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.......?