Inspired to Simplify


This past weekend, my family spent 3 days camping in the mountains of WV. Canaan Valley, Blackwater Falls, Dolly Sods. I have a few stories to share later on, but there is something about a few days spent unplugged, in nature, that makes me think a bit. It’s like all the cobwebs and noise and stress that clutter my mind all melt off. And I can see a little more clearly.

For us, camping is in itself an exercise of freedom and simplicity. We tent camp. We cook over the fire or a little propane stove. We pack 5 plates, 5 metal cups, 1 pan and one pot. Dishes are washed up quickly in a tub of water warmed over the stove while we eat, ready to use for the next meal. Coffee (the best coffee I’ve had in a while) is brewed in a French Press–no coffee pot beeping at us. And we brew tea in the sun while we hike.

There are few clothes and fewer shoes. A couple of games and books during down time. We talk. We play boccie ball. We go for walks.

I find myself resisting the return to reality.

Not that my reality is in any way bad. But it is hurried sometimes. It is full of stuff. Stuff I have to organize and clean and maintain. And clean some more. Stuff that costs money to buy and eventually replace. We may not notice it, but all our stuff easily becomes a thief that robs our time and energy and resources.

I think about that little campsite and the few things we brought. I didn’t miss anything. And then I think about this spacious house and garage that’s full of STUFF. How half the time, I can find the stuff I’m looking for. And I know something’s gotta give–or better still, GO.

Oh, the all-or-nothing side of me would like to mercilessly tear through the house and eliminate great piles of it. But I’ve got kids. And the kids come with lots of things, it seems. They’re busy with it all the time. And I’m not going to be the great purging ogre. I have encouraged them, little by little to go through their things and see what they love, what they need and what can go. It’s a process.

But then there’s me. I took a look at my closet. Too many items that barely (if ever) see the light of day. So a couple of large bags are headed for donation. I’ve got 3 or 4 skillets that do basically the same thing. Saving the beloved cast iron, sending the rest out the door. And I think it’s time to let go of some jewelry, some dishes, some knickknacks and decorations (not that I have too many of those to begin with).

And on the flip side, the getting side of things, it’s time to begin asking, “Does this add to our lives? Is it a need? Or is it just a trifle that eats up our money and then takes up space?” We already do some serious thinking about the bigger purchases, but it seems that those little pieces of clutter and junk converge on the house in the most stealthy way. And I’m ready to put a stop to it.

I want to get creative when we have a need instead of spending and consuming. I want to enjoy open spaces and simple surroundings. I’m ready to live with significantly less so I can live a little more. 

So share with me…

What do you do to simplify your life?