Monday, March 02, 2009

Oprah On Simplifying

We've spent the day catching up on cleaning and cooking. Right now I have Oprah's episode on simplifying life in the background.

How can we live consciously and with less?

Oprah: "You and I both know that having the best stuff is no substitute for having the best life."

Chime in with your comments. I rarely watch TV, but I'm glad to see the cultural consciousness shift in this direction.

Will simple living become an Oprah-inspired fad, or a long-lasting trend?

57 comments:

Amy @ Living Locurto said...

Wasn't Oprah saying just last year you shouldn't skimp on luxury especially for one special room of your home? I hope she sticks with the simple theme even after the economy picks up. Will be interesting to see:-)

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

Does anyone find it odd that the advice to families is to turn off the tv and no computer for a week?

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

Ok, I have been trying to stay away from Oprah, but I'm really curious about the take on the whole episode.
I love that she hit on this topic.

Well, we know that frugal living is the new "black." It's in, it's hip and I'm sticking to it, even if Oprah changes her mind over the next year - hee hee. :)

HolidayGirl said...

Is anyone else bothered by the fact that a woman who has mulitple mega- homes and claims to wear $700.00 a pair PJ's wants to give advice on living simply? It's just like MARTHA lecturing mom's on the evils of idling their cars while waiting to pick up their school-age children (global warming) while maintaining multiple mega-homes, CHOOSING a 2 hour per day commute to work in a giant SUV, jetting around the world (Can you say carbon footprint)and stating in one her books that her empty nest house Constantly has washers & dryers in use. (Gotta keep those horse blankets clean.) Sheesh! Let's have some intellectual honesty here!

Jan said...

To be honest our having our already meager income cut in half has be a blessing. We live more consciously, we love each other dearly and we have learned that God is the One who is the provider.

Nina said...

Where to begin...

Oprah always features families that are completely unreal. I think it makes everyone else feel okay that they "only" have 25 pairs of shoes.

I can't watch the episode now that we don't have television access but you can basically read the whole show on her website. And oh, I'm sure my life would be simplier without the computer but I do enjoy it.

I find it a bit irratating that simple living is so vogue right now. (I will qualify by saying that I have been living this way for over 20 years. I have an original copy of Duane Elgin's Voluntary Simplicity.)

I will be very happy if more people sincerely take up this way of life. Then I won't feel so bad about driving my old car, wearing second hand clothes and sporting grey hair.

I read somewhere that this economic downturn will be the big "reset" button for the United States. I think (and I hope) that this is much bigger than Oprah inspired.

All this may seem odd given my little post this morning but books are our life. :)

jenn said...

Well, I enjoyed more than Dr Phil. I'm not huge into being frugal...but that family was lame-o. Very unhelpful advice. But Oprah was okay. I know that she does have more money, but it was nice to see her target this topic.

Missy K said...

I am of two minds. The pragmatic part of me will cheer anytime people do a good thing, even if their initial motivation is to follow a cultural trend.

That;s why I'm not at all irritated that living green is so "hip and cool" right now. Ideally, everyone would make more responsible choices based on sound logic, but if the cool factor makes lifestyle changes stick for even some people, it's all good.

I do find Oprah's words odd when juxtaposed with the much-publicized "Oprah's Favorites" show where she touts one big ticket item after another and gives them away to a screaming hysterical audience.

Jane said...

I think that Oprah has only just picked up on a trend that has been thriving in "blogland" for a long time. I learned so much about beautiful simplicity right here at LMS! Glad to see that Oprah is spreading the word because it really does make life better. Also, as for the tv advice. I think a TV diet helps keep the "wants" at bay. Less exposure to advertising. She must take it for granted that this TV diet doesn't include *her* show! LOL!

Stacy said...

I don't like the tv show Oprah. And so I havent ever watched it. I do however, think living frugally has been on the rise in popularity for the last few years and I dont think Oprah had a thing to do with it. Giving her credit for it gives her more power, and lets admit it, she already has more influence over women then she should. *sigh*

TheNormalMiddle said...

Oprah is sooooooooo NOT living a simple life. She's the one who has the "oprahs favorites" show every Christmas with $20 tubs of popcorn, $100 boxes of brownies and a ton of other "must haves." I like her, I am not anti-Oprah, but if she's simple, then I'm as rich as Oprah!

mama k said...

