Simplify.  It’s a word that keeps popping into my mind (and when things pop into my mind, I feel compelled to share them!).

Perhaps FBC is asking (telling?) me to learn to live simply.

Truth be told, living simply has never been my thing.  I’ve always had a million balls in the air. Lots of things coming and going. Logistics everywhere.

Instead of rushing from one thing to the next…Hurry-Hurry-Hurry-Rush-Rush-Rush…I now like blah… like PB&J sandwiches (albeit almond butter!) on a blanket in a park.

When we simplify our lives, I believe that we have the potential to become more available to other life experiences. I feel as though I need more time…more space…more breathing room…more peace.  And, I believe, the way to fulfill these needs is by simplification.

A simple life has a different meaning and a different value for every person. For me, it means eliminating all but the essential, eschewing chaos for peace, and spending time doing what’s important.

Because I’m a list person, I’ve begun making a list of things to do after our vacation to help take the next steps toward simplification:

  1. Evaluate my commitments and figure out which of these I value and love doing. This may mean making some challenging decisions, but I’ve been doing that for a long, long time.
  2. Evaluate my time. I’ll start by figuring out how, exactly, I spend my day.  For example, today, I (felt like I) spent way too much time in my closet unpacking and repacking too much stuff. Note to self. Too much stuff.
  3. Limit my media consumption. I spent way too much time on the Internet.  No doubt about it.  I’ve already started limiting the time that I spend in front of the screen and am seeing immediate benefits. One thing that I have come to learn is that I now sleep better when I have turned my computer off at least one hour before I go to sleep.
  4. Spend time with people I love. No explanation needed.
  5. Purge my clutter. I plan to dedicate a weekend (at least) purging things that I don’t use so that I can be left with only what I value. When I was in my apartment in San Francisco, I had 4 plates, 4 forks, 4 glasses, etc.  I got along just fine with that.  Now, am I going to toss my grandmother’s silver?  I don’t think so.  However, I believe that eliminating the clutter in my life will create a beautiful space for peace to enter.
  6. Learn to say N-O. The HOTY suggested that I tattoo it to my forehead.  A definite possibility, though I can’t imagine how painful that would be. It’s a good suggestion, though, because I have a really, really hard time saying the word….what was it again?  Oh, right, “N-O.”
  7. Learn to do nothing. This is sooooo hard for me.  However, I learned the value of doing nothing on those days when I felt miserable and our dog Buzz encouraged me to go outside and just sit. That’s all we did (because that’s all I could do).  However, it felt really good.  It wasn’t “productive” in the traditional sense of the word; however, it was the most productive thing that I could have done at the time.
  8. Limit my communication. Between the emails, text’s, cell phones, Facebook…etc., etc., I am in digital overdrive. I may (GULP!) try doing email only twice a day.  That sounds like a lofty goal right now, but I imagine that it would free a tremendous amount of time that I spend looking down.  These days, I’m all about looking and feeling UP.
  9. Spend time alone. I found that alone time in San Francisco was incredibly calming, fueling and stimulating.
  10. Find a creative outlet for self-expression. I’ve found that I love writing. Here on this blog.  In a journal. Though I’ve written academically before the FBC diagnosis, I’ve never written just for fun.  I’m really enjoying it and plan on continuing it because it feels like a great outlet.

I know that it’s easy to write a list.  Heaven knows I’ve been doing it for years. Simplification will take an extraordinary amount of conscious effort; however it will be worth it to acquire more peace and focus which is such a Silver Lining.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

~Leonardo DaVinci



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  1. Sandy Montoya says

    December 2012 will mark 2 years post Invasive Breast Carcinoma plus positive for HER2 over expression. Treatment was 6 months of Chemo, 1 year of Herceptin and of course, 5 years on Femera. I came across your Blog on Pinterest and it is a blessing. There are so many side effects both physical and emotional that I still struggle and learning to simplify and put myself first has been a continual challenge. I wrote my journey also on a website called Caring Having retired only 6 months prior to diagnosis it gave me a wonderful tool to communi ate with family, friends and a large network of colleagues at my pace thru treatment. Simplifying your daily routine is necessary, exercising, eating right and downsizing your "stuff" is so necessary. This horrible disease taught me I need God, Family, Friends and a healthy lifestyle and that is enough. I see the sun and even clouds each day with thanksgiving. I look forward to following you. Sandy

    • says

      Dear Sandy,
      Thank you so much for your note. Welcome to The Silver Pen!
      I couldn't agree more about simplifying. It's so, so true!
      I just celebrated my 2 years since diagnosis
      Caring Bridge is so wonderful. I'm so glad you are/were able to use it to communicate.
      Thank you for sharing your story.
      Sending you all of my very best wishes for your continued recovery.
      Take good care,

  2. Cynthia says

    In my quest for simplicity, I choose to focus on certain things and let others go. Then I feel like I am accomplishing things (the focus) rather than eliminating (the simplify). Small detail but it works for me! I hope you choose to focus on writing because you have a gift. Lots and lots of love 🙂 c.

  3. says

    Congratulations, I'm SO glad you're done with radiation! Tamoxifen will seem like a breeze compared to what you've been going through. Best, Claudia

  4. says

    Congrats on surviving the unthinkable! Years post-FBC, I am again trying to simplify.Amazing how stuff we don't need builds up. Glad you're vacationing with fam. That's the main thing that I still care about – my grown two girls, their spouses, and my grand children. Never even expected that bonus – like being in love again – oh, those babies!

    Been meaning to write and tell you about my experience with neuropathies. It took about 3 plus years for my finger tips to feel almost as they used to. I don't even think about them anymore. My toes, if I notice, still feel a bit lumpy. However, I never stopped hiking or backpacking. My oncologist said, "Yes, just keep walking."
    And I did. Now I take my fellow little gear-heads (3 and 7yrs)along with me.Best of all SLs.

    I'm writing a self-help kind of book now about touch deprivation and how the new science of epigenetics gives us hope and direction (what I sensed in my private practice is being proven). You have inspired me to BLOG about it. I'm grateful for your breath-taking sharing and want to thank you for your ongoing story!!! Love, Pat