Monday, January 2, 2012

One Little Phrase Broken Down - Part One: Simplify

Yesterday I shared my "One Little Phrase" for 2012:   

Simplify, Beautify, Make Time to Play, 
Laugh More, Cherish Every Moment

For the next few posts I wanted to "walk" through each part of my phrase. Mostly so I can better internalize these words and really own them. A bit for accountability. An even smaller bit that someone might even benefit from my journey.

First I chose Simplify. Why?

Because I need to prepare for this next 18 months to be demanding (mostly emotionally) as dh begins working on his dissertation. I will need to carry more at home to free him up to write in the evenings and on the weekends. I will be "single mom" a lot more. 

Because I still don't have a handle on what it looks like to homeschool all three of my boys and I haven't really dedicated the time necessary to do it well.  

Because I have come to believe that simplicity is a virtue in the increasingly busy world in which we live. The preceding two reasons are what started me thinking about how I needed to simplify my life; I needed to free up not only time but also emotional and mental energy. Yet it has become much more.  Life is complicated and often just plain messy. In my daily life I see how little boys fight and opposing personalities struggle to show love, sickness enters the picture, a misunderstanding happens in the family, someone needs support during a crisis, a friend needs a listening ear.  I cannot control all things (or even most things) but in what I do have control over I want to strive for simplicity. That way when the really important stuff comes along, like people and relationships, that by their very nature require time and often massive amounts of emotional energy, I have reserves available. I have found myself in the last few years too often letting the "tyranny of the urgent" rule my days. Too many things just slip in unnoticed and soon life again becomes overwhelming. For example I started Facebook years ago, next came my blog, then joining a homeschool message board, followed by Twitter and now Pinterest. How many social networking things do I really need in my life? 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.   
~ Leonardo da Vinci 

Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.  
~ Plato 

  In character, in manner, in style, in all things, 
the supreme excellence is simplicity.         
          ~ Henry Wadsworth 

  Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, 
are not only not indispensable, 
but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. 
With respect to luxuries and comforts, 
the wisest have even lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor.
~ Henry David Thoreau 

  Nothing is more simple than greatness; 
               indeed, to be simple is to be great.               
 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English 
Language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off 
from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society 
has made us feel that happiness lies in having things,
 and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.
~Elise Boulding 

I have already taken a few steps towards this goal. 

1. In regard too many online commitments (for ME and my time only), I closed my Facebook account. I  have trimmed down who I follow on Twitter. I have set limits on Pinterest; it will be my Friday night treat.

2. I have stepped down from serving in two ministries at our church. As I was reflecting with Dh about how challenging our school year has been, he asked me if I were still teaching public school and found a particular year/class exceedingly demanding would I take steps back in other areas to make sure I could give it 110 percent? Yikes! He is so good at asking just the right questions to make me really stop and think. It was a really hard decision because I adored what I was doing, where I was serving and those with whom I was serving. But this was an example for me of  the maxim, "The good is the enemy of the best." For a season "the best" is for me to focus most of my energies in and around our home and homeschooling. 

3. I have two books on my wishlist to help me further simplify what we are eating and how I am preparing it. Michael Pollan's new book, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, and Year of Plenty by Craig Goodwin are both on the docket. 

4. I have created a Home Manager Notebook ala Tsh Oxenrider's wonderful book, Organized Simplicity. I read the book over a year ago but resisted creating the notebook because I wanted it to be perfect. Perfection paralyzes. A huge sigh and another quote: 
The perfect is the enemy of good. ~ Voltaire
So true. But I am happy to say that I finally pushed through it to create a fun and functional (yet imperfect) Home Manager Notebook. It already has been such a help to me in managing my time and our home more efficiently. 

5. I spent a bit of time each day over the holiday break to get rid of all sorts of junk in our home. I am not a pack rat of any sort but stuff just builds up and I am convinced paper is trying to take over my home! I threw out several bags of junk and set lots of other things aside for a spring garage sale. I also organized one drawer or cabinet each day for the past two weeks. Things look simpler from a purely aesthetic  point of view. feels good already. I am sure that lots of other things will come to mind as the year wears on and I will look forward to sharing more in the months to come. I would love to hear how others have simplified as well. Leave me a comment and share. I love learning from you.

1 comment:

stephanie said...

i too have become overwhelmed by the paper monster and your advice on simplicity really hits home. looking forward to reading the rest of your "one little phrase" blogs though i will miss your facebook posts. may God bless you and your family this year!