January 21, 2013

Art of Simplicity

Readers, I promise if you hang with me on this one, you'll feel...unchained.

It's quite the chapter book, but worth your time.

I wrote this in 2007, while I was in Tanzania, Africa volunteering at an orphanage.

While driving home from California today I began reading some of my old posts from my old blog.

I remember this passage and this day VIVIDLY.

I'm my witness to growth, forgiveness, healing, and God's undeniable and unconditional grace.

Although we are all still broken, I'm able to read this with a repaired and ready heart.

God, you're invited to simplify me...always.


I hope you take time and read.

I hope you find places to simplify.

I hope you know you're worth it.



The Art of Simplicity

"When most people think of simplicity, they think of clean closets and empty spaces, organized lives and cleared schedules. While simplicity does manifest in those forms, inner simplicity does not depend on outward circumstances. When you clear the clutter within, you'll eventually see a corresponding outer simplicity. But if you are full of chaos within, even a simple life will become littered with unfinished business and unnecessary drama. Choosing to cultivate inner simplicity helps you develop a mature way of life that has its own focus and order, even if your daily life is busy and complex.

One of the most difficult things to do is to release things, ideas, and relationships that no longer serve us. We often save every old thing. 'Just in case'. You'll open a kitchen drawer and it will be filled with clutter: old rubber bands, pieces of string, used aluminum foil, and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. That kitchen drawer is a metaphor for life. Filled with things that you keep holding on to, pretty soon the drawer is so full you can't find anything at all. Even if you could remember what you have squirreled away in that drawer, you couldn't find it to use it. So you keep the drawer with more stuff you can't use and don't need anymore.

We do that with our lives, too. Old grudges, old resentments, old attitudes, and old ways of coping--we'll keep them around because we've gotten used to them and aren't sure we'd know what to do with out them. We'll stuff an old belief system that no longer works for us into a back drawer of our minds. Because it's still in there, it will affect our choices even when we are not conscious of it. For example, you might be meeting someone new who would be labeled in the old belief system as "unacceptable" and while you might now understand that every single person is beloved and beautiful, there will be a whisper of "unacceptable" even when you are trying your best to be open and friendly. Or you'll be looking in the mirror and suddenly realize it won't be the adult your seeing, but the unhappy junior high student who felt ugly and didn't fit in. You are still carrying that old image of yourself, even though it is useless baggage that you could live without.

Old judgements, old priorities, old belief systems, old ways of doing things are all clutter that needs to be taken out and examined. If it still works for you, keep it. But if it's no longer helpful or distracts you from what is most important, maybe it's time to let it go. Some ideas and things are like timeless classics. They wear well, they're made well, and they still look good and are useful after all these years later. Others are like clothing that is out of date and which no longer fits who you are now. It's time to let it all go and make room for something that is more aligned with who you are becoming.

It's time to choose voluntarily simplicity. Paradoxically, sometimes arranging things and clearing space in your outer life can help you in the process of creating inner simplicity. The very act of sorting material things can help you sort your thoughts and priorities. Begin by releasing the things that you can no longer care for and attend to. Start with material things-cleaning closets, attics, basements, storerooms, garages. Give away or sell what could be useful to others. Put back into circulation those things which you've been holding onto. Organize what you decide to keep so you know where everything is and what is available to you.

Then, take a look at your past and see what attitudes and beliefs no longer work for you. If you've been holding grudges against others, release them. If you've been hanging onto old regrets, let go and let God take care of the past. Long-standing judgments of others and of yourself not longer serve you. Wipe the slate clean and allow God to write a new story of hope and joy where the old one of hurt and anger used to be. Limited ideas and false beliefs keep you from exploring new ideas and widening your horizons. Let go of them, just as you let go of the old clothing you gave away. Let the healing energy of forgiveness release the limitations of resentment and destructive energy from your consciousness.

As you release the old, you'll make room for the good that God wants to bring into your life. You'll discover a new energy and zest, because you wont be using all your energy to carry around old baggage. Clearing the clutter allows the energy to flow more freely, and you'll bring more focus and clarity to the way you live your life.

Simplicity is.... releasing that which no longer serves me."


Let me tell you a little about my life. Right now, I am feeling completely surrendered to the environment around me. I feel as if all this was planned for me; just like I'm a pawn on a chess board. It is a bright Saturday morning in Tanzania. The air is alive and pure after a night of warm rain. I am a solo traveler today. I woke up to laughing children and a gurgling water-spout attempting to provide but miserably failing. It was a big yawn and comfortable stretch that began my serene day in the land among the Africans. Being alone is one of the most precious gifts God gave us. Especially here, it is a gratifying indulgence. Escaping the noise of orphans and entering the hustle and bustle of the town has become an easy transition. Now, I find myself with a pen, a book, and a steamy cup of coffee.

I guess coming here I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know who I was going to be, who I was going to meet, and what exactly I was going to see. Now that I am here, I do not fear the future; the past consumes much of my thought process. Some of which I wish I didn't focus on and most of which I just need to let go. Reading The Art of Simplicity was not a waste of time. I opened to the exact page that lead to my inner freedom on this lovely day. Those that know me well know that it is a constant struggle to let go and move on. I dwell on my actions, others reactions, and bluntly care too much. This chapter in my book was exactly what I needed to read and I feel it is precisely accurate; I think many people should and could apply this to their own life. Re-read it many times for more is revealed after each attempt to understand. It took me several repetitions to actually comprehend and appreciate what the lyrical text meant to me. Although it is a very simple idea, sometimes it needs to jump out you to make you consider change among yourself.

Through out most of my life I have struggled with this concept. I have learned that people come and go, trials hurt then heal, and above all, the sun still rises and sets everyday. I have wasted too much energy on worrying about others and changes I wish I had made. The truth is the past is the past; It is there to learn. I have been hurt, and hurt others. I continue to say things I shouldn't and listen to gossip that only adds negativity to my inner self. But, letting go is a bridge to self maturation and I believe is a healthy way to look behind with a grin and forward with a smile. Not only does it shape me as a better person now, but releases any irritation towards others from the past. Life takes us where we allow it, and places people on the exact longitude and latitude that fits each individual. It feels damn good to forgive myself, and forgive others.


Thanks for letting me share in 2007 and 2013. 







  2. katie I LOVE YOU! at first i didn't realize that you were quoting a book and as i was reading that i just continued to think how amazingly talented you are at writing! you have so many talents and i am so grateful to have you in my life. i love the time i get to spend with you ever so often. I love that i get to read your blog-it is beautiful, funny, calming, honest and i love it more than anything!