What can 7 Tiny House People Teach us About Life?

Shelter Final Cover 03092019Seven of us got together and wrote a book. Now, you wouldn’t think that seven people could write a book together and have it be cohesive and… well… anything but chaotic. And that would be true if it were any other seven people.

We’re very different from each other, and the reasons we went tiny were different (and yet so similar) and so when each person wrote their chapter – they brought a lot of individuality to the project.

But something cool happened. Common themes emerged. Common lessons were learned. And over and over again I see how minimizing the mundane things of life made space for something very special: Missional living.

I hate how churchy that sounds, nevertheless… “missional” living isn’t about being an evangelist for a religion in this case – it’s living the mission you were born to live.

manuscriptAnd in every single case – our interactions with living simply made space for us to focus not on what culture demands – but on the priorities that we hold most dear. Every single one of us have seen our lives change in dramatic ways through this process of becoming more intentional. Thing is – life is LOUD! And embracing simplicity requires QUIET. And that doesn’t happen by accident – you actually have to turn off the noise.

And somehow each of these folks found ways of doing that, and so can you! We’d all say without hesitation that we can recommend this life to you. None of us have gone on to great fame and financial world domination, but that wasn’t exactly the point now was it?! If you want that “6 figures in 6 months” kind of message – that is NOT what we’re offering. And believe it or not, this book is NOT seven letters to twist your arm to sell everything you enjoy and move into some weird little shack somewhere. Nope.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by all you own… If you long for simplicity but don’t know where to start… this book will help. Not in a preachy “DO THIS NOW” sort of way… but in a “here’s how I did it, and this was the result” sort of way. Which is much more fun anyway. No, it’s not really a self-help book – it’s more of a book of inspiration. In fact, I think it’s pure gold. These people and their stories mean the world to me, and I think the world needs this message. If we really understood that we could conform less, and feel more contentment… that would be a good thing!

Follow this link to the Kickstarter page: (https://www.kickstarter.com/…/shelter-seven-letters-from-th…)

Choose a pledge level and help us get this book out there in the world. This matters.

No, you aren’t signing some invisible document stating that you’re going to sell everything you own and move in with Emerson or Thoreau. NOPE.

You’re just helping us help you to live with more simplicity and intention – which leads to contentment.

Four days left, so don’t dilly dally and miss out. Make your pledge today!

And thanks! Each of us appreciate your contribution very much!

the big one


Andrew Odom  Brynn Burger  Carmen Shenk  Chris Schapdick

Jenn Baxter  Michael Fuhrer  Dan & Rachel Messick


Stories of Simplicity

the big oneBecoming newly single in my 40’s flattened me financially, but the sacrifice was well worth it, to be safe and free.  A whole world of possibilities opened before me, and I was thinking about ways I could live super-cheap and super-simple so that I could get my feet back under me.
dee williamsI read Dee William’s book “The Big Tiny: A Built it Myself Memoir”.  I’m not going to lie – I laughed and wept my way through that book.  At a time in my life when I didn’t think I could do much of anything – here was this fierce and relentless woman building a home in her driveway.  I was absolutely moved and inspired by her story.
I bought a van and asked a mechanic friend to give it a “tune up” (which cost more than the van).  I worked on it after work and on weekends, building out the interior of the van from my parking space at the apartment complex that had become my safe haven.  I asked a friend to help me from time to time, and sometimes I just muddled through knowing that liquid nail or caulk would cover a multitude of sins.  And as my work continued, I thought about Dee’s story, and it gave me the courage to keep going.  If she could do it… then maybe I could also.  Her story helped me move through fear into action.
2 UsFast forward a few years, a new husband (a kind one this time), and a tiny house that we both loved… and I’m still absorbing the stories of the people that I meet in the tiny house community.  These stories still move and inspire me.
Recently, it occurred to me to bring together a group of the people we’ve met and their powerful tiny house stories.  The idea was to share stories with the world that would move us all past the fear into action.  The truth is, if he or she can do it… so can I!  And so can you!  And that’s how “Shelter: Seven Letters from the Tiny House Community” was born.
The seed of the idea began with the word: Shelter.  That’s the basic human need we all have.  Then  the idea landed that the seven letters of the word could also be seven letters written by seven people.  I chose author-friends who were generously sharing their own insights into this weirdly liberating life.  I paid close attention to diversity of experience – from the young vanlife couple to the older couple living in a small home after having lived in a whole variety of tiny situations.  We’ve got single, married, divorced and remarried people.  These folks know things I’m still learning.  These are people who have inspired and moved me.  Andrew Odom of Tiny Revolution, Brynn Burger of The Mama on the Rocks, Jenn Baxter of Live a FAST Life, Chris Schapdick of Tiny Industrial, Michael of Navigation Nowhere and Dan & Rachel Messic of Banana Van Adventures, and there’s me, Carmen Shenk, author of Kitchen Simplicity.

