Monthly Archives: December 2013

14 Projects for 2014

It’s that time of year again! New plans, intentions and goals abound as we transition into the new year. I’m very, very excited for the year ahead as it’s going to be quite a different one. I’m thinking of all the wonderful free time I’ll have (yeah right…I have a toddler) and getting excited about projects and ideas that I’ve been putting off. So, here we go! 14 projects for 2014 (in no particular order).

1. Organize my pantry

It currently looks like this:

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Gah!

2. Take a new yoga class

An Iyengar class to be specific. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a local teacher. I’m excited for new learnings!

3. Re-learn to play my guitar

Ahhhh that poor guitar has been collecting dust for a number of years. 2014 is the year to dust it off.

4. Finish my 2012 & 2013 Family Yearbooks (and get started on 2014…)

In my new, incredibly organized and time rich life (riiiiiight) I’ll work on this monthly to keep up with all the pictures and things we want to document. For now, I have to dig through two years worth of photos (there are a LOT) and get them organized into pretty book form. We use http://www.shutterfly.com for our photo books.

5. Read a really good book (or 10)

The last time I read a book just for fun I was very pregnant. So, at least 19 months ago. I absolutely have to get back to this; reading has always been one of my favorite things to do. There are a few books in the queue on the bookshelf already including the latest by Kahlil Gibran and I have to pick up Malcom Gladwell’s latest.

6. On that note – use my library card!

I have such happy childhood memories of afternoons spent in the library with my mom and siblings. The last time I took Lucy to the library she ran up and down the aisles pulling books and magazines off the shelves and laughing maniacally. I’m sure the calm, peaceful, cozy moments of reading will come, right?

7. Play outside (almost) every day

To have more fun like this:

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and this:

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8. Learn to bake bread

With the help of my fancy new KitchenAid stand mixer (wonderful Christmas present from my wonderful husband).

9. Finish my La Leche League Leadership Application

And then act as a local leader, facilitating mom-to-mom breastfeeding support

10. Compile yoga teacher training materials into a proper manual

We’ve been promising to do this for a while, haven’t we Bobby?

11. Maintain a cash-only budget at home

Eeeek this one’s going to be hard. Good bye credit cards!

12. Add a raised bed to our property

We literally have enough space for one single raised vegetable bed. But we’re going to take full advantage! We should have done this in the fall, but spring will work too. This will be a really fun spring/summer adventure for Lucy (and us!).

13. Take a trip before Lucy turns 2 in May

We’ve got points to burn and a child who’s on the cusp of needing to pay for a seat. Let’s go!

14. Learn to knit…again

Maybe it will hold my attention for longer than 3 weeks this time. I have visions of gorgeous hand-knit baby sweaters and longies dancing in my head.

Well all of that should keep me busy! What do you have planned for 2014? Tell me in the comments.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

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What is Simple Living

One of the very natural by-products of a long-standing yoga practice is the heightening of consciousness in all realms. Many people find themselves adjusting their diet along with their mindset as their understanding of the mind/body/spirit connection continues to broaden. Over the years I’ve found myself moving towards a plant-based diet that focuses on whole foods over anything processed. I’ve become more socially conscious and concerned about my community and the world as a whole. I’ve found myself cringing more and more at the consumerism that is rampant in our lives today and have taken steps towards reducing my reliance on material goods. These were slow changes and slow realizations over the years but 18 months ago when I gave birth to my daughter all of these concepts were suddenly amplified in importance. Now, my mindset and the way I navigate the complexities of modern life will impact my entire family and this sweet little girl that I’m raising. So, if I want to raise a healthy, happy, socially conscious little being I feel compelled to really understand what it is that is important to me. And so, here is my first crack at writing down (and thus, in a way, committing to) the principles of Simple Living that are important to me and my family.

Simple living can mean many things. There is no one way to live simply. What is really exciting is that there are people all over the world right now standing up and defining their own paths of simple living. And so, for your consideration, here are some of the ways that my family is attempting to “pare down” in order to be happier.

