My Year of Less: Why

March 2019.
If you're new, this entry is part of an ongoing series on my Year of Less.

The living room, all put back together after the rug/floor renovation. 

Sometimes I start a thing without ever nailing down the reasons that I am doing it. And let me tell you - "It sounded like a good idea at the time" is not a long-term motivator for continued success. Brooke McAlary knows this. It's the reason that she starts her book Slow with a series of questions to discover your why. Why do I want to pursue slow living, or at least a life with less? When I started the book, I didn't know the answer. Not the real answer. I knew I wanted Less, which lead me to Slow, but I didn't know why - just that I had to. Enter Brooke's questions.

Manasquan Reservoir where me and Mister Chad take our morning walks. 

What is important to me?
The knee jerk reaction is "family". Right? That's the right answer. That's what I'm supposed to say. But Annie Dillard says, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives..." and so I believe I can show what is important to me by how I spend my days. And the answer to THAT question is work. I am a doer. I do not do well with sitting and being. I wake up early and start filling all the minutes in the day with tasks and to dos and have tos, and then finally drop into bed when all of those are done and watch TV and fall asleep. My husband is the same way. He often says, at the end of the day: "That's it for today. Tomorrow we'll wake up and do it all over again." You all want to move in with us, right? It's not an answer that feels good in my heart, but it is the honest answer at this moment at least. Which is, I guess, what has gotten me here in the first place!

Copper, looking cute and sweet. He's just waiting for me to leave the room
so he can jump on the counters and steal food. 

What do I want to leave behind?
I keep reading this question two ways. What do I want to leave behind in a legacy sense - my work ethic? Not that!!! I mean, I hope my kids have a go and achieve your dreams mentality, peppered with a tenacious spirit and a strong work ethic, but I don't want that to be the sum of who they are and I don't want that to wind up being the sum of who I am either.

But I also see this question as What do I want to leave behind (me), after this is all said and done? What do I want to slough off in the process and leave all shiny and new? I want to shed all the things that hinder. All the things that suck up time and energy and fun and leave me with nothing but the tyranny of the urgent.

Sunset outside my parent's house after our weekly Suppa Club.  

What don't I want to leave behind?
Same two question thing. I don't want to leave behind debt or a house full of crap that my kids have to sort through, get rid of, deal with. I also don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I can't ditch all my responsibilities and personality in search of some zen other me that doesn't really exist and can't be maintained. Spoiler, that's not what the book suggests. What it does suggest is balance, but we'll get to that.

Maroon Bells area, outside of Aspen, Colorado. If you've never been, I highly recommend it. 
What do I want people to say about me?
This started out as a tricky question, because I was thinking about the wrong people. At the end of my life, the only people whose words will matter, the only ones who will take anything I say or do into what comes in this world beyond my life is my kids. What do I want THEM to say about me? I want them to know and to say that I loved them. More than work or stuff or money or goals or social media or to dos. I say that with my words all the time! But I don't always say that with my time. Back to the "how I spend my days" quote. That has to change. And it is going to take time, because there is a lot of work to do to get there. But when I get off track, when I feel discouraged, when I want to give up - THAT is what is going to keep me moving forward. Not any of the rest of it. 

What regrets do I want to avoid?
That I never achieve the balance I'm looking for.

Family hike up at Maroon Bells.

Why take time for "Why"?
Because this decision about less is a long one. I talked about less stuff and working through our clutter in my last blog entry. You can click on the link and read about that there. I already want to stop and just call it good and I'm no where near done with that project. It's gonna take months. And that's just the outward stuff. There's so much more "less" to tackle and I'm tired already. But those people up there? They will keep me going. And so I now know that I should have started with the why, before getting to the what. Just like Brooke intended. But I'm here now, and only one step in this mess, so I think I'm doing pretty well. 

How about you?
Have you identified your why for any of your big goals or changes? Do you need to stop the doing and starting thinking about the reasons you're on the path you're on? I'd love to chat in the comments!

Ps. I get no benefits for recommending the book Slow to you. I just found it helpful and interesting and wanted to pass that along.

Thanks for reading.
:) allison


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