Category Archives: Essays

On Self-Reliance

I haven’t been blogging much the past few weeks. Partly because I go through phases of not having much to say, and partly because this not having much to say phase happened to coincide with a having much to do phase.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about self-reliance. The characteristic that drives do-it-yourselfers to get up and do instead of paying someone else to do so. Even if it takes you 10x longer. The characteristic that drives people to do it themselves, when the only other option is to not have it done.

In the past year, I’ve learned to sew (really sew, not the straight lines I used to barely squeek out). I’ve learned to make cereal, yogurt, bread, pizza. I’ve learned to chop my own onions, broccoli, carrot, and garlic instead of buying them already prepared. I’ve learned how to mix up my own tub scrub and toilet cleaner.

I’ve learned these things because this year we’ve had tough choices to make. There hasn’t been enough for everything. But there has been enough.

And I’ve learned that I am enough. For myself, for my husband, for life. I have what it takes.

There are some things that I will be happy when I can pay for someone else to take care of. I’ve never been skilled at pedicures and really miss dry cleaning sometimes. But for a lot of these things, being forced to take care of it myself has really made me wonder why I ever paid for it in the first place. Seriously, do you guys know how easy it is to chop broccoli?? And homemade pizza dough really puts the frozen pizzas to shame. I don’t often miss the meals out much because we enjoy our home cooked dinners even more (but I absolutely miss Friday happy hours).

I do hope I remember these lessons. I hope I can hold on to this self-reliance, even when it is not so completely necessary. And I hope that if I ever get so busy that I don’t have time to chop broccoli, I remember to take a step back and make sure that the things making me so busy are truly worth it.


The Green Machine

While visiting my family today, I walked in on Discovery’s Green channel, with a show on the best “green” homes on the planet. My future sister-in-law voiced the exact thought that was on my mind — all this media attention on their water heaters, cooling systems, expensive solar panels, and you’re still watching people living on expansive tracts of lands in homes so much larger than they need. All of this focus on how they spent money to go “green”, environmental consciousness is just the new trend for those who can afford it. It’s the latest shtick to sell people more stuff.

The harm in this message is that it makes people feel guilty for not doing what is out of their reach. We can’t all buy solar panels, but we can afford CFL’s . We can’t all install ground-air-circulating cooling systems, but we can open our windows and turn on the fans instead of cranking the A/C all the time.

The truth is, a lot of the very things that help our environment are not only very affordable, they are MORE affordable than the alternative. Using less electricity, making use of more reusable goods instead of disposable, cooking with more fresh produce and less eating out and frozen meals – all of these things keep the world clean and save you money. It’s approachable, it’s achievable, and it’s a message we all need to hear more of.