A New Approach to Simple

I’ve started this update three times now the past few weeks, which should tell you a thing or two about it. It’s been on my mind for several months, and it’s birthed from something that’s been gestating for a couple years now:

It’s time to do something else.

(Just so you know right away, I’m not shutting down this site.)

It’s almost as though all the hints I’ve left myself this past year should have clued me in, much less anyone else who could read between the lines. (I only talked about change here, here, and here in just a few months’ time.)

I’ve wanted to hang up the closed sign on this website several times the past two years. Never because I no longer liked it, nor because I wasn’t proud of what all had been built over the course of a decade.

It’s simply because I’ve felt like I’ve said all I could say about the idea of simple living.

AoS is ten years old, which is astonishing to me. When I started, we were living as expats in Turkey, I had a six-week old who, when I nursed, I read up on what it meant to blog. My oldest was not quite three.

Now I’ve got a daughter turning 13 in a few weeks, my newborn turns 10 today, and their youngest brother is 7 1/2. Kyle and I celebrated our 15th anniversary this fall, and after that fifth floor high-rise apartment with a view of the Aegean Sea in urban Turkey, we then lived in five more homes.

We now reside in a lovely small town outside Austin, not far from where I spent my first 18 years, we travel as much as we can, and I pinch myself that I’m privileged to do what I do—write books, drop podcasts, teach classes, and the like.

Things have changed a lot in ten years.

There’s been an interesting full-circle I’ve noticed this past year, with people admitting they miss the good ol’ days of internet publishing, when writers still blogged and readers left mostly thoughtful, respectful comments. People—myself included—have grown weary and suspicious of the benefits of social media, where friends and followers spend more time sharing one-off memes, arguing without listening, and trying to be first to share news so they can Monday-morning quarterback it all.

I miss old-school internet, too, and I’m holding on to hope that there’s still enough of us that feel the same. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram help us connect, but as fine-tuned as they are, they’re still not great places to really flesh out thoughts best formed through longer form.

So, I’ve realized that—at least right now—I don’t really want to shut down the site. Instead, I want to steer it to new places.

It’s the topic of simple living that gives me that painted-in-a-corner feeling.

When I realized/admitted this, my immediate knee-jerk was to start something new—a new site dedicated to something else. Let’s wrap up this site, build a new place, make it totally different! But honestly, that sounds… tiring. A lot of work. And kinda missing the point, really. It’s not like I want to build a completely new house. I’d rather rearrange the furniture, renovate the kitchen, plant new flowers in the garden.

We already painted the walls and hung some new artwork around here when we updated the site design a few months ago. It’s now time to bring new ideas to live here, to water them and watch them grow.

To celebrate this website’s new decade, we’re changing something here that might seem small, but is a game-changer for its next season:

We’re changing the definition of “simple,” at least how its defined in The Art of Simple.

The Change

Simple simply means “easy to understand.” But as this site evolved to focus on the idea of simple living, these two words joined to form a phrase that invoked, indeed, fantastic values: living with less, making the most of what you have, and making sometimes unconventional life choices.

I’m obviously still 100 percent a believer in this ethos. I’m still a fan of capsule wardrobes, essentialism, living debt-free, and the beauty of small houses. That doesn’t suddenly go away. I’m not going to delete the hundreds of posts in our archives, and I’ll still suggest my intro course to anyone who comes to AoS unsure of where to begin when they’re desperate to simplify.

But we’re ready to also write and talk about stuff like music, style, history, and technology, as well as still diving into travel, relationships, books, and more. Instead of a blog and podcast about simple living, this will be more a lifestyle blog and podcast for people who value the simpler things in life.

Whether that’s something big, like how to navigate a crisis of faith, or something a bit smaller, like current great picks on Netflix, we want to dive into the stuff that makes up the bits and pieces of life.

Let’s talk about putting together outfits, why global politics matter in our local neighborhoods, how to make real time to read actual books, parenting teenagers and beyond, nerding out on fandom in your thirties and forties, and beyond!

It’s great to simplify our lives… but then, it’s also good to stop and smell the roses. You know—enjoy, contemplate, and live that life.

Moving Forward

I’ve been in this line of work long enough to know the wisdom of not making plans too far in advance—who knows how I’ll feel about this site a year from now. But, here are some plans for the next few months, and if we like it (meaning, both us the creators and you the readers), we’ll keep going:

• On The Simple Show, we’re going to shift to deep-dive series of topics, exploring one idea over the course of about a month. We’ll go back and forth between heavier and lighter subjects—navigating a faith crisis, followed by our favorite children’s books, for example.

• The blog will follow suit, pairing essays with podcast episodes for further nuance, depth, and perspective. Not everything we publish will fall neatly into a deep-dive topic—we’ll write about other things here and there as the mood strikes. Because we’re people!

