The life that many modern people live seems to me to be both monotonous and futile. That type of life may work well for some people, and I’m sure that for some there is no alternative. However, I would not survive very long in the cramped cement and noise of a city. I would probably fall into terrible depression if I had an office job with nothing to show for my work but money. Instead of living the more lucrative but high speed life of many Americans, my family chooses to be intentionally poor.
We live on a farm in the country. I am an introverted teenager, and living in a quiet place is important for my mental and emotional wellbeing. When I visit the city, I always crave the quiet, slower pace of the country and begin to realize just how important the rhythms of nature and the farm are to me. Every morning starts with chores: feeding the goats and chickens and then making breakfast while my parents milk our cow. Without the noise and distraction of city living, we focus on everything we do and get satisfaction out of it all.
My mother has a pottery studio and is an artist which allows me to experience how rewarding and delightful having lots of time to create is. When I make a pot, I am creating a vessel that will live with and serve someone (hopefully) bringing joy into her/his life. Drawing, on the other hand, lets me look closer at the things around me and appreciate each detail, and I am quite sure that I draw better in the quietude of the country. Additionally, I love watching part of me come into being outside of my own existence when I’m journaling or writing down the characters and worlds that I see in my head. Although being an artist is not often a lucrative profession, all of these creative things and acts give purpose to my life and help me to reflect and make sense of the world.
While I do love bringing my own ideas into the world, I also love enjoying other people’s creations. I am an only child, and books have given me the opportunity to understand and experience deep friendships and the joys of having siblings. Through books, I go on journeys with characters I would not have met otherwise. I am a world traveler without the carbon footprint, and in spite of being more of a calm routine person, I love the thrill of reading adventure and action stories. Through their art, I can truly see how a writer’s mind works.
As an introvert, I enjoy and crave the solitary, peaceful and meditative pursuits that I think are more available in country living. I need to be away from the speed, noise, hard surfaces and constant social interactions that are a part of city life. I believe that everyone should try their hardest to find the way of living that makes them the most content. In intentionally not participating in the lifestyle of many Americans, I have found mine.
The following poem was written by my friend, Eleanor.
in a school shooting.
will you tell them
will you bother them until they listen.
If you have to
will you scream.
I shouldn’t have to say this but
will you burn their all their money to the ground.
and throw a bundle of funeral lilies
onto their feet and shake them by the shoulders.
scream every beautiful thing I’ve done
Into their beetle-black eyes.
and muffle their needle-sharp lies.
you cannot let me or my friends or my brothers or my sisters
be only a statistic
for people to pull from their pockets
when they are sending nothing but prayers.
I shouldn’t have to write about this.
but do they know what it’s like
to wake up in the morning with your heart beating fast and slipping through your throat
on the first day of school thinking
guns and death and oh my god and oh my god does anyone care about us at all.
they never listen when we say
YOU ARE KILLING US
-Eleanor, a teenaged political activist.
The following post was written by my friend Grace.
Something that has been very important to me lately is the environment. I’ve always been very aware of climate change and global warming but it wasn’t until this past fall that I’ve actually decided to do something about it.
We were driving home from camping, where we had been out of cell-phone service and had no idea of anything important that had happened, but we noticed a ton of smoke in the air. We didn’t know what it was from, but I was thinking along the lines of construction tearing down the forest in a cloud of pollution and I was getting madder and madder.
Later, I found out that the smoke was from the fires that have burned down much of the forests in the west coast of America. Still, with the climate being hotter, global warming did and has been affecting the fires. So I made a video to share my opinions about climate change along with posters and my own blog. But as the months went on I still didn’t feel like I was doing enough. I was telling people my thoughts, but not changing many of my own actions. So I decided that for the summer I was going to go Zero Waste.
Zero Waste is when you eliminate all the non-recyclable or compostable trash for your life. This meant hardly any plastic, buying most thing second-hand, and buying what we used to buy packaged in bulk. It was a complete life change for me, since I used to do things like grab a bag of chips from the store and now I wouldn’t buy them at all. Going zero waste was healthier, saved a ton of money, and also made me feel positive about myself, since I really was making a difference in the world.
Now that summer is over, I stopped being super strict about Zero Waste since at times it was stressful, but I don’t think I could ever go back to buying plastic/waste. I feel better about my life when being thoughtful about the environment, and I love inspiring others to do the same!
I am slightly ashamed to admit that I hadn’t heard of the Never Again movement until last week. I knew there was some sort of movement led by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the February 14, 2018 shooting there, but I didn’t know what it was called or even the names of the students involved in it. Then my dad brought home #Never Again by David and Lauren Hogg, two Parkland survivors and members of the movement. I read the book in three days and couldn’t stop thinking about it for several more days after that.
