Posts Tagged "simplicity"

Having More, With Less

Posted by on Sep 9, 2012 in life | 3 comments

We live in a society that constantly tells us that we need MORE.  We need more stuff.  We need a better house.  We need a new car.  We need to upgrade our computer.  We need the newest hand-held tech thingy that everybody else has, and we need to get it BEFORE everybody else does.  We need to “treat ourselves” to vacations and spas and new clothing.  Because “we deserve it!”

But do we?

Do we deserve mounting debts (because so many of us can’t afford to own all the stuff we are told we MUST have)?

Do we deserve the stress of credit card bills or looking for new jobs or overtime hours to pay for them?

Do we deserve the endless task of cleaning and repairing and maintaining that big house we thought we “needed?”

Do we deserve the stress of being weighed down by all the stuff, things, do-dads, “I’ll save it for someday” things that clutter our living spaces?

Why is it that HAVING MORE, often gives us LESS?  Less quality of life.  Less time.  Less money.  Just less.

We are bombarded with images of “the good life” and have forgotten that “the good life” was dreamed up by teams of advertisers with one goal in mind – to sell us more stuff.  No matter what the personal cost.

And as the world around us gets continually caught up in more, more, more, it is getting harder to say NO!   And “NO” sometimes means that people look at you funny, and think that you are crazy, or backward, or just plain weird.

But saying “no” can also bring peace, freedom, contentment.  Not a bad trade-off.

I am just as pulled into “the good life” ideal as anyone else.  I want my homestead on acres of land (and yes, waterfront, please!).  I want freedom to travel, and a DSLR camera, and a Macbook Pro.  Sometimes it is an act of will to remind myself that contentment will not come from owning MORE.  That my new-to-me, 7-year-old laptop is all that I need.  That all the strange looks I receive when I tell people I DO NOT own a cell phone is a small price to pay for not having that bill to pay each month.  That many of my “needs” are actually “wants.”  And not having everything we “want” makes it extra special when something new comes our way, don’t you think?

Beauty in abundance

But sometimes it feels lonely seeking “less” when everyone else is out there seeking “more.”  And then yesterday a friend I hadn’t talked to in a while commented on the blog and mentioned her new website.   In Goodbye, Mrs. Jones she shares her journey of leaving behind her big, gorgeous house in the suburbs, in favour of a simpler lifestyle, fewer bills, and a small house.  She was “living the dream” and found that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Her dream has changed.

And so, as I seek change, concentrate on what is important, and try to become more of who I really am, I am going to embrace LESS in the hopes of finding MORE.  Maybe if we team together we can find success in saying “no” to what we are told we need, and instead find contentment with what we already have.

Today, I choose to find joy in less.  How about you?

 “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”   Socrates

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”  Proverbs 23: 4 – 5

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  Matthew 6: 19 – 20

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Signs of Spring

Posted by on Apr 30, 2012 in Gardening | 0 comments

Despite the cold chill in the air, there are signs of Spring popping up everywhere.

These pretty little flowers are always some of the first to bloom in my garden, nestled among my tulip and hyacinth leaves.  (I never actually see any tulips or hyacinths as the deer like to keep them well pruned!)  I have no idea what type of flower they are, but have found them growing all over my lawn!

The rhubarb is beginning to grow!  It won’t be long now until we are eating tasty rhubarb treats again!

And then….drum roll please….we have…..

Asparagus!!!!  I am so excited to see the asparagus return to the garden.  Last year we plunked it in with everything else and hoped for the best.  Over the winter I was doing some gardening reading and realized that there are a tonne of things you are supposed to do for Asparagus when you plant it.  None of which we did.  To try to make up for the lack, I did give them an extra dose of compost when the ground thawed and then have hoped for the best.  I am so excited to see these beautiful green spears poking up out of the ground.

There are a few signs of spring inside too….

My flower, herb, and tomato seeds have begun to sprout!  I am always so excited when the first leaves begin to appear.  Just another month and we’ll be setting them outside!

Is there anything growing in your garden or sprouting in your house this spring?

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How to Host a “New-to-You” Gift Swap

Posted by on Nov 12, 2011 in Holidays | 2 comments

Some of you might be saying, “The holidays?  Already?  Isn’t it too early for that?”   I’ll admit that I don’t like hearing Christmas carols in the grocery store in October or walking past rows of Christmas trees before the leaves have even fallen from the trees outside, but if you are thinking about planning holiday events and parties – now is the time to begin.

 And this is one of my favourites. 

 What is a “New-To-You Gift Swap?”

It is similar to the standard office party/large group gift exchange, where everyone brings a gift to the event, and everyone takes a different gift home.  The big difference is that the gift you bring is something you already own. 

What types of items do people bring to a new-to-you exchange?

It could be that beautiful Christmas ornament that you just never put out, or that scarf you were given that you never wear because it doesn’t match your coat, or that game you thought you’d love but your family never plays.  It’s something that you don’t use anymore, but you think someone else might love.  This leads to a whole lot of variety, and a whole lot of fun.  One year one of the party-goers in my group of friends wrapped up a tacky Christmas sweater as her contribution to the exchange.  What a laugh we had when that gift was opened!  It was quickly followed with a photo shoot of the recipient modeling the “beautiful” sweater.  It was such fun that it has become a tradition and there always seems to be a festive sweater hidden in the pile each year (and with the popularity of “ugly sweater” parties, it has actually become a very useful gift!)  J   Of course, if you only want pretty things or useful things at your party, you can just say so in your invite.   

