Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Friday?


Will you join us?

Click here if you dare.















Monday, October 20, 2008

Join the Rawkathon


Wow!

What a fun-filled treasure trove of an event THIS is!

Hurry on over and join (it's FREE). You can still listen to yesterday's talks until 8pm tonight.

For Our Health,

Lisa

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't Debate...Meditate!

Picture from photobucket


There's so much I'm NOT BUYING about our current political process. What a fiasco. Really!


As part of my month-long moratorium on politics, I am, of course, choosing not to watch the debate. What will I do instead, you ask?


Yoga class:


Deep breathing.

Chanting in Sanskrit.

Asanas.

Cleansing and balancing of my chakras.

Meditating (on things like health, peace, justice, wholeness, Oneness, calm, love, light, hope)

Releasing negative and blocked energy.

Inhaling the good energy of like-minded souls around me.

Raising my vibrational level and consciousness on behalf of all sentient beings.


* * * * * * *

What if they held a debate an no one came? If everyone just turned off their television sets in a form of nonviolent protest to the entire broken system of lies, corruption, and deception?

* * * * * * *

Don't debate...create!

Don't debate...hug your mate!

Don't debate...contemplate!

Don't debate...copulate! (Sorry, I couldn't resist that one ;-p)

Don't debate...marinate!

Don't debate...

I'll let you make it up from here :-)


Please write and let me know what you'll be doing tonight.
(And if you are choosing to watch the debate, just why that is.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What I'm Buying These Days


A few of my recent indulgences. Notice the name of the book :-)


We used to sing a song in our church choir called Be Ye Glad.
The opening lyrics said,
"In these days of confused separation.
In these nights of a restless remorse.
When the heart and soul of a nation
lay wounded and cold as a corpse...."

Although this song was written in 1980 and it's been about a decade since I sang it, it still rings true for our current times, wouldn't you agree?

In light of the current dire state of things around us, I'm focusing on what's good and right and true and relevant for me and those I love.

~More home-cooked meals.
~Less hurrying.
~Reading books vs. watching TV.
~No news.
~Enjoying nature.
~Relaxing into the normal flow of life and rhythm of our days vs. following the 'urge' to be DOING something all the time.
~Seeking out new friends. Spending time with 'old' ones.
~Laughter.
~Healthy choices.

Sunday saw me enjoying all three meals at home!!! It was great fun :-)

Breakfast
*Gluten-free french toast (with bread from this fantastic bakery)
(made with local organic eggs, rice milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon)
I discovered we were out of maple syrup (having thrown it away when the fridge went out after the recent hurricane). So....I melted real french butter and organic brown sugar together for the topping. Super duper topping!
And I ate three slices - all by myself - as hubby was out for a bike ride :-0

Lunch
Lisa's 'homemade' vegetable soup :-)

Broth/stock of your choice
2 cans chili-seasoned stewed tomatoes
1 can green beans
1 can corn
1 can carrots
1 can kidney beans
1 can diced new potatoes
salt
pepper
basil
oregano
parsely
Served with raw avocado and nacho chips.
A quick, easy, inexpensive, flavorful, bountiful meal.
Perfect for cool days and budget watching times!

Dinner
A rice steamer full of Kitchari. (our new favorite addiction from these lovely friends)
And steamed broccoli.

This was going to be served to my hubby with two of his favorite gluten-filled hard rolls, which are rare in our house these days. But, our cat, appropriately named Psycho, jumped up on the table and chewed into the rolls through the plastic before we could realize (or hear the crash from the other room!) what was happening. Yikes!

Indian candy (multi-colored anise and fennel seeds) for dessert. YUM!

The day was completed by watching The Bucket List.
(which we obtained FREE from the library).

How are you changing to combat the current 'climate'?

What good things are you buying into these days?

Friday, October 3, 2008

More Gratitude


Beautiful Azaleas - Charlotte, NC - April 2008


Now here's something we can all buy into :-)

Sit back.

Breathe.

Relax.

ENJOY!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On A Different Note

Image from Twin Muses.com


Found this invitation in my inbox today. Am intrigued.

Perhaps this is just what I need right now.

In my efforts of Not Buying the current political and economic climates - I had already intended to take October as a personal retreat month. I feel that is really what's needed to maintain my spirit and sanity during these trying times.

Care to join me?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Are We in Nazi Germany?

In follow up to my last post, I am heartbroken to report this story.

Again, I ask, WHAT ARE WE DOING TO OURSELVES? AND EACH OTHER?

Please pray.

Please work for unity within your own town.

Please educate yourself and those you love to overcome prejudice and hatred.

Please keep Dayton in your thoughts as we struggle to form a loving, healing, unifying response to this atrocity.

Indeed, we have met the enemy.....and it is us.


(Ed. Note Sept. 30th In today's update, there is apparently no evidence that this was a hate crime. Thank goodness! However, it does bring to light the need for more unity, tolerance, patience, and understanding during these trying times. (And a hesitancy to repeat what we hear or read - or even believe it(!) - until all the facts are known.) )


FDR said it correctly, "This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."


Go hear to see more insightful, relevant wisdom from his 1933 Inaugural Address.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

IF YOU'RE NOT OUTRAGED...

YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!!!!





A lot of us here in Ohio are in an uproar over this week's mass propaganda campaign. The DVD "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" was inserted into our newpapers and mailed to us FOR FREE! (see the NY Times site and this one for more info)


Smacking of blatant fear and war-mongering, I am not taking this lightly. Outrage barely begins to describe it!!!



Needless to say, this is one more thing about our country that I AM NOT BUYING!



There are SO many things WRONG with this attempt to polarize voters that it leaves me shaking my head in disgust and despair. WHAT ARE WE DOING TO OURSELVES?????



So...if you're in a swing voter state and you received one of the 28 million free copies that were sent out...please write and let me know your thoughts. Even if you didn't receive a copy, please do your part to participate in non-violent protest of some sort to let the people behind this crap know we will not fall into their trap.

I've been really trying hard to maintain my sense of peacefulness, hope, optimism, joy, gratitude, and balance during these past few months. When I got home last night and saw this in my mailbox, I must admit, the scales tipped towards righteous anger and indignation.

People, WE MUST BE THE CHANGE WE WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD!

So, today I will continue to focus on love, peace, justice, tranquility, equality, truth, happiness, generosity, etc. I will channel my frustration into loving nonviolent works of service...

Damn you John McCain, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and your war-mongering cronies!!!


Friday, September 5, 2008

Endings and Beginnings


In a way I'm glad we have examples of fiscal years rather than calendar years. This provides an option for a different perspective on finances. A new beginning, of sorts.

