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Striving For A More Simple/Minimalist Life - Page 10

post #181 of 199
Just wanted to welcome the new ladies to the thread.

Max, I'm still kind of learning myself so I'm interested in what others say about your challenges, especially #1. It can't be an either/or situation. For some the point of having a more simple lifestyle is so you can have the time to maintain and be with the friends and family you most care about, if that's what's important to you. Maybe limiting those friendships to just one or two will help. I think also being the inviter instead of waiting for an invite will give you more control over how much time you spend. Just some thoughts.
post #182 of 199
I am going through my house and getting rid of stuff....man does it feel good! I never realized how much we had!!! Both my husband and I have decided to give up some hobbies that we now are never going to go anywhere...even though we'd like them too! Our kids have too many clothes, so we are going through those. Too many toys and books too...going through those. I AM EXCITED!
post #183 of 199

We emptied out an entire room this week!

We spent most of the week (when not celebrating Christmas) decluttering and moving furniture. Shifted all the kids' beds around and now the arrangement is finally as I want it--with one completely emptied room that has become our family chapel. Right now we are just using it for bedtime prayers; we go in there and light a candle--I have a little altar set up (a surplus bedside table with a white tablecloth, crucifix and statue upon it)--and pray sitting on the floor. It is sooo nice to know that there is one empty room in the house where I can go to just be quiet and think.

This was one of my major goals in decluttering and it's great to say it's finally happening. Still some details to work on in there (walls need to be washed) and the kids' bedrooms now need work on putting away the possessions that are being kept, but wow, we've done a lot! There are a dozen kitchen trash bags in the garage waiting for transport to Goodwill plus several pieces of furniture going to friends. The garbage and recycling bins are beyond full--good thing they go out tomorrow night!

My biggest mental accomplishment was getting rid of a collection of dolls I'd had since childhood. I was always told by relatives never to get rid of them because they were worth money, were collectible, were special, etc. Now they are off to be found by someone else who can spend the time and money taking care of them.

Mostly I am on this decluttering frenzy to make my life simpler and to open up space for other things to happen. I want to spend less time taking care of our stuff and more time doing things.
post #184 of 199
Simple living for me at this point in my life is more about where I am spending my money, schedules and my mind set. Someone mentioned trying to live in the moment and that is exactly what I am trying to do. I am hoping that if I begin to change my attitude and habits about life first that the clutter, my house will begin to show the difference. (I do realize that I have to physcally do the work, but I am not tackling it all at once).

I already am lucky enough to be doing what I love, even though it is not out of my home. I get enough breaks and time off to slow down because my job can get busy. I guess as far as schedules are concerned I tend not to sign my children up for everything that comes their way. *max*, I also worry about how many things the other children seem to be signed up for after school and on weekends. I often question if I am doing the right thing for them. But for me a bit of perspective helps. Sometimes I think limiting the activities will give my children a chance to choose something and develop it well. I also think it gives them a chance to have some very needed down time to play, simple nonstructured play directed only by the children themselves. I don't think that my children will be any less successful because they participated in less activities then other children.
post #185 of 199
Welcome Max! A few things stuck out in your post so I wanted to kind of help you a bit:

A couple challenges I face when maintaining our simple living style are:
We tend to become socially isolated, as we are not involved in much. Invitations stop coming when you keep refusing.

This is where you can control your isolation. The idea is not to refuse every invite but to refuse when you need to do something else or recharge another way. Also, you can always do the inviting or some of it. We have a pretty simple lifestyle and we have a pretty active social life as a family and as a couple. But we dont accept all invites nor do we do the inviting because its an obligation.

Our children are getting to the age where they want to do more, not less. For example, if they each want to do an after school activity, then we would be out almost every day of the week. We try to take turns w/activities, or have them all involved in the same thing for simplicity (currently 3 of the 4 are playing basketball) and that helps.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to try and do things. But even kids need to know, you need time to be a family, and/or take turns. It happened for centuries before our generation came along and were told you can have it all!

3. Other kids, most kids it seems, are involved in soooo much I worry that our own kids will be left behind.

I worry more about the "other kids" than about your kids. They are going to wake up a burned out 19 yr old or worse a burned out 14 yr old. My DH pointed out those too involved kids miss so much because they are too busy to be sitting together eating as a family most nights, the family life revolves around their activities and they are then lacking in other skills that were not learned because they were so busy on the hockey rink, baseball diamond, the stage etc.
post #186 of 199
double post oops
post #187 of 199
Living in the present or living each day mindfully is the key, isn't it!? This is a work in progress.

Social life balance - Amy1st said it well, knowing when to say yes. We are very social, but I require my downtime as does one of my sons. So, we say yes to the invites that are important to us. Our close friends consist of about 1/2 dozen different families - all seperate, not just one big group. These folks enhance our lives when we are together. We say yes whenever our schedule allows. We say no, when we need a break. If the invites stop from someone you feel enhances your life, then you do the inviting.

