If not consumerism, then what? Post minimalism

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If you are not shopping, caring for your things and maintaining your things, and you have done the big clear out, then what do you actually do with all of that down time?

This is exactly what is happening to me right now and its both terrifying and exciting all at once.

Once upon a time, I was a kid who loved music and dreamed of a big job with a big pay. The dream came true, but on the way to a big job with big pay, I lost my music. I became a mother and a professional and a consumer. A consumer who thought if only I had a ….(insert latest tech gadget, kitchen appliance, item of clothing, bag, house) then things would be better. I would be happier.

Of course on the path to minimalism, I realised while constantly seeking out, wanting more and living in the future, I was letting my actual life pass me by. I was not paying enough attention to my childrens’ lives. I had neglected my passions.

Yesterday my husband and I had a bit of time to kill in between purchasing some groceries and going to a movie. We wandered around the shops and purchased nothing. Absolutely nothing. Both of us discussed how we are far less inclined to want anything from the shops any more. The mere activity that I once longed for and craved felt empty and unfulfilling.

I’ve also worked out some new work arrangements to reduce workplace pressure.

OK so I am here now. In the middle. In between not wanting to consume, not wanting to indulge, to live simply and appreciate what I have. Work will be less stressful. I get up in the mornings on weekends now and my household jobs don’t take long. I exercise and that’s one hour. I spend a little bit of time in the garden, tending to my veggies and watching their progress. And then there is….

Not much.

So the next couple of months will be about a journey to discovering what else is out there. I will explore and only truly look for those things that I am passionate about. I’ve reduced the meaningless activity out of my life and I don’t want to replace it with new meaningless activity.

Step 1: I’m going to learn to do something new that is consistent with my new slow lifestyle. Not sure what yet – permaculture maybe, or furniture restoration.

Step 2: I am going to reconnect with food. For a long time I have just been going through the motions with food, just cooking what I need to, repeating the same old same old recipes. Food is boring now. So to reconnect, I am going to go through each of my recipe books and cook from them systematically. A qualifier is that the recipes will need to be wholesome and simple – with few exotic ingredients.

What have you done post a consumeristic lifestyle? What has helped you make the transition from consumer to slow?

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Simple living and extroverts – are we compatible?

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I’m an extrovert to the max. No – it doesn’t mean you find me the last one to leave at the work Christmas party, dancing on the table tops. It means that I do all of my thinking with others, and I think with my mouth. As a good friend once told me – if I’m not talking, I’m not thinking (lucky for her, I kept her as a good friend, in spite of this).

I read Rhonda Hetzel, who has inspired me immensely (see her amazing blog Down to Earth) in her quest to slow down and live a simple life. But she talks about sometimes not leaving the house for up to a month at a time, and for me, that seems almost impossible.

And I was chatting to the equally inspirational Brooke McAlary from www.slowyourhome.com  as part of her community weekly chats, and I raised this very topic.

Working in the home, cooking from scratch, growing vegetables is all very appealing to me. Not working in paid employment is also really appealing to me, having worked hard for nearly twenty years and building our net worth so that our mortgage is n-e-a-r-l-y paid off.

But just basing myself at home, and reducing my contact with the outside world is not compatible with my personality type. So simple living for me in the future, if I am not working, is going to have to involve people, other than my family and making sure that I connect with others regularly.

Part of my plan will need to involve community. I’m not sure just exactly what and how yet, because I am still working.

I wonder how many of us in the simple living world are extroverts? If so, how do you satisfy that part of you that needs to connect with others, if you are primarily working around the home? Would love to hear and get some ideas.

I’ll follow the sun…..

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I’m chasing the sun around my house…..

Hard to believe that I’m chasing the sun in a week of -6 and -7 overnight in the Nation’s capital. Freaking freezing.

This week I have had some time off work – with headaches and fatigue (yes, yes, all clear signs).

So I have had the time to watch the rhythm of our house, and think about our electricity and consumption use

And this is what I found out.

We have heavy curtains to reduce heat loss, but with the two of us working, opening and closing the curtains to maximise sun and reduce heat loss just isn’t high on the priority list. What I discovered is when you have time, you can care about these important factors. And remarkably, the house does not require heating between 9am and 5:00pm if I play my cards right.

I need to:

Draw the curtains at night when the heating comes on, to retain the heat as much as possible.

Open only the drapes in the morning and leave the shades down until the sun starts to stream though the windows. Between getting the kids off to school and when the sun streams in, I sit and write on the couch where the sun is captured through the front windows. It’s so yummy and toasty to sit with the sun heating up my back.

During the day, I get out and do some physical work in the garden while the sun is shining. This keeps me warm, reduces our heating costs and gets me being productive. Plus plus plus.

When the sun starts streaming, open up the shades and let the sun shine on the floor and heat up the slate tiles. It’s delicious. And the house keeps a cosy temperature of 19 degrees in side all day.

I sit and meditate in the afternoons, in the front window with the sun at its warmest.

Finally, I manoeuvre the clothes horse around to get the clothes dry.

All the while, I’m watching the Wattson click over our net power usage, once we take into account the solar panels.

Wow. Without the experience of chasing the sun, I would just have the heater on all day.

What do you do to maximise the sun?