Living with humans.

Living with people is hard. Even harder when you are introverted, not highly emotive, and overly practical about how to run your life. Even harder when your lifestyle is markedly alternative. But living with people can be handled.

As briefly mentioned last week, we were thinking of moving in with relatives and it fell through. And one of the reasons for it was quite simply that we felt we could not live with them at all. Their lifestyle clashed with ours, but there was a requirement that we merge our lives. And every pressure was put on us to change our own behaviours and accept the behaviours of the people we were moving in with. Which I suppose is fair enough, as they were there first. But neither Jon nor I are ready to change our lives so dramatically for anything or anyone. And the levels of drama were, quite frankly, massively above what we can tolerate, which, incidentally, is “as close to zero as possible”. So why try at all? Quite simply, we didn’t actually expect to have to change so much.

You see, we comfortably “live” with a couple we’re friends with semi regularly. We’ve had sleepovers, shared hotels, and our last holiday involved a solid week of houseshare. And although even arranging a single visit or day with the relatives was a nightmare, somehow living for a week with our friends was easy. We could do basic housework, arrange meals together, go places and even schedule my work and medical emergencies and shopping, all without a single falling out. So what gives? Why can we do that with them, but not our own family?

The core difference actually comes down to independence versus agreeability. Jon and I both have a strong desire to be independent, both as individuals and as a couple. So we aim to do as much as we can on our own. We also would rather things got done than did not, so we’re both agreeable as long as the work that needs to get done is getting done, but not at all agreeable when delays occur. And our friends are very much the same. They want to do their own thing and they want to do it in peace. So even though we were living together and doing things together, ultimately we were still operating as individuals and we were agreeable so as to enable all of us to continue operating as individuals.

Meanwhile, the main sources of conflict with the family were based around dependence and a need for agreeability beyond comfort. They were demanding to be informed of every aspect of our lives, insisting on helping us rather than letting us hire someone to do work, and getting upset whenever we chose to do something on our own. They were essentially demanding a merge of lives, a loss of independence to us. Share the dogs, let them take care of XYZ, put their needs first. And being highly emotive people, whenever we sought independence over communialism, they became upset. So rather than focusing on a problem, such as the dog needing somewhere to stay but them being unable to keep up their promises, or the solution, such as finding someone else to take care of her, we were expected to first and foremost focus on how we hurt their feelings throughout the situation. In other words, we were expected to be dependent on them and to be agreeable towards them. It was the complete opposite of our relationship with our friends.

I’m sure many people are happy to live with people who they are dependent on and agreeable towards. But ultimately, to avoid drama, you and the people you live with need to agree on your levels of interdependence and agreeability. Whether you want to lead completely isolated lives under the same roof or whether one of you will be completely dependent, you need to agree on that. And whether you want to handle everything bluntly or whether you need people to be sensitive to your emotions, you need to agree on that.

People can live together when they lead completely different lives. They cannot live together when their socializing patterns are completely different.

Let that be a lesson to all: before living with people, discuss dependence levels and how agreeable you need to be to each other. Because drama doesn’t come from disagreements, conflicting beliefs or busy lives. Drama comes from differing neediness.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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Being All You Can Be. Part IV: Self-Sufficiency.

In Part II I outlined how there are three pillars to being all you can be: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment.  And all of them are crucial to being a well-rounded person.

Part III addressed how finance is important to being all you can be, and a few ways of contributing financially.

But where you cannot afford a service or product, where your financing abilities fall short, you needn’t go without. After all, if you need to, you can do almost anything yourself. Here are some self-sufficiency skills which will save you money on projects you may not be able to realistically outsource.

  1. Grow your own. If you can grow the food you eat, you eat better and save money. Consider getting herbs and a bonsaid lemon tree for the kitchen; tomatoes, courgettes, oranges, strawberries and raddishes on balconies; carrots, potatoes, rhubarb, berries and cabbages in small gardens, and fruit trees and various crops in bigger gardens.
  2. Cooking, cleaning, laundry. Outsourcing these, even in the form of buying prepared meals, hiring a carpet cleaner or getting ironing done at the dry-cleaner, is expensive in the long term. Cut costs by looking after your hosue from scratch yourself.
  3. Basic plumbing and electrics. Plumbers and electricians cost an awful lot. Which is fine for big jobs, after all we don’t want a flood, death by electrocution or both. But when it comes to changing light switches and cleaning u-bends, we should be masters at looking after our house’s workings.
  4. Woodwork. Anything from mending a shelf to making your own pagoda, the more woodwork you can do the better your house can look for less.
  5. Feminine arts. As with woodwork, repeated again. The more you can make and mend on your own using sewing, knitting, crochet, darning and weaving, the less you need to buy to look and feel great.
  6. Literally anything. Think of things you spend on and ask yourself: can I do that? You may be surprised!

Next week we will look into enjoyment, the things we can do to make the most of all the time and money we free up with the previous two pillars.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Being All You Can Be. Part II: Self-Sufficiency.

As mentioned in Part I, being all you can be is not just about doing a great job, but also about reaching your fingers into as many pies as you can comfortably handle.

The next element to being all you can be is working out what to focus on. After all, you can’t do it all or have it all, but you shouldn’t really devote yourself to one thing forever either. The woman in the last example is a police officer for her paid work, a housewife at home and a writer in her spare time. What is stopping her from wearing more hats? And why did she choose those three?

She wears three hats because that is what her time allows. Once you’ve worked all day, sorted the house and written for a couple of hours, there isn’t much more you can do. And she chose those three because they represent the pillars of valuable work: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment. She gets paid, she avoids paying someone else to do her work and she does something she loves.

And we all have potential to embrace those three pillars and build them into the life we want to live. When that time arrives, we’ll be all we can be.

In Part III I will begin to discuss each pillar in more detail, so we can be all we can be.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Happy Birthday Jon!

As you probably already know, Jon and I signed the wedding papers a month and a half ago, having been a couple for four and a half years and having lived together for almost two years. And as you may already know, despite my lifestyle I am practically the poster child for a Strong And Independent Woman™.

How so? Well, coming from an unusual and tough childhood and being already predisposed to not particularly caring for social mores, I have always sought to better myself. I prize independence because independence is safety and safety is happiness. I have seen some of the world, lived wholly on my own and done just fine.

I have learned various skills and can run a home entirely on my own if I chose to. I can fix taps and replace seals, unblock drains and fix ubends. I can weed the garden, mow the lawn and light a fire just fine on my own. I can do all the cooking and cleaning and have some knowledge of most of the feminine arts, such as sewing and crochet.

I have credits stored for when I want to finish my degree and a place almost guaranteed in a decent course for when the time comes, be it in a year or forty years.

I have my own business as a private tutor, writer and translator and bring home around £600 a month steadily, ignoring my dollars on the side or cash-in-hand payments. If I chose to I could probably boost this quite significantly as the demand is there.

I have also developed an amount of self-sufficiency. I don’t need to rely on anything or anyone if I don’t want to. I can grow, forage or snare my own food.

So I don’t really need any specific person. Do I need society? Of course I do. Everyone does. And, as Janet Bloomfield has already mentioned, men are kind of the absolute pillar of society. But I don’t need a butcher, a guardian, any single person I know could, theoretically, have never existed and I would have been dandy.

But despite how easy it would be for me to claim my absolute independence and be cheered on by every back-patting feels-troll feminist I’m not a Strong And Independent Woman Who Don’t Need No Man™. Because not only do I need, as we all need, the social support of men, I also need one specific man.

Again, theoretically, he doesn’t need any specific person.

He has always been independent and has never needed much in the way of human company. He sees his best and longest standing friends once every 3-6 months and that is the way it always has been for him. He has seen enough and heard enough to know that not all people want to care for him and to prepare himself accordingly.

Even before meeting me, whatever I may say of his diet when we joke around, he was feeding himself just fine. He was strong and fairly healthy. He knew how to make a healthy meal when he has to. He also knew how to budget and clean and tidy and live on his own.

He has his degree, several qualifications and many skills. He has work all but guaranteed in the most advanced to most degraded of societies. He understands where he can go for resources if he needs them and he can do most things on his own when he must, such as minor car repairs and growing his own food.

And in that, he enriches my life as I enrich his. We’re both strong and independent. We don’t really need any random person off the street. But he isn’t a random person off the street. He’s a massive addition to my life. He takes the burden off my shoulders when I’m carrying too much. He exchanges work when we could each do the other’s work better. He provides for me and I support him. Everything is better for having him here. And life would be possible without him, but it would, quite frankly, suck.

I’m a Strong And Independent Woman™ and I do need my man. Thank goodness I have him.

TTFN, I’m off to bake a cake.

5 Ways To Be More Independent.

We would all like to be more independent. After all, we live in a world where self-deification is the norm and pride, envy and greed are all justified, as you clearly deserve everything you want.

So whether you’re one of those people who feels worthy of everything they want or need or just someone who wants to avoid relying on those people, we all want to be more independent from others. This isn’t a safe world in which to be completely dependent, after all.

So what are the ways in which we can limit our dependence on others? Here are my top five.

1.- Self Awareness.

