When I first sought a life of simplicity, I knew I wanted three things: Balance, freedom and joy. I never really set out to ‘live a simple life’ – but in wanting those three specific things, I needed ways to improve in areas that were wreaking havoc with my dreams. Looking back, the first step in having balance, freedom and joy was to list all the ways my current lifestyle was distracting me from my true intentions. I revisited my list last week as I planned the ‘Sho-Me Simplicity’ blogs for 2013. Let’s start this year off with my list and see if you can start here too…
- My ‘Stuff’ – Closets overflowed. The garage was an obstacle course. My car was messy. And even though I don’t like to cook much, I had become a victim of the latest rage in ‘new appliances’. Not only was I tripping over stuff, buying it was keeping me locked under a burden of debt. As the cycle (buy…organize…store) continued I realized every room of my house was draining my energy. I realized what most people on Pinterest have yet to realize: No matter how cool the ‘organization’ tip is, the truth is, I was still buying, organizing and storing things I absolutely did not need. I started with a closet and sorted my way through each room of my house. Once I realized I was hanging on to things for emotional reasons, it was easier to start purging. I still have things I could donate or sell, but its been a wonderful work in progress.
- My Schedule – None of us can “make time” and even “manage time”. The entire concept is a fallacy. I can only manage myself using the time I have. By owning more than I needed, I didn’t have time to do what I really wanted to do because I was too busy cleaning, organizing or maintaining my possessions. When I gave myself permission to start cleansing my life of useless possessions and activities, I found I could manage myself better and even started spending more time with my friends and family.
- My Lofty Plans – I’m an overachiever. I take on waaaaayyyy too much. I would have loved to “Keep Calm and Carry On” but the truth is I couldn’t. I was too busy. Each New Year brought at least 14 ‘goals’ (Two in each category: Finance, Career, Spiritual, etc. etc. – Which is totally STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!). I finally realized that setting ONLY ONE GOAL was the best thing I could do. In fact, I was even able to reach that goal because the pressure was off and I could stay focused. Once I finished it, I just added another one to my list. I didn’t set any this year. Yep. Not one goal.
- My Emotions – Negative emotions don’t benefit anyone and most likely are useless. Holding on to negative emotions such as resentment, hate, jealousy and bitterness can manifest in various ways in the human body causing anything from acid reflux to cancer. My new mantra is “That’s not my issue”…and that has given me so much peace. I still get angry…but I don’t hold on to it. I still get anxious but I have learned that trusting the process helps ease that emotion. Keeping my emotions in check has given me the freedom to not care. It’s been nice to not care about things that are not my issue. So freeing.
- My Spending Habits – Debt was holding me captive. Honestly, it wasn’t even that much debt and I seriously could have knocked it out in about 24 months if I hadn’t been buying all this stuff (see point #1). So now I don’t buy what I don’t really need and I’m finding that I’m not being held hostage anymore. Do I want luxury items? Well, yes, at times I do. And I even still buy things. Just because I want to live a simple life doesn’t mean I don’t buy ANYTHING. I’m just more choosy. Before I may have purchased 6 items on sale and spent $100. Now I may spend $110 on one item of better quality. My favorite combination is to get the better quality item on sale. Which is usually a fluke because I don’t just go ‘shopping for sales’. Seriously. In fact, I hate sales. (See the photo below for why!) I only need one anyway. (Someday I’ll tell you about my new Pyrex dish fetish.)
6. My Voice – Because I like to teach, so I talk – a lot (okay. too much). But honestly, the less I speak, the better I hear. In keeping with The Four Agreements, I do my best to be impeccable with my speech which means I try to avoid gossip. My husband comes from a large family and they are all very close so they share each other’s news all the time. It’s all a bit mind-blowing to me and I’m sure I seem a little ‘standoffish’ to some but I don’t really talk on the phone much or share information. But, the good news is if people tell me something, I don’t use it as the leading point of conversation with the next person. I figure if this cousin wants that cousin to know…that cousin can tell this cousin. It’s not my job to broadcast the family news.
7. My Diet – I’m not as naughty as you think, so relax. But, I realized that the fewer ingredients my food has the better it is for me. I recently started making baby food for my little guy and his foods are so simple: Apples, pears, carrots, peas, and green beans. My food…well, um…even “Mac & Cheese” has more ingredients than just macaroni and cheese. Minimizing unhealthy, unpronounceable foods improves my energy level in the short-term and just might improve my triglycerides and glucose levels in the long run. If I don’t have time to eat my veggies, I juice them. Despite the ‘don’t drink juice’ advocates, I still believe drinking my health food is better than nothing at all.
8. My Screen time –I will publicly admit to a slight addiction to social media. However, I realized a year ago that the more engaged I was on social media, the less of a social life I had. (As my step daughter would say…”Imagine the irony”. I just love her!!) As far as for television, I just had to stop watching the news altogether and limit my entertainment time. I majored in marketing so I know the tricks and truly, I don’t need to know how terribly uncool I am because I don’t own an iPad, or that the unemployment rate is through the roof. I have enough on my plate to worry about – no need to invent problems or get constant 30-second reminders that I should buy something I don’t need.
9. My Connections – People often gripe that they can’t reach me by phone. Well, that’s because after 8 pm, I power down. Once a month I take a weekend off Facebook and I don’t read email more than twice a week. There’s a reason the Amish are so relaxed…and since I don’t plan to buy a horse and buggy, I’m just going to take time for quiet. This time last year I challenged myself and posted “If you want to see me, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee and we can chat.” What happened? Not a lot, but I began spending more time with fewer people and I feel a deeper connection to them.
10. My Multi-Tasking – Finally research is catching up to prove what men all over the world have known all along: Multi-tasking does not work! God created the entire Universe, but it was a focused effort each day. When He was creating the sun and moon and stars, He wasn’t thinking about how many land-dwelling beings He was going to make the next day. Be SINGLE FOCUSED. It’s a lost art, but so worth it.
So that’s my list. That’s where it all started for me and it is the list I want to use as a jumping off point for this year’s blog posts on Sho-Me Simplicity. At first I got caught up in the Pinterest frenzy of organizing and storage tips – thinking I could use this as a way to help you ORGANIZE your life…but truthfully, that’s not me. I want you to SIMPLIFY your life and I still believe that the less we own, the better off we will be. So, I’m sticking with the strategy that less is more. If you want organization tips, unsubscribe from my blog and, well, go waste your time on Pinterest.
*I haven’t hired an editor. I write because I love it. I post it quickly because I’m excited. Being rich or famous is not really my intention. Besides, if I was famous or rich, there would be no typos because there would be an editor. Until then…deal with it.