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Happy Spring! A Fresh Start to A Simpler Life

Put away the shovels. Vacuum-pack the scarves and snow pants. Get out the patio drinkware and add “caesar ingredients” to the shopping list. SPRING IS HERE.

I feel like I’ve been waiting six months for this moment.

Oh wait, I have.

I love spring. I love the first whiff of freshly cut grass tickling my nostrils. I love driving in the car on clean pavement, beneath blue skies and sunshine, windows down and the music volume up. It makes me want to get out the ball gloves and head to the diamond for a game of catch with my dad. It means extra long hikes through the trails in the forest, staring at the blanket of trilliums swallowing the soft ground. It’s a breath of fresh air. A clean slate. Another new start.

Of course, it’s also muddy paw prints on the hardwood floors, last fall’s garbage stuck in the bushes, and dog shit sprinkling the neighbourhood… but we’ll just ignore all of that for now and revel in the above freezing temperatures.

A Spring Clean and A Simpler Life

My husband and I have recently been inspired to do a major spring clean. We got an early start, and spent last weekend clearing out unnecessary “stuff” from our home. We’ve donated nine full garbage bags so far, and that was just from the master bedroom, guest room and linen closet. This weekend I plan to tackle the bathrooms (goodbye old lotions, makeup and soap hiding beneath the sink) and… wait for it… the OFFICE. I can’t wait to have a clutter-free work space.

I was first inspired to remove all of the unnecessary from my life by my blogging friend Cait Flanders of Blonde on a Budget. (Read her guest post on Becoming Minimalist here and you’ll feel inspired too). Cait recently tossed a whopping 65 percent of her stuff. For real! I’m not quite there yet, but after clearing out about 30 percent of our belongings last weekend, I immediately felt lighter. It was an incredible sensation, and I can’t wait to clear our entire house.

Not to mention, it’s also given me a new perspective on my consumer habits. Mr.O and I have been avoiding retail shopping since January (besides a few purchases before and during our vacation), and this minimalism challenge has really opened my eyes to the ways we consume, often without thinking twice. In my goals for achieving a “simpler life,” I’ll feel light as a bird and save a lot of money in the process. Win-win.

Highlights This Week

What I’m Writing:

I had the pleasure of interviewing a financial advisor for my latest story in The Reply. Is it weird that I get all giddy talking about retirement planning? It’s just so exciting to me to think of the effect of compounding interest. Check out the full story for some practical tips to help you better manage your money and get on track to reaching your retirement goals.

What I’m Reading:

Speaking of money and financial goals, my absolute favourite read this week was this post from Budgets Are Sexy. Anonymous personal finance blogger J Money reminds us sometimes we need to slow down and let go of the pressures to “get to the next level.”

We spend a lot of time dreaming about our future selves, but “I’d rather be young,” he writes. “We talk a lot about the power of time and how compound interest/savings/investing does wonders to our money – and rightfully so – but it’s easy to get caught up wishing for the future to come faster and forget to appreciate what we have here and now – TIME.”

Yeah, just do yourself a favour and go read it.

What I’ve Learned:

I learned a major lesson this week. Since quitting my job with the steady paycheck to become a full-time entrepreneur, I’ve been extra tight with my budget. And I’ve found it really difficult to spend money on myself. I’m not talking about spending $20 on drinks with friends or $10 on a blouse off the sale rack.


When I started working for myself, part of my plan was to find ways to build new skills. I’ve browsed a number of different ways to do this online, all of which cost money. So I’d usually end up talking myself out of a subscription here or a workshop there, and move on with my day.

But then I found this course being put on by one of my all-time favourite marketing mavericks and writers, Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project. It was $300 to register, but the value is absolutely there. I mentioned it to my husband at dinner one night, feeling guilty even bringing it up. We just got back from vacation, after all, and we’re trying to save for some large purchases potentially coming up this year.

But Mr. O wouldn’t listen to my excuses. He read over the course description, asked me some questions, and told me to “go for it.” He didn’t even hesitate. He said if this is going to make my business stronger, then I should do it and “I’m worth it.”

While entering my credit card information, I played his words over in my mind, thinking about how lucky I am to have his full support in this. At the same time, I wondered, why was it so hard for me to see that for myself? After all, every dollar you invest in yourself is an investment in your future.

And hell yes I am worth it.

What I’ve experimented with:

We continue trying new things at The Reply, and this week we launched a new video. We’re nearly six months into this project and it has been an incredible ride so far. I can’t thank you all enough for the ongoing support. The video was filmed and edited by my super talented brother Everett Bumstead. Watch it below and then check out his Vimeo page for more (specifically the trailer for his upcoming film, “Zen and the Art of Street Cinema”).

How has your week been? What are some of the challenges you faced this week? Any big plans for the weekend ahead?


Charlotte Ottaway

Charlotte is the founder of Web of Words. She helps solopreneurs and small business owners create real human connections online through blogging and social media. Her work has been published in Maclean's, Canadian Business, Zoomer, The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post Canada and other Canadian publications. Better known by family and friends as Carly, she currently resides in Newmarket with her husband and fur-babe. To learn more, check out her portfolio at charlotteottaway.com and follow her on Twitter @charlottaway.

6 Comments Write a comment

  1. I love everything about this post! Of course, the decluttering and minimalism stuff… but also that you invested in yourself! I bookmarked a writing course I was interested in, months ago, and the price dropped from $300 to $99 for two days last week. I hummed and hawed over it, like you wouldn’t believe! But then I read this great post that showed me I wasn’t spending money on myself because I didn’t think *I* was worth spending money on. How crazy is that!? OF COURSE WE ARE WORTH IT! So I signed up! And it’s already been worth it, just based on the first two lessons alone. Hope you have that same experience, Carly. Happy weekend! 🙂


    • Charlotte Ottaway

      Glad you enjoyed it Cait! It was a big week. And I have you to thank for some of these big changes I’m making. Still to this day feel uneasy about the money spent on the course, but I know it is going to help me in ways that will pay well beyond the initial fee. Funny how hard it is to see that at first though. I look forward to chatting with you to share what we’ve learned though. (Mine doesn’t start until April). Thanks for commenting!


  2. You are too sweet!

    Thanks for passing on the good word – so glad you liked the article 🙂

    And I see my darling Cait it here too – it’s a family party up in here!


    • Charlotte Ottaway

      Haha! Family party — that made me laugh. Really though, you and Cait both hit the mark this week on your posts for slowing down and enjoying being young. Plus the sun is shining and it’s Friday, which makes living in the moment extra appealing today! Have a great weekend J.


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