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What happened to September? and (In)Voluntary Simplicity (and contest)

I have no clue what happened to September. It’s gone.  Even here in SoCal the mornings are finally a bit cooler.  I was still in a t-shirt and shorts for Rigel’s 6 a.m. walk, but the 68 degrees house temperature felt toasty and welcoming when we got back.

September, other than finishing up some sock WIPs that I didn’t get done as planned in August, was sockless.  Hats, mittens, yes.  I finished one pair of mittens, one pair of fingerless mittens, one of the pair for two different sets of fingerless mittens (here and here), and one hat.   I’ve also cast on (and am more than halfway done, and may finish it today,) for the Celtic Cap. (One pair of fingerless mittens was completed prior to September.)  That may not sound like a lot for an entire month, but the holiday knitting really didn’t start til September 19th.

October shan’t be sockless.  The Sock Knitter’s Anonymous Rav group KALs for October include Man Socks, so all the man socks I was planning on doing for holiday presents will get started (and hopefully completed) this month.  I have 4 pair to do:  Thuja, Husbeast, and two self-designed (not yet designed) pairs.  Yes, they will be worsted weight. I’d never be able to get them done otherwise.

On another note:  I’ve been interested in the voluntary simplicity movement for many years, first reading Your Money or Your Life then other books, running a study group,  etc, and more recently following various blogs.

It’s no surprise that the basic tenets of voluntary simplicity — living mindfully, valuing time with family and friends, decreasing or more thoughtful spending, etc — are gaining popularity with Americans in general during our current recession.  Lemonade out of lemons (hopefully grown on your own or a neighbor’s tree, if not, purchased from a farmer at your local farmers’ market), so to speak.

To me, the idea of voluntary simplicity, and especially mindfulness over thoughtless consumption, ties in with many of my values and concerns.  Handmade vs mass produced;  buying produce and meats at my local farmer’s market; supporting small businesses and artisans; the fear and cognizance of peak oil.

But is voluntary simplicity (or its values) becoming something people are being forced into?  And is that a bad thing?  (I’m NOT talking about people losing their homes, having to declare bankruptcy, etc:  that is horrible.)  But we’re now seeing commercials (I think Allstate?) talking about rediscovering the things that really matter.  When an idea is incorporated into insurance commercials, it’s definitely hit the mainstream.

Have you been thinking more about these things?  Changed your lifestyle?  Your goals?

In a shameless shill for comments, I’ll run another small contest.  Comment on the idea of voluntary simplicity by midnight PST Oct 4th 2009 (Sunday evening) to win, yep, stitch markers, note cards and some California poppy seeds from my garden.  Monday I’ll post the winner.

12 comments… add one
  • Jane October 1, 2009, 9:39 am

    I have been thinking about how it’s now “hip” to be cheap. We have lived within our means for years. We are blessed with many things, but find most enjoyment in eating dinner together as a family. We only shop for what we need. We have taught our kids that they have to pay for things themselves as soon as they earn money. And all spending is after they have saved 75% of what comes in. So when I see it in commercials – I just laugh.

  • MichelleB October 1, 2009, 11:13 am

    I have to say, I’ve been thinking about it a lot more. I’m not so sure about the implementing. My biggest problem is that I need to start getting rid of things – and so far have not been doing a great job of that. Eventually I’ll get there.

    (You don’t need to enter me in your contest – I already have a lot of your wonderful stitch markers.)

  • Laura Cruz October 1, 2009, 2:47 pm

    I didnt know it was called “voluntary simplicity” but I have a neat exercise that I do when I go shopping. I forget where I learned it but it just stuck. I grab whatever I like at a store (say, a pretty coin purse) and keep it in my hand while I keep walking around the store and think “Do I really need this?” Sometimes after a few seconds I realize I dont even need a coin purse but sometimes it takes a bit. If I can answer truthfully to myself “Im never going to use this” or “I already have something that serves the same purpose and its in good condition” then I just dont buy it. Sometimes of course I realize I do need whatever it is and that’s when I actually buy it. Some friends of mine made fun of me for asking that to myself out loud but they’ve seen how neat that trick is. 🙂

  • Teresa October 2, 2009, 7:32 am

    We have been cleaning out dressers, closets, and etc. I have been getting rid of things I haven’t use in years, example craft magazines from the 80’s, figurines, mirrors, clothes, extra sets of sheets, etc.

  • Rebekah E. October 2, 2009, 8:28 am

    My family and I have been going through our stuff and finding what we really need to keep and what we can get rid of. It is amazing how it feels when you unclutter your life. Now we really think about stuff before we bring something into our house. Do we need it, will we use it, and can we pay cash for it? I’m loving that with the less stuff we have in our house the easier it is to keep clean. I hope to continue to simplify and have only things that I need in my house instead of the junk that I still have to go through.

  • Sherri i October 2, 2009, 7:03 pm

    Due to an employment change, our stuff is being sorted into the following piles: gotta keep, gotta go. Hopefully the gotta go will help someone else through the thrift shop. And seeing those piles will help me with future purchases. Thanks for getting us to think about this!

  • Darcy October 3, 2009, 9:11 pm

    We changed our eating habits were making healthy choices also we have been giving away clothes and anything we feel we aren’t using as cluttering ones life can cause one to feel overwhelmed so less is best is a new thing we are trying to incorporate into our lives.Hugs Darcy

  • Pat October 4, 2009, 5:22 pm

    Some years ago I began to feel that my stuff was a burden- especially after I had to move into a smaller place. I’ve been purging ever since. It doesn’t stop me from wanting new things but I think a bit longer about it before I buy. The hardest thing for me is mindfull eating- it’s too easy to grab whatever is available without considering weather or not I’m really hungry.

  • Amanda October 4, 2009, 8:22 pm

    Before I left the country, I was already getting into voluntary simplicity. I came back and it was all over, along with the green movement. Call me a cynic, but frankly, I think it’s just a trend to most people. (Sort of like the green movement post-Exxon Valdez.) Much of this movement is actually about buying stuff to live more simply. Real Simple magazine being the epitome of this. Um…how about just not buying non-necessities?

    Anyhow, since taking it on years ago, no, I haven’t really thought more about it. I am mindful of my goals, my husband’s goals, and our goals together, and they influence how I live. We could reach our goals without living simply, but it would take more time.

  • Janine October 4, 2009, 9:41 pm

    You might also enjoy Getting a Life by Jacque Blix and David Heitmiller. They collected stories from people who followed Your Money or Your Life. Very inspirational! That book influenced us a lot, although we’ve never followed the steps through (yet).

  • Lanea October 5, 2009, 6:34 am

    I’ve been practicing voluntary simplicity in one form or another for a long time. Part of it comes naturally to me, so I don’t really take credit for it–handmade things and books are better than mass-produced things and TV. La.
    The things I’ve consciously tried to work on have been wasteful consumption, excess driving, food miles, and gardening. We still eat out too often, which has a lot to do with the length of my subway commute. But the garden is entirely organic and always expanding, and I do buy less and try to donate things we don’t use very often. Books are the toughest thing for me to cut back on.

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