Shelter Final Cover 03092019If you love the inspiring stories of simplicity like I do, then you’ll love this book.  This is not about building your dream tiny house, it’s about building your dream life.  It’s about living intentionally no matter what size your home is.  And if you’re considering simplicity, you’ll find that these stories move you from fear into action.  And that’s the best part of all, because it doesn’t matter where you start – it just matters that you start.

Today I’d like you to join me in bringing these stories to the world.  I love it that this book is written and sitting here beside me on my desk, but that’s not where this book belongs.  I’d really like to get a copy into your hands!  

Help me get this book designed, printed and shipped so that these stories can inspire a whole new generation of folks just like Dee William’s book inspired me.  We are so grateful for every pledge!  My favorite pledge level includes a limited edition copy of the book and a stack of other tiny house books… read more

The ‘Silent Women’ Verses

Hi everybody. Welcome to Faith Friday.

(What follows is a modified transcript of the video above.)

I think there’s a big difference between the institution of religion, and the community of faith, and naturally, I would love to invite you to the community.  Religion is absolutely useless to me and definitely useless to you too. Unfortunately, the institution of religion has used these two verses in Timothy as the “shut up” verses teaching women to be silent and that’s been quite harmful to women.  So I’ve taken a deep dive into the verses to see what they would come to mean to me, and now it’s time to share what I’ve learned with you.

But first, please allow me to say that if these verses have been used to harm you, I’d like to take the opportunity to simply say: I’m sorry.  I’m sorry you were shut down and shut up.  That wasn’t right.  God wasn’t in that. 

Together let’s find a fuller understanding of this interesting pair of verses.

Let’s explore 1 Timothy 2:11,12

If we go back to the original text (and I don’t read, speak, or pronounce Greek, but I can study it.) Given the study tools that we do have readily available, I can go back in and take a look at those verses and see what they mean to me today, and explore what they meant to women back then.

So let’s take a wild ride shall we?  This will be fun.

1 Timothy 2:11 and 12

Verse 11: “A woman should learn in quietness and submission.”

When we hear that, the alarm bells go off with this idea of “submission”. Of course they do. Of course they do. But when these words were written, women weren’t educated. Women and men are educated now in many places, but they weren’t back then.  And sadly, there are parts of the world where women are still not allowed an education, so we have work to do.

What would have been exciting for Timothy and his community as they read this letter was “a woman should learn”. Absolutely revolutionary!  A woman should learn!

What kind of environment does she learn in?  Quietness. Okay. How many of you are moms and have kids that are going: “Mom! Mom! Mom!…” Can you learn like that when somebody is going: “Mom! Mom! Mom? Of course not. So quiet is a good thing.  Maybe there is someone taking care of the kids so she can learn.  She’s not being meddled with, this as an environment where she can listen and focus and really hear what’s being taught.

This is beautiful thing that a woman should learn. That’s not the case in every culture. So I think it’s exciting that in the community of faith, a woman should learn and she should have the chance to learn in a quiet environment where can actually focus and take it all in.  That’s what it means to be a community – everyone gets their chance to quietly and respectfully learn, and I think that’s exciting.

Verse 12. “I do not permit…”

Who was talking?  Paul? Well, Timothy is a letter from someone to Timothy. That’s usually believed to be Paul. Interestingly enough, there are a number of letters written by Paul in the New Testament, and they all have a style that is different from the style of this letter. So scholars came to the conclusion that maybe Paul wasn’t the one writing, but I don’t know how much it really matters. So we’re, we’re talking about Paul OR someone who is… I don’t want to use the word “masquerading” as Paul, it’s just that there is some question as to whether or not it’s Paul speaking.  I think there are good reasons to understand that it might not be Paul, but again… I’m not sure what real difference it makes who wrote it.  It’s in circulation as part of the Text.  Let’s continue to look at the original text.

