5 Ways to Simplify so that you can Focus on what is important…

In 2002, my husband asked me to meet him for lunch. It wasn’t our custom to meet for lunch and especially not a nice restaurant. I should have known he was up to something!

“We need to focus and simplify,” he told me.  

Focus.  Simplify.  

We were living 35 miles from his work, where he was pastoring a growing church.  We maintained 40+ acres of woods and prairie where I ran a busy retreat and training center with ropes courses and paintball for team building.  

We were driving, preparing, mowing, maintaining, training, marketing, inspiring, selling, planning….all the time. Together and apart.

At ages 50 and 53, Dave saw that we were at a crucial point of planning our future.

My husband saw we should Simplify and Focus our efforts as we entered our 50’s to ensure our ability to live fully in our ThirdThird (ages 60-90).

We did it.  

And we continue to do it.  Simplify. Focus.

Our focus is to live life as fit and healthy as possible, to contribute and not burden others, and to enjoy one another as long as we are alive.

By focusing on what is most important to us in the long run, simplifying doesn’t feel like denying ourselves or like carrying a burden.  It is freedom to head where we want to be with less to encumber.

Here are some practical ways we Simplify:


  1. We eat to live, not live to eat.  

This simplifies our eating, cooking, and dining.  We have made a sort of hobby out of cooking at home. When we dine out, we try to go to a restaurant that is within walking distance (1.5 miles is ideal). When we shop, there are a number of items we simply don’t buy because they don’t fit our live long and healthy plan.



  1. We buy what we need and get rid of what we don’t need.

If I haven’t worn it in a year, I probably won’t, so out it goes (unless it is that really great red cocktail dress that I MAY have a need for another time!).  If we need a new skillet, an old one has to go. The old chainsaw died?  When it is replaced, find a home for the old one at the metal recycling place.

This is our version of “use it or lose it”.



  1. We look for low maintenance options.

We bought a car that should last a long time with little maintenance. It gets great gas mileage and is rated high in safety.  We tried leasing, but I go way too many miles in my real estate job.

Our garden has a few tomato plants, plenty of basil and kale and radishes, and, this year, some cucumbers and winter squash. Morning watering and a bit of weeding are all that is required for a very adequate harvest.

Our fitness needs are pretty basic. Good shoes for running and walking. A gym membership that includes classes, machines, pool, and indoor track. And a commitment to do something daily to get our hearts pumping and our legs moving.



  1. We have agreed to “need less” so we can “give more.”

One reason that we are able to make adjustments to keep us focused on simplifying is that we agree on our main purpose.  We like to contribute to others’ efforts.

My husband is the consummate “servant.” He loves to show up and boost someone else along. He will build a website, chop down a tree, haul off yard waste, or till up a garden.

I love donating to a youth softball team or to a music program for low-income students. I really enjoy writing out a tithe check to our church. If we can be generous to allow all of our family to get together for a week, it is with a genuine smile.

Focusing on what is important to us makes simplifying to make it happen easy.



  1. We remind each other of our desire to Focus and Simplify.

Just today, as we are planning a “cabin” on some of the property we kept, we agreed to stick with our approach of “focus and simplify.”  What it means with this project is that we will approach it for efficiency (both in the process of building it and in the aspect of living in it) and that we want it uncluttered and comfortable.  

Simple doesn’t have to mean rustic. Focused doesn’t have to mean sparse.   


Agreeing to Focus and Simplify has become our approach and is making our ThirdThird our very BEST Third.

What is your Focus? What are ways that you have learned to Simplify? Or, what splurges do you really look forward to?  It isn’t about self-denial!



*Originally posted at Sixtyandme.com.

Doing Their Best

I’m always on the lookout for people who are doing their BEST ThirdThird.  I am drawn to people who are doing what they want to do, choosing intentionally how to spend their years.

Dave and I were recently camping in the mountains of Colorado.  He was doing what he loves to do…. run.

This time, he ran in a 50-mile ultra-marathon, a trail run traversing rocky trails with a 3,000 foot elevation change. His BEST ThirdThird definitely involves running. Acclimating to the altitude had him out there for 2+ weeks prior to the race, I came in for day of and day after the race.

http://runrabbitrunsteamboat.com/courses/50-mile-course-description doing best

Part of my BEST ThirdThird involves supporting Dave’s keen interest in pushing himself physically as a runner.  I “crewed” for him…ultra-speak for meeting him at the 2 aid stations possible with dry socks, hot tea and soup, and encouraging words.

Camping at 10,000 feet, the mornings were cold, we had no electricity, and the “amenities” were a stiff hike away. I didn’t mind… I was there to support and to experience.

We met a couple who were traveling in their pickup /camper. They were there, enjoying nature, for a week. Then, they were heading west to more mountains for a few days. Eventually, they’ll make their way back to Utah and home.

They take two trips a year. The other trip this year that they took in their camper/truck? Alaska! For 3 months! They love to travel and have found a way they enjoy traveling.  No cruises for them, they said.


Being the not-shy person I am, I asked them their ages.  Dave and I had both thought them to be mid-seventies. I asked when they told me that have a daughter my age (well, 62, actually, slightly younger than me).  They are 82 and 84 years old! Hiking around at 10,000 feet every day. Walking to the lake and around the trails. Sleeping in their bed above the cab of the truck that crawling into can’t be a small feat. And enjoying one another’s company.

doing their best

We found out their 64th anniversary was the day after Dave’s race. We took a bottle of wine over to their campsite along with our chairs and we heard of their family, their year long separation (unexpected, one week after their honeymoon) when he was drafted to Korea, a few of their other trips. They had blue collar careers, raised three children and have grands and greatgrands. It was such an unexpected joy to sit with them and watch the sun set up in the Rockies.

