I've started reading Radical Homemakers after it was suggested in the blog comments some time back (thank you!)
I'm about half way through the book. It seems to be aimed at middle-class Americans, and being neither American nor middle-class it's raised a few questions for me, which I'm still pondering.... I'm wondering whether such a book would/could be written about New Travellers and other outsider communities across Europe from the same perspective?
That aside, there's much of it that resonates. We're already living the lifestyle that the book describes - although we don't grow all our own food (we don't have the space) or make all our own clothes (we don't have the time; we're busy making everything else) we're not part of the consumerism cycle; we've already left the rat race, as they say. We're building our own home, living within our means, on a low income with good budget skills. We recycle and reuse and make the most of the skills and resources we have to hand.
There was something though that I read last night that niggled inside my brain and got me thinking about my own situation, as the sole wage earner and the responsibility that it brings.
Before the Yard came under threat with the demolition order, I was much less stressed about work; about earning enough. Having to fight that fight put me into emergency mode - had the outcome been very different we could've lost everything and had to pay for that privilege, and knowing that was an option from the offset we needed to have money in the bank just in case. Aran falling seriously ill compounded that, and I'm still in fight or flight mode, these few years on (as Tom reminded me, I don't have a stop button). I'm aware that it's doing me harm.
And so I've been thinking again about what I can do to help myself, to shift my perspective.
Our little safety net in the bank needs to stay; folks who live like we do don't have the securities or protections that others have - we would never get home insurance, for instance. There's no permanency, no guarantees - which is exactly how we want it - but that does mean we need to be prepared. And we're better prepared now than we've ever been.
Its not all been bad - we learnt to seriously budget to be able to save on the little we had coming in. We've got our monthly pocket money system in place which helps us spend way way less and helps us appreciate what we buy even more. In many ways we're that much richer for being poorer and facing those very difficult situations.
And I know I need to relax some but it's not been easy. Part of me still resents being put under that much pressure to keep my family housed fed and clothes solo throughout all of this. But I've also come to learn that some of that pressure is coming from me.
We've only ever had one holiday as a family, when we went to Portugal before Aran was ill, before life did it's thing. We tried to book something last year when the budget looked healthy for the first time in a long time but we didn't quite manage it.
I've been sat here this morning looking at flights to India. Tom would rather we all went to Thailand. And what's happening (slowly) is that I'm acknowledging that we can plan to spend some of our savings and have ourselves some great family experiences knowing that we have a safety net in place. Trying to put it into practice will no doubt be another hurdle, but I'm starting to loosen up. I'm starting to worry less and break away from the trap that is money.