For our family simple living means the following:

1. Living within our means. This is the hardest one for two reasons. First of all, we’re programmed to want more, more, more. We’re hard-wired to want what our friends have and what people in magazines and on tv have. We’re marketed to at practically every moment of every day with the sole purpose of convincing us to buy more. Having a child amplifies this 100 fold. The second reason that this principle is the hardest is that it has the most dire consequences if it’s not respected. Our family does not function well when we are in debt, or when income is scarce or uncertain, or when we have things we need or want to do but no plan in place to make it happen. And so, we strive to live within our means. In recent months stress, uncertainty, and busyness have all played a part in us slipping away from our financial plan. To remedy this I’m working on a shiny new 2014 Family Financial Plan using tools from Gail Vaz Oxlade. She has a great budget planning tool on her website.

2. Being in nature / getting back to the Earth. Much of the modern day stuff we surround ourselves with serves as a box over our experience of life. We need to get outdoors to reclaim our sense of simplicity. When we’re indoors we’re bombarded with screens and advertising and stale air and stuff. But when we’re outside surrounded by trees, ocean, air, earth it’s very difficult to need or want anything more. Regular (daily) trips outside are necessary for keeping us connected. And then longer stints of time at the cabin or camping or hiking help to refresh our connection to nature.

3. Choosing happiness. As much as possible my husband and I choose happiness. Being happy is a choice and it’s a practice. You can choose to see the good in the world and to enjoy your experiences for what they are (rarely perfect). You can also choose to make a change when things in your life are not serving your practice of happiness. (I know that this is a very simplistic view. And i know that there are terrible things that happen all the time that make choosing happiness near impossible. I’m talking about in general, most of the time, when life is chugging along in all it’s wonderful and comfortable mediocrity). Choose to be happy, choose to see the good. Rules to live by in the Simple Life.

4. Buying less & buying wisely. In short, this means reducing consumerism and the drive to want more (see point #1 – most of us can’t afford to have everything anyway. And point #2 – get outside instead of filling your house with more stuff. And point #3 – be happy with what you’ve got! ). When we do buy goods and services, we do our best to buy local, sustainable and fair. I have a particular interest in this concept as it relates to food. I buy whole foods (preferably local) and our family avoids processed food most of the time. We planted our first garden this past Spring and hope to grow even more of our own food next year.

5. Increasing self-sufficiency aka knowing how to do stuff. This is last on the list because it’s probably the one that’s newest to our family. Of course, we’ve always known how to do *stuff*. I can create a blog and reconcile a bank statement and organize a schedule of employees and write a business plan. My husband can program high-tech software, operate a highly sophisticated password protection system that ensures nobody (not even his wife) will ever figure out his banking passwords, and keep track of his daily hiking/running/skiing/snowshoeing kilometers in meticulous fashion. But I’m talking about old fashioned *stuff*. We want to know how to do the important day-to-day tasks that keep a household operating. We want to move towards an urban homestead lifestyle (or really, a true homestead away from the urban landscape…but that’s another discussion).  A few things on the “to learn” list: baking bread, making cheese, canning and preserving, growing vegetables, keeping chickens, building structures (greenhouses, sheds) and furniture, sewing, knitting, composting, homeschooling and more. I think of this category as including the tasks that seem at first to be very complex and time consuming but that turn out to make your life more simple in the end. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as learning to do something for yourself that you previously had to pay somebody to do. And of course we’re not alone on this journey – I know many people who’ve recently put in raised beds for growing veggies or are contemplating getting some backyard chickens to produce eggs for their family. And just a couple of weeks ago we drove through downtown St. John’s behind a car with a goat in the backseat! A GOAT! That was a sight. I’m really excited to keep learning about self-sufficiency and to learn from the many wonderful people in our community who have knowledge and wisdom to share.

So that’s it for now. I’m sure we will continue to refine this list. What would you change about this list for your own family? How do you live (or envision living) a more simple life?