Posted by: blondechief | November 2, 2008

Relationships

You don’t always have to get your own way to have the relationship you want.  We all have picture-perfect notions of what a relationship should be.  Disagreements on monogamy and kids can and should be real deal-breakers. Other issues, however, should not be non-negotiable.  There is nothing wrong with having your own views, but when they become non-negotiable, they can escalate into power struggles where nobody wins.  So what do you do when your mate doesn’t conform to your ideals?  The conventional answers are to (a) set clear boundaries in some cases, and (b) be willing to compromise in others.  This is excellent advice.  The problem is that most of us interpret this as (a)” I’m not going to love you unless you change” and (b) “Sometimes I’ll do what you want, but I think it’s dumb.”

Here’s another suggestion to contemplate:  Experiment with giving up your preference.  I know, this is a tricky thing to do.  I’m not suggesting you martyr yourself or become a passive-aggressive wimp.  Instead, try surrendering your preference as an act of power and big-heartedness.  You can give from a sense of emotional abundance, not poverty.  In Buddhist thought, there are four qualities that can turn “you owe me big time” into “I choose to give you my love.”  Called the Four Immeasurables, these principles show us how to neutralize anger and judgement without “giving in” or feeling like a doormat or a phony.  Even though they might sound super-spiritual, they are really just ordinary things that anyone can do.  Cultivate these Buddhist basics and you will greatly improve your relationship in the long run:

1.) Try Loving-Kindness.  This concept is not about being nice all the time; it’s about figuring out how to love beyond your pre-determined view of love. For example, you like to spend time together in the mornings over coffee and talking, and he likes to get up and depart early, instead of thinking “If he (or she) really loved me, he would spend more time with me in the morning, focus instead on your wish to love and be loved, which can happen at any time of the day.

2.) Try Compassion. Simply acknowledge that, just like you, he also wants to be appreciated for who he is. Instaed of “Why doesn’t he want to go out more and be social?” you can think. “I don’t want either of us to ever be forced into uncomfortable situations or feel out of our element.  Including both of you in the wish to be comfortable prevents you from setting up a you-against-him situation.  The goal is to love and accept each other as we are.  This way, you nurture a sense of openheartedness rather than impatience.

3.)  Try Sympathetic Joy.  Whereas compassion allows you to feel your partner’s pain, sympathetic joy allows you to share his happiness, too.  Say your partner wants to go on a trip with his buddies, and you feel left out, or less important than his friends, try instead feeling happy for something that genuinely makes him happy.  If you love someone, isn’t one of the greatest joys, seeing them excited and happy?

4.)  Try Equanimity.  As you probably know, nagging your partner about their habits never really works.  In fact, it tends to do the opposite while building resentment.  Equanimity, defined as the ability to remain calm and relaxed in the face of strong feelings, is the fourth and most important Immeasurable-with good reason.  Without this sense of composure, for example, loving-kindness could easily become martyrdom, and sympathetic joy would simply be patronizing.  By approaching the situation from an honest ( as opposed to manipulative) stance, you are better able to communicate your needs and have them heard.  Like the other Four Immeasurables, equanimity begets equanimity.  If you want more love and understanding, learn how to authentically offer these things to your partner-over and over again.  Open the gates of your own love, and you can have faith that the other person will do so as well.

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Posted by: blondechief | October 21, 2008

“My Wish for Humanity”

Wake each day, just before sunrise, well rested…. (give thanks)

Watch the sun rise while enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee or tea…. (give thanks)

Wish your spouse and children a safe and happy day, as you go about planning your day…..

A satisfying and productive day for everyone.  Find work that is your life’s passion…. (give thanks)

(would it really be called work then?)

As you progress through your daily routine, treat every living thing with respect and gratitude…..

At the end of the day, re-connect with your family…..

Enjoy preparing and consuming a liesurely, peaceful, healthful meal…. (give thanks)

Spend time talking, better yet, listening to each other….

Retire in the evening to a warm, clean, luxuriously comfortable bed……

Give thanks to the true source of your being…..