Kids activities- Kids are in organized acitvities younger & younger. I just read a statistic that the average age of the kids who quits organized sports is 11yrs old. Quite frankly, I don't see the need to start before then. The younger child needs free play. My kids attend school all day. they need the time to play without adult direction. THat is much more valuable then being on the soccer team. However, my ds7 takes piano lessons (which he asked for for more than a year before I started him at 6), swim class with my other ds5 (in the winter at the YMCA), and is in Indian guides with dh. We do have activities, but they are scheduled so that we sit down together 7 nights a week for dinner together.

Keeping it simple where you live - the book Choosing Simplicity has been enlightening to me because as a pp said you don't have to become a homesteader to live simply. I am working on living simply in the near suburbs of a major city. It can work. I have everything I need near by. I am working on walking more.

More later...
post #188 of 199
Hi everyone ... I've been reading the thread and thought I'd delurk to say hello. My DP and I have an 11 month old daughter, a cat, and a puppy. Both DP and I are very frugal and are both minimalists, in terms of 'stuff.'
We recently moved into a small condo in a great crunchy neighbourhood in the city, after having lived in a wee house in the mountains for the last three years.

When we first moved to the city, we bought a crumbling old heritage house. When we moved in, we found all the work that needed to be done to be overwhelming and costly ... beyond what we had planned for. So, despite the apparent insanity of it, we relisted it, sold it (for a small profit, just by staging it!) and bought a low maintenance condo nearer to our queer community and city friends and family.

This has been the biggest thing we've ever done in the name of simplicity! Recognizing that we'd bitten off more than we could chew, and rectifying it. It was a big lesson in letting go of the 'shoulds' and embracing what you truly want: more time with family, less money spent on the 'surface.'

I've had a blessed 62 weeks of maternity leave, but am going back to work in another 4 weeks. My goal is to maintain the quality of life we've enjoyed with me being home full time. I'm a paramedic, so my hours are insanely long. I'll only have to work 2 days a week (12 hour shift, more like 14 with OT), but still ... it's hard to imagine that time away from my family.

My partner is a chef, so she has long hours as well. Our biggest challenge to living the simple life is our jobs. We both love what we do, but recognize that both careers are fairly all-consuming. We hope to move out of the city again soon, back to the town we just moved from, where simplicity was the norm. It's certainly not the norm in the city! We work towards it anyway, which for us means:
  • not going out for dinner all the time, even though our friends invite us
  • meal-planning and once a week shopping, even though there are stores everywhere, open all the time
  • continue to co-sleep, so that all our time together (no matter how short) is valuable
  • not browsing in specialty stores or shops
  • using cash
  • cooking from scratch and eating together every day
  • going to our UU church regularly (a bonus of being in the city!!!)
  • having one car and using it sparingly, using transit instead
  • not buying new (still looking for a good umbrella stroller on CL ...)
  • having my mom and sister look after Esmé when I go back to work
  • getting outside as much as possible

This thread has been helpful. Thank you.
post #189 of 199
Starling- I totally get what you are saying!!! We started looking for little houses and quickly realized, while cute and exactly what we would buy, the work would be overwhelming and costly. We are now looking at townhouses, nearer to the center of city life and I am quite excited. I can still patio garden with all the land maintenance and I like being able to have quick access to food, healthcare, entertainment, walking, thrifting and life.

I can still enjoy the space, painting it and setting it up just so. And we can have a dog or 2...I am really learning it's all about attitude rather than the space.
post #190 of 199
Originally Posted by ~*max*~ View Post
3. Other kids, most kids it seems, are involved in soooo much I worry that our own kids will be left behind.
I think about this as well. Let's use soccer as an example. Here the kids start playing at age 3. When DS was 4, we asked, and he wanted to play. He's played 2 seasons here (spring & fall), and he enjoyed it - but not enough to make me think he really, really wants to do it again. What we saw was that the organization of teams that ultimately turn into school teams starts from this age. Children (and their parents!) are vetted for appropriateness/ability, and the teams eventually dwindle down to 1 team/school. If you're not in on the activity from this age, you're probably not going to be selected.

I have a real problem with things being that way and with the official both at school and at the Y for allowing it to be like that. I don't want either of my kids to get older and say "thanks, Mom. I would've played basketball, but you didn't enroll me when I was 4!" I don't know how to handle it. I'll let DS play soccer as long as he wants to. DD wants to start playing in the spring, so we'll let her, too. Actually DH plans to coach DS's team, so we will have some control over the schedule, and DH - unlike most of the other parents - actually played soccer for 15 years. (He has a cow when other parent-coaches use the wrong terminology!)

