Simplicity’s Excess

Personal

I felt it crash over me like a wave of sudsy bath water. Warm, refreshing, clean. This morning my mind drifted to my childhood. A place of love, comfort, and joy…but also a place of sheer nothingness. Twenty-something years ago, my family refrigerator sat empty–with the exception of the Arm&Hammer baking soda nestled in the corner–and the pantry carried a few government-issued goods, like pinto beans, rice, and a silver tin of peanut butter. There were days when we had nothing to eat and then, randomly, a neighbor dropped by a box of lemon yogurt and a loaf of bread. Days when we wished to eat at McDonald’s and dip fries in crimson ketchup, only to receive gift certificates from my father’s boss. Days when a $4 allowance for thrift store shopping yielded a brand new Stussy shirt…and a Spud Mackenzie watch to boot! Daily miracles that would later shape my view of life.

I fought back tears because I’ve come so far. My refrigerator is fuller, I can order a side of fries, and I can choose to shop at thrift stores. I tried fighting the urge to forget. The urge to turn my head from a past I sometimes want to forget because of the memories of being made fun of for wearing the same clothes every week. I was reminded today of the beauty of remembering for by doing so, I know the person I want to become.

A person who lives simply. Because in simplicity there is excess.

I’m writing this today so that when I read this post five years from now, I never forget who I am, from where I’ve come, and where I want to go. I’m truly happy with my simple life…with my oddly decorated living room…with my mismatched chairs…with my generic toothpaste…owning a pantry with slightly more than pinto beans and peanut butter. When I focus everything I have, I hardly notice the things I want. And I couldn’t think of a better way to appreciate my life and who I am.

A person who lives simply. Because in simplicity there is excess.

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  1. Amy Wenzel

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:23 am

    It’s so true. The more I get the less happy I am. I’m about to hold an auction on my entire life! Well, besides my husband and two cats. Okay, I’ll keep the photo business too. =)

  2. Karen

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:28 am

    all i have to say is a hearty AMEN to that!

  3. Angela

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:47 am

    Amen….

  4. maile

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:50 am

    adoring this post.

  5. Edward Bussa

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:54 am

    And out of excees, the joy of giving – thanks for the reminder of whats important.

  6. heaven mcarthur

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:55 am

    I don’t often comment, but I do often read. I fill myself up with the words/feelings of those I admire. I grew up in a house that should have been condemned. In a world that a child should not grow up in. But it made me strong…and when I lost everything that I held to be true 2 years ago, that strength carried me. I’m still not sure how to ‘fill’ my fridge but I’m learning. Thank you. ~heaven.

  7. Vanessa Myers

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:56 am

    Well-said, Jasmine…thank you for sharing.
    I can relate…sometimes things I don’t want to remember, but then I remember the beautiful ways God showed He was taking care of us constantly. He is so good!

  8. Cathy Crawley

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:58 am

    Beautiful post Jasmine. I look back on my childhood and thank my parents every day that they didn’t indulge me like my friends were, when you come from humble beginnings you appreciate the things you have achieved and worked hard for even more than if they were handed to you on a silver platter.

  9. jennie

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:58 am

    i used to live in norwalk.

  10. Amanda Reed

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:59 am

    J…you are an inspiration. Let us never forget where we came from. The hills we have climbed and the circumstances that direct our steps but by no means dictate the journey.

  11. michelle cunningham

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:59 am

    i commend you for taking the time to remember.

  12. Jeanne

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:59 am

    I think why I like you so much is because I can relate to you. You are SO REAL! Life is such a blessing and you are wonderfully appreciative of everything in your life, thankful for everything from which you came and for where it will take you. You are so gifted and beautiful both inside and out. I am so happy for your success!

  13. Tira J

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:00 am

    What perfect timing for this post Jasmine. I was putting away the laundry today and wanted to get rid of almost all of my closet because I have too much! And I went down to the guest room today and wanted to get rid of everything in there and turn it into a studio. Our lives are full of excess and it is in my mind, selfish. You are wonderful! 🙂

  14. Julie Massie

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:02 am

    God bless you, Jasmine. This post almost made me cry, because I think it’s important for all of us to remember what’s truly important in our lives. It seems that the times my life and marriage that were most content were the times we had the least "stuff." Thanks for this post.

  15. Nicole Benitez

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:03 am

    A beautiful reminder! We enter with nothing and leave with nothing.. God’s grace is a beautiful place to live your life.

