A friend of mine mentioned this blog to me the other day, which reminded me that I, er, have one. I have been totally blindsided by virus after virus and generally feeling unwell this pregnancy, which was unexpected. I’m not trying to whinge about it here; I will only say that it’s given me a whole new level of empathy for sufferers of chronic illness. Anyway, there’s only about 5 weeks to go before this baby boy should arrive earthside, after which I will no doubt have a whole new range of physical and mental challenges to whinge about…
So my rate of making things, and writing about them – or writing about anything really – has slowed right down. I have been reading (feet up!), and even sometimes watching movies, which is right outside the norm for me. In fact I was just thinking to myself the other night that I have been tilting much more towards being a consumer than a producer/maker lately. It’s not keeping me up at night, because I know exactly why it is, and I know at some point when I have the energy I will most definitely return to being someone who makes things because it’s more fun than buying them. But it is interesting to observe, and to notice how it feels (lazy, mostly).
Having said that, it means I have had the chance to read some great books, and see some great documentaries. Just last night I finished reading Colin Beavan’s ‘No Impact Man’.
I have a degree in environmental studies and I think I have ignored this book in the past, thinking it wouldn’t have much new to offer me. I shouldn’t be so arrogant. I really enjoyed it, and it has set some cogs turning in my head, thinking about how I can use the privileged position I’m in (in the global scale of things I imagine we – meaning middle class and up Australians – are among the very top percentiles of income earners and probably also of impact producers!) to reduce our footprint while also enabling others to increase theirs as necessary.
Prior to that was Shannon Hayes’ book ‘Radical Homemakers’ which actually DID keep me up at night, my brain was buzzing so much.
The cover is misleading: it’s not really (or at all) about chickens and straw. I can highly recommend it as a companion read to ‘The Wife Drought’ by Annabel Crabb – both deal with the insidious effects of modern life on modern households, although ‘The Wife Drought’ is more of a call of alarm, while ‘Radical Homemakers’ is slanted towards what one can do about the problem. I found it deeply inspiring. More cogs turning.
I also have to mention a documentary I watched about the global fashion and textile industry called ‘The True Cost’. It was one of those things which, having been seen, can never been unseen.
I haven’t bought an item of clothing for anyone in our family since watching it, and I will be thinking very carefully about it when I do. One to watch, if you’re game. I think in the long term it will motivate me to make more of our family’s wardrobe than I currently do, and also to think very carefully about the raw materials I use when I do.
Probably the most significant and most inspiring thing I’ve been reading lately though has been a blog written by a guy who goes by the name of Mr Money Mustache (although I believe his real name might be Pete). The blog is old news to a big chunk of the world – it’s been around since 2011 and has millions of readers – but it wasn’t really on my radar until I listened to this recent episode of The Tim Ferriss Show. I have found it, honestly, life changing. Mr MM retired at the age of 30, without ever earning an insanely high salary or anything, and his family of three live – by all accounts very happily – on something like USD$25,000 a year. It sounds kind of impossible or too good to be true, but all I can say is, read it for yourself and see what you think. It’s really made me consider our spending habits, our degree of outsourcing vs insourcing, and where the source of happiness really lies – if it’s not, as I think most people suspect anyway, in things that can be bought, then where is it? Not coincidentally, both the Beavan book and the Hayes one offer some clues. My current quest is to think more and to learn much more about the question and the answer/s. In the meantime, I’m also trying to get a grip on where and how we spend our money, as a start. Crafting materials purchases have slowed right down, and for good reason (it’s not like I was in danger of running out!).
So all in all, while my feet might have been resting, my mind hasn’t… In a way I feel quite energised, mentally, and ready to make changes. A new baby seems to bring so much new STUFF into the house (or more accurately, so much old stuff that we had happily loaned out but is now back to haunt us), so I’m currently trying to deal with that without resenting it, and find space for the new stuff by clearing some of the old. It feels good.