Tag Archives: Simple Living

Authentic Living: The Ego’s Ruin

I recently had a sweet, very dear friend tell me she couldn’t believe we moved from 2500 square feet, down to just 900. We didn’t have to do it, but I explained that I really liked it because of the peace of mind- fewer expenses, smaller ecological footprint, lower bills, less to clean and maintain, etc (the list is endless). ‘Less to clean’ has been a huge plus for me as a busy mom. My friend seemed amazed, and said she wouldn’t be able to do it because of her ego. Ego? For some reason that never entered the picture for us. We’d honestly never even thought of it. Of course, we have egos. I’m closely acquainted with mine, her name is Edna, and I keep her in check regarding other matters. But Daniel and I have never been about appearances, or what others think of us, and we don’t need a large, fluffed-up or fancy home to feel like valuable, important human beings. Granted, we do believe a home should be reasonably clean, arranged well, and that natural beauty is of great importance to our overall well-being. Those aren’t rooted in the ego so much as a general sense of self respect and a need for nature, order, and balance.

The little conversation sparked some thoughts because I’m sure she isn’t the only one reading our blog who thinks what we’ve done is probably difficult, strange, or an ego-blow. I recall sitting across the table with another friend last year and informing her of our recent move. She wanted to know all about the house, our amenities, and what part of town we’re in. She’s very into ‘prosperity consciousness’ which teaches we can have anything and everything we desire if we just set our intentions properly, and trust in the flow of the universe. Amen to the power of our minds, especially when aligned with our true calling. I strongly believe in that philosophy since I’ve experienced many results first-hand. However, the majority of people in  that movement (at least the people I’ve met) make lists of all the material things they want to acquire. That’s fine if it’s what you want, and if it’s where you’re at in your personal process, but it’s so far from my galaxy of thinking and desires that I tend to confuse that crowd. After explaining our scale-down move to my friend last year, she looked at me with the most puzzled and disgusted look (lip curling) and said, “Why on earth did you do that??!” To her, we should be striving for more, not less. After all, we are entitled to all of God’s riches and glory… right? Well, to me, God’s riches and glory do not lie in this world. Not one iota. My only response to that question is “Why the heck not??!” My other friend had it right– the ego just doesn’t get it.

For those who would walk into our cozy, little house, lip curled, unimpressed and puzzled, let me just say we live in a way that is in complete alignment with our beliefs. In doing so, we’ve experienced a level of happiness that far exceeds anything we’d experience with granite countertops, jacuzzis, a tiled foyer, finished basement, 3-car garage, or mammoth master suite. I spend very little time having to clean up the house, and every square inch gets the love and attention it deserves because there’s less of it. Oh yeah! I love the ‘less’ part. Every corner is valuable and sacred. Our family is 110% closer and more intimate; we talk to one another constantly, and I can monitor what my kids are doing easily. We have the huge, tree-lined 3/4 care yard we’ve always wanted instead of a massive and cumbersome home to maintain on an average, limiting lot. The regenerative, therapeutic value of being outdoors far outweighs any desires to materially impress myself or anyone else. My yard impresses me. The earth with her intensity, beauty, cycles and seasons impresses me from our sun room windows. The grandeur is in  the natural world for us, which isn’t easily noticed and doesn’t always impress people. That’s perfectly okay with me, considering I love the feeling of having a secret oasis. We like it simple.

I’d like to add that we have no problems with those who choose to live differently. We don’t think we’re holier than thou, or better than anyone else. We just wanted to simplify our lives drastically in order to experience more peace, happiness, and freedom, and it worked. We’re not selling anything at all, and don’t make a dime from our blog… we’re just passing along what’s worked for us, and why. There have been more than a few folks who have gotten rather defensive with me about their lifestyles, even when we’re not even on the topic. Seriously, they just blurt out, out of the blue, that they don’t like clothes lines, gardening or the smell of chickens, and need way more living space due to company. Okay, I mean it– that’s okay. The ranting can go on forever while I just listen. Reminds me a great deal of what happens when I inform people I’m vegetarian… ugh! I’m not even going there. Again, we make no personal judgments about anything, except what feels right for ourselves.. that’s what we believe everyone should do– live in complete authenticity with yourself and your surroundings, however that looks to you. So, please don’t take any of what we do or believe as an attack. In my experience, when people take what I’m doing in my own life personally, they’ve probably got some self-examination to do.

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under Clean Planet, Home, Materialism, Order & Balance, Peace, River Living, Simplicity, Small House Living, Thoughts & Insights, Wabi Sabi

A Peek Inside our Small House: Living Room

For a while I’ve been meaning to post some pictures of the inside of our little home. I love it when other blogger families post pictures like these. We’ve been here since last July, and it was a major downsize for us. For those who don’t know, we went from over 2500 square feet to just 900. This meant we had to simplify a lot. I love that we had to do that because we’re down to the basics now, and there is far less cleaning to do. It’s not just our house we clean and maintain, but all the stuff in it.

