the simple minded suburbanite

#4. Exertion. 5 Transcendent Principles.

“You’d rather stay in that cozy bed, but you jump out and make the fire because the brightness of the day in front of you  is bigger than staying in bed.  The more we connect with a bigger perspective, the more we connect with energetic joy.”  Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart.  5 Transcendent Actions

I’ve experienced both sides of this. Mornings when I haul myself to yoga despite being called to the couch.  Days when I tap away at the computer, wipe the counters, prepare the meal.  The exertion put forth brings me peace and I believe it creates peace for others, as well; connects me to the larger principles:  self, health, expression of talent, home, family.  And I’ve had days that I put forth little in the name of “fatigue” and feel nothing at the end of the day, as a result: even more sluggish, restless, frustrated.

There’s holy in my actions, and yours too, if our actions stay connected to the greater principles of our lives.  This is at the core of voluntary simplicity.  It is not “how can I do less?”, rather, “how can I do more that connects to peace, my own truth, and the overall collective wisdom?” Sometimes that means doing less.  Sometimes that means doing more.

I’d love hear about how you might “exert yourself” in the direction of your goals, passions, truth.


“Only Stupid People are Bored”
January 20, 2012, 4:28 pm
Filed under: achievement, culture, suburban, time management | Tags:

A phrase for which I would like to thank my friend, Emily’s, mother.  She would say it to a young Emily and her young brother, in her native Spanish tongue, whenever they complained of being bored.  I find myself dying to repeat the phrase to many a suburban housewife whose children have gone off to school full time, whose husband drones away at work, whose rooms are completely decorated.  They say the phrase, “I’m bored,” in their native suburban tongue.  They say things like: “I need to find something to do,”  “I go back to bed after I get the kids on the bus,”  “Do you want to come over for ‘The Bachelor’  viewing party on Tuesday night?” or (the worst) “I’m so busy doing nothing!”  Listen, we’ve all muttered things like this on occasion.  We all have to shift things up as our families grow, our lives change.  We all wonder about our purpose in life.  But, it seems to me it’s the same people saying the same thing time after time again.  And it boils down to one question for me:

“How many times are you going to ask that question, allow yourself to drift, before you do something, no matter how small, about it?”

Look.  Stupid people don’t always realize that they’re being stupid (that’s what makes them so).  And smart people can do stupid things.  I laugh inside everytime I think of Emily’s mom’s phrase.  Not in a judging way (well, most of the time) because I’ve added:

“Only stupid people are bored, and you’re not stupid.”  So, find something meaningful because in a world of possibilities, if you don’t do something, anything, that’s just plain dumb.


Vision Boarding…online
January 11, 2012, 4:07 pm
Filed under: achievement, authenticity, voluntary simplicity | Tags:

As we enter 2012, most are reminded of setting goals and leading a life closer to our vision.  Vision boards (or collages of your dreams, aspirations, identity) are a great way to visually express your goals.  I found a cool, free online “vision board” of sorts that helps you interactively set your goals, monitor your progress, and GROW!  Check it out:  It’s fun!  A great way to simplify your time to include what is truly important.

Everything Valuable and Desireable is Difficult
September 20, 2011, 8:01 pm
Filed under: achievement, voluntary simplicity | Tags: , ,

Says Amy Chua, Tiger Mom.  An interesting idea, I thought as I read her book in which she discusses Indonesian Gamelan music in contrast to classical Dvorak.  “Gamelan music is mesmerizing because it is less structured and repetitive,” Chua says of why she couldn’t appreciate it after visiting Indonesia preferring Dvorak because his compositions “reflect complexity, ambition, and harmonic exploration.”

It got me thinking about my midwestern upbringing and the idea of hard work being necessary and the image of each of my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother sighing throughout their day.  Work, work, work.  Life is tough.  We have to work at our relationships.  We have to burn the midnight oil.

Yet, I think of easy Sunday afternoons and a simply delicious BLT sandwich.  And of easy silences.  And the buoyancy of my body as it floats in the waves of a cool lake.

I think I thought that once, that “everything desirable is difficult.”  Maybe that explains why, though I have a special place for Dvorak ever since I visited Prague, if I’m honest, I can really only take him in small doses.

