Monday, February 29, 2016

Are We Adding or Subtracting?

Are we adders or are we subtracters? Do we energize or do we drain?  What is our effect on others?  We come into contact with different people all day long.  Some of us much more than others.  How do you think others feel after finishing up a conversation with us?  Energized and motivated?  Or drained and deflated?  Are we adding to their joy and peace or are we subtracting it from their life with our negativity and complaining?  Each of us carries a significant amount of energy everywhere we go.  Some are better at picking up others' energy, meanwhile others tend to be completely clueless about how someone else may or may not be feeling.  However, I dare say that most of us just get this feeling that something is either wrong with someone we come in contact with or they're somehow overjoyed, for whatever reason.  We sense their vibe, if you will. 

So, if they do come to us already deflated and unmotivated, are we adding or subtracting?  Are we adding to their day and energy with positive thoughts and encouragement or are we subtracting their energy even further by jumping on the negativity bandwagon and sharing our discontent with the world?

God has gifted us with the incredible gifts of compassion and encouragement.  I don't believe we have those emotions to use them solely on ourselves.  Although, many of us could actually get better at encouraging ourselves and being more compassionate towards our actions and mistakes.  But, I believe that we are given these beautiful emotions to lift others up in their time of need.  To be an "adder" not a "subtracter."  Nope. I don't think those are real words in the English language, but just go with me here for a minute.  

Part of the beauty of living a simpler life, is the ability to have more time for others.  We are oftentimes stuck in a rat race that does not seem to ever end.  We go to work, come home, pay the bills, feel miserable, wake up and do it all over again.  How about devoting of ourselves to others?  Giving of our time and resources to those in need is one of the most rewarding and beautiful things any human being can do.  But, how can you if you never "have time?"  You can't.

I encourage you today to take a serious step into simplifying your life.  Stay tuned for Wednesday's post, in which I will share with you part I of a 2 part series on Creating a Simple Life.  By taking a leap into the simple life, I hope you will become the very best "adder" you can possibly be because you will now have the time and energy to devote to others.  Today? I would encourage us all to ask ourselves this very question as we go through our day... "Am I adding right now? Or am I subtracting?"


Friday, February 26, 2016

Close the Door on the Past and De-Clutter.

Emotional attachment to things.  We all have it for one thing or another.  It's typically defined as a feeling of attachment to something, based on the memories it represents.  It may represent a past relationship.  A job you loved.  A sport you used to play.  A beautiful trip you took. Or anything else you have a strong memory of.  We, mistakenly, confuse the item for the memory.  In other words, we tend to falsely believe that if we get rid of the thing, the memory will fade as well.  We may also believe that the person who may have given it to us would get personally offended if we were to let it go.  Especially those who have passed and left possessions behind.  

Although the intentions in keeping the items are good, the act of keeping them has it's downside... clutter.  Do we really have to keep every single craft our kids made in school from Pre-K to 5th grade? Should we keep every Christmas card, birthday card and trinket ever given to us? (If you're a teacher, can I get an "Amen!" on that one??).  Must we hang on to love letters and presents from past relationships (hmmmnnnn.... now that's a good one!)?  The list can go on and on and on.  In fact, how do you think storage unit companies make money? Off of people's, mostly unreasonable, attachment to their stuff.  Maybe we don't have a memory, but instead we carry an anxiety that we may need xyz item at some point in the future? We'll cover that in a different post.  But, for the things we attach an emotional value to, we need to make like Elsa and perhaps just let it go.  The memory will continue to live on with you forever.  No one can take that from you.  But, stuff? Is just stuff.  Without the memory, it represents no more than a thing without any real value.  

So, how do we begin a good de-cluttering plan? By closing the door on the past.  The past is there for a reason.  It's not meant to be re-lived day in and day out.  Keep the memories where they should be... in the past.  No, that's not being cruel or mean.  It's a healthy habit.  One that doesn't make us a bad person, it just makes us someone who's made peace with past relationships, jobs, roles, etc... and has resolved into having and cherishing those wonderful memories without the overwhelming clutter.

Let's start today.  Let's grab that box out of the garage and begin going through it.  We shall reminisce, laugh, cry.  Invite a friend over to blab about it with.  Once we've gone through it, let's give it away or toss it.  You'll be amazed at the therapeutic value it will bring to your heart and soul to be able to practice non-attachment to the physical world and be able to move on with the present moment.  Your house will look really clean and pretty too.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Early Riser

Rising before the sun.  A wise habit we could all greatly benefit from.  Now, most of us are "forced" to rise early during the work week.  Our alarms annoyingly go off and we begrudgingly hit the snooze button until it's too late and then we're running around like a chicken with our heads cut off to get to work on time.  I know the drill well.  The key is, however, to actually arise before the sun on our own... without the alarm.  But wait.  There's more.  How about, we wake up without an alarm AND with joy??? Whoa! Now there's a novel concept.  Why in the world would anyone want to do that? Especially on the weekends?  Well... let's take a look at some research on the benefits of rising early... 

