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Category: Simple Soul

Have faith in something bigger than yourself.

Minimalist living.

Minimalist living.

Right now we’re renting an apartment in Cherry Creek, CO.  It has been great living within walking distance of my mom and we will take full advantage of that for the next four and a half months.  But when our lease is up, it will be time to move on and find a simpler, more affordable, living arrangement.  So, in preparation, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we want to live.  Where we live will depend a lot on how our job situation plays out in the next four months, but how we live is entirely up to us.  I’ve been reading a lot about minimalist living and parenting styles and it’s pretty intriguing.  The basic is idea is that less is more.  If we live with only what we need, we can free up space in our home, in our lives, and in our hearts and minds.  Okay, that’s a little cheesy but I like it.  And I think it might be true.  I just spent thirty minutes putting things away in our 900 square foot apartment.  Thirty minutes just to put away all the stuff we took out in the last twenty four hours since the last time I put it all away.  As I was picking it up, I had a sudden urge to just throw it all away.  How much stuff do three people need?  How many plastic toys does a two year old need?

That got me thinking, what do we really need?  In our family, we tend to have a lot of sporting equipment because we like to bike, run, swim, ski, box, sled, etc…  But how many hobbies does one person need?  Personally I enjoy, sewing, knitting, playing guitar, running, biking, reading, watching movies, blogging, cooking, baking, and doing craft projects.  And that doesn’t even include time with my family.  If I enjoyed one of my hobbies each day, it would take me two weeks to get through the list.  A person can only do so much.  That’s the point of minimalism.  Pick the things that are most important to you and cut everything else out.  That way you have the time and the space to enjoy the things that really matter.  Simplify.  Simplify your home.  Simplify your mind.  Simplify your life.  You don’t have to get swept away in the whirlwind of the 21st of the century.  You can live how you want to live.  We all design our own lives, so why not design one that brings you some peace and contentment?

Do you think you would be more peaceful and content living in this space?

Or in this space?

I’d take the latter, even thought there’s probably $10,000 worth of stuff in the first picture.

As Americans we tend to have a lot of stuff.  And then we buy big houses so we can store all of our stuff.  But, who wants to spend all their time organizing and reorganizing all that STUFF?  And what about all the new stuff that we keep buying because we’re too busy to stop and make rational decisions about what we buy?  What if we just stop buying stuff and stick to only what we actually need?  Wouldn’t that be a lot easier?


The busy boycott.

The busy boycott.

Do you ever have moments where everything seems to come together?  Have you ever noticed when those moments happen?  For me, they happen when I step back and allow them to happen.  When I take a break from the craziness that we call a life.  When I take the time to reflect on who I am and what I want to do with the short time I have here on earth.  And as my thirties race by, I’m starting to realize just how quickly the rest of my days are going to fly by.  This morning I took a few minutes to browse other blogs that promote the “simple life” and I came across this video.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  By the time I got to the end of the video, I literally sighed a sigh of relief.  The funny thing is, my sister and brother in law told me pretty much the exact same thing just the other day.  They said, “Lauren, relax.  You’ve done a lot in the last five years.  Just give yourself a break.  You’ve done enough.”  If I wasn’t such a hardass, I probably would have cried because I always feel like I’m not doing enough.  Like being a mom isn’t enough.  We live in a society where there is so much pressure.  Where you feel like nothing you do is ever going to be enough.  But it is.  No one can live up to the expectations that we have created.  No one.  So, if you feel like you’re not doing enough, not making enough money, not busy enough.  Just stop.  It’s enough.

Probably most of you won’t take the twelve minutes to watch this video because you’re too busy.  But what kind of life do we have if we can’t spare 12 minutes?  This is how I want to feel.  This lady’s voice is so calming because she’s so at peace with who she is and what she believes in.  In starting this blog, I’ve struggled to put into words exactly what I’m searching for, but this is pretty much it.  If you can spare the 12 minutes, watch it.

I want to boycott busy.  It’s exhausting and I know it’s effecting my health.  I never had acne as a kid but starting in my early twenties when life started to get confusing and stressful, it started.  I’ve also had painful stomach problems at various times during my life that I’m sure were just a manifestation of the stress I was feeling.  I talk to people all the time who have undiagnosed, lingering health problems and I would be willing to bet that stress is the underlying cause of most of those problems.  The two months I spent in Costa Rica were the only two months of my adult life that I have been acne free.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  Although I think the salt water helped too.  I really like the idea of measuring my self-worth by the way I treat other people.  I want to have the energy and clarity to engage in meaningful conversations with my son about dinosaurs.  I want to take more of an interest in my husband’s hobbies and career goals.  I want to spend a day helping my sister and brother-in-law fix up their new house.  I want to cook my mom lunch.  I want to have time for the people who matter the most to me.  I want to feel relaxed at least most of the time.  Is anyone else tired of being busy?

