Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thriftiness and minimalism - a return to conscientious living

I have been reading a lot about the minimalist movement in recent times, and the ethos really resonates with me. I know that in many places the post war 50's and 60's spawned the beginnings of consumerism and the obsession we have with owning stuff today. But I also observed a very different approach to life after the second world war shown in the life of my grandmother. She had lived through not only the war, but the great depression as well, and it stayed with her all her life. Grandma would often tell me to thread new elastic in my underpants when the old perished, she home baked everything - and grew a goodly part of what she cooked with -  she kept all her furniture from when she married in the 1940's through to her retirement with Grandpa in the 1990's, only updating her black and white TV when colour came in and even then kept it for Grandpa to watch out in the sunroom. As a child I often played with old stockings (they made great reigns for make believe games of horse and carriages with my sister), and scribbled drawings on butchers paper that had wrapped Grandma's lamb chops when purchased, and she really didn't have anything in her home that wasn't necessary for her way of life. That said, she also kept anything that was useful, like the afore mentioned butchers paper wrapping and old stockings for her grandchildren. My Grandmother was a fine example of thrift and economy, and I for one recall her life as being extremely beautiful, simple and wholesome (albeit hardworking).
So, the minimalist movement - is it similar? Well, yes in some ways and no in others.
The term "minimalist" is often applied colloquially to designate anything that is spare or stripped to its essentials.
The movement occurring worldwide at the moment is focused on the bare essentials - living with only what is necessary and therefore, removing consumer stress and the ill understood desire to 'have' so prevalent today. By association, minimalism also allows the participant to tread lightly on the planet, be thrifty, save money and enjoy the little things that often get overlooked. As opposed to my grandmothers way of life, which arose out of desire for a frugal personal economy and diligence while still allowing for treats and occasional indulgences,  minimalism reduces living down to the purest bare essentials. Have a look at the wonderful blogs listed below and draw your own conclusions.

The Minimalists
The Minimalists
Inside-Out Simplicity
Becoming Minimalist
Be more with less
As for me, my aspiration is to live as self sufficiently as possible. I am not devoted to the idea of doing without out of principal, but rather, to the idea of living purely and simply - off the land, with the land, in harmony with all living things.

I would like a comfortable, creative home, but I would like it without having to burn fossil fuels to do so. I would like a scatter cushion or two on my couch, but I would like to avoid unenvironmentally sourced fabrics and materials to do so. I love love love pretty clothes, but I don't think I have to buy into fast fashion when I can wear the darling dresses that belonged to my grandmother, or the pride infused garments I have made myself, from vintage fabric found in op shops.

I long to have the time to grow and make my own everything, and I adore the idea of reading classic books together of an evening instead of chowing down to take away and the latest Big Brother offering.....cringe ! To ultimately offer a place of peace, restoration and tranquillity (albeit with satisfying hard work - just like I watched my grandmother do) for myself, my family and friends. Surely its not all that much to ask of a simple humble life?

So let me say - if there are any single, dashing, skilled and well read men out there that share this ideal (!) then I would love to get to know you ...... This is the kind of dream that is better shared !

May you be inspired by these minimalist blogs. May our dreams and aspirations take us all, baby step by baby step, into a better world.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mid Winter Revamp

Wild moody clouds are skudding past my windows while I write this article - the first in quite some time. There was one of those deliciously creepy fogs covering the countryside as I drove my children to the bus stop this morning, making the trees and cows loom blackly out of nowhere. And on my morning walk spider webs were shining dully with water droplets. Winter is a hauntingly beautiful, erratic, and very stunning time of year - so long as you can keep well rugged up !
But wintertime for many is also a time of mental struggle. Some commuters don't actually get to enjoy sunlight at all, with shorter days seeing them at work with sun up and home at sundown. The darkness, the cold, the wetness can all bring one down - so for all my female readers (and wonderful men who are so inclined) I want to journey down some ways we can make our winter malady so much brighter. The following are some great approaches to making yourself feel much brighter, more beautiful, and on top of the world. And of course, like all good mid century approaches to life, they are thrifty and practically cost less - another reason to put some zing in your steps !

