Living in the wine country, everything around me tells me to slow down and pay attention, to live simply and without want. To quit grasping. To become more fully human, deeply present through intention, discipline, practice and gratitude.
My pumpkins are masters at this. They stand tall and stoic; Nature shows her wise ways–as the leaves turn a yellow and orange, and the sun slowly drapes over the vines showing their nakedness to the world.
I am content, feeling the Autumn breeze on my face. I muse about the simple life most days, because it is my sanity. It’s not easy, especially with children to raise, aging parents to worry about and care for, and the media bombarding us with bad news, left and right, it it just feels like there is no where to run, but there is…
Inward. Happiness lives there.
I love the story that John Lennon once shared:
“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
What a beautiful story. I wish this for everyone, to learn early that the secret of life is happiness.
Today, I wrote down 3 ways to live simply, that I believe will also make you happier, heaven knows the list will grow, but it’s a good start:
1. Shut out the things that don’t serve you in your life: Be it the news, a high maintenance friend, emails, or the trappings of social media. Shut it off. You deserve the quiet and joyful thoughts that come with silence and solitude.
2. Take the time to be in nature: Take a walk, a sit out on your deck, meditate in the park, light a fire at night in your fire pit and stare up at the moonlit stars. Nature is your peaceful guide and serene friend.
3. Don’t overextend, over promise, overdo: The only way we can stay present to ourselves and to others is to keep our calendars open to carve out a few hours first for ourselves. The constant ‘to dos’ will never go away, especially pressing emergencies, but we will grow resentful, angry and even depressed if we do not value ourselves, our heart and our dreams.
4. Do something everyday that really makes you happy. For me it’s writing, or being with a friend sharing a cup of tea or a good book, lighting a candle, cooking a homemade meal, saying a prayer, petting my kitties.
It’s when I live simply, my mind quiets down. My body perks up. I hear my soul whisper, “thank you,” for choosing me over some mindless activity or haunting piece of news. And then asks, “Aren’t I your eternal compass and companion?”