The Simple Life – The Process

Photo by M.A.D.

Process – A series of steps, actions, or operations used to bring about a desired result. (American Heritage Dictionary)

For today’s post, I want to write about the process in pursuing the simple life. If you read the above definition of process, for me it was all that, and more, and I can honestly say that the process continues. It continues in the material, the mind, the physical, and the soul. If I go back to some of my posts about the simple life ten years ago, I see part of that process taking place in between words. For me the process was/is long, and I compare it to separating bolts and nuts into groups by size and form. Each person goes through their own bolts and nuts situation when pursuing simplicity in life. Although I am pretty sure that it might have started earlier than that, I can pinpoint the journey about over 10-12 years ago. Like any person with a brain would say, looking back, I could have done things much better, but that is always the case, isn’t it? Whatever brings you into the process, I have found that it is better to embrace the upcoming change with an open mind, in faith and hope, and focus one day at a time, whether that day brings a challenge or rest. Although not easy at first, a grateful attitude, and prayer, helps a lot. Depending on how you came into the process, willing or not, attitude is key, and it might make all the difference. Process will take as long as it has to. I can honestly say that now.

During the process, there will be highs and lows, a natural flow, and supernatural as well. Awareness is important, but many times our radar is a bit cloudy, and that is when prayer and a good honest attitude with ourselves help. I think that we are about to go through many challenges as citizens of this country, and of the world as well. It will be a process, in which we’ll need those two. But going back to my personal experience, I can say that this process started with the need of letting material stuff go, and that was the first tangible step that I took. I started decluttering my physical space, and eventually, decluttering other areas of my life as well – spiritual, financial … You have to start somewhere, right?

During this purge, the material stuff was the easiest to let go off, although not necessarily too easy. We accumulate things through a lifetime, and those things have memories, emotions, and feelings attached to them, so that is not so easy at times. The more we live the more we accumulate. I am still letting go of stuff, believe me. Every step takes you closer, and the more you let go, the freer and more satisfied you feel, to the point that you actually feel that there is nothing you really need, except for the important things in your life like God, people and values, beliefs… the not so tangible stuff. I can honestly say today that I could walk out of this house if I had to, and take nothing with me, and I will be fine, material stuff that is. I can appreciate beautiful things, like them, and enjoy them, but I am not tied to them as I might have been before. In the pursuit of the simple life, you learn to appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly, although in the beginning you might not even like it or realize it, and even fight against it. The aha! moment comes later on, at least it did for me.

In ridding myself of much material stuff, I had to do it systematically, one step at a time; it was what worked for me back then. The process was a process in itself, if that makes sense. The method I used was to go room by room, and divide items into donating or give, selling, and trash. There wasn’t much in the trash category, but I started by selling stuff in three steps. We would use the money to put towards our upcoming move out of state. That added to the motivation. First, I sold things online. What didn’t sell online ended up on various yard sales, and what did not sell in a yard sale, we sold at a flea market in two occasions. At the end, we gave away the stuff to sellers that did that continuously for a living, and they were appreciative. I also gave stuff to family and donated an entire room full of stuff to a veteran’s organization in three different load trips at the beginning of the process. It took time and effort, and it certainly did not feel good in the beginning. Once we moved out here and were settled in the home after fixing up the place (you can check out that process under the topics farmhouse restoration, the simple life, or restoring an old farmhouse) I realized that there was still much more to let go, and I was able to give and donate much more. This process continues until today. After living here for about 6 years, I find that there is much more that I can do in this area. After all, it is a different space and a different lifestyle, and the time was necessary to understand what works and what doesn’t work in the new setting. It also let me explore new possibilities and understand why some of the stuff is not a good fit anymore. I will write about that in much detail. The next blogpost will be about simplifying your space, and it ties to this one. I hope you enjoyed this post.

The process continues until today.

