It is snowing gently outside. It’s a quiet sort of snow, where it comes down in a way that is more beautiful than worrisome. Currently I am sitting in a large, soft armchair next to the windows overlooking our yard and the field beyond. It is a cozy morning, with a cat sitting on the chair with me, the dog at my feet, and my books surrounding me. I even have my breakfast next to me; goat cheese on toasted baguettes, yogurt with blackberries. A male Blue Jay is looking for food in the lilac next to the window; the feeder is filled with snow. I chose to listen to Loreena McKennit this morning because it helps me feel calm and reflective.
Last week, the nation was in bit of a frenzy over this gigantic lottery. It was some bit over 1.2 billion dollars, and it felt like everyone was buzzing over it. I naturally was briefly mulling over what I would do if my husband and I won the lottery. I feel proud that our wish list was so short and simple, even with such a large budget. This way of thinking has been permeating my mind over the last week, making me think about the future more than I usually do.
Simplicity is complicated to achieve, I think. It is so easy, as one of my great idols says, to complicate one’s life. Much more difficult to simplify. With that being said, I have found that recently, I take much more joy in simplicity and routine. This, for anyone who knows me, is supremely strange; I am not particularly a routine person. I feel, however, I have always been attracted to simplicity.
We live in a small home. It is not modern, it is not beautiful, it is not even particularly well-furnished, well-decorated, or even well-laid-out. The more I live in it, the more I love it. The simple walls, the simple delights; my reading corner, which I sit in right now, is a testament to this. Two windows, some bookshelves, and a deep arm chair. That is all I need to feel entirely at peace with my surroundings right now.
We have a modest income. I am a teacher, my husband works in marketing. We do not make enough to go on lavish vacations. We do not make enough money to re-do our home on a grand scale, though piece-meal, certainly. We do not make enough money to go buy new clothing or go out to restaurants on a whim. We have enough to eat well at home. We have enough to support our son and his pursuits. We have enough to heat our home. To provide hay for our animals. To go on long drives on Saturdays to explore the countryside.
We have long-term goals because that is the position we are in; when you are a low-level teacher and in retail marketing, that is the position you are forced into. To be entirely frank, this is the only position I would choose to be in. If I were given hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, should I be a doctor or CEO for example, I would not be nearly as happy. I can only imagine myself with a seemingly limitless budget and list of wants. It does not breed contentedness, I don’t think. I have no way of knowing, but I can’t imagine it creates happiness.
My wish list? It’s simple. My home to be worked on and tailored to our lifestyles over the years. To someday have a bathroom with a bathtub in it. To have a camper so it is easier to go on adventures. I’d be happy with an old school bus, to be honest. To pay off as much of our debt as possible. For William to have amazing childhood experiences. To be active and happy and pursue the dirtbag dream of summers off and adventures on a nickel. To have my sheep and my dogs and cats and a comfy bed. To surf when I can. To be able to heat my home through the winter. To be good at my job. To be a good partner and mother. To go flea marketing on the weekends and to go hiking as often as possible. To see parts of the USA that I have never seen. To go back to Costa Rica and maybe France, and someday Tibet and Nepal and Australia and Chile.
The beautiful thing about my dream life, you can see, is that it is entirely attainable. My husband shares my dreams, even though oftentimes we don’t see those dreams through the same lenses. My ideal life is one that I am already living, though it could stand some movement at the moment.
Winter is notoriously very difficult for me. It makes me feel stuffed up, cramped, and cooped up. I do try to enjoy the outdoors, but to be entirely frank, I get cold very easily and it is not enjoyable for me no matter how many layers I put on. Winter is hard, but this winter has been filled with reflection for me. On my direction in my career, on my direction in life, on what we plan to do at our little home and in our adventures. I’ve done more sitting and relaxing and thinking than I ever have in my entire life. I tend to be someone who just can’t stop moving, and this year I have learned the value of just sitting. Just shutting up. Just listening. Just feeling. Just breathing. I see great value in slowing down. What kind of person would I have been like a decade ago if I could have just slowed down, I wonder?
But here I am, a young woman who has learned to slow down and now needs to decide what kinds of changes she would like to make going forward. I know what the changes are, actually, I just need to implement them. And here I am, working on that. Just breathing is the first step.