De-frumping my wardrobe (90 day consumer detox – day 10!)

“as if a sunset is more beautiful when I’m watching it while wearing the ‘right’ brand of clothing” – Dave Bruno in ‘The 100 Thing Challenge’

Today is day 10 of my 90 day consumer detox! Two of my friends have decided to do the detox with me, yay! I’ll get them to chime in from time to time on how they are going with it.

I’ve had a few close calls already in attempting this fast of ‘American-style’ consumerism – not because I was intentionally trying to fail the detox but because I forgot I was even on it! I nearly bought the Katie Perry movie, “Part Of Me”, the other day (embarrassing!!) and then a few days later I nearly bought a heart shaped cake pan to make a friend’s bday cake. Whoopsie! But luckily I remembered just in the knick of time.

So how am I going with it? Well, apart from forgetting I’m doing it – fine! The strangest phenomenon has again taken place which happened when I attempted the month-long versions of the detox in the past. Instead of willing for the day when I can again be a slave to the enticing red glow of Target, I am actually finding myself more interested in getting rid of stuff. My housemate and I spent a few hours the other day going through our closets and looking for stuff to donate. We decided to get rid of anything that makes us feel frumpy which as it turned out, was a TON of stuff! (see photo below). There’s something very liberating about looking at a closet that is entirely full of stuff that you love and which suits you. And best of all, we donated everything to a special thrift shop where all of the proceeds are donated to RSPCA-QLD.

I’m feeling lighter already!

Look how much stuff we donated to the RSPCA thrift shop!

Photo credit – with thanks

My 90 day pledge to not buy any more crap (consumer detox – day 1)

Since getting back from the Hayhouse South Pacific Cruise (which was AMAZING!) I’ve spent most of my time doing two things.

1. Bragging incessantly about my new amazing tan
2. Thinking about how much CRAP I’ve accumulated!

I didn’t actually buy that much stuff on the cruise – mostly books – but the week before the cruise I was working at a big folk festival and somehow managed to purchase not one, not two, but SIX new dresses and within a couple of days realised that I didn’t even like two of them. Doh! And in the month before that I had bought so many new summer clothes and other random crap despite the fact that I was unemployed and didn’t know how long I would have to make my savings last for. It was idiotic. Luckily I’ve already been able to find a few little profitable things which I think will allow me to not even bother with a ‘real’ job anyway (yay!) but still, I don’t know what came over me.

And seriously, my bedroom looks like the aftermath of Hiroshima at the moment because of this sudden new influx (did you see the pic for this post?). Gah!!

Anyway, it’s time for a detox. A consumer detox. Some of you would know that twice in the past year I went a month without buying anything. Well, almost. The first time I was mostly successful but on the eve of the final day of the challenge I cracked and bought a few things. And the second time I was totally successful but it wasn’t something worth patting my back about too much because I was in the middle of getting ready to move and so getting rid of crap came easy to me at that time.

Right now resisting the urge to buy stuff is more of a challenge because I’ve recently moved to a new state. It would be so easy to begin that natural accumulation of things – to allow that proverbial moss to start to grow on the rock that has stopped rolling (aka me). Ahh, but as I’ve talked about a million times, an excess of stuff does more harm than good. It clutters up your home and (for me at least) your headspace. It also costs you financially (more than you realise) and worst of all, it is so damaging to the planet. Dave Bruno, who started the infamous 100 Thing Challenge movement calls this phenomenon “American-style consumerism”. It’s yucky and despite the fact that I am a part of it, I hate it.

So .. I’m going to try to walk my talk for a while. I’m going on a 3 month consumer detox, ending April 11th 2013. What does that mean? Well, it’s pretty simple. Following the same rules I placed on myself during my former one month challenges, I won’t be buying anything for myself for the duration of the challenge. I can still buy presents for other people if I want although these challenges have inspired me to start buying people gift cards for experiences rather than adding to their personal crap-loads. The only other things I can buy are the essentials like food, petrol, shampoo, deodorant, etc.

Right now the only thing I really want is some deep ‘celestial’ blue wool to knit a pouch for my new Angel Tarot cards that I bought last week on the cruise. I don’t really want to wait until April to buy it so my friend is going to see if she might be able to get me some free wool for me from her work .. that might be cheating, slightly, but oh well 🙂 Don’t worry – I won’t make a habit of jumping through loop holes. I might also be opening a market stall here in Brisbane soon to do henna body art so if that happens I’ll have to be creative about how to set up and decorate my stall. But I’ll worry about that when/if the time comes.

Wish me luck, peeps and if anyone wants to join me, please do! And let me know!

What do you really need this Christmas?

Hi everybody,

In the lead up to Christmas I have been pondering the question of “what do you really need?” The answer, of course, is very little. I love the saying that all you need is “someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to”. I guess there are a few other things you need, as well – something to eat, something to drink, shelter from the elements, etc. – but none of us really needs very much and I suspect that everyone reading this has most, if not all, of what is really necessary in life.

I can understand as much as anyone the desire for more. I’ve recently moved to a warm climate and I have been having fun buying new dresses and summer clothes. Luckily, though, I have learned to recognise when I become enchanted with the idea of a possession that costs money, contributes to clutter, and won’t really enrich my life. Last June I made an effort to not buy a single item (aside from the necessary groceries and toiletries) for the entire month. It was a great exercise and I definitely saved money but the big take home was I realised that if I could just resist leaving an item momentarily and walk out of that part of the store, the desire for the item would leave almost instantly.

It’s easy to see how constant consumerism can drain your personal finances and make your house a cluttered nightmare but when you start thinking about it from a global perspective it starts to become really frightening. In essentially every moment of our lives we are influencing the lives of people all over the world – not to mention the world, itself! I was saying to a friend this afternoon that even if you so much as use a public toilet and wash your hands you have to wonder about who made the soap and what the working conditions where like, what was in the soap and where will it end up after it goes down the drain, how did it get here and how much carbon was released in the process, etc. When you think about everything in this way you start to realise how dangerous our culture’s incessant consumerism is – and I know I am fearful of what the future effects of it will be.

I don’t want to go all negative-town on you guys but I was just curious about if any of you keep this sort of stuff in mind when it comes to your holiday giving and receiving? A few years ago my brother gave me a Kiva gift card which was really awesome. With Kiva you loan money to people in under-developed countries for entrepreneurial endeavours. I loaned my money to this old man who wanted to buy some ladders to pick coconuts. As Kiva gives out loans, not grants, I did get the money back eventually and when I got the email saying that my loan had been repaid I was actually in a tight money sitch and so it was a super awesome moment! I’m sure it was awesome for him, too, when he got the loan and was able to buy his ladders! Lately I’ve also been giving out gift cards for movies, restaurants, etc. a fair bit. People are always stoked about them and they don’t contribute to material consumerism or clutter which is exciting to me. Gift cards are also super cheap to send (esp. if you have relatives overseas like I do) which makes it doubly awesome!

The biology of why guys are obsessed with lesbians

From gay to straight and everything in between, there is an enormous amount of sexual inclinations out there and every last scintillating one of them is natural. There is not one mating system that humans have thought of that an animal did not think of first. Sex is, after all, an animal act.

The obsession so many men have with lesbians, though, has always perplexed me. Lesbian porn, in particularly, is baffling. It’s not really made for lesbians; it’s made for straight men. They love it so much that they regularly destroy their monthly internet download limits in their pursuit of it, and for what? As Susan from “Coupling” pointed out, “it’s a whole area of sex with nothing for them to do”.

Women don’t seem to share this obsession with homosexual behaviour in the opposite sex. Sure, we love our gay boys but you don’t see us crawling under the covers with a rabbit, an iPad, and some gay male porn. It just doesn’t do for us what it does for them. Why is that? Well, once again I suspect it has to do with our evolution.

