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Time for change

When I first started this blog it was meant to be a way for me to share what we had been up to, exchange ideas for sustainable living and, yes, to give the occasional shout out to promote my business.

As I scroll back through the things I have posted over the last couple of years  it strikes me that so much of it is no longer relevant. Of course we still need to live greener, simpler lives. Of course we still need to consume less. Of course we still need to educate ourselves about the impact our actions are having on the planet and the effect that it’s going to have on our children and our children’s children.

The problems just seem to have become so much bigger. Or maybe it’s not that they are bigger, it’s that there is an increasing awareness of how much damage is being inflicted to line the pockets of the few at the expense of… well it seems to be at the expense of just about everyone and everything.

I used to think that there was a way to opt out. To live on the fringes and lead a simple, low-consumption life. That if we just shared our ideas our collective consciousness would grow. That if enough people took action we really could change the world and leave a better future. I’m beginning to suspect that I was incredibly naive.

Like many people I spend most of my time content in my little bubble. I try to live an ethical life, supporting local business, fair-trade and environmentally sound initiatives because I do believe that consumer power is one of the best ways to effect change. After all, the whole world seems to be run on this made up thing called money.

Of course those that have the majority of the wealth want to keep it all to themselves. This is not news. I find it ridiculous that they want to do this at the expense of just about everything else, but it seems that they do. And it’s getting ever more difficult to get away from the corporations and profiteers who are robbing each and every one of us blind.

I get so angry about it all. I can’t even find the words to express myself anymore. Well I can, but they’re mostly expletives. My partner calls it “Toryettes Syndrome” but I seem to be affected by every single politician, not just the f***ing Tories.

The cost of living keeps going up and the wages keep going down. Every day we are told that we have to work harder for less, be grateful to have a job and yet there are fewer and fewer jobs to be had. If you don’t/can’t work you are labelled a scrounger and, despite the fact it’s illegal and immoral, you can be forced to work for a big corporation for free. This means there’s less paid employment for everyone.

And all the time the big companies make bigger profits and the banks keep getting bailed out. I mean, what the actual fuck?

It won’t be long until self-employed people like myself will be in the same situation as those who are unemployed. Like many working parents, I am entitled to Tax Credits to top up my income, however under the proposed new system I could be forced onto Mandatory Work Activity if my earnings are low.

Never mind the fact that it’s incredibly tough for a small business like mine to compete with the big boys, especially when they get free labour as part of the governments “welfare reform”. Not to mention the numerous tax breaks big businesses get plus their rampant exploitation of natural resources and people all around the world.

I just want to opt out, really I do. But how do you go about opting out when those with the money have all the control?

There’s just so much to be angry about but the thing that makes me most angry is how bloody ignorant so many people are. I am constantly stunned by the bigoted and self-righteous comments that I read on social media, newspapers and blogs. Is it really that difficult to understand? Or is it just that people are so brainwashed by the corporation controlled media that they have forgotten how to think for themselves and empathise with their fellow human beings.

Take a few steps back and put on a wider lens. The bigger picture is pretty terrifying.

We really need to take action. Now. But where do you start? Clicking “like” on a picture on Facebook won’t do it, that’s for sure. We need to get out into our communities. Meet each other. ORGANISE! Share our stories and educate each other, because we’ve all got a lot to learn.

About yesterday…

I had so much planned for yesterday. Then my day started with my coffee escaping from the bottom of my favourite coffee cup.

I thought I was just having a morning moment at first. After all, I was pretty sleepy. My evening cuppa had been absolutely fine but yesterday morning it just seeped away over the worktop. I suspected the faeries may have been at work.

Sure enough, when I woke up enough to check, there was the teeniest fracture in the bottom of the cup.  The universe had spoken. Yesterday was a day to play.

Yes I was supposed to be working. I had a new website to launch, a fundraiser to plan and stories to prepare for Interfaith week next week. But instead we spent the day exploring some of the new stock for the stall, and ended up treating ourselves to a new game, book and yoga CD. Well… the universe and the faeries had said we needed a play day 😉

We spent the day playing Stone Soup (new) and Children of the World (an old favourite) then practised our stories before heading off to Circus Club. It was great. Even getting completely soaked by the most torrential rain on the way home didn’t matter, yesterday was a day to play.

I suspect the universe had a part to play in the rain too. I mean, I really did intend to get back to work in the evening. But after getting soaked to the skin, I really couldn’t be bothered. Good thing too. It turned out our modem had decided to bite the dust and we were without internet *gasp* with the exception of my not-so-smart smart phone (nokia x3-02), or my laptop which no longer has a functioning letter “T”.

