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Simple Stories – Nancy

Simple Living, Minimalist Living, Organization, MauiI love sharing other stories of simplifying.  This is Nancy’s story from Maui!

My journey in living a more simple life began when my family of 4, moved to Maui. When we got off the plane here on this little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we each had a suitcase and a few carry-ons. Our one car was being shipped over and we had about a dozen boxes that were coming via the slow boat.

We came to Maui in a desperate time for our little family. My husband had been unemployed and he was searching for a stable job. We left our home in Oregon on a cold January morning, headed South to California and eventually found some stability on Maui.

When we first arrived on Maui, we had very few material possessions. We became grateful recipients from the kindness of strangers and new friends. On Maui, we call our close friends: Ohana. They are family! We acquired many things free and from garage sales. It took us 6 months before we owned a bed. After sleeping on an air mattress for half a year with my husband and 2 kids, a bed and real mattress felt so good again! I began to appreciate the simple things in life: a bed to sleep in with 3 other lovely humans, a roof over our heads, beautiful warm weather, a church and community that welcomed us warmly and unconditionally.

Maui is an expensive place to live, and although we have always been thankful for the job that brought us here, it barely allowed us to make ends meet. We began to realize more and more what was a necessity and what was an indulgence: We ate more simply and healthy:

  • Rice and beans
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables filled our tummies.

…Salsa and ice cream were included only as a “treat.”

We spent our money more sparingly and wisely: We thought and examined every purchase we made. We spent our time together as a family enjoying the natural beauty of our surroundings: Hiking, Camping, Swimming, Exploring! We walked more, used the bus when we needed and pushed the double stroller around town. The beach was free and the water was amazing so we made it our playground.

Two years after we first moved to Maui, we moved into a slightly larger condo. When I looked around at all that we had acquired, I wondered how we had managed to get so much stuff. In some ways, it made me nostalgic to look at my couch and know that it came as a hand me down from a good friend that had acquired a new couch. I looked at most of the appliances in my kitchen and remembered another good friend that had left the island and gave them to me. When I made coffee in the morning, I fondly thought of another dear friend. The same was true for bookshelves, pictures on our walls, beach toys, and our Christmas tree. They were all reminders of friends that we had made and that had left the island and given things to us. I could look around my home and see so much simple love and kindness and friendship.

However, I also saw a lot of stuff. I wanted to have less. I wanted my children to be absorbed in play. Although I could never part with Lego bricks or our assortment of art supplies, I found that there was a lot of stuff we didn’t really need cluttering up our lives. I started with a big one….

…I scanned our small living room, and transfixed my eyes on the big old TV, with its accompanying TV cabinet. Both the cabinet and old TV, were also given to us by neighbors and friends. I decided they needed to go. We didn’t have cable, so we didn’t even get any stations, but we had a DVD player attached, which allowed us to get movies from the library on occasion to watch. It took up a lot of space and I honestly didn’t like the way the TV sucked up precious time and energy from my kids. I wanted the space used for bookshelves or train sets; more play area for my kids and family.

It has now been about 6 months since I began simplifying our family life, and got rid of our TV. My floor is currently taken up with Lego creations, a racetrack, action figures, books, dolls etc. My children’s voices are all that I hear now: Last night they were acting out a recent play they had seen: The Wizard of Oz. They had scarves, hats, swords, magic wands and a light saber strewn from their bedroom dress up box throughout the kitchen and living room floors. A big box was used as part of their stage, and their own imaginations became the script.

My own quest for more simplicity in our family life, is a constant one. There is always the pressure to get more stuff: more toys, more technology, more things to occupy our time and keep us from becoming bored. I do my best to keep our lives simple and keep boredom ever present, so as to use our own imagination and curiosity to fill our time.

by Nancy Markey. I have a blog: I am a Mom of 2 and live on Maui. My blog is a reflection of how I am trying to raise my kids: With less (material) stuff and more family time, less technology and more outdoor play, more free fun, more simple unscheduled activities. A more simple life that I hope will create happy childhood memories.

Thanks so much for sharing Nancy. I think the idea of having the beach as a park sounds so awesome!


  1. andrea_upnorth andrea_upnorth

    I enjoyed Nancy’s account of her family’s experience. I probably would not be able to ever get rid of our television but we do limit how much TV our daughters are allowed to watch (and what they watch). Same with Internet access. Personally, I would get rid of the television but would find it more difficult to part with our computer and Internet access.

    • me too… I have been spending more time than I would like on the internet lately and have been trying to cut back. … just because it is useful, doesn’t mean I need to be always attached to it 🙁

  2. Oh how I miss the beach! My family of three lived in Florida before my husband’s work moved us to Michigan. We still live very simply too, but you need even less in a warm climate – no snow gear necessary. Nancy, it sounds like you have a beautiful, simple family. Isn’t interesting how living with less allows us to see the massive amounts of unnecessary things we have in our life.


  3. Yes. Deciding and striving to have less stuff in our life, reminds us every day what we value. I do feel lucky that I have great weather here and we can be outside every single day, and not spend much on clothing too!

  4. Shelly Shelly

    I let a really nice TV/DVD player go when I was single, and am now married a TV every day guy. I didn’t realize how that particular thing would bother me. After all, I had a pretty big TV of my own for many years. There is so much freedom when we let things go like that. I think it’s very empowering to know the true value of family and every day of life. Your simple joy is beautiful. Thank you for sharing!
    Andrea, when I got rid of my TV I still had a laptop. It allowed me to use internet and watch DVDs still. It’s a safe move rather than going all out, but I found I got involved in other more interesting things and found I cut way back on computer time as well. I like how Lorilee once said – You keep what you love and get rid of the rest. It really does leave more time to spend on what you love!

  5. Karen Karen

    I am visiting Maui right now on a family vacation. We are in Lahaina!!

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