Happiness and Simple Living
found me late in life.
When I was a child, I had very little. Sometimes I was happy. When I was a young adult, I didn’t have much, but most of the time I was happy. When I became a mature, wealthy adult in my 40’s I was too busy to be happy. Now, I own very few possessions, live an utterly simple life, and most of the time I’m not only happy, I am blissful!
I wish I could say I chose happiness and simple living. I didn’t, at least not until circumstances forced me to. My life took me down a path of riches and fame, and then collapsed, forcing me, out of poverty to live simply. But then, something miraculous happened. I don’t think it could have happened any other way.
Here is my story of how I got to happiness and simple living.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family in New York City. We did not have happiness and simple living. I spent most of my time trying to stay out of the way of my parents who fought a lot. I didn’t have many toys and I was shy. What I enjoyed doing most (both at home and at school) was drawing — copying pictures from books and magazines.
In school, I’d get in trouble for not paying attention to the teacher. I found happiness as a child when I was being an artist busy copying the pictures from the text books! I couldn’t resist doing it because the only time I felt happy was when I was drawing
When I was fourteen, my parents moved to an affluent suburb in New Jersey. We lived on the less affluent side of town. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by the things that money can buy—my schoolmates wore more expensive clothes than I did, had much bigger allowances than I did, and lived in much fancier homes than I did. Meanwhile, back at home, things were as dysfunctional as they had always been.
My parents repeated the three cycles of their relationship: fight, separate, get back together. There was never any peace. I hated going home. I hated my clothes. I hated our house. I vowed that when I was old enough to get out of there I’d leave and make a better life for myself. I would have a beautiful home, a successful career, a handsome husband, and great kids.
I got a scholarship to nursing school, and three years after high school graduation, I was a registered nurse and married to a handsome Marine Corps helicopter pilot. Four children and five years later, we were living in our own home in the suburbs.
For us life was at an even, busy keel. I began painting, and selling my art in local galleries, and continued my nursing career part-time. My husband did a tour of duty in Viet Nam. He flew helicopters in a war zone where the helicopters were shot at constantly. We lost many of our Marine Corps friends there. I worried constantly. After he came back, things between were never the same. For me, there wasn’t much happiness and simple living.
As the kids got older, and my husband became an airline pilot. I became a Realtor. He was away from home more than he was home, and I was working 60 hours a week at my real estate career. We grew further and further apart, and finally divorced. The kids left home for college, marriage, and military.
I remarried twice, divorced again, and then was widowed. By that time, I was living in a beautiful home, had 100 pairs of shoes in my wardrobe, drove a Mercedes, and had traveled to several countries. Art took a backseat to my busy life of being rich and famous (I had some modicum of success as a Realtor.)
I opened up my own real estate office – at the worst time. The late 80’s stock market crash and the ensuing recession hit. I had sunk everything I had into the business and was forced into bankruptcy. My life was at the other end of the spectrum of happiness and simple living.
The panic attacks began. Without warning, my stomach would bloat to the size of a three-month pregnancy. The pain was agonizing. I felt like I was falling down an endless black hole. I wished for death.
I was at rock bottom, emotionally and financially.
I quit my real estate career, sold my car and what little possessions were left. I moved out of state and lived for awhile with one of my daughters and her two children. Situations like that usually don’t work well, and mine was no exception.
I moved back to the town I left, rented an apartment by a beautiful park, and started painting. After getting a body of work together, two galleries accepted my work, and paintings sold on a fairly consistent basis.
Although I was selling paintings, I needed more income than the art sales generated.. I took the experience I had as a prospecting salesperson in real estate, and married it to my art. I published a set of note cards with drawings of historical places in our city, and wrote something about the history on the back of each card. I packaged them up in sets of a dozen scenes, and went door-to-door selling my cards. They were a hit!
