Saturday, January 9, 2010

Getting Back to the Basics

I have been thinking lately about the importance of getting back to the basics for everyone. For me the "back to the basics" mentality has been a part of my life since childhood. It was just how I was raised. But when economic resources dip, this way of thinking bubbles up to the surface of the collective consciousness as a necessary mode of operation.  I invite you to consider the value of this way of thinking as an everyday way of life, no matter what your financial resources.

Recently Rebecca has become enamored with the idea of becoming a journalist. She is all about it! Pencil behind her ear, asking questions and taking notes, always looking for a scoop. And for Christmas do you know what she wanted the most? A real old-fashioned typewriter! Yep... we could not convince her that her computer could do more stuff and better, than an old typewriter. She had decided that in order to BE a journalist, she had to be able to smell the ink and feel the letters as they streamed from her mind onto the paper. Funny! But the more I thought about it, I realized that it was her need to get back to the basics.

Well, she got her typewriter and she is totally inspired to write now and absolutely loves the smell of ink on her fingertips after a good writing session. I have read about novelists who use old typewriters to create their work. It is funny to me that at the age of 8, Rebecca just knew on some level that it was important to be connected to the process.
Getting back to the basics can connect us with "stuff"  and  "process" in ways that we never knew possible. Think about it. Grow your own tomato and eating it becomes a spiritual experience that is unlike the experience of eating a tomato that grew in a field some 1500 miles from your plate, grown by a generic "taste doesn't matter" method! The experience extends beyond just the eating. It becomes about the sunlight and the earth in your yard. It is about the nutrition and the color and the vine ripening and your very own self-reliance. It is life itself and you grew it. You KNOW it. And that my friends is just the beginning of connecting to the process. When we connect to one life process, we awaken to other life processes that we never before thought about and the whole world begins to unfold in layers and layers of goodness. The depth of these layers is awesome. Welcome to the beauty of the basics.

Frequently,  we are drawn to a "back to the basics' way of thinking when our personal economics are stretched to the limit. Back to the basics can be thought of as FRUGALITY. The word, Frugal,  has so many negative connotations, but I invite you to think of it as being smart and resourceful. The dictionary defines FRUGAL as "sparing or  economical, as in the expenditure of money or the use of material resources." Frugality is really a return to the basics:
  • Considering the true cost of "stuff" and "convenience".
  • Do I really need this?
  • What happens to it after I am done with it?
  • Can I re-purpose it, recycle it? 
  • How much waste is involved? Zero waste?
It is getting clear about what is really important to you and your family. It is about time, awareness,  and conserving resources. This way of thinking is not only good for your personal finances, but also good for the planet! Now think about how much you would have if you had been thinking this way all along! Yikes..

This way of living should not just be something to "fall back on" in hard times, but rather a lifelong philosophy of awareness and connection. For me the gist of "Getting Back to the Basics"  is to materially participate in as much of my life as possible.  Every year when I fill out my business taxes the IRS asks "Did you materially participate in this business?" For the IRS that means that an individual materially participates in business activities if he or she participates on a "regular, continuous and substantial basis." Think about it in terms of your life. Think about how you participate in a regular, continuous and substantial basis in your own life. For my LIFE that includes:
  • growing as much of our food as possible 
  • preparing meals from scratch
  • buying local food
  • practicing Jin Shin Jyutsu as self-help to heal and keep my body in balance 
  • participating in do-it-yourself entertainment (Contra and Square dancing, playing music, hiking, gardening) 
  • making and repairing clothes 
  • shopping in thrift stores, yard sales, etc 
  • using Freecycle to get "stuff"and to pass "stuff" on to others
  • knowing where "stuff" is made
  • considering the impact of a purchase
  • borrowing books and movies from the library
  • making responsible choices for the environment
  • living light
 David recently read a great book by Studs Terkel called Hard Times. In this book Mr. Terkel interviews people who lived through the Great Depression and it is filled with valuable insights. I haven't gotten to read it yet myself, but have been enlightened through David's enlightenment.  The quote that most got David was from a woman who said "Security is knowing what I can do without." Now isn't that the truth! Amazing what you find you can do without...

Another favorite book of mine is Extreme Simplicity, by Christopher and Dolores Lynn Nyerges. In this book they offer some suggestions to improve your financial situation... they understand about getting back to the basics, frugality, and self-reliance!
Once, during a period of homelessness before we were married, Christopher was engulfed in thoughts of "poor me" and "I'm destitute," and he could scarcely see a way out of the darkness. Dolores provided him with a simple set of practical tools that anyone can use if only they choose to do so. Here are four "magic" ways to improve your financial situation:
1. Never waste anything.
2. Continually improve your personal honesty.
3. Leave every situation or circumstance better than you found it.
4. Tithe to the church (or organization) of your choice.
We know that these are genuine practical solutions. We have heard people say that they cannot make these efforts - such as tithing, or improving the environment - because "we are poor." Our perspective is that they have their reasoning backwards. They are poor because they do not engage themselves in the world in these ways. Logical thinking leads to erroneous conclusions when the premise is false.
So how do you begin to connect to the basics, to find your own simplicity? Perhaps begin by making  a list of your daily or weekly activities. Then with awareness, figure out how you can start to materially participate in as many of those activities as possible. Take one step at a time and you'll be surprised. Get clear about what is really important to you. Access how you want to spend your time and your money. The gift you get when you participate materially in your life, is the gift of connection and awareness. It is the gift of security, a philosophy for life and your own personal path to freedom.  Enjoy the journey.


Michelle said...

Great post! I am always looking for little ways to get back to basics.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Thank you! I agree with you, and I think I am on the right path.

Beth Molaro said...

Every little bit helps doesn't it?! And the first step opens up a whole new world of possibilities!

John at Cell Phone Recycling said...

I admire your lovely daughter. She will be a great journalist someday. It's nice that she wants to learn the hard way, the basic of writing before technology came in.

Back to basics? My idea to that statement is living a simple life, caring for your family and to your home. I think, it really is nice to get back to basics, don't you miss our planet when the air we breathe is still fresh? and no animals were extinct and endangered? When the places around you is waste-free? think about it? By doing simple things, you can make a big difference.

Naticus Maximus Cartographica said...

I came across your blog while doing some research on small plot gardening and helping my son with his 6th grade science project (assessing our yard's soil quality). Thank you for the simplicity statements. It bothers me that I have "gotten away" from the simple things. I know that this past year has been a year of transformation in the right direction to "live simply." It is a journey, a challenge, and a daily reminder for myself of "need" v. "want."

Now if I can just get my garden going like those I have researched, I will be in business. Good soil is they key....I just need to find the lock.