consumerism, voluntary simplicity

Paying it forward

I’ve been trying to think of the right way to celebrate this holiday season without spending my money on gifts that are not needed. There are many worthy organizations to give to, including Heifer International and Oxfam. Then I was catching up on some of the many blogs that I enjoy but don’t get to read often enough, and I came across this post at Red Thread Studio that hit me just right.

So dear friends and readers, I have donated a sewing machine to Women for Women International in your honor. Thank you for your friendship and support over the years.

I wish you all a Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) full of peace and joy.

coffee pot posts, consumerism, critters, voluntary simplicity

Saturday morning coffee pot post

This week has been consumed by studying (I’m pretty sure that I aced the final exam) and the arrival of my new laptop. I’ve been limping along for a long time on old computers that can’t quite handle the new technology, at least not well. My husband loves to gather up old computers and reassemble the working parts together to make a new computer. He bought the laptop I previously used for $60. It was a good deal, but it was just about to kick the bucket. Now I have a CD/DVD player that works and a battery that charges and a processor and memory that can handle more than one thing at a time. I can use iTunes again. The only thing left to do other than finish transferring my files (in progress) is to hook up the wireless to our router.

It finally turned cold here and the Back Forty is done except for broccoli, kale, parsley, and various lettuces and mustard greens.

It has been funny watching the competition for Top Cat play out. The social hierarchy is different for the various cats. Jazz is the tiniest and the oldest. Lucy is the biggest and the youngest. Theo is the newest and next to the youngest and next to the heaviest. Poor Guido is just confused.

Jazz and Theo’s new pecking order:
1. Jazz
2. Theo
3. Guido
4. Lucy

Guido and Lucy’s new pecking order:
1. Theo
2. Guido
3. Lucy
4. Jazz

I’ve been exceptionally lazy and a bit depressed about my continuing problems with pain. Last night I managed to get it together enough to do some cleaning and some laundry, make a soup that is kind of like clam and corn chowder, but low-fat, fire up the woodstove, and read some good books instead of watching Hulu or farting around on Facebook all night. I finished A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman, and began Ordinary Magic, Everyday Life as Spiritual Path, a collection of essays and excerpts from some of my favorite authors such as Thich Nhat Hahn, Natalie Goldberg, and Frederick Franck. I hope that this will give my spirit a positive boost and improve my perspective, which can only be described as kind of blah. I don’t really feel much of anything.

I do feel some irritation toward people who have totally equated Christmas with shopping. Maybe I’m more sensitive to it this year. It’s hard for me to keep my smart-ass mouth shut. For example, a woman from my childhood on Facebook is outraged because a Walmart near her has not decorated for Christmas and is not playing Christmas music. Doesn’t sound true to me, but whatever. She is a Sarah Palin fan, if that explains anything. I want to say – Miss ******, what does Walmart have to do with Christ’s birth? Isn’t it actually LESS offensive if they are not tying in with Christmas? But the paranoia of the folks who have been convinced by the right wing that the libs are trying to take Christ out of Christmas is deep-seated now. They don’t trust anyone else, so I try to stay out of it, other than voicing my opinion here. But it is hard, and sometimes I don’t succeed.

I am a little excited about some woodcut ideas that I have, and I hauled my woodcut and printing supplies from the studio in the back (which I think will be converted over to storage) to the second bedroom where I have set up a workspace. It has to do with family history and autobiography in visual terms. I want to make some Christmas cards too.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a cold rain again (we are weary of it here, but our drought seems to have been broken) and I plan to get together with a good old friend that I haven’t talked to in years. So I do have a bright spot on the horizon to look forward to.

coffee pot posts, consumerism, Festivus, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Actually, I wrote a long one yesterday that I lost and didn’t have the heart or the patience to rewrite it.

We are in the middle of the holiday season, which brings out the imp in me, because I love to bug people who love to shop and who hate the phrase “Happy Holidays,” so I try to use it as often as possible.

