It seems fitting that as I fly back to Hawaii today, I would republish a post from exactly one year ago, when I returned from the same crazy month of surf contests in California. I have made some changes to this post, especially in light of the many questions I have been asked over the past year. I hope this post gives you a little more insight into our life, and might speak to that part of you (I think we all have it in us,) that wonders how life would be if you could just simplify…
Here’s the post ~~~Oh, and Happy Fourth of July! (a quick trip/surf update at the bottom of this post-)
After a month in California, I am so excited to get back home. I hear it’s hot and muggy there now, (and no–we don’t have an air conditioner,) but I still can’t wait. There is no place like home, and also: I really do love our simple life in Hawaii.
People sometimes tell us that we are living the dream, or say that they admire our ability to get out of the rat race, and raise our family in a more simple way. Honestly, I didn’t always see it. I wasn’t sure if our life was really so “simple” because obviously, we are pretty normal people—we keep a schedule (of sorts,) and we pay bills, use electricity, and drive cars that use gas.
But after being gone for over a month, I can’t help but notice the contrasts between our life, and the pace and pressures I feel when I’m on the mainland. I realize more that maybe we really do live a pretty simple life in Hawaii.
We really didn’t set out on a mission to simplify. I know some people do that, and they have really neat stories of making big changes and finding all kinds of peace in getting really intentional about simplifying.
Those stories also often include getting rid of television, or purging closets, and that is all good too. We are working on some of those things, but we didn’t really set out with specific goals like that.
I suppose for us simplifying has been a bit of a process. Each step we have taken has meant embracing one thing while letting go of something else. Each step seemed to lead to another, and very naturally we have found a simple rhythm to our life. I hope we keep moving in the same direction.
To be fair: I truly love my time in Southern California. There is a part of me that could imagine living there–I mean really. (Trader Joes and juice bars on every corner-kind of-really.) I just have a feeling I might get caught up in the rushed pace and more materialism if I ever lived there.
Of course I know families in Southern California–and all over the country, who are working to be intentional, and trying to live a simple life. But I know it isn’t easy, going against the tide of materialism and non-stop activity when you live in the middle of it. There’s a vibe in the air, and yes it’s in Southern California, but it’s really everywhere, if you let it in: And it’s this vibe that I realize we have drifted away from since our family has settled on our little hill in the country. We got away from it, and have not missed it a bit.
And now that I’m seeing the contrast, I’m thinking about what is the thing that has changed the most?
Is it a geographical thing? Does it come with living on an island, and the feeling I get when I drive across pineapple fields with the vast ocean in view? Is it about being surrounded by the beauty of nature, and the smells of paradise that draw me to a simple and restful place?
Or is it more of a lifestyle thing? Does it relate to homeschooling, and the freedom that comes with that? I don’t have to rush my kids out the door in the morning, or through their homework at night, and most days our home school environment is pretty peaceful.
I’m pretty sure I feel it when my husband hauls in a massive crop of bananas, or pours me a glass of coconut water—straight from the coconut. There is a simplicity to eating off your own land that satisfies the soul.
Many of us in Hawaii have a simple lifestyle because of the high expense of living on an island…Instead of spending money on entertainment, or travel, we enjoy free things like a splash in the ocean, or star-gazing on a perfectly clear night. Expensive cars or clothes are not an option for most of us because we are paying so much for every little thing. (and saving every penny for that one family trip to see relatives on the mainland!)
Maybe it’s a family thing…a choice we’ve made—intentional or not—to hang out together, a lot. We don’t get involved in a hundred activities, and at some point I quit worrying about what my kids were missing by not being in a traditional school or in a typical neighborhood. I quit pondering the pros and cons of living here or there or what it would be like if…(____ fill in the blank.) I cherish the simple times when all four boys are together, and happy. My husband and I have very few outside commitments, and the kids have friends, but actually choose to hang out together most of the time. Since this is all my kids know, they don’t mind it, and I think–they actually enjoy it.
So, I suppose the simplicity that we enjoy is really a combination of all of these things. And maybe more. It’s obviously not for everyone, this life we live. Some people would go crazy on a small island, but instead find their happiest times surrounded by buildings, and people. Some people of course love the mountains, or the desert, and probably most people need more variety than we have on our island to be fulfilled. And I’m guessing there are a million ways to simplify your life, wherever you are, if you want to.
And the question might be: Can you be in the middle of the rat race, and not join it? Can your family take steps to simplify…to embrace more beauty, and less insanity, regardless of your location?
I think taking steps towards simplicity is good for everyone. And it can come in many ways: It might be growing your own vegetables, or it might be saying no to more things. It might be unplugging more often, or having a family dinner a couple of times a week. It might be cutting your to-do list in half, or getting more fresh air…(or finding some sand to roll around in.)
There is always room for improvement in this area of simplifying. I think it starts in how we think. We can live in the present–embracing each moment, and loving those right in front of us. We can quit wishing for what’s next and instead make the best of the now. For me, choosing gratitude in the every day is a path to simplicity.
One thing I’ve found about simplifying: You never regret it.
And the more we learn to embrace the simple things, the easier it is to loosen our grip on all of the stuff that fills our calendars and minds but will never fill our souls.
What does simple look like to you or your family? Share some of the ways you have simplified, or maybe what you would like to change in order to enjoy a more simple life. I know I’ll be inspired by your comments.
Also: For those of you with Hawaii on the mind, perhaps I ought to do a follow-up post about some of the specific, practical things we have traded for the simple life we enjoy…Feel free to let me know, or leave me any questions below.
Quick travel/Surf Update: Luke made it as far as the quarter-finals in his National Contest. Even then he held 2nd place for the entire heat until in literally the last minute another boy scored a wave that knocked Luke to third (therefore not advancing.) Painful? Yes! Luke’s buddy from our North Shore ended up winning Nationals, so we are happy for the home team. Of course we wanted to see Luke in that final round, but we are fully accepting the outcome. Many more contests to come! 🙂 We wrapped up our trip with fun stuff like a day at Knotts, going to the movies, and some seriously good rest. Thanks again for all of the support, and see ya from Hawaii in a few days!