Time to revive the blog

We visited some friends of my husband this weekend. They are living my dream, and I hadn't realized how much I had strayed from it. I am reviving the simplicity blog to keep myself on track for a bit! Last time, it really helped to have somewhere to record progress.

I become more and more disheartened daily with society and what is considered "socially acceptable".

I need to first do another "spring" cleaning of my house and restore it's easy-to-clean, clutter-free state. I haven't gotten *that* off track, but I do see it sliding in that direction, so I need to catch it before it totally derails. I'll be posting daily progress reports per room as I did before.

Time for what?

An interesting thing about having no TV - I never realized how much TV served as an alternate clock. Instead of scheduling our time by what needed to be done, we scheduled it around TV shows. "I'll do it after the news," I would say. Now I just do it when I realize it needs to be done. We are no longer using TV as an authority of when to do what.

On the downside, I didn't hear about President Ford's death until well after the fact. I'm used to being so up to date on everything.

I think things will be better once I am connected to the Internet again at home, not relying on my work connection or the occasional visit to Rachel's house. That sense of disconnection is eerie.

Days of our Lives

The Five Days of Christmas:

Day 1 without TV: "Lord, keep me from being one of those holier-than-thou people who think any experiment I undertake successfully makes me better than everyone else. Amen."

Day 2 without TV: "Wow, it's quiet around here."

Day 3 without TV: "Wish I could see the news. Wonder what's happening in the world?"

Day 4 without TV: "What's this thing called? A radio?"

Day 5 without TV: "Lord, if I weaken and go back to TV again, please help me view responsibly and limit my TV viewing to a minimum. I've learned my lesson! Now where's the remote??"

Day 1 without Internet: "This is hard."

Day 2 without Internet: "Wish I could check e-mail."

Day 3 without Internet: "Wish I could blog."

Day 4 without Internet: "Wish I could send some pictures."

Day 5 without Internet: "Lord, just help me survive until the stupid dial-up is activated!"

Merry Christmas! Thank goodness for Rachel's cable Internet connection!

I have a good excuse...

Two days until the big move.

I am reminded of our late dog, Rusty. He used to love to cuddle up with me on the couch, and when Ed asked me to get up to do something (find the remote, answer the phone, turn down the pot on the stove, etc.,), he would look over, see Rusty, and say, "Oh, never mind. I see you have your excuse in your lap." Then he would get up and do it himself.

I have been gifted with excuses. The reason I wasn't exercising or eating healthfully or quilting or reading or playing harp is that I had a house for sale. Really - the whole scenario of constantly cleaning up for showings put a cramp in otherwise important tasks - not to mention that we were so anxious over whether or when the house would sell, which left little time for the peace of mind required to be productive and organized. I was in a full-fledged limbo and therefore frozen in time. The house was my excuse, and it was squarely in my lap.

After the house left my lap, of course, our tenure at Rachel's house climbed in. How can I exercise with an added 2 hours of driving to work every day? How can I eat right when Chris considers sugar one of the main food groups? How can I quilt or study for the CMT exam when all those tools are packed up? The answer has been, of course, no way. I sit restlessly (but guilt-free) on the couch with my excuses in my lap.

We move on Thursday, though, and that means I have to stand up and all my excuses will fall to the floor. It will be time for action and - gasp! - accountability.

We'll be a-movin' and a-shakin' - and maybe it's rather symbolic that we don't own a couch anymore.


As we are making our final preparations for our move, we have a few decisions to make. We are moving to an area which does not provide access for DSL Internet, cable Internet, or cable TV. This is disheartening, for I have been spoiled by high-speed, dependable Internet service for several years, and I am loathe to change at this point. I don't mind downgrading my lifestyle, downgrading my wardrobe, downgrading my expenses - but downgrading my Internet speed is something I'd rather avoid.

We checked briefly into satellite service, which demands a chunk of money for initial setup and can be expensive with a lengthy commitment. Regardless of whether we go with satellite or dial-up Internet service, we were intrigued to learn that the satellite TV service is a separate package from the Internet. For the first time in our lives, Ed and I started seriously flirting with the idea of having no TV after we move.

This is not an easy decision. We're not addicted to TV by any means, but we do enjoy a wide variety of programs - mainly nonfiction types. Ed watches the Food Network primarily, but we both enjoy shows from the History Channel, A&E, public TV, the Travel Channel, TLC, Discovery, Animal Planet - and, of course, I am somewhat of a news junkie. No TV? It's a strange scenario. But intriguing.

After all, we have many interests outside TV. Ed will be spending a lot of time sawing and splitting wood, landscaping our new yard, walking the dog, cooking, and reading. I have so many hobbies I never have time for - quilting, sewing, cross-stitching, harp playing, piano playing, singing, working with photos, studying for the CMT exam, and, of course, reading. That doesn't count all the things I want to learn.

