Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Simple Life

I often say I was born in the wrong era. That I would have loved the pioneering days where living rustic and simple went hand in hand. But alas the cards dealt me a different hand. Today's modern pioneer or farmstead movement is taking hold and I can see why it's gathering steam. Those of us on the path to a more simple life can't get there fast enough. We dream of sustainable living, living off what we have and living within our means. But it is not easy. The internet is loaded with "how to" resources from canning to building housing off grid to yard gardening. But, you must have the initiative to take that first step to a happier and less stressful life. A life filled with reconnecting to our food, making a smaller imprint, repurposing, recycling, requiring less, learning the art of bartering and growing our own food. Basically, you have to break the maddening allure of consumerism and embrace simplicity.

Each of us has our own interpretation of the "simple life". I know what I want and how I am going to get there. If you are just starting on your simple life journey, I recommend you sit down and write out your goals. As elementary as that may seem, you need to see it to believe in it. Maybe you need to get out of debt first, or downsize your home, or learn to garden to grow your own food. Whatever the barriers, start addressing them with a plan...and stick to it. Your dream will not happen over night but what will happen is you will become more motivated as you meet your goals. Trust me on this.

Let's start with one of the biggest barriers to any dream. Money. Well, you have to have it and how do you learn live on less? Think about this for a minute. Do you have less money because you have gotten in debt and your monthly income goes to "paying" off credit and frivolous purchases? If that is the case, you need to analyze your spending and break your habit of impulse spending. That in itself may be your hardest obstacle. Let's say though, debt is not your issue but instead you have a low income job and just don't "make enough". This may be slightly harder to overcome but it is not impossible. The old way of thinking is there are always ways to save money. Maybe you just have to get a little creative. Walk instead of driving when possible. Quit eating out. Shop thrift stores. The name of the game is to save money to purchase a small home with land or purchase land to build on. If you commit to spending less and saving more, be prepared to become happier and less stressed!

Next up to think about is food. It seems almost daily we're hearing how companies are pulling tainted food from shelves, how cancer causing ingredients are being found or how much "refined" sugar is in the food we eat. Our food is making us sick. All of those things combined should be enough to motivate one to find an alternative source for their food. But alas, many people don't think they have the time or resources to start growing their own. If that's you're way of thinking then shop local, visit family farms and pick your own. Learn how to can, dehydrate and store your food. The initial purchase of buying dehydrators, canners, etc will be expensive but the long term benefit of knowing where your food is coming from outweighs the cost. However, if there was one thing I could urge you to would be to start a small garden. There is just something magical about seeing your own food growing and being able to walk out and pick your very own fresh vegetables. You're not wasting the time or the gas to go to the store to buy fresh. It's just right out your back door. There are so many resources about gardening on the internet and in your local library to not give it a go. And yes, it is work to garden, can and dehydrate but you are reconnecting with your food source and that in itself leads to less stress.

So, there are the top two things to think about on your quest to a simpler life. If you are having trouble getting started or staying motivated then surround yourself with like minded people to stay on target to achieve your goals. Once you are on your way, you'll be so surprised that living simply is truly the way to a happier life.

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