So reading along in verse 12: “I (Paul?) do not permit…” and this is a pretty good translation of this particular word.  Paul does not grant permission… the next words are “for a woman” and this is a gender specific Greek word that we translate “woman”.  Any woman, any age.  So it would sound like: “I, Paul, do not grant permission for a woman too…” And the next word is translated “teach”. And another word, a combination here, “have authority”.

The first word is the idea of teaching (+) plus, or prolonged teaching. So this is an educator. This is not somebody who stands up and talks for 15 minutes. This is somebody with whom you are in class in an ongoing way. This is an educator, isn’t this interesting?

This “educator” is together with “have authority”. Now this Greek word is unique in the new testament. I couldn’t go to other scriptures of other verses to find like the nuance because it’s only in there once. Now there’s other words translated “authority” in other places in the New Testament – but this one is unique.

So let me see if I can give you a feel for what this word means.  It’s the idea of a master of slaves.  A dictator of a country.  This is a person with absolute mastery and control, including the ability to take a human life.  The image that comes to mind is Jim Jones who indoctrinated a bunch of folks and then passed out cyanide laced Koolaid and they drank it even though they knew there was poison in it.  Wretched.

I know we have the word “Headmaster” in English – and a person in that position could make a student’s life hell – but they could not have a student murdered.  My reading of the material indicates that these words “have authority over” is actually a very extreme level of mastery and control – to the point of death.

So what Paul is talking about is an ongoing educational environment where a woman is a professor with absolute mastery over the students.  Then, interestingly enough, this word translated “man” is most commonly translated man, but according to the reference material, it can also mean a group of both men and women.  Now that’s interesting!  Where the first “woman” in verse 12 is gender specific to women, the second word “man” could be interpreted as a group of both men and women.  How does it change the way the verse sounds if you realize Paul could be saying “I do not allow a woman… over a group of men and women?”  It doesn’t sound nearly as sexist when you realize that the second Greek word could be indicating a group of women and men.

Moving on… : “She, (this woman who has not yet learned) must be silent.” Now this word translated “silent” is an interesting word.  I studied some of the other contexts where this word is found and we are talking about going into listening mode. It doesn’t mean that a woman would never say a word, at any time… ever. It means that she (in an education environment where she finally gets to learn) goes into listen mode, okay? It just means… be quiet so you can hear.  If I really want to hear something, I’m gonna have to shut my trap. This is interesting because she is the woman who has not yet learned. So the person who’s being told to go into listen mode is the woman who has not learned yet.  It doesn’t mean that she can’t ever speak, it just means that we are students first… and then we speak.  That’s the order of things.

So let’s amplify verse 12 out: “I (Paul) do not grant permission for a woman to be an authoritarian professor, with the ability to take human life, over a group of women and man. She must go into listen mode until she has developed understanding.”  This is the meaning as I’ve studied it.  To make the point even more plain: “I do not grant permission for a woman to be a Jim Jones type leader, she must go into listen mode until she has developed understanding.”

Now religion would like us to think that women must just give way whenever a man has something to say.  And that is absolutely the way it works in some places – in some religious cultures.  But that is not what this is about. This is talking about a toxic learning environment and Paul doesn’t want this to happen in the community of faith. Paul or his surrogate don’t want that kind of toxic environment to exist, and I dare say that it has less to do with gender and more to do with toxic leadership styles.

I don’t want that either, I wouldn’t be able to learn that way.  That’s pure indoctrination – not learning.  And while that may be a useful approach in religions around the world in terms of controlling the flock, that’s not how it works in the community of faith.  I don’t want any teacher to think they have absolutely mastery over me.  That’s not safe, and that’s not education.  That’s indoctrination and subjugation.  Spare me.

Culturally, Timothy’s community had pagan priestesses who were dictators in their realms. And some of those dear women must come into the community of faith, and without having first listened about Jesus, they just continued in their patterns. And Paul takes notice and says he won’t grant permission for this to continue, this is toxic. There are no dictators in the community of faith. We learn in an environment of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  We learned in mutual respect… teacher for student… and student for teacher.