In my last post I mentioned that my initial experiment has gotten a bit off track as the year has progressed. This is, of course, mostly due to the fact that my spending as not adjusted to the new reality of my greatly reduced income. And while the things on which I choose to spend money have indeed changed, I still slip back to my old ways of rationalizing, grasping, acquiring unnecessary stuff.

So, I'm counting this month as another ending (of my 'old' ways) and a new beginning. Fiscal regrouping. Back on the horse of simple abundance and less materialism. Wise choosing from my higher self.

Will you join me?
More be-ing. Less do-ing.
More in the now.
Less in the past or future.
Enjoying what I have.
Indulging in the goodness of life.
Not necessarily more as better.
Living with less 'stuff' but far richer.
Will you join me?

And, just for reinforcement, here are some harvest photos from the new source of richness our lives this summer. Enjoy :-)

"Beauty is food for the soul."
~by Christine at BlissChick








Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Wheels Are Off the Wagon

Oy!

These days it seems the best I can do is to monitor my spending while I watch the money fly, fly away.

Don't get me wrong, good (no, VERY good) things are happening in return. But the balance isn't quite there. I'm still looking for it desperately. Have you see it?

Summer travels. New, exciting friendships. Promising business directions and opportunities. Soaking in the simple, quiet, close-to-home moments and also the expansive experiences of feeling connected to everything that is. Wow.

Intense stuff is happening here.

And in the midst of it all, the spending. The finances. The mortgage. The gas. This bills. (They're all paid, whew!) And a brand new 12-month 0% interest credit card that will soon contain my newly acquired (once again) debt. :-0

This living La Dolce Vita is not without its cost. But, man, is it ever worth it!

How are things in your corner of the world?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Practice


I'm leaving today for BlogHer in SanFrancisco. Another chance to practice what I preach.

To be aware of my spending, my consuming, my acquiring...

I want to live in the present and soak in the experience. I want to come home full of memories and stories and photographs and tribal wisdom...not trinkets and souvenirs and stuff that will stay in the bag.

I will be selective in my choosing.

I will be mindful of my practice.

May joy, abundance, and simplicity be my traveling companions.

Peace to you,

Lisa

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Empty Handed

Last night, for the first time in..well, I don't *know* how long...I left a bookstore without buying anything. And it felt wonderfully liberating!

I didn't even want to *go* to that store, but my husband requested we do so after dinner. I obliged. And you know what, I really didn't want to be there. This is huge for me!

I looked for one book I've been wanting. It wasn't available.

I walked back to my favorite part - the clearance section - where any number of treasures could be waiting for under $3.00. My eyes scanned the shelves and I actually picked out three or four books that I thought might be a good addition to my collection. But they did not resonate with me. I looked through them again. All three would have cost me less than $5.00. And I probably could have even asked my husband to pay for them. But, in the end, I decided they did not need to come home with me.

"Is there someone else who would be better served by owning this book right now?", I found myself asking. "This one, on love and relationships, do I need it? Or could it be a blessing to someone who is *really* struggling with love and life?"

The energy shifted. I *did*not*want*those*books.

It was an amazing moment.

Making the conscious choice to let go. To pass on. To freely, knowlingly make a choice for my higher good. Wow!

I actually did a little dance out in the parking lot. I threw my hands in the air...opening my arms wide...and twirled around. "I left a bookstore empty handed!", I announced to the world.

I gazed up at the rays of the sun bursting through a dark summer storm cloud. And felt tremendous joy, relief and liberation.

You see, my focus right now is on other things:

~The joy, pride, and satisfaction I will derive from spending time with female friends today as we gather for brunch, chatting, and crafty fun (we're making garden troughs!).

~The amazing feeling I will have preparing and sharing my homegrown salad. (I carefully, deliberately, ritually clipped, washed, rinsed, spun, and refrigerated the ingredients last night.)

~The tremendous peace, excitement and anticipation I feel about going to San Francisco this week (THIS WEEK!!!) for BlogHer.

~A sense of 'right-ness' and contentment with my life - even in the midst of many messy unresolved things and relationship. Knowing I am on the right path and *owning* my part of the journey.

Yes, my hands may have been void of books last night, but my arms and life are so full of others treasures. I am blessed beyond measure. Hallelujah and Amen!


Value is not made of money,
but a tender balance of expectation and longing.

~Barbara Kingsolver
in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Friday, June 27, 2008

Loving What We Love

Part of my Not Buying It experience has been processing the emotions that come along with my urge to shop, consume, purchase, acquire. What I've discovered is that most of what I buy, other than the necessities of course, serves to meet some deeply personal need for fulfillment and wholeness.

As I've played the witness to this over the past six months, I've run the spectrum of being amazed and disgusted with myself. I've been sad, disappointed, disheartened, frustrated, lonely, amused, overjoyed, and proud. Baby steps are indeed what's needed in examining such an ingrained part of ourselves. No radical change happens without being thoroughly processed.

What I've arrived at lately, as my life has become more full and happy, is that a sense of lightheartedness and intrigue now consumes my hours and days. Therefore, the need to shop and buy as a way to pass the time, fill the boredom, and assuage my sadness and fears has greatly diminished. In fact, it is currently non-existent.

The summer solstice seems to have brought about a shift of great magnitude within me. My energy level has increased. I wake up early to watch the sunrise. I marvel at the moon and stars as I come home at night. I follow the flight paths of the butterflies as they dart through my garden. I sing at the top of my lungs in my car. Smiling, I hum my way lightly through my days.

I believe I am learning to love what I love. Truly love it. Completely love it. Taking the time and attention needed to allow myself to love and be loved. It has been an unbelievable transformation, the Source of which I am eternally grateful and awesomely humbled.

So, what could be a better way to celebrate this milestone than photos from my very first harvest of radishes (!) and a poem by Mary Oliver - two things that I love very much :-)

ENJOY~





Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Growth


First, please accept my sincere apologies for the sparsity of posts lately. There have been all manner of ideas running through my head for this forum, but sorting them out, mulling them over in my brain and then actually getting them onto the keyboard - along with my annoying sense of perfectionism and procrastination (!) seem to get in the way of posting. Does that ever happen to you?

At times, also, my inner gremlin still - despite my best attempts to shoosh him - has a tendency to demean the perceived value of what I want to write and share with others. That, my friends, is a constant battle I face. And I've done enough self-help reading to know I'm not alone, as there seems to be no shortage of gremlins striving to squelch our creativity and sense of self worth.

So, in a triumphant manner today, I am up early to watch the sunrise, listen to the birds sing their way into this summer morning, and share my thoughts with you:

As you can see, our garden is coming along quite nicely. Each day brings a new sight as I look out my kitchen window at this miraculous creation. Butterflies, seemingly overnight growth of certain plants, funky mushrooms and fungus growing in the topsoil, some plants growing rapidly and others withering for whatever reason - all of these are a blessing to me these days. (Okay, well not so much the fungus. While I marvel at it, it really kind of grosses me out!)

