This time of year is a tricky one when it comes to self-indulgence. Eggnog starts to appear on the grocery store shelves, it seems every desk at work has a bowl of chocolates or candies on it, and the weather conspires to make you want to curl up with a blanket and hot chocolate with marshmallows. The dark mornings entice you to oversleep. The cold makes you want to skip your evening dog-walking, and salads just don't seem like the thing to eat in winter weather. Deals are to be had and it's tempting to spend more than your budget allows. Parties and social events lure you away from the work you should be doing and encourage you to overeat. In spite of the "thinking of others" focus of the holidays, there's a tendency to think about what you want as well. And all this just as the "grouchy and ready to hibernate" instinct starts to rev up. In short, it's not a good time to try to kick a bad habit.
However, when you identify something that isn't good for you and that is distracting you from better things or taking a toll on your relationships, it's time to address it, whatever the season. It doesn't hurt, as the year draws to a close, to take stock of things that need changing and figure out how to make the next year a better one. I don't like setting new year's resolutions, but I do think it important to isolate something you can continually work on to improve yourself or your situation. And I think it's important to only concentrate on one thing at a time, so that you don't overwhelm yourself.
I have undertaken this exercise recently and have decided that, for myself, my fascination with real estate and homesteading now borders on addiction. I prowl the MLS website. I pick up real estate magazines at the subway, even for commercial properties. I watch Tiny House and design and house-flipping shows far more than I should. I doodle house plans and garden plans and lists of vegetables I want to grow. I've crammed my head full of farming information I will never use. I drive my husband crazy pointing out ideal properties I could envision us homesteading on (just to have as a back-up place to retreat to for when the political system collapses, the food security fails, and the zombie hordes descend, you see). I read every book I can get ahold of on farming and green living and DIYing. I spend far too much time scrolling through lovely photos of homes and land on the Internet. I spend $50 a weekend on gas exploring the countryside, always with an acquisitive eye. And I'm admittedly neglecting other worthy activities while I do so. I actually went so far as to make an appointment with a real estate agent to go view twelve acres for sale...in Quebec. Just because it was a good deal. (I mean, a really good deal.) Only freezing rain kept me from going and doing something foolish.
The most destructive part about it is that it makes me discontented. It makes me focus on future and wants instead of here and now and the blessings I already have. It makes me resent my job that holds me here and my creaky body that can't dig over the garden I have, much less ten acres. It makes me think about my wants and needs over my family's wants and needs. It makes me ungrateful.
So...it's time to stop. I've erased my account on realtor.ca. I've swept off most of the photos on my desktop of graceful staircases and forested vistas (I even had photos on there of neat furnaces I've seen, for heaven's sake). I've vowed to take a long break from homesteading and house-flipping shows that just fill me with envy and unrealistic dreams. I've decided to read other things besides the apocalyptic. Instead I want to concentrate consciously on being grateful for what I already have. The now. To stand still where I am and go deeper. To use the property I do have to its fullest and appreciate it. I will spend my evenings with my loom and learn new things to fill my head---though admittedly I suppose spinning and weaving could be considered homesteading skills, but one doesn't need an actual homestead to do them.
I hadn't realized how embedded into my psyche homesteading is until I deleted that realtor.ca account and found myself wanting to weep. How pathetic is that? It's not as if I'm giving up on a dream that could have become a reality. It never has been a viable, realistic option. Only now I have to be honest and admit it. Face the fact that I will never plow ten acres with a giant draft horse, or raise piglets, or buy seed by the kilogram. It's a painful thing to realize you've spent your life preparing for something that just isn't going to happen. But I think once I fully accept that, it will free me up to welcome other opportunities the universe brings me. To appreciate the good things I already have. Learning to live in gratitude isn't a bad thing. Thinking of my husband and children's needs isn't either. I'm going to try to cultivate a better habit.
Right after I finish consoling myself with a litre of eggnog...