2019 Printable Calendar – A Sustainable Year

2019 Printable Calendar – A Sustainable Year

Nature is incredibly abundant. Momentarily she is full of snow crystals, soon to be followed by rushing water molecules, then exploding with blades of grass, leaves, petals, pollen; sparkling with infinite stars in the sky. No numbers can express her opulence, yet images can grasp […]

Urgency of living like you should: sustainably

Urgency of living like you should: sustainably

Let me tell you some things about what urgency conjures up in my mind… In some languages the word “urgency” is one and the same with the English “emergency”. If we added the word room, you would instantly get what I’m pointing at. Emergency room […]

Experiencing quality versus quantity

Experiencing quality versus quantity

It is our personal experience, dating back as far as the first years of our lives, when each of us began to reflect consciously on our observations, that poor quality is unaffordable, especially if one is poor or lives on a tight budget.

It took some time to put our fingers on and wrap our minds around this paradox, but once we did, no one could convince us of the opposite again.

We might have remained tacit about, for guardians in our families were in favor of thrifty solutions, in other words of cheap and their strong voices overpowered our juvenile sentiments, until we came of maturity and grew into ever more independent souls. Symbolically speaking, we managed to unhook from their feeding tube of cheap quantity and although we plugged it, the slowly drying up tube still drips on occasion.

A gradual distaste-turned-disgust formed against the frequent purchases of products that lacked integrity, thus fell apart too soon, and whilst witnessing how the amassed stuff outgrew rooms, basements, garages and crept into remote public storage spaces.

Meanwhile, our real wishes for those few, but quality items, were met with stiff shortsighted incomprehension and resentment over our out-of-scale desires. Sounds familiar to you too?

Both of us had a concept of what some attributes of good quality were, within the conventional sense, anyway:

• longevity
• sturdiness
• craftsmanship
• natural materials
• a style that allows all of the above shine through in harmony

Even if brand names were not the driving appeal for our purchases anymore, they did still act as reassurance for the choices we made, performing their mission nonetheless, in persuading us too. It was not why we bought any kind of garment, but still accepted names and logos embossed in leather, engraved in metal, machine embroidered on fabrics and left behind on our footprints – subliminal queues for those behind to follow in our steps.

And in our steps forward did we leave those bothersome brand markings behind too.

First we got annoyed by the irritating feel of several tags rubbing against our skin at the garments’ neck- and waistlines, so we removed them.

Then we started seeking out those products that were discrete, not shouting their manufacturer’s identity. Given today’s promiscuous industrial and marketing conduct, this proved to be a hard task.

Fortunately, it did not even take ever setting our feet on the sparkling floors of the highest fashion shops to shine through clearly, like their one item per window, that:

• haute couture creates design patterns of its sheer name more than any other player of the clothing industry;
• what is hailed as top quality, operates on the basis of perception and not genuine integrity;
• ethics are subordinate to revenue generating powers, the same as on any other now-existing quality level of conventionally manufactured goods from apparel and accessories through hand and power tools on to electronic devices.

These times have fortunately coincided with the beginnings of our surely life-long adventure in self-reliance, as well as the implementation of sustainable lifestyle practices. Both of these became reality with home making.

From here onward, our notion of quality expanded to include an inseparable measurement: the extent to which a product (or service) respects nature and approaches sustainability.

With brands largely faded from our lives, the concept of ecological customization emerged, now requiring craftsmanship to also be principled and act responsibly (at the very least on hire), be it solid hardwood bookshelves with joinery, a stainless steel cup or a heavy-duty sawhorse.

Perhaps the greatest change we experienced was the self-push to keep as much of the creating power in our own hands as possible, while providing quality and well-functioning answers to our specific demands.

Indeed, this takes learning how to tame one’s wants and recognize the real needs.

In our case, we decided to heal, cook and clothe ourselves, so far our hands have been most diligent in foraging, natural healing practices, the use of cooking utensils and needles of various shapes and sizes. To others the focus may be placed somewhere else within self-reliance or one may find outsourcing of the projects, hiring already skilled specialists the most practical. The great majority of us, however, will probably choose a combination of do-it-yourself and commissioning.

Either way, switching your approach from a quantity- to a quality-driven one and embracing locally addressed sustainable solutions to needs, you will invite all new, rewarding experiences into your life, such as:

• valuable skills,
• meaningful connections,
• pride that is finally dissociated from the sense of guilt (conscious or subconscious) that often accompanies our expenditure,
• textures versus sterile smoothness,
• organic imperfection in lieu of clear-cut edges and sharp corners…

…to name but a few.

