~Harbhajan Singh Yogi
I can't remember how I first came across minimalism, in part because I've always been drawn to simplicity. I was often drawn to the simplest manifestations of a style. I was incredibly drawn to shabby chic style...and it was these images from Rachel Ashwell's first book that I connected with the most. My favorite was the image of that couch with the simplest of lines (no loose cushions) + the simple white denim slipcover. I tried this look out for myself, when I made similar slipcovers for two secondhand chairs we had at the time.
I was drawn to the lists minimalists made of things that they had + didn't have. I imagined not duplicating their lists, but what would be on my own list. And then, I had the ultimate chance to try it out, when we moved overseas. I let so many of the things I'd treasured go, and had the opportunity to observe how that made me feel.
After another overseas move, I decided to explore what having fewer clothes would feel like and dressed with less...one month at a time. Here again, I had the chance to observe the changes happening in my thinking. It was exciting.
I've been reminded lately that it is possible to just read about philosophies and ideas...to discuss them...and even to teach them...without ever experiencing them for ourselves. The most learned scholar has not yet opened all doors to knowledge, if he has not yet put his studied philosophy into action. Just a little nudge to experiment...to experience.
I like to write about expanding our views of what we can influence and be a part of...the flourishing of farmers, garment workers, our planet...grand reimaginings...new discoveries...transformation...hope. But also...all of us have stories and pain and loss and longing and uncertainty. I'm just sitting here with mine for a while...and I'm feeling...how can we do the work of zero-waste, sustainability, the fairdare, environmental activism, standing in solidarity with our fellow human without having a sustainable self?
I don't have any real answers in this or any other category really. I only ever want to organize my thoughts + offer them up to anyone else who might find a kernel of value that might spark or play with their own thoughts.
Something I've noticed recently is that self-talk is so important. There is a voice inside my head and I need to be aware of what it is saying...to talk back to it...to train it. Cultivating my inner world is of great importance. What we consider over and over and over again...it matters (for better or worse). It may not save us, but it just might sink us.
Self-talk guides the way we "see". I'm reading through my journal from the past year + I recognize thoughts that I've been having...ways of thinking that are now part of me. The situations I find myself in sit inside the world view I've intentionally cultivated. My worldview has deep roots in love, compassion, hope + doing hard things. It values feeling my feelings, whatever they are + knowing there is time for them to change + change again. It knows that there is beauty in me + in the world...even still.
A few things I've been noticing + trying to keep in mind:
My desire is for your health + thriving. As always, these are just my thoughts + not a substitute for professional mental health care. Please be kind to yourself + ask for help, if you think it might be helpful.
Much love to you, my friends, wherever you find yourself today,
You are worthy. You are important. You matter.
It often happens that I don't really think about our garden until it is too late to plant a spring garden or to start tomato or peppers from seed. I'm ok with it. We happily support local farmers' efforts + enjoy all the spring goodness anyway. I don't put too much pressure on myself to do all the things or to get anything perfect. But...this year I did happen to think of my garden in February...and I did something about it.
I didn't spend a whole lot of time considering the best way to do things, but I did trust the knowledge that I've gained over the years (which gives me the courage to try new things too). Instead I made quick decisions + bought seeds. I also bought a calendar book that I'm dedicating solely to the garden...in order to implement a system...in order to make next time less daunting + to have something to rely on. I chose the simplest book that I could record everything I need into...one month per spread. I thought that seeing the whole month at once would be helpful. The less information I record, the easier it will be to reuse..and the more likely I will be to reuse it.
I'm not really concerned that next year the first will be on a Tuesday instead of a Monday. The first week of April will be the same no matter the date.
Similar to my menu system, I want to minimize the start-up effort that induces dread when considering a task. My notebook will have rough dates for when to buy seeds...how + when to start them (including what supplies I need)...when to plant various things...and what extra things to think about when (including compost application, bed repair and rain barrel installation). Since all of this depends on our region, it is helpful work to have done + recorded.
The key will be to look at this calendar each month. I wrote into my regular planner to look at the garden calendar on the first of each month + to fill in key tasks + considerations.
I added a pocket in the back for empty seed packets. These have lots of information on them (like when the seeds should emerge) and remind me exactly what I bought.
Again, flexibility is key in the garden. One week of rain turned into two right when I should have been planting my spring seeds. The ground was soggy + waterlogged for days after that, so we were a little late in planting. Oh, well. We'll see what happens + appreciate the hard work we did to try. I'll keep watering our little tomato and pepper plants. We'll see what thrives and what doesn't. It's ok. We all tried our best.
