The Minimalists

Friday Five

It’s been too long since I’ve shared a Friday Five! Here are some things that caught my interest recently.

1.Someday, a two-minute video from The Minimalists.


2. Georgia O’Keeffe.  The Brooklyn Museum has put together a wonderful exhibit on Georgia O’Keeffe’s life and work. It is excellently curated, focusing on the connection between creativity, her strong sense of self, and place. Her first exhibition took place at the Brooklyn Museum in 1927, so it feels appropriate that her work return here all these years later.

This photo of her was taken by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, in 1920. She was about 33. The placard states that Stieglitz preferred photographing her from a low vantage point “highlighting her audacity in dressing so that her gender was obscured or, one might say, appeared simultaneously male and female.”

The exhibit is open through July. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend it.


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3. My new BFF. Don’t ask me how I lucked out, but I attended a cooking demonstration hosted by Deb Perelman. Within minutes, Deb had me and forty other slightly crazed Smitten Kitchen fans laughing and clapping, feeling like we were old friends.

She seemed exactly like she does on her blog—charming and self-effacing and funny. When I got to speak to her one-on-one, I went all fan girl and told her that I made her pecan pie for Thanksgiving and the crust was delicious, all light and flaky, and browned perfectly, but I had a problem with the filling being too runny and what would she suggest to fix that, maybe a higher oven temperature or cutting back on the golden syrup and as long as I was on the subject, should I toast the pecans? It was that embarrassing. I took my sample slice of sour cream crumb cake and slinked off into the crowd.


4. Move over cronut, there’s a new sweet in town. Cookie Do sells just what you think—scoops of unbaked cookie dough. After being told by two bouncers at the door wearing headsets (no joke) that the line started waaay back around the corner, I wasn’t sure I was going to wait. The website says that when they’ve sold out, they close up shop for the day. I chanced it, and just as I was about to give up hope, I made it in. I got two scoops—peanut butter snickerdoodle and chocolate dream. Why spend an hour in line for something you can buy in tubes at the grocery store? Well…okay, I don’t really have a good answer for that, except to say that it was heavenly… little gobs of butter and crunchy bits of sugar with chocolate and peanut buttery deliciousness.

cookie do

5.Zen Pencils. I’ve enjoyed Gav’s comics over at Zen Pencils for a few years now. He is an illustrator who creates “cartoon quotes from inspirational folks.” In honor of Dr. Jane Goodall’s 82nd birthday on April 3 and Earth Day on April 22, I’m sharing one of my favorite Zen Pencils comics “The Power of One.” Below is a partial clip, and this link will take you to the complete comic in its entirety. While you’re there, also check out Gav’s latest comic dedicated to Frida Kahlo. I never realized just how much physical pain she endured for most of her life.



Coming soon: an interview with author Jill Santopolo. Stay tuned! 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

Friday Five

1. There is something about live theater that the screen just can’t match. You can almost feel the actors’ booming voices and the energy of the crowd carries you. It’s like you’re part of the performance. Last weekend, I was invited to see a Juilliard production of the Noel Coward play, Hay Fever. (Juilliard is a performing arts university where they accept a mere 2 percent of applicants from around the world.) The fourth year drama students performed in this “comedy of manners.” I had never been to a Noel Coward play before – apparently he and Oscar Wilde are best known for this genre which satirizes the manners and pretenses of a social class, represented by characters right out of Central Casting. The ignorant, bookish father. The overly dramatic mother. The spoiled children with too much time on their hands.

Hay Fever takes place in an English country house in the 1920s and centers around the four eccentric members of the Bliss family.  They each invite a guest to spend the weekend, but the self-centred behavior of the hosts finally drives their guests to flee. The plot was an uncomplicated as it sounds – nothing more than that happens. It could have easily turned into a snooze fest, but the witty dialogue shined. It was a great show and reminded mow how much I enjoy going to the theater.

Have you been to a stage play recently? Do you have any favorite performances?  

2. Do you remember the scene in Moonstruck, when Cher’s character gets primped and dolled up for a night at the opera with her brother-in-law to-be Nicholas Cage? They meet in front of the fountain at Lincoln Center where the Met Opera performs. I haven’t seen that movie in a long time, but for some reason that scene stayed with me.  Juilliard is located right next to Lincoln Center, and when we passed through the courtyard, I smiled remembering it.

3. This week, we had our Christmas grab bag gift exchange at my office.  It’s…well, not much fun. No one enjoys it, but I guess we keep doing it because we’ve been doing it for years. A few brave souls suggested alternatives and were immediately quashed. We’ve not seen or heard from them since. I could go into details, but I’m afraid I’ve already said too much. The grab bag police are going to make sure I get stuck with wooden toy cars. Or talking Sigmund Freud keychains. Or refrigerator magnets. Or a Snuggie. Oh, wait. Over the years I’ve already been stuck with lucky enough to get those gifts.

4. Could you live without any goals? More importantly, could you live a fulfilled life without goals? If we don’t have goals how will we achieve our dreams? Joshua Fields Millburn, one of The Minimalists, decided to get off the treadmill of goal-setting because, “I was stressed out of my mind with all those goals. My hauntingly perpetual to-do list was just that — perpetual, never-ending. And it was ever-growing. Plus, I was continuously disappointed when I didn’t achieve a goal, or when I missed a deadline. ”

But, you’re thinking, that flies in the face of everything we’re “taught.” If I don’t set goals, I’ll become complacent and soon find myself zombie-like watching hours of Next Top Model. (Wait, I already do that.)  In a guest post at Zen Habits, Josh talks about his experiment – living without goals for 100 days.  Among other things, he found he was more productive, less stressed and more content. You may remember The Minimalists from a previous Shine post.

