Saturday, April 23, 2011

Real, simple.

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Well, not that simple, actually...

For a long while now, I've been thinking of posting about something really close to my heart and home (get it-hahaha!); voluntary simplicity, intentional living, simple living, mindful living, radical simplicity, whatever the chosen term may be.

While many of my posts touch upon simple living topics, lately I've been itching to open a real discussion with you guys about the choices we all make about such basics of our lives as food, shelter, possessions, transportation and energy, as well as the spiritual implications of those choices.
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(Dress Dump gift from Hubby, necklace from Nicole and vest from Andrea.)

Lately, I've been noticing that more and more of the folks who wander on to this log seem quite drawn to these aspects of my posts. And these days, most every log I read is engaged in some kind of making of their own world.
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The impetus to finally write this post actually came from a reader of mine, who's blog I discovered through a comment they left here. Mary of Terralectualism makes so many amazing concoctions, that going through her backlog of posts has been my main reading material for a spell now. I was particularly smitten by her posts on wildcrafting, Dandelion Wine, Flower Essences, and her beautiful and honest Birth Story. Her blog has a wealth of information on wildcrafting, gardening and a more conscious life, in a big city no less.
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Mary's enthusiasm is so contagious, her writing unpretentious and fun, exactly the kind of inspiration all of us working towards a greater self-sufficiency could use. And she's certainly not alone in that enthusiasm.

Whether it's making your own lotions, potions or brews, we're finding that there's a way to do it yourself. To slow down and put a little love into your everyday needs and wants.

And that precisely is at the heart of Simplicity to me. It is important to define the term for oneself, because there are as many definitions and schools of thought on Simple Living, as well as terms for the same ephemeral idea, as there are professed practitioners of it, but to me Simple Living means less consumption of goods and energy, less money, more time, more connection, more thoughtfulness.
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Sounds simple, right? You reduce your consumption, so that you don't need to work as much and therefore have more time. Fancy-pants theorists call it escaping the work-spend cycle. Urban eco-yuppies call it downshifting. Your average Lutheran work-ethic possessing society calls it alternative living.
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But what do those lofty sounding principles mean in practice? Since calling out self-righteous hypocrites is very de rigueur in this complex day and age, I got to tell it like it is: as you've probably noticed from this blog we're not exactly self-sufficient, stationary neo-luddites. What we do is make consumption choices and take time.

We have minimal debt (I have student debt, basically.), no mortgage, no car-payment. We live in a less-than-ideal house, about a 500 sq. feet, half of which is a 100-years old and the other half used to be a part of our local bar (I make a lot of jokes about the ghosts of drunks past...). It's decidedly rustic and not in that cute log-cabin-y fashion-magazine style, but the rent is about 2500 dollars worth of work-trade a year
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It has to be said that lot of the consumption "choices" we make are based on facts beyond our control. We don't own a house because we can't afford one, but we're also not striving to afford one, and feel dubious about the possibility of taking out a loan to afford one.
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For the very same reasons we don't own a house, we've never had a car newer than 20-years old. For the 900 dollars our Volvo cost, we can pay for all the oil changes and tune-ups we want and still come out on top. If we (god forbid) end up totaling it (Although I got to say, if you are going to get into a horrific car-accident a 80s Volvo is a really good car to do it in-it's all steel. You'd think all cars were all steel, but they're not. A lot of new cars are actually mostly plastics and alloys and other un-crash-worthy materials.), or some other irrevocable damage should occur, there's probably another 900 dollar car out there somewhere for us.
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Much of our consumption is defined not by what we have, but what we don't. This is not to say we don't have things we need, or even frivolous things we want (think boats and Gunny Sacks). It's just that we don't have a lot of the things that this American society considers necessities.

