How’s that going?

“How’s it going with living with less?” my mother-in-law asked me. (I guess she had been following along on my blog).

I’m happy she asked. I haven’t thought much about it these days but I think that’s saying something good: I don’t miss having more than one suitcase of clothes. In fact, I’m not even wearing everything in that suitcase. I’ve been doing two loads of laundry a week – two small loads. I noticed that on Sunday when I had finished up.

I could get used to this, I thought.

So far, I’m happy with how everything is going. I have what I need. I feel pretty.

Isn’t that all a woman needs?

Don’t forget I’m running a giveaway which you can read more about here. You can get another entry every day for tweeting or sharing on Facebook or Google+

Living Simply (Part 2): What do we deserve?

Catch Part 1 here: The Difficulty of Living Simply

Thanks to everyone who left comments and gave feedback regarding my first post. There were some helpful comments practically as well as more theoretically. In the comments, Catherine said the book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger has been helpful for her in reducing her consumption: Je pense qu’une de mes motivations premières à vivre plus simplement, c’est de pouvoir partager avec les pauvres (I think one of my primary motivations in living more simply is to be able to share avec those less fortunate.). Related to this,  Beth wrote a post that hits on the same subject from a similar angle to Catherine. As I pondered, commented, and continued to reflect, I had some insight into myself again.

Beth writes about what struck her about a conversation she had with Amelia (who writes about that same convo here). They were discussing the recent factory collapse in Bangladesh.

“By shopping at these stores, we are basically saying, I deserve to buy a shirt for $10. Instead of saying, I can’t afford so I’ll go without, we say, I deserve a shirt that is affordable, so I’m going to buy this one.”

When I thought about it, this was true of me as well. Not only that, but I feel like I deserve a lot of clothing at a price I can afford in order to fit in in a basic way in society. My price point is determined by how much I want/think I need. “I need 5 pairs of jeans, so I’ll buy $15 jeans instead of more expensive jeans.”

The living simply solution seems fairly simple in my mind if I take it from this angle: if I choose to pay (a lot) more for ethically sourced clothing etc, I will not have a choice in living simply. My budget just cannot withstand 20 pairs of $20 underwear! This seems fairly reasonable, unless you consider further just how difficult it is to find clothes that fit this category.

While this probably wont curb my desire for more it is a helpful restraint in putting that into action. It will help me contemplate at what cost more comes. Do I really want more at the expense of others?

But, as I think more about it I still wonder if having these motivations in living simply will ever completely convince me always. As The Minimalist Mom writes in this post, even when we pair our lives down to the basics and it all seems great at first, we can grow tired of it and find it burdensome. This isn’t a reason not to pursue it but a reason not to look to it to solve any problems.

The problem is in us, not in stuff. Stuff isn’t bad — it has no moral value — it’s how we use it and look to it to give us meaning or value in life.

For those of you thinking about this along with me, do you think there’s value in living more simply? Why or why not? If so, what is a helpful motivation for you. ‘Social justice’? Anti-consumer culture values? Help us keep this thought process going by sharing your perspective in the comments. If you’re interested, check out how many slaves you have.

The difficulty of living simply

Recently my husband and I have been thinking about living more simply. From my perspective it comes from realizing that I have too much choice in my life it’s come to stress me out. I’ve written before about decision fatigue which is something I am still learning to manage. My husband is realizing that we just keep getting more stuff, more books (which we love), more things and we have limited space in our 5 1/2 downtown Montreal. When it comes time for us to get a bigger place we want it to be because of a growing family, not because of growing stuff.

I recently leafed through Organized Simplicity by Tsh from Simplemom.net and found it pretty refreshing. Once we get back home from living in suitcases all summer, I’d like to take some time to start giving stuff away starting with another clothes swap (and promise myself I wont take anything unless it’s a MUST).

I posted a question on Facebook to see if people had any helpful suggestions from my friends about how to manage this. In my mind it’s not just about the stuff I have, it’s also about paring down my life to fit in more of the things I want to do and require a lot less mental energy to do it.

Working full-time while being a whole person with likes and dislikes and hobbies and friends and a husband is hard even when your husband does as much work around the house as you do!

As I read some of those responses they were all mostly helpful but I realized none of them were addressing my real problem entirely. Some shared that they had anxiety over a scarcity mentality, as if if they gave away their things they could never get something like it back. I totally get that perspective. But more real is this question:

How do learn to want less? How do I learn to care less about things that are being marketed to me as important?  Why do I want ALL THE THINGS?

want-all-the-thingsI talk about changing habits often on this blog but I rarely talk about changing hearts and desires. One does not simply just change one’s own heart. I know wanting certain things isn’t bad necessarily. In this case, sometimes I think the underlying want in my life is controlling and driving my decisions which is dumb.

This essay entitled “It’s Not Me, It’s the Mall” and a few other articles (that I’ll post later) lead me to believe that this problem of the ‘tyranny of choice’ isn’t just affecting a few of us.

Practically, since I am living out of a suitcase this summer, I’ll have an easy go of it: anything left in my drawers at home by the end of the summer is gone. Anything I didn’t wear regularly this summer in my suitcases is gone. Simple? Probably not. It will likely be embarrassingly difficult. But it’s a start.

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