A Simple Life in 2019: Lessons from Jack

A Simple Life in 2019: Lessons from Jack

Hey friend! I’m so glad you’re here. Yes, you came to the right post. It’s not Christmas. Even though you’ll see some Christmas decor in my pics, but it’s all put away at my house now. Let me explain.

This time of year it seems we’re not only all setting goals, but we are wanting to simplify.

Besides simplicity in our belongings, I’ve been reading quite a few articles and posts lately about people abandoning their social media accounts because it’s just become too stressful to keep up with so many people who now use these sites (and of course, the stress of being exposed regularly to the unrealistically perfect lives they seem to live!). Not to mention the pressure felt by many content creators to keep up that pace and image.

Interestingly the founders themselves of these big social media sites are actually leading the way out to a simpler, more meaningful existence.

I think many of us crave a slower, simpler life…whatever that means to us as individuals or as a family. We want to feel uplifted, not more frantic. We want serenity. Now.

A Simple Life in 2019: Lessons from Jack

I’ve even seen few people recently indicate they miss the good old days when you could just enjoy the community of a few favorite blogs along with morning coffee. Anyone remember those days?

Funny how life sometimes comes full circle, and what seemed so “new and improved” or “bigger or better” in the world doesn’t turn out to be what we want or need after all.

Perhaps we all crave returning home to enjoy more simple pleasures.

But how do we do that?

How do we get there?

What is it that we need to let go of in order to experience that simplicity we long for in our life or home?

I think definitely it’s a good time of year to slow the scroll for a bit. It’s helpful to quiet all the noise and the visuals so we can consider what it is we really want to be surrounded with.

Sometimes though I think even as we are trying to balance out the chaos in the world outside our door, we set ourselves up with unrealistic expectations for our own home.

A Simple Life in 2019: Lessons from Jack

Our Christmas tree had only lights on it until Christmas Eve. It wasn’t necessarily a design statement. It was intended to create more free time for our family. Yet while we actually enjoyed the simplicity of the tree in its natural state, we also love our simple traditions.

My son and daughter decided to pull out our classic forest & sea creatures on Christmas Eve and decorate the tree. They had fun and seeing it all decorated delighted everyone on Christmas morning. I am so glad they did what stirred their hearts at that moment as it blessed us all to see our whimsical decorations on the tree.

And honestly, it may not have even felt like Christmas happened if Jack hadn’t had the chance days later to sneak into the living room and confiscate a few of the plush animals from the tree. We do put the decorations up high, hoping this will be the year he will ignore them. I really don’t know how he goes about it without us catching him in the act year after year, but he always finds a way.

It’s become his yearly tradition, so who are we to be annoyed over the simple shenanigans he’s grown to love?

A Simple Life in 2019: Lessons from Jack

Once again we find ourselves crawling on the floor searching for the creatures’ heads and bodies that are strewn about the room. We see bits of their furry tails dangling from Jack’s lips (all while he undoubtedly proclaims his innocence).

After the shock wears off from seeing these dismembered ornaments, we start to laugh and laugh.

A Simple Life in 2019: Lessons from Jack

I think we feel better when we focus more on building happy memories than on creating or scrolling through perfectly serene and stylish settings.

Sometimes that means we will surround ourselves with things that establish memories and have to let go of control to keep those memories alive and close to our heart.

We’d have less to clean up and less to deal with if we just got rid of everything. It’s tempting, ha!

We’d definitely have less to do, less mess and less stress if we didn’t have pets! We’d certainly have less noise and less chaos, ha!

Paring down excess and creating a perfectly styled rooms can feel refreshing. But trying to control everything so tightly may also (inadvertently) write a generic story that doesn’t stir our heart as deeply as it could.

A Simple Life in 2019: Lessons from Jack

The truth is, Jack sometimes unmakes our bed after I make it.

He throws our pretty pillows on the floor after I style them.

He barks in my face when I’m trying to have a moment to myself.

Jack has been known to barf on my cozy rug and scratches my charming Dutch door.

He destroys our ornaments.

Does that mean we shouldn’t have nice things? Ha!

I don’t think so. I love those things. I love those memories. I love that dog.

Those moments weave together a vivid memory of our story.

A Simple Life in 2019: Lessons from Jack

Making peace with the ever-evolving state of our home (and the imperfect creatures in it) is sometimes about letting go of control more than it is about letting go of stuff, so our wonderfully wild life mingles with the simplicity and beauty we long for. 

