Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tour Down Under and other important updates

What a week it’s been! I’ve been enjoying the pleasure of international road cycling here in my own country – and I’ve spent the last week track side of the Tour Down Under celebrating the fantastic cycling talent we’ve got here in Aus. Now before I loose all my non-cycling friends, this week has also involved some ‘simple living’ challenges that I’ll mention, and for my bookish friends – I’ve got some updates on reading.

My cycling hero, Cadel Evans, came in second place, only one second behind the younger Aussie and Aussie sponsored Simon Gerrans. The competition was tough all week, and the final decision was only made on the very last day! 

To attend the Tour Down Under I take a week off work, and travel with my partner to our home town, Adelaide, and stay with friends and family. I’ve had a blast staying with my friend and her beautiful 8yr daughter, who came with me each day to the race. This made for a fun time as we waited for the gooosh of the passing peloton. We watched hill climbs, race starts, race finishes, and Circuits.  Here’s just some of my favourite shots.

Reading Updates
Holidays are a great time to set some big reading goals, however this holiday was so busy that I didn’t get to first base on some of my goals. However, I have started preparing my end of Japanese Literature Challenge 7 post and reviews of
  • the golden temple,
  • mistress oriku stories from a Tokyo teahouse by matsutaro kawaguchi 

My reading list for the holiday included the the izu dancer yasunari Kawabata and other stories by yasushi inoue. I am hoping to finish these before the end of January and to get the post published next weekend. 

 Simple living challenge Updates
My challenge this year is to remain focused, intentional and purposeful about how to live simply so that others may simply live. So during my weeklong break, I tried really hard to be conscious, considered and intentional about my daily choices. I want to post soon on my reflections recently, but for now I will simply share that this week was a good time to start with stakeholder engagement. For me to make different decisions about my impact on the world, I need my partners engagement. We had some great chats this week about what this will mean for us. 

Hemp and bamboo clothing sparked an intense discussion for us when we found a shop in Handorf (South Aus) devoted to quality designer brands of ethically made clothing. We were immediately drawn to the products knowing that clothing made from these fabrics last longer, the materials are mostly ethically grown and developed, and the companies that use these fabrics make environmentally conscious decisions. So why not purchase something? Throw in an amazing sale, so there were items at 50% normal cost – why wouldn’t you want something? I came to the conclusion that I liked the stuff, that I wanted something, but I didn’t need anything. My partner, on the other hand, decided that he did need some items, and purchased long pants and long sleeve shirts that would protect his fragile skin while he enjoys his kayaking. We agreed that our final decisions were considered, ethical, intentional and purposeful.

Stay tuned for more updates soon...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Keyboards, blueberries and a purcuit of the simple life!

Living simply has been a bit of a focus of mine in the past week, and as I’ve been wandering around the blogging world I’ve been challenged - I’ve read about things I doubt are ‘simple’ and I’ve read things that I wish I could aspire to. 

A living simply philosophy has become a conversation in our house too, which is good. We had a computer crisis, after an electricity surge and our keyboard stopped working. So out came the old USB keyboard (which some simply living advocates wouldn’t have because they wouldn’t keep the old things that clutter),  as we considered what our choices were. We debated purchasing a new Bluetooth keyboard, just using the old USB keyboard, or trying the repair it. Simple living thinking made us question going out the buy something new.... a few days later the wisdom came to us – what else to do but to reboot the computer and keyboard!!! All good – no purchase necessary. 

The event did lead us to question – does a ‘no buy’ policy fit with the simple life we’re interest in? What is the ‘no buy’ policy anyway??  And what about the declutter policy promoting by many simple living authors??? So more reading to be done.... I’ll post more soon on those thoughts.

The other ‘simple living’ activity we did was something introduced to me at little eco footprints. My partner and I went on a date and had a lovely morning picking blueberries. I now have something like 4 kilo’s of blueberries in the freezer. They’re local, grown organically, and we did the labour – we did it together – and they are yummy additions to breakfast, smoothies or an afternoon nibble!

