Wednesday, 2 July 2008

I'm No Nigella


It seems to me that a lot of people imagine that women who choose to live a simple life spend their days sweeping, dusting, baking, jam making, planting and picking, sewing, repairing and all sorts of other domestic ‘duties’. If that's really what we have to do then I might as well give up now.

Living simply is a choice made by people who are just as diverse as those who vote Tory, those who own cats, or those who are partial to wearing pink shirts. We have different reasons for choosing to simplify our lives and while some are purists, others are more flexible. I, for one, am not your archetypal domestic goddess. I’m just an ordinary woman who does what she can but sometimes ‘forgets’ to sweep and often burns the toast. I hate ironing so do as little as possible and I still use kitchen roll although not as much as earlier. I could turn the whole garden over to fruit and veg but I like the flowers because they make me smile. I’m happy to compromise though.

I think some are afraid of simplifying because they don’t believe they’ll be ‘good enough’ but there really are no rules. I simplify by being more thrifty because I don't want to be part of the mass consumer society where most things are designed to be disposable and I'm sick of being in debt. I chose to be more ‘green’ because I don't want to surround myself with harmful chemicals or pollute the planet as much as I have been doing.

I do try to keep the house looking half decent but if there are cobwebs in the corners and dust on the shelves, that doesn’t make my efforts to help improve our chances of surviving on this planet any the less valid. I want less clutter in my life because it’ll improve my quality of life but somebody else might be happy with theirs and nobody has the right to say what you have to change. A friend makes her own soap but when I tried I didn’t get on with it. Instead I try to by earth friendly soaps. I wash my clothes with soda crystals and vinegar because I don’t want to pollute our water with unnecessary chemicals but that same friend’s happier with eCover.

Simplicity is voluntary and how much we choose to simplify must also be based on our own personal choices. What’s important is that we do what we can and what suits our individual lifestyles and abilities. If you choose to be a purist then that’s fine, but you don’t have to be. Some take much longer to adjust their lifestyles whereas others find it dead easy. For me, so far, it’s been somewhere in between. There have been plenty of mistakes along the way and no doubt there are plenty more waiting in the wings, but beating myself up over them is pointless. I try to learn from them so that I’ll hopefully not make the same mistakes again, but some will inevitably be made several times.

Yes, I’ve learned some easier and more earth friendly ways of cleaning and cooking since starting on my journey towards simplicity but I’m still far from winning any 'homemaker of the year' title but no matter what path we choose, none of us live our lives perfectly. Life can, however, be perfect enough.

Sharon J xx

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4 comments:

New Leaf said...

I love being at home, doing all the things I do and I'm proud of it. I do work from home but it's very part time, because there are more interesting and enjoyable things to do. Yes, I have less, but I have a good quality of life. I do have friends who are still in the fast lane of life who are actually quite envious of our simple life, but are too scared to jump off the bandwaggon. I think they are more frightened of the unknown. Going without all those luxuries, the lack of a four wheel drive, the lack of going out to eat, the lack of money to spend on 'stuff'and being seen in the lastest fashionable gear. To me those things are just not important. It's a real keeping up with the Jones' scenario. I've been there. (about 20 years ago) It wasn't until I stepped away from it through a massive change in personal circumstance - becoming a single, parent, living in one room with my son in a homeless hostel, on benefits, that I really saw the light on what a consumerist lifestyle I had lead. It was a hard experience, but it was the best thing that could have happened to me and the path I now walk along. Life is good!

Sharon J said...

The same sort of thing happened to me NL. I was a single parent to a 9 year old with severe learning difficulties and a year old baby living in a tumble down shack in the middle of nowhere. We had no furniture apart from an old sofa and a small wall unit, not even beds (apart from the baby), just mattresses on the floor. But madly enough, I felt completely at peace. We were in beautiful surroundings and there were no material pressures.

Unfortunately, when I came back to the UK I got myself well and truly onto the consumer bandwagon again but believe me when I say that I'm soooo glad I saw the error of my ways because life's so much better now.

Life IS good, yes.

Pat said...

I always pictured you in a pinny waving a feather duster around. I'll have to adjust that now.

Sharon J said...

Well I do wear a pinny when I bake (an 1950s original in bright turquoise with white flowers) but you're more likely to see me with a microfibre cloth than a feather duster. Mostly I'm just in old sweatpants and a t-shirt though. That easy enough to picture?