Mark and Bobbe. We won’t forget them. Living simply. Figuring out how to enjoy their (unexpected) ThirdThird into their 80’s! What great inspiration they were to us spring chickens on our 60’s!




Brain Fog

Brain Fog

This morning, I woke before my alarm, got up and dressed and was headed out the door when I sensed something was “wrong.”  I checked several times  to see what was feeling wrong about my oft-worn workout pants, but didn’t detect anything amiss… until, I realized they were on wrong-side-out. I am soooo happy I realized it before leaving home, because I suspect someone, even if they didn’t see the seams on the outside and the label they might have noticed the pretty obvious, white (black pants) crotch reinforcement.


Thankfully, with pants on right, I made it to the gym with minutes to spare for the 5:30 a.m. BodyFlow class.  Why is no one else here?  Oh. Today is THURSDAY (as in not Friday). The class this morning is Spin…. and I am in flipflops, since yoga is barefoot.  Can’t pedal a bike in flipflops. Shouldn’t lift weights in flipflops. Shouldn’t do any elliptical machines in flipflops.  Just go home (at 5:30 am!).


I diagnosed myself with “brain fog” which made me look up more info on that commonly used term.   http://www.prevention.com/health/brain-fog-and-your-health

After reading more about it, I think that actually, for me, waking in the middle of a dream and bounding around to get to a class just had me moving along before I was actually awake. Back at home, after a cup (or 2) of coffee, having time to wake up and focus, I think I will make it through my day fine.

This morning, though, makes me think about focus.

How often do I miss things because I am not focused on what I am doing? Simple things.  Like when my husband is talking to me and I am reading the paper and miss what he says. Or when I’m watching Jeopardy and I think I can carry on a conversation with my daughter on the telephone without missing something she tells me. Or when I am sitting in church and planning my afternoon in my mind while missing a potentially life-changing truth being spoken or sung?

Or, to use an extreme and potentially fatal example, like thinking I can be in complete control of a moving 4,000 pound vehicle while texting or checking email. (True confession, I thought I was able to do two things at once while driving a car until I blew through a stop sign that is on a familiar and regular route I take…..fortunately, I learned my lesson with no ill effects except for increased heart rate for a few minutes and a shamed face.)

My point is that we can blame a lot of things for what is simply not being focused. Then, we can waste a lot of time googling possible diagnoses, finding explanations, wondering if there is something wrong with us, when really…

we just need to take a deep breath,
realize we are not always 100% “on,”
and then get back in the saddle and ride on.

No need to diagnose ourselves with elaborate explanations.
More sleep.
A few minutes to focus.
Thinking before jumping.
Then, we’re awake and on our way.



T R Y   T H I S : Make Something Happen


photo credit: noir city via photopin (license)

Less Complex

sim·pli·fy   [to make less complex or complicated; make it easier]

Less Complex

The direction of your focus is the direction your life will move. Let yourself move toward what is good, valuable, strong and true.   – Ralph Marston


One great way we simplified is that we moved.

First, from 37 acres and 5 buildings to .37 acres and 2200sf.

Then, to a 2-bedroom condo.

Then, to a little bungalow with a basement and small yard.

With each move, we shed a little more of our “stuff.” Garage sales, donations, online sales.

I did learn that if I was not at the garage sale, I should be ready to find that a precious treasure of mine just might not be viewed the same way by my husband and I may never see it again. (Telling, though, that I cannot remember one specific item that disappeared that way.)

With one move, we had hauled some family furniture to another state.  Oak dining table, cherry secretary, more recently purchased leather sofa and love seat.

Facing another move,  I polled our children to find not one of them were interested in these heirlooms.  They all had their own homes, their own styles and were not as attached to our shared pieces as I expected.  When faced with moving them again purely for my own pleasure, I offered them to an employee who had just purchased a home.  It was with great simplicity that we rented a UHaul truck and packed it ourselves to move along to our next home.

And, they would not have fit in our next home, anyway.

What is one way you can simplify to make your life less complex?

Conscious Decisions

You can’t accidentally Focus & Simplify… it requires conscious decisions.


The direction of your focus is the direction your life will move.
Let yourself move toward what is good, valuable, strong and true.

Ralph Marston



I am fully aware that I have the sincere privilege of having a life partner/husband who loves me and supports me and celebrates me. We have journeyed along together for 43+ years. We have managed to arrive at a comfortable compatibility.

These simplify and focus choices we make are not as a couple… we are responsible for them individually.  It is nice to have a partner who is in agreement, but these choices will continue beyond our togetherness. They are conscious decisions… daily.

conscious decisions
Here are 5 Ways we Simplify:
  1. We eat to live and do not live to eat.
    (Simplifies our eating, cooking, dining, health efforts)
  2. We buy only what we need.
    (Simplifies closet space, size of home, time spent shopping)
  3. We check with the other before we schedule something.
    (Simplifies a lot!)
  4. We bought a car that should last a long time with little maintenance.
    (We tried leasing, but I go too many miles in my real estate job)
  5. We have agreed to “need less” so we can “give more.”
    (That over-arching way of thinking simplifies consuming and generosity)
Here are 5 Ways we Focus:
  1. We take stock, daily.
    (I journal. Dave walks.)
  2. We each have focusing affirmations we keep in front of us.
    (I’ve had an affirmation partner for 10 years. Dave says his to himself.)
  3. We have committed to staying fit and active into our 80’s.
    (That takes daily effort)
  4. We make choices to prevent disease.
    (Carefully selecting health care providers and keeping up on current information)
  5. We talk through tempting time consumers.
    (How to best make a difference? Getting others’ perspectives is crucial)


Start right now by identifying 1 way that you can  S I M P L I F Y  and 1 way that you can  F O C U S.