Episode 45: Chapter 4, More vs. Enough
More vs. Enough
Welcome to Live Free Creative, the podcast that provides inspiration and ideas for living a creative, adventurous, and intentional lifestyle. I’m your host Miranda Anderson and I hope that each time you listen you feel a little bit more free to live your life exactly the way you want to live in.
Almost A Full Year of Podcasting
Hey there friends. Welcome back to this show. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. Excited to be here chatting with you as usual. Today’s Episode 45. Doesn’t that feel like a big number? I know I keep saying that. I think I said that at 10 and I set it at 20. But 45 means we’re really close to one full year of podcasting.
It has been a journey, so much fun. I had no idea how much this show and this community would mean to me when I started out with my mic sitting on the floor of my parents’ guest bedroom, getting ready to share my ideas and put them out into the world. So thank you for being here. Thank you for listening. I sure hope that you are enjoying the show and getting something out of each episode that I share.
More Than Enough book on pre-order
Today’s episode is a little bit different and fun. I’ve done one of these before where we share a snippet of the audio version of my new book, “More Than Enough”. The book comes out officially on July 9th, so it’s available for preorder right now and if you haven’t heard, let me quickly share. There is a fun bonus:
When you preorder the book on Amazon, you receive the full version of the audio book for free, so it’s getting a two for one that hard bound copy that you can take notes in and you can write in and you can read over and over again, and the audio version that you can listen to when you’re driving or running or washing dishes or however you want to spend your time listening. It’s a really fun way to be able to do both and so you can check the book out on Amazon if you haven’t preordered it yet. Right now you’re still in the preorder phase where you can get the audio book for free, which is really, really fun.
Today in the podcast. I want to share another chapter of the audio version of the book for you. This is one of my favorite chapters and the principle just holds so true in your life as well as mine. Figuring out what is enough for you and how that looks different from anyone else. The chapter 4, and it’s titled More versus Enough, and I’m going to share that in just a minute after I give you a little update on life lately.
That song makes me so happy. I love that little happy little ditty whenever I share about life lately.
Book Launch Parties
Friends, today is a very, very exciting day in my life right now. I’m recording this in advance, but the day that this episode airs, I will be excitedly enthusiastically preparing for my first Book Launch Party Picnic happening in Austin, Texas on Thursday the 27th. I will be in Austin having Torchy’s Tacos with queso for breakfast and then doing the final touches to pull together this incredible event that I’ve been planning for over a year.
This will be the first time that I get my actual book into the hands of people, real people, the hard copy book into people’s hands. We not only are going to be giving the book to the people who come to the event, but it’s also really just want it to be an experience.
From the moment that I started writing the book and thinking about how this whole last, you know, months and months would unroll, I envisioned a picnic, which is one of my very favorite experiences. Spending time outside with incredible food, having good conversation and just feeling all of the wonderful senses ignited being outside where you can smell and feel the breeze and see the beautiful sights and have wonderful food.
Some Fun Details
I just wanted the launch for my book to feel like an experience. And so it is being hosted at the Wayback, which is this incredible venue in Austin with an outdoor space that has a patio and string lights and it’s just going to be beautiful. We have the most incredible menu. The chef at the way back created a menu just for us that’s picnic inspired food. So there’s a cheese and charcuterie board and there’s all these different little bites.
In addition, I came up with a couple of things that I thought would be really fun for people to experience while they’re at the event itself. So we are going to have a dream wall where people are able to write out one of their big dreams, something that they haven’t moved on yet that they’re excited about and write it down and hang it up to kind of manifest for themselves. This big dream, this big adventure that they have inside that they want to do.
We are also having a temporary tattoo station, which I’m super excited about. I love temporary tattoos and I had one of my friends, Melissa Esplin from calligraphy.org hand calligraphy these incredible tattoos. One of them is the title of the book More Than Enough, but it’s in this beautiful rolling script, and then my mantra, Less Stuff, More Adventure just in a single line, and those are going to be available for people at the launch parties to put on right then or to just bring home and you know, share with their kids or use for a different occasion. But I think they’re so fun.
