The Simple Life For Me

“A simple life is its own reward”

~George Santayana


I know, I know life seems to be so complicated….not enough hours in the day….rush, rush, rush….so many people saying, ‘I can’t slow down to read or meditate or walk or take five minutes for myself’. 

But does life have to be so complicated….do we have any control over how complicated or simple life is?  I believe we do.  But it does take some work….just a little effort is all that is needed to start to actually simplify your life.  That seems funny to say, I have to work at making my life simple…sad too!  But that is the truth of our world these days.

And I’ll tell you what the best reasons are for simplifying your life….regaining your true self, your happiness, your health.



Our Complex Life

I have learned this hard lesson of simplifying over the last 30 years.  Trying many times to release the crazy, complexities of my life, many I created.

My garden is a prime example.  Yes, I love to garden.  And I created my massive gardens so I would have a means of indulging my passion for nature and digging and creating….and so I would have a hobby to release me from the stresses of my job. 

But it never happened.  I found very little time to garden as I allowed my job to take up most of my time.  And my gardens were left to fend for themselves.



Look What Happens

Our complex, workaholic culture can quickly consume us.  And it is sneaky how it’s done.  Get this gadget to help simplify your life, or follow this habit, or this use this app.  Boy did I have efficiency down pat so I could work hard, multi-task, commute long hours and subside on very little sleep and a crappy diet.  Funny thing, it was all an illusion.  Keep working hard to maintain a lifestyle that causes you to keep working hard….and on and on the treadmill goes until you go flying off.

It became painfully clear that once I retired, my health was so bad I couldn’t travel or garden much.  So instead I have been working my way back to physical health and emotional stability….and the key has been simplifying.



The Simple Life For Me

The only way back for me has been to put myself first.  It is never too late to begin this hard exercise.  Even my mom, after 85 years of her life, has just learned this valuable lesson.  And it starts with saying ‘no’.  The first ‘no’ is the hardest, but once you utter it, your freedom begins.

Think about all the things you say yes to on a daily basis to please others.  How about pleasing yourself, first, for once.  Do it…really it is OK.  And don’t obligate yourself to something unless you really want to do it from your heart and soul.  

So what to do with those extra few minutes you just freed up….I like to take a walk, take a breath, read a book, pull some weeds, or cut some flowers for a vase.  Do whatever makes your heart sing.  Do what you had been wanting to do.

Once you start and stick with it, you will be amazed at the time you can carve out for yourself.  I think we are all worth, at least, an hour to ourselves a day, and even more if you can manage it.  



Do you set aside time in your day for you?  What bits of wisdom do you have for helping to simplify your life?



A Simple Vase


Recently we had dear friends over for lunch, and I picked these flowers that were still blooming.  Amazing what nature provides.  



Hydrangeas and lavender still blooming in mid-November.  Cut for a simple vase, gracing the table of a simple meal with great friends.  I know my vase is not right out of my current garden, but with the snow flying that would be impossible.


I am joining Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful In A Vase on Monday meme. The pictures shared here were created with my iPod Touch camera and two free apps, Pixlr and Prisma

I am posting poetry, almost weekly on Sundays, on my other blog, Living From Happiness.  You can read my latest poem here.


All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2017.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

40 Replies to “The Simple Life For Me”

  1. Can’t believe you have snow already! But your vase could have come from the middle of summer. I just love hydrangeas and have used one too this week, though a little more faded than yours. How true about the simple life and learning to say ‘no’ – something I find very hard.

    1. Luckily we only had 3 inches not the 10 that was predicted….should melt by tomorrow when it is 50 degrees. I loved seeing your still fresh-faded hydrangea….it is hard to say no but with practice over the last 3 years it has become easier.

