Our culture is obsessed with finding ways to “simplify” our lives. Every time a new gadget comes out, it promises to simplify our lives. (I actually think my smart phone complicates my life more than it simplifies it.) Each new processed food product promises to simplify a meal to accommodate busy lifestyles with phrases like ‘all-in-one’ and ‘great on-the-go.’
In our house, I feel like when it comes to diet, we do make simple choices, even if the dishes we make are sometimes complex and the many places we source foods can make shopping complicated. We use whole, clean foods and try to keep the chain from the farm to our table as short as possible. We celebrate the simple pleasure of a ripe tomato in August or perfect strawberries in June.
But what about the rest of our lives? I got to thinking about this question a lot during the Mother Earth News Fair. Mark and I are blessed to live in a house that is more than adequate in size for our needs. But how did we move from a two-bedroom tiny apartment to a three-bedroom house and somehow within two years fill it up with stuff? We often talk about a dream of living in a small cabin on lots of land – but we can’t do that with an entire house full of stuff. We live a sustainable lifestyle when it comes to what we eat. But how can we carry that lifestyle into other areas of our life?
Having a burst of energy this weekend, I spent most of Saturday organizing one of our bedrooms – the area that functions like an office/library. It has two closets, both of which were bursting – and I’m ashamed to admit the doors hadn’t been shut for probably a year. The entire room was lined with bookcases packed full of hundreds of books, knick knacks and dust. After about 10 hours, I had about 12 boxes of items to sell or donate and had reduced my books by about 50%, a huge feat for me, having a master’s degree in literature and reading being one of the great loves of my life.
This was just one room, but the sense of success, and honestly, peace, I had from completing that task was amazing. I can walk in that room now and not feel that the walls are closing in on me – and I can shut those closet doors. It suddenly felt so much closer to “simple.”
So I’m devoting time in October to simplifying our home. Making space for the things that contribute to the joy we create in the home, and getting rid of things that don’t. I will probably feature some of the simplified spaces on Instagram (@nextgenhouse).
Let’s talk simplifying. What things do you do in your house to keep things simple? Do you have any great strategies to address the challenge of organizing or downsizing?