One of the many problems that I see with having everything that we could ever want or need is that it closes us off from others.  We spend far too much time sitting at home, behind closed doors.  Our neighbors are strangers and we are too lazy to dress up and show up.  And why would we anyway, if we have everything at home?  What we don't realize is that although it feels good to have everything we need and want, it could be what's cutting us off from the world.  We have all the stuff we could ever want, but it's stealing our time and freedom.  What if, instead of having it all at our fingertips, we had just the basics?  What if, instead of being home with everything we need, we were out with friends, running into familiar faces, having mini adventures and socializing with people more?

I always love a pop of red!

Does less stuff and more life sound like a breath of fresh air?  Here are 5 steps that you can take towards a more minimalist lifestyle:

1.  Go to the theatre.  Get rid of your TV.  Yep, I said it.  (I haven't done it, but would love to one day when Ironman agrees).  Instead, go out to the movies or go see a show at the local theatre.  Even better, get together at a friend's home to watch something together.  Choose a great TV series and you'll have a reason to see them again and again as you stay up to date on episodes!  Not only will this free up a lot of your time, but it will get you spending more time with loved ones!  And in all that free time, you can become a book worm...win win.

2.  Get outside or go to the gym.  Get rid of the at home gym equipment and get a gym membership.  Without that TV, you'll have more free time to add in activity.  This new habit will improve your health and social life!  Meet some friends at the gym, head there with your spouse or even go by yourself if you need some alone time.  My favorite thing to do is spend 30 minutes in the dry sauna and then 30 minutes showering, while Ironman works out.  Don't like the gym?  Find local rail trails and parks to get in that daily exercise.

Hiking in Arizona with my sisters!

3.  Visit the library and book stores.  Get rid of old magazines and books, including recipe books, as you work towards a more minimalistic home.  Take time to head to your local library and check out some books for free.  One thing that my husband and I like to do is head to Barnes and Noble.  We treat ourselves to some peppermint herbal tea, grab a few books and magazines and spend an hour flipping through.  It's a great way to get out of the house, learn something new and have time together without planning an elaborate or expensive date.

4.  Treat yourself.  Get rid of your at-home spa items.  The old nail polish only lasts so long, the fancy face scrubber probably needs replacing and you really shouldn't be dying your hair in your bathtub.  Instead, treat yourself!  Schedule in some down time and make appointments to be pampered.  Better yet, invite a friend for some girl time!

5.  Clear your calendar.  Give yourself more time to do the things you love.  Say no to things you don't enjoy so that you can say yes to those you do.  Don't schedule things back-to-back.  You need time to breathe.  Time to drive across town without speeding to get there.  Time to walk to that meeting without breaking a sweat.  Time to eat lunch without choking it down.  Just like material possessions, less is more when speaking about time.  Being an anxious mess doesn't look good on anyone.

Eggplant Parmesan was a hit!

6.  Spend time cooking.  Ironman's favorite part of the day is to come home and have something good waiting on him to eat.  So, I try to deliver!  Spend time looking for new recipes at your local library or book store (since you cleaned out all your old cookbooks, right?).  Or use my go-to, Pinterest!  Buy the ingredients, turn on some good music, diffuse your favorite essential oils and ask others to join in.  Your kids can help or have a friend come over to cook family dinners together.  Set the table, have everyone sit down to eat together until each person is finished.  Then clean up together.

7.  Spring clean your home.  Begin slowly cleaning out each room.  First, go through and immediately clear out things that you haven't used or worn in a year or things don't love.  Then, go through again and get rid of things that are broken, expired, torn, stained, too big, too small, duplicates, just plain ugly, etc.  After many loads to Goodwill and the dump, you should be left with only things you use and love (and some sentimental items).  Once that is done, find a place for every item in your home and always keep it there.  If you get it out, put it up as soon as you are done.  Make your bed each morning.  Clean the kitchen each night.  When you practice this lifestyle, you'll never freak out when someone randomly shows up because your home will always look great!

8.  Become a borrower.  If you don't have it, don't buy it.  Consider asking around to see if someone has that item and would loan it to you.  Chances are, your friends or family would be happy to have you drop by, catch up and send you off with what you need.  Not only does it save you money, but it keeps the clutter down in your home and connects you to the people around you.

Instead of building your own empire at your home address, think of ways to downsize your home and get out more.  Home should be a wonderful place, but not a place we go and hide from the world.  Go outside.  Meet your neighbors.  Use free local resources.  Exercise daily.  Eat well.  Learn to say no.  Spend more time with loved ones.  Less stuff, more life.