It feels good to have committed to planting some possibility...to tend it...to have hope in the future. We planted bok choy, radishes, spinach and beets. We weeded the beds and cleaned leaves + debris from the strawberry plants. Pollinator + butterfly seed mixes were planted for the birds, bees and butterflies we hope to see again soon. Possibility looms + we wait with humble expectation. It feels good to hope.
It can be the hardest to write about the things closest to one's heart. Does it really need to be said? The reasons for Asian hate are just so ridiculous...the reasons for Asian love just so obvious.
I have a precious Asian daughter. We travelled to Wuhan, Hubei, China during Chinese New Year years ago to meet the tiny girl I'd been loving for her whole existence. I don't think anyone needs to have an Asian daughter or a Black son in order to know that lives like theirs matter and that sometimes this value requires special attention.
People are people where ever they grow up or live. This statement does not diminish any one's value in any way. It elevates the value of each and every person as an individual. Opportunity and circumstances differ. Every person has value no matter what line of work they find themselves in. Blaming women for the fact that men want to pay for sex is not logical. Americans cannot blame the Chinese for careless American attitudes toward or poor handling of Covid-19. Just sayin'.
Move in love.
Tend to them.
Watch them grow.
Those words feel so full of meaningful right now. I'm feeling the need to seed some new thoughts + feelings. To tend the seeds...to pull the weeds...to be gentle with my self...tender. To feel all the feelings in their time...to give them space.
As I plant flowers + food, I'm thinking about also seeding loving thoughts about my body, my worth, my abilities, my connection to higher Love.
Seeding, tending, noticing with gentleness + intention.
-We were ever so lucky to spend a week at Fforest camping under stars that caught my breath. Fforest: Being, Doing + Making in Nature by Sian Tucker (one of the founders) offered a potent dose of memory + longing. Gorgeous. Glimpse above.
-Still: The Slow Home by Natalie Walton is a book I've been waiting + waiting to see. It's lovely.
-Ben Howard's new album is out. (A great pairing for the Fforest book.) We've savored two of his concerts + until concerts are a thing again...we are looking forward to this.
Makes me smile from start to finish.
Made in Flint, Michigan from plastic water bottles.
Honor the people who grow our food.
Hope the sun is shining where you are both metaphorically + physically, friends.
Indecision is not my usual mode. I (usually) know what I like + I (usually) trust my instincts. This year, however, I've noticed that indecision has become a sort of recurring theme. I can't decide which trainers or bed frame or job or city to commit to...these don't fit quite right, I don't like the legs on that one, I don't know if we can afford it. As I put off decision after decision...they pile up + it all starts to feel overwhelming. So I'm starting with a plan to decrease my decision making when it comes to meal planning. :)
As usual, I don't know if my personal thoughts will be helpful to anyone else, but...here are a few of my recent thoughts on forming (or reforming) a system for meal planning:
So...I decided to keep the plan I've been using...but to give myself two actual meal choices in each supper category...for each season. Right now the categories I'm using include:
Right now, we eat mostly vegetarian + gluten-free + considering some other food sensitivities, so coming up with meals can feel like a long checklist of can-we/can-we-not. I decided that two meals in each category would allow for many weekly combinations. I also left a few options in the meals. For example, one of our favorite meals lately is lemon rice. The base of it is jasmine rice, a little butter, lemon, parmesan cheese + scallions (because they are in season now!) + salt + pepper flakes. We would all enjoy eating it just like this, but adding peas, asparagus, broccoli +/or radishes along with some protein offers an opportunity for both variety + for using fresh spring produce.
Making seasonal iterations of this plan will offer even more chance for variety + for using the season's offerings. For spring, I chose lemon rice + broccoli/cashew rice as our rice meals. In the summer, I may choose a deconstructed sushi bowl + rice with peanut sauce as our rice meal choices. I've put some suggestions on the other season's lists, but I'll leave those decisions for those seasons.
This process reminded me of what Courtney Carver is doing with her 333 wardrobe challenge. The three month blocks in 333 have always seemed a little arbitrary for me weather-wise, but I recognize that it's more about dealing with the system (+ the vast majority of the decision making) all at once + then living + resting within its boundaries for the following three months.
I hope it's obvious that we can eat whatever we want to...whenever. This system is not meant to be restrictive in any way. It just exists as a helper for coming up with meals week after week.
A few questions I asked myself along the way:
I have to say that I feel pretty good about crossing this task off my list. My list looks nourishing + delicious + budget-possible. I don't have to make my shopping list until Friday + it's only Wednesday. I feel like I've done my future self a favor.
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time