I spent a good part of this March Break week sorting through closets and cleaning out areas in our home. I realized in doing this (and actually, I previously clued in to the same fact when we moved this summer) that we, in general (as humans), have way too much STUFF. We have way too many material possessions. Non –materialistically, we carry around too much emotional baggage as well. There’s really just too much STUFF overall and we need to SIMPLIFY.
Personally, I have felt really bogged down lately. To be honest, some days I almost feel suffocated by the amount of “stuff” I push / carry around in a day – both physically and mentally. My American “sista” (no, she’s neither biological nor adopted, just a very close friend who is more like family), has a beautiful sign hanging in her kitchen which states one word: “SIMPLIFY”. I have always loved that sign because its one simple word says so much. I recently asked my dear friend about the sign and what it meant to her, because as much as I love words, I know that they mean different things to different people. Her response was so simple, just like the word itself. She said, “Make life simple, in everything you do!”
Thinking myself that it really seemed too easy, I questioned her – did she mean to keep things simple in what you have, in what you do, and in how you act?
Her response was yes, that was it. Her belief is that when you add more to the mix of life, then things start to become stressful and problems are created. Keeping it simple is the key to happiness.
It made absolute and perfect sense to me.
I did some thinking this week about simplicity and what it means to live a simple life. Is it a life with bare minimums, as in focusing on the three basic needs: food, clothing, and shelter, or is it more than that? Is living life simply about appreciating what you have instead of always looking for more? Is it about being satisfied with the grass roots, back-to-the-basics style of living? Is it about spending less and valuing the simple pleasures in life more?
As I worked through my week organizing closets and storage areas, mainly kids’ toys, I realized that we didn’t need to spend money on making life any more complicated. My kids don’t need any more toys, and I don’t need to be doing any more sorting or organizing than I already have to do.
Moving on to my own closet, I realized once again that less is more. I had donated quite a few clothing items last summer before we moved, but still my closet overflows. I do not need to be spending any more money on clothes until the ones I have are worn out (in some cases worn for the first time – yikes!) or I’m completely tired of wearing them – (I’m not that far off with my winter wardrobe, but thankfully spring is just around the corner!)
My storage closet on the second floor contains extra winter wear and coats, sweaters, and footwear for all seasons. While there isn’t a whole lot I can do about the necessary four seasons wear for a family of four, there is something to be said about exactly how many coats, boots, shoes, etc we all need. I mean, we can only wear one pair at a time. And we only have two feet. No more money needs to be spent on outer wear until the kids grow out of theirs.
My storage space beneath the stairs contains the overflow of items that haven’t found a place yet in the kitchen or in my office area. It’s a work in progress but I already know that there is more than what we need for a simple life in there.
I’ve saved the best for last: the garage. We have this huge garage (measurements: 30 X 60 feet) and it’s pretty much overtaken by the many things that didn’t make it into our house (as well as the normal garage items, to be fair). The goal for this March break was to organize the garage and build a loft for storage, but that is still a work-in-progress. We are still working on clearing out many unneeded items from in there and I may hear a garage sale calling us in the spring. Truth be told, the garage is the epitome of the many things that one does not really need in life, but things that one has just in case they’re needed. We definitely need to simplify in there, but we’re working on it.
As for the emotional baggage that I might strive to simplify, I’m working on it also. I have this visualization technique which I have begun to use. Actually, it’s quite simple as well: I picture myself as a duck.
(Ok, probably not the most flattering animal I could’ve chosen, but I picked it for a reason.) In my mind I see myself as a duck, swimming around in a big pond, minding my own business and taking care of my own family (my ducklings). I visualize myself in a pond with lots of other ducks who I nod and smile at, but I really don’t let the quacking of those other ducks affect me. The saying ‘water off a duck’s back’ applies to me here. I let the emotional baggage and the extras of life wash off my back just like a duck’s feathers do not allow the water to permeate them. Simplifying my life means I will not allow the downloading of unnecessary issues or concerns of trivial items to be put onto me. I will simply let things go and not allow ‘quacking’ and complexity to unnecessarily occupy space in my mind.
The word SIMPLIFY is a simple word, but it really has a larger meaning. Truthfully and plainly put it means to live life simply in everything you do, but it also means individual things to individual people. It may mean not buying more than what you currently need. It can mean to live life in a simple way, working hard and enjoying the basics of life such as growing your own food, ‘going green’, and using resources wisely. It can mean to not allow yourself to be overburdened by the concerns and issues not directly related to you or necessary to the daily functioning of your life. It may even mean putting aside electronic devices for a while and allowing yourself time to think, to breathe, and to simply be free from distraction. It may be not allowing others to affect you or your thinking in the same way anymore. Putting aside other people’s negativity and possibly their reluctance to change or to alter their patterns can be a way of bringing simplicity into your own life. Surround yourself with those who have similar beliefs, values, and goals and you may just find that simplifying your life is an even easier task.
Life can be what you make it, as complicated or as simple as you choose it to be.
I choose to SIMPLIFY.
(Dear Readers, Thank you for taking the time to read ‘me’ – I hope this blog helps you to simplify something in your life as well. Yours in simplicity ~ K ~)