Are Three Bikinis two too many?

June 29, 2012 at 9:16 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

So I guess I committed to not buying any new clothes or accessories until the end of the year toooo…hastily.

I have now gone through all my clothes and with a critical eye set aside about half for the upcoming Really Really Free Market. It isn’t about being tired of them it is about fitting properly, age and lifestyle appropriate and making me look awesome while feeling comfortable. Now when my former husband used to say in response to the question about how something made me look “that looks comfortable” I knew it meant it was not making me look my best or even second best. Now comfort and style must go hand in hand.

So the NY skyline tee shirt will become a pillow cover and the green chiffon top is in search of a new home and the French Mary Jane shoes are also in the give away pile…I have done the unthinkable…gasp! I have gone and purchased a new black bikini top, a pair of espadrilles for sailing and a little white linen top for sticky hot summer days…blaspheme for the simplicity minded and minimalist I thought…until it occurred to me that I have come full circle. I am not a frivolous clothes buyer nor do I hoard. I need to own those items which work for me…and sometimes it means you have to get something new when the right item is needed. I did not go into debt for these items nor are they going into a deep closet full of tag bearing items.

I realized an important distinction along the road to simply living…we are all traveling on different roads at different times. I have already willingly gone on spending hiatus and made do with what was at hand or handed down. Nothing wrong with those stages as they are important visits along the road to minimalism and simplicity…by each one’s own definition. I don’t wear some of the outfits I would have even five years ago as now I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself…and I don’t need convincing.

Things I have kept…

1) A photograph of myself and a former coworker in our Hallowe’en costumes…as hookers in animal print strapless and red suede mini-skirt…you get the picture…(not the clothes but I had to include it in the list for interest sake).

2) A Levi men’s leather belt purchased in 1989 I wear with jeans.

3) An ancient pair of Von Dutch patched jeans which literally had there own social calender a few years ago…

4) An argyle Pendleton button up sweater in shades of beige…I have antique brooches which look quite nice on this and it is just the right type of warm on a cool day.

5) Tony llama black tooled calfskin cowboy boots…no explanation needed.

6) An Eileen Fischer Prussian blue silk midi.

7) A Max Mara black wool stretch knee skirt from a friend with my embroidered flowers along the flounce.

8) Long sleeve tee shirts in three colors

9) A thread bare yellow tee which states “Kill Evil with Kindness”… I concur and wear it often.

10) A beautiful reversible blue bikini bought in Aix en Provence by my favorite boyfriend ever…again I think this choice speaks for itself.

So you see I am at a slightly different intersection in the relationship with modern consumer goods and clothes than you may be or even a close friend or family member who travels the road to simplicity and joy. I try to buy made in the USA or Europe but the fact is sometimes the exact item that meets my needs is the one made in a country with less than desirable labor laws. That means good design and corporate ethics weren’t working well together. I bless those who made my purchase and vow to try again to align my ethics with my wallet, with the next item I choose to consume. I have made a conscious choice to meet my need rather than wait or buy a more eco-conscious choice which may or may not have been a better need  fit and what I was specifically searching for.

I try not to waste in all aspects of my life, money, time, efforts, love. Sometimes I get it right and once in a while I don’t. I am aware…in my life. I move through life deliberately and with purpose and intention.

I swim almost daily and sometimes more in the summer so three bikinis is what it will take to make it through summer. One in the car, one in the gym bag and one at home. For you, even one bikini might be too many or if you live in Hawaii three is no where near enough suits!

I have flats and sandals because I have a big dog who makes the idea of even wearing a heel while in his presence a comical thought. I walk often and ride a bike out at the beach so espadrilles and simple woven shoes are a good choice for me and I do love my red Sole Rebels. *Thank YOU Asta!

So, I guess what I’m saying is that we each need to find our place along the path to simply living and carry on the pursuit knowing there is another stage of refinement as we move forward and into joy. It isn’t about getting rid of it all or never buying again but being fully awake when we consume fully in the experience as well as economic and ecological consequences of each choice.

So if you want an giraffe print, black feather trimmed tote for summer drop me a line because it is going to some new fashionista’s home along with the pink suede San Marino Italian made boots bought in France. They are a size 9 narrow if they sound groovy to you : ) They AREImage very groovy but I would break my neck trying to sport those heels with Munchie in tow so they too must find a good home.

I see the process so differently than I did even one year ago. Everything in its time. Some things are too cool to keep stashed in the back of a closet, they deserve life and to be used and appreciated.

