My relationship with cars is complicated. I learned to drive at 13 while my dad sat in the passenger seat, smoking a joint and reading the newspaper, only to look up occasionally and yell something like “Yield!” The first time I heard that word was entering the freeway while yelling back, “What does that mean?!”
My father lived in New Orleans and drove a slick black Jaguar, but in the Northern California hippie town where I was raised, it was considered ‘cool’ to drive funky old cars with character. Kids who drove new or expensive cars were judged as ‘dorks’ or trying too hard in the wrong ways. The most popular girl at school drove a beat-up classic car from the 60s that she decorated with colorful decals and a mosaic of broken mirrors. Every day she would arrive in a sexy assortment of vintage thrift-store-bought items thrown together in an effortless ensemble – pink pumps, with a man’s T-shirt-turned-skirt hugging her hour-glass hips with sleeves knotted at the back, a Flashdance-style cashmere crop-top, complete with a few holes that only added to her edgy elegance. Back then, style favored originality over what the herd had to have. Following commercial trends was considered uncreative and never as alluring as individuality.
The counter-culture was committed to an anti-establishment lifestyle that included less consumerism regardless of economic status. Even the hippies who had money lived close to the earth with gardens, well water, outside saunas, used clothes (or no clothes), and old cars.
My dad was a successful restaurateur and was occasionally called a ‘capitalist pig’ behind his back by a few holier-than-thou hippies. When he insisted on getting me a new car for my first ride, I chose a Hyundai (the cheapest model made) and drove it up and down a dirt driveway to dull the new-car shine and avoid judgement – surely the behavior of a pathetic people-pleaser in the making.
Years later, the Paris Hilton generation emerged, when acting entitled and being spoiled was now a thing to aspire to rather than mock. I was shocked by how she showed off unapologetically a purse that cost more than my cousin’s college tuition. I was taught as a child that wasteful habits were considered distasteful and unconscious consumerism negatively affects the planet – Yet people like Paris proudly claimed to have never been photographed in the same outfit. Snobbery was suddenly something to look up to rather than roll your eyes at.
Regardless of where you fall on the Hippie-vs-Hilton spectrum, there’s a crazy level of consumerism in this country that’s become increasingly out of control.
Has anyone noticed there’s just TOO MUCH STUFF? Too many pointless and disposable products, cheap toys for children, flimsy furniture, crappy quality clothing (and obscenely priced fashion)….usually amounting to more junk we don’t need and eventual landfill. As a double Libra, I admit making decisions can stress me out – but when I’m required to scroll through 25+ pages of jeans to find one pair, it’s annoying and I’ll often abort online shopping when there’s too many choices.
Who has the time to sift through the multitude of unnecessary parts-specific moisturizers on the market? “If you just buy this 12-step program of products filled with substandard ingredients, you too can have perfect skin!” Most companies throw a lot of stuff out there to see what sticks, rather than spend more time curating quality.
Since starting Essentiel skincare in 2018, many ‘experts’ have encouraged me to expand the line with more products. My mission has always been to offer minimum skincare of maximum quality – so until I feel there’s a need to fill more bottles, I won’t be adding anything else to an overly saturated market. I spent years perfecting Essentiel moisturizer. Making money wasn’t what motivated me to create a single multi-use product – it was a hope to help people save money by promoting a product that would serve many purposes, provide quality over quantity, less clutter to the cupboards and less waste to our polluted planet.
Other so-called “experts” have pushed me to post twice daily on social media. Once again, I’ve stuck with posting a few times a week rather than daily unless I feel there’s something compelling to share.
Modern materialism represents not only the unprecedented stuff for sale, but also the endless information and content overload we’re asked to consume. We find countless opinions on every topic and advice on everything from what-to-eat to how-to-think to what-words-to-use… It’s overwhelming and…underwhelming.
We often emphasize detoxing the body, but how about detoxing the mind? The wellness wave has brought wonderful new awareness around health, but the vast number of dogmatic diets is ever-changing and has become a bit ridiculous. Beans and legumes with all their ‘toxic’ lectins have been vilified for years…but now there’s a new diet telling us to eat beans 5 times a day. Similarly, soy has been cautioned as another evil bean and hormone disruptor, yet new research shows soy actually helps balance excess estrogen and regulates drops in estrogen post menopause. These are two favorite foods I renounced for many years because I believed false claims.
It becomes harder to hear our own body’s intuition inside an incessant stream of unsolicited input.
It’s important to give our brains a break from the bombardment of everyone else’s feed-back. A digital detox might be more appropriate for some of us than the latest juice cleanse.
Last month I had a big birthday, and the quality of how I spend my time matters more to me than ever. I’d rather have more opportunities to walk with a friend than post online repeatedly or add more products just to increase profit. Sure, social media can be a wonderful tool, yet it can also be mind-numbing and exceptionally shallow. After a while, I get sick of seeing countless met gala gowns and would rather hear from someone’s heart.
For me, the unexpected gift of quarantine has been an opportunity to edit much of my life – from decreasing the amount of time I spend on my phone, to clearing my closet and kitchen…along with certain relationships I’ve outgrown. I’ve made time for more meditation to clear my mind of all kinds of unwelcomed content cluttering those corners! In fact, my mind when unexamined can look a lot like a social media feed in 2020: a crowded stream full of fear, conflicting opinions, paranoid projections and false proclamations.
The only way we’re going to survive and thrive is by consolidating our crap, mentally and physically.
Getting back to cars… I live in Malibu where most rides are a lot shinier than my 14-year-old Prius. Yet people are frequently surprised when they find out how old she is – amazing how keeping a car clean, cared for, and uncluttered can make it age so impressively!
When the world opens up again, I plan to trade in for a Tesla. Like my dad, I’ve worked hard and am ready to treat myself to a new car I plan to keep for many years. I still value the non-materialistic message of my mom and her hippie friends. However, I’m no longer trying to conform to any non-conformists – so this time I’ll enjoy its shine.
As we approach the largest buying time of the year, please be mindful about what you bring your friends, families and lovers. Rather than adding more things and stuff, surprise them instead with some much-needed self-care. Offer a gesture from the heart and help spread healing. Give them something essential.
Wishing you warmth, wellness and a happy healthy holiday ahead!
? I would LOVE to hear how you’ve edited your life this past year or anything else you wish to share. Please comment below!