Living with Intention

I just finished reading a book titled Choosing Simplicity by Linda Breen Pierce. It’s a collection of case studies of people who’ve drastically simplified their lives. Some still work nine-to-fives but live in smaller homes; others have scaled back their expenses so much that they’re able to focus on volunteer work or pursuing a passion.

But one thing all of these stories have in common is that each individual, couple, or family who shared their story was living a life of intention. They knew what they valued in life and pared away the excess until they could focus on what really mattered to them.

The idea of simple living has always appealed to me, but my lifestyle is hardly minimalist. In some ways I’ve simplified my life. My husband and I share a paid-off car, though we both take the bus to work, for example. But our recent move showed me just how much stuff we own—and all of that stuff is weighing on me.

Earlier this year, before the big move, I started getting rid of 10 things every day. These could be as small as a sheet of paper or a pair of socks. And I got rid of a lot of stuff, mostly papers I didn’t need anymore. I went from having two file crates full of papers to one file crate only halfway full. I got rid of other things, too, but letting go of those papers was especially freeing.

So I’ve decided to embark on another quest for minimalism—or at least as close as I can get. I’m going to get rid of five things every day for 100 days. At the end, my home will be 500 things lighter than it was when I started. Yesterday I got rid of five books—a couple of anthologies that were similar enough to others I already owned that I won’t miss them, and some books from my college days that I realized I was keeping because they reminded me of a very happy time in my life, a time full of knowledge and beginnings.

I recognize that I carry those things with me. Every book I’ve read, every class I’ve taken, every place I’ve been…All of that is inside of me, and I don’t need to keep every object associated with those times to remember them fondly. And then there are the objects given to me by people I love. Those will be harder to part with. On my entertainment center, for example, are several plastic cartoon characters that arrived one day in a box from my brother. It was a moment of spontaneous gift-giving, and looking at them makes me smile. Do I part with them? Or, since they take up so little space, do I hang onto them? I haven’t decided yet.

I’m changing my life in other ways as well. I’m trying to do some form of yoga, t’ai chi, or meditation every day, even if only for a few minutes. I’m working on spending less money, whether at Target or the grocery store.

Simple living is about intention. It’s about living with purpose as much as it is about living with less. And that’s the journey I’m on.

And now for a very brief ROW80 check-in:

Writing: Nothing impressive so far this week. I’ve written 595 words so far this week in A Prince in Patience Point. I’m a little stuck at the moment—probably a few thousand words away from the ending, but not sure how to get there. I might try reading through what I’ve already written and seeing if that helps me figure out how to end the story.

Reading: Read Choosing Simplicity: Real People Finding Peace and Fulfillment in a Complex World by Linda Breen Pierce and Downsizing Your Life for Freedom, Flexibility and Financial Peace by Claire Middleton. Choosing Simplicity was extremely inspiring. Reading stories of how people have changed their lives for the better is always appealing. Downsizing Your Life for Freedom, Flexibility and Financial Peace didn’t do much for me. I think the target demographic was baby boomers and empty-nesters who’ve raised their children and are now looking to downsize. It was mostly about why you should downsize, not how to. I’m still searching for a good book to help me with the process of decluttering and simplifying. Any recommendations would be much appreciated.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? Does the concept of simple living appeal to you? How would you simplify your life? How do you manage all of the stuff you own?

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22 thoughts on “Living with Intention

  1. Hi Denise, simplicity is the theme of the day. I wrote a short poem about it for my OctPoWriMo today. A Facebook friend of mine, Shelly Cumbie Tucker, https://www.facebook.com/shelly.tucker.961 gave herself a challenge a while back of getting rid of 100 things a day for ten days. She accomplished it and between her and you I am even more motivated to get rid of the excess in my life.

    Reading through your story seems like a good plan for trying to figure out the ending. Sometimes when I feeling stuck I talk to my characters, ask them questions, until I figure out where the story needs to go. Don’t know if that would help you out or not but I thought I’d share it with you.

    May your muse dance with you and your words helping them to fly onto the page.

    • Really enjoyed your poem and will have to look into the book you quoted. I’m currently looking for some simple living guidance.

      100 things a day is intense. I’m hoping to do my 5 things for a 100 days challenge once or twice, so I get rid of 500-1,000 things. That would be so freeing!

      Thanks, Morgan! Good luck with the rest of OctPoWriMo!

    • Thanks, Bev. Yes, our belongings are supposed to be of use to us, and sometimes it feels like we’re serving them instead. I’m trying to let go so I can have more time, space, freedom, flexibility, etc. Good luck with your own decluttering/simplification process!

  2. When I was getting all that furniture from my father-in-law, some half-hazard de-cluttering was done. Some more was also done as we prepped for the party. There were parts of it that were emotionally hard, so I can relate to the gifts from your brother bit. I don’t feel free from it yet, as it is in the basement waiting to go to donation.

