Today is the first day of my holidays and I decided that I would have a ‘home’ day, a day to purposefully stay at home and do things around the house. There is no shortage of opportunities to get things done and while it would be easy just to go out, spend money at the shops, visit people, run around doing jobs, I set out to start the wind-down by staying at home. There were a couple of things I wanted to do outside of the house in the local area, so I decided to challenge myself to have a car-free day. This would ensure I slowed down. One of the twelve permaculture principles is Use Small and Slow Solutions – today was my day for this. I either had to stay home all day from the time I got out of bed to the time I go to sleep again at night, or I had to find another way – walk, bike, bus. For some people this wouldn’t be much of a challenge, but for me life has been so hectic lately, that when I need something I just jump in the car and go – I haven’t had much time to do anything else. Today I had a slow day.
The day started with a small bit of gardening then I spent some time outside watching the veggies grow, discovered that our tomatoes have small green fruit just starting to come. I spent time sitting in the garden with the Gorgeous One, breathing in the cool fresh morning air and observing nature – this was a great way to start the day.
I did leave the house. I walked past a friend’s house to drop off some excess lemons that we had, to the laundromat to wash the cats’ bedding. What amazed me was that there was a big bank of washing machines just sitting there doing nothing which seemed wasteful but then I considered that for every person who uses the laundromat, it was probably a lot less than 1 machine per family which is what most western families enjoy. The local laundromat is a great way to meet locals, some who I probably wouldn’t ordinarly meet, catch up on an old newspaper or puzzle and take timeout.
While the washing was on, we walked to the local supermarket for a couple of essentials that we had run out of, on to the local butcher and post office as well, then we called into the local wellness place and booked a remedial massage. Once that was done we returned to the laundromat, collected the wet washing and took it home to dry.
This whole activity took us around 45 minutes, which isn’t long and we managed to achieve at least 9 things: we shared excess produce, we washed the bedding, we shopped, we collected the mail, we made appointments, we exercised, we spent time with each other, we soaked up some Vitamin D and we enjoyed looking at our neighbours’ gardens flowering in late spring. I could have run around in the car, missed half of these things and it would have taken me just as long.
The most interesting thing about the walk was we had to plan our route and think about all the things we wanted to do before we left, so that we would not double back or have to retrace our steps. It was an interesting challenge to try and do the day car free and I think I will try to have a car free day regularly – just to challenge myself, remind myself that our resources are precious and we can do a lot more under our own steam without the aid of carbon based tools or vehicles.
There are two four letter words which have dominated my life in the past week.
In the media over the last few years I have noticed a new word emerging – you might have seen it too: EOFY. Retailers have EOFY sales and promotions to try and boost their numbers for the End Of the Financial Year. Creative media people come up with these terms which seem, somehow, to stick in our brains and over a couple of years, we start to understand what EOFY means … even though it’s not really a word, but rather an acronym. In my new role, which I blogged about recently I am slave to EOFY. That time of the year when the taxation department decrees that we shall all make account for our financial activities, reconcile our expenses and deductions and balance the ledger.
And so, one week after starting a new role, I am driven by EOFY and all its taxation implications, not just for myself but for over 1000 other people! And the fun does not stop on 30 June. No, in fact that is when the reconciliation begins. And so I have entered the busiest time of the year, not only with the steep learning curve of a new role (thankfully in an organisation that I am familiar with), an increase in working hours and a change agenda to drive, but also with the legislative demands of EOFY. I’m revelling in the challenge of course, and I know I am alive!
In the past week we have also received confirmation that all conditions of the sale of our house have been met – so we have SOLD!
We have sold the house which is the first home we made together, the place where we created our marriage, deepened our relationship, developed shared rituals and made lasting memories. A place where we have laughed and cried, dreamed and reminisced, worked and found rest. We have loved living in this house, but as we consciously move towards a more sustainable life, it no longer meets our needs which have changed since we have become aware of peak oil and its implications. We want a home which is more sustainable – able to take advantage of passive solar principles, a house which has lower embodied energy, a place which is right sized to the type of lifestyle we are building towards.
Two little four letter words changed the shape of my life this week – for the immediate future and the long term future … I’m looking forward to seeing how the adventure unfolds.
This is not meant to be a gloomy blog. Today however, I feel like I am standing on the precipice – looking out to the future, wondering with mixed emotions where it will lead. This was sparked in part by a blog I read today about transition. The person who writes it really focuses on leadership in an organisational sense, but the principles he talks about in terms of transition really could apply to anyone transitioning from one thing to another – perhaps like two people selling up their house in search of a more sustainable life.
