Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Our (Relatively) Simple Life

Brenna holding a caterpillar.   Photo by: Brook Rieman

Very few families in this day and age live simple lives.  Simple living is almost a relic these days that can still be found among small pockets of people here in the US.  Amish and Quakers are two examples.  I am very drawn to these groups and admire their lifestyle.  I do not totally agree with their reasoning behind this lifestyle, but I still respect it.  If I compare my family’s lifestyle to that of the Amish, I would say we are not very simple people.  However, when I compare to many other typical American families I would say we are much more simple. 

How we try to simplify our lives

Reduce Materialism

Listen, I like stuff.  I’m sitting here writing this on my laptop and listening to my iPod. I like electronics but after a while they just piss me off.  Like this laptop, it’s 1.5 years old and already needs a new battery.  I iPod touch is 3 years old and archaic!!  I don’t want to keep up with it all.  I like real books, I’m not interested in an e-reader, I may change my tune someday, but for now I like a good solid book in my hand. 
I try to be intentional about my buying these days.  First off I don’t do very much recreational shopping.  If I do it is at garage sales, thrifts stores or festivals where homemades are sold (oh yeah, and my quilt shop!!). So my money isn't always going to big business and demanding new products be made.  I find retail shopping exhausting and it breeds dissatisfaction with my great life.  “Life would be better if you had this gizmo, you’d look so much better in that.”  I refuse to believe those lies any longer.  We rarely let our kids watch commercial TV.  You would be surprised how much that alone has kept my kids from begging at the store (that and I hardly ever go down a toy isle with them). 

Speaking of my kids they are deprived, let me tell you.  They only get toys at Christmas and birthdays.  Isn’t that awful??  If they want anything else they have to buy it with their own money, which doesn’t happen too often.  We’ve had lots of toys passed down and given by friends and family.  We still have way too many.  They don’t have video games, iPods and game boys.  Poor kids, they have to play outside in the yard and woods, chasing frogs, snakes and pretending…..deprived I tell you.  Most of the time they are shoeless too…….  If they are bored I tell them to READ A BOOK!  GASP!   

Less truly is more.  Less stuff, more time, more space, more organization, more calm, more money, more energy.  That is why you feel so darn good when you haul those bags of crud to Goodwill!

We keep our food simple by growing, foraging and hunting our own and preparing it in simple, healthy ways.  I don’t get too Julia Child with my food, I like a good gourmet meal as much as the next person, but I don’t like all the dishes time that takes.  So I try to keep it fairly simple and easy.  We usually have a meat,  a side or two of veggies and or salad, or soup/stew and bread.  I do about 1 dessert a week. 

Relationships/World Events/Emotions
We try to keep it low drama here.  Drama is draining.  I want energy and excitement in my life, not drama.  However some drama is unavoidable in this world, but there is plenty that is avoidable.  To avoid drama we first try to realize that we cannot take others actions personally.  We do not know their story or what has happened to them, so try not to judge their reactions.  We also try to remember that hurting people are the ones that hurt others; this helps us be more empathetic.  We also let people solve their own problems.  We are also working on this with our kids too! That doesn’t mean I don’t care, help people or give my money and time to worthy causes.  It just means I know what is my business, other peoples’ business and God’s business.   I personally decided several years back to stop watching the news.  I have friends who were appalled by this.  “You have to watch the news!”,  they said.  No, I don’t.  I still hear about world events, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about what happens in the world.  You have a choice about what goes in your brain.  The world becomes a more peaceful place by making between your ears more peaceful. 

Work – Life Balance
I work part time, mostly from home, so that we can have a household less chaotic.   I choose to not take a full time job so that I can be available to help at my children’s’ school, be home with them in the summer and when they are sick, get them off the bus and have a hot meal ready for them.  Both of us working full time would be way too rushed for our tastes.  Many of you do this from choice and/or necessity and I am by no means bashing you, my hat’s off to you.  I just know all that on my plate would make me a crazy momma!!  One way I replenish myself is time alone to do the things I enjoy, like reading and sewing.  If I worked full time these things would never happen and I would be a huge grouch!

When my head gets cloudy, a trip outside clears it every time.  We are an outdoors family.  We like to keep it simple in nature!  Running, hiking, camping, hunting, canoeing and fishing are a part of our simple lives.  
How do you keep your life simpler?  What part of life would you like to simplify? 


Zanre5 said...

I love this. It really goes with a lot of our life. I'm not terribly outdoorsy, but we do have big plans for our little piece of the world. We limit television for the kids and don't watch the news. I can tell when my kids have seen a lot of TV at grandma's, because they begin talking about how much they would like "stuff" they've seen on TV.

My children, too, use their imaginations and the great outdoors to enjoy their childhood.

Great post! I love it.

Jennifer said...

Thanks Suzann! I liked the new widget on your blog!