Most everything we have in terms of material possessions is previously owned, and was either free, thrifted, gifted, or bartered. When we need something, we look for it first in our community, then in other second-hand venues and only when it's not possible or practical to get it used will we buy it new.
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Since food and shelter are the main things all of us need to secure, I'd say food is the most important consumer choice our family makes.We grow and gather and catch (not that we catch that much ;) about a quarter of our own food. We buy another quarter locally, maybe more. For the rest, we try to do sustainable, organic, seasonal and local (as in Western Washington), as well as affordable. Over the years, I hope to make the two former up to 2/3, which might be hard even this far South, that can be challenging. But the politics of simple eating deserves its very own post, methinks, so more on that later.
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And what do we get for all this reduced consumption? (Without many further hypocrite-disclaimers, I have to say that I have no illusions about the fact that our consumption is relatively small only in the incredibly inflated terms of the Western world.)

Time, for one thing. We both work part-time and mostly in the summer and doing so enables us to take extended trips, work on crafts, walk around aimlessly in the rain in the hopes of finding a few little mushrooms and spend up to three hours on making dinner each night.
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We don't make a lot of money, and by the time the season rolls around again, we're usually broke like two hobos on the road to nowhere (though this year was pretty bad even for us...we actually ended up OWING money. Lessons learned...).

It's not that we're poor, it's just that we don't have much money. And we're really okay with that. It takes some getting used to to realize that there's no such thing as financial security, but once you do, it's easy to enjoy what you have, plan for the future and still have a good time. To me not having to worry about money means to not have to worry about not having any.
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Another thing I feel our family has gained from Simplicity is the spiritual satisfaction of doing things for ourselves and making do with less. There is relatively little spiritual satisfaction in popping open a can of store-bought pasta sauce, but the tomatoes you canned yourself still seem to retain a little summer sunshine even in mid-winter. Knowing that you can bake bread, or carve a native style bowl is so much more pleasurable than knowing that you have the money to acquire those things. More than just possession, it is empowerment.
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From growing and gathering our food, to making things with our hands we are learning new skills daily. A simple life that forces you to be crafty and resourceful also makes you more attuned to what surrounds you, the endless possibilities for food, shelter, art all around you.
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There must be some pathway into our primordial brain that makes these little acts of creation so fulfilling.
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It is also something that brings us that much closer to the Earth, an understanding that neither of us had the opportunity to fully develop until we moved away from the urban environments we both grew up in. Yet another emotional benefit of Simplicity, is the knowledge that perhaps we are doing a little less harm to this entity we are part of, this Turtle Island floating in space. (Okay, I fully realize how incredibly hippie that last sentence sounds and as I final disclaimer want to say that I absolutely do not believe that our choices make us any kind of environmental saints. Far from it. I just think this Earth deserves more than one day a year. Wow. I just totally out-hippie-ed myself.)
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Now I realize, that we're VERY, VERY lucky to be in a position where we can do any, let alone all of these things. Free rent is hard to come buy. Let alone free rent with garden space (tiny as it may be). Living in a farming community is an amazing boon. Being surrounded by like-minded folk is another.
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There are many lessons we are still learning about how to enjoy our time on this earth, while doing the least harm, but I feel like taking walks in the rain, wildcrafting and watching nature unfold quietly are some of the best teachers one could hope for. As well as those like-minded folk.
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And that's where you come in, Spirit Sisters. I would love to hear your thoughts on Simplicity, the physical and spiritual implications of living mindfully as you see them. This is our way of simplifying, but there are an endless number of others. Things you do you might not even consider conscious simplicity. Or hey, if just want to call me on my hippie BS, here's your chance ;)
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I have more in-depth posts in the works on the different aspects of Voluntary Simplicity, on food and medicine, possessions, community and activism. Each of these is a topic I would love share ideas on with you.
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From dandelion wine, to the Women's Herbal Symposium(Oh how I hope to go some day!), tochicken-husbandry, to knitting your own, beautiful clothes, to gathering simple, wild salad greens, bartering your own produce, starting gardens and wildcrafting while looking extremely stylish, or defending animal rights, (and if not mentioned here-do tell me about the cool thing YOU do) you all are my heroes.
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(Awesome pint from Sadie. One of the simple pleasures of my life ;)
With your help I'm hoping that this could become not just a series of posts, but a conversation.

