Transforming a Way of Life

By Pamela

Last January, I made the decision to look a little closer at my priorities. It seemed I was working all the time but just getting by financially. Eventually, I ended up with three jobs and still felt like I was barely making it.

After an injury (which I actually healed from much faster than anticipated), I decided that there had to be more to life than working jobs that I’m not happy in.

I quit the two part-time positions but have continued on with my full-time job. I am a registered nurse. There really isn’t anything wrong with being a nurse. It’s a noble profession. We care for people at their most vulnerable moments. I enjoy taking care of, and interacting with, people and, we as nurses all want what’s best for our patients. But after 29 years, and as the circumstances in my own life change, I see things differently than I did when I was a young nurse looking at health care as a career full of promise and security.

Actually, there really is security in nursing. People are always going to be ill and need healing. But, as I get older – I’m 51 and counting – my priorities are changing.

I have aging parents who require my assistance more than they once did. I have grandchildren who are growing up too quickly. I have daughters I would like to have more mother/daughter time with. Last, but definitely not least, I have My Tom, and neither one of us is getting any younger. Time with the people I care about can never be replaced.

All this came to me about a year ago when I had a little down time while I was healing. Hmmm … down time … sometimes a very dangerous thing!

So I decided it was time to make some changes. The decision to quit my part-time jobs meant decreasing the amount of money I was spending. What better way to decrease spending than to get back to basics, simplify my life, and in the process make better environmental choices? I was already doing some things right. I recycle even though I have to take my recycling in to a nearby town since it doesn’t get picked up where I live. I have a programmable thermostat for my newer more efficient furnace and central air. I have a budget and I do try to follow it. However, I felt there was more I could do.

In 2014, I increased the size of my garden by almost double. That equals money saved at the grocery store and fewer chemicals in my food. I built trellises out of leftover 2x4s and clothesline rope to grow some of my food in the upward direction to allow for more efficiency with the space I had. 

Garden trellises for squash made from leftover 2x4s and clothes line rope.

My Tom and I built compost bins out of wood pallets. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.

Wood pallet compost bins made from free pallets.

I updated and repurposed furniture and used scrap wood I had in the garage to build outdoor furniture pieces.

Table I made from scrap wood and treadle sewing machine base.

I started making my own laundry soap, and baking my own bread. I can and freeze more produce than I did in the past. And I stopped buying so many convenience foods. Making more from scratch. All this in a effort to learn more self sufficiency and gain the benefits of a healthier diet.

In 2014, I only bought one loaf of bread, and, after getting used to how delicious homemade bread really is, was so disappointed that I haven’t made the mistake since. Ironically, it was the same brand I had always purchased in the past. Proving that made-from-scratch is best!

This year, I have more goals to accomplish to stay on track. 

• I’m still looking for the perfect job. One that will allow more time to take care of my family, continue to improve my property and still pay the bills. 

• Doing more of the things I used to enjoy: playing the piano, spending time on the bike path in the summer, and hiking and snowshoeing in the winter. 

• After having a series of upsets in 2014, I am getting my exercise routine, that I so desperately missed, back on the priority list. I have been cleared by my physician to get back into running. It was only less than two years ago when I did a half marathon and was training for a full marathon. I am so excited to be able to set running goals again!

• My parents are high on the priority list with health problems cropping up more as each year passes.

• I’m working on being more financially responsible. I make this a goal every year and I think I do pretty well, but it seems each year I find more ways to improve.

• I have many projects waiting to be started. All of which revolve around a more environmentally responsible way of living. Turning my slightly less than 1 acre into a greener more efficient space.

It’s all about taking those baby steps to make those goals attainable and sustainable!

So now, with the clean slate of a new year ahead, it’s time to get busy!  

For more on living in my corner of the Midwest, drop by and visit my personal blog, My Turkey Hollow Twilight Zone.

And stay tuned as my projects begin to unfold here on!

  • Published on Jan 22, 2015
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