Over the years & especially during stressful periods of my life, I have watched on enviously as my cats have played, slept or just generally enjoyed their moment in the garden and the sun. Why can't my life be that simple? - I would ask myself - and then promptly chastise myself for being lazy. Is being content with doing and having less just an excuse to be lazy or can it be a better way of living?
As a child I was never particularly interested in gardening but my naturopathic studies and growing interest in healthier more nutritious food has led me on a journey to growing my own fruit, veges and herbs. During this time I have also been drawn to reading books such as Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal Vegetable, Miracle" http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/, Linda Woodrow's "Permaculture for the Home Garden" and Linda Cockburn's "Living the Good Life". Meanwhile Stefano had been travelling on his own journey in response to the worsening drought in Australia. This led most Queenslanders to become more conscious of their water use but Stefano went on to examine our family's resource use more widely - our power, our waste, our consumption in general in an attempt to reduce our ecological footprint. To this end we have made many changes, including solar panels, water tanks, insulation and much more. Luckily for us it seemed we were both moving to the same conclusion from different starting points ie. to live more in tune with our natural environment and thereby lessen our impact on the earth and improve our health at the same time.
We remained content to plug away at our inner city patch retrofitting the house where possible and growing a small amount of food but I think my resolve to move was crystallized by 2 different guests that appeared on Richard Fidler's "In Conversation" on ABC radio, within a week of each other.
The first was Richard Louv talling about his book "The Last Child in the Woods; saving our children from nature deficit disorder". What he spoke about really resonated with me and how even though as a family we often go camping or bushwalking, the children were craving more access to green space more regularly. The old quantity versus quality debate. I've long believed in the importance of building greater resilience in our children, as well as ourselves, and as our children enter their teen years they are constantly being tested as to the strength of theirs. Richard speaks often in his book about the power of nature to restore our equilibrium, reduce the impact of stress and increase our resilience. He quotes Rachel Carson " Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts"
The second guests were the authors of "Slow Death by Rubber Duck", Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie. As scientists these men set out to examine the research and use themselves as guinea pigs to assess the extent to which every day chemicals are affecting our health. Chemicals such as teflon, anti-bacterials, plasticisers and more. Their results surprised and alarmed even themselves. Some of the chemicals they report on have now been banned in the USA but are still used here in Australia.
All of this cemented our desire to surround ourselves with more of a natural environment but would the children see it the same way? Would they be happy to leave the convenience of the inner city?
Their shouts of glee and the sight of all 3 of them running with abandon across the expanse of our new land soon answered my question.
Living more simply is not about being lazy or opting out or giving up but about working to create a better balance for ourselves and our children.