I enjoyed the show.
Though the irony that OPRAH is promoting a simple lifestyle is not lost on me. :)

But on the other hand, who better to tell you that money and stuff doesn't solve all your problems than someone who has so much. Obviously all the money in the world has not been able to "fix" her weight issues and any underlying pain that might be causing it.

It is a little annoying when something we are striving for for years is suddenly a big "trend" But it's all good... going green, living more conciously, living more simply.... so I guess I can't judge.

Frazikat said...

If Oprah is talking about it, you can be sure that she is going to make money off of it. I don't watch Oprah or her humanistic slanted TV show. Ever.

Leila said...

Oh my!

I certainly hope that rich people don't start living with less.

What would we buy at Goodwill??

There's a system to be maintained here :)

Kylie's Mom said...

I thought I might learn something by watching the Dr Phil/Oprah thing today but nope...it's all old news.

Except for...why didn't I think to write that book that the Dr Phil family wrote???

An Accomplished Woman said...

Not a big oprah fan. But it seems hypocritical for someone with multiple houses, with multiple housekeepers, and with multiple cars, multiple walk-in closets and multiple people to perform every little tasks preaching about simplifying our lives.

Cynthia

Roxie700 said...

I think it kind of an odd subject for Oprah. Like her debt diet shows of a few seasons ago, the idea is good, but coming from Oprah it just seems 'staged' to me.
I agree that turning off the TV is a good idea. I can do without the TV, but do not take my computer. I think I would be really lost without my computer fix everyday.
I would like to see more shows on real frugal living. Some people do not have a clue where to start.

Michelle said...

I think it's easy for her to say. She's not living what she's preaching...in my opinion she's really headed the wrong direction spiritually. She's jumping on the band wagon becuase it's popular right now...and I just don't think she's sincere.

Can you tell I'm disenchanted with Oprah? lol!

ancient one said...

I loved Leila's comment..LOL

Sandy Toes said...

Mmmm...I am not a fan of Oprah much anymore....but some of her "themes" are good.
sandy toe

Kendra said...

mama k, you hit the nail on the head when you said "But on the other hand, who better to tell you that money and stuff doesn't solve all your problems than someone who has so much. Obviously all the money in the world has not been able to "fix" her weight issues and any underlying pain that might be causing it." Thank you for pointing that out. I was ready to jump on the anti-oprah bandwagon. After reading you comment I changed my mind.

Leila, "What would we buy at Goodwill??" This is what I was thinking!

Fortunately for us this will probably be a fad. Unfortunately for the next generation however.

I have the Economides book. I enjoy it. I think so things are unrealistic (shopping once a month, I really am not to sure how they do that in 115 degree PHX weather. But if you are new to LMS, spend time reading the archives here first, then check out the book at the library. As for LMS, Meredith is a real mom in the trenches!

The Happy Housewife said...

I only saw part of this episode because our tv segment was promo'd during the show, lol! Unfortunately I think this will just be a fad. People really don't want to let go of "stuff."
Toni
http://thehappyhousewife.com

Indie said...

Today I saw a new with tags organic child's shirt at the thrift store. The tag went on and on about "simplicity". I turned the tag over and the orignal price was $90. $90 for a simple cotton child's shirt does not = simple. Simplicity is a buzz word. It means nothing.

Amy said...

I quit watching Oprah when she went all "new world" (or whatever) but I guess if it takes Oprah to get some people to live simply, then so be it... because they certainly aren't listening to me! LOL

Amy

Lisa Beth W. said...

I don't know if living simply will be done by more people b/c of Oprah (that would be rather a laugh), but if they do, I hope it will be b/c they want to live more responsibly. And for it to stick long term, I think it will take some majorly hard economic times b/c people just love to have what they wanna have when they wanna have it. And if they can at all achieve it, even with finagling, they will. Yes, I am rather cynical. And I do not like or watch Oprah.

Lisa Beth W. said...

I don't know if living simply will be done by more people b/c of Oprah (that would be rather a laugh), but if they do, I hope it will be b/c they want to live more responsibly. And for it to stick long term, I think it will take some majorly hard economic times b/c people just love to have what they wanna have when they wanna have it. And if they can at all achieve it, even with finagling, they will. Yes, I am rather cynical. And I do not like or watch Oprah.

Lisa Beth W. said...

