Because everyone loves a good story

I‘m happy to report from the recent reader survey that almost 60% of you think we need to add more cowbell to the blog. SUCH A RELIEF. Its lack has been bothering me for some time.

But I was also giddy to see that so many of you love the idea of featuring readers and your own stories about simplifying. Once I saw that the majority of the survey-takers were digging this idea as much as me, I got to work. (I had this idea back in 2010, so it’s about time I dusted it off the shelf, no?)

But then I got stuck.

Because I couldn’t decide what I really wanted to know about you. This community of readers itching to simplify their lives is six-plus years strong, and there are a thousand different angles I could take this. So? I’ve decided to give you most of the control here.

Much like Apartment Therapy’s home tours, I want to feature you, the readers, and your experiences with living simpler. Big or small, we’re all itching to hear it.

Photo source

What it was like for your family to forego all non-ethically made chocolate.

How you got out of debt.

Why you downsized to one car, and how it’s changed your daily routine.

The moment you realized you were in the wrong job, and what made you brave enough to make the switch.

Why living in a smaller home means more time for travel.

The tricks you’ve learned to keep your kids’ toys organized.

The spring you decided to try your hand at growing your own food.

Why your family volunteers at a local homeless shelter together.

What happened when you cancelled the cable.

The benefits you enjoy from biking around town.

The simple joy you found from organizing a neighborhood block party.

…you get the idea.

Why your story matters

About a year into its inception, I realized this blog was never meant to me about just me and my story. I wrote about simple living not because I had arrived, but because I yearned for it just as much as you do. I still do.

Photo source

I’ve since learned a lot, but in many, many ways, I’m just a fellow sojourner on this road with you. You have things you can teach me. You can teach us.

Your story matters because we need each other, and because we can learn from each other. As this blog tips over to the ten-year side of its first decade and away from newborn infancy, I want that to be truer than ever. It’s still never meant to be about just me.

(This is also why we have contributors.)

This blog’s definition of simple living—living holistically with your life’s choices—is open-ended on purpose. There’s no one right way to live simply.

What’s more—living simply is a journey. None of us have arrived. It’s a process. And in our own journeys, we can share stories about our processes.

Everyone loves a good story. And it might be time to share part of yours.

Be featured on The Art of Simple and submit your story!

How this will work

I’ve created a form for you to fill out (it’s also at the top menu of the blog). As you can see, each submission needs to be about one idea—even if you’ve learned many different things about living simply. Feel free to submit five, ten, whatever separate stories. But I’d like to keep each one laser-focused on one topic at a time.

Photos also matter, because good visuals make a good story even better. They don’t have to be professional, but please take the time to submit quality work. Take your photos in natural light, notice the little details on the surfaces in the background, and pay attention to the angle from which they’re shot. Apartment Therapy has some good basic tips.

I can’t wait to read your submissions. Don’t be shy! If we need more info or details from you, we’ll be in touch. I’m psyched to finally get this going as a regular feature on AoS.

(Oh, and so far, pirates are winning.)

What sorts of reader stories are you eager to read?

top photo source
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Encouragement for living simpler, right in your inbox.

We share our stories as we simplify our lives - no guilt-trips, just love.

(no spam, promise. we hate it, too.)


  1. I’m really excited to learn how others simplify when it comes to parenting.

    So glad pirates are winning!!

    PS Tsh, I LOVE listening to your podcasts. Are you planning on taking a break from doing them while on your trip? I hope not!

    PPS I can’t book your book down. So good…it has been challenging me but in a really good way.

    • Pirates FTW! 🙂

      Nope, no plans to stop the podcast while traveling. They’ll be different, obviously, but still running. We’ll be back to a regular posting schedule there soon!

      And I’m glad you like the book! Thanks for your kind words.

  2. This looks great, Tsh :). Super excited to read and (possibly) submit my own as well!

    Just a quick question… I never received the “give-aways” from Thomas Nelson. I really wanted to read your 20 things mini-book, and I’d love to have access to it. I know you’re not in charge of all that stuff, but is there someone I can / should contact to see if it’s on its way?

    Thanks so much!


  3. Thanks so much for the opportunity to share! I’m sure you’re going to be FLOODED with submissions. How cool be able to read all those stories!

  4. “Cowbell” is getting to read other people’s stories?!
    Yes, definitely!
    I’m going to ‘fess up and admit that I had no idea what it could mean in the survey. Maybe more of the missing 40% would have voted for it if it had been defined… In my ignorance, I erred on the side of caution and didn’t vote for something I had no clue about!
    But I would love to read others’ stories!

  5. Wow, super excited to read what others have to say and become even more inspired! May even submit something myself……

  6. So excited about this new feature.
    Your book is massaging my brain like play doh. I love it. Thank you for all that you do.

  7. Sarah Westphal says:

    Love this idea!

    I would love to hear how others simplified in all the areas you mentioned in your book (which I pre-ordered and read in… 1 day! Couldn’t. Put. It. Down.) especially in finance. We are doing Dave Ramsey here, and it takes FOREVER (seemingly) any encouragement would be awesome.

    Also, for those who didn’t received their freebies–they may want to try re-submitting. I did and got them the next day.

    Take care,

  8. This is so so cool… putting on my thinking cap – I would love to have something to say!!! Wracking my head – eight kids, two bedroom house, no car… sounds more like a recipe for chaos, than simple living, when I put it into words!!!

  9. I really like that you are encouraging your readers to send in & share a bit of their stories. However I hope you don’t ‘miss out on some valuable stories about people living simply. I don’t think it is always about traveling or work passions. Sometimes people live in such a way because they have adapted to their circumstances. There isn’t always a fabulous photo to go along with those stories, but they are real & worthwhile all the same.

    • Ps Only mentioned the photo, because I took note that photos were a required field for people to share their stories. That being said I am looking forward to reading the stories & gleaning from them. Thanks!

    • It’s not just travel and work stories—it’s about all facets of simple living.

  10. Neat!! Thank you for this opportunity! I can’t wait to read all the added good stuff you’re going to share. I may even submit something? I’m still digesting the inspirational material from Notes From a Blue Bike. 🙂

  11. Looking forward to the stories. It is such a gift when someone finds a journey story that fits a little bit of the life they have been dealt and it give them that boost they need to take the next step, be it healing, paying down debt or just getting up in the morning and dealing with life as busy person.

  12. So excited about this! I know what I’ll be submitting. 🙂

  13. Hum… seems Lisbon and it’s old vehicles are getting into your heart! 😀

    (btw, mine’s almost 21 years old ;p )

    ps – if I ever participate, do drawings count?

  14. Melissa says:

    Dang those pirates! I am Ninjas all the way!!! 😉

  15. What a great opportunity. I hope to get something out to you. I have dramatically simplified my life over the last few years.

  16. I’m hoping to work up the courage to submit, however still need to decide what area of simple living to go for! Is there a deadline for submission or is this just remaining open for now? I’ll also need to get practicing with my camera!

  17. What a great new series! Focusing on the simple has been on my mind so much since becoming a mama last year, especially as a full time working mama! I’m excited to submit a few stories and to be inspired by what others share.

Add Your Thoughts