Sometimes the “world is too much with us” and I long for simpler times. And yet I also love modern technology. How does one embrace a simple life in these modern times? How do we achieve balance?
I have been blessed with several women in my family to whom I look for guidance in various areas of my life. For instance, my Aunt Hazel is my example for hospitality. I was never more “at home” than when visiting her. She made everyone who entered her home feel loved. My Aunt Marilyn was a beacon of gentle kindness. Aunt Dee, for whom I was named, is my role model for aging with grace while staying active and involved in life around her. My mom loves to give gifts and bake cakes for people. She also is a most enthusiastic celebrator of holidays. Her house is always decorated for whatever holiday or season it happens to be.
But when I need an example of quiet serenity, peace and simple contentment, no one exhibited that more clearly than my grandmother. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of playing at Grandma’s house (we lived next door to my grandparents) and hearing her whistling or humming hymns as she went about her daily work. She wore simple “house dresses” and usually had an apron on. Nine of her eleven grandchildren lived within a block of her and we were always welcome. As long as we were getting along we were free to play at Grandma’s house but any scrapping would get us sent home. Peace reigned at Grandma’s.
All who knew her would agree that she was one of the most contented souls we knew. She was perfectly happy with what she had and rarely desired anything else. I found this rather inspiring even if it did make her exceedingly difficult to buy gifts for. She loved flowers, however, so that was a safe bet.
Grandma’s house was simple, tidy and comfortable but it would never have been featured in a decorating magazine. She had just what she needed and not a lot of extras. Perhaps the fact that she never drove a car and therefore didn’t do much shopping played a role in this. In fact, I’m sure it did. In later years I often picked up groceries for her and her list usually consisted of the same items. She knew what she needed and wasn’t interested in seeking out new things.
Grandma went about her day in unhurried industry. In my childhood memories she was nearly always doing something around the house. Watering her roses, washing dishes, preparing meals, making beds, hanging laundry on the line, brewing yet another pitcher of sweet tea for thirsty grandchildren… And yet I never sensed that she was rushed or in any way resented her daily chores.
A couple of years ago I saw this video and was utterly charmed. Take a few minutes to watch and then I’ll share my observations.
Wasn’t that beautiful? Maia simply radiates peace, contentment and joy. And her physical abilities are absolutely astounding!
My grandmother didn’t do yoga or any exercise other than her daily household tasks yet I was still reminded of her as I watched this. And I know she would have agreed with Maia regarding her secret for a long life:
Simplicity ~ Work ~ Enjoyment
Grandma’s lifestyle modeled simplicity. She was content with having just what she needed and not much excess. She followed a simple daily routine which began early in the morning watering her roses, trees and other plants (we lived in the California desert and everything had to be watered every single day). There were meals to prepare and clean up after, laundry to wash and hang on the line, ironing, dusting, vacuuming, and grandchildren to care for.
In the evenings after the dinner dishes were washed she would tell any of us grandchildren who might still be around that it was time to “park it”. That meant we found something quiet to play with in the den or watched television with her. If I was spending the night, as my cousin and I often did, she would send us off to take baths and then we would take turns sitting in front of her as she gently combed out our wet hair while watching Little House on the Prairie, Lassie or one of her favorites – Ironside. Later, we’d crawl between the soft, snowy white, line-dried sheets and Grandma would say prayers with us, always ending with the words “and wake us up happy in the morning”.
I am so grateful for her example of a life which modeled simplicity and contentment. I’ve been thinking about those concepts a lot lately and am feeling a real need to strip away the excess in my life. I have too much “stuff” and too many demands upon my time. But these are within my control. I can start getting rid of things we don’t need or enjoy. And while this part is harder for me, I can also begin saying “no” to some activities. I don’t need to serve on every board and every committee. I don’t have to say yes to every request to volunteer. I can implement a simple daily routine of home care while still allowing time for this blog. I can achieve a better balance of work and play and rest. In fact, I simply must do this. I share my grandma’s quiet nature. Grandma was a big fan of everyone and everything just being “peaceable”, as she would say.
I suspect I’ll have more to say about all this. Hopefully you don’t mind me thinking out loud here on Life With Dee. And I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you crave a simpler life or do you thrive in a busier, bustling household? How do you find balance in your life? Leave me a comment. And if you have links to any good articles or books on this subject, please let me know.
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