Monday, November 30, 2009

We don't need more stuff!


It is experinces, not things that are important. We all know this yet sometimes we forget this concept. I admit I have. Usually in the rush of activity and the mind-set of keeping up, what I forget is that it is not about getting the most stuff, it is about enjoying what I already have. I know I am preaching to the choir a bit here. Most of the people I know (and love) feel this way too. In fact, I can say there isn't a person that I don't know that wouldn't give me the shirt right off his/her back if I asked for it. That is something to be thankful for. When a person knows more good, kind, helpful people than selfish, negative, mean ones, it's safe to say.......... she is blessed!

Maybe that is why I am looking at things differently now? I am at a place in my life where getting more is no longer appealing, I'm actually going the opposite way. I am trying to figure out how to downsize certain aspects of my lifestyle. I've been reading a lot about frugality, voluntary simplicity and reduction on many levels. Right now I am reading a book called No-Impact Man by Collin Beavan. It is interesting and enlightenting look into Beavan's experiment of seeing what it takes live an environmentally supportive lifestyle. I first saw him on the news a while back. I remember what caught my attention when the clip aired,he and his wife were not using toilet paper! ummmmm hummmmm!!!!!!

I do agree that changes need to be made to make less of an impact on the environment. I do not consider myself an enviornmentalist or a politician for that matter, though I do feel we can make more positive, personal choices. I do not buy into fear and as of yet I don't even know about global warming, there's a lot of conflicting reports out there. Many of the ideas in Beavan's book are inspirational, though for people in the midwest, far from the throes of NYC, it will seem pretty far away, even in theory! His insights do coincide with my desires to pare down and live on less though, that's what I found appealing. I especially like the idea of getting away from processed, packaged food, in addtion to trash reduction it would be much healthier. This would be a huge hurdle for anyone, no matter where you find yourself living.

I believe, like many ideas, it is easer to talk about and read about, yet another feat altogether to live this way. So I do admire him for what he's doing and the positive changes that he and his family are inspiring others to make. If I lived in a large city I would definitely give it a go. In comparison, I am about as far on the opposite end of the spectrum as I could be.

*I don't live in a city~I live in the country, 60 miles round trip from any fancy food joints. My version of fast food is in jar that I canned this summer and set on a shelf.
*I don't have a year-round, fresh food farmer's market that I can go to once a week for my produce, but I do raise my own garden and preserve its bounty.
*We don't have much in the way of entertainment though it can be amusing to watch the horses run up and down the canyon bank, or watch my kids try to figure out how to ride their bikes on our dirt road. There are no outdoor concerts but the moon is beautiful to watch.
*There isn't a Starbucks on my block but I can make make a cup of hot Joe for my old plaid thermos.
*I could ride my bike to get groceries but it may take a while to get there and it will be pretty cold this time of year. A horse might be faster?

Though I am having a little fun here, I have to say that the book has been great in getting me to think about my own habits and the positive changes that I want to make. My goal, becoming more clear each day, is to reduce needless spending, to live within my means and to take care of my family. I am ready to be debt free and live a more self-sufficient lifestyle and changes are needed to bring that through.

Prior to reading this book I found a group called The Compact. The Compact has several aims which include:
"•To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
•To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er).
•To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
We've agreed to follow two principles #1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used."

Ok. I joined. There I said it. And again, it is so much easier said than done! I actually thought it would be easy since I don't consider myself much of a shopper. What I wasn't prepared for was seeing all the sale flyers and invitations to buy, buy, buy. I was, quite frankly, shocked at my temptation.

I have realized, after being part of this group for a couple of months now that a total revolution of my spending habits and choices is necessary. Everything is up for review. I have made some personal exceptions because sometimes buying new is necessary and sometimes a better deal can be found. I am seeing the benefits of being a more Conscious Consumer, knowing what I am buying, why I am buying it, where my money is going and how this item will support me down the road.

I've stopped buying holiday decorations, purses, jewelry and shoes so that's a start! I know that I have a serious book addiction and I'm not even strong enough right now to talk about lattes (when I am in town to buy them!) I do know that as we begin another holiday season, I am going into this one with my eyes a bit more open than in previous years. I am intent on spending less in the way of material goods while richly increasing and enhancing my experiences with family and friends. I don't know where this path will lead next but I can say, I am enjoying where it is taking me now!
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