I grew up around my grandparent’s farm. My childhood home, past a certain age, was surrounded by farmland on all sides….literally. Our little white stucco house was literally in the middle of massive fields, sometimes completely surrounded by corn every way you looked, and I didn’t mind it one bit. I never once felt like I lacked anything in life, or as if I were left out of some social popularity group of people.
My first job was in a Mennonite specialty store and bakery. I learned how to bake bread, pies, make delicious sandwiches and dinners. But I had no interest, when it came right down to it. Looking back now, I wish I would’ve paid more attention.
When I got married and moved away, I didn’t move very far from home. But in that moment, I didn’t have any intention of having a mini-farm either. The farm life was instilled in me, but it hadn’t quite grown into itself yet. I was growing each and everyday in the newspaper and magazine industry, eventually having a demanding job as a General Manager of a regional magazine. Talk about not living simply…
When we bought our own home in 2008—a little half-acre plot with a T-11 sided house in the middle of a wooded subdivision—we had no intention of living a healthier lifestyle. But that’s where it all began. Moving out into the countryside stirs something up inside of you.
But the chaos of work (and sometimes no work) came…a baby came…and life got busy. And a busy life that we weren’t enjoying very much.
I wanted to sit in the middle of a wide open space surrounded by corn again, and look up at the clouds. My goodness, how long had it been since I watched the clouds pass by? I wanted a good home cooked meal, not something I bought with coupons because it was on sale that week.
I quickly realized that we had been sucked into a new life that praised the ability to save money by eating unhealthy, and lost the reality of where our food actually came from. We had lost the ability to enjoy life because we were so busy trying to create a life. We had lost the joy of family, friends, and the simplicity of everyday living.
With car payments, a mortgage payment, credit card bills….this wasn’t a life we had created…it was a prison.
So we stopped.
We stopped the chaos.
We stopped contributing to the new food concept that processed food is better because it’s cheaper.
We paid off our cars whatever way we could (including selling), got rid of most of our debt, and got out of our prison we had created.
And day by day we tried something new.
A new home cooked meal. I taught myself how to cook efficiently, healthy, and deliciously, once again. I became a better homemaker, mother, and wife, because my priorities shifted from running a successful career and business, to putting my family’s needs first. And I became a healthier person, both physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I became more kind…more understanding…more loving.
So what has simple living taught me?
Well, it taught me that simple living isn’t simple at all. But it is one of the most rewarding lifestyles one could ever commit to.
Instead of rushing through the day all-day-everyday, some days I sit back and look at my son and say, “we’ll never get this day back, let’s go to the creek and waste some time.”
Instead of ignoring my family, living a simple life has taught me to put the cellphone down more often, especially at the dinner table, and enjoy the laughs and smiles of the people sitting right beside me. And sometimes, we even have productive conversations.
Instead of being a consumer, we’ve become producers. Producing our own food, our own medicine, our own happiness.
Instead of filling time with tv and internet, I fill my nails with dirt from the garden beds.
Instead of never looking up at the clouds, now, I get to look up at the clouds every single time I go outside to feed our farm animals, to butcher a chicken, or tend to our garden.
Instead of being angry an anxious all of the time, I’ve learned to choose grace and happiness, because in a lifestyle like this, you have to give yourself a whole lot of grace, and choose happiness constantly. It’s not easy when you lose a beloved farm animal, or a crop, or an entire shelf of canned goods.
Instead of wasting time on useless conversations or constant gossip, I long for in-depth connections with others. I want to talk to you about your health, your passions, the things that make you you. I want to converse about life—raw, real life. No filler. No filter. Just real talk. Because I have zero time to entertain the rest.
Living a simple life has taught me how to love unconditionally, to live more intently, and to be a better person than I was the day before.
Living a simple life has taught me that I have no time for drama, self-doubt, conflict, useless opinions, popularity, hate, or time fillers…because my friend, living a simple life isn’t simple at all.
There are chickens to be fed, animals to be processed, vegetables and meat to be canned, herbs to dry and turn into medicine, a child and husband to feed three times a day, a house to clean, a dog to love on, friends to help, a garden to tend to, and babies to love on.
And at the end of the day, when I’ve washed off all the dirt and grime of the day, living a simple life has taught me that I never have, and never will, experience a more satisfying life than this….
The simple life….