07 May 2012

It started so innocently

A few years ago, I got bitten by the research bug. I wanted to learn about medieval medicine, so I began reading, making notes and learning everything I could about the way ailment and illness was treated in the Middle Ages, focusing mostly on the 10-12th centuries. I was amazed and astonished at the wealth of knowledge that was available to healers then, nearly 1000 years ago. Dioscorides' De Materia Medica holds information that he collected on literally thousands of plants and their medicinal uses. The more common ex herbis feminis gave healers an abridged collection of common northern European plants from which to make their remedies.
The amazing think that I learned while I researched was that there is common bond between modern medicine and these medieval recipes. As a nurse, I learned in training that willow is the base for aspirin, and foxglove is what digoxin is formulated from. So that knowledge is somewhat easy to get at, but there are other treatments that have been common for all these years that, while considered 'alternative' therapies now, are tried and tested for hundreds of years. Like horehound for colds.
Armed with my wee bit of knowledge, I took to making some remedies. As I live in a 'northern' climate, I endure 6 months of winter, and the 6 months of coughs and colds that accompany that kind of weather. I decided my first project would be horehound lozenges and cough syrup.
What fun I had!

How awful was that stuff? Yuck!

But it flipped a switch in my brain, and I've been fomenting some rather big changes in our life ever since.

We've had some harsh lessons over the past couple of years. Due to the downturn in the economy, we were living far beyond our means, and everything came to a head for us just before Christmas. I looked at our sad bank balance and knew there would be no more 'borrowing' from our retirement fund to get us through a few months. I'd been eating healthier, and I wanted to continue to do so, and eating healthy in a northern climate is not cheap. Etcetera, etcetera.

We kicked 2011 out and welcomed the potential of 2012 being so much better. And so far, it has been. My husband changed careers, and now is just finishing up his final training. I have changed careers, which allowed me to land a full-time position at the local college. This marks the first time in 6 years we've both had full-time work. I'm healthier, due to weightloss and positive thinking, and am finally able to tackle the hellhole that my house had become over that dark 2 years. And we, as a family, are finally able to plan for our future, rather than borrowing from it.

So now the focus is sustainable living. Not because we're greasy hippies, but because stepping away from prepackaged everything will allow us to be healthier in body and mind. We want to minimize our home's footprint because we like to travel. We want to minimize our home expenses for the same reason. But we also want to learn to support ourselves, and break free from the clutches of our consumer driven society. We want to eat natural foods, use natural products and minimize the toxins in our lives.

So this blog is to document our journey from a consumer-culture driven family to a more earth friendly, frugal, sustainable lifestyle. I suspect there will be pitfalls, and I suspect there will be times when I rage against this decision. But I'm also committed. We might not every truly be Crunchy Granolas, but we'll try to get as Crunchy as we can.

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