I find myself drawn to the products of a simplified life. The beautiful photos of homes that are stocked with books, where odds and ends are stowed in baskets, the surfaces are clear, and the textiles rich and layered pull at my heartstrings. I find the idea of homeschooling from whole, living books; nature; the seasons of the secular and church years inspiring. I love the idea of organizing our schooling from a single bookshelf.
But notice that I used the phrase "the products of a simplified life." It is occurring to me that I'm not sure that I actually want to live a simplified life. My purse is huge--I want to be prepared to alleviate the discomforts of all sorts of uncomfortable situations that might arise. But to go with a smaller purse requires me to give a little forethought to the outing at hand--and decide what I can be unprepared for.
My "bathroom bag" for when I stay overnight somewhere is quite large: I carry a hairdryer, numerous hair products (and I don't even consider myself to be someone particularly obsessed with my looks), soaps, lotions, make up.... A smaller bag would necessitate some "making due" with whatever my hosts have available. Or doing without. Why am I unwilling to do that?
Do I like to lead a complicated life? Do really want to lead a simple life? I certainly like the effects of simplicity in other peoples' homes. In my quest to declutter my house, I'm beginning to realize that if I don't really lead a simple life, my home cannot begin to reflect that simplicity in a lack of clutter.
A line from a post on Simple Mom entitled Creating a Home Where the Living is Easy seems to clarify what can be meant by "simplicity":
Let’s face it, we all know life isn’t easy, but it can be easier. It has taken my family years of taking small steps to get to where we are now, and we are nowhere near where we hope to be even next year.It's about making daily life easier, not necessarily throwing out anything that might be construed as clutter or making my home look like a magazine clipping.
It's also about taking small steps to make one part of my life at a time easier.
As I said above, I like the aesthetic effects that decluttering and simplicity produce in peoples' homes. So, to effectively declutter specific areas of my apartment, I'd have to be willing to actually simplify the portions of my life that correspond to that space in my home. To really declutter our video collection, for example, we'd have to be OK with living without the videos we get rid of.
I am mostly skeptical that I can really simplify anything. I mentioned how I do not lead a simple life in many ways. But then there are things I am trying to change in that department--not necessarily in the name of simplicity, but as a way to make my life easier and to allow more time for other things, like homeschooling our kids. My ongoing project of simplifying our menu into a set weekly one (changing by the season and liturgical year) has made it possible for me to really organize and simplify my freezer.
The Simple Mom post I quoted above has inspired me to take a small step in simplifying my life by making "both time and space for you" (emphasis mine). I can find bits of time, and I will have more of it when baby #3 arrives (if you count nursing time as "time for you"), but I do not have a good space to use that time. More practically, I will need a nursing station. I'm hoping to turn my papazan chair into that space. I'd like it stocked with prayer books, leisure reading, some kids books to dole out, possibly snacks (for all of us!) and a water bottle. It would be lovely if the computer fit into the picture too. I'm not sure what I will arrive at, but I have some ideas.
So, that is my next step in the direction of simplicity in my life and home. I am beginning to feel a little more fondly for the term than when I began this post--simplicity as a name for making my life easier. Who wouldn't want that?