Saturday, September 5, 2009

Review: Living the Simple Life, Part 1

This is the first of a three part review on Living the Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More, by Elaine St. James.

Let's dive in!
[T]ake some time to figure out what simple living really means to you.
What do you hope to achieve by making some changes that would simplify your life? What would have to happen for you to live more simply? And how will you know when you've gotten there? Can you make some simple changes right where you are? Or would you have to move across town, or possibly across the country to get to simple?
When we first moved here to finish up my husband's schooling, we didn't bring very much with us. We mailed some toys and a handful of books for our children, and some of our favorite board games. We actually moved in suitcases, by airplane. We did buy a lot of necessary items when we got here (mostly for our kitchen), and most of what we have, we use regularly. We've been planning on selling a stroller, a desk, a nice chair we thought we'd use but haven't. I just realized today that we don't actually use our microwave very often, and what we do use it for could easily be supplemented with a pot or pan on the stove-top. I think, for us, the first step in simplifying is to get rid of the things we don't use. And after that, perhaps looking at our life and evaluating what we want and need, and which is which.
Simplifying is a process. It no doubt took you years to build your complicated, high-pressure life. It will take some time to simplify it. You can't undo it all today. But you can get started today.

To start simplifying the only thing you have to do right now is decide that you really want to simplify, and then schedule some time to think about it. That's it. Making that decision and setting aside the time is enough for one day.
I do want to lead a simplified life. I want our family to have that luxurious lifestyle where we have time to live and be lazy, to do the things we want to do without the demands of the world pushing on us to do more and be better at things we never took time to realize we don't care about. My husband and I have made that decision together. And perhaps tomorrow is a time when we can consider it some more.
The need to make wise choices encompasses every area of our lives. Since we have time for only a limited amount of stuff, we need to choose wisely what stuff we're going to allow to take up that time.
Do I honestly want to take time to watch television? Maybe not as much as I do. We actually don't own a TV, but watch a few selective shows over the internet. And could probably cut back, or rearrange things so that when I do watch, it's because I'm ready to be thoroughly entertained, instead of a habit I'm sure I don't want. I've cut down, and rearranged, the time it takes to prepare dinners. I took a tennis class a few months ago, and would love to continue taking classes, but it's more important to me to be at home those 2 evenings per week with my family, especially since my boys are at school all day.
Our culture is replete with so-called convenience items...or alternative approaches to situations that at first glance appear to be simplifiers, or which might simplify someone else's life, but which on closer inspection would only complicate our own.
We've found the habit of asking "Will this really simplify our lives?" a powerful weapon in the ongoing battle against the complications of modern life.
I think the key there is "Will this really simplify our lives?" Is this something that is needful to us. Not something that others deem as necessary, not something that we've grown accustomed to. Is it truly needful? for us?

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