Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My reasons for "simplifying" my life

Being a minimalist has always been sort of a way of life for my husband and I, pretty much all of my married life actually, but not by choice. We were both so young when we got married in January, 1974. Since our birthdays are both in January....we just turned 19. Only a year out of high school, and no college for either one of us, our money was tight. So tight that a few of our first homes in Iowa were old farmhouses that, if it weren't for us, would have ended up abandoned. The landlord just wanted someone to live in the house so there'd be someone there to watch over the property. Our rent was 25.00 at one house and another was 25.00 during the summer months and free during the winter months because of the cost of heating them. The houses were livable.........barely, but we managed to make them home. It didn't matter to us, we were young and in love. Honestly we didn't have two dimes to rub together, as the parents would say, but it didn't matter, and I wouldn't change thing.

That's the way things were for quite a few years, just getting by. When our kids came along, I would work only part time because I wanted to be there for them. I didn't have to work, it would have been hard, but the money I made went for the extras, which were pretty important extras.... Christmas, birthdays.....The amount of money I made really determined what type of Christmas we had, fortunately we never had to go without a nice holiday. I think living like that definetly teaches you how to prioritize, and appreciate the things you work hard for.

In the summer I would pick up "bean walking" jobs to make extra money for school clothes in the fall, and a couple of years I made enough money to take us all on a family vacation. Bean walking in Iowa means walking the soybean fields and pulling and chopping weeds that were sometimes taller than we were. We  started in the wee hours of the morning, when the dew was heavy on the plants and we would freeze, we'd work into the afternoon when the sun was too hot to continue. Bean walking usually lasted for two to three weeks, it was hard work with long, dirty hours in the hot, hot sun..............again, I wouldn't change a thing. We didn't get but two family vacations when our kids were young, but we made great memories and that made all the hard work well worth it. We worked hard for our money back in those days and are now able to reap the rewards.

Now the kids are all grown up with children of their own and my husband and I are able to make wonderful memories with them. Every year we take the crew to the Outer Banks, the smiles on the grandkids faces are priceless to us, they have a blast!

And that's what has become more important to us as we get older, it's not "things" that make you happy, but the memories that you make. 

My husband and I went on a trip of a lifetime at the end of 2014, parts of Germany and Paris. We were invited by my niece who had been living in Germany for three years. Since my husband and my relatives came over from Germany years ago, it was always our plans to go. He still has relatives there, but I'm not sure I do, my maternal grandfather came to the U.S. as a young man and my maternal grandmother's parents were from Germany although she was born here in the United States. It was our plan to go to Germany first to get an idea of what to expect, then again in a couple of years, take my mother along and maybe go further north towards the Polish border to visit her parents homeland. Our trip was rather spur of the moment in that we knew Nikki and her husband were being relocated the following Spring and she wanted us to come during the Christmas season so we could experience the Christmas marts. We were so fortunate to have Nikki there as our personal tour guide....it's pretty intimidating when you don't speak the language. We did, however, take my brother, Brian, (Nikki's dad) on the trip with us. She took us to all the places we had on our wish list, and to a few places we never thought we needed to see. 

We visited places and saw things that'd we'd only ever saw in pictures, and walk.....we walked a ton! On one day my Fitbit measured 25,000 steps, that was the day we trekked all over Paris. I couldn't believe I was there.

Neuschwanstein Castle-Fussen, Germany

I imagine my mother loving this image, while we were having breakfast in Fussen, a gentleman walked in the tiny bakery dressed in true Bavarian style. I thought my mother could envision her father dressed like that, however, I'm not sure they dressed that way in the Northern part of Germany, none the less, she would love it. These were the villages that I wanted to see, no commercialism at all. Authentic Germany, beautiful quaint villages that transported you back in time, no reminders of today's world. I would have loved seeing her reaction at such history and beauty.

My handsome brother and my great niece Dorothy:)

Unfortunately we won't be making a trip to Germany with my mother due to circumstances. So that's why my husband and I are so determined to travel these days, before he retires, who knows what tomorrow will bring? We want to do this while we can still walk those 25,000 steps in a day! And we don't want "circumstances" stopping us.

This is one of the reasons why I am more determined than ever to become a minimalist, not only do you feel liberated from all the "stuff" but it gives you the financial freedom to make it possible to experience all there is in the world to experience. I could give up all that I have today to have more experiences like these and to see those smiles on my kids and grandkids faces:)

You only have this one life and I want to make it count.


  1. Anonymous9:12:00 PM


  2. I loved reading your story. We started out with nothing, too. Worked hard for all we have and I think that your plan to live and enjoy life now, instead of stuff, is wonderful. Here, here!

    1. At the time it was tough, but we learned the value of a dollar that's for sure! A lesson young folks these days would be well off knowing. Oh how you appreciate things so much more:)

  3. Anonymous11:27:00 AM

    It's so strange to realize that we were in all of the same places as you on our trip this past summer - the castle, Dachau, Munich, Paris, the Eifel Tower. My husband and I both have German ancestors so we would love to go back again and spend more time. Like you, we wanted to go as a family and since our son is graduating this year we knew it could be much more difficult in the future.

    1. Wow! We did go to all the same places! Wasn't it just wonderful? We had such an amazing time, the villages, the landscape, the architecture, everything was wonderful and I had to pinch myself everyday we were there. Do take your family JoAnne, don't wait if you can help it, it will be a memory that will last a lifetime.


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