FPQ Lifestyles

Janet Luhrs – Simple Is as Simple Does.

[photo] Janet Luhrs

I consider Janet Luhrs to be one of my heroes. Often called “the pioneer of the simplicity movement,” Janet is the author of the bestseller The Simple Living Guide, as well as editor and publisher of Simple Living, a monthly newsletter that helps individuals bring more meaning into their lives through simplifying.

Janet believes that by slowing down and making simpler choices whenever possible, we can transform our relationship to time, personal finances, health, our families and friends, and physical surroundings. She now uses her inspiring monthly newsletter and website to show individuals how to strip meaningless things from the everyday and enjoy prosperity with more ease and balance.

As Janet says on her website, "Simple living is about living deliberately. Simple living is not about austerity, or frugality, or income level. It's about being fully aware of why you are living your particular life, and knowing that life is one you have chosen thoughtfully. Simple living is about designing our lives to coincide with our ideals."

I particularly like what Janet says about changing our relationship to silence. In silence we have a chance to regroup and recover our sanity. She advocates mindful eating, for instance, with no TV, radio or reading playing in the background. You can try silent driving, too, which I’ve tried and found both challenging and rewarding. And here’s a suggestion that few of us would ever consider, but could literally transform our lives – create an evening a week of silence at home when we don’t talk, we turn off the phone, TV and I-pod, we don’t run the washing machine, and we just keep quiet. Do you have the silence in you?

Here’s an excerpt from Janet’s book, The Simple Living Guide, that points to how much more consciousness we can apply to an act as simple as washing the dishes:

[photo] Washing Dishes

Let’s put technology in its place – use it, but don’t let it run our lives and destroy our contact with other human beings. Take the dishwasher, for example. Before dishwashers, it was customary for two people to wash dishes in the sink together. One washed and the other dried. Ever thought about the chatting and bonding that went on during these nightly episodes? Ever thought about the sensuality of rubbing dishes in a tub of warm, soapy water. Now what do we have? A lone person hurriedly cramming dishes into the dishwasher so he or she can get on to the next task quickly. The dishwasher is one modern convenience that I stopped using except after dinner parties. Turns out I like this meditative time to run bubbles over dishes and warm my hands. It gives me kind of a rhythmic moment to ponder the meaning of life in a way that high-tech loading cannot give.

After the dishes are crammed into their respective slots in the dishwasher, what else do a lot of us do in the evening? Sit in front of the tube, on average for four or five hours a night. No human bonding there. Remember those evenings spent taking tea and chatting together? Playing cards together? Going for walks together? (We remember them only in our imaginations because now and then we see a re-enactment in a movie or somewhere).

A speeded up life not only robs us of time to connect to others, but it also makes us impatient and angry. We don’t have time to listen to our partner’s point of view. We don’t have time to wait for a bank teller who is just learning. We don’t have time for our children. We don’t have time for ourselves. When we’re overscheduled, we become selfish, because our whole day is spent trying to catch up and our night is spent trying to recuperate.

I love this idea of living more deliberately, of slowing down and taking more time to pay attention to our surroundings. It goes hand in hand with bringing more peace and quiet into our lives.

To order The Simple Living Guide ($22.95) by Janet Luhrs, visit amazon.com.

To subscribe to Janet’s monthly newsletter called Simple Living, filled with ideas to help you live more simply, go to www.simpleliving.com.

"I wanted to live with the mountain inside me,
But then I got lost in the flowers."

Benedicte Bllx, Poet
Oslo, Norway

A Tiny Garden Above the City

[photo] Allan in his garden

I am so lucky. My apartment in New York City has a small terrace. It is not larger than 10” x 6,” but that is space enough to plant a garden. This is my tiny oasis high above Greenwich Village, where I grow ornamental blooms like marigolds, pansies, morning glories and zinnias in terra cotta pots and flower boxes. Cuttings sit on my dining table throughout the summer and most of the fall.

[photo] Allan's garden

I have a fat, fragrant pot of basil from which I harvest aromatic leaves for the kitchen. There are chives, rosemary and thyme on the porch, too, and this year I placed some cascading potato vine in some small window boxes because I liked the color. I didn’t even realize I’d get potatoes. In mid-October I harvested a half-dozen red-skinned tubers and now I’m trying to determine if they are edible. I can certainly use them for cultivating new vines next year.

I get out to my terrace garden every day, three seasons a year. I talk to the growing things, it’s true. And by swaying, rustling and swishing, they talk back. My chair sits low to the pots so I’m at bloom height, face to face with bursting roses and daisies. It’s always a happy quiet time for me.

Soon I’ll be emptying my window boxes and flower pots, saying goodbye to my lovely, fruitful garden until next year. I hope spring comes quickly, because as the Chinese proverb says, “One who plants a garden, plants happiness.”

[photo] Allan's garden