Other than that, we don't plan to do much in the way of group stuff for now. They do both take dance (1/2 a week), but it's really low-key and not competitive between dancers in the same class. I'm teaching them to play music, so no need for lessons there. DS wanted to try flag football, but I've heard how many of the coaches speak to the kids, so we're not doing that.

I struggle because at heart, I'm a joiner. It's really an inability to tell people no. I'm on the board of an organization right now, and I honestly have no idea why. It's a great organization, worthy cause, but it's not my "thing," ya know. I just agreed because I'm afraid of disappointing other people. That's something I want to work to get over.
post #191 of 199
Brandirhodes, you post really spoke to me! My neighbor put her dd in softball when she was 9. Turns out the park district team was a "competitive team" but no one had said anything or printed anywhere. Some of these girls were playing since they were 3 or 4 and were also coming from 2 and 3 towns away to be with this coach. When the dd would go up to bat, some girls from another team would say "oh its the baby batting" and stick their tongues out. Thankfully these coaches were sent packing eventually but it kind of stayed around for a season for so.

My dd who was 6/7 and played softball had a totally different experience and enjoyed it. She wants to sign up again this spring. It was practice one night a week and games 1-2 nights a week from May until late june. Then its summer vacation and she just likes hanging out at the pool. She enjoys activities, but it just as fine playing on her own or with neighbor kids than having to play a sport for more than the season. I remember parents signing their kids up back to back activities. When something was winding down, they were getting ready for the next great thing.
post #192 of 199
Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post
When we first moved to the city, we bought a crumbling old heritage house. When we moved in, we found all the work that needed to be done to be overwhelming and costly ... beyond what we had planned for. So, despite the apparent insanity of it, we relisted it, sold it (for a small profit, just by staging it!) and bought a low maintenance condo nearer to our queer community and city friends and family.

This has been the biggest thing we've ever done in the name of simplicity! Recognizing that we'd bitten off more than we could chew, and rectifying it. It was a big lesson in letting go of the 'shoulds' and embracing what you truly want: more time with family, less money spent on the 'surface.'
Wow I think you summed it all up. That is awesome.
post #193 of 199
S&D - I remember you from the Queer - TTC threads. So glad you guys are doing well and good to see you around this thread also. I loved your story and your goals/priority list. Sounds like you know where you're heading and that's great!
post #194 of 199
Originally Posted by BurtsGirl View Post
S&D - I remember you from the Queer - TTC threads. So glad you guys are doing well and good to see you around this thread also. I loved your story and your goals/priority list. Sounds like you know where you're heading and that's great!
Hi Rachel ... Good to see you!

Re: social isolation ... this is a big risk of living a simple life. It's real, and hard to manage. We remind ourselves to say 'yes' to invitations as much as we politely decline. As much as we dread the hassle, we always have a good time, so long as it's one event at a time.

I do think that having a core group of close friends is best ... people who understand what you're striving for with your family and who hopefully share your goals. That way, they understand when you've overbooked, or you're just not feeling up to it. This would be hard if you're new to town, or naturally shy.
post #195 of 199
We took a step towards decreasing our social isolation today (which is just a natural product of our simple living practices), and it totally backfired! Two of my kids have friends who are siblings. So my two kids were invited over to the house of their two sibling friends. I know the mom through various school function &, we've been to b'day parties at their home, so I thought it would be OK. (We don't do a lot of playdates.) Well, the ten year old boy ended punching my 6 year old daughter in what seemed to be a fit of rage. I arrived to find her crying & completely dsitraught. The mom & boy were apologetic of course. But I think I was justy as upset as my dd. The poor thing. Any kind of violence is completely unacceptable to us, so for her to experience this first hand, especially during a time that she was so looking forward to playing w/her friend, just kills me. I just wish we stuck w/our usually philosophy of doing things on our own and avoided all this. Thanks for reading - just had to vent.
post #196 of 199
I'm so glad to see such an active thread.

Firstly, I am giving a small group talk next week about simple living at our church. I thought the focus should be more on the intersection of spirituality and simplicity, but the person who recommended me said that I should just focus on how we live a simple life. I think these people are of all ages, so my focus will not be on parenting simply per se, but that is a big part of our life. If you were attending a talk about simplicity, what would you want to hear addressed? I have about 30 mins.

I loved the pp who set up a prayer chapel. So cool.

Regarding activites. Make sure the kids really like it. My dd didn't like the ballet so much and didn't want to do it. I told her she had to finish the session, but she went ahead and finished the year without telling me she didn't want to. she's just happier not in activities and has told me so as she has gotten older. Also a friend's son went through 3 years of soccer before telling her he really didn't like soccer.

