Lessons in Simplicity
Life can give us the simplest lessons sometimes if we pay attention.
For me recently is was allowing simplicity into my life in my food, time and space = love and gratitude (plus a little weight loss and $ savings). I was amazingly fortunate to recently have the pleasure to spend an extended time in Mexico for a family vacation. I was amazed at the difference I felt both mentally and physically at the end of the trip. Most important was to figure out a way to bring the lessons and new habits home with me. That was the challenge for sure. It is one thing to calm down and slow down when you are removed from the chaos of your normal life and an entirely different thing to try to live this when you jump back into your own personal reality. So, although I haven’t been able to achieve the total bliss and chill, there are many lessons and daily adjustments that I have been able to hold onto. And yes, less is more. I relish in this truth and pray I can hold on to this and not get swept into life’s madness! Let me share the three areas that were impacted the greatest and also areas I was able to bring home with me. Food, time and space. Perhaps you can do a bit of introspection and see where you bring back a little simplicity into your life.
Food. I was lucky enough to be able to walk into the little town everyday and pick up our fresh produce at the market or twice a week when the farmers market set up. Once the produce was picked out for the day, I ventured over to the bakery to get our bread, eggs and cheese for the day. This was all supplemented by the weekly trip to the carniceria (butcher) and grocery store for staples (wine!). Once I was accustomed to this abundance of fresh food daily, I was able to get out of my “hoarders” mindset that was my routine at home. At home I would shop once a week and totally stock up, my philosophy was more is better. So, after a few weeks of living like so many do in other parts of the country and world buying fresh daily, I got it, less is more. I really paid attention to buying just what we needed and using it all up. No waste. Which was totally unlike home where so much would go to waste. Granted part of this waste at home is my need to try new recipes, but still, there is such a better way to go about this. It really comes down to be really thoughtful about what I need and getting just those things.
I also really honed in on the skill of making once and using many times. For example, I would make a big pot of homemade beans and use those all week. But it was the simplicity of the food choices, and making real whole food everyday, every meal that made the big difference. I spent time really considering what simple base ingredients would go a long way and nourish us, plus with all the freshness we were able to try new fruits and veggies. We ended up with a lot of fresh tacos, fresh veggies sauteed, and fresh fun smoothies. The meals were simple, but healthy and nourishing. The ingredients were pure and wholesome. The magic really happened though when I adjusted my time with each meal. I slowed down, enjoyed the meal, chewed my food, took my time and embraced the company. So, not entirely possible to replicate this at home, especially the shopping every day, However, I was able to bring with me the practice of using as much of the food as possible and finding new ways to mix foods and use leftovers, while also practicing mindful eating. There are so many things that are great with eggs in the morning! The biggest change I brought home with me was to slow down when I eat. I mean really slow down. I am convinced that this one habit contributing to me losing a few pounds. Well that and walking, a lot.
The fact that everything was in walking or biking distance (and we didn’t have a car), forced me to just move all day, a lot. We were also up four flights of stairs that I always walked. I am pretty sure my leg muscles are stronger today from all those stairs! The environment was naturally suited to getting outside and moving, whether it was to pick up supplies or just walking on the beach. I did a lot of other movement as well, with sunrise yoga, stretching and mini-tabata on the beach with the kids. We played around with different exercises each day and we all took turns being the “instructor”. It was so much fun to hang out and just make stuff up. We always ended up super sweaty and feeling like we got our juices going and revved up for the day. So, as much as I would like to have the kids kick my butt everyday, that unfortunately is not my reality at home. I did however bring home a renewed desire to try new activities and to try harder to push myself. I have added in some kind of Tabata every day for 4-5 minutes. I have to push myself to do it, but it really does make a difference. And, you can do this with a walking routine no problem. Also, I really like the strength of my leg muscles so I try to find stairs whenever I can to keep them in shape.
The biggest lesson and pure enjoyment though was appreciating that I really need so little to be ok, to be happy. Whether it is the physical space I live in or the “things” I surround myself with. At home I am totally spoiled with a house big enough that my husband and I can avoid each other if we want! On vacation, we lived in about a fourth of the space and I was totally loving it. We adjusted and made it work; actually we both thrived in the smaller space. Even more fun was to see how little I needed in terms of “things”. I didn’t have Amazon showing up everyday with a few packages, no new Etsy special finds each week, no Target shopping impulses...no extras really. I didn’t want for any of that either. Well, of course I was in Mexico on the beach, what more could I want? I did want to bring this simplicity home with me. I wanted to not “need stuff” and spend my money frivolously. So, when I got home, I just stopped. Stopped the online buying, stopped the trips to Target and all the other ridiculous places I could find to spend my time and money. I looked at my pantry and all the food I have in there, so much. So, now my mission is to make dishes using up all my ingredients, only buying the necessities of what I need to make those dishes work. Then I went into my closet. Ummm, gross. I have about 25 tank tops, three of which are the same pink color. What a spoiled brat. The amount of clothes I have not worn in over a year, disgusting. So, this mission is to wear all those unworn clothes and if I don’t wear them by summer, they are gone. Best of all, total spending moratorium on clothes, shoes etc. until summer. This one is pretty easy though since I am not really your Fashionista!
So, think about how you can cut back, reel in the spending, slow down, enjoy the space you are in and things you already have, move a bit more in fun, new ways and chew your food! What are the ways you can bring simplicity and “less is more” into your life. I promise you can find some areas and I promise they will make a difference in your health and happiness.