Once upon a time, I lived out of a suitcase...

Five years. It's been five years since we returned to the U.S. Once upon a time - it feels like a lifetime ago - my husband and I traveled the world, working on small, piston-engine airplanes used by relief, humanitarian aid, and mission organizations. It was an amazing life.

There are definitely days when I miss it. Still days when I wish my passport was used every month or two, when flexibility was a way of life, and when my outfit choices were limited to what was in my suitcase. It's amazing how little you really need in order to live.

For one five month stint in eastern and southern Africa, we lived out of two suitcases and two carry-ons (which also included a number of aircraft tools and computer equipment). Each day, I chose my outfit from five shirts, a couple pairs of pants, and a skirt. If we were going out, I wore lace-up shoes (you never know when you'll need to run). Life was simple.

That's not to say that it was easy, or that there weren't days when we dreamed of being anywhere but where we were, but there are aspects of that period that I long for. The simplicity of decisions that needed to be made, the feeling of being free, the ability to pack everything we owned and move in less than an hour - things I cannot say today.

Today I am tied to a mortgage, a car, a house full of furniture, books (I admit - I did miss those!), a walk-in closet (with "nothing" to wear), and a basement that is embarrassingly stuffed. Coming so soon after the avarice of the holiday season, January always makes me desire simplicity. It's my wake up call to clean out, to be more thoughtful in what I buy, what I keep, what I use, and what I need.

In 2011 I started cleaning out. I simplified our walls and our holiday decor. In 2012, I joined Jules in the William Morris Project, which is when I discovered the lesson of the unused pasta maker, my Scotch tape fetish, and a usable laundry room. We also paid off our mortgage after I stopped buying stuff we didn't need. Not only was I seeing simplicity in our home, I was seeing positive results in our bank account.

But even the most disciplined of us slip up - and 2013 was our "two steps back" year. Not that we didn't still see financial successes, but we loosened up a bit too much. It happens, but that doesn't mean it has to stay that way. It's a new year.

In 2014, Jules is doing something a little bit different with the WMP, and that got the wheels turning in my head as well. For people who enjoy simplicity, we still have a lot of clutter in our home, and that's something I would like to see diminish this year. Losing the clutter also includes finishing small projects that we've put off for years... starting now.

Clearing the clutter, finishing projects (large and small), and staying away from the stores (and online shopping) should all work together to help us regain our financial discipline as well. With our focus back on paying off the mortgage and other, larger projects (requiring money to complete), I am looking forward to what 2014 will hold, and once again feeling free. Care to join us?

What does "simple" look like for you?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Carrie,

    Simple is living in 40 square feet in the starboard cabin of Van Kedisi as we sailed across the Atlantic. We truly lived in each moment with what we had with us and the support of each other.

    Good luck simplifying in 2014.




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