• Because we haven’t suddenly changed, new things we explore will still naturally come from an ethos of caring about the natural world, the need to live beyond a consumer mindset, and the like. I won’t suddenly do sponsored posts from brands I can’t stand behind. It’s simply that we won’t talk about those things as much anymore. We want to make room for other things, too.

Our popular Facebook group, Simple Collective, now has a life of its own, and has become a fantastic place where you guys share your ideas and thoughts on simple living. This will still be a place for this! And we’ll continue to share our many archived posts on the subject there. (In fact, that’s a great place to be if you’re reading this and not in love with this new idea.)

I still love Like Your Life, and will connect on a more one-on-one basis with those of you who enroll in the accountability group add-on next week. (Doing this was a highlight of mine from this past fall.)

I’ll still mostly podcast, but this shift here feels so freeing to me I may actually find inspiration once more to hit publish on a blog post. In the meantime, though, I’m excited to work on a new project, I have another idea for something else, and I plan to make more time for writing fiction.

The best way to keep up with anything we create here honestly isn’t via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram—it’s via email. I send a letter every Tuesday that can be read in under a minute, and it’s a highlight of my work week to write it. Sign up here to get it.

I also write a monthly letter about the art of working from a place of love instead of fear. It’s where I do most of my longform writing these days, instead of blogging (though they’re still not very long). Sign up here to get it. In fact, if you’d like to know more about the behind-the-scenes why behind this decision, you’d like the email. I know I’m usually interested in the more business-y side of things like this.

Final Thoughts

If you feel disappointed in our shift, please know that, to be honest, this official change is actually rearranging our furniture to match how we’ve already been living here. In some ways, our shift won’t feel that huge, because we’ve already been exploring things beyond what it means to live simply.

We’re mostly just calling things as they are, and officially giving ourselves the permission we’ve always had to publish new things. You need only access our archives to read hours’ worth of content on simple living.

At the end of the day, the biggest thing I’ve learned in a decade of online publishing is this: Authenticity matters more than anything else. If my heart isn’t 100% behind what I create, readers and listeners are missing out on the better side of me, the one that’s waiting on the sidelines to have her turn.

I’m excited for the days ahead.

Next week, I’ll share a new Simple Show episode, and Like Your Life re-opens on Wednesday. It’s a fantastic way to start the year with a clear head and full heart!

p.s. Looking for my New Year’s Eve reflection questions? Head here.

54 Comments

  1. Florence

    I love the new direction you’re looking at! I know for me, I am working towards simple living so that I free up more time and space to focus on those kinds of lifestyle elements you’ve discussed in this post. I think the new blog direction will remind me that I can get there once those routines are established!

    I also miss the “old internet”, which is why my “soft New Year’s resolution” for 2018 is to try to get out of my comfort zone and leave comments on blogs that I follow. I started doing it yesterday, with the idea that maybe being an active commenter will contribute to positivity on the internet–and who knows, I might make an online friend or two! 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      What a great goal/mindset for the next year! I love that, Florence.

    • heather

      Congratulations! Follow your bliss!

    • Shelley

      That all sounds great to me!!!! I feel like we have already done the simple living changes. It will be so interesting to dive into deeper topics. I like what you said about discussing things that those “simple living” people find interesting.

      Best of luck! Can’t wait for the next podcast. I have some car travel coming up 🙂

  2. Sharon

    Looking forward to the changes. Change is not a bad thing at all. Shows that we are evolving as humans… we cannot always stay in the same season. Kids grow up, priorities change etc. I have really enjoyed your blog over the years. Your podcasts as well. When the FB group first started, I really enjoyed it as well… I however had to delete it as it got so judgemental/righteous…

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Understood. Our volunteer moderators do a good job doing their best with a group as large as Simple Collective, but yeah, it can feel judgmental sometimes, and I wish it didn’t. In fact, I deleted a whole paragraph in this post about one of my reasons for wanting to move on from the “simple living” niche—it can get pretty judgmental. No thanks. 😉

      • Mairsydoats

        Whenever I see judge-y post in the FB group, I remind myself that YOU are not that way. Thanks for all you do, and all the positivity you put out into the world!

  3. Gayle Feibel

    Wonderful post! Congratulations on your shift. Thanks for all the archived material.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Oh man, for sure! Can’t imagine deleting 10 years of hard work. We’re still working on organizing it, to be honest, so thanks for your grace there…

  4. Suse

    Sounds great! Movement, change, growth… all really positive. Happy to follow anywhere you need to go, to be honest, Tsh xx

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Well, I’m honored, Suse! Thanks for sticking around.

