Monday, August 9, 2010

Complicated Simple Tasks

Pick up any women's magazine and somewhere in it will be recipes, tips on saving money, ways to organize your life, or diet and exercise plans. Magazine editors study what women want--information on the complicated issues--and include articles each month to simplify the tasks.

If you've been cooking for ten years, the recipes might be a welcome reprieve from your rut of everyday dishes. If you've been carefully watching your pennies, the tips might give you a boost to keep saving. Savvy housekeepers will watch for new ways to organize, and healthy folks will find extra motivation from the diet and exercise plans.

But what if you've never picked up a pan in your life? If you're thousands of dollars in debt and don't even know the basics of financial health? If the last time your house smelled Lysol was the day you bought it--in 1996? Or if you've tried, and failed, at every fad diet on the market?

The magazine's simple tips make the hard jobs look simple, but getting to the point where you're comfortable cooking, budgeting, cleaning, and exercising can be very difficult and might involve complicated steps.

Take cooking. For even a simple recipe like spaghetti, you might need to purchase pans, learn how to brown ground beef, set a timer to cook the noodles properly, and learn words like simmer. I guarantee the process will take twice as long for someone who has never cooked than for someone who makes this dish once a month.

Learning simple tasks can be time-consuming, difficult, and miles away from our comfort zone. Sure, fast food isn't very healthy and can put a huge dent in your budget, but let's face it, it's a lot easier to drive to a window, order a few value meals, pay someone and drive away, than it is to take a few hours each night to learn the basics of cooking.

I can't speak for everyone, but in my case, learning to cook was one of the best skills I learned. It took time, patience, and many less-than-edible dishes, but it's satisfying to come home and be able to whip up a healthy meal for a fraction of restaurant costs.

The simple life is like that. We have to dedicate ourselves to learning many skills that will save us time and sanity in the long run, but short term might threaten our sanity, stretch our time limits, and cause us to wonder if the simple life is very simple after all.

I've been chasing the simple life for over a decade. The skills I've learned have simplified my life. They've given me the resources to chase my dreams, and they've given me the confidence to believe those dreams will come true.

Is there a complicated task you'd like to try? Do you purchase magazines when they promise to simplify that task? Am I the only one who gobbles up magazines like Halloween candy??

Join me on Wednesday when we'll look at society and simplicity.

I will be offline until August 11. I love to read your comments, so please leave one. Have a wonderful day!


  1. What a thought-provoking post!!!
    My soulmates and fam are ALWAYS nudging me toward purchase of new pots and pans.

    My comment? I've done FINE with this set for 30+ years.

    Simplify, in our consumer society, is a tune I like to hum...

  2. I'd like to get my garden under control. Same things as cooking... it seems to easy when you watch your green thumb neighbour garden away, but when you try to attack things yourself as a newbie, it's tough!

  3. I love Real Simple magazine b/c truly the suggestions in there aren't complicated.

    I also enjoy cooking.
    ~ Wendy

  4. I love reading magazines. I used to read many more than I have lately, but I have a huge stack that I've promised my husband I will get to soon!

    I also love finding fresh decorating ideas and great new recipes to try.

  5. I'm trying to learn how to cook. I want my family not to starve. =D

  6. Love this! Life (for me) is a lot more fulfilling and happy when simplified. :)

  7. Sometimes I think folks who pick up how-to books on writing fall into this trap. The how-to books make writing a novel LOOK simple. But it's a learned skill that takes some less-than-edible attempts before you become proficient.

  8. Definitely cooking is going to be my big challenge for the next year. It'll be the first time I will have to cook for myself. I made chicken stroganoff last night. It was pretty good, and I was proud of myself because my brother asked for seconds. ^_^

  9. How do you keep the blogging/twittering/facebooking thing simple? I want to grow a following, so I feel the need to comment, reply, LIKE, etc. all over the place, but sometimes I just want to scream! Sorry, that was a vent! :) You seem to do it well, any tips?

  10. I'm singing Jamie McCullum's version of "Give Me The Simple Life" after reading your post today! :) Learning to simplify is such a great things for our lives. I try to keep things organized for that purpose, but teaching 2 boys & a grown man to stick with it is another task entirely. lol PS I spy a Big Boy! I love Big Boy!

  11. I think promises of simplicity wil always entice me! You're not alone, Jill!

  12. Hi Jill -

    I've found there's a learning curve for everything. We have to invest time and effort. It may seem like we're wasting time, but in the long run it will pay off.

    Susan :)

  13. So true, Jill! Sometimes the learning is hard, but once we make ourselves take those hard steps then we end up simplifying our lives.

    Will miss you online! But have a great break! :-)

  14. I subscribe to one magazine because of a shared dream my husband and I have. This publication is helping to keep the dream alive until it comes to fulfillment. That's how I'm using a magazine.

  15. I've pretty much given up on Women's Magazines. I know I'm not a typical lady. I just am not interested in a lot of "women's issues." I enjoy deeply spiritual things, like the old Guideposts and decorating, and anything on wardrobes. I also don't use a lot of products. Water is my favorite cleaning tool. I know it's just me. Please forgive me for being sorta weird.


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