Janae is the founder of the health and lifestyle blog Bring Joy. There, she develops fabulous vegan and gluten-free recipes, exercise videos, and posts about her life as an Air Force wife and mother of four young children. She’s currently living in Washington State as a temporary single parent while her husband completes JAG training; the family will soon be moving to Texas.
Janae is one of those inspiring, deeply honest women who I know could run the world if she chose too. Here, she’s sharing five truths she’s discovered to live a simpler and more fulfilling life.
his summer my husband and I took our four kids on a road trip. It was a time of family, of being completely disconnected from our routines. In three weeks, we traveled over 3,000 miles and passed through five states. You could say it was our time to just be.
While my husband has been away on active duty military training, I have had time and space to think about what it means to live simply. For the past six months, I have had none of my personal belongings, other than a few sets of clothes and pairs of shoes. My kids only have some of their books and clothing. We’re living in my parent’s basement. It’s odd, once you have separation from things, what that does to you.
On our road trip, one of our favorite places was the beach in southern Oregon. We had come from the crowded beaches in California. In Oregon, at least where we were, there was no one in sight. It was just us, with the sand and water stretching into the horizon. My boys could have spent the whole day there, playing tag with the waves, digging holes, running along the shore.
I’ve thought about that place often. How that simplicity brought us so much joy, and how nature has a way of smoothing out the roughness of life. And how I have filled my day to day life with things that only add clutter and chaos, when what I desire is simplicity.
I guess you could say I’ve been forced to scale back. Without a home to care for and classes to teach (I used to teach a dozen fitness classes a week), my world has become open and rather simple. I’ll admit that it’s taken a few months to get my bearings. I’m a bit like a fish out of water, learning, discovering the answers to these questions: what do I really want out of life? What is most important?
Here are five of things I’m discovering:
1. Time is a finite commodity & my most precious resource. Can I do something in a more efficient way? If yes, will it be at the expense of my relationships? If no, I know I need to do it. I love social media (Twitter is my fave) and blogs. But I’ve realized that the people and blogs that are important to me — the stuff I really care about — will rise to the top. The other, non-essential stuff I’m not really all that passionate about will fall by the wayside. Spending time online, unlike most other forms of media, have no end. There is no end on the internet. If you are an adult, there are no parental controls or limits on how much time you can spend blog hopping, tweeting, and facebooking.
2. Real face time trumps all. Eye connection, a person’s warmth, a handshake, or hug — these things are far more valuable than a text, email, or tweet. I strive to get as much face time as much as possible with the people who matter most. That physical contact is a key component to happiness and security, which is missing in our modern lives.
3. Free is free is free. Did you know there are so many free, good things? My faves: the library, Pandora, parks, going for a walk, cuddling with my kids, doing my personal yoga practice at home. And breathing deeply. That’s free too, and that fresh air is good stuff.
4. It’s much easier to reduce expenses than it is to earn more. Readers of my blog know of my journey towards a debt-free life. I’m realizing, in a very real, acute way, just how true this principle is. I’m squeezing the life out of every penny that crosses my path. And by golly, it’s making a huge difference.
5. Ockham’s Razor just may be the answer. Ockham was a mathematician who theorized: “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.” In other words, when applied to science or math, if two competing theories make the same exact predictions, the simpler one is better. I see these bizarre, complicated fad diets; ways to get rich quick; detailed and complicated parenting books — it seems as if we want to believe that the more complicated a process is, the more likely it is to work. But experience has shown me, whether it be with weight loss, finances, or relationships, things are very simple. It’s the simplicity of principles, not rigid, complicated rules, that set us free.
See more of Janae’s thoughts over at Bring Joy