Organized Simplicity Review: Chapter One

In this series I will be working through Tsh Oxenreider’s book, Organized Simplicity.


“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”  –Will Rogers

In this chapter, Tsh talks about being responsible home managers.  In her own life, she and her husband have paid off all their debt (mostly student loans,) purged almost all their possessions, and moved overseas.  She’s come to realize that things are just things- we can carefully evaluate what we want and need.

Between 1950 and 2004 the average home size in America doubled from 983 square feet to 2,349 square feet.  The average family size has shrunk from 3.67 to 2.62.  The same trend has been happening in Australia, New Zealand, and much of the “Western” world.  As families, we are filling more space with fewer people- we’re filling that space with stuff.

In America, there are no vacation laws.  25% of workers don’t receive a paid vacation, and those that have paid vacation receive 15 days a year, on average.  Our kids spend their years in classes.

The average paycheck has risen in the last 30 years, but according to a survey by Italy’s Siena University in 2007, the quality of our personal relationships has dropped.

Viewing these statistics, it’s obvious that our culture is not practicing “simple living,” in any sense (other than using convenience products and credit wherever possible, I suppose.)

She writes that she knows it’s not realistic to completely swear off fossil fuels, eat only organic food, grow all our own produce, wear free trade organic clothes, etc., etc., etc. These are the trademarks of what popular culture views as “Simple Living.”  So, we need to completely re-define what simple living actually means.

What do you think?  Do you feel like your life could use some simplifying?  Are you happy with where you are in terms of owning stuff, and having time to enjoy it?  I’m really enjoying this book, and look forward to working through it to see what she says!

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5 Responses

  1. i completely agree with this. i try to keep my things to a minimum – easy for me since i live in small spaces and move frequently, so this promotes simple living. i can’t stand wasting money on things that are not necessary and i think really hard when i buy something outside of my established routines (groceries, etc). i try to keep everything (accounting etc) as simple as possible as well. i imagine that is tougher when you have a family and need a larger number of things.

  2. they also say that city dwelling is great because of this. much lower carbon imprint. lower gas bill. smaller spaces more appropriate to number of people living inside of them! but it’s cool you make use of all of that extra space with a garden.

    • I think the big challenge with having a family is that everybody has their special things, and we have trouble finding value in it. Like, when we want to clean out stuff from the house, J and I always want to start with the kids’ toys. 🙂 I totally agree with you on best use of land and space, even though I find huge value in having a yard for the kids to play in and for us to garden. But that’s why suburbs started- for all of us who want to have the benefits of living “in the country” without the distance or difficulties.

  3. I’m happy living with less, but I think some people think we are a little odd. We are out of step with most people we know, so it a bit difficult to make and keep friends. Many of the homeschool families get it, but the regular folks don’t. I think if we lived in a crunchier area, it would be more commonplace. Most everyone around here and my family members(in other states) have their children in school all day, and then scheduled in evening activities six to seven days a week! They never have time to just chill and use their imagination. Summers are booked up as well. Life is very complicated and there is so much stress. I don’t know how my sister does it – her schedule is exhausting. There is no time to stand back and get perspective; it’s like they just run on a treadmill all day(like a rat).

    I love simple! I am always trying to cut back and streamline things so we have more time to enjoy each other and life. I feel like an anachronism!

    • I totally, totally, totally understand how you feel. Makes me grateful for an online community of like-minded Moms….at least here, we’re not like exhibits at the museum! Haha- “And here, folks, you can see a family who “opted-out.”

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