Saturday, January 16, 2010

Living Well

I don't believe a day that goes by when I don't hear about the need to "get well" or "eat well" or even to "marry well". We are encouraged to "be well" and certainly to "stay well" but how many times do we learn of someone who truly "lives well"?

Today I spoke with a woman who lives part time in Atlanta, Georgia and spends the rest of her time in France working at a B&B and she actually knows a man who "lives well". "He'll never make a lot of money" she told me, "but he really lives well."

Living well is such an important concept to me that when she told me of Jean Paul my heart skipped a beat. It was almost like hearing a secret code word. She told of his farm and work and for the rest of the day it is all I could dream about.

What exactly does living well mean? Does it entail a boat in a slip or yearly vacations to the South of France? Is it really something acquired with money? We seem to understand the concept early in life and begin to lose it sometime around the teenage years. From my vantage point I believe that to "live well, really well" is something that eludes almost everyone I know but is the one true desire of the seeking heart.

I have come to believe that advertisers, of all people, are the ones who really know what "living well" entails. Almost every advertisement depicts families spending time together, having the spare time to read in a hammock with a cold glass of ice tea or the extra time in the day to garden or just getting together with friends for a great meal with plenty of laughter. If we buy a certain washing machine we will laugh with our family again, sit around the table playing games, loving each other. If we could just afford that stainless 6 burner oven we would cook more with our spouse while happy, well adjusted children sit and watch, all conversing happily. The goal of the advertiser is to take the deepest desires of our hearts and exploit them. Just possibly, if we were already living well as a society these advertisers would not be as effective in separating us from our hard earned 500 billion dollars every year.

SOOOOOO, what does this mean for me? After a full day of thinking over my conversation with Anne about Jean Paul and her life in France I realized that all the things that don't get crossed off my to-do list are the very things that would allow me to live well. The easiest things to put off are the very things that would transform my life into the life I want, where I am in control of the quality of my life and my schedule and the other things of this world can take a back seat.

Here are some examples of the items that get pushed from day to day, month to month....

Have friends over for dinner - often
Read with the children - more often
Spend time in the garden
Invite friends for a knitting circle
Bake more pies
Make a cup of tea before bed and just read
Take more walks - not for exercise
Visit friends
Read Wendell Berry to remind me of the "why's" of farming and not just the "how's".

Today, I encourage you to pull out your Day-Timer and look for the things that are easily put off and rearrange your priorities. Come to see those activities not as the expendable but as the keys to truly living well and just maybe you'll find the answer to teaching your children to live well before they fall into the same trap of busyness and disenchantment with this gift of a life.


  1. Beautiful post! May we all learn to live well.

  2. this is a quest my husband and i are on as well. i believe he understands it better than i do. he thinks in simpler terms of what is the meanng of contentment.
    we left the city three short years ago and bought a small farm...our lives have taken a dramatic change since then. we have slowed down every way. our lifestyle is completely different also. we grow our own food in the spring and summer. we stay at home and make our meals together most every day and night. we are changing the way we eat by buying from local growers as well. we took our children out of public schools and are homeschooling them. we try to make time for daily walks(when the weather is not bitterly cold). there are daily fireside chats when it is cold. there are still so many ways we are changing...our older~grown children all say we are flourishing in the changes we have made so i hope it will help them too.
    this is a great place to share your thoughts...thank you for continuing to express a need for us all to live well. it is encouraging to hear that you and your family and farm are on this journey as well.
    happy january.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing the ways you and your family have found to "live well" Marmee. I do believe that those around us a yearning for the same peace so hopefully we can continue to "preach" the message of living well in these crazy times. Have you ever read the book "Henry and the Great Society"? I think you would find it right up your alley. Let me know if you can't find it and I will get it for you from a Mennonite bookstore near us.

  4. Laryssa,
    thanks so much for all of your encouragement. I don't know what Windy Acres Farm Shop would do without you.