Simpler, does it mean “tougher”?

Real Simple Magazine has been bugging me.  I should like it right?  I should flip its pages and “voila!” I am inspired.  So why do I always leave it on its shelf opting not to read the pictorial comparing the best bristle cleaning brushes?  And why, when I looked at Wanda Urbanska’s links to simple living did I feel that same, “not today,” reaction?  Really, the only thing I could relate to was a video clip on how to make homemade mozzarella cheese( ) and that was only because a neighbor who has really gotten into the farm to table thing thought it would be fun to make a batch for our neighbors last Christmas.  So we did. (I clearly wasn’t practicing my “just say no” approach to simple living!)

Am I the only one who has been feeling that this simplicity thing is becoming really complicated?  To be simple, do I need to keep my own chickens and gather my own fresh eggs?  Do I need to concoct my own cleaning products from a circa 1992 Summer’s Eve and the bark of an Elder tree?  Do I really need to knit my underwear from the dog hairs I sweep up off my hardwood floors?

Why is it that when I seek simple inspiration, I wind up feeling like I should be picking feathers out of my buffalo wings and that I spent too much time shaving my armpits this week?

Let us not forget (that is, let ME not forget) that simpler is better.  That we simplify so that we have time to focus on what is important to us.  Let us not let other people, companies, groups, publications, products, etc decide what simplicity is for us.  Keep this in mind when all you want to do is simply page through a magazine, “You don’t have to put it in your cart!”

The Race
August 31, 2011, 4:25 pm
Filed under: achievement, authenticity, parenting, suburban | Tags:

I don’t know about you, but I often find myself out of breath mostly figuratively, but sometimes literally.  One such literal time was last January when my friend and I tried running.  I sucked.  My hips and knees throbbed with pain I had never felt before.  I was discouraged and de-motivated.  I’d never run a race.  I’d never cross the finish line.  What the f—??  I realized, through talking to other running friends that where potential solutions:  I could try a different pair of shoes, run on a different surface, or see a trainer.  Part of me was like, Really?  That sounds like alot of crap just to go out and run.  The other part of me was like, I’m gonna do it!  My body isn’t going to tell me that I can’t run!!

Well, I haven’t gone back to it and I find myself saying three things to myself since January:

1.) I’m a “the other word for kitty cat”.

1.) It’s not my time to focus on running.

2.) or, running isn’t very important to me or I would’ve found a way to do it.

Or maybe it’s not the running, maybe it’s the racing.  I’m just as happy on a walk.  When running, I focused on deep inhalation and long exhalation.  I focused on true heel strikes and lengthy strides and form.  Never once did a look over at my friend and question whether or not I had lapped her or she had lapped me (okay, maybe I did once.  Okay, twice).  But, overall running, just like yoga, or writing, or my life is mostly about my own experience.

Yes, in my life, I occasionally look over my shoulder to see if my neighbors, friends, or colleagues are lapping me.  I’m an American Girl, after all, and most certainly of the human condition.  But overall, I try to pace my own self on my own run, my own life.

This is why the movie Race to Nowhere has caught my eye.   It is about, quite simply, the stress kids are under to perform and achieve in school, and the high cost of that pressure.  Though I am nowhere near Tiger Mom proportions, I admit that when it comes to school, my kids are expected to do what it takes.  My middle and my little are still in elementary school, so not much of a big deal there, but with the older one…Yikes!  3 Accelerated classes, which he (which really means “we”) fought tooth and nail for every grade point last year.  He is, shall we say, “organizationally challenged.”  And it was many times last year, his first year at middle school, that I questioned if we were pushing too hard or not hard enough.

I’m taking my two older kids with me to the screening of the movie this fall.  I hope only to impart to my kids through this and many other actions that it is their form, their stride, and their breath that are most important to me not, by any means, the race. I do hope they find what makes them run but, they can travel another path, find their own inspirtation which leads to motivation and they don’t have to sacrifice their body, spirit, and balance to be the first to cross a finish line that only keeps moving, moving, moving beyond where your feet have you at this precious moment in their unique life.

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