The Simple Life – Awareness

Awareness – (aware) to be mindful or conscious of; cognizant. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Amid a world on fire by chaos, the need for a bit of normalcy, balance, and peace grows in the heart of many. This growing desire for a more meaningful existence starts many times with the quest for simplicity. The desire for a simple life, to rid ourselves of the unnecessary things that capture our time, attention, and crowd our vision, to make room for what we consider important, whether that translate into experiences, values or the desire to own less, becomes stronger. Our focus changes, many times from wanting stuff to the need for setting ourselves on another path, sort of a spiritual awareness, a disposition for change.

These days, I think we need it more than ever. The past couple of years have been rough on the entire world, and this year presents itself with great challenges as well. I have been on this quest, brought into it by a series of unfortunate events that by now, I recognize as blessings in disguise. Each day, I take another step towards living a simple life. What started years ago with some significant decluttering, has evolve into spiritual awareness and the desire for simpler times and days. Shelling out stuff was the beginning, and although this process continues, it has shifted from the material into the spiritual. Undergoing this process has inspired a series of blogposts that I will call The Simple Life series. Each topic will be approached from my point of view and according to my experience, and how it relates to living a simple life.

The pursuit of a simple life is different for every person, and it relates to your values, beliefs, and what is important to that person ultimately; it is an individual process, a surrender into the new and unknown, in faith and hope. Awareness leads you to the simple life, and through living a simple life you gain more awareness. I only hope that I can inspire you in your own pursuit.

Photo by M.A.D.

After the Storm

Last week, we had tropical storm Zeta pass by our county. Our area received strong winds and lots of rain. At one point, I became a bit worried about the roof. Will it hold? Immediately, a favorite Bible verse came to mind. It is one I have written on a blackboard in the kitchen.

2 Timothy 1:7

Having experienced hurricanes Irene and Sandy when I lived in Jersey, both late fall big storms, I realized that my worries were valid, however, a bit out of proportion. Our minds play games when we feel vulnerable. We all experience many seasons in life, some more challenging than others, but through it all we survive, learn, and become stronger. Although fear is a normal human emotion, if we let it take root in our lives it will prevent growth and development.

As writers, we attempt to portray our characters as real and believable as we can. Even super heroes experience fear and face it. That is the moment when transition happens, followed by growth and development. Characters evolve through the progression of the story; they don’t remain the same. They grow and continue to evolve whether that evolution ends up being positive or negative. A character may experience fear and learn, grow from it as it conquers it, or become paralyzed and eventually, destroyed by it. The important issue here is that characters don’t remain the same, at the same level throughout the story unless the writer has a specific goal and determines so; however, with purpose.

Sometimes, fear comes from not understanding something or from denial, and many times, denial comes from fear, thus perpetuating a circle. Whatever the outcome, a character will advance the plot. Dinorah Sandbeck, the main character on The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, resisted her birthright in part because of denial and fear of the unknown. Once she gave in to knowledge and acceptance, she was able to embrace her purpose and ultimately become. However, you can see this transition happening and evolving throughout the trilogy. At the end, she becomes what she was meant for, and fulfills her birthright. The Dinorah Chronicles is available in paperback and eBook formats via Amazon.

We face many storms during our lifetime, some stronger than others, but ultimately, the human spirit holds on and goes on with the help of God. When the winds stopped I expected to see a mess outside, and thought that the few flowers that were left in the garden would be gone for good. Yesterday, I spotted this through my window, and I thought, it is never too late neither hopeless.

After the storm roses. Their color is so rich and beautiful.

Your Way is My Way

Every soul has its journey, every person a purpose for living, but sometimes, it is not as clear as we would like it to be. The following words are according to my journey.

