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In response to a post I made here last week, Jennifer said, “Every time I think about more “stuff”, I just think about my house catching on fire and what I’d want to take. Besides my kids and husband–not a lot. May not be the happiest mindset, but it’s saved us thousands :)!”

I nodded along and have been thinking of that line since. I’ve even started to do a mental inventory of what I’d grab. And seriously, I have come up with nothing. Not even photos. I know, I know…photos are full of memories and smiling faces. I wouldn’t risk my life for them, but maybe I’d grab them on my way out, I don’t know. That frame of mind has helped me rid our home of even MORE stuff this week. I’ve made two trips to Goodwill this week with my station wagon full of boxes and bags of clothes that are worn out or outgrown, kitchen stuff that doesn’t get used, toys that take up too much space and get used not enough.

There is nothing in my home other than my family that I would mourn the loss of in the event my home was demolished. Every single thing is replaceable or memorable in that I can always just think back with fond thoughts and not need the tangible item to be happy.

Say I did have to start ALL over, from nothing to building my life and possessions back up. Chances are I wouldn’t replace anywhere near all the stuff I have now. My life is minimal. We don’t have a whole lot as it is, but if I had to start over, I am certain we’d obtain even less because so much of what we have is simply kept because we have it and not because we necessarily continue to need it or use it.

There is a balance to all things in life and I am okay with having things that are “luxuries” or having more of something than I *need*. I don’t think we need to live in squalor but we don’t live in excess either. I still am struggling to find the right balance for us. Thinking of an event like a fire or other natural disaster, I don’t see myself grabbing anything but my kids and never looking back. I wouldn’t be one of those people standing amidst the rubble of my home shedding tears over lost material goods. That image helps me fill the boxes and get rid of things more easily.

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I wasn’t able to sleep much last night. Not sure why. It wasn’t one of those tossing and turning with too much on my mind anxiety ridden nights. I. Just. Couldn’t. Sleep.

4:30 a.m. came around and hubby’s alarm went off so instead of laying in bed trying to wish myself back to sleep, I got up with him and we sat in the living room and chatted over coffee. It was nice and relaxing. We talked about upcoming plans for the house, tossed around ideas for what to do next, even talked a bit about summer vacation plans and we laughed and talked about the kids and how lucky we are and how amazing they are.

In the conversation, the current project of stuccoing the exterior of our house came up. Hubby said “I guess it was worth a year of no siding on the house for you to be able to be home with the kids” and went on to say how happy he is that I am home with them raising them to be the wonderful people they are.

It occurred to me that I completely take that for granted now. I used to always think about how because I was home, I was sacrificing this that or the other thing. Now it’s so normal to me, 2 1/2 years after quitting my job to stay home, that I don’t think of the things we have to put off in terms of it being at the cost of me being home.

On the positive side, not constantly having to think about life in terms of one or two paychecks is a blessing. I truly have found happiness in my life when I am not constantly thinking that if only I had a job, we could do, be, have more. I have become quite comfortable in the lovely little life we’ve made since I left work. When I left my job, I remember being worried that I’d really miss my paycheck, my long uninterrupted lunches, even just the ability to go to the bathroom by myself. I also feared the loss of that income and the stuff I wouldn’t be able to do or have. Things sure do change when you become a full time mom. I am grateful that we simplified to a life I never knew could be so fulfilling and feel so natural.

And so, today, I am reminded that although we are making sacrifices for the good of our children, they are well worth it. The job is often a thankless one but that’s okay. It’s often selfless and draining but at the end of the day, 100% rewarding. I need to remind myself more often that things could be far different if we hadn’t made the right choices leading up to this. That hard work has paid off for us. It hasn’t made it a cakewalk, but it made it possible for me to spend these most formative years with two amazing people. Watching them grow and learn and love and laugh has been totally worth it.

I had one of those evenings. A few hours where I just was able to slow down and look at the life I have going on and appreciate it. My hubby came home and said he’d make dinner and clean up (and even though he fell asleep on the couch before the kitchen was clean it’s the thought that counts, right?) and he told me he arranged a credit at a landscaping place in town and I have the afternoon tomorrow to go pick out plants/trees/flowers for the yard and house. I am not sure what I am more excited about – the landscaping or the shopping by myself 🙂

The kids have been so great. Drew put on a princess dress tonight and her princess high heels and grabbed some flowers from a vase and said to her daddy “will you be my valentine and marry me?” and Eli – well, he’s tired today because he barely napped but he’s just been so cute and snuggly.

Hubby – well, he’s been great too. He’s tired. He’s worked so hard for so long. He gives all of himself to everything he does. And then comes home to offer as much as he has left to his family in smiles and giggles and games and love.

Putting the kids to bed tonight I had that overwhelming feeling of how lucky I am. How fortunate I am to have two very healthy and happy kids and a loving and hardworking husband. As I read books with Drew and snuggled in the rocking chair with Eli I thought of how every moment could be my last. Or their last. In life you just never know. And I have my times of being frustrated and just wanting time for myself or just wanting them to go to bed sooner or whatever. But I let all that go and I just enjoyed it. Enjoyed the snuggles and hugs and stories and giggles and forgot about anything other than just being what they needed. With the thoughts in my mind “what if this is the last time I ever read her a story?” or “what if this is the last time I ever snuggle my son?” and “what if I never get to tell him I love him again?” I made sure it was special. It made me stop and slow down and remember what is really important. Why I am here. What time my kids go to bed doesn’t matter. I just want them to know they are loved. Know that their mom would do anything for them. I want my baby girl to remember me brushing her hair and singing her songs before bed. I want my baby boy to remember me giggling with him and carrying him around showing him the amazing things there are to see in the world.

