I really love sushi, especially…

I got that tattoo I wanted. It’s funny. It’s so meaningful to me, and yet I haven’t been inclined to really discuss it with people who have asked. I just tell them I’d wanted it for a while and that it’s pretty and I’ve always liked the tree of life and all that, which is true of course… I guess it’s just that it’s more personal than I knew. I mean, obviously it’s there to be seen, as well, but having gotten it I feel like it’s just sinking in and I’ve yet to realize what it fully means to me yet. In some ways it felt like I’d taken some kind of a plunge into the deep. Especially while I was getting it, I kept thinking "This is it, I’m serious about this now, there’s no turning back…" It felt like I was making a promise to myself.

I attribute this image, now scarred forever into my skin, as being symbolic of my dedication to the natural world, to love and to truth, to those around me (both human and nonhuman), and to my very spirit. I can no longer stand by and watch as our home and our bodies are poisoned and not do my best to stop it. I mean, so many people just watch from the sidelines, scared and abused so long that they can’t even mobilize and get themselves out, let alone stop feeding the monster. I will not be one to forget, and I won’t be one to do nothing. That’s what this means to me. It means I’m in for a great deal of change… I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t just the tiniest bit uneasy about it all, but I know in my heart it’s the right thing.


Jeff and I had a talk recently about family size. I have always really admired and loved bigger families that I’ve known, and so I had this vision of having half a dozen kids or something, and we’d all live busily and happily and have a very large eating table and a warm house and… yeah. We both come from families with 4 kids in them, so we thought that sounded reasonable. As we grow in this way of life, though, the harder it is to justify that choice. We are just too many in number, us humans. Really it’s not about number, it’s about consumption. But we can’t seem to get a handle on that, we are killing the planet, and I truly believe there are just too many of us. I decided that three kids was a good compromise, and we talked about how if all the environmentalists stop raising kids then who are we left with, and so on. Then Jeff and I had a tough talk about it and finally settled on two. Two kids. We’ll live simply and hopefully find a way to be self-sustaining (or as close as we can be) and pass on those skills to our kids . Who knows what the future will bring, but we have control over this aspect of our lives, and it’s just… seeming right.
I got to thinking about why I saw this decision as being a bit of a loss, and it’s been enlightening. I realized why I love big families so much, and it’s because they were living so naturally together- working side by side, sharing all that they had. I think kids that had many siblings had many advantages in terms of learning about the value of simple work, sharing, interdependence, the list goes on and on. The families I knew were so beautiful together. I realized that I don’t have to birth many children to have this- I can find that community all around me. My instincts in this area are good, I just have to figure out how to fulfill those needs for community in different ways. I think this will be good.

Giving birth was the most primal, natural, powerful thing I’ve ever done. It connected me to life in a new way, and now I’m always trying to see that truth in other things, trying to remember that feeling. It actually doesn’t take much to find it, it’s everywhere. It’s lead me down this very distinct path, one that I am excited about and welcome, but is not entirely within my comfort zone. It’s scary in some ways, but I also trust it. Just like giving birth was a little scary (mostly because of the unknown, really), it was also empowering and enlightening. I’m starting to think that returning to truth is this way, too. It’s rocking my whole foundation- we’re so good at pretending we aren’t the animals that we are, that we can modify and fix ourselves- to eliminate pain and suffering and outsource all of our needs so that we are just civilized echos of what we used to be. But I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that gets us where we need to and really want to be.

