Where is this going?

Last night C and I got into a bit of an argument. Nothing to worry about and nothing that wasn’t resolved. I have been having an internal struggle that I have been projecting onto him. I feel like I’m not pulling my weight (and I can hear my friends laughing now). I have always brought in some form of consistent income, but right now I really haven’t. I have been focusing my attentions on raising the kids, keeping the house in order, and building the house/farm. That takes a lot of energy, but truthfully I could fit in more if I wanted to. I feel like, by not bringing in an income, I am taking the “easy way out”. I know that C wants to be at home and I know he wants to spend his days working on the farm and I feel like I am selfishly taking that from him. I’ve been snippy and rude to him because I expect he is upset with me when he’s not. 

Then I went to church this morning. I always seem to get some sort of answers when I go to church. I realized that I am doing so much more than I think I am. Mainly I’m writing. I’m writing this blog of our journey not just as entertainment but also to turn into at least one book when it’s all complete. Right now is Cs time to be the “breadwinner” but once the house is built and the cars and land are paid off we won’t need nearly as much income and most of that will come from the farm, and the rest will come from me and possibly C if he wants to.  

Now onto the farm. 

I am constantly being reminded of why we are building this farm. To help people, but most of the time it’s hard to see what that means. 

I know that the path that has led us here has shown is the struggles people face in a daily basis and has given us ideas on how we can help, but what does that really look like?

Truthfully I have no clue, and I won’t until the house is done and we can focus our attention on where it needs to be. There are so many idea we have brainstormed, but we know we cannot do them all. So we will lay them out and see where God wants us once we have the opportunity to do them. We know we are going to feed people by offering naturally grown produce and pasture raised meat at low prices. We want to help people grow their own gardens, become less dependent on utility companies, and learn to cook from farm to table on a budget. 

Will we help people set up partial grid sustainable energy sources? Will we provide pay what you can services? Will we help develope community garden?  Only time will tell. What I do know is that we don’t want to offer food pantry type services. Food pantries are great. They are a much needed service in every community but they don’t tend to help people get out of the situation of needing their services. We want families to not have to be food insecure by helping them spend less on food and utilities. We shouldn’t be going broke on necessities. 

The joke is that one day I want to be on Ellen talking about the book and how important these services are, because let’s be real for a moment, we can either wait for people to be paid a living wage or we can decrease their spending so that their current wage becomes a living wage.  So let’s stop talking about the problem and do something about the solution. 

 

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Privilege 

This has become a very hot word right now. Privilege. We all have varying degrees of it depending on where you live, what you look like, where you are from, and how much money you have to name a few. I grew up very privileged. I went to a good school, a great college, and didn’t really have to worry about money. I am very thankful for the opportunities I had. 

I was also ignorant. 

I thought everyone had the same opportunities I did. I thought everyone was treated equally. I even wrote a term paper on the misuse of affirmative action and reverse discrimination. I was ignorant. 

privilege (to me) is when you not only take the things you have for granted, but you expect others to take them for granted to.  There are people in America who don’t have homes, don’t have access to reliable clean water, kids who’s parents struggle to feed them. It’s looking at these people, at these kids and saying “you have the same opportunities I have. You just aren’t utilizing them”. 

I whole heartedly believe God puts us where we need to be when we need to be there. I knew back then that I wanted to make a difference but I had to have everything taken away from me to completely understand what kind. 

We are here for the working poor. The people who are fighting the system because they aren’t being hired full time because the company won’t pay benefits, work full time but still can’t make ends meet because $10 an hour doesn’t pay the bills, because profits rise while wages remain the same, because not everyone can afford college, because it’s not aa easy to pull yourself up as it once was. 

We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work for Ford. For a company that still has an amazing working Union. A company and union that cares about its workers. We have the opportunity to be a part of the middle class. What we don’t want is to forget what we didn’t have and that so many others don’t have. We also don’t want to forget how easily we could lose everything. I don’t want to be ignorant again. 

My disabled child is not a victim.

Disclaimer: This is one I those random posts I will have from time to time that has little or nothing to do with the project, but I feel it needs to be said.