Love, sunshine and wild greens,
Milla

30 comments:

  1. I love love love everything about this post. A good friend of mine and I have been talking about this whole kind of lifestyle and trying to classify it but I think intentional living and simplicity best sum it up for me. I agree with everything you said (so eloquently I may add!) and don't think I could add much to it. But I think what you had to say about possession not equaling empowerment is so important. We're fed the notion that buying is important, that we have a duty to consumer, that things will make us happy. But the whole DIY mentality, opting out of mainstream industry, leading intentional an lifestyle, etc. is an empowering challenge to that. Having a sense of self-sufficiency is great for the mind, the body, the spirit, the wallet, and I'd argue, society as a whole. It connects us more to the world, ourselves, and each other. Thank you for this post, for continuing the conversation surrounding intentional living, and for so beautifully sharing your thoughts on it all!

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  2. What a beautiful post! I wasn't surprised at all to see that the comment above mine is from my good friend Laura, who wrote almost everything I was thinking of! I really admire your lifestyle and am grateful that you take the time to share it.

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  3. son of a bitch. i just wrote this really long post and it was eaten by my computer. GAH!!!!! basically i just said how much i love you and think you are awesome.bleh. i hate technology sometimes.

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  4. Fabulous, insightful post! My husband and I have been 'ushered' into a simpler way of living due to current financial pressures (like a lot of people) and I have to say, we are embracing it completely! More time with each other, being at home, in the garden, walking, baking, etc etc...It's been a revelation. Looking foward to your next posts! ~Siobhan

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  5. we live as simply as possible, due most importantly to our beliefs but also in part because of a lack of money! :) when the "economic downturn" happened, my bf and i just laughed! "when you ain't got nothin' you ain't got nothin' to lose...true, indeed! yet, we are happy overall with our lifestyle, which to many seems substandard, just wish it was easier to make enough money to cover basic needs. i wrestle with leaving the crushing expense (and awesome benefits) of city living for the possibility of a life that is more creative, empowered and quiet, part of why i love reading about your situation, milla! it's so inspiring to know that it can be done! it's something i have dreamed about off and on my whole life.

    thanks for starting th is conversation. :)

    p.s. i wrote a loooong response and the computer ate it, too! :( this is the short version.

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  6. i thought you posted something like this a few weeks back - it showed up in my reader, but then when i clicked the post link it was gone, i got an error message. i'm so glad you re-posted something similar - so often i read and read and never say a word, but here i am commenting and introducing myself :) hi! i think about these things a lot, many of the things you address, and you obviously have a very unique living situation that many of us can't relate to in terms of the "simple life" being accessible/attainable...but the point isn't always this massive overhaul of life-as-we-know-it. which is another thing i've been thinking about a lot lately.

    thanks again :)

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  7. When I move out I hope to live like that:) I try to influence my mom as much as I can but we don't really have money to be organic and such all the time. I buy from the local organic food store whenever I can, shop thrift stores and Etsy, go to the Farmers market in the summer (I saw them setting up today!), make things, and spend alot more time in the forest than in the shopping malls. But I'd love to do more.

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  8. This speaks to my heart. You know from my own posts how I'm trying (slowly) to live a better life. And by better, i do mean kinder, cleaner, less consumptive, less chemical, more people and earth oriented life. Eating homemade bread with homemade jam on it, i swear, we glow eating this stuff knowing where it's all from and what is in it. If I had to name a time in my life free of complications and worry....ironically it would be my money-lightest time. I was working part-time, living in a very cheap hovel decorated in wind-art and thriftiness.. and spent my free time walking by the river or shooting the sh*t with friends. It's all good Milla, keep posting on this.
    xx

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  9. OH MY GOSH, TURKEY UNBLOCKED THIS SITE. *deep breath* You already know how I feel about this. Please continue talking about this stuff, sweetheart!

    Our newest cleaner living step is raising our own meat. So, we got two turkey poults today, male and female, in the hopes that when they get big and strong (and horny), they'll make babies for us to eat! Also, when our chickens get their butts in gear this year and make some babies, we'll eat the males. I like the notion of knowing, nurturing, and loving my food before I eat it. It's like, "Yup, good old Dinner had a great life before he became... dinner."