Here are a few quotes from this weeks reading

  • Simply living can be an act of sharing
  • Simple living can be a commitment to a lifestyle response to the highly skewed distribution of wealth in the world
  • Share with others by taking less
  • Be the change you want to see in the world!

Other posts to come soon – my Japanese literature reviews, other books read recently, and some cooking excitement in my new life.... 

Here’s a couple of the new simple living blogs I’ve been following

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Live simple so that others may simply live

Live simply so that others may simply live – Gandhi

This is my new motto – I really want to learn more, action and live a more conscious and intentional life. I wont put myself down and say this is a new thing for me... I have been conscious and intentional in many aspects of my life. It’s just that I really want to be conscious about getting better about this. So I’m setting myself a goal to learn things and do things that mean I will be living simply so that others may simply live.

I want to use Gandhi’s inspirational words to challenge myself. I’d like to consider
  • How I spend my money
  • How I spend my time
  • How I relate with other people
  • How I listen to my spiritual self
  • How I impact on other peoples quality of life
  • How I relate to precious resources on our planet
I’ve started doing some reading about the ‘living simply’ movement, which appears to come in different forms and is called different things. The first thing that strikes me is that ‘living simply’, or striving for the ‘simple life’ (or in my parents time – the ‘good life’) is definitely not new to me. My parents made decisions when I was a child to live simply – I think forced by financial pressures as much as anything. But I spent the majority of my childhood on a property with no electricity and no town water. We grew our own fruit and veg, and supported other local producers. Mum sewed and taught us to sew our clothes and we learnt other useful skills, such as baking bread, jams and preserves. I was brought up on home grown sprouts, goats milk from our own goat, and home grown eggs. It was a good life for a kid.

But I doubt it was a simple life for my mother – washing with the petrol driven washer with wringer, keeping the kero fridge alight, stoking the fire in the heat of summer to keep hot water, and teaching us to read, play music and entertain ourselves in the dime light of a kerosene lantern.
So as I embark on a conscious year of learning how to be more intentional about my life, to look at the principles of ‘living a simple life’, I will be interested in finding the balance. I do have a complicated life – working away from home, returning to my little haven only 4 out of 7 nights each week. But my income helps me achieve many of my life goals – travelling, learning, contributing to human rights programs in India, supporting community action in my local area, and supporting my partner with his ambitious goals to develop better cycling infrastructure through lobbying decision makers..

So balance is important, between simplicity and complexity, creating time/space & energy, and giving back, and the balance of costs/benefits and spiritual.... I think this is going to be an interesting journey of self discovery.
But, I don’t want it to simply be a journey for me, alone... I don’t live alone. I want to engage my partner is these discussions also. This will be a new challenge for us too. He has strong ideas about some things.  As one author I’ve been reading highlights, any lifestyle change on my part requires stakeholder buy in from my loved ones too…

2014 blogging goals
While I’m committing myself to the pursuit of a more simple life – one that follows Gandhi’s words – I need to maintain a balance of the other aspects of my life that fuel me, replenish me and define me. My blogging life as previously been a place where
  • I review my reading – reading is a personal challenge for me, and I have gained so much from setting reading goals – such as the Japanese Literature Challenge – so I’m going to keep that aspect of blogging alive too.
  • I post gardening and environmental actions and events – this is about me sharing my little bit of mother earth with you. I believe we can all gain from what happens in my garden. This year I will be revisiting the permaculture principles on a monthly basis as I flick my calendar over.
  • I share my love of Paris, France and the French Language. I love hosting Paris in July, and I will be undertaking to do that this year again. I love visiting and learning from others who love Paris too.
  •  I gloat over Aussie cyclists in the grand tours.... I’m becoming a tour junky, and also do a bit of cycling myself, so January I go to south Australia to see the Tour down Under, and July I get lost in mist of Tour de France!
  • Blogging is also a place where I explore spirituality and self awareness, sometimes randomly. I don’t know why I think blogging is a good place for all that, but it’s sometimes cathartic to write about those things.

So I hope you’ll join me in some of this journey… lets see where 2014 takes us.