Thirteen years ago we began a journey towards living a simpler life due to a financial crisis in our lives. It was through an absolute need, not necessarily a desire, that we began making smarter financial choices. Back then, it meant saving everything and penny pinching. Later, our simple living evolved into a wish to live minimalistically, clutter free, and to make smarter choices with our money.
It has been a path that started out hard and then became habit.
I don’t think as much about it because, for us, it feels instinctual.
We have had the privilege of watching so many we love move into larger homes and embrace some of those finer things in life. There was a time that I would have been jealous, but now my happiness is genuine for them. Amy Poehler says it best in her book, “Good for her! Not for me!”
I am proud to live in our little fixer upper, drive our old cars, and have less in my life to maintain.
But, I have never been more thankful for the choices we have made more until this year. As I have shared, my health went into a downward spiral this year and I found myself, many days, struggling to even leave my bed. A very healthy and active woman, this sudden decline in my health was difficult for me and for my family. Although I was overwhelmed with doctor’s appointments, medications, and struggles with understanding my new illness, I was not overwhelmed with the other areas in my life because we have lived simply.
Here are a few unexpected blessings I have discovered from our simple living routines..
I’m Thankful for My Smaller Home
My home is just the right size for us at 1,500 square feet. Years ago, I considered this home to be a starter house that we would eventually sell and leave for a larger house with more room. Now, I marvel at my friends who are able to keep up with their larger homes. Although I worry about having so many stairs in our house, due to my joint problems, I did not ever feel overwhelmed with keeping up with our home because of its modest size.
I was able to keep up with everything pretty easily, even on my worst days this year, and cutting our cable freed up our money to have a cleaning service assist me twice a month. Once again, the cost of a cleaning service felt manageable because of the small space we had to have cleaned.
Now I would never want anything bigger than this and going through this has made it more than crystal clear, my house size is just right for me.
I’m Thankful We Declutter Regularly
There was a time where I felt it was frugal to keep everything. What if we might need this someday? What if I could repurpose this into something else? These past few years though, I have learned the beauty of letting go and even have discovered how wonderful it is when clutter is cleared for unexpectedly awesome spaces. I am ruthless about editing things now and almost weekly have things to donate. Thanks to this, maintaining and straightening up the house was easy and manageable.
If my house was filled with stuff, I can’t imagine how sad and overwhelmed I would have felt to have it surrounding me during an emotionally difficult time. Clutter-free spaces bring me a lot of peace and joy. I am so thankful that we made this commitment to keep only what we truly love in our home.
That is not to say that we don’t have spaces that need attention or drawers that couldn’t use a good weeding out. There is enough around here to keep me busy for years, BUT it does mean that those spaces all feel very manageable and I know that when I feel better, I can resume editing even more again.
I’m Thankful for My Commitment to Not Overschedule
I can’t imagine what I would have done this year if I had my kids in millions of activities. We have always told them to take one sport commitment seriously and that they can take on an instrument. I don’t like being overscheduled and my kids seem to embrace that mindset too. Thankfully, there was very little running that I needed to do for them because of our commitment to keep our kids (and ourselves) on manageable schedules. I don’t know if things can always be this way, but I am grateful they were this way now.
I’m Thankful I Have a Well-Edited Closet
The capsule wardrobe project (Project 333) really began because I thought it would be a fun thing to explore creatively. I love a good creative challenge and I am passionate about fashion (as much as a good ol’ Indiana girl can be!). I never realized the unexpected blessings that would come from it when I was not feeling well though. When something in your life feels overwhelming, it’s nice to not have to think too hard about basic things. When I open my closet, I feel very confident about the choices I make and I don’t miss that feeling of being overwhelmed with an overstuffed closet. Not only did it free up mind space, but I have a heck of a lot less laundry to do to. This creative project for me has turned into something that I can’t imagine not having in my life.
I’m Thankful We Pretend My Income Mostly Doesn’t Exist
We live well below our means and sock away almost all of the money that I earn in our savings. My income only exists if we have saved enough for a major household project or for the occasional vacation. I was struggling to sit at my desk for long periods of time and typing was extremely difficult for me so I was only able to maintain my existing jobs and I wasn’t able to take on any new freelance projects. Thankfully, we live below our means and have only considered my income as an unexpected blessing for our savings. I missed working creatively, but I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I couldn’t work and we needed that money for our daily expenses especially if we bit off more than we could chew financially. I am so grateful that we have savings because there was a time where we were knee-deep in debt and I would have never been able to take a break, even if my health wasn’t its best.
I’m Thankful I Embraced Some Smart Shopping Habits
As silly as it sounds, I was really thankful for a couple of things that I shipped to our house regularly so I didn’t have to think about it. Grove sent me all of our toiletries and household cleaners each month that saved me a lot of time at our grocery store. I also did Prime Pantry for my unreal amount of supplements I now have to take. I set up a schedule that we had what we needed when it ran out and it saved me countless amounts of hours over the months to not have to hit natural food stores or run out to a wholesale store to get what we needed. It all just showed up on my doorstep.
(book bag here)
I’m Thankful I Had a Good Escape Every Single Day
Never have I been thankful to be a reader more than I am now. I consider reading one of the ultimate simple living pleasures and I would, dare say, that books have been an unexpected crutch during this difficult time. Unable to craft, knit, type… I felt a little lost. I escaped this time often through a good book. I can’t imagine my life without good books and this escape helped me so much when I was unable to do much else. Thank you, amazing library system!
Not only did books provide comfort, but I’m finding joy in new routines. Walks with a neighbor or a good walk with my husband, a good hot yoga class, a little dabbling in meditation, hot baths in epsom salts, and the always reliable glass of wine after a hard day.
I’m Thankful I Married the Right Guy
You know when people make their marriage look awesome for social media, but it’s really falling apart? Yeah. I don’t have that kind of marriage. My husband might be mortified that I am sharing this, but I have never been more thankful that I have someone this incredible to help our family through this. He didn’t know what he was signing up for, but he has pulled through in really big ways. He helps us stay on track with our simple living routines, he works hard when I am not able to pull my weight, and he has been my best friend since we were kids. I’m so thankful I married the right guy.
I’m Thankful I’m a Work in Progress
Our simple life isn’t perfect and I can see the glaring errors of things I need to work on. I need to rely more on simple meals. I need to say yes when friends ask if they can help me instead of defaulting to no. I need to decline doing things when I am not feeling well. I need to let my family help me more. I need to stop being so angry at God about how hard things have become. I need to let go of some of my perfectionistic ways.
All that said, I have never been more aware how lucky we are to live the way we do and I wanted to share that with you today!