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illustrations

Simple Pleasures

SAN DIEGO, CA – A 36 year old man was seen in front of his Rolando neighborhood home this morning playing in the sprinklers. Wearing only his pajamas and an ear-to-ear grin the man could be heard giggling for blocks. Neighbors reported that the man is also seen regularly walking with his dog, baby, and a woman they perceive to be his wife in the evenings. The status of the man’s mental health is unknown. 

Busted. Guilty as charged. I confess. That’s me!

There are some things in life that I label as simple pleasures. And playing in the sprinklers (er, I mean “adjusting them“) is one of them. As our little garden has expanded so has the need to water things. Almost 4 years ago I installed a simple drip watering system for a small patch of our garden in the backyard. As our garden has expanded so has the drip system. It now covers most of the backyard, delivering prescribed amounts of water to various plants all over. And this spring we decided to try to keep our grass a more socially acceptable yellow/green combo instead of the yellow/gray color we’ve accomplished in previous dry summers. And to make gardening just a little more manageable we installed fancy timers for both the front and back yard which deliver exactly 5 minutes of water to all plants simultaneously every 12 hours.

So, when the battery on the timer needed to be changed this morning and one of my spray patterns in the front was a little off… it became an opportunity to play.

Simple pleasures

  • Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening
  • Playing in the sprinklers
  • Walking the dog
  • Holding hands
  • Going to see a movie
  • Wandering through a bookstore
  • That first breath of salty air when you park by the ocean or the deep pine smell of camping in the woods
  • Custom styling the CSS and functionality of a WordPress plugin

These are some of my simple pleasures. Things that make my soul giggle. Things that, if I stop doing long enough to start being, make life a little more enjoyable.

What are your simple pleasures? (Um, keep it PG!)

Photo credit: Summertime in Pig Town by Liz Kasameyer via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Categories
Christian Living

Towards Simplicity

Photo by Steve Minor via Flickr (Creative Commons)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Simple Gifts – Elder Joseph Brackett, Shaker

This has hardly been our theme song for 2010. Yet, Kristen and I have made some serious moves towards simplicity this year. Ever since I read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, I’ve been fascinated by the concept that less is more in my life.

The Simple Things

  • Quantity time with the kids, individually. As the kids are getting older we are making sure to schedule time for mom and dad to spend big chunks of time with each of us 1-on-1.
  • Gardening. I can’t tell you how many deeply simple Biblical principles have been illuminated to us through our garden this year. For me, the biggest one has been– You have to prune daily, you have to weed regularly– Otherwise good things will take over your life and bad things will choke out your growth.
  • Staycation- I suppose not everyone lives in a vacation destination quite like we do. But there was something so beautiful about renting a house 45 minutes away and spending a week with family.
  • Financially sound – I was shocked when I looked at some graphs on Mint.com the other day. I told Kristen, “We did a really good job this year. We’re ahead in every category and on target or ahead in every goal.” It’s amazing what can happen if you’ll just live within your means. In 2010, we were able to give or save 25.4% of our income.
  • Meaningful roadies- In November, I lamented a lot about being away from home 14 weeks in 2010. (27% of 2010) At the same time, most of those trips were really meaningful. And not all of that was away from family. (Including the mission trip with Kristen, probably the most valuable trips of our marriage.)
  • Friendship – It’s incredible to have a life full of friendships. (Or as a co-worker calls them, “Adam’s bromances and brarriages.”) While having a bunch of great friendships is huge to me… nothing has made me more excited than to see Kristen develop some deep friendships with a few women in our community group.
  • Real food – We’ve far exceeded our desire to buy/grow 25% of our food from organic sources in 2010. While it might not sound immediately like a step towards simplicity: Going to the farmers market (and even visiting the farm where our food comes from) has not only connected us to where our food comes from– we feel a lot better. There’s nothing finer than enjoying a salad or eating fruit that you’ve grown yourself.
  • Acting on convictions – Putting what you believe to action really is a step towards simplicity. That might not sink in at first, but remember that regrets and the conflict caused by sitting idly on your convictions creates stressful complexity. All year long I’ve asked myself, “Am I making the most of this opportunity? Am I acting on my convictions? Will I regret it if I don’t say that?”
  • Towards a small world – No doubt, I have many friendships all around the country and around the world. But taking the step to try to focus some of that energy onto the block we live has been rewarding. We’re looking to allocate more of our time/resources towards that in 2011.
  • Journalling – I’m headed into my seventh year of journalling my life online. This little discipline has transformed my life. It’s really interesting when I interact with people who are thinking about starting a blog. “When will I have the time? What will I say? Will people read it?” I come at it daily with the exact opposite thoughts. The time I spend journalling brings me life. What I write just comes out of my life. And I don’t care if anyone reads it.

It’s funny how simplicity is different for everyone. When I think of my life, filled with a calendar full of meetings, digital gadgets, hours online per day, on and on… I still consider it grounded in simplicity. Perhaps that makes me a digital simpleton?

I don’t have grandiose plans to drive this further in 2011. With baby #3 coming soon I think we’ll just be happy to hold on to the progress we’ve made in 2010. You know, keep it simple.

What steps towards simplicity are you taking? What are things you’d challenge me towards in 2011?