The Simple Life – 2

There aren’t many pages in Rhonda Hetzel’s The Simple Life, but the more I near the end of the book, the more I find myself nodding my head in agreement with the ideas that she has to propose. This book resonates with something deep inside me.

Here is one more excerpt from the book that I just had to share.

In many different ways those of us living a simpler life are all walking the path less travelled. We see what is considered ‘normal’ now, we know that consumption is the ‘standard’ way and we have decided to reject it. Instead of buying all that is new and shiny, we are standing our ground and going back to basics. It’s comfortable there. It’s warm oats soaked overnight and cooked slowly rather than cornflakes; it’s home-baked bread instead of sliced white in plastic wrap; it’s ‘come over and I’ll teach you how to knit’ instead of ‘let’s go shopping’. Instead of buying fast food, we have it slow and easy bubbling away in the oven when the family comes home in the evening. Even the smell of that home-cooked food in the air when they walk through the door tells your family that someone loves them enough to make it all happen. It’s sitting around the table, talking about today and tomorrow. It’s really knowing your friends and family instead of just knowing what they tell you.

Your thoughts, please!

The Simple Life

Over the years, I’ve been asked many times what the key to living simply is. There is no easy answer but there are some things I’ve come to understand as I’ve changed the way I live.

When I set out to simplify my life, my basic understanding of simple living was that it was not a single idea like debt reduction or food production; it was many loosely associated concepts rolled into one. Now I know that the definition of ‘simple life’ is different for each of us and will change as time goes on. My own definition is centred around slowing down to live a life that is focused on family, friends and home while voluntarily spending less, buying local food and products as much as possible, being more environmentally aware and becoming skilled enough to be self-reliant and partially self-sufficient. In my version of the simple life, work plays a large part and ‘enough’ really is enough.

~  Rhonda Hetzel in The Simple Life

She said it. If I were to define a ‘simple life’, it would be almost the same as what Rhonda Hetzel says about it.

The greater the number of days I bumble through life – and the huge maze that is the world – the greater is my craving for a simple life. Not because the concept of a simple life is fashionable these days, but because that is what I crave for from deep within me. The craving is so deep and palpable of late that it seems to be oh-so-often on my mind.

‘A simple life’ is the automatic answer my mind gives me when I tell it I am tired of my stresses, of ridiculous people, of never-ending chores, of unfinished projects, and the demands of a highly competitive time. Sometimes, I think I am slowly getting to the kind of simple life that I want to live. On other days, I think I am too caught up in too many things to ever get to a simple life. As Rhonda says, it is complicated. It is a series of decisions, it is a combination of a lot of things. It takes time; it is not something that happens overnight. Living a simple life in a world that places its bets on ‘fast’ most of the times is very tough; it is not as simple as it sounds – I realise that every single day. It takes a whole lot of sheer physical effort as well as a tough mental disposition. It is especially difficult if you are an up-and-coming young person, who everyone naturally assumes should be hankering after rising in one’s career and in the world. No one really understands this kind of hankering after.

Post 2011 and through 2014, I was determined to lead a simple life, and I did lead my version of one. I can say it worked wonders for me (I got pregnant naturally, something that was just not happening when I was way too caught up in a number of stresses earlier. That definitely says a whole lot about that kind of life, right?) All said and done, I find I am back to the grind now, back to a fast-paced life. Or is it that after that ‘slowing down’ period in my life, even things moving at an ordinary pace seem too fast-paced to me? Could be! Once you have lived – and enjoyed – a simple life, it does render you unfit to really relax into any other kind of lifestyle.

Anyways, I have been thinking a lot about the simple life lately, and doing what I can to this end. Till I figure it out, I will bumble on. I guess.

ETA: Rhonda Hetzel apparently has a blog, and it is super-inspiring. I am so glad to have come across her!

The Quote Challenge Post#3/3

Hello, people!

Today is Day 3 of the Quote Challenge, and I am here with a quote that I love, love, love. I can’t tell you how much this one resonates with me.

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom.

