By Vicki Nelson
Simplicity. It’s a complicated word. For some, it means the tossing of objects – tattered clothing, unread books, and unused kitchen appliances. Others picture a home in the country, baking bread and setting up a garden to grow their food. Then there are those who picture simplicity as merely having time to give to others, and to themselves. For me, simplicity is a combination of all those ideas.
My journey to simplicity began over a year ago, when my life was out-of-control, hidden beneath old shirts and shoes, unused movies and books, and miscellaneous kitchen gadgets. It wasn’t only the accumulation of ‘stuff’ in my life that was the problem, it was me. I had taken life to a whole new level, full of flurry and constant activity. I cooked, using long, elaborate recipes; I cleaned till my home sparkled; I exercised till it hurt; and I created homemade everything, from cookies, to greeting cards and jewelry. Add a husband, two grown children with families, church, classes, and my life was the American dream, at least on the outside.
The thing is, I wasn’t really happy, nor was I healthy. In fact, I was tired, worn-out, and sometimes just plain miserable. I consider myself fortunate for the discovery I made one day while perusing Pinterest. I came upon someone’s board entitled “Simplicity.” I was intrigued and delved into the subject with gusto. At first, I thought it was a phase, like many I go through, and I think my husband did as well.
But as I began reading blogs about simplicity and minimalizing, I put the ideas into practice. Soon, closets and drawers were being emptied of old and tattered clothing. Movies and unused CDs were cast into a garbage bag. Tennis shoes were given away, and cabinets were cleared of extra sets of wine glasses. Even furniture was placed on a truck. But the hardest part, it was the day I dropped the majority of my craft items into a Goodwill bag.
It was difficult, and often, I was skeptical. What if I missed my ‘stuff’? What if I needed it someday? But time went on, and days turned to weeks, and weeks to months, and I realized something, I no longer remembered what I had given away.
There was something else I noticed. I felt cleaner, not physically, but spiritually. I had given away dozens of bags filled with junk that had cluttered my closets, not realizing the impact it had on my mind, and my soul.
It’s funny how one area of a person’s life can affect all other areas. After I cleansed my house, including the garage, I craved something more, though at first I wasn’t sure what it was. I searched until I made a discovery. It seems the cleansing of my home had only been a gateway to the real problem, the addiction to a busy life. And so it began. I simplified my life.
I learned a new way of cooking, simple meals like soups and breads, complete with desserts containing few ingredients. I learned to exercise faster and stronger, with minimal equipment. I learned how to clean, and make it a quick, mindful activity instead of a chore. I also learned what crafts I really enjoyed, and how to let go of those I did not truly love.
The simple life. It’s what I’ve been looking for. I have been blessed beyond belief and found many benefits to living a simpler, quieter life. Here are a few I have discovered:
- I wake with a renewed spirt, knowing there is less to do, and more time for what matters.
- I discovered me, my likes, my dislikes, and what’s important in my life.
- I clean less, for there is less to clean.
- I shop less, for I desire less.
- I live more, because I am less of a servant to ‘stuff.’
- I sleep better.
- I eat better.
- I feel better.
- I have time for family and friends.
- I have freedom to volunteer and give.
- I have more money.
- I have less to maintain.
- I am more efficient.
- I live in the moment.
- Most of all, I have learned to enjoy the simple things in life.
Simplicity changes a person. It changed me. I am by no means perfect, and simplicity is a constant battle, one I must fight daily, against both consumerism and busyness. But it’s worth fighting for.
What steps are you taking to obtain a simpler life? What benefits have you seen? May you discover your own benefits along your journey to a simple and beautiful life.
Vicki is a creator of words, an inventor of food, and a designer of anything that makes her life simpler. Residing in the Pacific Northwest, she has fallen in love with the simple life. She dreams of one day living on open land, where horses run free, and rivers run wild. She’s a bit of hippie, and a whole lot of happy. You can read more about her at www.thesimplehippie.com