Thursday, August 07, 2008

Simplify Life Week: Day Four

A Simpler Time

So often, I find myself thinking of times in history as simpler times. And, in some ways - this doesn't fully make sense since we have so many things now that help make our lives easier. We have grocery stores, appliances, running water, electricity and efficient transportation.

However, it seems like our lives now are more complicated than ever. What is it about a past time that draws me to its simplicity? Yes, it is easy to create an idealistic past - but, I think some of our perceptions are realistic.

Life was lived with far less opportunity and far less distractions. Families worked much harder, yet were content with far less than what we consider a bare minimum today.

To me, this kind of simplicity holds such a purity that almost feels reverent. There were not myriads of things pulling families away from home or time together.

And, home is the one place we can really develop our own definition of simplicity and what it means in our daily lives. I think simplifying means many different things to each of us.

I have mentioned this book before, but it is my very favorite on this topic of living simply. Because, this book captures exactly what simplicity means to me and what I desire.

Simpler Times
by Thomas Kinkade
"When we come back to things that really matter, then peace begins to settle into our lives like golden sunlight sifting to a forest floor. And somewhere deep down inside we know that simpler times are better times." ~ quoted from back cover

While we were away, my aunt gave me a quilt that my great-great-grandma made. As I looked at and admired this treasure, it struck me as a picture of living simply. This quilt was likely made from clothes that were no longer wearable or scraps of fabric left from something else or a bag of flour. Today, we are inundated with choices and opportunities. Instead of cutting up our worn out clothes to make quilts - how many of us spend hours debating over what fabric we will choose or how many fabric stores do we visit? How much of our time, energy and money does this consume? Does this seem like simplifying?

A quote from the inside cover:
"Picture a place where you're yearning to be. A place where work, home, and play are properly balanced, where people exist peaceably, where relationships flourish. A place where there's time for what's really important. Picture life the way you're hungry to live it, in your deepest heart of hearts. Picture simpler times."
I don't know what that does to you - but it really tugs at the inner longings of my heart and the way I desire to live and shape my home. What does it bring to your mind?

When I began looking at the paintings in this book again recently, I realized that there was something in common about where I always picture myself in the paintings. I picture myself inside one of the cozy homes with delicious and inviting light exuding from the windows. My "simpler times" revolve around being at home rather than pulled in many directions.
"It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest and living close to nature." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder
So, how do you choose to live in simpler times? Here are a few thoughts shared in the book:

* create a refuge - a place within your home that is your favorite spot or that refreshes your spirit. My spot is sitting on our bed during nap time looking out at our flowers and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

* "... avoid spending sizable chunks of our lives simply moving from one place to another."
- walk or bike to errands
- "... turn necessary chores into family outings ..." ~ I pull my girls out to the mail box sometimes in the wagon rather than just walking down the driveway - it turns it into sort of an outing.

* limit or avoid television

* learn to say no without guilt - even to good things. "what a surge of energy when we realize that saying no is really a way of saying yes to all we really care about."

* "Most of us are so accustomed to over stimulation that peace feels strange to us, it makes us nervous. Simplicity can be an acquired taste, especially in a society that revels in complexity." Before I was married and became a mom, I was very comfortable with solitude. Now, I find that I am often so busy out of necessity - that when I do have quiet time, I sort of stumble around wondering how to use it.

* "It's true in painting, and it's true in life. How things look depends on the way you see them." Perspective.

* Glowing windows - more here.

Now, I'm curious - what describes a simpler time to you? Do you have a spot within your home that is refreshing to you?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Monica this is such a great post. I too enjoy Kinkades book *Simpler Times*, it is one of the first things out as you come into my home :-)! And i love the quote by LIW!!! I guess my favorite room would be the kitchen,dining,sitting nook all open together. It feels cottage like and snug yet many can gather here. There is an old wood stove in the corner and the wood floor and the terracotta colored walls make it feel warm-I am so very thankful for this area!
Another thought on simpler living i think a key for me is to focus on being thankful. When i really do this I notice my heart is happier and more content with all God has already blessed me with. What really matters He found me and saved me,my family, a roof and food for them, my sweet friends , Something to do,outofdoors His creation (miraculous!!!),wonderfilled things to think about(after i've had a cuppa coffee:-)!). Life is so good, hard but so very good when our focus is more simplified.tammyp

MyHeartIsAlwaysHome said...

