Simplifying as Expansion


You could use simplifying to live a safe, quiet, comfortable and easy life. That is not what I use it for. I use it as a container for more aliveness. For living meaningfully and loving life.

This summer I danced with friends on our little downtown Main Street. We were laughing and connecting. I looked out and saw people judging. “How dare they dance and have fun. So uncouth!” And I saw people that seemed to want to dance, but were too fearful to get out there. They looked sad. I always want to be the one dancing.

Nurture Relationships

Simplifying has given me time to nurture relationships with people that want to dance together. Simplifying can give you time to love your friends and family well. Prepare healthy meals, host connecting parties, practice acts of kindness and be moved to do loving gestures. It gives you time to offer an attentive ear to someone who needs one.

Relationships are important to the meaningful life, but they also require risks and stepping out of our comfort zones. What if they reject your invite? What if your home doesn’t meet their standard? What if people don’t accept your compliment? And they might not. But, when they do your love expands.

When I took that first Groove class, I had no idea what it was even about. I took a chance and accepted an invite to something I was sure I’d be uncomfortable at. And I did start uncomfortable until I grew into loving the self-expression and community.

Decluttering helps you be willing to invite people over and be more agile with spontaneous events.

What have you been feeling you want to do with or for your loved ones that you have talked yourself out of? Are there any invitations you want to make?

Doing What is Important to You

I just read an article about why the Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world and it mentioned many Japanese continue doing what is important to them – whether nurturing friends and family, gardening, or volunteering. And they continue to do so as they age. If you simplify your life, time and stuff, you can do more of what is important to you. You can pack backpacks of food for hungry kids or volunteer at a museum or make calls to Congress.

I remember during prayer time one year, I got the urge to volunteer with Kid’s Hope, a mentor organization. It was the second half of the school year and I knew they had already started. So, despite feeling silly, I reached out to the director and she said that was wonderful as someone just moved to our school and they needed a mentor. I mentored for many years and it felt purposeful.

I know people that knit prayer shawls, play with babies so new Moms can rest, repair homes for people that can’t afford it, teach karate, bake and cook for people going through cancer, volunteer at schools, teach kids about bike safety, paint cheerful rocks to hide, bring foster kids into their homes, garden to give food to food banks and so much more.

What cause or activity has been calling to you? What gifts can you share? How can you make time for that?

Simplifying to Express

Another part of a meaningful life, is expressing yourself. Expressing is often seen as frivolous, but art can encourage and light people up that experience your expression. It can connect people. I have been singing in choirs since I began in a kid’s choir when I was little. People will often say that a song touched them.

Perhaps you express through creativity in cooking, performing and bringing light, or creating homemade cards. You can take and post beautiful pictures. Or you love to strike up conversations with strangers.

Once again, you have to take chances as people may talk about you or you’ll feel awkward. In most performances I do, I have anxiety. I have to bring my thoughts to the other people and off myself so I can find the joy. It can be hard to express yourself, but taking the dare can lead to an expansion of meaning, purpose and delight.

Have you simplified your life so you have enough time and space to express yourself? How is your hobby room? What talent has been getting underused?

Simplifying for Aliveness

Life can feel dull if all you do are obligations and duties. It’s nothing but checking tasks off the list. Always too much to do. The antidote is presence to feel the aliveness. Even in small bursts. A look out the window, closing your eyes and listening to birds, dancing to your favorite 80’s tune, reading a chapter in an immersive novel, prayer and meditation as you connect to bigger than yourself. And actually following the Spirit’s nudges.

You can find aliveness as you notice your different senses. Actually taste that piece of chocolate. Smell the chamomile tea before drinking. Noticing the blanket snuggled around you. Get excited when you hear a train like my grandson does. Pull your eyes away from the screen to look into the eyes of your loved ones and the world around you. You can even feel your body. Concentrate on your hands and start to feel the tingly aliveness. Too often we live in our heads, neglecting our body all together for much of the day.

Feel the guilt of moving from to dos to being and noticing, and then let go of the guilt. Really see your life and feel gratitude. Gratitude often relieves guilt. As you simplify and make room in your life, try filling it with things that make you feel alive instead of more obligations.

What makes you feel alive? Can you put even a tiny bit of that into your day as breaks?

We could simplify to make our lives smaller. We could rid ourselves of extracurriculars until there is only work and home. We could watch TV after work or play on our phones instead of getting uncomfortable by making an invitation. We could stay “safe” in our little world of not “giving” too much of ourselves. When for most of us the giving is what makes our lives purposeful.

Or declutter the stuff you don’t need and simplify your time so you are doing what matters. Feel your life expand in love and fulfillment. Be the one that dances on Main Street.

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