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27 Responses to “Community Question: How Do You Simplify Your Life?”

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  1. Ashley Strachey

    While my life may not always be simple, I have always been good at enjoying the simple things I do come across. For instance, myy night is just lit up when I go to squirt some dish soap to clean up after dinner, and big bubbles go shooting up into the air to keep me company for a bit.

    I have recently switched to making my own household items (I love going no ‘poo!); I even have some mint and vinegar infusing right now! Both the process of making these and the actual act of using them seem to emotionally separate me from the complexity of average life. 

    For that mint vinegar of mine, I found that my spray nozzles fit PERFECTLY onto the DaVinci syrup bottles I use for my coffee shop. Amazing! Steering away from disgusting plastic will also purify my life.

    After spending a nice solid chunk of my time on your blog yesterday (looking solely at cleaners), my boyfriend and I decided to make our own Chai Tea. And when I searched for Chai recipes, what should pop up? Why, your post about making Chai! I was, needless to say, overjoyed to see the words “Crunchy Betty” again so soon. But anyway, the point of this Chai story was to say, once again, that making your own ANYTHING is rewarding. It makes you slow down and really appreciate what goes into the process, and you enjoy its use – whether it be washing your hair, sanitizing your counters, or drinking –  that much more. 

  2. Katie D.

    I’m trying to simplify my life right now! I have reached my clutter threshold, and like another comment from your FB page, it is stressing me out. Which is not good since me and my husband are expecting our first child in August. I did manage to clear out a hallway that had an old locker turned linen closet crowding the way. I felt so victorious when I was able to move and rearrange and get that thing out of the hallway and into the nursery for storage purposes. Hopefully I will have the energy and the wanting to move onto the next declutter projects I have. *finger’s crossed*

    • Cadelle

      You will.  I’ve been through three “nesting purges,” and now, I don’t know why I waited to do these things just because I was pregnant!  Just let it come.  Congratulations and good luck!  

      • Katie D.

        Thanks for the congrats! I just wish I was in the nesting phase the whole time. I’m at work thinking, when I get home, I’m going to do this, this, and this. By the time I get home, it’s like, naaaaaah. I look around at all the stuff just me and my husband have and it’s beginning to drive me crazy. Oh well, our baby will be here whether the house is de-cluttered or not. Hopefully it will be in the de-cluttered phase! 

    • Bluemosquitoes

       Congrats Katie!  Both on your pregnancy & the stuff-purging.  Keep it up – one thing that tends to come with babies (often from grandparents and friends) is all kinds of totally unnecessary, gimmicky stuff.  Like ‘pee pee teepees’, wipes warmers, crib bumpers, newborn sized shoes (newborns don’t walk, why would they need shoes???) – I could go on and on.  I’ve been there.  All you really need: a safe place for baby to sleep, a couple sleepers, maybe some little blankies, and other stuff you have in your house already (towels, face cloths, old sheets you could cut up and turn into diapers & cloth wipes).  I’m not kidding.  Most of what you need though, is love.  ;)

      It just really gets my goat how our consumerism culture makes us feel that we need to spend a whole schwack of money in order to be good parents….as if people haven’t been raising babies without peepee teepees for thousands of year….sheesh.

      • Katie D.

        Thanks for the vote of confidence! I’m thinking that how in the world can one tiny little baby need so much stuff! I’m with you on the shoes, sure they’re cute, but way impractical. Others have told me about the wipes warmers and the pee pee teepee.

        I have already told my husband that our baby will not have a lot of stuff. If we get new things as gifts (birthdays, Christmas) the older stuff will go. There is no need for all the stuff that baby/toddlers don’t even touch anymore.

        Oh yeah, love is plentiful in our house. :-)

  3. Vivi

    This might sound harsh but it’s true – what has been said of excess stuff is also true for friends. Quality is to prefer over quantity. Don’t bother hanging and staying in touch with people that steal energy from you without giving anything back. This just creates negative emotions. Focus on those solid few ones that you really want to spend time with and your life will be a simpler and happier one.

  4. Karan

    I work hard to avoid scheduling things and if I have to, then I spread them out so that I have as  few things planned in one day as possible.  I also don’t wear a watch and try hard to avoid looking at clocks.  I find that my life is so much less stressful when I don’t worry what time it is.

  5. As far as physical clutter goes, my hubby and I move a lot (because we get restless in one spot for too long) so I try to keep as few things as possible to make our next move easier. We don’t collect a lot of knick knacks (what we do have are things like shells and rocks and turtle shells we’ve picked up in our adventures), we don’t have a lot of clothes, and our furniture is essential pieces like our bed and our sofa. We have a second bedroom that we used to have furniture in, but it hardly ever got used so we gave it all away and got an air mattress for company.

