First I’ll start by saying, “humor!” and lots of it. A great sense of humor will get you through a lot.
I’m rotating three books at this point. Urban Monk by Pedram Shojai is one that I’m quickly skimming through along with Better Off by Eric Brende and Made From Scratch by Jenna Wonginrich. I’m really enjoying these books because they talk about my favorite topics. Turning it off, unplugging and the negative impact of all this technology and those dang cars.
Urban Monk deals with today’s stresses due to trying to keep up with the Jone’s (who the hell are these Jones?) and our American diet, office jobs, lack of community and connection in today’s Facebook and TV-fueled social life. Better Off is an experiment an MIT student and his wife did by moving to a sort of Amish (but even more extreme) community and lived over a year without any technology. Made From Scratch is one woman who got very into living as simply as one can in the modern world. She was impressive with her list of accomplishments. I was sort of jealous as some things seem like giants to me such as beekeeping, canning without supervision, and a garden that isn’t demolished by squirrels.
Maybe I’m just in the thick of it because this is my new obsession, but it seems to me that as we progress into more technology and AI, the more these groups of people are turning their backyards into mini-farms and trying to learn to live as disconnected to the main cable as possible. Bartering and trade are coming back, quilting bees, knitting at church, canning parties…they are making a return. There is a divide between the moderns and the old fashioneds. While part of our society is ever more into the latest and greatest iPhone and super duper Smart iPad, the other half are relearning our great grandmothers’ skills and disconnecting from the main grid.
The Facebook crowd has thousands of “likes” when they post a turkey on rye for lunch but in reality, they have no one to really call and talk about deep and passionate subjects. While a backyard farmer in suburbia is calling her friend to brag about her plump heirloom tomatoes she just harvested. She will be taking some to her neighbors later…much later after they return from a 3-hour commute from their desk jobs were they punched numbers and drank Monster energy drinks because they are always exhausted from the stress, the daily fast food, and grinding their teeth all night while they sleep with the TV on in the background.
And here I am. I came from some of those stories. Not the latest iPhone, I can hardly work the cheapo one I have. But I have lived the commutes, office jobs, American diet, addictions, modern day isolation, etc.
Right now I’m sitting here listening to Pandora mix and one of my favorites “Feels like home” by Chantal Kreviazuk. My candles are lit in the kitchen and at my desk, it’s dusk and my hens are cooing and clucking outside my office window and the coffee is brewing. I’m listening to my babies snoring in our bedroom next to my office and the cat is eating breakfast on my desk. My office is in the laundry room. The best spot in the house.
I have a life that some would say is boring or lacking in any interesting or colorful quality. I am not traveling the world with my boys or writing hit novels that are being made into movies. I have this great blog but my photos are taken with an old and outdated digital camera that I can never focus correctly and I am not as witty or clever as other bloggers. I’m not making cakes with fancy fondant or sewing my own clothes. I do have a sewing machine and sadly must wait for my Indian husband to show me how to thread that thing again. My husband has known how to sew since he was a boy and had to alter his deceased father’s clothing for himself. That’s sort of interesting. A bit of life in Old India.
But I’m happy. Truly and deep down happy. Oh, yes, I get grumpy and nasty. Why just yesterday I ruined a few dishes, burnt another, cursed, was irritable. Arjan said, “there is a lot of mama getting loud today, I wonder why this is?” That was his passive way of letting me know my behavior was less than stellar and he wasn’t enjoying it. I was so moody but I took the hint and stopped cooking, finished my cleaning of the house, picked up a book and went outside to read while the boys played. Who knows why I was in such a mood, I just was.
Besides the moods that come with being a woman, I wake up eager for that first cup of coffee, to write my thoughts in this blog, to go about another day that is similar to the one before.
I have chosen to slow way down as of lately. My boys are growing and changing so fast it’s upsetting to my mother’s heart. I have decided that life should be savored like a fine pastry.
