I’ve realised this Simplicity Project really is going to be my project over the next 12 months, and today’s when the serious writing begins.
I’m committing here publicly that I am now officially ‘the author of the forthcoming book, The Simplicity Project: An experiment in doing more with less.’
So I sit here to start – I’ve chosen today as they day the serious writing starts. Which is funny really given that today in our house we’ve got a new puppy who’s ripping the carpet to shreds and so can’t be left alone for a minute, a cat who’s cut his leg, leg has now gone gammy so needs a collar so the cat-flap is now locked and the cat can’t go outside and this cat is also scared of the dog and another cat who does need to come in and out. Plus three kids who open and close whatever doors they want not thinking twice about the ‘if you’ve got one dog, 3 poos and a scared cat in the dining room, how does the smallest child get to the bathroom’ kind of riddle.
The logistics of managing who’s in which room at which time with which food and are soooo complicated – I find myself asking ‘why is life never simple’? And this is my commitment to my quest to have it be more so.
I’m not sure that life is ever simple. I think there’s an underlying level of complexity that just comes with running a business, a family (including pets) and a life but this is my attempt to at least take a concerted step in the right direction.
This isn’t (currently) going to be a ‘how to’ book as I don’t have the answers – this instead is a journal of my attempts to find some of the answers that work for me. So with that in mind I’m not attempting to be prescriptive, more descriptive of what’s going on and you’re free to join in as I go!
What are the signs your life is too complicated?
It’s running from one vet appointment to a kids eye hospital appointment, to a football match to a call with a friend in need to a call with a JV partner – and it’s not even lunchtime yet.
It’s looking at my schedule – yes I have one for each of the kids and a combined one called ‘Nic’s schedule’ that’s pinned to my fridge and wondering how I’m going to get it all done.
It’s trying to book in a vet appointment for my cat to have his stitches taken out, while remembering that afterschool club is cancelled next week so that means a 4pm, 5pm and 6pm pick up for my 3 kids, plus a parent’s evening at 8pm that I need to go to too. That’s 5 trips to school in one day and therefore 2 and half hours of my life I’ll never get back.
It’s noticing a ‘parent’s drinks’ appointment in my diary yesterday for tomorrow night, not even knowing which year group it’s for, then texting a friend to find out who sent the original email, finding that in the mass/mess of my email inbox, only to realize we should have put a food order in weeks ago, plus I don’t have a babysitter and my husband’s out so to hell with it – that’s another night in for me then (all through my own fault and disorganization).
It’s realizing there’s quiche for lunch (for the fourth time this week) because even doing the shopping online felt too much like hard work for my husband who normally does it for me (bless him), and I took the short cut approach and ordered just basics because the kids were shouting about something and the tumble dryer and microwave were all beeping to say there were ready to be attended to at the same time my laptop was open.
It’s that feeling of being rushed, of snapping at your loved ones, at getting exasperated and impatient at anyone close to you for being who they are doing what they’re doing when they’re not doing it my way.
It’s being unable to make decisions, a full inbox, interrupting, starting conversations with the sentence ‘I’ve only got 10 minutes because I’ve got another call booked in then’.
It’s being a control freak perfectionist but not having the time or inclination to make the tidy house happen.
It’s the never ending self-development quest to ‘make myself a better me’ – cramming my time with reading more and more in an effort to ‘become the person I want to become’ – it’s so time consuming, it’s so effortful, it’s all so COMPLICATED!!!
Rant over. But you get where I’m coming from, right? (Pause while I stop the dog eating the hoover).
So I’m starting with my thinking.
Imagine if thoughts were just thoughts.
They just happened.
Imagine you’re standing at the side of the road watching the cars go by. Now imagine inside of each of them is a thought.
Nothing you can do about it – they just go past. You can take a look inside each car and see the thought.
Sometimes the thought inside a car looks very important so you go jump into the car and spend some time with it. It must be important, it’s big and scary, and it just looks so real.
And when you’re in the car with it, it feels horrible and the thought just gets bigger and looks even more scary, but then suddenly you realize you can just jump out – the car carries on it’s way, and another comes right along.
And another. And another.
Sometimes they go really fast and whizz by, kicking up a load of smoke, fug, pollution. Sometimes they come so thick and fast that they cause a traffic jam – they all get backed up, there’s 15 of them all in the same place at the same time, horns are blaring, no one’s getting anywhere and the frustration is palpable.
You get up and start waving your arms, trying to direct everyone, you make a list, you call a friend, you run inside and google ‘how to unblock a traffic jam’ all to no avail, the traffic jam is getting worse and worse so in the end you think ‘bugger this, I’m going in for a cup of tea’.
By the time you get back outside again, the traffic jam has gone.
There are cars coming along the road but it’s no longer rush hour. It’s one car, then another, then another, every few minutes. You can still take a look inside and see the thoughts, but now you realize you don’t have to jump in the car. You can simply observe the car, and know that another one will be right along shortly.
How does that fit with the idea of simplicity?
How much quieter inside my head when I realize I don’t have to jump in the car with every thought. The amount of time and effort I put into ‘controlling my thinking’ is huge.
Sometimes the car with the ‘Life’s too complicated’ thought in it looks totally real, like there must be attention paid to it.
And sometimes I remember ‘it’s just a thought’, I don’t take it so seriously. And sure enough another one comes along shortly.
And even when they all come thick and fast, and back up causing confusion, the best thing I can do is ‘do nothing’ and they soon all just pass on by.
That’s just crossed a huge chunk off my ‘to do list’ right there.