Monday, February 4, 2008

Journey Toward Simplicity

I have just completed the book, Choosing Simplicity by Linda Breen Pierce, and it was wonderful. It really spoke to where I am at right now. Although some of the people you will meet in the book have taken the idea of living simply a little to the extreme; much more than most of us are willing to go; many of them will offer great ideas for you if you are leaning that way. I have reached a point in my life where I am tired of the clutter of all these things that are filling my life, and I am seeking a simplier path. I find the commercialism of our society is not a recipe for happiness. I too, like many of you, started out seeking the American dream. The fast track career, bigger houses, more expensive cars, fine clothes...all that stuff that we seek after on the road to SUCCESS. I was programmed to believe that those THINGS equaled success and happiness. I became very disillusioned when no matter how much stuff I accumulated, I didn't have that feeling of "I have arrived" or this is it, this is what I have been seeking. Because with each new level of achievement, the prize still remained a little further away, just a little more, if I just had this or that, then...
We have been programmed to believe that we are defined by our jobs, our homes, the cars we drive.

"Oh, he/she must be a success, look at the car they are driving"
"They live in a big fine house, they must be SOMEONE"
I bought into the lie that if I didn't have those things, I wasn't successful or of value. Maybe it was the curse of growing up in the middle class, when middle class once meant something. Now middle class is just a catagory for those of us who make to much money to get any type of help from the government, but not enough money to pay for our kids college education. We are in the catch 22 position. We can't live up to the expectations of our class status, but we try to, so we are all in debt up to our eyeballs and will spend our whole lives trying to pay our way out. Forget retirement, there is no retirement for the middle class, we are locked into the system. Somewhat similiar to the workers in mill towns or in mining towns of old; the mill owners/mine owners owned everything, and they offered credit to the workers in the mill store, they lived in mill owned homes, and when payday came, they had to turn it over to the mill owners for their housing and the food and dry goods that they had put on credit all month long...catch 22...they will never get a clear paycheck, because they had to rely on the mill system to survive until the payday came. Then it was all for nothing. They basically worked for their stuff. The difference is, their stuff was the necessities of life; food, shelter, clothes for their families. The basics...but we have gone beyond the basics--
So far beyond that we are just working to keep our stuff, the stuff that we have no time to enjoy because we are working all the time, to pay for the stuff. In the mean-time we are making the middle men wealthy. The credit card companies, banks and large merchants(think Wal-Mart).
So it is in this state of disillusionment in my life, I have seen beyond the facade, I have looked beyond the religion of consumerism, and I see a better way of life. I am a nomad on a journey to find the promise land. A place where peace and tranquillity reign supreme and we aren't worshipping the almighty dollar. When we have freedom to decide how to spend our time.
I am compiling a list of ideas that will help us reach this point of nirvana, well as close as we can get in this life. So here is what I have so far:
  • Declutter, downsize , and organize This is the very first thing that we must do. We can go no futher on the journey to simplicity until this step has been achieved. Like so many people we have far too much stuff. I am embarrassed to even say this, but we rent a storage shed to house stuff. We have a double garage that is so full of stuff that we can hardly find a path through it, much less park a car in there. Our house is full of stuff, and if that isn't enough, in another state, behind my mother's house is a 12x24 storage building full of more stuff!!! Most of which I don't even know anymore what is in there, just stuff. Now why should any human need so much junk? Why? So first step, get rid of the stuff. Keep what is needed, get rid of the rest. My plan of attack: Start in the garage. The rented storage shed is next. How rediculous is that? Pay money to keep my stuff that isn't worth what I have been paying each month to house... crazy!
  • Pay off car notes Get off of the system of buying a car and before you get one paid for, you trade it for a new one, with a higher note, or longer term. The cars we have are good cars, with a little maintanence will last for several more years. Who needs a new car when the one you drive gets you where you need to go? A car is just that, a means of transportation, not a status symbol. Who cares what the Jones's think! I am not trying to keep up with them anymore. The truth is, the Jones's are just deeper in debt than anyone else, that is why they have more stuff.
  • Find affordable, energy-efficient housing we moved back to the city last year due to several different factors, one being that it was too expensive to live where we were living because everything we did was in the city. Work, church, other activities. We lived about 25 or so miles out of the city and many times we had three cars going back a forth to the city everyday. Hubby's job keep him working long hours and he had no time to tend to things around the house. We had our son two years ago and I wasn't able to maintain everything and see to a baby. So it became overwhelming to us. That coupled with a few other hazards of this society and the plight of the middle class in America. So we are now renting a house in the city. Paying a grand a month for the privilege! When you start looking at things, is it worth it? That doesn't include the cost of lighting and heating the place, then you throw in a little city water, sewer and trash pickup, well your out another $500-$600 a month, depending on the time of year and if you have to run the air conditioner all day and night just to survive, or you have to crank up the gas heat to keep from getting frost bit. Either way, they get your money. And of course we haven't even fed the family yet, or least I forget, we haven't insured the cars that we are in debt for. Count them, one, two, three...we are a five person family, with three drivers thus three cars. So with car notes and insurance, we are out another grand and a half each month. But I digress to the above statement---pay off vehicle notes!

As you can see, so far I only have three steps toward the simplicity path, but I have a feeling these three could take some time in completing. Yes I do have longer term goals that I would like to see come to pass, but in order to get there, I must go through these three places. One long term goal that my husband and I are talking about is his being able to retire from full time employment in ten years. That would put us at almost 52, as opposed to his retiring at 62 or 65 or 67 or NEVER! So we have some ideas, and as we get further along this journey, I will share more of those with you. For now, we have enough to keep us busy for some time. Today I am going to Goodwill with a load of things, and come warmer weather we are planning the MOTHER OF ALL YARD SALES. So if you are in the neighborhood stop by--cause like they say: one man's junk is another man's junk for the right price!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Proud of your weight loss!!! I wish I could get inspired!!!!!!

Love ya,


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