Cool, right? Some modern preachers point at this scripture to mean that women should be silent across the board and let the men do all the talking, all the leading. But over and over and over again, we see women who were communicators all over the Text. There are the voices of women all through the scripture, and Paul was taught by a woman.  So if God wanted women to be quiet, then God wouldn’t have kept the voices of women in the scriptures.

The Woman at the Well

Jesus met the woman at the well, and she was a Samaritan woman. In those days, Jews had nothing to do with the people of Samaria. Jesus mentions that she has had five husbands. Interestingly enough, Jesus doesn’t treat her as if she’s done anything wrong, he just mentions it.  And she realizes there is no way he could have known that, so she concludes that he is a prophet.

Most preachers make her out to be a real floozy, but those five marriages could have ended through no fault of her own. People die. The medical care may have been crap, and maybe her spouse just walked away way. But having five husbands means she’s been through a lot of loss, and that’s horrible.

She has a conversation with Jesus, then she goes back to her community and talks to them about this man who seems to understand her life just by looking into her eyes.  And when she got back, Jesus was still there. This is a woman who had been abandoned repeatedly. But Jesus was still there when she got back.

She went and spoke to her community and they came out to meet him. And you know what? He turned aside and spent a couple of days there with that community. That was a change of plans. A conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well changed everything.

The conversation between Jesus and this woman was very interesting! They had a very theological discussion.  The second she realized he was a prophet, she came out with a very theological question.  It was a conversation of equals.  That’s how it is with Jesus, He’s respectful.  Even toward someone that culture says is far less than him, he’s still respectful.  But that’s who Jesus is.  They had this very theological discussion, and then she became a communicator in her community.  That’s what I really want you to hear.

There is a time and a safe place to listen and hear Jesus, and to go into listen mode to soak up everything Jesus has for us. But when we’ve met Jesus and realize who he is, then it’s time to go out and be a voice in the community. I’m not talking about becoming an advocate for religion! No, we don’t need to spread an institution, and ideology, or a political framework!  Absolutely not!  When we meet Jesus, good news wells up within us, and we become communicators.  It has nothing to do with gender, it’s just the natural progression of things.

When you’re with Jesus, you can pray your prayers and ask your questions – even the theological ones like the woman at the well.  Then you can into listen mode for the response that you get.  And when you hear the voice of Jesus in your spirit (and you will) then you get up from that quiet place and go out into the community and speak your truth. That is your commission for today. Go into listen mode with Jesus and then go speak just like the woman at the well.

Now it’s really important that you hear me. If that would not have been an appropriate role for her, Jesus wouldn’t even have spoken to her. He spoke to her, and naturally she went to tell her community about him. He could have spoken to a man, but He spoke to her. He worked together with a woman to reach her community.

Be encouraged today. You can speak, you can find your voice. And when you want to find your voice, go listen to Jesus and then go to your community and spread the words you hear from Jesus.

That’s the way it works.  That’s the way it has always worked.

Thank you so much for listening, I really appreciate it.

About Me Page Final Photo

Arise and Eat

Screenshot (111)“Arise and eat.”

That’s what God said to Elijah when he (Elijah that is) wanted to die. Then God said it again… “Arise and eat, you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.”

Friend, God says it’s time to knock off the starvation diet and eat! You’ve got a long journey ahead of you and you will need the strength. Time to lay aside the number on the scales. Time to lay down the hunger strike. Eat. Your prayer has been heard.

  • Rise up.
  • Focus.
  • Fuel.

Forty days later Elijah was in a cave in the stone wall while God passed by. There was a hurricane, an earthquake, and then a fire… but God wasn’t in any of those.

Wait, what? God wasn’t in the natural disasters? (Would someone please tell the preachers that?!) Truth: God wasn’t in the big overpowering noise and destruction!

After the fire came a gentle and quiet whisper. That was God.

God is not a screamer.

(That one bears repeating.)

God is not a screamer.

“Arise and eat” 1 Kings 19:5

“Arise and eat” again in verse 7.

Arise and eat.