    Good luck finding you’re story’s end. (Try checking behind the couch! 😉 ) Have a great rest of the week! You got this!

    • Yes, those sentimental items can be hard to part with. I’m going to try–with some of them, at least.

      Thanks! I actually wrote over 2K yesterday and am putting the finishing touches on it today, without a read-through. I just needed to get my butt in a chair and trust the words would flow.

  3. Oh, sweetie, you sound like me a few years ago when I discovered minimalism and tiny houses. 🙂 Nothing makes you take stock of the stuff you’re hanging onto like moving! As far as downsizing and decluttering goes, the book that opened my eyes and made me go “Ah-hah!” is “Clutter’s Last Stand” by Don Aslet (amazon used for a penny plus shipping). I’ve recommended it to others, and it’s funny and insightful.

    Hope you reach your writing goals, too. Good luck and good writing.

    • Oh, I love the tiny house movement. Except I can’t convince hubby to move into a tiny house. He says he needs 1,200 square feet minimum. I think I would be okay with less if I could part with most of my books. But parting with books when you’re a writer/bookworm is hard!

      Okay, so I just found “Clutter’s Last Stand” on Amazon. Definitely going to read it. Thanks for the recommendation, Esme! Enjoy the rest of your week!

  4. Yeah, since moving into a house the clutter is definitely a challenge. I do like to go through my paper and clean out the unnecessary. I periodically clean out my closet. But the books are the hardest part to part with, as I am the same why with my college books. Probably should just go through and clear out a bunch. I thought at one time of creating a roadside library to get rid of some books, but I don’t know the logistics of pulling something like that off.

    Anyway, the ending will come, you might have to coax it out with cheesecake of pumpkin spice. 🙂

    • Ah, paper clutter. One of my downfalls. That, and books. I have trouble parting with both. I’m forcing myself to pare down my book collection, but it’s hard to decide. My mom works at a library, so I just give any books I don’t want to her and then I know they’ll be used. If the library doesn’t add them to their collection, the Friends of the Library can use them for their book sales, which benefit the library.

      And I did discover my ending. I just had to sit down and force myself to write. I’m not one-hundred percent sure I’ll stick with the ending I wrote, but now there’s something on the page.

      Thanks, Cindy!

  5. It’s quite a revelation when we ‘get’ that memories don’t need to be tied to ‘things’ isn’t it? Well done! 😀
    You wanna keep us updated with a weekly 5 things/day tally?

    • It is. Now I just have to get over the guilt I feel at getting rid of things that remind me of the people who gave them to me. I have to remind myself that getting rid of the object doesn’t mean I love the person any less. But decluttering/simplifying is so freeing, so I’m just going for it!

      I might actually make the five things part of my ROW80 goals–and include pictures of the growing pile. 🙂

  6. Hi, Denise! I haven’t read “Clutter’s Last Stand”, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. So great you could find a copy! Also, have you ever heard of “FlyLady”? You can google her. She offers a lot of free advice (worth every penny you pay for it, of course, and then some!) on how to declutter and simplify your homes, with things like the 27 Fling Boogie, where you do a whirlwind tour of the home, collecting 27 items to be thrown away, recycled, or taken to Goodwill. It shouldn’t take even five minutes, but you do it every day, and before you know it, your home is growing less and less cluttered, and more and more spacious and liveable!

    I’ve looked into the tinyhouse movement, and would just LOVE to be able to live in one, but I’m afraid I can’t do stairs much anymore, so there goes the whole basis for a tiny house for me. The next best thing I can do is declutter my little room, and encourage the decluttering of our house’s fa,o;u areas. One of my goals is to take a few minutes each day toward tidying and beautifying my room. It’s all I’m able to do, but I do it! Yay!

    • I’m excited to read “Clutter’s Last Stand.” It sounds like exactly what I’m looking for! I will look into FlyLady. The 27 Fling Boogie sounds right up my alley.

      Oh, I’d love to live in a tiny house, but hubby won’t go for it. And I’d probably miss my books. And we’d have to move somewhere where the kitties could safely go outside during the day. One tiny house is probably too small for two people and four pets! But hey, a girl can dream…

  7. Hubby and I are doing this too. Although, like you, we moved, which helped a great deal to simplify. I think we find when we do this we don’t need all the things we think we need. Wow, that’s quite a sentence. lol. Seriously, when we let go, it’s so freeing. Less to move. Less to take care of and clean for instance. Less is more, yes? Great post Denise! 🙂

    • There’s something about moving that makes us realize how much stuff we own–and how infrequently we use so much of it. For me, the two hardest things to part with are books and gifts. I feel a sense of guilt trying to get rid of something that someone gave me, even if I never use it. So this whole exercise will be a learning experience for me.

      Thanks, Karen! Good luck with your attempts to simplify! And yes, less is more. 🙂

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