A Fresh Start

Have you ever had a zoom-in-on-the-main-character movie moment where you suddenly realize you are unhappy with the way things are? You know, those moments were the pretend rain is falling on the window of a red bricked New York apartment and the main character is sitting on the couch, may or may not be crying, and is pondering the meaning of life?

Okay, so my zoom-in moment wasn’t so dramatic [or trendy], but it came at the beginning of this year when I chose my word for 2014: #simplify.

I felt like there was so much want of more and things in my life that I started to feel icky inside. So I decided that I wanted to simplify. I wanted to take things out of my life that weren’t needed and cultivate an attitude of gratefulness and content.

simplify

I was starting to feel like there was so much going on, so many thoughts about what I wanted to do with everything. Add this. Add that. Ooh, what if I tried this?! I came to the point that I wanted to quit it all. Quit school. Quit Facebook. Quit blogging. Get rid of everything and move into a tent. lol, seriously! I was so grossed out by the “need” for things and my dreams of a bigger and better life. Everywhere I turned I saw blog posts and articles on increasing your blog following, making a life out of your dreams, and more along that theme.

I totally shout, “YES!” and wave my arms in the air for doing what you love and loving your life. But for so long, I had tried this path and pushed for what was next in my dreams that I was forgetting the now. Enjoying my day. Not having a list of a million things to do. I was trying so desperately to create a life that mattered that I was missing out on what already mattered.

Downsizing

In small ways, I started. Earlier this year, I stopped web designing. And back in March, I stopped blogging for an open ended amount of time. Around that time, I felt the tug on my heart to move into the city and out of the suburbs. My husband felt it too. We felt called to be closer to our church and to move into a home that would be a place of community.

Through a series of events, we were brought to our current home. We reduced the size of our living space by moving into a 1300 sq.ft. home. This house doesn’t have a dishwasher or garbage disposal. I haven’t used our clothes dryer since moving in because I’ve been hanging our clothes out on the line outside. We cancelled cable. Sold toys and extra household stuff at a yard sale. We donated TONS of clothes. And I began to pray and ask the Lord how we could further simplify our lives.

Our new home has a room built onto the back of the house that is what we would call an Arizona room [but since I live in Arizona, wouldn’t it just be called a room?]. We turned this room into an office/play room and the kids rush in every morning to play. We watch less TV. We started juicing again. Eating simpler. Clean. Healthy.

And in many ways, we started downsizing our lives. Taking out little things here and there to make room for the things we love. And I let go of the idea of a new car, bigger house, new furniture, etc., and traded it for the idea of enjoying my surroundings. For me, this meant so much more than decluttering, it meant clearing out my heart and making room for joy. Peace. Love. And consequently, it made room for passion and dreaming.

What next?

When I look at our journey so far to simplifying our lives, I know there is so much more we can cut out. But right now, I am enjoying the fact that the Lord has answered so many prayers for downsizing for us. He has shown us what is GOOD for us right now. He has washed over our frantic scribbles in the sand and made for a fresh and simple start.

I do have some plans for the next few months which includes starting a vegetable garden, blogging more, and transitioning our lives to a more Paleo diet. But now, before I decide to put anything on the to-do list, I try and discern if this is bringing simplicity to my life or excess. If adding something is adding more than I need right now, then it gets on the “someday” list. Because, as cliche as it sounds, less really is more.

Comments

  1. Bea says

    Thanks for such a wonderful article. I have just return from doing a two week pilgrimage in Northern Spain (the Camino de Santiago) where everyday was simple and all you needed was carried on your back. No distractions apart from the glorious nature, what the weather would be like and how far to the next cerveza after 6 hours of walking! The best part of the day was saying a decade of the rosary and then an hours silence between my companions and I to just think and be open to God.

    Returning to work and everyday life I am now attempting to retain the simplicity of life on the Camino.

    I have started by de cluttering my cupboards but the real challenge will be learning to de-clutter my life. Your article has given me much to contemplate!

  2. says

    sSo you’re my no dishwasher & disposal twin. After 14 months w/o both, I’m getting a good routine. Having a small amount of dishes helps. (We are husband, wife and 2yo son). Great post.

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  4. says

    Amen! So funny how 2014 and living a simpler life has struck a cord in so many. We have been on the same mission. At first it was about decluttering and as we were getting rid of stuff, we started getting rid of the thing the “stuff” came with which was desire. Our home is 900 sq.ft with half a basement. It’s us, 2 kids, 3 cats and way too much CRAP! I’ve recently quit my job to stay at home and e are in the process of starting our own little urban homestead. (Funny enough, our tiny home came with 1/3 of a acre of land!) I’m so grateful for having found your blog and am looking forward to sharing your journey. Finding like-minded people is key.

    Wishing you a wonderful continuation.

    Yanic

    • Erin Lauray says

      I love this, Yanic! I am so excited to see the pursuit of simple to be such a universal desire. I’m so glad you stopped by! :)

  5. says

    Hey Erin,

    I just came over here from a link on Joshua Becker’s Becoming Minimalist. That guy continues to point me in the right direction in so many ways.

