On Zombies, Travel and Owning Up

Don't trade your authenticity for safety. Please. (via Slow Your Home)

I’ve become a little cautious lately. A little too safe. There’s too much egg-shell-walking happening, and I don’t like it.

You see, so often I go to insert an extra little piece of my life into my writing – just a glimpse or a tidbit – only to stop and overthink it.

“Hang on,” says the little voice in my head, “you’re supposed to be into simple living. You shouldn’t care what jeans you buy. You can’t go telling everyone your daughter has 13 stuffed animals on her bed. You aren’t allowed to talk about the 5:2 Diet or juicing or stand-up paddleboarding. You’re supposed to be…well…”

What?

Just what am I supposed to be if not the person who loves a clutter-free room, money in the bank, quesadillas, Indigenous art, travelling to far-off places, a gutsy shiraz and Friday Night Lights?

Should I pretend that I am disinterested in my appearance? Should I avoid laughing too heartily at old Chevy Chase movies? Should I feign indifference to good design? The Walking Dead? My Nespresso machine?

All because they don’t fit under the big umbrella that is ‘simple living’?

More and more I think the answer is no.

Honestly, there are many things I avoid, simply because they bring nothing positive to my life:

  • gossip magazines
  • reality TV
  • aimless channel surfing
  • more than occasional junk food
  • Nutella
  • fashion magazines
  • junk news
  • mean-spirited or bigoted humour
  • soft drink

And there are many other things I want to improve on. (My patience, aerobic fitness, and not reading emails in bed.)

But failing to mention any interesting parts of my life, any challenges, any shortcomings or obstacles, simply to avoid the appearance of ‘doing it wrong’? Well, that’s just ridiculous. If not fitting in a box is ‘doing it wrong’, then we’re all in trouble, don’t you think?

We don’t fit a mold. We can’t squish into a box. We are unique and interesting. So let’s embrace the quirks and the bumps and the bruises. Let’s be who we are, and be open to who others are.

And maybe, just maybe, the energy we gain when we stop pretending will be enough to help us improve what we want to improve. That’s one of the ultimate goals in simplifying life, if you ask me.

33 Responses to On Zombies, Travel and Owning Up

    • Nice one, lovely! It’s funny, because I agree with you 100%. I love learning the quirks and the challenges and the ideas, but when it came to sharing a little more of it, I froze. But no more! Prepare for zombies and gardening and wine!

  1. I was with you until Nutella! ;) I deleted from my rss feed most simply living blogs because of the god like adoration some bloggers bask on and the fact that it is easy to talk about spending less/simplifying when you have a lot. Most bloggers are upper middle class that have no clue how the lower middle class lives. I have small luxuries in my life which I cherish, so the well offs that are all smug because they cut down the shoes or second car well buhu for you. I will continue to cut what I think is superfluous to ME but the gods help me if anyone is going to take away my nutella.

    • That’s really interesting, Carla, your point about the god-like adoration. It’s not the first time I’ve heard a similar comment and it’s something I really hope people (writers, bloggers, thinkers on simple living) start to pay attention to. I can tell, from the comments on this post and the conversations that I have, that people really do gain more by sharing a journey rather than being preached at. Such a good reminder to me, so thank you!

      And seriously, Nutella is on that list to convince ME that I don’t need it. It’s been a few months!

  2. But wasn’t that the point of all the simplifying?? To make room in your life to enjoy paddle boarding and Shiraz? Because you have room to sit and sip a Nespresso while watching a consciously selected TV show that you enjoy watching? Subtraction for the sake of subtraction is asceticism and I wouldn’t read a blog on that…

    • No, you’re exactly right, Margie! I wouldn’t want to WRITE a blog on that, let alone read one.

      More so I’ve been struggling with the idea that some of what I enjoy doesn’t gel with the broad notion of simple living. I didn’t want to seem like I was being hypocritical by enjoying those things, but I also very much want to share myself more authentically. I guess it’s just been a balance that I wasn’t sure I was striking well, you know?

      And you’re so right, the purpose of creating a simpler life (for me and my family, at least) is so we can afford to travel, we can afford to take afternoon naps, we can afford to sit and enjoy a bottle of wine together and do nothing else, because we’ve created a life intentionally that allows that.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts too – I love hearing more about what people find interesting about this whole journey. :)

      • I see your point of being fearful that the purists will come after you for not beating the drum for simple living perfectly. But authenticity is important. And it feeds fresh writing topics for you.

