The Good Life I Was Already Living

| 9/2/2009 10:03:39 AM

A photo of the Chicken WhispererWe’ve recently become a one-income family, an unexpected event that fortunately has not left us struggling, but it has given us some pause. The only real casualty here is that we can’t spend money thoughtlessly anymore, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, it’s surprised me how much I’ve come to think of it as a good thing, because this change in our circumstances has forced me to be the one thing that I’ve felt unable to be for most of my adult life – where I am.

My husband and I have spent most of our 15 years together living in and for the future: we figured we’d be happy when we got out of debt, when we got a bigger apartment, when we were able to buy a house, when we could move into a bigger house and onto a bigger piece of property … the list is endless, and the energy required to sustain this kind of thinking is exhausting. So, it came as something of a relief to realize that we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Ironically, the change has enabled and encouraged us to throw our energy in directions we wanted to head in anyway. A little over a year ago we started a long-term food storage program, and I began gardening. Our first spring’s effort was small, but satisfying. Fall was small and even more satisfying, and this spring we stepped up production.

harvest basket

Our interests weren’t originally about saving money. They were more motivated by an interest in emergency preparedness, concern about the quality of the food we were eating, and an evolving interest in self-sufficiency. But when sudden job loss caught us temporarily broke between paychecks, we found that we had unwittingly prepared ourselves for it. Instead of being in a panic, I found myself thinking, gosh, we’re actually okay. We don’t really need anything. And this was a sudden seismic shift. In our previous, two-income life, I was in a grocery store almost every day. If we ran out of something, well, we were out of it, which implied it ought to be here, which meant I couldn’t relax until I went and got it. I mean, we were out of it! It was a problem!

But being forced to slow down, to think and to plan, to do extra work where previously we solved problems with money, has given me some much-needed perspective.

Oz Girl
1/18/2010 2:12:48 PM

What a wonderful blog post. I've enjoyed reading about your journey to self-sustainability, and as I see you posted this last September, I hope you have many more posts to come!

S.M.R. Saia
10/19/2009 10:28:26 AM

I don't know if any of you commenters will even see this response, it's been so long. I was having technical issues getting comments posted, and now that's resolved, so here goes. First I want to thank you all for the supportive comments. I'm happy to be here as part of this community, and I look forward to learning and sharing much. It looks like Grit doesn't have my bio up yet, so Chad, in response to your question, yes, this is my blog, but I also keep two others. For garden-specific stuff you can find me at For a running commentary on anything under the sun, but especially our sustainability adventures, you can follow along at Thanks for reading!

9/7/2009 4:21:27 PM

Wow I love the size of your garden and I applaud all the things you are trying to do. It'll be great fun following you along. vickie

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters