Monday, April 13, 2020

How to Live Simply

If you want to simplify your life, you should move cross-country in a Camry. No trailer or moving van. Just a car that holds your entire life. Hahaha I know that's not reasonable for everyone (or anyone, really) but it's what we were crazy enough to do at the end of 2017. We have since traded in for a 4Runner...and honestly will have a little trouble trying to move back across the country with everything we own in it. We have simplified SO much, but we have also gained a few things that we are intentional about using in our lives, like camp bundles, 65L packs, and we recently got some new snowshoes.

I think that minimalism and simplicity get a lot of negative attention, but it's all really about just being intentional with your time, space, and possessions. It clears your mind to live your life the way you want to, not the way you "have" to because you're too bogged down in the vicious cycle of "more, more, more." MORE is what society tells us that we need. But I think that just leads to losing ourselves. What we need is CLARITY, and that is what simple living has gifted me. 

I've learned to curate my closet with precision for my both my style and needs. It makes packing a breeze...I never have much to choose from. :) You can typically find me in scrubs or athleisure. So I don't need a lot of fancy...I think there may be one dress currently in my closet. I know this sounds extreme. But I am just learning to match my lifestyle to my season of life. Excess does not do much for me anymore. 

I get it. I used to be VERY materialistic. When my mom would take me to Nashville shopping, I only wanted to shop at Green Hills. I loved name brands and the more expensive, the better. Well, I became a big girl with my own paycheck and that changed. But even now that I could afford some nicer name brands if I wanted to...I still pass. I think the "nicest" brand in my closet right now is Patagonia. I don't even own Free People anymore which used to be all that my closet consisted of really. Admittedly, I used to not like it when my parents would buy off-brand goods at Walmart. I thought the brand name was better. How bratty and naive I was! It's the same product with differently-priced packaging (most of the time).

So yeah, I've grown up a lot. But mostly I've just evolved. Moving to Reno a couple of years ago really enlightened me. It was my first taste of "simple living." I remember hiking one day and standing on top of one of the foothills and thinking that the more I simplified my life, the more alive I became. And that's continued to prove true. My time there showed me who I really am. It also showed me what all this great planet can offer me and that I can offer it in return. 

I don't have to live my life as a selfish consumer possessed by the "gimme, gimme, gimme" culture. How am I living in return for all of the taking I am doing? I'm still not great at this, but I'm actively conscious about it. We have significantly cut back on our plastic use (still have a few areas of this to work on). I've learned to stop asking for straws and buying bottled water, and my friend Maggie is smiling at me right now for that. I don't have to live with my thermostat at "comfort level" all the time. I can shed or add clothing layers. We own one vehicle (we have a work-provided one right now too in full disclosure, but we only use both if we have opposite shifts). We only fill up on gas every couple of months...granted that's probably because we are on an island with a limited road system. But I'll be honest that until fairly recently I've always lived with the mindset that energy is infinite and endless. So I'm learning and working on becoming more "green" in the process and conserving more energy. What I do know is this: we all can do better.

I'm really into homeopathy these days. Organically, this blends into simple living. I want to get to the root cause of things and treat it naturally, not just mask symptoms with ibuprofen. In fact, if you looked at our "medicine cabinet" right now, you might be surprised to hardly find any medications. It's actually in a portable container (because travel life) and it's pretty small, filled with basic things like sinus rinses, echinacea, magnesium, elderberry, homeopathic cough syrup, and first aid supplies. We do turn to essential oils for a lot of things, including body ailments, and I'm getting more into herbalism and the natural side of health care. This is a beautiful picture of simplicity to me. I feel a pull in life to get "back to the basics" and personally, this is one of the best ways I can choose to live simply. 

Life is really much simpler than we make it. I go to work and I get my job done, but everything outside of that is a margin that I can design however I want. That's inspiring to me! No pressure here under the crazy demands of life. I consider myself to be a lifelong student. I want to have free time constructed in my calendar to pursue growth and learning. This, of course, looks different for everyone, but right now my indoor free time is full of Bible study, aromatherapy school, entrepreneurship education, working out, listening to classical music, and taking French lessons. Oui! Let's just say that I'm a solid type five on the enneagram...and thriving in these weird times of quarantine. I literally don't see how people can be bored. ;) This is how I choose to build out my time. The more you simplify, the more you can give yourself a choice in how you build out yours. I refuse to drown in my to-do list, obligations, possessions, or chores. There are not many things more satisfying to me than crossing things off my planner. I meet things head-on when I can and face issues on the front end, so that on the back end...I can embrace simplicity.

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When it's storming outside, I want to sit on my couch and read a book without any guilt of "what I should be doing." If I want to watch some old Disney movies, then so be it. If I want to go for a walk in the pouring rain, then I'm going to embrace it. If I want to spend an entire afternoon baking, well that's what I will do. I'm trying to be more intentional about holding space for true Sabbath in my life at least once a week. It's what we were created to do. If I want to be lazy, that's OK sometimes too. Bottom line: I'm going to live.

The point is...we add so much "fluff" to our lives that we can't even see the "real" when it's in our faces. Drown out what you don't need.

Who cares about keeping up with the latest and greatest, when you already have everything you need? 

Why keep up with the Joneses? Here's a secret...they are probably miserable. 

Why accumulate more books when you haven't read the ones you own? (Preaching this one to myself.) 

Why continue to buy more toys when your children don't play with half the ones you own? 

Why not cultivate your dream life and run after your passions? 

Why bog down your schedule to the point your entire household doesn't know what family time even is? 

Why waste what you could recycle? 

Why own multiples of something when just one or two will suffice?

Why not build time into your schedule for your hobbies and for self-care?

Why drown yourself in consumerism when you could thrive in simplicity?

There's no set blueprint for how it will look like to live your life simply. These are just some questions you can ask yourself to get you going in the right direction. It will be different for every single family. For our little unit of two, it just means being intentional, keeping ourselves grounded and on the same page, and continuing to evolve our vision for our household. We have "meetings" as needed to dream, plan, budget, and organize. Simple living is not stagnant living. It's a process that will force you out of your comfort zone...then continue to expand and up-level you along the way.

Living simply is obviously a very multi-faceted paradigm, but this is how I will wrap it up for all simmers down to a concept I learned in high school government class called KISS...keep it simple, stupid. :)

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