My story

I’ve tried lots of ideas since starting this blog four years ago.

For instance, there was a time my family quit our dishwasher. A time we rarely ate processed food. And fast food? No way!

I’ve tried water skin care.

I once reduced my wardrobe to 33 items for 85 days.

I’ve gone on digital sabbaticals and lived frugally in order to pay off $42,000 in debt.

Every experiment taught me something.

We use our dishwasher again, but our experiment gave me a new perspective on the roles we play in the family. I learned we are not independent of one another, but dependent, as a family should be at times.

We do eat processed foods occasionally, and I don’t worry. Indulgences aren’t always healthy. My kids are teenagers now, and teenagers have a lot to worry about. If eating potato chips makes them feel a little less alone, or weird, I’m okay with that.

My wardrobe has more than 33 items, but it’s still minimal (so my sisters lament). I learned how to shop smart through that experiment. I learned less is more.

Not every experiment has stuck – but a few have changed my life. 

By living frugally, I was able to quit my day job and write books.

I no longer have a schedule for my digital sabbaticals, but I still turn off the internet and phones when I need to focus. Now, I have two completed young adult novels.

When we eat out, I like to support local businesses who create food with care. I appreciate quality.

It’s important to note that while I love many things and ideals, but I don’t allow them to imprison me.

That’s the beauty of experimenting.

That’s the wisdom in knowing when to let go.

I hope my blog inspires you to experiment.

You should experiment in life, widely, and see what works. Learn from what doesn’t. Be moved. Be passionate. Simplify to do what you love.

Or don’t.

I am truly blessed and truly happy and I wish you the same joy.

My book

ARROWS, my debut YA novel, is coming from Random House/Delacorte Press on January 5, 2016.

Buy now.

I am represented by the lovely Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson.

Connect with me:

Photo by Mark Anderson/STUN Photography

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Free Love Friday: Spread The Love
May 7, 2010 at 1:09 am

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alex M June 2, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Someone shared an article you wrote about on Twitter- The adult guide to finding out what you want to be when you grow up. Amazing. It’s like someone read my mind and said all the things I’ve been thinking but not doing. I went through your blog. Mind-blowing stuff. Keep up the good work. It’s a small world and who knows who’s life you’ll change next. You’re inspiring.
“And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. ”
Thank you.


2 Melissa June 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Wow! This comment blew me away. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts – comments like this inspire ME.


3 Kajetan Dobrenko June 7, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Your surname sounds like Polish. Is it?


4 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 10:21 pm

What gave it away? ;-)


5 Tammie September 25, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I came across your blog via the yoga article. Yoga has been something I’ve wanted to try for a while, but all those doubts kept me from it (too old, stiff, etc) so thank you for addressing those concerns. I started reading through your blog, and I love it! God bless, and I look forward to more.


6 Melissa September 27, 2010 at 10:22 am

Hi Tammie – I hope you’ll give yoga a try – it’s so restorative. I think you’ll develop a crush on it, too.

Thanks for stopping by and keep in touch.
Much love,


7 Avadhut February 26, 2011 at 3:50 am

I read your article “Burnout is Beautiful”. It is outstanding. I am energised and in many ways, I feel, I can make my life beautiful.



8 Deborah Rolston February 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Just came across your blog via Zen Habits. I’m looking forward to reading it. As I’m 50 and British, I find it mildly amusing that somehow its become such a big deal to stay at home and look after your family. When my kids were young, it was quite unusual to have a full time job! I don’t think feminism was meant to make us women try to live like men – I think it was to try and bring the man centred world round to our way of thinking. Its clear we haven’t become empowered enough yet to easily make empowered choices with both sexes in maximum earn and spend survival mode.

Anyway one line on this page resonated with me:
Imagine having the choice to say, “My family needs me now.”

When my kids were young, I put them first and I never for one minute regretted it. Now at 22, 24 and 25 they are almost completely independant adults, I find that my parents are the family that needs me now, and I’m conteplatimg uprooting my whole life in NZ and going back to the UK to be with them. Choices!


