Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Simple Living Series - Part I

image via flikr

I've sort of resigned myself to the fact that our family life will never be as simple as I'd like it to be. We are busy people. But I still aspire to a simpler life. Simplicity-seeking settled on my mind around New Years and has been lingering nearby since. All of my thoughts have distilled to this one bit of insight:

Even if our life will never be as slow and unstructured (ie simple) as I'd like it, we can and should choose our busyness carefully.

We should choose our busyness around our priorities, dreams, and values. It's so easy to get mired down in the day-to-day and lose sight of the things we really long for. There are big life changes on the horizon for our family. With hopes for simple-ish, purposeful living, I'm planning to take some quiet time to identify the important, overarching desires of my life. The hope is that the light of these big ideals will illuminate the little corners of daily choice that affect the allocation of my time, energy and means.

Here are a few things I plan to consider; maybe you'd like to think about them as well:

* What you most want to accomplish with your life?

*Who do you want to be as a result of your endeavors and engagements?

* What brings you joy?

* Evaluate: where are you spending your time? What are you committed to? How should you be spending your time to keep your life on par with your dreams/goals? Do you spend your time in endeavors that really add value?

* Are your resources (time, energy, means) properly allocated and properly reflecting your values?

* Redesign your day to give priority to what's important.

* Know when to say no.

* Be conscious about the time you devote to communication and media in general.
We could spend all day every day making/returning phone calls, texting, listening to voicemail, checking e.mail, keeping up on blog subscriptions, tweeting, etc.
Give technology a reasonable compartment -- and keep it there.

* Right from the start, establish good systems of organization. Spend the money and take the time to get the shelves, bins, baskets, files you need to be tidy and effective. Get systems of organization in place right away.

* Simplify your space, wardrobe, purse. Get rid of junk. Keep what you love and what you use.

* Redefine "enough" and be content with less

* Limit exposure to advertising - it creates too many wants.

What are your thoughts on creating/maintaining a simple, purposeful life?


Beth Dargis said...

What great questions! I also like, how do you want to feel? and Are you staying present with the people in your life.

danielle said...

yeah...I have been thinking a lot about these same things. It's why I take little breaks from blogging from time to time...just to think and check in with myself.

LJ said...

Wonderful questions and ideas--I especially appreciate the encouragement to "put technology in its place". I could spend hours upon hours blog surfing . . . but if I'm really conscious about how I spend my time, I realize that an hour or so a day on the computer is quite enough! Of course I realize the irony in saying all of this on the computer . . . in response to a blog, but whatever!

Stefani M. said...

Don't be afraid to be different. If you're trying to simplify, then you won't be able to "compete" with other people in certain areas. People may look at you funny. (What do you mean you're not putting your daughter in preschool by 3 years old? What do you mean you're homeschooling? You child's NOT in ballet/tap, karate, soccer AND piano lessons?) Simplifying sometimes gets strange looks.

Jessica said...

Simplifying is a breath of fresh air. I for sure have areas I need to work on.

jeanine said...

This post was meant just for me! My husband and I have crazy busy callings... without an end in sight. I've found the more organized I am the less stress I feel. I loved your suggestion to "Right from the start, establish good systems of organization." That's what I've been trying to do... and I've been tossing a lot of stuff. It makes my small home seem not so small. Also, not spending so much time on the computer. I'm still working on that... but it's such a time waster and I know I should be spending those precious hours I have with my children!
I love what Stefani said about not putting your children in every sport/activity. Sometimes I feel bad that my 5 year old isn't in sports... because I'm sure he would love it. But it would add un-needed stress to our busy lives--so for now, playing ball in the backyard with dad and brother will have to do.

Rachael said...

I really love what you say about identifying the overarching desires of our life--it's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose the big picture. This is something I'm going to have to sit down and think about--write down my life goals and the smaller daily things I need to do to get there.

On another note, I can't say enough good things about small systems of organization wherever possible. They help me to streamline my life so that I can spend my time more meaningfully, and I feel calmer and more collected.

When I only had one child, we were much busier--we had something planned for every single morning, whether it was a playgroup, visit to the library, etc. Now that I have three, we rarely leave the house. It sounds a little antisocial, but it is so much easier for me to enjoy my days when I can just focus on my children and my home and let our natural rhythms dictate our days. (plus my third baby is, of course, the one who refuses to sleep anywhere other than his crib, so that has a lot to do with it!) But I must say, on mornings where we go to the doctor or visiting teaching or something like that, I end up RACING the rest of the day trying to catch up on laundry, cleaning, and meal prep, and I don't get to spend the quality time with my children that I really love.

Abbie said...

I needed this today. At times I feel on top of my game. I feel like I'm good at keep it simple and only doing things that will make me truly happy. Other times (today and yesterday) I watch and let my kids watch too much TV and start to feel all icky. TV is tricky.

I like all these evaluation questions. Thanks! And I'm actually getting really excited about Spring Cleaning - I've started just a bit and it makes me so excited to throw stuff/give stuff away. Such a great feeling!

PS are you planning to homeschool. I don't know why, but for some reason I just felt like you might be from this post. Forgive me if I got the wrong impression. :)

Abbie said...

PS - I love the Pres. Monson quote that goes something like "we often get caught up in the thick of thin things." I love that. Isn't it true? If I'm in the thick of something, I want it to be in thick things, good, give-me-joy things.

Jesslyn said...

"Be content with less" always seems to be a sticking point for so many of us. I don't know why more, more, more and me, me, me are so easy. Hubby and I try to leave the country every few years (EVERY year before we had kids) to remind ourselves of how much we are truly blessed with. We're also learning how to say, "No"- to stuff, people, projects, and attempt to keep a balance in our lives.

Katrina said...

Excellent questions. This subject has been on my mind as well. The past few years have been full of so many transitions, moves, etc. that I am still in the process of figuring out how to organize my life. And organization seems to be the key to simplification. I really want to take this time before my baby is born (now that I'm in the feel good stage of pregnancy) and get things more in order and simplified.

Miggy said...

Way to go Bloom. This was a really fresh and insightful post. I liked the part about the light of big ideals illuminating the corners of daily choices... that was great.

I don't have much to add other than I think about organization often, as a means to systemize and simplify. I don't have it down or anything...slowly, but surely. I think your advice to really look at what you want most out of life and how are you working towards that day to day....something I've thought about before, but your questions would be good to go over with a spouse/partner together.

Good job Bloom!

Danielle said...

Excellent questions! I'm currently working on this very endeavor...trying to change my working circumstance to give me more time but also more energy for my family. This, however, will require revision in other areas (like simplicity, finance), etc. It's nice to know that I am not all by myself in this!

Natalie said...

Great insights. This is one of the missions of life, isn't it? Just to figure it all out! I agree with Rachel, sometimes less is more, in fact with little ones, less is usually always more. It's so important just to take time to be still.

duck said...

I want to live wherever that picture was taken

Melissa said...

I love these kinds of posts! They are so inspiring and speak to my soul. What I need to do is take action. So many times I read about something and think that it is a great idea. Then I forget. I need to be better about that!

Martha said...

ooooh! i love this! i feel like my love affair with the blogging world has inadvertently created a lifestyle of wanting - wanting what she has, wanting what she is, wanting to do what she's doing. it has replaced my sense of what i feel i should really be building for myself and my family. anyway, great tips and thoughts! i came here to see progressive pioneer's interview, but i think i will keep coming back!