And then I also am going to have some of them available for purchase in my shop after the launch party. So if you’re interested in a little pack of temporary tattoos that goes along with the book, then keep an eye out there. But that will be so fun for people to be able to interact and do that at the launch party itself. We also are going to have a hand letter in Orem, Utah. It’s going to be two next week it’ll be Melissa Esplin at the State House. But in Austin we have a different hand letter. Who’s going to be hand lettering people’s names and addresses or personalizing the leather luggage tag that they get a as a gift, a special gift to go along with the launch party in the book. I didn’t want to, a lot of launch parties have a ton of swag, which is really, really fun.
And I have some really great friends with great companies that I could have had donate really fun gifts. But part of the idea behind the book is that you don’t need more stuff to be happier, and that sometimes you are given things that maybe aren’t necessarily what you need anyway. And so I decided to keep the swag simple by giving a simple, beautiful, useful leather luggage tag that’s hand stamped with the motto, Less Stuff, More Adventure. We have sold them in the shop for about a year (shop.livefreecreative.co).
So each attendee is going to get the book itself, and this leather luggage tag with the insert which can be hand lettered on site, which I just think is so fun.
And, there’s more. So in addition to that we also are sending people home with a bouquet of fresh flowers from a build your own bouquet station, which I saw for the first time on Pinterest like a few a months ago and just thought it was so fun and my first thought when I saw the picture was, “Gosh, I wish I would’ve thought about that when I had my wedding because, what a fun thing, and these launch parties are starting to feel a little bit like a mini wedding. And I just am so excited.
If you’re going to be there in Austin tonight, I’m so, so excited to meet you and to interact with you and thank you so much for your support and if you’re not going to be there in Austin tonight, thank you so much for listening to me.
I could just go on and on about how exciting this current life lately is because it’s been a freaking whirlwind and I’m loving every single bit of it.
Party in Utah Next Week
But I should mention quickly, there are still some tickets available for my launch party next week. So if you’re interested in coming and you live nearby Orem, Utah, head to shop.livefreecreative.co to snag a ticket to the launch party picnic happening in Utah with all of the same activities and events and a couple of little extra things as well.
Excited and Anxious
So you guys, it’s all just really fun and scary and I will be totally honest, I’ve teetered between total excitement and total anxiety for like the last six months because, because this is all new and it’s all raw and it’s all very vulnerable and I just want it to go so well. And so like I talked about last week in my episode about being a great decision maker, my consistent decision has been to just be happy and enjoy it and the things that I just don’t know how they’re going to go–just decide to feel like they’re going to go great.
Just decide that whatever happens is exactly what is supposed to happen and be thrilled with it.
I can’t tell you how much this has made the experience feel so wonderful because I feel like everything is just bonus. Like I already did everything that I felt like I wanted to do and needed to do, and now these parties are just bonus and celebration and getting to meet people and sign books and share about the experience. And the book itself is just bonus.
And then the actual launch date, I mean we haven’t even officially launched the book. The release date is July 9th so I still have two more weeks to just soak in the experience of being in this position of having written a beautiful book, having printed and had it in my hands and to be able to send it off into the world. So that excitement and crazy overwhelmed with, you know, curiosity and hope and joy and sparkles and Unicorns and rainbows.
That is what my life is filled with right now and gosh, it’s really fun.
Chapter 4 of “More Than Enough”
Now without further delay, here is chapter four of my new book “More Than Enough”:
Part 2: Practical Minimalism
Chapter 4: More vs. Enough
That afternoon I looked around the room suddenly hyper aware of every detail. The vintage leather Chesterfield sofa sitting in the living room had been on my wishlist for years. I had been hunting one down ever since a design blogger had mentioned them in a post on timeless turniture. Every home needs one. I had a home, I guess I needed one.
Eventually, the couch manifested itself on Craigslist and I still cite it as the fight of a lifetime. We borrowed our neighbor’s track and picked up the couch within an hour of the listing being posted. In our home over the last few years, it had become even more tattered as my kids, a new puppy played on and around its cushions. Right now I could see those new scratches on our worn cozy leather couch.