    Also, I hope I can become as thoughtful as you, someday <3

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  10. And just a small add-on. I think that making things with our hands, growing our own food and raising our own livestock, collecting wild plants- just generally living in harmony with nature- taps into, as you said, that primordial brain. We are still essentially the humans we were 50,000 years ago. So we've got these bodies, minds, and spirits that instinctively crave closeness with nature (and the kind of activity you get when you make things), but as society has evolved, we've grown blind to that need. We're ill equipped to take care of ourselves. Sad and scary. I mean, what if something happened where all of our infrastructure collapsed and we were left to fend for ourselves? How many people could grow their own food? How many know what to look for in the fields and forests? We'd be like fish out of water, and I know I would be very hard pressed to make it in that situation. But my personal goal is to get to a point where I could take care of myself, where I wouldn't be flailing around in the dark.

    So much for being brief, hah!

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  11. Wow honey, this is the first writing on voluntary simplicity that I have read in years that didn't make me cringe with the writer's self-righteous arrogance, or seemingly impossible suggestions. This was, in fact, a total joy to read.
    I so appreciate your openness about your life situation. I think most of your readers can probably relate to the absence of financial security (and I so love you for pointing out that there is really no such thing, that is something I really needed to hear!).
    What is especially inspiring to me is that you take the time to think through these choices, and then to act on them. Someone else in your same situation could be much, much lazier about the whole thing, but your energy and enthusiasm shine through in all your writings and always leave me a little awestruck. I mean I guess that's true of any life choice- it is a choice that must be contemplated and made and then acted upon- but when that choice is a little more difficult than the alternatives, it is no small thing to have made it.
    Man, I was so gung-ho about all of these ideas few years ago. Now I feel grateful that we don't have enough sunlight for a vegetable garden because it's one less thing to do. And because we have food stamps we fully rely on them and think less about our food choices (well, we still only shop at the local, organic food co-op, but still). I have learned how to cook in the last few years, and that is good. And my herbalism studies, also good, also money saving.
    I was just thinking a lot yesterday about how grateful I am for thrift stores. Clothing, home decor, books, music, office supplies- we haven't bought these items new in years. It saves SO much money. Oh and I barter my vintage clothes for massages and hair cuts and other things. I clean preschool in exchange for tuition. Bartering has to be one of my favorite simple living strategies. You should see teacher Jacquie- almost all of her needs are met through bartering with like at least a few dozens people in the community (mostly for products from her gardens!).
    One of our cars was cheapo ('79 Rabbit!) and the other was free, but man gas and maintenance and insurance are killers!
    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration sweet elven lady. I very much look forward to more.

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  12. this post is amazing!! it couldn't have come at a better time too - i'm seriously thinking about my future, and where i want to set my priorities. i wonder what advice you'd give to others setting out on the path, or considering it as an option?

    i've already started growing lots of my own food, and also thrifting most of my clothes. i've also got a really old car too - which i think works better and more efficiently than a newer one!

    you are such an inspiration :)

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  13. i have been waiting to comment because i have so much to say it's almost overwhelming. yesterday morning, right before i read your post, i started gary snyder's essays in Practice of the Wild. (which are perfect by the way and i remember you mentioning this tome a long time ago, so thank you, i picked it up at the bookery the day of the elephant revivial show!) anyway i had just read this passage:
    "All of the hills and lakes of Alaska have been named in one or another of the dozen languages spoken by the native people, as the researches of Jim Kari (1982; 1985) have shown. Euro-American mapmakers name these places after transient exploiters, or their own girlfriends, or home towns in the Lower 48. The point is, it's all in the native story, yet only the tiniest trace of human presence through all that time shows. The place-based stories the people tell, and the naming they've done, is their archaeology, architecture, and title to the land. Talk about living lightly."

