This month’s simple living interview is Lisa from Simple & Soul. The monthly interviews are designed to give you a glimpse into people’s lives who call themselves minimalists, or are pursuing a simple lifestyle or living slow.
Each month the bloggers are asked the same questions in order to see the similarities and differences in their experiences. It’s a wonderful way to be encouraged in simplifying our own lives! You can read the other interviews HERE.
Can you introduce yourself to my readers – who you are, where you live, and
what you blog about?
My name is Lisa Avellan and I blog at Simple & Soul, a minimalism and simply living website that focuses on the soul more than the stuff.
When I started living with less I immediately felt my soul coming alive and realized that minimalism isn’t about our stuff, it’s about how we lose ourselves in excess and when we decide to live differently we discover our true identity. It’s a journey into letting go of comparison, self-hatred, mistaken identity, and busyness – all of which tend to be at the root of our accumulation of more stuff.
I am a stay-at-home wife and mom in San Diego, California. My husband and I have been married for fourteen years and have two miracle daughters, 5 and 3. I am in the thick of learning about grace, authority, and my place in the kingdom of God and that bleeds into my writing, my parenting and marriage, and my personal journey into soul-healing. Simple living hasn’t been simple, simply because what started as an effort to get rid of clutter turned into exposure of the vices of comparison, negative self talk, expectation and ingratitude.
I love Jesus and simple living is taking me deeper into what love really is. So, I guess I define myself as a seeker of Jesus, a wife and mom, a writer, and a simple girl on a journey.
What initially attracted you to simple living?
Like a lot of people, I came across Joshua Becker’s blog and was hooked! I first heard of him at a conference where he was a breakout speaker, and though I didn’t make it to his breakout session, I made a note to look him up when I got home.
I was just beginning to write my blog at the time and it was a big transition time for me. Writing had been “the thing I did when I was young” and “I don’t think it’s my gift anymore” for twelve years and I finally heard the call to start writing again early in 2015. I was scared and didn’t have a clue of what I really want to share with the world. So, when I found Joshua I really resonated with the ‘less is more’ message. I thought if I got rid of the distractions in my life I’d have a clearer head to write and create.
I like to think I’ve been more on the simple side, I’ve never been a high maintenance kind of girl. But, when I started paying attention to my habits, beliefs, possessions, and attitudes I noticed my inner life certainly wasn’t simple. I couldn’t ignore that I put way too much value on stuff and not enough value on myself. After that realization I couldn’t turn back.
What are the benefits that you have found in simple living?
I think the number one benefit, and probably the most immediate, is clarity. There is a reality that our clutter speaks to us, and we receive the message in a way that harms our ability to be self-aware. Clutter speaks shame over us and we internalize it as a personal indictment. The message we take to heart is that we aren’t good enough because we can’t keep up on the housework. We wonder who we think we really are to pursue our purpose and calling when we can’t control our spending or organize our things. It’s all happening under the surface and we believe there is something inherently wrong with our character – when in truth it’s the clutter that’s stealing our ability to see clearly who we are.
So, the benefit of decluttering and simplifying our thinking, spending, planning, etc. is we immediately silence at least one source of shame. It gives us audience to the voice within that wants to bring life and abundance. Space in our home or work, time on the calendar, presence of mind in the moment bring us into the true reality of the way things are and not the way we are told they should be. It’s a true and life-changing freedom.
If someone wanted to start living simply, what advice would you give them?
Start with gratitude. I believe it’s the shortest path to simplicity because when you are grateful for what you already have and who you are, living simply is natural. I think it so important I created a new course called Grateful as a helpful guide to discover gratitude and simplicity. Simply beginning to notice the things you’re grateful for each day can have dramatic effects.When you are grateful for what you already have and who you are, living simply is natural. @lisamaria #simpleliving #minimalism Click To Tweet
I think it’s important to start knowing why. The easiest way to fall off course is to not have a firm and hopeful vision on what its trying to be achieved. So, I would say write down a few goals, hopes, or reasons why they want to simplify. Is it for peace of mind, to be more present at home, to be prepared for anything? Is it an ethical/moral reason or a personal growth need? Maybe its financial or work related. It’s important to be precise.
Also, I like to tell people to pick one small space in their home – maybe their favorite place – to declutter. I think having small wins is important, and for me it was creating a peaceful and clear space to write. I loved my writing desk in the corner of our bedroom, so I spent an afternoon decluttering all non-writing items (it had become a catch-all) and created a space that invited me to come and write. So, I tell people to choose a small space they love and make it beautiful. It’s a morale booster and easily leads to the next space, and so on.
I think starting with physical clutter is the easiest place to start because it’s so tangible. But, sometimes busyness is the biggest distraction and clearing the calendar clutter is also an important place to begin. In that case, I’d offer this advice:
- Write down your top 3 priorities.
- Review your commitments and appointments and compare to your priority list.
- Say no to everything that doesn’t directly and absolutely fit into your priorities.
- Read Essentialism by Greg McKeown.