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How I Live: Are the Best Things in Life really Free?

 

NATURAL QUIET AND SIMPLICITY

INSPIRE ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT

August 2019

 

         At midlife, I had been building and launching both my family and my career for over 20 years.  I couldn’t pay my bills or bond with my family.  I was stressed out from trying to make ends meet.  My business supported employees and counselors, but during its last years, our monthly expenses were more than our income, so we went under.  When I had fulfilled all my obligations, I went to solo practice, cut my office rent down radically, and by letting my website tell people about me, I cut my payroll to zero.

At the same time, our children were all disengaging from us faster than we were ready to let go.  Their mother and I weren’t seeing eye-to-eye about the business, finances, parenting, or the marriage itself.  We went to a great deal of counseling to solve these problems, but I was forced to accept divorce.  I moved out of our four-bedroom home in town with my office in back, and moved into my “doghouse,” a little getaway cabin in the woods.  I was locked behind gates put up to protect surrounding neighbors from vandalism, so that prevented anyone from coming out to see me.

I had been exhausting my immune system by beating my head against the walls that seemed to keep me from fulfilling my excessive desires.  I believe those years of frustration and exhaustion gave me cancer.  Before I had it cut out of my prostate (and it’s been all gone for fifteen years, thank God), I let it teach me to live one day at a time.  That’s all we’ve got, really.

After I thank God that the love of my life appeared from where I couldn’t have imagined.  She also was adjusting to her empty nest, and wanted a quieter, simpler life as well.  So we agreed that my doghouse would nurture and protect a new marriage for us at a very deep level.  Because of its natural beauty and quiet, and the sweetness of our partnership in sharing everything and keeping stress levels low, we have made our home a place all our children and grandchildren want to visit.

Now sixteen years later at ages 65 and 72, we love our quiet, simple life in the country now more than ever.  We wouldn’t trade this place for any mansion in any town or city.  I just have a reasonably short and traffic-free drive to either my Lexington or my Louisville office, which leaves us with lots of time to enjoy life.

We feel we are rich in having everything we want.  The key to our newfound wealth has been bringing demand in line with supply, not vice-versa.  And to be satisfied with less, we’ve had to realize that less is more.  More what?   It’s more of the best things in life, which are all free.  We don’t very often pay to go watch professionals play ball or laugh at themselves, and we don’t need TV or movie theaters to watch people dance, romance each other, or have adventures out in nature.  We’re old-fashioned.  We’d rather do these things ourselves, and thanks be to God, we still enjoy doing all these activities.

We eat outside often to remind us how low stress levels are for God’s creatures who keep it simple and harmonize with natural rhythms.  If only for a few moments, being outside at sunrise or sunset inspires and relaxes us every time.  Research confirms what we can feel, that quiet, natural sounds and scenes give a tangible boost to our immune systems.

We eat right, exercise, and avoid the stress of taking on problems we can’t solve.  That lets us live active lives without taking medicines, supplements, or over-the-counter pain relievers.  We take care of our secluded wilderness ourselves, because it’s free exercise, and we enjoy the place more that way.  Our animals live quietly in the wild outside our doors, so we can treat each other like pets as well as partners.

We keep some nights free each week, and save ourselves a Sabbath rest most every weekend.  That empowers us to both work three or four full days a week, not just money we earn, but mostly for the joys of learning, making new friends, and making a difference.  We both volunteer in our church and our community. We have people over often for meals without hiring any help, and we host houseguests throughout the year.

We have come to know that the more we share, the more we appreciate what we have, especiallyour friends and relatives.  We come into their lives and homes with no distress or demands, no expectations or entitlements.  We play yard and table games with each other, and with all our children and grandchildren.  We keep actively learning about life, right alongside the young people in our lives.  More than giving them stuff from our wallets, we give them ourselves.

To speak the love language of younger generations, we embrace technology.  We keep up with everybody on various social media, and I keep sharing new things I learn through my blog and my podcast.  And of course, technology helps us too, to learn, solve problems, appreciate music, and enjoy watching sports and entertainment.

A few years ago, we were visiting the Kentucky History Museum.  I was deeply touched by the re-enactment of life in Kentucky during the Great Depression.  As she tended her garden, a simply dressed lady repeated a catchy little poem that everybody seemed to live by back in the 30’s:

Use it up,   Wear it out,   Make it do,   Or do without.

Makes you appreciate what you have, she said.

Simplifying is hard for anyone to do.  I was lucky enough to be pushed into it by my need to recover from business failure, divorce, cancer, and 35 years ago, from alcoholism.  In the second half of my life, my recovering family has enriched my life as much as my church and blood families did in the first half, and still do now.  So when you have to suffer losses like I did in life, maybe you’ll be wise and fortunate enough to let them trim the fat in your life, so you will have the heart to recognize the good life when you find it, in quiet simplicity.

Dr. Paul Schmidt is a psychologist with offices in Louisville and Lexington,

(502) 633-2860, www.mynewlife.com.

At midlife, I had been building and launching both my family and my career for over 20 years.  I couldn’t pay my bills or bond with my family.  I was stressed out from trying to make ends meet.  My business supported ten employees and counselors, but during its last two years, our monthly expenses were 25% more than our income, so we went under.  When I had fulfilled all my obligations, I went to solo practice, cut my office rent down 80%, and by letting my website tell people about me, I cut my payroll to zero.