  16. katrina Kennedy

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:08 am

    So beautifully written and so inspiring. So important to have captured this for yourself and the rest of us…

  17. stefany kueive

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:10 am

    You are an example J* in every way!

  18. Emily S

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:22 am

    Beautiful! Simply beautiful.

  19. cassandra m

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:24 am

    bravo for such honest words J*!!! I always reflect back to m childhood…the difficulties make me appreciate the person I’ve become…never forgetting the hard times. So busy with life recently, I needed to remember…THANKS!

  20. Mandy

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Been there too. As a single mum studying at Uni to get a better job, living on rice and frozen veges and barely able to pay the rent every week, somehow we managed and it made me stronger. Now I feel rich everyday 🙂

  21. sharon snow

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:33 am

    After reading, re-reading, and then one more time, all I can say is simply, ‘thank you Jasmine’.

  22. Tina

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:39 am

    I love this.

  23. Amy Rebecca

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:44 am

    My husband shares very similar stories with me…stories of soup beans every night, wearing the same jeans and flannel shirt over and over again, and seeing the circus from outside the fence. I think those experiences can
    make wonderfully special,
    appreciative, and driven individuals 🙂

  24. tiana

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:47 am

    to God be the glory, great things He has done. I still amazes me that there is this kind of poverty in America. There are parts of Jamaica and the Caribbean that are so dirt poor they don’t even know. You just live it. May God continue to bless and prosper you.

  25. shillawna ruffner

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:47 am

    I have been following your blog to grow photographically speaking, but I find myself growing in other ways too. I feel like I could have written this post myself because I had a very similar childhood. Thanks for reminding me to be grateful for what I have by remembering where I came from.

  26. Carlos Bruno

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:47 am

    Good one Jas … GOOD one!
    God still blessing you!

  27. Jenica

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:49 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I too forget where I’ve come from sometimes and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the life I now lead.
    It’s so refreshing to hear someone speak from their heart.

  28. Lisa

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:53 am

    Thanks for this post – I always start feeling guilty about my mismatched chairs and my bargain furniture, and worry that I’ll be judged as somehow less worthy or less competent than I am because I don’t care about spending the time and the money on creating the visually perfect life. In the end, though, it’s all just expensive STUFF that ties you down and leaves you worrying about how you’re going to pay all those d*@#n bills! (I must confess, however, that I own entirely too many shoes to ever be considered a true ascetic…)

  29. Heather Corporan

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Amen to that is right! My husband (two and a half kids)and I are going through a trial right now. He lost his job almost five months ago. And although we both grew up poor, he from a third world country, and me on welfare with a single mom, SOMEHOW. . . we had gotten to the point where it seems like we forgot, or chose to ‘forget’ where we came from. So we are thanking God everyday for what feels like a second chance at truly knowing what it is to be content with what He has given us. We thank God for this trial, which has brought us back to ‘remembering!’ As always, thanks for just being YOU Jasmine! You rock.

  30. heather

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:01 am

    LOVED this post. My hubby lost his job a few months ago and we have been living very simple lives since. But we have also never been happier! Less is more.

  31. Amber Fox

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:02 am

    Preach it sister!

  32. ashley

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Lovely.

  33. Brandi

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:07 am

    I kind of feel like there is no point in commenting, as how can you possibly keep up with the onslaught of comments that you get.. But I feel you girl. I grew up with nothing as well. I never want to forget where I came from, because the day I do, is the day I stop being thankful for what I have. If I had seen my current life when I was a little girl, I would have considered myself wealthy – even though I am not wealthy by ANY stretch of the imagination. I hope that my future child(ren) can have an appreciation for those who don’t have anything as well.

  34. Lydia

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:10 am

    Yes! Life is so much more appreciated when lived simply and truly.

  35. Yuka photo art

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:11 am

    Thank you for your life lessons from your experience……

  36. annie

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:47 am

    This is really nice to read, especially right now when I feel so many photographers are using their blogs to brag about material goods and wealth.

    Thank you!

    (and LOL at the Stussy shirt!)

  37. Johanne Guignard

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:47 am

    I have been following your blog for some time now & never made a commend before… only because you have so many & didn’t think you would get to read it 🙂 I just want to say that you are such a great inspiration to me. And i understand "exactly" how you felt in those days. (When I was young, my world did fall apart but i would not trade my past for anything in this world) Thanks for sharing your life with us & please continue to inspirer like you do ;o)

  38. Christine Pobke

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Jas, this is why you have so many fans. You’re real. And you’re not some spoiled princess who feels entitled… you’re humble, you’re honest, and we would SO be friends in real life! 🙂 Love you!

