A Birthday

“Let us decide on the route that we wish to take to pass our life, and attempt to sow that route with flowers.”

 Madame du Chatelet, from Gretchen Rubin’s “Moment of Happiness” for 9 December 2011

Today I turn 35. That seems an auspicious number for a year I plan to focus on Voluntary Simplicity.

Last year's cake. No cake this year, but that's cool.

I’ve been living Voluntary Simplicity to one degree or another for the past 10+ years, but this birthday marks a re-commitment to the conscious application of the principles of Voluntary Simplicity.

The goal for this project:

I will cultivate mindfulness and awareness in my daily life and through that awareness identify areas where I place the highest value. I will explore my values and options for living more deeply in those areas, and then make incremental changes and future plans with the goal of consciously living my life around those values.

Although I can’t hang onto the things that I value, I can court them in my daily activities, attract them with careful selection and arrangement of the physical, emotional, and spiritual elements of my life, and pamper, preen, and nourish them with attention and awareness. I can give them space by clearing out the extraneous. I can live them fully while I’m here. And after? Who knows?

This month seems right for introspection, with the dark and the cold, with the Solstice and the religious holidays celebrating hope and the promise of rebirth even in the midst of darkness. And, of course, my birthday, which always invites even more navel-gazing from a person already inclined to peer at her bellybutton. It’s also a practical month for this type of search because my husband’s company shuts down between Christmas and New Year’s, so I’ll have assistance with the day-to-day maintenance of our home and care of our children, hopefully giving me more space for awareness.

So, I’m excited! This year promises to be great! (knock on wood, though, because I’m still superstitious about being too enthusiastic)

9 Replies to “A Birthday”

  1. I hope you had a wonderful day, just for you! I really appreciate your thoughts on Voluntary Simplicity. I for one, could definitely use some more intentional simplicity in my life.


  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!! If I am honest, I have to say I have extra affection for people with December birthdays, especially when they are so close to mine! 🙂 I hope you have a FABULOUS birthday week!!! Huzzah, Sagittarians!!!! 😀


    1. Thank you! It’s been a good one so far. And I haven’t even opened my present yet.


  3. Hurray! Happy Birthday!! Let me know how 35 is–I only have two months to go…

    I started reading the book Voluntary Simplicity last week, as my “read before bed” book. I’m stuck in the chapter with all the excerpts from letters, and find myself wanting to get beyond that into some more “meat.” But it is inspiring to read how people do it.


    1. Thank you, Melanie!

      Yes, the part with the excerpts can get a little long. I really like Elgin’s commentary in between, though, and it was interesting to to me see how similar some of the thinking is among people from across the country and in different living situations. I kept reminding myself that these were from 1977; it made me aware of how little things have really changed in nearly 35 years. The things we see playing out now in the media and consumer culture seemed well in place even then. Even the prediction about how Voluntary Simplicity itself would be co-opted by consumer culture was pretty spot on. It reminds me how long it takes to shift momentum and the major forces we have working against us when we try to live outside of the mainstream.


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