Friday, February 28, 2014

That Which Fuels Us

So, what are these desires which are leading me to separate myself from all these material possessions? What is it then that I want? Well certainly without objects we could travel, be it in an RV or a houseboat. But as romantic as that sounds I do not want to be a gypsy or a nomad. I want roots, although I am beginning to feel in my current situation that growing roots will be like a dandelion growing through cracks in the cement.

What I am dreaming/ planning for at the moment is to live in an earthship. If you are unfamiliar with the term, I would recommend watching the documentary "Garbage Warrior". But a brief summary, earthships are structure made with rammed earth tires and southern facing windows. They often have features such as rain water cisterns, kiva fireplaces, solar panels, indoor greenhouses and (yes, even) composting toilets. These homes make it possible so that you can live completely off the grid without utility bills and without wasting our resources. They are also relatively affordable and I find them beautiful and calming.

So, why the hesitation? Why not move right now? Well, most of these are in Taos. Either my husband or I will need a job in Taos. We will need to sell our house here. Relocate my son to a new school or start home schooling, which may mean one less income. If we find a half constructed earthship, what then? Do we roll up our sleeves and begin work which we have a very, very limited knowledge of? Do we hire someone else to complete this task? Even once we move in, we would still have a lot to learn about how certain aspects run? How exactly do I, er.., maintain a composting toilet?

To some this might sound like a nightmare, but to me I am catching a glimpse of a utopia. Where I can be free of oppressive forces in my environment and reconnect with nature. I have already lived through a maze of other people's ideals. I see myself as if in Candide, and it is time to tend my own garden, with my family at my side.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A New Song

Another difficult step I have been taking in the process of simplifying my life has been to start selling off some of my records. Sometimes this is exciting and profitable. Other times I list things and want to scream, "Hey! Don't you realize this is good stuff!!!" But really what to sell is the biggest challenge.

I don't think I am ready to get rid of everything in one swoop. I also still am aware of the value of some of these records and have difficulty taking a fraction of their worth. And then there are the records of very little monetary value that have music that warms my heart.

But I also see a ship which has the potential to sail if it where only to remove its anchor. Possibilities of ways I might be able to live, of how my family may be able to live, without being controlled by the dominating presence of objects. We could relocate, live ungrounded or off the grid... live off the land. And these objects are trying to hold me back.

Still, as I sell these off slowly, piece by piece, I relive my experiences with each song. Instead of clinging to that nostalgia, I want to pass this energy along to a new owner, who may appreciate the gift. Each record has lead me to a new record, as each person a new person. It is growth a process of growth and development. And stepping into married life, with a son who needs strong parents and real guidance, I know who I am now. And I am ready to pass the experience on...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Making Cleaning Less Painful

In the process of simplifying my life, a lot of dirt has been kicked around. I have also been sick with the flu that my son so generously shared with me, so cleaning has become a priority. But the last thing I want to do in this process is surround myself with a bunch of chemicals. So, in interest of our health, saving money, and making cleaning a bit more of a pleasant experience, I have been making my own cleaners! I don't even like saying that in all fairness, because it is so easy, I don't even consider it making much of anything!

Never under estimate the power of white vinegar. The stuff works magic in the kitchen, in the bathroom, counters. But on its own it is a bit boring and may smell a bit funny to some people, so this is where the creative part comes in. Save all your citrus peels. Every time you use an orange, grapefruit or lemon store the peel in a medium-sized mason jar filled with white vinegar. You could add ginger, dried rosemary, or tea tree oil as well. Allow this to sit for about a day or more. Strain the liquid and place in a spray bottle. Dilute with water, because on its own it will be very strong.

It is amazing how instead of holding your breath while cleaning, the cleaning process changes into something aromatically pleasing. And due to its high level of acidity white vinegar is proven to kill high percentages mold, germs, and bacteria. You also aren't washing chemicals down the drain or outside where they seep into our water sources. In bigger deep scrubbing jobs like the bath tub you can spray your solution over baking soda. I haven't bought any other cleaners in months now, and I doubt you would know it by looking at my house. Of course very few of us enjoy cleaning, but if we can take intelligent and conscious steps to better our methods we will reap the rewards.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Shedding Skin

I am removing the several of the "things" I am surrounded with in my dwelling. One which has built up significantly is my wardrobe. As I go through my closet piece by piece, assessing the relevance of each piece to my life, I become aware of how this addresses my personal history.

