Some Thoughts on the Simple Life

by Alisa on November 17, 2010

There was a time in my life when I was somewhat organized. During that time, I would organize and clean out closets and drawers. It soothed me. I liked having things in order.

Then I decided to write and market a book.

That’s when the free time to organize anything got sucked into a lint filled vacuum bag.

There are probably people who would say that my life is out of balance right now. I’m co-writing a book that is due to the publisher in early January, and I’m trying to publicize Project: Happily Ever After, which debuts right around the same time. I’m doing media interviews. I’m flying around the country to give speeches. I’m traipsing into the city for business events, and I’m cranking out words every which way.

I’m earmarking a good portion of my income and savings to pay for freelance publicists, promotion materials (like these cute little pens with a frog and book title on them), giveaways, travel expenses and more.

As a result, I’ve got my family on the tightest budget imaginable. My socks all have holes in them, but I won’t buy more. Part of the reason I’ve been on a diet these past few months isn’t because I care that deeply about my body size. It’s because I can’t afford to buy larger sized clothes.

A couple years ago, as the cost cutting and time commitment were ramping up, I thought that this would all depress me. I thought that I would miss all of the things that we could no longer buy.

You know what? I don’t. Although I am somewhat on the edge of exhaustion, I am perhaps happier than I’ve ever been. I found it all seemingly contradictory.

And then I picked up Tsh Oxenreider’s Organized Simplicity Tsh runs the SimpleMom site, which is a great resource for anyone who is trying to find balance at home.

Initially, when I picked up her book, I thought it was going to put me to shame and cause me to feel guilty about all of the things I don’t do—like sew my own clothes. Or sew anything for that matter.

But the book did nothing of the sort. If anything, reading her book was like sitting with the most open minded, supportive friend. You know the type. She stops over to say, “Hello.” You apologize about the mess—the socks on the floor that never did get sorted or the dog that stinks like a sewage treatment plant because no one has the heart to give him a bath. You tell her you are embarrassed that you have nothing to offer her to drink because you haven’t gotten around to going to the grocery store because you’ve been too busy writing the book that is due in January.

She’s the friend who looks at you and says, “This is what I love about you.”

That’s Tsh. She doesn’t judge. She only guides you on a journey to create a simple life—whatever that means for you.

And by the end of the book, I realized that I was already well on my way to simplicity, and that’s probably why the cost cutting and book writing has made me so happy. In zeroing in on this goal, I’ve allowed every other unnecessary commitment in my life to drop off the to-do list.

Tsh Oxenreider

And I am free-er and lighter as a result.

Note #1: In her book, Tsh includes dozens of DIY home products. For instance, she includes a simple recipe to make your own toilet bowl cleaner out of baking soda and vinegar. Since we ran out of toilet bowl cleaner a long time ago and I never did get around to buying more of the stuff, I found that recipe quite refreshing. I do happen to have baking soda and vinegar. Now I can clean my toilet. In her next book, I hope she includes a shampoo recipe for stinky dogs.

Note #2: For Tsh’s tips on simplifying the holiday season, hop on over to my Morning Call health column.

A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine November 17, 2010 at 8:30 am

I’m really looking forward to reading this book! I could use some organized simplicity in my life.

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Kathy November 17, 2010 at 8:36 am

I haven’t bought toilet bowl cleaner in I don’t know how long. I’ve been using vinegar and baking soda forever. Not only is it cheap, cheap, cheap. It doesn’t harm the environment. And I’ve never had a cleaner toilet (when I clean the toilet – that’s a whole other issue). I clean my entire bathroom with vinegar and baking soda, except my tile floors.

Simplicity is awesome.

I’m getting very conscientious about who or what I give my time too. It’s helped me a LOT with my own happiness.

Note: baking soda and vinegar are super cheap at Costco (and possibly Sam’s).

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Henway November 17, 2010 at 8:56 am

I’m a big fan of the simple life, and like to keep my house and office as simple and minimalistic as possible. Though there are times when I go to a friend’s house and sometimes becomes jealous of all the fancy tech stuff he has.

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Drummer Guy November 17, 2010 at 9:01 am

Never would have thought of the baking soda & vinegar. We are always looking for money saving tips, thanks. Orginazation is something I have NEVER been very good at. My beloved is, sometimes to the point of the ocd level..lol

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Sarah Liz November 17, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I clean my bathroom with vinegar, hyrogen peroxide and water. Works wonders!

Once in great while I DO have to take some CLR to my shower doors–but one bottle lasts me about a year.

