Shampoo Economics

Youngest son asked me to buy him a different brand of shampoo. The one we had was “volumizing” and his thick, curly hair is self-volumizing. I sensed a teaching moment.

We went to Target and I asked him to find a shampoo that he thought would meet his needs. He looked up and down the aisle, overwhelmed and shrugged, “I don’t know.” I found a popular brand shampoo with a label indicating it would create “sleek and shine.” Would this one be OK? He shrugged, “Maybe.” It was $5 for 22 oz. I pulled off the shelf another shampoo from the same company that was intended for “volumizing.” I asked him to compare the ingredient list. They were almost identical. He said, “Maybe, I could get a man shampoo.”

I found a bottle of Head and Shoulders advertised for men. $7 for 23.7 oz. One shelf down was a bottle of Head and Shoulders-not gender specific. $7 for 23.7 oz.

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Exact same ingredients.

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Further down the aisle, I found 3 bottles of shampoo marked down for clearance. $0.67 for 15 oz. each. I opened the lids and let youngest son smell the fragrance. Would these be OK? “Yes.”

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He was such a good sport about it, I bought him a bag of potato chips.

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Reset

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For the past 40 years I have worked very hard. Set goals, made plans, achieved goals. Set new goals.

During my recent illness, I realized that there isn’t anything that I want in my future more than I want to be in the present now. I do not need to work so hard. Just wake up and see what the day brings.

[Woooooosh]

Did you hear that? It was a lifetime of struggling and wanting and pushing getting sucked out the space capsule of my life and into deep space.

The sun is reflecting off my neighbor’s house, just barely above the horizon. There is a squirrel that just found a nut he buried between the flagstones of my backyard path. He has shelled it and eats it on the path.

I am afraid that I won’t remember how to do this when I go back to work. Then, I remember that it was work that first taught me how to just be. When you are caring for a dying person, after you have given the morphine and changed the sheets and counseled the family about what is happening, then you just be with them. Often, that is the most important part of the work.

I can do this! I can do this! I am positively giddy with excitement.

Lessons From the Couch: Source

[Third in a three part series of reflections during an illness.]

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The simplification of our lives has the side benefit of making it more workable and easier, but at its essence it is a desire to return to beingness.

Resting in the source of who we are is the balance point. When we find it, all else is made whole.

Lessons From the Couch: The Deep

[part two in a three-part series of reflections during an illness]

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~ We have a responsibility to care for what we invite into our lives: people, objects, intentions.  This means giving the relationships in our lives the love and attention to which they are entitled. It means not having so many objects in our homes that they gather dust or invite mice or some other material sign of our disinterest. It means clearing our minds of distractions so we are clear on our intentions and have the focus and energy to make them manifest.

~ It is an expression of our love for others to take only what we need from the table. And we need to continually evaluate the reality of the situation. If we try to take more than we need, we end up with an unsustainable situations like trying to maintain a pool in the desert. It is going to evaporate, and your well is going to go dry trying to fill it.

~If we view our lives as an exhilarating ride on a surfboard, we clearly see the advantage to being fit and flexible and unburdened.

~ My life has been out of balance for the past 2-3 years. I do not have to work so hard. Everything that I need shows up each day: The lessons I need to keep growing, our daily bread, opportunities to be of service. I do not have to work so hard.

Lessons From the Couch: Surface

[first in a three-part series of reflections during an illness]

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~ I must have my foot caught in a bear trap and the pry bar just out of my reach, before I will ask for help. And then, it’s just to hand me the pry bar. I’ll get my own damn foot out, thank you very much. This tendency may be my greatest weakness.

~ If I have a stroke while in the tub, and still have one working hand and can speak–I have identified three friends who would come over, drain the tub, dry me off and pull on yoga pants and a T-shirt before they called the paramedics, so I won’t have to leave the house naked. It’s good to know who these people are ahead of time.

~ Usually we are too busy to notice how the quality of light changes throughout the day from the same point of view. And how consistently beautiful it is. Or how soft the fur on a house cat. Or how comforting the vibration of a purr on an aching chest. There is a sweetness to the innocent observation of the world. It is astonishingly beautiful and ever-changing.

Silver Lining

I’ve been flat on my back with a bad chest cold/pneumonia for the past week or so with no energy for doing anything. I’ve had lots of time for reflection and to practice being.

I am hoping that this will make for some good posts in the near future.

