I value simplicity. You wouldn’t know it to look at my life though — I live in a high-rise apartment in a foreign country working in a demanding corporate job. A stark contrast from the usual simplicity blogs that espouse the virtues of gardening, compost and zero waste.
I’ve had my hand at making my own laundry detergent and eliminating shampoo. I enjoyed it all, but because I’m me, the part I enjoyed the most was replacing the ugly plastic containers with pretty jars and filling an apothecary cabinet with beautiful bottles of essential oils.
Some things stuck. I have not allowed the dryer sheets back into the house (wool dryer balls worked better than tin foil or homemade dryer sheets). I haven’t bought paper plates or paper napkins at home in more than a decade. I recycle (it’s mandatory in Japan).
Simplicity, to me, is like minimalism. There’s not a right way to do it. It’s about what it means to you. For me, it’s been about:
Eliminating clutter: and even that looks different in my house. There are no pristine, clear counters. We need to know what we have, so the things we use regularly are out in plain sight. Our kitchen counters include glass jars with our tea, coffee, and favorite snacks. Our bathroom counters feature glass jars of cotton swabs, floss, and makeup.
Reducing unnecessary decisions: Many years ago I simplified my closet by only having shoes and purses that went with black. That evolved into wearing [almost] only black. It’s ended up being my signature style, but it’s less of a social statement than a desire to not spend too much time thinking about what I’m wearing in the morning.
Reducing maintenance: In selecting clothes, shoes, furniture, and even our apartment, a lot of our focus is on how easily our things can be maintained. I only buy clothes that can be washed and dried by machine (or by the magical shower dryer that we have here in Japan). We have leather furniture because it requires less upkeep and lasts longer.
Clearing the calendar: We don’t generally make plans during the week. My work is demanding enough that I like to have quiet evenings at home to rejuvenate. On weekends, we often have no plans and just enjoy meandering around our city on our bikes. The only exception to this rule is that we’ve discovered (since our kids left home) that we need to have a few vacations or adventures on the calendar to look forward to.
Reducing the noise: we turned off the television when my oldest daughter was six and didn’t turn it back on for 10 years and still don’t watch commercial television. We cancelled all of the magazine subscriptions and unsubscribed from catalogs.
I’ve attempted [unsuccessfully] to implement shopping bans and instead have adopted the use of limits. (Usually artificial, but here in Japan, the limits are real!) I’m starting to become more comfortable with my adoption of simplicity and minimalism and enjoy the process of continual refinement.
How have you simplified your lifestyle?