He says ‘Transition is the no-man’s-land of “in between” where old hangs on while new is not yet…. New dreams are conceived in a present that isn’t working. Products are outdated. Systems fail.” You can read his blog here.
That’s about where I feel I am at the moment … the old pre-peak oil world is no longer working, the house we loved so much when we bought it, in light of peak oil and resource shortages in many ways doesn’t appeal to us anymore. The growth economy is slowing globally. I’m no economist, but Greece and Spain are obvious indicators of this and even the Australian economy is slowing, reflected by several recent cash interest rate drops in an attempt by the Reserve Bank to stimulate the economy. It wouldn’t need stimulating if it wasn’t slowing! Something isn’t working, systems that we have relied on for many years are failing.
And so our global economy is transitioning to something that perhaps we haven’t known in our lifetimes … and we must change in response too. And that transition can feel a bit like a no-man’s-land when we don’t really know where we will end up. We need to have confidence in our own abilities to adapt and change in response to what is going on around us and the faith to dream of and work towards a better future.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” (Ghandi).
To be doing something about change … to keep moving towards our goals of being more self sufficient and reviewing our lives to be more sustainabe and see where the seas of change take us may help! Knowing that we are doing something can help to deal with all the things we can’t influence that make us feel like we are standing on the precipice.
At least the view is pretty good from the precipice!
They say there are only two things in life which are certain: death and taxes – and probably not in that order! In this millennium, and certainly within this decade, change is, almost unarguably, a certainty too. Whether we like it or not. We often react to change a lot better when we feel like we’ve had a hand in its direction or have instigated the change ourselves. But when change is thrust upon us, sometimes we don’t react nearly as positively. It can take us time to adjust to what the change is bringing or has brought. There are multiple ‘change curves’ out there – just try Googling it… all are attempts to explain the emotions and reactions we experience when going through change. Whether the change is voluntary or not we will experience a range of responses. We read stories of those who have suffered at the hand of change and have not adapted. Charles Darwin was right. Those who do not adapt do not ultimately thrive and those that do not thrive most often, do not survive. So change we must – whether we like it or not.
About 3 years ago I read a book called Choosing Eden, the real dirt on the coming energy crisis by Adrienne Langman which came to me attached to the front cover of a Gardening Australia magazine. It enlightened me to terms like “Peak Oil” which I had never heard of before I read that book. I know, I know, where had I been? I’d been working 50 – 60 hour weeks in mainstream, middle class Australia, relying on the popular media to keep me informed of world events. So, obviously I was not too well informed! I started with Google – after all, where else do you go when you want to know something? And I started to discover that there were plenty of people out in cyberspace talking about Peak Oil and what would happen once we hit that point. I kept Googling – part of me was in denial – what if this was not real? What if it was? Worse, what if I ignored the warning signs?
What was the worst thing that could happen if I responded to this new information? How would I respond? Would my partner respond too? I encouraged him to read the book – another person’s trusted opinion about something can sometimes help you to put new information into perspective. He read it. He felt the same imperative as I did. We had to respond – in a constructive, practical way.
And so we have. And so we will continue to respond to the challenges of Peak Oil, of diminishing global resources, of increasing population growth, of learning to live well on less, of finding a way of treading more lightly on this planet. That’s when this journey was really born … but I’m sure this isn’t where it will end.
If you haven’t read this book, then get your hands on a copy here. I recommend it for ‘starters’ or others who simply need inspiration.
This is my first post. Hopefully it is not the Last Post. (With all respect to those who honourably gave their lives for our freedom.)
I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while, to share my journey into the post-cheap oil world. Life as we know it is changing, whether we like it or not, and my goal is to face the challenges that change will bring and succeed … succeed in finding a new way of life that is sustainable, that treads more softly on this fragile planet and that feeds my soul as well as my family.
I hope my journey with all it’s anticipated learning, adventure,achievements, disappointments and fun can inspire you to embrace the change, challenge the way you interact with our beautiful world and entertain you at times too!
Over the next few posts I’ll explain to you why I felt the need to change, what’s changed so far, why the name of this post is The North Glass, who I am, what I am seeking. Along that path I expect I will be sidetracked, distracted and interrupted by life, so there will probably be posts about things I can’t even imagine yet. That’s life!
So bookmark my blog and stay tuned!