It all started when the 2020 corona virus pandemic hit. We started to hear terms such as “simple living“, “minimalism” and even “farmhouse style“. All of these terms represent a voluntary lifestyle that is uncomplicated, clutter-free, self-sustainable and happier. But these are not just trendy terms, they represent a current movement that is against unnecessary complexity and rejects the idea of being so busy that we miss out on daily living.
For me, home is my sanctuary. It’s where I am supposed to be my happiest, safest and most content. But thanks to the pandemic being stuck at home 24×7 caused me to feel overwhelmed because of all the clutter and unfinished projects that had built up over the years. My only reprieve were the weekends or hours that I could sneak away to my “happy place” (my home office/craft room) which truth be told…was also full of clutter. Then one day I asked myself, “how did I get here?”
Before corona hit, the hustle and bustle of daily routines left me little time to question or explore if I was living a meaningful life -let alone if I was reaching for my dreams.
What Changed During 2020
Plain and simple: the corona virus pandemic.
Once the pandemic hit all the distractions that were crowding up my headspace came to a halt. The noise quieted, life slowed down and I found myself with time to finally be able to listen to my inner self -and breathe. I started asking myself some hard questions such as, “is this my best life?” and “what are my dreams (now)?!” My answers didn’t quite leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside but there were still very insightful.
My Epiphany Moment
The idea of a simpler life came to fruition after three life-altering events. Within a span of three months the following happened:
- After 22 years of dedicated and loyal service to one company, I was laid off;
- One month later my mother-in-law passed away;
- On the third month, the most heartbreaking event to happen occurred just days before 2020 ended when my own mother passed away.
If you follow my blog you will remember the DIY Keepsake Funeral Memory Board that I made for my mother. The irony of my mothers passing was hearing in my head how my mother always said, “things happen in 3’s and it usually means something”. Indeed she was correct.
It was my mothers death that caused me to reevaluate what was really important to me in life. All the things I had worked for and fought for and struggled for were all the things that were no longer important to me. As I explored this new way of thinking, I just kept asking myself, “if my last day was today, would I be happy with how things have gone so far and what do I want my legacy to be?”
Here’s What I Learned:
- Life is short. Enjoy every moment.
- There is always something to be grateful for.
- Sometimes bad things are blessings in disguise.
- Don’t do something that doesn’t bring you joy and happiness.
- Pick your battles (okay, I’m still working on this one).
If this wasn’t the epitome of the perfect time to embrace a simpler life, then I don’t know what is. Although I began my quest for a simpler life in 2020, it wouldn’t be until early 2021 that I truly started my journey toward a simpler life. One that I could wake up to everyday and be happy with.
But to start this new lifestyle, first I had to answer the question, “what is my idea of simple living?”
What is Simple Living?
The term simple living means different things to different people. Some think simple living means living off-grid, while others think it means growing their own vegetables. So before you can define your own vision for a simpler life, you must first understand and define what simple living means to you.
After doing a lot of research, I’ve compiled a short list to help you in your own self-discovery. In short, simple living is about:
- being satisfied with what you have rather than what you want;
- decluttering and reducing your possessions of anything that is not useful to you anymore;
- increasing self-sufficiency;
- living a less hectic lifestyle;
- finding the beauty in less and embracing the “white space” (read my funny story about this below);
- living a more intentional life -a life driven by what’s most important to you.
My Funny Story
In my quest to keep working towards a more simpler life and making this one life the happiest it can be, I’ve finally gotten around to tackling my home office/craft room. While filtering through things I realized there were some craft storage drawers that I no longer needed. My daughter has always wanted some so I gave them to her to get her own room organized.
While clearing her clutter I made some suggestions of what to put where and there was one corner that was without “something”. She states to me, “it looks stupid because nothing is there.” I told her, “that is the point; not every corner needs something in it”. While she gets it, days later…there is now something in that corner.
So to my point, reframing your mind and thought processes doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why it’s a journey because it starts with self-discovery and self-awareness. Remember, I started my journey around early to mid-year 2020. Trying to tackle it all at once will not help you. This journey needs to be broken down into steps (see below).
Benefits of Simple Living
There are many benefits of living a simpler life. Some you will see immediately, others will take weeks, months and maybe even years. Below is a short list of some of the benefits you will experience with this lifestyle.
- Better health;
- More time for family and friends;
- Better work-life balance;
- Improved financial sustainability;
- Reduction in stress levels.
My Vision of a Simple Life
Before I started my journey, I needed to create a clear vision of what I wanted for me, our home, our family and our lives. Truth be told I was already (unknowingly) practicing many of these points. Let me share with you my thoughts on what simple living means to me.
- Enjoying experiences over things. This year the strangest thing happened when one day I dreamt about going to New York City during the holidays. It completely caught me off guard because I hadn’t thought about taking a vacation in a long time. The idea of a trip was exciting and gave me something good to work towards.
- Living with less. This required a good decluttering of the home and a reevaluation of what’s important to me as well as setting up a budget. Although my daughter still struggles with not going shopping every weekend or just going to the store for a specific thing…she’ll come around…eventually.
- Reducing debt. As terrible as the pandemic has been, it was actually a blessing in disguise for our finances. Not being able to go to the stores was the jolt I needed to stop unnecessary spending. For the first time, I was able to breathe and really take a deep look at our finances; instead of just catching up the checkbook and paying the bills. The result of reducing our debt has been a tremendous weight off my shoulders and has done amazing things for our family.
- Enjoying the small things. Like the new evening routine of watching television with my teenage daughter; taking a lunch date with my husband; making time to call a friend; taking a walk; cooking with my husband or as a family.
- Creating more me time. This meant saying “no” to some events, signing up for fewer scheduled activities and being selective about the ones I do sign up for. It meant I had to “close my senses” to any outside distractions in order to do what was best for me. Even something as simple as painting my own nails (which I love) disappeared over the years.
- Practicing gratitude. Being happy and grateful for what I do have. To make sure I practice gratitude, I keep pages in my planner like this Happy Planner Gratitude Journal Page.
Now my idea of what simple living is might not be the exact same for you. But the end goal is the same, to live a simpler, happier life. So if you are ready to start this journey with me, keep reading for the steps I plan to take this year and I hope to see you join me along this wonderful journey.
12 Steps To Start Living A Better, Simpler Life
This will be a monthly blog series where I will dive into each of the steps listed below starting in January 2022 and ending in December 2022. In each post will be my tips of what worked for me, what didn’t, my struggles, things I learned along the way and more. I will then come back and link to each step from this main post.
- Step 1: Declutter. To help you get started check out my January Declutter Checklist Printable and after going through that list learn how to Host a Successful Garage Sale!
- Step 2: Start a budget. Get tips for setting up a budget, debt payoff, savings and financial goals on the Know Your Worth Budget Planner Setup.
- Step 3: Practice self-care. Not sure where to start? Here are 25 Ways to Practice Self Care.
- Step 4: Setup a home management notebook. Learn what this is and how to set one up.
- Step 5: Grow your own food. It’s really not that complicated at all. Check out some of my food gardens in my post, What’s in My Garden and learn about my 2022 garden goals.
- Step 6: Start a journal. A journal doesn’t necessarily mean a place you jot down your thoughts. Learn about the variety of journal styles available. Want to jump ahead a little? Check out some of my journal pages.
- Step 7: Quiet the noise. Learn tips and get tools for practicing mindfulness and meditation.
- Step 8: Create time for what matters. Time…it feels lost to us all, right?! But it is possible.
- Step 9: Setup routines. Get tips for creating a routine and ways to setup a new routine.
- Step 10: Center yourself. Get tips for quitting anything that does not match your vision for a simpler life.
- Step 11: Practice gratitude. Learn how to get started and different ways to practice gratitude. When you have a plan use my Create A Happy Planner Gratitude Journal Page as a guide to keep you on track.
- Step 12: Set goals and rewards. Learn how to set goals and achieve them. Check out some of my creative goal setting pages.
Did you start a journey toward a simpler life? What does your simple living journey look like? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
If you are inspired to start a journey towards a simpler life don’t forget to share by tagging me on Instagram and using #btdinspired, I’d love to see how you are achieving simple living (and I just might repost your photo)!
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