Tuesday, December 13, 2011

start in the shower

A lot of us are striving towards a simpler life, whatever that means to us. IF you read this blog you may have the notion a simpler life involves moving to the country, getting livestock, and cutting back on blatant consumerism as a lifestyle choice. For me, that's true, but I think for a lot of people The Simple Life doesn't have to start on a few acres in the sticks. It can start in your shower.

That might sound scandalous, but let me ask you to humor me for a second. I firmly believe that the window to a person's soul is not their eyes, but their shower. The amount of paraphernalia, bottles, mold, and laundry scattered around are a better instant-slice of your frame of mind than anything else. Bathrooms are raw. They are private, a place that prepares you for a public life, kinda like your head. How you set up your bathroom, its state of cleanliness and its amount of potions and products is a better judge of your state of mind than you might think.

So indulge me, dear friends. Close your eyes and picture your bathroom tub or shower. Picture the towels, mats, razors, soap dishes, bottles, shampoos, and shaving creams. Do you need all of those things? Really need them? Could you whittle down that pile to one shampoo bottle, one bar of soap, and a razor in a small glass on a shelf? Could you put the razor away in the cabinet? Could you wipe the tub clean and bleach it, make it feel new?

Where there is one shampoo choice, one bar of soap, and one clean towel on a rack with more hidden away.. there is simplicity. I think removing excess, clutter, and such from open spaces in your home is a first step. Fill a closed cabinet with all those shampoo bottles and extras, deal with them another day. But tonight, see if you can set out one nice bar of soap, one bottle of shampoo, and one fresh towel for tomorrow and just notice how walking into a more-basic environment calms you. How the work of cleaning yourself is without choices that hinder your mood or thoughts, and how before you even get dressed to go to work you have appreciated a small step and accomplishment.

A farm, sure, someday. But tonight, let's domesticate our showers.

P.S. In full disclosure, my bathroom could use a decent scrubbing and some organization, but I am down to basics. All excess if out of sight, out of mind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bleach is a little toxic, dontcha think?

December 13, 2011 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I agree, and it can go beyond the amount of stuff to what you have there.
I've taken a note from Rosemary Gladstar's herbal book and have started making my own shampoo, as well as a vinegar rinse. I've started using olive oil as a body wash. In my shampoo I use my absolute favorite castile soap, Dr. Wood's Black Soap (smells like a perfect combination of licorice and rose -- weird but oh so nice). This all saves me money and gives me the satisfaction of having more control over what I use. I also just like experimenting with what works and what doesn't. It's something that everyone can do, whether you live on a farm or in an apartment.

December 13, 2011 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger PhysicsFysh said...

That speaks to me. I've been looking over my apartment this past month and thinking, 'excess! excess!' What I'd give to pare down my possessions. Baking soda, some handmade soap, tweezers, clippers, a mirror, and a razor. That's a bathroom.

December 13, 2011 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger The Finicky Farmer said...

Lovely post. Clutter makes me irritable, and when I'm stressed, I'm especially frustrated by the little piles of crap.

One towel. One soap. A wee bottle of shampoo.

The perfect simplicity of just enough.

December 13, 2011 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

bleach is pretty toxic alright, but it is also a great certainty of sterilization. I use a capful of bleach during sanitizing for slaughter, and for scrubbing the shower.

December 13, 2011 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

We're down to just the basics out in the open, but what was lurking in our cupboards was another story. I've spent the past few days cleaning all the junk out and organizing what was left, it feels a lot lighter in here now. It's funny how even the stuff you can't see seems to weigh down the energy in a home.

Have you tried white vinegar and baking soda for the tub? The two together will sanitize and remove soap scum. I love vinegar, I use it to clean pretty much everything, but sometimes you just need to use a little bleach.

December 13, 2011 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

I so agree that clutter is irritating, hinders productivity and causes confusion (even when it's organized). If you start your day in that setting, how do expect the rest of the day to go?

December 13, 2011 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Funny that you mentioned bathrooms. This year I have some goals about making my own shampoo/conditioner, soap, and deodorant. I would like to NOT have any more bottles from the store. We will see of course if that happens. A step at a time towards the simple life...

