I’m Jessica, and this is a blog about change; change inspired in equal parts by Bill Murray, Little House on the Prairie, and the old clothesline at my parents’ house. Don’t worry, I’ll explain all of that in due time, but first here’s a little background.
I live in a tiny little ranch/bungalow style house just outside a college town in Delaware with my hilarious husband Jeremy, our naughty dog Winston, and our sweet chubster of a cat, Cooper. In between working and attending graduate school full-time, running around in a vain attempt to add more hours to my day, and trying to maintain meaningful relationships with my friends and family I found myself burnt out and cranky. I ate like crap, I slept like crap, I felt like crap, and judging by the number of recent Facebook photos I’ve untagged myself from I looked like crap too. I was so stressed that I was making myself sick and snapping at my well-meaning husband when he suggested I take some time to relax.
Something had to give, and I started thinking of ways to simplify my life – making peace with my aversion to dished in the sink for more than an hour, cooking in big batches, taking walks and getting more fresh air. I couldn’t shake this image of just selling my house and car and running away (with Jeremy and the pets, of course) to some giant sunflower field in Montana and living off the land away from civilization. I had this mental image of barefoot little babies in overalls catching fireflies and my husband fly fishing for our supper and all of us sitting around a warm fire under a blanket I knitted and reading Jules Verne together like a modern-day Ingalls family from Little House on the Prairie. Obviously – this idea has a couple of flaws. For one thing, I suppose you can’t just traipse west and plot some land for yourself anymore – I missed that boat by about 100 years. More importantly, neither Jeremy nor myself has any idea how to live off the land. We can’t go a day without technology, we can’t identify edible plants, we don’t know how to build things or start a fire, we hate bugs, and we’re not at all in touch with the environment outside of our little house in our medium-sized suburb. To add insult to injury, I also learned that sunflowers are more akin to central Midwest states like Kansas and the Dakotas than to Montana.
After almost three decades of living a life wrought with chemicals, additives, carcinogens, pesticides, non-renewables, disposables, instant consumer gratification, and a pretty typical disconnect from nature I’ve decided to take steps towards a most sustainable, natural, organic lifestyle. Although I’ve always understood the importance of living life that is as simple and environmentally sound as possible, I’ve always made a million excuses as to why my conversion hadn’t fully taken place. First, it was too expensive. Then I was too busy. After that it was too faddish and complicated.
And then, HBO started airing What About Bob again. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend that you check it out because there is nothing like an early 1990s Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss on-screen pairing. Anyway, without giving too much of the plot away, I’ll tell you that Bill Murray plays Bob, a patient of Dreyfuss psychiatrist character, Dr. Leo Marvin. Bob suffers from a plethora of phobias and Dr. Marvin attempts to treat him with his new therapy strategy – Baby Steps. Bob attempts to overcome his agoraphobia by taking the theory literally and taking teeny tiny steps out of the office and down the hall, the whole time muttering to himself “Baby steps! Ba-by steps! Baby steps through the office, baby steps out the door, baby steps to the hall, baby steps to the elevator…”
And that’s sort of when it hit me – lounging on my couch in my lazy, elastic waisted pants, watching What About Bob. I don’t need to change everything at once. I don’t need to throw out all my chemical based cleaners and replace them overnight. I don’t need to run out and sell a kidney in the black market in order to buy solar panels. I don’t need to trade in my Honda for a SmartCar. I can do one thing at a time to slowly change my home into the natural, eco-friendly place I want it to be. It might never be a cabin in the middle of a sunflower field, but it could stand a major back-to-basics overhaul.
Baby steps to organic food. Baby steps to natural cleaners. Baby steps to a healthier, more responsible way of life.
Once I made the decision to make some changes, the hardest part was figuring out how. I knew I needed a list, a plan of attack, and some motivation. The list is forthcoming – it’s turning out to be a beast. The plan of attack will follow the list. The motivation? You’re reading it. Chronicling my journey from Purveyor of Processed to Newly Natural will hopefully keep me on track.
So, there you have it. I’m not a guru of all things green. I’m not a guru of anything, in fact. I’m just a woman on a mission, inspired by Little House on the Prairie, Bill Murray, and… I almost forgot! My Mom’s clothesline. See, for me, getting started is sometimes the hardest part. Even gradual change needs to start somewhere. I decided to think of one single thing I could do, right away, to jump-start this thing. I thought about my house growing up and how many simple things I’d grown up doing that were really eco-friendly and the thing that stuck out most in my mind was my Mom’s clothesline in the backyard, towels warmed in the sun and smelling like the summer breeze. I jumped online, found one just like it, and placed my order. Step one: complete.
I know everyone’s ideas about (and definition of) organic food, natural products, green homes, and sustainability are different. I’m not here to preach, to advertise, or to be the definitive answer on anything. I just want to share my trials and pitfalls, talk about what works for me, and learn more about myself in the process. After all, as Laura Ingalls Wilder once said, “It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”