Adding personality and charm to the room above the mantle was displayed and earthy acrylic of the ruins at Mesa Verde. My grandfather painted it back in the 1970s during a weekend art class offered by his longtime employer, Geneva Steel. He gave it to me after my grandmother died, mentioning that the grandkids had all wanted her paintings, but wondered aloud why his hadn’t yet been claimed, and among all of the other paintings I had collected over the years, this was one of my very favorites.
I looked down. The shoes on my feet were hand me down Converse sneakers. Frayed laces and scuffed toes told the stories of hours running around playgrounds with my kids. Miles walked discovering Austin, Texas right after we moved and the impromptu dance parties that happened weekly in my kitchen.
A friend had given them to me along with a giant trash bag full of clothes when she moved away, downsizing her closet while filling up mine, I wore them almost every day and they felt like second skin in our open kitchen shelves.
I could see a stack of my favorite dishes, like a rainbow of ceramic. Before I bought these plates, we had been using the same set of dishes from our wedding 10 years earlier. The sturdy white wedding dishes served us well and still we’re in heavy rotation, but this colorful set was extra special. I collected the water color design plates for months one by one. Every time a plate went on sale at Anthropology, I added it to the intentionally mismatched set. That way the table always felt eclectic and as long as no one fought for the tiger plate. The beautiful designs prompted interesting conversations.
I was reacquainted with all of these details and memories because just moments before Dave and I had agreed to undergo a year of not buying things. Immediately a switch had flipped in my head as we committed to not acquiring more stuff. My brain’s reaction was to begin taking inventory of our current belongings.
I noticed the wild abundance that filled our kitchen, living room closets, and every single other area of our life. With the choice to not add more, my survival brain began listing for me everything I already owned that would serve us well during the months of abstaining. I easily recognized in that moment that what I already had was enough.
Could it really be so simple? Years of consuming, acquiring, and collecting things could be shifted so readily into contentment. All I had to do in order to feel like I had enough stuff was to decide that I didn’t need any more. Well, maybe it would get hard later as I learned to turn off the constant messaging that listed and shouted about all that I needed to be happy. But here in this very moment, the difference between needing more and having enough had nothing to do with my material belongings at all.
Enough is not an amount; it is a decision.
It was simply all in my head. Enough wasn’t an amount. It was a decision. This discovery invites the question, if we already have enough, why do we still want to acquire more? The answers are varied and extensive, but most revolve around wanting to feel something different, whether status, security, happiness, or the idea of success. But maybe it’s also about filling our empty spaces with stuff so that emptiness doesn’t stare right back at us.
Shopping can make us excited. It gives us a little high, but eventually we come down. We bring something new home, arrange at just so, and we may never notice it again. The newness wears off. As soon as we put it down in our home, it becomes part of what we already have off. We’re off in hot pursuit of something more. Our brain simply cannot process and bring to mind every detail of our surroundings all the time, so they learn to turn off attention to the things that are already there. With the ever-present availability of things in our fast paced world, we are inundated by the possibility of new things every day.
In addition to all of the original methods of advertising with commercials and print ads, now we see them every time we scroll through our Facebook, YouTube, or our Instagram feed with current combined active monthly users of over 4 billion worldwide. That’s a lot of people seeing a lot of advertising all the time.
Beyond the paid advertisement. We also see much more of other people’s personal lives through social media. Social media is a new advertising tool that introduces us not only to paid media but also to real people’s everyday lives. All of a sudden, everyone is selling something simply by owning and sharing it online. That personal endorsement feels so emotional that it convinces us even more covertly of the things we should buy. Sometimes the feeling comes from friends and family and sometimes from the hundreds of strangers who begin to feel like friends. When we get a peek into their homes and lives, we again see new, different, wonderful things that we do not currently own and we wonder if we should add them to our lives as well.
Months before we began the challenge, I was walking into H&M to find some new pants for my boys. As I skipped up the stairs to the children’s section, I saw a message painting on the wall that declared “We have new things coming in every day. You should too.” I realized it was not meant to be literal. However, I was struck by the idea that we as consumers are often following the whims of the retailers telling us what we need rather than deciding that for ourselves.
Wherever we go, there are things for sale, all potentially wonderful and new. All offering the hope of happiness, enjoyment, and in some cases, even prestige or status. It is no wonder that we often have a running list of what more we want to add to our closets, homes and lives.
