Monday, April 22, 2013

Lowest Common Denominator

Simplicity - a wonderful concept, and the topic of discussion amongst a group of amazing women who bless my life. What a lovely thing, simplicity. Simple. That's what it is. Well, what it seems it should be, anyway. But is it? 

It's something I strive for every day and something that was thrust upon me when my psoriatic arthritis spiraled out of control. It's funny how going from full steam ahead to full stop can simplify life.  

The leader of the Women's Circle I attended gave us homework to do before the Circle, which included defining what simplicity meant to us. In thinking about this, I realized that my definition of simplicity has evolved over the years. When I first decided to invite simplicity into my life, I got rid of tons of stuff, had plans to grow our own food, learn to sew in order to make some of our clothes, I baked our bread, cooked almost everything from scratch, and hoped to learn to do any necessary home repairs. Simplicity was a lot of work. Worth it, but a lot of work. 

Now my approach to simplicity is a bit different. I have five kids, a husband, and one bathroom. I have psoriatic arthritis. I have a child with Aspergers, a child with depression, a child with joint problems, and two other children with unique needs. I was diagnosed with celiac. My body has forgotten how to sleep. We homeschool. Besides that, our yard isn't conducive to growing much of our own food, I do not have a gift for sewing, and although some home repairs are within our grasp, others need to be hired out. We do bake our own bread and cook much of what we eat from scratch, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that we enjoy certain pre-packaged foods, especially for homeschool co-op days. 


Today simplicity, to me, means finding the lowest common denominator. 

In a family this large, everyone is going to have different interests and is going to want to get involved in different things. With my illness, it's not possible for me to spend my day driving to and fro, shuttling children to different activities - so we picked two that my children adore and in which all can participate: Epoch Arts Homeschool Co-op and Tuesday Night Sunday School. My kids also have different interests when it comes to what they want to do at camp, so we go to Camp Calumet in New Hampshire during the first week of camp, when two of my kids can attend Drama Camp and two can attend Adventure Camp and one can sulk about not being old enough for Day Camp just until her first Family Camp activity. 

The lowest common denominator - it means pleasing most of the people most of the time, not all of the people all of the time. Occasionally one or two of us get dragged somewhere we'd rather not be, only to find ourselves dragging someone else where they don't want to be a little while later. It's not often that the dragee doesn't have fun anyway.

The lowest common denominator - it means living life with just enough. Just enough stuff to meet our needs, including our needs for entertainment and joy. Just enough room for all of us and the stuff we need. Just enough activity to inspire and enjoy, not so much that it overwhelms and exhausts. Just enough work that we do around the house every day to not feel overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. Just enough to be able to easily find the joy in life, rather than burying it under ideals and expectations.




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