9 Melissa February 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Hi Deborah,

Hi Deborah,
That is a tough choice about moving back to the UK! Good luck figuring that out.

I think all parents can put their kids first – working full time or not – it really depends on the individual. Some women aren’t content to be at home, so working full time can actually be a way to “put their kids first.” Otherwise they could resent their kids and then no one wins.

We all create our own path. Even now, I still need time without the kids so I can get work done and define myself beyond motherhood.

Thanks for stopping by. Peace to you!


10 Dhruva February 27, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Feeling Inspired !!

Thanks :)


11 Susan Wilson February 28, 2011 at 2:08 am

This morning I whispered a prayer for help in rebuilding the ruins of a life lived the hard way for too long; this evening I found your blog and your book. Prayers have been answered! :)


12 Melissa February 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm

That’s wonderful to hear, Susan. Thanks for connecting with me.

Good luck rebuilding a strong, beautiful foundation.


13 dbp February 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Thanks for writing the zenhabits article. I’m seriously on the verge of burnout and figured I’d get some “inspiration” by going to zenhabits and BAM – there was the title of your article , which was a GREAT title, by the way, and a great article.


14 Melissa February 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

This inspires me! I’m so happy you connected with me here. Good luck rising from the ashes of burnout.


15 Nikki February 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Hi Melissa,

I found you through Zen Habits and I am so glad I did! I recently quit my day job to start my own business just this month! It is called Soapy Mamma and I make hand-made soap! To supplement, I work at a local breakfast cafe 2 days a week and since I am such a social person, that feels way more like fun than a job and I am making more money and have less stress than before! It is so empowering to finally realize that it CAN be done. We are doing it! My 2 girls, my awesome man and our 3 dogs appreciate my extra time too. Now to get my guys life simplified and working less too…looking forward to the journey. Thanks so much for your inspiring words. Smiles!


16 Melissa March 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I love handmade soap! I think it’s important to know you can scale back on work, but still go out and work if needed. For some that is the ideal situation.
We are doing it too – nice to meet another woman on the same journey.
Peace to you,


17 An Authentic Life February 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I think I love you!


18 Melissa March 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Heart! :-)


19 Jenn C March 2, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I read your guest post on Zen Habits (I love ZH). Your “About” page is really inspiring… and so true.

I’m a 40-something single mother and lost my job in “corporate Bahamas” due to the economy. While not having a steady income is really scary, I’m trying to concentrate on creating multiple income streams.

Since I was a teeenager my career goals have been centered around writing and photography. I guess this is “Fate’s” way of telling me I no longer have the excuse of a majorly stressful job I hated and the present job market is terrible – so now’s the time to create my own life.

And you’re right – there are other people doing it. Thanks for writing about it!

All the best,


20 Natalie March 4, 2011 at 1:36 am

“Choose a full life over a busy life”. WOW–that is exactly what I needed to read. This one sentence will help me define my focus.

My husband and I bought a business (3) years ago and I describe the past three years as running on marbles, on ice. It was hell. I had a bit of a breakdown in year (2); the stress and pressure were truly overwhelming. Fast forward to today and we now have managers in place, business is good and I’m not nearly as involved–thank God!

I think when our lives become really hectic, we literally don’t have time to process what we’re experiencing. I could go on and on, but the point is, I’m grateful for your post on Zen Habits and appreciate your insight. Thank You!


21 Melissa March 4, 2011 at 8:46 am

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for sharing your story here. I’m so glad my post resonated with you.

Your future looks bright! I’m glad your life has slowed down a bit.
Peace to you,


22 noch March 4, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Thanks for sharing

I got burnt out almost 2 years ago and struggled with severe migraines and depression. I’m still on m journey to recovery. I started my blog to confront my own feelings and thoughts and also hope to inspire other people to find peace. I guess you are more successful than I am. I also hope to write my book. But I wonder who will read it sometimes

reading your blog brings back inspiration and motivation


noch @


23 Radman March 11, 2011 at 9:58 am

Stumbled across your site trough a twitter post – glad I did because this is similar to the approach I wish to make with creating my own “new” lifestyle.

