I am a mother to three young kids (2, 5, and 7), a teacher, a wife, and a graduate student. I have recently started working on my Masters in Environmental Education and Interpretation–something I have wanted to do for quite some time. Staying in an Earthship has been another dream of mine since Larissa shared them with me years ago.
The experience of staying in the Earthship was inspiring. I agree with the philosophy of deep ecology, which is a belief that the world is not a pyramid with humans on top, but instead a web. We are just a strand in that web and as we destroy other strands, we destroy ourselves. One of my (our?) great challenges is transitioning to a life that is more in harmony with nature and the Earth. My time spent within the Earthship left me with a journal full of reflections, ideas, inspirations, and information to apply to my life back home.
Back home, however, work and family life quickly brought me back to the reality of everyday life. How does one change behaviors and habits when she is barely able to keep the house clean? Soon after my return I also learned that my teaching position would not be renewed due to state budget cuts and a failed referendum. Disappointed, I decided to put my focus on my family and my first two graduate classes: Environmental Health and Ecological Lifestyles.
As part of these classes I am reading a myriad of articles and books, along with watching documentaries galore. Scientists do not paint a very rosy picture of our future, and many of them are conservative reports (I shall share the papers I write on the various topics here as I finish them). Everything I am reading is interesting stuff–interesting and overwhelming. From the toxins in our home environment, to pesticides in our food, to nature deficit disorder, to ecopsychology (which stresses the importance of nature to overall well-being and that the reason why so many people are in therapy is because so many people have lost connection to nature). The more I learn, the more I feel the need to do something. But what? Where do I begin? How does one make changes with a skeptical spouse and three young children?
Thus, I’ve decided to embrace my upcoming unemployment. I am going to devote myself to my masters program, improve life for my family, and work my way through the growing pile of books (books with titles like “Slow Death By Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things” and “The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder”). I promise to share what I learn along the way for those of you who do not have the luxury of leaving your jobs to conduct your own research.
As I get used to the idea of returning to just one income, I can remind myself that I have wanted to devote time to making our home less toxic, as well as provide healthy, organic meals–something I do not have the time/energy for while working. I want to start volunteering my time as a teacher of Leave No Trace (outdoor ethics), as well as revive my nature club meant to help kids connect with nature so that they’ll be healthier and motivated to solve our ecological problems. As an added bonus, if the environmental shit really does hit the fan, I can tell my kids that I worked towards a solution. I have all these goals for building a simpler, greener life, but with working almost full-time I feel like I don’t have the time/energy to do so. Here’s my chance.
“Find your place on the planet, dig in, and take responsibility from there.” –Gary Snyder