Juan & I in front of our house....well read below
As we begin to share our adventure and the steps we took it may seem like we arrived at our decisions easily. That’s definitely not the case. There was a lot of soul-searching and countless discussions that took place before we took the first steps. The biggest step we took before embarking on this journey was overcoming Social Stigma.
It was amazing to see people we are so close to NOT embrace what we were doing but shake their heads in dismay or worse….looked upon us with sadness as we lost something…our social status. Some of our choices were necessary, we had to make some tough decisions especially to survive the blow the economy hit us with right between the eyes. However, the more we thought about it the more we accepted, hugged and cuddled it! We knew this was the right way to go.
Whether it was our decision to eliminate clutter, let go of the unnecessary, selling furniture, downsizing our living space or all of the above. We wrestled with putting our wants and needs first. Especially where they contradicted what we’d been taught to believe was the right path or goals to pursue. Thanks in part to the media; many of us have come to believe that we must live our lives in a certain manner, keeping up with the Jones’. We must have a BIG house, European cars, designer clothes, furnishings, etc. If we don’t have them we must get them. To some extent we all want to fit in.
Add familial standards (or guilt) on top of what “everyone” else tells us is the right path to choose and you arrive at where most of us are in our lives. Chasing someone else’s dream… Following someone else’s idea of success... Constantly striving for more. Most folks forge ahead, grasping at the “brass ring”. Many of those that have attainted that “socially acceptable” level of success find themselves struggling to maintain their hold. I’ve known many people that have the big house, two gorgeous cars (purchased every two years), the pool the extras in life along with two small children. However, they virtually had no money saved for their children’s education and really could only afford McDonalds out once in a while. To us, that’s not living.
Simplifying your life is a personal quest. Everyone who decides to do so has to define what that means to them. Regardless of your definition or parameters, there is one task everyone must address. Examine and define YOUR values. Is your idea of happiness and success your own or someone else’s? Simplifying your life can be as little as re-examining / re-focusing your values or (as in our case) completely changing the path you are traveling.
So far, the hardest task we’ve tackled has been letting go of many of the ideas that were deeply ingrained in us. Challenging Social Standards...trying to be someone you really aren’t and don’t want to be… Once we did this, the rest came easy.
In regards to the photo above, another couple took this photo of us in front of a winery while on our honeymoon. Juan and I always looked at the picture and laughed as it looked like we were outside our new home. Back then, we would look at that picture and say how that would be a goal for us to own someday. Yes, just us, two dachshunds and a 31 year old bird in that size of a mansion! Funny how things change, for me it is certainly not about having the biggest house, fanciest car or biggest “rock” on my finger. It’s more about what I do while I’m here (on this earth) and being the best person I can be and enjoying and experiencing life to its fullest….not material things.
A funny read...Paul Fussell describes the houses, objects, artifacts, speech, clothing styles, and intellectual proclivities of American classes from the top to the bottom and everybody -- you'll surely recognize yourself -- in between. Class is guaranteed to amuse and infuriate, whether your class is so high it's out of sight (literally) or you are, alas, a sinking victim of prole drift.