Prophetic Anointing

Screenshot (109)I’ve been following Craig Cooney on social media, his website is DailyProphetic.com and I find his work so encouraging.
Long long ago and far far away I walked in a prophetic anointing. It was glorious at times. I have stories that would blow your mind. Like I said… “long ago and far away”I will be honest with you, I saw so much (acceptable in church-culture) abuse toward women that I finally walked away from the church completely. Honestly, that was one of the BEST decisions of my life! I still walked in Faith, just not in cultural christianity.  I got outside that cultural zone where so much toxic stuff against women is reinforced on a weekly basis. Of course this isn’t true in every congregation, but if you are outside of that world then you might not even fathom how true it is in some places. I couldn’t handle walking around like a heart-break or tantrum waiting for a place to blow up. And I didn’t have the tools or understanding to wrestle into words what was breaking my ever-lovin’ heart so relentlessly. That sucked.  Leaving helped me regain my mental health.

Time passed. I ditched some toxic relationships and mindsets. I discovered a man whose life was marked by kindness and even though I said “I WILL NEVER… get married again” …I married him! Again, one of the best life choices I’ve ever made.

Then I let go of another “I WILL NEVER… get involved in church again” and after a while we started going to church. That’s a story in itself! (Our sweet little uncommon church is amazing!)

I feel the prophetic gift stirring in me again lately, and that’s why I have made significant changes in the way I do my work. You wouldn’t believe some of the cool projects in my desk right now! 💕 It’s so exciting!

If you have an interest in a message that comes from the living Word – aka Jesus – through fallible people (the only way God ever does anything) then you find Craig Cooney’s Instagram refreshing – and possibly mine as well.

So much of what is in the atmosphere with the label “Christian” is so unlike the character of the homeless man from Nazareth, so I find myself looking for other words to describe this amazing mystical dance of spirit, soul, and body that is bringing me somewhere I could not ever go on my own.

Stay Tuned,
Carmen Shenk logo on Navy

The Fine Art of Contentment

Welcome back to Faith Friday again!

I want to share a message with you that I shared at the Outer Banks Tiny House Festival last weekend.

I want to talk to you about a lie I’ve been telling myself.  That lie is if you work hard, you will achieve success and then you’ll get contentment. One leads to the other which leads to the other. That is a lie I’ve been telling myself.

Interestingly enough, some people have studied this and they discovered that if you work from a place of contentment first (and that is a thing) you will be 37% more efficient and creative. I’ll take that 37%, what about you? Did you know that you can start from contentment and you can work and achieve from contentment instead of chasing contentment?

Photo Jun 14, 4 08 11 PMWe talk about the pursuit of happiness.  I can talk about the pursuit of a lemon, but I don’t need to – because I have a lemon. I can talk about the pursuit of an apple, but I don’t need to  – because I have an apple. See where I’m going with this? We can talk about the pursuit of happiness, but the only thing we are doing is proving to ourselves that we’re not happy today. You don’t pursue something you already have. If you’re content, you’re not in pursuit of anything.

There are two key skills to living in contentment


You start small with physical things and then you get to an intermediate level which are soul things and then you develop into spiritual level letting go. What’s true in the physical realm is true in the spiritual realm. So let me give you an example.

  • So I looked down the other day, my hand, I was holding an ugly fork. What?  No!  Let it go! It went directly into the donation box.  That was a super easy kind of letting go.
  • I had a food processor, I researched and bought the best one, cost me $400 and we didn’t even use it much in the restaurant.  And then I didn’t use it for the next five years either. I was having trouble letting go. Number one, I spent a lot of money on it. Number two, I might need it someday.  I recently donated it to our sweet little Mennonite church and last weekend they used that food processor to create cole slaw for 300 people!  Yay for letting go!
  • Recently we also let go of the piano that I grew up playing.  For years, that was my way of praying.  To sit at the keys and simply play. Naturally the instrument means something to me.  It also means something to the guy we’re giving it to. He is a recording artist and an amazing talent. It’s exactly the right place for my old piano. And again, this is developing the skill of letting go.

What if I let go of something on a soul level like:

  • self neglect or
  • materialism or
  • self limiting beliefs. That’s a big one, right?

Photo Jun 14, 4 40 22 PMSo let’s take this into the spiritual realm. What if I let go of:

  • comparison and
  • judgment and
  • fear and
  • bitterness?

If I didn’t have those things in my life, do you think maybe there’d be a little bit more room for contentment? Yeah, big time!


There’s another skill that’s really important to contentment and that’s what I choose to hold on to.

