Of all of the roles I play in life, of all of the titles I carry, and of all of the hats I wear, the most important two are that I am a wife to Deus Ex Machina and a mom. I spend a lot of time talking about our homesteading efforts and our attempts at powering down our lives, and these are very important to me. In fact, in the beginning, I was the only one who cared at all, which has been the interesting part of the challenge to live a lower energy life - how to convince my family to join me.
Initially, the problem, for me, was that Deus Ex Machina is a Taurus, and whether or not one believes in the efficacy of astrology, in many ways, he carries the traits attributed to the Taurus sign. In particular, he doesn't like change (and I'm talking even small changes, like rearranging a room or painting the walls a different color), which makes it particularly difficult for me, because I'm a Gemini, and as an air sign, change is what I do, like the direction of the wind. Mostly, we balance each other, and he keeps me from flying off in some crazy direction which might end up being a bad way to go, and I think I've helped him to understand that change doesn't have to be a bad thing, and sometimes, being stuck in a rut is much worse than making a move without a stone tablet map, a compass and three increasingly more high-tech Global Positioning Systems. Sometimes it's okay just to grab a good pair of shoes, start walking and see where one ends up.
Of course, with Deus Ex Machina it has often been just a matter of showing him the logic in making the changes (unfortunately, as a Gemini, the logic sometimes escapes me, as I'm more about knowing the right thing to do based on feeling), and for many of the changes I've proposed over the years, the logic is that it saves money, and it has. Our overall consumption (espcially in the areas of electricity, gasoline, propane, heating oil, food, and water) has decreased significantly over the past several years, which has resulted in a significant savings, which, in turn, has enabled us to decrease our cost-of-living, which as allowed us to consider the possibility of living without regular jobs.
Once Deus Ex Machina started supporting me in the changes I was making, it got much easier, and if it were just the two of us, we'd grow more of our food than we buy, we use half the wood, because the heat would stay off until the middle of November, the TV would be gone with a long before it, we use half the electricity, and we might even have the house paid off. In short, if it were just the two of us with all other things being equal, we'd be a lot further along in our journey toward self-sufficiency than we are right now, because we'd have a lot more money to spend on things like PV systems and classes for ourselves.
When one throws children into the mix, things get a bit more complicated, and given that we started this journey with our kids in tow, we might just have set ourselves up for a tougher time from the beginning.
The problem, for us, was that we weren't living a low energy life-style when our children were born, and as we started awakening to some of the facts of what our world was/is becoming and realized we had to make some changes or suffer, we had to convince these beautiful, intelligent, aware beings that they really didn't want another Polly Pocket, at the same time that they were very convinced that they most definitely DID want another Polly Pocket. The issue became, how does one go from a completely consumptive life to a low energy life with kids who've always had absolutely everything they ever needed and most of what they wanted, on demand?
*Please note, though, that my children have never been prone to things like temper tantrums, and I say this, because mentioning that they've always had what they need and want might have led some people who don't know them to believe that there was a lot of crying and gnashing of teeth. There hasn't been. It's been a lot more of things like disappointment pooling in those big, blue eyes, which is much worse - trust me on this one ;).
Storytelling in Native traditions was simply a part of life, and Natives used stories to impart wisdom and share lessons of how to live. Similarly, I like to use stories of my childhood as teaching tools about what life was like for me when I was growing up - like, I did such-and-such, and this is what I learned from that mistake. I tell these stories in the hopes that they will see the parallels and avoid my pitfalls. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it horribly backfires. My younger girls all love to hear my stories, and Precious will even ask me to tell the story of the time I did one thing or another. She's funny.
What's interesting, though, when I'm able to stand back and look around me, is to note how similar life today is to life back when I was Little Fire Faery's age: a long, drawn out and increasingly unpopular war; rising gas prices; economic woes; high unemployment; renewed interest in alternative energies; government telling us that we need to decrease our dependence on foriegn oil; the constant fear of foreign threats; increasing civil unrest. Today, we even have our version of protest music (great band, by the way - amazing voices and a very sobering message).
In fact, it wasn't just the stuff on the outside that makes my life very similar to theirs. I had two sisters and so there were three girls. I lived in a racially and ethically uniform, middle class, suburban neighborhood. My family was significantly and negatively impacted by the economic downturn. Technology was advancing at the speed of light, and we were all being assured that technology would save us.
And it might have ... if, back then, the people in charge had believed in and invested in the alternative energy technologies, but they didn't, and it doesn't look like the response from our current leaders is going to be much different.
Because I lived through the life and times my girls are experiencing now, I think I definitely had it easier than my parents, who really only wanted for me what they never had. Unlike my parents' wish for me, I want my girls to have everything I had ... and none of it. I want them to have better, but not in the same way as my parents' generation wished for mine.
And that's where we are, and here I mean a collective "we" as in the citizens of the world.
As Lea and Chloe (Rising Appalachia) say in their song Stand Down,
Stand up, look around, and then scale that down too ....
Everybody's got a lot to say about everyone else ...
[But] take a long hard look at you(rself)
We are trashing our own birthday cake ....
[and it's] None but ourselves to make this thing last ....
In other words, we are all culpable for the mess that our world is in, and we are all responsible for making the change, and those of us with children are responsible for making sure our children know what to do.
I feel like I must be making some progress, though, as my daughters regularly tell me their plans for off-grid living on a subsistence farm out in the middle of nowhere ... just like their grandparents lived ... and so very different from how their mom grew up ;).