    and then i read your post. talk about living lightly. i love how mister gary mentions "title" to land as the stories you tell, the light touch of tribal nomadic peoples. i feel that sense of ownership comes from loving and living on the land and caring for her and living in harmony; sounds cheesy but it's beautifully true. even Ayla. haha! i can't help but bring her up, ayla and her people, both Clan and Other. it's the age old story, deep inside we long to be so self-sufficient when i read about her adventures (especially in the second book, she's all alone and thriving wonderfully) Today i was looking at the kids' book My Side of the Mountain. That age old story again. we want to be free of the social and material encumbrances of modern life.

    like thoreau says, the masses of men lead lives of quiet desperation. and that was so long ago! oh if he could see us now, with our disposable technologies filling up landfills, when they are supposedly so convenient, so good for us. it makes me cringe. it makes me gag. and yet i still partake to some extent.

    which leads me to this: oh milla you are so inspiring. you and amber for your herbs and wildcrafting knowledge, missa for her chickens and her wonderful garden, sara for her knowledge of the land, her knitting, her making. all you ladies doing and making for yourselves, just like in my homespun book. they are things i've been thinking about years and you have a way of making them real and tangible and attainable and even fun and funny. i love you for that.

    well i'm off to learn more about the land. armed with my Edible Wild Plants book, we're going for a picnic!

    much love. and thank you for this. sorry to write you an essay and still there are a million more things i could say.

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  14. Ahh Milla another lovely post!
    You're such an inspiration to all the things I one day hope to accomplish.

    xo

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  15. You have inspired me so much over the years, Milla, with regard to all the wonderful things you cover in this post. I can honestly say that I am a more mindful and conscious person in the way that I live and consume and make life choices for having known you my beautiful friend. The wonderful thing is that I'm not the only one!

    You really do have a gift for communicating your thoughts and ideals in a way that makes us as readers and friends and sisters feel empowered and inspired to really consider these things and to become more engaged and to do better.

    Thankyou for this, and I feel like I could "do better" in so many ways, I know that I can, but your right, being conscious of the choices that one makes is a really important step and I feel like even when I make consumption choices that are less than ideal or more of a convenience or luxury, there is always this voice in my head saying ok, this is something to be worked on, which I think is an important step in the process.

    For one thing, I'd like to get better about utilizing the amazing bounty of food that our little homestead produces. It's pretty sad how much of it goes unused each year due to poor planning and just feeling overwhelmed by lack of time. We've got a little community of neighbors here, with gardens and such. Hearing about Teeny's success with bartering has been inspiring me to try to get a system of trade in place for us.

    Also, I would have to agree with Teeny about our poorer days having been our most carefree and I can totally empathize with Amber being relieved at not having enough sunlight for a veggie garden because it makes for one less thing to do!

    Having little ones to look after makes it so much more difficult to dedicate time and thought (time to just contemplate ANYTHING becomes such a limited resource) to being creative in any way, be it crafting, growing, writing, etc... not to say that raising a child isn't one of life's most creative and spiritually fulfilling acts in itself, it most definitely is! It's all about trade-offs I suppose, and making the best ones you know how.

    Anyway, I love you :)

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  16. oh gosh. milla, you are incredible! i'm glad you want this to be an ongoing convo, because i all at once am speechless and feel like i could comment for days. i feel so much resonance with your thoughts and reasons and explanations that much of my experience reading your post was to say "yes! yes! yes!" or "me too!". thank you for putting it all into words. i have two little things to add to the conversation in the moment and look forward to sharing more with you as we all go forward.

    over the years, as i have relinquised more and more of the status quo, i have discovered that by consuming less i BECOME less of a consumer. i become more of a producer. i create my world, because i cannot buy it. i am more in the moment and because, like you, i am reliant on the lords of thrift and groundscores, there is so much more room (there has to be!) for magic and synchronicity and golden opportunity. i am also more of a giver, which might be counterintuitive with having less money, but i give so much more. and i give BACK. i ask, i receive, life is full of gratitude and my relationship with nature and the world at large is one of reciprocity. voluntary simplicity would also be so much harder without community. i am a total introvert, but this type of living creates a lot of opportunity for contact.

