The Maximum Minimalist Challenge

Day 15 – so much gone, so much still to go!

I like to believe I’m not that much of a junk collector, but a contest this past month quashed my wishful thinking. In reality I have two ever-battling, opposing personalities when it comes to stuff: dreamer Ev, who clings to mementos and to anything that might possibly come in handy in any way, ever, and practical Ev who vows to not be ruled by the tyranny of possessions.  

The lesson kicked off in mid-January when my daughter invited me and a friend to take part in a decluttering “minimalist” challenge that she’d heard about online. 

Every day for 30 consecutive days, we’d purge the number of items dictated by whatever day it was in the contest, so Day 1, 1 item. Day 2, 2 items. Day 3, 3 items. And so on. We’d send each other daily pictures to show what we got rid of. Whoever made it the furthest into the 30 days would “win” and get all the discarded stuff. Just kidding! The stuff was sold, donated, recycled or trashed. The prize was “loser buys coffee.” 

The first few days were, as you probably guessed, super easy—and our artfully staged photos reflected our enthusiasm. 

As the month rolled on and items accumulated, our increasingly messy photo record sparked much laughter, conversation and debate. We frequently coveted each other’s giveaways and had to make a new rule: taking someone’s discard required the shedding of two additional items. That mostly cured our magpie ways.  

We were all surprised that gathering our daily quotas didn’t become impossible—or even difficult. What was? Motivation over the long haul.  

Making time to delve into the back corners of cupboards and closets, then sorting, packaging, driving and dropping off, etc., got tedious. Just maintaining our normal home and work lives is work intensive enough. Anything extra feels like extra.   

Also, re-homing some items required uncomfortable honesty and/or a kind of letting go. There are interests and hobbies from bygone days that you’ll never rekindle, no matter how fondly you look back. There are impulse purchases that were mistakes—and keeping them another ten years will not remedy that fact. 

And, of course, things stowed because of who or what they remind us of were—and are—tricky. It’s important to figure out what’s really precious and what’s just stored out of habit or guilt—and that’s highly personal. No-one else can determine it for you. I try to go by rule that if I literally never use it, never display it, never pull it out for rainy day reminiscences, I should re-home it.  

I wasn’t surprised by the pull of sentimental items—or by my resistance to relinquishing things that might have a purpose. Someday. Maybe. Plus, there are things I love just because they’re pretty or whimsical or whisper of secrets and conjure up stories. So no, stashes of things like old keys, etc. didn’t shock me either. 

No, what I found horrifying was the actual, literal, garbage I found. And worse, in one case, still didn’t get rid of. I wasn’t alone in my bewilderment about what my brain deemed must keep treasures. We all had some type of thing we clung to out of strange compulsion, all had our own But why? moments.  

Over the years, I’ve worked hard to learn how to let go of hurts, to deal with grief and change, to let myself feel joy without guilt, and to not fall for the lie that purchasing another this or that will cheer me up if I’m sad or make me feel good about myself if I’m feeling bad, but this challenge was a good reminder: it’s a lifelong process. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying things we’ve work for or appreciating relics from the past, but it can be all too easy to accumulate and hoard stuff for more complex reasons. For me, the best thing about the challenge was the reminder to be intentional about what I hold on to.   

If you want a little glimpse into what makes you tick (or what your ticks are!), or even if you “just” want a closet that contains only wearable clothes (I know, crazy concept, right?)—do this challenge. You’ll lose clutter and gain a lot in the process.   

P.S. In just 30 days, we each unburdened ourselves of 465 things. Collectively, that was a whopping 1395 no longer useful (to us) items!

P.P.S. If you’ve done – or do! – a similar challenge, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the process.
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“The Maximum Minimalist Challenge” by me, Ev Bishop, was written in February 2018 and was originally published in the Terrace Standard, March 15, 2018 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

I’ve written on this subject before in a larger, more serious scale: CIRCLES by Ev Bishop

1st Friday Fun Kicks off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello and happy Friday – the 1st Friday of a new month to be exact!