If we follow a path of love then we most certainly open ourselves up to the potential for great pain. I think these two things exist side by side. The deeper I love those around me, the harder it will hurt when/if they leave me. It’s just science, really. I’ve been meditating on this when I contemplate making these changes in my life. Some of it is uncomfortable to realize. I have to let go of my dependency on things that really (seem to) make me happy. One of the most obvious examples is the food that we eat. We were only eating vegetarian/fish when we went out to eat, because of the obvious reasons (factory farming and tortured animals and all that…), but then we realized that’s not good enough. We realized that the fishing industry is enormously harmful, even if the fish aren’t tortured in an obvious way. It’s damage to the oceans and underwater ecosystems is catastrophic, and we will soon see the damage in our everyday lives. Then we thought about tofu/veggie options, and it’s the same. Industrial agriculture is unbelievable harmful. Pesticides, herbicides, water usage, industrial runoff into the groundwater, the decimation of natural habitats, all of it. This all comes at a horrible cost. So for a little while we went out and ate what we wanted (inexcusably, really, we just felt limp about it). Now we have to fully address it. There are a few restaurants around that serve food that we can eat, but mostly we have to eat in. We did mostly anyway, but I will miss things. I’ll miss sushi. I’ll miss coffee. I’ll miss chocolate. I’ll miss convenience. I’ll miss pretending it was okay.
This is not without it’s "painful" side effects. But I’m counting on that pendulum swing- I’m counting on realizing the love on the other side of all this uncomfortable change. I’m already realizing some of it, and that helps give me momentum. Clearing my conscience is a good start. We’re healthier for these changes, certainly. We’re connecting with ourselves and each other in a way that we never have before. Jeff and I are way closer and more intimate (somewhat unexpectedly) due to these changes. That encourages me, it’s already some of the fruit of our efforts. It starts with taking a chance, though. Diving in, making the commitment. I realize I’ve only just begun. So that’s my project these days. I’m trying to be honest.

Quote of the day:

"And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields."  (Kahlil Gibran)

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (34)

  1. unicorntapestry

    Tattoos, kids (and sustainability)

    Beautiful tattoo, and so thoroughly you. I love it.

    Kids. I once remember thinking about how having kids seemed irresponsible because of population issues, and then thinking that adoption seemed a genuine solution. I mean, within our own country and elsewhere, there are so many needy kids on one end of the spectrum and so many adults who have the means to provide for them (physically, emotionally, etc.) on the other end. It seems to me that these two ends should meet. Of course, I also say this in total ignorance of the difficulty of the adoption process and costs and emotional roller coasters. These’re just some thoughts I’ve been turning over in my head that seemed related to what you were saying… Adoption could be how to have many kids (the glorious working chaos) without being irresponsible.

    Reply
    1. afistinthefrill

      Re: Tattoos, kids (and sustainability)

      i didn’t even think of it, but i completely agree. adoption could be a wonderful choice for you and jeff. you have a nurturing, amazing heart and could raise many kids to live sustainably and wisely without necessarily increasing the existing population 🙂

      Reply
      1. cknk

        Re: Tattoos, kids (and sustainability)

        Except that most adoption doesn’t work that way.

        Fostering children, adopting older children or sibling sets… those can provide a large family without increasing the population. But adopting a young child or infant… it doesn’t work that way.

        The mothers I’ve talked to, who gave up children for adoption, regretted it. They went on to search for their children, dream of them, and to keep trying to have children in order to try to fill that “missing” part of them.

        There are not a lot of real orphans in the world. Almost 1 in 100 Guatamalan babies get sent to be adopted in the USA, because Americans think that they can “save” a child that way. It doesn’t work there either. There are horrible crime rings there snatching babies to sell to Americans. The Americans are told the child is an orphan or some other sob story. The problem is so bad, that the Guatamalan government tries to require any child given up for adoption to have a DNA test to prove that the person giving the child up is the child’s mother. So real orphans can’t be adopted (except through corruption, that is rife) and the problem hasn’t stopped the corrupt orphanages from hiring corrupt doctors to falsify the results.

        In India people are told that their child is going to a boarding school, and that the child will be able to come home, and then the child is taken away and sold to rich foreigners who want to adopt.

        In China girl children are stolen off the streets to be sold to people who want to rescue a girl child.

        Russian orphans aren’t (or at least weren’t, a few years ago… I don’t know if it has changed) allowed out of the country unless several Russian families have already rejected the child, so you’ve got a pretty good chance that you’re going to get a very severely disabled child (which is fine if you’re prepared and ready to deal with the situation) or that the child comes from a crime ring that’s breaking the rules. So many Russian children who have been adopted into the USA were abused by their adopters that Russia has been raising the issue and complaining.

        Really… there are not hords of orphans out there. There are impoverished people whose children can be coerced away or taken with the promise that they’ll be given a better life (and the loving parents will sometimes agree because to do otherwise would be horribly selfish of them) but taking a child from them doesn’t solve anything.

