Experiment & Give Something Up

One of the greatest “life simplification” tools I’ve learned is experimentation. Finding a simple life has a great deal to do with figuring out “how much is enough”. And “enough” will vary from person to person.

Once I started simplifying my belongings, I forced myself to think about how much was enough for each category of items in my home. Sometimes it was clear I had more than enough, so it was easy to purge. Sometimes it felt like I’d have nothing if I really allowed myself to keep only what brought joy. For those harder decisions (and as an on-going exercise to keep my consumption/consumerism in check), experimenting with less is a helpful step to defining “enough” in my life.

I’ve learned that for me, enough means I don’t feel a need to “stock up” on things or have spares or multiples of everything “just in case”. It means that, for the most part, I’m using what I have until I need more. This creates space in my home and peace in my heart. But I had to experiment to learn this!

The Project 333 wardrobe challenge is a great example. There was no risk, because I didn’t have to give away any clothes. I basically picked my favorites and stored the others. But it showed me (overwhelmingly) how much easier it was to live with even less than I already had.

Conversely, giving something up for a time may highlight how it enhances your life or adds to your joy. After you experiment by taking it away or scaling it down, you may want to add it back.

This month, I have been doing an alcohol fast. I knew I’d miss it at the beginning, but honestly, I was expecting to get to a point where I didn’t miss it at all. That has not happened. (Although I have 9 more days to go, so there’s still time?)

If I’m having a girls night with my teacher friends, (who get pretty crazy during the summer!) having some wine adds to the fun and frivolity of our nights. If I’m out on a date with Husband, trying new wine together adds joy to the celebration of the start of the weekend. This probably doesn’t surprise many of you because it’s no secret that I’m basically a wine junkie. NONETHELESS, I am surprised that this experiment in going without has not gotten any easier.

I certainly don’t regret it, though, because it makes me appreciate that this form of enjoyment in life is freely available to me. Frankly, it also feels good to set a goal like this and accomplish it. It feels good to do something different, to go outside of your comfort zone, and to push your boundaries a little bit. It’s healthy!

I am well aware that giving up alcohol for 31 days, or putting half your clothes in another little things add upcloset are not life-changing actions. But these types of experiments have value; the little things add up. Over time, they give us confidence and direction for bigger modifications that may change our lives significantly.

So whether the result of your experiment is a discovery that you are happier with less, or the items you put aside enhance your joy and you want them in your life, I promise you’ll find new levels gratitude and simplicity. Remember that deciding to give something up temporarily or live with less by putting certain things out of sight is risk-free! Why not give it a try?

Practice What Matters

Just over one year ago today, I made a huge change and left my job to “take a year off and see where the good Lord leads me.” And what a year it’s been.

Many things changed over this past year. It was scary at first, taking such a big leap. It was hard and I spent a lot of time feeling guilty over it. Yet I knew, deep in my soul, that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.

I was a good 8-9 months into my year away from work before I had the faintest glimmer of

live an authentic life.jpg
Photo Taken: Gibbs Gardens Manor House – Ball Ground, GA

what I might actually be meant to do. But those 8-9 months were crucially important because of the things I learned and the ways God changed my heart.

In a way, leaving my job was the first huge step in my personal journey of simplification. Back then, Husband and I had a big dream of moving out to California. I thought about it a lot. Too much, honestly! So much, sometimes, that it caused me great discontent because I was still here in Georgia instead.

And even though I hadn’t yet learned to be thankful enough or content enough with the beautiful life I already had, that too was an important part of the journey. A major impetus to my purging and donating of stuff was the idea that I “wouldn’t want to move across the country” with many of the items I was choosing to part with.

Thankfully, something quite different emerged than discontent and preparing myself for a move that we didn’t end up making.

Somewhere along the way, I began to realize that I’d been holding onto a lot of stuff that would be infinitely more useful to someone else. I realized how selfish I’d been; how I needed to emanate gratitude instead of my own personal desires.

I started this blog to document this journey of simplification and re-discovered my love for writing. I said out loud that I’d always wanted to write a book. I even started writing a little something about my own life and struggles with fear/anxiety.

But recently, I’ve felt pulled into a different book direction: fiction. I’ve been away from

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The joys of the character creation worksheet!

here because I’ve been immersing myself there. I’ve been reading about writing fiction and developing good characters and elements of a good plot line.

I’ve been plotting my plot and asking friends if I can build pieces of their unique and beautiful lives into my characters.

I have no idea what will come of this. But I am going to write it. And I am going to be more diligent about coming here to write, too, because making time to practice the things that matter to us ensures we’re living authentic lives.

I’d still love to live in California someday. But the circumstances in which I find myself really shouldn’t matter. Writing and reading and cooking and taking pictures are important to me; my faith and friends and family and pets are important to me – so I’m planning to practice doing and loving each of these to the best of my ability.