To lead a simple life

Porch scene, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia 2005

“To lead a simple life in reasonable comfort, with a minimum of possessions, ranks high among the arts of living.  It leaves us the time, resources and freedom of mind we need for the things that give life value:  loving, helping, serving and giving.”  — Eknath Easwaran


  1. Julia, this is such a refreshing admonition, after hearing so much this year about the “middle class” – you know, the one peopled by drivers of $30,000 cars and smart-phone users, not to mention satellite TV. In the final analysis, you can’t get a more simple life than the one depicted in Luke 9:58. Thank you for providing perspective in this blog.

    • Eric, thank you! In this, as in so many other ways, Jeff has been my constant example. One could not lead a much simpler life, with fewer material wants, than he has always led. This means it’s almost impossible to buy gifts for him (he is content with what he has and never wants much) but it does create a far saner world.

      • This verifies what I know to be true about Jeff. Even in trying to give “gifts” of accolades to him, one is taken short. I do not want to send his way anything that would make Jeff feel uncomfortable.

        • Eric, you have hit the nail on the head here. While he reads my blog entries, he refuses to read the tributes and comments about him that are left by others. He remains intensely uncomfortable with any attention directed his way. But I appreciate them 🙂 so bring it on!

  2. Cheryl

    Love, love, love this quote! I really try to lead a simple life and am blessed also by a husband who is content to live without the 30,000.00 cars, etc… and that simple life is what has given me the opportunity to minister to others with my time. I am so blessed to lead a simple life!! (Although, Rick would say that I still have to much stuff!) 🙂

    • Cheryl, I too STILL have “too much stuff” but I’m a recovering packrat! Simplicity is the most direct route to sanity. It’s a constant battle to close one’s eyes to the bling and attractive distractions, but a battle well worth undertaking. Thanks for visiting us here!

      • Sherrie Cannon

        Julia, when you’ve lived as many places as you have, it’s so easy to collect a few mementos from each place and they add up.

        • Sherrie, SO TRUE! I know you understand! Great to hear from you.

  3. Bobby Harris

    This makes me stop and consider where I can simplify. For the most part, I am satisfied with what I have, but I have a lot. My greatest packrattery is books (love my Kindle, much easier to store than stacks of books) AND craft supplies. I am trying to use the yarn and fabric up by giving away the things I make.

    • Bobby, books will be the last domino to fall for me! I think of them almost as three-dimensional, useful wallpaper 🙂 adorning every room. Crafts supplies are like an addiction for me; it’s as much (or more) fun to buy them as it is to use them! But cheap therapy, if one uses the coupons.

      • Bobby Harris

        I’ve filled my walls and I don’t want to get rid of the books, so the Kindle is very helpful (except I can buy a book with one click). I still buy “hard copies” from time to time.

        • We are so lucky to have added ways of accessing books. I’m a great fan of unabridged audiobooks, but like you, I will never give up the good old-fashioned print versions.

  4. Megan

    Great quote! Thanks for sharing. Praying for you all today.

    • Thanks, Megan! Jeff and I can feel the prayers, keeping us afloat.

      When you and Drew married, your very, very brief “gift registry” lists (with mostly very inexpensive items) were remarked upon by friends of ours who marveled at the simplicity this represented. One friend said this made it hard for her to find a gift for you, comparing your list to the 27-pager of another bride for whom she was shopping. “They are very practical people who aren’t into material things,” I told her. “I CAN TELL!” she replied. Love you for that, and so much else. 🙂

  5. Julia, One of the best gifts I’ve ever received is from my grandmother Fugate, and that is how to do without. Her joy in life was working a puzzle, tending a large garden, reading and fishing. To my mind she was self fed in all aspects of importance. Amusement, appetite and most importanly enough to share.
    Prayers for you both everyday.

    • Beth, thanks so much for the prayers, which are keeping us together right now. YES, learning to live frugally, and happily so, instills so many other virtues. We are fortunate if we have people who show us by example that life can be full and rich without a lot of money or material goods.

  6. Don Buckner

    I am fascinated by “tiny houses”. There is a website dedicated to them, and I often marvel and the simple design and lack of clutter in some of these homes. Sometimes when I’m camping in our 30×8 trailer, I feel that I could live there, no problem. Of course, the reality is that we have accumulated a large amount of “stuff” over the years so that makes it less feasible to do so. In a simple environment it is easier to focus on blessings, and I am always thankful to God and draw closer to him when I am in those environments whether they are a camper, a cabin or a tarp.

    • So true! While we lived in the NorCal Republic, there was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a very ingenious 100 square foot home some enterprising man had built in the city, which has one of the highest average housing costs in the world. It was truly amazing in design and had everything one would need. I believe it cost him around 50,000 to build, which by SFO standards is practically nothing. I told Jeff I wanted one just like it as a “second home” in SFO and of course I was only half joking!

  7. Very true, Julia.
    Have a happy and healthy 2013.

    • Thank you, Francina, and the same to you! I am so happy you visited us here.

  8. I fail miserably at this I’m afraid. Most of my possessions haven’t much value at all (well, only to me). I’m a nester and enjoy surrounding myself with pieces of this and that from the past or little reminders of holidays. Everything has a little story 😀 But since we’re in this condo and storing so much, I feel like I’m succeeding a little at being mindful of not acquiring ‘stuff’ because honestly, we haven’t the room.

    • One advantage to moving every few years was being forced to clean out and ship out before stuff got out of control. Nothing like packing and unpacking to make you evaluate whether something needs to be saved. Despite this, I have more piles of purely sentimental belongings than I know what to do with. I tell myself I will digitize the letters, cards, etc. but of course that requires time. When I go to clean out a box and throw stuff away, I come across a letter from one of my grandmothers (both of whom died years ago) and I think “THROW THIS STUFF AWAY? What was I THINKING??” 🙂 Back goes the box! I love my cluttered little “nest” (the closet/attic spaces where I keep most of this stuff).

  9. LOL, I love that Julia! Preaching to the choir my dear 😀 I would NEVER throw a letter like yours away either. Very precious. You’d be smart to digitize it for save keeping anyways, but I’d still be putting it back in the box too.

    • Thank you! If only everything I saved was as obviously precious. Some of it definitely needs to go – such as old vinyl record albums, many of my CD’s, and tons of old school papers and home-made cards from the kids. But of course, I have to sort through all of it to find the “best” stuff. It’s endless! But in a good way. Years ago, I read a column by Marilyn Vos Savant in which she explained why we tend to stockpile so many things that need to be done. Having a huge number of such things to do gives us the ability to choose what we’d most like to do at any particular time, enabling us to avoid less-preferred tasks. Hanging on to old stuff that I tell myself I “need” to go through lets me enjoy the memories while convincing myself I’m being productive. 🙂 If people wonder why my furniture is so dusty, that explains it.


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