At the same time, our three children were all disengaging from us faster than we were ready to let go.  Their mother and I weren’t seeing eye-to-eye about the business, finances, parenting, or the marriage itself.  We went to hundreds of hours of counseling to solve these problems, but she filed for divorce and found another man.  I moved out of our four-bedroom home in town with my office in back, and moved into my “doghouse,” a three-room cabin in the woods.  I was locked behind gates put up to protect surrounding cell-phone towers from vandalism, so that prevented anyone from coming out to see me.

I had been exhausting my immune system by beating my head against the walls that seemed to keep me from fulfilling my excessive desires.  I believe those years of frustration and exhaustion gave me cancer.  Before I had it cut out of my prostate (and it’s been all gone for fifteen years, thank God), I let it teach me to live one day at a time.  That’s all we’ve got, really.

Meanwhile, a friend of the family in Florida was being forced to simplify too.  After raising her children in suburbia, my sister’s school-teacher friend Stephanie realized that the best years of her life had been the ones she had lived in Shelbyville.  On a visit back here to my sister, with both of us divorced and not wanting to date, it was love at first sight for me.  For her, that also included the doghouse.  From inside my curtain-free windows, she realized I couldn’t see or hear any neighbors or traffic, just beautiful peace and quiet.  A few years after we married, we added a one-room guest cabin for our visiting friends and children to stay in, but we like our three rooms just fine for us, and for our grandchildren when they come.

Now sixteen years later at ages 65 and 72, I have chain-sawed out a view for us of the horizon 50 miles out in three directions.  6 times a year, I drive a big truck to down, and for $9.25, I bring back all the water we need for two months.  We are the only people who have ever lived on top of this hill, and we love it out here now more than ever.  We wouldn’t trade this place for any mansion in any town or city.  I just have a 35-minute drive to either my Lexington or my Louisville office, which leaves us with lots of time to enjoy life.

We feel we are rich in having everything we want.  The key to our newfound wealth has been bringing demand in line with supply, not vice-versa.  And to be satisfied with less, we’ve had to realize that less is more.  More what?   It’s more of the best things in life, which are all free.  We don’t very often pay to go watch professionals play ball, dance to music, laugh at themselves, romance each other, or have adventures out in nature.  We’re old-fashioned.  We’d rather do these things ourselves, and thanks be to God, we are still doing them all well.

We eat outside often to remind us how low stress levels are for God’s creatures who keep it simple and harmonize with natural rhythms.  If only for a few moments, being outside at sunrise or sunset inspires and relaxes us every time.  Research confirms what we can feel, that quiet, natural sounds and scenes give a tangible boost to our immune systems.

We eat right, exercise, and avoid the stress of taking on problems we can’t solve.  That lets us live active lives without taking any medicines, supplements, or even over-the-counter pain relievers.  We take care of our 70 acres of wooded wilderness ourselves, because it’s free exercise, and we enjoy the place more that way.  Our animals live quietly in the wild outside our doors, so we can treat each other like pets as well as partners.

We keep two or three nights free each week, and save ourselves a sabbath rest most every weekend.  That empowers us to both work three or four full days a week, not just to supplement our retirement and social security incomes, but mostly for the joys of learning, making new friends, and making a difference.  We both volunteer in our church and our community.  The gates which others require us to keep locked now work in our favor, preserving and protecting our quiet hilltop retreat.  The peace from that privacy gives us the energy to entertain around 200 people a year for meals without hiring any help, and to host houseguests in our “baby cabin” about 25 nights a year.

We have come to know that the more we share, the more we appreciate what we have, especially our friends and relatives.  Not only do we have them over often, but we come into their lives and homes with no distress or demands, no expectations or entitlements.  We play yard and table games with each other, and with all our children and grandchildren.  We keep actively learning about life, right alongside the young people in our lives.  More than giving them stuff from our wallets, we give them ourselves.

To speak the love language of younger generations, we embrace technology.  Stephanie keeps up with everybody on three social media platforms, and I keep teaching and learning through managing my website, superblog, and podcast.  And of course, technology helps us too, to learn, solve problems, appreciate music, enjoy watching sports and entertainment.

A few years ago, we were visiting the Kentucky History Museum.  I was deeply touched by the re-enactment of life in Kentucky during the Great Depression.  As she tended her garden, a simply dressed lady repeated a catchy little poem that everybody seemed to live by back in the 30’s:

Use it up,   Wear it out,   Make it do,   Or do without.      Makes you appreciate what you have, she said.

Simplifying is hard for anyone to do.  I was lucky enough to be pushed into it by my need to recover from business failure, divorce, cancer, and 35 years ago, from alcoholism.  In the second half of my life, my recovering family has enriched my life as much as my church and blood families did in the first half, and still do now.  So when you have to suffer losses like I did in life, maybe you’ll be wise and fortunate enough to let them trim the fat in your life, so you will have the heart to recognize the good life when you find it, in quiet simplicity.

Dr. Paul Schmidt is a psychologist with offices in Louisville and Lexington, (502) 633-2860.

About Paul Schmidt

Dr. Paul Schmidt, PhD is a psychologist life coach with offices in Louisville and Lexington, KY, 502 633 2860.