My favorite holiday of the season is Festivus, celebrated on Dec. 23. From Wikipedia, here is the story of the origin of Festivus according to Frank Costanza.

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.

Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?

Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!

Kramer: That must have been some doll.

Frank Costanza: She was.

Excuse me while I get a tissue. This lovely story gets to me every time.

In our house, after the airing of the grievances, we have to pin Miss Jazz, which makes it a fairly stress-free ritual.

I have not yet erected a Festivus pole, but there are actually such things for sale. Yes, even the sacred holiday of Festivus has been sullied with commercialization. I guess I could buy one of those leg lamps to illuminate it.

I would love to celebrate Buy Nothing Christmas if the others in my family would go for it. Mostly, they have, but we still buy presents for my mother, my grand-nephew, and my brother-in-law. Two of these have been covered.

I don’t mind buying a perfect, unexpected gift for someone but the obligation of having to buy something for somebody on a particular day no matter what really bugs the crap out of me. Especially if they are difficult to buy presents for. My mother usually is a toughie, and will let you know if your present is not up to snuff. It’s more of a respect thing with her, I think. She grew up in the Depression and gifts mean more to her. Fortunately, she told us exactly what she wants this year.

Gifts to charity don’t do it in these cases. Personally, I would love a gift to a worthy organization like Heifer International or Oxfam in my honor.

When people stress over the dozens of gifts that they “have” to buy each Christmas, I thank God that my family has never emphasized “stuff” at Christmas. As kids, we got presents but never loads of stuff. We would much rather get together over a good meal, sometimes in a nice place at the beach, than worry about shopping for each other. We are not rich, but we know that we are blessed, and that is enough.

consumerism, voluntary simplicity

Buy Nothing Day

Take the Plunge:
You know what they say: a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. You feel that things are falling apart – the temperature rising, the oceans churning, the global economy heaving – why not do something? Take just one small step toward a more just and sustainable future. Make a pact with yourself: go on a consumer fast. Lock up your credit cards, put away your cash and opt out of the capitalist spectacle. You may find that it’s harder than you think, that the impulse to buy is more ingrained in you than you ever realized. But you will persist and you will transcend – perhaps reaching the kind of epiphany that can change the world.


agoraphobia, depression/anxiety, voluntary simplicity

Well, I certainly have come a long way from eight years ago when I was diagnosed with panic disorder and agoraphobia. When I found any decision to be so difficult that I agonized over passing someone in the hall at work, because I couldn’t decide whether I should say hello or not. When it was difficult to drive across town, or down the same highway that I’d driven for years to my hometown. When I often had to pull over driving to work or class because I would get dizzy, and if there was a lot of traffic I’d go into full-fledged panic with nausea, breathing difficulty, and an enormous sense of doom.

I just made airline reservations to go by myself to Journalfest, an artist retreat near Seattle.

Take that, agoraphobia. Bam!

The tickets from Greensboro to Seattle were less than $300 round trip. And I’ll get to study with L K Ludwig and Dan Essig (again) if I get the classes that I am signing up for. I am THRILLED to take classes from L K Ludwig because of this book, which I love.

In a setting beside Olympia National Park on the Puget Sound. At a very reasonable price.

And I can pay cash for it. Why? Because I put $100 a month into a saving account for this stuff and I wear rags and drive a 92 Tercel. I walk to work and I don’t have a satellite dish and I get my hair cut at the beauty school. I don’t have children and I love myself enough to let myself do this.

It’s well worth it. I’ll just have to eat out less and stop buying art supplies that I don’t need and books to save more money for Italy again. I like rice and beans and cereal. I have a garden. It’s all cool. I’ll do this AND go to Italy.

Has anyone asked you to quickly say, without thinking about it, what you would do if you could do anything in the world? Mine would be to go on art retreats and take classes, all the time! I finally have the courage to pursue my happiness. I am happy.