Besides having an immense amount of respect for David and Lauren, I wanted to do something to help. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle the stress of putting myself out there like they are doing, but I still wanted to do something. First, I started wearing a safety pin again (see this previous post for more on the safety pin movement). Then, today, as I asked some friends of mine if they’d read #Never Again, I realized that by simply reading the book, recommending it to others and asking them to spread the word to their friends, I was contributing to the movement albeit in a small way.
#Never Again, by siblings David and Lauren Hogg, is an account of their experience at Stoneman Douglas before and during the February 14th shooting. The book tells how the Never Again movement took shape and began to grow.
Please read it. Read it for those 17 people killed in Parkland. Read it for the many others killed in school shootings. And please, never forget.
I was not old enough to vote in the 2016 presidential election. If I had been old enough, I would not have voted for Trump. To me, this means that Trump is truly not my president. I feel like I am being falsely represented by the president of my country. Other countries are meeting with him or hearing about what he’s doing. What if they think that we all voted for him and that we all like what he’s doing? I love the United States. I love my country. That does not mean I love my country’s president.
I wish I could let all the other countries in the world know that even though Trump is representing the US, not all of us Americans support him. Many of us weren’t even old enough to vote in the 2016 presidential election at all, and we are the ones who are being shot. Those school age Americans who were shot in the many school shootings since Trump’s election weren’t old enough to vote in 2016. Trump is promoting the very weapons that are being used to shoot these kids. They are some of the victims of his presidency.
I want the rest of the world to know that even though Trump is our representative, some of us stand separately. Please do not think we all voted for him. Please don’t dislike our country just because of the things our president is saying and doing. Some of us stand separately.
So I say I feel that I’m being falsely represented. Trump is excluding people from my country. Trump is promoting the ownership of weapons and is not working to stop the school shootings of my fellow minors. Trump is not defending my friends. Trump does not care about us.
Yesterday was the last time for me to be in the woods with the goats for two weeks as I am going to music camp tomorrow. I wanted to post a little updates on how the forest is looking nowadays.
A lot of poison ivy has sprung up on the path as you can see in this photo which makes it rather difficult to get to the black raspberries you’ll see in the second photo.
Below we have some self heal in the first photo and Hildegard and Morisot in the second.
Hildegarde eating sassafras in the first photo and tickwood treefoil in the second.
Rue. One of our goats likes this.
False Solomon’s Seal (we think. We aren’t entirely certain). No one likes this.
The goats in the trail.
The great tidying genius Marie Kondo “Konmari” has another book out. The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up gives the reader all the main points of her other books in a story format. The main character is a 29 year old messy houser. She has never invited a friend over to her apartment because she is embarrassed by how cluttered it is. Spurred to action by her neighbor (a cute boy who gets a glimpse of her atrocious entryway), she signs up for Marie Kondo’s tidying lessons. The book tells the story of how her life changes after Konmari walkes in.
The following post is revised from one previously posted in 2016.
Did you know that you wear about 20% of your clothes about 80% of the time? This is a statistic that has been floating around the internet for years. It means that you could get rid of four fifths of your clothes and not really notice much of a difference. If you used the Konmari method, you would probably only notice that all the clothes in your dresser and closet were ones that you loved. You probably wouldn’t miss most or any of the clothes that you discarded. That seems pretty crazy. To me though, it is totally believable.
One of the most widespread reasons that people accumulate stuff is that they do not know how much they have. A lot of us keep stuff on hand even though we hardly use any of it just because we think it may come in handy. Think back to the Stone Age for a moment…All you would have had would be the necessities. One, maybe two sets of clothes- all you needed could be carried on your back. These days, we’d be lucky if our stuff would fit in two truckloads!
By all that, I don’t mean that everyone has that much stuff, or that people who have lots of things aren’t happy. Everyone is different. I get by just fine with four long sleeved shirts and four pairs of shoes, but someone with a different lifestyle or different age might need only two long sleeved shirts and ten or more pairs of shoes. It all depends on what you need and what brings you joy.
Some people love living in a rather “messy” house, while others want every surface to be bare. You don’t need to make yourself uncomfortable. If you are unhappy or embarrassed by how much stuff is in your house or room, then you could consider looking into the Konmari method. If you like your house like it is and don’t like having a barer living space, then keep it the way it is.
Another great thing about tidying is that it’s easier to clean when you have less stuff. I once asked my mom what her goals for her bedroom were, and she said “dust free,” then “less brick brack.” I told her that once you have less brick brack, it’s easier to dust since you don’t have to pick up decorations to get at the surface. You don’t have to dust all those decorations either. Once you get rid of things, cleaning is much easier and faster.
Maintenance is, of course, kind of hard, but if you do a bit every day, like a ten minute pick up of your things every evening, then your surfaces stay tidy. You also have to keep unnecessary things from coming in, like gifts. Those are hard, but if you truly want your space to stay tidy, then it won’t be so difficult that you give up.