I happened upon this blog, The Modern 50’s Housewife. I don’t agree with all her stuff but I enjoyed a good helping and took away some solid ideas for a better run home. She is like me in that she and her husband are vegan and she is a devout homemaker. She has a three hour daily routine of home care that was outlined. I decided to try it.
Each day I take a few hours to just work on the house. In that time I clean, declutter, get a pile collected for the Goodwill or any thrift store, redecorate, tidy, organize. Three hours is a lot of time when your house is small and already in order. Before Grannie moved out I was really decluttering and moving extra furniture out to the garage because it was something to try and clean and move all that stuff around. I was also clearing out the things that are stained, torn and just tacky. Then Grannie left and took her stuff. I replaced some furnishings with more quality furnishings and my home is spacious and charming now.
I have been spending the last few weeks just focused on getting the home in great shape. I’ve cleaned out and organized the spice cabinets, washed tubs of toys, cleaned out drawers, hauled bags to the thrift, downsized clothes and furniture and toys.
What does this all have to do with good cheer? So much. A clean, tidy, organized home reflects the inner workings of the housewives state of being. With my home in order I feel clear headed and rested. Now when I do my three hours a day it is just making my home more delightful and clean or an extra little project.
Another few things I’ve implemented daily and religiously is to light candles each morning in my kitchen and at my desk when I work. I also light them in the bedroom when I go to bed early and read. I also have my scented wax burning going all the time with delicious scents to fill the house. I have dogs so this is a necessity.
Then there is our diet. We are vegan…almost, the boys and husband eat our hen’s eggs. And that is why we have hens. However, I can’t eat them now unless mixed and baked in a muffin. Our good hens give us just enough eggs for a breakfast or a couple pans of muffins so it’s perfect. Other than that we are plant-based and eat a pile of vegetables and fruits in season daily. I have a pot of beans simmering all day with tons of garlic and sea salt, a rice cooker steaming brown rice and then I make other substitutes to keep it yummy and fun. We drink a lot of water, almond milk, and my beloved coffee but lately I’ve been doing a pot of herbal tea in the afternoons.
With our clean diet, we are all looking better each day with bright eyes, clear skin and the husband and I are slowly getting smaller. All of us have this fountain of energy lately. My eldest son used to have this hideous breath. It smelled like a little critter had curled up and died in his intestine weeks ago. It’s almost clear even in the mornings. When we get the winter cold that is always there to ring in the season, we are only sick a day and a half, not weeks. Not to mention that my conscious feels clean knowing I’m not eating anything that has been raised in a cruel way. I’m being green and sustainable and doing my part along with the masses that are growing toward this trend. We do not eat junk food, limited sugar, no soda, fast food or even restaurants now.
Another way toward peace and good cheer is limited media. We are down to some PBS cartoons in the morning. It’s educational, positive and fun, and no commercials to brainwash my children while I’m out of the room. I may watch a Hallmark Christmas romance because it’s tradition for me to watch these Hallmark Christmas movies each year. They are clean and positive and children can watch without my telling them to “not look”. Arjan is homeschooling so he gets an hour of ABCMouse or a documentary on something educational (always dinosaurs, always). That is it. No other TV, no FaceBook, Twitter, texting. I do write and blog in the mornings and every other day or few days I call a good friend who is living in New Jersey to talk because she likes to talk about deep, soulful, spiritual topics. The rest of the time is reading paper books and having good music in the background.
Time and environment. Our calendar is clear except for one activity with the homeschooling group and one hike with our group of Hikers with Kids. Every Friday I take Arjan to Nevada City to Fox Walkers where he runs in the forest with boys and girls his age and learns about the 4 elements (fire, water, air, earth) and Native American ways. I take Sammy and we go to a cozy cafe, the fine Hospice thrift where all the rich retired folk turn in their nice things, and then grocery shopping at the Grass Valley Coop health food store. The area is a fairytale village in the forest and all the people that live they are healthy, fit, and either musicians, actors, or artist of some kind. The streets are lined with charming little shops selling handcrafted goods. I always spend a little money there. I’m slowly replacing the junky stuff with quality things that delight me, enhance the home and will last along with support a local artist.
