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Thread: Its tough to live simply sometimes, the spiral of change.....

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    Senior Member sylvia's Avatar
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    Its tough to live simply sometimes, the spiral of change.....

    Yes it's been work to tackle the challenge of living simply. To rewire your thinking, change your habits, most decisions have three fold meaning, I am trying zero waste living but that is impossible and time consuming. All I can do it just recycle and reuse. It feels like a spiral and to throw in my minimalistic tendencies I feel like living in Zen like home in Japan would be my answer. Has anyone been there or experience Japanese home traditions, like taking your shoes off etc.We now have a baby and I buy used and toys too. So I am waiting for inspiration in continuing my journey which sometimes isnt so simple or practical. Lately I leaning to what is easiest.Any similar experiences?

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    I think we all need to just find what we can do that is sustainable in our own lives. Whenever there is an option that is more frugal/simple/less waste that is available that we can do on a long term basis, we take that option. The biggest effect, I think, is what we do long term. The small things we do every day to move to the more simple lifestyle and make us feel good. The rest will come with time. Right now may not be the time to try to go all-in on simple and zero waste all the time.
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    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    No experience living in a zen-like environment. But I will note that, for the last two weeks, we've had our daughter, SiL, and their 9-month-old baby living with us as they are between houses at the moment. And there is almost nothing about a baby that encourages a zen-like environment. So much stuff -- diapers (disposable in their case; they started with cloth and just got overwhelmed); bottles, bottle cleaners, and the little cage for bottle parts that goes in the dishwasher; little food packets; toys; the "go bag" for grandparents and day care; the tanks that pass for car seats and strollers now; ... Plus the lack of a dependable timetable; you're on call for eating, sleeping, soothing, bringing the little one home from day care when (s)he's sick, and other good reasons.

    And it seems so much of what a baby uses is not recyclable. Maybe it could be more so for some families, but for relatively young people working two career-type jobs, taking the time to be more environmentally aware falls well behind baby-care time and parent-care time.

    So this may not be an optimal time to try to simplify life, at least in that regard.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

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    I don't wear shoes in the house. That's pretty easy.

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    Senior Member Dhiana's Avatar
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    Spent 11 years in Japan learning some of the ways their lives are simpler/less cluttered.
    Learned a lot!! But dont forget, the KonMari method sprung from the same issues you are having.

    To start, most things are just plain smaller.
    The washers we had were smaller, they hang their clothes out to dry.
    Smaller dishes, smaller apartments, smaller homes.

    Smaller refridgerator made me more mindful of what I purchased. Less waste.
    Most people walked to the grocer or used their stellar public transportation
    so one can only carry so much food home.

    One can only carry so much stuff/clothes back home.
    Many places did not have an oven. If one does it is also the same machine
    as your microwave. Very smart.

    Many people do not have cars.

    Great recycling, a different kind of garbage/recycling is picked up 6 days per week.

    They are only now just getting into buying in bulk. Costco is there, but it is still very easy to buy a reasonable amount of something vs 50lbs and at a very reasonable price.

    I get a bit scared at some of the quantities I see things being sold. It's easy to buy a good little kitchen funnel at the many 100yen/$1.00 type stores, whereas here I couldn't find anything smaller than a three pack of giant sized funnels here in the states :0

    It is a huge difference in all around lifestyle and mindset.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Miss Cellane's Avatar
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    No experience with Zen at all, but way, way back, on these forums, someone (I'm sorry I can't remember who) posted something that has stuck with me.

    "Living simple isn't easy."

    Her examples were things like making all her own bread. Breadmaking, even if you use a bread machine, takes time. It takes having all the right ingredients in your house when you need to make the next batch. It takes remembering to make the next batch before you run out of bread.

    Cooking from scratch in general is considered "simple living." But it takes a lot of time and energy. You have to read the sales circulars, plan meals for the upcoming days, make a shopping list, shop (and maybe go to 2 or more stores to get the best deals), and then come home and put it all away. And after all that work, you still don't have anything to eat. You have to invest more time in cooking/preparing everything.

    Homemade cleaners are better for the environment. But it takes time to shop for the ingredients, and time to make the cleaners. Then, sometimes, they take longer to do the job than the store-bought cleaners.

    Line-drying clothes saves energy and makes the clothes smell great. It also takes more time than flinging those clothes into a dryer. You have to go outside, pin all the clothes on the line, wait for them to dry, then go outside again and unpin everything and lug it inside. Or you use drying racks inside, and if you have simplified to a small living space, you have no good, out-of-the-way space to put the racks in, and you have to side-step the racks for the next day. And you have to find storage space for the drying racks when you aren't using them. And you have to figure out how to hang up sheets to dry, because they are too big for the drying racks.

