MotherTongues: Wear Words, Celebrate Cultures

about words, languages, cultures, travel

Experiences instead of gifts January 12, 2012

Filed under: Be the change,Greener lifestyle — Michelle @ 8:06 am
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As the Christmas season fades behind us, I want to reflect on the season of gift giving. Maybe it was the woman who used pepper spray on others to get an advantage while waiting for the Xboxes to be unpacked, but it feels to me like the shopping frenzy is getting more extreme every year.

A couple of years ago, I did research on the Swedish word Lagom and designed a t-shirt to go with the meaning: Enough is as good as a feast. Lagom describes having just enough (food, clothing, shelter). You decide on your own “enough”, nobody can prescribe it to you.

Lagom changed my life. I became aware of how much stuff I bring into the house. I now ask myself if I really need it before I buy. I’ve started following Bea’s blog, read about the man who only owns 15 things, and become inspired to simplify, reduce, and pare down. I still buy way too many things that I regret, it is definitely a journey!

One year ago we spent Christmas in South Africa, and knowing we can’t bring back gifts in our already-stuffed-suitcases, we asked our family to give our girls experiences instead of gifts. The family responded by organizing a puppet show (and making it a wonderful afternoon to remember with friends and many kids), taking the kids snorkeling in the ocean and showing them what swims and grows there, and taking the kids to the beach for a fun day.

This year we were in Florida for Christmas. We visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where Winter the dolphin from Dolphin Tale lives. The girls were in awe to see their first “movie star”.

I’m hoping that I can live into the spirit of Lagom more and more over the coming years: showing our kids that you don’t need physical gifts to celebrate, but that it is the experiences that you’ll carry in your memory forever.

How do you plan to find your own Lagom in your life?


do we really need supersize everything? June 11, 2010

Filed under: Travel — Michelle @ 2:37 pm
Tags: , , ,


We’ve been in San Cristobal for almost 2 weeks. We’re getting used to city living i.e. walking everywhere, shopping only for what we need for the day. I think you observe more of your surroundings when you are on foot. I’ve been realizing how everything is smaller here – the cars, the plates (and servings), the apartments, the restaurants, the supermarkets. It has made me wonder: do we really need oversized everything, the American way? Do we need houses the size of palaces, or does it make us distant from our neighbors? Do we need such huge food servings, or does it turn us into unhealthy overweight people? Do we need such big cars, big supermarkets selling big containers of anything?

I think there is something to be said for a simpler way of living: using less, buying less new stuff, eating less (or throwing away less from our huge restaurant portions). The Swedes definitely have a great concept in their “untranslatable” word Lagom.


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