    the other thing i have noticed is how important it is for me to work with the individual, and collective, influence of consumption on the psyche. i find that i go into a store (or an indie craft fair!) and i literally come under the spell of "NEED NEED NEED WANT WANT WANT BUY BUY BUY BECOME BETTER BECOME MORE". most of the time i have no money with which to fulfill the chant and i discover...that half an hour after i have walked away, i can't even REMEMBER what seemed like a survival necessity just minutes before. IMO, this is the trickiest and perhaps most important obstacle/challenge to living simply.

    and it has to be said...you are the best advertisement for simple living....look at how beautiful and radiant you are! just imagine, if everyone knew that they, too, could live a fairy tale life, we could convert millions. :) much love to you milla, and thank you again for the shout out. xoxo

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  17. yay! i love these kinds of posts. i could discuss this topic for days! i have to agree with the others...you are an inspiration. ruben walked past the computer when i was reading your post and just saw the pictures and said, "oh my gosh, she's living your ideal life!" little did he know that everything you wrote was even more my ideal!

    after owning a home and loosing it, having a nice car and loosing it, having a huge beautiful table and chairs and having to sell it (the list goes on and on...) we are now debt free and i love it! i never want to buy something i can't afford again. the biggest lesson i've learned is that i was in no way happier with all those material possessions than i am now. if anything i was more stressed out. only buying what you truly need is a refreshing way to live. there really is so much we can do without.

    and now that we're not tied down to a home, we have been seriously discussing moving. but, when you have kids it is more difficult to make these decisions. and speaking of having children (and not having a lot of money)...well that is something that just doesn't go over well! i can't tell you how many people have been disgusted that i'm pregnant again in current financial situation. like money and possessions are the only things that make children happy!

    anyway, there are so many things i'd like to do to live simpler. i know i will make these dreams realities because i really believe that simple living is what my spirit is so longing for! and like i said above, seeing your lifestyle is an inspiration and every time you write about these topics it's like your nudging me to move closer to my ideal. thank you for being you!

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  18. Milla, I love this. Something about the simple living you describe makes me want to jump in both feet at the same time. There is a part of me however that was internally rebelling against what you were saying as I was reading. I think it may be that I've fallen into the mainstream way of living... work hard, secure your future, provide for your little ones.... etc. I was drifting to the thoughts of "this is something I'd love to partake in, but if we all chose to live this way, there wouldn't be anyone working/able to provide us with things that we cannot come by ourselves."

    I cue in to my education and career in nursing that I just started. I want to head toward natural healing techniques eventually, though my education has placed me in a strictly medicinal field. I think about the folks who are unable to care for themselves and need nurses and medical care.... To me it makes simple living an option for healthy, able people and a fun idea for those who just can't do it. (not that you were implying everyone should live this way!!!)

    All this in mind, I love that you have found a companion in your journey (your hubby) who is a skilled crafter/carver and who shares your ideas so closely! Your leather butterflies make me swoon, seriously!!! And nature crafting sounds like a dream (I can't wait to check out the site you provided). The life you're choosing to live is no doubt one of the most fulfilling ones I know of (money or not). To me you've found happiness in what you have which is one of the biggest gifts anyone could receive in life! I applaud you Milla and love reading your thoughts. Your writing is witty and smart and fun to follow! Keep these posts coming!
    xo, and Happy Tuesday!!!

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  19. This is such a fortuitously timed post Milla! I've been oddly aware of and bothered by the fact lately that everything I do seems to have to do with either earning or spending money..

    I grew up wandering around the woods and fields of rural England gathering food from my mother's garden for meals and bartering jams, chutney and pies with other folks in the village for meat, cider, milk and whatever we couldn't grow ourselves (we traded with folks from the coastal part of the county for fish) We even traded work with mechanics, builders, glaziers, and even the chimney sweep. Despite growing up during the materialistic 1980's I still lived a very traditional English village lifestyle, one which was not considered alternative to anything at all.