5. PDA: Way or No Way? I’m typing this while sitting at Starbucks. I’m on the home stretch of my 4th round of edits on my novel. I come here because sometimes home can be filled with distractions. But Starbucks is not without distractions on this day due to the two people next to me. It’s clear they are supposed to be doing other things, too. He has an anatomy textbook open to a graphic cross-section of the human liver, and she is reading a thick tome on constitutional law. From what I can tell, neither of them has turned their respective pages in at least 30 minutes. But they are conducting research of a sort. He seems to be researching how ticklish the back of her neck is (very) and she seems to be researching how many times she can giggle within one minute (5 at last count). Oh, wait. Now he is researching how deeply he can fit his hands into the back pockets of her jeans.

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Shine: Having Enough By Having Less, By The Minimalists

When I started the Shine section of the blog, my intention was to introduce you to people who are changing their lives or their community by taking a different approach. In fact, in the very first Shine post Abby Quillen wrote about her family living car free. (Congratulations on your new baby, Abby!)  Today’s post takes that one step further. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are The Minimalists. Minimalism is a lifestyle that’s catching on in response to consumerism.

What is minimalism, exactly? Joshua and Ryan define it this way: Minimalism is a tool get rid of superfluous excess in favor of focusing on what’s important in life so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

If you’ve ever felt like your stuff was taking over your life, this Shine post is for you!


By: Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

To be a minimalist you must live with less than 100 things, and you can’t own a car or a home or a TV, and you can’t have a career, and you have to be able to live in exotic places all over the world, and you have to write a blog, and you can’t have any children, and you have to be a young white male from a privileged background.

OK, we’re joking. Obviously.

But people who often dismiss minimalism as some sort of fad or trend usually mention some of the above mentioned “restrictions” as to why they could “never be a minimalist.”

The truth is that minimalism isn’t about any of those things, but it can help you accomplish all of that stuff if you’d like to (well, except if you’re not a young white male, minimalism can’t really help you become one. But who gives a shit what color your skin is anyway?). If you desire to live with less than 100 things or not own a car or to travel all over the world without fear, minimalism can help. But that’s not the point.

The point is that minimalism is a tool to help you achieve freedom. Freedom from fear, freedom from worry, freedom from overwhelm, freedom from guilt, freedom from depression, freedom from enslavement. Freedom.

It is, however, OK to own a car or own a house or have children or have a career. If these things are necessary to you, then that’s OK. There are tons of successful minimalists who do some or all of these things. Leo Babauta has a family and six children and writes at one of the most impactful websites in the world, and Joshua Becker has a career he enjoys and a family he loves and a house and a car in Vermont. Conversely, Colin Wright owns 51 things and travels all over the world, Everett Bogue writes a blog and lives in San Francisco (and a dozen other cities) without a job, and Tammy Strobel is completely car-free. All of these people are minimalists even though they are vastly different. So how can they all be so different and yet still be minimalists?  That brings us back to our original question: what is minimalism?

Minimalism is a tool to achieve fulfillment in life. It is a tool to achieve happiness, which is (let’s face it) what we are all looking for. We all want to be happy. Minimalism can help. There are no rules in minimalism. Rather, minimalism is simply about stripping away the unnecessary things in your life so you can focus on what’s important. We believe that there are four important areas in everyone’s lives: your health, your relationships, your mission, and your passions. Typically these things overlap, and we realize what’s important to us may not be important to you.

Minimalism has helped us in several ways, including:

  • Reclaiming our time
  • Ridding ourselves of excess stuff
  • Enjoying our lives
  • Discovering meaning in our lives
  • Living in the moment
  • Focusing on what’s important
  • Pursuing our passions
  • Finding happiness
  • Doing anything we want to do
  • Finding our missions
  • Experiencing freedom
  • Creating more, consuming less

How has minimalism helped us with these things? Well, minimalism is a lifestyle choice. Minimalists chose to get rid of the unnecessary in favor of what’s important. But the level of specificity is up to you. Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself. Thus, it’s up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in your life. Through this blog we intend to give you some ideas of how to determine these things and how to achieve a minimalist lifestyle without having to succumb to some sort of strict code or set of rules.

A word of warning though: it isn’t easy to take the first few steps, but the journey gets much easier and more rewarding the further you go; the first steps into minimalism often take some radical changes in mindset, actions, and habits (as you will see in our documented journey).

So, if we had to sum it up in one sentence, we would say, Minimalism is a tool get rid of superfluous excess in favor of focusing on what’s important in life so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

This is just our take on minimalism. Some other minimalists have their different take on it too:

Leo Babauta’s description of minimalism

Joshua Becker’s Benefits of Minimalism

Colin Wright’s Minimalism Explained

Read about why Joshua and Ryan decided start down the path of minimalism here.

Have you heard of minimalism? Have you ever felt your “stuff” was keeping you from doing the things you wanted to do? Please share your thoughts. 

Coming up next on SHINE: Patience Delgado practices “guerilla goodness” taking people by surprise with small acts of kindness in her community. 

If you or anyone you know should be featured in SHINE, please let me know: contact  {at}   jacquelincangro  DOT   com.