One of the things that I have noticed as I get older is how much I value having simplicity in my life. I value a quiet existence.
When I was younger and eager, I had grander plans for my career. I set myself up for a workaholic lifestyle. I was no stranger to this; my father did the same, and even now, he still continues to do so even though he should maybe be enjoying his retirement years. I worked hard, worked extra on my own hours assuming that this is what life was supposed to be, and at some point I would be rewarded with all the fruits of my labor.
It took a couple of decades (plus some) to realize that this is not the life I wanted. I did what I thought I was supposed to do, then at the end of every night I would crash into bed for a couple hours of sleep only to rise again early the next morning and do it all over again. I was exhausted, fuelled by caffeine and deeply unsatisfied even if I didn’t realize it at the time.
It took a major life event to change all of that for me. It took a complete upheaval in my personal and even professional life to realize that I was miserable with what I was doing, and looked at how I could change my life to enjoy what I had. The key was simple. The key was a simple life.
Your job or your career is only a means to an end. It does not define you. It finances your life but it is not who you are.
Once I looked at it in this way, my personal life began to flourish in ways I never saw before. I love my personal time now. I choose what to do with it. I take classes in what interests me, not what I think will give me more advantages for work. I create. I love. And sometimes, I do nothing. Doing nothing was a difficult concept to grasp, but now that I have released so many of the career-focused ideals I enforced upon myself, I can now see how wonderful and refreshing doing nothing really can be. I highly recommend it to anyone.
Enjoy your life. Relax. Take time to appreciate things. Do something for yourself. You won’t regret it.
I was fortunate enough over the past couple weeks to gain some perspective on the philosophy of minimalism. I spent the better part of a week away, cultivating relationships with family friends. During this time, I needed to choose what I would do with my down time in the evening. I brought a couple minor things…a tablet to continue with my writing, some kitchen cotton to crochet some dishcloths-a minimal mental task that keeps my hands busy when I’m feeling tired, and my aromatherapy studies.
During the course of the week I discovered a couple things: The space I was spending time with was peaceful with minimal items in the room. It simply allowed the mind to rest. I spent more time with people, interacting instead of spending time in front of distractions. The tablet never came out until everyone was settled into their beds. It was a good exercise in being present.
A valuable lesson came out of this experience for me. I discovered that even though I hold on to the ideals and philosophies of minimalism, I am still finding that there is a lot of stuff that lives with me in my house. After returning home, I looked at my house with a refreshed minimalism lens and began going through things to donate or discard as needed. It was quite satisfying to shred fifteen year old documents, and provide a new home for clothing items that were gently used, or not used at all. In the kon marie way, these items had served their purpose at the time, and now they needed to be thanked and sent on their way.
I still have a way to go, but it is a journey. I am still ever grateful for the experience to refresh my determination to live a simple life.
Heritage locations that showcase how life used to be lived can be a great reminder of just how far we have come. It’s also a reminder of how much simpler life used to be. People didn’t have computers, smart phones, or even robotics to help do their jobs. They used good old muscle power.
I spent the day at one of these such sites this week. I like to visit places like this alone and truly immerse myself in the sense of what it was truly like at that time. Why? Because I hope that the reminder will help me to appreciate what we have now. Also, to remind me that we don’t need everything we have in this modern life we live. It helps reinforce my minimalistic lifestyle and appreciate what I have and use daily even more.
We live a good life. We don’t plow the fields with a horse drawn plow anymore. Most of us don’t even have a need to grow our own food, so if we do, it is more of a hobby than a necessity. Imagine the wonder that our ancestors would have had if they were told that growing food would become a hobby!
We are beyond fortunate. We are spoiled with having immediate gratification. Taking time to remember this perspective is grounding. I am grateful for the reminder.
The other day I went to visit my doctor. As usual, he asked how I was doing and if I was seeing anyone. My doctor likes to keep tabs on me since he knew the issues that occurred before and during the divorce. He always asks how my children are coping as well.
Am I seeing anyone? No, not really. But do I want to be? Well, that got me to thinking. Then the next day I read a brief article on the benefits of being single. That got me thinking even more. There are a lot of benefits to being single. You are the only one spending your income, so you choose where it goes. You decide if you use a credit card for a high-cost item or if you decide to save up before purchasing it. You decide how to pay off debt (like divorce debt), and how you allot your dollars. You decide how to decorate your home. Are you a minimalist or do you like to fill your home with things? Your choice. You decide if you want a pet, and if so, what kind? Do you want to travel? Where do you want to go?
Here’s the best one. You become utterly and solely you. When in a relationship, partners tend to pick up on certain pieces of the other partner’s personality. Quirks, sayings, behaviours. These things tend to blend. The dominant personality tends to overshadow the less dominant personality. You essentially become the same person. However, when you choose a life of being single, you know that who you are is simply you. And that is a good feeling.
I have had a week where I was able to spend time doing the things I enjoy. There were still things that needed to get done, like take the little ones to school and make dinner, but I did these things in a way that I preferred.
We walked to school, which is a convenient 5 minute walk. We brought the dog both ways. We didn’t need to use before and after school care this week, and that made a huge difference in how much time we had to do things together and the free time they had without having homework or meal time. Our days suddenly gained a lot of time.
We made meals that were fun and delicious with organic whole foods that were deliciously vegetarian. Dinner became a joy instead of a chore.
It’s amazing how the simple things take on more enjoyment when you have time. Less stuff means less to clean. Less to own means less to owe. This gives way to freedom. The less you need to work to pay the bills for the stuff you need to clean. Seems pretty straightforward, no? With less, you can do more of what you love.