Since I'm a mom and a teacher, I am definitely forced to awake before the sun during the school year.  My alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m., but since by husband's goes off at 4:30 a.m., I'm usually woken up by that anyway.  I typically don't get out of bed until he leaves around 5:15.  At that point, I get up and enjoy the much needed quiet time I crave.  I've been doing this for years and years and it has always served me well.  I have such a strict routine in the morning that if anyone actually stalked me, they'd be bored to tears.  It really is just that predictable.  I make my coffee, I sit and eat breakfast, I read, I pray, I walk Nola, I get our lunches ready, get myself ready and then wake up my little one to get her ready.  It's the same thing... every single day.  Even the weekends.  Of course, on the weekends I live dangerously and wake up at 7:30. Woo hoo! Hey.  That is most certainly "sleeping in" for me.  My husband asks, "why are you up so early?"  To which I reply, "because I need my alone time before everyone else wakes up."  It's a time alone I value and need to be a better wife, mother and person overall.  

Let's make rising early a habit, even on the weekends.  It will surely be life changing.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Change the Station

We are what we think.  We've heard it.  We bought the tapes.   We went to the workshop.  We got the t-shirt.  Right?  Yea. Our thoughts become things.  In fact, every thing that has ever been created, started with a thought.  That's easy to understand, right?  It's simple.  It's easy, peasy.  Yet, why do so many of us struggle with this very thing on a day to day basis?  We fill our heads with anxious thoughts.  We worry.  We spend our time thinking of tomorrow and what burdens it will bring.  The catch 22 is, that what we think about, comes about.  What we fill our minds and hearts with, we speak.  And what we speak, we attract.  Luke 6:45 says it best:

"A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."

Let us speak love today.  Speak kindness.  Speak encouragement.  Speak patience.  Speak joy.  Speak peace.  For if we speak them, it means our mind is filled with them.  And if that's the case,  it is what we will reap in our own life.  We have to give it away before it can be given back to us.  Let's speak intentionally today.  Let's make it a habit. If we have to,  let's change the station.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Setting Limits.

Boundaries.  A mouthful, right?  We are told that boundaries are good.  We are told to not let others take advantage of us.  We are told to speak up for ourselves. "Don't be a door mat!" "Have a backbone!" Yes.  We are told.  However, many of us still struggle with this one, don't we?  We're afraid to hurt someone's feelings or we are filled with the fear of being disliked.  We become the "yes" people.  I used to be one of those people.  In fact, sometimes I stumble upon that old Mina.  I say "yes" to something I wish I'd said "no" to.  Then what happens?  I end up doing whatever it is without joy.  Is that fair to the person or organization for whom we are doing it?  

Of course, sometimes we don't really have a choice, do we?  Don't go talking back to your boss and saying "Hey.  I can't make it to this meeting, cause you know, I need to start setting boundaries."  That would be un-professional.  Which is not what we should be going for.  But, saying no to a party in the middle of the week? Unless we really, actually, want to be there...let's just say no.  Honestly.  Have a friend who always takes a mile when you give an inch?  Let's stop giving an inch.  Seriously.  We should at least, confront the situation first, before we offer anything again.  Let's be clear in our communication with others.  Let's express what it is we want.  Something my husband used to say to me when we first got married was, "I'm not a mind reader.  You have to tell me these things."  He probably regrets saying that now, cause I most definitely say things now.  I set boundaries.  It makes me a better person because I am now more reliable and dependent.  It makes our marriage stronger because I don't harbor resentment.  

Boundaries.  Let's practice them today...


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Living Minimal

The Brinkey clan... we live pretty minimal in many ways.  What does that even mean anyway?  There is an overwhelming amount of information out there about what minimalism is and what it is not.  I'm not here to tell you what it is because I don't consider myself a guru in that area, by any means.  But, I can tell you what it means to us.

Years ago, I was your typical 20 something.  I wanted to be rich, successful and filled with riches.  I wanted to own an enormous house, drive a luxury car and wear the fanciest of clothes.  Today? I'm a 30 something (almost 40), who has been through some pretty tough life lessons which have taught me that there is definitely more to this life than the two S's.  Stuff and Status.  I cringe at the thought of how much those two things concerned me years ago.  

I don't care about Stuff and Status anymore.  I care about other types of wealth now.  Do I want to be wealthy? Duh. Who doesn't?  But, not in the way that you may think.  I want wealth in relationships.  I have that.  I value that.  I cherish that.  Minimal living means valuing those things that the world doesn't attach value to and de-valuing those things to which the world gives too much value.  We live simply by spending on experiences, not stuff.  Does that mean I don't splurge on a pair of shoes or an expensive purse from time to time? Nope.  I do.  But, I do it with intention.  I intend to buy these things.  I choose to buy these things.  And when I do buy them? I take care of them and keep them for a very long time.  That's the thing when you buy quality items, isn't it?  We may spend more up front, but we save it on the back end by being able to keep it for decades to come.  So... instead of continuing to bore you with a ramble... Let me bullet point it for ya.  This is what minimal and simple living means in the Brinkey household:

