A while ago someone asked me how I’ve changed in this year or so of blogging about my halfpastnormal life.
I think they were hoping for some profound philosophical change, something deeply intense and life-altering. Nope.
I will say that I’ve become more myself. And I’ve made some serious cuts along the way. Cuts to people who don’t support us, cuts to stuff that gets in the way, cuts to stuff that’s not important. Cuts to life, and we’re happier for it. Less is truly more in our world.
I’ve become the person I used to be, before I tried to become the person who pleased people and fit in. Face it, I don’t fit in – imagine an urban and fashionably dressed mom stepping out of an exquisitely decorated home with perfectly coifed kids who have all the stylish stuff they need to get ‘A’s’ at school. Well that is not me.
I’m the mom wearing pyjama pants and a dirty tank top chasing a grubby five year old down a hall with a wet paper towel while cramming various food items into a Spiderman backpack and yelling at the baby to stop biting his sister. Glamour? Style? No way.
I’ve cut out things that make me think the Pottery-Barn-esque life is normal. No magazines, limited TV (well, it’s streamed over the internet), and honestly, we’re too busy for that kind of stuff anyway.
Career-wise, there’ve been a few cuts here. I do what I can do well and easily. Now I focus on stability and flexibility, rather than reaching for the top. Less is clearly more here. And everyone is happier if I’m not working 80 hour weeks.
We’ve made some cuts around our city life too. Mainly, we’re not sticking around too much longer. The parts that do work for us (outdoor living, therapeutic riding and dance) we can find or recreate in Smalltown, Ontario. The parts that don’t (a wacko school system, traffic, and high cost of living) we gladly leave behind to do things differently.
One of my favourite online families is the Unschool Bus, a family that travels around the USA in a converted school bus. They home-school (or bus-school) and for me, are the epitome of the freedom that comes from cutting the stuff of life.
We are not quite there, but for an urban family I think we come close. Some days our family spends the entire day out of our home and on the road, picnicking, hiking, travelling, and wading in creeks. Hubby and I often compare our days of perpetual travel to the Unschool Bus lifestyle.
Recently we had a parking lot picnic. This was not a location chosen for its scenic views, but for sheer convenience. We were miles from home and I had packed a picnic lunch and needed to run into a grocery store for a few things. By the time I had finished in the grocery store it was raining and time for lunch.
Hubby parked the van in vacant section of the parking lot, and we started to prepare lunch. I have become a master of slicing fruit and cheese with my Swiss Army knife, so I had sandwiches assembled in minutes. We opened windows and the tailgate of the van while the kids ate fresh fruit and healthy sandwiches, all for less than the cost of a restaurant meal (and honestly, we don’t have to worry about Baby Dunk’s lack of table manners).
After lunch clean up (tossing garbage and stowing leftovers in coolers with ice) we headed to a local farm for a tractor ride and fresh strawberries. We’ve learned to cut transitions, the cost of living, and the time required to do stuff. Less is truly more.
And I tell this story at the end of a week where we had one minor medical crisis (the Baby broke Hubby’s glasses, and we had to replace them, which required scheduling an eye exam and then buying new glasses) and one not-so minor medical crisis (Little Miss Adorable had a high fever and complained of abdominal pain, which required a trip to the ER). We also had our usual spattering of assorted appointments and the stuff of school and work to fit in.
By the end of this week I could write about how tired and busy we are (which is true). Or I could write about what I remember best, a family picnic and trip to a farm, and fresh strawberries. Which is more important?
Because in this year or so of blogging, we’ve learned to cut out the small stuff, details that drag you down and aren’t really important at the end of the day. Dirty dishes, laundry, chores and the never-ending to-do lists. Instead we focus on the big things – playing in creeks, picking flowers, walking in meadows, playing with farm animals, digging in dirt and rescuing snails – which are really small things that become the big parts of life. And we’ve learned that halfpastnormal is who we are.