Modern*Simplicity

Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Why I’m Secretly Thankful for Chaos

Why I’m Secretly Thankful for Chaos

This is a guest post by M.C. Starbuck.

“If chaos is a necessary step in the organization of one’s universe, then I was well on my way.” ~Wendelin Van Draanen

The chaos of my childhood at the time seemed normal to me.

While I didn’t enjoy the yelling, I just accepted it as what people do when they’re mad or frustrated.

Having three brothers and a sister, two of whom were in and out of jail, was only part of the chaos.

My parents’ marriage was failing, and the amount of alcohol my father consumed eventually consumed him.

Because I had so many calm moments at school and church and even at home, I didn’t know my life could be much more peaceful than it already was. And I especially didn’t know I had much choice in the matter. I mean, I knew I could choose to be joyful and see the good in each day, but I didn’t know that I’d one day be able to surround myself with people and experiences that make me feel like my time on earth couldn’t be long enough.

I grew up on a beautiful lake. I didn’t realize how unstable that upbringing was. I never went hungry. I always knew I was loved. But I had a front row seat to the struggles of a single mom and lives constantly dealing with drug abuse.

Yet ever since I’d read Little House on the Prairie in elementary school, I knew I wanted a simple life.

Motivation to Change

As I was nearly finished paying off $25k worth of student loans, I began hearing about tiny houses. I was hooked. I watched videos, read blogs, attended workshops. Freedom and independence seemed so possible.

There was just one tiny problem. I had lots of stuff.

Yet the more I read about tiny houses, the more I learned about the joys of letting go not just of material possessions but also of the past or anything negative. I saw how to get rid of sentimental items along with fear and regret.

I didn’t intentionally look for practical ways to declutter. I didn’t mind being a packrat; I just wanted a tiny house.

But as I kept filling my mind with simple ideas that led to a more peaceful life, I found myself getting further and further from chaos.

Why I’m Grateful for All the Chaos

If you haven’t seen the Chief Justice’s commencement speech, it’s worth a watch. He mentions that he hopes the students will be treated unfairly so that they know the value of justice.

And that’s when I realized how valuable my past has been. While I learned many things that I wanted to carry into my future, I also learned plenty that I wanted to leave behind.

I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for myself. If there’s going to be a hugely chaotic season or area of my life, I prefer it to be the one behind me and not the one I create with my future family.

Simplicity Now vs. Simplicity Then

Growing up, a day of simplicity involved focusing on simple pleasures such as jumping on the trampoline or floating on the water with a beautiful sky above. It meant a day with little or nothing on the schedule. I was free to think my own thoughts and not be bothered by anyone or anything else.

That’s all still a part of simplicity for me. But now that I’m not a packrat anymore, a day of simplicity also includes creating and enjoying an environment that is peaceful. Choosing soothing colors for decorations or even outfits, surrounding myself with people who are encouraging and low-drama, taking time to slow down and process any chaos that has seeped in uninvited. Those are all ways I’ve been able to continually add simplicity.

I’m much more intentional about what I let into my life. And it really adds up.

Had I not known the chaos of my past, I doubt I could have embraced the peace I now have as fully as I do. And I don’t plan on letting go of that anytime soon.

Despite all the unpleasantness that comes along with it, I’m glad I’ve known such chaos so that I can appreciate the calm in my life and therefore pursue it every day.

M.C. Starbuck is passionate about making room for what matters most and helping others do the same. To be among the first to read “Decluttering for the Rest of Us” (a chapter from her upcoming book “Packrat to Clutterfree”) for free, check out her site where she writes about Living Tiny and Dreaming Big.

3 Replies

  1. Great post. Thank you. I love the “appreciating the calm”.

  2. Nancy Rhodes

    I, too, had to learn the gift of experiencing chaos as a child. I appreciate the simplicity and calmness that is my life now. I am glad I can make the choices as to what I bring into my life. Living with a sister with bipolar disorder long before we learned what it was greatly affected me as a child. Thank for sharing the lessons of chaos.

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