Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Updated About Page

Welcome, I’m Stephanie, the writer behind this blog. I live in Chicago with my husband, John, who is a Chicago firefighter as well as a pipe insulator with the Local 17 union. I say husband because we've been together a very long time but we still need to get around to that pesky task of actually signing the papers. We have one adorable fur child, a Pomeranian mix named Hawkeye, after the mascot of my college, the University of Iowa. John and I were both born and raised in the area we bought our house in back in 2016, so we live close to both of our families.

From 2010 until early 2020, I worked as an attorney. It was never the plan to work until traditional retirement age. I've been aggressively saving money since I started working in my teenage years, with early retirement in mind. I simply prefer being at home rather than being in a workplace, and I don't mean working remotely. John has always had the same plan - he would like to continue with the fire department until their forced retirement age of 62, but loves the idea of having someone at home handling the traditional cleaning, cooking, shopping, budgeting, hosting, and other tasks associated with living close to extended family.

We didn't have a timeline for this plan, but then the coronavirus pandemic hit and threw the entire country out of whack. I was laid off, and my particular industry, commercial real estate, will probably take awhile to recover. The financial freedom of not having to worry about lay offs cannot be understated - we decided the same day that I wasn't going to look for another job. We were just going to move up this plan of my being a full-time homemaker. If my job, in the office close to home, ever comes back around, we'll re-assess at that time. But for now, I am simply a homemaker.

'Simply a homemaker.' A loaded phrase. Because it implies the same thing as 'just.' Just a housewife. Just a homemaker. The truth is, there's no such thing. Homemaking is a complex art and often a thankless one at that, but incredibly rewarding. We overlook this position in our career-driven, fast-paced world, where your worth is calculated based on your income and advancement in your field and schools have long since stopped offering home economics as a course. I think this is a mistake.
"Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government, etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? ... the homemaker's job is one for which all others exist." C.S. Lewis
I have always preferred being at home and have placed a high value on the position of staying at home and tending to the house and the people in it - my mother was a homemaker and looking back, it was one of the largest sources of comfort and stability throughout my childhood. Not only for myself, but for family and friends too. My mom has always had that hospitality thing down. I want to be like that too.

So I don't use the phrase 'simply a homemaker' to imply that this job is somehow 'less than' other careers, but rather that I choose to live a slow and simple life. That includes simplifying my homemaking in order to actually enjoy it, not be caught in the endless peak productivity cycle that our society prizes.

Because that's the other tag on this blog headline, if you notice. Slow living. I have been a fan of organizing and decluttering for as long as I can remember. I've been a minimalist for at least 10 years. It was inevitable that slow living would be the next logical step. Slow living simply means a slow approach to everyday life. It's about simplifying, yes, and getting out of the rat race mentality, but it's also about consuming less, connecting to people, and being mindful and in the present. The concept began with the slow food movement - sustainable, local, organic, whole - as a response to the problems present in materialistic and industrial lifestyles. It has since grown to include every area of life.

This is how I choose to live, also known as blue zone living. The longest living and healthiest populations in the world share the common factors associated with slow living, including simplifying needs and wants in life and deliberately choosing and enjoying a relaxed pace of life that is not slave to the clock. It's freeing to live this way. Even though I'm still working at it, still working to shift my mind off constant productivity, it's already been a weight lifted off my shoulders.

It's very much against the mainstream, my life. Being a homemaker, not a traditional career woman. Living slowly and intentionally, not packing my schedule or trying to be productive with all 24 hours of my day. It may have been mainstream in the 1950s but today? I'm a bit of an anomaly. So I'm always slowly learning and trying new things related to caring for a home and the people in it. And I'm thankful to have this space to share those things with you.

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