May 27, 2009

More on Simplicity

"The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions." ~Richard Foster

A good friend lent me a book today which I have just started called, Simplify Your Life. It was a national bestseller in the 90's so I guess I'm behind the times. It's a practical book with 100 tips on how one family attempted to slow down and enjoy the things that really matter. Some of what I have read so far is about giving up material possessions that are unused, unnecessary and cluttering up our already cluttered lives. It's about downsizing instead of upgrading, giving instead of buying, and simplifying everything from our chores to grocery lists and laundry! 

I am still in process on this simplicity concept though I have two of the best teachers I know on the subject as a living example in my own family--my parents. They have never made a big deal about their lifestyle choices or called it "simplifying." They just live a life of joyful unconcern for possessions. Period. They have always had a simple, but contented lifestyle. My mom recently said she read in a newspaper that department store sales were down, but Goodwill sales were up due to the recession. She joked that my dad has been living like it's a recession his whole life.

Growing up we bought almost everything secondhand. Our home was not extravagant, but others were always welcome. Even though they can afford more now my dad still buys most of his clothes at Goodwill and even then, if he gets something "new," he gets rid of something he doesn't wear. They rarely eat out or go to the movies.  They both enjoy hobbies at home: mom sews and enjoys gardening; dad reads, bikes daily, and attends a lot of high school and college athletic events. (They also both enjoy their grandkids visiting.) I don't think I have ever heard them talk about needing or even wanting some material thing. Ever. In my entire life. They just don't put much value in possessions. It's pretty amazing really. 

I've been reading some books on the matter and I keep thinking my parents already do that. Maybe I should just learn from them. I think there was a time (around middle school through college) that I sometimes wished they were bigger spenders. I mean what 80's middle schooler doesn't want a pair of Guess jeans, L.A. Gear shoes, and a couple of Swatch watches? Then in high school, I had to learn contentedness while driving a 1980's copper Honda Accord hatchback with a slightly different color door. I will say that I was just thankful to have a car and be off the bus! In college, I learned that I would have to make sacrifices to attend ACU. I got a job on campus and was either at work or in class pretty much from 8 to 5 or later all four years of college. Many of my friends didn't have to work and at the time I was wishing I didn't have to either. 

But now as I am in my 30's I am seeing so much value in those life lessons. The choices my parents made to live simply were in part due to humble teacher salaries but also their decision to live within their means. So I am writing this to say thank you mom and dad for being a living example of simplicity. Sorry it has taken me awhile to fully appreciate it, but I am grateful for the choices and sacrifices you made, and I am a better person for driving that Honda. Old cars build character. Remind me of that when Ava's 16!

I love you,


Jana said...

What kind things to say about your parents. I love hearing you talk about your family, Summer - you always do it with so much respect and honor. Who needs books when you have role models like that?! ;) (the books are helpful too...I'm just sayin'...)

And I had to chuckle when I read on an earlier post - referencing Ava's challenging behavior - "Now she's four and I'm out of excuses". Girl, I feel ya.

JENNY said...

How sweet. Chris and I want to be live more simply like your parents as well. Thanks for this post.

Amy said...

Summer, I love this post!! What a blessing to have such amazing parents to learn from and I feel blessed to have you as a good friend to learn from as well. Sure miss you and love you! When are coming to Fort Worth for a swim party? :)

Jordan said...

What an exceptional legacy.

Dava Lynn said...

Summer, I love and admire your parents, too...from afar! Thanks for writing such a sweet tribute to some really special people.

Whitney said...

Wow Summmer! Love this post! We all have a lot to learn from your Mom and Dad! We wouldn't be in this recession if everyone lived like them!