living simply to live fully

I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging regularly for a small handful of reasons:

1. I am reaaaaally busy with work. As Martha says, “it’s a good thing!” I am grateful, but let’s be honest: I am tired. Really freakin’ tired.

2. I don’t feel like we’ve done many super exciting things lately, and while I’m certainly not complaining and I’m enjoying my summer very much, I don’t know that anything I have to share is particularly interesting to anyone else. (To be completely honest, pretty much all I want to post about is my adorable niece 24/7, but alas, I resist.)

3. I’m sick of this blog design and ready for something new… I just haven’t had the time to tackle a new design. The curse of being a designer — never completely happy with anything and always wanting to change/improve upon things.

4. I started to feel like a hypocrite posting about cool products and clothes that I have no intention of buying. And I guess that’s the big one.

While I have my moments of wishing we had a house and wishing I could shop like I used to for cute clothes and wishing we could travel more, I am still very at peace with my decision to take the leap to self-employment early last year and the sacrifices that came with that choice. I know it will pay off, and exciting developments and growth have already happened in the year and a half since we started the business, so that’s a great motivation to keep going full steam ahead. The changes, however, have greatly opened my eyes to just how frivolous I used to be with my money, and how much more I truly value every penny now.

If I won the lottery five years ago, I probably would have bought a huge house that I would have filled up with a lot of stuff and gone clothes shopping to my heart’s content. If I won the lottery tomorrow… okay, who am I kidding: I’d still splurge a bit. But I now genuinely have no desire to have a closet that is overflowing with clothes and shoes, or a house bustling with stuff. I still value high quality items very much, and of course I’d like to have a few more of them, but I have seen a lot of value over these last few years in living more simply. I’m really starting to believe the whole “less is more” theory.

When I used to shop for new clothes pretty regularly and could never fully close my dresser drawers, I can bet that I still had the same 10 or so outfits on regular rotation. I’ve never been very good at playing with fashion (though I’d love to have a knack for putting pieces together), and I’m a creature of habit, so it makes sense that I would remain pretty content with a handful of favorite standbys, intermixed with some other less-worn items. It’s not much different now that I shop less and have weeded out a lot of clothes I don’t wear — I just have fewer of the less-worn items taking up space in my dresser.

I used to buy stuff — just random, random stuff — all the time. Now, I really think about if something is going to add value to my life, my space, and my time. Will it lose its cool factor the minute something goes from my shopping cart to my living space, where it is really only taking up space? I hate buying any old gift for someone just because it’s their birthday or Christmas and I’m “supposed” to. I love giving gifts, but I like to give things that are actually useful to the recipient, rather than just something that’s going to get shoved in a closet and forgotten about.

I have learned a lot from my brother and sister-in-law. While having a baby has added a few more possessions to their space, they are still very strategic and thoughtful about bringing any item into their home. It is a beautiful home, generously sized by New York standards, but modestly sized by mainstream standards (particularly to we suburbanites who are used to more space). They don’t have a lot of room for clutter, so they choose their possessions carefully. It makes the things they do have that much more meaningful, and each and every item is there for a reason.

I turned 31 last week (yay?) and aside from a super cool bike and a super cool dSLR, I could not think of a single thing that I really, truly wanted. I looked through my blog wish list, my Pinterest wish list, and thought about it for about a week. In the end, Nick took me out to a nice dinner, my mom got me some gift cards for dining out while we’re down the shore, and I was perfectly content. (Okay, I would have loved to get the bike or the dSLR, but I don’t really expect anyone to spend that much money on me.) I have everything I need, and many things that I don’t need. Too much beyond that is just excess that is adding zero value to my life and taking away from my ability to live fully — free of physical distractions cluttering up my space and, ultimately, my thoughts.

I see items on blogs and Pinterest that are really cool pretty much every day. But I feel a little silly sharing these items with my readers when I am really leaning towards living more simply these days. I’m sure some items will pique my interest enough that I’ll share them with you, and maybe I’m just going through a particularly cynical phase; but rather than just looking for things to post about for the sake of posting something, I’ll probably put more focus on blogging about the things that really, truly interest me.

This is not the first time you’ve heard me ramble about uncluttering my life and my space, but it is a topic worth repeating as it’s something I think about a lot lately. What do you think about the idea of living simply to live fully? Is it the way you live? If so, have you always been a less-is-more person, or have you become one over time?

(And okay fine, just one picture of Ginger with her Aunt Brooke and Uncle Nick, for good measure.)

comments

  1. Now that I’m SAHM, we really have to think twice about where we are spending our money. Sure, I want to have the amazing wardrobe, a bigger house, etc., but I have to priortize. I just tell myself – these are the sacrifices we’re making now that will pay off later.

    The funny part is – when you have less, you realize just how much you wasted before. I think twice, if not more, before I make any purchases and have learned that I like to save for nice instead of fill up my home (and closet) with crap.

    I think it’s amazing that you have taken the leap to work for yourself and I truly admire you for it!

  2. Great post! A lot of this has definitely rung true with me, as Mike and I have made some pretty radical changes to our household over the last few months. We’ve decided to live as organically and sustainably as possible, and so we’ve cut back on many things in our lives that we didn’t use to think twice about.