For many years, I worried about not knowing my true purpose in life. I read and studied countless books on finding your purpose or “true purpose,” and became a “positive thinking book junkie.” Although it helped me very much and I enjoyed reading those, it left me feeling the same – yearning to know and find my purpose in life. I worked/trained for every interest I had as far as jobs/careers, and although I enjoyed those very much, I felt that was not it. I was far from my purpose. Agonizing about it did not help. I admired the people who seemed to have found their meaning of life, their way in life. When I heard people say, “If you love what you do it never feels like a job,” I became more confused about purpose. Well, I had fulfilled many interests that I loved, however, I still ended up feeling without purpose and hungry for meaning. A very smart woman who had been a teacher all her life and was now retired told me once, “I hope you find what you are looking for.” She said this after I told her that I could not see myself doing only one thing for the rest of my life. What a sharp woman; she saw what I did not at that time. Part of my misunderstanding was to believe that a career path/earning income and purpose were one and the same. These are two different things, and although one can find purpose through a career, a career does not have to be one’s purpose. Once I understood that, I viewed purpose in a different light.

Writing has always been in my heart, although put aside for a long time, as a career path that is. I found the path again after a series of unfortunate events, and because I felt I had nothing to lose, I gave it a try. I feel at home when I write. Is it my purpose? I don’t know, nor am I waiting for it to become. It gives me purpose. Only God knows what my purpose is; He created me. Once I realized this, I stopped worrying about finding my purpose. It did not make sense anymore. I don’t have to feel incomplete, hurried, or worried about time running out and not finding my way in life. Instead I say, “God, your way is my way.” By knowing this I am open to do, be, and exist just as He wants of me. His way is my way, and that is purpose enough for me. The search was over once I understood that.

I see and hear many people who are worried and stressed out about finding their true purpose in life. They fear that they will grow old not knowing. I understand how they feel; I’ve been there. It is the reason why I decided to write this post. When I understood it wasn’t my burden to know, I was able to see beyond the limits of material and earthly fulfillment. A Jon Bon Jovi song comes to mind – “you are where you are supposed to be” – or something along those lines. My journey is/has purpose, but my purpose is in part my journey on this earth, and it is much more. It is how I have come to understand its meaning. It doesn’t mean that I will sit around waiting for enlightenment and clarity of mind; for me, the process is the journey, and the journey, the pathway to a different kind of purpose. My aimless search for purpose took me to the understanding that my Creator’s way is my pathway to complete fulfillment. When I become restless or unclear for whatever reason it may be, the most sincere prayer I can say is – Your way is my way.

Image by M.A.D.

The View From Where I Stand

This morning I was writing at my desk, located on the second floor of the old farmhouse where I live, and I happened to look outside the window; I needed to rest my eyes. I love the view of trees from that standpoint; it feels as if I am inside a tree house. If you are familiar with the layout of the very old farmhouses (over 108 years) the upstairs almost has that barn feeling, the very low ceiling and the continuous bedrooms separated by one entry way. When heading upstairs I immediately land on the first bedroom, no landing or hallway. I love that feature, although impractical. The view from where I stand offers me peace and serenity, and for that I’m grateful.

There was a time when the view wasn’t as serene, and I mean it metaphorically. It was a challenging time, the most challenging so far, and I knew it could break me or make me. The days felt longer than they were, but as with any trying time, the view started changing and things got better and better; it is the nature of the test. Although I might have not liked the view (of the situation) from where I stood, I knew that God had my hand, and it was all temporary. Looking back, I understand many things I did not see before, and I can understand the view at the time as well.

Many times, life puts in front of us a view that is not what we hope for nor what we want at the time, but believe me, there is always a reason. Even when we want to close our eyes, the best thing we can do is keep them wide open and observe the situation/the process. The more we see, the more we confront, the better it is, and the process moves along as it should. It is part of going through the many “views of life.” It is all temporary.

Change is Transformation

Yesterday, I was thinking about all the themes in Moonlit Valley, my first novel. Throughout, I could identify many underlying topics such as love, trust, spirituality, the paranormal … and many others; however, I wanted to identify a core theme, and I think that if I was going to select only one theme, it would have to be the idea of Change.

In Moonlit Valley, the idea of change carries all the other themes, and it makes itself present throughout the entire story, up to the ending.  Change is never easy. It may be good or bad, but never easy. Why? Because it shakes our foundation, causing us to react, and pushes us forward. Even when we resist change, we have to react to it – whether for better or worse.