  2. Oh well said Donna, and despite my own awareness and belief in all you say it does not stop me from trying to cram as much as I can into the day. Perhaps the fact that I am chilled and relaxed as I do it is not a good enough excuse… Hmm, something to think about. Sometimes the simple vases are the best – and it was the quickly picked blooms for my friend last week that prompted today’s vase for that very reason. Thanls for sharing yours, and your wisdom, and hope the snow does not become severe

    1. Actually I would say your busy yet relaxed days show that they are not causing you stress which means they work for you. And I bet there are times when you need a breather you take one. Something I am just learning the hard way.

      Glad you enjoyed the vase, even though it was not from my current garden. We had 3 inches and were spared more. Melting now and should melt more by tomorrow as I still need to cut some things back and rake a bit especially in my wild back garden.

  3. Lovely flowers Donna. My yoga teacher often reminds us to be grateful to ourselves for taking time in our day to come to yoga class, for doing something good for our minds and bodies.

    1. I love your yoga teacher’s way of reminding her class….a great reminder for me when I read or garden or draw or walk….thanks for that Susie!

  4. Health truly is the most important thing we cultivate, Donna. I remember a few short years ago I sat down with myself and said you need more time to yourself. It’s okay not to be the super career super hobby woman of the future – it’s just not for you. I think I need more time than most people and I cannot stand to be “busy.” I quit some clubs, organizations, jobs and even social events and now I breathe. I love to cook. Cooking makes me pause and spend time with myself. And I love to cook healthy, plant-based meals especially with garden ingredients. It really enriches my life and health. This winter I am investing in myself and taking an online plant-based cooking course!

    1. Wow Kathy this is great…something I learned as I retired…I just didn’t like being so busy all the time. And I like the idea that cooking makes you pause. Your online course sounds wonderful and reminds me to look into these more often. I too love to cook, and we make dinner nightly, and I make soups weekly for lunch.

  5. “I’m only as busy as I choose to be,” is my retirement mantra! When I feel my breathing getting shallow and my shoulders rising up to my earlobes I stop and reassess what’s important: to me, for my health, right now.

  6. Living simply does seem particularly difficult during the holiday season! However, my own biggest struggle this past year has involved managing my response to the political environment – one can’t respond to all the urgent calls to action. Enjoy your snowy season, Donna. Snow must stem the garden’s siren call, at least for a time?

    1. Yes this time of year is most difficult to live simply that’s why I got rid of lots of my decorating, cards etc and now do simple decorations and send e-cards to very dear friends and family. And I hear you with the call to political causes….so many it is overwhelming.

      Now the snow should stem the gardening, but I still have some work to do so when it melts and on any dry day above 32 I may still be seen in the garden doing a bit of cutting back or raking up or weeding between the bricks….I have enjoyed gardening in November this year which is new for me. I usually stop in October, but had to keep going to get anything done this month.

  7. I was thinking last week that there is never any time when I do not feel I should be getting on with something. I need to do some evaluating about what I fill up my time with and make some space for being. I do know that jobs will fill up as much time as you let them. If you only have half an hour, that’s how long it takes!
    It’s good to see some colour in your vase and it must smell good too.

    1. Oh yes the vase smelled wonderful….and oh boy can I fill up my day with work or at least I used to….now I let my body tell me when to say when.

  8. I fail here. Often.
    But each day I start, on my own, in the quiet of pre-dawn.
    And those quiet moments set me up to face the day ahead. Without it my soul, my heart, my mind are frazzled and fried.
    I was taught (and obviously absorbed it too well) that to think of myself is selfish.
    A work in progress.

    1. Oh Soosie you are a beautiful work in progress…I also learned to put others first and I learned it too well. I like your start of the day…easing in to it is the best way to stay centered and not frazzled…very wise my friend.

    1. Oh Karen I love how you start and end your day….I am still working on those times of day, trying different habits and rituals…and what a stunningly beautiful vase full of so many blooms. Thank you for sharing it.