Start over.

Posted by: blondechief | October 19, 2008

“Function-Meets-Beauty”

As avid collectors of antiques and junk, we needed to find a solution to our collecting habit to match our simpler lifestyle choice.  Not wanting to give up entirely our love of treasure hunting we came up with a workable solution for us.  Our criteria for bringing any item into our home was, it must serve a useful purpose, not just be a dust collector.  We love anything vintage and anything that evokes a vintage “cabin in the woods” feeling. 

So I took a lesson from the European lifestyle.  If you study the homes and villas of Italy and France, you will notice that their kitchens are designed for function first, but they are also beautiful.  They do not have rows of boxes with doors, as in our American kitchen cupboards, to hide clutter behind.  They have open storage and shelving with all of their daily utensils on display.  Everything they own, they use, but the key difference is, their everyday items are like a piece of art in themselves, function meets beauty.  Visualize the copper pots so common in French cooking, and who hasn’t admired the vibrant colors and form of Italian pottery.  These are their everyday items, meant to be used and also beautiful to look at.  Many of these items are passed down to each generation with love and memories.  They do not go to a chain or dollar store and buy plastic junk for every occasion, which usually ends up as clutter in your home, or unfortunately, in the landfill.

We love the pyrex dishes from the 40’s and 50’s and cast iron cookware.  Our kitchen has open shelving overhead to display these everyday items. All our “stuff” comes from antique shops and estate sales.  We have always been “green” long before the term “green living” became fashionable.  We give a home and a purpose to items that might otherwise have been discarded.  Our home has that cozy, welcome vibe that makes our guests want to linger over dessert and coffee, or a glass of wine.  This works for us.  We can still indulge our collecting habit, while maintaining control over clutter and stay true to our lifestyle choice.

Next time you are tempted to purchase something that is not a necessity, ask yourself what purpose it will serve in your home today and years to come?  Apply the rule of “function meets beauty” and you will find yourself buying less stuff and enjoying what you do purchase even more.  A home full of useless junk is not a sign of “success”, a home full of beauty and love is the ultimate “success”.

Posted by: blondechief | October 14, 2008

A LIFE IN BALANCE.

A life in balance, if it were to be viewed in pictures and symbols, would be equal in all areas and have perfect symmetry.  Each area of the painting or photograph would have the same amount of lights and darks, shadows and colors, and if you were to gaze upon this piece of art you would believe it to be a masterpiece.  This is how I try to model my life, as though it were a masterpiece of symmetry. 

This past weekend was a glorious, perfect “Autumn” weekend.  The kind of perfection that should make you stop in your tracks and look at the flawless blue sky, the brilliant burgundy and golds of the leaves, and the full, abundant sunshine.  My Husband and I went to a local festival which included tasting of local wines, artisan cheeses and baked goods, and listened to remarkable musical talent.  The day was perfection and the purchases of wine and cheese (that we will enjoy throughout the hoilday season) will bring this day back to us tenfold.  Time was forgotten and we were living in the here and now, and not once did we worry about money, our jobs, or what we should be doing instead of what we were doing at that moment.  That is a life in balance. 

 If you take time to do something you enjoy, such as spending an afternoon reading, and then feel guilty about it later, because you have so many other obligations and responsibilities, then your life is not in balance.  If you can focus on one important thing on your path to Simple Wealth, it should be to strive for balance in all areas of your life.  If you can achieve this, most of the things that you worry about will take care of themselves.  A little clarification might be needed here.  A life in balance does not mean a life of juggling too many obligations. Many of the things that you think you have to do are self-imposed restrictions.  Try giving up some of the things that are not directly related to your immediate family, and you will be surprised to see that the world did not end because you decided to say no to others demands.  Make choices that work for you, and you alone, and you will be amazed at the difference in your life and in the lives of the people that you truly care about.  Work on one area in your life at a time.  When you try to make big changes all at once, you will fail, and then be discouraged, but if you make small changes, you will succeed and you will be encouraged to move ahead.  If you cannot make any changes right now in your work schedule, make your weekend your priority time for you.  Do not let anyone else make demands on your time.  Even if it is only a few hours on Sunday afternoon spent with a great book and a glass of iced tea, treat it like any other appointment, be on time and give it your fullest attention.  You will be pleased with what these small changes can do for your attitude and your life.  And once you get that ball rolling and you build up momentum, “LOOK OUT”, because the path you are on to achieving balance in your life and the rewards of a simpler, wealthier lifestyle, you will never meet another obstacle again.  If one of the great masters were to paint a picture of your life, would it be about balance and symmetry or choas and confusion?

