How I honor my Irish ancestors on St. Patricks

March 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Today is a funny day…a day when Americans of all stripes claim Irish and indulge in too much beer or whiskey, and eat corned beef and cabbage. I use the day to reflect on the simple lives of my Irish ancestors. Arriving early in the 1700’s my ancestor’s fought in the American Revolution and were wagoneers for the continental army. They used their land grant to make their way to the fertile Ohio valley where they settled and began farming. Today my cousins farm that same land. I have a post revolutionary quilt made by my great great great grandmother a Fergus depicting arrows and olive branches with an Eagle. The painstaking attention to detail and time spent making this beautiful quilt is something few could afford today in our busy “buy it at the mall” lives.

They would have been thankful to live an a country where they could express their views without criticism from the British throne. To be free to make a new life for their descendants such as myself. So it is with that spirit that I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day…a day in which I know my ancestors suffered months on a ship to get here and worked hard their entire lives working the soil that I might be free from tyranny. I know it is my responsibility to use my voice as a citizen to see that we the people are free from the tyranny of government and corporate slavery.

So perhaps in the spirit of simple living you too might enjoy a simple day of reflection without green artificial dye in your brew and hormone filled factory green beef in pesticide cabbage and instead think of what we can do today to honor the Irish/American spirit of freedom from tyranny. I will go to a campaign luncheon for Mayor today and while there I will voice my concerns about our water supply here and the need for more community gardens. That is how I will honor my Irish forefathers and mothers.

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The Really Really Free Market

March 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

This weekend I participated in a free market in a local park. The event featured the wild concept that a free market could work. So my friend came to San Diego with a carload of clothing, handbags and books from her family. I had a modest trash bag size of clothes and household items and another grocery bag of canned food, oranges and lemons. I would guess fifty or so people were there at any given time with their wares lying out on sheets and blankets for the taking. I found a book of Native American Wisdom and my friend found a $60 book she had been wanting for some time. While we browsed other people’s offerings our many boxes and bags were sorted through and many happy people were trying on clothes and calling friends to tell them what they had found. I took one tee shirt and the book and beautiful silk neck tie for my son-in-law. The food was gone instantly and everyone appeared to be having a good time. One person brought a dining table and chairs and another a dresser and they were all taken quickly by people thrilled to get them.

I’m thinking now about the next Really Free Market in June and already starting to earmark items to take. We have far more kitchen items then I use in my daily cooking and I have other things in the garage that could use a new home. I would suggest starting one in your town in the public park and encourage anyone to come and give or take as needed. I plan on bringing more food next time and maybe even making food to share for lunch for the other participants.

So as I downscale I am enjoying the process of sharing of my excess with others who for economic reasons do not have enough and it puts ownership in perspective for me. I spoke with several people who said that when trying to keep food on the table and the power on they didn’t even have the few dollars for clothes for themselves or their children at thrift store prices so this was a great blessing. No one took greedily and people shared politely while looking through bags.

I came away feeling lighter and happier and looking forward to the next event in June in another park.

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The Fine Art of Saying NO

March 5, 2012 at 3:37 am (simple frugality) (, , , , , , )

No is a complete answer. A friend recently reminded me of this when I was wanting to say no to yet another obligation of someone else’s idea of how I should spend my time and resources. I was rehearsing one elaborate speech after another on why I could not become part of this or that and she gently¬†nudged¬†me and said “Ellen no is a complete answer.”

I felt a rush of relief flow over me like a cool wave on a hot August day. Just no. No need to make excuses or dig up justifiable reasons. Just no.

So again I find myself in a place where a well meaning friend has finagled me into an organization where I don’t belong and have no interest in participating. I will write the email this evening that just says “No I cannot add to my obligations at this time. Thank you for thinking of me and I wish you well.” There will no doubt be a lengthy email requesting further reasons but, I will give none because NO is a complete answer.

I value my time which is why I am self employed, grow a garden and live frugally. When I want to do something I want to be able to schedule it in without great drama or concern for finances. I often bow out of outings with friends and acquaintances because I don’t care to spend money on mediocre restaurant food and I don’t watch television so I cannot discuss the latest episode of “Dancing with the Lost Survivors on the Jersey Shore” with them nor do I go shopping as recreation. I prefer free museum days and long walks through Balboa park with the dog listening to birds and watching butterflies and hummingbirds in silence with a sack lunch. I’m not anti-social but, I march to a different drummer than many of the people I know. They have sometimes embarrassed themselves by making assumptions about my ability to afford weekends away or dinners when the truth is those are not part of my values and I live my values.

I read a great deal and am active in human rights issues such as ending slavery and not purchasing items made in sweat shops. I don’t buy into the Madison Avenue hyperbole of more is more. I prefer fewer, well made belongings which more me forward in my life’s purpose and support my goals and values. I steer by MY inner compass.

So next time someone tells you NO they cannot make it to your event or party except and respect “NO” as a complete answer as you may not want to hear the real reason because then you will have to take a closer look at your own values.

Simply living that others may simply live.

~Ellen

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