I continue to be amazed at the incredible simplicity - and yet complexity - of the fact that you can place a seed in the ground, give it water, some nourishment and sunlight - and voila - get food! I am *loving* this sense of being connected to the earth and its bounty.

Similar growth is happening inside me as well. My inner awakening continues as I work to become more and more conscious of my choices, attitudes, and actions. While my spending hasn't completely taken the path I had hoped it would when I started this project back in January, I am still farther down the road to consumer enlightenment than I would have been otherwise. And, for that I am grateful.

As with my garden, I continue to cultivate the daily necessities of a life lived more authentically, effortlessly, and abundantly. Like the weeds I pull from the soil, I take the time and presence to pull out those things that no longer serve me. Fear, depression, worry, judgment, anxiety, materialism, old behavior & belief patterns, dogma, ineffective coping methods - are all being yanked out and replaced by trust, health, peace, non-attachment, joy, acceptance, and an overall sense of (and commitment to) embracing the goodness and wonder that life has to offer.

For the first time in the eight years we've lived in this house, we are connected to many our neighbors by the common denominator of growing food. Within a half block radius, the spectrum of gardening is wide. It's exciting to see the growth that is taking place - both in our gardens and our lives. The sense of community is expanding as we share in each other's victories and commiserate in keeping pests away, nurturing the runts of our harvests, and planning a neighborhood feast for late summer.

The majority of the salad you see here is organic and local, with the lettuce and radishes coming from just around the corner. (Thanks, Michelle and Jim, Krista and Michael) Each bite was worth savoring, as the magnitude of what we were consuming (ah-ha, a much more fulfilling kind of consumption!) made its way into our bodies, minds, and spirits.

In closing, I *must* recommend that you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It is a profound work of importance for our world today. (In fact, I will have to suspend my oath of not buying books this year in order to have this in my personal collection. I've checked it out three times from the library already!)

I'd love to hear what growth is taking place in your inner or outer garden these days.

Thank you for joining with me to be the change we wish to see.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Go Dennis!

I typically don't wax political. Especially in the blog forum.

However, this deserves attention.

As mentioned before, part of my year of Not Buying It includes rhetoric and status quo busting as well as my personal economic overhaul.

Get thee to a TV right now and listen to Denis Kucinich read the 35 (yes, 35!) articles of impeachment against GWB. I am so grateful to have this fellow Ohioan stand in the halls of our government and express what so many of us feel and yet haven't been able to translate into action. Rock on Dennis!!!

Go here and/or here to sign a petition for the impeachment.


We MUST be the change we wish to see.
~Gandhi

Monday, May 26, 2008

Another Step


For the past several years, my neighbor, Mike, has grown a small but mighty vegetable garden.  More than once he shared some left over plants with me and I stuck them in a small 2' x 3' space and, amazingly enough, watched them grow and produce....food!!!

In addition, Mike is a fabulous cook.  Many times, we've enjoyed fresh veggies and expertly prepared dishes from Mike's garden.  :-)

Wanting to expand my vegetable options, I emailed another neighbor, Michelle, early this year and asked if she wanted to garden with me this year.  She enthusiastically said "yes!".

And so, in January, we found ourselves at my dining room table, sharing tea and cookies and leafing through a seed catalog like teenagers with the latest Seventeen magazine.

The seeds arrived and Michelle started growing them in her house.  Warmed by grow lights her husband had constructed a few years before, they emerged from their little plastic beds and took on a lives of their own.

Some weeks ago we started peas and onions in Michelle's yard.  The onions are doing well and the peas, while growing strong, are providing a nice salad bar for our local renegade groundhog.  Hmmpphhh!

Now it was my turn.  Planning and plotting where to put my expanded.  Which part of the yard?  What materials to use?  How big to make it?  Where to get organic soil?

With tremendous help from my dear hubby, we tackled this feat last Sunday.  In a morning to evening frenzy, we bought and built our garden space.  It was great fun!

Then, this past Saturday, our first plants went in the soil.  Now they're on their way to what we hope will be a prosperous season.  (Once we figure out how to fence 
 them in and protect them from the deer, rabbits, and groundhog!)

In addition to the sense of community that's been created by this little venture, I've been motivated by what I'm learning in Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  Some of those facts can be gleaned in this article, which I just received in my monthly Organic Consumer Association newsletter.  I had no idea big business played such a dastardly role in controlling the food we consume.  Yikes!

So...in another step towards more sustainable living...and as part of my Not Buying It year...I give you....THE GARDEN:
 BEFORE

DURING

AFTER

Kudos to the folks at Mother Earth News for their timely article on building a quick and easy garden!  And also to our other neighbor, Gretchen (soon to be 90 and legally blind) who provided all the newspaper for our project.  (We don't subscribe to our local paper, and were faced with the very unsustainable possibility of having to go BUY a bunch of Sunday editions to use in our garden.)  She was a lifesaver :-)


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

In the poetic words of the troubled yet awesome Amy Winehouse...

"What kind of fuckery is this?"

These lyrics struck me as pretty strong and offensive at first, but they have now almost become my mantra. She just puts it out there. And sometimes that's what is truly needed.

On my way to work yesterday, gas was $3.72/gallon. That was on the other side of the street. On my side of the street (the direction I was driving to work) it was $3.95/gallon. I was running late for work and couldn't stop to turn around and get gas. I *knew* that by the time I left work last evening, all stations would be jacked up to $3.95/gallon. And sure enough, that's what happened.

I paid $20 for 5 gallons of gas.

Indeed, what kind of fuckery is this?

In my world of Not Buying It, there are so many things that I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around lately. Who's getting rich from the gas prices? What's up with the cost of rice and flour? Where will it all end? Are we doomed to take the path of the Roman Empire? How will we survive?

For the past month or so I've been quite unsettled. Off kilter. Short of breath. Tired.

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I suppose I am affected by the magnitude of disaster and tragedy that has befallen our world lately. If we are truly all connected, the collective energy of the planet cannot help but be shaken by the profound nature of so many souls suffering and leaving the earth in a short period of time.

And that's when I need more sleep. And rest. And down time. And covers over my head. And close friends who love and support me. And to nurture myself.

Because, once again, I remind myself that my well-being is up to me. Be it financial, emotional, physical, psychological, or spiritual...it must be an inside job.

So...in light of my disgust and anger and frustration and discontent...what am I *doing* or how am I *be-ing* to counteract that?

