What will yours be?

January first is coming, and with that comes the wave of New Years' resolutions. A resolution is defined as: the quality of being resolute: Firmness, Determination; a formal statement expressing the opinion, will, or intent of a body of persons which typically lasts 2 weeks when made on January 1st.

Ok, so I added the last bit myself. But typically, if you speak to others about their resolutions in the latter part of January, they have fallen by the wayside. I've been no different until I determined that I should be concentrating on lifestyle changes that I want to make. Not things I should make or things that sound good to make. Things that truly mean something to me. Jay and I have been changing our lifestyle gradually to a simpler (in our eyes) more frugal lifestyle. A lifestyle that promotes living since the time we have on earth is quite short.
Our resolutions this year focus again on our path of Voluntary Simplicity and self-reliant living. In her book Simplicity Lessons, Linda Breen Pierce describes Voluntary Simplicity as "living consciously and deliberately, focusing on what you truly need or genuinely cherish." She further adds "This concept relates not only to material possessions but also to work, relationships, how we spend our leisure time, and the choices we make that impact the earth and other people. Living simply is not about rejecting the material comforts in life, but it does involve unburdening our lives, living more lightly with fewer distractions."
Basically, we have determined what is important to us, both in the present as well as where we're headed, and we are living consciously within that plan, not wanting to work to pay debt. Small changes here and there really do add up. We started with living below our means. When I discuss this with people, the typical response is "oh, that's so great but I couldn't do that". Couldn't or don't want to? I understand that it's not for everyone. When we purchased our house, that was our first BIG step in living below our means. I find that I go thru periods of time where my choices are easy (do we need this and/or do I genuinely cherish this?), and then getting harder where I have to remind myself of what the larger goal is.
Last year began the changes of living a much happier, healthier lifestyle where we are thinking not only about ourselves and a better quality of life, but about our impact on the planet as well. Some of these changes were: lessening the purchases we made because of "want" and focused more on "need"; cutting the frequency of eating out to 1 time per week; cutting our weekly grocery bill quite dramatically (I first had to determine what we were spending because I was making so many trips to the grocery store per week that I didn't have a true number until I wrote it all down - needless to say I was quite surprised); planting a garden for fresh veggies; cutting down the amount of times per week of eating out; changing my cleaning products to include a couple of "natural" green cleaners and lots of vinegar and baking soda (finally no headaches after I've cleaned the windows); re-using plastic zip-loc bags; making food from scratch; reducing the amount of food scraps that we throw away by composting or feeding to the chickens; focusing the time that we have for "us" on things we want to do - whether it be going to a local attraction or working on things around the farm.
We are looking forward to 2010 with the following new goals:
  • Cutting out my Starbucks "habit" and getting up earlier to make my own latte. (Staci's)
  • Planting a larger garden for freezing and canning fruits and veggies.
  • Cutting our weekly grocery bill down even further. This one's hard because there's items that will always be important to us to "splurge on", but I think we can still shave some dollars by additional planning. We choose to purchase the highest quality that we can afford when it comes to meat and veggies/fruits, without spending a ridiculous price on any one item. I rarely use coupons because we eat very little processed foods, but I do buy in bulk when we find a great price on something that we use. I made a price book for 3 grocery stores and 2 bulk buy warehouse stores and was quite surprised at the difference in pricing. One grocery store tended to be higher in just about every item that we regularly purchase. Although the price book took a little time to put together, it makes it easier to determine if a "sale" price is truly a savings.
  • Eat locally and in-season. This is important to me - trying to purchase from local farmers and eating what's in season. Tomatoes will probably be the hardest as I use them in so many dishes. Next year I'll freeze and can more.
  • Paying attention to packaging - purchasing products that are minimally packaged.
  • Cutting down on the amount of paper towels that we use. We DEFINITELY need to work on this one.
  • Baking more fresh bread, rather than buying store-bought.
  • Collecting water in rain barrels for the gardens.
  • Learning to make cheese. This is part of my retirement plan - cheesemaking. I keep telling everyone that in 10 years I'll be milking SOMETHING full-time! (Thoughts should go to goats or cows). I haven't determined which animal it will be yet because I absolutely adore goats, but I can't eat goat cheese. I try and will myself to eat it, but it's the only food that I've ever eaten that gets my gag reflex going. I am determined to conquer this though, and I've got 10 years to do it!
  • Learning to make a braided rug. (Staci's)
  • Cutting down our eating out to twice a month.
  • Starting a worm composter.
  • Learning to knit. This was on last year's list and I never took the time to do it. Hopefully this is the year. (Staci's)
  • Paring down my cookbook collection. (Staci's)
Where are Jay's personal goals/resolutions you might ask? He stated that he couldn't come up with any and he would prefer to just go with the ones we'd already come up with. He's something!
We'll continue to make improvements around our little farm - some for aesthetics, but most for necessity and continue to spend time with family and friends whose company we enjoy.
As we have both learned, this year in particular, life truly is too short and it's worth enjoying what you have while you have it.

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