    Now living in the USA, even in such an "alternative-living"-friendly city as Austin, TX, I feel as though I have lost something. My roots, I suppose, literally ;) You've given me some (beautifully written) valuable kindred insight here. I'm heading back to England in a few weeks where I will be found rummaging in my mother's greenhouse for more inspiration, and perhaps some answers. More posts on simple living, please! You never cease to illuminate :)

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  20. Wow that was a superb post to read. You certainly make a simpler life inspiring. I only found your blog recently and I return frequently because you write so well. I am living a much simpler life than before due to forced circumstances (redundancy) but really am now encouraged to see the best side of it and embrace it and make it a positive. Thanks for your post it really has made me think.
    Linda

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  21. you are amazing! you just made my day.

    I know there's a way out of the mess we are in, and reading your words has just made it even more crystal clear. if cement is crystal clear haha.

    thanks Milla <3

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  22. I'm with everyone else. I love your post so very much. It is the reason the description under my blog says "it ain't your dollars, it's how you spend your moments that makes a beautiful life.." THat being said, I really believe this sort of consciousness is a growing trend at the moment, in part thanks to the economic "downturn" or whatever you call that thing that I am secretly grateful for because it has given me the hope and possibility that perhaps one day I *will* be able to "own" a little shack and a piece of earth without a landlord telling me I can't have cats or I have to mow a lawn or some shit. This new paradigm that the world is edging into is most definitely creating it's own mini economy out of things that can be "experienced" rather than things that can be bought. And I do agree, my main battle with consumption comes in the form of buying food, coffee, beer, and wine... and I LOVE that! I mean, I love that one of my favorite things in life (besides being out in the sun or playing music) is the hearty and delicious "consumption" of delectable tastes! And to share those dinners and bottles of wine with others. Those are the moments that shan't be forgotten, not the day some $1000 couch showed up at your door. I am so thankful that our generation is so much more open to these things....to the simple luxury of the richness of LIFE ITSELF. Of friendship, laughter, playing music in a tiny room, singing out loud, swinging on a swing, spending what leftover small amounts of cash one does have on making vast and delicious food.... Oh Milla! How I wish all of us commenters could get together and have a night of glorious conversation relishing these simple facts! That the breath and heart of life is the richness itself! No money could ever buy it! I love you, and can't wait to chill out and witness the magic of the earth with you someday soon.

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  23. And you are a beautiful, inspiring revelation of kindness. I am so glad your blog exists.

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  24. Lately I have become more conscious about the ridiculous consumerhabits western society has, the effects on the world and how little selfreliant we have become. Simpler living is a great goal, it is a more fair way to live. I am getting more conscious about that and seeking a way how to integrate these thoughts with my living. Curbing consumerism is a good start.

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  25. A friend of mine just took out a huge loan so she could buy a new car, and like you said, it's made of tons of stuff that aren't steel. Cars these days are purposefully made not to last. So that 4-5 years down the road, you'll have to buy another one. Which I think is absolutely terrible. My great-uncle bought a truck in the 70's and drove it until he couldn't see well enough to drive it anymore, and that was in 2002 or something. There's no way if you bought a car today that it would last so long.

    I agree with you on the money worries though... it's not worrying about not having any that is what embodies my not worrying about it. I grew up with two working class parents and money was always tight, so I definitely try to appreciate it now that I have more as an adult. But I just need enough to cover all my bills and know that I'll have a roof over my head and food in my belly, especially after having spent times where both of those were doubtful.

    I'm actually terribly frustrated with my life and job right now, because it stops me from doing more things by hand, myself. I have very limited free time, not to mention living downtown in a huge city, I just don't have the time or resources to do a lot of what I want to do and it makes me sad.

    I just don't understand why we so willingly allow ourselves to go along with what society says we should want. That we should WANT to spend 8 hours a day in tiny cubicles doing meaningless drudgery work just to have money to buy things. I would so much rather spend those 8 hours MAKING the things I want to buy! Or making/growing/harvesting things to TRADE for the things I want.