Female koalas will mount one another when there is a hunky male around

Homosexual behaviour has been documented in over 1500 species and well-studied in about 500. More often than not this “homosexual” behaviour has to do with female/female interactions rather than male/male interactions (although there are plenty of documented accounts of those as well). The most common female/female sexual interactions that you see don’t seem to be inspired by a genuine attraction of a female to another female as much as its a way to for the females to signal to the males that they are ready to be mated. Females are not fertile all the time so homosexual behaviour is one way that they can signal to males when they are. Its comparable to girls making out with each other in night clubs as a way to get the attention of men. Males don’t need to use this same technique to signal to us when they are ready to mate because they are always ready to mate. They don’t have cycles of fertility like we girls do.

Cows are one of these species famous for lesbian behaviour. The girls will regularly mount one another when they are in heat which researchers think is partly to do with their peaking oestrogen levels (which make them feel uncontrollably sexual) and partly to do with their needing a way to signal to the males that they are fertile. My research advisor at the University of Queensland is studying this same behaviour in koalas. Captive female koalas will mount one another when there is a male koala around but, interestingly, not if they are left alone. Sometimes they will reject the advances of the male, though, and continue on with the lesbian escapade. Why this happens is a biological mystery.

Because of this way that many female animals will display homosexual behaviour when they are in heat or otherwise ready to mate, male animals seem to be forever on the lookout for signs of girl-on-girl action. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense that a man would get a rise out of watching lesbians in action. There must be some ancient, primal, instinctual thing happening in men (most of them, anyway) that recognises female homosexual behaviour as a sign of female fertility and mating-readiness.

Let it be known, though, that while it appears that many female animals act homosexual as a way to attract males, there are plenty of truly homosexual female animals who don’t seem to be, in any way, seeking male attention by way of their behaviour. The classic example is the swan family. Swans are known for being exceptionally loyal in terms of mate choice. Swan couples generally stay together for life and it is not uncommon for them to choose a mate of the same sex. Probably the most famous lesbian swan couple lives in Boston Public Garden but there have been many others documented elsewhere.

Photo credit

The biology of why guys are obsessed with threesomes

Threesomes. Every man’s fantasy. Personally I’ve never seen the appeal but then again, I’m not a man. I’ve always found it interesting that even though a lot of women have participated in threesomes, very rarely are they participating in a two men/one woman arrangement. It’s almost always two women with one man. Why is that? My guess is that it has to do with our evolution.

You see, humans evolved to be essentially polygamous where one man would have 2, 3, or maybe even more wives depending on his social status and how good of a provider he was. Most indigenous societies around the world function this way and in a lot of ways promiscuity for a man and loyalty to a single partner for a woman makes perfect biological sense.

Our most primitive urge is to procreate and those that are the best procreators are the ones that pass their genes, most successfully, on. We are always, therefore, seeking to be the most effective procrators possible. The best way for men to be good procreators is to have many wives or sleep around a lot (especially if they are saving time by taking the girls 2 or 3 at a go!) Females, on the other hand, are limited in how many babies they can have and so our strategy is to do the best we can to make sure the babies we have stay alive. For women, polygamous life is just practical. With other women around, you have some help with the children and whatever work needs to be done. With them around nobody is ever left alone at home all day with a screaming infant and if you get sick and aren’t able to care for your little one, there is always someone else who can. For this reason I have always suspected that the loss of our tribes is felt most strongly by stay at home moms.

Our primal, polygamous nature is still very much a part of our genetics and its the reason why so many guys are hesitant to tie themselves to just one woman and why, to them, the idea of a threesome is just deliciously tantalising. And likewise, our polygamous nature where many females would have been loyal (for the most part) to a single man is why even those women that could easily attract the attention of a legion of men still generally idealise a romantic union with just one other person.

A lot of my friends are surprised when I tell them that I can really understand the thinking behind the women and also the man in the reality show, “Sister Wives” which centres around a polygamous family in Utah. I can understand how it must be nice for the women to have the company of one another and I respect the man for having an up-front polygamous marriage rather than pulling a Tiger Woods.

Some men are just like gorillas

Coincidently, gorillas are similar to our human ancestors and to the Sister Wives in the way that one male will have a harem of many loyal females.

photo credit: silverback