I used to never wear jeans. I used to dye my hair several times a week. I was told by a coworker in my twenties that I never looked the same twice. When I responded that I changed my outfits a lot he stated, "No, I mean, even your face changes." And he was probably right.

I could say I was exploring, or that everything new excited me. To some degree that is correct, but I was also horribly insecure. If I looked in the mirror and didn't like what I saw, I could manipulate my reflection with clothing, make-up, and a haircut. In truth I did not believe that God had made me beautiful. God had made the trees beautiful, and the birds, and the rocks, but when it came to me, he had made an error. Correcting the error was my responsibility. And Maybelline's.

I was beautiful even then, although some of that beauty was being disguised by the heavily processed food I was putting in my body. If my teeth were yellow, it must be God's fault, and in no way corresponded to the eight Coca-Colas I had that day. I have been cleansing myself of refined sugars, processed soy, and dairy. I have been eating more raw fruits and vegetables. I stopped using hair dye. I have severely limited my make-up. I am not allotting power to other people in the evaluation of my self-worth. And now some of that clothing which used to be like a protective cover seems more like a mask.

I can still appreciate the beauty of craftsmanship and the insight of designers. I know now, however, these things do not define me or make me more desirable. Instead I am happy to find a few simple outfits that fit me, express who I am, and a few details to add an element of magic.

I have some items for sale, as I peel away a few layers. have a look. Maybe one of them will be made for you.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Inspired by Solaris

“We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don't know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can't accept it for what it is.”
― StanisÅ‚aw Lem, Solaris

Days, weeks, even years can pass before a piece of art makes you feel something. Hollywood continually releases the same movie again and again, but just in a different dress. Books which make it to the bestseller lists are typically the same crime or romance novels, catering to gender stereotypes. Television provides us with stale, bland information to dumb us down and keep us passive. And then you take in something that makes you THINK, and it is like being reborn.

I watched Tarkovsky's Solaris for the first time the other night. If you like to know what you are looking at, don't watch it. If you like simplicity, don't watch it. If you like things fast, don't watch it. Because it isn't about watching, it is about experience and reflection. 

I won't go into the details of the plot. If you are interested watch it, or do what I started doing last night at read the book by Stanisław Lem. Instead I thought I would share with you some of the questions Solaris evoked in me.

Why does mankind's nature, when confronted with the unknown, seek to destroy and conquer before it understands? Do we love people for how they truly are, or how we imagine them to be? Does something need to be real to be valid? Does tangibility equal reality? What is mankind seeking that our natural surroundings cannot provide?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Simplify, Simplify!

 “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
Henry David Thoreau knew in the 1800s what I am only now discovering. That the things we surround ourselves with which are supposed to give us fulfillment came actually weigh us down.

If you were a reader of my previous blog, Love and a 45 RPM, you might not be surprised that I have quite the record collection. While music and the creative expression of those artists will always be important to me, the tangible pressing of that object is not.

When I was in my early teens I was often made to feel inferior by young males due to my lack of musical knowledge, specific to whichever genre they preferred at the time. My knowledge grew both from my own exploration and influences of those around me. I found myself attracted to young men with vast musical knowledge. I ended up in relationships which often went sour due to a "party" mentality. When I was alone and sad, when a friend passed away from an addiction or when the king of rock and roll broke my heart, that's when I found myself paying $100 for records even when I was only eating ramen noodles for dinner.

I DJed for a long time, and the records were heard by many. As I got older, and my son got older, DJing became more difficult. Staying up till after last call and driving home to the suburbs meant crashing on my sofa and sleeping away a hangover while my so watched television till noon. I had guilt from my drinking, guilt from my lack of parenting, and my body hated me.

Now I rarely DJ and am surrounded by a relic graveyard of vinyl. I appreciate every last record, but I also see an anchor keeping me from realizing my dream of New Mexico. This weekend I started at the tip of the black iceberg and sold 4 records. It isn't much yet, but I hope it is my new beginning to a simpler lifestyle. Maybe one day I will be able to live off of what I can fit in a suitcase and then true living will be possible.