My 13 year old daughter and I are leaving tonight for a week in D.C. I’m still practicing “simplistic living” (subtract, subtract, subtract (!)) and my goal is to pack as little as possible.
I’m not checking a bag and everything fits in two my carry on bags. A small, nagging voice is wondering if I have everything I need, but I know I do. With little to worry about, we’re ready for a great time!
Confession: Once in awhile, I fantasize about selling EVERYTHING I own and taking just the essentials in a backpack and trekking across country.
Reality: I’m a mom of two teenage girls and a 6 year old dog. I’m also a wife and a teacher. I have too many responsibilities. But I’ve always been a fan of simplicity and this year, as I approach 50, I’m more determined than ever to pare down every part of my life to the bare esssentials. Why? Because – and I’m speaking for just myself here – I believe living a minimalistic life is a path to true happiness.
Biggest Challenge: I have a family. I can’t – and won’t – get rid of their things.
Method: I’m a fan of slow. Slow and sure. Every weekend, I fill a bag or two of things to donate. I’m careful with grocery shopping. I freeze excess and rarely throw anything away. I’ve been purchasing books on Kindle and in thrift stores. My bookshelves contain only the books I am passionate about.
Whenever I download “stuff,” I feel so light and free!
When I was very young (maybe five years old), my mother made rings out of dandelions. She’d pluck the weed and create a knot with the stem and, smiling, put the ring on my finger. I felt special and lucky. Within hours, the dandelion wilted, the yellow flowers tinged with brown. It was my first lesson of impermanence.
We were poor and a part of me knew it, but mostly, I was blissfully ignorant. I reveled in the smell of burning wood in the Iowa autumn. I loved the dandelion rings my mother made and I loved watching “The Muppets” on TV. All of this was (relatively) free. I thought everyone had a father who came home exhausted and discouraged. I thought everyone shared one bathroom in their family. I thought everyone fought over money.
I’m a lot older now and I have learned this: wishing for “stuff” always leads to disappointment. Nothing you can buy will deliver anywhere near the satisfaction of smelling burning wood on a Midwest autumn evening, or watching the “Muppets” on a chilly Halloween night or wearing a dandelion ring your mother makes just for you.