Quick note: I was working on posts yesterday and I think I accidentally re-published a couple, so sorry if you're getting notifications through your google reader!
I feel like I've been keeping a secret from you all. I've talked about living for the moment, and how the recent purge we did in our apartment made a world of difference, but more and more often I've been thinking of living simply, so much that it's not an idea as it's becoming a way of life. It's time I talk about it here - not because I'm doing anything largely significant, but my way of thinking has changed so radically I feel like a totally different person than I was even two months ago.
I'm not sure how I got to this point. Maybe it was when our world was upended again at the beginning of the year and we were forced to see (again), what really matters. Maybe it started with a little project last year. Or maybe it was reading blog posts like this, and realizing I agreed with so much of what they were saying.
I've always been willing to donate items to charity, but when I purged through my clothes, it almost disgusted me how much I wasn't using. I'm not a big shopper to begin with (in fact, I'm constantly telling the mister I need more dress clothes because I really only wear different things for two weeks and then start the cycle again), but there was so much I was hanging onto "just in case." While there's something to be said for keeping a cute dress for motivation, it seemed like that was the majority of my wardrobe and I didn't want to live my life in the future - I want to be present in the now.
My perspective has changed with pretty much all material things - because that's all they are - just piles of stuff. I can't take it with me when I die, so if I'm not using it, why is it here taking up space? That may seem extreme but this is my outlook now - which makes giving away clothes, books, dishes, etc, really easy. I'd rather it go to good use with someone else than sit here and be eventually thrown out.
I'd rather go to the library then buy a book. I'd rather go to a used bookstore and trade books than spend money on news ones. I'd rather take pictures of something than buy a souvenir. I want to live with intention and purpose, even if I don't know what that is a hundred percent of the time. I'm seeing more and more what I don't need - because what I do need is surprisingly little.
The mister's always been a little bit more this way than I have - and I finally feel like I've caught up with him and that we're on the same page about so many things now. It's even impacting how we're looking at our moving process. Instead of stressing ourselves out trying to apply to several places (and paying the subequent application fees and deposits), we are putting our energy into one place, and hoping it works out. It might seem naieve or silly, but not only is this place a little bigger than what we're in now, it's less per month, and it's going to force us to live more simply. If we get it, we'll be giving up having a washer and dryer in our apartment (although there is one in the building), and I don't think we'll have a dishwasher either.
A few months ago I would have been upset that we were forced into that option (because the price is definitely more affordable than what we're paying now), but now I'm excited that's what we're choosing to do. It means we both have to be more proactive about not letting laundry and dishes pile up, which means a cleaner, happier place to live in. If something doesn't become available at that complex, I'm not sure what we'll do - but again, instead of stressing out about it, we're taking it one step at a time until we know for sure.
One of the things we're doing right now is replacing our plates and bowls with fiesta ware. The dishes we have now are still usable but aren't working for us for a lot of reasons, so we're going to pack them up and gift them to someone who is in more need of them than us. A dear friend found a way for us to get fiesta ware for a really good price, so we're slowly building what we have. When the mister and I first started talking about it I was focused on having some matching plates and bowls - we had to have at least a few matching things! Then one night it kind of hit me how much more fun it would be to open our cabinet doors and see an explosion of color.
As silly as this sounds, it was almost an epiphany for me. I literally thought life's too short to have matching dishes. It would be fun and functional, and who cares if we have four of the same color salad plates? I wasn't worried about what people would think when they came over for dinner, because seeing the different colors made me smile every time.
Yes we're on a budget, and money is tight, but right now I don't see a time when money won't be tight - so instead of letting it control me, I'm letting go and believing things will work out how they're supposed to. Even if we had hundreds of dollars to spend on silly things, I don't think we'd want to - and that is incredibly freeing.
Life's not about dishes, or books, or if you know the right wine to pair with dinner - it's about finding things that make you smile or laugh, or that you're really passionate about. For me, it's about living with intention - to be happy, to do what I can to make others around me happy, and let the rest work itself out.
(Photo: You Go Girl!)