Back on the Path

It’s been so long since I’ve posted here.

I have a problem with goals and dreams. See, I throw myself into them, as a rule, almost to a fault. When I started this blog, and I saw (slight) success when it comes to interest and readership, suddenly I wanted to do ALLTHETHINGS. Everything from scratch, mending, making do, doing with less, all natural, all local. I wanted to turn the blog into a networked business–advertisements, product reviews, classes in the community, affiliate links, obsessing over Facebook likes and shares. ALL. THE. THINGS.

And you know what? I lost the joy for it. I became exhausted. I can’t do it all. I lost my therapeutic outlet, my desire to share my story, stumbles and all. This blog is supposed to be about my path to self-reliance and a more natural, simple life. Turning it into my obsession wasn’t me, and it wasn’t what it was supposed to be about.

In addition, there were struggles and adjustments in our personal lives as a family. My husband was laid off for six months. We both started new jobs. I switched from a part time job to a full time job which was a career change for me. I’m contemplating going back to school. I’m potty training a reluctant three year old. I’ve been reminded that marriage and parenting are really, really difficult jobs, and it’s not always easy navigating the challenges. I simply couldn’t do it all.

Some things I haven’t been as diligent in maintaining. Our finances still need work. I don’t have time to cook at home as often as I would like, and when I am home, I’m too tired to want to do it all from scratch. My house is an unorganized mess and is chaos. I’ve lost almost forty pounds due to a number of factors, but still find myself lacking a true workout regimen. Natural medicine and remedies have frequently given way to conventional treatments, so I’m trying to learn a balance there.

In other ways, I’m meeting goals and making changes. We still support as many small businesses as we can. We buy much of our meat and produce from local farms. I do exercise, even if it isn’t as consistent as it ought to be. We’re renewing our CSA this season. I feel like I am a more patient parent who yells less and tries to understand my little ones more and their motives and feelings. I still use natural skin care products when possible, still try to clean with healthier, less toxic alternatives when able. It’s a balance. I’d rather be consistent with a few things than fail at trying to do it all.

And there are the victories. I have been under the weather for a week or so, and we still managed to go strawberry picking as a family for 45 minutes, and ten pounds of berries later….. These are the moments that matter. It’s the little things and moments that add up to a true lifestyle change, and not obsession and extremism.

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What Falls By the Wayside

So, if you asked me what my goals were as of, say, a year ago, they would have sounded something like this:

–Get out of debt, and spend as little as possible.

–Eat healthier, consume more “real foods” and less processed junk.

–Eat in more and buy take out less often.

–Learn to fix, to mend, to do more from scratch.

–Figure out a cleaning routine and organize all of the chaos that is the clutter in my house.

–Be more patient with my little ones.

–Figure out what I truly believe in (I’m in a bit of a religious/spiritual crisis, if you will).

–Pottytrain my toddler.

Yeah, so these things aren’t going so well.

This wannabe homesteader, do-gooder, “simplify, simplify” sort of mama has gone off the rails a little bit between working more than I am used to with little ones in the home, plus trying to support a husband through a months-long job loss.

“Get out of debt?” Ha. I’m happy that we haven’t accumulated more than a small amount of new debt since the lay-off. In fact, I’m simply content to get the bills paid. And trust me, when we do have a little extra money, that shopping twitch that I have suffered from my whole life turns into a hellacious urge, and I then find myself knowing all of the cashiers at TJ Maxx on a first name basis.

Eating healthier and cooking more meals at home is a joke, too. On one hand, we keep a fair amount of fruits and veggies in house, but it’s simply finding the time, and the energy, to do anything with them. I mean, seriously, do I really want to make pesto from scratch, or slice countless veggies, or cook ANYTHING after a long day at work, when the pizza guy totally delivers?

Fixing things and learning how to do things from scratch? Again, time and energy.

My cleaning and organizational routine is still having our housekeeper on speed dial. That is another expense I have refused to cut.

My patience with my little ones has increased only because I have mastered the art of bribery. See, I’ve always been a big believer in bribes (“bwibery” was one of my son’s first words, and I am NOT kidding), but I find myself offering up Skittles and Peanut Butter M&Ms just to get the adorable little boogers into bed at a halfway decent hour. When in doubt, negotiate–that seems to be this #1 mom’s M.O. of late, and it’s worked, for the most part.

I don’t even know where to begin with spirituality and religion. It’s hard to even find faith in much of anything when your hard working husband was let go from a job he was devoted to for years because of some gluttonous, foolhardy corporation’s bottom line.

And pottytraining my toddler? Let’s just say that bribery doesn’t work with someone who thinks it’s AOK to play in cat litter, who only answers to the siren song of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and who is firmly convinced that the potty is a hat. NOT. GOING. WELL.

And I don’t even know what to say, really, about any of it. I don’t know whether to be frustrated with myself for basically starting our lives over again from scratch (because little in our lives right now is stable or totally secure), or whether to say the hell with it and that this is entirely normal. Someone, somewhere is going to read this and think that these things are just so easy, and even easier to do or learn when your family goes down to one part-time income (“Well, this is the perfect time to learn to do such and such, to figure out how to spend less, etc.”). The thing is, it’s not. Each of those little goals of mine has become all the more difficult. I thought a job loss would propel me to a more simple life by default, but it’s just made everything all that much harder. I’m too tired, too worn out, too stressed, and sometimes, honestly, too apathetic. Feeding the kids Crazy Bread with their pizza dinner, and calling a housekeeper once a week falls into the “pick my battles” realm–is it worth adding more stress to worry about each “mistake” I make, or is it better to eliminate what stress I can, even if it means diving into processed foods and putting aside goals?

One thing I’m doing well in is finding a workout routine. I’ve never been much into formal exercise, even if I have tried repeatedly and failed, but this summer, I’ve found a system, a routine, and a schedule that works for me, and I’m shedding pounds, between that and the lack of appetite (stress related, I’m sure). So there’s one thing I’m doing kinda okay with, in spite of myself.

Everyone’s gotta do one thing well, right?

 

Job Loss

Well, 48 hours ago, I didn’t have any idea or any inclination that my hubby would be losing his job. We’re definitely not where we ever remotely anticipated we would be. His company had been doing lay-offs here and there, but somehow, we always felt “safe,” because his department hadn’t experienced any and seemed viable. You just never know. But, it happened 24 hours ago–our main income, our insurance, everything disappeared. We have options, but when the floor is taken out from under your feet, it’s hard not to find yourself sobbing and shaking and asking why.

We’re starting to look at options, which has its good points (helps us to feel in control of our situation in some small measure, helps us to establish a game plan), but it’s difficult in others (trying to figure out insurance, realizing we might need unemployment or some sort of assistance for a while). I am terrified it will be months, even a year, before he finds another job. To be honest, I have heard from loved ones with good intentions who have told me, “Oh, it’s going to take such a long time for him to find work. There aren’t any jobs out there.” You know, that’s not what we need to hear. I need to look at this as our way out of our financial hole pre-job loss, and that it is our door to a better job and savings if we can find employment for him quickly. Maybe it’s false hope, but if we cave to “you’ll never find a job,” then we WON’T, you know? You don’t win by curling up in a ball in the fetal position on the playing field. 

I don’t know what will come of this. I’m angry. I’m scared. I’m still in shock. I never expected this, not really. At least we have my income from a brand new job, however small it is compared with the wages and the benefits from the job my husband lost. With this situation, we will be forced to change bad habits, will need to work together as a family, will need to assess wants/needs, and we will be wiser, less naive, less foolish. Maybe our family is just an expense that needed cut to a company, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let bad luck and numbers win. Something good has to come from this, somehow.