and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.
Gratitude is such a vital part of embracing simplicity...recognizing "enough"...and finding contentment. It is through gratitude that we can start to focus in on what we already have rather than being distracted by what we still want.
Gratitude is grounding + centering + allows us to be truly present. My faith paints that for which I am grateful as "gift". There is nothing I can do to earn a rainbow or a sunset or all that is encapsulated in a grapefruit. These are evidence of love.
It's not difficult to come up with an endless stream of gratitude once I get started. The light of the moon, the sound of laughter, a warm hug, seasons, excitement in the eyes of a daughter, a new leaf on a houseplant, friendship freely offered, drinking water, shadows, seeds, a warm shower...
I am here + there is good here.
Grateful for you too, friend,
It's been well over a decade now that I've been swimming in the sea of minimalism + simplicity + getting back to the land + creation care + thoughtful consumption. I love this sea that I've voluntarily jumped into. It meshes so well with my overarching faith...the values of love + compassion. This time of year, in this world of minimalism, often brings out all the reminders not to overindulge, to avoid Black Friday, to abstain from the consumerism + to stay the course.
Instead, one of the gifts I'm giving my simple self this year is the freedom to celebrate. I'm embracing all the joy + wonder...but none of the guilt...at least that's the goal. :) All year we've done the work of recognizing "enough" + feeling the abundance there. We've, to some extent, already broken the chains of consumerism...the lies of capitalism. This season is not about an even trade or money for goods. This season is all about "gift". Undeserved gift from God...giving without expectation of return (even in reaction)...presence over presents...service for the pure joy of it.
I've been inspired by the formulas others impose, but it's ok that I don't have one. I'm not going to overextend myself. There will be candles + clementines + fairy lights + cookies + hot chocolate with whipped cream + festive tunes. We know how to find joy + happy contentment in this simple magic.
I wish I could share the simple gifts that we are giving, but I don't want to spoil any surprises. Thankfully, we have some ideas. I started some pinterest boards months ago + have pinned thoughts along the way (for myself as well...which makes it easy to pick a few to share with those who ask). I will say that I love the thought of a useful luxury...something that I know will be used + used up...but is a little upgrade from the usual. I like the idea of stocking a stash of something someone loves (so that they don't have to spend their own money on it + it feels decadent to have more than enough of a special treat). I also like the idea of an experience to look forward to sharing.
This year, I'm throwing open my heart + mind. I'm shedding the need to perform Christmas. I'm welcoming joy + the sort of abundance that I know feeds our souls. If Black Friday offers me a deal on something that is on my list, I'm gratefully accepting. If we feel like joining in a little holiday bustle, I'll throw on my festive scarf + smile all the way through.
Tons of love,
It's been a couple of weeks since I poured over A Garden Can be Anywhere by Lauri Kranz + Dean Kuipers, but these images have stuck with me. I mean...jumpsuits, straw hats + wellies...also gardens! :) I wrote this book down in my planner, so that I'll remember to check it out from the library again in March for some garden planning inspiration.
I also reread one of my very favorite books, Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston within the past couple of weeks (with Julia). I highly recommend the audio book brought alive by Ruby Dee...so good!
A plant-based house.
"I personally like a disheveled, worn garment, " he says. "I like that patina things take on when they look well-worn."
Wear clothes? Then you're part of the problem.
Feel the burden of excess + refocus.
We do not need that illusion of past unity in order to actually unify people today.
We'll be celebrating a birthday over here this weekend! Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend too, friends!
Lots of love,
The other day, I mentioned a simple system that I can imagine using for my everyday clothing going forward. Outerwear, sleepwear, intimates + athletic wear are the other categories of clothing that I need in my life. It's nice to have a system for them as well, so that I know when I have what I need + what needs to be replaced rather than just shopping for things that are cute.
Figuring out what I truly need was my first step in the direction of simple. There was one specific moment that I remember reading the passage in the Bible when John the Baptist tells his followers that if they have two coats they should give one to someone who needs one (Luke 3:11). I had read this passage many times before, but this time I heard it literally. What did I think it meant before? I'm not sure...but on that day, I went down to our coat closet + saw that I had two warm coats. I chose one to keep + one to give.
Today I have three coats (hmm) that keep me comfortable in various stages of cold + precipitation (rain/snow). I have wellies that keep my feet clean when I plant potatoes...and warm + dry (paired with some wool socks that double as my slippers) in the snow. I have one winter hat, scarf + pair of gloves. A sunhat acts as decor + shades me from the sun. These are the same pieces that I've had for years.
For exercise, I have a pair of leggings, a pair of shorts, two tanks, a warmer layer, socks + trainers. I get really sweaty, so I find it necessary to have clothing set aside for this purpose. :)
I think the numbers in the intimates category have a lot to do with one's laundry schedule. I will say that I've found that one nude + one black bra are enough for everyday. I use an older one for the gym (so 3 total).
These days, I don't have separate sleepwear. I wear one of my layering tanks to bed year round (not the same one). :) I also have a robe that I don't wear often, so...we'll see how long that lasts in my closet.
I'm not trying to be as minimal as possible, but I also try not to hold more than my share. These pieces are enough. The system is simply to wear + maintain this set number of items that works for me. When an item is used up, then I can choose a new-to-me one. I feel very fortunate to have so many things that serve their purposes well + that allow me to feel prepared + content.
Clothing has been a major focus of my journey toward fair. I've (mostly) enjoyed trying different approaches to simple dressing...the organizing + considering + wearing + observing. I've written about this often, but I think I've finally reached a point that I can imagine being happy to maintain. I'm excited about having a sort of wardrobe system to use going forward. I like knowing how much is enough. At this point, I don't think I'll need to think about my clothing too much until spring...and that feels good!
