Shades of Grey


I signed up for a donation truck pick up, got everything out on the porch and — it’s still on my front porch.  So now I have to figure out what I’m going to do.

In the mean time, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to some of the questions you all have been posing on the decision to eliminate the lawn service. As in, why are we doing it? Because it’s a great question.

I’m not sure I have a complete, well thought out rationale, other than the fact that when we first approached this project, the idea of simple living wasn’t just about decluttering, but also self-sufficiency. Downsizing possessions, houses, cars. It’s all sort of interconnected to the problem of excess and misplaced priorities.

We bought a big house with a big yard and a pool and it needs to be maintained. And we don’t do that ourselves, we pay someone else to do it. And I started wondering if we were spoiled. Which, of course, we were/are.

Well, if we’re spoiled, how do we get unspoiled? Go in the complete opposite direction: Cancel the lawn service. Cancel the housekeeping service. Cancel the pool service.

I tried to categorize things into nice, neat little boxes. Like domestic help equals spoiled. And doing it ourselves equals not spoiled.

But, I’m starting to think that’s not necessarily the case. That it’s not so black and white. We want to be good stewards of our resources — money, time, relationships, all of it. And be grateful, not take things for granted. I guess I feel guilty for being successful? I don’t know, because that makes no sense. We’ve worked hard to get where we are. Which is great, but taking it all for granted isn’t.

I guess maybe that’s it. I don’t know. I still don’t know. For now, we’re doing things for ourselves. We’ll see how it goes.

And the procedure went well, but I’m still recovering. Still in pain, but I refuse to remain anything but hopeful.

11 Responses to Shades of Grey

  1. Regarding your non-picked-up-items:
    if they left you a phone number, call the donation company back & ask them to return. If this doesn’t work, look up Goodwill or Salvation Army or similar charities in your area to find out if they have pick-up.
    Worst case – put it at the curb. We’ve put items at the curb in the past that soon disappeared. I’ve also listed items on Craig’s List under Free Items – recently did this after for left-over items after garage sale. As soon as the items are gone, I deleted the listing so my address was not shown for very long.

    Glad your procedure went well. Hope each day brings improvement.

    I don’t think you’re ‘spoiled’ by having help. Like everything, you’ll have to test this out and see if it works for you. Your family is doing loads of work to downsize inside the house; you can only be the ones who decide what is working. Only you can decide If yard work & house cleaning & pool work are work projects you want to maintain along with all the other tasks you’re attempting to do. If it doesn’t work for you, you can always reinstate the helpers.

    You’re doing a great job. I admire your honesty in your postings & wish you much continued success on your Simple Year work. Thanks for posting & letting so many strangers have a peek in your projects & thought processes.

  2. I was told years ago that if I needed something done and I could find someone to do said job for cheaper than MY pay, then let them do it. Because my time would be spent more wisely doing my job. (more cost effective) And, you are also helping the economy by giving someone else an income. example, If I need to paint my house, but I would have to take off work to do it, If I can find someone to do it cheaper than what I would get paid if I were working, then its better to let someone else paint and I go to work.

  3. Kandice, I’m so glad that your procedure went well, but sorry to hear that you’re still in pain. Focus on getting better – everything else is secondary. I so admire your spirit. Take good care of yourself.

  4. I’m glad you’re still able to remain positive. I hope you feel better soon.

    I like the way you’re evaluating reducing services. Try it, and if mowing your own lawn (cleaning your own pool, washing your own laundry, WHATEVER a person contracts out for) complicates your life too much, then you can call the service provider and start contracting again. But by trying to do the chores yourself, you are better able to determine what is necessary for your familiy, and what really is extraneous.

  5. I really appreciate your honesty in your posts. I think it is great that you are trying to do things yourself. As the person before me commented that is the best way to learn what will work for you. I live in Maine and people in general are more self sufficient her. I would say my family is middle to upper middle class- the majority of my friends mow their own lawns and clean their own homes- some have help with one or the other-(not a lot of pools- too cold!). We are also in the process of down-sizing we just went under contract on our home to purchase something smaller & easier to maintain. I do believe that in general if you can’t take care of your things yourself, you have too much- whether it’s too much house, car, yard, etc.

  6. I too struggle with paying others to do things I can manage myself. One answer might be to hire local teenagers to do the chores – you get them done, the cost will be less (enabling you to be more frugal), and you will be fostering responsibility in youngsters. My teenagers learned such a lot from working, not least the value of a hard earned dollar.

  7. Glad to hear the procedure went well!! If you are financially stable, I see nothing wrong with help. In fact I think more people should so it. Like some of the commenters before me, it provides an income for others and frees your time. You could use that time to volunteer or do some sort of random act of kindness to ease any guilt you may feel.

  8. Gardening and landscaping maintenance can put a strain on your body. I am in good health and rather athletic and thought once that cutting hedges is something I could manage by myself…I did the job in one afternoon with manual clippers (i.e not electric). I was pretty proud of myself. But gosh did I regret it the next day. I woke up with lots of pain in both of my wrists and it turned out I had done lots of damage to my ligaments. Granted I probably did not use the best tool but it’s a good lesson for me. Gardening can be a dangerous business and sometimes you can save yourself a lot of (physical) pain by hiring professionals.

  9. A few years ago, I had a modest vegetable garden in a sunken corner of my smallish yard. I decided to expand my efforts by putting in raised beds, and also to remove and replace the old landscape fabric and mulch. I got the old stuff out and was ready to put the new in when I came down with shingles, on my face, causing my left eye to stay dilated for months. Sunlight was unbearable. By the time I recovered, it was autumn, and the area had become a weed patch. Now it’s returned to the wild, with good-sized volunteer trees.

    We have a very nice man who takes care of our mowing. He is an immigrant from some appalling African nation, and he feels he’s living the American dream by owning his own business. We asked about having him clear the jungle and put in fresh landscape fabric and mulch so we can put in the raised beds. He wants $150 to do the job.

    I don’t feel guilty at all about it.

  10. Kandice, your and your family’s commitment to the cause is admirable. But… I know how hard you worked to get to a point that you can pay others to perform tasks that you aren’t fond of, and there’s not a thing in the world wrong with that lifestyle. The others before me have nailed it, though. You can strip it down to the bare minimum, and once you find an equilibrium in the new mindset, you can always add back in the services that it’s more beneficial for your family to do so. The Simple Year shouldn’t mean an absence of all creature comforts! I’d argue that it simply makes you more appreciative of the ones you retain.

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