I stumbled into the world of blogging through the most unsuspecting of channels: the newspaper. The introduction came by way of an article in the local paper announcing the arrival of the annual BlogHer conference. It was 2008 and, while I was generally aware of the existence of blogs, I was astounded to discover the delightful reality of a vibrant community of women bloggers.
Just weeks before, my world had been shattered by the loss of my first pregnancy at 19 weeks and I quickly found my way to a community of women who were sharing painful stories of infertility and loss. At the time, I didn’t have the energy to even comment, let alone write, but those blogs provided much-needed sustenance. I went on to become pregnant again, endure another loss, and then to blunder my transition into motherhood without so much as a hint of grace or ease.
Those years were nothing short of catastrophic. Thanks in part to crippling postpartum anxiety, I was incapable of juggling work and motherhood and abruptly ended my career trajectory. And because so much of my community had revolved around my work life, I found myself painfully isolated during much of my first year of motherhood. When I finally found the strength to dig myself out of the rubble, I discovered a desire to blog. To actively join the conversation. For me, it was about regaining control of my own story and believing quite literally in the power to write it. I already knew the narrative: I had been gifted the opportunity to construct a different version of my life, this time according to a value system built around the things that I now knew to be most important to me: family, community and the joys that can be found in choosing a simpler, slower way of life. My undoing was my admission to something better. I simply needed to sort out a few details.
Life, it seems, refuses to be confined to a linear path. Soon after I began this blog, I became unexpectedly pregnant with Mr D. and after a surprisingly uneventful (for me) pregnancy and birth, we reverted to basic survival mode for a few years.
The blog fell by the wayside but in many ways, I have been successful in guiding us in the direction that I envisioned. We do live simply, minimizing consumption and commitments and maximizing our time together. With only one small income, we manage to thrive in a tiny rental apartment and are mostly happy to call the Bay Area our home. While in a parallel universe I live a self reliant existence on a sustainable farm within a community of like-minded dreamers, in reality I do manage to grow some of our food and cook most of it, make my own compost and even barter for quite a few pasture-raised eggs, all despite the fact that we don’t even have a yard.
But I’ve discovered that there are many layers to creating a simple life. And many challenges. It is both undesirable and impossible to inhabit our personal spheres without bumping up against the society that surrounds us. And it is practically meaningless to change ourselves without changing the world. And that, I’m afraid, is no small task.
One of the greatest gifts of the internet is the opportunity to carve out our own reality from an unbounded space. We can consciously choose to “surround” ourselves with like minded people and filter out the naysayers. Thanks mostly to other people’s blogs, I’ve come across an astounding amount of evidence for a very real momentum to change direction in a time of global climate change and cultural collapse. And I’ve come to believe that the little choices that we make every day carry enormous power to affect that change, indeed that some of the smallest, most mundane actions may be the most revolutionary, especially when they come from a deep shift in our thinking.
Amidst all of the urgency, the thing that I appreciate most of all about the concept of slow living is the strong message that while we need to simplify because we want to save the very planet that sustains us, we feel compelled to change because we are drawn to what we believe is a better way of living, one that focuses on meaning and connection rather than accumulation and performance.
But first, we have to slow down.