    I’ve also been making everything I possibly can here at home (everything from bread to cleaners) because it positively freeing knowing that I don’t have to rely on the big box store to take care of me and my family.
    I also agree with Vivi about quality of friends instead of quantity. I only have 2 people I consider my bff’s. I don’t like friendships that require so. much. effort. to maintain. (And those type of people aren’t ever true friends anyway, I’ve found).  I just don’t have the energy to deal with soul suckers or fake friends.
    My hubby and I also don’t subscribe to any type of social networking. He has a blog that I run for him (but its only about fishing, with pictures of the places we fish and our catches, nothing actually personal), but we don’t have facebook, and I couldn’t even being to tell you how twitter works, and the one time I looked at pinterest, it seriously freaked me out. It was just too much. Nor do we have cable tv and we only got our lap top and internet about 5 months ago. And there are days (usually weekends) when I just shut the computer off and walk away because its too much overload. 
    I think living in the moment, being happy with what you have and the people in your life and knowing your limits (whether financially, emotionally, physically, whatever) helps to keep things simple and in check.

  6. Lissa

    Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, I take a look at the things I’m doing and ask myself how much I value them. If I value them enough to give up free time for them, I continue doing them but If I don’t, out they go.  That way, I have either simplified my life considerably or I have a new perspective on what I’m doing and you it fits into m life, which is simple for me. Ummm… sense. 

    What I mean is, if I really love something and get a pure joy out of it, that joy ‘simplifies’ my life no matter how much chaos that something creates.

  7. Jaime

    I am in a constant process of simplification.  I like to go through my belongings frequently and assess there usefulness and let go of the things I don’t need anymore.  I feel like this process allows for a lot of self evaluation and growth as well.  I have a massive amount of clothes so it is nice to go through them and see what really still represents me and give the rest to the salvation army.  I do the same things with supplements and health products (I work at a health food store and get A LOT of samples).

    Also I am an avid arty (I make jewelry, paint, craft, make my own personal products, etc) and I find myself constantly assessing the things I have in those areas…. which constantly leads to more creating and project ideas! (which sometimes leads to the purchase of EVEN MORE supplies….  you can’t always win the purging battle)
    Also, I think simplicity is really more of a lifestyle.  Keeping inventory of the things in your life that leave you feeling fulfilled and letting go of the rest…  This includes items just as much as it does relationships.

    Right now I am trying to get by with as few material things as possible and letting the relationships fill my heart instead.

  8. I just ask myself one question and that seems to take care of everything…

    How important is it? 

    I’ve discovered that I can live without a lot of what other people deem absolutely necessary (like cable tv, smart phones, FB, “retail therapy”, debt). And I’ve found that I’m willing to put in the extra time and effort it takes to make our meals and household cleaners from scratch. I’m still working through the clutter. But I see it as a constant process. Identifying, clarifying, honing down what’s important to me. Getting rid of some things to make room for other better things. As I go along, it becomes clearer. It really is a path I’m on, not a goal with a finish-line.

    I know that some of our friends and most of our family don’t understand our way of living, but they adjust!

  9. Nicole Effle

    The best thing we have done is make our own cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. No more having 12 bottles in the closet- each for it’s own purpose! After several months, the kids still seem surprised when I tell them “Yes! You do use that for everything!”. It’s amazing how much easier chores become. Each kiddo has their own decorated Reused bottle (from commercial cleaning products we used to use), so there are no more excuses of “I didn’t know which one to use!”.  I am constantly amazed at what Baking Soda and Vinegar can do- no toxic chemicals I can’t pronounce, no fumes, and no worries about my children helping out!

    • Bridie

      I would love to hear about your laundry detergent and cleaners.
      I have ALWAYS made cleaners or just used vinegar or bs but dishsoap and laundry detergent I have never mastered. I am petrified to put a homemade and untested product in my he combo washer dryer because of the integrated dryer (whichbis s gift in cold weatger when laundry is not as easily hung to dry in the house.) Soapnuts??
      Thank you if you can help.

  10. Jenny in NC

    I constantly have to edit my activities to keep them under control.  Recently I was asked to serve as president of the women’s organization at church–a HUGE job!  I didn’t consider it an option to say no, because I committed years ago to serve at church in any way I was asked.  But I decided to cut out a couple of other activities–playing in the community band and being a penpal–to make time for it.  I loved those activities, but felt that they would add stress at this time of my life.  So as for the HUGE job of women’s org president, I could literally work at that full time.  But I set some limits–Sundays and two evenings per week.  This helps me enjoy the work, instead of being continually overwhelmed by it. 

  11. Spoiledjudi

    I am right now, in the process of cleaning out unwanted ‘junk’ from my home.  It is so sick to think that I have kept these ‘precious treasures’ for so long.  And for what?  They are leaving, and in the process, even though I haven’t had the garage sale to actually get them gone, I am feeling so unburdened.  Simplify….unburden….clean….this is going to make my life so much better!  Thanks, for all you do!

  12. Julilal

    When I think of simplifying life, activities and schduling come to mind as well. We try to keep items and shopping to a minimum which eliminates acquiring items as a pastime. But we have made it a family rule to not plan ongoing reacurring activities on the weekend. That time is for us to reconnect after the long week and that make the weekends something we all look forward to.

    I think eliminating something out of everyone’s life is a good thing. Less is more….

  13. My husband and I have simplified our lives dramatically.  We have no TV, I no longer have a cell phone, and we grow our own vegetables and herbs.  And we have gotten rid of a lot of excess clutter.  It’s freeing living a simpler life.  I love it and I am much more productive.

