the simple minded suburbanite


My Inner Cowgirl
January 17, 2012, 3:47 pm
Filed under: budget, suburbanite, voluntary simplicity

I made a promise to myself late fall 2011.  It was a financial promise. It was a time management promise.  It was a quiet promise I chose not to share.  It’s no big deal, really, but little promises made and kept have a way of putting building my self-empowerment muscle.  As the air chilled, I promised to buy myself one super cool pair of black cowboy boots and one fantastic pair of jeans.  The end.  Why do you care?  Because I vowed to buy myself NOTHING else, barring some unforeseen special event, I mean REALLY special event, until the summer months approached.  Big deal?  Yes, because my committment to my jeans and my boots brought several things into focus for me.

1. I did not deny myself something I needed, desperately, a new pair of jeans ( refuse to dwell on why I needed said jeans).

2. I did not deprive myself of something that brought me joy:  a fantaistic pair of cowboy boots that express the shit kicking side of my personality and provide that needed rough edge to many of my far-too-girly ensembles.

3.  I did focus my money (neither of these items were cheap) on quality and did not piddle that same amount away or more on polyester blend sweaters, gold hoochie-mamma earrings, or 7 long-sleeved white t-shirts.

4. I have not wasted time browsing the racks at Target when what I really needed to grab my box of Always and get-the-f outta there.  I don’t stop at that cute little boutique on route to work at my local coffee shop.  I used my time, instead, directed to what I truly value and to creep my way toward my goals.

5.  I have taken pleasure in saying “no” to frivolous purchases and joy in embracing my closet, getting creative with scarves, belts, layering, and yes, wearing the same thing twice or thrice (albeit in a different way) around the same people, who really don’t care because they are truly my friends (I have limited time with those who don’t fall into that category) and they think I’m alternately dorky and cool no matter what I’ve got on.  Besides, doesn’t creativity and not giving a shit automatically put you on that thin wire between cool and dorky?

6.  I love the feeling of saying, “I know where our money went,” as opposed to “Where the hell did it go?”

7. I embrace the sense that “I have all that I need” and “I am enough.”

8. I smile and gently forgive any small transgressions:  Had to go to a white party that was fancy enough that my white Tshirts didn’t cut it.  Bought a $17 pair of black tights that I can’t wash and put back in my drawer fast enough to wear again with my cowboy boots.  And Costco, yes Costco! had this fantastic gold sequin top ($22) that I have worn a dozen or more times through the holidays and “trendy” dinners out with my new, cool jeans, old heals, and old, gold, hoochie-mamma earrings.  Just like dieting, we must have the occasional square of chocolate.

9.  Reiterate #7.  I am enough, I have enough and, somehow I am growing more enough and enough the less I am diverted with stuff and things to do that pull me from that personal level of fullness.  Amen to the cowgirl in us all.



Summer Reading. Fahrenheit 451. IV
August 26, 2011, 8:00 am
Filed under: culture, suburb, suburban, suburbanite, voluntary simplicity | Tags: ,

“And number three:  the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two.”

How can we do better if we don’t take the time to understand, question, integrate?  How can we get to the core of what we value if we don’t take the time to question others’ values and clallenges?  How can we behave closer to who we want to be?



Emmy Lou, Guru. Two.
July 25, 2011, 8:00 am
Filed under: authenticity, suburbanite, voluntary simplicity | Tags: ,

“I just figured feeling low is a natural state of being.”

I gather strength and inspiration from everywhere.  I forget most of it but, writing helps me cement some lessons in my brain.  I had slipped my Espadrills off my bare, not so manicured feet, and tapped them on the dampened grass.  I was surrounded by the lushness of the gardens and the damp scent of bodies sweating and pulsing to the rising voice that was Emmy Lou Harris.  In true story-teller fashion, she spoke of how she came back to writing songs and described the time in her life she penned the one to follow.  “It was a very low time of my life,” she said, “but, I didn’t take a pill (guitar thrum).  I figured, feeling low is a natural state of being.”

