365 Ways to Simplify Your Life

PATRICE: If I’m “pioneering” anything, it’s the idea that simplicity is within everyone’s grasp as long as they stop doing stupid things and examine the long-term repercussions of their choices and behavior. People forget that our lives are largely the accumulation of the choices that we’ve made. We all face circumstances beyond our control, but our choices stemming from those circumstances affect how our lives turn out. My mother was raised in a horrible home—a circumstance beyond her control—but she made the choice to not re-create that horrible home when she became an adult and created her own home.

AMY: Do you think America’s early pioneers embraced the practical ideas outlined in your book?

PATRICE: The early pioneers were not burdened with the material excess we have today, but they were just as burdened with the repercussions of their decisions. Those who made good choices had simpler lives. Those who made bad choices didn’t. Pioneers had adventurous spirits but also had the simplicity to embrace that pioneering spirit. It would be more complicated to become a pioneer with rotten choices anchoring them down. They probably wouldn’t have gone in search of new territories if their lives were a flippin’ mess. Presumably, they had a foundation of making the right choices in life before they left the security of their homes and set off into the unknown. (Doubtless there were some who were escaping the mess they had created, but I’m guessing they were in the minority.)

AMY: What can we learn from them?

PATRICE: Many of the problems in our current society stem from the fact that the government has lifted the burden of repercussions for poor choices. If you make a choice to have a baby out of wedlock—no problem, the government will support you. You won’t have to bear the shame, financial distress, or other negatives due to your poor choice of not waiting for marriage before having a baby. We have become a nation of professional victims, unable or unwilling to see the downside to our bad behavior.

The pioneers didn’t have that luxury. If they made a bad decision, they paid the price—and learned from it. They taught themselves and their children to examine the long-term repercussions of personal choices. Bad choices lead to bad things. Good choices lead to good things.

AMY: Tell me what you learned from your parents.

PATRICE: My parents’ marital fidelity made me understand the importance of choosing the right spouse and how that choice can impact us for the rest of our life. I dated a lot of frogs, but when my prince came, I knew right away he was the one. My folks have been married for fifty-three years. My husband and I have been married for twenty-two years and, God willing, we’ll outlast my parents when it comes to keeping our vows. There are few things more simplifying than choosing the right spouse.

AMY: You found a simpler life in the country. Do you think city folks can find simplicity amidst the hustle and bustle?

PATRICE: Absolutely. “Simple life” has been linked with rural living. People sometimes don’t understand how simplicity can be achieved anywhere. The concept boils down to making good choices. We took chances on starting a home business and living in the country, chances our friends didn’t take. But many of them made the right choices for them. They stayed married, stayed out of debt, raised their children with love and discipline. . . . And as a result, their lives are simple—even though they’re urban.

Rural life isn’t for everyone, and it’s not necessarily simple. But since simplicity can be achieved merely by making smart, intelligent choices in life, it’s achievable anywhere, by anyone.

AMY: Patrice, you have pioneered new territory with your book. It is conveyed in a gracefully Christian way. Congratulations on a simply beautiful book!

PATRICE: Awww, shucks. Thanks.

Amy is married to DJ, her high school sweetheart. They home school three wonderful children—a computer genius, an artist, and a princess. When not tending her chickens or children or husband, Amy enjoys writing. She hopes to make a career of writing some day. Maybe when the chickens move out. Amy can be contacted at amylynn.nicholson@gmail.com.

 Patrice Lewis is a wife, mother, homesteader, homeschooler, author, blogger, columnist, and speaker. An advocate of simple living and self-sufficiency, she and her husband Don operate a home-based woodcraft business and farm on twenty acres in rural north Idaho. Patrice and her husband have been married twenty-two years and have two daughters, 13 and 16.

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