My simple all-year wardrobe system ::
2 cashmere pullover
+layering tanks + long-sleeved tees
total number of tops: 13 + layering
2 fitted pants
3 soft pants
total number of bottoms: 7
total number of flexible elements: 3
total number of footwear: 4
This is what my simple wardrobe breaks down to for the life I lead right now. It's easy enough to switch some elements as needed, but I know from observation that these numbers work for me. As my wardrobe stands right now...in the colder months, I will make use of:
-button-downs, sweatshirts, tees + cashmere pullovers
-layering tees + tanks
-fitted pants + soft pants
-tennies, flats + boots
There is still variety that comes from dressing with the weather. In October, I wore button-downs + tees...In November, I'm wearing sweatshirts + tennies most....and by January, I'll be wearing the pullovers + boots most.
In the warmer months, I will wear:
-dresses + jumpsuit
-tees + tanks
-softs pants + shorts
-sandals + tennies
A few benefits that I've found to using a wardrobe like this:
-I know how much is enough + don't get anxious about not having enough at the beginning of each season.
-I can look at what I already have at the beginning of each season + easily make a small shopping or making list (or none at all).
-Less resources go into the making of less clothing.
-My clothes get used up.
-Clothing becomes much more multi-use. I don't save pieces for rare occasions.
-All of my clothes are getting worn regularly at some point during the year. I don't have any clothing sitting unused. No extra resources are being held from others.
-Replacement is more manageable, when there is less to "need".
-The need to replace keeps better time with my changing desires. Things do wear out with more regular use, and my tastes change slightly over time.
-I chose things carefully so that I can put together outfits for different uses (a pair of silky pants can be worn with a silky tank or cashmere sweater + flats for a nicer occasion...but can also be worn with a cotton tank + sandals on any warm day). I feel more prepared + have actually done less special occasion shopping since having a smaller wardrobe.
-One new item can make a big impact.
-I don't make as many impulse purchases...which saves money.
As always, I feel the immense amount of privilege that is inherent in a post like this. "Enough" can be defined in a vast number of ways. I am fortunate to even have the ability to consider "less" + what it might mean to me. This brings me to one more huge benefit of my simple (to me) wardrobe...it allows me to consider generosity with joy + freedom. I don't simply mean in an initial clothing-donation-generosity sort of way (which is a whole other discussion)...but in a continual open-handed way. I have freed up my budget a little bit more, so that rather than searching for another thing to buy...I can search for another way to give. And that truly shines quite a bit more joy into my life!
All lovely photos via links. Unlinked photo mine. They are representations of some of the pieces I own, not necessarily the pieces.
A few words on my other, more specialized clothing.
The universe is a single reality...one long sweeping spectacular process of interconnected events. The universe is not a place where evolution happens: it is evolution happening.
It is not a stage on which dramas unfold;
it is the unfolding drama itself.
This [great cosmological] story shows us in the deepest possible sense that
we are all sisters + brothers
fashioned from the same stellar dust, energized by the same star, nourished by the same planet, endowed with the same genetic code + threatened by the same evils.
This story...humbles us before the magnitude + complexity of creation.
It bewilders us with the improbability of our existence,
astonishes us with the interdependence of all things
+ makes us feel grateful for the lives we have.
And not the least of all,
it inspires us to express our gratitude to the past by accepting a solemn + collective responsibility for the future.
We woke to freezing rain which is now being covered with a layer of snow. One thing is for sure...it's sweater weather. :) I find it incredibly exciting that fair sweaters are popping up more + more. From the cult favorite, Babaa, to the lesser known (but equally lovely) Nido...I hope there is a sweater here for everyone to love. The cost of these sweaters is quite a bit more than the synthetic ones to be found near the bulk, plastic-packaged, toilet paper. If you've ever bought the materials to knit your own sweater (another wonderfully fair option), you know that slow fashion sweaters are not cheap. These are the sweaters you purchase thoughtfully...just one at a time. You wear them over + over this year...repair them as needed + keep right on happily wearing them for years to come.
american giant :: merino + cotton :: made in usa :: women's + men's
babaà :: spanish cotton + wool from local sheep :: designed, spun + made in spain :: for women, men + children
bare knitwear :: natural fibers :: made in peru :: fair-trade certified
baserange :: merino wool :: made in france
emerson fry :: merino wool + organic cotton :: made in the usa
endery :: deadstock alpaca :: fair-trade labor :: peru
good night, day :: natural fibers :: made in-house in canada :: knitting patterns available too
han starnes :: based in nashville :: han is taking this season off, but we look forward to her return
howlin' :: natural yarns from local mills :: knit Scotland + Ireland :: for women + men
james street :: traceable materials :: made in california
kordal :: natural fibers :: made in Peru :: fair wages
kowtow :: organic cotton + new zealand merino wool :: fair-trade from seed to garment
lauren manoogian :: natural fibers :: made in peru
l'envers :: natural fibers spun in spain + france :: designed + made in spain :: for women + men
micaela greg :: natural fibers :: made in usa + in fair-trade factories in peru
nido :: argentinian wool :: designed + handmade by a group of women knitters in beunos aires, upon request
pact :: made in organic cotton + wool :: GOTS certified :: made in a fair-trade factory
peruvian connection :: natural fibers :: made in peru :: fair wages
wol hide :: natural fibers :: made in peru :: small, family owned factory :: home knitters
See also: recycled cashmere + fair wool sweaters. This post will be easily accessible at the bottom of the ethical brands page...for when a sweater might be needed...and will be updated as needed. :)
All lovely photos via links.
Stay warm, friends!
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time