simple changes

We stopped by the Fort Clatsop museum last week and I snapped this picture of the inside of Lewis and Clark's winter cabin.   Obviously, Lewis and Clark were on a walking tour of the west, so it's not like they carried a lot of possessions with them, but I love the organization and minimalism of this room.  Most impressive to me is how someone could walk into a forest with a few hand tools and create something this beautiful and sheltering.  

I know I'm not the only one who feels like we've lost so much.   We're drowning in possessions and freed up by convenience, but we're simultaneously bored and stressed out, both too heavy and too shallow.   

I'm still haunted by the hunger to live deeper, simpler, lighter.   I think it's a rare person, though, who can change overnight.  I find myself traveling around the mountain again and again, learning and unlearning, rising and falling, year after year.  

Recent changes:

  •  I quit coloring my hair.  I'm noticeably grey now and you know...I'm okay with it.  
  • Downsized my closet.  My first goal was a 40-piece wardrobe. (40 pieces includes pants, skirts, dresses, sweaters, t-shirts, blouses.)  It seemed like a huge thing at first, but I know I could eliminate more.  
  • Researching bulk options for regular purchases instead of buying individually wrapped containers. We're pretty limited because of the size of our town, but I'm gathering ideas.  
  • Making lightweight cloth bags out of old clothes for bulk purchases.
  • Getting more serious about composting.  Did you know you can compost the contents of the vacuum cleaner bag?  Your tea bags and coffee filters?  Bits of thread and natural fabrics and yarns? Dryer lint?  Use shredded paper as a garden mulch?
  • Looking for ways to limit new purchases as much as possible.  If I can't get something used, then I want to look for the least amount of plastic in the packaging and the most easily recycled goods. And if there's no recyclable option?  I want to get comfortable with going home emptyhanded and getting creative.   It's amazing how hard it is to observe this limit.  We are so conditioned to having access to what we want when we want it.
  • Seeking ways to use every bit of food.  Onion ends and carrot peels and other veggie bits go into a freezer bag to be used in stock.  Bean liquor makes amazing soups and rice.  There's so much to learn in this area.  (Check out Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal for a beautiful exploration of using food well.) 
  • Eating lower on the food chain.  My long and winding journey out of meat eating began with forcing myself to really THINK about the cost of the food on my plate, realizing that every chicken thigh or hamburger was once a living animal and had to be physically killed, butchered and highly processed in order to arrive at my plate.   People often say to me that vegetarian eating is too much work, but how is it possible that in our day, meat and dairy are the easiest, most convenient and plentiful foods?  There are high and hidden costs to that way of eating; I no longer allow myself the luxury of ignoring them.
  • Working on a natural first aid kit.  Eventually I hope to replace our whole medicine cabinet with natural remedies. 

Two books that are in constant use these days:  Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson (her website is fun too) and Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar.

Infusing olive oil with herbs to make a burn salve.

The list.

 Forty-item fall wardrobe.  Yep, I love neutrals.  I also find I love having limits.  Having less to choose from seems to ignite my creativity, whereas choice seems to stifle it, so this kind of living brings out the happiest part of me.  I'm ready for some happy!

 “Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”

~ Frederic Chopin