I mentioned earlier that I was reading Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes and I wanted to tell you more about it! The word "radical" can sometimes scare people away because it infers something big and different and even disturbing. But in this instance, it is a paradigm shift. Women of our generation and the next have jumped into the modern idea of obtaining college degrees, careers and consumer lifestyles... all while trying to be the nurturers and homemakers like our grandmother's generation. Women's Rights was such a strong movement during my mother's twenties and thirties. But where did that get us? I think our generation struggles daily with balance in life and especially with the idea of doing the right thing. That right thing is different for everyone, but this book really made me contemplate what my goals are in my life. I decided to stay home with my kids to be here all the time to raise them. I did take part-time jobs here and there, especially if I could do them while the kids were at school or at home. I know my limits of how much I can juggle and still do a good job. But the biggest eye-opening idea of this book was that I still feel that I have to meet a certain "standard of living" and that we should have a certain income to be "successful" instead of taking into account what we really "need" and not just "want". What if I tried to stop spending and started to make everything I could? That was my dream in college-- to make anything and everything I could by hand. I know we don't have time to do it all, but I think that's what attracted most of us to these craft blogs-- the idea that we could make some of it. I also think that this book is correct in pointing out that we need community-- if we are to turn from constant consumerism, then we need to rely on the help and expertise of other friends and family to meet our needs, as well as helping them. I love this idea. I tend to be very independent and I have been since I was twelve years old but I think interdependence is something I need to grow into.
The first half of the book is a very interesting look at how the role of women has changed over the decades and it's maybe not what you think. The second half is a collection of stories about people-- some families, some couples, some single people-- who have traded fast-track careers to stay at home and create a life that is based on really living. This could include growing their own food, trading work for friends in exchange for neccessities, relying on the land and their neighbors instead of the local Walmart. Some people are more radical than others, as some still went to work every day in regular jobs while others didn't really have anything to their name but some clothes and their skills. But all of them were living a life that they chose on purpose, with purpose.
I really think that anyone who reads this book will find something inspiring or thought-provoking to take from it. I know personally that it has propelled me into being more serious about my little garden, and to start planning a future that includes having my own chickens, learning homeopathy, sewing more clothes, and downsizing to a home that is just big enough instead of too big... and most importantly, becoming a part of a community where I can be more helpful and money doesn't seem to be quite as necessary as it is today. I'd love to hear what you think about this, especially if you read the book!