Needless to say, I am so glad I listened to the universe yesterday. Everything still (sort of) got done and there’s still tomorrow to come.

Sod the Recession – Let’s Play!

Since the government announced we’ve gone back into recession in the UK, I’ve now reached the point where I really couldn’t care less.  It seems that no matter how hard I work we’re still going to be hard up so it’s time to stop worrying about it and start embracing everything we’ve got.

Like most working families, the last few months have been pretty tough for us – even before George Osborne announced his crippling budget earlier this April.  My partner had an accident at work in October, crushing and dislocating his right hand.  He’s still waiting for scans and despite the fact he’s in pain every day, he’s had no treatment at all for over 6 months.  It’s forced him to close his recycling business as he can no longer drive his truck, do any lifting or any other work for that matter.  I mean, can you think of ANY job where you don’t have to use your right hand? If you can let me know, we’d love to find out!

I’ll admit that I kind of panicked.  Money was already tight and we’d now lost quite a bit of our income so I started writing for another client to try and boost the money we had coming in.  For a couple of months I was working every hour I could for an extra £20 – £40 a week.  Every little helps, right?

Well yes… and no.  All my other projects (including this blog) started to fall by the wayside and oh my gosh I was so stressed out!   It started to occur to me that producing high quality work for less than the minimum wage was not helping me, my family or the economy in the slightest.  In fact, I finally realised that if we all start working for less than we are worth the implications are phenomenal.  It drives the value of our work down and creates a never ending spiral of giving more and receiving less in return for all that hard graft.

I was snappy and irritable and even started to experience anxiety attacks whenever I left the house – it was getting absolutely ridiculous and I knew it had to stop.  I have so many good things going on in my life.  My business was starting to blossom and I didn’t have the time or energy to invest in it, not to mention the fact that home educating the girls was meant to be a joy rather than a worry.  So I stopped.  I took a deep breath and I started to look at everything we still had.

My partner was home full time for the first time in a decade and we could finally start spending time together as a family.  I LOVE having a house husband – he’s a bloody amazing cook, fantastic company and the girls are just over the moon at having him around.  I’ve been freelancing with a reputable SEO company for the last 18 months and I’d rather increase my workload with them than get ripped off by some new kid on the block.  We’ve got some amazing opportunities open to us now, and I fully intend to take advantage of everything on offer.

At the end of the day there will always be someone who is prepared to do the same work for less money and that’s fine with me.   I have finally started to appreciate my own worth.  As a mum, as a business women and as a lover of life with all of its ups and downs.  It doesn’t matter how hard I work, we’re still going to be skint, but that’s the reality of life for millions of families in Britain today.  Money isn’t real, it’s just numbers on a screen or on your bank statement.  There are never enough of them, but somehow we survive.  Living life to the full is what really counts and that’s what I intend to do.  Sod the recession – let’s play!

Ordinary women as makers of history…

March the 8th 2011 marks the centenary of the first International Womens Day, a major day of global celebration of women.   So what’s all the fuss about?  Surely in the 21st century we have achieved the emancipation that the suffragettes struggled for in the early 1900s?  Like many women of my generation I have a decent level of education, flexible work which allows me to spend quality time with my kids and a loving relationship with a partner who treats me with respect.  But it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come over the last hundred years.   Back in 1911 when International Womens Day (IWD) was first honoured, over one million women and men were attending rallies to campaign for the basic women’s rights that we take for granted today.  They campaigned for the right of women to work in decent conditions, to vote, to be educated and hold public office and these activists helped put an end to discrimination.   I feel very lucky to be born at a time and place where I can take all of these things for granted.

For so many women across the globe, poverty, displacement and atrocious working conditions are still rife and so the fight continues.    To fuel our consumerist desire for summer veg all year round, sweatshop manufactured jeans for a fiver and countless gadgets that end up in landfill within 6 months there are families living in horrendous conditions all over the world.   For me, International Womens Day is about making the change to a more sustainable lifestyle, being aware of the effects of globalisation, climate change and the insanity of our dependence on fossil fuels.  By getting together with my friends I can raise a bit of cash to help women and children in poverty.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s a reason to celebrate.

The UN describes International Women’s Day as “the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for “liberty, equality, fraternity” marched on Versailles to demand women’s suffrage.”  By acting locally while thinking globally I honestly believe we can make a difference and help the women of the future to live a brighter, happier future.

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