Monday, March 19, 2012

my minimalist manifesto


While you read what I'm sharing today, I'd like you to ponder the following question: When is adequate enough? In other words, when is it okay just to be normal instead of the best at everything? When is it okay to have less than others, but enough for you?

Nate is still on his international work trip and will be for weeks to come. I am in awe of single parents now that I have been one for the past three weeks. The girls and I have fallen into a new rhythm, and our household is humming along happily; however, I will gladly break up the new routine to welcome the hubster back into the fold. I do wonder what he'll think of the new me who doesn't ever turn on the TV. Will I fall back into the old habit, or will we start a new pattern? Time will tell. Care to place bets? I'm looking forward to finding out what happens.

Because our clocks are six hours apart right now, he and I only get a chance to talk for a few minutes a day. I cherish those catching-up conversations, and when I miss a call from him, my reaction resembles a certain frustrated, taxidermied weasel (that picture just never gets old!). Luckily, I didn't miss his call yesterday.

We had a great talk, and I'm eager to engage with you and find out if you've had some of the same feelings and experiences we discussed. Our conversation began with me admitting that I am prone at times to covet what others have; I especially do so with regard to what my close friends have that I don't. Usually, my internal monologue goes like this...

"Why do they get to remodel their kitchen and we don't?"
"How do they afford to go out to eat so often?"
"Why can't I buy myself new riding boots like she has?"

Childish, no? I could see it as embarrassing to admit this little truth to you, friends, but the interesting thing is that I don't see it that way any more. Opening up to you has been liberating, and I am learning to see you as close allies in my life journey. Most eye-opening to me is that by allowing myself to be vulnerable, I have actually strengthened my friendships instead of scaring people off.

My dialogue with Nate migrated to a recent epiphany I've had. Just owning to these negative feelings in itself has been helpful for me, but I have gone further in healing my jealous spirit. Recently, I've begun turning the table on my feelings of envy. When I feel it creeping up again, I begin to search actively in my mind for what I am grateful for having that those friends may not. I almost always come up with a nearly even list of positives in both our courts. What a relief! This newfound strength at taming the fire in my belly is a revelation for me.

It was at this point in my exchange with Nate when it occurred to me that simplifying my lifestyle has happened in stages. This realization is becoming something of a credo, and I think it could help others achieve a happier, simpler life. Ergo, we finally arrive at the guiding principle of my post, where I'll share the stages of my minimalism so far:

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Stage 1: Shrug off the things that people say you must have in order to be happy. 

For me, this stage has been an ongoing process for years, beginning in my late teens when I rebelled against the idea of wearing make-up. Since then, I have come to view make-up as a fun, positive way to become a dressier version of myself for a few hours, whether that be to church or a night on the town. However, I still see the real me as that girl who eschews being made up.

More recently (and as many of you already know...), my shrugging off of unnecessary consumerism has been to cancel cable and to stop purchasing a variety of processed foods that are marketed to me zillions of times. For example, I no longer grocery shop with coupons. These experiences have been great and emboldened me to go further.

Stage 2: Learn to love and appreciate what I have.

Staying home with my children has allowed me to slow down my life in a way that I haven't experienced since I was a new freshman in college, and which I probably won't experience again until retirement. In one way, the deceleration of our lives was involuntarily due to switching to a single income; we no longer could afford to speed along at our frantic go, go, go pace. The slower pace is also made possible by my lack of work commute and responsibilities outside the home. As a result, I've been pondering what I'm thankful for at more opportunities than just at Thanksgiving.

Stage 3: Weigh the opportunity cost of each new purchase, i.e. make a conscious decision to forgo some items for others.

This is the newest stage I've encountered and is partly what brought the peace to my previously envious mind. One of our closest friends studied economics in college, and I can remember him explaining opportunity cost a decade ago. I suppose I stored that little nugget somewhere in the back of my mind; when I least expected, the nugget resurfaced to point out a more positive way to approach minimalism. Now I can appreciate that our friends might be able to afford a new kitchen, dining out, and riding boots because they have decided not to own cell phones, a SUV with a large monthly payment, and a gym membership. Seeing frugality as a conscious choice allows me to gain power and view the experience positively.

Thus far, I've been focusing on the broad scope, but it isn't just my approach to life that is taking a minimalist turn. My parenting goals are also shifting toward the concept of less as a frame of mind and a powerful tool to allow my children the space to grow in a simpler, lower-stress environment. It's my hope that by achieving less of what modern society tells me I need to do to raise Princeton-worthy children, I will gain happier children. And who knows? Maybe they'll still go to Princeton. {Wink}

Resources for 'Simple-Minded' Parents:
(n.b.: I've seen the terminology described as "Simplicity" and "Minimalist," but I kind of like my jokey title)

'Simple-Minded' Non-Parent? I've gotcha covered:

There are many other lists I could write, like my favorite real food and homesteading blogs, but since this is a post about minimalism, I'm keeping it simple. Having said that, I'd love to find out your favorite resources and tips for living a minimalist lifestyle. What did I miss?

