Simple Days by Marlene Schiwy

I've been feeling a need to simplify my life lately. I've been cleaning out closets and drawers and cupboards, throwing out things that I should have gotten rid of years ago, and generally paring down. Or maybe I'm just turning into my Mother, who was KonMarie-ing the heck out of her life before Marie Kondo was even born. Thanks to Mom's life-long advice of "If you don't love it, live without it," I'm not having trouble dealing with the actual de-cluttering. But I've tried to simplify and get organized many times in the past, and no matter how much clutter I remove from my life, if never lasts. Within a few days the clutter starts to creep back in and within a week my life starts to look like the set of Sanford & Son.

So this time I decided that I need to take an approach that goes deeper than just removing the physical clutter from my life. So I've begun reading books on simplifying in the hope of getting to a deeper level with my clutter removal. Simple Days by Marlene Schiwy is a published journal of a woman who spends a year trying to simplify her life.

I struggle to enjoy most books about simplifying because of the "Fix your problems in 10 easy steps" approach they take. I'm also not a fan of the "throw out everything you own, shun all technology, and go live in a cabin in the country" approach either. I like stuff and I want things and I'm never going to give up my television or computer. But, the author assures me in the first sentence of the book, "This is not a book about going back to the land," so I figured I could safely proceed.

The author can get a bit preachy at times, but reading about her attempt to simplify her life has motivated me to finally face The Project's Box I've been avoiding dealing with for the last several years. The Project's Box is a box filled with materials I've acquired during various trips to craft stores. The problem is that I lose all sense of reason when I walk into a craft store, and I become convinced that I can make stuff. I walk up and down the aisles thinking, "I could make my own soap." I don't even enjoy driving to the store to buy soap. This feels like too much work. And yet, somehow I was convinced that I was going to make soap. I also bought knitting supplies, a decoupage kit, a calligraphy set, fabric to make pillows for one day when I learn how to sew, and ribbon for a picture frame project I read about in a magazine once and always meant to try. It's honesty time now. I'm never going to make my own soap or knit my own sweaters. So I've thrown out the projects box, and I feel liberated. Now there's one less pile of clutter to distract me from more important things.

Just as I had hoped, this book really make me think about simplifying in a different way.  It's not just about getting rid of clutter. It's about being honest with myself about how I really life and what I truly enjoy spending my time on. Making homemade candles, knitting scarves and sewing sounds so wholesome and appealing when I read the Little House books, but I don't actually enjoy those things in practice. I just like the idea of them, and I can still enjoy the idea of those things while reading about them. So, dear readers, if you ever see me in a craft store, feel free to stage in intervention in the parking lot.

I am, however, still going to keep buying lots of books. There are limits to this whole simplifying thing and having stacks of books around me is like having enough oxygen to breathe. So if you see me walking into a bookstore, tell yourself, "At least she doesn't drink," and leave me in peace to buy too many books!


  1. I agree with the concept of simplifying, but it certainly is hard to get there. Especially with other people in the house who maybe aren't quite as into the idea as I am.


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