When we began to shift our lifestyle during the 1980’s to a healthier way of eating and living, it was overwhelming. Trying to figure out the where’s, when’s, why’s, and how’s was very time consuming. I got lost in a wilderness of details: trying to re-learn forgotten methods of preparing food, switching over from convenience foods, getting a “proper” organic garden going. And what if I preserved my food, gave my family raw milk, and got a wood stove (and learned how to even use it), was I going to poison my family and burn the house down? So, enthusiasm waned. But I suddenly realized we were trying to live a way of life that generations ago was normal, but was not normal for us. The answer seemed to be to take one thing on the list and practice that one thing until it became a habit, in other words, until it became normal.
Great idea, right? But, where to start? By this time we had stacks of “How To…” books and note pads stuffed like turkeys with magazine articles, newspaper clips, and scribbled notes. We needed an important change that would be simple but make a real difference in our lives. A solution didn’t come immediately, but one day I realized the answer was water. Give our bodies what it needs to function at its optimum. We can survive a long time without food, but only about 3 days without water. Our bodies are made up of mostly water. We need it for flushing toxins out of our bodies, for cell regeneration, regulating body temperature, to help turn the food we eat into usable fuel, and much more. We drank very little water back then. It was mostly sodas, and coffee heavy with cream and sugar. So began our journey to normal. We kept increasing our water intake and decreasing the soft drinks. We kept at it until we were drinking several glasses a day without even thinking about it. And in hindsight, we actually created two normals: increased water and decreased sugar intake.
At the time we lived in a large city with a tiny backyard. So my next step to normal was to take half the yard and put in a vegetable garden plot. Remarkably, at the same time, I had an aunt and uncle who had decided to move out to the woods and live with no electricity. They were invaluable for helping us out with our questions, and our third step toward another new normal was to put in a woodstove. This was a timely change because there was an energy crisis during the 1980″s. My aunt and uncle gave us great advice and even let us gather our wood from their land to get us going. And you know what? I never did burn any of the houses we owned down or poisoned anyone, and I believe it’s because we took one change at a time and took time to learn about it until we didn’t even have to think about it anymore: we just did it as normal.
Over the years, we have implemented many changes on our journey to new normals of sustainable living, including more recently getting rid of our microwave and dishwasher, decreasing white flour in our diet, and getting a Berkey water filtration system, but we learned from the water experience to choose one thing to change, do the research, and then work at it until it becomes a habit, a normal.