The girl next door

Last week, there was a discussion at work about consumer profiles and the characteristics for “the girl next door” were being described. I was amazed to learn that I have become HER.

I spent so many years trying on other personas. There were the rocker-chick years. Then my early University days were spent trying to perfect the high-powered, corporate, business, pant-suit type. Then I switched to design school and it all changed again. The bohemian, free-spirit, creative type came into play. There was a constant search to be someone and look a certain part. I was clearly not comfortable in my own skin.

But that is one of the perks of getting older. I am comfortable now. And whilst I never thought I wanted to be, “the girl next door”, there is nothing wrong with her.

As if “the universe was conspiring to help me”, writes Paulo Coelho writes in The Alchemist, I came across a blog post this morning that describes this new age “girl next door”. Sheri Salatin, who writes for Polyface Hen House was describing me to a tee. Somewhere along the line, this is who I have become.

What I find interesting about discovering someone else who is just like me, is a validation of myself. Maybe I have not found many friends that think the same way I do, in my neighbourhood. Now, with the help of the internet, I have easily discovered kindred spirits, in serious numbers. Who knew?

Here are some of the characteristics of the “girl next door”:

homebody - humblebea

Humblebea Gnomes

  • Homebody – this was a real problem for me because everyone thought clubbing was the only way to meet men. But I thought, intellectually anyway, that there was no kind of drunk man I wanted to meet at a club. I met my husband at the beach, probably the only place on earth where you can wear less clothes than a night club. And probably one of the few times I sported a bikini!
  • Family values – probably closely linked to liking home base.
  • Confident – this can be tough for a young woman. Easily misinterpreted as standoffish by other women. Men find this quality off-putting, they prefer a woman who needs them.
  • Nurturing – a great quality that young woman need to grow into to become comfortable with.
  • Low maintenance – I have never understood the hours and hours of make-up, hair and other primping ceremonies so many women go through. If I’m going to spend hours at something, it will be a massage. I think a 3 dressed up as a 9 is a waste of time.
  • Straight forward – no games. I could never be bothered to make-up elaborate stories to make a man feel more confident so that I looked weaker for it. As I get older, my husband does appreciate a little softening here.
  • The buck stops here – this is an adage that I learned early on and really took to heart. I’m not going to pass blame, I’ll do everything I can to fix things and try to create solutions to problems.
  • Likes to have fun – within the context of all the values above. Travel, meeting new people, have great experiences – being at ease with changing circumstances, finding the bright side of things.

Disclaimer – this is not to say that I portray these characteristics all the time. In fact, my husband may argue that the girl next door is more of a latent attitude. In any case, this gives me hope for the woman who I am becoming.

Value versus Values

Do you consume something based on its value or according to your values? This idea has taken root with me today and I have been tossing it around in my mind.

If you look at the definitions, the distinction between the 2 words might become clearer.

VALUE:   An amount, as of goods, services, or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return.

VALUES:   Important and enduring beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or desirable and what is not. Values exert major influence on the behavior of an individual and serve as broad guidelines in all situations.

In my life, no matter how much money I have earned, all my consumption has been about values. Whenever I have strayed away from that and bought into whatever was considered to be of more “value”, I have been disappointed.

The value of something is akin to beauty – in the eye of the beholder. My definition of value will be slightly different from everyone else. And that is where values come into play. Ultimately, for me, my values have always been a better guide for all my decisions.

But slick marketers are always trying to convince us to buy whatever they are selling. And they have some pretty good tricks up their sleeves. They communicate in very appealing ways. But the ones that are the most successful in getting my money are the companies that can align to my values. When that happens, it is almost a pleasure to fork over the hard-earned dough.

The trick is to remember that we have this power. We as consumers and citizens can implement our values more frequently than we can probably imagine. Every single purchase decision we make, no matter the size is a realization of our values. Everything we say and do communicates more than the words or actions.

One of the many values my husband and I have shared is the feeling of satisfaction from completing a job. It just doesn’t feel the same to hire someone to do everything for us, even if we could afford it.

This weekend we put our dedication to the test. 4 trailer loads of cedar bark mulch had to be spread and the whole area had to be weeded first. As I have mentioned before, this is back-breaking work, but more hands make lighter work.  So together we got out there. Working hard we got the hardest part done yesterday in the sunshine.

Then it started to rain this morning about 11am. By the time my husband got back with the 3rd load of mulch it was pouring. So there we were, spreading the wonderful smelling bark bits in our rain jackets. The upside was I didn’t have to water down the whole thing when I was done.

When I came in the house to make dinner, I opened a bottle of Glen Garioch. It is one of my values to treat myself every once in a while with something special. This is a fairly expensive bottle of 12-year-old single malt scotch. But I’m worth it.

PS – I know that is not the correct glass, but I don’t have any of the fancy glasses made just for drinking scotch. Maybe someday.