— Anaïs Nin

Isn’t that simple but eloquent and brilliant?

I was a shrinking violet myself, once upon a time. Still am, but to a relatively lesser extent, I like to believe. Along came a day when the risk to remain tight in a bud and fade away into oblivion was something I just couldn’t bear to take. I learnt how painful it was to blossom, but how it was also oh-so-very-beautiful. And I decided to do the latter. I am still a work-in-progress, but at least I am that.

Well. that’s that. Curtains closed on the Challenge. 🙂

If you find the Challenge interesting, please feel free to take it up!

The Quote Challenge Post#1/3

Bogglehead tagged me for The Quote Challenge some time back. I am, finally, here with the first post for the Challenge. 🙂

What is the 3-Day Quote Challenge about?

1. Post one of your favorite quotes on three consecutive days. The quote can be from your favorite book, author, or your own. (You must post 3 different quotes in all)
2. Nominate 3 bloggers each day to challenge them.
3. Thank the blogger, who nominated you.

Thank you, Bogglehead! This gave me a chance to reflect on a few of my favourite quotes. I have been procrastinating a bit on this Challenge, because I have loads of favourite quotes and it is difficult to choose just three. Secondly, I do not keep track of the quotes that I love, and they get lost. Parts of them are retained in my memory, and I have to look them up frantically, trying to find the exact words and who said it. Anyways, I am ready for my first post for the Challenge now.

This is one of my favourite quotes of all times. I read it somewhere as a young adult, and it resonated with something inside me. I have kept it in mind since. This is something I strongly, strongly, strongly believe in.

Here goes:

If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

~ Jim Rohn

This is something that runs through my mind as I grapple with difficult times, trying to fight against circumstances, making the most of the lemons that life hands me at times. I must say it has held me in good stead.

I will not tag anyone here, but if the Challenge sounds interesting to you, please do take it up!

Am I mom enough?

This is so eerily similar to what I want for Bubboo, I had to post it here. It is as if the author took a peek into my brain before she wrote this. Beautifully put.

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It’s so tempting to get riled up by the Mommy Wars, isn’t it? The Time magazine cover story about extreme parenting, Are You Mom Enough?, featuring a beautiful mother in skinny jeans nursing her preschool-aged son, is infamous by now. It made me, along with the rest of the Internet, explode with righteous indignation. Mom enough? How dare they! This isn’t a contest! But, wait … what if it is? And I don’t even own skinny jeans!

The story also made me think about what I wanted to teach Andrew—I mean really teach him. I’m not talking about the trendy must-dos that crop up each year about feeding and sleeping and discipline, insecurity porn concocted just in time to fill a fresh generation of parents with self-doubt. No, I’m talking about the things that I want to impart in average, totally inextreme moments, when my breasts are covered and my skinny jeans are in the wash.

Here’s my wish list.

I hope I raise a child who says “thank you” to the bus driver when he gets off the bus, “please” to the waiter taking his order at the restaurant, and holds the elevator doors when someone’s rushing to get in.

I hope I raise a child who loses graciously and wins without bragging. I hope he learns that disappointments are fleeting and so are triumphs, and if he comes home at night to people who love him, neither one matter. Nobody is keeping score, except sometimes on Facebook.

I hope I raise a child who is kind to old people.

I hope I raise a child who realizes that life is unfair: Some people are born rich or gorgeous. Some people really are handed things that they don’t deserve. Some people luck into jobs or wealth that they don’t earn. Tough.

I hope I raise a child who gets what he wants just often enough to keep him optimistic but not enough to make him spoiled.

I hope I raise a child who knows that he’s loved and special but that he’s not the center of the universe and never, ever will be.

I hope I raise a child who will stick up for a kid who’s being bullied on the playground. I also hope I raise a child who, if he’s the one being bullied, fights back. Hard. Oh, and if he’s the bully? I hope he realizes that his mother, who once wore brown plastic glasses and read the phonebook on the school bus, will cause him more pain than a bully ever could.

I hope I raise a child who relishes life’s tiny pleasures—whether it’s a piece of music, or the color of a gorgeous flower, or Chinese takeout on a rainy Sunday night.

