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Maximum impact from a minimalistic approach

Sandy Bastien builds a full family life

Sandy Bastien of New Windsor manages her busy life as an instructor, business owner, author and mom by staying focused on what's important. Photo: Michael Bloom

Sandy Bastien makes the disparate parts of her life work together by practicing an individualistic sense of minimalism, which she's also working to pass on to the five kids in her household: four of her own and one a guardian ward. She's also pregnant with another baby that's due in a few months.

"I've always loved helping others," said Bastien.

Many people in the Newburgh area know Sandy through her work at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, where she's the instructor for the its popular Saturday morning kids' enrichment program. She also recently wrote an illustrated kids' book, Is It Saturday Yet?.

Taking the next step

Bastien likes to tell stories about her children, 14-year-old Fatima, 5-year-old Dylan, 3-year-old Vernon and 2-year-old Marvella, along with a relative's daughter, Mayena, age 2, of whom she is her guardian.

"I used to work with the New York City Department of Corrections on Riker's Island," said Bastien, about what drives her, yet also keeps her balanced. "I've always found a way to lend a hand helping others and when my husband, Pierre, lost his job in 2018, he decided to go study ESL (English as a Second Language) at the (Newburgh Armory) Unity Center, where I discovered their enrichment program."

The rest is history.

"Our personal development has a lot to do with our success in life," said Bastien. "One always needs to perfect a skill. I started volunteering at the Armory, then filled in with reading, after which I was given a reading class."

Inspired by how excited her son, Dylan, would get about his Saturdays at the Armory, Bastien put his experience in her new children's book, Is It Saturday Yet?, which was published by Amazon in August and soon will be available through local bookstores.

READ MORE: DIY bookmarks for kids

The book adds to her previous writing credentials, including a memoir and several self-published, inspirational works.

"I've always loved writing," Bastien said. "This is my way of gifting the Armory with a 'thank you,' to share all the different things the Armory offers."

In addition to her writing and Saturday morning program, Bastien also runs a home-based business, Plumeria Bouquets, where she designs and sells floral arrangements.

Creating balance

"I always prioritize," she said. "I have a list that marks off days of business, days doing the books, days for planning ahead. I don't try to do everything every day. If I'm doing the Armory, I just do that for the day. I try to do a minimum; I keep my kids important."

Bastien also works off her smartphone, which allows her to work in bed or while she's with her kids.

"I try to simplify as much as possible," she said. "When I complicate things, I don't do as much. This way, I do more and I'm encouraged to get everything I do done."

READ MORE: Balancing a busy schedule

Before Bastien and her husband moved to New Windsor, they lived in Harlem in New York City. After their son, Dylan, was born, the couple decided to move out of the city to, "find a place where we could feel excited to get home," said Bastien. They also wanted more flexibility.

"You lose focus," she said. "You use each moment to get to the next moment, but then you change your mindset and realize that life is about living in the moment."

Those moments, Bastien said, now include the time she spends when picking up her kids from the bus stop after school and being present and available for their needs.

"You get to see your children's lives inside and out," she said.

Bastien also recalled how her parents worked hard to get her into private schools but didn't have time for family life. She said it's important to model a righteous life for one's children.

"My kids, I've learned, teach me how to think like a child," she said. "They show one how to make more from less, which I then remind them about when we get pulled towards things-toward wants. It's the memories we build that count most." 

Paul Smart is a father who writes for a variety of publications in the Hudson Valley.

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