~listening to Eckart Tolle
~reaching out to friends and mentors
~napping with my cats
~slowing down
~choosing where to spend my energy
~recognizing what I own and what I don't (and letting go)
~moving forward in building my coaching business
~planning fun get-aways that will nurture my spirit and expand my horizons
~spending less
~acquiring less
~planning a garden to provide some of my own food
~continuing to look for ways to save money and live more sustainably
~letting myself be loved

One day at a time. One moment at a time. Deep breathing. Centering. Focusing. Incense burning. Lots of prayer.


Write and tell me how you're surviving in these days of uncertainty.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Checks Are In The Mail

With all the recent hub-bub about our rebate checks coming - and GWB and the oil companies laughing all the way to the bank (not to mention the money lenders in China) - here's a little something to give you a dose of perspective.

Many thanks to the insightful Megan and her Having Enough Blog for this updated link and video.

Don't forget to visit the Simple Living Network to weigh in on the Not Buying the Rebate Bribe message.

Peace Out,

Lisa

Monday, April 14, 2008

What I'm Learning These Days

Hello.

I apologize for my absence over the past two weeks.  Life and time and stress and obligations have all taken precedence over posting in this forum.  Many wonderful blog ideas have come and gone through my mind during that time - and yet none have made it onto these pages. 

Yes, that is frustrating to me.  But, oh, well.  Those occurrences help my practice of non-attachment, letting go of perfection, realizing I cannot do it all, etc.

This week my husband and I are in Charlotte, North Carolina, visiting my dear friend and blog sister, Gail and her family.  It is a joyous change of pace and scenery.  

With my new mindset of Not Buying It, vacation travel takes on a whole new meaning.  As one who likes to collect *stuff* - travel to new and different places has always been an occasion to acquire more mementos to document the trips and connect with the memories.  Mugs, magnets, postcards, jewelry, posters, t-shirts, books, blah, blah, blah.  An endless array of things exist in various places within my house.  Oddly enough, most of them (or at least the ones I can recall now) are still in the bags in which I brought them home.  The plans I had for them long forgotten.

Of course this is not true of every single thing I've acquired while away, but definitely the majority.  Mugs packed away in tubs in the basement,  ornaments in boxes that are only displayed during the Christmas holidays, books on dusty shelves, postcards and brochures still in the bags, scarves packed away, t-shirts long folded away in the bottom of a drawer, jewelry stuffed in boxes and cloth sacks in a drawer overflowing with watches and earrings and necklaces and bracelets.  On and on and on.

While I love the reminders and the connection these things have to those special places I've been blessed to experience - they are in no way a substitute for the experience itself.  Or the relationships that have been formed along the way.

So...as I travel on this particular journey, I am trying not to buy *stuff*.  I am fighting the urge to acquire or to mark my presence here with trinkets and things that will go home with me - adding pounds to my luggage that must be lugged back through the airport. 

I just want to soak in the essence of BE-ing here.  I want to bask in the sun of friendship and family love and adorable doggy kisses and cool new sights and sounds.  

I want to resist the urge to spend my hard-earned and short supply of money in exchange for another something that will take up space in my home.  Instead I will relax, breathe, step away from the cashier, and let go.  I will listen to the birds, marvel at the azaleas, take photos of the trees, drink the sumptuous tea and enjoy being present in this moment.  

Letting myself deeply experience the NOW of being here - with these dear, special, loving, kind, generous people is by far the richest thing I can acquire.  And, when all else fades away, what will remain in my mind, my cells, my spirit for as long as time goes on.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

In the Dark

On this Saturday evening, we're sitting at home in the dark to honor this event.

What are you up to?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Off Track

Okay, it's confession time...

As with many of my past New Year's resolutions, my attempts at change have lost steam over the past few weeks. I continued strong until about mid-February and then seem to have petered out.

While my awareness of not spending continues, I haven't been keeping track of it (in the calendar I designed at the beginning of the year). Also, in the essence of full disclosure, I have knowingly, consciously purchased items that, in my original post, I indicated I would not buy this year, namely two tote bags (one here and one here) and a candle. Hhhhmmmpphhh!

It seems this lifestyle change takes focus and energy - and lately both of those things have been occupied by other endeavors and life circumstances. Thus, the not-buying-it work has slid down on the totem pole of priorities.

However, I remain committed to this quest!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Two good things of late:

1) My spending IS much more in line with my values. I continue to seek to purchase local and/or handmade goods as much as possible. I also focus my choices on things that are consumable and/or experiential (like a visit to this awesome museum); things that won't sit around and just collect dust.

When considering a purchase or a donation, I am asking myself, "Is this important to me? Is this worth the exchange of my hard work and life energy for this product?"

I have reduced the amount of catalogs I receive by participating in this great new web site. Also, I have requested to have my name removed from non-profit mailing lists for companies that are no longer in line with my values and vision for what I want the world to be.

2) I am happy to report that, other than our mortgage obligation (which happens to be at a great interest rate with less than 10 years to go), I am now DEBT FREE!

I have paid off my credit card balances! And I just opened a new savings account (my previous one was used up and closed when I was out of work last year). This is the one in which I plan to deposit the $600 rebate check I'll get from GWB in May.

So - all in all - my falling off the wagon so to speak hasn't been as dire as past failures at making lasting change (mainly diet and exercise!). It's just that, like anything else if life, it is a work in progress...with lots of learning along the way!

And your journey? How's it going? Please comment and let me know how you find yourself and your spending as we near the end of our first quarter together.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Our Primal Nature?

I often get epiphanies at very odd times - in weird places. As I was changing the sheets on our bed today, it occurred to me that, perhaps, the act of shopping is part of our primal nature.

Is our bent towards the acquisition of *stuff* a leftover genetic thing from our days of hunting and gathering?

Now that, for the most part, our survival needs are met and we don't have to hunt and gather for our basic needs any longer - have we replaced that urge with the shopping and spending that consume so much of our days?

I know I shop for security reasons. This has manifested itself quite clearly in the years since 9/11. Each winter since then I have hoarded a commodity of some sort. The first year it was toilet paper. Then it was cereal. Then it was boxes of tea. This past year or so it was canned goods.

A part of my psyche told me that if I had enough of "x" on hand things would be okay. All is right with the world as long as we have canned goods!

And that's where the hunter-gatherer thing comes in. While our ancestors had to spend the better part of their days working hard for food-shelter-clothing, we now have those things in abundance. And yet our genetics remain unchanged, which leaves us with the desire to continue to hunt and gather.

Who among us hasn't experienced the thrill of bringing home a desired object - or - felt the victory of the kill when finding a great bargain? I assert that these are similar feelings to the quest and subsequent celebration that existed years ago (and, of course, may still exist for those who live and struggle in other parts of the world) when the hunters were successful.

