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

LETTING GO

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!

HOLDING ON

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.

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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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Would you Like to Write a Book?

would you like to write a bookDo you have a message the world needs?  It’s simpler than ever to write a book and share it with the world, but the marketing part of things can be a little overwhelming.  And truth be told, most books – even from the Big Five publishers – sell an average of 200 copies.  None of us want that after we’ve invested so much in writing a book.  And just to be clear, I’m not what I’d call a successful author.  I did a lot of things wrong with my first book and there are some mistakes I won’t make again – and maybe I’ll make a whole new set of mistakes with my next book.  I’m a work in progress, we all are.  I do know some things NOT to do… and believe me – that’s important information!

If you’ve been looking around out there for great resources that will show you what to do and how to do it, all the while hoping that it comes with an affordable price tag… well, that might not exist – but pretty close.  Educating yourself is going to cost you something, time… money… you name it.  Education is costly.  Good news: You’re worth the investment!  I spent some time in the Stanford Creative Writing Program ($$$), I hired coaches and took classes ($$$$), I even did an internship.  In short, I spent a great deal of time and money!  Knowing what I now know… I would do some of that differently.  I would invest my resources very differently!  Experience is a great teacher!

In short, I’m no book guru.  I can’t show you my sales figures with all the commas and zeros, and I won’t point out my extensive list of 6-figure successes!  lol!  I have learned a few things the hard way, and that’s a great place to begin.  I also believe that the best way to learn something and really get it to sink in is to turn around and share what you’re learning.

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I’ve created a Patreon Community where you can come behind the scenes with me and explore what it’s like to be an author and owner of a brand.  I’m very transparent in this community about What, How, and most importantly… Why? I do what I do. There is a small investment – like anything worth doing – this is an investment in your own dream of becoming a published author.  Learn more…

I’ve also created a Facebook group called the Tiny House Authors, and you don’t have to live in a tiny house to be involved!  Join now!  Let’s explore the business of books together!

Tiny House Authors

Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

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Honor Your Health

I recently met author Karen Creamer, RN.  I heard her speak at a Writer’s Conference and I was immediately intrigued by her message.

Book Honor your HealthIf you ever wanted an open minded friend to explore some alternative health options and report in on what works and what doesn’t… well… Karen is that friend! Having had a harrowing experience with the medical profession during the birth of her first child, Karen was determined to learn for herself how to help people on the path to wellness with compassion, warmth, and wit. The stories in this book are literal page-turners! I could not put it down. Secondly, Karen goes through a whole list of methods of alternative health and self care that can be very helpful and she shares her experience with each of them and makes recommendations – including helpful resources to explore for more in-depth learning. I found these suggestions very helpful and the stories engaging.

The book is an empowering look at common sense self care in a world where health care is paying more attention to their computer screens than they are to their patients.  I was impressed with her encouragement to choose effective holistic health methods and be a advocate for your own health with the medical profession to create a life of clarity, comfort, and connection.  I think you’ll find this book an empowering read.

Find Karen Creamer’s book here: Honor Your Health

Check out her website here: KarenCreamer.com

Find her on Facebook here: Karen Creamer Author

Simply,

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Would you like a Tour of my Skoolie?

Screenshot (45)Deek Diedricksen of RelaxShacks.com dropped by for a tour of our Skoolie and here’s what happened: See the Video and leave a comment! ❤

So what’s it like to have someone tour your home and post a video online about it that gets 2K views overnight?  It’s cool.  I’m pleased.  I read the comments and it’s like there is a pocket of nice people making comments on the interwebs – and all of them are right there at the same place at the same time.  How cool is that?!

I really enjoy the tiny house community because it’s a place of creativity and ingenuity.  And if you love Le Corbusier from the 1920’s Bauhaus like I do… then you make a version of the iconic Le Corbusier sofa for your Skoolie.  If you are a rock-n-roll guy, then hang your guitars on your wall and put your drum kit in the living room instead of a sofa.  If you love your old upright piano, then make it into a Murphy bed and put a keyboard where the keys of the piano used to be.  (BTW – I’ve seen all of these and they are pretty spectacular!)  Do your thing!  And in this community, that’s not only accepted – it’s celebrated.  Is it any wonder I love tiny house people!?

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Launch Day

IMG_3744My cute little book is ready for the world today, and I’m so pleased to make it available far and wide.  This has been a long time coming!  Find your copy on Amazon.  I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

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The Shareables are here!

And thanks so much to each of you!  This sweet little book has been a labor of love for me, and to hear you all responding with such interesting and thoughtful reviews and comments on social media has just been incredibly gratifying!  Over and over again I have been moved by the way people respond to this little book and I appreciate all of you so very much!!!  ❤

All my best,

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Can you Judge a Book by the Cover?

I am so delighted with the cover of my new book!