I don't know if living simply will be done by more people b/c of Oprah (that would be rather a laugh), but if they do, I hope it will be b/c they want to live more responsibly. And for it to stick long term, I think it will take some majorly hard economic times b/c people just love to have what they wanna have when they wanna have it. And if they can at all achieve it, even with finagling, they will. Yes, I am rather cynical. And I do not like or watch Oprah.

Lisa Beth W. said...

Eek. Sorry for the triple post! I'm not sure how I did that.

gosduck said...

I am not a fan of Oprah, and I second Holiday Girl's comments.

I think it's great that Oprah is trying to inspire her disciples to live a leaner and more concious lifestyle, but I wonder how sincere she is the effort. The nice part of me wants to say, "well, everyone has different definations of simple. If Oprah buys one less pair of $700 shoes per month, maybe for her that's a big sacrifice and it's living simply. Maybe that will make a difference in the long run."
And maybe if each of her viewers does one less load of wash, or buys one less thing they don't need ... maybe it will make a difference.

It's hard, though, when you're in the trenches of "simple living" - not because it's a fad, but because you can't afford any other kind of living - to look kindly on the uber-wealthy calling out for "simple living" when they have completely forgotten what it means.

Excellent topic for discussion, Meredith. Thanks.

Michelle Smiles said...

I think it will catch on for awhile until the economy has recovered long enough for memories of this scary period to fade.

Can I just say that you are the bravest momma I know giving your daughter spaghetti sauce to spread? I am just too uptight about those things and never let Sabrina help. Sigh...I need to loosen up and remember that it all comes out in the laundry.

Craft Tea Lady said...

I have to agree w/ nearly every other person - Oprah's idea of simplicity and the 'average joe' just is not the same.

www.crafttealady.etsy.com
www.xanga.com/crafttealady

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

One benefit of used clothes...you don't care so much when they get stained!

After watching the entire Oprah episode, I had mixed feelings. I truly think the show was designed to reach out to people who might want to save money.

the advice given was on the line of what I would tell people, not the ridiculous "cut out one latte a day" tips you see elsewhere.

The mom with 4 kids was told she could only spend $100 a week on groceries--that's only double what I spend!

On the other hand, the show used so much footage that talked about consumption that there wasn't much room left in the hour to talk about true savings or strategies on how to spend less in real life.

So, a mixed bag, in my opinion.

ryan said...

I just got done watching it after my mother-in-law told me that they decided to do a No Spend Challenge for one week with their guests. I will admit, we didn't give up our internet our television and to me that sounded like the hardest thing of all. I can go without television, but no internet (gasp) I apparently have an addiction.

I did find the stockpiler quite interesting. I felt a little like her for a long time and I am finally getting things back in balance.

Too late for any more thoughts, but I watched ;)

Tammy said...

Funny, but I ALWAYS find the "Oprah's Book Club" books for sale at the thrift store, after having been donated. Most of them are unread. What does that say?

Brenda said...

HMMM? Doesn't Oprah make millions? Doesn't she have a huge empire? Doesn't she own tons of stuff? This seems a bit hypocritical.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I didn't see the show, so I can't comment on it. However, I will say that Oprah always strikes me as someone who is desperately searching. One year she'll have some guru on; the next year she'll do a 180 and say she's following some other guru of sorts. She seems very lost in life.

As for her recent shows on simple living or cutting back or frugality or whatever, she's merely picking up on a trend. Producers want their shows to be relevant to the target audience, and right now, cutting back is IN. Just because Oprah does a show on it doesn't mean that she herself is following it.

As for whether or not simple living will be a long-lasting trend or a fad really depends, IMO, on what the economy does. Right now it's in because it's more fun to say you're living simply (implying choice) when the truth is that you're cutting back by necessity. It's a lot easier to do something like that if the rest of the crowd is doing it, hence all the media coverage. I think this trend towards simplified lifestyles will only last as long as the economy is down. People may prove me wrong, but I don't think this is here to stay unless we end up in a prolonged recession. People forget quickly when good times roll back around.

A real-life recent example is seen in SUV sales. When gas prices were high, people couldn't get rid of their SUVs fast enough and new SUVs languished on car lots. Once gas prices dropped, SUV sales went back up. Nevermind that oil is a dying resource and prices will eventually spike again. People are very shortsighted.

When the economy picks back up and the unemployment rate drops, I think people will go back to buying excessively and throwing money around like there's no tomorrow.

