Thoughts On A Simple Life

Thoughts On A Simple Life

How Tolkien's words have helped anchor my perspective on what creates a simple life.

“It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life” – J.R.R. Tolkien


I first heard this J.R.R. Tolkien quote during last year’s holidays. For the past year, it has served as a small anchor for my perspective, and I feel that sharing my thoughts about celebrating a simple life is fitting for this time of year.


Simple is a complicated word – at least it has been in my life. Perhaps you can relate? I don’t believe it’s complicated because simplicity is unachievable in the way that perfection is. Rather, simple feels unattainable because of the complications people put on it. In one sense, simplicity is something that can easily be synonymous with mundane and average. In another sense, simplicity is relative; therefore, attaining and maintaining it in one’s own life comes with no specific guideline.

Two weeks ago, I talked about the importance of choosing fear. Celebrating a simple life is also a choice – and, one that is vital to my every day life. Initially, the choice might not be the easiest, though with time, grace plays its part.

For me, a simple life is not defined by what the lives of others look like. It embodies unconditional love, and healthy (though never perfect) boundaries. It looks like the reflection in the mirror staring back at you or me, in all of the nakedness that comes with individuality. It is a belly laugh; a firm handshake; a conversation that is both heard and listened to.

A simple life is a slew of words on a page, the smell of an old library book with dog-eared pages, and a cup of coffee in the morning. It is a candle flickering on a table; wooden floors creaking beneath feet fitted with fuzzy socks. It is a piece of wisdom handed out generously with a side of reality or even patience.

A simple life can be drawn within or outside of the lines. It is in all of the natural, inevitable stillness and chaos of life. It is not stilted by trauma, and knows more than one definition of success. A simple life looks like Sunday morning – like a sunny day in Oregon, and a rainy day along coastal California.

It is a balance between the tiredness brought on by honest work and the rest acquired by means of a sabbath. It is the gift of seeing the sun rise and set. It is unhindered pursuit, and a well-kept secret. It is the struggle of growth and the miracle of new life. It is the hope for a tomorrow, and the mustard seed sized faith to get there.


To celebrate a simple life is to be available to receive it. Money and status and superficiality beckon to be chased, but quiet simplicity yearns to be caught and received like a gift. To celebrate a simple life is to seek; to ask; perhaps to sit within the silence. It is moving in spite of fear. It is to reflect and to holdfast to gratitude as if tomorrow depended on it. It is to note the very human moments of every day life that stick within the depths of one’s mind whether he or she is aware or not.

I envision celebrating a simple life a lot like turning all of the lights off before singing happy birthday to a child who is absorbing the attention that comes with being celebrated.

The details of the celebration are in the sparkle of the candles and the sweetness of a dessert.

The simple life itself is the pure authenticity and uninhibited joy that exists within a child who is deeply, unconditionally loved – as well as in the contented joy that rests deep within a child whose definition of success and extravagance and enough is not wrapped up in the what can be but, rather, in the blessed what is now.


Simplicity scared me for so long – and, at times (especially living in a place like Los Angeles), it still does. It is by far easier to look to what others are doing, at what they have, and how one's self might be lacking. It is easier to let a dream become an expectation; and to let that expectation become one's only desired reality.

I am in the constant process of discovering that relishing in the simplicity that is my life, welcoming the quiet, and befriending the ambiguity of what’s ahead help me experience far more depth than I could ever attain otherwise.

And – to celebrate the simple things is to simultaneously welcome in a heap of gratitude and peace.


What makes up your definition of a simple life? How might a simple life be celebrated in your day-to-day?

Cover Image Credit: Pixeled79

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.

The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:

“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:


When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:

"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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College Can Be Difficult, But Trust Yourself, Girl

Life can throw you curveballs sometimes, and times can get tough, but it is SO important to pick yourself up and trust that you can do anything.


I'll be honest, this school year was one of the hardest years of my life. There were lots of moments throughout the year that I just wanted to go home and get away from it all. I had to be reminded that I have been raised to try as hard as you possibly can, and I was doing that. It took some determination and time, but I didn't give up.

No matter how bad I felt, I stayed and persevered.

Now that I am home for the summer, I have been reminiscing on the past two semesters of school. At the beginning of the school year, I had a much different idea of how it would go. It was going to be "my year," but somehow while the year was going on, I felt that I had been completely wrong. It's easy to come to quick conclusions when life doesn't exactly go your way. Conclusions like "this year has been the worst year ever" and "I can never get a break" were often popping up in my head. My grades weren't where I wanted them, and I was surprised by a lot of occurrences that I never expected to happen (imagine a wild ride). I found out who my true friends are and who I could rely on, and luckily, my circle only grew. Being extremely extroverted, it was hard for me to get out and just do something. Being in this "rut" took a toll on me. I had to make those hard decisions about doing what was best for me in the long run instead of doing something just for the moment. Trust me when I say, this was NOT easy at all.

Through all the tears and change all around me, I decided to proceed to the finish line because I am NOT a quitter.

I decided that it was time for me to allow myself to fully, undeniably be me. I wanted to start doing the little things I enjoy again like working out, taking pictures, and simply just going out to do anything. I started forcing myself to take any opportunity that came my way, and it helped. One of the things that brought me so much joy was kickboxing – talk about therapeutic, people! Kickboxing at least three times a week helped my mood shift so much, and it was a start to seeing me again. I am so blessed with friends who would come over at, literally, any time of the day. Spending time with them helped me more than they could ever know. We did anything from just hanging out in my living room to splurging on a fun dinner. Through everything that I was doing daily, I was learning how to rely on myself. Looking back now, I have never really had to know what it felt like to rely mainly on myself. I did get so much help from my family and friends, but what good could their help do if I didn't want to help myself first?

Even though I felt like this was one of the worst years of my life, it taught me so much more than I ever expected. Looking back now, I grew so, so much. I learned how to smile when times get tough. I learned that it really is okay to not be okay sometimes, and it will be okay eventually. I learned that it's okay to ask for help because we weren't made to do life alone. Most importantly, I learned how to trust myself. My hope for anyone reading this, you will learn from my experience that the worst seasons get better. I am in such a good place right now because I never gave up, and I will continue to never give up. In a short amount of time, I am seeing how far I have come and how much I grew.

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