I’ve been depressed.  Lately.  So much so and for no apparent reason that, pillow to pillow, I declared to my husband that I was most certainly depressed, suffering a laundry list of classic symptoms from persistent tightness in my chest to anxiety.  The thought of cooking a meal, what I used to view as a creative outlet, stifles me.  I had a flickering vision of grabbing the dog around the throat as she incessantly barked from the front window, thus shattering the peaceful morning I desperately needed with coffee and book.  For the first time, though I’ve felt low plenty of times in my life before, I feel helpless.  A first for me, being one who likes a good fight and takes life’s challenges with gloves on.

I must be wired this way, I thought.  Nothing I do makes a difference and barring any major life changes, I’m out of options.  Will I ever really, truly, deeply be happy?  These are not easy thoughts to have while surrounded by younger, incessantly smiling, bikini-clad mommies effortlessly chasing toddlers around the neighborhood pool.  These are not easy feelings to have while surrounded by the next, best summer vacation to Fiji or Wyoming or San Francisco.  This is not easy to be when your children rise with the sun and greet you with the polite demands of a loving, well-guided life.

“…a natural state of being.”  Of course.  It called to mind many readings I had ingested stating things like, “Be careful to cast out your devils, lest you cast out the best parts of yourself.” (Nietzsche?)  “You’ll never find the land that lives within without agreeing to lose site of the shore,” or something like that.  Shadow places, anything by Carl Jung.  Women Who Dance with the Wolves, Estes.  And many, many more.  The darkness is a welcome to be with your soul.

Until saw Emmy Lou, I had nearly forgot.  Forgot to be still and listen and be with my feelings, be with myself and hear what I am trying to say to myself.  Not fight it.  Not deny it.  Not drown it.  It’s only natural.



Everything’s So Green…
July 15, 2011, 12:42 am
Filed under: authenticity, suburban, suburbanite, voluntary simplicity

Writing gets me buzzed.  Time warps.  My neurons fire.  My aura hummmmzzzzzzz.  It’s a high that lasts for an hour or more after I’ve closed my laptop or set down my pen.  Call it “flow.”  Call it immersion or focus.  Call it a passion, but I know, it gets me high.

What gets you high?  Imagine if you treated your passion like an addiction.  What if your little monster sat on your shoulder and gnawed at you, never letting you forget that you will soon need a fix.  What if your passion was top of mind, in your hair, and glazing your gaze?

Tell me, if you allowed yourself to get “high”…on writing or painting or running or sculpting…how would it change your life?  It’s the only addiction that will not shatter your life, rather, fill it up.



We’re Doin’ Just Fine…More or Less
July 9, 2011, 7:38 pm
Filed under: budget, gratitude, parenting, suburbanite, voluntary simplicity | Tags:

“Everyone has more than we do,” mumbled my 12 year old.  12 year olds have a sensational ability to make huge leaps in logic.  In less than 30 seconds, he went from begrudgingly turning off his Xbox (but it’s not XBox live!) to donning his Nike tennis shoes (but they’re not Nike Shocks!) to heading out the door to weed the flower bed, one of his chores (only $12 a week!  I’ll be dead before I can afford an IPad!).

I take most of his pre-teen grumbling and complaining with a grain of salt.  My husband and I counter such nonsense with pointing out how fortunate we are, we have a family who loves each other, we have all we need and much of what we want.  We state what we’re grateful for each night before bed.  Our kids work and save birthday money, summer allowance, and the occasional cash from odd neighborhood jobs for the gadget of the year and I am proud to say that we whip out the same Nintendo Ds we bought 6 years ago for road trips (Lite?  3-D?  I say, Nintendo BS).  They’ve never been the kids who beg for toys in Target or whine for bubble gum in the grocery check out.  They understand that, as a family, we choose not to spend our money “that way”.  We prefer the stability of a home that is not under water, the thrill of the occasional family vacation or excursion, and the dreams we have for our kids’ futures as we squirrel away loose change for college.

