A Simple Life

I frequently watch HGTV’s House Hunters International. It’s a terrific way to see the world on a budget. One thing I’ve noticed is that many of the prospective home buyers have one thing in common: they’re searching for a simpler life.

Personally, I think they could look in their own backyard. As much as I would love to travel around the world or live in exotic places, I’ve learned that enjoying a simple life is more about choice than location. While some people thrive on keeping overloaded schedules, nothing stresses me more.

Over time I’ve developed a handful of skills that help keep the stressors to a minimum.

Prioritize Who/What’s Important – My faith and family should always come first. When my schedule gets so crowded that there’s little room for either, then I know it’s time to cut back. When I start many things but finish few, then projects have to go. I’d rather take on a few projects and do them well rather than take on many and do them poorly. Think about what you would rather sacrifice: your faith and family or the project?

Keep A List – I begin every day with a To-Do list and prioritize the items on the list. (I’m even writing this blog off a list.) It’s a visual way to see not only what needs to be done, but what’s been accomplished. When I don’t make a list, even if I’ve been busy the entire day, I’ll feel like I’ve wasted my time.

Prepare by Pre-Planning – My oldest son graduates from high school one year from now. Already I’m planning his graduation party. Throughout the year I’ll purchase what I need for his party, and store it in a large Rubbermaid container. When his party day arrives, I’ll be ready. Also, I’m also spreading the cost over months so it’s much gentler on my checkbook.

Learn to Say NO – It’s hard to say No, especially when someone asks you to help with a project you know is worthwhile. But, if you can give only scraps of time to that project, who are you benefiting? If you’re stealing time away from your priorities, who are you benefiting? When asked to help with something, don’t give  a quick, un-thought-out yes. Pray about it. Look at your schedule–will this new project fit in so you can give your all? If the answer is No, then don’t be afraid to say No out loud. In the end you’ll be thankful, as will the person who asked you for help.

Take a Vacation – I just spent a week in Branson, Missouri with my daughter. We didn’t over-schedule the week, but rather chose a couple activities we wanted to do. We kept busy, but we also took much time to relax. On the way home, I even had breakfast with three other Inkspys! That couldn’t have happened if I’d over-scheduled. If traveling is out of the budget, become a tourist in your home area. I love discovering what Minnesota has to offer!

So, no, I won’t be moving overseas to find the simpler life. I’ve found it right here at home.

Changing Me

Keeping things simple is pretty much my motto. I will admit, though, that it’s easier said than done at times.

The older I get the more I realize that many of my stresses are of my own creation and there’s only one person who can change that. So why don’t I? Maybe sometimes I forget who is really in control of my life, or maybe I subconsciously hold on to those concerns because I wouldn’t know what to do without them. Except for unexpected tragedies, I more or less have the same worries everyday, and if I suddenly stop worrying about those things I would feel so…lost. Sad but true. Many times I’m worrying about things I can’t control anyway. I know I should turn these situations over to God, but for some selfish reason, I don’t always do that.

If I could always remember to keep Christ at the center of everything I think, say, or do I would never have worries that keep me up at night. I wouldn’t worry about burning the candle at both ends because I would know when to say “no.” The dramas of life wouldn’t overwhelm me if I let God hold my hand every step of the way.

God is always ready to listen to my problems, and when I pour my heart out to Him, my troubles never seem as traumatic anymore. Though I can’t control the stresses that come my way, I can control how I respond to them. I’ve made a lot of progress in the worry department, but I’ve got a ways to go. Praying without ceasing provides the answer to all the stresses in my life—changing me.