What does "living the simple dream" mean to me?

I always hear people from our generation saying "Ahh, living the dream" when they are doing somthing our of the ordinary - for example: sipping cocktails in a spa of a fancy resort or perhaps they post "living the dream" as the caption beneath a photo of them moving into their new $500,000+ mansion-esque home they have just mortgaged their life away for. At first I was confused by how simple my ambitions were. All I wanted was to live in a caravan and be able to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors with my husband and son, without my husband having to be at work all the time. So for me, this became my simple dream. I find myself having those "Ahh living the dream" moments when I am sitting in a natural hot spring with my husband and son, drinking a beer, ten feet away from a crocodile infested river. Now mine, my husbands and my sons life is all about chasing our simple dream.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Giving so much yet receiving even more.

I have found myself thinking alot lately about people less fortunate than us. I hate the thought of people 'going without' when my family has such an abundance of 'things' (despite living in a caravan).

Where am I going with this?
I took some time this week to go through our caravan. I somehow managed to find an entire box of books, close to 6 bags of clothing (mine, Brents and Zacs) and a few toys, houshold items etc. I put it all in boxes and donated it to a wonderful local woman whom distributes the good she recieves among local, struggling families, nearby aboriginal communites and multiple charities.

This got me thinking about what we need V's what we dont need
I realised that my son had draws of clothes (two VERY deep draws and the top half of a wardrobe, to be exact). He has this same amount (and somtimes more) every year (for every different size) and for the warm and cold seasons. The more I thought about this the more excessive it seemed to me. I mean, he barely even gets to through the top three items of each pile and they are all at least ten, maybe fifteen items deep.

Yet there are children out there with hardly any clothing
There are so many children I see around from families whom struggle to make ends meet, from local aboriginal communities and children that have runaway from home, or young teenagers whom have children and also struggle to make ends meet. Yet my son, Brent (my husband) and I, have wardrobes full of clothing we dont even wear one tenth of.

What can you and your family do without?
Im sure you have things in your home you could do without. Things you dont use anymore or things you bought "just incase" but know you wont use. Things that were given to you as gifts or given to your children but are no longer used. These things not only take up space in your house but owning them takes up space in your mind (remember, at any given time you can respond to someone if they ask if you own a particular item, even if its out of your sight or hasnt been used in years, this means that all of those bits and pieces laying around in your house are taking up precious space in your mind, being stored up there so you can remember them if you ever need to reference them or use them).

Getting rid of these items, downsizing your childrens toys, your wardrobes, the "bits and bobs" in your numberous 'junk draws', wont just free up space in your house, it will take away some of the clutter from inside your mind. Why do you think it always feels so great when you fill a trailor load to go to the tip or fill the back seat of your car with items to go to charity? Those items are no longer needing to be organised and retained in your mind.

Books and toys
Our children accumulate so many books and toys over the years. They get more of them for Christmas and birthdays yet the old ones stick around too. So many children go without gifts, go without toys and books. These small, seemingly 'silly' items can bring so much joy to children experiencing adverse living situations or tough times financially for their family.

Clear out before santa comes
Have you ever thought about clearing out before santa comes? Rather than keeping all of the older, outdated, no longer used or no longer age appropriate books and toys can create more room. I make a point of going through my sons toys for items that are no longer age appropriate for him. These are the type of toys that are made for children a little younger (like he was when I bought them) the kind of toys that are find for a small, less coordinated two year old, but a rowdy three year old will simply break as opposed to enjoy. I take these toys out when the new, more grown up toys come in at special times of the year. Then I can donate the no longer age appropriate toys, to other children, still in great condition.

This means that other children are able to enjoy them, I have recycled, I have potentially given children gifts whom may not have recieved them (and therefore put a smile on their face), ive taught my son about being generous and humble and I've also create room in our home, lives, time, and minds for new, age appropriate toys and books.

What about all of that food?
We all have them... Those various, random jars and tins at the back of our pantry. The items we bought on sale when we seen those alluring yellow signs stating "two for one" and so on. I had so much food in our van that I not only had a full pantry with jars and packets of food (aswell as overhead cabinets full of baking ingredients) - I also had a 55 litre plastic tub (or two) in my annex full of food. I went through and donated all of the excess items. They were being wasted sitting there, they were things we had bought incase of needing extra food one week, but had never used. There were tinned versions of items we are able to afford to buy fresh, there were tinned soups but now i have learned how to make my own, there were graxy mixes (but now I make my own from scratch) same goes for spaghetti sauces, pasta sauces, prepackaged flavoured pastas etc. All of the things I have learned to (and now prefer to) make myself, from scratch.

So I decided to donate them all to a local food bank. I donated an entire 55 litre tub and I was informed that it was promtly delivered to a family who honestly didnt know how they were going to eat that week. They had small children and like all of us experience at some point in our lives - were struggling financially. These items would have sat in our pantry, even though we already had enough food to last weeks, maybe even a month or two. While a family could have been sitting at their table wondering how they would feed their children.

You may not having any items to give?
How about your time? Its true what they say - time is precious. If you have a few hours to spare why not donate them to a worthy cause. You can search (online or locally) to find somthing that suits you, your age, your capabilities, your time, commitments etc. There is a charity option for everyone. You dont have to give items, you can give a helping hand. You can volunteer to help young mothers learn domestic skills, to teach craft to aboriginal children in outback communities, to read stories to children, to have a chat with the elderly, to plant trees or care for animals. There are so many ways to give back to the community that gives so much to you.

The emptyness makes me smile
I look around our caravan and our wardrobes are no longer overstuffed (they are infact half empty), yet we are comfortably clothed, Our kitchen cupboards and draws are no longer jammed with unused utencils and food items but our stomachs are full. My son isnt lost in a sea of toys, yet he is entertained and content. All of the things we have given away have not taken a thing away from our life but have potentially brought some joy to someone elses.

Dont hold onto it

Why sit there, with all of these unused items, for no reason, when they could bring joy and comfort to the lives of others. Knowing you have helped people can also bring joy and comfort to your own life.

Christmas is a time for giving, what can you give?

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