanity. It doesn’t have to be this way. “There is a way to a peaceful, empowered, humane death.”

Butler includes much practical information on what types of legal documents to have in place so that your wishes are followed, how to navigate the complex health care system, how to get help (or of you are a care-giver, how to give help and get a break when you need it), accepting death while continuing to life, the value of hospice, and how to aid someone who is actively dying. The glossary of medical terms is especially helpful.

This book is written from a secular perspective, yet has a respect for the sacred. There unfortunately is a section on physician-assisted suicide. I searched Amazon to see if there was a similar book written from a Catholic perspective and couldn’t find one. The value of the information in this book leads me to recommend it in spite of its endorsement of suicide for those who choose it.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Do you Struggle with Perfectionism?





Do you struggle with perfectionism? What about spiritual perfectionism? Do you believe that if you don’t do all your spiritual works, God will love you less? Do you believe you can earn heaven? In her own words, Colleen Carroll Campbell has always been a bit of an over-achiever. Indeed, simply reading her author bio is exhausting. She’s an award-winning author, print and broadcast journalist, and a former presidential speechwriter. She even hosted her own television and radio shows on EWTN for eight years. She now balances working with homeschooling four children.

In The Heart of Perfection: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade my Dream of Perfect for God’s, she defines perfectionism as “an addiction to control and a refusal to accept imperfection in some human endeavor.” Early in Carroll Campbell’s mothering career, as she was trying to adjust to life with twins, an older mother gave her some wise advice. She told her that there was no room for perfection in motherhood. Carroll Campbell took those words to heart.

As Carroll Campbell began to study the lives of the saints, she noticed that many of them struggled with perfectionism even though they may not have used that term. Instead they “complain of scruples and pride, plead for trust and humility, and speak of their need to surrender to God’s plans and stop trying to make their own.”

Carroll Campbell intersperses this spiritual memoir with short biographies of St. Jane de Chantal, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Benedict, St. Francis, and St. Therese, all of whom could be patron saints of those who struggle with perfectionism. She explains how, with God’s help, they worked to overcome those tendencies while still getting closer to God. In following their example we can face the challenge of rejecting “spiritual perfectionism without lapsing into spiritual laziness.” 

In The Heart of Perfection, Carroll Campbell speaks with refreshing honesty about her own struggles. Many mothers will relate to the challenge of balancing work and motherhood. She wonders “why God gave me these dual passions for work and motherhood that sometimes felt so infuriatingly incompatible.” Like all mothers, she is figuring it out as she goes. 

There are no easy fixes for dealing with perfectionism, but Carroll Campbell and the saints she profiles offer much food for reflection. She encourages us to keep growing in holiness. In the end, what this world thinks of us and our achievements doesn’t matter. It is when we surrender to God’s love and God’s will that we are truly successful.

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