Best of luck with your venture(s),



24 Maria Wakem March 15, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Hi Melissa,

Loved your post on burnout on Zen Habits. I hope you don’t mind that I linked to it on my blog. It inspired me to share my own burnout story. Thanks for sharing!

All the best,



25 Melissa March 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Thank you for sharing, Maria. I checked out the post and left a comment. Very inspiring to me!


26 Maria Wakem March 18, 2011 at 11:31 am

Thanks Melissa! : ) I unfortunately didn’t see the post–must be a glitch.


27 Rachael March 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm

I found your site after a somewhat random click of links from one site to another and I am so pleased I did.

I am also a step mother, caught in the corporate world, desperate to get out. After too many years of ladder climbing, materialism, consumerism and trying to keep up with the Jones’ I discovered that the top rung wasn’t acutally that comfortable. I felt isolated and out of balance up there, tettering on a peak I had worked so hard to reach.

My husband and I have started rationalising our lives to get out from under any debt (apart from the mortgage) and to simplify so that we have more time for each other and for the good stuff in life. I have also started my own business and I am desperate to get into it full time but for this year, our focus is on removing the excess so that we can make this transition. The thought of leaving a well paid, stable job for my own business is scary but your about page has given me such hope today, for the long term goal.

Change is inevitable for me too, and you have helped me take another step towards it. Thank you.


28 Melissa March 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Hi Rachael,
I’m so glad you connected with me. I remember feeling the desperation you describe and I want to assure you that once you make the leap, it becomes less and less scary. I’ve learned that you truly can’t prepare for everything. Have a nest egg, yes, but at some point, you just have to trust your gut. Who can say how much money you’ll need down the road? You just have to trust that you’ll figure it out when the time comes. (Definitely save a chunk of money first … getting finances in order is a huge leap into freedom.)

Cheering you on!


29 deborah@applesinwonderland April 4, 2011 at 10:37 am

so happy to have been led this morning to your little slice of life. i’ve been on this similar path for almost 17 years. step by step. following my guts. saying yes when everyone else is saying no. i will be back for more. alignment is underrated. have a wonderful week.


30 Melissa April 5, 2011 at 8:44 am

That is a wonderful quote: Alignment is underrated. SO true. I’m so glad you connected with me here. Take care and thanks for taking the time to comment.


31 Ritu October 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Hi Melissa,

Could I ask how do you get such great looking posts delivered to my inbox? I see but could you share how you have that set up?



32 Melissa October 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Hi Ritu – Simple click this link,
enter you email address and confirm the email (check your inbox!). Then you’ll get my free updates twice a week.
Thanks for checking!


33 lette June 2, 2013 at 2:04 am

Thanks for sharing yourself, Melissa!! I too left my corporate job, just 9 months ago, and can relate to the idea of really needing to simply slow down. The pressure of life in the states (especially how success and high standards of living are portrayed in the media and entertainment, like films and on television) can lead you far down a financially dependent path that becomes more and more difficult to give up, especially with all the consumer-products we are sold in hopes of making our lives simpler and giving us more leisure time (though really it’s just more time to work more and harder to afford all the, often, useless gizmos).

While I know deep down that leaving that life is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself, to be honest, I will occasionally hear a voice of doubt/criticism in my head (which resembles a bit of my mother, I’m guessing). Reading thoughts and experiences from other people, like you, really help to remind me that I did the right thing for myself at the time…and that perhaps the reason it sometimes feels like a questionable decision, is that we have chosen to break ourselves out of the norm. With that, I commend you on your courage to listen to your heart, and for reminding me that that is what is important.


34 Melissa June 12, 2013 at 10:51 am

Thanks for sharing your story here.
I, too, struggle with self-doubt at times. I’m fortunate enough to focus on writing my novels, which can’t be sold until they are completed. This brings an element of doubt, definitely! But I try to focus on what I can control and thank God everyday for this wonderful life I have. Even though I did work hard to reach this point, I see others who struggle and think, “Wow, I am spoiled!” To me, that’s a negative way to view my work to design my life. So I try, really hard, to focus on thankfulness instead. :)

Take care and best wishes!


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