I learned how simple living generates sustainable happiness. My life was the epitome happiness and simple living. Long story short, for ten years, I lived near Balboa Park in San Diego, sold paintings at galleries, and my note cards door-to-door. I used public transportation to get to my favorite neighborhoods, where people bought my cards. I made enough money to live on, and had an awesome lifestyle! I slept late, was never in a rush or stressed, I walked and rode my bike. I was in great shape. Many days I would take my easel and paints and paint beautiful scenes in Balboa Park by the lily pond, stocked with gorgeous, giant koi swimming under the giant, colorful waterlilies. Two or three times a week I’d walk to the Self-Realization Temple just four blocks from where I lived. I chanted and meditated into bliss with the group. I had no cares, no responsibilities, and very few possessions. Those ten years were like being on vacation.
During that happy time, I was in my mid 50’s and early 60’s. But as time marched on, I wanted to do somethin”g for my financial future. I visited my daughter in Tucson, during the building boom, and was able to buy a new home with $1000 down, and an additional $7000 down within the next six months while the house was under construction. Believe it or not, I did that by selling my note cards door to door!
Living in Tucson these past ten years has been interesting. I’ve had the time and energy to create a new series of paintings. My style of art now is very different than what I did in San Diego. It’s spiritual and metaphoric, and represents my passion that the solution to the Earth’s problems is a spiritual one.
I haven’t yet figured out a way to make my art support me here in Tucson.
An opportunity presented itself for me to create a small house cleaning company to make ends meet. It has been successful, supporting me and two employees these last seven years.
Although circumstances these past ten years in Tucson have not been the idyllic ones I was surrounded by for the last ten years I lived in San Diego, I have been happy. Living in San Diego as a self-supporting artist, taught me what makes me happy and maybe more importantly, how I can choose to be happy in my current circumstances
.I am happy. I live simply in a small three bedroom two bath home with my two dogs. They are my treasured companions. I’ve heard it said that if you’ve never had a relationship with an animal, you’ve missed out on a huge part of your humanity. Domestic pets are dependent on us, and love us us unconditionally. They live in the moment. We learn from them. My two dogs have transformed me into a more loving and joyful human being.
Now, a new chapter in my life is prodding my soul. The page wants to be turned within the next year!
By the end of July 2016, I will be spending more of my time in a new location near the beach where the lifestyle is all about happiness and simplicity! I am looking forward to getting rid of almost all my possession now, and living even simpler. I will paint more, teach art, do more yoga, walk on the beach, lift weights, read, listen to music, dance with my dogs, and grow, buy, prepare, cook and eat luscious, colorful, tasty organic veggies and fruits! These next 25 years will be the happiest and simplest yet! I have given up trading the time for money. I want the fulfillment and happiness that a simple life offers
I wish for you the same.
Simplicity opens up a wonderful space in our lives!
When we are not rushed or stressed, we have time to take better care of ourselves with exercise and healthy home-prepared food. Not having to rush off somewhere, we have time for the people and animals in our lives—we get loved, and we love! There’s time to do our passion–me my art and writing, for you maybe that volunteer group you love, or learning to play the piano, ballroom dancing, teaching yoga, or traveling.
Living simply affords us the time to always have a neat, clean environment, because we don’t have a whole lot to take care of and clean! Living simply means we don’t need to make as much money, because living simply is very inexpensive! It creates space for happiness and simple living. (See my blog on how I reduced my living costs by $15,000 a year!)
I created this website, because every day and everywhere I go in my housecleaning business and elsewhere, I hear people lament about their busy harried life. As one woman put it, “I don’t want the madness – I just want to slow down and live different.” (She wants happiness and simple living.)
The typical lifestyle in developed countries is full of work and responsibilities, and short on time for actual living, joy, and love. Our busy, stressed lifestyle literaly suck the life out of us, with serious health problems as a result, We can not only add enormous quality to our lives with less stuff, but we can heal our planet also.
I created this blog so we can all participate in a conversation that supports any one who wants happiness and simple living. What ideas do you have to share? What questions do you have? What is your biggest challenge?
Let me know,
Click here to view Sage’s art.