I hope I raise a child who is open-minded and curious about the world without being reckless.

I hope I raise a child who doesn’t need to affirm his self-worth through bigotry, snobbery, materialism, or violence.

I hope I raise a child who likes to read.

I hope I raise a child who is courageous when sick and grateful when healthy.

I hope I raise a child who begins and ends all relationships straightforwardly and honorably.

I hope I raise a child who can spot superficiality and artifice from a mile away and spends his time with people and things that feel authentic to him.

I hope I raise a child who makes quality friends and keeps them.

I hope I raise a child who realizes that his parents are flawed but loves them anyway.

And I hope that if my child turns out to be a colossal screw-up, I take it in stride. I hope I remember that he’s his own person, and there’s only so much I can do. He is not an appendage to be dangled from my breasts on the cover of a magazine, his success is not my ego’s accessory, and I am not Super Mom.

I hope for all of these things, but I know this: None of these wishes has a thing to do with how I feed him or sleep-train him or god-knows-what-else him. Which is how I know that these fabricated “wars” are phony every step of the way. I do not need the expensive stroller. I do not need to go into mourning if my “sleep-training method” is actually a “prayer ritual” that involves tiptoeing around the house in the dark. This is not a test. It’s a game called Extreme Parenting, and you can’t lose if you don’t play. And, really, why would you play? You have children to raise.

An award

The very sweet Dreamz And Clouds has bestowed on me an award: Blog Of The Year 2013. Thank you so much for thinking that this blog deserves the award, Dreamz And Clouds! 🙂

I know I’m late in doing this post, and I apologise for that. 😦

Coming to the receipt of the award, I’ll do it the simple way, with a few lovely quotes that I came across recently and really liked. I hope you won’t mind that!

Here go the quotes:

1. Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

~ Paul Hawken

2. Not only did I love her, but I could tell the universe loved her, too. More than others. She was different. After all, I would be a fool not to notice the way the sunshine played with her hair.

~ Christopher Poindexter

3. Sometimes you can’t explain what you see in a person. It’s just the way they take you to a place where no one else can.

~ Unknown

4. There’s a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.

~ Rumi

5. Someone I once loved gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.

~ Mary Oliver

6. Enjoy your youth. You’ll never be younger than you are at this very moment.

~ Chad Sugg

7.  I think hell is something you carry around with you. Not somewhere you go.

~ Neil Gaiman

8. For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.

~ John Connolly

9. Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.

~ Neil Gaiman

10. I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.

~ Marilyn Monroe

Random things about me, and some quotes

So, this girl had tagged me some time ago to write 8 things about myself and 5 of my favourite quotes. I was looking for the perfect time to take up the tag, and it looks like that time has arrived.

Here we go.

8 random facts about myself:

1. I finally started reading Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, after having seen rave reviews about it all over blog world. I am just about 25% done with the book yet, and have loads still to go – it is a chunkster, after all! I am enjoying the book immensely, and want to take my own time with it. The writing is beautiful, simple and poetic, and I want to savour every bit of it. Plus, I want to take in all the many layers of information that the book packs in, at my own pace.

2. In a fit of inspiration, I painted my nails purple today morning, in spite of having several chores lined up for the day and being sure that I wouldn’t have enough time for all of it to dry up. As expected, the nail polish is all smudged and patchy now, but it did look pretty while it lasted. At least, I made an effort, eh?

3. I had ragi vermicelli for lunch today. Store-bought vermicelli cooked at home in 10 minutes flat. Healthy and delicious.

4. It’s time to unpack our little Christmas tree and set it up. I need the cheer and the lights and the romance of it all. However, I do need to buy some new ornaments – I am tired of unpacking the same box of decorations for the last 3 years and doing up the tree in exactly the same way. I need a change of scene!

5. I skipped my morning walk today, and the change was refreshing. And to think that I wrote about enjoying my morning walks so much just yesterday, on my blog!

