Category Archives: Simple

Enough

What is enough?

I’ve been struggling with the idea of enough. (Am I enough? Do I do enough?) And rather than rehash my thoughts on this same idea, I wanted to resurrect an old post where I ask, “What is enough?”

Interestingly, it was first published almost exactly a year ago. Turns out that my natural seasonal rhythm lends itself to quieter, introspective winters!

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As a parent, friend, sister, daughter and wife I struggle with the notion of enough.

Do I play with the kids enough?
Am I healthy enough?
Do I call my sisters enough?
Have I been a good enough friend?
Is it enough to be content?
Am I trying hard enough?
Am I attractive enough?
Do I give enough?
Do I care enough?

Enough – not too little, not too much. Just… enough.

After struggling with the idea for a very long time – never feeling good enough, never satisfied, never entirely content – I’ve started to frame the idea of ‘enough’ in a different way. And can I tell you, it’s helping me find some much-needed perspective.

Much like the idea of tilting – where we willingly throw things off-balance and tilt in the direction life requires – I wondered if we could view the idea of ‘enough’ as a long-term notion, rather than something we need to achieve every day?

I think we can. And I think we should.

But what does that look like in real life?

Do I play with the kids enough?” Maybe not today, but sometimes clothes need to be washed, emails returned, toilets cleaned and phonecalls made. On the other hand, do I feel good in my gut when I ask if I’ve played with them enough over the past six months? Yes.

Am I trying hard enough?” Some days, I phone it in. And on those days, I am lacking. But, again, over the past 6 months? 2 years? 10 years? Yes, I try hard enough.

There are peaks and troughs, mountains and valleys for everything in life. Sometimes we feel that we are enough, other times we are filled with doubt. I think that’s simply being human. But reframing the idea this way has shown me that enough really IS enough.

But what about when it isn’t enough?

When you ask yourself the question, “Am I doing enough over time?” and the answer is silence. Or worse, when the answer is a pang.

What do you do then?

When that pang reverberates in my gut I know I need to pull up and listen. I know I need to make a change, or ask a different question.

Do I call my best friend enough?” PANG. No. Pay attention and make a change.

Have we made enough time to unplug on the weekends?” PANG. No. What can we do differently?

Am I present enough when I do play with the kids?” PANG. No. How can I change my approach?

My aim, in turning the idea of enough upside down, is to be mindful and intentional about what I’m choosing to do. Instead of being carried away by panic and regret and frustration at not being enough every day.

Essentially that means if I haven’t played with the kids enough, there’d better be a good reason. If I haven’t called my best friend enough, again, show me a good reason.

It’s a matter of listening to your instincts, your gut, and that little voice inside your head that when given a longer view of things suddenly becomes quite wise.

“Relax. You’ve done enough over time. That counts,” it says.

I think it’s time to listen.

 

 

 

What does simple living mean to you?

What does simple living mean to me?

Ask 10 people and you will get 10 different answers to the question: “What does simple living mean to you?”

In fact, ask me 10 times and you will get 10 different answers.

Not because I’m flaky, but because simplicity can be kinda complicated. What we need it to be will change depending upon circumstance, seasons in life and who it applies to. And that’s OK.

Recently a friend asked me to describe simple living. And while it was easy enough to give the expected answers:

  • cutting away the excess in life
  • getting back to what is truly important
  • decluttering
  • saying no to things that we didn’t need or didn’t need to do
  • taking time to do nothing
  • looking for contentment
  • practising gratitude
  • living an environmentally conscious life…

what I found myself thinking about were the benefits. What the actual day-to-day nuts and bolts of life look like now that we have embraced simplicity. Instead of focusing on the what, my mind was drawn to the why – to the things we’ve gained simply because of living a simpler life.

My answers weren’t about living in a clutter-free home (although that is so lovely) or having only clothes that I wear in my wardrobe (even though it makes getting dressed in the morning infinitely easier) or cleaning our home with natural cleaners (although I appreciate the impact of this).

Instead, I focused on the time I got to spend in the garden. The tiny beauties I now notice and appreciate. The giggles of our kids. The joy of a lazy Sunday afternoon. The sunlight in the trees.

And I know these are cliched answers, but that doesn’t make them any less real. If we hadn’t taken the time, and worked for years to create a simpler life, I wouldn’t have been around to notice these things. If I hadn’t suffered a crushing breakdown and closed my business, I’d still be working all hours, I’d be falling further and further behind at home, I’d be barely present in my kids lives and I would be missing out on the tiny (and yet massive) joys of the sun on my face, the dirt on our hands and the hugs of our kids.

That’s what simplicity means to me.

It’s not a destination. I don’t think I will ever look around me, brush my hands together and say, “Well, that’s it. I’m done.”

I believe that our ideas of enough and simple and freedom will continue to change over time, as our perspectives and seasons of life change.

