Can you tell I was an English teacher? Probably not by my misspellings and dangling modifiers, but…even English teachers aren’t perfect. Closest thing you’ll ever find…but not quite. Anyway…the APLS crew has given its first assignment and as the good little Lisa Simpson that I am…I have done my homework.
Sustainability…A Journey to a Joyful Life
Saying that I have been on a journey to “green” my life feels a little insufficient to me. The actual environmental part of the quest has kind of been a byproduct more than anything else. For me the journey is more about reaching deeper levels of sustainable happiness. A happiness that is NOT reliant on the trappings but on feeling fully satisfied with my role as parent, partner, sibling, friend, neighbor, and general Earth dweller. The secret to my happiness? Easy…connections. Being truly connected to the people and experiences in life is my definition of joy.
The journey certainly isn’t a straight forward path. I find myself often thinking of time past spent as a child with my grandparents who made everything from scratch, not because they were “green” or poor but because it was just foolish to waste anything and enjoyable to create…period. (Besides, Norwegian whaling villages don’t exactly have Targets. Well, sadly, maybe they do now.) They made their own clothes, soups, soaps, furniture, preserves, wine, even soda. My grandfather even built their house and my parents’ first house. They gardened extensively even though they both worked, she as a seamstress and designer, he as a carpenter and lodge owner. As a child I had no idea what a tremendous education they were providing me. But it certainly wasn’t lost on my obliviousness. Whenever I am having a “how to” issue I have a wealth of memories to draw upon. And the beautiful thing is the “how to” doesn’t come alone…it comes with a deep felt connection to people and places of the past that I can carry in my heart forever. And with the skills learned and stories to tell I can bring my boys into that world too.
For me it is also about being connected to the present and to what we DO. Baking bread with my kids is a whole different experience than buying a loaf at the store. The miracle of yeast isn’t lost on them. Planting, caring for, and harvesting our own basil is a true experience, verses tossing a plastic tub of it in the shopping cart. When my husband explains to them about how over plucking the plant won’t allow it to flourish he is teaching much more than general horticulture. Spending afternoons strolling through the Botanical Gardens, talking, playing, just enjoying each other’s enjoyment of nature and life beats any day spent in front of the TV. In these moments it is as if doors of my heart that I didn’t even know existed are bursting open.
And now that I am a mother, enjoying a rounded full and happy life is more important than ever. I don’t want to make my kids happy…I want to teach them how to be happy. How to find the joy that comes from really experiencing all of life. While many of the ways we have found to connect to our past and to our present will hopefully lead to a more sustainable & healthier future on this planet, it hasn’t been my main motive. For me, it has been about not wasting any opportunities for the priceless pure joy of it all.