Name: Carrie Lange
Location: Seattle area
“Less things means less stress.”
I am a wife, mother of two children and three dogs, insurance agent, writer, and suicide prevention activist. I live in the Pacific Northwest where I try to raise happy, healthy children and contribute, even if only in the smallest way, to the betterment of the world around me. I do not consider myself a “minimalist”, but rather, a “simplifier”. I am still early on my journey to simplification. But I’m making it at a rather peaceful and comfortable pace.
How I view simplicity:
To me, living simply means letting go of heavy, cumbersome things which have weighed me down. I always think of it in just these terms, whether it’s something that is a financial burden like buying too many things, a health burden like eating too many complex, over processed foods, or a burden of stress like fighting with the cable company, or that fancy dancy waffle maker! All those things felt “heavy” to me, and I finally decided to start dropping them. Simplification has manifested itself in three main ways: I am debt free, I have much less stress, and I am physically and mentally healthier.
When I say debt free, I don’t mean we paid off our house or anything. We still have a mortgage payment, but we don’t have a car payment (for the moment), and we have zero credit card bills. Both my husband and I have [year] 2000 vehicles that get made fun of by others. But, my husband and I giggle inside when we think about how we haven’t made a car payment for the last six years. We just don’t buy something if we don’t have the cash for it, or don’t need it.
Less things means less stress. There are people (snobby PTA members), material objects (complicated waffle makers and remote controls), concepts (angry, malicious political or religious debates), and activities (searching for that infernal lid that fits the Tupperware) that I don’t have to hassle with anymore. Out of sight and hearing, out of mind. My mind is a much more peaceful place now. All that financial freedom and stress-free living makes me a healthier, happier person! And my simpler diet makes me healthier as well!
How my journey toward simplicity began:
For me, it started with sheer frustration at the cable company! For the longest time, I couldn’t bring myself to cut the … cable… How could I live without TV?? Esp. The Discovery Channel, History Channel, and you know, all those “smart people” channels?? But finally I got so livid, I figured I’d teach them a lesson and cancel! I’m sure it really hurt them.
O…m…g… I wish I had done it eons ago and 100,000,000 brain cells ago! I haven’t missed it one day since. Since cable TV isn’t a material possession, I’m not sure it “counts” as minimizing, but it sure felt like I ditched about 10,000 pounds of dead weight out of my life. Now, we use Netflix which we stream onto our TV. The cost is miniscule compared to cable, and many of those “smart people shows” are on there. Plus, I get instant access to all 5 Star Trek shows in their entirety! And no commercials!
My second big move came in the kitchen. Oh, the crap! I had a special griller, steamer, crock pot, blender, bread maker, ice cream maker, food processor…good lord, I’m getting tired telling you all the crap I had.
I had bought this pretty expensive waffle maker because it made big, huge, beautiful Belgian waffles. But my kids HATED them. They preferred the crappy frozen ones you pop in the toaster. So, I’m getting angry at them for not loving these beautiful waffles, and I’m forcing them to eat them because they’re so darn beautiful, and I’m trying like h*ll to cram it into the cabinet along with all the other beautiful small kitchen appliances (usually cursing while doing so), and I won’t buy the toaster waffles any more, and everything about eating waffles became miserable. One day, my ex came over (daughter’s father) and he’s a fancy cook. He was admiring my beautiful waffle maker, and I just had an epiphany and said, “take it” He took the damnable waffle maker out of my life, we’ve been eating frozen waffles since, and harmony has returned to the waffle eating experience. I realized I never really liked waffles anyway, I prefer pancakes.
So, it made me look at the rest of the crap in my kitchen that I wrestled with on a regular basis. Half the wrestling had to do with getting everything to fit in the cabinets, and find lids that fit on the tupper ware dishes. I got rid of all the things I never used, “but was definitely going to use one day,” like that fancy meat grinder, food processor, crock pot, and the George Foreman grill, haha!
I took all the things that I “was definitely going to use one day” (that I TRULY wanted to use, but never did because it was so buried in crap that I was NEVER going to use) out of the cabinets and put ON the counters. Like my bread machine and fancy, dancy, Vitamix blender. I found that after I got those two things in my line of sight, I actually started using them! And I LOVE them!
My next project was the infernal Tupperware. ugh… it was a nightmare. It drove me up the freakin’ wall. I started from scratch. Dumped all the old and bought eight small, 8 medium, 8 large, and 2 extra large of the SAME type that stack easily together. I devoted one drawer to lids ONLY, and there has been peace in the kitchen ever since.
Those were my 2 big starting points that got the ball rolling on simplification. I’ve simplified many things since, though I’m not on a quest simply to get rid of as much as I can. More a quest to get rid of stuff that brings me frustration, and stuff that I truly don’t use. I may become a true minimalist in the future, who knows. But “simplifier” is most certainly a title I will give myself and be proud of!
My values and principles:
Simpler living helps develop, sustain, and nourish mental and emotional health. In this crazy world where we often feel pressure to do more and acquire more, it’s no wonder stress and mental crises are at an all-time high. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America and has now surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the #1 cause of death by physical injury.
Where I want to go from here:
My main goal for the future is to support my children and build for them a healthy foundation on which they can grow and nurture the rest of their lives. Our family has been plagued with the nightmare of depression and suicide, and we have lost dear loved ones to it. So, I also will continue my work in suicide prevention and awareness, trying to help others avoid the devastation caused by unrecognized, untreated, mental illness.
Find more info about Carrie’s passions and life here.