This post really speaks to me! Finding balance in my life is such a stuggle. I too find myself longing for simpler times. When life revolved around church and home and I didn't feel pulled in so many directions. I have a real problem saying no. I am working on this!

My favorite place to sit is on my swing. It hangs from a tree limb in the back of our yard. I am able to sit there under the tree and look upon my home. It gives me such a sense of peace and love to be able to look at my garden, flowers and home.

Mom said...

What a lovely post! :) I'm also reminded of the quote from the cover of a Victoria magazine years ago -- "The Pure Joy of Being Home." The Laura Ingalls Wilder quote has long been one of my favorites. I've always loved sitting at our dining room table beside the big windows so I can see outside while I eat, write letters, etc. Thanks for sharing! Love you, Mom
PS: I think it's time for me to re-read "Simpler Times!"

Grace said...

Before I was married and became a mom, I was very comfortable with solitude. Now, I find that I am often so busy out of necessity - that when I do have quiet time, I sort of stumble around wondering how to use it.

This describes me Monica. Before Kids I could sit and just be. read or do a craft ect. Now I get so stir crazy and feel like we need to be doing something. (probably because the kids are going crazy) I was just thinking about "simpler times" the other day and about how much pride they probably had in things that we just take for granted today. like a load of washed laundry, or a meal put on the table. Things are so easy to do and make nowdays that we don't enjoy the actual product.

Anonymous said...

Oh and my favorite place to be is my bedroom when it is really picked up and clean. It has peaceful colors and alot of special Knick Knacks, Including this wonderful/beautiful wall hook that a very special friend gave me that keeps Bill's cammies off the floor ;)

Grace said...

Good grief I am having problems today. That was me above I posted to quickly

Ginger said...

I definitely yearn for simplicity. To me, it's about being still...slowing down the busyness of life and just being...being who I am...being a family...I still haven't figured out how to do this in this hectic life we live, but I'm trying.

Christopher said...

Monica,
I love this weeks postings. I have been reading several books on this topic in recent months as I long for a simpler life so I can teach my young children by living by example. I really enjoy reading all your posts as part of my morning routine. Keep up the great work, and thanks for your efforts.

Joy of Frugal Living said...

I love that Kinkade book too. I actually leave it by my bed and often flip through a few pages before bed. I actually like the words much more than the art, and it always lifts my mood.

(Side note - I recently read a book on his plein air works, which I enjoyed more than his studio stuff. For me, as a painter, it was great to see the way he works.)

Jennifer

Crystal said...

You should read Henry David Thoreau's Walden if you really want to know how to simplify your life! He lives with only the bare essentials and lives close to nature! It's a great book!

Dawn said...

Monica,
I am reading this just as the kids and I are leaving to go to the beach. It is an hour and a half one way, plus all the work required to get 8 kids plus myself there and back. Then showers, tons of laundry for towels, bathing suits, etc.
But you know what...sitting on the beach while the kids play in the sand and water...talking with a friend we are meeting there...ahhhhh...that is simplicity to me!
There is so much more I am thinking of, and I look forward to talking to you about it later!
Dawn

The Parson's Wife said...

I just placed this book on hold from our library, I too love the way Kinkade invites us into his world... loving the simple week posts!

Linds said...

I also long for simpler times. God has definitely been prodding my heart in this area and showing me what things need to be prioritized and simplified.

I think I need to make a refreshing spot in our home for me. As well as continue to make our home refreshing. Thanks for a great post!

Debbie J. said...

Being home. Its just that simple.

debra said...

