I read this article recently over on the New York Times blog: Living With Less. A Lot Less and it really got me thinking. How many of us can relate to what he experienced?
Not in an exact way – as we don’t all have multiple million dollar businesses to sell. But, we start out in our nice little home, then we start to make more money so we get a bigger home and we fill it with stuff, more stuff, and more stuff.
Then we realize we have all of this stuff we don’t need or want and instead of one boss at a job to pay for everything, we have two jobs – one that pays for everything, and another where our “boss” is the space we’ve chosen – all the room to fill, all the yard to take care of, all the house that needs our attention.
When my husband and I moved from our very roomy 2500 square foot Victorian in New York back in 2005 to a simple little 1500 square foot Florida home, we were forced to simplify. I thought, “This is amazing. We are so great at making our life so much easier – we have less stuff, we spend less money – we are awesome!”
Sure, we bought a much smaller house with far less space to store stuff. We had much less money to spend on anything but home renovations, but there were no glamorous makeovers. It was just basic stuff to make it healthy and livable around here.
I felt like we were truly living the simple life. Small house. No extra stuff. An abundance of time together. Easy peasy.
But then the house was done being remodeled, so the extra money we’d been putting into house projects each month was left over. And magically, just like that, it got absorbed right into the budget.
We started to put our kids in after-school activities that we’d said no to before. We started to buy way more organic food than we did before. We bought another house (crazy, I know) to fix up on the side. And suddenly simple had changed.
I still feel like we have a simple life – our home is cozy and maybe even a bit small for all of us. We live a daily life that feels true to us. The yard that sold us on the house takes much time to maintain, but also affords us the ability to have eight backyard chickens, plus room for the kids and dogs to play.
All of these choices take work. Until I read the NYT article, I didn’t really think about how complicated simple living can be, or how much simpler my life could be. But I thought a lot about the path the author of that article took and how his life had become so much simpler with his choice to live smaller.
Is the measure of a simple life how small our home is? Whether or not we have a yard? Or clutter? I realized that for me, my simple home isn’t simple because of the size or stuff in it, but because it was the springboard to our simpler lifestyle.
I recently created a Facebook cover photo that showed the lovely little life we’ve created – and none of it showed our home. It showed the happy things I do, the things that make me get up each day, the things that I love.
The life we live is as simple as we make it in our heart, and the place we lay our head at night is only a small part of that.
So, as I look back on the seven years since our simplifying journey began, even though there are many differences in the day-to-day, the lifestyle we have chosen and the living we call “simple” remains so, not because of the home we live in or how much stuff is in it, but because of the way we feel here, the time we have together, the life goals we’ve made, and what living this way has done for opening new doors and starting new paths.
What do you think of the idea that where we live and what we have does or does not determine the simple life?