Simplicity is a mindset, but it’s not the point in and of itself. The way we live, and the life we live - this is the point. The sun, the dirt, the travel, the laughter, the memories. These are the point. Noticing them and carving a life from these tiny moments – that is the point.

The decluttering helps us to get there. Learning to say no helps us to get there. Letting go of constant busyness helps us to get there. But those aren’t the point.

So what does simple living mean to me?

Living. Simply.

In October this year, a group of simplicity advocates and enthusiasts will gather in Minneapolis to share their ideas on living a simple, intentional life. You have the opportunity to join them and join the ever-growing movement towards a simpler, slower way of life.

SimpleREV

The first-ever SimpleREV is being held at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis on October 3-4, and shouldn’t be missed if you’re looking to slow down, simplify and get real in a world of hyper-consumerism and endless busy-ness.

Those who do attend will work closely with workshop leaders and keynote speakers such as Joshua Becker (Becoming Minimalist), Joel Zaslofsky (Value of Simple) and Dan Hayes (Simple Life Together), as well as an entire community of people who value a simple life just as much as you do.

This event is for anyone interested in living a simple life – whether you’ve sold 90% of your belongings and live in a campervan, or if you’re merely dipping your toe into the pool that is simplicity.  There will be encouraging keynote speeches to uplift you, while intimate workshops will help you craft a more intentional, simple life. At SimpleREV, there is something for everyone. (And can I tell you, the line-up of workshops and presentations makes it sting even more that I can’t attend. Unfortunately, living on the other side of the planet has its downsides and I can’t swing it this year.)

Grab your ticket today, or visit the SimpleREV website to discover more about the event, the founders and what you can expect during the first weekend of October.

 

Wake Up. Come Home. Fill Up. Be Simple.

 

Can a Change-Up be Good Enough?

Can a change-up be good enough?

 

This is a post from guest contributor Saida Rashid of A Breath of Simplicity. Enjoy, and learn more about Saida at the end of this post.

 

When we moved, I was adamant about getting rid of our four poster bed.

It’s a nice bed. There’s nothing wrong with it. Still. I didn’t want it in my new home. We were down-sizing and it didn’t sit well with my journey in “less is more.”

The bed is BIG. You can never just flop down on it. It’s too high. You have to climb onto it. By far, the biggest nuisance was having to clean the dust that gathered on top of the wood canopy.

The final case in point: The master bedroom in our new home is a third of the size of our old room – I was convinced the bed would take up the entire room!

I tried, really, really hard to sell the bed online, but there were no serious buyers. So I watched as it got dismantled, loaded onto the moving truck and transported to our new home.

I relented, but in my mind it was a temporary arrangement.

When my husband reassembled the bed, I requested that he omit the wood canopy. And now? It’s been almost a year since we moved. We still have the bed and, what’s more, I like it.

Funnily enough, it doesn’t occupy the whole room like I feared, and removing the canopy made a HUGE difference. The bed used to make me feel overwhelmed. It doesn’t anymore. It’s good enough, after all.

A few years ago, I would have insisted on a new bed and donated the old one. And we’d be out of pocket a few hundred dollars. But life is full of opportunities for a change-up. I’ve come to recognise that I experience these moments quite frequently.

It’s not easy to ‘fess up and it’s unfortunate, but the truth is I have a tendency to fixate on things I feel I must have – sometimes the feeling is SO profound it interferes with my sense of inner peace.

In the past couple of years I’ve been learning to wait rather than jump in at the deep end (i.e. spend money). The process of waiting has helped me recognise that new is NOT always better.

When I make myself wait I’m more likely to try a change-up. This often leads to a moment of good enough. Sometimes I forget to wait, but I’m learning and getting better at it every day.

I was recently convinced that I needed something for our kitchen sill. It looked SO bare. But I waited. Then I tried a change-up. The kitchen sill is now good enough and I didn’t have to spend any money.

The next time you feel the urge to spend money; try a change-up first.

• Think your kids need better toys? Try re-organising and displaying the toys you already have differently.
• Think your kitchen is too small? Try de-cluttering and re-arranging your kitchen stuff.
• Think you need a new bedside table? How about a coat of paint on that small coffee table sitting in the basement?

You get the picture.

I bet more often than not, you’ll find that the stuff you already own is good enough.

You can check out Saida’s tips on simple living and learn about her journey towards eliminating processed foods on her blog abreathofsimplicity.com.

(Image courtesy of Allison)

Organised (Enough) – Slow Home Essentials

Organised (Enough) - Slow Home Essentials

Often we mistake organisation for simplicity.

The logic goes: in order to be living a truly simple life, you need to have a whole host of systems in place that will organise every aspect of your day.

