The Simple Life – Welcoming Spring One Day at a Time

We had very nice weather over the weekend, so we decided to clean up the garden and set up a few things for planting season. We are surrounded by trees and no matter how much leaf raking we do during autumn and winter, we always end up with tons of leaves to clean up, especially now, when a few windy days come up during March and April. We’ve had a few days of very strong winds, one of which truly shook me a bit, and there are many down branches as well. We had plenty of chores, which we enjoyed thanks to the good weather. For some reason, here in Virginia, I find myself wishing for the start of spring, and I find winters long and cold. Having lived most of my life in Jersey, I find that odd, but my husband feels the same way. My favorite season used to be Autumn, but now, I am starting to love and crave for Spring. There is plenty to be thankful for during the seasons.

Little birds are starting to show up in numbers. My husband made the pumpkin for the veggie garden out of scrap wood. We hung up a birdhouse that my sister gave me. They had a 5K on their farm (Barn on the Hill), and they gifted birdhouses to participants; she saved one for me. It looks lovely next to the Faerie Garden.

We cleaned up flower beds, removed old stumps, planted some flower seeds, repotted plants that needed more space, and became a bit creative. We started a new planting area near the entrance of the property, an area that we need to develop much more in the future. An old tree trunk is now a planter, and an old magazine rack will become full of hot pink flowers at one point. Our goal is to add at least one thing every year.

White farmhouses get very dirty during the year. My husband and I cleaned up the house twice a year during spring and before Christmas. It takes a bit of work in some areas. Power washing will be something to consider in the future. We are still saving for a new roof (cash only is part of the simple life), and that one needs to be repainted, hopefully over the summer. We took everything out of the porch, and I cleaned the chairs, tables …. while he worked on the siding. Once we finished, we decided to change things a bit (decor wise) from last year.

With most of the garden ready, our next item on the list will be preparing the veggie garden for planting, and some repainting here and there. We are setting things up for an upcoming yard sale as well, and there are some farmhouse projects lined up for the year. With everything that is going on in the world these days, chores are helping me a lot in dealing with the great sadness that it causes. Keeping busy helps my mental sanity. During this time, my novels have been put to the side, and being in the present, doing chores, helps me deal with all this. I hope you enjoyed this post.

The Simple Life – Simplicity and Beauty

As I have slowly learned to embrace a much simpler life, I have also learned to find simplicity and beauty in the everyday flow. Easier said than done at times. When we are presented with good and rosy days, a lot easier, but more challenging when what we perceive is the not so nice or the ugly. Embracing a simple life taught me to find beauty and simplicity even in those circumstances. Never easy at the start, but willing, the focus and vision became clear, and I realized that even in less than perfect or idyllic circumstances, one can find something good, even beauty, and learn appreciation for what truly is. It is through challenges that we grow the most, although I believe that one can experience growth looking at a beautiful sunset or watching a fire, more so when in the midst of it. In both circumstances there is beauty and simplicity, that is, if we care to see in humility. I have experienced both extremes and can honestly say that from both there is much to learn and appreciate. I’ve found that simplicity and beauty are always present, inviting us to learn a life’s lesson. Maybe not so easy to recognize when we are in the midst of a challenge, when things don’t seem too pretty, when anger and bitterness dominate our thoughts and hearts, but much later on, when we have surrendered our will to God, and experienced a shift in disposition, acceptance, the beginning of clarity.

A clouded vision cannot see beauty, even when in front of it. A heavy heart cannot experience simplicity because it is burdened at the moment, in a complicated state, far away from simplicity. Only when we let go and open our mind and heart to receive a new beginning can we see the new dawn. In learning to live a simple life, I had to let go, but I received so much more.

Photo by M.A.D.

The Simple Life – Frugality

Frugality – Thrifty. Not very abundant; meager; economical. (American Heritage Dictionary)

After reading the above definition of frugality, no wonder why many people stay away from frugality, as far away as possible. It is very negative, and also depressing. I just don’t agree with that definition, although I will go along with economical, and maybe thrifty. Many people equal frugality with lack of something. The word has been given a negative connotation, one of deprivation, and even poverty. It couldn’t be further from the true meaning.

