Defining Simple Living

>> Friday, July 27, 2018

What's at the heart of my issue with simple living? Well, its very definition is what. I've determined that there is no one-size-fits all approach to this philosophy. Yet, I feel like we're often bombarded by images and words and ideas that try to peg it in one "easy" to apply scenario.

It usually includes the following:

Making all foods from scratch
Paring down belongings to minimal amounts
Using homemade cleaners for home and body
Regularly disconnecting from media in its many forms
Having a regular house cleaning schedule
Having a well-edited capsule wardrobe
Cloth diapering
Keeping a garden 
Finding joy in the process of doing all the work
Etc., etc., etc.

But this all sounds like so much work, right?

The end result is appealing. A tidy house with food on the table and things seeming to be in order. A mind-clearing feeling of productivity. But it's TONS of work to get there. And I'm not saying that this IS simple living. I'm just saying these are the things I often see associated with it, among many, many other items and tasks.

I tend to get extreme when I try to apply something new to my life. And for me, living simply this way doesn't work because I can't get all the balls rolling at once. I can't even get half of them going to be entirely honest. It's a lot of toiling and trouble and then feelings of failure that creep in and ultimately squash efforts. The areas I struggle with may be different from the ones you struggle with. We're all different and have different skills. We all have different things that motivate or inspire us. And, as a result, we have different goals.

Again: Some many of these things aren't even simple! They just happen to produce an end result that may look that way. Like there's a semblance of more control and order and, therefore, simplicity and serenity.

I admit that I, Ashley, seem to have focused in the past on how my simple living looked on the outside. Both to other people (hello, blogging monster) and even to myself. If my home didn't resemble some muted linens-clad prairie abode, I was doing it all wrong -- obviously. If I didn't feel a sense of contentment and calm as I was grating a bar of soap or sweeping up freshly ground oats, I was doing it all wrong.

But as time has worn on, I have grown tired on the desire to appear I'm truly embodying a simple lifestyle. I just want to hurry the hell up already and LIVE in a way that feels freer and actually simpler. That might not always mean it's pretty. That might not mean I'm doing everything the most organic and wholesome way. And that might not mean I can address all areas at once.

That's right:

We can't do it all.

At least I cannot.

I've tried and failed many times.

We only have so much bandwidth. So, each of us has to choose the areas in our lives that we seek to simplify the most. I think choosing four or five areas as a focus, at least for me, is what I can handle. Like putting pots on a stove, I guess. Do I have many more areas I'd like to improve upon? Heck yes. But they'll need to go on the back burner until I can rotate things around.

Does this mean that some of these things aren't worth trying? No. There's plenty of reasons you might want to make your own cleaning supplies and cook from scratch. Money is top on my list. The environment is another, yet I intend to do disposable diapers again . . . so this motivation discussion is for another day.

Simple living: Doing things that actually make my life simple in practice.

Here are my five goals:

I want to spend less time cleaning.

I want my kids to be more self-sufficient.

I want to cook most all my meals from home to save money, but I want them to be speedy.

I want to live with fewer things and to stop shopping so much.

I want to get better at planning ahead.

I'll flesh these out more in my next post. But this is micro-blogging, after all! Tomorrow I turn 35. It seems like a way more important milestone than 30, yet it's one that I'm not dreading. I feel a certain wisdom and calm as I advance in the years because I feel like I'm finally getting to the bottom of all these goals I had as a younger person.

Happy birthday to me!

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