Traffic. My least favorite thing. Not yours either? I didn't think so.
For me, life is like traffic sometimes. Moving into the country really put a halt to a lot of the traffic in my life both literally and figuratively. Living 20 minutes outside of center city Philadelphia, was one big traffic jam and 1 million lights. We moved to upstate NY and suddenly I was driving slower, stopping to check out the creatures, and just chilling on the deck. It became apparent that I needed this in my life. What I ended up discovering was that even though things were slowing down, I needed to learn about the importance of simplifying my life.
Fast forward to now. For the past year I've been through this battle. Realizing you need to slow down and simplify is one thing, knowing how to do it is a whole other beast. I want to get into that, but I want to talk about why it's so important to stick it out first. Because it's hard work. To begin, check out this mama and fawn I captured with my phone one day driving through my town. Ya, this is the life.
Do you want to simplify your life? Is there something about the idea that is pulling you in? Listen to it and then see if what I have to say fits what you are looking for.
1. Simplifying Keeps Me Present
In the past, I found myself unable to say NO to stuff. Ministries, interactions, emotions, work, relationships. I noticed there was something terribly wrong with how I looked at life when moments would slip by me. Opportunities to be there for friends, gone. Social cues became misinterpreted. My confidence was scattered because I wasn't centered. I was a bit distracted by regrets and fears in the hypothetical future. Simplifying meant I had to set boundaries in several areas of my life. Physical and emotional barriers that would allow me to find my feet and then be able to pick up my head and look around. Fear. Doubt. Guilt. They all keep you from being present. I had to simplify my life and get rid of all of them. Whoa.
2. Simplifying Brought Contentment
Most of the time, when we think about simplifying we think of STUFF. We challenge ourselves not to make purchases. We purge the closets, drawers, and garage. We sell the big stuff and trade it in for smaller stuff. All of this is awesome! For me, it wasn't enough. I wanted my new fixer upper to be done NOW. The yard to look immaculate IMMEDIATELY. The stressful reality that Chris had to travel during the week for up to year, I wanted to END. I didn't want messes, stress, pain. None of it. Get it all out or else! Life isn't perfect. Simplifying taught me that having all these negative thoughts of discontentment were clouding out the blessings of life. I wasn't paying attention to the fact that I have it good. I mean, I get to live in the woods. By a creek with awesome animals. Be the photographer that I always wanted to be. Half the time I have to pinch myself because waking up to the sounds of morning feels like a vacation.
3. Simplifying Makes Me Nicer
Having the opportunity to just rest my thoughts and focus on what really matters gave me the opportunity to evaluate who I was as a person. What kind of character lives deep inside of me? Being so preoccupied by LIFE allowed me to slip into a selfish act. I found that I was pretty self absorbed and judgmental of how poorly everyone else was doing life. I had no idea that I too was walking around with the biggest plank in my eye (as Christ would put it). Stopping to breathe made everyone else's planks look like slivers in comparison. It's truly humbling. More grace for everyone all around.
None of this comes easy, like I said. But the mental muscles you get from it? Priceless. So, if you find that it is important to simplify your life as well, be prepared for a post on how I am attempting to tackle the beast. It is going to take a bit more reflection and preparation to share it, but we'll get there. If you don't feel like waiting for that post to come, you can definitely find little bits of what I did in this post. And hey, maybe you already are experiencing the beauty of simplicity! What are some reasons you find it important to simplify your life? I am always up for knowing more and growin'.