I don’t watch the news unless it’s Positive News that I get in my email. I barely know what is going on out there in this world. I know that the world seems to be losing its’ mind but I have created a bubble around my family. We thrive. I will say this, and it may make me sound looney, I don’t take my family into crowded areas anymore. Even a large mega church makes me nervous. And as we saw with the church shooting a while back, even church is no longer safe right now. I know that times are changing and I believe we will come out of this into a better age…but until then I will find those safe and happy spots.
Rest. We go to bed with the hens. The minute that sun goes down, so do we. It is usually around 7:ish now and I have never been so rested. I may read books to the boys or for myself but by no later than 8:ish we are snoring. I also get up with the hens. I’m on natures schedule.
I also create a lot of breaks through my day and I’ve taken to the old fashioned way of one day of baking, one day of laundry, one day to grocery shop. It’s nice. I move through my day slowly, listen to something educational or musical while I clean, then tea and a book in the late morning, my three hours of cleaning, play with the boys, chat on the phone, morning writing. I don’t do anything outside of this unless it is something that makes the boys and myself smile at the thought. We also eat all our meals at the table and together. Even snacks.
I have hens and gardens for food, eventually to save some money and be more self-reliant, and because it’s a joyful thing. Gardening and cleaning out the coop makes me happy. I ponder, talk to myself, work out issues and keep an eye on Arjan and Sam as they play outside. My dogs lay nearby and the cat looks on with that ever bored expression.
Budget is another way to feel better. We have no debt, cars paid for, and I go over the budget weekly. I’ve been spending a bit lately, however, I had a job caretaking Grannie and I used that money to decorate the home a bit, buy ebook covers that I designed this time, and to stock up our pantries. I also used the money to pay for Arjan’s Fox Walkers for the year. It was not spent frivolously. It was spent on things to improve our lives, make the home more charming and efficient (the handcrafted broom…cheaper than a vacuum), and improve my writing career. I found that wise indeed.
Other than that, the main money is spent shrewdly. We eat a lot of brown rice, red potatoes, and pinto beans these days. I just pulled out the last tub of hand me downs that my boys are now fitting into. Our entertainment is wholesome TV, library books, and just good old fashioned play at home or the park.
Spiritual. The forest is where I take all of us to see God’s wondrous work and reconnect to the soul of the Earth. All this cement, the highways, and suburbs make my heart sad so we flee to the mountains. I work on a spiritual program all the time. Either I read or listen to something uplifting or educational about Spirit, metaphysics, I try and read the Bible but I’m honestly lacking. I like some Joyce Meyers at times but lately, I’m a bit turned off from Churches and other organized religions so it’s back to the forest and my private conversations with God and the teachings of Jesus.
Exercise. We walk a lot and I’ve joined a family hiking group. I’m staring at my yoga DVD right now. I’m working on making yoga a daily morning routine. I used to do 45 minutes to an hour on the tread climber but I feel like I need to do something gentle and that rebuilds my core and gives me some good stretching right now. Less excitement and more meditative.
Meditative practice. Terrible at this. I’m good at being present lately. So, I go with that. I just practice being present when sweeping the whole house or present with the pan full of sudsy dishes. Present when outside and working in the hens’ yard listening to them coo around me or the birds in the trees sharing bird news.
We don’t have the stress and misery of the normal American. We are not on drugs, medication, and we don’t drink nightly or sneak a cigarette in the garage. We don’t vegetate in front of the boob tube.
There is something great to be learned from the old days and disconnecting from the world. And when you do want to connect, find groups that have common interest and mindsets. I have found great groups on MeetUp for the Sutter-Sacramento Area. Fellow chicken farmers, backyard farmers, hikers with kids, homeschoolers.
And as for the media, you can create your own TV with Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and an antenna. You don’t have to have that miserable cable with the reality shows, news, commercials, and infomercials.
Create your own world for you and your family. Have fun with it and know that you can have it anyway that suits you.