A restriction on TV wouldn't concern anyone but us. We have no kids living in the house anymore, and the grandkids, when they visit, don't watch TV anyway (Rachel severely limits their TV access, and anyway, they don't really care about it and would rather read a book).We by no means consider TV evil or anything sinister like that. Indeed, we find very educational programs to watch, uplifting, informative programs, not just entertaining ones. But even watching uplifting, informative programming takes time away from other more meaningful pursuits.

There is a grassroots movement to alert society to the effects that TV has on our lives. Check out this site, for instance. A number of web sites attest to this. Listen to Jerry Mander, the author of Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television:

In the US, the average television viewer is seeing about 23,000 commercials every year. The specific content of those messages may vary, but the intent is identical-to get people to view life as a nonstop stream of commodity satisfactions. Buy something! Do something! Commodities are life! And this message is the same everywhere.
Even if we don't talk about the banality of TV in general, the dumbing-down of America, the lack of social and family life, the time wasted - we have to mention the advertising aspect. Advertising which has grown into an art form. Advertising whose whole purpose is to encourage us to buy their products because "commodities" line the road to happiness. It's not exactly what we want to focus on during our "downsizing" journey.

I think we'll get some form of Internet service, but forego the TV part, at least for a while. No telling what we will accomplish in our new-found time!

I have all I need

I like my little Toyota Corolla, but it lacks one feature I would love to have. On my old car, a Jeep Liberty, I could listen to the radio and simultaneously see what song was playing and who was singing it. A text message of sorts came across the radio display with these details. I really need that, because I do not keep up with a lot of popular culture and have no idea who the different groups are. Sometimes I will hear a beautiful arrangement of a song and have no idea who is performing it.

On my commute this morning, I was listening to a local station that plays nothing but Christmas music at this time of year, and song after song played as I wound my way to Ellsworth in the dark. The only voices I could recognize were Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole. All the other singers were foreign to me. Suddenly my eyes fell upon a button marked TEXT. I decided to push it just to see what happened. Lo and behold, the name of the song scrolled across the display, followed by the name of the performer. What a surprise - I had that capability the whole two years I've owned the car - and never realized it!

The situation reminded me of a children's sermon I used to give, which went something like this: A woman of modest means wanted to go on a cruise. She scrimped and saved until she finally had enough money for the ticket. She realized, though, that she didn't have any extra for food, so she packed a bag of cheese and crackers, and while the other passengers enjoyed the delicious buffets, our heroine stayed in her cabin, eating her self-imposed ration of cheese and crackers. On the last day of the cruise as she exited the ship, she discovered that the price of her ticket had included all the food, too! She could have feasted, but instead she existed on her limited snacks. The potential was there all the time - only she never realized, so she couldn't use it.

I read somewhere that we only use a fraction of our brains. Our potential for intelligence and creativity is far greater than we make use of. We think it's because we don't have enough power, when in reality, we have had it all along. Only we never realize it.

As the year draws to a close and I make my list of what I want to accomplish in 2007, I must remind myself to dream big. I know I have the energy, determination, intelligence, and skill to bring my dreams to life - I just have to tap into them. I'll take my cue from Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, who had her eureka moment after much turmoil. I don't want to discover too late that I had the power of the ruby slippers the whole darn time.

Baby Steps

It's so entertaining to watch Charlotte maneuver around a room. She is a year old now, but she hasn't learned to walk yet, and crawling is still her main mode of transportation. She laughs when she stands by herself; I can easily see that her few seconds of freedom leave her giddy. She has yet to take that first step on her own, but when she does, it will be baby steps all the way. You know the kind - wobbly, uncertain, exhilarating, anxious baby steps.

And baby steps take patience.

I know that our journey to simplicity starts with baby steps, but I seem to lack the patience this method requires. I want to leap and run a marathon immediately. I want to downsize and be done with it, making it as unconscious an act as breathing. Yet it will be baby steps for quite a while.

A book I recently read had the statement that we make over 200 food choices a day. That surprised me; in fact, it didn't seem possible. Yet, every time we pass a Baskin Robbins, every time we pass a bakery, every time we open the refrigerator, every time we go to the supermarket, we make choices of what to eat, what not to eat, even whether to eat. The same thing can be said for all other choices in our lives. The art of enveloping one's life in simplicity is an evolution, which by definition is ongoing.

So far in our effort to downsize and simplify, we have managed to get a good crawl started. Our new house is not the place for a marathon - at least not yet. But it is the perfect location for taking our journey to the next level - those tentative, scary, thrilling baby steps.