My almost 5 year old son was born with a disability. Because of a brain injury at birth he now has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He has trouble eating, speaking, walking, keeping his balance, and performing most fine and gross motor skills. He needs a lot of help to do the things a normal 5 year old would do.

When he was born I felt very alone. I ostracized myself from my friends, I read blogs on how people who don’t have special needs children couldn’t possibly understand how hard it is. someone introduced me to a poem about holland (it’s a great poem and you should look it up if you don’t know it) which made me cry, so I read it over and over again to make myself cry. I read that poem at least once every day. I tried to write a book about my experience with his birth and what it was like to have a disabled child. At one point when he was about six months old I pulled my car over on the highway and cried. I cried for myself because of how hard it was for me to have my life flipped upside down. It would never be the same. That’s when I got myself a therapist, because it wasn’t about me.

I love my child. My son is the best person he can be and I do not want him to grow up thinking there is something wrong with him, or thinking that he is a burden on me or any of his other family, because he isn’t. Is it exhausting to feed him, dress him, brush his teeth, help to physically place him in the positions he wants to sit in, carry him to the bathroom when he needs to go, yes, heck yes it is, but I don’t let him see that. I take that to my therapist every 2 weeks and complain to her about how exhausting it is. I do this because on top of him knowing that he isn’t like other kids his age who can do these things I don’t want him to think he is a burden on me, because it’s not about me.

It’s about him and helping him to grow up to be the best person he can be. I watch other parents fight tooth and nail over every little injustice that is or could be done to their special needs child. They fight about non handicapped playgrounds, wheelchair ramps, handicapped accessible this and that, and while I think it’s important to fight for the things that matter I also know that the world doesn’t work to accommodate people. I fight the battles I think are important but I don’t want him to watch me fight any and all battle I come across because the world accommodates no one, disabled or not.

I don’t want my life to become consumed and defined by my sons disability. His disability happened, we now have to find ways to adjust our lives to it and move on. It’s a thing in our lives but it’s not his life. He is bound for greater things than that and I want him to know that. I decided a long time ago that I was going to try as hard as I could to not separate myself from the world. To not be like the blogs I once read. I read them now and those people aren’t me. I don’t separate myself from my non special needs moms because ” they couldn’t possibly understand” or “they don’t know how to act around us” because I don’t see myself as different. I have different struggles than them but we all have struggles, ours are just more apparent. I do not want my son to watch me limit myself because if his disability because he will learn to do the same thing, and he is not a victim. We have to learn to adapt to our environment instead of exclude ourselves from it.

The most important lesson I want to teach my children is that God made them beautiful and He doesn’t make mistakes. It is our job not to make the world fit our circumstances but to see the world and ask “how can I figure this out”. If my son wants to do something I help him figure out a way he can do it given his circumstances and the kid usually finds a way to do it. It may take some temper tantrums and arguments and lot and lots of time but he does it. That’s how the world works, for all of us. My children are not victims and neither and I.

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How to raise children on a budget- my version

I have been coming across a lot of articles lately titled something like “raising a child on a budget” or something along those lines.  So apparently this is a fairly hot topic right now.  I do have to say that too many of the articles are written more from the perspective of someone who really means “budget” as in you know how much you can set aside each month for baby stuff.  Lets get real.  Really real.  Lets actually call this article “How to afford a child when your flat a*^ broke”.

raising kids

Here is my honest opinion: Children are not expensive.

The figures are insane if you look at the cost of raising a child born in 2013.  $250-300 THOUSAND DOLLARS.  … Really?  That doesn’t even include college!  According to these figures housing is the most expensive cost, followed by childcare and education, then food, lastly transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous stuff falls at the bottom.  These figures are confusing to me.  I guess the understanding is that as we have more children we are expected to have bigger houses… ok, i can see that logic, sort of.  Childcare and education… childcare is EXPENSIVE, education really shouldn’t be, unless you are paying for private schools or special programs.  Food I get, and healthcare i would think would be a larger chunk than that, although my kids qualify for medicaid so ours is free, but im not sure how long that will last since we are making more money now.