So, once again, I will attempt to lay down my bow and arrow. I will look at all that is gathered around me - the accumulation of years of working hard and exchanging my money and life energy for stuff - and resist the primal urge to hunt and gather. I will remind myself that what I have is more than enough - and that I am safe.

Well, right after I stop at the grocery store on the way home that is...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Get Happy Here!

That's what the sign says.

In fact, there are several of them proclaiming this message loudly in the windows of a business in downtown Dayton. I had to do a double take as I drove by. I was intrigued.

Happy?

What?

Where?

How?

Ah....then the awful truth...

It's a tax refund anticipation loan place.

Ugh.

Needless to say, there's tremendous faulty logic behind this message. But, how many people realize that?

Read this article to learn that over 12.3 MILLION folks took advantage of such a loan in 2004! I'm sure that number is much, much higher this year.

There is a couple I know who barely make it through each month, depending on quick-fix deals like this. They borrow $150, only to owe back $176. They continue their addictions to alcohol and cigarettes, high long-distance phone and cable bills, video games, etc., relying time and time again on the paycheck advance folks to front them money when the rent is due, when the car needs gas, or when dental problems become almost life-threatening.

Tough stuff. Hard to listen and love, without judgment or chastising or trying to "fix" them.

In my mind, the world should be more like "It's a Wonderful Life", where the community rallies together to provide support for a beloved member who's fallen on bad times. But the way we've adapted to an every-man-for-himself, independent, don't-threaten-my-rights society - simply encourages the use of these kind of places, replacing the responsibility of community with the band-aid approach to just make it through the week.

Happiness? I'm all for it.

But not the kind that money brings.

And certainly, I'm Not Buying the message that it can be found in a tax refund loan place on Main Street in Dayton, Ohio.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Spectrum of Reality

I'm struck lately by the odd nature of life. How we tend to refer to the bad stuff as *reality* or something that interrupts our otherwise pleasant, pain-free experience. ("Back to reality, now." "I got a major dose of reality this morning!" "Reality check!")

But this is faulty thinking.

It is all *real*.

My recent post over at Nerdy Renegade News gained its title from this very concept. I have found myself, over the past 48 hours or so, going through a roller coaster ride of experiences and emotions. And then witnessing my mind's attempts to trick me by categorizing them as either good or bad when, in fact, they all just ARE. They require no label. They are all a part of me and my life in this world at the present time.

We had an amazingly wonderful time on our concert trip to Cleveland. We came home to find a relative very sick in the hospital with what might be irreversible brain damage. Needless to say, my mind was having a hard time wrapping itself around the contrast.

So, this morning I immersed myself in the wisdom of Pema Chodron's words. If you haven't read her works, especially When Things Fall Apart, please allow me to highly recommend them to you.

Everything is real. And our attempts to seek pleasure and avoid pain are just ways our monkey mind has of tricking us into staying asleep. Preferring death over life, we cling to the familiar and try to insulate ourselves from the *bad* stuff. Or allow ourselves to get totally frazzled and knocked off kilter when they come, which they always will.

And herein lies my connection to spending! So much of it is based out of trying to meet an emotional need. I buy things to make myself feel better. If I can only *protect* myself by acquiring a possession, or groceries, or concert tickets, etc. then things will be alright.

I'm beginning to see the hilarious, faulty, never-ending cycle of this type of thinking. But, boy, is it hard to break. Instead of sitting with my uncomfortable emotions (much of what Pema Chodron and the Buddhist philosophy encourages us to do), I distract myself with shopping, acquiring, spending - or simply even surfing purchase options but not buying. :-0

Yes, of course, we needed the cat food and canned goods and toilet paper that I purchased last night. But I also realize that I was shopping to distract myself and provide a sense of comfort and accomplishment on what had been an otherwise yucky day.

And so the quest continues.

To root out the real reasons for my spending. To bring them to the surface, dust them off, look at them in the light - and accept them for what they are. And then, if need be, work diligently to replace them with healthier choices that will serve my higher self in more effective ways.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Here and There


I'm here. And have been mulling over many relevant blog posts in my head lately. None of which have made it onto this screen....yet.

My spending this week is so so. I've been diagnosed with a new health ailment, which requires me to overhaul my eating habits. Thus, a significant outlay in different kinds of food. Oy.

We'll be heading to Cleveland this weekend for a concert. It's quite snowy and somewhat treacherous on the roads here in Ohio these days, so please send safe travel mercies our way.

In the meantime, you can check out this relatively new group of like-minded folks. Good stuff.

Until next time...

May you have a delicious meal from an unexpected source :-)

Lisa

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another Voice Weighs In

I recently found this book at the library. As I'm re-reading the Not Buying It book, I thought this one would be a perfect fit for my current project, too.

The author chronicles her journey of giving up one important thing - but only for a month at a time. I was skeptical at first, thinking, "That's too easy. She's not the real deal."

But, after reading the first couple of chapters, I must say that I was impressed with her writing and insights. Her experience is no less (or more) valid than Levine's - just different. And while I cannot relate directly to many of her usual indulgent spending patterns (alcohol, sample sales, expensive outfits), what she gains from her attempts at giving these things up still mirrors my quest to some extent.

One humorous chapter even has her giving up elevators for a month. Her office is on the 10th floor! Her tales of how her coworkers react are funny and revealing.

So, if you're interested in gaining wisdom and companionship from someone who wrote, "Each monthly choice has a personal and significant "ouch" factor for me, a profound feeling of discomfort that accompanied the mere suggestion of living an entire month without chocolate, elevators, or television. My selections were designed to push me out of my traditional comfort zone, where a change in habits would force uneasiness, questions, and finally scrutiny. My insatiable desire for "stuff" was stimulated by a consumerist society that encourages purchasing faster, newer, and better products." (pgs. 3-4)...then by all means, read her book and let me know what you glean.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, for a personal update:

January came in with moderate success. I spent about $100 more than I earned, but that was mostly due to my starting a new job and adjusting my hours for the holidays. For the month, I had 8 days where I didn't buy anything.

And I've done fairly well this past week with not spending. In fact, I've had 7 days so far in February where I haven't purchased anything! I'm getting more focused on where my money goes; tracking each day's expenses on a calendar.

I'm more motivated than ever to save money for things I *really* want to do, so I'm weighing each purchase in light of those. I'm also looking at what I can do and/or sell to make a few extra bucks. This takes creativity, but it's a fun challenge.

I've slipped up a couple of times and justified some of what I call "creative financing". You see, not only do I have my personal checking account, but I also have a business account and a joint account that we use for household expenses. A few things that were wants -(treats, books, an online seminar, a nice dinner out) but technically not needs - found their way into my possession via those other accounts. Yikes!

