Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Simple Life

A beautiful, simple rose from our backyard.

I've been thinking a lot about the voluntary simplicity movement.  Voluntary simplicity, or minimalism, focuses on living simply outside in order to live richly inside.  At the peak of burnout from full-time work in a field I spent five years studying to enter, I first heard about living simply when I read the book, "Your Money or Your Life," and the desire for a simpler life resonated with me.  At the time, I had a $1000 monthly mortgage, shopped continually, ate dinner out most nights of the week, and failed to make time for activities that truly gave me life (if I even knew what they were).  At a young age, I realized this type of life wasn't sustainable, and I began making changes. 

I quit my stressful job, moved back to Kansas, sold my house, and happily left most of my worldly possessions in Georgia to a homeless ministry.  Initially struggling with working part-time, because a full-time job is what I was "supposed" to do, I got another full-time job in Kansas.  I believe the lies that unless we overwork and over schedule ourselves, we don't have value.  About a year later, I found courage to take the leap and quit my full-time job.  Surprised at how much better life was by decreasing my expenditures and living in a 400 sq. ft. apartment in order to work part-time, and do things I really enjoy (like learning pottery), I was sold.

I regularly read blogs focused on simplicity/minimalism and want to share my favorites with you.  Topics focus on simplifying life in order to work less and have more time to enjoy what you really want out of life.  Here are my favorites:
One of life's simple pleasures, homemade
apple pie!
While minimalism is not specifically focused on local eating, eating within ~100 miles (or 10 miles as Vicki Robin is doing) in many ways does simplify life.  At the farmers' market, there are a variety of options of items, but not aisle upon aisle of cereal and jelly or multiple packages of bread.  One stand at the Old Town Farmers' Market sells bread - how much simpler is that choice, one stand?  Going to the store these days, where the household goods and groceries are all under one roof, can be an exhausting experience and one I try to avoid.  While there are limitations to local eating based on the season, in a way, that simplifies life, and that's something I like.


  1. Paula, this is a wonderful post. I loved your conclusion: "While there are limitations to local eating based on the season, in a way, that simplifies life, and that's something I like." This is something I think about a great deal (though admittedly usually in a rather high-falutin' philosophical vein): that if wish to enjoy the benefits of simplicity, then we must accept that keeping things simple means accepting limits. My using my bicycle to commute to work, I'm limiting my time, somewhat; by shopping at the farmers market for meat that is better for me, but also a little more expensive, I'm limiting my budget. Accepting limits makes it possible to for us to appreciate the value of things that are slower, and smaller, than quickly produced and disposed goods which surround us. We can't have real simplicity without it.

    Anyway, this is a great blog, with a great collection of links. I've been meaning to comment for a while. It was a pleasure meeting you at Jane's a couple of weeks back; I hope we'll be able to again sometime soon.

  2. Russell -
    Thank you for leaving your encouraging comment. Limits are hard for many in the get it quick, made to order culture where we live. When we figure out how to accept limitations, other benefits arise - health from bike commuting, incredibly tasty food from choosing seasonal products, community built at the farmers' market, etc. In seems that it comes down to our core values, and what we want from life - speed and efficiency, or a rich life experience. Living more simply has given me an incredibly rich, less stressed and fulfilling life experience.

    Thanks again for your comments - you and your wife will have to come share dinner with Chris and I sometime. He's a chef, so eating at our house is always a treat (in my opinion). :)