The photo is my uncle John with his wife Aunt Flo. I love her dress and brooch in this shot. She recently turned 100 and is alive and well in Florida. She just happened to have taught me to drive on a Friday night when I was eleven on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles…what was she thinking!? I got to put my foot on the accelerator and steer all while not killing my cousins! but I digress…

So where I am on the path, I have fewer items but more of them are truly purposeful to my life’s enjoyment and forward movement and that is simply living for me…

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What if it was never about the money?

June 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Being self employed I am rather used to feast or famine in my monthly finances. Putting money away isn’t even a question but rather a mandatory part of the process. I have also learned the valuable skills of barter, trade and borrow. 

In refining these skills in my day to day life I have met many interesting people and learned even more skills. 30 years ago my sole purpose was to make as much money as possible for some far off retirement where I globe trotted, drove a great car and generally lived in the lap of luxury…silly me!

For years I worked hard at jobs in my field but for less than ideal wages and under often exhausting, stressful conditions. (Who thinks high heels for 9 hours a day selling Rolex watches is a good idea)? I assure I could have sold them in bare feet or flats. I always thought of these positions as rungs on that ladder to the “good life.” It wasn’t until I went into my own business full time and ran up even more bills in the name of inventory, office supplies and flights to see buyers that I started to shift my thinking. I began to think more locally.

Being self employed means you are where the buck stops…every time. No longer working for wages I was now slaving away for the good folks at Capital One, Chase, American Express and Discover each month in order to service my debt. No one ever tells you that besides no longer having a paycheck when you go solo you will also have more debt as your needs outstrip your sales the first year or two. If you are one of the lucky ones you survive and thrive after much brow sweating and sleepless nights.

I figured out if I only sold to retailers and galleries within a 200 mile range I could save on flights, rental cars, hotels and time to get there. So with one exception I cut out the long distance travel. I kept my San Francisco contacts as they were a key part of my income and would need them to make the shift to locally sustainable. I immediately saw results and picked up more Southern California clients. I was green when it was just a color! My colleagues were heading overseas to set up sweatshops and contract manufacturing just I was embracing Made in the USA with greater fervor.Although my costs per piece to manufacture were higher so was my quality and my lead times where so short managers and buyers had to restate the times back to me as if I were speaking some strange and efficient language. This in turn opened more doors as time is of the essence as they say and in the luxury goods world the client wants it sooner not later.

I also started noticing a shift in my time…I was able to get my work done and be there when the kids returned from school. I could make plans at the last minute and I was learning how to have fun on a shoestring. I planted an organic garden for better food and a place to sit and contemplate. I was chipping away at my start up debt and building a small savings portfolio at the same time. I bought a better used car and sold the old sports car for more than the “new” old Mercedes workhorse diesel. I used the difference to buy tires. At this time diesel was cheaper than gas! 

I went on to have a very successful run designing jewelry for television. Sitcoms, dramas, talk shows you name it the stars were adorned in my California made creations. I paid off my debt entirely and invested enough to take five years off to go to college do a study abroad and buy my very first new car…which I am still driving seven years later. The things I learned when I was struggling was that it is never about the money, but rather the ability to get what you need. I learned many ways to get what I needed without going to the mall and buying it. I learned about the fine art of barter. One year I traded jewelry for high end French perfume from a leading vendor and all my women friends got something they might never have bought for themselves and a much more expensive gift than I would have bought using  $$$.

I don’t think I ever would have become so expert at my finances and resources had I stayed in a traditional wage or management position working for someone else. I have to say the most valuable outcomes of my self employment have been owning my time and learning to seek alternate ways to fulfill needs.

…and that’s my two cents on that topic.


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Really Really Free

June 14, 2012 at 4:45 am (Letting go, simple frugality, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , )

This past Sunday was the Really Really free Market in Normal Heights and grassy classrooms for information on the effects of nuclear fallout ie. Fukoshima as well as the well kept secret TPP trade agreement which would solidify trade between certain Pacific rim countries allowing easier trade and export of jobs and privatization of more common resources.

It was an interesting day to say the least! I rolled up in my little pick up truck brimming with goodies to give away. A walker with basket, a Pack n Play playpen, a wooden toolbox my dad made in the 1960s and enough clothes to open a small boutique! The latter courtesy of a friend who has redone her entire wardrobe in order to feel more in control of her life (more on that later). I had boxes of costume jewelry parts, books, toys, swimsuits and fancy high heels. As fast as I could unload the stuff onto the grass it disappeared. No worries about proper display here as there would be little to display by the time the truck was unloaded.

