Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Simpler Living

I've been rolling some ideas around in my head since reading an article about a couple who simplified their lives. I mean really simplified - down to 100 possessions!

Tammy Strobel from Rowdykittens.com was a newlywed with all the monotonous things of life - 2 cars, a 2 bedroom apartment, and enough wedding china to serve two dozen people. Yet with all of this and more (like many of us) , she and her husband weren't happy. She was , as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.” Until the day she decided to step off.
Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, and with a challenge to live with just 100 personal items, Tammy and her husband Logan, both 31, began donating their belongings to charity. Over the course of the next few years, they simplified by donating clothing, books, pots and pans, furniture, and even their TV. Eventually, they got rid of both of their cars and now bike everywhere and occasionally rent a car for trips. Today, three years after Ms. Strobel and Mr. Smith began downsizing, they live in Portland, Ore., in a spare, 400-sq ft studio. Mr. Smith is completing a doctorate in physiology; Ms. Strobel happily works from home as a Web designer and freelance writer with an annual income of about $24,000 which covers their bills. They are now debt-free.

Isn't this fabulous? And scary? And well... Simple.

With the economy being yucky, work being slow, housing values plummeting, stress is mounting for everyone! At least everyone I know. I've seen more friends and family members have to claim unemployment, bankruptcy and lose their homes, than I ever could have imagined. We have felt the burden of low & no hours for my husband who works in the construction industry. It's hard. And living paycheck to paycheck is not simple. It's complicated, frustrating, scary and depressingly sad.

Aside from the money factor, is the idea that you constantly need more and better things. Even living frugally there is a temptation to get as many free or cheap items, because they are FREE and CHEAP, so why not? For the past few years I have really struggled with the amount of clutter that seems to accumulate in daily life. The kinds of things I have to deal with picking up off the floor each day is maddening: toys, dishes, mail, clothes, shoes, tissues, trash, TOYS, things that are mine that smaller fingers find and adore and then discard, it goes on and on. So many times I have thought to myself, I need to get rid of all this junk! And so many times I've told my husband we need to move into an apartment where we will need and not be able to have so much stuff! JUNK! STUFF! And yet, I am always decluttering!! Always loading up bags with things to give away. So why has it not ended??

Partially I blame myself. I have a tendency to buy things (gasp) that I do not really need. Because they are pretty or new or whatever. Shiny. LOL. Now, I must clarify, I am not a shop-o-hlic. Doesn't that sound like a classic case of denial? Well think hat you want, but for the record, I'm not. It is just gradual, and small, like sometimes I overbuy for projects I am working on. Crafts always get me. I return lots of things to JoAnn's :") The other day I went through the house and then went on a returning spree of things I had bought, still had tags on and still had the receipts for. I came home $37 richer. Today I returned 2 more items and came home $28 richer. The returning I find is almost, if not more satisfying as the buying.

“The idea that you need to go bigger to be happy is false,” Tammy Strobel says. “I really believe that the acquisition of material goods doesn’t bring about happiness.”

I really agree with her on that. I also think that the clutter in my house has a direct correlation to the clutter in my mind, on my nerves, on my body and in my heart. So I am working on a transformation of all of that. That I think will bring true happiness. To be able to clean more simply for one. To be able to leave the house and walk out the door with a lot less guilt on my shoulders, and fear that someone will stop by later without my having had the time to overhaul my living room.

So with all this poured out of my brain and into the computer via my fingertips, I am on a mission to declutter my house once and for all! Well, I do realize it will be an ongoing process throughout the years. Regardless, once school starts (a mere two weeks away) look out!!! I am sure there will be more posts on this very topic so I'm starting a new category for them.


  1. I love this post, Em! :) Very well spoken. I too need to work on this. Slowly but surely. So proud of you! You are doing GREAT!

  2. I love returning things too! Also, thanks for posting about simplifying our lives, I can relate. BTW, I wonder how they classified "personal"--see I'm trying to get around it already! :) You're an inspiration! Keep up the good work!