Sunday, 8 August 2010

When you wander off the simple, green, frugal path...

by Eilleen, Consumption Rebellion

Hello everyone,

Readers of my personal blog would know that I have been having a hard time lately. I am now at the tail end of wrapping up my divorce and things have finally sunk in that I really am now a single parent. While the simple and frugal path has helped me at the beginning of this big life change - (indeed, I was astounded at how easily I was able to adjust to an income a third of what I was used to) now that the big upheavals are behind me and the dust is settling, I found myself craving "easy" and "normality".

And so over the last few months, I found myself opting for more and more takeaway and convenience meals. Buying things that "everyone else" has....I even bought a TV, even though I didn't really watch it! Buying presents (just like everyone else does) and buying DVDs so that my kids can watch something (on the brand new TV) while I sit and absorb the enormity of the changes in my life.

Unfortunately...and like my life previously.... I found that "buying normality" doesn't work. And there is nothing "easy" about over-consuming. In fact, the further I wandered off my values the more unsettled I became.

The problem with an over-consumerist lifestyle - once you have embarked on it - is that its pretty hard to stop. So many concepts are heavily marketed and attached to a consumerist lifestyle. Concepts like "normality" and "easy" - in short "the life you want to have". And even though I know that these are all illusions, they are very very tempting illusions anyway.

So where am I going with this?

This blog was created to inspire and help people live a simpler, greener and more frugal life. So many people have told me in my personal blog that sometimes reading blogs like these can be intimidating because people seem to do it so easily (oh there's that word again).

But as you can see, my own journey to a simpler life has not been easy. I was able to achieve it for a few years and for a long time, I experienced the quiet joy of finally living within my own values. Then slowly, slowly, I just....stopped.

I do have a more selfish motive for writing about my journey. I have found that blogging helps me take those little steps back towards a simpler path....and it helps me remain accountable. :)

So what little steps am I taking? Well, I have started with a budget challenge (that also involved a bit of decluttering) and I have also started sewing again. I am really grateful for Frugal Trench's post below this one because its reminding me of even more little steps to take.

For now I am here very very far from a simple, green or frugal life. Just like that time years and years ago, when I stopped buying brand new for the first time, I have a long way to trek to get back onto the simple path. But I know that with my little steps, I will get there.

"Looking for Reality" by Alice / Cornelia Kopp


simplelife said...

Great post Eileen so good to hear that everyone falls off the wagon occassionally. The really important point and best lesson for us from your post is that although you have lost your way you haven't given up and are climbing right back on. Heading back to your values.
Human nature means that we are fallible, but the achievers are the ones who don't give up, don't let a small set back stop their whole journey.

Thanks for sharing that you are human

cheers Kate

Chile said...

Oh, Eileen, I can totally relate! Big life changes are tough and it's easy to slip into easier options like take-out and convenience food, and lounging in front of the TV.

We bought and house and moved recently, a huge change that was followed by tremendous stress from other sources. I am still struggling to get back to cooking from scratch instead of running to the store for a frozen pizza or the take-out Chinese food there.

We did sell our little TV but only because we get no analog reception where we are now and are too cheap to pay for cable. We've substituted movies (and TV series) from the library on the computer. I used to read regularly about how to do more things for ourselves but our reading choices lately are escapist light fiction (scifi/fantasy).

We've been talking about the small steps we can take to get back on our path. I'm glad to see we're not the only ones that have struggled with this!

brendie said...

hi, (first time visitor)I think we all tend to do "self destructive" behavoir when we are running low or stressed. Its ok :) ok!

Kathryn said...

Best of luck with that. You might want to check out The Simple Dollar as a good resource. I find his way of looking at values & changing your expenditures to meet your values & your desired lifestyle helpful.

Linda said...

Hi Eileen, I have been quietly following your journey for some time. I just want you to know that I think that you are doing a fantastic job and not to feel disheartened because you have journeyed off the path a little. I am only at the very beginning of my journey in changing my life after five long years of good intentions.

Bethany said...

I'm right there with you. I know what I want to live like, but somehow knowing what I want doesn't always mean movement in the direction I want to go.

I don't know if you experience the same thing or not, but do you think it's somehow related to culture? Having lived overseas before, I remember times when I was homesick, not just for people, but for a way of life I was familiar with. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate the life I was living, but it felt so draining sometimes to live a different way.

Sometimes I feel like when I fall off the green wagon it's because of culture shock. I'm homesick for what I grew up with, even though I want something different now. Just wondered if you felt the same way.


Terry said...

I love this blog and hope I can get back soon to check it out further. I am your newest follower.

I am on a mission to follow 10 new, Interesting blogs a day for a month. Hopefully they will follow me back.

My Journey With Candida

wendyytb said...


Thank you for sharing your story. I think we often buy and consume to comfort ourselves. I enjoy this blog and look forward to following along with you as you start your new journey,

Anonymous said...

Hang in there, and remember to be kind to yourself! -Stace

Stephanie Thomas Berry said...

My husband and I have been on a ten-year quest for joyful sustainability. There is still MUCH work to be done, and solutions we haven't discovered yet (as in car usage)! But if it isn't joyful it becomes overwhelming, a burden, and then our motivation withers. I found that when I moved from feeling guilt and despair as my motivation to feeling joy and delight as my motivation, everything flowed so much easier!

Annette said...

Blogland can tend to make life look easier than it is. Thank you, Eileen, for the glimpse into 'behind the scenes'. I tend to fall off the wagon more times that I want to admit (lunch time at work). *sighs* baby steps.

Eilleen said...

Thank you so much everyone for your kind words and for also sharing your own thoughts and experiences.

Bethany - YES! I think you're right. Part of it is just going back to the familiar.

To all those who are also taking those little steps. Thank you and I'm glad we're all doing it together.