Tracy said...

I don't watch Oprah much anymore. I just got sick of the 'same old, same old' repackaged. Besides that, what is aired over here is way behind you guys in the US.

We've been from one end of the economic scale to the other in our life. Doing very well to relying on social security.....and back again.

What I know is that as long as all our NEEDS are met, we're OK. Having some wants is nice sometimes too, but nothing bad will happen if we don't have them. It's interesting what people consider a "need" though.

Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

Hmmm...I wonder when Oprah will decide to live more simply?

Suzanne said...

Oprah speaks out both sides of her mouth - and certainly does not live what she preaches. It would be interesting to see how long she'd last and be happy without a paycheck. Her 50th birthday party was an exercise in excess.

- Suzanne

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

I just think it's funny that Oprah is talking about simplyfying LOL!

Simple living has been around for many, many years just as frugal living has and I'm sure it'll still be around long after it's not in vogue.

Mostly I find all her shows that deal with frugality, living green etc annoying and ridiculous.

Manuela

Nancy said...

I watched yesterday's episode. I was amazed at what some of these families are doing....the gal who spent $400 a week on groceries but they ate out every night? Obviously there's bigger issues at play here (which we saw). I'd be interested in a follow-up of what these families are doing in 3 mos., 6 mos., 1 year. Will they continue down this road or be right back where they were?

Edi said...

Let me start by saying I'm no fan of Oprah and I don't think that just b/c she does a show on something that she truly embraces it.

But,for the folks who say well she has millions, she lives in excess etc. - don't think that rich people can't be simple and frugal too. Though one problem is that people tend to think of frugal wealthy people as being 'stingy' or 'misers' (which can be true of people whether or not they have a lot of money).

There are people that are frugal of necessity and others are frugal for a variety of other reasons...regardless of how much money they have or don't have.

Raising Olives said...

I logged on to comment and thought that I would be the only negative voice. However, I will join the crowd.

I didn't see this particular episode, but have read some online. We mean something completely different when we use the word 'simple'.

Spending $100 a week on groceries for a family of 6 is worth national tv time?

NorahS said...

I think there are different levels of simple living, just like there are different levels of frugal living. Every family (or person)has their own set of circumstances and has to start where they are and go from there. I think Oprah's intentions are good. Just because she is in a whole diffent place than I am does not mean that I will judge her harshly.

Biteofpunkinpie said...

I just cannot get into Oprah anymore. She's too much of a paradox for me to wrap my brain around. She's like espresso... you really can have too much so its better to take her in small sips. OK, that sounds gross. But you know what I mean, right?

Anywho, whether simplifying becomes 'trendy' or not, I am doing my best to embrace it.

Oh, and on the tile countertops... I just ugh.... its so bad. And they aren't just in the bathroom. They're in my poor kitchen too. When we bought the house it was a selling point for me. I thought, look, tile counters in the kitchen! I won't ever be able to mess them up! No scratches, no burns... oh but I didn't know that also meant: No looking clean EVER. Sigh. Someday.

celina from canada said...

i am no fan or oprah or detractor...if its good i watch if not i move on....the show was interesting...

and just because you have money or not living simply is not always about frugality...

someone rich who buys 500 pairs of shoes...not simply....someone with 10 pairs , well chosen,even if expensive...can still be simply living...


dollar stores, cvs deals..the frugal moms all over the world are buying just cause....

i no know many of her shows are about being conciensous..(omg i masacred that word...)in what you do....

thinking about how you live....now should she not enjoy her wealth and success..????? she is generous..most of which we never know about....but her show is a business...to make money and be profitable...not all shows are altruistic....its daytime tv,....

learn what you can....

i found it interesting...

as for the no tv no computer..i think it turned these families back to each other....and away from external influences...worked very well in both these cases....

Michele said...

LOL to Leila's comments! I didn't watch the show so I cannot comment on that, but I do want to add a perspective. One can be rich and spend a lot of money and still live simply. A rich person buying one pair for $90 jeans is simpler than a poorer person buying 5 pairs of jeans for $20. I remember reading in Tightwad Gazette something to the effect of "What Next?" What do you do after you have lived frugally and saved a lot of money and don't need to live frugally anymore. You should still be responsible - so instead of washing out your baggies, hire someone to do it for you! Ha Ha.

Erika said...

