A Simple Way of Living

Years ago, when my husband and I were dating, we went to a reenactment at Land Between the Lakes. It was a warm fall day, and I remember how the sun kindled in my boyfriend’s day-old beard, setting the short auburn and brown hairs aflame. His hand swallowed mine as we explored the immaculate log and chink buildings, each befitted with the tools – looms, butter-churns, scythes, and plows – that had helped the pioneers of that untamed land remain alive.

Later, we sat in the grass. I leaned against my boyfriend’s legs and he put his arm around my shoulders as two of the actors performed in the wedding: the apex of the day’s events. I knew as the clergyman pronounced them husband and wife (as I had really known for longer than I would care to admit) that my then boyfriend and I would one day wed.

We have now been married four and a half years. A few minutes ago, my husband sipped coffee and I stared out through the window at the field as we discussed how we can attain the simple life—something we both feel is necessary and that is being lost by our generation and the generation rising up behind us.

Looking into my husband’s hazel eyes, I recalled the taste of the slightly stale sheet cake we ate the day of that reenacted pioneer wedding, which was odd—history purveying a glimpse on the future that was yet to come.

I recalled the sweet tang of the blood-red punch we drank to wash the cake – crumbling on paper napkins – down. I recalled the cream froth of the bridal train sweeping the autumnal leaves; I recalled running my fingertips down the rough-hewn logs of the buildings, and the glint of hay as it twirled slowly from the mow.

Something stirred within me that day six years ago. Not just the “this is it” moment my boyfriend and I experienced while watching the wedding, but the simplistic lure of that pioneer lifestyle. Both of us are only two generations removed from the horse and buggies, kapps and cape dresses that our Plain grandparents wore in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Many people say that that lifestyle is full of legalism, and in some aspects, I would have to agree. But I also feel like our ancestors were able to attain a way of living many in our hectic, world-at-the-press-of-a-key generation crave.

So, my husband and I are contemplating how to get it back; how to get back to that simplistic living but also keep it exempt of legalism.

We are taking small steps in that direction. I am not sure where they will all lead, but I know that I am excited to walk hand in hand along the journey with him.

Here are a few ways I am trying to live simply and “remain present in the present” (my goal for the 2013 year):

  • Unplug from the Internet after ten a.m. when my daughter takes a nap. No Internet on weekends (except for Sunday night blogging/social media catch-up).
  • No TV (we actually don’t have a TV, so this means no DVDs on my laptop) unless in a group or using it while working out.
  • Read two books a month.
  • Read the Word until I absorb something beneficial for my day.
  • Plant a garden in the spring (even if just a few items).
  • Learn to sew and can (gah!).
  • Get chickens (and keep said chickens alive with a guard dog).
  • Remain in constant communion with those I love.
  • Write more letters.

What are some ways you are trying to live simply as well?


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Comments

  1. I agree – we do crave it, Jolina. Our fast-paced society can completely silence the inner life. Kudos to you and your husband for being aware of what’s at stake, and attempting to keep your lives balanced!:)

  2. Beautifully written. I have had the stirring of a simply life as well. Longing for quietness and stillness of nature. I do see it in my future. I am beginning to write handwritten notes to friends and plan on unplugging from the internet more during the days. Thank you for your inspiration!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Chateau Prairie! I saw somewhere that stationary is actually making a comeback, in addition to the simple lifestyle. There is just something magical about opening a hand-written card.

  3. I think remaining “present in the present” is one of the most difficult things in modern life. There are so many distractions, so many pressures and stresses. For me, I am hoping to really declutter and simplify my surroundings. I have too many things — yet I don’t think of myself as materialistic. I also want to unclutter my mind, to really focus on being present without any electronic distractions. Too often these days I am always plugged into my iphone, and my goal this year is to stop spending time on technology when loved ones are present (I can’t believe I even have to state that as a goal, hard to believe it would/should ever be a distraction!).

    • You’re not alone, Julia. Believe me. My best friend is wonderful about this. She is absolutely HARD to get a hold of, but that’s because when she’s with you in person, she’s really with you. She will not answer the phone. It makes for great conversations, but drives me nuts when I need to call her! ;)

  4. I can really relate to this post, Jolina – mostly because of my choice to live in the boonies and, as a result, take in that slower, simpler life, and commune with nature. Though I do know this option is not a reality for most because they must live where the jobs are. The other way, this year, I’m moving toward simplicity is by cutting out television. We’re dropping Directv finally (and saving money for the continued house build). I’ll naturally be reading more. I plan to get back to outdoor running and hiking. And, when I moved here, I also started to can. Sewing – something I did as a youngster – is not something I ever enjoyed. So I doubt that will be one I tackle. Here’s to simple. Because I agree: too many people are walking through life with their heads down (mostly looking at their smartphones) and not living.

    • I hate to sew, too, Melissa! my mother tried to teach me, but I just absolutely refused to make an apron. I figure I should at least know how to hem, though, and other basics. As funny as it is, my mountain man actually knows how to can, so I’m just going to learn the basics from him. :)

  5. This is wonderful, Cynthia. There’s a certain craving I feel too (I’m with Cynthia here).

    Three of my “real life” friends cancelled their Facebook accounts . . . felt they were wasting too much time. As a blogger, I get too much from Facebook to give it up. But I get why they felt the need to get rid of it!

    • I honestly have pondered canceling my Facebook, because it’s too difficult to keep my family from being exposed to people I don’t know. But then, I enjoy keeping up with friends too much for that, and it’s nice for marketing, too.

  6. Such a wonderful reminder, Jolina. I long to live simply and often find that even small things like not checking my email on my phone every hour are difficult because I do them compulsively. So I think my biggest goal is to not just spend less time “plugged in” but to regain control of that urge to constantly do so. There are so many times when I’m browsing the web and I’l have this moment of “what am I doing? It’s a beautiful day out.” And yet, it’ll still take me a few minutes to step away. I’m going to take some inspiration from you and spend more time outdoors and write more letters ;)

    • I’m right there with ya, Natalia. My husband laughs at me, because I have to literally unplug from the Internet, rather than just turn it off. But it’s kind of freeing just to pull the cord out of the wall and breathe a little easier. I think that constant “checking in” stresses us out more than we know. I have to admit, too, that I’ve been checking my email in the afternoons, because of marketing developments. I try to avoid social media, though, and then unplug the Internet again. Oh, the things we do! ; )

  7. Ruvarashe says:

    This is lovely. I have been longing for a simpler life and to some degree it is simpler now than it was 2 years ago but I still long to simplify even more. You’ve inspired me to make a list of other things I can do to simplify our family’s life. My husband and I recently cancelled our cable and we’ve been de-cluttering but there is so much more we can do. I also think just having a simple perspective on life helps to achieve “the simple life”. My perspective is love God and love people… allowing this to be the motive behind everything I do. (well, this is the goal) If this is not the motive then it is probably unnecessary… in a balanced fashion of course.

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