A Simple Life

cottage kitchen

Cottage kitchen via BHG

Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about something that I’ve shared a few times already on this blog. Nothing revolutionary for me, but it is something I still think about a lot! The older I get, the more I crave a simple kind of life. Not simplicity in feeling like I necessarily need to get rid of everything I have, sell our car, change our color scheme to all neutrals, live off the land for our survival, or move to a 500 square foot house or whatever others might view as simple, but finding a regular rhythm of life that works for me. I find fulfillment differently than I used to.

One thing I know for sure is what might appear to be “the simple life” for one person doesn’t necessarily equate to simple for another. Right now in my life simple means slowing down, staying put and nurturing what I already have rather than seeking simplicity somewhere else, taking off on a new adventure or adding new things to my already overflowing plate. Simplicity is about being in the moment and embracing life right where I am.

It comes down to the choices I make day to day to keep life simple. What do I do every day that complicates my life?

small bedroom

 bedroom via BHG

For me a complicated life tends to begin with starting big new things, moving to new places or a different house I have to set up or putting too much pressure on myself to do more around my house. It really hasn’t mattered to me where I’ve lived, big house, small house, in town, out of town, it is always more complicated if I set myself up in a life or environment that doesn’t work for me. And the moving to a new house is always more complicated than I remembered! It takes years for me to really feel settled.

I like having enough room in my house to feel comfortable with things I love to have around me, the type of decorating I enjoy doing and the kind of entertaining we want to do as a family. I love to have enough space to myself so I can hide away from the hustle and bustle of our home, but not so big of a house that I am over burdened by more than I can take care of or handle. There is a delicate balance there on what I’ve decided works for me in this season of life.

A well taken care of and maintained home is more important to me right now, in this moment, than a place that requires lots of work and effort. While it is fun to dream about remodeling or living a new adventure (and trust me, we are always dreaming of what house or adventure we’d like next!) I’ve been there, done that and it was a bit more stressful and less romantic than I thought :-).

While I’m all for chasing dreams, I’m finding a new level of contentment with a life that is creatively more simple. It can be tiring and distracting chasing after a new kind of adventure, so I love this season where I can choose to slow down and appreciate what I already have. Not to say we aren’t busy, we are crazy busy. But I can make the choice to not complicate things further!

beach cottage

front porch via BHG

Simple contentment isn’t something you can always find by moving to it by downsizing or upsizing or moving to a different area or style of house or starting something new to fill that creative desire, for me right now it is what I’m finding by staying where we are and nurturing what we already have going on in life.

Ironically to us, this new house away from our favorite “homes” in Portland, in this area we never dreamed of living in, will be the home we’ve lived in longer than any other house we’ve ever had. Now I have a glimpse of what life is like for people who haven’t moved every few years. And I really like it!

I know it isn’t always possible to stay put (you military people know this better than anyone!) but for me right now, it is nice! I love it. I’ve always thought that I would really like the simplicity of being in a place that we’ve lived in for awhile, one that is “nearly done” over having “a long way to go.” And I was right, I do like it! Of course I love keep enough projects going so I don’t get bored (obviously, I’m always working on something creative!).

I’ve discovered a comfortable way of life that might be different than I dreamed of but it works for me, for now.  I realize now I can handle living close enough to shops that I can have some “me time” at a coffee house or window shopping, but far enough that I don’t get in a regular habit of shopping to fill a void in my life that should have been filled with simpler pleasures. Living near enough (but not too close!) to shopping or other “spending” temptations helps simplify the budget too! It’s good, even if it isn’t what I had originally imagined as a perfect life or location for me.

cottage bedroom

 

Cottage bedroom via BHG

I’m feeling more and more comfortable right where I am, even in this new house I never would have dreamed of for my forever “home.” While once in awhile the notion of moving to some fun new place with new projects to do and new experiences to have still comes flashing across my mind, I remind myself that the simple, romantic and fulfilling life I desire is something I can probably attain by staying where I am and appreciating what I already have.

A better home or life isn’t always found elsewhere! Sometimes it is right in front of you. It isn’t just settling for what you have, but I really feel like sometimes your best life might really be under the roof you already have. I just have to make different choices every day in how I spend my time or money or where I focus my attention. Deliberately slowing down the pace right where I am will likely get me to simplicity.