  5. Amy

    I, for one, can’t wait to follow along and see where you/this goes. Life evolves, and we as part of that process, evolve along with it. Authenticity matters so much and is, at times, the hardest thing in the world to stay true to. Can’t wait to see what 2018 brings. Amy

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks! Me too. XO

  6. Thora

    I am really excited about this change. I have been following your blog on and off for ten years (back when I only had one kid – now I have six!) and you have been really inspiring to me over the years, from introducing me to Dave Ramsey, who shaped our financial life for the last decade, to helping me find joy in simpler living and smaller houses.

    But I do feel at a point in my life where the why and even the nitty gritty how of simple living are more sorted out, and although I do like reminders I also like reading about, now that I keep our life pretty simple, the other things that we do focus on filling our life with, like reading and such. Plus I agree that the main thing that makes or breaks a blog is the enthusiasm of the blogger over the topics they are writing about.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks! Me too. 🙂

  7. Emily

    Best wishes on what’s ahead.

  8. Laurie

    I learned so much from you, i live in dripping springs and put the simplified plan in place!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Waving hi, neighbor!

  9. Gayle

    YAY! Lol, after I’ve simplified and lived with it for a while, I am ready for some cool, new content. Thanks!!!!!

  10. Alissa

    Stands up and slow claps….
    I also have been here for 10 years… I know because my oldest is 10! This “new” definition sounds like what your site has always meant to me – how do we SIMPLIFY our lives? How do we “major in the majors” and put our big energy into the things we value most? I’ve always resonated most with your insistence that simple living is not just getting rid of all our stuff. It’s about focusing our lives around what matters most.
    I’m sure this feels like a big shift to you… but from my vantage point, it sounds more like getting the semantics to match your actions.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yep, exactly! You get it. 😉

  11. Rebecca

    LOVE IT!

  12. Carrie Roer

    I’m looking forward to where things go from here! Yours was one of the first blogs I ever followed and actually wanted to read everything that was posted, so I’m with you for the long run. 🙂 I took Like Your Life this fall and something that came out of it was the idea of starting my own simple lifestyle blog… In this age of “new” internet it seems intimidating, but I’m trying to ignore the doubts and slowly plugging away and hope to launch in the next month, thanks to your feedback from the course! <3

  13. Sheila

    I’m one of the ones happy about this, because I’ve continued reading your blog for the OTHER bits of info, etc., since I feel like I’ve kind of exhausted the “simple living” category as a reader, as well! 🙂

  14. Julie Miller

    I would say it is “appreciating the rhythmic seasons of life” ~ looking forward with you!

  15. Rebecca

    Congratulations! I know simple living is a process, but it allows us to make room for what matters to us…and it seems like this site models that concept beautifully. This is a natural next step.

  16. Sarah McConnell

    I can 100% get behind this decision! I totally miss the old days, as well. Sometime around 2014, when I first heard the advice about “branding” your blog, that’s when I started to get very frustrated with social media and I even stopped writing altogether! It’s so hard to focus all your energy one one topic when life is so rich and varied in lots of ways. Trying to do that felt more like being stuck in a corner rather than being free. You’ve done a very good job exploring simplicity so deeply, but I applaud the decision to look at a wider field of topics! I’ve recently started blogging again, and want to do the same. For me, the variety is what keeps me inspired! I can’t wait to see what the future hold for AoS!

  17. Annie Barnett

    These changes, or this naming of changes that have already happened, sound amazing. Excited to watch the evolution of one of first and most favorite places on the internets!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Much love to you, friend! Always grateful for you. XO

  18. Julia Graham

    I’m excited to go along this new journey with you Tsh! Your writing, content and podcast are truly inspiring to me. You and your guests have challenged, encouraged and motivated me to live a more simple, intentional life. I have rediscovered a love of reading and I have even enjoyed starting a Netflix series (The Crown, obvs. Can I get a Amen?) Thank you for all that you do. I can’t wait to see/read/follow the changes you make in your internet home in 2018.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      This makes me so happy, Julia! Thank you for sharing.

  19. Lucy

    I have followed you for years and enjoyed your diversity of offerings — much appreciated! — and excited to see what comes next as the online community evolves. However, it is frustrating that there’s a large component of your work that I, and others, cannot follow.

    Will there ever be space to provide transcripts for the podcasts? Beyond “Show Notes”? Those of us with hearing loss are being increasingly excluded due to the shifts among bloggers to podcasts.

    Thanks!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Transcripts are on my to-do list for 2018!

  20. Kimberly

    Hey Tsh,

    I’m listening to your podcasts regularly …love them!
    I love to write. I love the topics that come up. I love to read and I also deal with all the same life forces the present themselves. Is there a way or an opening for me to join the group? I would absolutely love it. I have many stories and experiences. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

  21. Sarah Kruger

    Change is my word for 2018 but it should really be the word for the decade, century, or even the millennium. Humans evolve and change; it is when we hold fast to continuity that we become stagnant and broken. Congrats! I look forward to observing your journey.