A beautiful life and even a perfect-for-us home sometimes will look a little messy. It can be a little out of step with the rest of the world, or a bit out of style, or even a little chaotic. And that’s OK. That’s exactly how it is supposed to be. A home comes undone and things unravel when there is love inside. Living among the un-photoshopped candid imperfection of it all is when those happily after ever tales (tails?) of life are able to be written.

Click here to preorder my brand new upcoming book 

Dwelling: Simple Ways to Nourish Your Home, Body, and Soul. 

A Simple Life in 2019: Lessons from Jack

Find more of my books about the home right here.

Comments

  1. Loved your post and the photos of Jack! How can you get mad at that darling face? I usually just shake my head and laugh when I see shredded kleenex all over the floor from my sweet dog. It’s her game and it’s fair game, just like a lonely sock left on the floor. I always tell my company to expect their socks will be stolen if left out!
    Thanks for sharing your important message!

  2. Thanks for your reminders about what’s important in our families and homes. I recently unfollowed all but a few of my favorite Instagram accounts (not yours, of course, which is where I started long ago!). I love houses and decorating, but I found myself becoming discontent and spending too much time scrolling, shopping and, well, wanting. This wasn’t the fault of the Instagram accounts, it was apparently a temptation that I was not fighting well. Now that I’m more aware of that danger and have taken some steps to avoid it, I’m once again loving my cozy home and the opportunities it gives me to serve my family and others. Thank you for always gently encouraging your readers in that area. Happy New Year to you and your family!

    • Thank you, Peggy! I love what you said about recognizing your need and taking steps to avoid feeling discontent so you can love your cozy home again! It’s so helpful to create whatever boundaries you need in order to focus back in on what matters to you!

      Happy New Year and thank you for your kind words.

  3. Beautifully stated! Thank you for sharing this perspective!

  4. Beautifully said!

  5. Ah Melissa, a lovely post! Our elderly calico cat, Mabel, barfed on our new stair carpet a week after it was laid. Fortunately the cause was a furball, so not too much to clear up and of course, it was easy to clean and there’s no sign of it now. I was only cross for that split second…… she had to get that darned fur ball up and out out somewhere! Happy New Year.

  6. This made me smile, as I have been up all night with one dog with dementia, had to take the other to the emergency vet over the weekend for a herniated disc, and yesterday the cats were chasing each other and somehow knocked a bifold door right off the tracks and actually broke it. I managed to finally fall asleep around 6am, only to have my parrot start sqawking about a half hour later. I’m tired, I’m cranky, and I’m sure someone has thrown up on a rug somewhere….but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  7. Claudia A says:

    Looks as though Jack is doing his part to help you simplify and downsize a few things. He’s into the idea of living a more meaningful life with less. And probably thinking more belly rubs too!

  8. Love this post. I understand trying to figure out how Jack gets the ornaments of the top of the tree just as I am trying to figure out how our two cats got hold of a bag of catnip (bag was plastic), ripped it open, and “slung” catnip all over the first floor from kitchen to living room. I have been in the process of cleaning it up and dealing with their “help” as well as “we didn’t do it” looks…lol. How can we be mad when our pets are so loving and bring such happiness to our lives? When I first started following blogs, I seemed to follow everyone, now I’ve discovered that the two I follow – you’re one – are just perfect for me. I can have my morning pot of tea and just relax while I read y’alls’ lovely thoughts and doings.
    Best wishes for a wonderfully happy new year.

  9. You know I agree with you! People, experiences together, memories are the important things, over possessions. I love my home, and the items that make up our home, but I am building a life together with family and friends, and that is most important!

  10. I am one of those folks who just gets overwhelmed with too much to do, too many things to focus on..I’m an introvert who craves that quiet respite but who also wants to read every blog, every book and listen to all my Sirius XM programs tv programs but my brain is over loaded with it all. Your blog Melissa is a calm place..thank you for this post. I’m with ya. It’s been a long year and I hope 2019 is a better one for me. Love Jack! Our female Cockalier seems to find every berry stem in the house and chews them up as if they were candy! UGH! I get frustrated but your right it’s just a break in the mental scheme that it has to “all” be perfect “all” the time…life should be fun and our pups teach us this for sure! Please keep posting:0)

  11. This winter has become the season of purge for us in our quest for less chaos and more calm. Being ruthless is a part of the process. If I love it and use it, it stays. If it hasn’t been used for a while, it goes – trash, recycle, or donate. The most difficult part is emotional attachments to things. In two cases, it took a big gulp to get rid of items that belonged to my late parents. My mom has been gone for 7 years and my dad for 5. I decided they would understand and want me to live a life of purpose and meaning over holding onto their stuff. There are some cherished mementos that give me joy to have on display and get at least occasional use. Others have been enjoyed for a time and now it’s time to part company. It is carthartic and the spaces of our home that are uncluttered and calm are bringing me more joy. The process continues!