Serenity prayer not just for alcoholics.

Serenity prayer not just for alcoholics.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can;

and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This is perhaps the most intelligent sentence ever written.  If you have no other form of guidance in your life, at least remind yourself of the serenity prayer once a day.  It’s especially great if you tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and tend to criticize those who don’t live up to your perfect expectations.  I’m not saying that’s me.  I’m just saying, if you happen to have that particular personality trait, you might find this quote useful.

Like for instance, if you are striving to create a better life for your family and decide to dedicate yourself to living simply and cutting down on spending, and you work really hard to put together meal plans each week and feed the whole family on $150 a week, and your husband shows no appreciation or enthusiasm whatsoever and complains that there’s not enough to eat even though the fridge is stocked full of food…  If you had something like that going on in your life, you might want to write out this serenity prayer and stick it on your fridge or something.  Because you can control the things you buy.  You can control the food you make.  You can control the food your child eats, to some degree.  But, you can’t make your husband get excited about the new simple eating plan.  So, you just do what you can do, and let the rest go.  That’s really all you can do.  So, if you run into a problem like that in your life, you can use this prayer.  That’s all I’m saying.

Rejoice on the other side of the island.

Rejoice on the other side of the island.

If you knew me better you would know that I’m a little skeptical of the American way of life these days.  I think that we are overly stimulated and overly dependent on technology and that we have lost sight of what’s important.  Yes, I see the hypocrisy in a blogger being skeptical of technology.  Just ignore that.  Moving forward, one aspect of life in which I think Americans have failed is the way we handle death.  In the United States, death is a terrible, tragic, event that spurs days, weeks, months and sometimes even a lifetime of mourning.

Does it really have to be that way?  We all die.  Even you.  How can something that happens to every person in the entire world be considered tragic?  I think it’s natural for us to feel sad but I also think that it is okay to move forward with life and be happy.

My father died two weeks ago of esophageal cancer.  He was an amazing man, only sixty seven years old when he passed.  There is no way to describe the larger than life person that he was, but I can tell you that he touched the life of nearly every person who crossed his path.  One thing he did before he died, that we all sort of questioned but turned out be really smart, is plan his own “End of Life Party.”  He didn’t want a funeral with a bunch of people he barely knew, moping around in black suits and dresses, crying and mourning his death.  So, he left us specific instructions detailing how we should celebrate the end of his life.  He planned the menu, told us where to buy the food, provided the location and the time of day, indicated a few people who should give speeches, and requested a final song.  We followed his wishes step by step and it was a really great party.  It was a meaningful celebration of life.  People were sad, and they cried when they needed to, but it was still a celebration.  We told stories.  We laughed.  We talked about the future.  It was inspirational.

About half way through the party, each member of my family and a few close friends of my father gave short speeches about the impact my dad had on each of us.  There is one speech in particular that really stuck in my mind.  A close family friend of ours from Samoa talked about how they handle death in Samoa.  He said that when someone dies, there is sadness on that side of island, but there is a celebration on the other side of the island, where that person is received.  In Samoa, they understand that death serves a purpose.  They acknowledge their sadness but they understand that when one person dies, another is born.  Death brings life.  It’s a circle.  If we didn’t die, there wouldn’t be room for the next generation.  Soon, this side of island will rejoice again.

I myself have found my father’s death to be surprisingly inspirational.  My father was an extremely successful business man.  He was an investment banker in public finance in the 70s and 80s and then became a real estate developer, completing several successful co-housing developments.  While I feel that I have accomplished a lot in sports and on a personal level during my life, I really haven’t hit my stride in any career.  I was a somewhat successful mogul skier when I was much younger.  I have a wonderful, healthy, two-year-old boy.  I have a loving husband.  I love exercising and being outside.  I eat healthy food.  I am generally happy, but I still feel like there is something missing.  I haven’t really found a career that I love.

For some time now, my family has been telling me that I should pursue writing.  I write a lot of poems for my family for birthdays and holidays.  I’ve written some funny stories here and there but I never really considered myself a writer.  However, within a week of my dad’s passing, I was writing.  I ‘m not sure if I’ll ever make any money writing but that’s not really what’s important.  And, since this is 2017, I’m starting a blog.  Aren’t I cool and trendy?  I’m learning about social media marketing and creating an online resume.  I’m making it happen.  I’m inspired.

I loved my dad with every fiber of my being but I don’t want to mourn losing him.  I want to celebrate having had him.  I feel honored to have had such an amazing father and I feel inspired to make my life better because that is what he would have wanted.  So this is how begins…