With this issue I hope that you will be inspired to take steps to simplify your life. I am convinced it’s the next big thing. I am fascinated that almost everyone I know is overwhelmed, over-extended, spread thin, and doesn’t have enough hours in the day. Complaints of being too busy are common. I am a firm believer in the concept “if you spot it, you got it,” and when I found my-self consistently noticing this phenomenon in friends and colleagues around me, I knew I had to look in the mirror—others are only a reflection of ourselves. Last New Year’s Eve, I declared that 2014 would be my year of saying “no,” and set a deliberate intention to create more spaciousness in my life. So far, I can report that I am still very busy; in fact, busier than I want to be, but it is a work in progress. I have been getting more sleep, leaving plenty of time in the evening to cook a nice meal, go for a run, and reflect, contemplate, and digest what I read. The balance does not seem to come naturally; it takes effort and a firm commitment to discern what to let in from the rich buffet of activities that surrounds me.
I’ve had to overcome that feeling of missing out on some things, the sense that others might think of me as boring or lazy, or that a friend might take it personally if I do not find time to spend with her. It’s ironic that in our modern era it takes more will power not to do, than to do. It takes no effort to fill my life with things, activities, people, reading material, television shows, and movies I want to see; places to travel, events to attend, recipes to try. This year, I have said “no” to some really meaningful projects and opportunities: my long time editorship of a newsletter devoted to biodynamic agriculture; an invitation to join the board of a non-profit organization I very much respect; a marine mammal training course that would greatly enhance my volunteer work at the Langley Whale Center; and a feature writing class taught by a senior editor of a prominent magazine. I don’t regret missing out on any of these; in fact, my “no” is accompanied with an inner sigh of relief, a deep breath, and a renewed appreciation for stillness. My life is rich because I am, not because I fill every minute with work and play.
The funny thing about my recent renewed striving for simplicity is that my family and I formerly lived much more simply for so many years; we had no hot running water, no indoor toilet, and we bailed our drinking water by hand from a well. We ate mostly what we grew, and purchased minimal staples in bulk. It was a good and prosperous life, although our daughters still grimace when we reminisce about the early days when we made pie crusts with olive oil and whole wheat flour. Somewhere in between a more old-fashioned, simple farm life and a bustling urban life there is a balance. Time is a precious resource; I am determined to use mine wisely.