A Note on Simplicity

I just finished reading The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry and wow. What an incredible book. I don’t reread books but this is one where I would probably make an exception as it was that impactful for me. Written by a Christian pastor the foundation of the book is based on biblical principles, and heavily packed with scripture and references to Jesus and God. However, I stand firm that anyone, regardless of faith, would get great value from this read while being heavily inspired to pursue their life differently.

That said, while I don’t wish to do a book review here for you in lieu of you reading it yourself, I am inspired greatly to share a few thoughts on simplicity, a topic offered as a solution to the hurriedness epidemic Comer writes about in his book. I feel equipped to write about these things not only after recently reading the book but after the last year of my life where I’ve made both big steps to really uncover what simplicity means, and then act on those very things (admittedly the acting was way harder than the uncovering).

My biggest hang up with simplicity is that within my specific circle of people I am familiar with (professionally and personally) the notion has become somewhat of a trendy movement. Like the idea of community within the creative sphere – an idea where no one competes with others but instead lifts up and supports their fellow entrepreneurs – simplicity feels over-romanticized to me. The word itself sounds effortless and carefree and I think many adapt ‘simple’ practices to their lives in ways that aren’t so simple at all, making the entire rush towards it feel like it’s done in vain.

I know a few women who write about the topic in brilliant ways, women who live out what simple really means, and for those pioneers I am grateful for their example. But I think it’s going to take a lot of brave work for women specifically, whether as wives, mothers, students, retired, working at a job, working in the home, travelling, etc, to redefine and unapologetically lean into the true definition and living-out of simple. The more we see simplicity highlighted in public figure’s lives the easier for the rest of us to follow suit.

So I wanted to share a few of my own ideas and tangible ways that for me, simplicity has become a new-ish pillar in my life. I know the argument can be made that nearly everything is personal to everyone including what simplicity means, so for the sake of this being my minuscule piece of the internet, below are my pillars.

Simplicity means . . .

• Donating or selling personal belongings that no longer serve our family; even hardly used or ‘expensive’ items. In the past I was inclined to believe that simplicity meant organizing these belongings efficiently. Then I had an ‘a ha’ moment, which was not even one bit inspired by Marie Kondo, but inspired by my own feelings of overwhelm and panic everytime I looked at the piles, perfectly organized piles, of things we rarely or never used in our home. So much time and energy was spent managing our stuff instead of using it. Organization is a critical skill in life but so is learning to let go for the sake of a simpler life and home.

• As I alluded to above, learning to live in this discomfort of letting go has been pivotal in finding a simpler way of life. And I’m not referencing only material things, I’m talking about letting go of things like self-imposed expectations to answer every call, text, email, request, invitation, and opportunity. Letting go of the desire to conform to what I may have have believed to be my role as a woman who is both married and with young kids. Letting go of the desire to please everyone or keep up with whatever else feels important to keep up with even when at the core of my heart, it’s not. Letting go of a laser-beam focus on success and accolades without losing a passion for reaching goals and living out my calling because there’s a difference. Letting go has largely influenced the way simplicity has permeated my life resulting in an easier day to day existence that feels a bit more pleasant.

• In the book, Comer touches on silence and solitude, one of his four practical solutions to the frenzied pace of life these days. Simplicity is unsurprisingly another one of his solutions. Yet I’ve found over the last few years that simplicity for me, is often only uncovered if and WHEN I pursue and find silence and solitude. Interestingly, one is found within the other.

For example, while taking the boys to Chick-fil-A for lunch on Friday is simple in theory, it never actually ends up being simple to make it happen. There are car seats to wrangle, literal little humans to wrangle, lines to battle (either to order food and / or wait for a table where thanks to an app designed to help make this very process more simple, I can receive my food), there are nuggets to cut up, spills to clean up, ketchup packs to open, a play space to keep in my peripheral vision because one kid wants to play and one is in a highchair, etc. These things are not a pain, they are an honor as a mother and usually enjoyable for me too, BUT they are truly not simple because they definitely don’t involve silence or solitude. Silence and solitude is found in my early morning alone, on a device-free walk, or at night when I am cozied in bed reading a new book before I fall asleep.

• Saying no. Instead of being laser-beam focused on my bank account and the things I can say yes to for financial gain or status-approval (an admittedly really hard lesson that’s taken a few years to learn as I re-calibrate my relationship with social media), I’ve been hyper-focused instead on my schedule and making sure there is space for slowness and boredom, savoring and yes, simplicity.

An example: I have literally looked at my schedule when considering times for appointments and thought to myself, ‘An 8:00 am dental cleaning would give me the whole day to be productive!’ But then asked for the 10:00 am spot instead so that I can wake up unhurried, slowly get dressed, drink my coffee, read a book with the kids, then get out the door unhurried (these are examples of a typical morning; actual tasks vary). While this is a small example in a sea of many probably more important ones, my point is saying no to trips, opportunities, commitments, and things like appointments in the interest of being ‘quick’ often means saying yes to better things.

And finally!

• Realizing the strategies our society has created and invented to make life more simple aren’t always the answer. I use, depend on, and enjoy many of these very things. Namely, airplanes, my car, my iPhone, the internet, online grocery shopping and delivery services, social media, beauty products like make up and hair styling tools, electricity, childcare, and even many beautiful baskets and boxes used to organize my stuff in an aesthetically pleasing way that truly makes all the stuff feel less intrusive in our personal space.

But what if it was simpler to forgo the middle ‘man’, and live parts of our lives without these things? Not all of the time! I’m not going to get myself to Europe without a plane, I like how my shorter hair looks when it’s curled (hair spray, please!), and I love my baskets, but what if we ditched managing so many online shopping accounts on the daily and once a week physically shopped at the store? What if we accumulated less things resulting in less of a need to both find time to manage it all and purchase more cute containers and boxes and bags to store them? What if instead of a simpler way to get beautiful in the morning, we just went as we are? Perhaps a life away from many familiar conveniences feels complicated, yet I’ve found the opposite to be true.

These above points aren’t standards for everyone. I’m not perfect. Actually this seems to be a chorus line in the book. We’re all far from it. Most of us are doing our best at juggling the many facets of our lives, myself included. But after letting the book sink in, I believe it’s not that we willingly pursue a hurried life but rather we fall in line with this type of lifestyle thanks to a society that promotes, perhaps unknowingly, a culture that’s fast and frenzied. And I think that’s where awareness comes in and why I’ve been doing the painful work of getting honest with myself about the kind of life I want to live now and for the rest of my time here earth-side.

Enough from me though! Have you read The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry? Or any other books on the same subject? One of the books I read in January was 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You and that was an excellent choice to precede Comer’s book. I’d love to hear your thoughts below on the subject as I am sure there are many, many varied thoughts and opinions.

Yours are always welcome here! Xo