So lets take these figures and break them down into my thinking.  Really the only kid that should be expensive is the first, they are paving the way.  You know what to expect after the first one. Plus hand me downs are fantastic.  So lets look at what you need when having a baby.  These are my essential items: 1) a co-sleeper bassinet 2) a moby or some sort of baby carrier 3) a carseat 4) at least 7-10 cloth diapers.  I prefer the one size covers without a pocket.  the Flips are my favorite.  I also would have about 15-20 inserts.  the really nice sturdy cotton flour sac towels are the best.  you get them in the kitchen section and they are like 5 for $5.  That’s it.  That’s what I have for newborns.  No special shampoos or bath seats or random stuff that’s just gonna take up room.  My babies shower with me, and only about 2 times a week.  I don’t use harsh soaps on them, usually just rub a handmade soap onto a washcloth and rub them down.  I don’t even really have a diaper bag.  I have a large bag that i sometimes take with me with a change of clothes for the kids, diapers, and snacks but i rarely use it.  usually i just throw a clean diaper in my purse with a plastic bag for the dirties.  You really dont even need a changing table.  babies can be changed anywhere, especially if you have a towel handy.

There is big stuff you will need for later.  That’s the crib, the high chair, and some sort of a swing or bouncy chair.  something that entertains them so you can put them down and walk away for a little bit.  Ask for those for your baby shower (ask for ALL the essentials for your baby shower).  The bouncy seat you will probably use pretty quickly but the rest will take you probably at least 6 months so if you dont get it, you have some time.

Here is the most expensive thing i have come across: if your income relies on both of you working.  Childcare is expensive.  We were lucky enough for me to be able to work part time from home which means we dont need childcare.  I highly recommend if you can figure out how to be able to survive on one income, or can have a job that allows you to be flexible with your schedule, that is the best, plus there is nothing quite like staying at home and raising your kids.  I still do pay for childcare when i can though.  i prefer to have someone watch the kids 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours at a time (when we can afford it).  That ends up being about $10-15 a day.  That’s not too bad, especially when it allows me to make at least $150 more a week than i would have, and have sanity.

Lets now tackle the big one: housing.  We are about to be a family of 5/6 and we are building a 1500 sq foot 3 bedroom home, which will probably end up costing us about $80,000.  We expect our kids will spend most of their time outside or in the family room/kitchen with us.  They dont each need their own bedroom.  I understand that house size and bedrooms are completely a personal preference, but don’t feel like you cant have a child because you only have a 2 bedroom place, you totally can.  Housing costs to me is a total non issue.

Food: well, you know my stance on food.  But still food cost is a big one.  This is also an area where each kid will cost approximately the same.  it’s not like other costs where once you jump the hurdle of having the first the rest are far less expensive.  it doesn’t work that way.  So we cut costs other ways.  Mainly by growing our own and making everything from scratch.  We have been discussing our food budget since we are off of food stamps and we are looking at about $100 a week.  That’s not because we can’t afford more, that’s because we don’t WANT to buy more.  That $100 would feed us VERY well.  Very Very well.  with snacks and 3 meals a day and real hearty nutritious stuff.  According to the USDA the average family of 4 should be spending $146-289 on food every week.  To me that number is crazy.  I could eat a gourmet meal every night on that kind of budget.  Once we start growing our own livestock and hunting deer we wont even have to worry about the cost of meat, and possibly even most dairy.  Although we will have to pay for the livestock, that cost isn’t $0, but it is smaller than what we would be paying at the store.

So here is my summery: I LOVE my kids.  I love my kids more than I knew I could love.  I love being a mom (even though some days I just wish i had a good tall glass, make that bottle, of wine to get me through the day).  Of all the money issues we have had over the past 2 years not once were my kids one of them.  They are probably the least expensive part of my life right now.  So when I hear about how to “raise a child on a budget” I have to laugh, because you really don’t need a budget to raise a child.  Lets rephrase that again, you don’t need a budget to raise a WELL EDUCATED, DISCIPLINED, INTELLIGENT, LOVING, QUALITY MEMBER OF SOCIETY child.  You don’t  You just have to WANT to put forth the effort to do it.