  12. Linda Slepicka says:

    Thanks for the reminder that life is less stressful when we don’t put demands on ourselves to be and have everything perfect. I did my outside lights for Christmas, but this is the first year I did not decorate inside or put up a tree. I have a large senior dog who has starting eating anything he can put in his mouth including things that are not edible (resulting in vet visits) and I was afraid that would include the tree, ornaments, and knickknacks. Aggravating but this is probably his last year so I need to relax about it. I agree about the whole social media thing and have also been thinking of dropping out of Facebook. It’s a nice way to keep up with friends around the country but the rest of what shows up in your feed can be so stressful. Here’s hoping that 2019 is less stressful and more fulfilling for everyone!

  13. Reading this right after I went on a purge fest in my house… I have 2 words for the year: Growth (for work) and Simplify (for home). Those 2 seem to be so woven into my life, I’m wondering if I should have them on pillows… I love that our pets force us to slow down and enjoy life.

  14. Laurie Howell says:

    Now imagine 3 Old English Sheepdogs ( 2 are deaf), a yorkie poo, 2 old cats and a corgi puppy who belongs to my daughter. Chaos is the word that describes the season and we would not have it any other way.

  15. Diane Amick says:

    The last Christmas of his life our 14 year old 85 pound labradoodle Coco suddenly decided to EAT 9 (nine) adorable pheasants off our Christmas tree. He had never touched them before that year…suddenly it was just too much temptation. What a mess…punctured styrofoam bird shapes and feathers everywhere. Could not believe it. He died a couple of months later…he was really old for a big dog. Miss him still, but I have a “new” now 1 1/2 year old 80 pound labradoodle Xander. So far he hasn’t touched the Christmas tree…of course there are NO birds on it.

  16. i can’t thank you ENOUGH for this post. sometimes, just reading that someone else who strives for cleanliness, simplicity, harmony, and beauty in their home is continually confounded by their beloved dog makes me feel like i am not alone. slobber, mud, hair, scratched wood floors that were pristine when we moved in, etc etc etc. these things have a tendency to bring me down, so i appreciate the way in which you remind us that 1) what we see on Instagram is not “real”, 2) material things aren’t what’s most important and 3) we love them anyway

  17. I love this! I needed to be reminded of what’s truly important… the memories with those we love. Thank you for for saying this so eloquently.

  18. I so needed to hear this right now. Thank you!

  19. Beautifully said Melissa!

  20. I’m glad my dog isn’t the only one who creates a bit of chaos at times lol! Thanks for sharing life as it happens with such love and heart. You were a bright spot with my morning coffee

  21. Our pups and our kids definitely wreak havoc on a perfectly styled room, but it wouldn’t be home without them!!

  22. Thank you for today’s post! The pictures of Jack made me laugh! Having 2 cats and a dog, I can relate to the messes, and recently told hubs that although it’s tiring cleaning up after them, they are worth the extra effort. Their lives are so short, I want to cherish every moment we have with them.

  23. .OMG I love this post – thank you, thank you, thank you! I like to have a pretty and clean house and sometimes looking through the pretty blogs I get almost depressed about my own home. Because I foster dogs and sometimes cats for a local rescue, my house is always needing cleaned or repaired. I love my home and I love the animals but boy is it hard to have everything the way I want it. So I “gave up” a few months ago and try to be happy in the fact that my home is clean and smells nice and visitors say my home is very pretty. So, yes! Give up control and folks need to stop making themselves crazy comparing what they have to what is shown on social media.

  24. Debra Kiyasu says:

    So easy to “look it up” before doing anything and then get lost/sidetracked by the abundance of information available. Forever taking mental note of information unrelated to the search at hand, that will be impossible to relocate when it’s needed sooner or later. It’s better for me to have few sites I can click from my homepage with content that satisfies without leading me astray. The inspired room is my most visited of those. Always useful info and ideas presented well. This article was perfect. An inspiring perspective , written very well. I wanted to “share” it but that doesn’t seem to be an option. Anyway, thankyou for your wisdom.

  25. Jack is so sweet! Thank you for your wonderful blog. It is relatable and your style is very comforting.

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