        Reply
        1. stupidfool

          Re: Tattoos, kids (and sustainability)

          that’s what i was thinking, actually, as i read this–when you were talking about big families, i immediately thought of the most loving, amazing, BIG family that i knew growing up… and they were a couple that only had 2 children of their own. they were foster parents, though, from even before their first biological child was born, and over the years, they wound up adopting 3 of the foster children. when i left my hometown, they were working on adopting a 5-year-old that they had fostered since birth (i don’t know what’s happened since). i know that it was chaotic at times, and some kids were in and out, and other kids had some serious problems, but the love and the togetherness in that household was amazing. being at their house (i played soccer with the oldest girl) and feeling that, and then thinking about what a great thing they were doing, and how much they and the kids all gained from that experience, it really left an impact on me.
          it is a huge thing, of course, and it’s not for everybody, but you and jeff remind me a lot of those parents–just calm and loving and very aware of the impact that they can have on the world and on other people, and determined to make the most of it.

          Reply
          1. Gracie (Post author)

            Re: Tattoos, kids (and sustainability)

            That’s such a cool thing to hear about. I think I should probably seek out those households and get a feel for how people do it and what their struggles/triumphs are. I think that we should give it some more thought, regardless. Thanks for this comment.

            Oh, and because I thought that you might be interested, we’re talking about going ahead with the cloth wipes. We started to phase it in, but then just got distracted and didn’t completely convert. We also had loads of guests and we just didn’t do it. Anyway, we’re getting re-motivated for it, so yeah. I’ll let you know how it’s working out if you’re still interested. haha. 🙂

        2. Gracie (Post author)

          Re: Tattoos, kids (and sustainability)

          Thanks for posting this comment. I hear the adoption argument a lot from like-minded friends and it’s sometimes hard to explain why we don’t feel like it’s a good idea. We also don’t (and won’t) make enough money to adopt, even if we did think it was an okay thing to do.

          The other issues that I have with it are those that have to do with my inability to give an adoptive child the cultural nourishment that they deserve. For example, I’m white and relatively educated, and were I to adopt a child of color- while all the love and education and physical needs would be well taken care of- I would have no idea how to relate to their issues regarding being a minority and dealing with the disadvantages that just come with it. I would of course try to do right by them, but it would be terribly presumptuous of me to assume I could adequately provide for them in this way. I also would feel responsible for giving them opportunities to get in touch with their heritage, and I would just not be able to do as good a job as someone who shares it. This is a particularly difficult point to make, as most people think that a loving home should be enough. If I’m honest, I think that these things matter. Perhaps they don’t matter enough to sway me from adoption, but they have to be a factor in our decision about it. I’ve known of all sorts of adopted kids who deal with discrimination and abuse and had families who did nothing to educate them about where they came from, and it’s just complicated. It’s far more complicated than a yay-loving-home-everything-will-be-happy-now.

          I also struggle with (if I’m really honest) knowing if I would feel the same loyalty to a non-biological child than I would to Vera. I’d like to think I would, but I’m not sure. I just don’t know. And I figure, when it comes to something like this, I should be unfailingly honest with myself. I think lots of people feel this way, and it’s probably fairly natural, but I think a lot of adoptive children suffer for it.

          Anyway. 🙂

          Reply
    2. Gracie (Post author)

      Re: Tattoos, kids (and sustainability)

      Yay! I’m so glad you like it!

      On the adoption front- I’d have to say that I agree with cknk on all of it. It’s a really corrupt industry, so were we to adopt it would most certainly be in-country. I’ve thought about foster care as an avenue for that, but ultimately that’s a huge commitment, and it’s one that I’m not sure we’re willing to make considering the grief that can sometimes go along with it. I also have to think about the impact it will make on Vera. I plan to talk to some friends who have fostered and adopted two kids to see what their experience has been. Thanks for the suggestion! If we were to take in non-biological children we’d have to really think hard about it and examine our feelings. At this point, I’m more inclined to nurture the community already around me so that we are surrounded by people anyway.

      🙂

      Reply
      1. unicorntapestry

        Re: Tattoos, kids (and sustainability)

        Corrupt adoption makes me sad. But nurturing the community around you, which I know you already do, will also create at least a kind of the working chaos big families have. You have a gift for hospitality and sharing what you have. I know because I am so often a recipient of it! 🙂 I expect that in a few years, when Vera’s older, your house will be the one all the parents call to find their kids. Either that, or the parents will already be over, drinking tea with you and sharing gardening tips.