I WANT to get more organized, but it’s just not in my nature. I have “controlled clutter,” shall we say. I am QUITE organized at work and in my kitchen–other than that, I can GET organized, I just don’t seem to STAY organized. As long as I know where things are when I need them (and usually I do), I’m okay.

As for saving money, I’m an expert at that. I come up with ways to save, or spend less, all the time. That said, some things are worth paying more for–quality over quantity is my new money-motto! What’s more expensive, however, isn’t always better. For instance, I have realized that 99c bottle of shampoo works just as well as a $16 bottle of shampoo–it’s the conditioner that really matters.

I think living a simpler life is a life-long journey, and it’s always encouraging to see others doing the same. Whether we simplify our belongings, time or money, it’s always a good thing!

Thank you for this post!

Many Blessings,
-Sarah Liz :)

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Eve November 17, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I use baking soda and vinegar for my kitchen sinks all the time, but never thought to use it in the toilet. Do you do it the same way? I showed the kids once and they thought it was so cool. They would have used all of my baking soda and vinegar if I let them.
I use vinegar also to clean my microwave, I put a bowl or mug of water with a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice in the microwave, set it for 5 minutes so the water boils, then just leave it sit with the door closed for a little while longer and then just wipe out.

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Melissa November 18, 2010 at 10:27 am

I’m nervous but excited to announce that I’m launching a digital magazine (next week) – and would be happy to pimp you out come Jan. if you’d like the extra publicity.

Our target demographic is 17-35 so not perfectly your demographic, but I think you’re an excellent writer, that your story is fascinating and that you tell it well. I think you’d have a lot of value to share with our audience.

We could either do an interview (max input of your time: 20-30 mins) or if you’d rather write something I might love you forever… we have a section called “What I Wish I knew when…” and we could prob just re-hash the post you did a while back on what you wish you’d known before you got married & mention the book…

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NoPotCoooking November 19, 2010 at 11:09 am

I love the concept of this because honestly, getting organized sometimes seems so complicated!

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Mrs. Levine November 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I have to say that I love it that you’re on a diet so that you don’t have to buy larger clothes. I’ve recently found that as a result of my dieting none of my underwear fit and are constantly giving me wedgies, which has me seriously thinking maybe I don’t want to lose another five pounds if it means buying all new underwear. :)

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James Fulton November 20, 2010 at 5:16 am

Looking forward to your Ebook, simple and effective messages that are easy to digest regarding home management …Keep rocking…

James

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Alexandra November 20, 2010 at 8:18 am

Thanks for sharing information on Organized Simplicity and the Simple Mom site. It is great to see the success of books like this one. I am heartened that people are turning away from consumerism.

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Heather Whistler November 20, 2010 at 9:15 am

Best of luck with your new book! Two years ago, I quit my job after my husband had a psychotic breakdown and learned how to live more simply. I’ve since started working again and don’t have to be quite as watchful about money, but I’m glad to know that we can live on one income, particularly now that we’re expecting a baby.

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Lisa November 21, 2010 at 11:38 pm

I love it that these types of solutions are not only cheap, but much better for our health overall than harsh chemicals. As a cancer survivor, that’s really important to me.

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james 'save my marriage now' hardy November 22, 2010 at 10:14 am

Organisation is the key. This book does look extremely interesting. One of my favourites is getting things done by David Allen. It really shows how to be organised and increase your production dramatically. I will definitely check this book out.

James

buy magic of making up

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Melanie Haiken November 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Alisa, thanks for pointing us towards this resource. I’m in the same boat, and want to stop beating myself up about it and find solutions OTHER than the “container store” method of buying more stuff to put my stuff in! This sounds really helpful.

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Lois Hjelmstad, author and speaker November 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I was delighted to find this site. One of the major tenets of my life is simple living. Good thing I was into it – I raised four children and taught piano for forty years. Chronic fatigue syndrome decked me 21 years ago and the next year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Wrote a book about my breast cancer experience. Traveled to all 50 states and spoke over 550 times. Wrote another book. Now I’ve written This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage. If I hadn’t learned to live only with cherished and/or practical belongings, dress simply, pack simply, speak simply, socialize simply, I never would have made it. Just turned 80. Not sure I AM making it!

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Jennifer Margulis November 30, 2010 at 12:12 am

I bought her book too, just the other day. But UNLIKE you I haven’t managed to read it yet. How are you able to do all that you are doing AND finish this book and more? I’m so impressed. I’m glad it’s not a guilty read. I must confess that at the blog when I was reading a tip from another Simple Mom that you should wipe down the fridge every time you open it (or something like that), I felt totally inadequate…

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