Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Now that the adventure of Germany is drawing to a close, we find ourselves discussing the next adventure. Phil and I have talked about downsizing for years now, and the time here has brought us one step closer. It's always been a good feeling to live out of a suitcase (well, 3 actually.) While we've been here I've weaned off shopping, which I did quite a bit of when I first got here. It got really tiresome and I realised that it was a pattern that I followed in Melbourne as well- 'Entertainment shopping'. I cut down our shopping trips to essentials only, would only grocery shop when the fridge was entirely empty. As a result, my bank balance has been healthier than it has in years and I feel a great weight has fallen from me because my days aren't planned around the daily shopping. I want to continue this when we get home. I've been severely curtailing the children's tv watching as well in an attempt to reduce their exposure to advertising which I've finally realised has as it's sole purpose- to encourage us to buy stuff we didn't need before. The days without mindless consuming and tv have been the most satisfying.

So Phil and I have brought up the topic once more- Will we sell our house? I'm dreaming of acres of bushland, no lawn, no flowers just a small house some vegies and the wildlife. I read aboutsome tiny houses at this link-
They are so small you don't even need a building permit, in fact they can drive the finished house to your land on the back of a truck! I was enchanted, but Phil is well aware of my tendency to excess when I'm enthusiastic and has suggested that small is good but he does want a certain standard of living which entails being able to swing cats and access to the grid. It's true, I am wildly enthusiastic especially since my brother and sister-in-law have bought land are about to move into their rather luxurious shed while they build their home.
Brother, I know you've got your hands full at the moment but could you spare a hand to build our dream shed? Please?


This weekend I went walking on my own for a bit of soul time. I climbed a lot of stairs up to the top of Lousberg. On the way I came across some old Roman Columns. Aachen was part of the Roman Empire centuries ago and I'm always blown away to find evidence in amongst modern life here. Further up the hill I was in the thick of the forest, I took Phil and the kids up the next day and when we got to this part Hana said we were in the forest from 'Shrek'. I love the forests here they're dark and damp and the smell is so fresh. I was trying to capture the darkness of the forest floor with the chinks of brightness showing through at the top of the hill. Have been practicing drawing trees because trying to capture their leafiness seems to elude me.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We'll be off then.

We've finally made a decision about when we're actually going to leave Germany. Due to some tax issues we're leaving a couple of weeks earlier than planned. Three more weeks until Phil finishes work then off to Switzerland and Italy for 10 days and then home. I'm excited, I can't wait to see everyone at home! Despite all my whining, I will miss Germany, it has been hard but what I've reaped from this experience I will always be grateful for. Today I walked around the town and thought I may never see it again, I've felt so alien here but this place has absorbed me into it, it has been my home if only for half a year. I know from past travels how the places you visit just get better in memory once you've left, I think Aachen will be a place that the family and I will talk about always, a shared experience that is ours, a memory that we will share long after the kids have grown.

Friday, June 22, 2007

German street art

Vague? or Profound?
(No sex with Nazis)

Are you sure you're not? Really? Better go check.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's a start

I'm very new to Voluntary Simplicity and part of the deal I've made with myself is to not give myself a hard time. I decided that to do this I would have to do it very slowly and I would start on myself. So far so good, I definately don't need any more new clothes, my wardrobe has never been extensive though I have coveted beautiful clothes. I am what you might call 'Fashion Impaired' before it left me feeling a little less than other people but now I can forget about shopping and lamenting that there is NOTHING TO WEAR! because I probably have way more clothes than what you might call essential. When the time comes to replace an item of clothing I don't have a problem with buying recycled clothing.

The other change I've made is to eat a little more simply, no more waste. This is another example of wanting to conform to some standard without ever questioning it. I guess I've had an idea that cultured people cook gourmet meals at least once a day. For me this has meant buying ingredients that I might use a part of and then having to throw the rest out because it spoiled. ( I couldn't make 2 meals in a row the same.) Also there was the time expenditure needed to make these meals. Not fun when you have young kids who want your attention at the end of the day. Time is definately one thing I want to gain from simplifying my life and I don't want to gain it so I can be more PRODUCTIVE , I want more time to really watch my children and savour this time, I want more time to relax and enjoy talking leisurely with my husband, I want more time to sit quietly with my thoughts, I want more time to recharge and energize instead of physically running around or thinking at top speed. So for dinner lately we've been having simple things with a hearty staple like the great grainy bread they have here, I find we're eating less and feeling more healthy, and lets face it in our advanced societies food is one of those things that has succumbed to overkill. We could probably all do with a little less in this area.

The next thing is a bit harder, have to tell the family back at home there will be no expensive presents from our overseas travels this time, however, if they want to see some photos and have a good natter, I have plenty of time for them!

It feels good to have made just a few small changes I'm going to sit with them for awhile before I tackle this a bit more.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Unsociable So and So's

I've made a few small changes to life lately and the rewards have been so worth it! Been thinking a lot about why I struggle with EVERYTHING, sometimes I feel I'm just an uncomfortable person, it's a permanent state for me. I've been away for 5 months now, it's given me so much time to think. Significant Other and I often talk about sociability, we get asked about it a lot because we homeschool the kids. We also talk about our own shortcomings, we're both pretty shy and really like our own company. Before, we were always badgered by those who were horrified that our kids didn't mix with at least 30 others of the same age every day, when we came to Germany, people began nagging me about 'getting out there' and being part of the community. It got me thinking about Socialization. I was brought up in the traditional way, I went to school just like all the other kids, I was really shy and endured people constantly trying to force me to speak. I had this fantasy that I became dumb and was prescribed a typing machine and screen, this was the only way I could communicate.
When I was a lot older and way out of school I decided the shyness was too much and practiced talking to people until I was more at ease. I still don't want to be with people all the time, I still love my own company. I've had times where I have made myself miserable with anxiety about whether the kids got enough social contact when I remembered all the kids I had to endure when I was young and how it turned me off talking completely. So I decided to give the kids a break while we were here and while I was at it, give myself a break. It's been great! Once I let go of the anxiety, it became so peaceful. At some stage, I stopped thinking 'unsociable' and 'reclusive' and began thinking Self Reliant. I really value this trait and think it's great for the kids, it's true they are very self contained but I think that's more temperament than anything we've done. They both still have lots of childhood fears but I see a strong sense of self beginning to bloom in them. And I stopped worrying about them needing other kids, we found heaps of them at the playground.