I wrote a few weeks ago about trying to add more intentional structure to my days. I got thrown off a bit by getting the flu the day after I wrote that post but I’m back on track. I’ve managed to develop two different morning routines, one for days when I go into town and one for days when I stay home. I wrote the steps for both morning routines plus my night routine and my shower routine on index cards so that I can get back on track when my brain blanks out, and it’s been so helpful. I’ve been remembering to eat regular meals, sleeping better, reading for pleasure more, spending more time outside… you get the picture. It’s amazing how little things can make a big impact. My new planner has also been really helpful; not that I have that busy of a schedule but it’s nice to have a concrete way to keep track of what I’m doing each day.
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts/reading a lot of blogs about slow living or simple living lately, and the idea really appeals to me. The thing is that slow living is often associated with minimalism and the assumption of “you’re doing too much. You’re too busy. You need to do less to be happier.” I imagine this is helpful advice for most neurotypical folks but I have something of the opposite problem as an autistic person. I have trouble “doing things.” This is mainly due to my absolutely horrible executive functioning. Most evenings I look back on the day and realize that I did absolutely nothing. Or rather, I paced around the house, very slowly ate some potato chips, possibly fell asleep at some point, refreshed my Instagram feed for an hour, and maybe flipped over a record. I manage to eat up the entire day without doing anything productive, meaningful, or pleasant. It’s just one of the struggles I have with how my brain works.
The point here is that I need to find or create an alternative lifestyle that is designed to help me be able to DO, instead of being focused on doing less. I also want to be able to reduce my anxiety, environmental impact, and dependence on capitalism while increasing mindfulness, the beauty of my environment, my ability to create, and general happiness. Some ideas I’ve been thinking about:
- Slow or Simple Living: I already incorporate many aspects of the slow living movement into my life with my craft and my farm but I want to be more conscious about it. I don’t think being entirely self-sustainable is a realistic goal for me as a disabled person, but I do want to increase my self-reliance. Right now I eat eggs from my chickens and sometimes herbs from my garden; I dream of eventually having bees, a couple of fruit trees, and a small kitchen garden. I want to spend more time baking, drying flowers, making jam, all that fun stuff. This will probably for the most part have to wait until after I graduate, though.
- Minimalism: I am attracted by some tenets of minimalism, just not all of them. I really like the idea of having nothing in your house that is neither useful nor beautiful, although I’d rather have everything including the functional things be beautiful. I like the idea of cutting down on disposable packaging and things like paper napkins in favor of reusable products, and just the idea of cutting down on plastic in general. I’m really attracted to the philosophy of quality over quantity.
- Mori Kei: I used to be super in to mori fashion a few years ago but I kind of abandoned it as I began to explore my gender identity and needed to wear less feminine styles. I kind of want to revisit it. The mori lifestyle has a lot in common with simple living, but with more of an emphasis on visual aesthetics. Mori encourages collecting and the accumulation off trinkets, which is what I miss in minimalism. Small useless objects are good as long as they are visually pleasing and help tell your story.
- Bohemianism: I took a class last semester on the Bohemians of the 19th and early 20th centuries: the people who laid the foundations for the counterculture movements of the 60’s and beyond. Bohemianism is kind of a hard idea to pin down and it could look very different across space (in New York, London, Paris, Vienna…) and across time. The basic goal of most Bohemians was to defy traditional bourgeois values & conventions and to live a life that is in itself a work of art. There’s a lot to learn from the lifestyles of people like Alfred Jarry, Sonia Delaunay, and Augustus John. I recommend Among the Bohemians by Virginia Nicholson for those interested in the original Bohemian lifestyle.
Soundtrack: more psychedelic folk today, from Debbie Harry’s pre-Blondie band The Wind In The Willows