Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Voluntary Simplicity - Falling in love with life

The past 5 weeks, I hosted a Voluntary Simplicity discussion course offered by the Northwest Earth Institute. Joining me at my home were 4 other women. It was actually the second time I've taken the course and yet this time, being at an entirely different place in my life, I learned an entirely different set of lessons. Now that the course is over, and I'm meditating on some of the things I gleaned from the many passages and group discussions, I hope to share some of those things that meant the most to me. 

This week, I'm meditating on a quote from Ann Lovejoy. It's from the chapter entitled "Living Simply on Earth" which discussed how our choices affect the world around us, how each and every one of us is connected. It was the final chapter in the course, but this quote hit me the hardest.
I suggest that each of us strive to fall in love with our own daily life.
To me, this is the epitome of the voluntary simplicity movement. It's not about cutting the cable, or baking bread from scratch, or biking all my errands around town (although these things are currently part of my journey). Voluntary simplicity is about rediscovering ourselves, our families, the world around us. It's about waking up in the morning refreshed, excited about what the day might have in store, and delighting in the possibilities. It's about finding peace and happiness in the blue sky, a loved one's smile, the warmth of the sun on my face. It's about deliberately choosing how I spend my time and resources, and getting rid of all the needless distractions. It's about being in love with our daily lives.

In the last few weeks, I've deleted my to-do lists, left my days unstructured, and let each minute take me where it will. After an 11-year journey (with so far yet to go), I can say that in these last few weeks, I have indeed reached this place... I am absolutely in love with my life. How about you?


Sue said...

My husband retired 3 years ago...I still struggle with not keeping schedules. I have to mentally "stop" myself when I start getting rushed. He had NO problem letting go. Men are MUCH MORE relaxed!

Rapunzel said...

What a beautiful post, and inspiring goal!

I have a bit of simplifying yet to do but I can say that for the most part, yes, I am in love with my life! Messy and complicated as it can be, it's also rich and full of love!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

What a beautiful post Heather and with such a profound part of living simply, it is hard to live simply if you don't revel and love the mundane, the everyday, the simple things that often go without saying. Brett and I delight so much in the simple sight of a nighthawk - a common bird that so often goes unnoticed, or good garden produce that graces our plate for dinner. Even standing side-by-side doing dishes can be a joyous and peaceful time if we want it to be. I think living simply is just as much about altering our expectation and perceptions as anything, and it is a lot easier to be happy when you find joy and meaning in the regular everyday.

Thanks for reminding us again that the true value of voluntary simplicity - beyond the help it provides the local economy and Earth - is to be able to find joy in one's simple existence, joy in the mundane, regular, and everyday.

Beany said...

I recently read Sit Down and Shut up by Brad Warner and he writes alot about paying attention to the normal, "boring" days, because those are the days one would cherish the most. I found that to be true...days when I'm doing "boring" things are the ones where I'm happiest. But people don't seem to realize that putting the breaks on excitement is quite exciting (not sure if that sounds right).

My husband and I have decided to take a break from everything that is bothersome and so we're cutting out the internet from our lives. We've found that we're spending alot of time together with each other talking and reading. And you're right...I am falling in love with life. I'm less bitter and angry and everything just seems so much more wonderful.

Heather @ SGF said...

Sue - I think it depends on the person and the activity. I'm relaxed about something and hyper structured about others. My hubby is the same way, only about different stuff. The last few weeks though I've made huge steps towards letting go and it's amazing how quickly I've experienced the results.

Rapunzel - Absolutely! The key too, is to be in love with life despite all the other stuff. We all have things we want to work on in our lives, but loving life can happen today, right now.

Jennifer - I like the way you put that. "joy in the mundane" - like washing dishes, pulling weeds. Pulling weeds was, in fact, a hard one for me to "revel" in, but I've made the process its own active meditation and it's so much more enjoyable now :)

Beany - Good for you! I've been on the computer a lot less lately now too. It's amazing how addicting it can be and how freeing to step away. And thanks for the book recommendation. I'm going to check it out!

Angela said...

Aw, Heather. That post made me cry. I have been noticing lately that I wake up excited to get out of bed, just to do things like have my cup of tea, check my email, take a walk, write a post, read my book, etc. It's so great! I do think Beany's right that if you get the chance to look back on your life, what you treasure most are the simple moments with family and friends, the dailiness of talking, eating, laughing, walking, etc.

Thanks for your insights. Also- I'm inspired to go berry picking!

Heather @ SGF said...

Angela - And being happy is contagious. Because you're happy, you pass that along to others around you. Good for you!

Cindy said...

Thank you for sharing this part of your journey! It is easy to get so wrapped up in "simplifying" my life, that I forget to stop and appreciate each day.

Since we started our journey toward simplicity, we've definitely decluttered, and gotten rid of some distractions. I find myself lingering over a cup a tea and giving myself permission to just relax and enjoy. We are trying to make our home a place where those who enter find beauty and rest, rather than clutter and chaos.

Reading your post was so encouraging and keeps the goal in front of me! I'm not where I want to be, but I'm not where I was either :-)

Heather @ SGF said...

Cindy - I think you hit the nail on the head when you said we "get so wrapped up." I know exactly what you mean. I'm goal oriented and before I knew it, I turned my simple life into a regimented nightmare. I'm such a goof. Definitely back on track now though. May you have happy travels on your wonderful path!