THF 1I had an idea that I wanted to create a tiny house with food. I tried it first with Photoshop and hated how it turned out. So I went shopping and brought home all the prettiest produce. I started carving and placing, and again… it just wasn’t working. My handsome husband came home and looked around at the mess I was making. And before you know it I had sucked him in! He was there with his pocket knife working on getting the pieces structured so they would stay where I wanted them. There was no professional food people putting shellac, no cardboard – it was just us two crazy people in the kitchen having a fantastic time playing with our food! And then he even created a little doggie with the radish – using the root of the radish for the tail of the dog! I was delighted! I snapped some photos and look how it turned out?! I love it!  I’m so pleased the book designer liked it enough to use it!

Back Cover (2)The back cover was almost as fun. There were many conversations between the designer and the publisher to get each detail right. I love the little kitchen graphic at the bottom with the ISBN code, the QR code, and the logo of the publisher. It was so fun to see the designer and publisher working out every detail with the faucet, saucepan – even the handle on the fridge door!

Back CoverBut that’s not all! There are quotes on the back from people I admire very much. I’ll tell ya, when the publisher sent off books to folks to have them read and respond – that’s a nerve wracking process! But look what happened?! Andrew Odom is the host for my very favorite tiny house festival each year, he puts on an event that is so much fun for thousands of people! Shirley Showalter is the first female president of a Mennonite college or University, and I admire her (and her book) very much. Susan Shaeffer Bernardo is a poet and author who has written a variety of books for children. In fact, Michelle Obama read one of her books to a enraptured group of children, and one of her books went up in the space shuttle to orbit the earth! Can you imagine? I think the world of these people and rest of the amazing men and women who wrote blurbs for this book. Seeing them all there on the back cover of my book brings me such joy.

IMG_3744I actually feel a little bashful that they liked my book and wrote such glowing reviews. Honestly, it was a true joy to read what they wrote and know that they really did understand what I was trying to do with this little book. I am so blessed!

Do you see that line at the top? “An Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection!” That’s thanks to our dear Kathy L. Murphy who has a knack for picking great books to pass along to her delightful book club – and her club has chapters all over the country! I’ve seen photos of the party Kathy throws each year where the authors and readers get together, play dress up, and talk about books! I’m so unbelievably excited that she chose my book and I’m totally looking forward to going to her party! I don’t have a tiara yet, but believe me… I’ll have one by the time for her party! I can’t wait!

The process of creating a book is often tedious and solitary. And this is my first book, so I had EVERYTHING to learn and I would not trade this experience for the world!Full Cover 05102018 (2)

I believe this book will help people navigate the transition to a simpler life – whether that means moving into a tiny house, a small apartment, or even a community for seniors – or even if that means living a more minimalist life in the home one already enjoys. I know living simply has made a huge difference in my life, and I am so pleased to be able to share my story with the world.

It really does take a village to make a book, and I’m so blessed that the good folks at HD Media Press published this little book! They’ve been so great to work with! It won’t be long and I’ll be holding that final copy in my hands!

Joyfully,

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Live a F.A.S.T. Life (Fabulous, Abundant, Simple, Tiny)

Reading this book is a little bit like cleaning out the car. While the tasks of scrubbing, vacuuming and polishing might not be that much fun – enjoying the new sparkle in your ride makes it all worth it. (So go on, get on with it!)  I suppose that’s the tough thing, nobody wants to be looking at all the changes that need to be made, but being on the other side having made those changes – Ahhhh!  Bliss!  Oh, BTW, I’m talking about Jenn Baxter’s new book, Live a F.A.S.T. Life: How Stripping Down and Cleaning Up Gave Me My Life Back.

Jenn has been through it, mercy me! She has experienced so much loss and she tells how she fought her way back from her many toxic experiences. I’m inspired by her moxy! And she’s right. JennBeing proactive makes all the difference. I know I feel better when I avoid gluten, dairy, and sugar (I also look better). I love my hair color and nail polish, but I know they are loaded with toxins. I feel better when I’ve taken time to quiet my spirit in meditation or prayer. Every time I clean out my tiny house or my office – I love how much lighter and brighter those spaces feel. Every time I take another load of unneeded stuff to my favorite thrift store, I feel lighter and more free. I have made a lot of progress on these fronts but this book inspires me to get back at it (without being preachy or holier than thou). I have not been taking care of myself lately and reading Jenn’s book has reminded me of how important it is.

I’m taking the evening off to take some time for me. It’s high time. And maybe I’ll even come up with a bucket list while I’m at it. God knows there is a lot of world out there to discover!! Thanks Jenn, your book is a worthy read.

For lots more help living a “F.A.S.T” life (Fabulous, Abundant, Simple, and Tiny) check out the many helpful resources at Jenn’s website LiveAFastLife.com.  Oh, and pick up a copy of her book.

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