“The time we enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”  -Bertrand Russell

“We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.” – E. B. White

Posted by: blondechief | September 28, 2008

“A MUST READ” “The Shack”

A dear friend loaned me a book to read called “The Shack” by William P. Young.  I cannot express strongly enough that this book should be read by everyone in the Universe, no kidding. I can’t reveal any information about the plot, but you need to get your hands on a copy ASAP. Check out this link.

http://www.theshackbook.com

This is truly one of those rare books that can be life-altering.

Posted by: blondechief | September 24, 2008

A short post today…..

I think the biggest obstacle to your health, wealth and happiness is “CLUTTER”.  You cannot organize clutter, but you can win and not let clutter control your life.  First and foremost, as with anything worthwhile, you have to make a commitment to yourself to start (just start, do not let the big picture overwhelm you) the de-clutter process.  The easiest approach I have found is the motto, “You can do anything for 15 minutes”.  This works for everyone.  Pick a drawer, a shelf, a corner or countertop and spend fifteen minutes sorting out the s.t.u.f.f. (remember stuff stands for “stifles you from freedom”).  Be ruthless and toss, give away, recycle and then find a home for whats left.  Do this every day or every weekend if that is all you can manage to start, and soon you will see enough positive results that you will become motivated and follow through with the rest of your home.  Today, just start.

Posted by: blondechief | September 18, 2008

When Life Comes At You Hard…….

You know how you get caught up in the mundane, routine daily part of your life, you tend to dwell on the small, insignificant things that annoy you.  Then, WHAM!, something happens to shake you up and wake you up. This week we received a phone call that one of my Husband’s life-long friends was killed in an accident.  Suddenly what seems so important at times, now fades into the background, because you have to focus on dealing with this tragedy.  So, why at a site called simple wealth am I addressing an issue like this?  If you have made a choice to live a simpler lifestyle you are probably not living paycheck to paycheck, so when an unexpected event forces it’s way into your life, you do not have to react with panic.  My Husband has the freedom to be able to help out the family during this difficult time, without the pressure of losing time off from work.  He also has the freedom to take some time to himself, if needed, to adjust to what has happened.

Ask yourself, are you in a position to be able to deal with this type of situation without panic over finances?  What if something happened to you?  What will you leave behind for your family?  The freedom to mourn and adjust, or a financial and emotional disaster?  I know these are things no one likes to think about, but that does not prevent them from happening.  Take some time to think about how you would want things to be when you are faced with this type of situation.  This will help guide you on your path to simple wealth and remind you why you are making the choices that you are.

Posted by: blondechief | September 11, 2008

The Fall Season is Here, Time to Cozy up the Nest!

The fall season is quickly approaching here in the northeast.  I love this time of year but I try not to say it a lot because people always say, yes but winter is right behind it.  So true, but I do not like that negative attitude, so I don’t want to hear it.  The changing seasons are why I choose to live in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  So when fall/winter approaches I like to find ways to cozy up our home.  With cold weather and heating bills we are likely to spend more time at home inside, so I really like to make this an enjoyable time.  Pick a room that you spend the most time in as a family, or choose your bedroom for a peaceful respite.  Do a serious de-cluttering and cleaning process and when that is out of the way you can get to the fun stuff.  Just stick with one room so you will not feel overwhelmed or break your budget.  Put up some new thermal backed curtains in a fresh color, get some new throw pillows for the sofa or the bed.  Add a few soft, fuzzy throws for the back of the sofa or the end of the bed to cover up with for an indulgent nap on a chilly day. 

