I think not.
Then what is simple living?
For me, it means paring my life down considerably. I’m finding that the older I get, the more I find it needful to “cut off” those things from my life that are not producing the desired effect. For instance–I used to love to watch television, and even had many shows that I would faithfully watch. However lately, I have discovered that while I can hang in there for a while, watching tv doesn’t mean rest and relaxation like it used to. Instead, for me, it tends to muddle up my brain with thoughts of things I really don’t care about in the long run, or don’t want to spend my time thinking on. I don’t quite know what brought about this change–it’s not for any spiritual reason that I’ve kicked my old friend, the television, to the curb. I’ve just found that television just isn’t providing anything that I need anymore. This is just one area—there are many more that I will likely discuss in later posts.
It means finding ways to provide what my family needs without having to rely on the local grocery for “products”. This has, for some unknown reason, become important to me in the past few years. The feeling of producing my own soap, canned foods, homemade cleaners, clothing, and growing my own garden brings a satisfaction that I can’t seem to put into words. My drive to continue to learn, continue to grow in this area has become my passion, and while I’m still a super-novice, I derive quite a feeling of fulfillment when I’m performing these tasks. This type of learning goes hand-in-hand with the present state of our economy, and I feel so fortunate to know what I know, and to be able to share my knowledge and fruits of my labor with others.
It means simplifying my/my family’s tastes. We live in a day where we can get a hold of pretty much anything ready-made for us, and we don’t bother much with cooking from scratch–who has time? The desire to “cook with love” has been swallowed up by the busyness of our lives, and it seems impossible to redeem any of that desire after a busy day “on the job”. The things we ought to be doing today are put off until tomorrow, and we find ourselves in this rut that never quits. Whether we are working moms, SAHMs/homeschooling moms, or fall into some other category, WE ARE BUSY and life can be so overwhelming!
One thing that really helped me is to take one thing—say, bread—and try recipes until I hit on one that my family was willing to eat…then I replaced the store-bought item with homemade version. I did that myriad times (and still do–and not all at the same time!), and have come up with many recipes that are simple to make, cheaper, more tasty, and ultimately better for my family. Over the years this experimentation has really paid off for my family’s health and pocketbook, not to mention the feeling I get from being able to bless my family with healthy, delicious food that they love. My family doesn’t really even think about their tastes being “simpler”, they just know they “like mom’s _______ better than the store-bought kind”.
I do need to confess to you that I do still buy some products like Kraft macaroni and cheese, Chef-boy-ar-dee raviolis, Lipton fettuccini, Maruchan Ramen, and a few other things. To be perfectly honest, I raised my older children to enjoy those foods, and old habits die hard. I’m ok with that because for the most part, my kids enjoy homemade breakfasts and dinners, and have learned to make many of their homemade favorites on their own.
It means slowing down and spending the time needed to learn what makes “my” world go ’round. Socrates’ guiding rule was “Know Thyself”, and I’m not sure that’s such a bad idea, and I’m not even a fan.
One of the best things I’ve learned is to know my limitations–what I can and can’t do, how I will feel later if I make that commitment that would feel so good to make now, what I need to do daily for me to feel “okay” when i lie down for bed each night. I obey those limitations and needs implicitly, and pay the price for sure if I don’t, even if the currency is guilt that I didn’t do what I thought was right.
“My” world must contain certain things, and as I age and mature, I discover more of those things and make changes accordingly. The more I do this, the all-around better I feel about happily hopping out of bed every morning to tackle a new day. A few of the things my world needs to contain are: prayer and fellowship with God (working on making this daily and unbroken, but I must confess, I’m not great at it), lots of hugs and laughing with my husband and kids, connection with my girlfriends (not all of them on the same day!), being productive through sewing/gardening/canning/homemaking/etc., and a comfortable (not jam-packed) schedule that I can move through without frantic feelings and worry that I’m forgetting things and disappointing others.
Simple living to me is living at a pace that I feel good about because I’m meeting my family’s needs and providing for them, and I’m serving God and meeting my own spiritual needs.
So what about you? Do you strive to live simply? Does it mean the same to you as it does to me? If not, what does it mean to you?