  39. Carmen Gomez

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Thank you for taking me back to my past as well. There were times when I had nothing to eat for three consecutive days (and I didn’t even have a refrigerator). I’m now a full-time student at a private university and only want to have a career to help my family and be able to provide a better future fo my kids- whenever I have them. Take pride in what you’ve accomplished, but never forget that your past has brought you to be who you are.

  40. Kassia

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Beautiful words Jasmine. Nice reminder of what’s important in life.
    🙂

  41. Feuza

    September 21st, 2009 at 4:11 am

    It is amazing the legacy you are leaving behind, a trail for many to follow and to venture out on their own and to not forget ones roots,
    sidenote, why are all your blog posts the same name now ABCDFG….. etc, a glitch perhaps 🙂

  42. miriam

    September 21st, 2009 at 4:30 am

    i love this. i want to live this way too, you just put it in better words. i feel it even more strongly as i become an adult and i get caught up in the next "thing" on my "list". a house. a new lens. a better laptop. it’s good to read things like this and to sit back, look around and be grateful for the simplicity i’m surrounded in.

  43. Angela Hubbard Photography

    September 21st, 2009 at 4:36 am

    you are my hero, Jasmine! x

  44. Angie Cardenas

    September 21st, 2009 at 4:50 am

    Thanks for sharing..

  45. Marissa Rodriguez

    September 21st, 2009 at 5:08 am

    Lovin’ this post.

  46. Karen Lamb

    September 21st, 2009 at 6:01 am

    I love when you say "When I focus everything I have, I hardly notice the things I want" – would you mind if I used that on my page?
    You are an inspiration J*!

  47. Helen Criston Kelleher

    September 21st, 2009 at 6:02 am

    I read your blog regularly and am inspired by your thoughts and creativity. You are an incredible person who seems to come from an equally incredible family who are rooted in faith. I admire you greatly. Thank you for sharing.

  48. Jessica

    September 21st, 2009 at 6:19 am

    This post is amazing and echoes everything I believe in.

  49. Jessica Pressley

    September 21st, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Ah yes, simplicity! I too want to live a simple life =) Lover your blog Jasmine!!!

  50. Bobby Earle

    September 21st, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Freaking LOVE it, Jas…

  51. Jenn Regruth

    September 21st, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Beautifully said.

  52. Candice

    September 21st, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    girl…i can identify with that story! it’s so important to never forget…..

    🙂

  53. Cristen

    September 21st, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Well said J*! Well said! 🙂

  54. MelissaF

    September 21st, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Thank you for a beautiful reminder. It’s so easy for me to get sucked into the "I want, I want, I wants" and then convince myself that I need! There’s so much freedom in simplicity as well. The sentiment in this post is just another reason why you are a rockstar!!!

  55. Matt Parks

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    jasmine – last week my wife and I made the crazy decision to resign from my "full-time-mortgage-paying-security-giving-social-stasis-securing-job" in order to chase after a simpler life that is centered around the things that bring a smile to our face, warmth to our hearts, and hopefully a better world for our children to play in. I’m scared crazy that pinto beans and government issued rice may quickly be approaching in our future but I believe I’d rather eat the rice and love life, than eat my steak and dread every Monday-Friday. Thanks for the well timed reminder to savor life before it passes us by.

  56. shannon Schwabe

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I love how you’re always sharing so much. You are truly an inspiration!

  57. Rick Fernandez

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Simply refreshing. Thank you.

  58. Sherina Gallagher

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Wow! Do you know how truly inspirational you are Jasmine??? Day to day we get caught up focusing on the wrong things. So much that, we often forget what’s important in our lives and how blessed we already are. Thanks for reminding us of that!!

  59. Ingrid

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Exquisitly said. Gratitude is sooo important. Its amazing how little we can get by with when we truly look at everything we already have. As a society we take a lot for granted, and reading posts like you wrote today reminds us to take stock of what we already have. And say thank you.

  60. Mary-Beth

    September 21st, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Jasmine, That’s beautiful. I agree whole heartedly and it’s so inspiring to remember what is important, and where true happiness is found.:)

  61. corey

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    J, man I don’t know what it is about you and your talents but I can really focus on your thoughts and i think that it makes us all grounded I am not where i would like to be financially but I do realize what it is to be thankful and able to do what we like in life and your so right as far as being able to "order a side of fries"! We sometimes often forget how blessed we are but thanks for the reminders!

