Monday, April 7, 2014
The Quest for a Simpler Life: Being Okay with Swimming Upstream
Intentional living. Recently a friend sent me a blog post about a newly released book called Notes From a Blue Bike: Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider. I knew I wanted to read it and am so happy I did. For me and for my family, it is time to quiet the noise. To sift through all of life's distractions and decide what is truly beneficial and what needs to go. To live simply in a way which reflects our values, priorities, and purpose. To be okay with swimming upstream.
Our society encourages us to fill our days to the brim. The busier the better. Young, old, or in between; no one is immune. We are encouraged to buy, buy, buy. To fill our homes with so much "stuff" we find it difficult to appreciate what we have. Work follows us home and we are accessible all.of.the.time. In our culture, less is definitely not more. Family time is spent on the go and so often our children are robbed of the opportunity to simply be kids. We're all chasing this idea that our worth is defined by our achievements and to achieve great things we must go, go, go. Work more, sleep less, enroll in an abundance of extracurricular activities, always say yes. How far from the truth is this way of thinking? Far, very far.
By nature, I am an organizer and a busy body. I enjoy being involved in my community, working on projects at home, and keeping up with my kids. I have a hard time sitting down and just relaxing. I feel like I am doing my best to balance my role as a mom with the need to be an individual too. I spend the majority of my time at home with my family, but need to do a better job of quieting some of the noise that distracts me from my purpose for this season: being a mom to four impressionable young children. Saying no to the opportunities outside of the home that aren't a priority, limiting social media, and ignoring the pressure to keep up with the Jones'.
In our home, family will always be number one. It is time to focus on our priorities in many different areas of our life (examples taken from the book: food, education, travel, entertainment, and work). The decisions we make each day should coincide with these priorities. Our children may not be pleased when we tell them no, but there are times when it needs to happen. For our family, time for free play, eating dinner together, and early bedtimes mean we limit our extracurricular activities and schedule them to work with these priorities. Limited screen time may mean saying no to the technology that may interfere with reading, cultivating creativity, and outdoor play. Taking a family vacation may mean saying no to costly local entertainment in order to save up for a bigger adventure.
Slowing down may seem like such a challenge. Ridding our homes of excess "stuff" may seem impossible. Living simply takes work. Our decisions may be different than our neighbors, friends, or extended family and that's okay. The key point to remember: to be confident in our decisions and keep our priorities at the center of our decision making process. Slow down. Quiet the noise. Remember our priorities. While we may be swimming upstream, we are putting our family first and holding true to our beliefs. You just have to own it and carry on. As the old saying goes, "To each his own."