A person who consciously and voluntarily practices frugality does not suffer lack of something, instead maximizes the enjoyment of it. Maximizing use and purpose, as well as longevity of an item not only saves money but also “honors” the item and our living space/surroundings. Being frugal goes beyond minimizing expense; it also means approaching the items we use in our daily living with gratefulness and best disposition. Best use and the extension/expansion of it falls under this frugal approach. When embracing a simple life, simplifying our surroundings and the way we live, a natural shift to frugality happens. Wastefulness becomes alien to us, and instead, the things we bring into our home fit well with our lifestyle. There is no need for the unnecessary, duplicity, or even impressive name brands. Instead, the focus is on how these items can fit and serve me and my family better, and how these can improve and simplify my lifestyle and surroundings.

Frugality goes beyond the financial scope, although for most of us it might start that way. When we embrace a simpler lifestyle, we become more creative in the way we use what we own, whether these objects are practical, functional, or just bring pleasure/beauty into our space. Frugality goes beyond our material and financial spaces; it becomes a way of life, parallel, and part of living a simple life. Frugality sparks creativity in finding new ways for best use and possibilities. When approached in a positive way, frugality and generosity go together, along with gratefulness.

Now, does that sound so bad?

Photo by M.A.D.

The Magic of an Ordinary Life

I am sharing with you something special today. I came across this YouTube video by The Elliott Homestead, and as I watched it, I felt a sense of serenity, peace, joy, beauty, gratefulness, and love. I decided to share it here because its main message is so beautiful and true. I hope it inspires you to appreciate the beauty that is all around us every single day. Thank you to The Elliot Homestead for making this lovely video and sharing it with the world. It truly touched me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Breaking a Lifetime Tradition

December is almost here. For me, it always meant a time for reflection, introspection, rating of my performance, and goal setting or resetting. Over the years, for most of my adult life, and even younger, I followed the tradition of setting New Year goals. I enjoyed the process. Hot cocoa at hand, pen and paper, I would sit and think of the present year, review past goals, and silently rate my performance. I was good at keeping what I set to do, and I accomplished most goals. However, I was disappointed for what I didn’t do. It felt as if I came short of something. It always left me with an incomplete feeling, and even a bit of sadness. Then, I would decide if to include those unmet goals for the new year along with new ones. I would finish my cocoa, and be ready for a fresh start.

I changed all that. I don’t set goals quite like that anymore. Call it wisdom in aging, or whatever, I don’t rate my performance anymore. Instead, I’ve decided to think of the “meaningful thing” that I would like to do for the new year, whether it is only one thing or more. As far as planning for it, the only planning I will do is to make sure that everyday I try to take a step in that direction, and leave the lists, rating, and self-judging to the side. Discarded are the breaking into small manageable goals rituals, as well as written tasks, along with the self-reviews. Either I am on track to do a meaningful thing (to me) or I am not. Breaking a lifetime tradition is never easy, but it is as simple as that.

The Great Revelation – A Square at a Time

Imagine that your life is a canvas or a screen, a picture made of pixels divided into tiny squares that come together to reveal the big picture – the wholeness of it. Sometimes, life feels as a series of squares, of compartments that are not related. We keep a home life, a work life, a church life, a secret life (in some cases), and so on. We disconnect ourselves from the big picture, and end up feeling anything else but whole. We lack continuity because we have compartmentalized our existence. In the process, we have separated ourselves from the source of it all, the divine force of our existence.

Sometimes, it takes a step back or a few steps back to change our perspective from a square by square or pixelated vision to a wholesome perspective. It takes many times, more than a few steps back, to realize the connection between all the squares, all the compartments of our life, and in the end, they disappear and all we see is continuity, neither beginning, nor end, but continuity. That is more than the big picture; it is the great revelation.

Turmoil

Turmoil – Great confusion; extreme agitation. (American Heritage Dictionary)

 

Sometimes, it takes turmoil in life to be able to live as intended. It takes confusion and agitation to wake up a soul, to appreciate the little things and to understand what is meaningful in life. To slow down to the speed of now, and realize that now is all there is. To understand the fragility of everything else and its immensity, as well as its simplicity. To understand divine connection between all and between one moment and the next.