  62. Nelly Chung

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Nice J. I’ve been going through some deep thoughts lately too. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  63. kristi hedberg

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    bad news…this desire for less but better quality only increases as you age.

  64. Stephanie Stewart

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    What a great post, thanks for sharing!

  65. Michelle Guzman

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Beautiful words. If you wrote a book about your life, I would totally read it. Then I could watch the movie when it comes out. 🙂

  66. Otto Rascon

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Amen to this post! Thanks for sharing such intimate parts of your life. I surely remember the government issued goodies, though I want to forget the powdered milk…

  67. Alejandra Arroyo

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Wow!!! LOVE IT!!

  68. Linda Sherrill

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    That was a beautiful blog post..I’m reading "Fearless" by Max Lucado right now and it gives a similar look at "things" vs what’s really important. It’s so important to stay grounded in the kind of people we really want to be..grateful ones!

  69. kim james

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Really Beautiful. Similar history. Gratitude! Thank you for the reminder!

  70. Rich Fiddelke

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Beautiful! You have truly come to understand the important things in life – and it ain’t stuff.
    Wonderful post.

  71. paul sherar

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    awesome, i had a similar coming back to my roots, why i do what i do moment as well and wrote it on my blog.

    great work keep it up

  72. Molly W.

    September 21st, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    As you already know, ‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Thanks for the ever so important reminder Jamine. Its so easy to get caught up in the things of this world that don’t really matter that can pass away in no time. I need to live more simply, again, thanks for the reminder.

  73. Miranda Renee

    September 21st, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Wow! This really spoke to me! It made me stop and really realize how truly blessed I really am. I’ve been there too and looking back doesn’t ever make me wish it was never like that, but only makes me think of how it has made me stronger. And has made me who I am today. Thanks for that!

  74. Danielle Pousette

    September 21st, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Honesty. Such a great thing to read.
    I grew up and still live in KY, where this type of childhood story still plays out. I grew up working for everything I got, and I am a much better human being for it. In every moment there are blessings. Its nice to read something so personal, and words that so many can feel connected to. Thanks for being so honest.

  75. Cory Lane Anderson

    September 21st, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I wish more Americans lived their lives this way!

  76. Jo LeFlufy

    September 21st, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    That’s so weird. I’m reading Eckhart Tolle’s "A New Earth" right now and it completely coincides with your post today. It’s good to know so many people in the world are finally starting to really "get" that less is more! Have a GREAT Monday J Star!

  77. Lorrie Prothero

    September 21st, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    What a great post – when so many of us are actually going through the empty cupboards now…

  78. Natalie Bertrand

    September 21st, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Jasmine, your post brought me to tear. To share something so personal with us. You are trully an amazing woman and after reading this post I realize now why I am inspired by you and in ah of you. Natalie

  79. Mali Workman

    September 21st, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Your parents didn’t have much in their pockets or kitchen, but their hearts and minds must have been very rich. Not everyone can name and raise a STAR! You are so lucky for your childhood and your family! Thank you for this post.

  80. courtney pooler

    September 21st, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Less is always more. Simplicite’…

  81. Sarah Rhoads

    September 21st, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    thank you for sharing jasmine. i’m learning this more and more every day.

  82. Leandra

    September 21st, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Thanks for reminding me of how blessed I am. Seriously. We don’t have much, but I am reminded of how much more we have than so many others in the world, and how important it is to never forget that.

  83. A. R.

    September 21st, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Beautiful post! A lesson to many.
    So true, we all should try to focus on everything we have, and not just on the things we want.
    Thanks for sharing.

