Finding Beauty In A Simpler Life

Hello! My name is Abby and I blog over at Pan y Colada. I’m so excited to be able to share a bit of my heart with you today!

Swirling around in my head lately is the concept of excess. After returning in late February from three months of volunteering in Ecuador, the phrase that has planted itself firmly in my thoughts is “too much.” Too much stuff. Too much clothing. Too much time spent with media. Simply too much.

These feelings were overwhelming, yet discovering what they mean, what action they should lead to has been a challenge for me. In our land of super centers and never ending bombardment of advertisements, how is one supposed to cut down, to change our lifestyle?

Enter in Jen Hatmaker’s book, Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, recommended by a family member of mine not long after returning to the states. As I dove into Jen’s thinking and soaked up her words, a part of me was awakened. Her desires were my own. While materialism is most certainly an epidemic, a disease in our culture, I began to feel certain that we can fight against it. We can live differently.

The premise of the book is to take a closer look at seven areas of life, and remove the excess, one month at a time. I am currently clearing away the excess of food. For these 30 days, I have chosen seven foods – oats, chicken, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, blueberries, and cottage cheese. From these seven choices flow all of my meals.I knew at the beginning that this was going to be a rough month for me. I like eating. A lot. I have also come to find deep joy in preparing, baking, cooking, and experimenting with new recipes, activities that are now near non-existent.

Jen Hatmaker 7

And it is hard. But, in Jen’s words:

“If a fast doesn’t include any sacrifices, then it’s not a fast. The discomfort is where the magic happens.”  

And magic I have found. This journey is revealing so, so much.

While this may come across to some as an attempt to show how much self control I have, or how much I can go without, it is not that in the least. It isn’t about showing how well I can follow the rules I have laid out for myself, or how closely I can stick to the course that Jen took. It’s about shining light on how messy I’ve let this life I have been given become; in the area of food, yes, but also in regards to excess in general. The shadows, the little piles of habits here and there, the grease, and the grime that have been exposed so far are life-changing.

Taking a step back, and truly giving thought to the life we have built up around us is worth it. Tearing down the walls of food, furniture, spending, or clothes is worth it. Living life in a simpler way is worth it.

One of my go to recipes this month – sweet potato fries – comes from a new book by Shauna Niequist. Along with Robin, I have developed a love for the way in which Shauna weaves her words. The recipes she has chosen to include in her new book, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, will not disappoint. This recipe, with a bit of altering on my part, is below.


No matter how you go about it, I encourage you to shed light on the excess that may be lingering in your life. It may be small, simply smudging the edges. Or, like in mine, it may be spilling over, crowding out the beauty that comes from a simpler life.

Abby Talsma is an educator and writer. After returning from volunteering for several months in Ecuador, and having her world a bit rocked, she has been in the process of removing excess and finding balance in this world of ours. Abby writes about the blessings, the trials, and the beautiful moments of life that so often go unnoticed. You can find her writing over at Pan y Colada, on Twitter, and pinning all the things on Pinterest.


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