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Posts Tagged ‘minimalism’

A few things we’ve incorporated immediately upon return from 6+ weeks of living in an RV, piggybacking on the post I wrote a year ago called What I Learned From Leaving:

Purge – we took a truck full to the thrift store.  It turns out that living with two drawers and about 6″ of hang up space was ample clothing for each of us.  We never wanted for more, from summertime temps to chilly nights.  All six of us took up less than an average armoire’s space for clothes.  It was perfect.  I committed to sending at least one Large Size Flat Rate USPS Priority Mail box per month to my Alaskan cousins since we can wear the same gear.  I sent two on arriving home out of excitement.  For years, we’ve already incorporated the rule: for every bag/item that comes in, one of equal size leaves.

No More Food Waste – we literally threw away zero food.  That’s nuts.  Around this house, we feed the chickens at least one day’s worth of food for them per week, or 1/7th of their entire diet.  It’s mind-numbingly-frustrating to me, the waste that goes on in (err, out) of our refrigerator.  We ate great on our trip, eating out only once in a while.  We grocery’d every 4-5 days for fresh items.  We ate more nuts and fresh veg than we do at home.  We ate less white flour and refined sugars than we do at home.  Well, other than our ice cream stops.  That’s another story.

Less Trash – Though we threw away more than we expected to (about two plastic grocery bags per day), it has kept me in the mode of trying to throw away less.  We have been keeping a small plastic bag hanging from a hook in the kitchen to monitor our trash, and have notably decreased what goes into the black hole.  A rather dramatic – but effective! – trash sign we saw in a restaurant along the way: “Landfill.” in white words on black paper right above a trash can.  Yipes.  Definitely made me sweat a little. And if you know me, you know we’re not usually on top of being recyclers.  But even without recycling, we have limited ALL of our personal throw-aways significantly.

Lastly, it inspired me to work on our skoolie.  We had budgeted a chunk of change to it this year, and haven’t touched it.  So we ordered new lights, are in the middle of getting sheet metal to re-do the over-the-windows, then will paint the exterior.  Those three will about eat up our set aside money ’til February, BUT we also have a small stash of cash that is in the bus fund from selling things.  If it works out, we’ll put it toward getting a flushing toilet back in there*, and all that entails.  We’d love it to be fully use-ful again asap.

*we pulled the residential porcelain toilet out when we got the bus to replace it with a more efficient toilet.

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Once upon a time I blamed genetics on my “thriving on chaos.”  My family has a long line of go-getters, and have come a very long way in their lives.  I respect that, I do!  But some have used their wandering spirit in misguided ways.  I know, because I’m one of them.  I spent years investing in things that I suspected would not yield a return.  Things that ate up our resources quicker than they replenished them.  I did it anyway.  I have lots of speculation about why: the feeling of being useful or needed, seeking approval, lack of clear direction or listening to God’s call, plain stupidity, etc… But rather than dwell on those things, I want to delve into how we’ve changed our life to reflect ourselves in a more true way.  For what it’s worth, we learned a lot along the way, and tho’ retrospectively we would make different decisions, we are who we are today because of our past, and I’m thankful for the ways God used those situations for His glory – and has blessed us greatly through the process.

The nagging itch I used to try to scratch has softened.  Though the yearning still lingers, it has been redirected.  Now I know that it is a gift, not a curse.  It’s a longing for a life after this one.  Nothing here can quench the thirst to eternal life with Christ.  But here’s the hitch: we  live with Christ not only later on, but today.  Every day.  Every moment.  And that is what I truly believe became clear to me, calming the need to create my own false paradise.

This multi-generational quality* continues to be apparent.  I still am motivated by many things, and always have goals.  Let’s be real, life is a work in progress that will never be complete.  We are not supposed to sit around lolly gagging but should use our resources wisely and productively.  And so we press on with new adventures in business, family, home & education.  We seek to ‘better’ our lives in ways that we can, but with contentment.

