What a difference five years makes

I’m sure we’ve all reflected where we were five years ago occasionally. For some it can be a reality check that you’ve let things get into an awful state, and for others it can be a lovely way to see how far you’ve come. I have had one of these reflections this afternoon, and wanted to share it with you.

We took the dogs for a walk in some woods we’ve just discovered about a 10 minute drive from our house. On Thursdays my wife is home by 4:30pm, and having condensed my working hours into four days, i’m off all day. So by 5pm we were trundling along in Dolly, the Fiat Panda towards Bishop Woods with the dogs.

Walking around, the sun had started to shine, the birds were singing, there was a real peace in this ancient woodland.We had two very happy dogs,  pottering  around finding new sniffs and having a great old time. We got to talking about how our life has changed, and what we have been striving for, probably for years; simple living.

So we asked ourselves, ‘Where were we at this time five years ago?’  Five years ago I was living about 45 minutes out of London in Ilford, which is a not particularly nice Essex town, where I rented a damp little studio flat at the back of a house. I was single, with just one cat, working in London. I loved the London life and all it had to offer initially but after about three years in from moving there I started questioning if there was more to life, and that was really the start of my journey to a different life, one of simpler living, and that was just about five years ago.

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My Facebook statuses five years ago…


At the exact time that now we were walking along in the woods with our dogs, five years ago I would have been crammed onto a commuter train with my head in someone’s armpit. Clearly from my Facebook status I was worrying about my email address and changing it over. My wife would have been stuck in traffic on the M62 motorway trying to get home to another life. Our lives were full of things that meant we had to earn more, try harder, and live more complex lives. I spent almost every night out socialising, at bars, theatres, and restaurants. I spent my time off exhausted from commuting two hours a day and being out most nights. Now I spend my evenings with our 4 cats and two dogs listening to the radio, reading a book or walking in the woods. For many this wouldn’t be an exciting life. Sometimes even for me I wonder whether simplicity is a cop out, but when I took that walk in the woods, I realised what living this simple life gives me; peace. It gives me time to appreciate nature, my family, my pets, a good book, a great radio show, the sun on the plants. Things that for many years I took for granted and just didn’t see.

The mortgage for our 2 bedroom house  is £150 less per month than my studio flat in the depths of darkest Essex. I work longer days but less of them and I get to take drives in the country and walks in the woods after work. Yeah there are some times when I think it would be great to see a really good art exhibition, or meet friends for drinks, but I can hop on a train and still dip my toe in those waters.

Living a life of simplicity gives me a peacefulness I didn’t get in the hubbub of big cities, in fact I felt more sadness when my life was full of stuff.

I guess what I am saying is if you want a simpler life, or you’re finding it hard to get into simple living but desperately want to is to hold on tight to your goal. Look at what you can change, and work on the things you can’t change right away. Making life simpler can be done wherever you are, it just took me a good few years and a different lifestyle to get there!



1 thought on “What a difference five years makes”

  1. What lovely reflections Jo. 5 years ago I was easing back into work following an extended period off sick. Your post is a helpful reminder to pause and think where I have come from and where I’m going too. Thank you. Cx


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