Minimalist Traveling

alex-holyoake-157978My 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!

 

The Simplicity Experiment

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishes

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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.

Nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genuine Power

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What if real power is NOT money or jobs (such as the Presidency (sorry, Trump,)) but things that cannot be taken from you? Nothing is permanent.

Someday, we will all die.

Jobs come and go.

Our bodies will change, no matter what.

But…we can control some things permanently:

self-respect

self-esteem

our will

and…

our actions

Perhaps these are the most important aspects of our lives and the ones we ought to be focused on.

Simple, but Not Easy

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Leonard da Vinci

Do not confuse simplicity with ease.

 

Achieving extraordinary things is simple, but not easy.

It takes a lot of work and a lot of time. That’s why it’s newsworthy when someone does it.

 

 

The Magnificence of Margins (Or, Superb Space)

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Pablo Garcia, Mexico – Unsplash.com

On a document, we have margins or space to define boundaries between text and the edges of the paper. It’s aesthetically pleasing. It the words went to the edges of the paper, we’d find it a bit distracting and perhaps difficult to read.

Space devoid of things or noise or thoughts can bring joy, calm and purpose.

When you complain to me, if I take the space of time to process it before I respond, I’ll probably come up with something more equanimous than if I reacted immediately.

A room cluttered with things might bring a sense of anxiety or disgust.

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If you clean it up and there is physical space to sit, lie down, and walk, it will be a more welcoming room.

When I meditate, I am focusing my attention on my breath. This allows me to not think any thoughts. The more I practice this, the easier it is for me to enter this state of space and calm. This is good. When something bad happens, I do not need to react. Also, when a good thing happens, there is no need to go crazy. “This, too, shall pass” means life is a rollercoaster and the secret to happiness is to not react to the crazy.

 

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