We packed a picnic with fresh picked fruit, avocado salad, crackers and cheeses which we shared with one of the speakers. I found several books I had been wanting to read again or for friends and baskets for my daughter to use at her organic produce stand in the farmer’s

The most interesting part of the event was the camaraderie of people sharing. One woman who picked up a lid for a pot gently mentioned to the man who was examining the pot that she really needed the pan and he smiled as he handed it to her. My friend spotted a full set of Velvet Underground CDs, CCR, THE Pixies and even A Lonely Island (DICK in a box song included)  CD. My friend got a cute gypsy skirt complete with mirrors on it in mint condition. She wore it out later that evening to a club and two women stopped her wondering where she bought it. She politely explained at the Really Really FREE market. No money or barter involved. Just free. This boggled their minds but they were eager for more information on such an event!

YOU can start one in your town or city very easily. Select a park and set up a Facebook account for the event and start inviting people to join in. The important thing to remember is that we all have things which we no longer need which could enrich someone else’s life without the need for wage slavery to get it. Would you work 40 plus hours a week at your job if you didn’t need to make ends meet? If you answered yes then bless you you are one of the few who truly loves their work. I love my art and yet I also love to travel, sail, garden and visit friends. These things require a modicum of free time while I am young enough to do them!

I am currently planning an extended trip overseas with a  friend which will require $$$$$ so I’d rather not spend any now if I can get something for free or used. I sold my laptop to my brother for the cost of a super size flash drive for all my files which I can use with my flash drive mini laptop. Lighter and easier to travel with. He is thrilled because he gets a laptop in good condition restored to factory settings for under $100! Win win as I had this laptop for almost five years. It actually came with Napster on the desktop! My new one runs  on Linux so I can use freeware and be out from under the corporate thumbs of both Apple and Microsoft. This all falls under the heading of sustainable resources, because every time we reuse something, pass it on or put it in play again we are preserving the earth’s precious and finite resources.

So here I am again further lightening the load for my journey through life. As I sort even the too many travel bags I see that the one given to me by my ex boyfriend (he got for x number of accident free days on the job) is perfect and the one I bought rarely gets used, and so it heads into the next give away pile. On a side note he gave me many useful things which I use often and they always remind me of him….sneaky devil!

So back to the downsizing and selling and giving away to fund my next adventure. I promise it won’t be boring!

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Challenge to buy no clothes or accessories for one year!

June 6, 2012 at 4:56 am (Letting go, simple frugality) (, , , , , , , , , , )

My dear friend has challenged me to a year-long fast from purchasing new or used clothes for one year. I’m agreeing to do it until the end of 2012. She on the other hand will take the 365 challenge.
In my head I’m already worrying about whether things will wear out too soon or if I have enough sweaters for fall. How ridiculous! I have more than enough of everything. I will put more shoes into daily circulation so that my favorites will last longer. I will certainly think longer before I throw things in the toss pile for the remainer of the year and I will free up even more time which previously was spent shopping for the next great running or boating shoe.
I am mentally inventorying my clothes and although I have a near dozen pair of jeans only two pair currently fit and one pair of shorts in three fit. Luckily I have four skirts which fit well and more for a more svelte version of myself waiting in the wings. I can see now that having three sizes of clothes in my closet adds to the clutter and confusion of what to wear each day. After enjoying my daughter’s cooking for a month I have moved up to the top end of my wardrobe size. I am readjusting my eating style and how often now and should be back to my middle ground very shortly as summer always means more swimming and hiking and walking the parks. So in this way I will add to my wardrobe by changing size. One dilemma solved.
I can see here where this may also involve doing more conscious wardrobe rotation as well to maximize the already available choices. Creativity will be put to the test. It is amazing how much time is spent shopping when we all commonly complain we don’t have enough hours in the days to do everything. Cutting out this one thing, depending on how much time one spends shopping now could translate into time for meditation, yoga, a workout at the gym or even more time for a hobby or reading.
It occurs to me that a clothing fast and TV fast could nicely go hand in hand. Cut out the triggers and feel better about yourself just as you are. When Asta suggested this challenge to me I wasn’t sure what it would entail being called a fashion fast…I was imagining wearing things which were from a few seasons ago, contrasting colors and even mixing prints to stay out of the fashion freeway fast lane. Oh wait a minute that’s how I dress now! I wear what I like regardless of what season it is from. We call that style. I never did get a pair of open toed woven fold over ankle boots on a platform heel…oh wait those are so out no one even will admit they were even in! I have classic heels in a few styles from black slingbacks a kitten heel sandal, a stiletto strappy snake skin pair and a pair of platform espadrilles. A flat pair of pointy toe Mary Janes while living in France at a sale and a pair of embroidered black suede Spanish boots. Leather flip flops and a pair of flat white espadrilles as well as my red Sole Rebels and my white leather boat sneakers…gee when you start writing out some of them it sounds like a lot…maybe I already have too many shoes I don’t regularly wear. Maybe it is time to wear everything and cull the herd a bit. I got rid of several pairs last year and the recipients were very happy to get them so it may be time to think about doing it again in time for the Really Really free market. Some of my beautiful heels might result in a sprained ankle if I try to wear them these days while I tote Munchie the 95lb Bulldog around town and try to wear them on a sailboat.