        Reply
        1. unicorntapestry

          Re: Tattoos, kids (and sustainability)

          Man, now I wish I was at your house making something like sic pieces of toast and talking of everything and nothing…

          Reply
          1. Gracie (Post author)

            Re: Tattoos, kids (and sustainability)

            Aw, one of my favorite things to do!!!

  2. afistinthefrill

    you are so admirable, grace <3 honestly, i just love your journal. and i also LOVE your new tattoo! good for you for making that commitment to yourself.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Thank you! You are so sweet and encouraging. I’ve been meaning to comment on your journal more, but we’ve been pretty busy lately. I’m lucky if I get to catch up on the reading! I’ll do better. 😉

      Reply
  3. ladyfaith3

    That is really a beautiful post. I do disagree on the not having as many children as you want. The earth can support more people but not the industries. I understand and do not condemn anyone for their choice on that. I look forward to being self-sustaining someday. recently I have been looking into GMO products and am shocked, outraged, and concerned for the future. It isn’t families that are really killing the planet it’s greed.

    I think your tatoo is beautiful, makes me want one too! I have always considered it but never done it. I think its great that you hope to give little Vera a sibling, you will be a lovely family working together and learning together no matter how many you have.

    blessings

    Trish

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I’m interested in your thoughts on this. I don’t particularly have a moral issue with people having as many kids as they want. As it stands, however, I think it’s next to impossible to not feed into the industries and live in our current world. The sad reality is that by living in this country I (unintentionally, of course) am complicit in all sorts of violence to people in other nations. Resource theft and modern-day slavery are an enormous problem and a discouraging reality. I guess my real issue is that the Earth can and IS supporting more people, but at a severe cost, one that I think most people have yet to grasp. This is not a judgment, just something that I feel is a reality. Most people I know are not particularly greedy, and yet totally feed into an incredibly destructive way of life. It’s a way of life that is killing the planet and will ultimately kill (and is killing, currently, just poor people in other nations that we can’t see) many, many more people than it would were we to get our populations under control and learn to live on our own land, sustainably. I would never judge someone else for having more kids, but with the information available to me, it’s been really hard to figure out how to justify it in my life.

      Anyway, if you are open to sharing your thoughts on this subject I’d be really interested.

      Reply
  4. publicansdecoy

    I really like that tattoo.

    -x-

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Hey, thanks! 🙂

      Reply
  5. prophetsong

    Gorgeous tattoo. I really want to post a photo of my new one, which feels all tied in to how I feel about the experiences I’ve gone through over the past 2 years and the joy that parenting Zakary has brought into my life, but I haven’t worked out how to photograph it from the right angle yet. You’re right though, having something that’s intensely personal burnt into your skin is a an incredibly intimate thing.

    I love the choices you make. i feel both humbled and inspired reading your journal. xx

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Oooh I can’t wait to see it! Please post a picture! For what it’s worth, it took quite a few tries to get a picture I was satisfied with. It’s hard to get photos of yourself, I think.

      I love reading your journal, as well. I only wish you would write more!

      Reply
      1. prophetsong

        Thank you! I’ve been practically prolific this week though – 3 posts! 😉

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          I know! I’m just seeing them all!

          Reply
  6. purerandomness

    I think you posted a pic of that tattoo a while back, and I wanted to comment again and tell you how beautiful I think it is. I also love the spot you’ve chosen to have it placed: connecting your body and your brain.

    You inspire me to be better. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Thank you! That’s so cool to hear that people like it, it’s a tattoo that has a bit of a presence, and while I think it’s fabulous, I wondered what people would think (not that it was going to stop me…ha!). Even the tattoo artist made suggestions for how to make it more “feminine”. I stuck to my instincts though, and I’m glad I did. I like what you say about the body connecting to my brain. 🙂

      I can’t tell you how amazing it is to hear that my ramblings do any good out there in cyberland. Sometimes I feel like I won’t make any sense at all. It’s just amazingly gratifying and keeps inspiring me, too. I’d love to meet you in real life, someday, and swoon over your little baby!

      Reply
  7. metalgypsy

    been really enjoying your posts 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      🙂

      How’s your little feeling?

      Reply
  8. kazzibee

    love that tattoo!

    it’s great that you are thinking and acting about all the environmental implications of our modern lives!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Thank you!

      How’s all that dusty dust? Is it gone yet?

      Reply
      1. kazzibee

        yep it’s gone… just the signs of it remain. We had another one come over on Saturday..not as thick as the first.

        i’m not cleaning the house until i see some rain!

        Reply
  9. ardenseye

    You really inspire me Gracie. I was really wanting to hear your take on having more children. I have many of the same concerns that you and Jeff do and we are trying to reconcile them ourselves.

    I know there are so many ways that I can be a better steward of the earth. I am taking baby steps… my newest endeavor is to quit buying brand new clothes. There are some great thrift stores and I cringe when I think how full they are with our our pressure to consume and buy buy buy.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Good for you on becoming a better steward of the earth. It’s a slippery slope, I tell ya! I’d love to hear more about the thoughts you have and the changes you’ll make. It helps to encourage me.

      Jeff and I decided not to buy new a couple of years ago (that goes for everything except things like underwear and lightbulbs), and we were amazed by how little you actually need to buy. There’s so much stuff out there if you know where to look and have a little patience. I also get way cooler stuff/clothes when I have an open mind and am trying to think creatively. 🙂

      Reply
  10. aamour

    i just love your posts 🙂
    YOUR TATTOO IS AMAZING! i love love love it!
    i’ve been wanting a tree tattoo for awhile – but i really want the baobab tree (it grows only in this region of africa)!

    also, i’ve been thinking some of the same thoughts about kids.. as you know, my big family was ahhhhmazing! i love that you and i had that in common as kids because both of our houses were always full of fun people and cool things to do. and just… the noise and business of a family! i really want to have a family just like that someday.. but at the same time, i understand that this world has an awful lot of people in it…
    have you thought of adopting? there are so many kids already out there who are leaving in such poor conditions that would love to have a happy/warm/loving family environment. just a thought.

    <3

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      You should get that tattoo! I remember talking about it a while back- take the leap! You and I seem to have a lot in common, these days, despite the obvious differences… haha.

      I have thought of adopting, you can read my previous comments about it (and the one that my friend cknk wrote on that subject). The other thing that I think about when I think about adopting is that of addressing the real problem. The reason that I think most impoverished nations are impoverished is because of our way of life and the excesses and theft of the first world. So really what kind of a service would I be doing? Wouldn’t it be better to give those people back their resources so they can live together in their families? I have issues with symptom relief- I don’t want to put a bandaid on a big gaping wound, you know? So anyway, that and the reasons listed above, I’m just not sure. I think it’s something that we might do, we’d just have to do it carefully and really thoughtfully, and probably somewhat locally. So I guess, yes, it’s a thought, but it’s not as easy as I once thought.

      Reply
      1. aamour

        I agree and I’m really glad that we have reconnected after all of these years 🙂 You are a wonderful person and I’m thankful for your friendship!

        I totally know what you mean about impovrished nations and ‘helping’ the problem instead of working towards solving it. However, I know that here in my part of the world almost all children are orphaned because their parents have died of aids. The issue is being addressed and countries are helping to drive the funding of programs here.. things are looking up! Botswana even has a program where people are able to receive FREE ARVs! Amazing! But, the orphanages are still packed and children are not getting what they need.. physically, emotionally, educationally… South Africa… Zimbabwe… it’s all the same. Orphanages are packed. I think you could both adopt and help with issues of AIDS at the same time. It’s something to consider… 🙂

        Reply
  11. robinbronwen

    Hi Grace!

    You mentioned that there are few restaurants that serve food that you and Jeff can eat. I’m curious as to what exactly you can eat and what you can’t eat and for what reasons. I mean, I know you must have good reasons. 🙂 I just would like to know more about it in depth. Have you ever put your thoughts on food in writing? Do you have a mission statement of some sort? I would like to know more! No coffee? No chocolate? There must be a good reason to go without!! What are some examples of what you buy when you do go to a store or a food co-op? Uh oh…. I just asked you to write a whole new entry, didn’t I? Ooops. 🙂 I bet there are a lot of your journal followers that would like to know exactly what you do and do not believe in and what books you have read to reach your conclusions.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yes. I will write a whole entry about this stuff (er, maybe a couple…). I’m glad that there’s some interest in it! It’ll be good for me, actually, to organize my thoughts on it and document it all. Maybe I’ll be able to track my growth this way. I did write one entry on food here: http://gracified.livejournal.com/128155.html, if you’re interested, although I guess it’s not as related to what you’re asking (but it is a little).

      Reply

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