Yes, after the hustle and bustle of Christmas it seems we are headed into recovery mode. Finally.
Last week we celebrated Vaeh's 8th birthday (how on earth did that happen so quickly???) so there was a bit of excitement and a lot going on. Over the last few years we had decided not to celebrate birthdays with traditional parties, but instead rather, celebrating as a family and marking the day a 'special day'. The birthday child picks ahead of time special activities they would like to do that day, and then afterward we head to a toy shop and they get to pick out a birthday gift. This year Vaeh picked bowling (5 pin) and a movie (Disneys Tangled). It was a great, fun filled day. She picked out a doll from the toy shop, and Grandma (who came along with us) had her pick out a new outfit as well. As per our tradition, her 'special day' started off with a 'special breakfast' of her choice: belgian waffles topped with blueberries and syrup, and sparkling rasperry-grape juice.
She said with the tablecloth, the rose and the meal, it felt like we were at a super fancy restaurant. It really did. And the best part is, we didn't pay a super fancy restaurant price tag.
Now that her birthday has passed, we can slow down even more and gain some perspective on life and on our lifestyle. For a long time I've been craving a simpler life; one that is slow yet steady, relaxed yet productive, and most importantly: wholesome. I get easily caught up in consumerism. I get easily swayed by "advice" from outside sources telling me how I "should" be doing things when every fibre of my being wants nothing to do with it. I get sucked in to the influence of the media. I get busy. Crazy busy. And I want off that ride. I've been taking steps to get to the life I've always pictured in the back of my mind, but I feel like it's time to go a bit further, be a bit more brave and not hold back. So what is this life I want to be living? Well it involves several things. Many of them might seem small and insignificant, but they are just small pieces that when put together, create the bigger picture. The picture of happiness, contentment, self sufficiency, inspiration, beauty, family, quality, health and happiness.
These are some things I have been doing, and plan on doing very soon:
- Going TV Free. This is something I've struggled with a lot over the last couple of years. I hate TV, yet I can't stop watching it. I find most of it meaningless, pointless, fake and damaging, yet I still watch it. It interferes with productivity, it promotes laziness and it turns people into real-life zombies. Must I go on? I hate TV, so cable must go.
- "Use it up, Wear it out, Make do, or Do without". I first heard this quote on a blog I subscribe to called The Non-Consumer Advocate. We are a throw-away society, and we are conditioned to believe that we need the latest, newest, thingymabob on the market in order to feel good about ourselves. I'm flat-out rebelling against that idea.
- Making It Myself. I'm challenging myself to make as many things as I can myself. As much as I would love to go all out in this area by making EVERYTHING myself, and believe me that is very tempting for me, I know that isn't possible if I plan on sleeping at all. Sleeping is kind of necessary. If there is something me or the kids want or need, I'm going to do my best to make it myself.
- Growing Food and Canning. Each year I add a little bit more to my tiny backyard/patio garden. This year I would like to double it and make most of my yard into a garden. Movements like Food Not Lawns inspire me to grow more food and have less lawn. Canning is something I've wanted to learn to do for a very long time, but never got around to. There is something so appealing about it to me.
- Healthy Diet, Healthy Living, Less Meat. I'm not a vegetarian, nor am I trying to become one. I really do enjoy meat, but it is expensive, and this frugalista doesn't like expensive. By cutting back on how much meat we eat that helps to lower the cost of groceries. Also, I've seen the documentary Food, Inc. enough times to make me question the food that I buy and where I buy it from, especially meat. The past few weeks I've made some major changes in the foods that I eat, cutting out as much junk as possible and eating real food, not dinner-in-a-box or processed garbage. Traditional, wholesome (there's that word again!) food. I've cut coffee out of my diet and have been drinking water, green tea, and the occasional sparkling juice. I take my vitamins daily, I've been exercising and have been incorporating more legumes into our meals. All of these changes have resulted in me feeling fantastic. I feel rested in the morning when I wake up, I have much more energy than I did before and my daily headaches (which I discovered were from the coffee, and probably the junk I was eating) are gone.
- Unscheduling and Proper Planning. In our house we fall victim to overscheduling. Taking on too much. Signing up for classes, making more committments than we have the time or energy for, continuously running errands because of poor planning (fail to plan, plan to fail). It isn't necessary and it has to stop. Simplifying life has a lot to do with simplifying schedules. My kids don't need to be signed up for every activity out there, nor do I. I don't need to make 3 trips to the store in a week, one should be enough. We've already begun to cut back on our scheduling and our committments, and it feels like a weight has been lifted.
- Seek Inspiration. I have a very creative soul. When I was younger I used to create things all the time. I would sew, draw, color, write, daydream, glue, paint. As I got older, those things started to fade and now I struggle with finding inspiration to be creative. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with TV watching (did I mention it zaps creativity?) but there is a block somewhere, much to the tune of writers block. My imagination seems to have disappeared on me, and I'm desperate to get it back. I feel lost without creativity. A big piece of me is missing.
Those are just some things I am working on, and more will come I'm sure. I'm definitely excited about putting all of these things into place, and more. I'm excited to see how this year will unfold, and how much different life will look the same time next year. More than anything, I'm looking forward to the pace. Slow. Slow and steady. Wasn't there a book written about that? :)