I think this comes down to re-evaluating who I am and my lifestyle rather than thinking of them as memories. This may prove to be an interesting time ahead in this challenge. By getting these items in play I am forced to confront their deeper value in my life. A couple of years ago I got rid of clothes given to me by previous boyfriends as way to free myself of my past and live more in the present. The last tee shirt I gave away a few months ago to a sweet neighbor. It said “Taken” and it seemed like it was time to pass it on and she loves it.  She is a young woman who is single and currently traveling the US with family this summer working state fairs. That shirt just might come in handy…it did for me although I think that with Munchie around I don’t need the shirt to stay single, but look taken. Then we have what I call the trade professional clothes which in my case are for public appearances and special events. These are the silk skirts, fitted and dirndl in fabrics too nice to wear daily. Problem is, my life is more about wiping wet hands on my jeans while stone cutting than circulating at trade shows with buyers in an ankle length washed silk skirt and linen top.  So I can see where an edited usable wardrobe of those finer items needs to be available but maybe in smaller quantities. It had been suggested these could be dating clothes now but, I like adventure dates and often wear just a tee shirt and skirt over my swimsuit in the summer for errands on my way home from the beach.

So it will indeed be an interesting challenge for more reasons than just the obvious….wish me bon chance!

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Is your Life a Craft Project or a Work of Art?

June 3, 2012 at 2:09 am (Letting go, LoVe, simple frugality) (, , , , , , , )

As I continually clean out my belongings in that never-ending quest for the perfect balance of items needed without excess I came across an art print I bought from a local young artist. He does paintings of robots in various activities. Mine is a car racing robot. I have decided it needs to be framed and hung next to my other art pieces by other artists.

I have had no problem getting rid of depressing er depression glass, and other tchochkes but it seems that as I do the art pieces move further forward and demand to be displayed. I have several drawings by an ex who is so talented I can’t believe I have not framed these earlier. So it seems I will be making a trip to my local art store for frames tomorrow. This is the interesting side effect of downscaling physical clutter, beloved items demand their space and attention from the box where they have been hiding in the back of a closet.

Artist self portrait

This was done shortly before I moved to France. He worked with Bic pens doubled up so as to make a long brush like drawing instrument. An amazing talent to watch the detail he can achieve with a 19 cent ball point pen! This second one is also a self portrait. Taking these out and looking at them reminded me of how extraordinarily talented he is and his art should be exhibited even if only in my bedroom… So I guess this is just another upside of decluttering my life…making room for those things which truly bring me joy each and every day.

I am also going through my many jewelry parts and letting go of those which I know in my heart I will not use and passing them on to another jewelry artist. In this same process I am rediscovering some in progress ear plugs I started in gem materials that I now have another reason to finish. Green and black Jade, Lapis and fire agate. I want to make a pair in Ethiopean chocolate opal. I think the rich deep color waves would make a very unusual plug. I also have some ear spikes I have in preform shape.  Gone are the tops from my college years (I only graduated in 2008) and the books I have read and will not pick up again. Gone are the candle holders from a famous mall retailer of “style” and In their place my collected artworks, tree seed pods which inspire my stone cutting and my lifetime collection of seashells. There is true beauty in my home again and that inspires me to continue on my quest for minimalism and meaning.

Artist self portrait

Taken from a photo of himself taken by me in his cottage.

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