Sunday, 14 December 2008

I've decided I'm not a lazy woman I'm a downshifter.

I have recently come across a fantastic woman that I've met virtually, (like so many of my really, really good mates actually!!) through her fantabulous site Book of Rubbish Ideas, called Tracey Smith. Her book and website were recommended by another of my virtual friends Mrs Green ages ago and I had not really had either the time or the inclination to have a proper look, until a few weeks ago when I eventually got round to ordering myself a copy of the book and what a book it is! For someone like me who would consider herself a little imperfect when it comes to all things green, it offers loads of ideas and inspiration for 'greening up my act', to surely nick someone elses cliche!! Some of it I am already doing like the fact that I use very few chemicals when it comes to cleaning. There really is no need to have a zillion different bottles and jars under the sink when a microfibre cloth, some bicarb and a dash of vinegar will sort out most things. The biggest thing that I have gleaned is that it brought to my attention that we actually waste quite a bit of food, or I think we do anyway, and it really is time that I address that issue in my life now.

Tracey's blog is also full of loads of ideas too and I read with interest her 'Top Ten Tips for Downshifting Sucess' ...and as I did, the realisation hit me that this is what has happened to me this last year in Italy, although I feel now that I have fought the idea on a concious level every step of the way. I have given up a full-time job childminding and also having my own pre-school daughter at home, to suddenly having no job of my own and both kids in full-time education. It actually scared me to death really, and I have spent a lot of the last year depressed and thinking that I need to 'do' something to earn my own money to be able to buy the 'stuff' I want and also to make myself sound more interesting when speaking to the people I know. What I didn't realise was that I am actually a downshifter. All that 'stuff' that I thought I needed to buy, well I don't think I actually need it after all; in fact what was it going to be anyway? Those people who say 'but what do you do all day?' don't actually matter. In fact, a really, really good friend of ours, whenever I have ever moaned about stuff has just said, 'for christ sakes, get a job!!' like this would be the end to all my problems. However, a job. It sounds good doesn't it, but will it give me 3months off in the summer because that's what I need to look after my kids during their very long, very European, summer holiday? Or will I need to farm them out to a 'Kids Club' like an ever-increasing amount of Italians now do? or worse, send them back to the UK and miss out on parts of their life whilst the Grandparents get to spoil them and bitch about me in equal measure? I think not. They are still young and I am still needed. I might not always remember that I am lucky and that actually I enjoy it, but that's ok. That's part of being human. Will I look back and say, 'god, I wish I had worked more then', or will I look back and think, 'god me and the kids had a good time then, really, on the whole'? I think it will be the latter, don't you?

Sometimes, you need a new perspective and a new way of seeing things in order to appreciate what you have and this is what I definately gain from reading blogs such as Tracey's and Mrs Green's at the moment. So, to all the doubters, I am a downshifter, ok and not just the lazy cowbag that you thought.... now what am I going to do with all this spare time that I'm giving myself permission to have.......?


  1. You've left me with a shiver up my spine missus!

    Firstly, thank you so much for posting such a kind compliment about my work and secondly, it's great to see your progress and evolution as a proud downshifter.

    My creative side is only nurtured by my giving a positive embrace to living with less and all to often I see friends and family of people doing the same, giving them a hard time.

    The truth be told, they are more often insanely jealous of their simple, green life but they just cannot step out of the box, so it's easier to insult you! LOLOL....hope that breathes some solace and sense to the matter!

    And I must add, downshifters are the most entrepreneurial and resourcefull of all souls - there's not a LAZY bone in them! What they do have is a firm handle on the work/life balance in favour of 'LIFE' and the rest of the world would do well to heed the advice.

    Respectfully yours,
    TS x x x x

  2. Tracey, Welcome and know that I mean every word of what I say about your blog and book, it is fantastic. I think I might pass it on to my sister next who is a true superwoman in her own way, three kids, two exes, a full-time job and a newish man that is worse than a kid! However she has recently brought chickens, makes her own bread (late at night!!) and is really getting into this sustainable living, but she needs to work for the cash and for her soul too. We don't always understand what motivates the other but we can respect the other's choices.

    Anyway, you know what someone said to me a while ago? 'Whatever others think about you is none of your business' and it is sooo true. You can only carry on regardless, especially when it is so important to you. I'm like you, my creativity is very, very important to me and it needs to be nurtured by thinking outside the box and having a life rather than working in jobs that will not make me happy. Don't get me wrong, if we were desperate for money to keep a roof over our heads I would clean toilets if it's what it took, but, at the moment that isn't necessary and so I will be looking at ways to live more frugally but imeasurably more creatively over the next year.

    Take Care and please keep doing what you doxxxxxxx

  3. Missus - thank you for the warm welcome to your wordy world.

    I also connect with you on being a fish out of water, as I lived in France for 4 years. Other peoples perceptions of you, your choice of work and lifestyle can weigh you down with negativity, but it's 'their' issues they're struggling to come to terms with. Your salvation and 'new found way' is just too scary an option, so it's easier to knock it than support it...

    I've just taken off my thick fleece and have another underneath and a tee shirt below it....I was typing in my shed in the garden like the Michellin man and could barely reach the flippin' keyboard! But the sun's up nice now and is warming me through.

    Also, I've just heated a wheat bag that has lavender drops on it and I've placed it at the bottom of my spine - it's warming me through nice and life with limited money (and no heating) is my choice and there are always ways around the problems. Truth be told, I really quite like it...give me this over opulence any day.

    With love back at you,

    TS xxxxx

  4. Tracey,you are lucky, pouring down with rain here today, although it is warmer so that is something I suppose. How did you manage with the language etc. in France? That is the majorist thing that I struggle with. I'm weird enough as an English woman, but I like to walk to the school when I can which everyone here thinks is hilarious! Bizarre. However, there are some that know a bit about frugality here and many people go to the markets for fruit and veg in season and nearly everyone grows a bit of their own veggies here. We have never eaten better, I know that!!

    I like the opulence that you get from cooking for yourself, stuff that tastes good cos it is in season and has been made with love and the opulence of a warm cardie over central heating and sitting here in my swimsuit in december (that cannot be right when you are not in the maldives surely??!!) anytime! I'm not gonna say I don't like comfort, but one of me soups with homemade bread has got to be better than one of those horrid ready meals and costs about 1/10th too! That's what I call real opulence!!