I’m fascinated about how different paths lead people to live more simply. Recently a friend shared a link to the Market Watch interview of Canadian blogger Cait Flanders, who went on a two-year shopping ban.
As longtime readers may recall, I participated in a month-long “no spending challenge” with a friend. Like Flanders and the majority of her co-participants, the friend who initiated the challenge wanted to change her habit of unconscious consumption. Continue reading
I had an epiphany of sorts when I started considering a part-time job: It’s very difficult to schedule around my full-time job. My colleagues who moonlight set their own hours; e.g. driving for UBER, making items they sell online, housecleaning, etc.
I decided to wait until a couple of months have passed at The Factory. Then I can re-assess whether I truly need additional income. And whether I’ll have weekends free to do so. (At the moment, no. The only reason I’m not typing away at yet another web-based tool is that I’m awaiting a reply to an e-mail I sent an administrator; re: log-in problems.)
In the meantime, I began to fill in my schedule with writing, exercise, and housekeeping. Before long, I discovered that the hours dedicated to my health regimen – from preparing (and freezing) nutritious meals to swimming – will take 10-15 hours.
There’s a part-time job!
I have written very little since my last check-in. I had guests, visited family, and started an intensive paper-taming project. How intensive? I had to “rest” the shredder until special-ordered lubricant arrived!
The weather inspired me to tackle this dreaded task. I started sorting files and editing content during record-breaking heat. On rainy days, I hole-punched, created dividers, and labeled 3-ring binders. As I finish this project, flood watches are in effect. (Thankfully, I see no sign of locusts.)
The objective was to create a time-saving system for handling important paperwork like medical records and legal documents. However, the bulk of the files contain newspaper clippings, acceptance letters, and oh-so-many unpublished pages!
I wanted to rebury them as soon as I unearthed them – as I’ve done many times before – because they inspire strong emotions. Continue reading
“The studio changed my life. It made me realize that I didn’t want to waste money on stuff — I had no place to put it — and that I didn’t want to spend my life putting stuff away, cleaning and working to pay off stuff.” – Felice Cohen, author of 90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (. . . or More)
Here is the 5-minute story of Cohen’s micro-apartment that went viral. It’s a small part of Kirsten Dirksen’s documentary We the Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats & Wee Shelters.
I recommend this documentary for anyone interested in how simple living and the small-home movement continues to take shape through the United States. I appreciate that producer Dirksen didn’t focus on one region, but ventured to different areas – even offering a look at a French “cave home” and Spanish construction.
The reasons for living small varied, but most related to involuntary simplicity. Out-of-reach prices drive the movement and building restrictions threaten it. However, it struck me that New Yorkers had the clearest philosophy of tiny homes: living in micro-space is the trade-off for other lifestyle aspects. I laughed to hear that Manhattanites normally store their laundry in the oven! Continue reading
I had deja vu while reading this article. The writer Brook Bolen is annoyed with the facetious phrase “The struggle is real” and especially with copycats who mimic aspects of working-poor life. She even goes so far as to make things like the tiny house movement, beard-wearing (!?!), and shopping at thrift stores into markers of pretend poverty.
Her leading anecdote unfolds thus: A co-worker referred to Bolen’s lunch as a “struggle meal” – a meal made when the cupboard is almost bare and the paycheck is a week off. I empathize with Bolen because I, too, have faced mockery for eating Suicide Rice.*
However, she uses this molehill to build a mountain. To wit:
“Utilizing a word [struggle] that denotes hardship in a way that essentially parodies it is hurtful and offensive to those people whose lives are defined by real struggle; it also functions to neuter the word and divorce it from its power. Herein lies the most dangerous aspect of this linguistic cultural appropriation: it can render words ineffectual and wrest power from the speaker.”
What irony! Guess what else can “render words ineffectual and wrest power from the speaker”? Using a term like “cultural appropriation” that means “takes something that belongs to a particular cultural group” and applying it to something that merely has personal meaning.
Bolen complains of fetishization of hardship, but it’s not just an upperclass trait. In college, I knew several other girls whose families struggled economically. One wore her family’s socio-economic status as a badge of self-righteousness.
One of my
tormenters trendy friends pointed me to a financial guru (whose name I’ve already forgotten) who suggested that in preparation for a downsizing in income,* one should try a Month of No Spending. To which I said, “Ha! May is Mother’s Day, gardening, and two birthdays!”
But my fiend… erm, friend is very insistent on trying new things and dragging his pals along for the ride. So I did a Month of Low Spending.**
Obviously I saved more money than usual. I also observed what I considered “essential spending.” But I also saw how my spending habits reflect my mindset.***
- Extras Just In Case. I have never turned down a deal on cleaning products, at least until this month. It’s ridiculous because I don’t need them; most grime succumbs to soapy water, a rag, and muscles.
- Public Library vs My Library. You’d think that after purging my shelves, I’d never want to purchase another book. You’d be wrong, especially since a favorite
drugdealer bookseller had a special sale on Stone Bridge Press publications. I literally destroyed one book by emptying an entire cup of coffee into it (super-absorbent, those SBP books!) but at least I didn’t have to pay a fine.
- Good To The Last Drop. On the flip side, my frugal habits of yesteryear rose like familiar ghosts. I mended an old skirt for the final time – the fabric is literally wearing away. I added water to bottles of shampoo, soap, and make-up. I steered clear of the theatre district, favorite stores, and the Internet – the most tempting spots.
Overall, I think I have a lot of room for improvement.
*According to the Big Boss, a% reduction in pay is coming. At least 10%, but as much as 25%. Excluded in his calculations was the increase in personal cost of health care.
**But first I prepared for my friend’s challenge by paying ahead for nearly a month of cafeteria lunches in April. (It’s not cheating! It’s being clever! I got a discount!)
***What really struck me is how I’ve absorbed certain hang-ups about the proper behavior of white collar workers or people of education. A kind soul gave The Factory workers certificates for free breakfast at McDonald’s. Colleagues gave theirs away, not because they don’t eat fast food, but because McDonald’s is not on par with Panera or Starbucks. Why not? They’re all corporations serving food-on-the-go.
Summer is coming, and the neighborhood is abounding in life. Enormous dragonflies – the sort that usually abound as summer turns to fall – flit and hover like helicopters in the open spaces of yards and gardens. Toads and voles flee from lawnmowers.
And children…. Continue reading