December 13, 2011 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I wish I could declutter the shower, but as a soap maker I have 4-6 bars in there at any given time so I can personally try them all out! It's rather a pleasant clutter! If I could perfect a shampoo/body bar...now that would be the key!

December 13, 2011 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger LindaSue said...

That is great Jenna. Start with one small step at a time. A baby doesn't walk all at once. Just one little step at a time and all of a sudden you are running.

I am a cook, I love to cook,bake,can, just anything to do with food. Grew up with 4 siblings, grandmother, mother, and father (when he was around). So big meals were a must. My kitchen reflects the love and enjoyment of food. The appliance aplenty, and enough food to feed a whole bunch of people for a long time. Example, I bought 4 bushels of corn to put up this year. Mind you it is just hubby and myself. My mind set is that if I want to cook something I have all I need right here and don't have to run out to the store.

To make a long story shorter, I am working on my kitchen, getting better organized and getting rid of stuff. I mean I have 4 crock pots, that may be a little too much. People who know me know they can come to borrow something and I will have it.

Loved the bathroom story.

December 14, 2011 at 2:00 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

I used to be a pack rat but now I love decluttering! We set a goal to get rid of a number of items each month this year, and with a young child, it's been pretty easy so far. Stuff piles up way too fast! On another note, I finished Barnheart and loved it, thank you for your honest writing!

December 14, 2011 at 3:18 AM  
Blogger bree said...

This is great Jenna. I live an uncluttered life and I couldn't do otherwise. The job of clearing out is an ongoing one. I am constantly going to goodwill with donations and I am very careful about products I buy. I keep it basic. If my husband gets two new shirts he gets rid of two. That's a good way of pairing down what you accumulate.

December 14, 2011 at 5:30 AM  
Blogger Marci said...

People laugh at our shower. I have a squeeze bottle that says Agave Nectar. It has my "Shampoo" in it. I use baking soda and water. I have used only that for about 2 years. I also have a jar of apple cider vinegar and another empty pint jar. I put about an inch of vinegar in the pint jar and fill the rest with water. That is my rinse for my hair. We also use homemade soap. :)

December 14, 2011 at 5:51 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 14, 2011 at 5:56 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

Link to making a mason jar light fixture. Looks like it'd be great in a barn or any where.


December 14, 2011 at 5:57 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

I know how much you love mason jars, so here is how to turn them into solar lights:


December 14, 2011 at 6:08 AM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

I loved this one Jenna since my blog is titled "The Simple Life" and my bathroom is nothing like you said it should be even though I wish it was. We really think a lot alike. Have a wonderful day.

December 14, 2011 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Tina - Our Rustic Roots said...

Our shower is OK, DH has a medicated shampoo and the rest of us use whatever I buy on sale. One bar of soap, one razor, one towel on the rack because the only place to put linens is in the hall, so you have to get one and take it in there with you. lol.

I will add something that's under my cabinet, though. A bucket. I use that bucket to catch the water that comes before the hot water reaches the shower. Why let it go down the drain? I dump it in my rain water catch, use it to clean with, use it to wash off the driveway after we've cleaned a deer, use it to clean mud boots, etc.

December 14, 2011 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger janette said...

i don't have a shower! or a bath tub or shampoo or conditioner.... i own a bottle of dr bronners that i use for my dishes and washing.

December 14, 2011 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

This works in the kitchen also. I only have a coffeepot, a coffee decanter and a toaster, out on my kitchen counter.

Getting rid of excess clutter is wonderful thing.

December 14, 2011 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Too funny, we took on this exact task a few weeks ago, looked at all the bottles of what not we had in the bathroom and chucked everything except our one bottle of shampoo, one bar of soap, one liquid soap, and our tooth brushes/paste. I'm finding that too much stuff everywhere makes me feel crappy and when we move in February I've already told DH that next to none of it is coming with us. I'm not exerting any energy moving stuff we don't need/want/use.

Great post Jenna!

December 14, 2011 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger crashdown said...

