Every week, I will be inviting a simple-living lover to share their lifestyle with us. For the first of the series, here’s Nancy’s journey into simplicity…
Nancy is a freelance writer, living in Florida, who abandoned the practice of law (after 13 years as a civil litigator). You can visit Nancy at Spirit Lights The Way: www.nrhatch.wordpress.com
How would you describe your simple-living lifestyle?
As I read Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James, I made notes of changes that I wanted to make in my life. (I also bought copies of the book for everyone on my Christmas list that year. I wanted to share with friends and family what I viewed as true wisdom . . . Less is More.)
My husband and I went to work to create the life that we wanted to live. We started with simple changes, then moved on to bigger challenges.
Among other things, we jettisoned much of the clutter that was filling our lives; we moved from the crowded suburbs of Philadelphia to a much smaller home on an island in the Chesapeake Bay (and then moved to Florida); we sold our camper and started to take time to enjoy sunsets and beauty from our own backyard; we switched from jobs that were “time hogs” to part-time positions which allowed us to live life on our terms; we traded larger paychecks for more time;and we simplified our eating habits by becoming vegetarians who “eat in” more often than we “eat out.”
By eliminating things that are not important to you, you find time for the things that really matter.
What was the one significant moment that made you realise you needed to simplify?
We had a minor flood in the basement and had to empty out the smallest room in the house to replace the carpet. As the pile of books, sports gear, recreational equipment, furniture, etc., piled up in the adjoining room, it hit us: we have too much stuff!
Since then, we’ve made a concerted effort to downsize our belongings – shedding the extraneous and keeping only the essential.
What has been the biggest positive effect on you through living a simpler life?
When I stopped practicing law, many of the attorneys I had worked with over the years expressed a desire to do the same. Around the same time, an ABA (American Bar Association) survey reported that 70% of all attorneys would quit practicing law the next day . . . IF they had the financial means to do so. But, by living the American Dream, they had mortgaged their future by spending more than they earned and running up debt that chained them to their desks.
Most of the changes we made to simplify our lives resulted in a general “downsizing”; having less stuff allowed us to buy a smaller house (with a smaller mortgage and lower real estate taxes and property insurance), becoming vegetarian led to smaller grocery bills, making better purchasing decisions (i.e. canceling newspapers and magazines we didn’t read and not buying stuff we didn’t need) saved money too.
Any words of recommendation for those thinking of simplifying?
True wealth has nothing to do with the clothes we wear, the car we drive, or the size of our house. True wealth means having enough money AND TIME to do the things we love with the people we love.
The less we have to distract us . . . the more time we have to live!
Nancy’s recommended resources:
Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James
Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.
Want to share your simple-living story on My Light Bag? E-mail me at polinawriting [at] gmail.com