So, I know, I know, I have been gone for ages. Can I just saw that life got the better of me for a bit? I thought the summer was full and difficult to write about because it seemed to hot to camp and we were too broke for adventure in July. But I had no idea that the fall would turn out to be one of the hardest semesters. Why?
Ha! I thought that having my kids in school was going to make all this space for me and for writing. But life had other plans. The transition to school was very hard on everyone, especially my kiddos. I started teaching an ESL class which was such a lovely addition but took more time than I realized. I ended up, despite all the “time” I was supposed to have, with about 3 hours a week to myself. 3 hours to do chores, write, read, exercise, work (because I also got two new jobs), plan, shop, etc. As you might gather, three hours is not quite enough to do all that.
So I spent the entire semester surviving and trying to refigure out my life and schedule.
And I’m not done! I don’t have it all down perfectly yet.
But Christmas break has done our family so much good. We have seen family, we have slowed down, we have stayed home, and we have loved each other well.
We planned to start off this year with a camping trip because that always makes us feel renewed and refreshed, but I got sick with a stomach bug and that did not feel like ideal camping circumstances. Alas. We are hoping for a redo here soon.
For now, we are settling with playing outside, getting muddy, listening to records while lying on the floor of my room, and lazy times in the hammock when we need a little renewal.
We are also doing some work for renewal. We are cleaning, we are purging, we are starting fresh with less.
We are also beginning the process of lessening our footprint and getting rid of waste. I know that’s what we wanted to start doing in the fall but all the things took all the money and nothing happened. The good news is, you don’t have to do it all at once. In the fall, I switched from disposable cotton balls to washable cotton rounds and attempted making my own laundry detergent. Bad news, making it costs significantly more than buying it so I am still looking for a different solution. We also transitioned some of our plastic wear to glass and changed out my shampoo/conditioner for a more natural option with an earth-friendly bottle. I’m not done figuring out perfect ways for these areas, but it’s a start.
In the new year, we have made the switch from dryer sheets to wool dryer balls and have a system in place for how some things are going to get purchased. We have set an end date for some items. When we run out of X, we will buy an eco-friendly, reusable version next. I think this also allows for some grace. I have been reading Zero Waste Home, which is so good, but even she says you have to find a way to make this work for you without overwhelming your day-to-day.
Also this fall, I was diagnosed with a GI problem that has led to severe dietary limitations. The worst part is that it’s working, so I have to keep doing it – ha. I never realized how emotional it would feel to have to give up so many foods or to feel so isolated at parties. I absolutely dreaded the holidays. I cried off and on heading into Thanksgiving. But, gift of all gifts, people saw me and made space for me.
At Thanksgiving, we headed to my in-law’s house and I was prepared to smile through eating very little and living off deli meat and grapes. But, they prepared for me! There was gluten-free bread, dairy-free butter, and so so many options. The big meal itself was almost entirely gluten and dairy free (FODMAP approved) except for 1 thing (mac n cheese) for which they made me an alternative (Daiya is my happy place). I cannot even express to you in words how loved I felt. I helped cook and clean and really anything I thought I could do because I wanted to show them in return how deeply loved I felt by such a gesture. I was ready to felt isolated and forgotten. Even my brother-in-law, who got special cupcakes for his upcoming birthday, had them made where I could also partake. It was truly overwhelming. We hung out, we did the largest crossword ever, we played with the kids, we talked, and through it all I felt so loved and a big weight of stress was taken away.
I had not realized how stressful food had become for me when I have to leave my house. Such a weight was lifted.
At Christmas, I was so blessed again. My sister and niece have been dealing with food restrictions for years so they were ready to help me. My sister came to Christmas loaded with food I could eat and my mom made efforts to make the meal feel friendly for me. I am a blessed woman.
So here we are in a New Year and I’m hoping it will not just feel different, but be different. We picked our word Retreat in an effort to change the outlook of this year and are already beginning that process. I’ll write more on our word specifically later. With all the craziness of the last few months, we want to stop, slow down, rest, and recharge. We want to get back to what matters. We want less stuff. We want to care for people and the earth. It’ll be less, but also more.
Thanks for reading this novel and for catching up with me.
Happy New Year!