    And society just works in a way that makes living outside this prescribed work-to-buy lifestyle ever so difficult to achieve, especially at the beginning. At least it seems so for me. The perceived security of my job and the things the money I make allow me to do have their claws in me and it's a mess.

    Hopefully someday I'll be able to morph my lifestyle into what I would rather it be, right now I just need to figure out HOW.

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  26. I love everything that is in this post, and so are your photos!

    Year Old Birthday Party Ideas

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  27. beautiful and inspiring post!

    i feel as if i have made loads of choices in the last couple years to really cut down our consumption and take time to enjoy sunshine....but my life doesn't feel simple at all. having kids makes all our decisions a lot more complicated, or at least heavy with contemplation. and then there is the fact that, though 99.9% of our material possessions/purchases are second hand, i feel stupid wealthy with "stuff". we could surely live even more simply--and i will continue in that direction, but i think i would first like to find a way to simplify my thought process, that i might be able to truly live in the string of moments that make up each day. or maybe i just need to find more time to spend in my garden :)

    p.s. oh, gosh darned tooled leather feathers. i am not satisfied with mine yet either. but they will be so worth the work, so we should both keep trying! xo

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  28. This is such a thought provoking post! Your posts do always make me think a bit more about the way I live my life. I think that buying second hand clothing and books and furniture are among the ways I have always strived towards a sustainable, thoughful life, but I know I'd like to aim for a lot more.

    I don't own a house and I'm not eager to buy one - if I buy another car it will be a second hand one for sure. I always think about orgainic foods - I need to read more about it.

    I think that finding a balance between a creative and "working life" for want of a better expression is the biggest challenge facing me at the moment and one that I need to confront.

    Looking forward to further conversations on your blog :)

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  29. Great post, Milla. I find that my Simplicity is about re-thinking the ideas of need, money, time and work, and the way those four aspects of life come together and ultimately "force" our lives to follow certain paths if we are not careful.

    I am a big fan of Tom Hodgkinson and The Idler, which means that my top priority is to spend as little time working as possible, in order to be able to do things with my time that mean something to me. (As you might guess, this doesn't go well with most Finns and/or Protestants.) Money in this equation is pretty low on my list of priorities, and with that I am constantly working to re-adjust my needs.

    Because of the intensity of his past-and-current career, my husband is on the same page with me when it comes to this type of simplicity in theory, but in practice he is having a really tough time shedding the idea that work somehow defines him. It's a work in progress, though. We want to spend less money, create less waste and focus on things that are meaningful, and we are definitely on the right track. Old habits die hard, though. Not a week goes by when I don't think that I could have made simpler or better choices, but I try to not be too hard on myself.

    One of the reasons why I love your blog is that you provide constant inspiration to get back on the path I am on, even if I occasionally fall off the bandwagon. :)

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  30. So I'm feeling inspired, wowed, blown away and overwhelmed by this post. :) In good ways.

    I was drawn particularly to your phrase "not possession, but empowerment" and that is a big thing for me. If I can make it by hand/ learn a skill, I do. I like to know the bones of a process, and to know that it is quality ~ whether it's to do with camping, gardening, cooking, sewing, whatever. I like to know the spirit of it. There is a power in the hands, and being able to do/make things.

    Almost everything in the house my husband and I own is thrifted. We have turned the tiny backyard into a veggie and perennial flowers garden, and this all does feel spiritual to me. We love what we own because it is a good, clean or helpful addition to our lives. I'm 33 and I've let go of loads of things with negative energy in the past decade or so, and it helps to listen to my gut and try to keep the flow good in the house. We try to stay connected with nature as much as possible, wherever we find it. Sometimes that means pulling over by the side of the highway to watch a pair of courting hawks, and sometimes it means a camping road trip.

    I'm an artist and I tend to use a lot of thrifted books (to make altered books) and found natural items in my work, like wasp paper, feathers, seed pods and pebbles. Nature is the best and most exciting thing to be in, watch, and learn from.

    I think that when I live this way ~ keeping things simple, and being in tune with what's outdoors, I feel like part of a bigger entity. There's some kind of karma or serendipity that starts happening.

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