In fact, I remember creating an actual written to-buy list in the notes app on my phone several years ago. I guess I wanted to make sure that when some extra money came around for a birthday or something, I was prepared with what I wanted to buy. A couple of the things I remember including were RayBan Wayfarer sunglasses. I’ve since realized I do better with inexpensive frames for how often they are lost or broken. And a floral painted water dispenser. I saw one at a boutique and did indeed by one a couple of years later. I’ve used it a countable number of times, but still think it’s beautiful.
That feeling of wanting more when we are out shopping or at home browsing reminds me of an early childhood memory. I was 10 years old and back to school shopping with my dad, a very successful and very thrifty businessman who taught us about money by giving us a budget and then allowing us to choose things for ourselves. In this instance, I had almost spent all of the money allotted for my back to school clothes and we wandered into one last store in the back of the store.
I spotted a denim jacket. It fit perfectly and was so cool. This was the early nineties when denim jackets had a heyday. I turned around in it admiring myself in the mirror. Yes, I had to have it. This would be my final purchase. I peeled it off and search for the price tag and then my face fell.
It was $30 and I only had $15 left in my budget.
I hoped for an exception and walked over to find Dad with my siblings on the other side of the store. I explained and begged and pleaded and tried to negotiate the best I could. It is the only thing I will ever need again. It is perfect. I will never find another denim jacket as perfect as this.
My dad smiled and said something I have never forgotten. “Miranda, there will always be something that you want.”
Calmly, he explained that the next time I came back into this store, the denim jacket might not be there, but surely there would be some other wonderful thing in its place for me to be excited about.
It was not, in fact, the only perfect piece of clothing in the world and I would be just fine without it. He said this with such ease and honesty, I knew he was right. I sulked as I hung the jacket back on the rack, found another something worthy of my last $15 and went back home.
If my dad had relented, I’m sure I would have forgotten all about the experience with that perfect denim jacket. Instead, for over 20 years, I think of that lesson every single time I have found myself feeling like I really wanted something that I either don’t need or can’t afford or that poses some other difficulty. Rather than to immediately behave like that child, believing that whatever I saw and wanted I should own, I began to learn that day that some things needed to wait.
Our current society doesn’t do a great job of preparing children to think before they buy in the way my dad did. Instead, those children grow into adults who still believe that just because they like something that means they should own it. That simply isn’t true. It’s not always the right time or the right thing.
There will always be something that you want.
There is inherent abundance and scarcity in that lesson: “There will always be something” tells me the creation of new, exciting, beautiful and lovely items available to me is ongoing. The world will not run out of denim jackets.
The scarcity comes with the final part “that you want”. Our constant desire for more implies a constant lack.
If we are not conscious in recognizing our abundance and feeling grateful for what we have and who we are, we will succumb to the underlying idea that we need more.
We are wired to seek and find or click and buy unless we decide not to. As much as that moment was a wonderful lesson on budgeting, it has served me better as a reminder of the simple truth that life goes on.
Beyond the things we buy. We don’t miss out on all the good stuff by taking a break from shopping or deciding to say “No”. Even if we really like something, we have to take back control of our own accumulation. If we do not, we will continue to bury ourselves in our own houses.
What and how much enough looks like varies dramatically and is very individual. I have spent time in parts of the world where smart, happy, wonderful people live in abundance with a one room home clothing fitting into a single drawer and a well for clean water, just a mile down the road.
My first experience with how little is needed for happiness came when I was still a young girl, just 12 or 13 years old. Our family spent Christmas in a small village outside of one of though Mexico with a humanitarian organization for a week. We slept in tents, practiced our broken Spanish with the beautiful people in the town and spent the afternoons building water collection systems onto the small adobe homes from long PVC pipe and giant plastic barrels.
My dad, being a contractor, helped manage the teams of volunteers directing us to haul pipe this way or hand tools that way. My mom, a nurse and one of the most naturally friendly people I know, made quick friends with the villagers encouraging me to sit and talk with them the best I could to learn about their lives while at the same time learning a lot about my own.