While I can’t say for sure where life will lead or what new opportunities that might come our way in the near or distant future, I do love that I feel more content right now to stay where I am than ever before. I’m a bit of an adventurer when it comes to homes and I love chasing new creative ideas, but I’m learning the art of contentment right where I am. I’m embracing a growing desire for simplicity and understanding what that actually means to me. It is a really good feeling, like I can take a deep breath and just enjoy being here.

What do you think of when you think of a more simple life?

For those of you who aren’t just starting out in life, how has your idea of what “a simple life” means evolved over time?

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Comments

  1. When I think of simple, that would be the opposite of what I’m doing right now. I need to simplify!
    Thanks,
    Debbie
    Debbie refresh restyle recently posted..Dry-brush Paint TechniqueMy Profile

  2. HA! Funny on this timing – I just returned from SheSpeaks and the word the my name was placed next to in the prayer room was SIMPLIFY. I had been having this feeling of uneasy for several months and I truly feel this was confirmation that I need to cut some things out. What I cut, I have no idea yet!! Still trying to figure that out!
    Susan recently posted..Four Tips to Better ConsistencyMy Profile

  3. Wow Melissa — this is so in step with my own direction of late, I’m going to guess we’re in about the same stage of life! For me simplifying means paring down to the most important things and making those my focus. The small stuff doesn’t seem to matter as much as it used to!
    Kerry recently posted..DIY Poster Scroll FrameMy Profile

  4. Beautiful and so very true! How wonderful to be at the point where you can just be for now!
    Nicole recently posted..calendar cupboardMy Profile

  5. I love this oh so much. Looking back on my own life, in 8 years of marriage we are going onto our 9th move this Friday. It wasn’t supposed to happen. We were in the house we wanted, making the changes we wanted. But then there was job loss, and career change, and a 2 hour commute that meant living apart. So we’re downsizing because we have to, and moving again. I want what you are talking about. I want to stop moving. I want to live in one place for years to come enjoying the simple pleasures of my life.
    Adelina Priddis recently posted..Downsizing: 2600 sq feet to 1300 sq feetMy Profile

  6. Life has a way of surprising us, doesn’t it? Reminds me of that saying ‘if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans’.

    We sold our home of 26 years in December, and from 5 to 23 years old lived in the same house, so I’m no stranger to continuity. Now, I want nothing more than to sell our business and buy an RV and travel the country, maybe to find our ‘forever’ home…or not. I’ve learned it’s ok to have a plan, but to be prepared for things to change. Simple is, as you said, different for everyone and what is simple to me now wasn’t simple in the past, and it will likely change in the future.

    I’m always ‘waiting to exhale’, but have learned also to appreciate the beauty in the little things that others overlook or take for granted.
    Doreen recently posted..Some More Lillian August Love!My Profile

  7. For me a simple life means less clutter. Less clutter of my home, my schedule and my mind. I like to seek out peace in my day and enjoy that peacefulness found in my home.
    Lisa recently posted..Summer: Epic FailureMy Profile

  8. Having lived in the same house for 28 years I can assure you that it does not have to be boring :-) As you life and circumstances change, so must your home, so there is always an opportunity for one (or several) creative projects! But staying in one place really gives you the feeling of having a home, a shelter that is always there for you.

  9. Do sooo agree! Being able to spend the day in the garden or making a special dinner is wonderful. We have lived in the same house for 30 years and I am never bored. I can always find a project when I want one,I think sometimes you need to let yourself be content.

  10. I’m with you, Melissa. As I age, I long for more simplicity. When the boys were small, I longed for a larger home so we could spread out a little more. But alas, it was never in the budget. Now that they are older and starting to go off on their own, I find that my little house is gracious plenty. Thank goodness we never went for bigger. We have lived in our home for 30 years. Our neighbors are like family; all the kids grew up together and now celebrate OLD friendships even though they are just in their 20s. It is definitely a blessing to be in one place for so long living in a simple, small home. Now if I could just get a hold on the clutter, life really would be simple! Thanks for your thoughts on simplicity.

  11. Lovely post. I definitely can relate to simplified life. About two years ago, my husband was legible for retirement at age 55 so we put our house on the market back in PA and sold it within 5 days. We ended up living in a beautiful, coastal town of Beaufort, SC and never looked back. Simplify means to slow down in life and smell the roses. So glad I was able to leave the Corporate rat race and try the simple life. Although we downsized, I have to say I love my home now. Have to say that I definitely de-cluttered and went to a more simple style which I really love. (Smaller yard, etc).

    Also simplicity means to me is finding a way for self expression which I now taking knitting lessons at a local knitting shop. I am currently working on a knitting project that I will eventually share on my blog.