    As someone who lives Paleo, has small children, and feels pulled to the city for the sense of community, I resonated with the whole article. My favorite part – and one that I’m putting in my ‘Quotes’ spreadsheet – is this: “But for so long, I had tried this path and pushed for what was next in my dreams that I was forgetting the now. Enjoying my day. Not having a list of a million things to do. I was trying so desperately to create a life that mattered that I was missing out on what already mattered.”

    I’m your newest RSS subscriber and I’ll be doing more than randomly dropping in from time-to-time.

    • Erin Lauray says

      Joel, I am SO glad you stopped by and resonated with me here. It sounds like we have quite a bit in common (funny you mention Paleo as I am about to dive into that very soon!). I look forward to seeing you around here!

  6. says

    Love the article. Love hearing how God is helping you toward a life of simplicity and peace. Makes me think about the second half of 1 Timothy 2:2 -“….that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

  7. Gaylene says

    Wonderful article and resounding with my thoughts right now. Just to be able to slow down and simplify! Find out what God wants for me and my family at this time; knowing that it changes and being willing and able to make those changes.

    • Erin Lauray says

      You make a great point. Simplicity can look different in different seasons of life. I know my “simple” right now with two monkeys under four probably doesn’t look so simple to some people! haha, I am always evaluating things and hope that I can continue to simplify our lives in each season. Thanks for your comment!

    • says

      I loved the “god stuff.” In the end less clutter in our lives, both physically, spiritually and mentally leaves more room for God to use us in the calling He has for us. Great article!

      • Chris says

        For those who choose to base their lives on Middle Eastern books written by anonymous authors on anonymous dates that have been proven to be altered countless times by anonymous people on more anonymous dates, so be it. I was simply commenting on her nice article, and part of my commentary was that I don’t think having (or not having) god in your life is necessary to simplify. But if you feel it opens up more space for you and your god, then so be it.

        • Erin Lauray says

          Hello, Chris! I’m glad you liked the article. The pursuit of simplicity can impact any area of life, and it looks different for everyone. Thank you for stopping by and for your input!

      • Erin Lauray says

        I feel like I have gotten more clarity in my calling this year than most of my life. I am grateful for the “space” in my mind now to really consider what the Lord is doing in me. Thank you, Kathryn!

  8. P says

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve found in my simplicity practice that the drive for achievement rears it’s ugly head occasionally and asks the question of what next? The fact is – there is no need for the next thing to simplify or getting to a desired state of simplicity – which is what your post reminded me of; the point is to have that gratitude for how far you have come.

    Thanks for the reminder! :). Great post!

  9. says

    This is such a simple (hehe!)but powerful message. I’ve also been praying for answers. And this post spoke to me. So refreshing to read.

    • Erin Lauray says

      Hi Stephanie! I’m so glad that this post spoke to you. Sometimes I feel like the simplest of answers are the hardest to see because we think, “Surely it can’t be THAT easy!” haha :)

  10. says

    I came to the same place this year. I have been weeding out all of the things, commitments and activities that clutter up my life and I have turned my focus to what I truly need and what really matters. It’s a journey, and I’ve just begun, but it is so exciting to finally be heading in the right direction.

    • Erin Lauray says

      It really is exciting. When I chose “simplify” as my word of the year, at the time I felt like my thoughts and inner self were like when you turn the tuner knob on the radio and you hear blurbs of different things and static and a jumbled mess. Once I came to the realization I needed to just clean house, I felt so much better. I’m so glad you stopped by, Mishal!

  11. Jas says

    This sounds like the same changes I’ve applied toy life in the past 10 months. I have never felt more peace or joy in my life. And I’ve also never influenced so many people in such a short time by my actions. Thank you for this blog post. I love to hear of others’ experiences and that others are also finding a more meaningful life when the clutter and desire for more is gone.

    • Erin Lauray says

      Isn’t it wonderful? I feel like the changes we made show others that they can do it too. Simplicity looks different to each of us, and I hope to inspire others to find their simple life. Thanks for stopping by, Jas!

  12. says

    Erin, let’s get the obvious out of the way first. LOVE the simple, minimal design.

    Ok, next.

    Really encouraging to see you making choices to simplify your life. I go through seasons where I do my best to purge and try to be more efficient — some successful, others not so much.

    But as I’ve written before, I don’t think “minimalism” is an end-all decision. I think it’s a way of making choices as they come, and to continually make refine what we have and what we do.

    Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to see you go through this, and hope it brings you the joy you’re looking for!

    • Erin Lauray says

      Thank you so much about the design. Its based on Lindsey’s Swank theme and I LOVE it. :)

      I agree with you that minimalism is an end-all. I know its so much more. For me, it started with a heart change, and I think that makes the most difference. Out of that is the ripple effect of how we are each individually called to “simplicity.” Thanks so much for the encouragement and comment! :)

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