You know those feelings of accomplishment, of pride, of completing a job well done?
Well, the wonderful news for many of us is that praise occurs outside the corporate world every day. It is experienced in suburban homes and city apartments, on homesteads and farms, in the kitchens and backyards of holistic beings everywhere – all of us embracing the art of self-reliance.
As much as self-reliance is about providing for ourselves, it is about working together, eliminating the notion of competition, instead grasping cooperation. It is about sharing crops, trading fibers, volunteering time and attention to encourage others to continuously develop their skills in all matters related to radical homemaking.
In little ways we are rewarded daily with well turned out poached eggs, tender baked roasts or our awakening morning coffee brewed to perfection and served in our favorite coffee mug.
Home is the place to fall in love with the simple pleasures of life – it is our safety net, our freedom, our retreat, our space to live as we please. It is where we laugh and cry, cook, bake, brew and create to make this world a better place.
Embrace the art of self-reliance:
one. Plant and garden. The thrill of harvesting peas and tomatoes holds nothing to a successful day at the office. The smell, the taste, the complementary colors of nature. A true work of art can be had from seed to soil to dish. Get your hands dirty whether it is a plot of land or a clay pot with herbs on your window sill, there is no place too small for a plant to grow.
two. Preserve what you grow. And what others grow for you. Support local farmers and CSA’s with what you cannot grow yourself, harvests sometimes don’t turn out and occasionally they have bumper crops. Share and trade the fruit and vegetable love so that everyone has something to preserve for winter, rather than relying on store bought produce from afar. Can your own and know exactly what goes in it, that is the art of self-reliance.
three. Turn raw milk into cheese and whey. 2.5 liters of milk can turn into a plateful of cheese with enough whey leftover for fermenting vegetables – they may just become your weekly treat. Purchase (A2) raw milk locally for the best health benefits you can receive, then make your own kefir and yogurt as well.
four. Process natural fibers. You don’t have to raise the rabbit for the fluff or the sheep for the wool, but you do have to have a good grip on self-reliance to know how to get it, where to find it, what is good, what is better and whether you got a quality fleece or not. Then you can comb it, pick it, spin it, weave it and create it into something amazing. Quite the process! It is no less than pure bliss to take individual strands of fiber and turn them into a useful object, supporting small organic farms along the way.
five. Create your own handcrafted wardrobe. Reduce your needs, then want something completely different than the norm. Acquire the skills (or the whereabouts of local artisans) to make your own clothing after all a garment is only as complex as you make it. Industry has made it easy to be colorful, but in the process we have left handmade textures behind. Reclaim them with your own hands! Get rid of the television and you will be amazed at what you have the time for. One stitch at a time you can clothe yourself, shoes included.
six. Gather knowledge and confidence by delving into interest-led learning, attending workshops and volunteering. State what you are interested in and start learning it. Beekeeping? Knitting? Weaving? Metalsmithing? Organic gardening? Composting? Vermiculture? This isn’t school, this is life, choose your interests and seek them out. Do it alone or as a group, the important thing is to grow.
seven. Be inspired by others navigating the simple path, leaving the hoards of consumers behind. Start your own journey by changing your mindset – you already have enough. Live life intentionally, simply and with compassion for all creatures that inhabit the earth, we are all here together, so we better learn to get along. Make the environment more beautiful than you found it and pass down quality (not quantity) to future generations.
Start with baby steps, shortly after that leap, run, dance and prance with the agility and fervor of the youth. Embrace self-reliance for all that it is worth – the praise in form of the happily clapping child, the kiss on the cheek, the three year old honey sweetened preserves…
A life lived simply and well? The joy is in there.
Go out and find it for yourself.