Complex Simplicity

Earlier this week Mothering blogger Jennifer Margulis wrote of the “No Impact Man” project, and asked us to share the steps big and small we have made in our own lives.   Having watched the No Impact documentary, I was particularly struck by the effect of their radical life changes on their relationships as a family.  His wife in particular just blossomed over the course of the year – and I was struck by the renewed focus on family & the quality of their time together.

Yesterday I found myself with a double Chariot stroller full of crabapples and our final batch of once-green-now-red tomatoes all in need of canning ASAP.  I was alone with the kids for the day, and feeling more than a bit daunted.  I went through the full range of emotions:

1. Jealousy of my husband away for a work trip & writing retreat.

2. Excitement for a full year of crabby syrup – our 2009 supply just ran out!

3. Gratitude that a good 90% of our tomato crop actually did manage to ripen off the vine.

4. Resentment that we picked so many darned crabapples and now I was left to deal with them.

5. Complete and total overwhelm.

6. Joy at having a full wide open day to be creative in the kitchen!

apple core 2Our family has made some pretty radical changes over the past two years based on our desire to simplify, reduce our impact, and focus on family and community.  Moving from the city to an island farm, biking distance to school, growing & preserving much of our food, raising livestock & eggs, line-drying laundry, cloth toilet wipes, the list goes on….  On so many levels these practices take even more time from our busy lives.  I spent 6 hours yesterday in front of the stove – and emerged with 24 jars of crabapple syrup and 18 jars of canned tomatoes.  I really should be out there harvesting potatoes right now…

And yet, despite the range of emotions I experienced yesterday, I truly am happy.  These commitments we have made as a family are time-consuming, yes, but they are also life-giving.  Once I worked my way through the jealousy, resentment & overwhelm, I had an absolutely lovely day.  My creativity was nurtured, I was fully present and mindful both with my produce and my children, and I felt renewed rather than exhausted at the end of the day.

Shannon Hayes refers to us as Radical Homemakers – and our family was even profiled in the Globe & Mail last spring.  I like the moniker – it reminds me that the work we are doing is real & important and has an impact far beyond our family.   Still, the impact is most felt here at home, and I treasure the changes within our family and home life, and for myself as a woman and mother.  This household “drudgery” has become a source of renewal & reconnection, and our whole family benefits.


What changes have you made as a family?  How do you experience these changes as a woman & mother?

Mama Renew

About Sarah Juliusson

Sarah Juliusson, founder of Mama Renew, is a gifted facilitator and writer on the journey of birth & motherhood. She brings two decades of experience supporting families through pregnancy, birth and motherhood to her work. Sarah is mother to two growing boys, a playful crafter with cloth & wool, student of traditional food preservation, and a diva at heart. Join the conversation on & on facebook at

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