To celebrate the march of March, I thought it would be fun to kick off a brand new, super fun tradition here at evbishop.com, so I’m announcing – *Drum roll, please!* – 1st Friday Fun!

What is 1st Friday Fun you ask?

Every 1st Friday of the month I’ll put together some form of themed giveaway, sometimes related to my books, sometimes fitting with River’s Sigh B & B themes, sometimes something more generic (but still super fun!). 🙂 🙂

All you have to do is show up and follow the “comment suggestion” on the Giveaway’s thread and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. Each giveaway will be open until the 15th of the month, then a winner will be chosen at random and contacted for his/her mailing address and the goodies will go in the post.

Super simple and super fun, hey?  I hope you’ll play and I hope you’ll spread the word/share so more people can get in on the fun.

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY: A small painting to lose yourself in and remind you to relax, ahhhh… A signed proof copy of SILVER BELLS, River’s Sigh B & B book charms and minty lip-soothing balm from yours truly!

COMMENT SUGGESTION: Can you build your own campfire or do you prefer to have someone else do it for you? (And, of course, you can say anything else you want, so long as it’s appropriate for all ages. 🙂 🙂 )

 

Good luck! I look forward to hearing all about your fire building prowess – or failures!

Wishing you a very fun Friday,

🙂 Ev

P.S. Sadly, cupcakes, especially ones as deliciously decadent as the one in the Friday Fun picture above, don’t travel well in the mail. Or that’s my excuse for hoarding those types of goodies for myself, anyway. 😉 You’ll have to buy your own sweets.  🙂

***March 16, 2018 Update*** WE HAVE A WINNER!

Lucky Michelle Pierce will be receiving our March 1st Friday Fun goodies in the mail very soon!

It was super fun to have so many of you come out and share whether you have mad fire building skills (or the opposite of that, LOL!) Please join us for April’s 1st Friday Fun on April 6th, for a chance to win another super fun T.B.A. prize!

Snowed In

The view outside my front door, Jan. 31, 2018

I live on the same property I lived as a teenager. Its terrain is as familiar to me as my own backyard because, of course, that’s exactly what it is—and what it has been for so many years.

The last few days of heavy snow have changed everything, however. The view outside my door and a trek across the yard reveal a foreign landscape. It surprises me every winter, how the sound-dampening white blanket turns the familiar strange and the once-obvious into something only hinted at.

And that’s how I feel this new year as I contemplate the future, like the landmarks, anchors and foundations of my life are still there—yet at the same time, somehow hidden from me. I can’t make out their details.

I had my children about ten years younger than a lot of my friends did, so while they’re still busy with childrearing and household things . . . I am not as much. So this spot I’ve hit . . . Is it empty nest syndrome? A midlife crisis? The itch before an opportunity? I don’t know—but I suspect it’s a normal phase of human development, like teething for babies and tantrums for toddlers. (So not the most fun, understatement, but survivable. Normal.)

The other day, I described my life as “empty” to a friend, but even as I said it, I knew it wasn’t the word I was looking for—too ungrateful, too negative, when I actually feel so much thankfulness for all that I have. The fresh snow showed me what I’d truly meant and failed to describe: not empty at all, full—but with the pieces that make me whole a bit buried at the moment, hard to see clearly or to make sense of.

In my 20s, I knew what my time needed to be filled with, what my priorities were, what I believed in and lived by (for the most part anyway—or my life was so busy that I didn’t have as much time to dwell).

Ditto in my 30s. Trying to put all my plans into action, working to see my hopes become reality, and keeping on top of the choices I made kept me focused and determined, constantly learning and seeking. I had to-do lists and goal maps that spanned years.

My early 40s were like a harvest. The bulk of things I had invested my time, energy and heart in for so long matured and were . . . done.

