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!

*'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,


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,

Sunday, January 6, 2008


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:

~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:

~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,

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