Yes, I still have some wiggle room in my spending. But I'm trying hard not to go outside the boundaries I've established for this project. I'll need some more will power and self-discipline, I can tell. :-0

I'm curious, on what things do you splurge or go outside your budget to acquire? What do the voices in your head say when you're taking that item up to the counter? Then do you have regret? Or not? What motivates you to stay on track with your spending?


Please let me take a moment to thank you for joining me on this journey. Your comments and confessions help me along the path and reinforce the mission to Not Buy It.

Also, much gratitude goes to those of you who are spreading the Don't Buy It - Rebate Bribe message! As Bob Dylan so poignantly sang, "The times they are a changin'". And as Barack Obama has declared, "Yes We Can!".

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hello, My Name is Lisa O.

And I'm an American consumer.


The lure to leave my house in search of goods to purchase is amazingly strong! With this current theme of Not Buying It, it's quite insightful to see how often my little brain tries to trick me into spending. Indeed, my inner dialogue is in full swing most of the time these days.

Now that my work schedule has changed, and I have more days off and time at home (hooray!), my mind thinks I should spend this extra time by shopping. I recognize this reality as a long-standing trait about myself; one to which I am only now calling it for what it really is!

In the past two days, here are some of things I've considering doing/buying:

1) a trip to the grocery/big box store for supplementary items (when I already have enough stuff here at home on which to exist for at least a week or more!)

2) a venture to my favorite local skin care shop to buy some new face cream (I AM running low on one particular kind. But I have a plethora of others with which I can certainly make do for now.)

3) a blogging adventure and some hangin' out time at a local coffee shop (Mostly for the change of scenery and free WiFi. But then I'd be spending money on gas and coffee, right?)

4) a trip to Trader Joe's to pick up a few ingredients for a certain recipe I want to make. (see #1 rebuttal). I even justified this trip in my mind by telling myself I'd combine this trip with some mall-walking while there. My mind was clever in trying to bribe me with the ever-prevalent guilt-ridden demand for exercise!)

5) a lunch outing to one of our local favorite spots (which just happens to be near the Mac store, where I could gawk at fun,new accessories for my laptop!)

Shopping, shopping, shopping!!! It's all about shopping!!! Aaaggghhh!!!

Well, with concerted effort, here's what I've done instead:

-Stayed home
-Enjoyed peaceful quality time with my hubby and cats
-Watched birds and squirrels at the feeders in my back yard
-Took a walk out in nature, in the park/woods near my house
-Ate all meals at home (using what was already on hand.)
-Worked on our taxes
-Laundry
-Naps
-Read
-Looked at my bank account to see how little disposable income I truly have right now :-0
-Updated the Peace Things web page
-Uploaded photos from my camera
-Visited with my brother-in-law
-Talked on the phone

In fact, I have an almost infinite list of chores that could keep me busy around this house! The sorting, cleaning, and fixing-up needs are immense!

But, alas, here is the realization of my *long* history of distracting myself through shopping. Yeah, this is going to be a tough year of restructuring not only my spending but my entire thought process, belief system, and behavior patterns all-together. Whew!

I have a strong sense that this radical shift calls for some 12 Step action.
Here's my take:

The 12 Steps (minus 4)
(excerpted from www.12steps.org and modified herein by this author)

Step 1 - Admitted we were powerless over our consumerism.
Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (As our spending ties in directly with our values and beliefs.)
Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our consumer spending.
(Thus, the purpose of this blog!)
Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have all these defects of character removed.
Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8 - Made a list of all debts we owe and ramifications of our past spending habits and became willing to make amends for them all.
Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Because "How you spend your money is how you vote on what exists in the world."
~Vicki Robin

Friday, February 1, 2008

It Only Takes a Spark...

...to get a fire going.

Click on over here to see what the awesome folks at The Simple Living Network did with my idea from last week. Incredible!

The many tools they've provided will make it easy to promote this timely and much-needed concept.

Will you help us?

If so, write and tell me what you're doing. I'd love to hear how the fire is spreading!

Peace,
Lisa

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Quest


John Henry Patterson Statue - Kettering, Ohio - January 2008


"If you are brave enough to leave behind everything
familiar and comforting
(which can be anything from your house
to your bitter old resentments)
and set out on a truth-seeking journey
(either externally or internally),
and if you are truly willing to regard
everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue,
and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher,
and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive)
some very difficult realities about yourself….
then truth will not be withheld from you.”

~Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Moving Right Along

{I always loved that song from the original Muppet Movie. Does anyone else remember it? I had the album and memorized every song. Played it over and over again in my bedroom as a kid. And the year before last, I asked for the DVD as a Christmas gift! And don't you know all the lyrics came right back to me. Amazing!}

Big things are happening this week at Not Buying It central. To recap, first on spending:

*I saved $80 by asking for samples of a prescription instead of paying for a 90-day refill. Sweet!

*We're eating at home more and more these days. Homemade pizza, pasta, beans & rice vs. our usual habit of eating out a lot is saving us much moohla.

*I scored 3 pair of used Levi's from my husband. (I'd been needing some new jeans. Won't lament on the fact that we wear the same size :-0) They were in the give-away pile and I was the lucky recipient. They're comfy and a perfect fit. Very cool!

*I took advantage of a FREE 1-hour massage that was a holiday gift from my new boss. Extra sweet!

*AND...you'll be happy to know that I received two copies of this book in the mail. The author responded favorably to my request! I hadn't heard back from her and was quite surprised when they arrived. Yippee! (Much gratitude to Kathleen Hall Jamieson and the Annenberg School for their generosity.)

And now for the action part:

I felt extra brave and empowered this week and have been spreading my little non-violent protest idea around. With the number of comments you've posted, I knew I was on to something. Here's what has transpired:

*You'll notice that the author of the book that inspired this Not Buying It blog weighed in with a comment on my first post! Many thanks to Judith Levine for her encouraging words of support :-) (I sent her an email letting her know of my blog and not spending the tax check idea.)

*The founder of the Simple Living Network, Dave Wampler, sent me an email saying he thinks my idea is fantastic. After reading the email I sent them, he crafted an awesome poster in PDF form that can be downloaded and passed around. (On the bottom of the poster, it has a copyright for the Simple Living Network then it says "Inspired by Lisa Ottman." How cool is that?!?!?!) I'll let you know when it's ready for distribution.

*I've been in touch with other organizations, like these great folks and these fellow travelers to see if they'd like to help spread the word.

Oh, this sure is fun!

In searching for my authentic self, it seems I have discovered my voice once again. Others have shared their lights brightly so that a spark would be kindled in my life. I'm stoking the coals and fanning the flames as my light shines stronger each day.

