I was fortunate to see a post last December that announced a new year-long course called A Simple Year. It is all online and each month has a theme, such as January was all about clutter, March was about simple travel, and April was about how to simplify in our kitchens. I can’t wait for December when we talk about how to simplify for the holidays! We have monthly live webinars with the experts, short reading assignments, and simple engaging homework assignments that help us explore the topic at hand. There’s even an online community via Facebook that one of the participants created for day-to-day questions and support.
Taking A Simple Year course has been one of my favorite things in 2014, so I set out to interview Courtney Carver, the person behind this great course. Courtney Carver is the brainchild behind Project 333, the Be More with Less blog and several amazing Micro Courses. She got into minimalism when a health challenge caused her to stop and assess how to reduce the stress in her life. Less stress for Courtney looked like; a more whole foods diet, paying off her debts and moving from a 2,000 square foot home into a 750 square foot apartment. I am really glad that Courtney is able to join us today!
Kathy: Tell us about your course. Courtney: A Simple Year (ASY) is a year-long course about simplifying every aspect of life and work. I wanted to create something that would support momentum and motivation for a simple life. So often we try something and then lose interest after a few weeks, but with A Simple Year, members can re-engage each month with a new topic.
How did you put the program together with topics and speakers each month? I reached out to some of the best simplicity bloggers and authors and asked them to participate. We brainstormed topics and then each member created a month of written content, homework assignments (with surprises for completing) and hosted a live webinar for member questions.
Oh yes, I must say I love those surprises! It’s fun to be rewarded for doing the assignments. Those rewards help push me to get the assignments done sometimes when life gets busy.
What do you see as the goal for ASY course? My intention from the start was to make this a meaningful program for both members and contributors.
What is one of your favorite things about ASY so far? My favorite thing with ASY and my other work is helping people and creating something where people can learn and engage at their own pace and comfort level. Some people love the live webinars, while others prefer to email questions or work on their own.
Where do you see minimalism going in the next 2-5 years? Minimalism has been around for a long, long, time, but with more people realizing that they can create a minimalist lifestyle that works for them, instead of following a certain formula, I think more and more people will discover the benefits.
What is your biggest challenge with being a minimalist? My biggest challenge is restraint. Living with less has come with so many positive benefits and I’d love to pare down even more.
How can I and others support you with sharing about ASY? Testimonials from course members are so helpful. They really let people know what to expect and give them more information when they are considering the course.
One of my biggest changes from taking the course happens to be a very simple assignment that Joshua Becker gave us in the first week, which was to clear off the main surfaces in your home. I cleaned off my kitchen table and entry table, so when I enter my home it was amazingly clean and un-cluttered. That later inspired me to move furniture around a bit, so it totally opened up the room! I will share that nothing on those surfaces looked a bit bare, so I now have a lovely Buddha and some inspiring cards for people to draw that provide a bit of personality. But, that is the cool thing about minimalism, it doesn’t have to look a certain way. This was a simple assignment that took all of 5 minutes, but it has become a way of living for me. And because my home is now so serene and inviting, I have invited more people over to enjoy my home with me.
I’m grateful that this hasn’t been a quick course where things might soon be forgotten. It is a whole year of looking at your life and seeing how you can create a life that is intentionally what you want and less of what you don’t want. That’s powerful!
What would you like to see for ASY in 2015? I hope we attract an engaged, vibrant, thoughtful community like we have in 2014.