Sketched a week ago on a sandy beach, overlooking the waves of Lake Michigan, with the buildings and bustle of Chicago in the background.
I learned my first lesson in simplicity when I decided to move overseas in early 2001.
It was me, my 2 duffel bags and my 2 backpacks. All my worldly possessions (minus a few things I had in storage at my parents house)…just 220 lbs of mostly clothes, books and meaningful momentos that would remind me of home.
I was off to the Dominican Republic, to teach and serve others.
Among the 5,347 things I learned about myself, life, love, and relationships while living in the Dominican Republic, one of the most profound was the concept of simplicity. (Not to be confused with minimalism, or anti-materialism.)
I found myself in a culture that moved at a different pace. A slower pace. A gentler pace. A reasonable pace.
One that I resisted at first, but came to appreciate and cherish after a few years living within it. It was simpler pace. (Although it might not seem like it, with all the crazy motorcycles whizzing around town.) The focus was not on “getting things done” or getting to the top, or having the best and most of everything. There were no Joneses in the DR. So there was no one to keep up with.
- There was little convenience foods. None really. (So I learned to cook from scratch…I always say this blog would not be in existence, were it not for the cooking I learned to do while in the DR.)
- There was little “paperwork,” for things like car insurance or bank accounts. (So I learned to trust in His provision and His protection. For those who are curious, we used the bank only to cash American checks into Dominican pesos. We didn’t have accounts or cards to worry about.)
- There were no calendars or planners. (So I learned how to sit on the front porch and rock. And speak broken Spanish. That eventually turned into semi-fluent Spanish.)
All this to say…I learned to love simplicity and it will always be something I strive for in my life. But this year, I’ve decided to focus on it more intently…so I’m making “simplify,” my word for 2012.
And here’s what I think it will look like when put into practice this year.
If you were to look at my planner, you might be surprised. There’s really not much on there right now. Other than the kids swimming lessons and a handful of business trips, I keep my schedule really light through the winter months. I have said “no” to a number of different activities and requests, in an attempt to maintain balance and a simple schedule.
This gives us plenty of room for spontaneous activities, to help others when they are in need, and to be adventurous with the boys.
I have a tight work schedule and run a tight ship when it comes to “work productivity”, but I do that so I can have freedom and simplicity with our family’s schedule (or lack there of.)
We have a new rule for the next few months…if we can’t eat it, wear it or consume it in some way (cleaning supplies, wallpaper removal supplies, etc.)…it’s not coming in our house! (More on the reason for this on Tuesday!)
We just don’t need more “stuff.” We have plenty…and are perfectly content with the many things we have been given or purchased.
But here’s where I need to simplify and stay focused with my spending. I have a tendency to “make up errands” and end up purchasing things we don’t need or really want. Let me explain. It’s Thursday afternoon, dead of winter…and I need to get out of the house for a bit. So I start looking around and think “oh, we should really have this. or that. or maybe I could redo this or get new curtains for this room,” and 20 minutes later we are bundled up and on our way to Target. Or Lowe’s. Or wherever.
We really don’t need any new curtains, but I was bored…and wanted somewhere to go…so I made up the fact that we needed new curtains for the guest room. Even though it is fine how it is. And then, while in the store, I decided we “need” this, that and the other…end up walking out with way more than we need or want.
This happen to any of you? Surely, I’m not alone in this? Maybe you’re doing it and don’t realize you’re doing it?
Back to spending…Steve and I will continue our Sunday Night Meetings to stay accountable to our spending. And my “I’m bored errands.” We have set financial goals (more on those later in the week.) that we will work towards, and we will keep track of our progress on a weekly basis. And I will have to look him in the eyes each week and tell him whether or not I went on any “I’m bored errands.”
Note: These “I’m bored errands” of mine really only happen in the winter when I’m suffering from cabin fever.
Since becoming a mom, the part of my brain that deals with worry has been sent into overdrive. It comes in waves, but when it comes, it hits hard…and I go to worst case scenario mode. You know…driving down the road and you get hit with, “What if we get into an accident and I’m seriously injured, and the kids can’t get out of their car seats, and we get taken to different hospitals…who would call our family and friends to be with us?”…and on and on. (Raise your hand if you can relate. Or maybe it’s just me.)
Simplify. My hope this year is to simplify my thoughts and my worry. To be in prayer, rather than fret. And to shutdown the worry part of my brain. My hope is that I can lead a simpler life this year…one not focused on things or appearances, but focused on my family, my friends and helping others with their grocery spending!
And I’ll be sharing more of my personal, parenting, professional, and financial goals for 2012 later this week. And how I manage my goals on a week to week and month to month basis. I’ll be sharing a stellar (and free!) printable template for my weekly goals & plan that’s really helped me simplify my life and keep me moving in the right direction!
Books I’ve Read or Am Reading on Simplicity
- Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World
- Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
- Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace
- Becoming a Woman of Simplicity – 2 Corinthians 11:3
- Enough, Revised and Updated: Discovering Joy through Simplicity and Generosity
New Year, New You Series
As we head into 2012 with fresh clean slates and the chance for a new start, I thought it would be valuable to team up with a few other bloggers and share what our plans are for the year…and hopefully inspire and encourage you to do the same! In the next few weeks I’ll be highlighting and sharing all the New Year, New You posts from 5 other fabulous bloggers. We’ll be sharing ideas and challenges that will help you in this New Year. We’ll be talking about journals, reducing sugar in your kitchen, meal planning, weight loss, food allergies and much more.
Joining me are…
- Amy from Mom’s Toolbox
- Rachel from Surviving the Stores
- Stephanie from Couponing 101
- Sarah from Give Me Neither
- Lynn from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures