Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sumara Brown - 'loving, longing, open, thoughtful, odd'

"You've got to be what tomorrow needs" (- My Chemical Romance)  Sumara Brown's favourite quote.  

Like so many of us who are trying to live simply - Sumara often feels like a 'lone boat in a storm'... AND that is why I interview  fellow simple livers. So that we will know that we are not alone at all. To build a tribe. - Asta

1. Describe yourself in 5 words
          Loving. Longing. Open. Thoughtful. Odd.

2. Introduce us to your family.
I’m married to Noel, a very hard-working truck driver. He’s loving and stubborn and makes me laugh. I have two daughters who are 9 and 7, and a 4-year-old son. They are three very different children but have in common their wild smiles and affectionate natures. I love them to bits.

3 What do you see as your priorities? How does that play out in your life?
Priority 1 is the children. That’s meant putting my career-that-never-was on hold, and it’s also meant a lot of your typical rearranging-life-around-the-children stuff with daily life, jobs, finances etc.
Other priorities are reading (to stay informed and for pleasure), music/film/art (for pleasure and general life goodness), trying/learning to be healthy, & finding ways to do things more efficiently or environmentally-friendly.

I love that you include reading and the arts, because I think they are so important to our well being, and in turn that makes  the world a better place.

4. September’s challenge is simple parenting. Would you like to share something that is working for you?
I don’t know about “working”, but I’m learning that children just need to be allowed to be who they are. Sounds so simple, but some children are oh-so-different from any expectations anyone has that it can actually be scary and difficult to just watch them be. It can take a great leap of faith to trust in them to know what they need, but once you take that leap it’s kind of awesome to see what they can achieve.
I also find it really important to just be honest with my kids. They know that I’m human. They see me cry, and lose my temper, and laugh, and apologise, and everything else. And they know they can question me or my rules and get an honest answer. Most of the time (see: I’m human.).

5. Would you call yourself a simple liver? How does your life reflect that? 
                I don’t know, actually. Some aspects of the way I live are quite simple and natural – eg I buy and eat food that’s as natural & chemical-free as possible and I cook from scratch – but some aspects are rather the opposite… I spend an inordinate amount of time staring at that wretched iphone, for example, unable to tear myself away from the daily happenings of far-away people.
                I think I’m more on the path towards simple living than actually there yet.

6. Who inspires you? Perhaps you could share with us who set you off on this path.
Well, Johnny Depp inspires me… but I guess he doesn’t have much to do with simple living.
I think you might be surprised Sumara. How is this quote from Johnny Depp? 'There are four questions of value in life. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is life worth living for, and what is life worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.'

Some people who have inspired me to live more simply are Amanda Soule at soulemama.com, Rhonda from Down To Earth, the couple at happyearth.com.au, a few amazing parents that I met in homeschooling groups last year, and many other friends. I tend to take bits and pieces of information and inspiration from all over the place.

7. What are you reading right now? Do you have some favourite books you could share with us – and in particular any that can inspire us on our simple living journey?
Oh dear, well, right now I’m reading “Crop Circles: Signs of Contact” by Colin Andrews. How’s that for left field? But actually, from what I’ve read so far, the message seems to be that crop circles could be a “message” from earth itself warning humankind about environmental damage…. So I guess it could be quite relevant… grain of salt may be required.
Also currently reading a book about film. I love film.
I haven’t actually got any books about simple living – as you can see above I tend to get that input from blogs and friends. But I can’t answer this question without mentioning my favourite book of all time – Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It will definitely inspire you on any kind of journey.

8. What are you passionate about?
Film, theatre, acting – I have a theatre degree and would still love to get back into it.
Music – I don’t play much anymore but I listen a great deal, and my favourite bands are quite ridiculously important to me.
Gender equality – I cannot STAND gender stereotyping or gender discrimination, it makes me SO angry. It’s one of the few things I will actually make phone calls or send emails to complain about. I am stubbornly determined that my children will know they can wear/do/play/read/study/go/be anything and anyone, and anywhere they want.

9. What do you hope for? Dream of? 
Ok – I want to live on our property, raising animals & vegetables and making beautiful things, while working as an actor in film and theatre, traveling the world, earning enough money to provide for my family and give lots away.
I dream, also, of having my close friends closer by, of my children growing to be amazing, loving, hardworking adults, of meeting the people who inspire me, of helping to change the world by daring to speak up.
I dream of a world where everyone who has any space grows their own food and creates their own power and shares what they have, and where communities can rely on each other.
I feel a bit like John Lennon right now. I’m not sorry. :)

10. What can we learn from you? Or if you prefer – what have you learnt?
You could learn from me that people can be so much more than one impression or one side of a personality. I would happily teach you (lecture you, as Noel would probably call my insistent exhortations…) that there is always another side to the story. My parents always told me I was arguing just for the sake of arguing. I just so desperately needed to point out that there might be another point of view.
As for what I’ve learnt – gosh, a lot. How about a simple one – when something needs doing, it’s always easier to do it straight away. Waiting until some other time is never the right answer. Just do it, and then it’s done. (Please note I rarely actually succeed in this ideal… there are always undone jobs waiting in my life. But I’m getting there!)

11. What is one of your biggest simple living challenges? 

I find it hard feeling like a lone boat in a storm. I don’t have much of a community around me here, and Noel is not all that passionate about this sort of thing so I tend to feel like it’s just lil ole me, not making much of a dent in the world. That’s one reason I rely on online friends/communities so much.

12. You have just started blogging. Would you like to share with us why you started your blog and what your focus is?

Movin’ to the Country is all about us transitioning from suburban townhouse-dwellers to country landowners. I started it to a) allow friends & family to keep up with plans & progress, and b) reach out to find like-minded people. It also gives me a place to explore issues and ideas that come up along the way.

13. You are a valuable contributor on The Simply Living Challenge. What appeals to you about the page? How can we support you? 
Thank you! The appeal is twofold – the inspiring ideas and the encouragement from others. It’s such a friendly place. Having you all visit the blog when I mention it is much appreciated!

14. Anything else you want to share? 
          Just that I'm very glad I found this page and community. Its a lovely place and really helps me to remember that every little step I take towards an ideal is some progress. Every little bit really does help. 

I can't thank you enough Sumara - for taking time out of your day to answer my questions. It has been lovely to get to know you better. 

Live simply so that others might simply live...

Peace and all good to you my friends,

Asta x

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Are we fools?

Flowers in second hand bottles and animals decorate Asta's home.
'See us go the fool's way
gathering all about us
for a covering, a surety,
a pleasure;
Opiates to fill time's hollow;
piles of things which rot away
or linger near our ankles
to stop us dancing.'
(from 'Simplicity' by Mark A Burch)

I rarely go to the city, which was obvious by my reaction to the city on the weekend.

I felt like an alien or a newborn when I walked through the shopping centres. It was like seeing things for the first time. Everything screamed for my attention; noises, smells, people rushing about, bright colours and flashing lights... there were no windows to anchor me to the real world. It was all plastic and fantastic... the latest this and that, the 'must buys'. If shopping really did fulfil us, as the advertising promises, then there would be no reason to go back to the shops, and there would be little need for them.

I hear that people are sleeping out tonight, at the Apple stores, so that they can be the first to buy the latest iPhone, which incidentally will have obsolescence built into it and so we can be certain there will be more overnight stays in the future!

My recent experience made me realise, more than ever, what I have known deep down for a long time - we who want to live simply must find a tribe to support us. We can not do this alone. We are like salmon swimming against the tide and that is hard work. The more we join together, the more we can stand firm in peace and love, and others will see that there truly is a life giving alternative (for us and the world) - and just maybe the tide will turn. Idealistic? Yes I am!!! Nothing has the right to 'linger near our ankles and stop us dancing', and we have no right to shop with abandon with no thought of the bigger picture.

Live simply so that others might simply live,

Asta x

NB - I am moving back to the city. I will need my tribe!!