Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.
This week, Lara shares with us the contentment she’s found in letting go of consumerism. Please visit her blog to learn more about how she’s simplifying her life.
The Nordstrom sale was an epic, annual event in my childhood. My mother and I would wait expectantly outside the massive department store at 7 am to wait for the doors to open. It really was fun, but after the initial high of wardrobe acquisition wore off, I was still smack in the middle of an adolescence hurt by divorce and emotional pain. I genuinely understand now that was the way my mom tried to make things happier in our house. She felt better after investing in new outfit that made her feel special, why shouldn’t it do the same for her daughter? I love her for doing what she could to ease the pain swirling for both of us, yet to this day shopping makes me feel a bit melancholy. It reminds me of the gaping hole that was never filled despite the shiny, new shoes taking up real estate in my overstuffed closet.
At 43, I’m a mom to clothes-obsessed teens and wife to a wonderful man who loves his toys. I am starting the rather inconvenient process of simplifying. As in Goodwill-bound stacks of bags in the garage & a ruthless paring down of our scheduled activities simplifying. I’m going about it quietly, of course, because I believe this process is not something you can will on someone else. I have had some victories with leading by example. Those bags in the garage? They’re mostly filled with clothes my girls’ were willing to part with. We’ve even pared down the extracurriculars to a sane, manageable number.
As I let go of consumerism (feels so great!), I am finding immense contentment in many things. The relationships with my kids, my career as a teacher, the adoption of a clean diet & running program, dates with my husband, family trips, and meaningful friendships with women I adore. These are all things that have become the fabric of my life and it’s really quite exciting. Sometimes I yearn to take back the years I spent pursuing the wrong things. If I could do it again, I would travel like crazy with minimal baggage and the kids in tow. I do believe that showing your offspring the world is one of the best things you can do for their own pursuit of happiness.
I am clear on the fact that this process will take time, but one of the most wonderful things about simplifying is that it begins where you are. It’s your own journey unique to the life you’ve created so far. It also is an on-going process that changes with each stage of life. I actually feel cleansed and physically lighter with each step I take down the Less is More road. I’m hoping that retirement will find us in a smaller space (with big windows!) and that I will be able to show my girls (and possibly their children one day) that a happy life is defined by who you decide to share your life with, what you decide to do for a living, and how much you give to others.
I’m chronicling our simplifying journey on my blog http://theExtraOrdinarySimpleLife.com. I’d love to hear what others are doing in their own quest.