Re-evaluating my life is something I do from time to time. I have a pretty clear vision of how I want to live, and there are a lot of facets of modern American life that I abhor and don’t want to be a part of. Unfortunately, I live in the suburbs, right smack in the heart of the consumerist culture that I hate. Every now and then I have to look at my life and see where I’ve let that culture seep in.
Two of my biggest issues with American culture are mindless consumption and industrial food production. Everywhere I look people are going into debt to buy things they don’t need, making themselves slaves to the system. They get very little satisfaction out of what they buy, because new and better things are constantly being offered. Our whole economy is built on discontent. My decision to have less stuff is a purposeful rejection of that mindset. I shop at Goodwill if I shop at all, and I try to only buy things that I really need. I don’t ever go shopping as a past-time. If I walk into a retail store, I need something specific.
The area I really fail in is food. I am surrounded by grocery stores and fast food, and they are so convenient. Fast food is awful for my family, and I know that, but it’s so quick and so cheap. Time is a commodity I don’t always have a lot of, and I succumb to the temptation of cheap and fast food, even though I know better. Industrial food production is miserable for the animals and damaging to the environment. When I see myself popping into Wendy’s for cheap kids’ meals, I know it’s time to re-evaluate.
The issue for me is always time. I try to cram too much into one day, and food preparation gets set aside for other things. I don’t want to take the time to shop for and prepare a good meal, so we end up at Wendy’s. I really am a Type A person trying to live a slow life. My natural tendency is toward busy-ness and production, but that feeling of accomplishment of tasks means I sacrificed feeding my family wholesome food.
I need to force myself to slow down. In the past few months, my kids and I have been on the go a lot. We’ve had outdoor adventures all over Georgia and Florida, but we need to slow down. I need to re-focus on the simple tasks of feeding my family, educating my kids and taking care of my home. We’ve been out of town a lot, but it’s time to settle down again.
I have a strong desire to get out and have adventures in nature, but I think that comes from a fundamental discontent with my living situation. My soul feels stifled in the suburbs. I look off my back porch and see five of my neighbors’ back porches. I have a big lawn (a food desert for bees) and a small garden. You might say, “Well, why don’t you make a bigger garden and get chickens or something?” Because I have horrendously restrictive HOA’s in my neighborhood, and my husband does not want to turn his precious lawn into a food garden. It irks me to no end.
If I lived closer to the land, on a big piece of property where I could have my horses out back and a big garden, I think my desire to camp and get away into nature would diminish. My home would be a place that fed my soul, and I would have no need to leave it.
That’s my big goal, to get out of the suburbs onto a piece of land. That’s been my goal for years, but my husband wasn’t on board. The economy has improved enough to where we could make money on our house, and he’s finally agreed to start looking at houses with acreage. (Halle-flippin’- leujah!) I have my doubts as to whether this will actually happen, but I can dream.
In the meantime though, I need to slow down and re-focus, and to be as content as possible with the house I already have. I’ve found in the past that when I’m discontent, the best thing to do is be thankful for what I already have and work on improving it. I live in a home that some people aspire to; it just isn’t my thing. I want rolling pastures and an old barn. I may never get it, so I may as well do the best I can with my suburban yard. The alternative is to sit around and be miserable.
It’s summertime and my tiny garden is producing squash, tomatoes and fresh basil, and we have a watermelon the size of a marble. I am seriously considering getting two chickens even though they violate my HOA. I am pretty sure I could hide them in my backyard behind the trees. Husband says I’m insane. I told him he better move me to the country quick, or else I’m going to turn the suburbs into the country.