We entered the new year in a tent, in the Colorado wilderness, in below freezing temperatures. Although cold, that wasn’t what kept us awake much of the night. Apparently our toddler had the idea that New Year’s Eve should be an all-night party. In between cat naps, we had conversations about the off-road adventure in the truck, the coyotes we heard yipping close to camp, the fire wood we collected and chopped, and our dog who would eventually join us in the tent because she really was cold. I kept my humor throughout.
About a decade ago I joined a team of Colorado women to participate in a Susan G. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk. We’d be traveling to California to join over 30,000 women to walk 60 miles and camp together at a mass site set up for the event. Participating teams were encouraged to decorate their designated section of camp.
Sometimes I feel like I’m swimming against the current, but I do my best to cultivate a home that celebrates non-material values. These values I hold near and dear to my heart are also advocated by one of my favorite organizations, New Dream. I was pleased to be asked by their staff to contribute an article on my gift giving philosophy as part of their holiday campaign.
Over the weekend I sold a bed frame on Craigslist. The man who bought it was friendly and engaging. For whatever reason he offered to me that he and his wife were a childless couple who owned a big, new home. He was buying the bed frame to go into one of the extra bedrooms that “would never get used.” He saw the ridiculousness in the whole thing.
Most days I go for walks. It’s my form of meditation, exercise, and connecting with the natural world. I don’t know what triggered it, but the other day when I was walking I was hit with sinking feelings of sadness and despair from all the horrible events happening in our world. I can’t make sense of it all.
At the beginning of April my friend Celia asked me to write a guest post on simple living for her inspiring blog Litterless. I was flattered she asked and jumped at the opportunity, but every time I sat down to write I struggled with how best to describe what simple living means to me. Several weeks passed and many pages of notes were tossed before it finally came together. In part the post was difficult to write because the request came at a time when my life felt anything but simple.
Yesterday my daughter graduated from high school. I can’t linger on that fact too long or I’ll set myself into another fit of tears. I don’t know why I didn’t anticipate that it would be so emotional for me – my baby all grown up. I’m so proud of her. This girl of mine is well prepared for her next steps. She’s an intelligent, capable, determined, independent, and thoughtful young woman. She’ll do great things. But she’ll be dearly missed this fall when she leaves to attend college in another state. In a last ditch effort to pass on any wisdom to her as she starts her next chapter I made a list of life lessons that I’ve come to value. Many of these lessons have come hard and some I still struggle with, but all are meaningful to me. In no particular order, here are they are.
The most common thing I hear from my readers are admissions of guilt or feelings of inadequacy for not making a bigger effort to live a “green” lifestyle. I get it because I often feel the same way. Sometimes when I measure my environmental efforts up to other people’s efforts I come up short and I feel tremendous guilt for not doing more. The thing is, guilt is not a particularly productive or useful feeling. It might motivate change, but not in a lasting or positive way. Resentment is often associated with guilt-led change. I think it’s possible to move beyond our environmental guilt and still make progress in our efforts.
Danielle, author of the beautiful blog Hippie in Disguise, graciously interviewed me for her series Interview with a Minimalist. I hope you’ll take time to read the interview – you’ll learn more about me, my year of buying nothing new, my thoughts on a zero waste lifestyle, what minimalism means to me, where I get inspiration, and more. While you’re checking out the post, I highly recommend you read the interviews of other minimalists. There are many nuggets of wisdom to be gleaned about getting more out of life by living with less.