Found a fabulous book just up my alley the other day at the library. Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth. I have an ongoing fascination, respect, and unexplainable love of the Amish. I fell in love with Amish fiction when living on a fruit farm and pregnant with my second son. We lived in farm country here in Sacramento County, right on the Delta river and amongst the pears, cherries, corn, and alfalfa fields. A sizeable town was a 30-minute drive and my husband worked long hours.
I was alone and homebound most of the time and found comfort in Amish fiction along with learning to cook and bake everything from scratch. The Amish have a lifestyle that is almost dreamy to me save a few issues. I loved the fiction for its wholesome romances and a peek inside a timeless way of living with God, family, and morals as a foundation. The Amish still live simply and in a very 19th-century manner today going without electricity and cars.
Nancy writes about a modern life modeled in an Amish fashion without the extremes of plowing your own fields by hand and turning over the family car in favor of a horse and buggy. She covers everything from family life, unplugging from media in several ways without cutting the cords completely, the household budget, and living simply in all areas from uncluttering the house to getting rid of the car if living in town. She and her husband are very grounded in their faith and are deeply concerned with environmental issues. They travel around the country speaking on living sustainably and biblically.
These issues are close to my heart; how can we live with more love and connection to God, simplify our lives so we can have peace and more family time that is filled with quality? In my childhood with a single mother, there was no peace, no faith, alcoholism, debt, stress, and fear. I know what that life brings. Today I now also know what life is like when you live in a wholesome, spiritual way, family is first, and you have become frugal and wise with the household budget.
I am a homemaker first and foremost and it gives me much pleasure to tend to a home and nurture my family. As we downsize more and more, as my faith and dependency in God grow more I am finding peace in my life that not many enjoy these days. We are so bombarded with technology and news, FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube. As I unplug myself I am feeling better about the world. The minute I plug into the news I feel stress, worry, hopeless, and fear. I guess people become desensitized to it all but it’s still causing damage and deterioration on one’s joy and calm.
Nancy talks about supporting your local farms and markets, how the big box stores may be cheaper and more convenient, however, their presence has put a lot of small business out of commission and without the mom and pop’s stores the community starts to fade away. We spend most of our time in cars driving from one cold and detached mall after another.
I live in the city amongst strip malls and sprawl. However, even in this thick Urban forest of people and cement, I have found a simpler life. We don’t watch the outside world on our TV, no news, CNN, Fox. My cell phone is in the cupboard and gets used once a week to make a plan with a friend quickly. When I take my sons out we walk and talk together. I am not looking down at my iPhone (I don’t even know what kind of phone I have actually). My cell is for emergencies only. We shop at small businesses and we frequent rivers and forest in the area. We love the farms during the fall and support them as well.
I grow a garden everywhere we live and I have a mini one now. I used to have a clothes line and buy eggs from the farm next door. We are in the city in a rented house with a small yard and it is more than enough, however, we have not committed to living here for very long otherwise I would set up a big garden, plant a fruit tree, get some chickens and call it a farm! You really don’t need much space to have your own urban farm and there is something so cozy, so fun, and so good for kids when you really utilize your yard in a productive way.
I miss our small town and I do try to shop locally where ever I live. I love the local stores and shops. I feel far more normal doing the Farmers Market than pushing a cart through the big, fluorescent lite bargain corporate markets. The main street has charm and a sense of community, the malls are very detached and all cement and retail on a large and impersonal scale.
We can create a sense of community and a slower life no matter where we settle down, be it the country itself (obviously the easiest for a slow and quiet life) or the city (slightly more challenging). The biggest thing we can do is put that silly cell phone away and go out to the parks or forest, choose to shop at the little stores in your neighborhood and choose quality and handcrafted over quantity and cheap. I used to buy household goods at Walmart but they would fall apart and look junky after a short time. I would rather spend $300 on a handcrafted quilt that is gorgeous and will last my lifetime and be passed down to my children.
A slower life of quality and focused on God and family is the richest life anyone could dream of.
So, get out there to the Farmers Markets, purchase from the local artist and stores, support the mom and pops shops, create your own farm in your back yard, string a clothes line up, bake your own bread, lose that Smart Phone, get rid of the cable and just get an antenna (great old movies await you), get to really know your neighbors, frequent the coffee shop down the street, look people in the eye, stop watching the news (they never tell the whole story so it’s a waist of time), do volunteer work, join a church, and make sure the family eats at the table each night.