Tag Archives: simplicity

Day 26: that time I got rid of over 20 DVDs

Today my pastor preached about living abundantly, freely giving of ourselves and our resources, living with open hands. If we live with open hands, we are open to giving as well as receiving. If our hands are closed, we take and take and take and keep our fists wrapped around our things. Open your hands, he said. Give and receive freely.

And with that, I decided to start purging my belongings.

It’s an attempt to simplify, to live happily with less. The things that truly bring me joy – my books, my running shoes, my kitchen supplies – are the things I should cherish. The things that suck my time – my DVDs, my clothes that I never wear – should be pared down to the few that truly make me happy and purged of the ones that draw me away from a simple, thankful life.

Today was step one. I bought a pack of jewel CD cases on the way home from church so I had everything I needed to get started. I went through my CD wallet and shelf of DVDs, pulling out everything that I rarely watched or didn’t enjoy or – get this – had never watched. I actually owned DVDs that I had never even seen! What waste!

As I went through, I thought, do I really enjoy this? Do I watch it? Do I like the story or is it merely a distraction? If it doesn’t bring me joy, all it’s doing is distracting me from the things that do, from things that would better serve God. So why should I keep it?

The movies I kept were favorites that I watched regularly, enjoyed, found value in. They’re kept as treats, occasional indulgences in something I really like. My smaller collection has a pleasant variety to it, but it also represents me better. I can’t explain it, but… that’s what it feels like.

I think I could (and will) go through my collection again in a few months and get rid of even more, but I wound up culling 26 movies and six TV seasons! I think that’s a good start!

I’m making a little list in my head of other places where I can simplify. Next up: my closet! It’ll be a challenge, but it will bring me closer to God.

Where have you simplified? More challenging: where should you simplify?

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Day 17: empty words.

You know how sometimes people talk and talk and talk but they’re really not saying anything?

Yeah. That.

One of my bible groups is starting a new book, and we watched the intro video tonight. It was very cozy, snuggled up on the couch together, eating vegan peach sherbet and drooling a little. And then this… video started.

It was just jabber. Just catchphrases like “capacity building” and “soul cleansing” and “living authentically,” all buzzwords that look catchy and inspiring but essentially mean nothing unless they’re surrounded by action and purpose. And trust me, in this video, they were not.

Suffice to say, it kinda ruined the moment. I mean, here I was, spending my Friday night at bible study, cocooned in the love of God and my sisters in Christ, and this video just killed it. Babble that turned the pursuit of right relationship with God into a cheap self-help quick-fix. I was disappointed.

However, as with all bad things, a lesson came from it. I watched that video and thought, “Maggie, don’t ever let yourself talk like that. No fancy words that resonate only because they’re completely hollow. Be real, Maggie.”

I took a technical writing class in college, and my professor talked about the status and power of language. She talked about how high-powered companies use superfluously complex language in their manuals and documents to give an air of importance, when really the souped-up lingo leave their employees befuddled. It’s an attempt to make pretty that which needn’t be pretty, and it winds up being a detriment to the companies since their employees can’t find in common ground in these words that are supposed to bring them together.

Do we lose God this way? Do we try to dress him up in thesaurus gems when really he just wants to be Dad or friend or teacher or, you know, GOD? I think it’s okay to step back from theology texts and fiery sermons and just talk about God with the same frankness that you discuss what you had for lunch. Is it fancy? No. But… is it real? If you strip the superfluous, yes.

So that’s my mini-pledge to myself as I bang out this post at 10:30 p.m. on a Friday (yeah, I party like a rock star): cut the crap. Skip the fancypants lingo. Just talk to and about God with common words that ground the people rather than divide them by how many English classes they’ve taken. Be plain. Be accessible. Be real.

Day seven: it’s okay to want simplicity.

My friends can vouch for the fact that I love to cook. In the past two weeks, I’ve made green pea and lemon risotto, lemon-garlic focaccia bread, spinach quinoa bread, hummus, spicy white bean dip, chickpea cutlets, banana ice cream, quinoa salad, chewy chocolate raspberry cookies, strawberry milkshakes, and a plethora of oatmeal concoctions. I can happily putter around my kitchen for hours. The more complicated the recipe, the better.

And yet… my supper tonight was a green smoothie and four pieces of toast. Simple, easy, comforting.

No, I didn’t have a bad day at work. No, I’m not homesick. No, I’m not pining for my boyfriend. I’m not lonely or stressed or sad. I’m actually quite happy tonight.

So why am I having such a simple, comfort-food meal? Because I wanted it, damn it.

English majors are allowed to read Twilight. Marathon runners are allowed to go for a short jog. Accomplished pianists are allowed to play “Heart & Soul.” Seamstresses are allowed to make fleece tie blankets. Chemists are allowed to make baking soda/vinegar volcanoes.

Being good at something doesn’t mean you always have to reach for the top bar. Being good at something simply grants you access to a wider range, from the complicated, difficult stuff to the easy, beginner stuff. You have permission to enjoy all of them. It’s okay to do the simple thing even though the complicated thing is within your reach.

Of course, in order to become good at something in the first place, you do have to reach for the top bar every so often. You can’t expand your range without doing so. But pushing your limits and trying something new makes the occasional return to simplicity all the more rewarding.

I am perfectly able and equipped to make a fancy risotto or a hearty soup. But you know what? I wanted toast and a smoothie.

It’s okay to choose simple. Enjoy your toast and smoothie.