  • I hold onto my ring, my wedding ring. This is a symbol to me of the marriage I have with this handsome, brilliant husband of mine who I have found late in life and who’s been so kind to me that he’s changed my world.
  • I hold on to the piano that my husband gave me for Christmas one year. It is a Steinway Concert Grand. And let me tell you, that is a treasure to me. He gave me a personal and beautiful gift!
  • I recently went to an auction house and saw a room size silk Persian rug. It’s the sort of rug that would take a one woman three to five years to create. And I really respect that kind of craftsmanship.  I love oriental rugs.  I was able to get that rug for way below what it’s worth. There were no rug dealers in the room to make the price go up where it should have been. So I walked home with an amazing treasure. Oriental rugs are women’s work. I don’t know if you knew that or not, but I respect the craftsmanship represented there.
  • I also treasure the books that my friends have written. Many of them have a little note written in the front with their signature addressing the book to me and I respect and honor what it takes to write a book so those are treasures to me.

Well, what about on a soul level? I hold on to:

  • my values.
  • I hold one to my focus and that’s sometimes pretty hard because I’ve got that whole ADD thing going on.
  • I hold onto my husband, my dog, and my family because they mean the world to me.

Photo Jun 14, 4 40 56 PMWell, let’s take this to a spiritual realm.  Here are three things I hold on to for all I’m worth:

  • gratitude,
  • generosity, and
  • gentleness.

You know, if I am grateful for my life and for the things in my life and the people and all of the aspects of my life, I won’t actually have space in here for things like comparison, judgment, fear and bitterness. That’s just how it works. It’s amazing and gratitude is one of those things that leads to contentment.

Generosity is the same sort of thing. The more I hold on to generosity, the more I can meet needs around me instead of being selfish and self focused.

Gentleness is amazing, especially in a culture where compassion has gone out of style. Gentleness and compassion are absolutely world changing things to hold onto for all we are worth.

If I hold onto this apple for all I’m worth, it naturally means I’m going to lose my grip on that lemon. You can’t hold on to gratitude and generosity in gentleness for all your worth and still keep some of that other stuff. It’s just not going to work.  And that’s good news.

There is a verse that has been on a loop in my spirit lately:

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And this is a beautiful thing because we all have mindsets that need renewing. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Here is a different translation:

“Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what God wants from you and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings out the best in us, developed, well-formed maturity in us.” (Romans 12: 2 MSG)

Spiritual maturity is a place of gentleness, gratitude, and generosity.

Photo Jun 14, 4 46 41 PMWhat are you holding on to?

Are the things you are holding on to worthy of their place in your life?  You can see what those things are by looking at your bank account.  When you find what you want to hold on to, then you simply let go of the rest.

These are the keys to contentment.

Thank you so much for reading. I really appreciate it.

About Me Page Final Photo

Minimalist Hair

New HairI cut my own hair. I have for years. I can’t count the times people have been shocked and wonder how on earth?!! Well… this video will answer that question. I had the camera rolling the last time I cut my hair and this is the result.
BTW, I know this isn’t for everyone.  I would not for a moment suggest cutting long glorious hair to this style!  If this suits you, then I hope you find this video helpful in learning how I do it so that you can create your own simple hair self care routines.
Perhaps a more interesting question than “how?!” is “why?!!” and that may not be what you think.
I fought my hair for many years! It didn’t do what I wanted it to. It wouldn’t hold a curl – ever. I have a cowlick that made it do weird things – no matter how I tried to counteract that. I could complain at length about my hair! LOL!
At some point I gave up the fight against my hair and made peace. Now it gets to do exactly as it pleases without me getting all bent out of shape about it! Ah peace.  It felt good to donate the curling irons and hair dryer. Plus, that made tiny house living easier. We didn’t have space or electrical power for anything extra – so it was a real perk to decide I didn’t need any of that stuff anyway.  fragrance
Plus, it helped me detox my life to quit using shampoo and conditioner with synthetic perfumes, hairspray and all the other hair care products that are loaded with toxins.  And as an additional perk – my bathroom is no longer coated in a thin film of shellac.  LOL!  That stuff is hard to clean.  Did I mention how much money I save this way?

When my hair is it’s natural color, all I need to keep it extremely happy and healthy is a bar of handmade soap from Magellan’s Gift. I asked her about a “shampoo bar” and she said that was just great marketing. LOL!  Her hand made soap products are amazing!