Why bother?  Why not just buy something new?

In my group of friends, the gift exchange started as a way to share the joy of gift giving with each other, without having to add another item to our long “to buy” lists.  For those of us concerned about the environment, it is a way to reuse and recycle and lesson the “consumer” aspect of the holiday season.  But most of all – it’s fun!  The selection of gifts is always varied and it’s exciting to see what items will appear in the gift exchange each year. 

How do you decide who gets what gift?

This is the fun part!  We play a game commonly called a “Yankee Swap” around here.  (I have no idea how it got that name.)  You can find the rules here.  It’s the swapping and exchanging part of this gift-giving game that makes it so enjoyable – and it’s always interesting to see which gifts are the most popular and most often swapped.  There are other ways you could hand out gifts, of course.  But adding a game aspect adds to the excitement. 

What would I write in an invitation?

On top of the usual “what, where, when” here are some things you might include:

You are invited to a “New-to-You Gift Swap” – a gift exchange party without the stress of buying a gift!

As part of this evening of fun and giving, each person will give a gift, and go home with a different gift.  The only rule is – the gift must be something you already own.  Maybe it’s something you have, but never use.  Or something you love, but don’t need anymore. It doesn’t matter what the item is, as long as it is something that can be used by someone else.  The variety of gifts is half the fun!  Don’t forget to wrap it up!

Take it a step further

Are you loving the swap idea?  Here are a few ideas to take it a notch further:

  • Have a tacky swap party.  If laughs are more important than the gift, have everyone search their houses for the tackiest thing they can find and wrap that up!  This might be a great accompaniment to one of those “ugly sweater” parties!
  • With a really close group of friends you could go in the other direction and have everyone bring something they own that they really love.  This is the true spirit of giving, isn’t it?  Giving things that are important to us to those we love!
  • If you really want to make this an earth-friendly party, you could also encourage reusable wrapping for your exchange gifts.

Time to Party!

Does anyone else host these types of parties or plan to hold one this year?  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

 I was inspired to write this post after “meeting” Amy from  Joy to the Earth.  Her plan for a more joy-filled, less commercial Christmas really resonated with me.  It reminds me of the story of the Grinch - where Christmas came to Whoville even without the presents, the decorations, the roast beast.  That’s the holiday I am celebrating this year – the one that makes us sing for joy no matter what is lying beneath the tree!  Happy party planning!

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Taking Time

Posted by on Jul 22, 2011 in life | 2 comments

I am the first to admit that I like to be busy.   As wild and crazy as life can be, I am the one who most often chooses to make it wilder and crazier.  I do this almost without thinking about it, as I pile my already full “plate” with more projects, new hobbies, and a long list of “shoulds.”  (Kind of like the way your eyes get bigger than your stomach as you pile your plate high with amazing food from the buffet table or potluck.)  Although in moments of being overwhelmed by a huge “to do” list, I sometimes forget that I had a choice in the matter. 

But choice I do have, and in the midst of my many self-induced (and very exciting!) projects, I am also making a conscious effort to take time.

Time to read a book.

Time to visit with family.

Time to meet with friends.

Time to listen.

Time to rest.

Time to leave the projects half-done to sit with a good cup of tea in front of a fire and chat with my husband. 



And as much as I am in the habit of saying “yes” to so many projects, I am also in the habit of saying “no” to so many other good things which don’t quite seems as “productive” to my task-oriented mind.  When friends ask to spend time together, the projects and due dates always seem more pressing and besides, there will be other times to get together, right?


But sometimes those next times just don’t come.


So I am practicing saying “yes” more often. 


Yes to going out to dinner with friends.


Yes to visiting.


Yes to get-togethers.


Yes to just “hanging out.”


And although the projects still exert a strong pull, somehow I know, deep down, that these moments spent with others add up to much more than any other goal or achievement. 


It doesn’t mean I am giving up on my dreams and goals and aspirations.  And it certainly doesn’t mean I am going to give up being “busy.”  (What on earth would I do if I didn’t have 10 projects on the go???)  It just means, that when the question of how to spend my time today comes up, I will try to base my answer on what is most important, and that may not always be that new project I’ve just begun.

My brain may have it backwards, but my heart knows what is right.

In the midst of all the busyness of life, what are you taking time for this summer?

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Simple Beauty

Posted by on Apr 27, 2011 in life | 2 comments

Hubby and I have discovered a new place to walk.  It’s a bit unconventional for this girl, but it’s quiet (except for the odd woodpecker and rooster) and it has some beautiful scenery.

Sometimes it pays to walk off the beaten track.  This “trail” starts a 5 minute jaunt from our house and we’ve walked the bridge over it more times than I can count.  And then one day we decided to walk beside it.  It’s amazing the beauty you can find when you aren’t necessarily looking for it. 

Where is there beauty around you today?

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