When Pursuing Simplicity Makes Things Harder

I was walking the aisles of Target…this is something I do often with two young children at home. [And all the moms collectively said, “YES!“] I’m a sucker for Target clearance. There is usually something I just must have on clearance. I think I have 14 empty journals because of this. But you know, who knows when I might have a writer’s inspiration and fill them all at once. You never know.

Anyway, I found this platter I wanted. It wasn’t on sale, but I loved it. I may need this for entertaining purposes. In my basket it went. Oh look, cloth napkins! I could save paper because they’re reusable! Tossed in the basket. Well, of course, the kids need new plastic straw cups. Look, this one has a dog with a crown on…oh! and that one has an airplane with a spike collar leash…obvs I need these. In the cart they went. And then the kids started whining they were hungry. So some Goldfish joined the spike collared airplane, along with some chips and a new book for me. And look! Kids summer clothing is on clearance! Lets buy three shirts and shorts for each kid because, lets be honest, I live in Arizona, so summer clothes are more like year round clothes. Valid investment.

And the basket gets filled with things I need, and I end up spending $124.89 on a bunch of stuff and my husband shakes his head in wonder at how I justify it all.

Sound familiar?

As I have been journeying towards a simpler life and what that looks like for me, these shopping trips have started to look different for me. More noble, you ask? Sloughing off the old consumer me and cheerfully putting on the new, more appreciative me? Nope. It can all be summed up in one word.

Painful.

You see, the ugly, Ineedallthethings me rears its ugly head and I stomp my hypothetical foot and whine that, “Why is something so good so hard?” I’ve wondered a lot in the past week or so: why is living simple feel not so simple?

I love doing dishes. I know, I’m weird. But the standing and doing one thing [you can’t really multitask when you’re up to your elbows in warm water and rainbow suds] is relaxing for me.  I enjoy it. Well, when we moved into our house in the city, I embraced the clothesline-instead-of-the-dryer, dishwasher-less, no garbage disposal, smaller square footage lifestyle. I craved it. But when we got here, after the honeymoon phase wore off… [Look honey! I’ve hung 86 loads of laundry on the line and its AMAZING!] …I started to resent having to do dishes 2-3 times a day. I started to avoid them.

And then today, I had another “zoom-in” moment. Going from having allthethings to actively pursuing less is hard. I realized that intentionally working to change your beliefs about something takes effort. Time. And often times is can be painful. Giving up stuff is usually painful. Pruning a bush is painful. You have to get rid of a lot of extra in order for it to thrive and produce even more stunning blooms.

And that’s us. You and me. Looking to make changes in your life for the better can often make things harder for a while. Is it worth it? Absolutely. But anything worth doing is going to often take more sacrifice, effort, and time. But the investment often yields more joy and peace.

So, just remind me of this when I am crying crocodile tears in the aisles of Target because I can’t buy another candle. It ain’t easy, y’all, but its so worth the journey.

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.

say #YESTOGREATLOVE

 Thanks to YES TO for sponsoring today’s post about skin care!

When I was a teenager, I never had any issues with my skin. I had an occasional breakout here and there, but no acne issues. Fast forward to my post-baby skin. Two babies have made my face composition change so much. I now break out very easily and my chin is a problem area.

I’ve tried all the teen-focused products, adult acne products, and none seem to work. Recently, YES TO sent me their YES TO Carrots Fragrance Free Bundle. I’ll admit, I was skeptical. But not because of the brand…because my face never has seemed to respond to anything! I would describe my skin as oily, so I was confused and unsure what to do. And y’all, I didn’t love my skin. Which made me sad because I felt less confident during breakouts and jealous of the lucky gals with dewy clear skin.

YES TO Fragrance Free Skin Care

When I got the bundle, I had a planet growing on my forehead and breakouts along my nose and all over my chin. I was a mess. So I committed a week to this line and made sure to stick to a skin care routine daily and drink more water. Here is my routine (that you should totally get on doing):

YES TO Fragrance Free Skin Care

MORNING: When I have a day that I get a shower [ha!], I use the YES TO Carrots Nourishing Exfoliating Cleanser. I used this every other day because I didn’t want to scrub ten layers of skin off. Then, when I got out of the shower, regardless of whether it was an exfoliating day or not, I would follow up with the Daily Facial Moisturizer. It has SPF 15 and does NOT dry oily! Which was a major plus for me.