Many thanks to each of you for your comments and encouraging energy this week. There have been tears of joy and high fives in our household because of you!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Call to Nonviolent Protest

In the wisdom tradition and example of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr read on...

"So what are you going to do with your $600?", asked my mom as we chatted by phone last night.

"What do you mean?", I responded.

"The tax cut money. That's what the news said tonight. That we'd each get $600 by June.", she answered.

"Oh. I didn't know that. I heard something about a tax break, but I don't watch the news much so I hadn't heard an exact figure, yet.", I explained.

"So, you should each get $600 - a total of $1200. What will you spend it on?", Mom reiterated.

And so the conversation went. I explained about credit card debt. I lamented the faulty logic of supporting our country by spending more money and she quipped the governmental jargon so prevelant in the Bush administration about it helping the economy.

We talked about recession. I remarked that the sky has been falling for quite some time but no one seemed to be listening to Chicken Little. Now, all of a sudden, it's doomsday and we're being encouraged, once again, to save our country by spending more money. Unbelievable!

So, my fellow travelers, what d'ya say we start a revolution?

Can you imagine the impact it would have if a majority of Americans refused to spend their refunds? Wow! What a message that would be to our leaders.

"We don't like the way you're running (or ruining) our country. We're NOT BUYING your brainwashing diatribe about how to fix the economy. It's your fault we're in this mess (can you say national debt, outsourcing, war on terror?) in the first place. We will not be your pawns in an attempt to put a band-aid on this gaping wound you've created!!!"

Can I get an Amen?

Here's our call to duty.

There's power in numbers and we have plenty of time to mobilize an army.

Will you join the ranks?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Thoughts from My Week

{We awoke to a thermometer reading of 2.3 degrees this morning! But the sun it shining brightly and the sky is a clear blue. That makes a big difference :-) }

I'm not trying to make this journey towards simplicity about deprivation. It is also not my intent to make others feel bad in the process. Heaven knows the mainstream media does more than enough of that for us already.

Instead, I'm seeking to assess my true values and priorities at this time in my life - and then align my spending/consuming habits with those. My starting point, family situation, and choices will be different that each of yours. That's okay. We can only decide what is right for ourselves.

So often we tend to adopt patterns of behavior over the years, not realizing when they no longer serve us. This is a process of living with eyes wide open; a deeper awareness of our wants, needs, desires and their implications, ramifications, consequences.

Much of this quest has to do with our emotions. Much of my spending, including donating to worthy causes(!), comes from attempting to meet an unmet need. So for the year ahead I'll be doing a lot of homework on looking at things from a feeling perspective. Be assured there will be future blog posts on this topic.

But, enough about that...

On Friday I made a trip down to our local Basically British store. It's a lovely shop run by a delightful British gent and his American wife. My purpose for that particular destination was to pick up a package of these. (I could not foresee going through this frigid winter weekend without them!)

Another great thing about this store is that you can sample a cup of tea while you're there - for free. It's a nice chance to rest, chat, enjoy the surroundings, and savor an afternoon treat.

This time she had a new chai tea on the counter that caught my eye. I opened the can and, with one deep inhalation, instantly knew it was a winner. Ever in search of the perfect cup of chai tea, I sensed I had found *the one*. With a bit of milk and two lumps of sugar, I was not disappointed. I grabbed a can, paid for the tea and biscuits, and left the store one happy woman.

I love this tea so much that I want to share its spicy, warm goodness with you. Send me a comment about what's warming your heart and body this weekend and I'll send you a sample in the mail :-)

So, you see, it's not about deprivation. I didn't NEED either of these items. (Which means that, according to Levine's book I wouldn't have bought them.) But I have chosen to forgo purchasing other things - assessing what I spend each and every day - so I am free to allow room for treats like this that nurture my body and soul.

I think I'll venture into the kitchen right now and heat some water on the stove. The temperature is up to 12.4...and that's perfect tea weather!


There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thursday Tips

As we've all agreed by now, we're going to need much help and support with our buying issues. Of course, we'll gain strength and learn from each other through the months ahead. In fact, I really look forward to our journey.

So far this month, I've done pretty well with not spending. I've started a calendar where I'm writing down everything I spend. I've established a new budget and will continue to compare what I spend against that. (It seems groceries are the one category I'm having hard time sticking too thus far!)

I'm also finding ways to create new streams of income (however minor they may be). This week I made $13 by selling used CD's and DVD's I no longer wanted. I do the same with books and magazines. I also made $6 in Notary fees, as my brother-in-law had several forms he needed to have notarized.

I'm being mindful of setting my mental intentions to manifesting abundance from the Universe. Yesterday I did quite a bit of this and when I came home last night there were two decent-sized orders on my Peace Things web site :-)

Part of not spending is to establish what we really still want/need and find alternative ways to obtain them. This could be by bartering, borrowing, saving cash instead of using credit or going together with others in a time share kind of method. I've seen this last one recommended for lawn tools (snow blowers, lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, etc.)

I joined a new book club recently. The book we've decided to read for next month isn't available at my library, so I wrote an email to the author to ask if she'd send me a copy. I told her that if she sent an extra copy I'd donate it to our library. We'll see what happens! (Ed. note: For those of you who requested to know the title of the book, you may find it here.)

The human spirit is abundantly creative and resourceful. I look forward to hearing your stories of the amazing ways you discover how to meet your needs in new and unique ways.

In the meantime, here are two articles that may get you started thinking in that direction. Both are from Mother Earth News. Go here and here to read more.

Bye for now,

Lisa

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Who's On Your E Team?

I came of age in the 80's, which in itself could be fodder for innumerable blog posts! :-0
Those of you similar in age will recall Mr. T and The A-Team.

In fact, I went through a phase in high school - thanks also to Madonna - where I covered myself in jewelry. Gold chains, black plastic o-ring bracelets, big dangley earrings....the works. My circle of close friends even took to calling me Mrs. T!

So, having lived through the decade of hedonism and extreme shopping - when malls first appeared and became the place to hang out - I'm mindful of the past that has made me the consumer I am today.

And much like the A-Team, I'll need a strong posse of talented characters to support my quest for a new lifestyle of pared down spending and voluntary simplicity.

In her book, Doing Less and Having More, Marcia Wieder talks about the concept of ease. An entire section is devoted to "The Roadmap to Ease" and, in one specific chapter she mentions to the importance of "Ease Teams".

"There are two possible types of Ease Teams you might want to consider building. One is optional, the other is not. The optional team is a group of people, or a person who, like you, want to simplify their life. You may meet on a regular basis, share your creative ideas, support each other's dreams, and exchange resources. It's wonderful to have this kind of backing."