And 45? It’s a mystery. Thankfully, I love my work and take a lot of joy and solace in the fact that I still have lots of room to grow in it (forever), but everything else—who my husband and I are as a couple, instead of just as parents, what my new role is in my children’s lives (and in my grandchildren’s), what my faith is, how I should live, where I should spend my personal time—is blurry.

What will the next half of my life look like? I have no idea. Right now, it’s all shadowy outlines and slightly lumpy impressions. I think that’s okay though. As disconcerting as it is to be unsure of pretty much everything, beneath the obscuring layers, the landmarks and foundations of my life are still there. And just like I’ll have to wait until spring to see the details of my yard again, I may have to wait a while for the things I’m pondering to become clear.

Some seasons in life provide a straightforward vision of what we want to do next or how we need to grow. Others call for hunkering down, lying dormant, waiting—which is always, at least for me, less comfortable than forging ahead.

Whether your path is clear, or whether you, like me, feel that if a path exists, it needs to be shovelled (or plowed with a loader), I wish you a wonderful 2018. May you find what you need most—and may joy, laughter and good friends accompany you on the journey!

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“Snowed In” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, February 1, 2018 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

What better way to spend a winter’s evening?

I just wanted to share a happy blurt! SILVER BELLS (River’s Sigh B & B, Book 5), which debuted in the contemporary Christmas Romance Anthology MISTLETOE KISSES is now available as a single title for your reading pleasure. I know you, like me, are thinking HOORAY and FINALLY, LOL. 🙂 🙂

One lonely highway and a brutal snowstorm. Two broken hearts and an accident. Can Bryn and Sean find lasting love in such random, fleeting circumstances?

I hope you enjoy this latest sweet, cozy visit to River’s Sigh B & B immensely! After all, we’re definitely having curl-up-with-a-good-book weather. 😉

ENJOY SILVER BELLS TODAY! 

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iBOOKSKOBO USKOBO CA ~ NOOK ~ GOOGLE PLAY 

Also, just a reminder . . . reviews are incredibly helpful to authors. If you would take a minute or two to add even just one line with a star review, wherever you buy your books, I would be over the moon.

Thank you and happy reading!

Writing Romance – a FREE workshop with Ev Bishop

Hello and greetings and tidings of exciting news!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be giving an Intro to Writing Romance workshop at the Terrace Public Library, Thursday, November 23rd from 6:00 – 8:30.

Admission is FREE (Yes, you read that right! 🙂 ), thanks to the generosity of the event’s organizers and sponsors, the Federation of BC Writers and the Terrace Public Library. However, you must register in advance and there are limited seats. If you’re interested, book your spot now: 250-638-8177.

Topics to be covered:

  • Romance as a genre and why writing (and reading) romance is so satisfying
  • Generating (or narrowing down!) ideas and writing the story
  • Editing Tips
  • Publishing Paths . . .  (I’ll try to give some marketing musts, too–but it’s not a super long workshop and we’ll have lots to tackle as it is. 🙂 It is going to be fun!)

If you’re currently writing romance (in the closet or out, LOL), have always wanted to but haven’t started yet, or are just curious about the genre in general, this workshop’s for you. We’ll have a blast, I’ll talk your ears off, and you’ll leave buzzing with energy, inspiration and information. (Or that’s my plan and hope anyway. 😉 ) I hope to see you there!

P.S. The writing life can be isolating (is of necessity, actually), yet at the same time, almost without exception, we accomplish more and feel happier when we’re part of a community. If you’re a writer yearning for a tribe or in need of fellow writerly chat and support, consider joining the BC Federation of Writers. They are an amazing source of information and opportunities, well worth their modest annual fee.

And a little closer to home . . . If you’re writing in Terrace, BC (or area) and want to be part of a dynamic, supportive writing network, check out the Terrace Public Library’s writing group. Contact Jess for more information: 250-638-8177.