Sometimes, it takes turmoil to shake us to the core so we can center our being once more. So we can forget about purpose and become purpose, so we can indulge in being for the sake of being, and listen to the poem of life whispering its verses as we are and we become.

Sometimes it takes turmoil to realize that divinity is just a veil away, and that veil is always wrapped around us, and within us. Sometimes turmoil is all it takes.

Simple Beginnings

The other day, I was looking outside at the first signs of autumn, looking for an amber or red leaf here and there, while enjoying the silence that surrounded me. I could only hear the birds outside. The cats were sleeping, so the silence embraced the home. I love the green-yellow color of the grass as it is getting ready for winter to come. Autumn is a transition for nature, just as people have their own autumn seasons in life.

As I glanced at the tiny winding dirt path going from my neighbor’s home to her next door neighbor, I realized that I missed those early childhood signs of friendship and closeness between neighbors. The paths that were created by the frequent walks to a neighbor’s home, all natural friendly foot traffic. After living in New Jersey USA, for so many years, and closer to the city, I had forgotten those tiny paths crossing lawns that were so common in my childhood.

I understood that life has changed, and that the tiny dirt roads I admire so much in paintings depicting country settings had become my reality and a symbol of simple beginnings – unpretentious, serene, simple beginnings. I found myself reminiscing, with a smile and teary eyes. Sometimes what we view as the ending is just a new beginning.

Sweet Familiarity

As much as we plan our lives, unpredictability may knock at our doors at any time and we are forced to answer. Life is happening every day; life is every millisecond that unravels and it is continuity whether we understand it at the moment or not. Whether we measure life in heartbeats, brain function, hours, years, or the moment we open our eyes in the morning to mark another day, life goes on, and is, all the time. We may hope for better days but we are constantly living; we cannot hope to start living.

We take many things for granted – jobs, material things, water, electricity, a home, food, and unfortunately, even people. It is in the absence of any of these things (or all at once) when we realize their value. Have you ever thought of the possibility of losing any or all of these? How would you react? If the safety of your everyday routine were to be shaken and threatened, would you appreciate life more, however you measure life? Think of these things for a couple of minutes – from your basic needs to your more sophisticated needs or wants, and the people who make up your life circle.

To quote Forest Gump – “Life is like a box of chocolates … .” However,  we don’t expect to find the box empty. Our challenges in life determine our level of strength. Our perception of these determine our level of sweetness many times, but it is up to us to add the sugar. Maybe tomorrow may start and be similar to today, but it is when this sweet familiarity disappears that we miss it the most.

Simplicity

Simplicity – The quality or condition of being simple.

Simple – Easily understood or done. Plain and basic or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design.  (Oxford English Dictionary)

 

Over the past few years my quest have been to embrace simplicity. It seems that it may be part of human nature to make things less simple. We take something basic and we build or design other things around it, whether material or non-tangible such as rituals, ceremonies, celebration, protocols, and so on. We are embellishers by nature. We may become obscure, and sometimes obtuse, for the sake of completion, in our search for becoming whole. We attach rituals and a series of steps to spirituality, and even tools and other gadgets to complete the package.

Many times, all the preliminary stuff diminishes the joy and meaning of our intention and makes our target feel farther than it is. Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it in the name of wholeness, greatness, status, or self-preservation? Is it the nature of being, and therefore inescapable? Of having the experience in the material and the spiritual? Our entire civilization, society, speaks of it. We have taken the concept of shelter or the basic need of eating, for example, and built around it. Hence all the gadgets and toys we enjoy, the mansions, the fine cuisine, and all the emotions and meaning that we attach to these things. Even in the search for simplicity we overdo or complicate things – meditation groups and techniques, lists and journals, gadgets, rituals … .

Do we go back to find simplicity because we had enough or because we lost that part of us, the sense of it? Is it because without it we do not feel whole? At any point of our lives we may try to return to it, and the quest begins (sometimes with all the bells and whistles that we may attach to it). Is it the beginning or the end? Or a circle, a cycle of life?

This post is an example on how to take a simple concept and make it complicated.