  3. I couldn’t help laughing out loud at your mention of zombies. Walking Dead is the only show I follow and I eagerly await the start of the season! :) I know what you mean though. I just bought a bunch of books for my 4 and 6 year olds and I kept asking myself if I should get them from the library. I’m really trying to foster a love of reading in our home and it’s just nice to own your own copies of books that you love. At their age, they read them over and over so it justifies the purchase. All the same, I couldn’t help but wonder… glad I’m not alone :)

    • It’s tough isn’t it? Trying to balance good, intentional choices with the idea that we need to keep things simple? Yeah, I struggle constantly. And then there’s the question of “How much do I talk about this stuff, because, well, I don’t want to look like I have things together too much, nor am I feeling like a hot mess.”

      And I can not wait for this season of Walking Dead. So many questions! So many losses!

  4. Amen! How refreshing to read this entry! Nutella? Meh! But take away my See’s chocolate covered almonds and somebody’s lookin’ for a fight…

    • Hahaha! You know, I put Nutella on that list with the greatest intention. I used to be ridiculously, off the charts addicted to the stuff. Now, if I continue telling myself it’s no good for me, then I’ll continue to not eat it. Red wine on the other hand? Hell no, that’s going nowhere!

  5. Thanks for the honesty. I’ve only just embarked on the journey of ‘following other peoples simle life’ in the hope of being more focused on my own. Now if they only glow on good stuff and dont share the challenges – how will I learn from that. I made a commitment to focus on simple living for this year becuase I want to be more intentional in my life – if I dont know what other people are challenged by then I wont realise the opportunity to be intentional is out there. So, PLEASE, share the real you – what do you do when Nutella screams at you at the shops, or when your best friend tells you about a great website sale…… the journey of a simple life must be just taht – honesty and openness. Thanks for opening that question for me.

    • Such a pleasure, and thank YOU for taking the time to tell me your thoughts. I guess I just became stuck between the idea of writing about something and not seeming like a fraud because, well, I like nice jeans. Or my iPhone. Or zombie movies. You know? :)

  6. Perfect post! I think most, well at least me, love reading honest blogs. Those who can be authentic. We want to connect to the writers. No one wants to read a blog where the writer is perfect, how boring. In my path to simple living I want to read what others struggle with so I know I’m not alone. Keep being open, honest and vulnerable! I appreciate it.

  7. Thanks for the great post Brooke. I have recently found your blog and am following with the aim of simplifying to enjoy the ‘now’ moments with my family – like Tamara. So far I am inspired!! I read some words recently about following blogs that went something like ‘ how can we be happy when we compare other’s highlights to our own low lights’. Your honesty in this post is reassuring that we are allowed a little bit of naughty. Thanks again.

  8. Hello!
    You’ve inspired me. I want to discover, develop and keep my own slow home and as I see on Your blog – quite a nice journey is ahead of me :)
    All the best for You and other readers.

  9. I think sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to live up to a certain standard. If we fail to meet our own high expectations, we try to hide it, hoping no one else noticed our “failure”.

    I compare it to trying to live a Christian life. Many professed Christians are so obsessed with being perceived to be actually living an authentic Christian life that they live stressed out, fearing someone will find out they are not as perfect as they would like everyone else to think.

    Just as with Christianity, minimalism is not about being perfect, it’s about the process of working towards perfection, knowing we will never be perfect.

    So what if you slip up once in a while. Just pick yourself up and keep working at it.

    Minimalism should be fun. Let’s not turn an attempt at simplicity into a jail sentence.

  10. I appreciate this- in my own life I’m making changes that feel hard to share with others but I need to in order to be real/authentic. I just want freedom to be me, to not fit into someone else’s box….

  11. Hi! I am am long time lurker but this is my first comment. I had to chime in because I just wrote something similar- when simplofying becomes keeping up with the Jones’s. i love your authenticity and willingness to show that simple living does not uave to fit a particular “mold”. I mean, what’s the point of living simply if it is not to make room for the things amd people you love?
    Oh, and i love nutella.
    Katie

  12. I think you’ve nailed the ultimate simplicity here- to know ourselves, to be ourselves, and to be happy in that. I teach young high school students and if only they knew this! They’d stop looking outward and see that all the best joy is being who they really are, quirks and all. Somehow this is going to weave into Monday’s free write. Thank you!

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  14. I love your outlook! You simply say what I’m feeling and too scared to do or say. Life is way too short to worry about this, that and the other. Thank you for your awesome words. You’re wonderful :)

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