Monday, January 11, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day

In the Neighbourhood, a beautiful day for a neighbour, would you like to meet mine?

These are my virtual neighbours, people whose blogs I read on a daily basis, and who inspire me because they live my goals. Not that I want to live exactly as each of them do. We are all individuals and each of us is in a different place, and living a different set of circumstances. But all live mindful, caring lives and achieve the kinds of results I'd like to achieve.

The first neighbour I'll introduce is a young man named Thomas who lives in Massachusetts. Thomas grows a magnificent garden, cooks beautiful food, takes beautiful photos and seems to do it all with an amazing ease. He's also personable and friendly and I enjoy having him as my neighbour.

One of the things Thomas showed me how to do is build a hoop house for the protection of winter crops. I plan to do that at the end of next summer thanks to Thomas' inspiration and guidance.

Another virtual neighbour I visit daily is Gavin, an Australian dad who decided to go green, and has entertained and inspired me through the process. Recently Gavin and family have taken up the 100 Mile Diet Challenge. Gavin is the first person I've read about who has taken up this challenge without moaning and complaining about it. He's chosen a practical approach between eating local and adding a few of the imported luxuries we have all become accustomed to eating.

Because of reading about the 100 Mile Diet Challenge I'm much more mindful about where our food comes from. For example I put up as much locally grown produce as possible this past summer, and I have not bought a single green pepper or imported tomato this fall and winter. (I confess to buying some canned tomatoes for cooking. I also bought a box of mandarin oranges in December, and I've bought grapefruit shipped in from Texas. Well, I was shipped in from Texas. When I was a teenager we had grapefruit, oranges, tangarines, lemons, nectarines, peaches, dates and pecans, all in the yard! I can hardly bear what passes for oranges in the stores here, but a few times a winter I buy a half dozen grapefruit.) So much for the 100 miles, but I'm trying, and I am trying to gradually decrease the number of miles our food travels.

And of course no neighbourly introductions would be complete without introducing you to Rhonda Jean. Rhonda is about the best neighbour I could imagine. She and I are about the same age, have both raised a pair of boys, and have long-enduring partnerships.

But, unlike me, Rhonda runs a home my Grandmother would feel comfortable in. She is a back-to-basics kind of a gal. If you want to know how to make your own soaps and cleaners, put together a budget, bake a good loaf of bread or make a chicken feed 10 people, Rhonda should be your neighbour too. Her back yard is full of gardens, chickens, fruit trees and a healthy dose of common sense.

Today Rhonda talks about coming to the "simple life" on your own terms. Rhonda says she "reinvented" herself, and began to live life on her own terms when she gave up working outside her home and went to work for herself.

It's ironic. Most of the women in my generation looked at our mothers and their never-ending household "slavery" and said, "Not for me!" My generation exchanged the "slavery" of child care for the slavery to the paycheque. By the time I paid for child care, office clothes, transportation to work, makeup, hair cuts and lunches out I was lucky to clear $50 to contribute to the household expenses because women weren't paid anything like wage parity then (and still aren't).

Coming to our senses and coming home means that, with proper skills, a home can be run successfully and happily on a single paycheque. You can even raise your own children. (Now that's a revolutionary idea!)

It may not be for everyone, but except for a few years it was the route I took. I don't regret a minute of it, and we did well most of the time, but I wish I'd had some of the skills Rhonda teaches. We'd have done even better.

So, these are valued neighbours I visit every day. I visit others as well, but I can always count on Thomas, Gavin and Rhonda Jean to lift my spirits, inspire and gently teach and encourage.

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