Monday, January 07, 2008

Simplicity

Sweetheart and I were talking a few weeks ago on one of those rare weekend afternoons when the boys were both napping at the same time. We started talking about how much we love one another, the boys, and our lives in general. Yet, we were both troubled and worn out with trying to deal with all the stuff in our lives.

Since I quit teaching to stay home, our schedules have definitely lightened up. I am no longer running around around the clock. It's great. We really simplified that area of our lives.

However, over the years the amount of things in our home has only increased. It wasn't such a big deal when it was just us living here. We had the main living areas, plus the unfinished basement, a guest room, a loft for Sweetheart's office, and an extra bedroom for my office/craft room.

Well, we changed the guest room to the nursery and combined my office with the new guest room. Then we had someone else move in for a few months, which eliminated that room. So all my stuff landed in the basement. Then I got that room back for awhile, which was nice, but we were left with all that person's stuff as well. Guess we'll store her stuff in the basement. Next, we needed my room for Pumpkin as Dumpling was on the way. We rearranged the loft to move all my stuff into it along with all the stuff Sweetheart had in there, which was a lot already. More stuff to the basement.

Instead of getting rid of things along the way, we just got more tubs to put it all in. Well, there became no more room for tubs. We were constantly shoving tubs all around to get to the things we wanted.

We won't talk about the garage. That's a real sore spot.

Anyway, here we are after being married almost ten years. Two people who no longer own stuff, but are owned by our stuff. It's ridiculous! And it is all coming between us.

It was a wonderful conversation. Hard, but needed. There are a lot of emotions tied to the things. Crazy, isn't it? My hardest thing is to part with stuff other people have given me. I don't want to hurt their feelings. Or, good memories are attached to things.

Sweetheart's dilemma is more about the cost of things and what they are worth. He's bought a lot of stuff over the years to resale. What he has been able to sell he usually makes money off of. Sometimes a lot of money, but not everything sells, at least not quickly. Or, not as quickly as his wife would like.

Well, we decided we no longer want to live like this. We don't want the boys to grow up thinking that they should hold on to everything and that hoarding things is ok. Plus, we want to have room to enjoy the things we have. We want to have more free time, not wasting time fixing things, selling things or buying things, just because.

So, we had the first big purge just before Christmas. Now, Salvation Army is swinging on by tomorrow for more. There's still a ways to go, but we're making progress.

That conversation became a whole life evaluation. I'd been getting all of these emails telling me to boycott this store for this reason, that store for another reason. Often, if I wanted to follow all the emails they would have just cancelled each other out! What a mess.

Yes, I want to be conscientious about where we spend our money. I don't want to be supporting corporations that give money to causes I am utterly opposed to. Over the years we have stopped buying a lot of products for that very reason. It's hard to know a lot of times who is supporting what, but we've tried to pay attention.

Well, we're still discussing what to do about all of that mess and don't have a lot of answers yet. One of the things that we are doing is trying to just buy less overall. Over the next few months, we will be researching more about different companies and be making more changes I'm sure.

As we talked about what to buy and not buy the conversation turned to the types of things we use around the house. Since becoming pregnant the first time, I have changed my mind about the cleaners that I use regularly. The smells of all the chemical cleaners have really bothered me since I was first pregnant. I've tried a few different things along the way, but really haven't figured out a good solution. Switching to some of the Mrs. Meyer's Cleaners has helped, but there are still a lot of chemicals we use everyday, almost without thinking.

I've been researching alternative cleaners online and have found some good recipes out there that I've started substituting. I'm pleased with what I've changed so far, but hope to eradicate the rest of them over the next few months as well. Some things I'm using up, some I'm just throwing out. Did you know you can make your own dishwashing detergents and laundry detergents? I'll probably be posting directions as I try more things out, if anyone is interested.

And what about all the chemicals in our personal care products? You should have seen the huge bag of stuff I tossed just from under my bathroom cabinet. Really, how many bottles of hair products do I need? My hair always looks the same no matter what I put on it, so why not just use the simplest stuff? Once those things are gone, I might not even replace them.

Well, since the chemicals are on their way out, what about the food we eat? I make most things for scratch, but really, what is all that junk in the meat we buy? Do I want to eat stuff that contains ingredients I can't even pronounce? No. So, I'm buying more natural meats now. I'll let you know how tomorrow night's bison meat turns out!

I'm searching for a local farm/CSA to join, too. We're also planning to better utilize our garden and back yard starting this spring for our own organic fruits and vegetables. We were circleling items as a wish list in the gardening catalog last night at dinnertime. It's time to start composting, too.

It's been interesting with the just changes we've started making already. Living simply, isn't so simple any more. Hopefully, once we figure out how to make/get the things we need it will get easier. Some of these things are interesting though, as so many of the "natural" things are brands that support some things we don't want to have any part of. It's not as easy as I'd hoped. We're not giving up though, since we've just begun this new journey.