Don't watch the show but have to chime in and agree with those who have pointed out it is all a matter of perspective. I used to be very well-off and now I am not. When I had that perspective my whole schema for what was frugal or simple was completely different than it is now. I can laugh at the standards for these things held by my "past self" (though it is a little painful to remember how clueless I was!) But at that time, I really and truly could not think in the terms I now accept as "normal." (Just an fyi--being creative with less is actually a lot more fun than being creative with over-abundance. I appreciate everything SO much more now!)

Dana said...

First of all, I LOVE your blog! I don't comment often but read daily. Thanks for all the inspiring ideas.
Second, I, too, rarely watch T.V. What interested me most about what I have seen is the commercials that encourage you to "be your own dog groomer" (buy doggie shampoo), do work-outs at home (buy gym equipment), have movie nights at home (buy a new T.V. to see it on)!
In short, buy stuff--just different stuff!

Workin' MAMA! said...

oprah is a trip and i love her dearly -
she cracks me up with all the ideas - one reason why she is all about saving is because most of her watchers are stay at home moms and working moms who happen to be home to watch her ---
her blog is packed with women crying out for help on how to save and conserve - whose husbands who once made LOTs are now making barely enough to support their families...
so, that's why the hype on Dr. Phil and on Oprah -
I love them both - and it cracks me up when both of them try and relate to working class folks like us - who don't have millions in the bank... and switch homes in the middle of winter...

latrice

Eliza28 said...

Don't watch Oprah but I have to agree with the others who have a bit of a sour taste. Getting economy lessons from those who at this point in time spend more on clothes and jewelry in a year than our household makes in probably a few years just doesn't seem quite as helpful.
But those who have more are qualified to tell us that things honestly don't make you happy. Or you could simply take the word of the Lord and read up on it. :)

We have a small house and small income but we are super happy because we have each other.

*~Tamara~* said...

I can't take anything that woman says seriously.

Having said that, I love your blog. :-)

3beansalad said...

I just watched the show and thought it was great. I welcome the attention given to living economically and simply. Frankly, I'm surprised by Oprah-vitriol in the comments. Sure, she has lavish lifestyle but she can afford it and she continue to give generously. Second, by hosting a program on a topic she never claims that she is an expert on the subject. Oprah often exclaims in her programs how much she's learns through her own interviews. If you see Barbara Walters interview Lance Armstrong, do you expect Barbara to be a exercise aficionado? Of course not. If I see Katie Couric interview Sarah Palin do you expect that Ms. Couric is a Republican? I'm also surprised by people who are "annoyed" that living simply is in vogue now. Really? That completely perplexes me. This is a great opportunity for our consumerist society to slow down and give pause. Isn't getting the word out about simplicity the reason so many of us have blogs?

Randi said...

How ironic that Oprah's talking of simplifying. Is she kidding?

hsgbdmama said...

Does anyone find it odd that the advice to families is to turn off the tv and no computer for a week?

TV, no; computer, yes.

Like the other commenters have mentioned, I also don't take Oprah seriously in this area since she does not appear to be practicing it herself (i.e., has she given up her personal chef? has she moved into a < 2,000 sq/ft house?).

I have gotten many frugal tips from the Internet, and continually look for ways to simplify.

Nancy said...

I'm not an Oprah fan by any means, however, I did make a point to DVR this epi and watched with some interest. It reminded me of something similar she did with "green" living a year or so ago.

Oprah has her issues, but I don't think any of us can pass judgment on how she chooses to live. Honestly, do any of us really KNOW what she does with the money she makes, how much she spends and how much she gives away? She came from dirt-poor and I really don't think she's forgotten that.

There is a trickle-down effect to think about here, too. I live in Chicago and it was noted (in the news) back around the holidays that when the rich stop shopping so conspicuously (out and about on Michigan Ave and Oak Street), it eventually hits those you don't think about - the valets, the doormen, the waitstaff that would be picking up tips if the rich were out shopping and dining. Therefore, those "servants" have less to bring back to their communities or neighborhoods to spend and support those economies. This is capitalism - we all have an impact on someone with our economical choices. Because Oprah is rich and successful, how many people have jobs?

Gah! said...

I'm sorry, but what exactly is it about Oprah's life that seems simple to anyone here? Anyone with more than ten rooms and more than three dogs cannot possibly be taken seriously on this discussion!