Photos from a morning walk around our apartment complex.
Over the years we have simplified our lives so much, but there are a few big moments that truly defined us, that bettered our lives and allowed us to live the simple life we wanted to. I thought I’d share some.
The moment…we donated everything in our bedroom including our bed. That was in 2010 when I looked around at all of our cookie cutter black and big furniture. I felt claustrophobic and sick to my stomach because I wasn’t a keeping up with the Jones’ girl. I felt owned by my stuff. Once I learned that there were families sleeping on the floor in my own town, we donated it all to an organization that would help one of those families and we then slept on a sleeper sofa and air mattress for the next two years.
The moment…we pawned our ‘wedding’ bands. I quote ‘wedding’ because we didn’t have a wedding. Over eight years ago we took a half day off of work in the Air Force, went down the road and 15 minutes later we’re married. That money that would have gone to a wedding went to paying for a trailer in cash and living in that trailer. But years back I looked down at the ring on my hand and asked why. My only answer was that I wore it to let others know that we were married and because it’s ‘tradition.’ Neither made sense to me. We knew it and that was enough for us. So we pawned it and used the money to have such a lovely dinner, a day I won’t forget. We had acted on our belief that experiences are more important to us than things.
The moment…we decided to not celebrate the holidays anymore. This was back in 2008. We didn’t like others telling us when to be thankful (Thanksgiving), giving (Christmas), loving (Valentines) and even how to do so. We didn’t like the consumerism, money wasted, food wasted and forced actions that went with it, the accommodating stress, and not to mention all of the stuff. We decided we wanted to celebrate every day, on our terms, how we want to. It felt more authentic to us that way. My parents also made the same decision that year and it’s hard for us to express to others just how much joy it has brought us, that it’s made us that much more giving and thankful. And this was coming from a family where the holidays were so huge I remember others being envious of the detail my parents put in. But now that detail goes into every moment.
The moment…I deleted every major social network I was on (Facebook, Google+, Twitter). They were all time wasters for me. They never felt like real connections. Doing so led to finding out who I really cared about. It led to phone conversations and emails. It also led to losing contact with some but I think if we really wanted contact, we’d have it. It made me prioritize, make time for things of value to me and not be so jacked in to a device all the time.
The moment…I read The China Study and, again, changed my diet. I changed my diet before it but never was I so impacted by a book. A book that I have passed on again and again and those people have said the same to me, that their lives are forever changed because of it. If you care for your health I cannot recommend the book enough. I think it should be a mandatory read in high school. I was a physical training leader in the Air Force and studied nutrition for years on end but nothing in that time came close to the power that lies in the truth of that book.
The moment…we let go of our cell phone, back in 2009. We bought a pay as you go phone, put it in our glove compartment for emergencies and have only used it once. We’ve found that we don’t need a cell phone. We let go of it because of cost but also because we didn’t like the idea that we felt ‘on call’ all the time, connected all the time. I remember walking around campus, when I was working on my Bachelor’s, and seeing nearly everyone with their head down looking at their device while walking. I went home, called my parents and cried because I was saddened. I was excited to be on campus because I thought it would be like the ‘old days’ that my dad talked about where people were excited to learn and not consumed by text messaging or staying ‘up to date’ 24-7.
The moment…I waved good-bye to a 9-5 job. Even though I got my Master’s in a subject that means a lot to me (library science), I wasn’t finding a job that I knew would make me happy. After moving to Austin, my husband suggested and supported the idea that I stay at home and work on my greatest dream, writing novels, while creating things I enjoy and dabbling in other ventures. It’s made us both happier because he gets to come home to a happy home and I get to do what I love, while also encouraging his dream of creating video games for a living.
By definition, I’m a non-conformist and so I know all of these decisions aren’t trendy or popular but trendy and popular never got me anywhere. Digging deep, asking why, and finding what matters most to me did.
There are many other ways we have defined simple. We went debt free, after paying off our car a year back; live on less than half our income; own very little (update coming soon!); go for walks, hikes and bikes; stopped buying in bulk and now only buy what we need even if just a cup of black beans; progressively make more and more of our stuff instead of buying store bought; are a one car family; and live as sustainably as possible.
Simple is relative. How you define it is up to you. It is possible to continue partaking in the holidays but simplifying them and there are great resources out there on how to do so. Create the life you love. Be brave and swim against the tide, despite the looks and comments. If it makes you happy, and doesn’t cause harm to others, then that’s all that matters.
Cheers to simple.