I made friendship bracelets with groups of young children who were initially shy and all at once warmed up when they saw I was offering colorful string and stickers. The sun beat down on the dust-filled town. Cold soda in recycled glass bottles that we bought through a window of a local home doubling as a kiosk was an indulgence. Chickens ran wild between the mud houses. Inside was just a single mattress gently pushed into the corner leaving just enough room for the handmaid stove and a small side table piled with fresh apples harvested from the desert outside. And a chair where the matron of the house stationed herself to cook after the day’s washing had been scrubbed and hung outside on the line.
I saw joy in the faces of those people. I saw satisfaction after a long hard day’s work. The mothers and fathers loved their children. The children sing songs, played games and kicked soccer balls as well as anyone I knew. They seem to oblivious to a world I knew where lights flickered on with the touch of a switch, water ran clear–hot or cold–from any faucet in the house, and food was available in countless varieties from countless vendors, let alone the millions of random mass-produced household and lifestyle accoutrements that we recognize not only as nice but necessary.
I began to realize that the life I knew was a tiny blip of reality in a world where nothing was a given. The things we needed in our everyday lives were so readily available to us that they weren’t valued. Nobody was grateful for having the simple things in life. Everyone was on a run for things that didn’t even matter that much.
When we get right to it, the essentials of enough form basic necessities of shelter, food, clothing, connection and safety for our families. Anything else is truly more than we need.
I like to consider what I personally love and what adds value to my individual life. Knowing ourselves and trusting what we love is a critical element in deciding when we have enough and so is recognizing things that we don’t love and that don’t add value to our lives. Being able to easily recognize what things are automatically not valuable for us may make establishing our enough even easier.
I love being outside, going on picnics, cooking, reading, camping, design and sewing, decorating, gardening, and playing games with my kids. I love open spaces with lots of light and fresh greenery. I am most comfortable in casual, neutral clothes that wear well in a variety of situations. I love to travel and experience new things.
Recognizing and honoring my own tastes and desires begins to inform me about how much enough might be for me. I do not love thinking about unnecessary decisions or dealing with any amount of clutter. I do not care much for accessories and I’m not interested in having the latest technology. I do not like high heels, anything with ruffles or many bright colors.
These ideas help me automatically discount things that don’t add value to my everyday life. I can appreciate them for other people without wanting to own them myself. Reflecting on our individual lives and what brings us joy can help give us an idea of what we might actually need independent of what we see on social media or what works for other people.
As the months passed during the challenge, my ability to see what we already had as enough grew even stronger through eliminating the possibility of everything I saw being a potential new purchase. I felt more relaxed, content and peaceful. I was able to enjoy seeing my friends add things they love to their lives without automatically wanting more for mine. I loved coming home and really seeing my belongings as just right for now. I didn’t feel a lack for anything and in fact found excitement and going through and donating more and more of what we had that I could see we didn’t love use or want to care for anymore.
I reclaimed time and energy that otherwise would have been spent browsing online or wandering in stores and instead used it to do more reading, spending time with the kids and working on projects that bring me happiness. Years ago I was listening to a talk by Michael John U. Teh. One line he spoke shot straight to my heart and I have been leaning on it ever since.
“There is no end to what the world has to offer, so it is critical that we learn to recognize when we have enough.”
There you have it. A quick sneak listen of More Than Enough, Chapter 4: More vs. Enough.
I’m so curious to hear what you think about this idea of deciding that what you have right now is enough and just feeling overwhelmingly grateful for what you already have. Doesn’t it just feel like life would be so amazing if we kept that perspective all the time and we knew that our lives were just overwhelmingly abundant. I think it’s a pretty sweet place to start from.
Now, I want to just thank you so much for being here, for tuning in, for listening. Thank you for your support and your enthusiasm and all of the excitement that you have shared with me surrounding the launch of more than a nasty, and I want to thank you so much as always, for your support, tuning into the podcast, listening and enjoying and sharing.
I love every single comment that I receive.
I appreciate every time you take a screenshot and you share it with your friends or you tell your friends, you send me a message and let me know how it impacted you.
Thank you so much for all of it. I will be here again next week, same time, same place.