Independent creative play has so much value. It helps develop higher order executive function I think it's called. "Executive functioning involves activating, orchestrating, monitoring, evaluating, and adapting different strategies to accomplish different tasks.... It requires the ability to analyze situations, plan and take action, focus and maintain attention, and adjust actions as needed to get the job done." Executive function is often compared to the conductor of a symphony orchestra, coordinating and managing many cognitive functions." http://www.greatschools.org/LD/ident...ent=1017&page= This is the link where I found the definition, but the article has to do with LDs not play. There is much research these days including a book I haven't read yet called Play. I often trot the higher order executive function out when defending play and unschooling. Creative people bring the advancements and arts about in our society. That is so invaluable too.

I forget what else I wanted to talk about after the numerous interruptions in the last 30 mins. but that's enough for now.
post #197 of 199
post #198 of 199
I'll join in. I've been on and off the voluntary simplicity bandwagon for years. I find myself drifting back to the ideals very often, and I'm ready to make a conscious decision to start living more deliberately and more simply.

Originally Posted by Amys1st View Post
Lets talk decor. Are you striving for a more simple household and home or do you have one now and how did you get at it?
I'm striving for a more simple home. I'm living with my parents due to divorce and the expense of living in this area. It's a bit hard because my mom is very into stuff. And she is constantly buying stuff for my daughter, and I've fallen into the trap of buying things for myself instead of dealing with some of the issues I'm trying to avoid. I'm finally in a place where I'm ready to do something about the stuff that is making it impossible for me to relax, work through my issues, and just live.

I've joined the 2010 in 2010 thread to help jump start my decluttering initiative.

Originally Posted by BurtsGirl View Post
**What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of living simply?**
Sticking to my ideals and dealing with how other people perceive my choices. As with a lot of my life choices people like to assume that I am judging them for making different choices which couldn't be further from the truth.

Originally Posted by *bejeweled* View Post
I love this thread. Today we had some points that we had earned on a credit card and needed to use. Both DH and I perused our gift options and realized we really didn't want anything. We really didn't want anything. This is truly freeing.
That's amazing. I bet that was just the greatest feeling.

Originally Posted by BurtsGirl View Post
What are some of your goals? I guess what I'm asking is what, to you, means you're living a Simple Life? Is it eating home more? Buy less things? What are your top 5 things that you strive for/hope for in living intentionally simple?
-Only having things that I love and actually use in my home.
-Knowing where my food is coming from and eating things that make my body and mind feel good.
-Taking the time to pursue the activities and hobbies I think would enrich my life but have always felt too busy to do.
-Taking the time to *be* with my family.

Originally Posted by ParisApril View Post

Every 6 months I turn all my hangers in the closet so they face the wrong way. After 3 months the clothing on any hanger that is still turned the wrong way gets donated to the second hand store. (Taking into account the seasons of course.)
Brilliant! I need to do this after I run through my clothes and get rid of things I know I don't want anymore.

Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post
Hmmm. So, I caught up on this thread again, and I have to say, I really don't feel like I fit in here. I mean, yes, I want to enjoy a more simple and non-consumerist experience, but I guess that looks different to me.


I guess I am posting this in hopes that other people might be inspired by this. Simple living isn't just for those who seek the extremes-- it's for regular folks, too!
That's one of the things I loved about some of the simplicity books I've read. Simple living is a very individual decision and there is no one right way to do it. What is simple for you may be complicated for someone else, so we will all make different decisions.

Originally Posted by mags.bubble View Post
I am searching out voluntary simplicity, but still working out what it means to me. While decluttering our home is important to me, I am well aware that I need to declutter my brain too. It seems the discussions about simplicity often get stuck on decluttering our stuff, but there seems to be much more to it than that.
Absolutely. I'm still very stuck on the physical stuff aspect of it, but maybe focusing more on the mental aspect will allow the physical stuff to follow. That's some food for my personal reflection time.

Originally Posted by catscharm74 View Post
We are leaving in week for Texas and I have 2 huge empty bins in the extra bedroom. I am going to fill them with things I THINK I can live without and see how I feel when I come back.
That is a great idea. I need to grab a few boxes of non-seasonal items and pack them up. If I don't need or miss any of those things after a few weeks I should take them off to Goodwill.

Originally Posted by BurtsGirl View Post
I agree that most people deal with outward clutter first. It's the first thing you think about when you think about living simply. It wasn't till I started reading that I really understood that simplicity needs to be outward and inward.
For the longest time I thought I needed to create the perfect conditions on the outside, ie small, simple house in the country, off the grid, farming, creating, etc before I could start living simply. This book has open my mind to the concept of creating the perfect conditions within and when that happens you're living simply wherever you are.
I get stuck on that a lot. I try to keep in mind Theodore Roosevelt's quote "do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
post #199 of 199
Welcome althara!

lets keep this going here:


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