The cost of the organic foods is a lot higher than regular, but hopefully, since I'm buying less junk, the costs will end up the same overall. Plus, I've spent a lot on cleaners for the home and on personal care products and most of the do it yourself recipes are actually a lot cheaper.
I wrote in my Everything Book my goals the other day:

*Honor Christ--above all!
*Live Simply
*Be Healthy
*Be Wise Financially

Breaking it down looked like this:

For Me:
Devote more time to studying Christ's words and incorparating them into my daily life.
Love others more; be a better wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend.

For Home:
More natural cleaners, soaps and personal products
Make what we can
More natural foods-organic, not processed, locally grown

I'll Need To:
Get up early for devotions
Begin exercising again
Change shopping habits
Garden and compost
Learn to preserve foods
Get a grain mill
Learn to sew
Research creating the things we need

***
I've been thinking to myself that I'd rather be known for what I am for, not what I am against.
I am for reaching out to others, for showing Christ's love, for serving.
I am for loving my family and expressing that love through our home.
I want to be a wise steward of all that I have been blessed with.
I want to take care of the body I have been given, to strengthen it for the work I have been given.
I want to raise children to love the Lord and those around them, not to be sucked up into the unthinking consumerism that surrounds us everyday.
I want to love.
I want to sleep.
(I just looked at the clock and realized that it's passed my bedtime. Blessings to you all!)

11 comments:

Mrs. Bonnie said...

I am so looking forward to reading more about your simplification process, and you posting the cleaner directions.
I am working on simplifiing(sp?) a bit too. Its diificult when people drop stuff off, and say "you don't have to keep it", but then get a bit miffed when I don't, or give it away after awhile- I get to hear how much grandma so-and-so just loved ______ . Grrr.
I've only had bison once, and it was good, not a whole lot different than beef. Our main red meat is venison. Nice and lean, and only the cost of the liscense and when we've had to have it done, processing.
Take pictures of your garden and fruits when the time comes, I would love to see them!

Mimi said...

sounds like you have a good plan... I pray for you as you work toward your goals...

Carina said...

kimberly:

I too am looking forward to hearing more about your journey towards simplicity! It is something that interests me greatly, but seems so overwhelming to convert to all at once. (Not to mention hard to attain here in Southern California.) We do small things, but I would love to learn more. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!

Ann V.@HolyExperience said...

This is a post of such depth, such wisdom. I gleaned much. And I thank you.
To not be owned by the stuff. But by Him. By Him.
Together, we'll let go....

All's grace,
Ann

Joanne (The Simple Wife) said...

I can so relate to the basement thing--something about an unfinished basement with space to store stuff means constantly moving around all the stuff you've stored.

Hang in there!

Joanne

P.S. Don't know if you've ever tried Melaluca products--detergents and cleaners and such. I've used them in the past, my sister uses them now, and they're great. One to add to your research list.

sweetheart said...

I know it's discouraging when progress is slow. Not everything goes away in big piles at once.

But, we acquired stuff one item at a time, and it is thrilling to rid ourselves of it, even if only one item at a time, which sometimes seems too little.

I am totally committed to simplifying our life! Bear with me as I struggle with time constraints, motivation, and vestiges of selfishness. Someday we'll look back and laugh at it all: a sweet, satisfying laugh that comes from conquering that which presently grips us. The flight from bondage to freedom is always worth the effort! It's nice to have you in the cockpit with me.

Thanks for being my best friend. :D I love you!

Affectionately,
Sweetheart

willowcaroline said...

Can I recommend blueberry bushes? Not sure what climate you live in, but we are fortunate enough to live where they grow well. There is a book out there entitled something like Edible Landscaping or something similar, and it encourages people to grow food in places one doesn't normally think of. We use blueberry bushes as a hedge along our drive. They are a beautiful red in autumn, have sweet white flowers in early spring, and our three boys spend their summer months eating and picking berries off the bushes. I freeze lots of bags of them in various sizes for various needs, and it is something so simple to do.

Good luck with your endeavors. I find it best to change one thing at a time - when it becomes a habit, you can change another. That way you don't end up overwhelmed.

Jodi said...

Kimberly ~ I've not had much computer time of late, but I wanted to let you know I've been reading and enjoying your posts on simplicity. We went through much of this when we moved last year. I find it necessary to be an ongoing state of mind in order to not backslide! Your posts have been good reminders and encouragement. Will it ever be second nature to me? Oh, I hope so (lol)! :o)

Mrs. Jules said...

I so appreciate this post. I love your thoughts on living simply - eating organic, using natural cleaners, etc., something that our family has been moving more and more towards over the years. I think pulling out the good ol' vinegar and water, baking soda, etc. might be cheaper in the long run...and healthier.

I was especially touched by what you said about wanting to be known for what you are for, rather than what you are against. Very inspiring.

Katie said...

Hi, Kimberly! I just found your blog and am so happy I did. This post is so in tune with how I have been feeling for a while. There is so much on "your list" that is on "my list." And what you said about being known for what you are for, not against...wow, I don't think I have ever thought of that. That is so true, and I am wondering if I am living up to that...A truly big "Thank You" for making me think about that. I can't wait for my next visit to see you! Good luck with your list, Kimberly!

renee @ FIMBY said...

I love seeing the old posts like this. It's it wonderful where our dreams can take us.

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