Monday, March 5, 2012

Limiting the limitless

A little rant of sorts has been drifting through my tired brain these last few weeks.  It was sparked by a dawning in my mind of an idea that isn't shared much in the crafty mama blogs that I read.  Searching for inspiration in blogland is not hard.  There are tons of smart and accomplished people out there doing what seems like it all.  Urban homesteading or moving to the farm, entrepreneurs, professionals, creative women making time to take classes or read and learn skills for making the everyday less consumerist and more handmade.
I am so inspired by this, often it lights a fire in this dreamer's soul and I accomplish things and have the courage to try.  And even if I don't try those specific ideas the fact that someone else is makes me glad and gives me a sense of accomplishment for the things I do make my own.
And that is what I wanted to share today.  How have I made the choices to "do" or "admire".  What criteria I have considered and why I think that limitations are really important, especially for mamas today.
Just to put some background on myself before I begin to list my limits: I'm neither a Type A personality nor a perfectionist.  I think motivation is often highly affected by these things.  Feeling compelled to "do it all" is more typical of those traits.  I have lots of laid-back, "good enough" in me.  That is both a blessing and a curse.  But knowing that about yourself can help you to set and not overreach your own limits.  Where do you fall in the spectrum in between master of all trades and master of none?
So setting the scene with me not being a master of all trades type I have chosen to work and become as proficient as possible at skills that resonate strongly with me:

Gardening.  Each year I plant.  I water, weed and tend.  I have had some success and lots of failure here.  There is little that I would pass on in terms of advice because I consider myself a novice at best.
My goal is to one day have a vegetable garden and hopefully a space that I could tend with Permaculture principals in mind.  For now I have a small front bed and my balcony.  I love flowers, herbs, fostering space for bees, birds and butterflies, and producing some food for the family.  I do not aspire to produce all or even most of our food, the level of skill, time and space that I would need for that is beyond my scope and desire.  An example of how I have set my gardening limit is by planting some edibles and flowers together, building on past success while still experimenting as well.  This year I'll plant more snap peas (which were our biggest success last year) a cucumber that does well in containers, have our first rhubarb harvest, and I hope to plant a raspberry bush in our front plot as well.  I'm going to give tomatoes a go again, despite two years of failure but I will research the variety better than I did before.
What I won't do or don't aspire to do is have chickens or bees of my own.  I support the efforts of those that do.  I think it is wonderful really.  But I don't want to care for any other beings right now.  And in the case of bees, chickens or anything other than a dog or maybe a turtle, I'm out.  I told Ky he could have a dog when he's ten.  By then he'll at least be able to care for it and the boys will be older and I'll feel more able to care for something that will have such dependence on us.

Food.  Glorious food.  Food culture, food politics, food accessibility.  Feeding us is a huge part of my life right now and will continue to be for many years to come.   Since I have committed to eating whole foods, organic and local as much as possible I feel learning to cook them to the best of my ability is important.  Not only cooking is high on my list, preserving food is also crucial to our style of nourishment.  So canning, freezing, and fermenting fall into this category.  That being said I'm sticking to learning about bread and meal prep as well as baking.  I won't be making mead, kombucha, or beer.  The main issue here being storage of large buckets, bottles and again the time involved.  Cheese and yogurt are possibilities in the future but more out of fun than providing for all or our dietary needs.  I also won't be making our soap, most cleaning products or many herbal remedies.  My reasoning here is that there are many local options for me to support others in these endeavors.  And again I don't want to store the supplies needed to make these things nor try to fit the tasks into our schedule.  Dave and I do have hobbies we share but he is not the ultimate do-it-yourself type guy.  We won't be spending our Saturday nights making soap though I applaud those that do and understand their motivations.

In the creative department I sew and embroider.  Those are my art, my future plan of personal and professional  fulfillment.  They are areas that this non-perfectionist most needs to perfect if that makes sense. Building a technical skill base to make the ideas in my head manifest into pieces for other to see.  That being said I don't knit or crochet.  I don't do pottery, professional photography, or cross-stich.  I want to be really good at sewing, quilting and working in fabric.  Bringing knitting onto the scene would divide my attention.  That doesn't mean that I'll never knit, there may be lots of time for learning it in the future but for now I'm refraining from yarn.

In the interest of keeping this long post from going into overdrive I'll list the other areas that I put my time into (or plan to in the future).  I am enjoying how these things are revealing themselves to me as time progresses.  I'm sure the list will change, expand or contract depending on circumstances and you know, life as it unfolds.

Reading :: blogs, poetry, fiction and non-fiction
Writing my blog
Outdoors :: hiking, camping, travel, environmental protection
Feminism :: woman's issues, politics and democratic rights, maternal health

Thanks for sticking with me here. I'm wrapping up I promise.  What this all means is that in the limitless world before me whether on the internet or not I have to stop my dreamer self from creating a world that is impossible to sustain.  I'd love to do everything well.  Most of the things I listed above that I don't/won't do are not for lack of interest but are more about prioritizing.  The wonderful women that I read about who pursue these skills are admirable and most likely have their own lists whether they are conscious ones or not.  We all prioritize and some things inevitably don't make the list.  And that is good.  They can always be tried later or celebrated through another means.  Let's avoid burn-out, feeling like we are not stacking up to those around us or comparisons.  For those that seem to do it all I am sure that they are not.  No one does.  We are all just doing our best to fulfill our dreams and master what is really dear to our hearts.

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