Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said: “The hardest thing to do is simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex.”
I wasn’t sure if I believed that.
I thought back to the beginning of our simplicity saga: The year 2006 when Mr. Right and I first got married. We started going into considerable debt – from the wedding that went over budget to decorating and redecorating our new home, to buying leather furniture and a shiny new car.
My life wasn’t simple at all. Taking care of my family and working full-time left me borderline crazy for simplicity. That much I knew. What I learned in my quest for a simpler life was this:
- Simpler isn’t always good for the environment.
- Living a simple, sustainable life can be hard work.
A broken idea: Simplify your life by spending
I wasn’t the only working mother desperate for simplicity. Like many American families, we had filled up our free time with activities. The weekdays were spent working, the weekends trying to catch up. I desperately wanted to slow down.
At first, I simplified my life the only way I knew how. I spent money on:
- Disposable everything – napkins, plates, bags, containers
- Bottled water.
- Fast food.
- Processed junk food.
- Grab and go lunch entrees
- School lunches for the kids
The more I learned about sustainable living, the more these options didn’t feel right.
I started going crazy for something else – green living.
I wanted to slow down, go green and save money – all at the same time. That’s why the quote, “simplifying your life is the hardest thing you’ll ever do” makes a lot of sense to me now.
Making my own bread wasn’t easy, but it helped me simplify my life by saving money. This helped us get out of debt so I could quit my day job and work from home. See how amazing homemade bread can be?
What simple living means to me now
I still know a lot of people who want a simpler life, but the fact is, getting there is anything but simple.
This blog’s message is “simplify to do what you love,” but I want you to know simplify may not mean easier at first. It takes hard work to live a simpler life. For me that means:
- No debt. Period.
- Using cash at the store
- Eating as much real, unprocessed food as possible
- Writing fiction on my own schedule
- Using cloth napkins, refillable water bottles and regular dishes.
- Avoiding fast food as much as possible
- Reading more, plugging in less
- Saying no to things we don’t have time for.
Simple living means changing old habits. It can’t be bought at a store. I hope reading my story will inspire some new habits of your own.
I believe living simply can lead to a better life with the right approach. Yes, it was hard at first, but it has allowed me to eliminate debt, reduce stress and do what I love.
Since leaving my day job, I’ve self-published The Hybrid Homemaker, a workbook for those looking to simplify their chaotic life.
I am currently seeking representation for THE CHANNELS, my 58,000-word YA paranormal novel. ARROWS, my work-in-progress, is a YA adaptation of the myth, Cupid and Psyche.
For young readers, I’m shopping around two non-fiction picture books, one about my family’s adventure to find a meteorite, the other a feel-good story about when my four sisters and I ice-skated in the woods across the field where we grew up.
Read more about my books here.
- More: My post on Zen Habits, Burnout is Beautiful.
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Photo by Mark Anderson/STUN Photography