And there is the key: contentment.

Since the day we listened to God’s call and decided to let our old farm go, God has blessed us exponentially.  Our discontent turned into bigger blessings than we could have reached for in all of our trying.  For one, peace reigns.

A few short weeks after we moved to our current farm, Scott ended up in the hospital for some time.  We saw this as a clear blessing from God, orchestrating timing so perfectly for what could have easily been a fatal blow had we still been at the old property.  Almost losing him – over and over while he was in the ICU – left our whole family with a lot more contentedness.  We value every day more.  We also let things roll off our shoulders that would have been big deals before.  We learned how to let go in a way we never knew before.  The freedom we sought in doing came by not doing.  It’s a shame how we all seem to have to learn through experience instead of the wisdom of others.  Makes me extra prayerful for our children.  As much as I would never wish hardships on them, it is often the refining moments that are the most powerful and life-altering.

So this all sounds honky dory and all, but I wanted to share specifically some practical ways we have learned to curb discontentment.  Cuz let’s face it: it rears it’s ugly head in the mundane.

When we’re feeling discontent, we go to action:

If we want something, we figure out what we can get rid of (sell) to buy it.  Even the kids do this with us.  While waiting in the process,  it allows the desire to wane, or makes it all the more worth it.  It also keeps our goal of living more minimally in check as we do not add to our stuff without eliminating things first.

If we want to do something, we make plans that fit our family and budget and lifestyle.  Vacation can be simple to be gratifying (for us anyway).  We also love road trips, which helps.  Our family of 7 can travel via road much more affordably than fly.  That said, we’ve let Adyn know we’re banking on him for private flights when he’s certified.  Ha!  There are also several buddy programs that allow affordable access to local attractions, friends with fun toys, etc.  There’s never a lack of something we could do and have fun doing!

If we’re discontent with our lot in life and try comparing it to others’, we try to spend more time with them.  We learn quickly that they, too, don’t have a perfect life.  Everyone has flaws.  We can grow together instead of separate ourselves into levels of “coolness.”

If we are not content in a circumstance (relationship, place of work, church, school, etc) we try to change it starting in our homes first.  Our lives should be a testament of what we believe.  Whether or not other places reflect our values 100%.  I’ve found that when I’m content with our personal lives and home, it’s easy to be content outside of it.

These are a few ways that we have personally harnessed discontentment and turned it into something positive. I can think of oodles of examples that we’ve put these to work, and with prayer, God has been faithful to turn our attitudes around every time. Sometimes it took a while, no thanks to my impatience and stubbornness.  😮

Which leads to one of the biggest ways I have personally combated discontentment: Seek advice/counsel and find a prayer partner.  Sounds like a big sister club, yeah – but really, I’m incredibly thankful for the brothers & sisters in Christ who are particular prayer warriors in my life that I can ask anytime, anyhow, without being discouraged. Find someone you know who you trust to understand your heart, and encourage and walk along them as you work your way through things. I cannot share how much the value of solid transparent christian relationships has been in our hard (or bad attitude) times.

Ha! A perfect opportunity happened just now. A youngster was fussing that we ran out of white chocolate syrup for coffee (ridiculous. we don’t usually have this.) and said we need to buy more, so we Googled and made more with a few pennies worth of 3 measly ingredients.  All the while talking about how often we have what we need for what we want if we’re willing to work a little at using our noggins. Why buy when you can make?!  Oh, and now we have semi sweet chocolate syrup, marshmallow cream and caramel sauce.  Great.  We’re all going to get fat.

*or is it just “the American dream/er” in us all?

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One of our young friends was embarking on an extended road trip, which aroused a lot of family discussion. Among the several questions, the one that held the most conversation time was: why might this be a good use of one’s time?  It led us into the several-week long discussion about gaining perspective.  Life permitting, everyone could benefit from a retreat.  A rest.  A time to focus on few things; things that matter.  To reflect on life, and what matters.

