Grace Wilson-Woods of Sun Lakes, Arizona recently convened Arizona’s first Voluntary Simplicity course. She took the time to write some reflections about the experience, shared below. Thank you, Grace!

“The NWEI North American Gathering Conference was coming up September 15-18th in Port Townsend, Washington and I was excited to go. The Hans Hoffman statement on the cover of the Voluntary Simplicity course book touched me deeply: “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”  I knew I needed to simplify my life.  Once back in Sun Lakes, Arizona, I along with 8 other family members participated in the NWEI Eco-Challenge from October 1-15th.  This increased my motivation to immediately form a discussion group.

I decided to invite ladies from my church (Seventh-Day Adventist), ladies from Church of God in Christ(COGIC) and ladies from Community Church of New Thought.  I purposely selected 10 ladies from different religious denominations to make sure we had a variety of views in our discussion.  Also to prove that voluntary simplicity has no boundaries.

The first article “Living Deeply” resonated with me immediately and I was convinced to begin living a simpler life.  Some of the things I plan to focus on as a result of the course include: Have a zero balance on my credit cards; Shed excess clutter and clothing (donate to homeless shelter, etc.); Select organic produce as often as possible and buy smaller amounts to prevent waste; Become self-sufficient in the basics of life such as growing more food in my garden- move from gardening as a hobby to a sustainable food source; Buy local by ordering a “farm box” twice a month; I also plan to decrease spending – buy only what I need, not everything I think I want.

I have already stopped the newspaper delivery so I don’t see the numerous ads with percentage off offers that convince me to buy something.  I have also decreased my TV watching and will downsize my cable capacity in an effort to cut my cable use and cost, which will save on electricity use and costs as well.   I am retired but I plan to join a sewing group where I live to increase my skills and perhaps find a niche for a home business or craft shows.   But with all the changes to reduce my impact on this earth, my underlying goal is to save money and use it to cover my expenses when I volunteer (at some future date) with Marantha Volunteers International.  This group uses volunteers to build One Day Schools and Churches in remote areas for people who would otherwise not be able to have a school or church.  There is no age or skill limit for volunteers just as with Voluntary Simplicity.  Each person can do something!  I believe that this course had an immediate impact on me, but will impact me well into the future…”

Thanks to Grace for organizing her group – and to the 10 ladies to joined her weekly for discussion and tea around the theme of simplicity!