Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Simple Path

This past weekend, I took a little weekend trip with my mom and aunt to Shaker Village. You can find out more about it here. Shaker Village is one of those places that are very close by yet I’d never been there. (It’s strange how we’ll drive three or four states away for a vacation when there are so many interesting places in the back door, isn’t it?)

The Shakers lived a simple life. They worked hard, and were very enterprising in the ways they made money. For example, they charged a toll to anyone traveling their road and they ran a ferry operation across the Kentucky River. They sold seeds, brooms, and other handmade items. Since they were so self-sustaining, most of their money went to their church and to help new settlements grow. They were also ahead of their time in that they had one of the first waterworks systems in the state and actually had “tap” water in the 1800s.

One of the points that each guide seemed to bring up was that they were not wasteful people. They used everything in every possible way. They wore their clothes until they wore out. I probably would too if I had to not only sew my clothes but also spin the fabric and thread from wool from the farm sheep!

It made me think about my own life and efforts to live simpler. I used to be very materialistic. I would buy clothes that I didn’t need just because I felt like shopping. Sometimes things would hang in my closet for years without the tags being taken off. If I couldn’t decide between colors, I’d say “Oh heck, I’ll get both of them!” I wasn’t overly extravagant. I’ve always had a frugal streak in me. But when it came to personal items like clothes or makeup or hair products, I thought nothing of dropping down the cash.

I’m not that way anymore. Maybe it was the recession. Maybe it was getting married and realizing that “it’s not all about me” as Dr. Phil would say. Maybe I grew up and realized that happiness is not going to be found in my closet. Now, I shop the sales and try not to buy things “just because”. I try to give more to others. I don’t treat shopping as a social activity.

On our trip, my mom made a comment about how she wished we wore the same size shoe because, in her opinion, I go through a lot of running shoes. I corrected her. “This is my third pair in almost four years! And two of those were bought with a gift card from our wellness program at work! And I gave the old ones to the women’s shelter, so there!”

She was teasing but I really felt like I needed to clear up my good name. I don’t want to be thought of as materialistic or excessive because I don’t want to be that way. My simpler life is suiting me just fine.

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