Sunday, April 19, 2009

Our Simple Life

He who has heaven in his heart is never poor.
Gold and silver have their price, but peace and happiness are priceless.
- these proverbs appeared in The Greatest Treasure by Demi, a book our son loved reading -

Living in the South, it seems going to church is as important as breathing in air. After learning we did not attend a particular church, a dear acquaintance asked us to join hers. Before we could come up with an excuse, our 2 year old quickly piped in saying joyfully "Our Church is in our Garden!" It made us all laugh - but for our family nothing could be closer to the truth. This is the life we live. We chose to live where we live to be close to nature, our Garden. And nothing is more important to us than the three members of our Church. And we do enjoy our Church convening in our Garden!

In the same way a simple life for us means to live our life the way we choose, not one dictated by anyone else. We didn't have a church wedding. We married each other by sharing our own vows in front of a few family members and a few friends. We never had a honeymoon, but we have not been away from each other for more than 24 hours and unlike many couples, we love being together all the time. We chose to give birth to our son at home. Daddy quit his job in Wall Street to be a teacher. Mama found her true calling as a mother and wife. And we are discovering everyday that "the more, the better and the bigger, the better" mantra we grew up with is definitely not what we are all about.

A friend Sherri recently lent me The Simplicity Reader and here are some things I found interesting.

In making the decision to simplify your life, you run the risk of going against the generally accepted American standard of success. Friends and associates who are still looking to Madison Avenue or to corporate America or the media to define what success is for them may well find your desire for a simpler life tantamount to heresy. They'll think you've gone soft. Or that maybe you just don't have what it takes to succeed in the 'real' world. Sometimes - though they wouldn't admit it - they see your new lifestyle as a threat to their own. To many, the idea of paring down and living a simple life seems not only impractical, it's unthinkable. The question often is, 'Why would you want to have only a little when you can have a lot? Or even have it all?'... It takes courage to buck the tide, but once you start to experience the freedom that comes from actively creating your own interpretation of success, you'll find it easy to move on from people who haven't yet figured out that having it all or spending long hours at an unsatisfying job will never define who the truly are, no matter how high the pay. You'll no doubt soon reach the point, where you can say... "I've stopped trying to explain to people. Now I just let them wonder why I seem so happy and secure in myself these days."
- from The Simplicity Reader by Elaine St. James -

Simplify Your Life: reduce the clutter in your life, cut your grocery shopping time in half, buy in bulk, plant a garden, run all your errands in one place, cut your laundering chore in half, stop buying clothes that need to be dry-cleaned, leave your shoes at the front door, recycle, reduce your go-go entertainment, rethink your meals with friends (we go potluck these days - so much healthier than restaurant food!), turn off the TV, stop the junk mail, cancel your magazine subscriptions, stop the newspaper delivery, drop call waiting, don't answer the phone just because it's ringing (you all know this is true!), don't answer the doorbell either, get rid of your car phone, if you don't like the holidays bow out, stop sending Christmas cards (send an e-card!), gift giving simplified, traveling simplified (it took me a while to learn this, but we take 2 carry-ons for 3 of us for a month holiday), take a vacation at home, get out of debt, live on half of what you earn and save the other half, rethink your buying habits, change the way you shop, reduce your needs for goods and services, get rid of all but 1 or 2 credit cards, teach your kids fiscal responsibility, stop being a slave to your Day Runner, work where you live or live where you work, do what you really want to do, turn your hobby into your job, work less and enjoy it more, stop the busy work, include your family in your work life, simplify your eating habits, make water your drink of choice, pack your own lunch, create your own rituals, learn to laugh, learn yoga, learn to meditate, clean up your relationships, just be yourself, trust your intuition, teach your kids the joy of solitude, do one thing at a time, do nothing, take time to watch the sunset (we love to do this!), just say no, resign from any organizations whose meetings you dread, learn to reinterpret the past, change your expectations, review your life regularly to keep it simple, kick off your high heels-and keep them off (I haven't worn them in more than 3 years!), take off your plastic nails and throw out the nail polish (since working in a restaurant, I haven't had nail polish or long nails...), minimize accessories...

Inner Simplicity: simplify your life, spend time each day in nature (one of our favourite things to do!), connect with the sun, create beauty in your life, create simplicity not austerity, learn to enjoy the silence (these days it only happens when son is sleeping), get in touch with your creativity, latch on to synchronicity, slow down, learn to receive, be realistic, figure out what you don't want in your life, enjoy each moment, take time to read, sleep a lot (haven't done this in 2 years!), have weekend retreats at home, don't get caught in the righteousness of your path, form a support group, monitor obvious distractions, create your own sanctuary, use affirmations, use visualizations, ask for help if you need it, figure out what others have to teach you, ignore skeptics, establish a routine, break your routine once in a while, smile a lot, reduce your need to know, rethink the beliefs of you childhood, rethink you current beliefs, do the things you fear, practice dying, release your attachment to possessions, just say no, be honest with people, choose to ignore an insult, be patient, laugh a lot, realise the importance of self-discipline, stop judging others, get rid of anger, ask what's happening, take responsibility for your life, accept the things you can't change, learn to forgive, get out of relationships that don't support you, figure out your big issue, get your finances under control, get your body in shape, keep your energy up, let go of addictions that hinder your progress, eliminate your old patterns, get comfortable with change, learn to see the problems in your life as gifts, develop gratitiude, take time to think, stop the world - you can get off, dance, learn to listen to your inner voice, create joy in your life, love a lot.

Living The Simple Life: be willing to change the way you play the game, you can have a simpler job, you can have a simpler life, set your own pace, zero in on your top 4 or 5 priorities, remember there are only 24 hours in the day, remember that relationships take time, stop feeding your ego, learn to make good choices, get off automatic pilot, how to deal with people who don't understand, use your public library (ours is EXCELLENT), come up with a creative solution rather than a buying solution, when you bring in something new throw out something old, put a moratorium on shopping, the truly free person, find your life's work, giving back, set buying limits for toys and candy and stick to them, set limits for your parents and other well-intentioned relatives too, cultivate simple values, make your own rules, start with what you already have.


  1. Amen! The older I get the more I realize that true joy and peace are found only in contentment with what God has already given us, not in the wanting or even the getting of more.

  2. Hi! This is Monica, your cousin. Your dad told me about your blog. This is a wonderful post! For many months I have wanted to simplify my life and the way we do things at home. I hate seeing so much mail all the time and so many things to file and so many things that don't really have their own place and are awaiting judgment (keep, garage, or throw away?). (That's just the tip of the iceberg!) These suggestions on how to achieve simplicity are very inspiring and very helpful. I think I will print this out and stick it on the wall of my room to guide me and remind me of what is important and what is not.

    I'm going to keep reading your blog. I see there is so much I can learn from you on parenting! Hugs to you and your family from me and Santi :)