Is Entitlement Generational?

A friend posted a really interesting article today, it was from the Business Insider and it was about who the most entitled generation is.  I will summarize but I wont go into great detail.  if you would like to read it here is the link http://www.businessinsider.com/the-most-entitled-generation-isnt-millennials-2015-1.  It basically said that the millennials are being blamed for being entitled because “we are a lazy cohort of entitled and narcissistic brats — the proverbial Generation Me”.  The go on to say that the actual entitled generation is the Baby Boomer generation who focus on short term economic boosts that serve themselves and not future generations.  I completely agree yet disagree with this article.

I agree with this article because taken at surface value they are right.  The older generation which is currently in power are far more concerned with their own economic gain than they are on the greater good for the country as well as future generations.  Politicians make decisions based on who pays them the most, most of them have stock in major companies that focus more on profits than on whats good for the people, or even what is ethical.  Government agencies are being run by people who hold stock in companies they are supposed to keep in check.  The government today is extremely corrupt, and it is mainly being run by the baby boomers, so yes they would be blamed for being the “entitled generation”.

I disagree though because I honestly believe that it has nothing to do with generations and everything to do with accessibility.  I think the author of this article forgot to look at history, as most people do.  I think we can, based on the assumptions of the article, completely predict what is going to happen in the next 50 years or so.  How can we predict, because history repeats itself.  The ideas proposed by the millennials aren’t new ideas.  In fact many of them are taken directly from the baby boomers when they were that age.  Look at the counterculture of the 1960’s.  Instead of gaining momentum from the Civil Rights movement we have the LGBT movement.  Instead of the Vietnam War we have the War on Terror.  Women’s Rights are making a comeback.  Take a second look at the hippie and bohemian lifestyle.  The farm, Haight Ashbury, communes.  We now have the tiny house movement, co-op farming, even the communes are making a comeback.  These ideas aren’t new.  Focusing on alternative energy, getting ourselves away from under the corporate thumb, even the Occupy movement isn’t a new idea.

If these ideas were shared by the generation that we are now claiming are “entitled” and doing the same things they were fighting against, what went wrong and how can we prevent it?

I think the problem comes in with how America is set up and how forgetful we are.  In the 1960’s as in today The younger generation was upset with the focus on material possessions that the older generation was focused on.  In both instances there is a huge push to separate ourselves from material possessions.  The problem comes in where as the dissatisfied generation grows up the opportunities that were denied to them by the older generation now becomes available.  They are now in charge of companies, the government, have the ability to make the money they didn’t have access to before.  Now all the material possessions they couldn’t have before are available to them.  Greed sets in.  The article even says “More than any other generation, we eschew expensive possessions like cars and large houses, opting instead for bikes and shared living spaces. Sure, we would like to own all that fancy stuff someday, but we realize that we can’t have everything we want.” Two things about this: 1) l think the baby boomers shunned these material possessions just as much when they were the same age. and 2) Even the author is admitting that if they did have the resources they would “own all that fancy stuff one day”.  Thus becoming their parent’s generation.  To truly fix the system, to truly be a generation that will “make the “hard” choices the baby boomers have refused to make.” we have to first stop WANTING these things.  We can’t complain about the older generation being “entitled” just because they have the things that we want.  Nothing will change if this is the case.  To truly make a difference, to truly make a real change we have to finally put what is right for our country above money and material possessions, and i don’t think this generation gets it either.

Living in fear

There is something that people don’t realize about being on the edge of poverty.  You live in constant fear of your bank account.  You check it when you wake up, you check it throughout the day, you check it before you go to bed, just in case.  Every text message, every email, could be an overdraft notification.  The problem with living on the edge of poverty is that you have the occasional reassurance that you have money so you can sign up for things that only work on a monthly bank withdrawal.  You have that thought of “of course i will have $8 by this time next month, $50 a year from now, that can happen.  The problem is that by the time it does happen you 1) don’t always remember and 2) don’t always have the money.

