Replacing bad habits with good

How was your Christmas dear reader? 

We have had family visiting from interstate for the last two weeks and it was really lovey. However, they have left now and life is back to normal. They took the boys for three nights into town and the break was wonderful. It felt so strange to be puttering about with just Grant, Elsie and I. There was also significantly less washing. Ha! 

Unfortunately, or perhaps inevitably, Covid has taken off here. Although those of us who can be vaccinated are, we are still concerned about the children so we are bunkering down on the farm. 

In farm news we have new life here with 9 baby chicks hatched out by two hens. Will's guinea pig had two babies and the three steers are growing well. Our goats are looking fat and healthy and baby goat is not long off matching his mother in size. He is a fat, greedy little fellow and really needs to be weaned, but she is a good patient Mum and has not yet kicked him off. I'm sure it won't be long. Good progress is being made on the shed. Grant is just finishing putting up the purlins and then he can begin to put the iron on the roof. Because he built the frame from hard wood felled from our forest, it was fiddly to get it all the beams notched out and level, but he is doing a very thorough job of it.

I have been reading a lot recently, in the aim of breaking aimless social media browsing. I think many of us can relate to such brain numbing habits in these uncertain covid times. It was beginning to leave me, more often than not, feeling less confident in myself and more and uncertain. In response to this I have been hitting Libby, a free library app hard. I have been focused on reading books that fill my tank and resonate with my sense of being. 

A book that had a real impact on me was 'Radical Homemakers; reclaiming domesticity from a consumer culture' by Shannon Hayes. Have you read it? It's a wonderful book. I bought it on kindle, but it made such an impact I'm looking for a second hand copy in paperback. 

I came away feeling more invigorated and inspired to continue on this path of simple living then I have in a long while. It was a boost I needed after a long and hard year. It stirred all kinds of emotions in me around the difficulty of having a parent stay at home with their children. Childcare is not valued in this country, we only need to look at the poor pay child care workers receive to confirm this notion. Many duel income families can barely support themselves and live hand to mouth despite working hard. The idea of owning a home is a ludicrous pipe dream for many. Our world is not interested in supporting the family unit, it is only interested in how to maximise profit, consumption and growth. The narrative and that everyone to be "independent" is a farce and the stigma around asking for help is often seen as a source of shame rather than a logical path. 

A couple of the advent calendars I sewed for gifts, there was also doll clothes, stockings and Grant made a wooden bow with arrows for Angus and Henry. I hurt my ankle badly so I didn't get to all my Christmas sewing, but the boys understand it's on the way still.

Rather than nurturing community and family interdependence we instead rely on banks, credit cards and personal loans to keep afloat. All of which have various interest rates attached to them. The price of housing and rent throughout much of Australia, including many rural areas is, to put it quite plainly, appalling. Something which has not been helped by covid. House prices here have gone through the roof with a little 3 bedroom cottage in the closest country town to us fetching upwards of $650,000.  

But, if we can find the encouragement and drive to forge our own path many of us can lead a more sustainable, creative, resourceful life in some form or another. Which if you're reading this blog, I suspect this is a dream you share too. 

The book also talked about the home as a unit of production rather than being solely a unit of consumption, which resonated deeply with me. A place where quality food is grown and raised, items are made by hand and resources re-imagined to fulfil a new purpose. 

It reminded me to listen to the beat of my own drum. To stay on my own path, even though it might be different from those around me, and if you're wanting to live a life that's perhaps a little odd, it's important to have courage. We need to be secure enough to be able to listen to those with different experiences and ideas to us and say 'I understand what you're saying, that's not been my experience.' or 'This is the path 
I'm going to follow, it's ok we differ on this.' Rarely does getting defensive or offended get us anywhere. But by holding firm in what we believe, we can still get the message across of who we are and what we are about. Hopefully with our relationships with those around us intact.

With the noise of the world, it is easy to become sidetracked and lured into feeling the need to do more, to BE more. But I don't think all of us are created for a fast paced life. There are those that thrive in that environment and they adore being busy and out in the world. But I have come to learn over the years, especially the last couple, that I most certainly do not. I thrive in a quieter life. A life where there is room to create, to read, to process, to be out in nature. I love spending time with people 1:1 or on a small group. Large shopping centres are noisy and stressful. I find parties a bit of a nightmare. I like to cook meals for people I know they will love. The look of happiness on their face as they realise they are about too tuck into their favourite thing fills me with joy. 

A simple life doesn't mean a life without work, in fact I think in many ways it is just as much work or even more. There are animals to care for, meals to cook from scratch, thrifted items to source, gardens to tend and things to build, make and mend. But I think in many ways it can be a more connected life. A life where we know where what we consume comes from, where we barter with neighbours which builds community and independence. We live a life connected to nature and the seasons and we are aware of our impact on it, both the good and the bad. 

As this year comes to a close, these are the things on my mind and heart as we move into the new year. I don't think it is going to be an easy year again for many unfortunately. Covid continues to put pressure on people, the community and the economy. It seems the world economy is shifting on its axis as trade relationships crack under pressure and international relationships are either in a state of renewal or trouble, depending on the situation.       

A stark reminder that when it comes to the big picture, it can feel like we have very little control. But we can still vote with our dollars and our actions for the life we value. And that collective action has the power for transformative change. 

I hope this blog post finds you well. 
Much love,
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