  12. Melissa…first…the photos you chose are wonderful. I have seen them all before…but they are so refreshing, homey, and calming. Ahhhh.
    Contentment. I’ve had to learn that the last four years. I wrestled with it at first. This time ‘in between’ while we wait on God has forced simplicity into our lives. The crazy busy comes to a halt and it IS good. Different. I now like being home. And I’ve found that I can make something new special from what I already have. And for that shopping thing. After driving to “town” to buy groceries (we’ve been walking mostly here in our little town), I needed to stop at the vacuum cleaner store for some belts…no longer sold in regular stores…argh! Almost next door was a Pier 1. I have always loved that store….so fun. But, this time…my husband looked at stuff more than me. And he noticed my cruising through and my agitation. I thought this would be fun…even if I had no dollars to spend. It wasn’t about money…. My outlook had changed. Hmmm… Just now, I’m wondering if that’s part of this “why it’s taking so long” process for a new position. Seriously…I can complicate anything. And I do. But…it is good to slow down the mind a wee bit. (Me who keeps ‘everything’ there!)
    I like this place where you have arrived. And I look forward to seeing how you live it out here on the blog….especially as you get more used to a ‘finished’ house. (Yeah…I know – finished – never.)
    Blessings!!

  13. Hi Melissa…I so agree with you – but right now my home is anything but simple. However, I have been really cutting back on purchases and selling some if my own furnishings (and thanks for the chairish post – I will check them to see if I can place some of my items on there).

    When I think if simple living, I envision white or off white slipcover s on furnishings, bare wood floors, some with Seagrass rugs…painted tables that are gently aging that feature beloved family photographs. Lemonade on the porch…a Labrador retriever at your feet…a lovely cutting garden.

    Just some thoughts!

    Linda
    Linda Leyble recently posted..A Revamped Chair and a Rescued Paint Job!My Profile

  14. Slowing down for me is sitting on my covered swing in my backyard and watching the chipmunks play and fight with each other. My blue-lavender hydrangea has never looked so lovely and shades me from the afternoon sun. I don’t need an I-Pod; I listen to the sounds of birdsong in the trees. I guess this is my version of a rocking chair on the front porch. This is bliss.

  15. I read your blog daily but have never commented. What keeps me coming back day after day is your authenticity and your beautiful writing style. You are truly a gifted writer and the coming here is one of my life’s simple pleasures . Your post today really resonated with me and caused me to stop hit print and really think about the concept of contentment and simplicity . Thank you for being a part of my day and sharing your wisdom .

  16. Simplifying for me is an endless struggle against a culture and a marketplace that urge Discontent. I have all I need but my wants are ever-changing as new seasons and colors and ideas are paraded in front of my eyes.
    When I’m shopping or otherwise thusly inundated I like to say I am “Exercising.” I’m exercising restraint, good judgement, compassion (is there a better way to spend the resources I don’t need to help someone else?), restraint, wisdom, self-knowledge, did I mention restraint? I can break a bone holding myself back! But ultimately I want to find my peace and rest in something other than my visual surroundings. Enough is enough–or is it never enough? Completing my house won’t complete ME. Architect Alfred Loos once said something like–The absence of ornamentation is a sign of spiritual strength. I love that.
    Live simply so that others can simply live.

  17. Nancy Griesinger says:

    What a beautiful attitude Melissa.
    I agree that living simply is the key to a simple life, but while you are in the throws of raising a family or building a career, living (and rushing) are a constant.
    I tried, during those times, to find some peace, but it was rare. However, once age caught up with me and the demands on my time slowed, I found the solitude I needed to refresh my psyche. For me, the answer to finding the simple life, was in the slowing down and cutting out. Slowing down the daily pace to suit my own feelings: “No, that is too early for me, do you have a later opening that day?” And: “I’m sorry, but I am already serving on _____.”
    Realizing that my unrest and unhappiness was happening because I neglected to be as kind to myself as I was to everyone else, was a slow process, but it was worth the effort and the wait.
    And developing the habit of acknowledging my own short comings and honoring them…was so very helpful. In a few days we will celebrate 56 years of marriage and drive South to spend a few days with our first great-granddaughter….but after the trip, we will return to our blissful spot on this earth where we enjoy morning coffee with the birds and quiet walks along the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