This fear can be completely debilitating.  It makes you not want to get out of bed, not want to go out in public.  You hoard money away so that you have cash “just in case”.  You know exactly what time you have to deposit or transfer money in order for it to count for that day so you don’t get an overdraft.  You try desperately hard to not let people know how little you have.   It’s by far the worst place to be.  It’s very hard to get out of it.

We are finally on our way out.  saving this money, buying this land, moving, C getting a new job, it’s all helping us come out of this.  In fact, as long as everything goes as planned (famous last words), this should hopefully be the last month of this.  Today i looked at our accounts and they all had money in them.  I know we have bills to pay, I know we have no clue when C will get his first paycheck, I know that we aren’t out of the woods, but for once in a really long time our accounts have over $100 in them, each, not combined.  Yet I still can’t breath.  I still feel like the bottom is going to fall out, and it still may.  We are still waiting to see if C gets an unemployment check for December, we are still waiting to see on a lot of things.

I want you to realize though that it’s not easy.  Please don’t dismiss the struggle.  Don’t talk about how lazy poor people are, or how people just want the easy way out.  That may be true for a few, but it certainly isn’t true for most.  We don’t want to be here.  So stop your judgements, stop your preconceived prejudices, stop looking down on us from your high towers and help.

What life means to me

It seems that as we get closer and closer to our goal I realize more and more about what we are doing and why we are doing it.  At first it started out as us wanting to finally be self sufficient.  We are at a place in our lives where we can’t be living like this anymore.  We can’t be living paycheck to paycheck praying that we can feed our children, pay for gas, or constantly asking people to help us with things.  I FEEL like I am taking advantage of people.  Whether or not I actually AM isn’t the point, I feel like I am and I don’t like it.  We should be helping others more than asking others for help.  I’m not saying we should never ask for help, that’s silly.  Everybody needs help at one point or another, it’s the fact that I feel like I am constantly asking for help that upsets me.

During this process we made the decision that we were going to use our resources to help others become more self sufficient and confident in themselves.  We know how it feels to be in that situation.  How tiring it is, how down on yourself you get, and how hard it is to get out of it.  We want to show people how they can.  We want to have excess food to give to people, we want to teach people how to cut down on their monthly spending, become better members of the global society, and we want to give away our excess income to aid others.  This is something we are very passionate about.

One thing we don’t want to do is boast about it.  I honestly believe that real charity asks for no praise.  Most of the charity we do is anonymous,  It’s between us and God.  Nobody else has to know, in fact most times I never see the response to my charity.  There is a part of me that wants to, but I know it’s best for me if I don’t.

The sermon at church today was about just this, which is what has spawned my post today.  One of the things he brought up was that it’s ok to consider ourselves saints.  We have such a stigma on the term “saint” from the Catholic church, but (if I have this right), we are actually saints in that we are sanctified by Jesus.  As much as I may agree with this sentiment I will consider myself sanctified but I know myself better than to consider myself a saint.  Not that I am not a saint, because by this definition I am, but because once I start to consider myself a saint I will start to think more highly of myself than I should.  I do not want to put my actions on a pedestal, I do not want to mentally pat myself on the back for doing good, or boast about my actions to others.  I know that I need to separate myself from this in order to remain humble.  I do these things because I am no better than anybody else.

He also spoke about our own personal ministry.  How we minister to other people.  To me, this project is my ministry.  Now don’t get me wrong, C does not share my religious ideas, this isn’t a “we are going to make you feel uncomfortable if you don’t share our religious beliefs” kind of project.  Not in the least.  C is agnostic, I was a Buddhist for 11 years, some of my family is Muslim, we have friends of every religion, we love everyone.  Am i going to hide my religion from you to make you feel comfortable? No.  Am I going to push it on you and tell you that you are going to hell for not believing in Jesus, or that you don’t deserve my love?  Never, that’s absurd.  Before i converted to Christianity someone from my old church, while trying to convert me, asked me how I will feel when my son comes to me someday and asks me why i’m ok with going to hell.  my response was 2 fold: 1) Buddhists don’t believe in hell and 2) No child of mine will ever tell another person that they are going to hell.  No matter what religion they chose it is their job to love other people, leave the judgement up to God.  I still strongly believe in the later.  I also believe that Buddhists don’t believe in hell, but I’m not a Buddhist anymore.

