It’s been a rough month. Our community has lost some very good people. It’s times like these, I reflect on life’s big questions. Am I making a difference in my community, to my family? What more can I do to educate others that their choices make a difference and effect our world in either a positive or negative way?
I have realized that the sustainable lifestyles concepts about which I often write are relative. I want to expand my definition of simple, sustainable living to include sensitivity, comfort and gentleness.
My design approach is adjusting, tweaking, it seems, to life lessons. These are some of my other thoughts after this month’s events:
Let’s not feel guilty about our stuff
Sometimes having special objects around helps us feel connected to people we love. Real life isn’t a magazine spread, and sometimes we just have to do the best we can and let go of impossible ideals.
A sudden, unexpected death brings sharp, narrow focus to what’s really important. Life is short, so live today to the fullest.
I have begun consciously yearning for more simplicity. I spent some quiet time considering the qualities of daily living that, for me, are most important.
Simple Living: My Goals
- To foster peace and laughter in our home
- To live in a healthy, uncluttered environment
- To eat good food, spend time outdoors and get exercise
- To be debt free, and steward our finances wisely
- To live lightly on the planet
- To give back
Your list may look very different from mine, but that’s the beauty of occasionally reviewing our priorities and considering how we ideally want to spend our time, energy and resources. Successful companies often have annual retreats for long-term planning; shouldn’t we also occasionally take stock of whether our daily lives match up with our values and dreams?
We are a small family living in a typical suburban home built in the 1970s. In our quest to live more simply and sustainably, here are the “green” steps we’ve taken to have a positive effect on the planet:
Made the following energy-saving changes:
- Had a home energy audit performed, and we’re working to seal the many leaks
- Replaced the appliances with energy-efficient models
- Replaced the incandescent kitchen light with an energy-efficient halogen light
- Replaced the thermostat with a programmable model
- Replaced incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs and CFLs (compact fluorescents) wherever possible
- Changed computer settings to ‘hibernate’ or ‘sleep’ to save energy when not in use
- Replaced light switches with dimmers
Made the following changes in the kitchen:
- Switched to phosphate-free cleaners and dishwashing detergent in recycled/recyclable packaging
- Try to cook from scratch and use organic and local, sustainable foods whenever possible
- Use plates and napkins rather than paper plates and paper towels
Made the following efforts in the garden:
- Built a raised garden from some new and some recycled materials, and grow an assortment of herbs and vegetables
- Working to improve and reclaim the gardens by amending the soil with organic matter
- Took steps to reduce our junk mail and eliminate unwanted telephone books
- Recycling our trash and reduced it by an average of 50% per week
- Dispose of toxic chemicals and waste responsibly
- Take reusable grocery bags to our grocery store
Living more mindfully
A simple, mindful life has a different meaning and a different value for every person. For me, it means eliminating all but the essential, eschewing chaos for peace, and spending time doing what’s important to me.
It means spending time with people I love and doing things that I enjoy. It means getting rid of the clutter so I am left with that which is valuable to me. It means taking care and maintaining what I do have to live responsibly. It means being kind to others, especially to the less fortunate.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
Feel free to contact Los Alamos Interior Designer Suzette Fox to suggest specific design topics or for help with your home. For more information, find her on Facebook at facebook.com/SuzetteFoxInteriorDesign and on her website www.suzettefoxinteriors.com