with Dale Connelly, 12/03/99
DC: Simplicity. It's the latest trend. I'm talking with one of
the leading figures in what is being called a simplicity "movement",
a woman who was described by the New York Times as a "simplicity Ninja",
Ann Avonlea Archer Mulligan-Dorfman. Good morning, thanks for coming in, Ann.
Ann: It's nice to be here.
DC: Ann is on a tour to promote her latest book, "Simplicity Made Simple."
I read the first five pages or so and it looked great.
Ann: Thank you. I wonder ... would you mind using my full name whenever you talk
about me? I don't answer to just "Ann." Each part of my name is significant
and that's who I am.
DC: Oh. Sorry. Sure. (etc.)
Ann: "Ann" was my great grandmother's name. "Avonlea" is the
name of the house, (an estate really), where my mother grew up, "Archer"
is the name of a kind of fish that spits water up into the air and knocks bugs
off leaves and then eats them. Wow.
"Mulligan" is the surname I was born with, it's been in the family for
a long time. And "Dorfman" is my husband Stan's name. I love you honey!
I don't think he's listening but I like to tell him I love him in every interview
because radio waves go out into space and I'm hoping one day my great great granddaughter
will lead a mission to the Andromeda galaxy and if she should catch up with one
of these broadcasts I'd like her to know that her great great grandparents were
very much in love.
DC: I'll be happy to respect your wishes, Ann Avonlea Archer Mulligan-Dorfman.
Ann: Thank you for understanding.
DC: Why have you written so many books about simplicity? You've got this one,
"Simplicity Made Simple." Then there's "The Simple Life."
"Simply Living." "The Simple Handbook." "Simple Thoughts
for Everyday." "Simple Is as Simple Does."
And ... "Simply Simple for Singles."
Ann: I guess I don't understand the question.
DC: I'll try to simplify it. Why seven books, when one would be enough?
Ann: Today's world is so complex and people have allowed themselves to be stretched
in so many different directions, I don't think one book can do the job. It's like
having five shoe stores in a shopping mall. Would one shoe store be enough? It
would be more simple, but if you want to get shoes to everybody, you need multiple
I wish spreading the word about simplicity weren't so complicated.
But it is and that's out of my hands.
DC: Speaking of that, Ann Avonlea Archer Mulligan-Dorfman, what is the word about
simplicity that you're trying to spread?
Ann: Just that it's more simple. It's a better way of life than what we've been
(sfx: rustle of many papers)
And people agree. It's ... uh ... an often expressed desire in public opinion
(sfx: one piece of paper is uncrumpled)
Here it is. As recently as 1995, 89% of the Americans surveyed said they were
tired and wished their lives could be more simple.
DC: What's with the box of wadded up papers, Ann? Avonlea Archer Mulligan-Dorfman?
Ann: These are the original notes I made for my first book about Simplicity, "The
Simple Solution." It's no longer in print but luckily I saved all my research
in this box. I was going to throw it out but never got around to it.
DC: What is the single most important bit of advice you could offer to people
who are looking to simplify their lives?
Ann: Buy my books.
DC: Ok, what's another piece of advice?
Ann: One thing I've found to be very effective is to get in the habit of getting
rid of one thing per day. Just get rid of one possession. So many of us have accumulated
so much. It's crazy to have so many things. Things complicate our lives. If you
haven't used it in a year, find it and recycle it or throw it out. That's what
I was planning to do with these notes, before I knew they'd come in so handy.
(sfx: rustling, and uncrumpling one paper)
Here it is. The beginning of Chapter 6 ... throw out something every day.
DC: And have you done that?
Ann: I have. I'm a very disciplined person. I set aside ten minutes of my day
to find something to get rid of. I scheduled it right after my daily trip to the
mall because sometimes when I'm walking around there I'll see something in one
of the stores or overhear something that will remind me of a thing that I have
at home that I bought once but I don't use it anymore. I take my stuff home and
I have ten minutes to find the thing I thought of and get rid of it.
DC: You go to the mall EVERY DAY?
Ann: Sure. You can't write all the time. Besides, if I don't go every day, the
house starts to feel empty.
DC: I leave the television on. It helps.
Ann: Good point. Some people say a simplified life has no television in it. But
I've found watching TV is one of the simplest things you can do. It settles a
lot of difficult questions about how to spend your time.
DC: Speaking of time, we're out of it.
Ann: Another problem solved.
DC: Thanks Ann Avonlea Archer Mulligan Dorfman ... simplicity guru and author
of 8 books on the topic.
Ann: And don't forget ... "A Simple Century," a calendar with a simple
thought for each day of each year of the 21st century.
That's 36,500 separate and distinct daily thoughts about simplicity.
DC: I had no idea there was so much to say.
Dale Connelly Reporting Home