Monday, 3 November 2008

Simplicity Isn’t Always A Happy Face & Clean Aprons





I read quite a few blogs in the course of a week, some daily, some less frequent, but one thing I’ve noticed about a lot of the simplicity blogs is that the general picture that’s given is one where the woman is happy pottering about her home and garden, cleaning and cooking and growing her veggies. She knits, sews, shops locally and ethically and the impression I get is that everything’s always rosy in the simple household.

Well I’m trying to live simply. I cook mostly from scratch using fresh, local ingredients and although I can’t keep my house as nice as I’d like, I do clean (obviously). I chat with my daughter, advise her where I can, cuddle my pets and am generally contented with my lot. But that isn’t always the case.

Some days I’m moody. I don’t feel like cooking, I don’t want to clean, my pets get on my nerves, my daughter annoys me, and everything can go to the place that’s very hot. What’s more, I think that’s ok. Nobody’s happy or even contented all of the time. Things get us down sometimes and although I’d say I’m generally a positive person, sometimes I just allow myself to feel miserable. We humans have a whole range of emotions and as long as we’re not deliberately hurting somebody, or even know we’re hurting somebody even if it isn’t deliberate, I really don’t see the point in denying ourselves any of them.

Just as I think it’s dangerous that magazines portray women as only being attractive if they look young, slim and full of energy, I think it can be equally as dangerous to those trying to live simply - especially those who are new to simple living - that the whole concept is portrayed in a way that will have us believe it’s all smiles and clean aprons. Life, no matter how you choose to live, just isn’t always how we expect it to be. It’s rather like a rose - the beautiful flower is what we notice most of the time but there are always those other times when the thorns will catch you and the beauty of the flowers seems to fade for a short while.

Simple living isn’t a recipe for complete contentment and never will be, but in my experience it does bring more contentment into life. Just don’t expect it to eradicate every thorn and allow yourself to be moody sometimes. You’re only human, after all.

Sharon J

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Image Credit: Scandinavian Treasures

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13 comments:

Kristy said...

Thanks for posting this. I agree, there are a number of very popular blogs that feature homeschooled children, all running around in a perfect home, with a mom that cooks vegan meals without a care in the world, all the while creating Waldorf inspired art projects on a daily basis while she knits up baby booties for orphan kids in Katmandu. I love the beauty of the blogs like this but tend to belive there is something hidden from us.

Living simply is often hard, a choice for some, necessity for others. I love that you are keeping it real!

Kirsty said...

I think it's a really important point that you make. It's easy to forget that people will have bad days and even if they acknowledge them there won't be the in depth post about them. So overall is an impression of a perfect life. Well obviously not my blog lol!!

It's nice to have a refreshingly honest post about it all.

Sharon Rose said...

Hi there-too true. I've been feeling moody and out of sorts lately, even though there is no real reasoning behind it. A simple life ultimately is less stressful and one I advocate too.

Jack said...

Though this post is somewhat gender-specific, it absolutely resonates with me. With respect to my own blog, though, I tend to think that people believe it is wayyy too heavy and shows all the not so pretty aspects of simplicity at the exclusion of all the positive aspects. On the other hand, it's where I am right now and I want to be as honest as possible.

J

http://adventuresinvoluntarysimplicity.blogspot.com/

laura @ move to portugal said...

Couldn't agree more Sharon..my life's simple for about 3 hours a week, if I'm lucky, and when I'm asleep :)

Sharon J said...

@ Kristy. I agree with the feeling that there's something more hiding but yes, I enjoy reading them too. I just feel that those who are new to simplicity can easily be misled by them.

@ Kirsty. The strange thing is, the blogs that portray a perfect life seem to be the most popular ones. Maybe because people are searching for perfection?

@ Sharon Rose. Yes, less stressful but not perfect (if perfect means that nothing ever goes wrong and nobody's ever moody).

@ Jack. Just keep being honest, mate. As I said above, I think a lot of people are seeking perfection and get upset when they discover that simplicity has it's downsides too.

@ Laura. LOL. Sometimes I get a whole day :)

Cathie said...

Loved this post! Especially on a day when I have a headache, the laundry seems to have formed teetering piles everywhere, the baby keeps crying and I feel sooo tired. Its true that life isn't all skipping through the orchards and eating homemade jam & scones BUT I do honestly feel so much more contented in this simpler existence than I ever did when I was living the classic city/ full time working/never using my home or preparing my own food.

I still feel abnormal in most mummy circles that I'm not one for doing lunch or going shopping or attending some pricey baby-music group. The truth is if I don't work hard at homemaking it suddenly becomes chaos with no food prepared, no clothes to wear, house a mess etc.

Its good to appreciate that the simple life is not the easy life and for many of us just doing the basics is enough of a challenge let alone finding time & energy to do loads of artistic ethical pursuits.

Frequently I begin to lose patience with the children when they are still not in bed at 7pm. I tell them how hard I have worked in the last 13 hours since they woke me up and that I now I need them to be asleep so I can have time to be me & not Mummy.

xxx

Barbara said...

How true! We must be reading the
same blogs. Keep it real - some
of these simplicity blogs have
a creepy Stepford Wives air to
them that really puts me off.

Gavin said...

Hi Sharon. Good post. Yes some people just do not show all sides of their character, which isn't healthy, especially for themselves. There is no such thing as a perfect simple life, you have to roll with the punches and take the good with the bad. But boy when it is good, it is really good, and the bads don't seam very bad at all!

Gav

Teena said...

How ironic that you posted this....I have had similar feelings as well and also wrote a post about simplicity isnt about your own journey, its about what you can do with what you have learned and the path that was originally set out for us.

Great minds!
Love your work
xoxox

Christina said...

Those blogs where the women seem like robots just going through life without mishap, tending to their fabulously clean and organised homes while the children play happily with the kitten and hubby comes home to a wonderful made-from-scratch meal that's never a disaster put me right off even trying simple living. It just can't be real, more like a family from some american tv film. Your blogs different because you tell it how it is and if anybody would inspire me to stop consuming so much and start appreciating the things that really matter, it's you.

Catz said...

Thank you so much for this post Sharon! I am sure if folk were truly honest we would have blogs with photos of dust bunnies and laundry piles all over the place! well certainly at my place (lol)

The simple life is something to aspire to, yes, but in reality just cherry picking what I am capable of and enjoying that will have to be enough for now!

Sharon J said...

@ Cathie. I know those days and they’re far from simple but yes, living simply does help us through them because the general run of things is so much easier/better. I really don’t think most new mothers have any idea just how much hard work running a home can be and although the working group will hate me for this, a lot probably go back to work simply because they can’t cope with the pressures of home and/or having to cut back on their spending. If they can afford designer clothes, the latest gadgets and what have you, then they really don’t need two incomes. And I agree that ‘me’ time at the end of the day is important.

@ Barbara. Stepford Wives - a very apt description and something I definitely DON’T aspire to being.

@ Gavin. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. The good times are so much better that the difficulties of life become so much easier to handle even though they are still and always will be there.

@ Teena. Hear, hear. No two lives are the same. We all have different experiences to draw from and different goals.

@ Christina. Yes, they are rather like those awful American TV films where everything’s perfect - real life simply isn’t like that whether we choose to live simply or not. I’m glad I inspire you because learning to step back from stuff and start appreciating what really matters is such a liberation.

@ Catz. I think we all cherry pick to some degree otherwise everybody living a simple life would be living in exactly the same way, which we’re clearly not. I think it’s about finding what works for you and going with that.