Simple Living: What Does It Mean?

What does “simple living” mean? Like “capsule wardrobe”, and “aging gracefully” it means about a hundred different things, because we get to decide. When asked, most people say they want a simpler life, but what do they mean?

For some it means true back-to-nature, in adorable little cabins in the woods. This version of simple living is not for me. I don’t like camping; I admire you if you do but I love hot running water, electricity, fresh sheets, Starbucks, and lack of snakes.

It can also mean: having fewer possessions, fewer electronic connections, simpler rituals, healthy food and affordable hobbies (e.g., sketching or skating or dancing vs. flying your own airplane).


Relax with a good book. Source.


As I get older, simple living is what I want too. My corporate rat race has been run, I don’t give a fig about what kind of car we drive (and we share a car, that’s one way we made life simpler ten years ago). I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses although they are lovely people. My newly cleaned out closet has only 60 hanging pieces, and that still sounds like a lot.

I like to sing, read, and visit friends around the world (well, at least as far as Canada). Simple means letting my hair go gray, and skipping the every-six-week salon visit. It’s having just a few great friends and loving them dearly.


Ahhh, thrifting never gets old. Source


Unfortunately I still have mild OCD about cleaning, so I spend too many precious hours sweeping, wiping and dusting. I am working on this, baby steps. I can now leave dirty clothes in the basket for an extra day – and no apocalypse has happened.

I hope it’s not that I am just getting old and lazy. I can still work up a whirlwind when I want to, like when we cover Manhattan from Harlem to the Staten Island Ferry. I sort and price clothes for hours at the Thrift and never feel tired. But my heart is also full with a thrilling book, or television series, or a bike ride to the pizza and wine joint, or what we call “spa day” at a friend’s house. (There’s no spa involved, we just watch movies and drink wine and refuse to worry.) A playlist of jazz classics or ZZ Top makes my day better. Simple.

I’d love to hear your opinions about simplifying life, and staying fabulous,


A few of my favorite, if simple, things:

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  1. Funny you should ask. I love clothes. I love fashion. I am 56. I love your funky posts and I like seeing the outfits. I have unfollowed one such individual/business/blogger on Facebook because it gave/gives me a case of the wants. So, frankly, it’s with trepidation that I follow you. Things…more possessions…more clothes do not keep/make my life simple. I am interested in the 60 items in your closet. Do tell.

  2. Beverley left Arkansas because he was caught cheating, turning in papers that he didn’t write. Good athlete, small at 617;1&#82432, streaky shooter, almost no ability to create for others but a good and quick defender. Wonder if he will ever wear the blue and gold?

  3. I think most people would think my life is pretty simple – I live alone, with no kids or partner to look after, and work a standard 35 hours a week. My time is my own when I’m not at work, and if I feel like lying on the couch and reading for 30 minutes when I get home from work, I can do it. However, I do need to simplify my possessions – I would love to have some empty space!

  4. I think that simplifying my life is making it better, and it’s also a challenge. I decided not to buy more books (just one or two a year), as public library has them storaged for me, and it’s at a walking distance from my home!. I decided that I needn’t expensive furniture, nor carpets, nor stuff that has to be dusted.
    And I’m determined to keep my wardrobe tidy, and donate everything which is not working anymore!. That’s daring, but makes me feel really better!.
    Thank you for a witty post!

  5. Funny you should post about this. I’ve been thinking about this for a long while. When my work/life balance teeters more toward working rather than living it’s time to simplify. Many changes I plan to make in 2017 will help me do that. So looking forward to it.
    BTW, my husband has the OCD in my house. I thought I was super clean until I met him. Yikes, that man never stops!

  6. Unlike Maggie above, my life is a lot simpler since I retired. I was advised to NOT take on lots of commitments for six months after retirement. And I’m very glad I didn’t. I’m choosing to do what I choose… which is wonderful. When I taught high school, my life at work was an endless round of teaching classes, attending committee meetings, coaching sports or running school clubs for kids. And at home I marked or prepped lessons most evenings. I loved it all but I was SO ready for a less packed schedule when I retired. Which I have to say does not involve cleaning….beyond what absolutely has to be done. I’m still working on that technique Samantha on “Bewitched” used to use…but twitching my nose does not seem to help with the dust. I’d love to have a little kitty, like in your sho,t to help me with my reading when I should be cleaning:)

  7. I’ve never been OCD about cleaning, to my husband’s chagrin! I thought that retirement would simplify my life, but instead I’ve added so many activities to fill my days. I have to learn how to say “no”!

  8. I agree. I’m still in the corporate world but I’m really looking forward to the time when i can kick back and enjoy doing whatever i feel like. I enjoy my job but there is nothing like laying in bed and listening to everyone else in the street driving off to work and not having to do the same. Bliss. We really put too much unnecessary pressure on ourselves just to fit in or impress others. Let’s all stop vacuuming under the bed and dusting the tops of cupboards.

  9. What has made my life heap simpler, and given me literally hours more each week is creating habits. I’ve lived more than 50 years being spontaneous about when and how I do things (groceries, banking, catching up with friends, organising clothes for work/play) and was constantly jamming in things at the last minute (mixture of thrills and stress) creating a few routines and being more organised has made my life simpler – there’s still room for the random, but I’ve also cut out a lot of wasted activities.

  10. Simple life! Yes, I want that, too! Where can I sign up? Of course, I would need a personal ‘life simplifier’, or ‘simplifying coach’ of some sort, the kind of life I lead… I was just thinking about how to simplify my life this morning (read: cursing why everything has to be so damn complicated when I was dragging my suitcase through snow trying to catch the train to the airport…) These days I just have this overwhelming desire to pull the blanket over my head and sleep till April…

  11. Hi I’ve never posted here before but I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and love it. About simplifying our lives, hubby and I no longer work, our kids are grown and have families of their own, so our time is ours. When I first stopped working, I thought I had to be busy every minute of the day, doing chores or errands, etc. or else I would actually feel guilty if I sat down and did a crossword or read a book but I’ve learned that I am entitled to some leisurely time and I’m enjoying it! I’m a little obsessed with cleaning (you know the feeling) but I’ve also learned that a little dust on something isn’t the end of the world and the world still goes on. I always liked cooking even when I was working but I would have to rush home and start dinner and really not enjoy the process but now I have time to do it and it’s great. So that’s my story.

  12. The older I get the better I am at identifying what is truly important to me and that helps me simplify my life.

    Making an effort to spend time with friends and visit family has become more important with age. I don’t take these things for granted like I used to.

    When it comes to cleaning I can also still be OCD but I now say to myself, “When I die, will I be happy that I spent all this time cleaning?”


  13. It’s smart for us to simplify our lives, at any age. A close friend gave me a subscription to a British magazine called The Simple Life which is filled with tips on exactly how to do this. I’ve simplified to some degree in some areas. It’s a good impulse.

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