It is entirely possible that one overindulges in this newly acquired chemistry towards all things natural and begins filling those recently emptied trunks with products of genuine, what’s more, heirloom quality – so a natural kind of stuff. But we would in no way advocate for such behavior and recommend leaving it to professional collectors and those who cannot escape a compulsive hoarding.

As for us, the large majority, it is best advised to practice a healthy discipline in acquisitions, fostered by a wonderful benefit of quality: that it simply cancels out the need for much.

When you spot the next party balloon escaped into the air, think of it as a metaphor, a sad reminder what happens with all things without value: we hold on to them as if they meant much and then don’t even realize when they are gone. Gone as trash, burdening others and the Earth.

So both you and us need to be very vigilant of what our children see us doing, including our choices we make, because we are their ultimate source of reference and role models during their formative years. Even if our influence over our children will later eventually be balanced by other role models of their choice, we will live on strongly in their memories. The “quality versus quantity” issue should no longer be a dilemma of theirs in the future.

Let’s not burden, but lighten the epigenetic haul we pass on to our little ones.

What does a sustainable life designer do?

What does a sustainable life designer do?

We are consumers, we are creators, and we are doers. We, humans, are here to survive on Earth, and to thrive is but a dream for many of us. There is always something more that we want or need, but the real truth is that […]

Sustainable Life Design for Intellectual Introverts

Sustainable Life Design for Intellectual Introverts

Are you living a bountiful and sustainable life? Are you preparing for a brighter, sustainable future? Have you already embraced the journey of living with less – and are ready to see where it takes you into the future, with gentle guidance on your side? […]

Learning to say no – a lesson in minimalism

Learning to say no – a lesson in minimalism

We quickly learn to say “no” as children, for some of us it is our first spoken word. It is short, simple and sweet – until we realize the power of what “no” can really mean.

And what a high-powered word no can be! It can be harsh, or it can simply mean “not right now, maybe later”, so watch your intonation and gestures, lest you waste your time and energy on projects and people that drain your quality of life.

Why do we say this? Well, as minimalists, it comes in handy to say no when someone wants to give you something that you do not want or need. As highly sensitive people on a gluten-free diet, we cannot just accept any food that is lovingly homemade – stirred with the bread spoon? cut on your bread board? just a little bit of pasta?!?

Learning to say “No, thank you.”

It expresses our emotions of not wanting to receive something, it states that we have had enough or that we don’t want any more. Yet, as we age, the inclination to say “yes” increases and “no”-s are met with frustration and stress, often combined with displeasure.

We want to be happy, we want to make others happy, so we try to avoid that two letter n-o. In other words, we don’t want to hurt the other party, shame or embarrass them based on their generous and giving nature. What we do to ourselves though is to paint our feet into a corner, unable to deal with the situation at hand when we aren’t completely honest with our thoughts and spoken words.

If we really don’t want or need something we must say so.

By attaching a “thank you” we are speaking with gentle politeness – and that is going to come in handy in the process of simplifying your life.

It seems there is a never-ending thirst for people to give, and giving with the best of intentions they usually are, however intentionally giving is about knowing the other person on such a level that you understand their wants (if any!) and needs. Know their philosophy of life, their desires and their ethics.

Most people will accept a cookie or a candy from a friend or family member, but when life changes due to health-related or spiritual issues, the answer may change course as well – and as we well know, dealing with change is difficult for a majority of people.

  • What if you gave up eating sugar or GMOs?
  • What if you discovered a gluten (or other food allergy) intolerance?
  • What if you are avoiding all artificial food dyes?
  • What if you are simply not hungry at this moment?
  • What if essentialism stole your heart?

Would your answer change to “no, thank you” if you knew that you were healthier without?

In the past, people have mistakenly chosen to believe that because we live simply, with fewer things than conventionally acceptable, our “poorness” necessitated giving. In our reality we had enough. In others’ minds we were in great need of used shoes, pants, sweaters, dishes, extra tables, processed foods, little trinkets and decorative souvenirs of places they had been. It seems to have never crossed anyone’s thought to ask us what we may have needed, or to give in a way that truly mattered to us at the moment such as buying a meter of firewood that we use for warmth and daily cooking or helping with a trip to the market to buy in bulk.

Gifts – new or reused – tend to be geared towards stuff. Shift the focus on reducing clutter in the first place, followed closely by not adding to the pile, and your outlook (and space) in life will definitely improve.

Define it for yourself if you feel anything missing in your life. Let in what fulfills, enriches and what you find useful – otherwise let it go.

The polite firmness in your response and openness about accepting or not accepting gifts will grow more confident with time. Decide for yourself just how much is enough and say yes – or no – accordingly.

In the spirit of environmentalism, minimalism and living simply, what have you said “no, thank you…” to lately?