Living simply and living well may mean something different to each of us. For some, it may not even be on your radar. If you, like me, see it as a worthy goal, how well do we put feet to moving in that direction?
What would simplifying your life look like?
Will simplifying your life make it a life well lived?
This past year I have spent a good bit of time thinking about what a well lived life might look like for me. I was challenged by a favorite author, Donald Miller, to write out the obituary I would like to have written about me when I die, then reverse engineer my focus, goals, and decisions to insure I live out the kind of ending that I want.
Josh Becker once said, “The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.” Ten years ago, I started implementing Josh Becker’s thinking as we packed up our home with the intent of pursuing a move to Florida. We cleaned out what we could, packed loads of boxes to store, and moved our necessities around the corner to the rental house for what I hoped would be a couple of months. I am so glad I didn’t know then that it would be four years before we finally headed to Florida.
The stored boxes filled the dining room and living room of that rental house. Every six months I would work my way through the stored items and purge what I felt we could live without. After three years of the purging process, the pile of boxes became much smaller and the freed space took on a new purpose: living space. What started in our moving process many years ago has permeated other areas of my life. Instead of household items to be cleared out, it became attitudes that needed to go, thoughts that didn’t fit with my theology, eating habits that were not making me healthier, behaviors that were not communicating what I wanted to those I love most.
Part of this journey included a focus on how my thoughts affect the path I take. A simple example of this is choosing positive or negative thoughts to apply to any situation I am faced with. Do I choose to see the best in people? Do I put other’s concerns ahead of my own? In my mind, am I controlling my thoughts or do I let them control me?
A year ago, we graduated our last child after 20 years of homeschooling. I realized this newly available time could radically rock my world in ways I could control or my “graduation” had the power to control me. I was very grateful for the opportunity to teach Nature Study and Handwork at Ambleside to fill some of that void. The new friendships that came with the Ambleside family were a tremendous bonus. This year, however, I am opening up some time in my schedule to allow for completing various projects at my home and to allow more availability for the unknown. Bob Goff, in his book, Dream Big said, “We won’t be able to advance our worthwhile ambitions if our lives are already fully occupied.” I am noticing that intentionally leaving time to be available for the unplanned and unknown allows me to say “yes” when a packed schedule wouldn’t afford me that opportunity.
Where are you in this process? Do you love the idea of living simply, but find there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day to do it all? If there is one thing I have taken away from this 2020 COVID experience, it is that I don’t have to do it all. I like the results so much better. The best part is that I am enjoying my life so much more as I focus on the things that matter most.