Pick a night of the week for movie night with the family.  Make up movie baskets loaded with popcorn and other goodies.  Stock up on flavored coffee, tea and hot chocolate with whipped cream. My personal favorite is hazlenut, yum-.  Stock up your pantry and spend lazy Sunday afternoons making chili, soups and stews, spaghetti sauces, that you can enjoy all week.  Look forward to enjoying your cozy nest instead of dreading the season ahead.  If you picked your bedroom, stock up on some wonderful reading material.  Make a pampering basket with scented soaps and lotions, fluffy towels, and anything else that says luxury to you.  Burn some softly scented candles and sip a glass of wine in the bubble bath.  What could be more relaxing than that?  So, I hope I have given you some ideas to expand on so that you can make the most of this wonderful season ahead of us.  Grab yourself a big glass of fresh apple cider and a big doughnut, put on a jacket, sit out on the porch, deck or whatever you have, and just enjoy the crisp fall air and the beautiful leaves and see if you can appreciate the simple wealth of this moment.  Happy Autumn!

Posted by: blondechief | September 4, 2008

Vacation or Stay-cation?

Rising food and gas prices have given birth to the term stay-cation, meaning staying home for vacation.  What did you do this year?  As for me, I have been doing stay-cations for years and I love it.  So what do we do on our stay at home time, more importantly what do we not do? We do not pack, unpack, fight traffic, wait in security lines, spend on overpriced snacks, get annoyed, exhausted, or come home to a mountain of laundry.  This is what I did do.  I enjoyed a cup of coffee and an outdoor shower every morning.  In the evenings my DH and I sipped margaritas and watched the stars.  We enjoyed a fabulous prime rib dinner with our neighbors, which we all prepared together on an open wood-pit.  Talk about a five star dining experience.  The possibilities really are endless for enjoying your home.  You work hard to pay for a nice home, so why do you want to get away from it?  I have never understood this.

Take some time with your family and talk about all the fun and relaxing things you can do right in your own neighborhood.  Put together a movie night basket with popcorn and all the goodies.  Make yourself a spa basket packed full of pampering items such as candles, lotions, bubbles, wine or tea and a fancy glass or cup to drink out of.  Open your mind and your imagination and you can go anywhere in the entire “universe” right from the comfort of your own home.  So instead of feeling deprived because you feel that you cannot afford to go on vacation, treat yourself to the ultimate stay-cation and you and your finances will feel better than ever!

Posted by: blondechief | August 21, 2008

Complaining is not a solution.

Why are we a “nation” of complainers?  It seems that people truly enjoy complaining.  They complain about everything from the weather, to our Government, to the meager raise they just received.  Instead of approaching everything in your life with a negative attitude, try turning it around and start looking for the good.  If you are not happy with the weather where you live, move.  If you do not like our Government, Vote.  If you are not happy with your raise from your employer, Quit, or do a better job.  You probably do not like that “in your face attitude”, but life comes down to choices. Make choices that improve the quality of your life and stop complaining and blaming everyone and everything else.  You and (you alone) have the power to live your life with a positive or a negative attitude.  One of the choices I have made is to not watch the news or read the newspaper.  News reporting is for sales of papers and for ratings, nothing else.  It is over-dramatized and focuses on war, drugs, terrorism, illness, murder and on and on and on.  The less negativity you allow into your consciousness, the less negative you will be.  You will always attract what you focus on.  So I choose to focus on happiness first, because everything in your life stems from being happy first.  When you are happy and content, your body is well and your life is abundant.  Do not allow someone else’s negative opinions, health complaints, or their constant complaining about a lack of money get to you, or you will become just like them.  You have to take responsibility for your own situation.  Be someone that other people will enjoy being around, and can learn from, and you have not only improved your own life, but possibly the life of someone else.  Now that’s a good feeling.

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