There are 2 things I will not hide from you.  The first is that my love comes from Jesus.  I love you as Jesus loves me.  The second is that no matter what religion you are, or non religion, I feel it’s important to find people that keep you grounded.  For years I went to church even though I wasn’t a Christian because it kept me closer to the person I wanted to be.  I reminded me that I am not perfect and that I needed to put others before myself.  Without it I become selfish and egocentric.  I lose my peace, and I don’t like myself.  I urge you to find people to talk to, find a place to worship, find what makes you a better you.

We want to help others find their peace.  It’s so easy to become caught up in the craziness and constant hurry of life but there is so much more to life than that.  We need to step back and find what makes us happy, what helps us breath.  That to me is life.

It’s not about you

I know I have mentioned this before, but I get frustrated at people very easily.  It’s a huge flaw, a giant flaw, a flaw that I really try to work on.  As I try and work through this flaw of mine I have come to realize that I get frustrated at the selfishness of other people.  I just want to yell at people, “it’s not about you”.  The world isn’t about us.  I know its easiest to put ourselves first in this world, but when you think about it we are a blip, each and every person is just a tiny blip in the history of the world.  We should be striving to make the world better instead of trying to make the world serve us.

Don’t get me wrong, i am no saint, i am far far from being  saint.  I am not perfect.  I will never claim to be perfect.  I made a realization a long time ago that I could never be happy if I continued to think I was the center of the world.  I searched a lot for the peace that I felt I needed to be happy and in that search I found the teaching of Buddhism.  I am now a Christian, I have been for about three years, but I still cling to many of the Buddhist philosophies that are actually the philosophies of many religions that have been forgotten or passed over.  The thing that really struck me was that in order to be at peace you need to put others first.  I learned to ask several very important questions, like how are my actions effecting those around me?  Will my actions hurt those around me or hurt myself? is what i want congruent with what is best for the world?  Will I be hurting the Earth? Questions like that.  My answers always came in the form of this; if my actions are hurting myself or my environment then i need to change them, if they are hurting myself then i need to find an alternative that does not hurt others, or perform those actions and take the suffering myself.   It is not in my power to decide that someone else should suffer for my own well being.  I apologize when i have wronged others despite my own pride, and that hurts.  Going against your own pride is very painful.  It’s also cathartic.  The one that I have not been able to get past though is not expecting things from others, or not being upset when others disappoint me,  I think this is where my frustration towards others comes in.  I think I expect everyone to ask themselves these same questions and come up with these same answers.

How has my life changed because of this? I try to be very careful about the things I say about other people.  Do i succumb to mindless gossip?  Oh heck ya.  There are people who annoy the crap out of me and I would love nothing more than to tell everyone about why I don’t like those people, but I know better than that.  I also know that if i did I would have to apologize to them at some point, so I keep those thoughts to myself because I am not ready for that.

I also have dietary restrictions.  They aren’t life threatening, I don’ have an allergy, i will not end up in the hospital, so when I am with other people and they are offering their hospitality in the form of food I forgo my dietary restrictions for their own comfort.  I get upset when I spend time and energy on meals for other people only to have them not eat it for various reasons, I know how much it hurts me and I would never wish that on another person.  I follow my dietary restrictions when i am home but I will never force them on another person.  When people come to my house though they can be sure that 99% of what they are eating is preservative free.

I have very strong beliefs on how the world should work, and how other people should treat each other.  I believe that you should care about yourself and what you put on or in your body.  I do not believe that your own personal beliefs should cause harm to those around you.  A fellow business person caused me to lose quite a few of my clients over a personal belief that she had which she chose to share publicly, not even considering how it would effect my business.  Due to her actions I chose not to purchase from her business.  Do i tell others not to?  No i would never do that.  I know this hurt, I know how it feels for people to take away business and I would never do that to another person, no matter how much I want to.  I also know that someday I will purchase from her again, because I know that it’s what is right, but not while the wound is still fresh.  I don’t need an apology from her, i need to forgo my own hurt pride.