6. I am loving the weather in Bangalore today, totally. It is cold and overcast, with not a hint of sun!

7. As part of my (home-grown) tradition to read something Christmas-sy during Christmas-time, I started reading David Baldacci’s The Christmas Train. My first Baldacci. Good in parts, cliched in parts, but I am not too far into the book to really make a judgement about it.

8. I really need to work on being less scattered, to quit trying to be here, there and everywhere at once. I need to re-learn to focus on one thing at a time, savour each moment before rushing on to the next. I am sucking at that, at the moment.

Now for the 5 quotes.

1. “I told my husband I was getting married for specific emotional and physical reasons. If I had to make a purely financial decision, it made more sense for me to stay single. If I chose to be a wife, I wanted to be treated as one. I wanted a husband who would look after me. I wasn’t about to write my own cheques and live like a flatmate. That too, a flatmate without equal rights and with a sexual duty to perform. Sorry. That wouldn’t have worked for me.”

– From Spouse – The Truth About Marriage by Shobhaa De

2. “If you take a book with you on a journey,” Mo had said when he put the first one in her box, “an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it… yes, books are like flypaper — memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”

– From Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

3. “My daughter is seven, and some of the other second-grade parents complain that their children don’t read for pleasure. When I visit their homes, the children’s rooms are crammed with expensive books, but the parent’s rooms are empty. Those children do not see their parents reading, as I did every day of my childhood. By contrast, when I walk into an apartment with books on the shelves, books on the bedside tables, books on the floor, and books on the toilet tank, then I know what I would see if I opened the door that says ‘PRIVATE–GROWNUPS KEEP OUT’: a child sprawled on the bed, reading.”

– From Ex Libris: Confessions Of A Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

4. “If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.”

– From 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

5. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– By H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Most of the bloggers I read have taken up this tag already, so I’m not tagging anyone. Feel free to take it up on your blog, if you feel like it!

Panta rhei

The first time I read the words ‘Panta rhei‘ was on the wall adjacent to the entrance to one of Fort Kochi’s most renowned cafes, the Kashi Art Cafe. I was fascinated by the words without understanding them, and looked them up on Google as soon as we reached our hotel. Post that, I have read – and thought – a lot about these words.

Panta rhei‘ is Greek for ‘Everything flows’, words attributed to Greek philosopher Heraclitus. The thought resonates with me a lot. I believe that everything does flow, only that you sometimes do not see the flow. Things are in motion, in flow, even when you think your life is at a standstill at the moment. Stuff is happening in the background, changing your life little by little, even when you feel like being on a treadmill – walking only to find yourself at the same place. By that principle, everything does pass, good as well as bad.

Of late, I have often had this feeling of running around in circles, coming back to the same place again and again without really achieving anything. Deeper introspection has, however, made me realise that it is not exactly the same place I come to over and over again. There are little changes. There is flow. Things are happening, maybe not at the speed at which I want them to, but they are happening all right. Stuff is moving.

Panta rhei. A good mantra to hold on to when you are feeling down in the dumps.

Day 30: The truest of friends

It was that books made me feel that, perhaps, I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I, with them.

~ Will Herondale

For as long as I can remember, I have loved books the way I love dear friends. I enjoy spending time with them, stealing a moment from a busy Monday morning or a lazy Sunday afternoon to be with them. I can turn to them anywhere, at any time, and they, the generous selves that they are, open themselves up to me in all their splendour. They tell me all that I need to know, and are always there whenever I need them. They have helped me tide over some of the most difficult times of my life.

The book in the picture is Nora Seton’s The Kitchen Congregation, a memoir, my latest read.

I can’t think of anything better than my books for today’s July Photo-a-Day prompt, ‘Friendship’.

Day 14: Rainbow cake

There is a child inside each one of us, who comes out in front of the person we are most comfortable with.

So they say, and I think it is very true.

I decided to indulge the little child inside me by ordering rainbow cake for the OH’s last birthday. It was a surprise for the OH, and the look on his face while cutting it was one worth seeing. 🙂

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For the July Photo-a-Day Challenge. The theme for today is ‘edible’.