YES TO Fragrance Free Skin Care YES TO Fragrance Free Skin Care

NIGHT: Right before bed, I used the Gentle Cleansing Wipes. If I wore makeup, the wipes were great at taking it off. If I didn’t, the wipes made my face feel fresh and the day wiped away. I then would wash my face with the Daily Cream Facial Cleanser. After washing, I would slather on the Intense Hydration Night Cream.

 After doing this for a week, the planet on my forehead went away, and to my great surprise, I realized that oily skin often needs help in the moisture area because it is working so hard to produce oils that your skin over compensates. This week, my skin has felt fresh, not oily, and hydrated. I am excited that I could say #YESTOGREATLOVE and finally found my skin care solution!

So join YES TO, and say #YESTOGREATLOVE — to naturally good products…unnaturally good results! Also, they are GIVING AWAY 500 of the YES TO Carrots Fragrance Free Wipes!! You have got to try these. Go enter NOW!! Also, if you’re interested in the line, the Yes To Carrots line is 35% off right now! :)

Founded in 2006, YES TO, Inc. is a global leader in natural skin and hair care, with awesome and affordable products made with fruits, veggies, and a smile! YES TO’s award-winning formulations are over 95% natural, have proven results, and are free of parabens, petroleum, and SLS. They offer six unique collections including products for face, body, hair, lips, and even babies…to allow people to create their own natural ‘recipe’ that works for them. YES TO is made up of fun-loving, wine-drinking, yoga-doing, active-life-living bunch of folks in San Francisco who a) create affordable natural products that really work b) give back by planting school gardens for kids to help teach them about healthy living and nutrition, and c) have a pretty awesome time doing it.

A big thank you to YES TO for sponsoring this post and allowing me to discover the best skin care line I’ve ever used!

#simplify // food

One of the ways I am excited to #simplify my life [and the lives of my people :) ] is to put healthier and good for you foods on the table. I’m not simply talking clean gluten free eating, but I am also talking about whats in those foods and how they are grown. For example, the other night, I surfed the web for two hours researching locally pastured beef. Its important to me to start eating free-range and grass-fed meat because they are SO much better for you than the packaged stuff at the grocer.

simplify-food

In researching, I began a fall down the rabbit hole, so to speak, because I got pumped about building a raised vegetable garden, maybe having a couple dairy goats, raising chickens for their eggs and maybe someday their meat [although, I don’t know if I could kill a chicken] and more “urban homesteading” things.

I realize this doesn’t embrace simplify if I am adding livestock to my yard, heehee, but it does simplify my diet. It brings our family back to eating real food with good fats and vitamins and minerals. I want that for my family. So I want to know, do you do any sort of homesteading, wherever you are? DO you garden? Raise chickens or goats? Purchase locally pastured meat every year?

I want to chat about this, so please comment below. What do you do and how do you do it? :)

 

SIMPLIFY // my #wordoftheyear

So, after my blog post announcing my end to web design, I have felt this insane relief. Not at first though. Web design wasn’t a super burden, but I felt like it was a weight on my shoulders because I knew the Lord was asking me to lay it down, and I was afraid to. But then I did it. And woah. I felt slammed with the strongest feeling of insignificance ever. It weighed my spirit down like none other. And I sat feeling rejected, defeated, and a nobody. I uttered a shaky, teary eyed prayer to the Lord. Father, I feel so small, worthless, and insignificant right now. Please show me how I matter to YOU.

I went on to try and find Bible verses to lift my heart up, but eventually just went on with my day. The feeling of not mattering to anyone hung over my head like a angry black cloud.

And then my phone bleeped. And vibrated. And for the next few hours, I got notifications for my blog and Instagram from people that I SUPER admire and respect [and okay maybe some blog fan girl moments over some people] encouraging and loving on me for the decision I made. I mean, really.

God, did you just answer my prayer by comments on my blog and Instagram?? Uh, yeah, I think I did.

After that happened, my hubby got home, the kids got in the bath, and I escaped the crazy to go pick up some Vietnamese food for my husband and I. And while I was sitting in the parking lot, with my Styrofoam containers full of spring rolls vermicelli, it hit me.

#wordoftheyear: SIMPLIFY // erinlauray.com

#Simplify. That is what I am longing for but didn’t realize it. While I loved web design, I hated that I had a million domains and all these ideas that, when they just sat there, left me feeling unaccomplished, fickle, and lacking follow-through. And when that hangs there every day, you start to believe that about yourself. What good am I going to do in this world? How do I matter when plenty of other people are doing all the fabulous wonderful things?

