Thursday, November 5, 2009

Simpler things, simpler life...

A couple of things that have changed with our move and our embracing a simpler life - we don't have a dishwasher or a microwave in our new house.  While we spent the first few weeks shopping for a microwave that would fit in our smaller home, after a while I just sorta stopped.  I began to realize we'd been living just fine without one and then started thinking about all the years I lived without one in my earlier years and while there is no doubt a microwave can make some tasks simpler but, I now don't even miss having one.  I can't think of any reason now to buy one other than to have a large butter melter / popcorn popper.  It will probably take me a bit to re-learn how to pop popcorn for real without burning it or I could go get myself a mono-tasker air popper that would just take up room the other 363 days that I don't make popcorn.  Just seems kinda silly.

Regarding a dishwasher, I remember when even having one, my roommates and I all spurned this appliance as it ruined the good cookware and didn't really get the dishes all that clean.  At times I think about getting one now and how it would fit in our home but you know, I think I really just liked having a place to get the dirty dishes out of the sink and off the counter and a place to leave the clean dishes so I wouldn't have to put them away to get my kitchen back.  Tonight I had a whole sinkful of dishes and cookware as I've only rinsed and stacked the few dishes used the past couple of days and this evening I made chicken parmesan as the youngling had a tough day and it is one of his true faves.  Even not making the sauce from scratch I still ended up with a few pots & pans as well as 3 days worth of glasses and dishes but this brings me to one of the amazing benefits of not having a dishwasher - a chance to practice mindfulness.

To live in the present; not hurrying to finish something so I can move on to the next task, to concentrate on the task at hand, to wash the dishes for washing the dishes...

So many times in our rushed life we forget the beauty and relaxation of just doing.  Doing for doing.  Thinking about your breathing, about the way the water and the soap combine and feel on your hands as you slowly wipe or scrub the dish or pot.  This is a way that I find myself able to slow down, focus on a task that many take for granted or try to get through as quickly as possible only to do the same with the next task. 

Perhaps that's how I need to start looking at these things I find I must do day to day, not as "chores" but merely as tasks.  Many meditation masters tell us one of the easiest and most convenient meditation tools we have available is our breathing; focus on your breathing, counting as your body relaxes and your heartbeat and breath slow, slower, slowest... all the while focusing on the in breath and the out breath.  Why not do the same with the things we must do other than breathing; washing dishes, folding laundry, making the bed?  I find another task that is easy for me to use to focus my mindfulness is sweeping with an old fashioned straw broom.  Sweeping, sweeping, sweeping...

One of my favorite guides is Thich Nhat Hanh, a respected Zen master who tells us that to live in the present, to be mindful of this very moment and only this very moment is the only way to true peace within ourselves.  By finding that peace within ourselves we can portray peace to the world around us.

Maybe I'm onto something...



  1. Making popcorn in a pot is so easy! 1/4 c veggie oil, 1/2 c popcorn seeds (add 1/4 c sugar to the oil as it's heating up for yummy homemade kettle corn). Heat the oil on med-high (no higher!) in a big lidded pot and put 3 kernels in. When all three of those pop, stick the rest in and shake shake shake while all it pops. Make sure to keep an eye on it and shake it well so it doesn't burn.

    It takes a few tries to get the technique just right, and the first batch will inevitably be a little burnt, but it's definitely worth it. Add some melted butter or whatever the heck else you want, and you're good to go! This makes a pretty huge batch (WAY more than one bag of popcorn) for only a few minutes' work. You'll never want microwave popcorn again.

    Great blog, btw. I'm doing NaBloWriMo too. Good luck!

  2. Thanks Rachael!

    I subscribed to your blog after just reading the latest headline and even w/o seeing the man in the bread shoes vid. Gonna watch it though. Great stuff here, keep it up and good luck back atchoo on NaBoWriMo...

    Great writing and I'm looking FW to keepin up on you as you write your novel!