When change manifests (or we bring it about), inevitably, we become engaged in body, mind, and spirit, as well as emotionally. Our reaction and action will engage those aspects in different degrees, and how we deal with each part, will propel or slow us down.  Many times, we “hover” but not necessarily resist change; sometimes, hovering is what we need – a truce – to be able to proceed with the proper action for us.  Whether that time is short or long does not matter, as long as we recognize the need for it. It is after the truce, that transformation occurs.

Because change is never easy, we should prepare our mind, body, and spirit for it and through it. We do that by minding each aspect, and doing what is needed to promote its wellness, as an example, you would nourish your body by eating well, healthy foods, and exercising it, and avoiding unnecessary stress situations, patterns, or habits. Nourishing the mind and spirit as well, will ease transformation. Many times, change brings with it a sense of spirituality or spiritual transformation, of growth and connection. How we deal with change, during the transformation, will determine our growth, or stagnation – but it is always up to us. We are in control of our emotions.

I leave you with a small excerpt from Moonlit Valley.

“Loss changes your perception of things. It sweeps the hallways of your mind and dusts off your most precious memories. It forces you to open the doors of rooms closed for a long time and peer into your soul, looking for the last ray of hope, of faith. The hope you desperately need now, knowing that at one point, you had put it somewhere and forgotten about it. When you find it, you grab a hold of it, tight, fearing that when you wake up tomorrow, it could be gone. Tomorrow arrives and you realize that although in a faint state, it is still there, and you hold on to it again.” – Rose Carrigan 

MOONLIT VALLEY

MOONLIT VALLEY

Pairing Down to Discover Yourself

The Queen of Hearts, from a 1901 edition of Mo...

Image via Wikipedia

It started with a desire to de-clutter my surroundings and get rid of everything – this is when I knew that I was headed towards simplifying my life and spiritual transformation.  A friend once called me  “the queen of everything” since I loved everything charming and cozy and my home was resembling “The Brass Lantern” – a local store that is filled with the most precious trinkets and magical things, a favorite of both.

The desire for simplifying started in my closet, and moved on to the entire house, luckily coinciding with our decision to move to Virginia, to a simpler life, which made it easier to get rid of much stuff.  The result was – being able to pack everything we own in a medium size hauler, the kind you use for transporting one car, I think an 8×16 or so.  I was happy with that, but during the de-cluttering, I found myself longing for true purpose and undergoing a spiritual search – I’m still working on that.

During the process, I found a few things about the stuff I owned and its relation to the person I was becoming.  First, I was amazed at the amount of stuff I had, although my home has always been very organized and neat.  I learned  that you can have tons of clutter neatly organized.  Eddie has always been a minimalist, and I guess his love for me tolerated my insanity.  However, he discovered that he was getting attached to stuff, and had some issues with letting go of some of it.  My insanity silently had made its way to the minimalist I married over 24 years ago.

Second, I learned that much of that stuff was not me anymore, but I kept it throughout the years.  In a way, I had outgrown my possessions, and the stuff did not suit the persona anymore.

Third, knowing what I knew now, and the evolution I was undergoing – from Queen of everything to Princess of Bare to Basics – made it easier to get rid of much of my stuff – a ton of it.  Understanding that it was better to live surrounded by the things that I truly loved made it easier as well.  I only kept what I loved and had meaning and let the rest go.

If you find yourself on this path, it makes it easier when you approach the path to a simple life from the point of view of the new you and the relation of that persona to the things you own – this will lead you to keep the things that you truly love and are meaningful and get rid of the rest.

There is one organization that is in need of donations and you can schedule a pick up online – The United War Veterans Council (UWVC).  Their website to schedule a pick up is http://www.uwvcpickup.org/  and you can also call this number 1-888-821-UWVC(8982).   In that way, your pairing down serves a purpose as well.