Today was the prefect opportunity to reclaim the living room. Four kids were away all day, and we all know how easy it is to clean when kids are gone. It’s completely futile to clean when they’re all home! There were papers, toys, and books strewn about, with pet hair in every corner, and everything in the wrong place. Despite that, it took me less than ten minutes to clean up this little room. We’re talking dusting, vacuuming, organizing, and straightening. The boring ivory walls will be a warm, earthy butterscotch yellow soon, considering I love it with the reds, and it will flow into the butterscotch yellow kitchen. In smaller homes it’s best to keep colors uniform to avoid chopping up the space. Remember, this living room serves 7 people. It’s small (11′ x 15′), but we have seating enough all of us, and it helps that we spend a lot of time on the floor. We also have room to dance (a big requirement for us), so we did away with trunks and coffee tables. Instead, we purchased a rustic 1930’s Drexel desk with lots of drawers for storage. Daniel uses it when he works at home:

The desk is a focal point, and the first thing people see when they walk into our front door

We prefer that everything in our house 1) serves a purpose, or 2) makes us happy. If they don’t meet those two requirements, we give it away. The large mirror above the desk reflects the front window. The strange wirey thing to the left is an antique rug beater, and we all know how practical they are in this day & age… haha. No, I just have a thing for very old stuff, so the rug beater makes me smile. The wall hanging at the right was purchased at a spiritual retreat, and it reads: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. -Chief Seattle, 1854.”

 

a little river nook next to the front door

We’re hoping to collect and store all our finds from river walks on this little wooden boat shelf. For now, it holds a few books and some potpourri. Daniel found this discarded item when we lived at our last home (in perfect condition), and a talented artist had painted a beautiful river scene on the side. This was an item I was stubborn about keeping, but it took me a long time to find the perfect location for it, so it almost didn’t make the cut. Above it is a picture of our guru on a boat in Mexico.

 

Storage

This old hutch/shelf is a work in progress, just like the rest of the house. I’ve never been happy with the shelf set-up. The lower cabinet stores photo albums, DVD’s, and CD’s. We don’t hang onto our books any more unless they’re extreme favorites, or ones we need access to for a while. Our larger book shelf is in the sunroom, and we like to keep this one pretty cleared off. If you haven’t noticed, when a shelf is overstuffed, the mind begins to feel weighed down. According to Feng Shui, we should always have the sense that there is room for more. Again, this shelf needs work… maybe a focal point, a plant, I’m not sure. It sits near the sofa, and makes a great end table while sipping tea.

closet door and decorative chair

The little cane seat chair is one of my favorite, very old pieces. I love old wood. It’s not just decorative, but practical, too. Amelie loves getting on and off of it. In front of the chair is the old, original iron floor vent cover. The masks above are from Africa, and the red one is from our trip to Ethiopia. And of course, the hooks serve as hat hangers in the Summer, and coat hooks in the Winter. The small wooden barrel hides our recycling items, which comes in quite handy. Final Note: I cannot stand the hollow closet door (hollow doors, yuck). We’ll be replacing it with a solid wood door, and stain it to match the wood trim. The whole room still feels incomplete- i.e. in need of family photos and paint.

Minimal. That’s what we go for, both natural and minimal to keep housekeeping simple, yet warm. It’s not easy to keep things simple because I enjoy browsing antique shops, and could easily fill up the space too much. If I do buy extra things, I almost always cycle something else out of the house, and it keeps things fresh.

Until we paint the walls, that’s the end of our teeny living room tour. Thanks for coming!

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Filed under Materialism, River Living, Simplicity, Wabi Sabi

Less is More… Way, Way More

Since moving here almost ten months ago our lives have changed drastically. Both Sky and Prasad are doing incredibly well in school, doing far better than we expected. We spend almost every hour possible outdoors and have far less house to worry about and maintain. We never imagined we’d have a flock of 13 fowl right outside our door, nor did we think we’d be experiencing so much joy from just growing our own food. For some reason Liam seems more at ease, comfortable and happy here despite sharing a bedroom with his two brothers. Sorin and Amelie, a 19 and 2 year old, have shared a bedroom more harmoniously than we ever thought possible, and because of that they will have forged so many memories together despite their huge age gap. That is priceless. We have fewer possessions to take care of, keep track of and maintain, including basic clothing wardrobes that keep things (like laundry and organization) simple so we can focus more on what we love. We’ve eliminated debts and massively reduced Daniel’s business overhead expenses, resulting in a great deal of peace and freedom. But there’s more…

The biggest, most unexpected and exciting change has been the fact that Daniel is now a part-time attorney. I just realized this as we were discussing his schedule for next week, and I almost fell off my seat in awe. His only job is officially PART TIME now… we can hardly believe it! He works a total of maybe 25 hours a week tops, and spends far more time at home enjoying his life. For example, tomorrow (Monday) he isn’t leaving for work until 3:00pm, and will return at 6:00. He, Amelie and I will have the whole day to ourselves while the other kids are at school. Tuesday will be a more typical 8 hour day, then Wednesday very short again. By Friday he’s staying home all day, which means a 22 hour work week ahead.

These types of hours have become common, and we are so, so grateful. We know millions of people would kill for these hours. What’s even more incredible is that I’m still staying home full-time and we’re doing just fine. Daniel has fallen madly in love with urban farmsteading, and even experiences soil withdrawal when he can’t get outside for a few days. He spends far more hours doing what he loves than working in the draining field of law. We’re both loving that we share this passion together… we’re like little kids playing around every day. Lawyers really do have a lot of ‘recess’ time, especially the part-time ones! We feel like the most wealthy people we know, if you consider time, peace, love, and freedom to be the greatest assets of all.

Posted by Jill

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Filed under Family Happenings, Order & Balance, River Living, Simplicity, Thoughts & Insights, Urban Farmsteading