Guest Post: 5 Ways that Simplifying Our Lives is Adding to Them

Mar 15, 2016 | News & Events

The following entry was written by Emily Feigner and originally posted on her blog:

Hope Strengthens Foundation has been privileged to get to know Emily and her husband Matt, who continues to valiantly battle back from a spinal chord injury.

Emily and Matt continue to inspire us with their positive attitudes, commitment to Matt’s recovery (and each other), and their willingness to help others.

We hope you enjoy Emily’s post!



When you are physically paralyzed or disabled, you are forced to look inside yourself to redefine who you are as a person. Matt and I have done that a lot over the last few years to find strength and direction through life’s challenges.

Toward the end of last year, we made a decision. For us, 2016 was going to be a “year of simplicity.” Meaning that we were not going to purchase any material items for ourselves for an ENTIRE YEAR. Now, there are lots of ways to do this and many different reasons, but the main one for us is simple: We want to focus on what we have, not what we think we need.

We’ve been blessed with help from some amazing organizations like the Hope Strengthens Foundation, Pursuing a Dream, and Michigan Rehab Services, along with countless amazing friends and family members. Thanks to them, Matt has gained independence, and we’ve gained a freedom from much of our medical debt. We want to be good stewards of our resources.

So instead of purchasing new items, every day we are donating one item each that we no longer need to charity. We are focusing on experiences, not material things. And darn it we are bound and determined to pay off our debt! The rules are as follows: no new items except for consumables (i.e. groceries and soap – nobody likes the stinky folks), medical equipment required for Matt’s medical care, or a major appliance/vehicle that we use daily. We’re into our second month and are loving the experience more and more every day.

Here are the five ways that simplifying our lives has added tremendously to them:

1. Rediscovering old treasures. We are finally using things we’ve never used before. You know those clothes you’ve had for months and not worn once? When you can’t buy anything new, your closet becomes your resource for changing up your wardrobe, and it’s REALLY fun! Have a project you’ve never gotten around to finishing? When you can’t buy any new home decor, re-painting a frame or up cycling old items are great ways to freshen up a space.

(I got this cobwebbed, faded frame last summer at an estate sale for $5! Splash of paint, and voila! Fresh new modern frame.)

2. We feel lighter every day. There is such a sense of lifted weight when you eliminate things from your life that you don’t need. Both literally, and figuratively.

3. Making a difference! We can feel the difference we’re making, even if it’s small. It’s so much easier to part with things when you know they’re going to a good home, and a local charity does just that with our donated goods. They’re small donations, but every little bit helps our community.

4. There is healing in letting go. Matt had a difficult time after his accident getting rid of certain items. Bikes, clothes that just didn’t fit quite right in his wheelchair, skateboards, and yes – even his snowboards. Getting rid of these things initially felt like giving up hope that he would walk again. Now we know that we have a new reality, and a new life, with just as exciting of a future.

5. The pressure is lifted! I don’t know about anyone else, but I have a constant feeling of pressure to make our home look just right. I’m obsessed with HGTV and had an ongoing “wish list” on Amazon and Etsy of things I “needed” to make the house look just how I wanted it. The only thing is, I would buy something and then find something else to add! I’ve deleted those wish lists of things I felt I needed to be satisfied, and I feel a HUGE weight has been lifted off of my shoulders! Now I can focus on the amazing life we have instead of always thinking about the things I thought we needed.

(See the beauty in imperfection. This was Matt’s first attempt at painting my toes since he lost the use of his hands. I think its beautiful.)

We’re still early in our year, but we’re truly having a blast. If you want to try it for a day, week, month, or year like us, here is a fabulous article to get you started:

Happy simplifying!