Wisdom from Jeff

2013 kicked my butt. I'm glad to have a year here and there that does that, really. It certainly puts many things into perspective. One of the things that stuck with me over the past year was something that Jeff kept saying over and over amidst the frenzy of activity and constant new developments. He questioned practically every new thing that came our way, and at times I felt him to be quite the nay-sayer. But that wasn't his motive, I now see. Anyway, he kept saying "We should be living the life we want right now."

I think often he said it out of fear that we were moving too fast and missing the opportunities to spend time together. An example was losing most of our free time to starting our farm business. The motive was good, being that if we got our business really going we'd have more time together doing the things we love… later. There was often that kind of conflict in our thinking- reaching for what we could have rather than seeing and indulging in what was already available to us.

This coming year gives us a lot of opportunity to do exactly that. My resolution is not so much for anything in particular, although this year has some big things in store for us. I want to make goals, but not to attach all my energy and happiness to them. I want to keep my sense of well-being and happiness in the present. I am feeling more and more that positive change and movement comes from the doing rather than the thinking. Or really, that through the good doing comes the good thinking, not the other way around.

All that said, I have 3 concrete goals for this year, and I sort of think the rest will fall into place.

1. Do yoga every day. Yoga is becoming this beautiful thing that brings me happiness and strength and is getting me better in touch with my spiritual life. Its philosophy blends physical/emotional/spiritual well-being, and it makes me feel so balanced and peaceful. Enough said, really. So my action is to just do it, at least a little, every single day.

2. Turn off the screens. Jeff and I listened to a podcast together recently about how our relationships are more and more with machines rather than people/real life. It went far more in depth, but my main point is that it was an eye-opening talk. Jeff and I have done loads of thinking about the destructive aspects of technology, so it was interesting to be challenged more on the subject. I also feel like there is a great imbalance of energy, which bothers me. I feel like the whole universe is a balance and an exchange of energy, and I see our lifestyles being more and more consumptive and less and less productive. This is somewhat obvious on the material level. What if this is also true on an intellectual level? What if the information we receive is meant to go through that very same balanced exchange of energy? Think about it. I feel like everything today gets put out in this cloud of information that we all absorb and yet we don't put it back out there in any tangible way.

Anyway, I'm still marinating in this new philosophy and I'll likely have more reflections for you soon. I also do see the positives and don't feel comfortable just giving it all up. Not only that, but I think we'd fail if we tried to be too rigid about it. So, Jeff and I have formulated a plan where a router program thingy (very technical, you see…) will lock the internet every day from 10am-7:30pm. This excludes music-streaming websites and this site (so I can have music and write whenever I feel inspired). This will give us time to check email and calendar for the day first thing in the morning. Then in the evening after kids go to bed, Jeff can play a game or I can read blogs or whatever. We're excited about this change because I think we'll adjust quickly and be more connected and peaceful and productive without it for the bulk of our days, but without having to feel like we're out of the loop by giving it up all together. So I guess this change is pretty low maintenance, I just won't have access to the internet for most of the day and we'll see how that goes. Easy!

3. The 4-4-4 plan. This is that old Helen and Scott Nearing philosophy that I so admire. I really want to work towards implementing it this year to see where it brings me. Quoted from the wikipedia page:

"Helen and Scott were devoted to a lifestyle giving importance to work, on the one hand, and contemplation or play, on the other. Ideally, they aimed at a norm that divided most of a day's waking hours into three blocks of four hours: "bread labor" (work directed toward meeting requirements of food, shelter, clothing, needed tools, and such); civic work (doing something of value for their community); and professional pursuits or recreation (for Scott this was frequently economics research, for Helen it was often music – but they both liked to ski, also). They clearly honored manual work, and viewed it as one aspect of the self-development process that they felt life should be.[5]"

I don't know how regimented I want my life to be, but I do like the idea that we could budget our time to be more productive and reflective of our actual diverse interests and gifts. When I think "bread work", I'm going to be looking at my farming and food storage work, even home work like my cleaning and laundry and that kind of thing, etc. When I think about the civic work, I'm sort of just thinking community time. I'll count much of my work out at the treatment center, any community meetings or volunteer work, and also I'll count time spent with my kiddos doing different things around town or reading to them or what have you. Cuz you know, I'm raising some people! I would also count potlucks and things in this category. And then the rest will just be up to me. I care about trying at least a rough version of this approach for a while because I feel certain that Jeff and I can accomplish a lot while doing it, all without burning out or working too hard. With Jeff this just applies to his days off, and only if he wants to, since he works full days. But if he does want to do farm stuff I insist he work no more than 4 hours on it, so it doesn't give us an inaccurate picture of what we can pull off. Helen and Scott Nearing built two amazing homes and various other buildings, grew most of their own food, and ran a business using this method- and that was all in the second half of their lives. They both lived to be about 100 years old. But part of what I love so much about it is the idea that we will build what we can with a 4 hour work day rather than an 8 hour one. The time seems so much better spent. I'll have to take this all one day at a time and see how it goes.

So that's it. I'm not exactly going for any result in particular, just kind of taking a few steps in a new direction. Happy New Year! What are you all doing/changing for 2014?

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