Friday, 17 January 2014

Relenquishing the Science Oven

I laughed heartily at the use of the words "science oven" as a reference to the microwave in Singer and Russel's American Hustle. So much so, that I gave mine up. OK - the movie had nothing to do with it, but it still made me laugh and I will now forever refer to it as such. And I have truly relinquished my science oven. Oh the joy of discovering more counter space.

During my experiment with Depression style living (see blog), also known as Project Pare, I decided to relinquish (yield, resign, abandon, surrender, cede, waive, renounce) many luxuries, purchases, and certain behaviours related to the theme of convenience and urban living. Some changes were more challenging than others, but it was a good test of character, patience, listening, and life "management". Would I say that all my trials led to continued improvement? Probably not. But I do believe there is value in the process of simplification.

I come from a family of worriers, and I have also bred and raised anxiety-full children. And I don't say that in a negative way - it's who they are and I don't want to change what goes along with that (creativity, story telling, passion, and an acute awareness of safety to name a few things). In our extended family - you name it - we have it: anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, alcoholism, phobias, and more. I would guess that every family has at least one mental health concern. The complex system called "a human" lends itself well to the increased chance of small changes having big impacts. So I raise this point, whether it is anxiety or another health issue, or even plain old stress, because during the time we took a break from technology and convenience - a period of time where we simplified our life by removing the things we thought were making it easier - I believe (without factually measuring it) that we improved our health.

The more detailed positive outcomes:
  • I ceased to worry about keeping up with every little detail in my facebook friend's lives.
  • It didn't matter that we missed an episode of our favourite popular TV shows. The loss was not going to impact anything except discussions at the water fountain/cooler the next day. Not important.
  • Somehow staring at the wall became a regular meditative practice, and I gave up feel guilty about doing nothing.
  • I had no after images dancing in front of my eyes from game apps and the kids actually looked at me when I was speaking to them rather than at the phone, computer or TV screen. They both have my eye colour. To think I almost forgot.
  • Homework and working on the home was less stressful because we had more time to do it.
  • I learned to plan better because I had to - I had to make the time to make meals from scratch. I had forgotten how to cook, really. And it turns out I had a whole lot more food as a result in addition to a lower grocery bill. Duh.
  • I enjoyed my books rather than thinking of it as a preventative mental exercise that I needed to cram in before bed so that my brain won't malfunction in the future.
  • I learned to actually walk my talk. I knew I didn't need all the things that I was buying.
  • Since many of the depression ingredients were cheaper/canned (that went against my no process foods, but I had to make an economic decision), things like fruit and honey were real treats. Even salad. I was able to distinguish flavour better.
  • Similar to reading, walking became an experience rather than a lifestyle chore.
  • I discovered, as I hope my children did, that true silence is beautiful.
  • I did not have one eye twitch or sore neck episode or carpel tunnel symptoms. I knew what it meant to breathe outside of yoga sessions.
  • I did reduce the amount of wasted food. Unfortunately I am right back up to the previous amount of "throw aways". Working on that lapse. My idea is to put sticky notes on the fridge reminding me and the children what I bought or what I have stored in the freezer. Welcome to the home of the absent minded professors.
The weird/less positive outcomes:
  • I craved red licorice really badly. When this was over I bought a whole pack and ate them all in one sitting. Note to audience - this will give you very bad gas.
  • That no matter what Dove or Ivory or any or the makers of bar soap say - they do dry your skin.
  • I did get a migraine related to the stress of having to convince my children Project Pare was a good idea, as well as showing them what they could do without the use of technology. I love you LEGO makers of the world. Thank you for entertaining my son.
  • On the night of said migraine, I told the kids they could watch TV. I failed on a couple of other occasions too. BUT - they did start to see it as a reward or treat rather than a necessity, and that was a fantastic result. Since the experiment, they have been watching TV somewhat less and reading more. I hope we can keep it up.
  • Back to the dry skin - washing dishes by hand sucks. And it will always suck.
  • I moved from not drinking at all to drinking scotch. No further comment.
  • I did not get my love letters written. I am going to still do that.
  • I did talk to people more - as an introvert that did not always work well. But as functioning member of society I realize this is good practice in order to keep my friends. And I did laugh more. So success!
  • I recognized that eating healthy is expensive. That is a sad fact.

I think I can safely say that Project Pare has moved into the program domain. There is no end to improving my health, and the health of those I love. What's the vision? As the stolen-from-the-internet image of the blackboard shows (see above), I think it is just this "To do: Simplify My Life".
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