P.P.S. I’ve had a few people ask if this workshop would be valuable for writers working in other genres. My answer is a hearty YES!  It is a romance workshop and that will be my total focus, but there will definitely be takeaway information and advice applicable to whatever you write.

A CHRISTMAS SHE’LL REMEMBER – a 7 Christmas novel box set you’ll treasure! #mgtab

As promised–eiiiieeee and HOORAY!–here are the details about the second fabulously fun box set I’m part of this year.

Just launched today, A CHRISTMAS SHE’LL REMEMBER is a collection of Christmas romances you’ll treasure and remember, with 7 novels by bestselling authors, including Mimi Barbour, Patricia Rosemoor, Joan Reeves, Tamara Ferguson, Alicia Street, Stephanie Queen, and (of course! 🙂 ) me. Grab it today before the price goes up, while it’s still cheap, cheap, cheap (and FREE on KU)–and happy reading! 🙂

The novel I was delighted to have included is ONE TO KEEP, a River’s Sigh B & B holiday novella. Want to know a little about the story? Well, how can I resist? 🙂 🙂

It’s been two years since Sophie was dumped at the altar, and she’s scarred, but wiser. She has a career she loves, good friends, and a caring family. It should be more than enough, and she wants to vanquish the part of her that still craves something more.

This year, unable to bear one more “festive” get together where everyone gives her sad eyes and asks how she’s doing, she heads to River’s Sigh B & B, a picturesque spot she discovered online. It will be a New Year’s celebration for one, a place to unwind and kick off her new resolution: to embrace single life as a permanent choice.

Jesse Ales has found the perfect way to avoid the world this holiday season. He’ll be the caretaker at River’s Sigh B & B and enjoy a break from well-meaning friends who think he should be over his ex-wife. The whole place will be deserted, except for some eccentric old woman holidaying alone in the wilderness. Even after making her breakfast every day, he’ll have plenty of time to plan his new life: committed bachelorhood.

When chance throws Sophie and Jesse together in a pub, a night of alcohol, food, and laughter-infused lunacy almost leads to a one-night stand. They’re both shaken, but doubly resolved to remain single.

And then they meet again at River’s Sigh and realize they’re about to spend a week alone together—twenty miles from their nearest neighbor. They’ll each have to face their worst fears: their own unacknowledged yearnings for a love that lasts.

Can love tempt them to commitment a second time around?

 CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW! 

ACSR_OTK-99 Cents-Free on KU

MISTLETOE KISSES ~ A 9 Christmas Romance novel box set

Treat Yourself TodayIt’s here! Yay and wow! My brand-new River’s Sigh novella SILVER BELLS has hit the shelves.

One lonely highway and a brutal snowstorm. Two broken hearts and an accident. Can Bryn and Sean find lasting love in such random, fleeting circumstances?

Happy book birthday to me – and to the 8 other fabulous authors in MISTLETOE KISSES: Nancy Stopper, Christa Maurice, Maria Luis, Reese Patton, Susan Saxx, July Dawson, Kimberly Readnour, and Natalia Banks!

Lovely reviews are pouring in and I’m over the moon with all the kind comments and all the Christmas romance love! And I have to confess that with another holiday-themed romance box set coming out on Friday (A CHRISTMAS SHE’LL REMEMBER, which contains my River’s Sigh B & B novella ONE TO KEEP), I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. In fact, I’ve enjoyed getting into the Christmas spirit early so much that I think I might start my Christmas reading in October every year from now on. The nights are so long and dark, the weather so wet and dreary . . . it’s super fun to read things that are sweet, steamy and cheery. 🙂

Anyway, I hope you’ll get your copy MISTLETOE KISSES—especially while it’s just .99 cents! And if you’d consider leaving a review . . . Well, it would be a lovely early Christmas present for me. Thank you!

AMAZON ~ KOBO ~ iBOOKS ~ NOOK ~ GOOGLE PLAY

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