I can’t ever be sure they’ll remember me for those things if this day were my last. But I tried. I can only give them a footprint. A part of me to remember. I vow to make that me a smiling and appreciative me. A me that would do anything for them and give anything for them. A me that loves them more than anything else in the world and appreciates them for all that they are and all that they dream to be.

I know here in the blogging world, I can find plenty of people living simple and frugal lives and it’s comforting to find people who do so stylishly and with grace. In real life, I have fabulous friends. Really, I could not be more blessed with the friendships I’ve formed since we moved almost 2 years ago (I still can’t believe it’s been that long – sometimes I have to stop myself when I am about to say we’ve lived her for 6 months – time certainly does fly when you’re slaving away on a remodel and raising kids having fun).

I’ve always been a wee bit shy. I know people who *know* me laugh when I say that, but seriously, I am. Well, maybe shy isn’t the right word. It takes me some time to warm up to new people and new situations. I tend to sit back and observe and get my bearings before diving into a conversation with new people. I’ve always been okay with having a few friends and never really feel the need to go out of my way to make more. But in the past few months, I’ve sort of outgrown that. I like meeting new people and even if they aren’t going to be my best friend, I enjoy laughing and talking with people like I wouldn’t have been comfortable doing even a year ago. Maybe it’s maturity, my own growth into a bit more confident and easygoing person. But whatever it is, it has really added to my life.

I have a circle of about a dozen good friends here. Which is really astonishing in relation to the rest of my adult life. I’ve really just had a few scattered friends that I would see a few times a year. I suppose for the mild extrovert that I am, I wasn’t living up to my full friend potential before 🙂

So here I am with this wonderful and diverse and totally unexpected group of friends. We all come from different backgrounds and we all are in different places in our lives. I love hearing their stories and their ideas and their ways of life. Last night I went to a girls’ night out. We were all sitting around and trying not to talk about our kids while being away from our kids. We talked about houses and shoes and decor and men and running, all sorts of fun stuff.

Now these friends are cool, I love them all. But sometimes I feel like we just live in totally different worlds. My life isn’t typical by any means but it’s certainly not bad. It’s just *simple*. A friend confided in me last night that they are putting their house up for sale. She said that since they moved here – they came from California and bought a huge house because they couldn’t believe how much house you could get for your money here as opposed to out there in the Bay Area – they have come to realize that just because they can afford their nice big house doesn’t mean they need a big house. She even went so far as to say that she loves my cute little simple home and that she has come to see the value of living with less by choice. I was very comforted. Sometimes it feels lonely living small and simple and frugally when others around me aren’t.

I’m glad to have a friend who’s looking to join me in downsizing, living a smaller life and loving it. She said I’d brought her over to the dark side. I told her she might just find that it’s much brighter over here than she thinks.

dream.jpgI’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing about the past couple of years this week. Monkey is turning one next week. When Bug was his age, this time 2 1/2 years ago, we were about to close on our house 1500 miles away and begin a new life adventure. We had no clue what was in store for the next 2 years. Things were crazy. We lived in a couple different places, there was a lot of time of being unsettled, marital problems, and throw into the mix this perfect little guy that we created along the way. It hasn’t been easy. But when I think back on it, I think that all of those things, as I think all things, happen for a reason.

Having my family nearly broken, raising my kids alone for some time, living with a lot of discomfort and difficulty for a while – well, all of that has made me change how I think about a lot of my life. It’s made me slow down and appreciate things more. It’s made me take a good hard look at what my values are, what my needs really are, and in the process figure out what my wants are as well. And the results have been surprising. Mostly, I feel eternally grateful that what was hopefully rock bottom in my life happened when I was young. I got to have a change of heart and vision while having plenty of time left to make changes and really live the simple and fulfilling life that I deserve.

I don’t need a lot of stuff. Or a lot of friends. Or an elaborate social life. I just need my perfect little family to be together. I need my kids to have a comfortable and stable home. I need friends who add value to my life. Size and number of things doesn’t matter.

I know a lot of people, myself included, think of *things* when they think of simplifying. Get rid of unneeded stuff. Sure, that helps. It’s a great start. It’s even on my list of 10 ways to simplify your life. When it comes to things, well, that can be a battle. It’s hard to let go of stuff. Stuff we have attachments to. Stuff we have that signify people and places and events. But when you have memories, well why have the stuff too? I admit, I have held onto some things that have value to me simply because they came from a departed loved one. But I’ve let go of a lot of other things that just in reality didn’t need to be physically in my life in order to represent a person, place or time in my life. I have those things in my head and heart and that’s what matters.

But it doesn’t end there. I find that the hugest drains on my life aren’t things at all. People have deterred me from simplicity. Situations have deterred me from it as well. I just have to take baby steps toward eliminating those things that create stress, make things harder and most of all just less fun for me. This can be distancing myself from friends or family and situations that take much and give little in return. A big part of that is learning to and then continuing to just say no when something doesn’t work for me. I find myself trying to please too many people too often and in the process lose sight of my own needs. When my number one job in this world right now is wife and mother, I need to be happy and comfortable and as stress-free as possible so I can do that job best and be for my kids and husband what they need.

When I put it in those terms for myself, it’s easy to let go of everything else. Because they are surely worth it.