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2. Evaluate your commitments. Look at everything you’ve got going on in your life. Everything, from work to home to civic to kids’ activities to hobbies to side businesses to other projects. Think about which of these really gives you value, which ones you love doing. Which of these are in line with the 4-5 most important things you listed above? Drop those that aren’t in line with those things. Article here.

(Thanks again to Leo from Zen Habits for his wonderful to-do list.)

This is a project I have been undertaking for a couple of years now. About three years ago I was trying to be super-mom. I worked part-time at a professional job, tried to do an at home party plan business (worst mistake I ever made but that’s another story), volunteered for several school committees, and raised two young school-aged children while my husband worked nights. Just writing it out now I’m shaking my head – What was I thinking? I enjoyed all of these things while I was doing them, but the short of it is that it took an awful toll on my family. The kids did not do well being ignored while I was on the computer or the phone. My husband did not like me being out of the house so much, leaving the kids with babysitters, and I can’t really blame him for that.

So, I have evaluated my commitments, and whittled them down to just a few. They revolve chiefly around my family, and my employment. I have promised myself to give my full attention to my family when I am with them, and to stop trying to multi-task 3 and 4 things at a time. The same goes for my work time. I do have some hobbies, many that I have gotten away from while I was busy with the outside pursuits listed above. So I’m going to get back to sewing a quilt for my daughter, that I started years ago. I’ve taken up needlepoint, and work on it a bit at a time. I love to read, and listen to books on tape in the car on the way to work, so I will enjoy that time as well. And I will get back to a routine of working out 2-3 times a week. I did that for years, and I guess I took for granted how good it made me feel. I haven’t worked out regularly in about a year, and at 43 I feel like an old lady (actually I know old ladies that have more energy than I do). Working out again will help me with that, and give me back some energy, and confidence in myself.

And I’ve started this blog. This might be seen as a time waster – but I find this is very important and helpful to me in getting away from my ‘consumerism’ self. My chief hobby as a 18-25 yr old was ‘shopping’. While pleasurable, it really wasn’t very rewarding in the long run. Reading other blogs on frugality, simple living, and financial responsibility (see list on the right) helps me stay focused and motivated. It’s nice to know I’m not alone on this quest!

Have you spend anytime recently evaluating your time commitments? Do you feel you spend your time wisely, in pursuit of the things that are important to you?

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  1. Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things.

The first exercise on the zen-habits.net Simple Living Manifesto is to make a priority list of the things that are important to you. I need to reevaluate my priorities and cut out anything that is extraneous, even though I may feel they are important to me. I am going to try to use as much detail in my list as I can, because this will be my road map to everything that follows.

Like most people, family tops my priority list. If my husband and children, in particular, are not healthy and relatively happy, then nothing else matters. So, #1 priority is

1. The health and happiness of my children, my husband, and myself. We must live our daily lives in a way that preserves this whenever possible.

This isn’t always as easy at it seems. For example, I’ve found that the kids do best when they get to sleep early – by 8:00 pm. Any time past that and they are cranky in the morning, and are more prone to getting sick. They are school-aged, so there are times that soccer practice and school functions go well into the night. So there are times when we have to leave a function early to make our bedtimes. On the occasional weekends we’ll go as late as 8:30, and there have been a handful of times (family weddings, etc) where they’ve stayed up to 11:00 and beyond. I’ve gotten my share of strange looks and gossip from ‘other’ moms who think I’m over the top making sure the kids are in bed by 8:00. But we each have to do what works for our family.

2. To improve, nurture, and care for my relationship with my husband.

Like many marriages, sometimes a marriage relationship suffers under the trials of careers, kids, and outside society. I really want and need to improve my relationship with him. This is a large part of why I’m undertaking this quest for a simpler life. I want to have spend my time more wisely, and focus my energies on my family and making our house a home. I also need to reevaluate how I spend my time and money, and more clearly focus on some of his needs and wants. I hope to achieve balance in this area, but right now we are clearly out of balance.

3. To insure my children have the opportunity and support for a great educational experience.

I loved school, and I want my kids to love school. I want them to get as much out the experience as possible, preferably all positive but even some of the negative things too. We all have to experience life. I also want to expose them to nature, science, the arts, and as many different learning experiences and places as possible. I want to talk about science at the dinner table, and spend hours outside catching, examining, and releasing frogs and salamanders, like we did this summer. This may mean giving up and sacrificing some of the other luxuries of life, but to me, it would be so worth it.

4. To live below my means.

Like most Americans, this one isn’t and hasn’t been always easy for me. And I’m not very high maintenance! But I haven’t always been careful about how I spend my money. And when you aren’t careful about how you spend your money, it tends to slip away like a leaf falling into a rushing stream. But being financially secure will help me in accomplishing the first three goals. Because if I’m constantly concerned about money, and whether I have enough or not, it will be very hard to provide happiness, good relationships, or positive learning experiences for my family.

5. To enjoy this beautiful world and the people in it.

As the line in Desiderata goes “with all it’s sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

I believe people are basically good, and the world is out to support us. I strive to see the good in people, and tell them when I recognize it in them. I strive to be a better person myself, and leave the world a little brighter in my path.

Well I guess that’s all for today.  Next step – Evaluate your commitments.

Be Cheerful. Strive to be Happy.

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Greetings!

The Garden at Bag End

The Garden at Bag End

This is my first venture into blogging. But I have enjoyed reading many other people’s web logs, especially ones about simple and frugal living. I am trying to transition from being someone who was caught up in the whole “consumerism” mess to someone who is happier with simpler things and less ‘stuff’. It’s difficult to make that transition though. In my heart and head I know the reasons I want to do it :

  • to waste less money
  • to be kinder to the environment
  • to spend my time and energy wisely on things that are truly important to me
  • to de-clutter my space and live in a more ‘homey’ home
  • to finally know peace and be happy in the present

I hope to put some thoughts down here, and share them with you so that others, who may have a similar goal, can share their thoughts and ideas with me.

I chose the moniker “The Road to Hobbiton” because I am a fan of Tolkien, and Hobbiton and The Hobbit represent a simple, quiet life where folk enjoyed themselves and their surroundings, were honest and caring with one another (even when they disagreed), and happiness was a good meal, a warm fire, and friends and family nearby. I hope to explore that metaphor more completely as I continue.

Cheers for now!

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