  22. Lana Leigh Wilkens

    Excited! I’ve been writing for a Lifestyles magazine in Oklahoma and it’s been lovely to write about many topics and not be “painted into a corner” like you said. I often wonder if I’ll ever be great with a niche, but honestly, I think there’s a high value to changing or tweaking what you say as you grow. I’m enthusiastic about the new year for you and your voice/family etc.

    Sorry if this sounds tacky, but I’d love to contribute if that’d be a blessing to you. I think you’ve got it all covered with contributors, but if it comes open I’d jump at the chance to join in the conversation! 🙂

  23. Abby Aberle

    I’ve loved every single change you’ve made over the years and I think it’s a lot like growing from infancy to mature adulthood. Of course it looks different but hopefully different is better, further up and further in, right? I can’t wait to see what’s coming!

  24. Jennifer

    I am so excited just reading this! I love your podcast, and am really looking forward to this rearranging!!

  25. Julie

    Tsh, I am very happy for you to announce this change. I’ve been following along with you since right before you went on your around the world trip and I have loved everything that you’ve done. Each new avenue you’ve taken us on has been as good or better than the last- I just love your mind! I’m looking forward to whatever is next and trust that it will be excellent and bring you personal satisfaction and joy.

  26. Michelle C.

    Congratulations, and good luck with the new direction! Thank you for being true to you. I have been an avid reader of yours for pretty close to the ten years, and have enjoyed every minute of it. I am excited to see where this is going to go!

  27. Victoria Gelberg

    Well, this is the “change is good” kind of change. Wonderful! I look forward to it just like I look forward to the podcast. BTW, we toyed with the idea of living in Austin when our eldest went to UT in his freshman year. It’s lovely. Good for you. Let me know when you’re ready to talk about what to say yes and no to with transitioning to college kids! Happy 2018 Tsh.

  28. Eevi Aura

    I love this! I have listened to your podcasts from the very beginning and I am excited for this new direction.

  29. Naomi

    I am excited, and think it’s a perfect fit. I look forward to reading and listening in the coming weeks. 🙂 I often pull up your old blog posts and am glad you are keeping them.

  30. Lisa

    Sounds great. I enjoy the broad spectrum of ideas that life throws up and makes us think and have always enjoyed reading your blog and listening to your podcast. I know I shall continue to do so as long as you enjoy what you do as that is a very important aspect of it. I look forward to all the new year brings and I hope you do too.

  31. Kate

    I’m really excited about this change! I also appreciate that you chose to explain the new direction/vision for the site so that we can get excited about what’s coming. Thanks!

  32. Sara B

    I’ve been following you for about 5 years. I love the 5 quick things email each week as you always provide some interesting links/thoughts. I’m looking forward to following along in this shift to more Simpler things. I’m waiting on a book about the Hygge movement, so I think this will pair nicely.

  33. Cari

    This is brilliant. It represents in so many ways what we as women and human beings ought to be about – living out of our personal development and growth in authentic, gracious yet unapologetic terms. Wishing you the best and I look so forward to following along.

  34. Carol Baril

    So glad to read that you aren’t shutting down the blog! I just read your ‘Blue Bike’ book and feel like I’m just getting started to knowing you. Even though I’m sixty-something I want to live simpler and with more purpose. Thanks for staying here.

  35. Vittoria

    I RELATE! I have seen so many friends this year posting that they just want “simple” back. Less screens, less social media. As a freelance writer, I am constantly feeling that push and pull between wanting to be less connected, but needing social media as a business tool. You’re blog and podcast have been such an inspiration to me as I seek to implement simplicity in all areas of life, but also as a work from home mom and a writer. I am hoping to bring focus and determination to my writing this year and really make something of it outside of the copywriting jobs I have 🙂 and I am FINALLY getting around to reading “At Home” and I am loving it already just 2 chapters in. Thank you for all you do.

  36. Judy

    I just heard about your site and I am signing up for your newsletter. I always feel my role is to be supportive of others doing great things and I want to be a positive force for good. Change is important to living a full, happy life.

  37. Carla O'Neal

    I literally saw your blog like 5 minutes ago and I went through a lot of articles! I really like it so far, every article that I read is better than the previous one. I will be reading all your articles in the future and say some good words to my friends :).

    Just signed up for the newsletter and very curious about what to expect. It looks very great already!

    May I ask your opinion on my own site, it’s not finished yet and I need a lot more articles. It would be great to hear some insights from someone who is actually the best in blogs! The website is https://njmaternitycare.com. I really look forward to your reply and will check it very often! Thank you so much :):)

    xxx – Carla

  38. Michael Ann

    I’m brand new here, and I’m excited about your new focus! I look forward to hearing what you have to share with us!

  39. Kal

    Thanks for notifying us. I always look forward to your weekly email, time to get on the podcast 🙂

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