"But it's your prime Ease Team that will truly make a difference in your daily life. These are the people whom you know you can count on. These people are the resources you need to make your life easier"...

As we go through this year of Not Buying It, we'll need just this kind of support from each other. There may be others in our household who are not joining forces with us. Perhaps their mindset and priorities are different than ours right now. And we know that our society in general is still wrapped up in the more-is-better quest for stuff.

So...let's start building our teams.

Wieder says, "The quality of these relationships will directly affect your life."

"Who's on your Ease Team, what is your relationship to them, and are they making your life easier?....Whenever and wherever possible, build an arsenal of people who are on board to (support you in your quest) and make your life easier".

"There are plenty of people available to give you grief and headaches. But if you make a point to create the best imaginable Ease Team, you'll see the results in your daily life."

As the New Year gets underway, and I continue to clarify my intentions and practice of Not Buying It, I'll be assembling my E Team. If you'd like to apply, please send me three reasons why I should hire you. :-)

Or - if you want to create an E Team in your own location - please comment and let me know the progress you're making on finding like-minded folks to support you right where you are.

Rah! Rah!

Go Team!




Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Are You Wealthy?

In the mid-90's I helped resettle Rwandan refugees to the Dayton area. It was one of the most educational and rewarding experiences of my life.

I recall a time when we were working hard to lobby for a particular family to receive the necessary paperwork that would allow them to come. This process took a few years (!) and we anxiously awaited their safe arrival.

My boss at the time saw my uncontained excitement and inquired as to its source. I told her their story and how the day was coming soon when they would *finally* be reunited with their loved ones and begin a new life in a safe place. She paused for a moment and asked, "Well, are they poor?" (The insinuation was that they would come to our country and be a drain on the system.)

I responded that, yes, according to our style of living in a America, they were financially poor. After all, they had been living has refugees, a wife and husband with their six children, in Kenya for several years, during which time they could not work or go to school.

Then I added, however, that back in Rwanda before the war, they had been a well-educated, propserous family. And that I was certain they would come to America and, once assimiliated, contribute fully to our culture, economy, etc. (I found myself wanting to reassure her that they wouldn't be a drain on our system - and that even if they were for a little while - would that be reason enough not to help them? Do we justify helping others come to this country based on what they can DO for us once they're here???)

What I failed to mention at the time, but have since realized, is that money isn't the only measure of someone who is rich or poor. It is true this family was dependent upon others temporarily to meet their needs. However, they were wealthy beyond measure in other ways.

They were rich in:
~their love for each other,
~their incredible stories of survival,
~their emotional determination to not let the tragic losses they had suffered and violence they had witnessed defeat them or determine their future,
~their long heritage of rich Rwandan culture and customs,
~their sense of dignity and respect,
~their measure of gratitude for all the hands who had helped them along the way,
~their love for and trust in a God who continued to provide for them,
~and a myriad of other profound ways that even I wasn't aware of.

So, what is wealth? What does it mean to you to be rich or poor?

Certainly my financial picture has changed with my recent decrease in monetary income. But I know in my heart (and by the smile on my face) that I am much richer today than I was six months ago.

It is time for us to redefine what it means to be wealthy. Somewhere along the way, we've been sold a bill of goods that has screwed up our perspective and priorities. Well, I for one am not buying that any longer! Along with not buying material things - I am choosing not to buy the party line of this country's consumerism and definition of rich vs. poor.

To that end, here's an article by David Korten. I encourage you to check out the folks at Yes! Magazine. They are beacons of light leading the way to a better future for all of us.

Please write and tell me all the ways you find yourself wealthy today.

For peace and prosperity,
Lisa

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Enough

This word has been my mantra this past week. When I've been anxious about my reduced income. When I've felt indignant at the lack of benefits (insurance, paid vacation, sick days, etc). at my current employer. When I've started to fret over what the future holds for me/us.

I've just reminded myself that what I have right now is enough.

In the past, especially this last year, the word was ENOUGH! I had had it with many things that were no longer serving my higher self. I had reached the end of my rope - mentally, physically, emotionally - in many ways. And declared ENOUGH!

But this week the word has a much softer meaning. It is one of reassurance and contentment. It is a gentle reminder that I am supported by the Universe, all of my needs are met and I am blessed beyond measure.

Last night I picked up a book I've had for quite some time and started reading through various parts. Then today I checked their web site. Low and behold, I found this perfect article. Certainly Vicki has covered the topic better than I could here. I encourage you to read her wisdom and explore what it means for you right now.

I'll be referring to their work again and again during this coming year of living with enough. Accepting what is. Slowing down. Enjoying what I have. Resisting the urge to strive for more/better/bigger/newer. Soaking in the inner knowing that:

I am enough.
What I have is enough.
What I will have will be enough
This life, as it is right this moment, is enough.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Year of (Hopefully) Wise Spending

Sometime last year, I read the book "Not Buying It: My Year Without Spending", by Judith Levine.

The lingering effects of the author's message have stayed with me over the past months. Could I do it? What does it really mean to live according to need? What in my life (a long list, for sure) would I have to give up? What would my husband do? Would he join me? Would I manipulate others into giving me gifts of the things I'm not buying for myself?

Realizing that I am ultimately in control of my own spending, I've decided to make some drastic changes in 2008. Of course, this motivation is coupled with the fact that I quit my full-time job in August and am now working part-time, making (ah-hem) 63% less in salary.

But, you see, my life is *much* richer in other ways. I am happier, healthier, more upbeat. I am back in touch with my fully-present, true self. I have gained a valuable perspective that allows me to see, ultimately, what exchanging my time and talents for money really means. This is a lesson it has taken many years to comprehend. But there is no going back.

And so, starting today, I set out on my quest to live a life of voluntary simplicity. I will attempt to live at a need-based level, buying only what I deem necessary for a simple, yet fulfilling life.

Contrary to what Judith did, I will not eschew all pleasures that aren't considered needs (no way am I giving up expensive coffee/tea and visits to Starbucks). However, my goal is to totally overhaul the way I earn money and, subsequently, how I part with it. I am willing to alter my lifestyle a great deal. Indeed, this has already started over the past few months as I've been out of work.

My preliminary list of things I won't buy in 2008 includes:

~jewelry
~clothing
~handbags/totes/backpacks
~shoes
~household decorations/trinkets
~candles (I will burn every last one that is already packed into my dining room cabinet first!)


Things I may buy, but will *totally* consider differently and save for (paying cash only) will be:

~music
~books
~health supplements
~good-quality skin care


I hope you'll read along with interest and curiosity, as well as some insight into your own style of consumerism. This will be a tremendous challenge. And yet I know it is a necessary step I must take in the quest to realize my authentic, evolved self.

Care to join me?


With optimism and determination,

Lisa
 
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