Monday, June 30, 2014

Some thoughts

Tanner and I watched a couple of documentaries last night (which was probably a mistake considering how LITTLE the little man has been sleeping the last few nights...painful). Anyway - one was called A mile/mile and a half - about a small group of people that backpack the John Muir Trail with a ton of camera gear for to document the journey.  Gorgeous.  The other one was called Tiny - about this kid who builds a tiny house and moves it to a big batch of property he bought in Colorado. I quite enjoyed both of them but it got my mind to thinking a lot. And I can't tell if it's turning the wheels on something that might actually move and cause change, or if it's something that will lose momentum in a few days.  You know those movies you watch and you feel so ultimately inspired your are determined you're going to stop eating meat or give all your money to ending the war in Rwanda or going to build schools in Pakistan? And then a few days later you kind of forget there is even a war in Rwanda? Ya, well, that has probably happened to me on a few occasions. But I will say, I have had these things on my mind for some time - so the movies just pushed me to try and precipitate out my random thoughts and feelings.

When I say random, I actually really mean it.  I'm writing this not for anyone else, but really for me to try to put down in writing what's going on in my mind to see if I can sort it out enough to motivate myself to change and/or find more peace...I guess you could say. I've been reading one of my best friends blogs quite frequently ever since she started it several months ago.  I think it's wonderful ( I think she is a great writer and has a lot of really wisdom...a great combination if you ask me and also lots of REALLY good quotes. Anyway, as you can see from the title, she writes a lot about minimizing and being content with less.  "SIMPLIFY" is a word that I think has been at the center of my thoughts the last several months.  I feel like in church we hear about simplifying our lives all the time, but I usually allow my brain to gloss over those things because I've never felt like I had a big problem being "complicated". I don't actually feel complicated now, but I feel like there's a nagging feeling of discontent about something with my life that I am hoping to remedy.

I served in the Peace Corps about 10 years ago. Woah. Weird. I am old. I often think about the simplicity of life there.  More in a physical sense for me and an all around sense for the people there.  There was plenty of emotional complication while being there ;) The to-do list for them consisted of basic survival tasks and necessities. I miss so many things about living there - mostly for that reason. Simple food, simple shopping, 5 or 6 outfits for 2 years, sleeping under the stars, learning, real conversation, forming relationships, etc. But I feel like THAT much simplicity is unrealistic here (in America).  And I honestly don't want to go back to that kind of "simplicity". I don't think having "things" is bad. I like things.  I feel so incredibly blessed to live in America where anything and everything is available to us. I love the variety of food we are blessed to be able to enjoy. I love the variety of sports and recreational things we can participate in and all the different ways we can enjoy the creation God gave us. I believe he WANTS us to enjoy it. I think he enjoys when we go fishing or biking or play in a baseball game and are happy doing it.

So herein lies my dilemma.  No, I don't want to sell our newish fly fishing gear and cross country skis and 78% of the rest of our belongings and live in a 100-sq ft tiny house.  I have established at least that in my mind.  But one thing I really liked about the movie Tiny was a part were a different tiny house liver talked about how her simplified life gave her more time to focus on relationships.  (I can't remember the exact way she said it...but that was the gist). I did feel a sense of envy about a life so clutter free. Also in the movie it talked about not needing to be all or nothing in the sense of simplifying, but that everyone can do something to downsize, or lessen their impact on the environment, or cut down on the waste and consumerism. So where the other documentary plays in to all my pondering, is that I love the mountains :) I grew up in them and around them and by default and maybe by design, I developed a really deep love and appreciation for them. They just spent a few months planning this trip that took 25 days.  A little bit bigger than a weekend over-nighter, but not such a huge thing that it's unrealistic for 90% of the population. It just made me think that I want a simpler life because I want to have time and money to enjoy things like that - things that I really value. I'm not saying that should be everyone's thing and where everyone should place their value - it's just something that is really important to me.

So those thoughts and probably some others were permeating my brain as I was trying to sleep last night. And what it made me want to do was to re-evaluate my priorities now.  I want to redefine what is important and essential and what I REALLY want out of life.  To draw a better line between WANTS and NEEDS. There are SO many THINGS and so much of the world says it's better to have more and have bigger and be involved in everything.  And you can't help but let your mind believe that it's true. I have a huge list of things I want to do. Play the piano more, learn the harmonica, read, learn spanish, get better at my job, play golf better, get back in a kayak and get better at mtn biking and run farther and faster and and and...  Right now I'm still finding it hard just juggling life and finding a balance between being a wife and a mom and working and my spiritual and physical well being and church responsibilities - which is really a completely different story.  Let me try to simplify this post and actually try and sum up my thoughts.

There are a million GOOD things that we can do. There are a million GOOD things we can have that are worthwhile and bring diversity and joy to life. But I want to step back and think about my choices differently.  I want to ask myself, is it essential?  Does it uplift me? Does it better me spiritually, mentally, physically or emotionally? My boss, Dr. Macuga has often said to me that the order of priorities in life should be God, Family and Emergency Medicine, in that order.  I think that's a pretty good and simple list. Do I have to be the best mountain biker who can play the harmonica and speak spanish? I'm letting too many things stress me out and pressure me. I want less.  I want to be happy with less.  I want Harvey to grow up knowing how to work hard and to appreciate life in it's raw form. I don't want him to need the latest gadgets and more toys.  I want him to be confident and have his worth not be defined by how expensive his clothes are and how fancy his toys are and how young he was when he got his first phone or iPad. Having a kid is really being the best thing for me to reevaluate how I live because of how I want him to live.  And unfortunately right now there are some discrepancies. I want us both to live in the world but not be OF the world.  A nice church phrase that I think can apply to more than just morals and standards.  I can't escape things.  I can't escape waste or use or consumerism or technology.  But I can simplify. I can make more time for the BEST things. Not just the good or better stuff :) I wonder how I can really do it right now. So much feels essential to me :) Yes I need 6 spatulas and 3 measuring cup sets and 4 pairs of tennis shoes, etc etc. I think it could be a hard and painful "journey" if one could even call it that. Baby steps. I might go home and set one spatula aside to take to our local thrift store. Look out world ;)


  1. Great post, Carissa. I have felt more and more strongly lately that my boys have way too much and we need to simplify. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This was beautiful. I cried. Literally took the thoughts right out of my head. Love you!!