Post #2 in my 2012 reflections…
Simplicity is one of my core values, one reinforced by my Quaker beliefs. The best way that I’ve incorporated simplicity into my life in 2012 has been in the home where I live. It’s uncluttered and open, and thus it’s easy-to-care-for. It rarely looks messy just because there isn’t much stuff to pile up. In general, my fridge and cupboards and closets are sparsely-filled.
When I moved, I got rid of stuff. As I packed, before any item went into a box I asked myself whether it was useful and whether I loved it. If it wasn’t either of those two things, it moved on. Broken stuff was discarded. Anything that I hadn’t used in more than a year went to the goodwill. Also, if something had a bad memory attached to it, it didn’t make the cut. That last element is an important one–I realized that bad memories can clutter my home just as much as piles of physical objects.
One lesson that I’ve learned from my recent travels, is that there’s very little stuff that you actually need on a daily basis. So I’ve incorporated that lesson into the ways that I’ve organized my surroundings. Also, I learned from some of the hotels that I encountered in my travels that sparseness makes feel more comfortable than a space full of many things. (note: I took this to an extreme during christmas when I realized that I couldn’t stomach piles of gaudily-wrapped packages under the tree. Instead, I used the soft white packing paper that we’d recycled from our move to wrap our gifts)..
Another way that I “keep it simple” is to arrange all of my financial documents to be delivered online (no more paper!), to shop online, and to keep my google calendar updated. When I bring in the mail each evening I sort it immediately and try to deal with each piece of paper then, instead of letting them linger somewhere in a pile. That, and I try to keep stuff in the same spot all of the time so it’s not hard to find when I need it (no more searching for shoes and keys and phones).
Most importantly, and this is related to my first retrospective post about finances, is that I resist the pull to accumulate more things. When I’m tempted to buy something new, I first consider how I might meet that need in some other way besides accumulating more stuff. Maybe I can netflix or ILL that movie or book (or buy it on kindle). Maybe I can use a slightly different-shaped pan instead of buying a new one with a specific purpose, or maybe I can downscale my giftgiving to a small thoughtful thing rather than many unnecessary things. Or maybe I can wear some sparkly earrings with that favorite older dress to a special event instead of buying a new one.
Overall I’ve learned that a quieter simpler life feels better than one filled with busy-ness and things. Sure I am still often crazy-busy (lining up one to-do after another each evening until I’m exhausted just thinking about it all). But…I still feel as though this year has taught me much about what’s really important. And what that is is something that rarely has a shelf-life or a price-tag. Instead, it’s time spent on the porch swing with a book, or giggling with the kids over a meal, or singing too loud while on a road trip, or a ramble on the beach on a windy day as I am squinting into the horizon.
This sweet hedgehog bell hangs in the doorway to our home.