On Rejecting the ‘Norm’ and Seeking Simplicity

I probably don't say it often enough, but thank you so much for all the e-mails and messages you send, dear readers.  To hear how we have helped you, whether it's choosing a new pram, having the courage to continue breastfeeding despite adversity, helping you make different choices for your child, or hearing that a recipe has gone well, it all makes the late night hours and the café word block moments worth it a hundred times over.  Thank you.

I am always humbled particularly by those who ask for advice, guidance, or for more information on something I've mentioned.  Thank you for the ideas and queries which prompt a blog post (or seven); this is one of those...

You asked how we lead a simpler life, how our children reject screen time and favour nature, how we have stepped out of the rat race and chosen a different path, and how that impacts on our day to day.  Here's our life in a, slightly different, nutshell.

We live a simpler life, that isn’t about having the latest gadgets, cars, fashions etc. We don’t have mobile phones, let alone smartphones, iPads, Satnavs or whatever else is on the usual must-have list.  We don’t reject modernity entirely though.  We have a laptop, two tablets (both gifted) and a small but very fancy (to us!) smart TV, bought 18 months ago when our aged enormous box finally gave up the ghost.

We don’t much care what the latest zeitgeist in celebrities or music is. We like good books, high quality TV, prefer documentaries to Ant & Dec, and have little to add to any conversation about reality shows. We don’t set much store by consumerism or materialism, much of what we have is from our long ago (BC) lives, gifts or second-hand (or received for review!).

This kind of voluntary simplicity is a conscious choice, and instead we spend our money on good, nutritious food, explorations and adventures, and enjoying what we consider the more important aspects of life. We holiday several times a year, we go out every day. Rather than feeling deprived, we value experience and engagement with nature and life over material affluence. Beyond feeding ourselves and the cats, our biggest expenditure is on days out and experiencing the world.  Clothes matter little, and are often second-hand; books are a priority.  Nature a necessity.

Part of our lifestyle choice is that we want our daughters to grow into independent, strong young women whose idea of success and fulfilment is not measured by the clothing they wear, the phone they have or the car they drive. They have grown up believing that it is what you do and how you treat people, animals, plants and the environment that matters in life. Not wearing the right things, altering your body, buying endless shoes, bags or fashion, driving the right car, owning the newest phone, using shopping as therapy or recreation. They know that who we are is defined by real life’s actions and decisions, not ephemeral material things.

For me, this change and realisation has taken two decades, a gradual transition from believing that clothes, shoes, bags, make-up etc etc was vital, to no longer considering them even relevant. Our hope is that by giving our daughters the gift of this philosophy from birth, we will create a better, more conscious life for them.  A life that values trees over television, freedom over fashion, and growing over acquiring.

We’re not opting out of life, we’re opting in to living; mindful living, real living. The joy that can be found in a good meal, a sunset, an empty beach, watching animals or birds, or learning something new. The pleasure that comes from the sun on your shoulders, the wind in your hair, the sea on your toes, and not giving a stuff what you look like.

That’s living, not aimlessly acquiring, wandering round shops, worrying about clothes or hair, taking endless selfies, envying or aping celebrities, or watching mindless television. No thanks, not for us.

We choose life.

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