Oh a New Year. . . . time to make all sorts of harrowing vows and promises. Time to eat less, drink less and somehow still be merry. Time to own the flabby holiday poundage by exiting my elastic waist yoga pants and running again. Time to give more, spend less, not speed or curse in traffic and not yell at my kids either. Which means it is time for my self-inflicted annual guilt trip.
The wee little rebel inside of me hollers out “let your resolution be not to have a resolution.” She is at odds with the insatiable optimist in me that says “the calendar gifted us with January so may as well use it, anything is indeed possible.” As these two duke it out I’ve decided that this will be my Slacker Year. The 365 days when I did less. The year I opted out of chaos and jumped off the achievement train (at least tried to jump — I confess that right now, leaping completely from this freight train feels impossible).
The year I simplified my life.
Now I laugh at myself as I type since I have three kids, a job, a marriage and a book manuscript due in August. I have two sons in hockey and a daughter in gymnastics who (at age three) could out sass most hormonal high school students I know. I have a house to keep clean, people to feed, sheets to wash, friends to love and along the way I want to save the planet too. So my claim to simplify is comical. Outrageous really.
And honestly, “simplifying my life” is super anxiety producing. For example, I both love and cringe at the magazine “Real Simple.” It gives me great hope yet proffers up anxiety when I try to simplify all cutesy and trendy like folks at this publication. Like the issue that showed how a stray sock turned itself into a wine bottle gift bag. LOVE the idea, take a lost stray piece of foot ware and re-purpose it into a wine sock. Brilliant actually. Until I looked through my sock drawer to employ this little idea. Seems all my socks are circa 1985 with holes. It also seems I need to mop my floors on occasion since even laundered, my socks are filthy.
So is it possible to really, truly simplify our lives? To go simple without sophistication? I’m the first girl to sign up for “Real Simple” ideas but can we do this sans the socks? Can we simplify this New Year without having to read a book on the subject? Can we simplify without having to add “try to be simple” to our list?
Here are a few ideas that might help. In the mix of bedlam and bliss that is my life I’m going to give these a shot. Consider a few and PLEASE share your ideas too!
1. Stay home. Really, just don’t go out as often as you might usually head out. Exercise at home, just skip the errand or stack your errands into one day rather than one per day. Have other people to your home rather than piling people in the car to head out. Watch and old movie rather than heading to that box for a flick. Ask yourself consistently if you have to go? And risk frustrating people by not showing. And I don’t mean blow people off be a flake, but really, can you just say no to coffee and stay home?
2. Space out your day. Pad in extra time between your meetings and appointments to avoid hurry and rush. Give yourself an extra half an hour to get there and then sit quietly in your car when you arrive early for an appointment. Maybe even sneak a “power nap” in your car. Build in space rather than hurry.
3. Limit your kids activities. My very wise husband does not want our children to end up stressed and crazy like their Mama. So if they have events that pile up on the same day (like a hockey game followed by Cub Scouts), he makes them pick one. Even if the timing is such that we can make it to everything, they have to pick one activity. This way they can rest, eat better and relax a bit, truly enjoying the activity they chose rather than flying through them all.
4. Linger at the table. Sit longer at a meal. Ask a silly question every night at dinner. Let the dishes pile up. What’s the rush? If you are chilling out at home why fret over the salad bowl. Your family and friends will sit at your table just a short time so relish it. Bask in it. Sit around the mess and enjoy it.
5. Cut out one activity this year. Even if you like it. Can you chop one detail off your long list? Can you limit yourself? Can you cut the class, workshop, small group or meeting? This opens you up to space in your schedule for dreaming and thinking and being. It gives you the opportunity to dream up next steps for your life and then plan to engage them rather than just dashing out to the next event.
And then let your heart bask in the simplicity of your year. Read another book. Go to bed earlier. Snuggle longer. Linger over good wine and company. Simplify without the stress of sophistication. Stop doing and just be for a bit. And then sit a little while longer.
Got an idea? Share it with us here!