You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything. – John Maxwell

We discussed how almost every year that I went to Idaho in the summertime for our family reunion (a tradition that carries on still) as a younger girl, I learned something new that impacted my life significantly.  Things that I’ve carried with me into adulthood.

Our last road trip was to Arizona for a couple of weeks with our whole little family.  Getting out of our comfort and familiar zones, we were able to experience new things and – most importantly – learn together.  How to be flexible, adaptable, to see from others’ perspectives – to serve.  To be reminded that our wee little life bubble is simply that: a bubble.  That life is much larger than our wee bitty (seemingly huge sometimes) issues.  This can clear a lot of fog.

Here are some things that we all spoke about on our return from holidays in Arizona, true to many’a times we’ve taken a reprieve:

Road tripping and vacationing make me realize how little we want.

#majorpurge

We live in a culture of consumerism.  It’s not something I want to be a part of.  And so, with renewed energy, we see our things differently on our return.  We realize that the bulk of our things are non-essentials.  That they are easily replaced or shared or borrowed.  And that sometimes they take more space visually, mentally and resourcefully than they’re worth.  We also realize that our time may not always be managed well, and extra activities also may need to be reconsidered & some purged.  Knowing when to gracefully say “no” is a good thing.

Road trips & vacationing made me realize we always end up sleeping in the same space.

#wedontneedmuch
#makingmemories

Sure, we visited lots of places that sported beds for all, but still we’d end up squashed together – usually spending the late night dark hours talking about the day.  When camping, we always end up sardines in our rig or tent.  Even in the bus, all four kiddo’s end up crammed on the wee futon to sleep instead of the double bunks when they pull an all-nighter out there.  Every morning at home, for at least a half hour, everyone’s piled in our bed.  It’s time we cherish.  And recognize there is little need for so many mattresses.  It’s a luxury we’ve noted unnecessary but handy from time to time.

Road tripping and vacationing make me realize how very not-real Facebook is.  It also reminded me not to take it too seriously. And that friendship/communication (or lack of it) on it doesn’t count for diddly. 

#interactionsmatter
#legitimatefriendship
#lifeoutsideofascreen

I have learned to be very comfortably using the “do not follow” button, restrict button, and [less often] the “block” button.  Because folks can pursue me in real life, not glean in a false world without investment.

We’re pretty old school with our phones.  Our family currently shares one non-smart flip phone (one that has better coverage than any of our smart-phone-friends, I might add).  That means that when the kids and I are in town (and Scott’s got the phone at work with him) – or when the family’s on vacation – we don’t really give a rip what’s happening on social networks.  The drama of people’s opinions – and my incessant need to respond just as excitedly – now come out in face-to-face communication.  Our conversations, in turn, tend to be more civil as we practice manners and listening skills.  Our differences (or similarities) are more productive and beneficial to relationship and life.

The adverse affect is that it makes us want to have a little too much “fun” when we get back to posting on social networks.  Because it just isn’t real.  It’s entertainment, at best.

Road tripping and vacationing make me realize I should not be afraid of people.

#fearnoman
#biggerpicture
#knowyoucouldbewrong
#livegracefully

We are faced with this conundrum daily as we face ‘superiors’ and ‘inferiors’ in our workplace, business, schools, church… heck, even the grocery store – despite knowing what God’s Word says about who we “follow” or to think less of, even subconsciously.  Always comparing.  Our culture defines value based on position, instead of recognizing the wholeness of each individual together in community.  As we walk away from familiar politics and social circles, we are free to be just us together.  In all of our mistakes, our smarts, our stupid, and our yearning-to-grow-ness.  There are fewer expectations and pedestals, and there is a lot more humility, raw reality, and growing on all our parts.  A lot of lovin’.  It fosters an environment of regeneration.  And it’s our natural inclination to bring that home with us, reminding us to pursue that perpetual ideal within our community.

What we need is not “sustainable,” but regenerative. – A Simpler Way

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