A life without conditioner is not a life I care to live! :-)

December 14, 2011 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger South Brunswick Public Library Blog said...

its a great way to approach every room in the house! It do try. Keeping my surroundings simpler keeps my anxiety lower as I am always "almost there" for something every day...my kids, work, husband, friends, personal projects, etc!!! Thanks for seeing this too! :)

December 14, 2011 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

I have to second that post on conditioner. Without it my thin graying blonde hair would dreadlock in a matter of weeks. While I know many happily dreadlocked people, it's not a simplification I care to manifest just yet. We actually did this a while back to get organized. For us, it's one soap, one each shampoo and conditioner in each of the showers. (Kida have one bathroom, I get my own - decadent.) One mason jar (per person) with toothpaste and toothbrush on the sink, the rest in a cabinet. Is the kitchen next?

December 14, 2011 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger KC Pagano said...

Between my husband and I we only have 1 bottle of shampoo and one bar of soap. We do have separate tooth paste though...I do agree about a little bleach sometimes. I cloth diaper my two kids and on occasion I will rinse the diaper pail out with a 1/2 teaspoon of bleach. For everything else though, baking soda and vinegar.

December 14, 2011 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Ellen Rathbone said...

When I started to read this I was hoping that you might say something along the lines of "do you REALLY need to shower EVERY SINGLE DAY?" Sure, if one has become ubersweaty after a hard day of work, a shower might be necessary (or after almost every hot, humid summer day). But a shower in the morning AND at night? Unless you've had a really active night, is that morning shower really a must? How about a sponge bath at the sink? Save water, folks - multiple showers a day is hardly a necessity for MOST people. Heck - MOST people (office workers, slugs who sit around the house all day) don't do enough to warrant a full-fledged shower - they are barely moving! With an era of water shortages upon us (one that is only going to get worse), we need to seriously reconsider our daily use (and misuse) of water.

December 14, 2011 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

as far as house cleaning goes, vinegar will do the trick. bleach is a thing of the past in my daily cleaning routine.

A post on water conservation in the bathroom would be good...low flow shower heads, faucet aerators, and dual flush toilets.

a simple bathroom that wastes water is no better than a cluttered one!

December 14, 2011 at 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Years ago I decided to ditch the plastic bottles. In my bathroom is one bar of shampoo soap, handmade by a local company, and one bar of body soap, handmade by another local company. Both are completely natural with no artificial colours or fragrances, just essential oils. Both sit on slatted wooden soap dishes. A spray bottle filled with diluted vinegar serves as my hair conditioner. The scents and lather of these bars are a luxurious indulgence, and no plastic waste.

I keep microfibre washcloths in a basket and every now and then I bring one into the shower with me. With no soap or cleaners it easily scrubs off the soap scum using just the water from my shower. That same bottle of vinegar I use on my hair gets spritzed around the shower stall when I'm done, serving as a disinfectant.

Simplicity. I love it and try to live it as much as I can.

December 14, 2011 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I live in a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath etc home that I got in my divorce settlement. I do have only one shampoo and one bar of soap in the shower. Does that count. LOL
If I was building a home now, I would opt for a composting toilet. The local college has them in the dorms and they are working out very well. I would also go for much smaller living quarters too but I have what I have. I do shrink my living space in the winter and heat with wood.

December 14, 2011 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger PansWife said...

No shampoo here; just some conditioner, white vinegar, a little olive oil and mousse to tame the curls. Homemade soap and shea butter for the skin. I hate clutter, but I also like a few herbal bath products to do a hot bubbly soak in the tub after a hard days work. I also prefer really big heavy cotton towels that you can sink your body into. Quality over quantity is my preference. I'm a simple gardener, not a spartan monk.

December 14, 2011 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

This is all true and I have so much crap in the bathroom that it isn't even funny. Just today I threw out several shampoos that no one likes (or uses). I hate throwing out things that are still good but it is ridiculous to have them sitting there for years too. I need to do a lot more decluttering, in the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom etc.

December 15, 2011 at 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to beat a "dead" horse, but there are a few things used for sterilizing that are much safer than bleach and are considered non-toxic. Off the top of my head - Tea Tree Oil and Grape Seed Extract. Both of those are very powerful.

The great thing about GSE is that a little goes a long way:



December 15, 2011 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog said...

Love this advice, Jenna. And it really does work- I seem to simplify more and more each year.

December 15, 2011 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Christee said...

Agreed! I am working on purging my excess crap from my bathroom as well. Yes, I still use bleach also. ;-)

December 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM  

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