The Art of Excess

Art of ExcessWhen is too much too much? Oh, the art of excess!

Since January I’ve been facilitating two groups through the Abundant Simplicity book by Jan Johnson. We are nearly done.

Let me clarify. Nearly done with the book.

This is my third and fourth time, respectively, journeying through the pages whereby my penchant for specific kinds of ‘stuff’ smacks me upside the head each time I go around simplicity mountain again.

Nine months after being greeted by the indoor mini-flood from an under the sink connector gone disconnected, we’re still surrounded by stuff that has yet to be sorted through, tossed, or donated.

Trust me, we’ve worked hard and sorted through plenty with our discretionary time these past months. The house is warm and inviting and looks its lovely livable self again. But, we’ll soon celebrate a milestone of time in this house. Two and a half decades, three teenagers now married with homes and stuff of their own, and uh…two parents later…you get the picture.

My husband and I are empty nesters in the midst of a not so empty nest. You’d think Ima Piles married Tim the Toolman Taylor from the looks of our preferred kind of feathering.

It’s just that we like books. And tools. And coffee mugs. And clothes that don’t fit but might someday. And clothes we like so much we bought four of them in different colors, and …

Add to that what we don’t like – paper, our nemesis – and it’s no wonder that clutter abounds. I about choke on my mug of coffee when someone expounds on the virtues of going paperless. That would be a virtue indeed.

In the spirit of ‘abundant simplicity’, I’d like to share a few of my favorite takeaways from these two book groups that may inspire you to action and a different perspective as they did me.


The 70% Rule (not in the book but came up in discussion)

When cleaning out (clothes particularly or in our case, um, coffee mugs?), hold up the item and pass it by the 70% rule:

“Do I like this garment 70% or more, meaning that I’m 70% assured that I will wear it?”

“Do I like or will I use this item 70% or more, meaning it has value and/or I will use it?”

Two caveats:

Don’t use a 50% rule of thumb; 70% tips the scale one decided way or the other.

Whatever lands beneath the 70% rule, out it goes in the donation  pile.


“Do as you can, not as you can’t.”

Eight simple words of wisdom,  yet how often do we find ourselves trying to do something like someone else? or without resources others may have? or in different circumstances or degrees of ability?

“To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one,
each according to his own ability…”
Matthew 25:15

If there is one thing that will simplify your life in an abundantly freeing way, may I suggest giving yourself permission to “do as you can, not as you can’t” might be one that lands in your Top Five?

One caveat:

Don’t underestimate what the Lord has given you. He doesn’t pass out excuses, but He did give us a heart and a brain.


All of us start out with the same amount of hours in a day. Twenty-four and not a second more.

What is not equal is our physical state and arrangements of those twenty-four daily hours.

As a life coach, sometimes it helps to recall being a mom of a two-year-old who was learning to say ‘no.’ It was the only word in their vocabulary (or mom’s!) for like, nine months.

It may be time for some of us grown-ups to practice that word again, full of grace with intention, in order to reclaim some things.

  • Perhaps your schedule is hyperventilating over lack of white space.
  • It may be your health itself that’s coughing up a toll with every continued pass around Stress Mountain.
  • Restlessness of heart and mind can be a constant companion when there is little ‘down time’.
  • Last but not least, relationship with God and others will dry up or suffer without giving priority to Him and people and not things. That can be difficult, I know, when surrounded by so many things demanding attention.

Which leads us back to the art of excess and abundant simplicity. It’s a work in progress, just like our de-cluttering. A pile, a coffee mug, a socket set, and a whole lot of clothes at a time!

~ Nancy

P.S. If you’re interested in exploring the book Abundant Simplicity with a small group of women, I welcome your contact. I have some white space to offer to help you find your own!

Like it? Share it…


Share Your Thoughts


%d bloggers like this: