Five Years Ago (Or I Never Saw This Coming)

Five Years Ago:
We bought store-bought bread.
     (Now we bake it.)
We didn't garden.
     (Now we grow all sorts of things.)
We owned and drove two cars.
     (Now we share one and bicycle and walk more.)
I couldn't sew a straight line.
     (Now sewing is one of my favorite pastimes and has saved our household loads of money.)
We ate highly processed canned soups and packaged grain side dishes.
     (Now we cook from scratch.)
We used plastic bags when shopping.
     (Now we always have our reusable bags handy.)
We didn't can or freeze or dry produce for storage.
     (Now we do so more and more each year.)
We didn't know about organic agricultural practices or genetically modified organisms, or, well, where food comes from in general.
     (Now we're more informed and connected to it and produce quite a bit ourselves.)
We rented house.
     (Now we've been homeowners for more than two years already!)
We bought canned beans at Wal-mart.
     (Now we cook dry beans and almost never shop at Wal-Mart.)
We didn't shop with attention to local producers.
     (Now we're proud to use Montana wheat, lentils, flax, etc., so the money supports our local economy.)
We maintained our hair with chemically-laden shampoos and conditioners.
     (Now we use an entirely plant-based shampoo and use apple cider vinegar as conditioner.)
We didn't buy anything in bulk.
     (Now we avoid SO much trash and save SO much money by refilling our bulk jars.)
We bought petroleum and chemical based cleaners.
     (Now we mostly use vinegar and baking soda.)
We hardly recycled and we didn't compost.
     (Now between the recycling and compost there is little to throw away.)
Making lefse - May 25, 2014
I am sure I could go on.  Knitting, farmer's markets, savings accounts, soap making, television viewing, clothes lines, pickling, homebrewing, and on and on.  But, I think I've made my point.
Grilled homegrown summer squash with "egg" rolls stuffed with homegrown cabbage and carrot - August 15, 2014
We didn't set out to do most of these things, really.  They just naturally followed in progression one after the other.  Its not like we consciously thought:  "We're going to start gardening.  That way we can start canning.  That way we don't have to buy disposable jars, will save money, and eat more whole foods."  That wasn't the thought process at all.  We just thought it might be fun to grow a few vegetables in our little flower bed.  It was just a simple starting point which brought us to walk a path we could never have predicted.  Its like that Lao Tzu saying:  "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  Its so true in nearly every sense.
Picking sour cherries - July 22, 2014
Its amazing how things can change.  I would never have dreamed of knowing and doing what I do know.  I suppose that is the way life is.  But, gosh, am I thrilled with what I've done in these past five years.  I feel like I am blossoming into myself more and more each year.  I wish that every single person could experience the joy that I feel in my continual (and I stress the word, continual) growth and evolution into a more intelligent, caring, self-reliant, gentle, thoughtful, earth-affirming person.  It feels good.  It feels rewarding.  It feels enriching.
One of my favorite tie-dyes - July 28, 2014
Anything is possible! 


  1. I love this post. I could either list mine as 5 years ago (before we owned a home that had a little piece of property) or 3 years ago (when I started gardening.) Each little thing inevitably leads to another.

    1. Thanks, Cristy. I've been ruminating on writing it for some time now. I think its important to acknowledge how far we've all grown and changed, what we've learned. I also think people are overwhelmed by the notion of making a change to a more simple, natural lifestyle pattern, but its not overwhelming at all, just one step at a time. I hope you've had some interesting reflection on your own growth. I am sure its an interesting list!

  2. What a great post. Yes, a LOT can change in 5 years. I feel like a lot of mine can be viewed as "bad", but I firmly believe whatever happens is meant to & it's my job to experience, learn, & move forward. So a few for me:

    5 Years Ago..

    • I was preparing to get married
    (Now I'm divorced. Trust me, it's for the best. Lessons learned)
    • My Mom was alive
    (Passed away unexpectedly in 2011)
    • I was in college
    (Now graduated and working for the same company for 4+ years)
    • Had never traveled alone
    (Took two solo trips, some of the BEST experiences of my life)
    • Met 3 of my now closest friends in this area

    1. As long as we learn from them I think even "bad" experiences can be very valuable. I'm glad you took the time to reflect and think. I thought it was a very interesting practice. I'd been mulling it over for weeks...I can't remember what started me thinking about it now. It also gives me pause to dream and plan for the next five years.

  3. what an inspiring post! You guys have acquired a serious amount of skill. I'm so impressed. I guess I just try to take another baby step every year, so if I would look back over a number of years, I would see the big shift (but still, I think what you two did is exceptionally amazing!).

    1. Aw, thanks so much, Margo. It was pretty amazing to start writing them down and see how far we've come in our growth. This year I am really excited to have learned how to make soap.


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