Or, I was.
A handful of years back, I suddenly found myself with babies and a newly purchased home. If ever there was a time to purchase things, I thought this was it.
I bought items that the babies might like, and things I might use for the babies. I shopped for a mind-boggling roster of tot gear, and had a hard time resisting those adorable tiny clothes. Then there was a home to fill. I paid hard-earned money for things like outdoorsy-scented candles, newfangled cleaning products, and the latest in clocks.
Well, it wasn't long before my house reached maximum capacity. By then, the majority of baby gear had proved superfluous, and the tot stuff was collecting dust in the corner. The candles lost their scent, the cleaning gadgets were useless, and the clock broke long before I expected it would.
Standing in my living room one day, planning my route across the toy-strewn rug, I had a vision. I saw my home in all its de-cluttered glory. I saw my girls playing with quality handmade toys that wouldn't soon be recalled. I imagined a cozy nest decorated with items made by fellow artists, each piece holding its own story. I fantasized about all-natural cleaning products, and cooked up clever ways to re purpose lackluster items.
Without realizing it, I was formulating a new family plan. It would be based on quality, simplification, and time spent together.
The simplifying scheme started with charity donations—truckloads of clothing, unwanted toys, and household items went out the door. I read voraciously about simple living, conscious consumption, creative parenting, and commercialism. I re prioritized how we spent our time, and shifted from days full of running errands to staying home and interacting in more meaningful ways. I bought large quantities of basic grocery store ingredients and learned all the amazing ways they can be used in a household. I came to realize that my spending habits are a reflection of the kind of world I want to live in.
During this time, I hatched the idea to sell my works in metal, as a way to bring quality handmade pieces to the market. I thought, maybe if somebody bought my pieces they’d be less likely to buy cheap costume jewelry made in factories on the other side of the world.
This new way of living is very much a work in progress. I have spent the past six years steering my family towards a life of simple abundance—of shedding the excess—but we often veer off course. The toy box has been replenished with cheap imported junk (this is our biggest challenge, as most of the girls' toys are gifts from others, for which we are grateful), and Mount Stuffed Animal remains the last frontier. I have to admit we adults in the household have some indulgences of our own, but we try to keep it in check. I have gotten more organized, and we have learned to patiently wait until we’ve saved enough money before making purchases—this alone has been the most effective way to keep the amount of things acquired to a minimum. We have also found a better balance between family time and the number of activities we participate in. Generally speaking, our down shift has been a success, but we are presented with challenges daily.
As long as I can navigate my way across the living room without too many obstacles, I know we're doing OK.