But when you streamline, clean out, and tidy up, you’re left with the couple things you LOVE that you can do WELL. And all the rest is gone. And when I started looking at the rest of my life, I realized I longed to simplify in ALL areas.

I want to simplify eating: fresh, clean, organic, local ingredients.

I want to simplify school: get up early and invest in my learning…and with all the ideas no longer hanging over my head, I am not tempted to use my early morning school time as blog time or idea creation time.

I want to simplify my parenting. Say yes. Always. Until I must say no for a very good reason. Go to the park. Play drive-in movie theater with popcorn and m&ms. Let them stay up occasionally to watch a movie with dad.

I want to simplify my house: NO MORE CABLE. Cheaper internet. No more buying the dollar spot toys that we don’t need or the Target notebooks I don’t need. [ouch.] If I fill a notebook, it is my reward to get a new one. I want to use my dryer less and line dry my clothes in the sunshine. I want to have candles and flowers and open windows [unless its July].

I want to simplify how I do life. With less on my mind biz-wise, I am free to use my evenings to spend with my family and husband. Gasp! I want to have a television show we watch together that we just can’t miss. [It used to be Parenthood, so that will make a comeback.] I want to garden. Grow veggies with patience. Invest time in slowing down. Journal so my brain has to slow down.

Its  all about intention. And making the effort. And DOING IT. Because, let’s be honest. I don’t do things because I am tired. I don’t have energy because it was expended brainstorming, thinking, and investing it in things in my life that have little to no return. I’m done with complicated. Because for me, complicated means tired, confused, overwhelmed, depressed, and a whole lotta ick that I don’t like. So goodbye 2013…and hello simple, clean, and bright 2014. I think we shall be great friends. xo

 

The Right Decision

I am one of those people that gets a ton of ideas. I can brainstorm like its my job. BUT, I’m also super organized. A list-maker, OCD, highly subjective thinker. I often am quick to process, slow to patience, and this combined with my right-brained creativity can cause issues for me.

Ideas are quickly implemented. Commitments are made rashly. And I put my 100% effort into things that I haven’t 100% thought through. I come up with something that everyone will love and it will take off like wildfire! Only to find that it didn’t work as well and not many people like it.

Boo.

This has made me really second guess everything I do in the past few months. A downfall of my left-brain tendencies. I overthink. And because my brain is fast and furious in processing, it tends to be more like a runaway freight train rather than deep consideration. So launching businesses and ideas here and there hasn’t been good for me. Its actually been more of an ego blow than anything. Not every idea takes off. And it takes work to create a product people love.

I have really been thinking about what I love to do. I am in school right now and have my little family. So those are first priority. But after that, I tend to get a little fidgety when I don’t have an outlet. This blog is one aspect, but I also love design. I’ve said it many times before. About a month ago, I designed wedding invites for a school friend. They turned out amazing and I LOVED the process! It was so fun! I am working on a little line of Valentine’s Day postcards right now for our family too. But in the interest of streamlining my life to find joy, I have an announcement.

I am discontinuing my blog and web design services.

I may occasionally work with people here and there, but that’s like one or two people a year. ErinLaurayCreative.com and ErinLaurayStudio.com websites will no longer be. And the other 10 domains I own for ideas that I’ve contrived I will also be letting expire. HappyPaperCo.com will be on that expire list too.

Its kind of like when you’re cleaning out your closet and you get rid of a shirt you like simply because you don’t wear it anymore. My general rule when getting rid of clothes is that if I haven’t worn it in a year [sometimes even much less], I give it to one of my sisters or get rid of it. Even if I like it, I will purge it. Its not worth it to me to hang onto things when I know in the end I won’t end up using them anyway. I can’t let a pretty shirt I don’t wear [or a grand idea I never followed] clog up my life just because it is pretty.

So I will own one domain by the end of the year after everything else expires: erinlauray.com :)

In the interest of clearing out my life so that I can move, breathe, and function, I have to let go. I have to grab onto the things that bring me joy and let go of the ones that stress me out. Stress is a natural emotion and it is normal to feel this way, but when everything is a big jumbled pile of stress, something has to give.

SO…friend, will you come on this streamlining journey with me? Will you de-clutter your life to make room to breathe? Cheers to a fresh and clean 2014 [hey, that rhymed] and more of what brings joy. xo