I also make hand made Castile soap every few years, and that is also perfect for hair that is not color treated, plus it’s good for everything else around here.  It’s just so cool that a great quality olive oil, lye, and water are all that is needed for a great bar of soap that is perfect in every way!  Love that stuff!  I loved the simplicity of not even needing shampoo or conditioner, but then I started coloring my hair again.
1 SLSOnce I started coloring my hair again, I have found that Young Living’s Lavender Mint shampoo and conditioner are my favorites by far! The shampoo takes some getting used to since it is SLS free – and that means it doesn’t bubble up.  Sodium Laurel Sulfate is a toxin that is often used to make those “scrubbing bubbles” and when it’s not in the shampoo – it just feels strange since it’s not what we’re used to.  But it leaves my hair clean, and that’s the important thing.
shampoo conditionerMy favorite is the Young Living conditioner – the Lavender Mint.  That stuff is remarkable for healing hair after bleach and dye! It works better than some VERY expensive brands (ahem Olaplex) and it’s non-toxic.  WIN!

Of course I still dye my hair – and that is an arguably toxic process.  That is a form of self expression that won’t change any time soon!! I love all  my colors!

I also love being at peace with my hair. I also love riding in my MGB with the top down!! This hair style is impossible to mess up! 🧡❤️💜 And styling this hair is so insanely easy!  So if you are curious how a super simple pixie haircut works – check out the video above.
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Developing the Skill of Letting Go

Photo May 30, 9 46 51 AMThis truth has been rocking my world this week. I didn’t realize the connection between letting go in a simple physical way – like opening my hand – is the same skill as letting go of stuff I don’t use – is the same skill as letting go of what other people think of me… or envy, or judgment. I’m not there yet, on those last three… but I know my life will be more content if I decide to grow my letting go muscle.

Photo May 30, 12 13 35 PMWhere do I start? I sat down yesterday and wrote a whole brainstorm whiteboard full of ideas that were about letting go and self care. From that board I picked out 32 favorites. Then I decided to go after those things – one each day for every day of June. It’ll be 31 days (I picked my favorites) of self care and it’s all stuff that I know I can do.  If you’d like to join in on the fun, then connect with me on Instagram @CarmenRoseShenk and we’ll go through this together.  I will post a simple self care activity each day – and we can all take a few moments to do these simple things to make our lives more contented.  We can all get better at taking care of ourselves – especially when things are busy and chaotic around us.  And that’s when self care matters the most!

Photo May 30, 11 09 02 AMHere’s an example: I know I should do the whole thing of going to the gym, working my bum off, and getting in shape. See? There’s that little word “should” that gets me every time. Could+Shame=Should. No thanks!! I have a negative reaction to the word “exercise”.  (I can’t believe I’m confessing this!) LOL! However, I love very physical activities like dancing and cleaning out a closet, and painting, and walking around the neighborhood with my dawg who loves to stop and smell everything! Funny, those are all examples of exercise, but don’t tell. Because I want to be a person who exercises… and I want to do yoga and be thin and willowy and yada yada, but I’m not. That COULD change.  (See how I took the shame out by changing “should” to “could”?)

Letting go is just like that. I can start with small things – like getting rid of ugly silverware. We’ve got some beautiful silverware, and plenty of it. So why do I still have some ugly silverware in the house? So that’s me thinking of ways I can start small and let go of some easy things in order to get the hang of letting go of some bigger things.  This is a skill I want to develop.  A muscle I want to grow.

Someone got in my car this morning and her energy was pulsing with wrath.  I had a pretty big reaction to someone showing up on my turf and immediately throwing a sarcastic accusation in my face. I WANTED to be kind in response. I was direct. I was forthright – and that is progress.  In the face of so much anger, I did not keep my peace.  Letting go makes space for the good stuff. Like peace. Peace is good stuff!  I’ve got my peace back now, but man… what a morning!

Personal development is a thing.  Let’s grow some skills together, shall we?  Follow me on Instagram and let’s do some intentional self care for the 31 days of June, ok?  It’ll be fun.

Stay Tuned.

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What would you like more of?

My question of you today is a simple one!  What would you like more of on my website in 2019?


I look forward to hearing from you.  You may comment on this post or write an email to carmen at carmenshenk.com with your thoughts.  And thanks so much for participating!

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