1. Be kind to yourself
Stop comparing yourself to ANY celebrity - that includes Marilyn, Audrey and Grace as well as Jennifer Anniston or Scarlett Johansen ! Women are beautiful in all our wonderous shapes, sizes, colourings, creative dress senses, quirky interest loves and crazy shoe fetishes. Look at our amazing planet - Africa is nothing like Europe. Vanuatu is nothing like Tokyo. The pounding waves on the shore are full of wild untamed and ferocious beauty, and a gurgling mountain stream happy, spritely and joyful. If the entire world looked like New York (wonderful though I am sure that city is) we would all get bored of it pretty fast. Maybe it was some magazine editor who said that all women must look, act, believe and behave in a certain way, but I for one don't buy it. Just as our world is full of unique loveable places, BE UNIQUE LOVEABLE YOU!!! You are adorabe for all the qualities that make up you - not for being a Jennifer Anniston copy!
2. Know yourself
Make a list of all the wonderful things about you - what do you love most? What is your character like? What are your dreams and aspirations? What is it about who you are that makes you smile? Celebrate those things (sometimes I give myself a little 'cupcake and coffee' picnic in a beautiful place, just to honour being me!) Treating oneself for the simple reason of loving who you are can become a very spiritual and nourishing practise !
3. Day Spa at home
Grab your friends (or as I did over the winter school holidays, my children) and have a day spa at home. Put on some tranquil music, chill some wine (if your doing this child free!!), light some scented candles and delight in giving each other facials, massages, manicures and pedicures. Its a wonderful way to reconnect and banish the winter blues. You never know - you may find it becomes and seasonal pamper date !
4. Spread the colour love
Winter is renowed for its black. Black coats, black boots, black work attire....black black black !! Break this deadening cycle and be daring - wear a bright red lipstick, a big chunky burnt orange necklace, lash out and buy an aqua scarf, or what about some green frames for your glasses. The mid century was know for being vivaciously colourful - so go to it gals ! Lift your mood by splashing some colour around - and the good thing is, black goes with almost anything !
5. Believe in yourself
OK. This is where I fall down. But hey, I am only human. Confidence. Make no appologies for who you are. Find your favourite outfit and wear it - OK, it might just be grandmas going away dress and its way to over the top for the dinner with friends at the local, but who cares? If you love it, wear it, and wear it with pride. The first time I attempted wearing an 'unfashionable' 50's sundress down the street in Echuca 6 years ago, my heart was in my throat, but you know what? The more I took those chances and 'faked it till I maked it' the more I received compliments on what I wore and the more confidence in my own individuality I grew. OK, I still have times when I stupidly apologise for being me (gotta get out of that habit!), but the best way to grow your confidence, is to throw yourself into the ring and TRY!
6. Wear clothes you love
Wear what you know you look fabulous in, take a little extra time with your appearance and you will feel great all day. (Pajama days are best kept for the weekend anyhow !!!)
7. Surround yourself with positive people
Avoid those who bring you down, where possible. Enough said !
8. Get a good sleep
Nothing refreshes like the ideal 8 hours shut eye. Get a good night sleep and it will do wonders for your bodies health, your personal beauty and freshness of face, and of course, your winter mental health. And what could be better than snuggling under the covers on a rainy winters night anyhow - unless of course its snuggling under the covers with your special someone on a rainy winters night !
9. Smile
Smiling releases endorphins - did you know? This means that when you smile you get a dose of happy chemicals to lift your mood. So smile away - your co-workers, the guy at the train station, the gal serving you your late - everyone benefits from a smile, especially you !
10. Relax with some escapism
Books, movies, music - all have the power to lift the spirits. When the 'weather outside is frightful', be delightful inside with your favourite feel good. These things are all the better enjoyed with a friend too - share a book, a movie or a band with someone you can talk about it with later - you will double the enjoyment !
There you go lovely ones - put your mind to it and you can make the winter blues just that little bit brighter.....and really, spring is only another month away! Hang in there !
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