And it’s true that you can schedule your hours, organise your wardrobe, catalogue your paperwork, arrange your kitchen utensils, reconfigure your garage to hold more stuff and roster your down-time. But creating a slow home means many of those systems are simply unnecessary. If you strip away what you don’t need, you’ll find that life doesn’t require nearly as much organising as the storage solution stores and home decor magazines will have you believe.

Many of us cling to organisation because we believe it helps us get through the day without losing our sanity. And this is true to a point.

But it’s also a way to procrastinate while still feeling productive. Organising means you avoid recognising:

  • those uncomfortable heels were a waste of money
  • your kids have more toys than they can possibly play with
  • years worth of paperwork are largely unnecessary
  • your gym clothes have remained unworn for months
  • you’re no longer interested in knitting/fencing/snowboarding/oil painting

Organising means you avoid facing your fears and regrets.

Of course life is busy, and some organisation helps corral that busy-ness into a semblance of order. So I’m not telling you to do away with your diary, bill paying system or ironing baskets. If they really help you in creating a less stressful day, then that is wonderful.

But at some point “organising” and “simplifying” become different sides of the same coin.

You need to leave space for life to happen. And life is messy. Life is uncertain. Life is spontaneous. Life is not organised. 

You are reading this because you want to create a slow home and a simpler way of life. And while being organised – to a point – means you have time and space for life to unfold peacefully, over-doing it means you run the very real risk of sucking the joy from your days.

And that’s our end goal isn’t it? To rediscover the joy. The zing of doing something spontaneous. The flash of excitement when you realise, “Why the hell not? I’d love to go to the beach/play in the sun/have a nap.”

If you over-do the organising, if you schedule the guts out of your days, weeks, months and school terms, you risk losing one of the biggest joys in life – spontaneity.

So my tip:

Be as organised as you need to be. No more.

Organise what you really need. But don’t turn to organisation simply to store more junk in your space or cram more into your days. The key is to take away what isn’t necessary and good. There you will find your simpler life.

 

The Zen of Single-Tasking

The Zen of Single Tasking

Do you multi-task? Find yourself doing two (or three, or seven) things at the same time?

Honestly, I’d be surprised if you said no. Everyone does. It’s what we’re supposed to do. Right?

You:

  • plan dinner while making breakfast
  • hang the washing while you talk to your partner
  • listen to a podcast while you exercise
  • talk on the phone while watching your kids play.

You multi-task because you’re clever. Because you’re efficient. You’re making the most of your time. You’re getting business sorted.

When you multi-task and tick items off your to-do list, you feel clever. You feel efficient. You feel like you’re making the most of your time.

But what about the other side of that coin?

Do you feel exhausted? Like you’re not doing anything well? Like you’re being torn in too many directions?

Despite what your overwhelmed, over-worked, over-committed brain may be telling you – you don’t need to do more.

You need to do less.

You need to focus on just one thing at a time.

You need to single-task.

We are told constantly that high-quality humans are efficient. They’re on top of things. He lives on 4 hours sleep a night. She manages a home, family and business. We’re told that if we want to emulate them, we need to do the same. In other words: we need to multi-task.

And, to be honest, there are times when we do. But not all the time.

It’s not about doing less.

It’s about choosing one task during the day.

It’s about being focused on that task and that task alone.

It’s about immersing yourself wholly and completely in experiencing it. Finding the Zen, the beauty, the JOY of mindfully finishing that task.

How to find the Zen in single-tasking

10 minutes is all you need. Even one minute will do if you’re that busy.

One minute of beautiful, meditative quiet in a day otherwise filled with the urgent need to be productive, to get things done, to prove our value.

Choose a task:

Pick one task you need to complete. Then, when the time comes to do that thing, simply devote yourself to it. Soak up every detail of it. Immerse yourself in your senses.

Are you hanging out the laundry?

Instead of planning dinner, or thinking about the meeting you have this afternoon, or what you will do when the kids wake from their nap, try this:

  • Focus on the fresh scent of the wet, clean clothes
  • The coolness of the damp fabric in your hands
  • The snap of the pegs on the line
  • The way the sunlight hits the linen
  • Appreciate that you make time to do this simple task so your family will have clean clothes

Make time for that to be the one thing you are thinking about. The one thing you are experiencing. The sole purpose of that moment.

And when you’re done, take a deep breath.

Then it’s back to the day. Back to keeping balls in the air, kids on swings, food in bellies.

Make it a ritual

If you can make this small ritual of single-tasking a part of your everyday, you are putting your well-being ahead of the busyness of our world. You’re acknowledging that there is more to life than churning through a to-do list and getting things done.

After all, this is why we’re on the path to a simpler life, isn’t it? So we can experience more of these moments every day. More simple pleasures. More little joys. More mindful intention.

When was the last time you found the beauty and the joy in an everyday moment? Was it raking the leaves? Cleaning the windows? Drinking a cup of tea?

 

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