But, I gotta say, I lost my cool.  He not only said it once, under his breath, but confidently repeated it to me with a full on look into my eyes when I asked the motherly, “What was that you said?”  I didn’t lose my cool right away, I lost it after I started into my usual, “There are so many people who would love to have what we have” speech and he, as respectfully as possible, said, “I know that, but I’m talking about everyone around here.  My friends!  Our neighbors.”  I’m not proud to say, I yelled.  I stomped around.  I flailed my arms. “$120 Nike Shocks!  Are you kidding me?  You’ve gone on a run all of 2 time the entire summer!” I had had it!

I know enough to step away…. so, I did.  I took a breather.  I calmed myself down.  After furiously scrubbing the kitchen and sorting all of the laundry in the house, I went onto the back deck and called my hubby, ran through all of the things I was planning to take away from son #1 to teach him a lesson.  My husband, may I say, knows enough to let me get it all out, spit out the venom, before offering perspective.  “It is his reality, and though he needs to be respectful of us, we do need to listen to his reality.  It’s how we feel often times ourselves, isn’t it?”

Shit.  I knew I married this guy for a reason.

I am not enough.  It’s the pressing, unwanted mantra that bumps around in the dark. It’s the self loathing untruth from which I’ve tried to free myself for most of my life.  And what son #1 said, it made me feel less than.  It made me feel that all the hard work that my husband and I have put into our homes, our family, our relationships, our careers is all for not because we keep falling short.  We keep falling short in the “stuff” aspect.  In all truth, this is one of the reasons I write this blog. Yes, for one, I want to point out the absurdities of the suburban, consumer-driven, self-indulging lifestyle.  But, also, it keeps me focused on what I know to be true, and I think everyone knows to be true when hard pressed, that none of that “stuff” really matters.  But, ya know, it takes alot of energy, consciousness, humility to believe it and stick with it in the Land of Rovers.  And sometimes, I think I’m the crazy one.

So, I took what my husband said to heart and changed gears.  My son is getting older now.  I explained, that Mom and Dad feel like everyone has so much more that us sometimes too but here is what is most important to us:  that our children dream big and work hard to get it, that our family finds joy in the day-to-day moments, that we embrace a love of learning and an openness to people and situations around us, that we be our true selves and support one another. You are not what you own, you are sooo much more than that.  I told him that what he said was a put down to a mother and father who love him and work hard to provide our boys with the best life we possibly can, that by saying words like that hurts us.  We are here to listen and to help with anything that comes his way because we love him.  And, if anything like this comes up again,

I will take all of his shit and throw it in the trash!

Author’s note:  I wouldn’t really throw it away.  Why, that would be wasteful and bad for the environment. I’d sell the crap on Ebay and get my hubby and I a nice little weekend in the mountains!  College?  Smollege!)



Some Things Will Never Go Together…No Matter How Bad You Gotta Go.
March 8, 2011, 11:56 pm
Filed under: suburbanite, time management

A woman in the stall next to me at my local coffee shop took a business call while she was sitting on the toilet.  How busy could she possibly be to combine these two tasks?  Public restroom.  Going to the bathroom.  Talking on your cell phone.  I think Oprah should launch a campaign against this!



Gypsie

My Romanian blood boiled hot while I watched Stevie Nicks sing, “Gypsie” on an old Palladia clip last night.  I imagine myself as a young Nicks spinning around the stage in fringed shawls, like a Pheonix afire, torn between her love of the handsome Buckingham and her passionate need for individuality.  I imagine her grand and fumbling mistakes as she climbs to find her own self, not without a mess of reckage all around her.  This is the mind-stage on which Iwas when I came across an article in Vanity Fair’s March 2011 issue, Bohemian Cove by Vanessa Grigoriadis about a swank set of trailer parks in Malibou.  The dreamy article lead me to my new favorite blog:

http://www.gypset.com/go/

It brings out the gypsie wannabe in me and inspires me to travel exotic coves.  I feel the fire of the pheonix in me, let’s see if it does the same for you.  Check Ms. Julia Chapman out, her book on Gypset Style, and imagine super cool.




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