  18. I love this! To me, simplicity is being content with what we already have and making the most of what we have been blessed with. We never upsized to a larger home for our family of 5, so maybe one day we’ll never have to downsize. We’ve just adapted each room as our family has grown. I lived in 25 different homes the first 25 years of my life, so it’s been extremely important to me to raise our children in one home.
    Tricia recently posted..My Craft Closet: Organization Tips and Ideas Part 2 (small home/ BIG IDEAS)My Profile

  19. I love this post so much. It almost made me want to cry b/c it is just what I needed to hear right now. After 2 years of trying to move to the mountains and running into road blocks such as finding affordable/decent housing, we have decided to stay put. I always felt uneasy having one foot out the door (so to speak), and didn’t like feeling like our current home wasn’t ours anymore b/c we were always preparing it to sell. I now feel like I can relax and just enjoy where I am in this stage of life. We do really live in a great area now with good schools, housing, etc. We had just always dreamed of living in the mountains. It is like George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life”. He always wanted to get out of Bedford Falls, but then he finally realized in the end it was the perfect place for him. We have prayed since the beginning to make it clear if we are supposed to move or not-and with as many road blocks as we have experienced, we felt like it is not the time for us to pursue that dream for now. I am learning to feel content where I am, no matter where that may be.

  20. I agree with you:
    1/ simple life is individually define
    2/ finding the pace for you and your family is half the joy in the “simple” life.
    The process evolves and is something that should be savored, not rushed.

    I enjoy looking at the blogs with all the accessories, seasonal decor items, artwork galore on the walls – all very pretty. My stuff is less because I like a calmer visual at my haven and I like housework nesting, but I have my limits on how many things I want to dust.

  21. Excellent thoughts. I too need to simplify my life. In the 9 years my husband and I have been married we’ve had 5 (almost 6) children and moved several times. I’m so ready to settle down but it never seems like we’re at that place yet. I’m ready to find the home our grandchildren will one day visit and sit back and enjoy the life we have created.
    Jordan Fox recently posted..DIY outdoor dining tableMy Profile

  22. When I think of simple or simplifying things I would always think of comfort and practicality. These things always comes up my mind. thank you for sharing your thoughts I really enjoyed reading this post!

  23. I clicked over from Centsational Girl and I must tell you this is exactly what I needed to read this morning. I’m anxiously awaiting a call from our realtor. I crave a simpler life and I convinced myself its in an 1100 square foot extreme fixer upper. This plan may not be as simple as I was trying to convince my husband. Hmm.

  24. A simple life is all about quieting the voice of the clutter so that the voice of the heart can speak.
    Mohamed Tohami recently posted..Creating a Simpler Relationship with Your Idea of Work-Life BalanceMy Profile

  25. This couldn’t have come at a better time. I love the way you put these thoughts together. Have you read the book Seven by Jen Hatmaker? Also, can I share the link to this post on my blog?

    Thank you for sharing this. I feel inspired and reminded of all the blessings around us. Thank you…

    Amber

  26. Great post Melissa! We have unexpectedly lived in our house for 30 years this month….and we have no desire to move! There are always new projects to do, as life and circumstances change. This home has given our family so much stability over the years…it used to feel small as our boys grew. Now, it is a little too big for us, but we love our neighbors, and neighborhood…so we plan on living here til they carry us out! ;)

  27. You have no idea how much I needed these words today. Thank you.

    “Simple contentment isn’t something you can always find by moving to it by downsizing or upsizing or moving to a different area or style of house or starting something new to fill that creative desire, for me right now it is what I’m finding by staying where we are and nurturing what we already have going on in life.”

  28. When I think of a simple life…I think of the simple day to day things that bring me joy…Grandchildren, gardens, date night, creating etc. Which in my view can happen just about anywhere. There are always cycles of ups and downs, periods of joy and sadness, and times of plenty as well as scarcity. I always feel when our lives turn in an unanticipated and undesirable direction it’s how we handle that challenge to not allow the stresses and strains of life to get the better of us…enduring the seasons =) I find that I was just as happy in our first 1 bedroom broken down rental as I am now in our much larger home….like you said …find a way to enjoy the everyday. Thanks for sharing…I always learn from you. Have a wonderful day…sorry this seemed like a novel.
    teresa recently posted..Confessions of a White Dishaholic-My Profile

  29. What a great post, Melissa! Lately, simplicity for me means embracing the current season of my life instead of fighting it, clearing off our calendar more and more, and taking the time needed to get rid of unused belongings.
    Things are about to get very simple AND NOT-simple around here! Life is a blast, isn’t it??
    Darlene Weir recently posted..ditto | a room I love :: a small library, perfect for snugglingMy Profile

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