When C started working at his other job, the one that screwed him over, one of the first things he did was get raises for the workers under him because he felt they needed it and deserved it more than him.  They had been there longer and were getting barely over minimum wage.  He could have taken the raise himself, he could have done what other managers have done and take the hours himself and cut his coworkers hours when it got slow, but he didn’t because he knew what was right, and I know that God works things out. if we follow his will and put others first we wont forgo suffering, but He will cover us somehow, and He always has.

Lastly I try to make sure that my own personal beliefs do not damage the environment.  I recycle as much as I can or purchase things in reusable or recyclable containers.  Our family of 4.5 (one is a part time child) produces 1 bag of trash (kitchen bag, not 33 gallon bag) every 2 weeks.  I started looking at our trash and what we were throwing away and realized that I was throwing away a lot of things that could be reusable.  We use cloth diapers for our children.  It takes more energy for me to clean them, but I am not adding to the diaper waste in landfills.  It also only adds an extra $5 of water a month to our bill.  I also don’t wash them in bleach.  I wash everything in a washing soda, borax, and dawn mixture.  It is amazing.  My clothes have never been so clean.  I also clean the house with hot water, white vinegar, and dawn.  We haven’t bought paper towels in over 2 years.  I have a stack of small washcloths I use to clean with.  I also have a stack of softer washcloths i use for baby wipes that i wash with the diapers.  Our milk comes in glass jars, i typically don’t put vegetables in the plastic bags at the grocery store unless they are small and i have to.  We buy very little packaged food and what we do buy the packages are recyclable.  We compost everything that we can, including our Christmas tree once we take it down.

This is where my annoyance for others come in.  I know it’s wrong, I know it’s actually selfish of me to feel this way, but it gets me so aggravated.  I have my personal beliefs, and they are my personal beliefs.  I frustrates me when I watch other people say they share in those beliefs but they do it in a selfish way.  They force others to compensate for those beliefs, they make others feel inferior for not sharing those beliefs, or they only follow the beliefs that directly pertain to themselves and their own well being.  I want to tell them that they missed the point.  it’s not about you.  it’s never about you.  It’s about doing what’s best for the world around you.  You can’t say you love others and in the same conversation put them down or make them feel inferior. it’s a half-assed attempt to do what you know is right.  Have faith that if you do what is right things will still work out in the end.  It will at least bring you peace.

Change the world?

My sister-in-law posed a very interesting question today.  She asked if it was easier, “to change myself to better fit into the world or to change the world to fit me?”.  Which started a really interesting conversation.  My response was “The easiest way to change the world is to change yourself first. To be an example to others and not falter in that when pushed the other way.”  It really got me thinking.

I think it is completely possible for people to change.  Not only to change but to change in major ways in fairly short periods of time.  I think in order to do so the person needs to, either willingly or unknowingly, change their belief system.   With me it happened when I had an experience which made me realize my own mortality.  I have also seen people change from taking a class, going on mission trips, volunteering, or in general doing something that causes them to see their world in a different way.

My epiphany made me realize that I had to stop being selfish.  I had to stop thinking that the world owes me something.  If I wanted to be happy I would have to make that happiness myself instead of blaming everything else around me for not being happy.  I think it’s an essential part of life to change.  If everyone stayed the same then the world would be a very rigid and unfriendly place.

I also believe that changing for the better and sharing that change with others, being an example, can start a change in the world.  One person cannot change the world, but all you really need to do to start a change is make a difference in one persons life.  Help that person see their world differently.  If I honestly didn’t believe that people, or the world, could change I wouldn’t be doing this project.  This isn’t just a selfish endeavor.  I don’t want us to build this property and not share this lifestyle with others.  I want show people how they can break this cycle of consumerism and debt.  I realize that most people aren’t going to change because of our project, but if we can make a difference to one other person, if we can help one other person become self sufficient and reduce stress, it’s totally worth it to me.