  9. I can completely relate, Donna. I took on way too much this year and was pulled in a dozen different directions – it was so stressful. When I was doing “this” I would be thinking about the fact that I wasn’t doing “that” – and this was a constant situation. You are so right – simplifying takes work and it doesn’t happen naturally (for most of us anyhow). That’s especially the case with the holidays coming up. Next week there is nothing specific on my schedule and I had to sit myself down and tell myself that I was NOT going to add anything to it. It will be a “ME” week and I will do what I want, not what others want me to.

    1. Yay Margaret….good for you! A ‘ME” week is what we all need. Today is my “ME” day, and I can’t wait to just be all day! Enjoy your week my friend!

  10. I look forward to greatly simplifying my life when I retire in the next couple of years. In the meantime, I have to make do with things like taking a walk at lunchtime to clear my head.

    1. That’s a perfect oneJason….and one I should have utilized when I was working as I see the benefits now. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Years ago I learned the acronym KISS – Keep It Simple Sweetie and have made it my mantra. You’re right– ‘no’ gets easier with practice. 🙂 Yoga and walks keep me grounded, reading and puttering outside is also relaxing.
    Your vase is lovely and I understand about the snow flying… no flowers in the garden, but the bird feeders keep my soul happy. Have a grateful Thanks-Giving!

    1. Ah yes a great Mantra Eliza. And wonderful activities to keep you relaxed. The suet feeder keeps us happily connected to nature too.

  12. Very good advice, Donna! Self-care is NOT selfish. And self-preservation–specifically, saying “no” when you’re at the end of your rope–allows you to survive and help others for another day. I’ve always kind of known this, but recently it’s become clearer that it really is important. I’m glad to hear that you’re working yourself back to mental, spiritual, and physical health. 🙂

    1. Exactly Beth so glad to hear you too know of its importance dear friend. It’s those baby steps we make on our journey back to health that brings us the greatest peace!

    1. And that has been the shift for me Christina. Coming back to that journey and leaving the task behind. Thank you for these beautiful and profound words.

  13. Wise words, Donna! When I had to retire 4 years ago due to complications following my hip replacement, I thought it was close to the end of the world. But in reality, once those months of physical therapy enabled me to walk again, my life greatly improved. Now I have more time to do those things that are truly important to me – things I was desperately trying to squeeze in before. Of course, we can’t all quit work, but as you say, we can simplify and choose those things most important to us.

    Thank you for a beautiful post! Happy thanksgiving!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Deb. I am glad you enjoyed the post….we seem to be on a similar path, and the journey has been so freeing and wonderful. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. Excellent advice Donna. Some words from a poem come to mind:

    “What is this life, if full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare’.

    It can be hard to say no but being assertive is not the same as being aggressive. Sometimes we nod our heads before we have time to put our brains into gear. Hope that you are keeping warm and cosy and enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations.

    1. Thank you Anna! And thanks for the wise words…I am keeping cosy and still getting a bit of gardening clean up done as the weather is cooperating from time to time.

  15. Such a great post, Donna! I too am slowly learning these things…
    Today I read a lovely Finnish post named “White Thursday”. (Yes, even though we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we now have Black Fridays and Black Weekends – hurry-to-buy!-be-faster-than-the-others!)
    White Thursday is about taking a walk, breathing calmly, admiring the snow and the beauty it brings everywhere, not buying new stuff but making good use of things you already have. Even though there are many sad trends in the world now, there also seems to be the growing need for a simpler life.
    It’s too late to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, but I can wish you beautiful and serene winter days. Big hugs!

    1. Thank you so much Sara….I often wonder how our US culture is affecting the world and it is sad that the commercialism aspect is what has taken hold. I love the idea of White Thursday and actually try to do this myself as we opt for a calmer holiday and no Black Friday for me.

      It pleases me to know that the idea of a simpler life is now catching on in other parts of the world. Wishing you a wonderful winter too! Lots of love my friend!

  16. I am working, slowly, on the simplify stuff and reducing the clutter. Too much busy, too much people and I get very frazzled. Pieces of quiet for me please.

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