Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Positively Committed

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

For just shy of the last three weeks, I've been volunteering with children in orphanages some of whom are special needs and others are in hospice care. It was, hands down, the most amazing experience of my life. There was intense sadness and grief and yet incredible joy and peace. I learned so much about simple happiness and joy from those special special souls. And I came away with an incredible determination about how important the simple life is.

While I was away a friend emailed me the saying "living simply, so others can simply live" that phrase had made her commit to sponsoring another child bringing the grand total to 3 and making the commitment to build a school in Africa next year instead of taking a holiday. Like me, these decisions will mean what most would think of as major sacrifices. Personally, apart from buying 1 new pair of leggings pre-trip, I couldn't tell you the last time I bought clothing, or books or mindlessly spent. I don't have a lot of money but I love what my money is spent on since I left the rat race behind and began to embrace the true joy found in simple living.

This trip provided much needed affirmation about just how much I love that I no longer need expensive girly weekends away taking money from my budget, when I can use the money in other ways or simply work less. I no longer need to meet friends on a Saturday and shop for things I don't need, when I can hike, volunteer at my local animal shelter, bake or sit around with a wonderful group of women discussing books and knitting.

On my trip, I had four outfits, limited choice of food, a tiny tiny room to call my own. I was with the children 10 hours + a day and yet everything about it was simple, through the whole trip there was no need to go anywhere or stress and nothing to distract me from my calling. It was simple, it was joyous.

Since I arrived home, I've been thinking about just how amazing a reminder of why we are on this path is, just how necessary and important. I had mine over the last three weeks, I'd love to hear yours?

What reminds you that making these simple, small changes is important? What helps you keep focused on the goal of living how you want to live and what your success is vs. what society thinks success is about?


Chiot's Run said...

So very true. I was blessed to have parents that felt called to live a simple life and to give their lives to help others. They left everything after college and headed down to the jungles of South America to help the poor, teaching medicine, nutrition, finance and faith.

I grew up learning to appreciate life, simply life. We spent many afternoons eating and living with people that lived in cardboard boxes and literally owned nothing. Yet these people were some of the most contented and happy people I knew. They knew hardship for sure, but they had a tremendous sense of contentment despite their circumstance.

Whenever we'd come back to the U.S. for a year we'd give away all of our possessions to those we knew needed them. I remember distinctly as a little girl, riding with my parents out into a shanty town on the outskirts of town and handing my homemade cabbage patch doll to a little girl that had no toys.

Because of my parents convictions, we grew up with a deep sense of self, learned the beauty and contentment of a simple life, and I now have a deep sense of appreciation for the ability I have now to help others. No doubt this is why I still work for a non-profit, not making much in salary, but it's priceless in the joy it brings because I know every thing I do makes a HUGE difference in the life of someone else far away!

Chris said...

This is a tough question for me to answer, as in many ways we're still making the changes. It's more difficult not to feel discontented with the limited progress we're making.

But if I look back to 3 years ago, we have definitely changed. We no longer put our rubbish-bin out weekly. It's every 2 weeks now and we hope to bring that down even further. We no longer shop like we used to, or look for entertainment like we used to. We make a lot more of our own food.

What keeps me going is the very desire TO change. The more we shed, the more we gain - new insights and new ways of existing.

Work in our culture is often presented as essential, and yet to be escaped from as often as possible. Therefore it's liberating to realise, practical work doen't need any kind of escape. Practical deeds designed to aid life, is a joy to enjoy.

I'm glad you titled this post, "Positively" Committed, because the challenge for me is not being "negatively" committed. I can get down on myself for not going the whole nine yards, yesterday! ;)

There's a whole other layer of discontentment you have to deal with, if you're not positive about the committments you *are* making.

Nice to see you back FT. :)