Changemaker Interview: How Simplicity Opens New Beginnings

This week we’re sharing a Changemaker Interview with Mary Peraro, a retired educator who recently moved across the country to begin a new and simpler life. Her passion is learning – and she “strives to discover how one can get the most out of life through new experiences.” This past year, she has dramatically downshifted her life and took some time to tell us some of the highlights. Her story is a reminder that living simply can open up new experiences and new beginnings.

1. What led you to practice simplicity in your life? Was there a turning point or something that inspired you?

Many things led me to practice simplicity in my life. During the last few years of work I realized that I did not need much to be happy and to survive. Little by little I began to purge what I had. I was living in an 1900 square foot home and spent all of my time in three rooms. After retirement it became more evident that all ” the things” that I owned were not really needed. Last year, I decided that I needed a change and I needed to move. In two days I made the decision and had my house on the market and was moving across the country to Colorado. I needed to focus more on living and not existing in a big house. In making the move I decided not to bring any furniture except for one chair and a small table. I took the basics: clothes and some books and pictures.

So the inspiration was in the transition to another stage of my life and the realization that what was important was not the goods that I owned but people – and really experiencing life. I moved from a 1900 square foot home to a 500 square foot studio apartment. Wow. I loved it. My time in a studio taught me that simple living brought peace and contentment and eliminated many worries.

2. Why do you think living simply is important now? What changes have you made and how does it feel?

I am now living in a 1000 square foot condo and I love it. I have the basics and it let’s me focus on living and learning.The biggest change I have made is to focus on thinking outside of my comfort zone in learning new things and meeting new people.

4. What advice do you have for others who are looking to make life changes but may not know how to start?

My advice to others is to not be afraid. Just jump in and do it. It is so liberating. Don’t let fear hold you because simplifying your life brings new excitement for living. Letting go of things doesn’t mean you forget the memories. They will always be with you but you do not have to have things to remember. Most importantly, living simply allows you to train your mind from clutter and models for you the ability to be open to new experiences and new beginnings.

Thinking of living more simply but don’t know where to start? Check out NWEI’s newest course book A Different Way: Living Simply in a Complex World – or join the EcoChallenge this October 11-25th and choose a Simplicity Challenge.


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