    I absolutely agree with the idea that items coming into your home should be well thought out. When I purchased things for our home three years ago though, I didn’t really think about “long term” items, so any new things that we buy now are carefully researched and thought out before we go for it.

    I admire you for starting up a business–that’s so hard to do and it sounds like while it’s been difficult at times, it’s been a great and rewarding move for you! It was so wonderful seeing you again last night!

  3. Being self employed and working from home has made me realize a lot of what you have posted here. I see cute clothes but like you I know that the reality is that I tend to rotate the same outfits all the time and the cat and dog don’t really care too much about what I’m wearing now :)

  4. I SO agree. I have really gotten to a place where I don’t like “stuff”. If I am spending money, it’s on an experience (usually.) Decluttering life really uncovers new talents, new interests, new happiness – IMO. When I’m no distracted by stuff and material goods, I write more, I hang out more, I go more places – I also eat more gelato, but that’s its own problem. :) Decluttering is such a good way to reconnect with life, I think – sometimes material goods get in the way of that. You’ve inspired me to think about this more in my own life!

  5. Good post! I think one thing for me/us is eating out! It’s kind of like shopping for good food and being not content with what’s already in the fridge (or just being plain lazy!)

  6. I love it all… The post, the ideas, the pic of the baby :)
    Happy belated birthday and thanks for posting this and reminding me to yearn for perspective.

  7. I used to be so consumed with material stuff as well. But when I lost my job a couple of years ago, I began to cut back on my spending and like you, realized that I really don’t *need* all that stuff. Soon, I went through a period of decluttering too (if only I can convince my husband to declutter his stuff!).

    Now that I am a mother, I am even LESS into material possessions. Partly because babies are so time-consuming, partly because we need to budget a lot better than ever before, but mostly because I know how destructive my baby is! Now, before making a purchase, I’m always asking myself, “Will I get sad if Claire destroys this? If this gets ruined next week, is the money I spent on it worth the short time of happiness I gained from the product?” So in my case, having a baby made me more frugal than ever before.

  8. I completely get where you are coming from Brooke. Seeing I’m on my debt free mode at the moment, I can’t even start spending money on random things. Unnecessary things that in the end just create clutter. I don’t think blogging about things you like is bad (even if you won’t technically buy them) you are a designer and blog what is inspiring. What you might like or want in a distant future…

    I am with you on the blog design front too… I think having a blog you like (and I love yours) is fun! Makes it even more motivating to blog… but I’ve been in a slump as well so I know where you are coming from. Blog what you want to blog and don’t feel an obligation. I just know I’ll be around when you post, because I like your blog :) (design crush.. yes)

  9. I loved reading this, Brooke. I moved 3000 miles last year with only one car-load of stuff and since then have tried to think carefully about the things I bring into my house – I just wish I was better at it! Maybe you could find inspiration in writing about reuses for old things or finding joy in simple experiences or events rather than things? There’s lots of great ideas for those things on Pinterest also!

  10. I’ve really cut back on purchases this summer, because I was unemployed, and I’ve found a weekend trip I really want to do in October, but that will entail a lot of saving between now and then to make it feasible. I’ve actually been enjoying the freedom of unsubscribing from store mailing lists, and walking by the mall on my lunch break and thinking ‘No, there isn’t anything I really need from in there’. Plus a big de-clutter a month ago, and I feel so free!

  11. Thank you for all of your great comments! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who realizes how wasteful I used to be with my money.

    @Rycrafty – I feel that way about Target. I used to make up excuses to go there and come home with bags full of stuff that I didn’t need. Now, I go maybe once or twice a month with a list of things I need, and don’t really find anything else that I yearn to bring home with me!

    @Kira – the hope of buying a home in the near future is definitely in the back of my mind when I buy new things or declutter what I already have… I LOATHE moving and I don’t want to have to lug a bunch of junk to a new place! :)

    @Kelly – we have also been tracking our spending more carefully which has put a new light on where we could be saving instead of spending. You’re right about blogging inspirational things, though — I’ll lighten up on the cynicism! ;)

    @Geek In Heels – we’re the opposite — Nick has very few “things” and I’m the one whose always been the clutter collector!

    @Lindsay – thank you!

    @Alvina – eating out is the one form of entertainment we really enjoy, so we do still make room for that, but try to limit the random lunches out, stops for coffee and snacks, etc. I’d rather indulge in a really good meal than have 5 mediocre ones.

    @Penny – so true…less clutter means more time for other things (because I’m cleaning/organizing all of my junk less! :)

    @Laura – I’ve definitely been known to wear the same “comfy clothes” while I work from home on a pretty regular basis.

    @Mandy – it’s pretty satisfying when you make the change and you realize that less stuff can actually mean more happiness and fulfillment, right? (Great to see you, too!)

    @Stephanie – thank you! And yes, I’d definitely rather have 5 quality items than 30 poorly made items any day.

  12. It’s amazing how our priorities change isn’t it? I can imagine blog/site design for you is like decorating my own home (for me)…so hard when you know all the options and have resources. You guys look so great with baby Ginger!!

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