This is a guest post from Lara Blair. Lara blogs about “simplicity, good design & Airstream weekend adventures at The ExtraOrdinary, Simple Life.
Have a look over there when you’re done.
When the quest for a simple life found me, I didn’t even know I was looking for it.
I was a photographer, blogger, author and all-around artsy girl with a house full of supplies to show for it. I am also a mom of two clothing obsessed teens and wife to a wonderful man who loves his toys. Our home was full…our schedule was packed…and our complicated life was starting to feel like an ill-fitting shoe.
What do they say? When the lesson is ready to be learned, the teachers appear.
Well, they showed up in spades and showed me there was a much simpler, happier way to live. I must have been searching on a subconscious level because a couple of years ago I found myself tapping simpler life into my browser. Joshua showed up. The boys from Ohio came into the picture. A sweet woman living in a tiny house and a life-changer joined my little blog viewing party. And finally…a couple who just seemed to get it magically began to talk to me every week on my runs. Vanessa and Dan’s podcast sealed the deal. This simplifying thing could really be done in baby steps.
It could happen by starting right. where. I. was.
Smack in the middle of my simplifying process, some self-examination brought me back to my old life as an elementary school teacher. This, of course, brought The Big Purge in terms of photography props, lights and gear galore at my studio…which then in turn propelled me into every room in our home, Goodwill-bound bags in hand. I think my husband referred to this timeframe as the Kickin’ butt and takin’ names project. Honestly, I think he was afraid that I would enter his man cave and his toy area in the garage with mission-like force. I knew he wasn’t ready, so I fell back, behind the clutter border and waited like a hungry lion.
All the online minimalist voices had written about the importance of being an example, and not an enforcer, when it comes to loved ones and their stuff. It wasn’t my journey to push on them and I didn’t expect miracles in the beginning, but I do have to say that my whirling dervish purging trips must have made an impact, because slowly I was seeing some serious action taken by all members of the Blair clan.
I felt lighter. We felt lighter. It was fantastic.
With less stuff in the way, I was beginning to see a list of what was next in this simplifying thing. My photography blog morphed into a simplicity blog because, frankly, I just couldn’t think about anything else and needed a place to vent, plan and dream. I’m sure there were some followers of my old blog who thought I had lost it. First, she walks away from a successful career and now she’s writing about minimalism? What wall did she bump her head on? I answered quite a few emails about this switch-a-roo and the more I talked about it, the calmer I felt. Letting go never felt so good. I’m not usually that brave, but something was happening way down deep and I just couldn’t stop the momentum. Maybe it came from just looking around at all of the consumerism, tired eyes and hurried schedules in the world around us. Maybe it was prompted by the fact that I only have five more years before my kids are gone to college and I don’t want to have serious regrets about how we spent our time (and our money, for that matter).
During the planning phase of the new blog, I asked myself one question:
What do you want for your family?
The answer came easily:
To live an extraordinary simple life in a conventional world, recognizing what is important to our family: faith, close relationship, inspiring experiences and adventure.
Boom. There it is.
In the spirit of minimalism, we got an Airstream (ha!) and began to plan our suburban escapes. It wouldn’t be in a massive trip-across-the-country-for-a-year kind of journey, but we certainly pack in the trips in every little crevice of the calendar. It’s funny how many summer nights we actually spend in our backyard. It ain’t many, and I love it that way. There’s something about being out of our nest, into the world that supports all four of our family desires. It’s true that getting away and letting it go takes a lot of planning and simplifying because:
a) teens have their own agenda and
b) stuff and extracurriculars can cloud what’s really important.
My daughter’s mouth was on the ground when I told her we’d be missing a track meet because of a trip (my little runner sometimes thinks the world revolves around her schedule…sigh) but, after we were on the open road, heading for some of the most beautiful country you’ve ever seen, it was all good. And, I have to say, having everything at arm’s reach and a small closet to fill in The Twinkie (our home on wheels) is super fun and freeing. Who knew?
I guess you could say that there’s no going back now. My family knows it. My immediate family fears it. Yet, in my heart I am completely sure that every step we take toward simplifying brings peace to our home and meaning to our lives. I am so grateful that the teachers showed up before it was too late for us. There’s so much truth to the statement that you can’t get that time back. I intend to subtract all the excess stuff to allow the meaningful moments to shine.