on learning to live with less

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I have never been interested in living large. I'm a one-credit-card, pay-off-the-mortgage, don't-buy-the-new-car-until-the-old-one-won't-budge, bake-your-own-desserts, use-points-to-travel kind of person. We have a two-bedroom house, because that is all we needed (when our son was home). I wear clothes from fifteen years ago and shoes until the soles fall off.

Still, over the past many months, I've had a few lessons to learn about further right sizing my life. I've had to make decisions. Stepping away from dance (which I loved), using fewer herbs and fancy kitchen things, keeping my book library in relative stasis (an admitted sadness), staying in more often, rarely having wine with dinner. I've bought fewer gifts than is my style. Traveled fewer miles. Focused on family and next chapters. Thought about a different future.

I've had to get creative, is what I'm saying, and I have discovered this: Less and less is a form of freer and more free. With fewer acquisitions of things I once thought I needed, the tiny house is a roomier house. Each considered meal is a new kind of triumph. The little luxuries are savored as enormous ones. When we do go out, it's a night to remember. The outfits I come up with are (shall I say this?) inspired. The gifts I give are, increasingly, the gifts I make, and I think that elevates them with meaning.

The other day, talking with a friend I'll name E., I learned a little more about her history. She was fabulously wealthy and fabulously feted; she flew across the seas to get her hair done. And then something happened, and then something else happened, and today her luxuries all revolve around clay and dusty smocks and adorable shoes, and she says, to herself, to others, "I've never been happier."

I believe her.


Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

I'm with you there, Beth. We have a little 2 room cottage and whereas I use to think BIGGER BIGGER, now I'm thinking .... JUST RIGHT, JUST RIGHT. We have a garage full of stuff, though, and I try to winnow it down. For vacations and celebrations (birthdays, esp) we go away for an overnight instead of lots of gifts. It seems you spend half your life acquiring, and then years getting rid of. So while I still buy books, I buy little else. I'm thinning out the closet. Etc etc.

So thanks for the reminder that the stuff does not the happiness make.


Victoria Marie Lees said...

I, too Beth, wear clothes and shoes until they are unwearable. I've started to downsize possessions and attics, etc. And like you, Barbara, my husband and I go on trips instead of buying gifts for anniversaries or birthdays. I must confess though; I buy too many books. I'm always behind on my reading. Probably because I am studying how the author has put together the prose. Thank you for this reminder that bigger is not better.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

You are making room for those new chapters, those next steps.

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