See you back here soon. In the in between time, let's keep in touch! You can "like" me on Facebook, follow my tweets and pins, and use a myriad of other social gadgetry to reach me.



Editor's note: This post is a part of LHITS DIY LinkyFreaky FridayFresh Bites FridayFarmgirl FridayFrugal FridayFight Back FridayYour Green ResourceSimple Lives ThursdayWorks for Me WednesdayReal Food WednesdayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysJust WriteNatural Parenting Group's Monday Blog Hopthe Homestead Barn HopMonday ManiaSunday School, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.


Jgmcrew said...

I loved this post! And, is partly what I am writing a post about on my blog right now! (great minds...????) It's so hard not to compare and to know when to say enough, but as hard as it is for me to open up, sharing these "not so flattering thoughts" about yourself has proven to build closer friendships, just like you said. Why has it taken me 32 years to find this out!?

Emily Sefcik said...

I'm glad you've found opening up liberating. I love hearing what you have to say! Lovely list of resources and your goals...well, let's just say I'm constantly working on those too. It's hard not to covet what other people have when every marketing ploy in the world is telling you to buy it. J. and I went on a date last night and there were TV's playing commercials in each individual bathroom stall. I mean seriously, can't I have some peace and quiet? Anyhow, something that has helped me to "covet" less is to remind myself that all the things I see that I think make my friend's lives easier probably don't make them easier at all. Everything looks better from the outside and I never really see the whole picture....hugs to you my friend!

Jane said...

I think this is great, and something that isn't easy to do in our society. Everyone is focused on more, more more. I would like to think I live a simple life --and being a non-parent, I'm sure having children makes it a little more complicated!

Emily Sefcik said...

Because I forgot to mention it before...thanks for the shout out!

The Lone Home Ranger said...

It does complicate things but in a good way. My kids have taught me to appreciate what really matters and shrug off other things (hehem, make-up).

The Lone Home Ranger said...

"Everything looks better from the outside." I couldn't agree more.

The Lone Home Ranger said...

Can't wait to read yours. Great minds, indeed. ;) I like to think the fact that it took us to our thirties to allow ourselves to be vulnerable is common. Maybe it's why people say they would rather relive their thirties than twenties. More gray hairs but more confidence too.

Sam and Sarah Logan said...

Hi - this is great! Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I recently wrote my biggest frugal tip ever - here's the link:

Anna said...

This is great. Learning to want less can be really tough - there's so much pressure to 'succeed' via having more expensive things and status symbols. I think you're on the right track.
If you haven't already, check out Your Money or Your Life - it's a personal finance book, but a big focus is to re-evaluate why we want the things we do, and decide if they're truly important to us.

Thanks for sharing!

christyisrc said...

I find the more I stay home the more content I am. I wish I had known that many years ago - what a lot of wasted energy on envy!

The Lone Home Ranger said...

Me too! I guess this is what my parents meant when they used to tell me "you don't know what you don't know." It used to infuriate me. But it turns out they were right!

The Lone Home Ranger said...

Thanks for the tip, Anna. We just paid off our debts with this year's tax refund, and it's our goal to cut up the credit cards and use cash only from now on. Fingers crossed. We'll use all the help we can get to accomplish the goal.

The Lone Home Ranger said...

Hi Sarah. I think it's a great notion that the secret to being frugal is to be content. Thanks for sharing!

Abbi said...

Good thoughts. This has been something I have long thought about and worked towards but I have been focusing on it more this year. I have been really trying to go through what we have and get rid of what we don't need, to make very mindful choices about anything that comes into our house. Contentment is a huge key to being happy- no matter how much you have. It is fun to read about others that are learning these lessons too.

The Lone Home Ranger said...

Hi Abbi, I agree that it's enjoyable to discover others are learning minimalist lessons. Contentment is a great word and one that unfortunately seems to be uttered less in our modern society's drive to "succeed." I wonder whether this definition even includes contentment. I'm enjoying a book called "Eco Mind" because she delves into the difficult question of how to be successful and sustainable. Great read.

Rebecca said...

I loved reading this post Justine- thank you. This is what I wrote on the subject:
Thank you so much for sharing this with us on Natural Mothers Network's Seasonal Celebration.
Warmly, Rebecca x

sarah saad said...

اهم شركات نقل العفش والاثاث بالدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
شركة نقل عفش بجدة
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
شركة نقل عفش بمكة

sarah saad said...

شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة الجوهرة من افضل شركات تنظيف الخزانات بجدة حيث ان تنظيف خزانات بجدة يحتاج الى مهارة فى كيفية غسيل وتنظيف الخزانات الكبيرة والصغيرة بجدة على ايدى متخصصين فى تنظيف الخزانات بجدة
شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
اهم شركات كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذكل شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة وتنظيف بجدة ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر وكشف تسربات المياه بالجبيل والقطيف والخبر والدمام
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام


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