    Shopping thrift stores and yard sales takes much more time than driving to a big box store that you know carries exact what you need and buying it. Thrifting can take weeks or even months to find what you need, if there is something specific that you are looking for.

    I'm not saying you (general you, not the OP) shouldn't try to simplify your life. But we do need to acknowledge that if we are saving money, we are usually spending our time instead. If we are saving time, we are usually spending money to do so.

    With a new baby, life gets turned upside down anyway. No matter how you planned to do things, babies seem to have a mind of their own, and your plans don't always work out.

    So with a new baby in the mix, I'd take a week or two to think about what your priorities are now. Then take more time to figure out how to achieve those priorities in the time you have. And some stuff might just have to slide for a year or two, until you find a new balance.

    Maybe you use cloth diapers most of the time, but use disposables when Grandma babysits and on trips, so you don't have to deal with lugging dirty diapers around all day.

    Maybe instead of shopping for baby clothes, even used ones, you find a like-minded parents' group, where baby and toddler clothes are passed back and forth as the children grow.

    Maybe instead of zero-waste living as a goal, pick one small area of your life and make that zero-waste. Find one thing you can control and work on that. Then, maybe, when you are comfortable with that, move on to another small area.

    And make sure you are getting enough sleep. With a baby, I know that is hard. But everything is harder when you are running on a sleep deficit. Everyday tasks seem harder, you make more mistakes, life just seems to throw obstacles at you at every turn. If you can't get enough sleep during the week, can your partner take over the baby-care during parts of the weekend so you can nap? Or a grandparent or doting aunt or uncle or best friend? Because your post sounds tired, sylvia, and I think you need a chance to rest.

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    Taking shoes off at the door is easy and we've done it for over 20 years. The hard part? We have a lineup of shoes at the door....I still don't like that they aren't put away but this is where they are now "put away" at.

    Baby food: my sisters (I don't have kids), carried a food grinder everywhere and all their kids ate of their plate. Period. The kids like everything. no jars and no shopping for baby food jars. Want to feed oatmeal? Put it in miilk in the fridge at night and let it soak up. Spritz it through the blender in the morning and you're done.

    As far as hanging clothes indoors: I had hubby string a double clothes line in the spare room. He used a really strong "plastic covered cable" of some sort he found at Home Depot. It's 12inches from the ceiling. Easy on easy off. I don't use clothes pins. If it can't be tossed over the line, it hangs on a hanger. Love my clothesline.

    ANd mostly: decide what you CAN do and do it feeling good about it. Let the rest go for now. Your child likely needs far less than you feel you should have. Don't get caught up in "Jonesing" where parenting is concerned.

  8. #8
    TxZen
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    For me, zen ebbs and flows. Right now, I feel very zen but that is after almost a year of daily purging, trying new things, finding what works for us. We do take our shoes off at the door and I try to buy things that are not all packaged up. Instead of making my own bread, like the person mentioned above, I go to a local mom and pop store and buy a loaf and bring it home in my reusable bag. We try to find free events to go to instead of paying high costs for tickets. I bunch all my errands up into as few a trips as possible. What wasn't working? I bought a small vacuum, thinking it was easier to store and use. Wrong!! I had to return it and go back to my tried and true monster. With 3 dogs, 2 cats and boys, it keeps me sane and zen!! Another area- I tried buying in bulk but I don't have the storage area for it. I literally had TP stuffed into my tall boots in my closet because I had no where else to put it (we don't have a bathroom closet) Now I just buy TP at the beginning of the month and we are good to go. It's the small things with me.

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    Senior Member sylvia's Avatar
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    Wow thank you for all the great replies and I totally dig everyone's advice and thoughts. So I conclude that we need to live somewhere between simply when its possible but effeciently so as not waste stuff, time, and effort. Minimalism is a bit of simplicity and efficiency. So perhaps something like that calls for "minimalistic efficient simplicity!" Yes a baby will throw all that out the door, but thankfully infancy is so temporary, we have no family very little help so I just plainly try to get by day by day. So much work goes into raising and caring for a baby its easy to get overwhelmed. I am now 40 and I know when I just cant do it i pretty m,uch just leave it for a different day. The result is the same it gets done a few days later but Im just tired but not burnt out. "We'll get there faster if we take it slow".

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    Senior Member Gardenarian's Avatar
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    What do you mean by "three-fold meaning"?

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