Self awareness is the very baseline. It is a raw, amoral, unemotional, rational analysis of who and what you are. Ask yourself these questions and answer as honestly as you can.

Who am I?

What defines me?

What do I add to others lives?

What do I get from others?

What is my purpose in life?

Who chose that purpose?

Am I fulfilling that purpose?

What are my flaws?

What are my shortcomings?

What holds me back?

What are my advantages?

Am I making use of them?

What are my goals?

Are they realistic?

Do they align with my purpose?

What am I doing with my life?

Am I making good use of my time?

How much do I have left?

What are my motivations?What is my priority?What matters most?

Are any of these questions making me uncomfortable? Why?

Did I answer any of these questions dishonestly? Why? What is the real answer?

Go through them again and again until you start to get a feel for who you really are. Face every side of yourself, especially the aspects you don’t like. The less you like them, the more you need to observe them. The parts of you that you least like are the ones you need to be the most aware of.

2.- Self Actualization.

Abraham Maslow defined self actualization as “the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially.” In other words, it is the desire to become the very best you can be, combined with a striving to become that best.

You cannot be independent without self actualizing. It is the next step from Self Awareness. Once you know who you are, you become aware of your potential. You might not know for sure how well you can do, but you will have an idea. Now you need to hunger for it.

You need to feel that compelling urge, that burning desire to reach the pinnacle of what you can be, to be the best.

Whatever you want out of life, whatever your purpose is, whatever you’re headed towards, you need to strive for it and strive to do the very best you can do.

3.- Self Sufficiency.

Part of becoming the very best you can be is cutting unnecessary dependence. And the biggest form of dependence is when you depend on others for your basic needs.

Of course, you can never actually eliminate the need for others unless you also eliminate others. If you want food, someone has to grow it, pick it and transport it. If you forage wild food you depend on there being wild plants, on having the ability to access them, on being protected from others who might interfere with your ability to forage. In short, as long as there are people, you will need people, even if it’s just to stop the other people from becoming a nuisance to you.

However there are many ways you can maximize your self sufficiency and ensure that you aren’t relying too much on individuals or organizations for support.

Look at where your money, your food, your shelter come from. These are the bare basics. The very first step is to ensure that your food and shelter come from your own money, not someone else’s. If your food and shelter come from your money, consider where your money comes from. Think of how you could use less money to have the same food and shelter. Consider whether it is preferable to work for someone else and get a stable paycheck but rely on your employer for work, or to work for yourself, rely only on yourself and your customers for work but risk earning less.

Some common forms of becoming more self sufficient are gardening, learning basic skills such as woodwork, plumbing or cleaning, installing a renewable energy source and walking or cycling rather than driving.

4.- Self Care.

The other side to reducing dependence is to reduce the need for less essential things. Other people provide company, affection, validation, stimulation. And it’s only natural to need and want these things. But we don’t want to rely on their continual supply. Needing someone else to validate you daily is as much a form of dependence as needing them to feed you is.

Instead, cultivate a form of self love through self care. This should be easier when you are self aware, self actualizing and largely self sufficient. You know who you are, where you are headed, what you want and you don’t desperately need anyone to get you there. This means you already have important, internal sources of validation: your skills, your identity, your goals.

But you need to also spend some time caring for yourself to cultivate this self love. Spending time alone if good for you. Even if it takes some effort at first, try and enjoy your own company. Make your own entertainment. Find books, films, games or hobbies that intellectually and emotionally stimulate you. Consider important questions and matters and reflect on them on your own. Play Devil’s Advocate against yourself.

Show yourself some tenderness. Afford yourself treats, relaxation time, idle hobbies and guilty pleasures.

Basically, learn to live on your own, to live with yourself. You don’t have to do it all the time. But it needs to be an option. You need to be able to be left on your own without pining.

5.- Self Integration.

Finally, I have been continually mentioning that you actually do need others for a lot of these things. You rely on either an employer or clients if not both for your income. You rely on gun manufacturers, law enforcement or other measures for your safety. If you plan on reading to liven your mind, you are relying on the writer, the publisher, the source of the book. You can never cut yourself off from humanity.

So the last crucial step to independence is to integrate yourself well into society. You will always need people. So try and only rely on people worth relying on. Rely on select people minimally and let them rely on you minimally. Establish clear boundaries in your relationships as to how far dependence can go. You want to be an active member of society. But you want to be a self aware, self actualized, self sufficient, self caring one too.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Do you view yourself as independent? What do you find yourself relying on too much? Do you find you’re at the other end of the spectrum and too detached from people? What parts of the self awareness questions did you find hardest? What parts of yourself are you fighting to reconcile with? If you feel comfortable doing so, share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.