  • Spend time with those we love. Quality time.
  • Find humor in everything... even our failures.  In fact, especially our failures.
  • Buy what we need and buy what we love.
  • Buy quality.
  • Experiences over things.
  • Travel.
  • Buy organic and cruelty free products.
  • Leave a minimal foot print.
  • Move.  As in... exercise.  In our house... it's running.
  • Forgive quickly.
  • Seek forgiveness from others.  Not for them, but for our own peace.
  • Don't hold grudges.
  • Live in the now and leave the worrying to worry warts.  That's not us.
  • Appreciate what others do for us.
  • Don't be a jerk.
  • Strive to always be kind.
  • Take an interest in others.  It's honestly not all about us.  It just isn't.
  • Live small.  Small home.  Small wardrobe.  Small everything.  Just small.
  • Energize others, don't drain them. Nobody likes a Negative Ned or a Nagging Nancy.  Be a Positive Patty and a Joyful Joe.  Everyone likes to be around them.
  • Let go.
  • Stay intentional.
  • Run to the Throne and not the phone.  Pray.  Lots.
Now leave that worry behind and let's live our life filled with intention and positive vibes. 


Monday, February 15, 2016


We aren't ever truly anchored, are we?  In fact, the one thing we truly never are, is unchanged.  Day by day we shed the old and begin with the new... whatever that may be.  Old friendships.  Old relationships.  Old professions.  Old passions.  Old places.  Life is funny that way.  It's a trickster, that one.  It gives and takes away.  Then, it gives some more.  Just when you think you've got it all figured out... bam! A new spin.  Our lives are the best book we'll ever read through.  We're living through it.  Changing through it.  Learning through it. Growing through it.  So, why then, do so many of us resist change? Haven't we been practicing it since the beginning of time?  I don't know about you, but I sure don't still look like that funny looking 8 year old with buck teeth and a bad haircut (thanks Mom).  Now I'm just middle aged and able to afford good hair cuts. Thank you God. However, if there is something that does remain unchanged, it is the very essence of us, isn't it?  The essence that makes us who we are.  Our souls, if you will.  Our hearts.  That may grow, stretch, and change through life's lessons.  But, at the very core of it all, we're still that little 8 year old, right?  It's fascinating to me how that works.  

Today, I challenge all of us to look at this week for what it is... a new beginning.  A new chapter in our individual story.  Yes, I know that sounds utterly cliche and corny.  I get it.  That fact does not escape me, trust me.  But, the advice is good.  It's a classic piece of advice.  I've heard it time and time again, as well as I've given it.  Today, I choose to follow it.  Life is short.  Too short.  Let me not dwell in the yesterday, nor worry about the tomorrow.  Let me bask in the now and enjoy it for the short moment that I am given it.  Let me love the me that I am today and the me that I've always been.  Let me make it a good one.  I hope you do the same... Happy Monday.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love. It's What It's All About, Right?

Love.  Such a small word with such great meaning.  Do we ever actually stop to think about what it really, truly means?  I think we oftentimes use the word too loosely, don't we? "I love these shoes!" "I love your purse!" " I love the summer time!" But, do we? Really? Love? A couple of weeks ago, my students and I were discussing this very concept.  The concept of God being Love. God IS Love.  All that God is, is the very description of love.  I printed out I Corinthians 13: 4-7 for them and I blanked out the word "love." As such:

_________ is patient, __________ is kind.  _________ does not envy, _________ does not boast, _________ is not proud.  _________ does not dishonor others, _________ is not self-seeking, _________ is not easily angered, _________ keeps no record of wrongs.  _________ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  _________ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

I then asked them to take their name and place it in the blanks.  Are they love?  Are they exhibiting loving characteristics.  For, if we do not have something, we cannot possibly give it away.  Thus, one must come to know and understand what love is, before one can practice the act of loving.  

I assured them that not everyone is going to be all these things, all the time.  That's not the point.  The point is, are we actually behaving in loving ways? If not, are we convicted by our behavior and do we try to better it? If we are, then we are capable of loving another.  For only then, can we truly have compassion for them when they fail us, disappoint us, hurt us.  But, more importantly, we can have appreciation for them when they truly love us.  

Love.  A small word with great meaning.  A word that is the only reason we stand alive on this earth. For this is what we've come to learn, to comprehend, to model.  We've come to get to know God.  We've come to get to know LOVE.

Happy Valentine's Day.  I hope it's an epic one for ya.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Hey there. I'm Mina Brinkey. What's your name?

I'm so happy you found me and decided to visit. It warms my heart. : ) It's been quite some time since I've had a blog.  My previous blog, Bohemian Vintage, was active from 2007-2014.  I shut it down after having a baby and having little time to dedicate to it, and hence, to my readers.  But, now... after a couple of years "off," I feel ready to give it a go and come back to writing and sharing. I've changed so very much since that time. So, I thought it best to begin an entirely new journey with an entirely new blog. I'm Mina Brinkey.  I am a Christian. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a sister. A daughter. A friend. A high school teacher. An interiors photographer. A writer. A grad student. A runner. A lover of all things simple and minimal. Yes. I wear a lot of hats. I know. But, I wear them proudly and through the grace of God. I love my life and everyone and everything in it. I am very, very blessed.  I hope you join me on this new journey.  Sit back, relax and enjoy. Can't wait to find out more about you. : )