This month for our simple living interview series, I’m excited for you to meet Lisa from Try a Simple Life. This is the fifth in the simple living blogger series that you can find HERE. Let us know in the comments one thing that connected with you.
Lisa! Can you introduce yourself to my readers
Hi! My name is Lisa and I blog about simple living over at Try a Simple Life where I’m on a journey to simplify and enjoy life.
I’ve been married for 28 years and we have two grown children ages 20 and 23. You would think that our lives would have settled down with older children, but they seem to keep us going more so now than when they were young!
We live in a village that is now almost a suburb of the sprawling borders of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This allows us to access the city and surrounding suburbs for jobs, shopping, entertainment etc. However, our true love is the outdoors, so we tend to move further away from the city for the activities we like to do – hiking, biking, kayaking etc.
Currently, I work in corporate training for a human services agency. My career path is a circle – I started in a corporate job that gave me the chance to doing training. I was then a stay at home mom for ten years, after which I went back to grad school to become a teacher. After 8 years of teaching middle school students Computer and Social Studies classes, I returned to corporate training where my skill set lies -which helps me enjoy what I do.
What initially attracted you to simple living?
A couple of years ago I started reading and writing a blog about quilting, a hobby of mine, and I somehow stumbled on some homeschooling blogs, which then led to simple living blogs. I was interested, but didn’t really do anything different because of them.
We had always lived on the simple side of life to begin with, we just didn’t call it that. In fact, we called it being frugal! With only one moderate income while I was a stay at home mom, we still managed to pay off our mortgage and cars early, enjoy the outdoors, keep our calendar relatively free, eat pretty healthy food for dinner and use/reuse/modify and fix what we owned.
It wasn’t until we sold our dining room table and moved some furniture around that the concept of simple living really hit home. The space – oh my gosh, I loved the space. We then added hardwood floors and I was in awe of the feeling of openness in the room.How selling a dining room table changed Lisa's life. Interview with @tryasimplelife.… Click To Tweet
We didn’t just put everything back in the room after installing the floors. Instead, we spent time evaluating what we really needed/wanted to put back in the room.
- Did it serve a purpose?
- Did we like it?
It was amazing the peacefulness I felt being in that room after taking things out of it.
Reading other simple living blogs gave our process a name – decluttering. We started decluttering in other rooms – the family room and kitchen. Then the basement, and closets. Reducing clutter helped our rooms feel cleaner and larger. It also showed me how weighed down we were by physical stuff.
What benefits have you found in simple living?
Decluttering our physical space brought a sense of calmness to our lives. I wanted to find other ways to feel this calmness, to be at peace.
I started practicing gratitude for what I have and what is around me. Driving to work is not a fun commute, so I admired the sunset, focused on nature, sang with the radio and reminded myself to be thankful I had a good job that I enjoyed.
Our social calendar was filling up again so we started backing off to create space in our days. We found that what really made us happy was moving at our own pace and being outside.
We traded the large, clunky, difficult to use pontoon boat that sat in the driveway most of the year for kayaks. I started keeping track of the miles I put on my bike which helped me make an effort to get outside and use it after work. These things also helped reduce the stress of my pretty hectic job.Decluttering our physical space brought a sense of calmness to our lives...that's spreading to… Click To Tweet
As we were decluttering, we found so many little things that we bought through the years that we really didn’t need – impulse items, inexpensive whatevers. While I don’t quite fit the “buy nothing new” category, we really started to cut down on what non-consumable items we bought.
Each purchase was evaluated, sometimes for a year as in the case of my patio set, and options weighed. We made a more concerted effort to save money.
We tried the concept of valuing experiences over things, and did take a few trips, but found we were more comfortable with time off, than trips.
I still struggle with simplified food menus, buying too many consumables, and our basement, though neat and organized, still has too much stuff we don’t use; but overall, I feel we continue to make positive gains on this journey towards simple living.
If someone wanted to start living simply, what advice would you give them?
There is no right way to embrace simple living and there are many aspects of it to incorporate it into your life. As I mention on my blog, it is a journey, not a race to reach a destination. The journey will have many twists and turns because there are different seasons in our lives that we need to adjust to which bring a change in how we view the world. As children grow, or jobs change, we realign and find different ways to live simply.
We were amazed at the benefit of decluttering, so I guess I would recommend that first. Getting rid of the physical weight of your belongings actually lifts a huge mental weight off your mind:
- You have less to take care, less to clean and repair.
- You have more space, more time in your day.
- You can find things easier.
- What you have left brings you joy.
- Owning less brings calmness and peacefulness.
You may not empty an entire room like we did, (or you might!) but an easy way to start is with a small space – a drawer or cabinet. You can also play the Mins game which has you decluttering one thing on day one, two on day two etc. Then you can find things from all over the house. I liked the impact of decluttering one area, but that isn’t always practical.
With the change in seasons, go through your clothing and set aside the things that just don’t fit right, or you don’t like to wear as much. You don’t have to donate anything right away, instead box it up and if you haven’t missed it at the end of the season, then donate it.
Do this each season – it may be a lifelong process. Each time you go back, you’ll find something else that you don’t use or need. Repeat this process with other areas in your home, a little at a time.
Not only does decluttering help bring you physical and mental space, it also helps you learn to evaluate what you are going to buy and bring back into the house. I am much more reluctant to add things to our house now. We’ve done multiple rounds of decluttering and will continue to do so. We find new twists and turns in the road each week. It is definitely a journey.
My current goal is to find ways to improve my wellness and reduce stress. The great thing about this journey towards simple living is the wide variety of ways it can be tailored to your specific life. There are many great blogs out there sharing ideas and I definitely recommend reading them not only for ideas, but to realize that there is a great support network out there as well.
My final piece of advice is that you can only gain from giving this idea of simple living a try. I haven’t met anyone yet who has regretted trying!
What stands out for you from Lisa’s journey?