Thanks for a great series this week Monica. I love being in my dining room. It is the one place that I don't let any clutter build up (besides our bedroom). The table is always clean and it's always great to be able to sit with a cup of tea or a book and just 'be'.

Deb Burton said...

My enclosed front porch with all the windows thrown open and a gentle breeze blowing through. I could sit out there all day.

Someone I spoke to yesterday described how busy she and her husband's life was, and they don't even have children at home anymore! When she asked me how our summer had been going, I was at a loss for words. We've been doing things at the house, walking to the library, writing stories, and doing chores together. We haven't been busy at all, and i have to say it's been one of the most relaxing summers I've had in a very long time. And yet, we've been accomplishing all sorts of things!

Simpler is better, because it brings relationships into better alignment and to a deeper level. I can't think of a better focus to have for family, especially with Christ at the helm!

Anonymous said...

I think when I was first married (and saved) as well, we had less...so life did seem simple. One of the first things I was "taught" in my Christian walk, was to have a special place to meet the Lord. We were a young Navy family and moved alot, but I had a special place in all of our homes. Now retired, and life way too full, I have moved my spot from room to room...because my simple life is cluttered, and so is my home. I am convicted by what I read from your blog and other young women of God. I think my place now will have to be on the back porch facing the water :-)
Thanks for your posts.

NanaNor's said...

Monica I love your posts, they are so refreshing and echo the feelings of my heart. So often I think our lives are so complicated by "all"that we have keeping us busy. I love to sit outside and read-I also love Thomas Kincade books and have 3 of his prints hanging in our dining room.
Blessings to yo this day.
Noreen

Danielle said...

These posts are so refreshing. Thanks Monica!

Wanita said...

Wonderful post, Monica. My daughter and I were talking today about how it seems everyone always is on the go, involved in activities and never really taking the time to enjoy just being with family and friends.

As I've gotten older, relationships with friends and family have become more important to me. But I also value having quiet times. I love sitting in the rocking chair by a window in my living room. Sometimes I read, sometimes I just listen to music. But whatever I do, those times are refreshing.

I also enjoy spending time in my garden - mostly flowers and a few vegetables and herbs. The flowers are beautiful, and it's a relaxing place for me.

Prairie Chick said...

Simpler times to me means to find fulfillment in the *doing*, rather than the end result. Refreshing places in and around my home are; the clothesline, listening to the birds in the trees and feeling the breeze as I hang my laundry... the garden, pulling up weeds that yield to my hands after a summer shower.... the kitchen island, chopping fresh produce that God miraculously grew from lil' seeds in my garden.... the kitchen sink, hands in soapy water, head in the clouds.... cutting the grass, I love the perfect finish and lingering smell of a freshly cut lawn.... I could go on and on, I find any place refreshing, when appreciated with a quiet heart.

milissa said...

Hi Monica. I really enjoyed this post...and I agree with you. Most often, I enjoy the simple things in life the most. I know we are in an ever changing world (with all the new technology) but I honestly believe all this new tech stuff is not always good for us. It was designed to make our lives easier but the reality is...it just makes us more available & more stressed out. And, it has given our entire culture ADD. Can you imagine what might happen if all the computers just stopped working? Our entire country would shut down...just about every industry/business is built around some computer system. I am not advocating we get rid of tech...I love a lot of it...and it can be used in a positive manner. I just long for simpler times...where people actually hung out and enjoyed eachother's company rather than sat next to eachother and busied themselves on their own Blackberrys, etc. I'm going to have to read that Thomas Kinkade book. Thanks for sharing. ~Milissa

Elizabeth said...

I have been thinking alot about simpler living... I was reading some books written by Beverly Lewis and Wanda E Brunstetter about the amish life and I realized how much work they have to do and yet how simple their life is. Thank you so much for your posts... I have been reading them for a few months now and I really enjoy them. You have inspired me many times.
If I had a swing outside that would be my favorite place to be but right now we dont so I would say my favorite place is at the kitchen table looking out the windows to the back yard... the green grass, tall green trees... God's beauty.

Thanks again,
Elizabeth