Homemade Granola Bars

Basic Ingredients:

4 cups oats, take one 1 cup and put through blender or food processor until it has a coarse flour consistency. If you omit this step, they will not hold together.

12 oz. pitted dates, chopped finely

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup plant-oil, such as canola or coconut (I have tried making the recipe using 1/2 cup applesauce replacing the oil, but the bars were hard as bricks.)

Variable Ingredients:

I use a total of 2 cup of variable ingredients, in whatever combination strikes my fancy (or what I have in the house.) Use your imagination and your own family’s preferences here. Examples: shredded coconut, chocolate chips, M & M’s, raisins, nuts, dried cranberries. I would not use more than 1 cup of melty things like butterscotch chips or M & M’s per batch.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter and chopped dates together, add the oats, then the 2 cups of variable ingredients. Place the mixture in the 9 x 13 pan (it should be too thick to pour) and then using a greased hand or waxed paper covered hand, press the mixture into the pan, removing any air pockets. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool. Cut into bars.

OK. Here is where I get really silly. My kids will eat about 1/3 of the pan when they are fresh…….but then just sort of forget about them (like the invisible fruit decorations in bowls around the house) so……I individually wrap the remaining bars in waxed paper and place them on the “snack shelf” of the pantry. Voila! Snacks no longer invisible. I do not understand why this works, but it does.

Embracing Boredom

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Boredom is one of those uncomfortable emotions that we run from as if it were a large dragon with fiery breath guarding the bridge to the castle. As modern women and men we have even more tools for distraction at our disposal than ever before.

Boredom is one of the reasons that we keep ourselves so busy that we are exhausted. We are afraid of the discomfort.

I do not see boredom as a destructive dragon to avoid, but as the bridge to get to a place a want to be. Usually, when I feel bored, there is something about the present moment that I find disagreeable. Rather than immediately distracting myself with some pretty, shiny new thing to ease the discomfort, I lean into it. What in this moment is unpleasant? Why does this song on the radio, that I have heard thousands of times, irritate? Is it the unimaginative chord progression? Or the sexist lyrics?

Why am I sick of making this recipe at this moment? Do I no longer believe it to be healthy and nurturing? Am I irritated at the person in the household who claims it as a favorite?

When I answer these questions, I learn something about myself and the world and am able to move forward with more clarity and effectiveness. I have come to value these moments as powerful teachers. I invite them into my life by simplifying the distractions out and leaving space for the powerful Now to reveal itself.

So you are bored? Lucky you.

Simplifying the Finances

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Simplifying the finances is a journey, what works for me may not work for you. Your life situation is likely different from mine. But I do think that there is value is discussing how we do these things, both for experienced minimalists and for those new on the path. So here are a few things that have simplified my finances:

1) I am a minimalist. I do not shop for recreation. I generally do not buy objects or services that I do not need. I habitually look for a simpler way to do everything. It’s my favorite hobby.

2) I track every cent that I spend. I used to write expenses down on an 3 x 5 card that I kept in my wallet. Now I purchase most things with a cash back credit card. I use a debit card for the grocery store.  I use cash to pay the boys for their chores and to buy the occasional coffee or water. * I first read about tracking every cent in the book Your Money or Your Life and I have found it to be an invaluable practice.

3) I evaluate my spending at the end of each month and the end of each year. Is the money spent in line with my values? If not, why did I spend it?  I started with a written ledger and now use purchased software. I use YNAB (You Need A Budget.) My daughter-in-law uses Mint.

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4) Except for my mortgage, I have no debt. I have in the past: car loans, school loans, consumer debt. I do not like it. It would be a really dire circumstance that would cause me to borrow money again.

5) I am constantly evaluating my purchases: Do I really need this? Is there a less expensive way to get the need met? How have other people solved this problem?

6) I learn about the lives of exceptional people. Not exceptional in a Kim Kardashian kind of way, but someone who lived quietly and donated 1.3 million to the school of their choice when they died exceptional. Or the man I recently met, who with his wife fostered over 100 special needs children over a 30 year period. And they did it in a house with about 1000 sq. feet.

That is a few of the things that I do. These things are just habits now and easy. When I started each of them, there was a bit of a learning curve.

I would love for you to share how you keep your finances simple.

* I travel a lot for my job, in seventeen counties. Sometimes, I am far from home or the office and I need to use the restroom. I’ll stop in a gas station and use theirs. If I am not buying gas too, I’ll buy a coffee or water, as my way of saying thank you for providing me with a clean restroom to use.