  84. Tacey

    September 21st, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Your words pierced my soul…I too lived on peanut butter and cornflakes…My mother, bless her heart, wrote and published a memoir to her 4 children, and actually named it "Cornflakes and Peanut Butter"…I used to feel guilty about living in a beautiful home now, driving a nice car, having money, I guess…..But, like you (and your family) we sacrificed, we strived, we struggled and ‘got by’…we climbed our mountains…We didn’t allow our limitations to hinder the size of our dreams…It’s taken a while, but I’ve learned to not feel guilty any more, but proud…proud of where I’ve been, and proud of how far I’ve come….Cheers to you Jasmine for remaining so humble…and showing others that nomatter your beginning…you truly can do anything you set your mind and spirit to…

  85. Laura Lawson

    September 21st, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    To the lovely J* — I started following your blog a few months ago, and am constantly wowed by your talents behind the lens and in the written word. This post was exactly what I needed to hear today; thank you for being so cool and introspective. God is truly working through you in big ways girl! Xoxo

  86. Erica Young

    September 21st, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I totally understand where you come from. We were so poor we had to live in a motel for weeks on end while my father tried to find work and had to eat whatever we could find. I was so young but remember it so vividly. I’m glad to see people who hurt as children actually grow up and learn to never live like that again, me included. I will do everything in my power and with God’s help to live a full and happy life and never go back to garbage picking because you had NO choice.

  87. Brandi Welch

    September 21st, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    So ironic that you posted this today! I was reminded of my very similar childhood as well today as I sat with my patient who only has 2 lawn chairs as furniture in her apt. I was making a mental check of the clothes in my closet that I no longer wear that would fit and yet still be age appropriate for her (she’s in her 60’s). Anyway, thanks for sharing…it’s what I needed today 🙂

  88. {15:51} photography

    September 21st, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    I really think that so much of why you are so gifted is because of how much you are able to appreciate of your past. God looks for those that can handle the great responsibility that comes with great blessings and you, Lovely Jasmine*, never seem to fail at finding the light in any situation. That, in and of itself, is a gift…

  89. KrisD Mauga

    September 22nd, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Wow Jasmine- I love this- powerfully simple!

  90. Holli True

    September 22nd, 2009 at 3:16 am

    Thank you for posting this, you don’t know how much it is helping me right now. Always an inspiration. 🙂

  91. Kristen Swanson

    September 22nd, 2009 at 4:09 am

    You have such a beautiful heart. Thanks for sharing.

  92. Dee

    September 22nd, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    this is so profound. I have no words to even describe how this post makes me feel. <3

  93. Carrie

    September 22nd, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    You know, I grew up practically opposite of this. My family was very wealthy, and although they did teach us much about being thrifty, spending responsibly, and giving away, we lived in abundace. Although I’m happy and blessed to have been raised that way, it’s now that I’m learning what you’ve learned. I just recently married the man of my dreams (who happens to work in ministry… and you know that makes the big bucks!) and although we have a little more in our fridge, some days its hard seeing others have so much… This is such an encouragment to me. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  94. carmen

    September 22nd, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Jasmine I can never imagine anybody making fun of you. I grew up very poor and I understand all about not having any food to eat. I’ve never had enough money, I always worry and stress so much over the bills and having enough food. It’s hard to live day by day. I told a friend I worked with that I just wish one time to have enough money to live on. She said as long as your bills are paid and you have food, you have enough. I try to look at it that way. I see people with lots of money and most of them don’t seem to be very happy. So many of the singers and actors die of drug overdoses. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever known don’t have much money.

  95. Ma'ele

    September 22nd, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    this post reminds me of eating army rationed meat packets over rice. We’d season it best we could but it tasted horrible. Second hand shopping is FUN for me now, because I have the choice to get a better deal. Thank you for reminding me that the past needs to be embraced… annd that generic is a better deal!

    THANK YOU!

  96. Rebecca T

    September 23rd, 2009 at 12:33 am

    What a beautiful reminder–thank you for sharing your heart with us–as well as your talent! God Bless!

  97. Ray Ferguson

    September 23rd, 2009 at 2:04 am

    AMEN! I never really knew how much we didn’t have growing up because we had so much love. We are lucky to be rich in love and simple in our material possessions!!!

  98. Events by Evonne

    September 23rd, 2009 at 10:02 am

    I seriously need to print out this post and frame it and put it in my office… I think I constantly need to be reminded of how lucky I am to do what I do and have such a supportive hubby and family! Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  99. Amanda Thiessen

    September 23rd, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    love.

  100. Skye

    September 24th, 2009 at 7:55 am

    You made me tear up… again.

  101. jenniferL

    September 25th, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    so well written… simplicity. i’m glad we can splurge every so often but for the most part we live within our means and keep it simple.

  102. Leyla N

    September 27th, 2009 at 3:01 am

    I love it! Thank you for reminding me of my very similar childhood and of where I came from… And how far I’ve come already… and it is just the beginning…

    Thank you for sharing!

    http://leylasroom.com