Tiny Changes that are Transforming my Life

A photo of a tree bud I snapped this week on my morning run.

It is spring. The trees are covered with little green possibilities that are beginning to awaken. I’ve felt particularly connected to the trees and their buds this year, probably because I can see similarities between where they are in their life cycle and where I am in mine. Like the changes in my life, the trees’ changes are small — so small that most people probably don’t notice that anything is happening.

I believe that deep, fundamental changes in our lives almost always happen slowly. They require patience and faith. Bit by bit, things unfold. Bit by bit, change takes place.

This is what the buds of simplicity look like in my life right now:

· This week I went to the fabric store to buy thread. I only bought thread. I didn’t roam the store to discover any other trinkets or supplies I might “need.” I spent only $2. I can’t remember the last time I spent only $2 in a store.

· Everyone got new t-shirts for an event at work. I was asked if I wanted one too. I thought of the 4 perfectly good folded t-shirts in my drawer. I said no.

· At church they passed around a basket of bookmarks for us to take home. I thought carefully about whether I would use the bookmark. I didn’t take one.

· On Tuesday I packed up the remainder of my wardrobe. My closet now officially consists of only 33 items, including shoes and accessories. I have worn a few items several times in the last few days. This is new.

· I started using a smaller purse and only carrying the things I use every day: keys, wallet, glasses, pen, lavender lip gloss, and a tin of Altoids.

· My two oldest daughters (ages 14 and 12) have both cleaned out their closets after watching me empty mine. Between them they have gotten rid of at least 5 bags of clothing. I did not ask them to this . . . I was planning to eventually . . . but they did it on their own.

What is significant about all of the little changes above is that each reflects a small change of heart. In the past I would have thoughtlessly said yes to more, every time. Now I am intentionally choosing less each and every day. Sometimes this feels weird and a little uncomfortable. But I believe that over time this will make a big difference in my life. It has already created more space for people and priorities that matter most.

I was astounded at the effect that my actions had on my children. I didn’t have to get on a soapbox and make the speech I was planning to make about the benefit of living with less. They saw it for themselves and understood immediately. This reinforced for me that what I do is ten times more powerful than what I say. When it comes to creating simplicity in family life: Show, don’t tell.

I’m impatient for spring to fully arrive — for everything to be in bloom. Similarly, I am often impatient with myself because I don’t think I’m making the changes that I want to make fast enough. But deep change is never fast change. I am continually reminding myself of this. So I’m trying to enjoy the journey. The flowers will be here soon enough.