Saturday, October 22, 2011


My midterm for my Hebrew Exegetical class "Jeremiah" is next week and I've been studying hard.  The last 2.5 hours have been met with determined resolve and diligence and I am nearly finished creating my study sheet.  And thanks to the Tall Pike with cream, my brain is alert and focused.

Until the last five minutes.  The pastry display case beckons and I have begun to imagine buying something sweet.  Bye bye Jehoiakim and Jeremiah's "Temple Sermon".  Hello rice krispy treat!

But I am not hungry.  And I have had a few weeks with renewed interest in trying harder around food and I don't want to give in to the desire for fear that it would quickly spiral downward.  And the money would not be well spent. 

And yet, my connections to food are strong and recovery is hard.  Very hard.  How do I prevent myself from giving in? 

Today, it is by sheepishly admitting to my unknown (and perhaps nonexistant) blog readers that I am feeling weak.  For some reason, admitting my desire lessens its power.  And so I hereby confess my desire to you, dear blogspot, and resolve not to eat anything.  And now that I've made room in my brain for the Jeremiah that remains, I will sign off and return to studying. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Joining the Revolution

Have you ever desired to spend more time at home?  To be debt free?  To be less tied to the extractive economy?  To have more time for family, for friends, for living?

Have you ever thought there was no way you could never possibly do that?

Think again.

How much money do you think you really need to survive?  In reality, there will be a magic number that is different for each person/couple/family, but I have a feeling it is a lot less than what most people conclude.

My husband and I live off of $12,000 per year in one of the most expensive cities to live in:  Pasadena, CA. 

How is that possible you say?


1.  We live in a city where bikes, feet, and public transportation are plentiful and cars are not a need.  (We do not own a car, but own two bikes).

2.  We have two roommates who share living space, thus making rent in an increasingly expensive city, much more affordable (Our share is $525/month).

3.  We know how to cook, scavenge, and look for food.  Cooking helps us eat well, healthy, and cheaply.  We have also dumpster dived when desiring that thrill, and visited food banks to help offset the cost of eating.  (We spend an average of $50 per week on food).

4.  We do not own cell phones, and granted, at times it is less convenient but saves a fair amount of money. 

5.  We do not pay for internet access.  We go to the library, the local coffee shop, our local school, or mooch off of something unsecured. 

6.  We utilize low-cost health care options.  I.e. My husband and I both had our teeth deep cleaned at our local community college by students in training.  While it took longer, it was very inexpensive ($20/person). 

7.  We do not have health insurance, home insurance, renter's insurance or any insurance.  This is the risk I think most people are not willing to take saying "What if you got cancer?"  "What if you got in an accident while riding your bike?"  "What if...?"  My husband continues to challenge me not to let fear be driving force in my life - and I would challenge others to do the same.  That being said, we do have a substantial nest egg we could use if something came up.  Sure - it would wipe us out - but what is money, eh?  (Some day I'd like to write a blog on the corruption of our health insurance system - and the moral reasons for not participating in it -but that is for another day).

8.  We are debt free. 

9.  We buy most items second-hand and try to make others.  

10.  We are learning the art of bartering.  (I.e. exchanging one service/item for another). 

In a recent conversation with a friend who was trying to find more ways to save money, my husband suggested she reduce her gas expenditures and take public transportation.  She responded with the usual:  "But I don't have time!"  My husband replied:  "Well, it's either time or money - what's more important to you?" 

I choose time.  (And by the way, the bus doesn't really take that much more time than a car - especially in Los Angeles). 

Friday, October 14, 2011


What is "wealth" to you?

To me, it is being home with lots of free time to play with our son.  It is waking up without the need to hurry and rush.  It is taking a leisurely lunch with the option of a nap after.  It is having enough flexibility to go on a vacation at the drop of a hat.  It is being able to spend the best hours of my day with my husband at my side.  It is living with less stress, less demands, less worry about how I'm going to find enough time to hang out with my friend, my son, my husband, myself.  It is having enough time to know neighbors, to volunteer for that which is important, to notice the small things.  It is being able to produce what we can, and buy what we need.  It is eating healthy food and breathing clean air.  It is being loved by friends. 

It doesn't necessarily mean having a large bankroll.

I have felt the wealth of a large bankroll.  It was nice - mostly because I could buy whatever trendy thing I wanted and give large amounts to organizations I liked.  But my life was busy and I got to the point where I longed to be compensated with time vs. overtime pay (which is what my previous place of employment had offered me).  I didn't need the extra money.  I didn't even want it.  But I needed the time.  And I really wanted it.

I knew a man who once revealed to me that his goal in life was to "break even", meaning, he wanted to work just enough hours to provide for what he needed and nothing more.  The rest of the time he wanted to play and read and study and do whatever fancied him.  I remember praising his decision in my head and deciding that one day, I would emulate him. 

Now that my husband is at home I am tasting that freedom and it tastes better than I dreamed.

I wish more people could experience the life I'm living right now.  I wish more people wanted it.  I think it would do wonders for people's physical and mental health.  It would do wonders for the world.

But it requires a re-evaluation of what one truly "needs".  It requires making sacrifices and doing without things our society convinces us we need to live.  It requires telling fear to go F-off.   


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Becoming Radical Homemakers

I woke up physically sore from digging a new garden bed yesterday.  Our soil is really poor quality and so compact that we needed to use a pickax the entire two feet down.  Pickax's are heavy and my upper body is not used to heaving and hoing like that. 

Radical homemaking, urban homesteading, sustainable living:  whatever term you prefer...  it is all exhausting in the end.  I think I put in more hours now than when I was working full time at Fuller.  But the work is meaningful and rewarding.  A few days ago I finally realized that our home was truly a unit of production.  We cook, garden, repair and reuse, research, create, barter and have begun to preserve a small amount of food.  It feels really good to lessen our ties to the extractive economy.  Really good.

It also is incredible to have my husband as a partner in all of this.  Did I tell you, blog readers, that three months ago he, too, quit his full-time job?  There were many reasons behind his decision to quit; all of them were noble (and if I could share them with you I'm certain you would agree but you will just have to take my word for it).  I joke with him that he has "retired" at 36 years old and quickly put him to work, since I am the head of the home.  (That of course, is a joke.  We both aim to share responsibility and leadership in the home - it's just that some of us are better at it than others).  :) 

It might be surprising to some that there are persons willing to give up full-time jobs with great benefits and a salary that is more than enough for our needs but we have never been ones to operate within society's norms entirely.  (To be fair, the decision was a lot easier to make because my husband has a rental property in Los Angeles that gives us $1000 per month for our use).  Both my husband and I desire to create a life together that uses little and is rich in love, relationships, and meaning.  We have both found that money and buying stuff doesn't really contribute to that goal as much as we'd like.  And so we've chosen to make good on our words and begin to focus on the things that make life worth living. 

It's been three months since we've met this task head on and the result is even better than I expected.  It's not all peaches and cream, this is certain, but I can count on one hand the number of times I wished one of us was back at work, receiving a more substantial income.  I could not count on one hundred hands the number of times I felt thankful that we made this decision.