I think most Americans are wondering where to get off the fast-paced, caffeine-driven lifestyle that has become the norm of our culture. Are you?
I had three people ask me this week "how do you do it?" They look at where I live (the Barn House) and think maybe I've got it figured out.
Well. Not quite.
But I will say this: the pursuit of a simpler lifestyle is at the heart of the decisions we make that concern our family. And that's a good place to start.
One friend asked me if it would be worth it to move to the country, even if it meant sacrificing financially just to "get out" of suburbia.
Well, it depends. If it means going into more debt, having to get a second job, and having no food, then no. If it means giving up "extras," driving an older car, and doing without a vacation, then absolutely YES!
But moving to a plot of land where you can't see your neighbors does not solve the larger issue of simplifying, and can even complicate matters. Neighborhood living has distinct advantages, such as convenience and playmates for the kids.
Living away from town often means that you spend MORE time in the car, and must plan even the small errands and play dates. You have to ask yourself if that simplifies things for you.
So back to the Issue of Simplifying.
To me, simplifying begins with a decision to say "No."
No to buying things on credit.
No to eating out, especially on credit.
No to bigger, nicer, newer things.
No to excess entertainment.
No to excessive extra-curricular activities.
No to vacations you cannot afford.
In short, Simplifying means taking a hard look at the time, money and resources you have been given, and then choosing to live within them.
For us, the path to Simplicity has meant a hard road to get out of debt. We have never lived extravagantly, but we didn't always make the best choices with our money. We now do not have credit cards. If we don't have the cash in the bank, we don't spend it. This is painful, especially when a car breaks down and we need it to get to work. Or when the kids need something and we can't provide it just then. Living without credit cards has made us live within our means. There is no peace like the peace that comes from Zero Debt, and we are almost there. The pain is worth the peace of mind.
Simplifying has also meant that we limit outside activities. I will write about this in another post, so this doesn't become too burdensome to read. Suffice to say that you have to fight for time: time to eat together, time to be a family, time to be bored. Boredom is a necessary part of childhood and should not be feared. (another post, perhaps?)
The pursuit of simplicity is a worthy endeavor! It doesn't matter WHERE you live, it matters HOW you live. Simplicity creates sanctuary for our families, and we need that. It takes some backbone to say "no" to the seductive allure of our slick culture, but it can be done. Choosing a simpler lifestyle means saying "YES" to a life that celebrates the important things: our faith, our relationships, and the beauty of being a family. Isn't that what its all about?