  14. saraholeary

    Wow that first section of this post was one f**ing awesome piece of writing! Beautiful. I could taste the tart sweetness of that orange. Mmm, my senses tingingling. And I love the metaphor!

    It’s a constant effort to control the clutter in my life. I want to eliminate it all, but I share my living space with my husband. He likes knicks knacks – well he calls them family heirlooms. And, as he says, our place is like a “porthole.” That’s from the Harry Potter books – meaning that stuff just arrives here as if from nowhere. We get coats and dishes and random stuff – to add to the already overflowing clutter of the average 2012 American home.

    It’s so liberating to let go! I’ve got a ways to go with freeing myself, especially when it comes to books. But thanks for the reminder!

  15. I quit the gym last year and do yoga or exercise outdoors instead. It’s cheaper and much more fun. Currently getting rid of stuff. The clutter has taken over and I can’t take it anymore! Oh yeah, and got rid of (most) processed foods as well as take-out. Now I love cooking and packing my lunch. 

  16. Heather

    Just note on books about simplicity: the very best book I have found was published in 1996 by Janet Luhrs.  It’s called The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living.  I have read this many times and get something new from it each time.  She also wrote a wonderful book about simplifying relationships called Simple Loving. 

  17. Kasey Stewart

    The first step I’m taking is to reduce my cell phone bill by getting rid of my data plan. It’s not crucial, not really even that helpful. I don’t need to obsessively check my Facebook 15 times per day anyway. It’ll give me time to do other creative, healthy things too.

  18. Brandie Maraziti

    De-cluttering definitely works for me — I can’t seem too think very well in a chaotic environment, so if I want to get anything accomplished, I HAVE to go through and clean/organize/purge. It takes a little bit longer, but I feel calmer afterwards which always produces better results! 

  19. Bluemosquitoes

    I do alot of the things others mention here – no TV, no social media, no ‘poo (no makeup, no deoderant – I swear I don’t stink!), no cell phone, I make my own soap & granola & yoghurt….etc.  I let my 2 yr old daughter get really dirty searching for worms in our veggie garden.  When something breaks, I fix rather than replace it.  If it won’t fix, I try to get another used, rather than new.

    …and I struggle with how the people around me have problems dealing with it.  My MIL plies me with bottles of Lysol whenever I see her.  My friends say its ‘cute’ how I bake stuff.  Other parents stare at us the in the playground when they realise my kid doesn’t know who Elmo is.  My co-workers pitifully try to give me fashion advice (actually, come to think of it, I think they’ve finally given up on that….)  I’m not a hippie freak!  I’m just simplified!  And environmentally conscious!

    …does anyone else get this reaction all the time?
     

    • Hippie freaks unite! I understand how you feel. Even though I’ve always tried to do the organic/all natural thing when I could, the past couple of years or so its become way more important and I’ve really become a “hippie freak” (making my own granola, yogurt, bread, cleaners…you know, all that hippie stuff) and my family (but thankfully not my hubby…he thinks its awesome) gives me the “oh how sweet…you made laundry detergent” and “whats happened to the girl I remember who never cooked?” and constantly try to give me processed foods, or chemical cleaners, or other stuff I just don’t want. Its frustrating and irritating. So you definitely aren’t alone. I’ve just learned to smile and nod and say “thanks but no thanks”. People fear or don’t like things they don’t understand, and its tough sometimes. But hold your head high, be proud, and know you are doing what is best for you and your family and the environment and screw what the rest of them think! You’re daughter is better off not knowing who Elmo is and getting dirty! I want to dig for worms! 

    • kayakgurl

      o m g yessss, all the damn time. Super frustrating. So much so its starting to make me a little bitter which I don’t like…….they don’t stop and think or ask “hey, why is it you live that way?”….they just assume its wrong and try to change me. We so far we are a, cellphone, microwave, cable, satellite, game console, big screen/flat screen TV, 2nd vehicle, pod coffee maker thingy, air condtioner, dryer sheets,  free (by choice) couple. We have a oven but don’t use it. Turns out a little toaster oven is all we need. I hope to unplug the fridge next! (ppl have a real hard time with that one, so much so I’ve quit bringing it up)  I make all my own cleaning products and laundry “detergents”  and cook from scratch with whole (vegan, gf, sf, df,) foods 75% of the time. Regular folks seem to have a real hard time with all this. I’ve had ppl (who I know have 0 discretionary income) say to us ” c’mon, lets go buy you a TV”….as though it is unhealthy for us not to have one (whats more is we do actually have one, a snazzy little 13″ number with  built in VCR lol and serves us just fine…..but unplugged for the summer, fingers crossed) I’ve had ppl yell at us ” go get a tv for crissake would you!” and my favourite, the “friend’ who picked a giant working tv out of the trash and brought it to me. What was I supposed to do with her standing there at my front door with the stupid thing?” I think Jennifer Sweat is right. They fear what they don’t get. But if they opened up a conversation instead of forcing their beliefs it’d be whole lot better. Personally, its gone on for so long that it is getting ever harder for me to be polite….glad I found this site and forum. I’m not alone! :) Crunch on!

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