“If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” -Henry David Thoreau
Minimalist Packrat is one! It’s been a wonderful year and a grand experiment in right livelihood.
We have gone through many drawers of clutter together. We have laughed. We have shared. We have changed our relationships with our things. We have overcome obstacles and limitations. We have accepted that there is life beyond the shopping mall and it is better to slow down, live simply, and simply live.
Due to the economy and a drop in our online income I must now stop blogging full-time and instead seek a mainstream job, but I will continue to write as I find the time.
Most importantly, as I seek an hourly position, I shall be sifting through all of the unpublished work I’ve created over the past year, and polishing it into finalized tiny books and tiny stories. Perhaps the universe will surprise me, as Thoreau hints at in the quote on top, and provide me with the reality I can dream so vividly in my mind. Let the grand Kindle experiment begin, and let me find an hourly job in the meantime that can provide me with respect, livelihood, and satisfaction. And with that non-ending ending I bid you namaste and many blessings to you on this fine fall day.
With lots of love and admiration,
Let me leave you with something special, and something simple too. With a smile on my face and bells on my toes, I present a year of learning in review, compiled just for you, dear reader:
1) On Attachment: Over the past year I was able to release many of the last attachments I had to possessions. I’m still stubbornly clinging to my jewelry making supplies but I’ve discovered that’s all right too. It’s my one area of excess and I also understand if I lost all those beads my life would go on just fine. I have largely released attachment to that which is ephemeral, and for a packrat in recovery, that alone has made the journey worthwhile.
2) On Credit Cards: I was in a car accident in the spring of 2010. I was hit by a drunk nurse who didn’t realize she’d been in an accident because she was so wasted. The wreck tore my body up, specifically my neck. As the zen farmer would say when their neighbor shares words of pity, perhaps it was a blessing, perhaps it was a shame. I can simply move on from what happened and let life continue to unfold. One of the ways it unfolded is with a settlement. The settlement let me pay off the last of my credit card creditors. I had worked towards becoming debt-free for many years, and this is the year it finally completed, thanks to one drunk nurse. I haven’t used credit cards for over four years, I don’t have one in my wallet, and I will never use one or have one again.
3) On Addictions: By exploring minimalism so intensely, I was finally able to start working through my addictive tendencies. I did not know I had the strength to quit smoking, but this year I have quit. If nothing else had happened within the last twelve months, that one change in my life has given me a second chance to live. I am continuing to reduce my “corporate addictions” and I am fascinated to discover I do have the strength to walk away from their legalized drugs (caffeine, sugar, soda, pastries and sweets.) I will continue to reduce my need for packaged foods and processed products, and strive to eat more and more living foods. I believe that the corporations keep us addicted to their products, with flashy ads that get into our consciousness, and with chemical additives that affect our brain chemistry. I believe that it is also weakness on my part, but it is a weakness I am learning to banish. I do not want corporations making me work harder and need more money so I can buy their soda, their cigarettes, or their donuts. I will continue to pursue this further, and I’m delighted with the start I’ve made.
4) On Tiny Living: By living in a 200 square foot tiny space I have fundamentally changed my future reality. I have always insisted on a larger space and I spent years yearning for more. My “dream homes” were always in the 2,000+ range of square footage. After happily and comfortably living in 200 square feet I know I could master just about any studio, rv or houseboat out there. This is very exciting for me because I believe I will be able to live much more cheaply in the future than I have done. Where before I may have insisted on a one bedroom at a minimum, now I can be happy with much, much less. 600 square feet of anything would feel spacious to me now, whereas before it felt like an overstuffed mess. :)
5) On Shopping: I was a minimalist before I started minimalist packrat, but I was a moderate minimalist and I was just starting to work through the maintenance aspects of keeping stuff from entering my life. I still felt tempted (and failed) when shopping and I still wanted “the best of the best” just like I’d always striven for. Over the course of the year something finally started to “switch” in my brain though. I almost took a thousand dollars of our savings and bought brand new living room furniture with it. At one point Patrick and I were at the counter filling out the sales paperwork when the saleswoman, who’d been grating on us continuously, finally pushed us over the edge with her single-minded and ferocious determination to sell us a bottle of stain protection spray. I stood there stunned while Patrick kindly rebuttled her sales tactics over and over again. Could she not see how incredibly rude and aggressive she was being? We were spending nearly a thousand dollars in their store and my man had said no a dozen times already. I understood at that moment how incredibly offensive many sales people and their pitches have become. I also decided I didn’t have to put up with it. Short: We walked out, decided we didn’t need recliners after all, saved our money, and decided to start shopping as humanly and minimally as possible. I made a commitment to not support the concept of sales, which includes sales people, and in the process discovered I needed very little after all. I’m on an unofficial quasi-shopping fast and I kind of love it. ;)
6) On Decorating: I started the year still salivating over the latest cute Ikea fabric, or amazingly shaped groups of vases. Color and form, to any artist, is such a fun thing to play with… but I’ve decided to take a fairly permanent hiatus from the concept of decorating. Decorating, in most cases, is the result of shopping, and I have spent a lifetime inside shopping malls, stores, yard sales and thrifties already. I’m tired of shopping, and therefore I am tired of decorating as well. Perhaps someday the ornamentation will return in importance to me, but right now I have the simplest of touches and they fulfill me: My white curtains, beautiful blankets, my funky footstool, my small ganesh wallet card that sits clothespinned to a cord near my computer, a few crystals, and a chakra banner that I still haven’t quite put up. Lately my Raise your Voice protest sign has joined the fray as well. This is enough for me. I no longer yearn so intensely for Pottery Barn or TJ Maxx, and when I do yearn, I no longer give in. I am free and I am spending less. By giving up decorating (or minimizing it), I reduce the amount of money I need to earn. This wonderful lesson was hard-won and will stay with me for my lifetime.
7) On Simplicity: I had a friend once who decided to spend an entire winter camping out in the Ozark Mountains. I thought she was nuts, as did many others. But I also had a profound respect for the boundaries she was willing to push within herself. Hilde survived the winter, and as the days passed by, her inner peace grew until I could feel it like a flame of love engulfing her. She was a walking, talking breathing mystic and I was honored to have an opportunity to know her. The path of simplicity is different for all of us. For some it will be extreme, like Hilde living in her snow-covered tent. For others it will be a lessening of junk, shopping and scheduling. It is all beautiful. For me, I strive to walk a little further into the wood, to discover that peace Thoreau spoke about, to experience the clarity, harmony and connection to our earth that Jim Merkel has discovered. Simplicity is a path of our own choosing, and it can bring with it an inner stillness that isn’t available for sale anywhere in the world.
And with that we come to an end.
One year of blogging and connecting.
It has been a pleasure.